The society was founded to become the Brotherhood of Humanity -- a centre, philosophical and religious, common to all -- not as a propaganda for Buddhism merely ... the T.S. is open to all, without distinction of "origin, caste, nation, colour, or sex ... or of creed."
-- H.P. Blavatsky, LUCIFER, August 1888
By Richard Taylor
[based upon an April 12, 1996 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Some students revise HPB's works, others carry it on as she gave it, or something of the two together. Regardless of approach, it seems worthwhile to look into HPB's roots and sources, her methods (or "skillful means," UPAYA in Buddhism) and forward-looking purposes.
HPB seems to draw freely from many sources. "The Gnostics" do make many appearances in ISIS UNVEILED, fewer in the S.D. but "they" are still there. Quoted about 10 times less than Hindu and Buddhist ideas, it is hardly enough "hits" to make a case over and against what the karmically-inclined Easterners are saying, no?
Yet who are these amorphous "Gnostics"? Are they opposed to moral teachings and karma? HPB mentions the Ophites, the Marconites, and quite a few others. And if you read closely (not between the lines, mind you, but just at the words themselves) we see that HPB is arguing against the incorrect portrayal of Gnostics by the very prejudiced and threatened Church Fathers, including Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, Eusebius, etc. etc.
Before the actual discovery in 1945 of the 12 Gnostic Codices near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, the vast majority of our knowledge about Gnostics was in the form of (partisan) quotation in the body of opposite-thinking writers. The one exception is of course Plotinus, who in his Enneads (organized into sets of "nine," hence "enneads" by his disciple Porphyry) has a section "Against the Gnostics" where he disputes with them about impugning the character of the Demi-urge and his (lower) creations, but largely agrees with most of their conceptions.
As Elaine Pagels has written in her book, THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS, history is written by the winners. And as Ron Cameron, author of THE OTHER BIBLE, taught me when I was in his class, who would have more reason to misrepresent and libel the Gnostics than the early orthodoxy? How can we really trust what they wrote? Their whole purpose was to undermine the credibility of the Gnostics and crush the entire movement, by polemic as long as possible and by force when necessary.
What better way to undermine threatening esoteric teachers than by maiming them morally during their lives, or preferably after they are dead when they can't argue anymore?
Why, we see this taking place in mailing lists daily, where people who want to think their own way find it necessary to slash and burn HPB in order to clear-cut a path for themselves. If one cannot assault the philosophy of HPB or the Gnostics, slander them morally, make them hypocritical demons, and then the difficult philosophy can be backgrounded. It is an old and time-honored tradition of the black-hearted.
Thus the Gnostics were characterized by the early heresiologists as "antinomian" meaning above or beyond the law. And Irenaeus in his tiresome tome LIBROS QUINQUE ADVERSUS HAERESES raises the names of group after group only to slam them down again with words like "licentious," "morally corrupt," "child-sacrificers," "eaters of the hearts of the innocents." Their philosophy gets short shrift analytically. It is not clear Irenaeus even understood it.
Modern scholars, one and all, have deep suspicions as to whether any of this occurred. Rather, it was a rhetorical polemic designed to castigate the Gnostic groups when attacks upon their philosophy failed. There appears no evidence that ANY Gnostic groups were sacrificing children, than ANY groups were eating human hearts, etc.
It is probably true, however, that some Gnostics, in their contempt of the worldly laws and the Creator who ordained them, became sexually quite giddy and imagined themselves free of karma. This is a minority group, and probably confined to Western provinces (round Rome).
As documented in the 50-odd texts of THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY IN ENGLISH edited by James Robinson, the majority schools of Gnostics -- Sethians (Ophites), Valentinians, and even the very Christian Marcionites, if they are to be included as Gnostics -- were extremely concerned with morals, and held themselves to much higher standards than the orthodox Christians, whom they felt were much lower. The characterization the Gnostics used for themselves was "PNEUMATIKOI" meaning "Those of the Spirit" while ordinary Christians, the mediocre run who took no vows and studied no hidden wisdom, were deemed "PSYCHIKOI" or "Those of the Psyche", which was still above those mongrels, the materialists like the Sadducees etc.
All of that said, we find HPB upholding time and again the moral purity of the Gnostics and the philosophical purity of their works, as opposed to mainstream Christianity. She does not side with the orgiastic and licentious groups, and NEVER quotes them. I defy anyone to locate a quote from any antinomian Gnostic in HPB's works. All her quotes are from the followers of Valentinus -- Marcus etc. who were of the morally rigid traditions.
It should be no surprise that Theosophists have divided themselves into similar categories today -- one side following the "original program" of Theosophy and its Founders, and the other imagining that Theosophy is passe, or grotesquely misinterpreting its Founders as "materialistic determinists".
HPB used blinds in her teaching, and she tailored her teachings to suit Western people where they were. She most certainly did both of these things.
That does not mean that she lied, or said things she didn't mean, or that she was kidding about ethics and moral purity. She says it too often and in too many places to pretend we can overlook it. "Skillful means" in Buddhism, and in the myths of Plato, and in the Neo-Platonists under Plotinus (called sometimes the Analogeticists), doesn't mean outright lies for the benefit of the student, but truths which are not the whole truth. Cf. Plato's myth of Er, in THE REPUBLIC, where the soul after death spends 1,000 years in a nice place or a rotten one, and then gets assigned to its next body. This is a mythical (not a LITERAL) portrayal of karma and reincarnation.
Jesus does the same in the parables. They are true so far as they go, but hint at much deeper truths. It is a vast misunderstanding of HPB and her Teachers to assume that they were joking about ethics, or that they told untruths only to hook the poor Victorians. Rather, these pioneers ruined their reputations and fortunes spreading ideas that were exactly COUNTER to traditional Victorian thought. This is not pandering to the masses, as you suggest, but dedication to the eternal truths.
By Liesel F. Deutsch
I'm coming around now to a 150-year-old medical lecture we studied in my American Women's History class last year. This is the document which first made me realize, rather forcefully, how much the modus vivendi of the women of that time was influenced by the mind-set of their 19th century culture. Having later on come across the history of previous European centuries, I can now see how much of an advance the 19th century was over the medieval, mindset. There were considerable changes, although traces of the medieval could still be found. The wholesale torturing and killing had ceased. Men were still the Lords and Masters of inferior women, but they only spanked them, and ruled the households. It gave greater possibilities for positive bonding between the two, even though many customs still put the relationship under a strain. The ideas to be gathered from this medical lecture, from January 1847, seem like a bridge between the medieval and our present day ... the most obvious difference being that we've come much further with the study of anatomy, which is barely touched upon in the 1947 lecture, by an obstetrician/gynecologist. Dr. Charles D. Meigs, greatly impressed his students with "On Some of the Distinctive Characteristics of the Female." The admiring students had the lecture printed up in his honor:
"She has nowhere been admitted to the political rights ... The great administrative faculties are not hers. She ... leads no armies into battle, the Forum is no theater for her silver voice, she discerns not the course of the planets. Orion ... and Aructus ... are naught (to her) but pretty baubles set up in the sky ... She composes no Iliad ... Home is her place, except when, like the star of day, she deigns to issue forth into the world, to exhibit her beauty and her grace, and to scatter her smiles upon all that are worthy to receive so rich a boon ... it is by mere contrast of her gentleness, her docility, her submissiveness, and patience that she makes herself the queen ... modesty is one of her strongest attractions ... She has a head almost too small for intellect, but just big enough for love.
See, now? The medieval suspicion and hatred have dissipated. Instead, it's very evident that Dr. Meigs is really fond of the ladies, and can allow himself to show it. I can see him, and the whole class of young men beaming at the picture he painted. And yet, from our 20th century point of view how skewed it still is! Women were now beautiful ... but only because they were "gentle, docile, and submissive" ... traits thought to be inborn in women. The ladies tried to live up to this mind-set, because any voice they had in what was happening around them, was given to them by their men. They had to be gentle and submissive, and I guess had to learn how to wheedle as well ... A far cry from being burned at the stake for all sorts of ugly reasons, but still an echo of it. It still survives somewhat today ... an aggressive man is admired, an aggressive woman is often called a "bitch."
I own a rather nice recording of chamber music, composed, around that time, by Fannie Mendelssohn, Felix' sister. Fannie was lucky enough to have married a man who allowed her to compose. But then, she had trouble getting her chamber music performed. On occasion, when some quartet really did one of her opuses, probably to do brother Felix a favor, they were all truly astonished that a woman could compose that well. On the same CD, there's also a composition by one of Fannie's contemporaries, Clara Schumann. Her husband, Robert S., had decided that he wanted her to stay home and have eight kids. So she gave up a very promising career as a concert pianist and composer to raise her family. According to her biography, she felt frustrated because she lacked the time to devote to her music. But she probably just accepted it for being in the nature of things. Most women did. There was the mindset that women were to have kids, run the household, and also that it was their womanly duty to submit to the wishes of their men. How much wasted talent was thus lost to the world! Mindset leads to Karma. There were no women composers or performers of note ... for a few thousand years.
People of that time thought that women's smaller heads meant that their intellect was smaller. Meigs states that they were neither writers, nor astronomers, nor statesmen. It was deemed that especially Math and the Sciences were too difficult for women ... that these studies would adversely affect their nervous systems, and their reproductive functions. So the ladies did their math on their quilts, and their fancy crocheting. They did their science while they dreamed up cake recipes.
Meigs' description of how she beamingly "deigns to issue forth into the world ... to exhibit her beauty and her grace ... scattering smiles upon all ... worthy ... " makes me giggle. That dear lady probably had just finished doing her laundry, her kitchen floor, and had just changed her baby's diaper. Of course she would be beaming when she finally found a moment to come out into the sunshine.
Let me preface this next vignette by telling you that in those days future obstetricians learned their profession from medical school charts, and that when they later on delivered babies, they did so by feel, because the woman's modesty was more sacred than the well-being of her or of the baby. Please also note that using the service of a gynecologist/obstetrician was then very much a la mode. After all, they had learned their profession in Medical School. The day of the midwife, long knowledgeable from hundreds of years of experience, had passed with the Inquisition. Midwives were, after all, only women. Their healing ways were suspect, magic. Since the ladies had many children in the 19th century, and even many more pregnancies, obstetrics/gynecology was a very profitable profession. Doctors, including the venerable Dr. Meigs, were all quite confident that their medical-school knowhow was quite superior, a mind set which maimed and snuffed out many lives ... once more, with the best of intentions. Still, let's give them credit to have gotten away from the medieval, mindset that the pains of childbirth were God's punishment for the descendants of Eve.
In another part of Dr. Meigs' lecture, he acknowledges: "her master and lord, ... it is true to say so, since ... she is still in a manner in bonds, and the manacles of custom." The astute Dr. Meigs recognizes at least some of the "manacles" of the "custom" of his time. Let me suggest that one of those manacles was "modesty, one of her strongest attractions," Dr. Meigs had called it. Well that strongest of attractions proved to be the downfall of our next hero, Dr. James White, of Buffalo, NY.
The innovative and daring Dr. White had the bright idea that it would be useful for his medical students, all future obstetricians of America, to actually watch him deliver a baby. For this purpose he had paid an indigent woman, Mary Watson, to allow his students to be present while he assisted in Mary's delivery. Even though Mary Watson was also modestly draped under a blanket while her baby was being born, the attending obstetrical students thought they'd learned a great deal from observing the event. The local AMA, however, when they learned of what had transpired, castigated poor Dr. White. The scandal spilled over into the newspapers, and ended with Dr. White being severely censured by the AMA. So much for imagination! He was just too innovative for the prevailing mindset of his time. Again, the beliefs of the times had a long range karmic effect on everyone concerned? (While writing this essay, which is so concerned with the cockeyedness of people's beliefs, I'm beginning to realize why our Teacher Harry Van Gelder kept on admonishing "Don't believe! Find out!"
Now we get down to grappling with the present day. Our ideas on women seem to run in two directions. Some people want the ladies to be absolutely free to do anything and everything the men do, and some want to put them back into the kitchen ... and of course there are many shades of opinion between these two. Looking at the first-mentioned as the possible next advance, (except that I think the men should contribute their best thing, and the ladies should contribute theirs, and never mind the competition) we note that most women work today, partly due to the invention of washing machines, dishwashers and etc., partly due to economic necessity, partly due to that working suits them better than staying home. Even so, they are often still paid less than men; often get only the menial jobs. The ones educated and lucky enough to reach an upper echelon, often experience the "glass ceiling" phenomenon. All three of these are hangovers from the era when women were believed to be worth less than men (as they still are in present day India and China). What I hear from these working women of today is that it's a total rat race. They must schedule their time very tightly to be able to give some time to jobs, to children and to husbands, and if time permits to doing up the house; that they're always on the go, and get "frazzled out" trying to meet all their obligations. Partly peripheral to that, their teenaged kids have guns, knives and babies, while they themselves often get divorced.
I'm too close to this state of affairs to be able to really visualize a way out of our dilemma. I know that again our contemporary Mindsets must be doing this. I'm not one of those who yearns back for the "good old days." They're past. So now, with all these modern conveniences, how can we stop running each other ragged? They haven't been much help, even though they've by now been augmented by packaged foods, and take out windows. So we've gained free time, so we've taken on paid positions. Our lives are as hard as were the lives of our forbears in 1847. We've got to use our "smarts" to figure out how were going to get from here to where we can make more time to enjoy each other, our homes, our kids, our spouses and our civilization in general ... to say nothing about bringing up the living standards of peoples in the 3rd world. We've got better tools to figure it out with today ... the findings and recommendations of the best thinkers among our scientists, especially our social scientists ... with those of a few philosophers thrown in.
Maybe we're seeking to counterbalance our hectic lives somewhat with such things as movies, boob tube, shopping sprees, short cruises, long trips and all sorts of retreats. Some retreats are spiritual, and/or religious. Some retreats try to bring married men and women closer together. Some retreats try to create better bonds among whole families. At least an attempt is being made to spend some time being more comfortable or more leisurely. Retreats to celebrate the Goddess seem to be relaxed and create a counter balance to our hectic everyday life. Tennis is in vogue, and so are health spas. But it all still has to fit into the hectic schedule. There's got to be an easier way to build a better roof top. Here's hoping we'll find it. Three quarters way, would already be good. Half way?
I'd like to end this essay with an upbeat quote from "Man, the Measure of All Things" by Prem and Ashish:
We ourselves, with all our petty meanness, our brutal and insane cruelties, our obscenities, our pursuit of trivial pleasures, and our misguided ambitions, bear within us the seeds of that perfection."
By William Q. Judge
[From THE PATH, August, 1887]
Many students, in their search for light, find divers problems presented to them for solution; questions so puzzling from the contradictory aspects which they present, that the true course is difficult of attainment for those who seek Right Living.
One of these questions, Is it our duty to interfere if we see a wrong being done? arises.
The question of duty is one that can be decided fully only by each individual himself. No code of laws or table of rules unchanging and inflexible will be given, under which all must act, or find duty.
We are so ignorant or so newly acquainted with a portion of the Divine Will that generally we are poorly fitted to declare decisively what is wrong, or evil.
Each man is the law unto himself -- the law as to right and wrong, good and evil. No other individual may violate the law of that man, any more than any other law, without producing the inevitable result, the penalty of an infracted law.
I dare not declare that any one thing or course is evil in ANOTHER. For me it may be evil. I am not wise enough to know what it is for another. Only the Supreme knows, for He only can read the heart, the mind, the soul of each. "Thou shalt not judge," saith the sacred writing.
My duty is clear in many places, but in the performing of it I may neither act as a judge or hold animosity, anger, or disgust.
Were a man to abuse an animal, surely I must interfere to prevent suffering to the helpless, dumb and weak, for so we are enjoined. This done, my duty lies in helping my brother, for he knew not what he did.
My aim is to find Wisdom, and my duty, to do away with ignorance wherever it is encountered. His act was caused by ignorance. Were a man to abuse wife or child through unwise use of wine or drug truly it is my duty to prevent suffering or sorrow for either wife or child, and also to prevent greater misery -- perhaps murder. They are human beings, my fellows. This done, my duty lies toward the man, not in condemnation, but seeking the cause that makes him unwise, strive to alleviate -- if not free him from it. He also is my brother.
If men steal, lie, cheat, betray the innocent or are betrayed by the knowing, my duty lies in preventing for others, if I may, sorrow and anguish, pain and want, misery, suicide or bloodshed, which may be, for OTHERS the result of these acts.
My duty lies in preventing effects such as these from love for and a desire to help all men, not because men's actions seem to me wrong or their courses evil. I know not the causes of their actions, nor all the reasons why they are permitted. How then may I say this or that man is evil, this or that thing is wrong? The EFFECTS may to ME seem evil, inasmuch as such appears to be the result for others. Here my duty is to prevent evil to other mortals in the way that seems most wise.
Finally this is better that one do His own task as he may even though he fail, Than take tasks not his own, though they seem good.
-- THE SONG CELESTIAL (BHAGAVAD-GITA)
He who seeks "the small old path" has many duties to perform. His duty to mankind, his family -- nature -- himself and his creator, but duty here means something very different from that which is conveyed by the time and lip-worn word, DUTY. Our comprehension of the term is generally based upon society's or man's selfish interpretation. It is quite generally thought that duty means the performance of a series of acts which OTHERS think I ought to perform, whereas, it more truly means the performance of actions by me which I KNOW are good for OTHERS, or the wisest at the moment.
It would be quite dangerous for me to take upon myself the duty of another, either because he told me it was good, or that it was duty. It would be dangerous for him and me if I assumed that which he felt it was good to do, for that is his duty, and cannot be mine. That which is given him to do I cannot do for him. That which is given me to do no living thing can do for me. If I attempt to do another's duty then I assume that which belongs not to me, was not given. I am a thief, taking that which does not belong to me. My brother consenting thereto becomes an idler, fails to comprehend the lesson, shifts the responsibility, and between us we accomplish nothing.
We are instructed to do good. That is duty. In doing good all that we do is covered, that for which we are here is being accomplished and that is -- duty. We are enjoined to do good WHERE IT IS SAFE. Not safe for ourselves, but safe for the objects toward which our duty points. Often we behold beings suffering great wrong. Our emotions prompt us to rush forward and in some way prevent the continuance of it. Still the wise man knows it is not safe. Were he to do so his efforts would only arouse the antagonism and passions of superior numbers, whose unrestrained and ungoverned wills would culminate in the perpetration of greater wrongs upon the one who already suffers. It is safe to do good, or my duty, after I find how to do it in the way that will not create evil, harm others or beget greater evils.
For him who seeks the upward way there is no duty -- for nothing is a duty. He has learned that the word conveys an erroneous meaning when applied to the doings of the Seeker. It implies the performance of that which savors of a task, or a certain required or demanded act necessary before progress is made or other deeds be performed. Of duty, there is none such as this.
He learns to do good and that which appears the wisest at the time, forgetting self so fully that he only knows his doing good to others -- forgetting self so far that he forgets to think whether he is doing his duty or not -- entering Nirvana to this extent that he does not remember that he is doing his duty. That FOR HIM is duty.
"Resist not evil," [Mt. 5, 39] saith one of the Wise. He who said this knew full well his duty, and desired to convey to us knowledge. That he did not mean men to sit idly by while ignorance let slip the dogs of pain, anguish, suffering, want and murder, is surely true. That he did not mean men to kneel in puerile simulation of holiness by the roadside, while their fellow men suffer torture, wrong or abuse, is still more true. That he did not intend a man to sit silently a looker-on while that which is called evil worked its will upon others when by the lifting of a finger, perhaps, its intentions might be thwarted and annulled -- is truth itself. These all would be neglect of a portion of the whole duty of man. He who taught that men should "resist not evil" desired them only to forget themselves. Men think that all things which are disagreeable to them, are evil. By resistance he meant complaint, anger and objection to or against the inevitable, disagreeable or sorrowful things of life, that come to self, and he DID NOT mean man to go forth in the guise of a martyr, hugging these same penalties to his bosom while he proclaims himself thereby the possessor of the magic PASS WORD (which he will never own and which is never uttered in that way): I HAVE SUFFERED.
If men revile, persecute or wrong one, why resist? Perhaps it is evil, but so long as it affects one's-self only, it is no great matter. If want, sorrow or pain come to one why resist or cry out? In the resistance or war against them we create greater evils. Coming to one's-self, they should have little weight, while at the same time they carry invaluable lessons in their hands. Rightly studied they cause one to forget himself in the desire to assist others when similarly placed, and the Lotus of duty -- or love for man -- to bloom out of the Nile mire of life. Resist not evil, for it is inseparable from life. It is our duty to live, and accept uncomplainingly, all of life. Resist not evil, but rather learn of it all the good which in reality it only veils.
Seek in it, as well as the gleaming good, for THE MYSTERY, and there will come forth from both the self-same form upon whose forehead is written "Duty," which being interpreted, meaneth efforts for the good of all OTHER men, and over whose heart is written: "I am my brother's keeper."
By Walter E. Kent
Warm-and-gentle woman, your embrace touches and comforts all that lives. When your face breaks into a smile, happiness takes on color. And when you darken in anger, rage becomes hot and furious. You are the blackness of space to be found behind anything, anytime. To see you is to create and animate outer things. When you are forgotten, the daily round of things turns grey and tasteless. The beauty of love, the magical powers of things, the experiences of living life all exist as shadows cast by the stunning, explosive peace and silence of your black, warm space. Nothing can be said -- one cannot touch the golden, burning hunger for return -- to do so is fatal. Words like JOYOUS and SACRED shame one. Beloved woman, you are the sunlight that creates these images when we let you pass through stained-glass windows we've fashioned with our own hands. One cannot see you without feeling the terrible wound. The wound is only forgotten when one turns his back on you, or returns to your arms in death. The wound is life itself and can only be healed at its end. And the more one loves you, and the more he dares look upon your glowing face, the deeper and more painful the wound becomes. But one cannot help it. Love for you compels one to bleed more and more. And the pain becomes unspeakable. But you gently smile, for each drop of blood brings joy and happiness to living things. People sometimes try to draw you -- that is the only time you frown. For you belong to no one, and to no image. Those who love you can only respectfully smile in silence.
By John Patrick Deveney
The Theosophical History Webpage has been updated and a great deal of new and exciting material added! Check it out at:
Check out the page now, and don't hesitate to send in your comments, notes, and inquiries, and contributions to email@example.com.
By Reed Carson
The full text of 72 articles by Blavatsky has now been added to
This brings the total to 236 articles of Blavatsky with the full text online. Thanks to Vic Hao Chin for providing the proofread pages.
Also during recent months:
a) A new article has been added to the evidence section called "Blavatsky's Foreknowledge of the Wave/Particle Duality of Light". It offers suggestive evidence that in the previous century Blavatsky was taught some of "this century's" science.
b) In the "more resources" section a pointer has been added to 99 quotations that show the commonality of the ideas of karma and the Absolute in the religious traditions of the world. The collection is striking.
c) The refutation page has been markedly strengthened. A pointer has been added to yet another repudiation of K. Paul Johnson's "suggestions". Another pointer gives a blow by blow analysis of a number of errors in Peter Washington's misleading "Blavatsky's Baboon" book. Another pointer suggests standards for future biographies of HPB. (Future writers should see this one.) This refutation page represents the work of numerous Theosophists (actually many in total). Altogether the weight of the cumulative defense of Blavatsky is impressive and substantial.
d) At the request of visitors to the site there is now a Spanish section and a Russian section. Eight articles of Blavatsky are now translated into Russian. (Volunteer translators are welcomed.)
e) The events page has been revived and now points to three Theosophical conferences.
f) A major "facelift" has been applied throughout the site.
g) The Roadmap now includes several more pointers to other Theosophical sites on the web.
By Nicholas Weeks
[based upon an July 13, 1997 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
In the past few years there have been three new English translations of Shantideva's (early 8th century) GUIDE FOR BODHISATTVAS.
In 1995, THE BODHICARYAVATARA, trans. by Crosby & Skilton, Oxford U. Press came out. It has much scholarly comment & notes to each chapter and many of the verses. It is from the Sanskrit.
In 1997, THE WAY OF THE BODHISATTVA, trans. by the Padmakara Translation group, Shambhala. It is from the Tibetan, with comparison with the Sanskrit. It follows the Nyingma commentary tradition.
Also in 1997, A GUIDE TO THE BODHISATTVA WAY OF LIFE, trans. by Alan Wallace, Snow Lion. He follows the Sanskrit, but give any significant differences from the Tibetan in footnotes. Also a traditional Indian commentary is quoted in footnotes on occasion.
To give a slight taste of the differing styles and languages consider verses 5 & 6 from chapter one.
Crosby & Skilton:
At night in darkness thick with clouds a lightning flash gives a moment's brightness. So, sometime, by the power of the Buddha, the mind of the world might for a moment turn to acts of merit.
This being so, the power of good is always weak, while the power of evil is vast and terrible. What other good could conquer that, were there not the perfect Awakening Mind?
As when a flash of lightning rends the night, And in its glare shows all the dark black clouds had hid, Likewise rarely, through the Buddha' power, Virtuous thoughts rise, brief and transient, in the world. Thus behold the utter frailty of goodness! Except for perfect bodhichitta, There is nothing to withstand The great and overwhelming strength of evil.
Just as lightning illuminates the darkness of a cloudy night for an instant, in the same way, by the power of the Buddha, occasionally people's minds are momentarily inclined toward merit.
Thus, virtue is perpetually ever so feeble, while the power of vice is great and extremely dreadful. If there were no Spirit of Perfect Awakening, what other virtue would overcome it?
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an September 5, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
The question is sometimes posed: What purpose is there to gradual evolution if we can leave behind space-time and be perfect? Why go on, through the grind of evolution, if it all comes to the same end, to homogenous, unmanifest perfection? If we just end up where we've started, why go through the process in the first place?
We are taught that the process of evolution does produce results, there is something that is attained, even when manifestation is left behind at the close of some great Manvantara. There is self-consciousness, the aroma or essence of the wisdom acquired through the process of evolution. This self-consciousness is akin to the lighting of a fire, it is an insight, an awareness, a sensitivity to the vastness of life.
As part of our spiritual practice, we are taught to become unselfconscious, to forget our personal selves. This involves the gradual raising of the seat of our awareness from the personal self, from the lower human Ego, to the higher Self within. We learn to forget the fact that we are such-and-such a person -- perhaps overweight, with a big nose, fond of pizza, wanting a better job. We come to dwell in grand, universal thoughts and sentiments. We learn to live for others, rather than for ourselves, and our awareness shifts from our personal needs to the bigger needs of humanity in general.
The spark of self-consciousness, imprisoned in the personality, is gradually freed. It is enabled to rise one step higher within our constitution, one step closer to our inner source, one step towards liberation. This is the treasure of existence, the prize that we are seeking to claim through our evolutionary journey. We must nurture this spark, and take it with it, upward and inward. By the time that we have brought it back to the threshold of Nirvana, it is not merely a spark, but a fire of unimaginable proportion.
We first awaken the higher principles, and bring them into activity in our outer lives: Higher Manas, Buddhi-Manas, Buddhi, Atma-Buddha, Atma, then Auric Egg-Atma. There are many steps of opening them, many flowerings of our inner natures that await us.
After the initial awakenings, the principles grow to full strength and maturity. They become positively inflamed with the radiance of our inner spirituality. Manas becomes Manas-inflamed, Manas-Taijas, Buddhi becomes Buddhi- inflamed, Buddhi-Taijas, etc.
As the Manvantara approaches its close, and the vast period of evolution prepares to end, we leave behind our attributes of existence, our Skandhas, and withdraw the flame inward, into the unmanifest. We take it with us.
But what is the unmanifest? Where is it? How is it part of us? There are levels to it as well, levels that are a logical necessity arising out of the relation of the Unknowable to the manifest universe, of the relation of That, Tat, the Ultimate Mystery, to This, Idam, the Outward, Apparent Nature of Things.
This relationship fits in neatly with the tenfold or twelvefold principles of being, the fabric of consciousness.
Consider first the manifest universe. We begin with a sense of Being, a sense that existence is happening, a sense that life is starting again. There is no separateness, no sense of me-and-him, all is One. This is the consciousness of the first principle of manifest consciousness: Atman. Even with this, though, there is a slight flavor to things, derived from the essential nature of the great Being who plays host to the world to be, the Being whose embodiment allows for the creation of the new world or universe.
Picture a fish tank. Even if the fish tank is uninhabited, it has its own unique shape, and there is a certain unique color and flavor to its water, which is different than any other tank. This is the Dharmakaya vesture, where there is absolutely no sense of there being more than one person, one individual, one Self to all that is.
Even with but the Atmic principle, thought, there is something more than just the darkness of the unmanifest. There has been added the sense of Being, the sense of an essential nature, the sense of connectedness to that plane on which the world is in formation.
The second step in taking on concrete existence, in further differentiating our consciousness, comes with Buddhi. With this principle, we being to manifest individual differences in our awareness and perception. We see ourselves as composed of a karmic web, as consisting of a bundle of relationships with others. This is the level of consciousness where there first is a sense of cocreation, of jointly participating in the creation of the world to be. We see ourselves as not just being in relation to others, but as BEING THOSE RELATIONSHIPS. At this level, we have taken on our body of causes, our Karanopadhi, our bundle of living relationships with others. These relationships, which compose a dynamic interplay between us and others, define the karmic give and take between us and them. Karma is not some exterior force, not some outside agency making sure that we are punished for being bad. It is rather the living, dynamic bonds of life between us and others that makes us (and them) what we are. And it is through these living bonds that we cocreate the world to be.
The third step is to separate ourselves from these bonds of relationship, to perceive ourselves as apart from them. We take on a sense of personal selfhood in Manas. With higher Manas, which gravitates upwards, we have a higher Self. With lower Manas, gravitating downwards, we have the lower self. With this further separation off from the unmanifest, from the unity of life, we now have a sense of Ego, a sense that we are a different being from the others in the world.
It should be noted that we are talking about our coming into being, about our taking on of the fabric of consciousness in a particular world or universe. We are talking about coming into manifestation, as individuals, on a particular plane, on a particular Globe. This does not deal with the entirety of us. It involves looking at how we take on manifest existence; but it does not address the imperishable, timeless, perfect nature of our innermost core, something rooted in the Grand Unknowable. This rootedness is not dependent upon our being in existence, nor being out of existence. It is unchanging and independent of anything we may do, or anywhere we may be.
Having taken on the sense of Ego, with Manas, we now have taken on a sense of selfhood. We have taken on that kind of experience in the world. We are aware of ourselves existing, as separate individuals, with our own personal natures, in a particular world. This sense of selfhood, though, does not necessarily imply the fire of self- consciousness. That light of consciousness, that radiance, must work its way through the principles, over vast evolutionary time periods. That principle where it resides is the one that we call our "seat of consciousness." And we are always at work seeking to shift it upward and inward.
Now that we have a sense of personal selfhood, we are getting closer to the point where we are ready to engage in activity. The next stage, with Kama, is the desire to do things. We need to care about activity. There needs to be meaning and purpose to our existence. We need to have particular things to care about, things to do in life. These things could be ignoble, if Kama takes on that direction, or they could be acts of heroic compassion, if Kama is directed at the highest. Without Kama to ensnare us in outer existence, we would remain in Manas, in a sense of contented personal selfhood, disinterested in outer life. (It is in just this very state, that we pass through the other Globes, when dead, as we live out our Devachan in the bosom of the Spiritual Monad.)
Having taken on Kama, and truly caring to do things, what do we need next? Life-energies, the power or force or ability to take on motion, to engage in activity, to change. This is Prana, and before we take it on, we are in a STATIC state, where we desire to do things, but do not have the capability to take on motion, to change ourselves and the outside world, to live out what we would do. We draw on the surrounding life energies of the world, Jiva, and what we are able to contain and direct become our personal life energies, our Prana, and we are able now to not only WANT things, but also to EFFECT CHANGES on them.
To this point, we have been dealing with consciousness, with life energies, with our experience of things. This is the life side. But to actually do things, we need to engage the form side of things as well. And with the next principle, the Astral or Linga-Sharira, we take on SENSE PERCEPTION. We see, touch, taste, and smell. We take on sensory perception of the outer world. We come into relationship with others in terms of form, the mirror opposite of Buddhi, where we come into relationship with others in terms of life.
At this stage, we have all our principles, minus but the physical body. Were we fully consciousness in this state, we could see and observe everything happening in the world -- and change things as well, via Prana -- but there was no living, organic, physical body anchoring us as being in a particular place, acting as our proxy in the world. One must be a Bodhisattva to function in this state, even the Mahatmas have physical bodies. But apart from this state, it is possible to exist in a temporary, mind-created form, of semi-physical nature, somewhat more material than the state of pure perception of the Nirmanakaya. This mind-created form is the Mayavi-Rupa, and Masters and advanced Chelas are able to exist apart from their physical bodies in such forms.
The last principle, as mentioned, is the Sthula-Sharira or physical body. This principle is the lowest that we go in materiality, the lowest of the sevenfold or tenfold principles. With it, we reach the ultimate state of concreteness, where we take on a specific locality, and take on a form as the proxy and channel for our consciousness. (There IS one lower state, in the twelvefold scheme, which is related to avitchi or hell-consciousness, but it's a bit too complicated to get into in this discussion.)
To this point, we have been discussing the coming into manifest existence, through the process of clothing ourselves in the seven principles. We take on the fabric of consciousness, from the storehouse of the world or universe in which we would exist. We gather our Shandkas or bundles of attributes, and engaged in the process of life in that arena of existence.
What about the rest of us? What about the part of us that is unmanifest, that goes beyond existence, that dwells in the Silence behind outward things? I try a few words on that topic in a later posting. (I'm already up to four pages!) That part of us consists of the higher of the TEN or TWELVE principles, that make up the totality of us, as Monads.
By Frank Reitemeyer
Today, January 15, when several Theosophists are commemorating the birthday of Dr. Gottfried de Purucker, leader of the Point Loma Theosophical Society from 1929-1942, it should be the right time for a little meditation about his heartful Fraternization Movement he started in 1929 and of her he spoke on several occasions at various places, even in addresses and lectures before lodges belonging to the Adyar Society. We quote a paragraph from an Address before the Wirral Lodge (Adyar) in Birkenhead, England, at their invitation, January, 5, 1933:
I am trying to bring out about a reunification of the disjecta membra of the Theosophical Movement, i.e., of the various Theosophical Societies, so as to form a compact organic entity to do battle with the forces of obscurantism and of evil in the world, just as there was one organic entity, the T.S., in the time of HPB; and I believe that this will come to pass, but perhaps not in my lifetime. I may be called to give an account of what I have done before the thing comes to pass; but verily, I believe with all my soul that this Theosophical unity will some day be an accomplished fact.
Now we of Point Loma hold certain doctrines and hold them with tenacity; we love these doctrines more than life, because to us they are Theosophy, all of it pure Theosophy, but not all of Theosophy openly expressed. We of Point Loma don't like other strange doctrines, added on to these ancient Wisdom-Teachings of the gods. We don't like psychic visions added to the Message of the Masters. But for pity's sake is the Theosophical Movement not broad enough to allow its component members, its component fellowships, i.e., the different Theosophical Societies which compose it, to believe what they please, and to honor what they may choose to honor? If not, then the Theosophical Movement has degenerated; and personally I don't believe that it has degenerated. I take you Brothers of Adyar: you, I believe, teach and accept certain things that I personally cannot accept as Theosophy. But do I say that you are ethically wrong in holding to these your beliefs and in teaching them, and do I say that you have no right to do so? Never. My attitude has always been: give fellow-Theosophists a full chance; if what they profess and believe as truth is true, it will prove itself to be true; if what they profess and believe is wrong, time will uproot it. We of Point Loma ask for the same kindly tolerance."
-- MESSAGES TO CONVENTIONS
Isn't it worth for us, wether we belong to that or another or to none TS, to meditate about this statement? Isn't it time to find peace among the Theosophical Movement and forget and forgive? Should we not be clever enough to unite in a state of spiritual thought and live Theosophy as Brothers under Brothers?
There is a new web site with texts in Russian
usopshi.ha E. Barker "Letters of alive dead" vol 1 (1914) usop-war.ha E. Barker "Letters of alive dead" vol 2 (1915) usop-usa.ha E. Barker "Letters of alive dead" vol 3 (1918) teo-dict.ha Theosophical Glossary by HPB letrmah1.ha Letters of Masters of Wisdom, vol 1 letrmah1.ha Letters of Masters of Wisdom, vol 2 pis-mah.ha Mahatma letters (to Sinnett & Hume) drevmudr.ha A. Besant "Ancient Wisdom" ab-lest.ha A. Besant "Ladder of life" eso-psyh.ha A. Bailey "Esoteric Psychology" (Tr. on 7 rays vol.1) ep_karma.ha E. Pisareva "Karma or low of cause & effect" ep_mysl.zip E. Pisareva "Thought power & thoughtforms" ep_struc.zip E. Pisareva "Complicated constitution of man" biogr.zip E. Pisareva Short biography of H.P. Blavatsky bowen.zip R. Bowen "HPB on studying theosophy" gita_kom.zip A. Besant "Comments to Bhagavad-Gita" th&h.zip A. Besant "Does theosophy contradict Christianity?" esochr.zip A. Besant "Esoteric Christianity" hpb.zip "Occult world of Blavatsky"
On Agni Yoga
zov.zip Call ozarenie.zip Illumination obschina.zip Commune obsh_urg.zip Commune (Urga edition) ay.zip Agni Yoga bezpred_1.zip Unlimitedness part 1 bezpred_2.zip Unlimitedness part 2 ierarhia.zip Hierarchy serdce.zip Heart mo-one.zip Fireworld part 1 mo-two.zip Fireworld part 2 mo-thr.zip Fireworld part 3 aum.zip Aum brone.zip Brotherhood part 1 brtwo.zip Brotherhood part 2 brthr.zip Brotherhood part 3 grani_1.zip Facets of Agni-yoga 1 grani_5.ha Facets of Agni-yoga 5 grani_6.ha Facets of Agni-yoga 6 hagrani_7.ha Facets of Agni-yoga 7 grani_8.ha Facets of Agni-yoga 8 agni_op.ha Fire experience colors.ha Agni-yoga about colors dream.ha E. I. Roerich "Dreams & visions" aseev.zip E. I. Roerich letters to Yugoslavia (to Aseev) kript.ha "Cryptograms of East" os_mirop.ha A. Klisovsky "Basics of New Age World Understanding" abramov1.ha B. Abramov "Intended heart" rokotova.ha E. I. Roerich "Basics of Buddhism" shambala.ha N. K. Roerich "Shambhala the glowing" serdceaz.zip E. I. Roerich "Heart of Asia" svet.zip Light on the path belikov.zip F. Belikov "Roerich" fosdik26.zip Z. Fosdick "In Moscow & on Altai with Roerichs" (1926)
foma-eva.ha Gospel of Thoma feodora.ha Ordeals of blessed Theodora's soul eva-mari.ha Gospel of Maria kumran.ha About Kumran manuscripts (from Nag-Hammadi) tibet-jc.ha Tibetan gospel origen.ha Origen "On principles", ch. 4 (reincarnations) strannik.zip Wonderer's sincere tales to spiritual father i_sirin.zip Phrases by reverend Isaak Sirin
On East doctrines
gita.ha Bhagavad-Gita (?) bg01.ha Bhagavad-Gita (transl. by Kamenska) bg02.ha Bhagavad-Gita (transl. by Neapolitansky) bg03.ha Bhagavad-Gita (transl. by Prabhupada) bgshloka.ha Slokas from Bhagavad-Gita aparoksa.zip Sri Shankaracharya "Immediate cognition" vishnu.ha Vishnu-Purana upanishs.ha Full list of 108 Upanishads (English) isha.zip Isha Upanishad shvetaup.zip Shvetashvatara Upanishad atma.ha Atma Upanishad mandukya.ha Mandukya Upanishad kaushita.ha Kaushitaki Upanishad katha.ha Katha Upanishad kena.ha Kena Upanishad vedanta.ha Vedanta-sutra shiva.ha Siva-sutra shank02.ha Sri Shankaracharya "Vakyavrittih" (Explaining phrases) chaterji.ha Catterju "Esoteric religious philosophy of India" viveka01.ha Vivekananda "Inspired talks" krmurti1.ha Krishnamurti "At the feet of Master" krmurti2.ha Krishnamurti "Book of life" krmurti3.ha Krishnamurti "Freedom from known" satprem1.ha Satprem "Sri Aurobindo" satprem2.ha Satprem "On the path to superhuman" advaifaq.ha Sunderesan "Advaita Vedanta FAQ"
On Dharma (Buddhism)
anapanas.ha Anapanasati-sutra vajra01.ha Vajracchehedika-Prajniaparamita sutra vajra02.ha Vajracchehedika-Prajniaparamita sutra  dharma.ha Dharmachakra Pravartana sutra kashyapa.ha Kasyapa sutra mahapari.ha Mahaparanirvana sutra sinhe.ha Sutra, gift to general Sinha hridaya.ha Hridaya sutra chakka.ha Chakravartisihananda sutra paraloka.ha Paralokasiddhi dhammapd.ha Dhammapada saddharm.ha Sutra about lotus flower of wonderful dharma siddhas.ha Abhayadatta "Chaturashiti-siddha-pravritti" dalai01.ha Dalai-lama XIV "Buddhism of Tibet" dalai02.ha Dalai-lama XIV "Path to illumination" dalai03.ha Dalai-lama XIV "Eight verses training the mind" adalai04.ha Dalai-lama XIV calu01.ha Kalu Rimpoche "Foundation of Buddhic meditation" calu02.ha Kalu Rimpoche "Spoken instructions" chogyam1.ha Chogyam Trungpa "Mahamudra" shamatha.ha Geshs Tinley "Shamatha: basics of Tibetan meditation" gyaltsen.ha K. Giltzen "Kagyupa" cagyu.ha Early masters of Kagyu in India & Tibet nidal01.ha Ole Nidal "On death & reincarnation" nidal02.ha Ole Nidal "Six emancipating actions" nidal03.ha Ole Nidal "Mahamudra destroying the tamas" nidal04.ha Ole Nidal "Teaching on nature of mind" nidal05.ha Ole Nidal "Instruction of Ngendro" nidal06.ha Ole Nidal "Riding a tiger" nidal07.ha Ole Nidal "Pho-va" nidal08.ha Ole Nidal "Mahamudra" asanga.ha Carola Schneider "Story about Asanga"
yogasutr.ha Patanjali "Yoga-sutra" ramach01.ha Ramacharaka "Basics of Indian yogis worldview" ramach02.ha Ramacharaka "Raja-yoga" ramach03.ha Ramacharaka "Science of breath of Indian yogis" chinmoy1.ha Sri Chinmoy "Kundalini: Mother-force" sarasv01.ha Swami Sarasvati "Two talks on japa-meditation" sarasv02.ha Swami Sarasvati "Bihar school of yoga" hatha.ha Yesudian & Heich "Hatha-yoga & health"
On Other Texts
masla.ha Etheric oils -- an ancient healing means O.K.-phil.ha Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa "Occult philosophy" v.1 orphei.zip Churet "Great initiated. Orpheos" rektif.zip Manual on astrological rectification tibet-m.zip Tibetan medicine handbook m-ether.ha Sinnett. Mendeleev's conception of ether deadbook.ha "Tibetan book of dead" (transl. by Tzvetkov)
[It's important to note that ".ha" files should not be downloaded using Netscape; they can only be correctly downloaded using MS Internet Explorer.]
By K. Paul Johnson
[based upon an October 3, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Having observed the back-and-forth about whether or not theosophical groups are hostile to reports of paranormal experiences, I'll volunteer to serve as a test case.
Ever since college, when a friend first told me what to look for, I have been intermittently able to see certain aspects of the human energy field. Until recently, it required "just right" lighting conditions and/or intentionality. What I saw was sort of like what you see through windows that have radiators under them in the winter: a wavy, transparent radiance. I never saw more than specks of color, although was occasionally able to see individual differences.
After reading Barbara Brennan's LIGHT EMERGING and spending a week in California -- including some very high-energy spots -- everything changed last spring. From rare and intermittent, the aura-seeing became almost constant. From being something that I had to will myself to see, it became something that continually sneaked up on me and surprised me. From being just a vague radiance, it became a large auric egg with fairly definite boundaries and layers. And occasionally I can see Chakras, more especially a vortex above the head.
What I'd like others to comment on is that I am reluctant/unable to see individual differences. I can look at a roomful of people and see a roomful of auric eggs with sparks of color and undulating layers and Chakras and vortices -- but they all look alike. Partly this may be explicable by the fact that I don't WANT to see individual differences, as it seems like an invasion of privacy. I don't want to "know" things about people from seeing their auras. Or maybe it's all imaginary and anyone who REALLY sees, sees profound individual differences.
The vivid intensity of the experience (which is tapering off now, months after the trip) makes me feel sure that there is real perception going on, not just "seeing what I want to see." In other words, objective reality is involved. But then I think, "if it's that objective, why does everyone look the same?"
For better or worse, the sameness has a wonderful, uplifting effect on my consciousness. That is, being struck by the large, radiant auric field of someone working in the yard as I drive by evokes a whole set of pleasurable associations:
1. That person is a spiritual being with many layers of consciousness and materiality; so are all persons.
2. My spiritual consciousness is magnetized by the sight of another person's aura, provoking feelings of impersonal love, compassion, peace.
3. The emergence of the ability to see this is a promise of further unexpected unfolding ahead, maybe in this life and maybe not. But it is encouraging.
By Murray Stentiford
[based upon a September, 1995 posting to email@example.com.]
Just over a year ago, my wife, Jocelyn, and I moved to a new house in a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, only 8 minutes' drive from the city centre. We took it on for the express purpose of being near to our workplaces and near to the Auckland theosophical lodge and NZ theosophical headquarters. We hoped that by reducing traveling time, we'd have more time for theosophical work and the various facets of home life.
Living in this part of the city is also an excellent financial investment due to the rate of rise of property values -- relevant to our primary goals by freeing us up financially sooner to do the things we really want to with our time. I enjoy my paid work but I'd still rather be doing theosophically-related things.
The compromise we made for this combination of advantages, was to accept a pretty ordinary urban environment, i.e. on flat, rather low ground, without much of a view, and close to other houses. It's pleasant enough, but leaves the spirit wanting in some ways. Not that we should moan, though; it's a lot worse for some in other parts of the city.
I see this period of our lives as being one where our connections are best served by being this close to them physically, but this doesn't stop me having a strong impulse at times to break out and find a more beautiful natural environment to live in, while keeping in touch with the world via the Internet, for example, when I want to. I feel that our time in the present house could be quite short and we're holding it lightly, ready for a significant change. Meanwhile, we live in a kind of ongoing creative tension.
I often think of the ways nature is expressed in city dwelling areas, despite the human noise, debris and sterility. It's been a real delight to find that native birds are moving back into the city, a thrill to hear a tui or a morepork in the trees near our home. Maybe when we plant more flowers, there'll be more nature spirits around, too.
When we first moved into the house, I was very conscious of its being a collection of materials put together, not yet well integrated into a "being" in the way our Maori indigenous people conceive a dwelling place to be. Every wall a clean Akasic slate, relatively speaking. So, I have often thought love into those walls and asked for the presence and embrace of any interested orders of beings. When we leave, any inner richness that results can be for the next inhabitants to enjoy, even if they just think the place has a nice feel.
The soil in the garden is a heavy layer of clay dumped on top of an older fertile volcanic soil, despoiled somewhat with stones and even small car parts in it -- probably from a garbage dump. It has made me quite sad and resentful at times, to think that the builders dumped this stuff on top of the original good soil.
When I think about this heavy, humanly-spoiled earth, I think also of its inner equivalent -- the psychic "gunge" that I once read sinks into the ground in a city as a byproduct of human activity. I have decided that the earth layer needs not only more aeration and oxygen but also more love and light. So, in my meditations, I sometimes turn my attention to the earth around me and try to see, as a vibrant reality, its being leavened with light.
Yes; if you want to find areas of service, there are plenty right close to hand.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This article is based upon a tape recording of a private talk give by Boris de Zirkoff. It was initially transcribed June 25, 1973, by Eldon Tucker, then later edited for publication.]
The doctrine of karma is one of the most metaphysical ones, and one of the most difficult doctrines really to understand. These reaches are not for mere inquirers, nor would it be correct to tell the inquirer the doctrine of karma is so metaphysical and abstruse that I can give you no idea of it. That of course would be absurd. The idea of karma if it could be understood by the millions In the Western lands would certainly produce a tremendous revolution of thought and of morals. It could be understood by the millions only in its very simple form of cause and effect. We are studying this idea here from slightly higher and more deep levels of thought; so we have to try and understand more of it than is given to a mere inquirer.
It has been the consensus of views by most of the Teachers in the Theosophical Movement that in its abstruse and more metaphysical aspect the idea of karma is exceedingly difficult to grasp, and very unfamiliar to the philosophical bent of the very intellectual and philosophically minded people in the West. Also very largely in the East among those who simply have misunderstood its metaphysical bearings, although in the East it has never died out or disappeared from popular consciousness as it has in the West.
One very important thought to remember in connection with karma is the meaning of the word as a word. There is the Sanskrit root kri, k-r-i. It's a verb, a verbal root which means to make or to do. The English word create is related to kri: to produce, to bring forth, to bring about -- not in the theological Christian sense to make something out of nothing, not in that sense at all. So let us remember that the word create in this connection as coming from kri should mean to produce, to manifest, to bring about something out of something else, not out of nothing. By adding the suffix ma, m-a, to the root kri, or to the Sanskrit stem kar, which comes through one of the rules of the Sanskrit grammar from the root kri, we have the word karma, in one of its forms it is karman, and in one other form of the same root it's karma. It means the same thing, but Sanskrit has two forms for every substantive: the nominative and the crude form. Just like it's perfectly correct to say yogi but the form that you will find in the dictionary would be yogin.
Literally the word means doing something, making something, and therefore it carries the meaning of action. It's correct to say that karma means action. That isn't the only thing that it means. It means other ideas in back of it. It's a technical term, a term from which hangs a whole series of philosophical doctrines, and these doctrines are of a nature of which are not too easily understood.
It's all very well to speak of karma as action, as action and reaction, but when you have covered these particular meanings of doing and making, acting, producing, you still have to bring out the important thought that karma as a word does not only mean action in itself, devoid of results, but definitely implies within the word the causation bringing about certain results. So it would be correct to say that karma means action and reaction in one. That is a metaphysical concept which is unfamiliar to Western minds.
We have schooled ourselves through various philosophical and religious ideas to consider action and reaction as separate from each other. They are somehow or other related to each other, but nevertheless they are separate. We haven't the slightest idea of how certain reactions or results ensue from certain actions. The metaphysical concept of karma, the Eastern Esoteric view of this, is that every action has within itself its own reaction. Every action as a cause has within itself its own effect or series of effects, and interesting enough they are simultaneous. They are not divided from each other by time, although it takes some form of an illusion called time to bring about these results into manifestation. The main point being that we will have to move some day to a new concept of action and reaction and try to understand that they are intimately interconnected; that they are two facets of the same coin; that they can never be separated without destroying each other; and that peculiarly enough they seem to be a very metaphysical relation between That and what we call time. Many lectures could be built on that subject, many aspects of this brought out, but I do not intend to dwell on this any longer at the present moment unless there are questions later on.
We can consider the subject of karma from another standpoint, and that is the standpoint of results. The word results or fruits seem to be the most general application in the technical sense of the Esoteric Philosophy. Dr. de Purucker points out very definitely that karma is not a law. He points out that no God made it. Let's be careful, now, about every word of this thing.
Karma is not a law; no God made it. A human law, let us remember, is a maxim of conduct or order of right, laid down by a lawgiver, forbidding what is wrong and inculcating and commanding what is right.
-- G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, (Covina, California: Theosophical University Press, 1947), 129
This may be an ordinary municipal law; this may be a federal law; it may be a universal law of morality or general behaviorism which the powers that be -- national, international -- try to keep alive for the good of all. Having outlined it, and put it in the statutes, they try to conserve it, preserve it, keep it up, defend it, so that people live under it. Karma is not that kind of a law. It has not been established by any man, or any demigod, or any god. It's not forbidding action. It is not commanding anything. It is not a statute that limits human actions within certain limits, and if you transcend these limits then something or somebody or some delegated authority comes and whacks you on the head for having transcended a certain limit of action. Karma is nothing of this. This is a sort of an explanation in negatives of what karma is not.
Karma is the habit of universal and eternal Nature ...
-- Fundamentals, 129
It is a habit. It is a way in which things behave. It is a mannerism of universal Nature. That may sound very odd. It's a behavior pattern of universal Nature. To ask why does universal Nature behave that way seems to be an empty question. I don't think you have any answer. Just like the question why should we love each other? There seems to be no reasonable reason why we should. We most certainly should.
It reminds me -- with slight modifications -- of a physical fact: the nature of electricity. The renowned Sir William Bragg, the great English physicist, was asked, "What is electricity?"
He said: "I don't know." But he said: "If I were to be pressed on that point, I would say that it is the way in which matter behaves. If I were to be pressed to ask why does matter behave that way, all I could say is that it pretty jolly does so."
That's about it. It jolly well does so that nature acts and reacts to every action. Our finite minds are unable to understand its causes and so we use certain words like "habit" or "pattern" in which nature operates.
Karma is the habit of universal and eternal Nature, a habit inveterate, primordial, which so works that an act is necessarily, by destiny, followed by an ineluctable result, a reaction from the Nature in which we live.
-- Fundamentals, 129
An act is followed by a reaction from the Nature in which we live. If you ask me "What do you mean by Nature?" -- anything from the next atom, to me, to the furthermost star, visible and invisible, the surrounding Totality of the All. The author points out that when it was called by A.P. Sinnett in HPB's days the law of ethical causation, it was an inadequate and misleading term because first karma is more than ethical, it is both spiritual and material and all between. It has its application on the spiritual, on the mental, psychical and physical planes and everywhere in between. So it is not only a law of ethical causation. It is not a law, in the first place, and second, it's not limited to ethics.
To call it the "law of cause and effect" is much better, because more general, but even this does not describe it adequately at all. The very essence of the meaning of this doctrine is that when anything acts in any state of embodied consciousness, it sets up an immediate chain of causation, acting on every plane to which that chain of causation reaches, to which the force extends.
-- Fundamentals, 129
Let's dwell on this for a few moments. It seems in Dr. de Purucker's explanation that when he arrives at this particular point he's fairly well satisfied with his expression. So this expression is a little nearer to the truth as far as he sees it than all the other things that have preceded it: they're all true but this seems in his estimation to be a better way of putting it. The very essence of the meaning of this doctrine, the doctrine of karma, is that when anything acts in any state of embodied consciousness it sets up an immediate chain of causation, acting on every plane to which that chain of causation reaches, to which the force extends.
I am jumping here deliberately to Dr. de Purucker's Occult Glossary and bring another definition of the same idea to your attention.
When an entity acts, he acts from within; he acts through an expenditure in greater or less degree of his own native energy. This expenditure of energy, this out-flowing of energy, as it impacts upon the surrounding milieu, the Nature around us, brings forth from the latter perhaps an instantaneous or perhaps a delayed reaction or rebound. Nature, in other words, reacts against the impact. The combination of these two -- of energy acting upon Nature and Nature reacting against the impact of that energy -- is what is called karma, being a combination of the two factors. Karma is, in other words, essentially a chain of causation, stretching back into the infinity of the past and therefore necessarily destined to stretch into the infinity of the future. It is unescapable because it is in universal Nature, which is infinite and therefore everywhere and timeless; and sooner or later the reaction will inevitably be felt by the entity which aroused it.
-- G. de Purucker, Occult Glossary, (Pasadena, California: Theosophical University Press, 1969), 80
There's one point there which needs a little clarification. Every one of us acts in various ways. Physical action is one. Physical action of course is only a result of our thinking, of our feeling. We had to think and feel in a certain direction and indulge in a certain trend of good or evil thinking and feeling before we actually came to the point of acting in that direction.
An action or a deed is the cumulation of a great deal of thought and emotion and feeling and desires that some time, some day comes to the point of actual action. The deed is done. It may be a wonderful deed, or it may be an evil one. The man acts from within -- very deeply so.
If a man undertakes a journey, if the man builds a family, if the man builds a great concern, if he writes a book, if he initiates a great movement -- whether it is something very great, noble or a line of evil action -- there has been a great deal of thought and feeling put in that direction long before and these have come from within. So the action as a word could very well mean thought in many cases, because thoughts are things.
The ultimate of thought is action, but let us not forget the fact that intense feeling and intense thought are very powerful and in themselves sometimes produce results without any physical action. All the time while we think or intensely feel or desire or take physical action we are projecting from within ourselves the energies and potencies of the human consciousness and impact with them nature that surrounds us. Everything touched by that energy reacts in various ways according to the center of consciousness that has been touched by that energy.
Even here in this room, I utter some sentence embodying an idea. Every one of you is going to react to that idea in a different way. One may say: "That's wonderful." The other may say: "I don't quite understand it." The third one: "Yes, there's something in it, but I would like to know more of what you really mean." Perhaps there is one, I hope not, but there may be one here who simply didn't hear it, it didn't register at all. Your reactions to the same thought are different, but each one has a reaction of a kind.
The truth of it is that we cannot produce a thought or indulge in a feeling or in an act without producing a reaction sooner or later from every part of surrounding nature, visible and invisible, from beings and entities of which we do not know even the existence. Beings and things which we do not even suspect exist. Our thoughts and feelings and actions are like that ripple from that falling stone in the pond which go on widening and the question may arise in our minds how far will they widen out, will they ever strike any kind of a shore or will they go on widening indefinitely, and if they do strike a shore when will they come back and bring us the reaction? These are all very profound metaphysical ideas; they are well worth pondering over.
The results, the reactions from surrounding Nature to our actions -- the two together -- are karma. Having stated that -- no, we haven't stated very much, we've just helped to elucidate one aspect of it. Here is another. Human karma is born within man himself. We are its creators and generators and also do we suffer from it or are clarified through it by our own previous actions. What is this habit in itself?
As the German philosopher Kant would have said, "das Ding an sich," the thing in itself: "this inveterate, primordial habit of nature, which makes it react to an arousing cause." [Fundamentals, 130]
What is this habit in itself? That's a question the author says which we will at some future time have to go into more fully than we can do at this evening.
At this point I pause for a moment, to bring out an illustration or two which perhaps will help us. In all of these things the key to the understanding of the Teachings is analogy. In all of these matters, the key is to remember that there is throughout nature a concatenation or chain of causes so that every plane reflects every other plane, so that the small is a part of the great, and the great manifests nothing else in essence but what the small manifests on its own plane as a replica.
Will you take for consideration your own physical body? It has organs, and we will imagine that these organs function very well, they are in a healthy condition. There has been established through many years of life certain habits of food, of breathing, of exercise certain rhythms of heart and pulse and of nervous energies, and in every man it is different from another. That is to some extent, although the pattern is the same. Each man has his own rhythm. He has certain vibratory rates which are essential to his well being, and within the framework of that physical body, there has been established a certain habit of life.
When we say that a man lives a certain type of life we simply mean that he has established a certain rhythm within himself which cannot be deviated from without producing an unwholesome, a dis-ease, a disease condition, a condition of not being at ease which we call disease.
You introduce into that body some material that is poisonous to it that breaks up the existing rhythm, or without introducing anything into it, you subject your body to certain conditions which it is unaccustomed to and which it rebels against, you will be in a very uncomfortable situation which you will want to throw off.
The entire structure of your physical body -- even bringing to the picture more ethereal energies than physical -- will react against the Invading force or set of conditions any try to throw them out. The main thought here is that you as a man, as a consciousness, have established a pattern of your body and of your astral structure which you want to preserve.
This is the pattern through which you evolved. That is the blueprint of your tenement, of your vehicle, and you, as a consciousness manifesting in it, want to preserve it, to keep it intact. So you react powerfully, perhaps on several planes, to equalize the disturbed equilibrium, to reintroduce harmony where disharmony has threatened to invade, or to heal whatever wound or dislocation or disharmony has been temporarily produced.
If you were the disturbing element, if you were the set of cells that were rebelling, if you were the entities that had invaded the stronghold, and if you could speak and speak theosophical language you would say we are up against karma.
We are up against a power which seems to react against us. What would that power be? Suppose there is a cell, an atom, an electron, a group of them, experiencing your own human dominating element that is trying to oust the invading force or reestablish the disturbed equilibrium. Obviously the karmic agency or the agency of reaction is you, the man, the man's formed consciousness. Man's own consciousness as far as your body's growth, inner and outer, is the dominating psycho-spiritual force. It has established a pattern. It has made a blueprint through many ages of evolution within its own hierarchical system, and to come down to the very root idea now, it is the man's will, the man's will power, will essence, which is the rulership, the guiding, conforming, harmonizing, ruling element that tries to introduce harmony throughout this hierarchy, and forcefully and powerfully reacts against everything that may disturb it, and rightly so.
On the plane of mere human action, in a country inhabited by two-hundred million people, there is even a human manifestation of that fundamental law of nature. A very imperfect manifestation, but by replicas, by analogy, a state built by men with a certain amount of human wisdom and intelligence -- not much but a certain amount. That state imposes certain rules of conduct, certain ideas which it considers as a collectivity to be good for the people, and a disturbing element that will try to overthrow the existing pattern will be rebelled against. The state in its collectivity through the necessary agencies will try either to calm or to pacify or throw out the disturbing element to preserve throughout the land the smooth flow of a certain collective will that through the years or maybe centuries has been impressed as a pattern upon the people. That's a human manifestation, a very imperfect one, but by analogy it stems from the same spiritual principle.
We jump a little here. We human beings, we animals, we plants, minerals, atoms, superhuman beings, demigods, mahatmas, Avataras, what not -- the various kingdoms of life -- we're all cells, integral and inseparable cells, in a tremendous structure. We are cells, integral parts of a cosmic structure which has a spiritual head.
We actually live and move and have our being, as St. Paul says, in a greater entity than our minds can conceive. All of us live, as cells, in the mental, spiritual, psycho-magnetic, and even astral structure of the entity which may be called -- just for the sake of argument -- the divinity of the Sun. We evolve within the consciousness of that being. Don't you realize that this entity has its own habits, realize that it has its own patterns of thought, that it has its own blueprint of action, and that they are the result of the evolution of that entity through millions, perhaps billions of years in the past?
That entity some time in the distant past was a man, like we. We were then perhaps mental thoughts in the constitution of that being. Today we are human beings in its realm or domain over which it presides.
The tremendous will or wills of the highest spiritual beings within that system have established currents, patterns, riverbeds which we miscall laws. They're not laws. They're habits. Every time we as evolving entities act or think or feel -- independent as we are in our choice -- against the current of these established patterns, we experience the collective reaction of the whole system against which we cannot do anything.
The only way by which we can be absolutely free within that system, absolutely free, is when we become completely attuned and harmonized with the pattern and the web of its consciousness and of the currents of its forces. We call these patterns and these habits of higher beings. We call them by the name of karma. That is why Dr. de Purucker says at this point:
What is this habit in itself, this inveterate, primordial habit of nature which makes it react to an arousing cause? That is a question we will, at some future time, have to go into more fully than we can do it this evening; but we may say this much: that it is the will of the spiritual beings who have preceded us in bygone kalpas or great manvantaras, and who now stand as Gods, and whose will and thought direct and protect the mechanism and the type and quality of the universe in which we live. These great beings were once men in some former great manvantara. It is our destiny ultimately to become like unto them, and to be of their number, if we run the race of kalpic evolution successfully.
-- Fundamentals, 130
So we come to this general conclusion regarding the doctrine of karma as viewed from this angle. The conclusion is something like this. What is it in its quality of its manifestation? It's a chain of causation, a chain of cause to effect, of action to reaction; of action to result, it is an endless chain of causation in its manifestation. What is it in its cause? Why does it work that way? Because of the tremendous, overruling, guiding, controlling, and beneficently controlling will of the higher entity in which we live and move and have our being. We are constantly trying to adjust ourselves to its will, which is as far ahead in evolution to our will as our human will is ahead in evolution to the will of the little atoms and electrons composing our bodies. To them the human being is a god. To us, the solar logos is a god. Our habits as human beings to the millions of electrons within our constitution are the law, so-called law. We impress that pattern upon everything we are. To us as human beings or the collectivity of mankind, it is the will and the pattern of higher entities. It manifests itself as a law, as rulership, as a guiding element which cannot be gainsaid, cannot be transcended, cannot be set aside.
I hope you grasp at least the general idea of what I am trying to convey. It is subtle, it is unfamiliar to many people, it is difficult to express, and so I try to put it in as brief a way as i could.
These doctrines must forever be coordinated with ethics, and the intellectual view of things, the logical, and you might almost say the legal view of things. One must not lose sight of the concept of love, forgiveness, mercy. I'm very much afraid that these ideas are not as prominent in the Theosophical Movement of today as they should be. There is much doctrine, but there isn't enough heart-life.
It is easy to say -- and we should apply it right here -- that the law of cause and effect exacts a complete and full retribution for everything done. Correct. You must bring into this picture the idea that the powers operative on higher planes and who distribute and guide the habits of nature are individuals animated by cosmic love. Their consciousness is love. They have transcended all selfishness, all human ignorance, all sense of separateness. What we call sympathy, compassion, impersonal love, forgiveness, mercy, and charity are the fabric of their consciousness. It is the fabric of our consciousness also, of our higher consciousness, but we don't manifest it yet, except a little ray here and a little ray there. To them this is a condition of every moment of their existence.
Therefore, justice can be only conceived cosmically when tempered by love. The justice of the human courts is not tempered with love. The justice of a war victor -- what he imagines justice upon the victim -- is not tempered by forgiveness, by love, by understanding, by fatherly attitude: "Well, let's get together now, and maybe I can help you to do better while learning myself to do better too."
These things do not exist in the relation of nations, and they often do not exist even in the relations of a family, but the relation of these cosmic entities to us through the workings of karmic causation, is one of infinite compassion, of unspeakable love of which we know practically nothing, of a warmness of spiritual sympathy and understanding, because everything that we are, everything that we do, everything that we think, are to them the a-b-c of an old alphabet they have learned ages ago.
To them the pages of the human heart are as open today or years ago or in a thousand years from now, they're just as open as a book that we open to read. They know exactly what we are, why we are that way, what can be expected of us. They cannot make us over, we have to grow ourselves, but theirs is the help, the compassion, the sustaining power that exacts justice, but is justice which is tempered with mercy, charity, an utter understanding of what we are. For these things we have hardly any words: this is not intellect, intellect here must be warmed up with the love of the noble part, of the noblest part within us. Before we can understand the workings of cosmic justice, you must understand at least the elements of impersonal love.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an September, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
There is more to us than exists at any moment of time. There is a part that transcends existence. That part of us watches over us, it is our Mother. It also reaches inward and upward to embrace the Unknowable. We are not talking about a "body" or "bodies". There are no forms or specific attributes, since it is beyond existing, beyond manifestation. But there is CONSCIOUSNESS. We are conscious of the aspects to life that these NON-EXISTING parts of ourselves represent. These different aspects of consciousness compliment those of our manifest existence, our lower seven principles. They are our Highest Triad, our uppermost three principles, making us as ten-principled beings.
Let us first consider what it means to be beyond existence. There is no awareness of existing. We have nothing to think about, nothing to want to do, no one else to interact with, not even a sense of Self, a sense of BEING a particular person with various attributes and characteristics. There is just NOTHING, no-thing, a sense of completeness and fulfillment. What is left to us? It depends upon how deeply we still go within, how far-removed we take ourselves from the existing world that we have left.
We are considering a deep state of consciousness, an aspect of our awareness of life that transcends any trace of our manifestation. We have nearly left this plane in its entirety. We are beyond the body, senses, life-energies, desires, thoughts, karmic web, and sense of being. Having left that all behind, what is left of us in our inner natures? This question directs our attention to our inmost essence. It is an entirely different question than what type of person would we be, should we clothe ourselves in body, senses, life-energies, desire for activity, thought, etc., appropriate to another plane of existence (higher Globe). We are not talking about taking on the fabric of consciousness on another theater of life, another plane or Globe. Instead, we are talking about our inmost part, that which reaches beyond the outer man and goes to the core, rooted in Divinity.
In the tenfold scheme, there is a Highest Triad, three higher principles higher than Atman. I've not seen names applied to them. My choice would be the Auric Egg for the 8th, Swabhava for the 9th, and Paramatman for the 10th.
Each principle unfolds from the previous one, as a scroll would be unwound. Each represents a further degree of coming into existence. There are degrees of unfoldment to these three principles, those of the Highest Triad, as well.
Let us work our way upwards, from that which we know, or have some idea of, towards the Unknowable Mystery. Let's see how far we can get before we can go no further.
What is it to us that endures, that persists whether we exist at a particular time or not? It is our karmic treasure, our storehouse of experience, our seeds that await their appropriate time to sprout forth in life. This storehouse of experience, which envelopes us, overshadows us, and contains us in our entirely, is the Auric Egg. It is that part of us that endures, that lasts "beyond the grave," when the world has gone into Pralaya and our seven principles are no more. It endures even the Mahapralaya, and carries seeds from the previous great Mahamanvantara. The Auric Egg is our personal "Brahman," which stays out of existence, but overshadows our creative Self, our Atman, which would be our personal "Brahma".
With this, the 8th principle, we are in a part of our awareness that endures the dissolution of outer existence. This part of us is our totality, as it changes from one moment to the next in time. It overshadows existence, but stays out of things. It is us, everything that we have made ourselves to be, at this precise moment in time. It participates in time, but stays one step removed from space, gazing down upon space but staying just outside, just beyond the qualities of dimension and form.
How can we go higher than this? How can we pass deeper within, beyond even the Auric Egg? Consider the question: What is higher than that which is temporal, which changes in time? It is the timeless. And what in us is timeless, is forever the same? It would be that part of us that is uniquely, distinctly ourselves, apart from anything we have or will ever do. That part of us is our truly essential natures, our own unique characteristics, in an ultimate sense. And that could be called: Swabhava.
How does this 9th principle overshadow, guide, and inform the 8th, acting as its parent? By acting as the ever-present, ever-enduring Ideal. Our true nature and purpose in existence, our Ideal that we are always seeking to fulfill, our meaning and purpose and unique contribution to Life is this principle. And this principle, as with the others, is not something added to us. It is not external baggage that we take with us. It is a quality of consciousness, a certain experience to life, be it ever so far-removed from what we choose to give our attention to.
In Swabhava, we are aware of our true natures, and this awareness is just as real as that of any other of the principles. And this awareness, as the 9th principle overshadows the 8th, drives us through time, it impels the growth and direction that the Auric Egg takes on, and the resulting periodic dives into manifest existence.
With the Auric Egg, we have stepped beyond existence, and are out of space. And with Swabhava, we have stepped beyond the transitory, and are out of time. How could we possibly go further, deeper within? By simply GOING BEYOND. That is, there is a part to us that is so absolutely perfect, so fulfilled, and so close to the Unknowable, that it is beyond relationship to the lower principles. It does not gaze downward, being too complete, too perfect, too unmoving in the Silence to need to participate in anything. It is "beyond ourselves," our Paramatman, and as far as we can go, in consciousness. It is the "personal" experience of the Unknowable, and the highest part of our inner natures, of our innermost core. It is beyond all pairs of opposites, all forms of conditioned existence, all sense of time or space, and all awareness of any particular thing. It is perfect Oblivion, if such a term can be used in a positive sense.
This takes us to the top of the tenfold scheme, the ten principles of the fabric of our consciousness. What about the twelvefold scheme? There is one higher principle, an 11th, as well as one lower, an 0th (before the first, the physical body, counting from the bottom). What do these principles consist of, given that we have come, upwards, to the highest we can experience, or downwards, to physical forms, a container of consciousness, with no intrinsic consciousness, but simply a sense of limitation?
Looking upwards, we have That, Tat, the Unknowable Mystery itself. We cannot contain it in our consciousness, but are rooted in it. It is our highest principle of consciousness, but we cannot, paradoxically, be conscious of it. It is simply the Ultimate Mystery of Life.
Looking downwards, we have Idam, This, the Mystery of the root nature of manifest existence. It is built up from lower and lower types of matter, each based upon yet lower and more fundamental types of materials. It is truly bottomless, and represents the nether pole of That. In our consciousness, were we to experience it, it would be the mirror-opposite of Nirvana, an Avitchi Nirvana, an unmanifest state of pure hell- like oblivion. It is Oblivion in the worst possible sense, if unconditionally embraced.
Do we really have, then, a dualistic scheme, with two opposing forces battling constantly for the souls of the creatures in the universe? No. Tat (or That) lies behind and within all. And the seen universe, or universes in their totality, Idam (or This), the Boundless All, is but a dancing shadow on the wall, a ephemeral reflection of its glory.
The Unknowable goes beyond all the various aspects of existence. It is beyond being or non-being, manifest or unmanifest existence. It is beyond time and the eternal quest to satisfy one's Ideal Nature. It is beyond absolute personal perfection, out of conditioned relation to space and time. It is beyond any sense of personal consciousness, because it is truly Infinite, not-finite, and cannot be contained in a finite consciousness, in whatever state. The highest that we can approach it is in our 10th principles, our going beyond any sense of personal limitations, even that of being ourselves, that of our Swabhava or Unique Natures. Our 10th principle is too perfect to need to be in relation to the lower ones, which still, somehow, mysteriously, come forth out of it. The 11th is beyond perfection, and how or in what way it relates to the 10th is as unknowable as it is itself.
With our Paramatman, we can go no further. We have reached the top, the ultimate, as far as consciousness is possible. Beyond it is simply: Mystery.