The whole essence of truth CANNOT BE TRANSMITTED FROM MOUTH TO EAR. Nor can any pen describe it, not even that of the recording Angel, unless man finds the answer in the sanctuary of his own heart, in the innermost depths of his divine intuitions.
-- H. P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 516
By Mark Jaqua
According to Theosophical Doctrines, which of course one may consider to be genuine or not, Theosophy in its entirety is not a system of thought that was "cooked up" or formulated by merely human minds. It was a gift or inheritance from those beings that are superior to humans in evolutionary development -- the "gods" or Dhyan-Chohans -- as we are superior to animals in evolutionary development, and is learned and self-validated by each new generation of Adepts, or those men and women self-evolved enough to comprehend it and put its subtle or occult aspects to practical demonstration, we are told in Original Theosophical Writings.
In its entirety Theosophy is a complete description of the visible and invisible cosmos, only parts of which were given out in Blavatsky's writings, and the rest of this knowledge being preserved, as it always has been, by the Lodge of which Blvatsky was a messenger. It is proably safe to say that no one adept has in its completeness this knowledge. An analogy might be that of a modern university in which no one contains all current human knowledge, but all together approach this. Theosophy is not so nearly specialized as modern science, however, as every area of understanding is intimately connected with every other.
If ALL of knowledge possible to humanity (in terms of general principles) is contained within the complete system of Theosophy, how can such a system ever become old fashion? It is like saying the Earth itself is old fashioned. The mundane human mind is always looking for new sensation and is always looking for the "fashionable." It is fickle in the extreme. If something is a hundred plus years old, as is the current presentation of Theosophy, the popular mind will discard it automatically, yet in dealing with the occult laws of Nature, these laws are excactly the same now as they were when the Vedas were written, perhaps 5000 years ago, or a hundred times that span. Language usage has not even had time to be outmoded in a hundred years.
An analogy for the system of Theosophy might be that of a manual describing how in every detail a particular automobile works. As long as that automobile exists -- or the Universe exists in our case -- that manual can not become impractical or anything other than it originally was -- a complete description of how something works. Cars get out of date, but the "car" we are riding in -- our whole inner and outer world, our kosmos -- never gets out of date. It is the same now as a billion years ago, and a billion years hence. The "manual" of Theosophy includes evolution and change within its system. As long as there is existence, the same rules apply, which is infinity.
There may be new translations of Theosophy, according to the symbols and understandings of the times, but the Identical ideas will only be placed in a new form. This is just like translating the car manual into another language. Theosophy is of eternal values and law and not in competition with the sensation of the current hem-line or tail-fins. IF a student believes Theosophy is what it says it is -- a description of the occult laws of Nature -- then new schools of thought must be compatible with original Theosophy in order to be equally considered valid. There are not Two sets of laws that operate in the Occult side of Nature -- There can be only one set of "laws." If one updates a car manual or translates it to another language, he cannot also change the description of the workings of the car. It would make the manual practically useless, although the backyard mechanic would be deceived and only find out the hard way, as one discovers mistakes in basic life philosophy -- the hard way, and over lifetimes.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon a Janurary 27, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
One area of discussion that appears in many recent postings regards the nature of experience and how it relates to what is truly real.
In recent discussions, one individual says that intellectual theosophy is a mind game whereas experience is real. Another says that individual experience is a form of authority. A third says that personal experience is the only trustworthy guide. And yet another says that only a woman knows what a woman experiences. I'm including these comments as a starting point for discussion.
Regarding these views, I'd say that I both agree and disagree. Consider first the comment regarding intellectual Theosophy being a mind game, as contrasted with experience. We must ask: What is experience? And what experience comes from the deep study of the Teachings?
My experience of the Besant/Leadbeater writings was that they lacked in depth, except for the more philosophical tone of the books written on their behalf by Ernest Wood, CLW's personal secretary, like TALKS ON THE PATH OF OCCULTISM, written from various lecture notes and papers. I'd read books like INVISIBLE HELPERS and come to think that acquiring psychical powers like Leadbeater depicted was the way to go. I did not know that there was another, deeper side to the philosophy, until years later.
Reading Purucker, and then returning to reread Blavatsky in a new light, I've come to find new, previously unknown depths to the Philosophy. I now see in both a different manner of presentation, an approach that leads me to look upon them as Teachers, something entirely different that I find in other writers. Reading them, I'm lead to find in Theosophy a source of Wisdom, a series of studies with unfatomable depths. If I had not been introduced to Purucker, I can see how I would have reached the point where I would have become tired of the books, and been lead astray in a search for phenomena and wonders.
What is there to Theosophy, to certain of its writings, that provide these depths? The answer ties in with a remark of Keith's, saying that the Neo-Platonists realize the One during this life. This is the closest to an open expression of the Theosophical model of human evolution: the Human Lifewave is on this earth, Globe D, and here is where we learn and grow. The answer is that a study of the Teachings can awaken inner faculties of consciousness, that enable us, while alive and embodied on this earth, to partake of the Ageless Wisdom.
Coming back to the nature of experience, we can say that experience is based upon what actually happens to us, and not conferred as some right based upon our belonging to a class. We cannot say that we have special knowledge or have suffered or enjoyed certain experiences simply because of being a man or woman, white or black, resident or immigrant, etc. A black person cannot, for example, rightfully say that because he had a slave for an ancestor, say five generations back, that he therefore has a special understanding of slavery not had by a white man.
We are, though, inseparably rooted in the Highest, and that connection cannot help but qualify our experience of life. There is much that happens INSIDE US, that constitutes real experiences, without unique outward events in life to distinguish it. One such type of experience and growth comes from a deep study of the Philosophy. We do have experiences, in a certain sense, inwardly, in our studies. These experiences aren't "out of the body experiences" or visits to other planes, but rather the budding of new faculties of consciousness opening us up to a wider appreciation of life on whatever plane we may be on.
The lack of apparent depth to theosophical books that some students experience is not that there is nothing there. There are real and quite deep experiences to be had by a study of the Esoteric Philosophy. But with the "wrong" books or authors, the depths won't be experienced, because those authors were lacking in either their own wisdom or in ability to communicate the deeper truths. The other reason for an apparent lack of depth to the literature is that a student may not have established the necessary conditions and inner readiness to engage the process.
What is this process? In a sense, it is opening the inner ability to Know, to perceive things by a different kind of experience. We can know something by direct experience. When we know something this way, we are using the mind in a type of knowing that corresponds to the sense of touch. But there is also a sense of knowing that corresponds to a sense of sight, where we experience and know of something "from afar" or by direct perception. A poetic way of describing this type of knowing, this type of experience is to establish a relationship with one's inner teacher.
The second type of knowing is useful for relating to things that cannot be readily put into words, and for experience of life events our world is not prepared to support in the Fourth Round. Consider the Masters. They are Fifth Rounders, but when embodied here, on Globe D, they are externally subject to the same environment, the same rules of existence that we are. How did they get the way they are? By learning and experiences on other planes, on the other Globes of our Planetary Chain, of course. But also by this second, this special kind of knowing, that allows for experiences otherwise impossible in our rigid, material world.
Is this second, higher activity of the mind something very rare, very special? It is rare because it is not frequently engaged by people, but it is not special, not reserved for the few, for the elite of humanity. It is not a vastly superior thing for the very few; we only need to ready ourselves, to ripen a bit inwardly, and we can open up to it. We can find an inner fount of knowing that goes beyond the books that we read. What we learn remains consistent with the Teachings, but goes much further than we see on the printed page. We do not become omniscient, and infallible in what we know; any faculty of consciousness is subject to error, to mistakes. We all have our Inner Teachers, awaiting us. Such a Teacher is not really someone else, but rather a new way of knowing and experience and perception of life. Let us end our inactivity, and open up to a new form of inner adventure that awaits us.
By Ina Belderis
[Printed with permission from the Summer 1998 issue of THE THEOSOPHIC LINK, newsletter of The Theosophical Society, Pasadena, American Section.]
The following article is an addendum to the presentation made by the author at the THEOSOPHY AND MODERN SCIENCE Conference held May 30 & 31.
We live at a time when so many spectacular new finds are being reported in the field of paleoanthropology. Scientists do not agree where these various finds fit in the ancestry of man, and widely different theories are hotly debated. Why is human lineage so problematic?
These mysteries surrounding the origins of man become all the more fascinating when we explore how theosophy might throw some light on them. Consider the traditional hypothesis of descent which puts Australopithecines at the beginning of the evolutionary line, Homo habilis and Homo erectus in the middle, and Homo sapiens at the top. Australopithecus is exclusively found in Africa and dates from approximately 4 million years ago (in its most primitive forms) to about 1.4 million years ago (in its latest forms). Scientists generally regard one of the Australopithecines (Afarensis or Africanus) as a candidate for ancestry of the genus Homo. They are, however, much less clear in explaining how and why this took place. Lately one hypothesis has gained popularity, suggesting that the environment -- especially changes in climate -- caused Australopithecus to become smarter and develop a bigger brain. We must keep in mind that the only reason Australopithecus is even considered a human ancestor is that it happens to be there at the "right" place (Africa) and the "right" time (some remains are dated older than the remains of the genus Homo) -- but this is in itself no proof that it actually belongs in this line.
Theosophical literature states that monkeys came into being after unions between early mindless humans and primitive mammals, tens of millions of years ago. This happened at a time when matter is said to have been different from what it is now, more "plastic" than its present state. Moreover, barriers between species were presumably not as pronounced. Later there were similar unions between degenerate, but no longer mindless, beings of the human stock and the descendants of the earlier hybrids. This resulted in a variety of half-human beings with more or less apelike traits. These "apes" resembled humans much more than our present anthropoid apes do. Humans exterminated most of these half-humans and allowed only the most beast-like to survive. The anthropoid apes are the descendants of these beast-like hybrids.
Comparing Blavatsky's dating with that of modern science is a well-known problem (See: LINK Volume 8, No. 3). According to the fossil record the first creature that even slightly resembles a monkey appeared about 30 million years ago. It has become the first candidate for inclusion in the line of Old World monkeys (supposed by science to be relevant to the study of human evolution). In theosophical literature the first hybridization happened about 20-25 million years ago, so it would not be strange to find monkey-like beings after that time period. Two questions arise. How do we define a monkey, and what did the mammals that mindless man united with look like?
The second hybridization took place about 5 to 6 million years ago, and around 4 million years ago Australopithecines appeared -- they had both apelike and humanlike traits, were bipedal, had somewhat bigger brains than apes, and stood about 3 to 4 feet tall. Australopithecines also retained characteristics (i.e. long arms) which indicate they were tree climbers as well. There is no evidence that they systematically made tools, and they seem excellent candidates for the miscegenations between man and apelike hybrids mentioned in theosophical literature.
The next group of "ancestors" includes Homo habilis and Homo erectus. Scientists are not certain whether Homo habilis is a single species or consists of more than one type. Often Homo habilis is divided into habilis and rudolfensis, one of which has a larger brain than the other. Both have larger brains than Australopithecus. Habilis or "handyman" is thought to have been the maker of the oldest known tools (the Oldowan tool industry). It is difficult to say what habilis really was -- another more humanlike miscegenation or perhaps a very primitive type of human being. Homo erectus is also split into two groups: Homo ergaster 1.5 million years old, and Homo erectus approximately .5 million years old. Homo ergaster is sometimes seen as the African erectus because most other erectus fossils have been found in Asia. The African type has a skeleton that looks much more modern. It is remarkably tall, its brain is much bigger than that of Australopithecus (about double the size), but it is considerably smaller than that of modern man, and its face still looks primitive. Is this an early type of man or another miscegenation? It is difficult to say. An interesting point to consider is that its tool industry (the so-called Acheulean technique) did not change (continued on page 6) over the million years or so that erectus seems to have existed.
Another group of prehistoric men is Archaic Homo sapiens, having a mixture of archaic and modern traits. Recently scientists have uncovered more remains of humanlike beings that are dated further back than was thought possible for this "ancestor." All the known Archaic Homo sapiens are between .5 and .25 million years old. Recent finds in Atapuerca, Spain, (Homo antecessor) appear to have a mixture of archaic and modern traits and are dated between .8 and 1 million years old. This year excavations in Ethiopia uncovered a being with similar traits, dated between 1.4 and .6 million years ago. This find suggests to researchers that human facial features began appearing 300,000 years earlier than previously believed.
What are we to make of these finds? Theosophical texts mention that the fifth root-race came into its own (became a root race sui generis) about a million years ago, though it had its beginnings much earlier. Perhaps Archaic Homo sapiens and Homo antecessor are early specimens of this root-race which later developed more modern traits -- finally becoming Homo sapiens or anatomically modern man. Or do we have to look upon them as miscegenations, mixtures of man and apelike beings, even though they looked much more human than apelike? Of course, it is also possible that these are the descendants of early sub-subraces of the last subraces of the Atlantean root-race.
Blavatsky writes in THE SECRET DOCTRINE that Paleolithic men of the European quaternary epoch are the outcome of immigration, and that the earliest Paleolithic people in Europe were of pure Atlantean and Africo-Atlantean stocks. At the time THE SECRET DOCTRINE was written (1888), only two types of prehistoric men were known: Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon. Cro-Magnon is considered anatomically modern. Neanderthals look remarkably different, so different that many scientists class them as a separate species. Other researchers believe that these differences are small, and that Neanderthal could still have evolved into modern man. The debate on this issue is still raging.
Though Cro-Magnon men are considered anatomically modern, they are not the ancestors of modern Europeans. In THE SECRET DOCTRINE Blavatsky remarks that the Atlantean connection was evident by the discovery of fossil skulls in Europe that reverted directly to the West Caribbean and the ancient Peruvian type of skulls. The Cro-Magnon, the Guanches of the Canary Islands, and the Basques are also of the same type. Milford Wolpoff, developer of the Multi-regional model of human descent, corroborates this by writing that these Neanderthal contemporaries (i.e. Cro-Magnon) do not look European; they lack diagnostic Caucasian features. When one compares their skulls with those of existing races, they show a closer relationship to the East Asian and Native American type. So where did they come from? Probably not from the East, because fossils have not been found that could produce a line of descent. Anatomically modern men have been found predating Cro-Magnon, but they do not appear to be of the same type. Finds from Africa (for instance, Klasies River Mouth -- 100,000 years old) look more like those of present day native Africans. Could they have come from the West? Could they have escaped from the remnants of Atlantis? In Europe Cro-Magnon dates back to about 40,000 years ago, long before the last island of Atlantis (Poseidonis) allegedly sank (11,000 years ago). Eventually Cro-Magnon men must have died out, left Europe, or otherwise been assimilated, when people with more Caucasian traits poured in, very likely from the East.
The great enigma in European prehistory is the Neanderthal, the old prototype of the brutish cave man. Neanderthal is generally not classified as anatomically modern, and moreover there are two different types. In Western Europe the finds represent the so-called classic Neanderthal -- extreme brow ridges, long round head, large nasal cavity, pronounced occipital bun and heavy robust frame. In Central Europe and in the Near East their form is less extreme. In Europe, Neanderthals and modern man coexisted for a relatively short time (10,000 years), between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago -- after which the Neanderthals died out. In the Near East this period was much longer (approximately 50,000 years). Did the two types interbreed and was interbreeding possible? Scientists do not agree on this point. Where did the Neanderthals (continued on page 7) come from? The extreme type is thought to have developed in relative isolation as an adaptation to extreme cold (the Ice Ages). It is interesting that the finds in Atapuerca, Spain, reveal two types of people from different periods of time. Finds from the Pit of the Bones, dated 300,000 years ago, show some Neanderthal traits but also other traits, and are obviously not as extremely Neanderthal as later Western European discoveries. Some scientists call these pre-Neanderthal. Another site in Atapuerca, mentioned earlier, yielded remains that are at least 800,000 years old showing some Neanderthal traits, but also looking surprisingly modern. These types have been given the preliminary name Homo antecessor. How can we make sense of all this?
In THE SECRET DOCTRINE we read that the main continent of Atlantis started disintegrating about 4 million years ago. The large islands Ruta and Daitya sank 850,000 and 270,000 years ago respectively. In light of these ideas, it would have been possible that groups of people escaped to the emerging new lands and reached Africa and Western Europe. It is very likely that the Neanderthals belonged to one of these groups. Neanderthals had an average brain capacity similar to or even larger than our average today. The form of their brain, however, differs from ours: flatter in front and longer in the back. Scientists do not agree on whether Neanderthal thought the same way we do, or used language. Nevertheless, many think there is no good reason to believe they were inferior to anatomically modern man in this respect. There is the further mystery of why their tool industry (Mousterian) remained practically the same for their entire known existence, only showing some transitional, more advanced forms at the very end (ascribed to their imitation of Cro-Magnon tool industries). After the arrival of Cro-Magnon there was a dramatic development of Upper Paleolithic tool industries, crafts, and art in Western Europe. Neanderthals did not leave any known advanced tool making. But why? They had the same brain capacity as modern man. Why did they die out after maintaining themselves quite well for more than 150,000 years, often under the most severe conditions?
Blavatsky mentions cycles within cycles, ascending arcs and descending arcs. Neanderthal remains look more archaic than the remains of their contemporaries and even their predecessors -- could they have descended from an Atlantean stock, a remainder of a much older subrace on its descending arc? Perhaps it was simply a matter of an old race losing its vitality. That would account for the rather static tool industry. Could they have been subject to the same phenomenon as the now extinct Tasmanians? THE SECRET DOCTRINE states that a very primitive, "half human" group of people in Tasmania was visited by modern Europeans, and when some of these Europeans started taking these beings as wives, the latter were struck with sterility en masse. Blavatsky explained that this happened because unions between these archaic people and modern man were inappropriate and thus effectively anathematized by nature. Could something similar have happened to the Neanderthals after they came into contact with anatomically modern man?
By Bee Brown
[based upon an July 1998 posting to theos-nz mailing list.]
I have developed quite an interest in General Semantics [GS] as used by Vitvan to help avoid misunderstanding others. I find myself using self-reflection a lot and it stops me from coming to inappropriate conclusions as I realise I do not have enough facts about some things to form an opinion that could get dogmatic. GS teaches that nothing remains the same and we should take into account when dealing with each other. I have a chuckle sometimes at the misunderstandings on the lists that could maybe have been avoided if the main point was clarified before elaborating on it. This interest led me to take a recent visit to the School of Natural Order [SNO].
Getting there -- Home Farm, Baker, Nevada -- from New Zealand, was an experience in itself. I arrived in Salt Lake City airport ready for the next flight to Ely only to find that this time I had to fly on a seven-seater plane that took an hour to arrive at Ely. I later learned that the locals call it the 'puddle jumper'. I weathered that flight which was quite good as the weather was fairly quiet. For an hour I watched a lot of nothing go by below and realised that I really was going to the back and beyond.
Ely is 6000 feet above sea level and so was Home Farm. I was met by Val Taylor, the secretary at Home Farm and she was to drive us a further 60 miles to Baker. First we stopped at the only large supermarket and I had a look at what Americans in that area eat. When we got to the checkout I suddenly saw a whole row of pokey machines there in the supermarket and along on the right was a bank, all inside the supermarket. I expressed my astonishment and took a couple of photos, much to the amusement to the checkout girls. Val explained that I was from New Zealand as if that explained the strange actions of this person. We then drove to Baker along a highway of spectacular sights of mountains and miles of flat land covered in little sage bushes. There is a very occasional house here and there.
Baker consists of two restaurant/bars, a couple of petrol pumps, a gift shop and a post office. That is it. There are a number of trailer homes that seem the popular way of housing in that area, anyway. Most of the people work on the local ranches or for the National Park that manage the huge area of Mt Wheeler and surrounding forests. Trees seem to grow only above the 7000 ft range and they are special to that height.
At SNO we looked out over Snake Valley desert which was 35 miles across and goodness knows how wide. Baker is about 10 miles from the border with Utah so on the other highway there is the Border Inn that has the motel and petrol pumps in Utah and the bar with pokey machines in Nevada as gambling is not allowed in Utah. This Inn sits all by itself with miles of nothing either side.
Home Farm has 300 acres of not very good soil for growing things so a garden has been worked up over the years. Vitvan and his people moved from California to Baker around 1957, I think. There is plenty of accommodation at the moment and there are 3-4 houses further along with families living there. Val is the only one living in the main buildings. A little further along the road to the Park, is another little settlement of houses among the trees, where the rest of the SNO people live.
There were not a lot attending the Summer School this year but we had an interesting time. I learned a bit more about General Semantics and its value to people for getting their facts in line with what Count Korzibsky called the Natural Order. He said that there was a natural order in the universe and that humans were the only ones who could pervert this by way of their speech and thinking patterns. He showed how our abstracting process could easily go from fact to false and then the thinking process could deteriorate to mental illness. Vitvan used General Semantics and the concept of an energy world as a framework for the Ancient Wisdom.
I had a good drool over his private library which is housed in what was his quarters there. He had the Secret Doctrine, the Mahatma Letters and other Theosophical books along with many old books that I have heard mentioned by HPB in her books. There were three books by Gerald Massey among many real old looking books. There is also a big library in the Centrum which is the building where meetings etc are held. There is also 4 bedrooms etc in the upstairs part. This library also has a Theosophical section. I was told that Vitvan who was then Ralph de Bit, was called in many years ago, to help sort out a difference of opinion in the San Francisco Lodge. He also did some lecturing around 1910.
At SNO they speak of the 'field' in which Home Farm sits and its effect on people who come and stay there. I enjoyed the 'field' and the personal visit to there has allowed me to contact it in meditation from over here.
They have audio tapes of most of his talks which he gave as lessons over a period of time. These have been turned into books that they sell quite cheaply. I have most of them on my computer and some I have bought from them in book form.
It takes a couple of years of study to hook into the ideas he expresses. Their mantram is 'The I Am which is my True Self, is the power with which I am conscious of my world'.
They are encouraged to think of the body as a configuration of energy that our own senses cause to appear solid by the abstracting process. I have a handle on that concept now and find the theosophical concept of Maya easier to understand. His lessons on personal development are sorely needed, in my opinion, as there is a lack of literature in that area that are plainly written or as plainly as it is possible to write about such things. He has a unique view of the psyche and that seems to come from his personal experience in the energy world. He explains how it works and how easily we are influenced by vibrations from others and the race psyche.
To come to grips with the abstracting process causes a change of perception within which changes the without. General Semantics says that we cannot know everything about the thing we are talking about and so we should leave our comments or opinions open-ended which helps to avoid biases and prejudices to some extend.
It was a flying visit but I am pleased to have established personal contact with them. They have a website at:
and also e-mail.
By Doreen Domb
[based upon a January 27, 1995 posting to email@example.com.]
The arts seem to receive very little mention or consideration when we read about, speak about, attend classes and conferences dealing with Theosophy and the like. This has been changing within the last few years, as evidenced, for example, with THE SPIRIT IN ART exhibit that was featured in Los Angeles about two or three years ago.
I'm pleased to report that some local Theosophists on this side of the world are responsible for showing art the light (and vice versa). I, myself, had become uneasy with a totally academic, intellectual from-the-head approach to Theosophy. My spiritual/creative side was truly shutting down, because I wasn't utilizing it. It became so important to realize it was still there -- but sleeping -- and to stroke it, wake it up and get it moving. Guess what? It does save lives.
Over the first weekend in May 1991, a group of independent theosophists (some affiliated and some not with one Theosophical Society or another) came together to present an HPB CENTENARY Conference at Pasadena City College, to commemorate the one-hundredth-year anniversary of HPB's passing. This was not an organizationally-sponsored event (interesting that most of my favorite conferences are the ones with no sponsoring organization).
I was one of the conference participants as well as an attendee. To my knowledge, this was the first or certainly one of very few theosophical conferences to feature a segment on art. So along with the usual programs flavored with intellectual, scholarly, and historical approaches, the two-day conference also featured an artist's panel and musical performance. There were ten of us up on stage speaking about how our individual experiences with theosophy have influenced our various artistic endeavors. We then engaged the audience in a dialogue and it went over quite well. This added a significantly more personal and intimate tone to the entire event. Each individual talked about what inspired and moved him/her to create a painting, a composition or a piece of music. At the close of the panel, an original song about H.P. Blavatsky was sung and played on guitar by yours truly.
In my experience -- and other's -- of all the events that transpired at this conference, the most memorable, lingering, and perhaps even the most well-received seemed to be the artists portion. If nothing else, certainly something fresh, unusual, and rather stimulating was taking place within a theosophical conference.
This set a precedent. Almost immediately after that weekend, TACO (Theosophical Artists Co-Op) was born. Really the brainchild of Roger Gemme and John Coker. So we (that is, an invariable number of people, sometimes well over 20 -- squeezing into a living room) meet once-a-month, beginning with an hour-and-a-half reading from the book ART AND PHYSICS (don't know the author; I usually show up after the reading).
After the reading, we feature show-and-tell (where individuals talk about and display their works); sometimes we work on something artsy together, local art events are relayed, poetry is read, music played, a video is screened, discussion and feedback ensue, etc.
The evening is not a heavily structured format. Oh, I forgot! One of the most important things that happens is that we all bring munchies and good eats and set aside a time during the evening to feast.
Although the "T" in TACO stands for theosophical literally, it is not closed to non-theosophical individuals (some of whom are probably theosophists and don't necessarily "know" it -- but we won't get into that right now), but probably better suited for like-minded individuals. And it's not an excuse for socializing, although this certainly is a pleasant by-product of the evening.
All TACO's are sincere and definitely into what they do. So, you see, one can be an artist and a theosophist at the same time. And who knows? This might just qualify one for Dhyani Chohanic status!
By Reed Carson
1. The version of THE SECRET DOCTRINE placed on diskette by Vic Hao-Chin of the Theosophical Society of the Phillippines is finally available for immediate purchase. It contains a built-in search engine for the text of the SD. We feel the availability of this version is a significant event in the history of the movement. Things can now be researched that could not previously be studied.
The standard list price is $35.00 and Blavatsky Net, following its policy of online discounts, is making it available for $33.00.
2. Blavatsky Net Foundation will be holding its first event -- an open house -- on September 26, Saturday 5-7 p.m. in White Plains, NY. There will be sociability plus an hour or so of serious Theosophically related discussion. If you would like to come please call (914) 428-8588 to RSVP and get the location. Buffet included.
3. The full text of 37 articles by William Q. Judge has been added to the Judge page.
4. Sakis Koukouvis has translated the TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE into Greek. It can be found by clicking on "Greek" on the homepage. It forms the beginning of a Greek homepage at BN and can be found at: www.blavatsky.net/ellinika. Sakis has suggested dividing it up into smaller pieces as the current file is rather large.
5. Spanish: another article of HPB's has been translated into Spanish.
In response to a desire for "dialogue" expressed in email, we have decided to initiate a Theosophical discussion talk list in Spanish. Our objective will be to create an environment where those interested in this subject, with a respectful view of HPB and Theosophy, will be able to communicate with others of like mind. To this end, the list will only be open to members of BN and it will be moderated. Estela Piscope in White Plains, New York has agreed to be the moderator. We hope this will provide a real service. We aim to announce on October 1 that it is in place and functioning. If you would like to participate in it, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also I have asked Estela to take over responsibility for the Spanish home page. As it stands, my desk has been too much of a bottle neck and we hope this will allow the translation into Spanish at the hands of volunteers to move more rapidly.
6. Russian: another article of HPB is now available in Russian.
7. A class in Florida is regularly studing the Secret Doctrine and their meeting has been added to the "meetings" page. If you know of any other study classes studying the Secret Doctrine or that would be otherwise relevant to that page, please let us know.
8. Three new sites have been added to the roadmap page. One in Russian has many articles of HPB in Russian plus Neoplatonic and other material in Russian. The Temple of the People founded in 1898, is alive and has a web page. A Swedish ULT site is now online. We are informed that there is much Theosophical material already translated into Swedish that will come online on this new site.
9. Four more of the homestudy lessons were entered online.
10. At the bookstore, besides much behind the scenes work that is not visible, we have added the new aisles: Physics, Cosmology, Darwinism, and Prehistory. The inititial books they will contain are listed. More info will be available as the books arrive in inventory -- likely during the first week of September. The books include some staples well known in the Theosophical community plus a few new "gems" that we will be delighted to see known more broadlly. These books show that the facts demonstrating the truth of this ancient wisdom continue to accumulate in our exoteric modern world -- and persuasively indeed.
11. Letters to the Editor. A distinctive letter has been added. We are working to get two more letters we have received online - but permissions must be asked.
12. Pebbles. The issue of the origins of the people of the Western Hemisphere is in the news again. We comment how the news upsets yet again the orthodox view but is quite consistent with the Theosophical view of history.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon an October 18, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
When we hear of "holiness," there are a number of negative associations. These come from our media, and from a general misunderstanding of what holiness is. Lacking an experience of it, or failing to properly identify the holy experiences in our lives, we may fall prey to the misinformation about what it is, and react negatively to mention of it.
The holy does not happen merely on Sunday mornings when we visit some grand church, and listen uncomfortably to someone preach at us to be good according to the Bible, as we wait anxiously for the closing hymn and stare at the stained glass windows. The holy is not something that we experience by going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Tibet and visiting places where special things are said to have happened. And the holy is not something that is only seen upon visiting a guru, something reserved for special people only, something that is to be observed but not experienced.
Spotless purity is not required. It is not necessary to rigidly follow someone's arbitrary rules for goodness. Say that we want to do something that is wrong, according to our beliefs. If we are motivated to be good out of a sense of guilt, or a sense of "carrot and stick," we may find ourselves blocking out what we think is the good, to not think of it so that we can enjoy our guilty pleasure. We might say "I'd don't want to think of that good stuff right now, it'll spoil my fun."
The REAL spiritual, and the holy does not have to be blocked out, even when we do things that may seem wrong at the time. When we feel that we have to block out our sense of the good for a while, in order to enjoy some activity, we're blocking out AN ARTIFICIAL MENTAL CONSTRUCT. The genuine, holy spiritual does not "spoil" anything that we do. It contains a sense of compassion, patience, and understanding that accepts the good and the bad in us.
With holiness, we have a feeling of the sacred, a specialness, a natural excitement regarding life that is alike that had by a newborn babe. Again, picture the feeling of being in love: there is a sense of anticipation regarding the next time that we meet our beloved. We perceive the inner divinity as a tangible presence, and not merely an intellectual abstraction.
The impurity, dross, imperfection, and mistake- making is all part of the nature of life, and not a barrier to this presence. We have a sense of the wonder and magic of our teenage years, a great time of exploration. This feeling is now from inner exploration. We have an inner teacher to learn from, a living presence that is experienced as part of our personal lives. This teacher is a source of learning, and it has come from an established INNER RELATIONSIHP -- not from having an external membership in any particular church, lodge, or theosophical society.
The holy is a sense of the spiritual-divine within ourselves. It is totally unrelated to astral projection, psychical powers, or the occult. It represents the awakening of an inner faculty of consciousness, and not extended powers of sensory perception nor extended control over the forces of nature.
The divine represents our highest nature. We feel a sense of it being missing from life. This leads to a desire to return to a feeling of wholeness, of completion, which arises from a reunion with that divine nature. The passionate feeling of needing this quality back in our lives manifests itself as devotion, as Bakti, as worship, as an intense feeling of longing for the return to the pure, unconditioned perfection that we left behind ages ago.
We are not denied this perfection, though, even when alive and manifest here on this sad, imperfect, physical world of limitation and suffering. This perfection comes from adding the divine to our lives. It is not necessary to subtract away the entire manifest, imperfect, outer part of ourselves, the ray from the Monad, in order to enjoy our essential nature, in order to dwell again in the divine. We can achieve the same by ADDITION, by allowing a clear sense of the quality and type of consciousness that the Monad has, the divine or holy consciousness, to participate as an integral part of life.
It is possible to achieve wholeness in life, as well as wholeness in "absolute death" or nirvana. The periodic nature of manifestation and withdrawal into the silence, of Manvantara and Pralaya, of life and death, is ultimately illusory. There is an ultimate sense of perfection that transcends both states, an underlying sense of completeness that does not depend upon us being out of life, upon us not-existing, in order to be experienced. It is the truly divine, the naturally holy, and it IS A PART OF LIFE. It is only our choice to exclude it by our mental constructs, by false but sincere beliefs, that keeps us from enjoying it.
By Eliphas Levi
[From TRANCENDENTAL MAGIC: ITS DOCTRINE AND RITUAL, London, 1896, pages 260-64.]
The great work in practical magic, after the education of the will and the personal creation of the magus, is the formation of the magnetic chain, and this secret is truly that of priesthood and of royalty. To form the magnetic chain is to originate a current of ideas which produces faith and draws a large number of wills in a given circle of active manifestation. A well-formed chain is like a whirlpool which sucks down and absorbs all. The chain may be established in three ways -- by signs, by speech, and by contact. The first is by inducing opinion to adopt some sign as the representation of a force. Thus, all Christians communicate by the sign of the cross, masons by that of the square beneath the sun, the magi by that of the microcosm, made by extending the five fingers, etc. Once accepted and propagated, signs acquire force of themselves. In the early centuries of our era, the sight and imitation of the sign of the cross was enough to make proselytes to Christianity. What is called the miraculous medal continues in our own days to effect a great number of conversions by the same magnetic law. The vision and illumination of the young Israelite, Alphonse de Ratisbonne, is the most remarkable fact of this kind. Imagination is creative not only within us but without us by means of our fluidic projections, and undoubtedly the phenomena of the labarum of Constantine and the cross of Migne should be attributed to no other cause.
The magic chain of speech was typified among the ancients by chains of gold, which issued from the mouth of Hermes. Nothing equals the electricity of eloquence. Speech creates the highest intelligence in the most grossly constituted masses. Even those who are too remote for actual hearing understand by excitement, and are carried away with the crowd. Peter the Hermit convulsed Europe by his cry of "God wills it!" A single word of the Emperor electrified his army, and made France invincible. Proudhon destroyed socialism by his celebrated paradox: "Property is robbery." A current saying is frequently sufficient to overturn a reigning power. Voltaire knew this well -- who shook the world by sarcasms. So, also, he who feared neither pope nor king, neither parliament nor Bastille, was afraid of a pun. We are on the verge of accomplishing the intentions of that man whose sayings we repeat.
The third method of establishing the magic chain is by contact. Between persons who meet frequently, the head of the current soon manifests, and the strongest will is not slow to absorb the others. The direct and positive grasp of hand by hand completes the harmony of dispositions, and it is for this reason a mark of sympathy and intimacy. Children, who are guided instinctively by nature, form the magic chain by playing at bars or rounds; then gaiety spreads, then laughter rings. Circular tables are more favorable to convivial feasts than those of any other shape. The great circular dance of the Sabbath, which concluded the mysterious assemblies of adepts in the middle ages, was a magic chain, which joined all in the same intentions and the same acts. It was formed by standing back to back and linking hands, the face outside the circle, in imitation of those antique sacred dances, representations of which are still found on the sculptures of old temples. The electric furs of the lynx, panther, and even domestic cat, were stitched to their garments, in imitation of the ancient bacchanalia; hence comes the tradition that the Sabbath miscreants each wore a cat hung from the girdle, and that they danced in this guise.
The phenomena of tilting and talking tables has been a fortuitous manifestation of fluidic communication by means of the circular chain. Mystification combined with it afterwards, and even educated and intelligent persons were so infatuated with the novelty that they hoaxed themselves, and became the dupes of their own absurdity. The oracles of the tables were answers more or less voluntarily suggested or extracted by chance; they resembled the conversations which we hold or hear in dreams. Other and stranger phenomena may have been the external manifestations of imaginations operating in common. We, however, by no means deny the possible intervention of elementary spirits in these occurrences, as in those of divination by cards or by dreams; but we do not believe that it has been in any sense proven, and we are therefore in no way obliged to admit it.
One of the most extraordinary powers of human imagination is the realization of the desires of the will, or even of its apprehensions and fears. We believe easily anything that we fear or desire, says a proverb; and it is true, because desire and fear impart to imagination a realising power, the effects of which are incalculable. How is one attacked, for example, by a disease about which one feels nervous? We have already cited the opinions of Paracelsus on this point, and have established in our doctrinal part the occult laws confirmed by experience; but in magnetic currents, and by mediation of the chain, the realizations are all the more strange because almost invariably unexpected, at least when the chain has not been formed by an intelligent, sympathetic, and powerful leader. In fact, they are the result of purely blind and fortuitous combinations. The vulgar fear of superstitious feasters, when they find themselves thirteen at table, and their conviction that some misfortune threatens the youngest and weakest among them, is, like most superstitions, a remnant of magical science. The duodenary being a complete and cyclic number in the universal analogies of nature, invariably attracts and absorbs the thirteenth, which is regarded as a sinister and superfluous number. If the grindstone of a mill be represented by the number twelve, then thirteen is that of the grain which is to be ground. On kindred considerations, the ancients established the distinctions between lucky and unlucky numbers, whence came the observance of days of good or evil augury. It is in such concerns, above all, that imagination is creative, so that both days and numbers seldom fail to be propitious or otherwise to those who believe in their influence. Consequently, Christianity was right in proscribing the divinatory sciences, for in thus diminishing the number of blind chances, it gave further scope and empire to liberty.
Printing is an admirable instrument for the formation of the magic chain by the extension of speech. No book is lost; as a fact, writings go invariably precisely where they should go, and the aspirations of thought attract speech. We have proved this a hundred times in the course of our magical initiation; the rarest books have offered themselves without seeking as soon as they became indispensable. Thus have we recovered intact that universal science which so many learned persons have regarded as engulfed by a number of successive cataclysms; thus have we entered the great magical chain which began with Hermes or Enoch, and will only end with the world. Thus have we been able to evoke, and come face to face with, the spirits of Apollonius, Plotinus, Synesius, Paracelsus, Cardanus, Agrippa, and others less or more known, but too religiously celebrated to make it possible for them to be named lightly. We continue their great work, which others will take up after us. But unto whom will it be given to complete it?
By Gerald Schueler
[based upon a January 2, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.] I am, I freely admit, an eclectic and I incorporate ideas into my world view wherever I find them. Except for THE MAHATMA LETTERS and HPB, I don't believe there is a single theosophical author in whom I can say that I accept EVERYTHING that they wrote or taught, and this includes G de Purucker and W.Q. Judge (And I have only a very few disagreements with G de P and Judge, and have great respect and admiration for both, but I cannot agree with everything they wrote).
Psychism, it seems to me, probably represents the foremost difference between Adyar and the other Theosophical Societies. I am in the uncomfortable position of seeing a lot of good in both the Adyar viewpoint (i.e., I like the Besant-Leadbeater approach to the Gupta-Vidya Model) and the Pasadena and Point Loma viewpoints (I like the emphasis on spiritual development rather than psychic development and I love Purucker's description of the GV Model. I do, however, disagree with G de P on how the model should be used).
I am a member of both Adyar and Pasadena, and am fearful that if a merger ever comes about, something that I now like in one of the two groups will be lost. As an eclectic, I can take G de P's GV Model descriptions together with the B/CWL's descriptions of the planes, and get a pretty wide view of things that fits in very nicely with my own experiences. What I am getting at here, is that I do not represent any one theosophical point of view, but am rather one single voice that speaks out now and then in various directions.
As to the idea that psychic powers represent sensory extension, I would like to offer another view. I offer this view as my own; I did not get it from HPB, C.W. Leadbeater, or anyone else though it can be found in veiled form in HPB and in some Buddhist works. Hopefully it will provide some food for thought.
When we consider the GV Model as given by HPB we note that the divine cosmic plane lies at the upper end of the spectrum, while the physical plane lies at the bottom, the lowest and grossest or most dense. This cosmic spectrum, or what I have called our space-time-consciousness continuum, includes seven cosmic planes and twelve Globes.
If we think of the divine plane as the most spiritual, then the physical plane must be considered as the most material. If we think of the divine plane as the most true, then the physical plane must be considered the most false. By false I mean illusory in the Buddhist sense of Maya. In other words, the model suggests that our physical plane is the farest of all from divinity (lower planes do exist, but only in other universes, not in ours). This is because each plane is an expression in space-time of the preceding planes.
Divinity is self-creative. This self-creativity is itself expressed downward into space-time with each plane. Each plane is thus another step away from its divine source, and another step into Maya. It we can accept the foregoing hypothesis, then we must conclude that of all our senses, our five physical senses are the most illusory of all. Our physical world, which HPB labeled Globe D, is six steps away from its divine source, and is the most mayavic of all.
When we sleep at night, consciousness leaves the physical body and enters a Body of Light, or aura, or whatever we want to call our subtle body. Our subtle body has subtle senses. These are not extensions of the physical senses, but separate senses that are incorporated into each of the subtle vehicles in the higher planes.
Like the cosmic planes, our bodies and sensory organs are each expressions of their preceding counterparts. On each plane, we have a corresponding body and sensory equipment else we could not have any consciousness on that plane (G de P points out that consciousness cannot function on any plane without a suitable vehicle, and I agree because subjectivity and objectivity are a duality, and you can't have one pole of a duality without the other). For these reasons, I believe that our dreams are more real than our waking experiences, not less.
I believe that our psychic experiences in the higher planes are more real than our physical experiences on Earth. Why? Because they take place closer to divinity. The closer we get to divinity, the more real or true they are. Of course, many of our experiences in the higher planes seem very illusory when we return. Our dreams, for example, seldom seem to make sense to us after we awake. But this is only from the relative viewpoint of our waking state consciousness or ego. Our dreams, for example, make perfect sense to us while we are dreaming them.
The psyche has its own meanings and viewpoints, which often seem gibberish to the ego, but Carl Jung says that the psyche preexists and transcends the ego, and I agree. I believe that we are more authentic in our dreams than we are in the waking state, especially in our relationships to others. Our dreams can act as spiritual barometers, to show us how far we are really progressing along the Path, rather than the egoic picture of ourselves that we see during our waking hours.
For the reasons that I have given above, I have to disagree with the idea that our psychic senses are so deceptive that we should ignore them. They only seem deceptive because our ego (by the Jungian term ego I mean our waking self or what HPB calls the personality as opposed to what Jung calls the psyche and what HPB calls the individuality) is usually not able to translate them into anything meaningful.
I believe that our psychic senses are actually more real than our physical senses -- but I must couch this by saying that reality is totally relative. Let me conclude then, by saying that our psychic experiences are more real than our physical experiences relative to our individuality, and less real relative to our personality.
Psychic experiences get us into trouble primarily when we take them literally. For example, the symbols that we see in a dream will often have a meaning that is far different to the dreaming psyche (to the individuality) than we think when we awake and remember the dream (to the personality). Symbols are the language of the individuality, while the personality works only in words, and it must translate the recalled symbols into appropriate words, which is always tricky and sometimes impossible to do.
Psychic experiences are real. But they are very hard to interpret properly into words so that they retain their meaning. Thus I would say that the deceptive nature of the astral and mental planes lies not in our experiences there, but rather in our interpretations of those experiences.
By Eldon B. Tucker
[based upon a Januray 7, 1995 postng to email@example.com.]
It is true that each plane that we descend into, going lower and lower into materiality, takes us one step further from our divine source. There is something lost, something forgotten, something sacrificed with each further descent. On any planet, like our earth, we reach the lowest point on Globe D, beyond which we can go no lower. This is were we are now: the earth we see about us is Globe D, on the physical plane.
What we have in life is an outpost of consciousness. We are pioneers in exploring new territory. Being able to exist on a low plane is both a limitation and a special opportunity. We have a special opportunity to "fetch water and chop firewood" or to "clean our dishes after eating." Unlike in a dream where we can wipe the slate clean and go from one situation to the next at the blink of an eye, in physical life, we are both limited and accountable for our actions. What we do is narrowly defined, and the results that come from our actions are likewise enforced by surrounding nature. We are "stuck" in situations and limited, but at the same time we have an ideal situation for the development of a clarity of consciousness.
In some approaches like Yoga, the approach seems to be union with the divine along with a rapid escape from the physical world. The outer world is seen as evil, illusory, a place of sorrows that should be exited as quickly as possible. The union with the divine is seen as happening by the exiting of lower planes of existence.
The Zen approach is closer to the theosophical scheme of spiritual evolution. In Zen, we learn to stay firmly rooted in the outer world, and achieve union with the divine HERE, rather than leave the outer world to achieve union THERE. With Zen, we have the higher conscious as an integral part of our outer lives; the other approach gives us a vacation to other planes and a visit to the higher consciousness, but upon our return to physical life it is lost to us again.
What are we doing here on the physical plane? What is the purpose of evolution on this plane of existence? It is the same as on any plane, on any Globe of our planetary chain. We harvest the precious crop of self-consciousness, something only possible HERE. This opportunity is lost when the exit the physical world, between lifetimes.
Is the physical plane the only one where we can achieve this harvesting of self-consciousness? No. But the conditions for learning and growing in the human kingdom are here. The Human Lifewave is on Globe D, our world as we know it here on the physical plane. This is where the circumstances and superstructure for growth and learning and evolution is possible for the vast majority of humanity.
Are we safe here, on the physical plane? Is it simply a matter of leading good lives and fitting in with society? Not entirely. In a sense, we are in "enemy territory," since our world borders on yet lower planes. On the Descending Arc, as humanity moves from Globes A, to B, C, then D, it reaches a turning point. It then enters the Ascending Arc, and climbs the planes again along Globes E, F, then G. At the lowest point, on Globe D, when then Descend Arc is ending and the Ascending Arc is beginning to start, there is a point of failure in the system, and some Monads fail to make the Ascending Arc; they descend further to yet lower planes. (See "Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy" by G. de Purucker for more information on this.)
At the point of time, our evolution is on Globe D earth. Our challenge is to give expression to the highest in our lives. Inwardly, we express it in an awareness in our minds and hearts. Outwardly, we express it in our actions, giving direct expression to the brilliant, creative intelligence within ourselves. There is a supreme gratification to giving outer, tangible expression to the divine, for it is otherwise impotent and unrelated to our lowly plane!
Living here on the lowest plane of our earth, don't we miss out on anything? There's so much more going on elsewhere; the higher planes await us with such wonders, that we certainly should return to them as soon as reasonably possible? Not really. No matter how high we go, there are yet higher planes. We never reach a top. The experiences of the loftiest plane of which we can conceive of pales by comparison to yet higher planes.
No matter how high we go, there are countless higher planes to rise to; there is no top, nor a finite number of steps upwards after which we directly reach the Unknowable. How do we ever reach it, then, if it is not by going higher and higher? We reach it by connecting IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION THAN UP OR DOWN. We reach it by both a realization that it is as much an integral part of our consciousness now as it ever will be. The realization comes that the connection is never lost, never missed, and not subject to approach over time. We become ROOTED in the Unknowable, and then express the highest, with dignity, on whatever plane that we reside. The urgent need to hurry off to higher planes is replaced with a peaceful, holy, gentle appreciation of life wherein the craving for union with the divine is finally satisfied. We have reached the top, in a special way, and now we are content to live it out.
By Peter Stoddard
[from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, June 1949, pages 361-367.]
The origin of Man is a subject which engages the earnest attention of every intelligent person at some time of life. Who has not heard the questions of children on this subject? Do not our scientists constantly revert to it? And do we not all in our more mature years ponder upon it?
What sources of information have we on this subject? Mainly two: (a) Ancient documents, whether considered sacred or profane. (b) Ancient remains such as skeletons, implements, etc.
At certain periods in European history free inquiry on this subject has been impossible because of religious intolerance, but at the present time that hindrance is largely inoperative, and men are at liberty to explore the whole field as far as they can discover it. How far have the pronouncements of European Religion and Science taken us towards a solution of the problem of the origin of Man? We have the biblical account of creation, which, taken literally, is just impossible nonsense. We have the groping of Science -- and what do they amount to? Let me quote from a world authority on this subject, Professor Frederick Wood Jones of Manchester University: "Thirty years ago Scientists thought they had solved this problem, but today they are in a state of complete uncertainty."
Now what does Theosophy say about it? Broadly, that in spite of the unsatisfactoriness of both the religious and the scientific teachings, they do, if properly understood and interpreted, constitute a considerable approach towards a solution of the question.
The problem is: In what form, and where, and at what period, did Man first appear? The questions are simple, but the answers are complex. And where there is a complexity, it is desirable to try to establish a General Principle.
There is an age-old Principle which supplies the need -- Evolution; not "Evolution" in the modernly accepted meaning of the term, which should be rightly called "Transformism" -- this Transformism teaching that one stock or phylum in Nature can become another stock or phylum by physical transformation. Not at all. But Evolution in its ancient etymological meaning in the sense of unfolding what is within. Yet Evolution is only one side of the problem. Do not picture Evolution as simply a straight line of development from the lesser to the greater. There are no straight lines in Nature, and every curve upward is followed by a curve downward. When the curve of Evolution has proceeded far enough, its opposite curve, Involution, on the other arc, sets in. In fact, as Theosophists see it, Evolution is inevitably accompanied by Involution, and vice versa.
If Evolution is a bringing out of what is within, what is Involution? Involution is a process of infolding, of what was previously unfolded. Involution is the reverse process of Evolution. As a simple illustration, take a wave or billow of the sea. When it rises it is pushing back the air and the air is receding; but when the wave falls the water is receding and the air is taking its place. As one advances, the other recedes, and as the one recedes the other advances. That is what we mean by Evolution and Involution -- they are concurrent processes.
Now Theosophy teaches that these two processes are ever-present in Nature, and that Man, being an inseparable part of Nature, is subject to the same processes; and that the appearance of the Human Stock, its development, its maturity, its future history and its final destiny, are an illustration of this double process of Evolution and Involution. Thus the Principle is theoretically established. What are the details by which it can be practically demonstrated? How can it be shown that the Human Race experiences both an Evolution and an Involution?
First of all, What is Man? Let us look at ourselves. We have a body; but we also have volitions, thoughts, desires, impulses, feelings, ambitions, aspirations. Roughly, Man is Dual -- the material and the immaterial, Matter and Force, Body and Soul, Substance and Spirit. Can anyone point to any material action in Man or in any other part of Nature, which is not preceded by an invisible Force, or Desire or Will? The visible is always animated by the invisible; and in the long processes of Man's Origin and Development, the same observation holds good -- the Material is preceded by, and caused by, and animated by the Immaterial. This is a fundamental Theosophical concept, but I am stating it very baldly, for simplicity.
Now a step further. Sir James Jeans' theory of "Singular Points" postulates vortices in the starry depths of space, where matter emerges from the invisible into the visible. In the process of condensation invisible vapor becomes visible water or hoar frost. What me clouds but collected vapor or matter which was previously present but invisible?
Theosophy says it is true that matter as we know it once existed in refined forms on more ethereal places; and prior to that it was in a spiritual condition; but that through a certain number of Ages, and on various globes of life, it gradually condensed, thickened, grossened, until it became material as we know it. That was the evolution of Matter and the involution of Spirit. Further, Matter, as we know it, will, in the far distant future, become less gross, more ethereal, and will return to a super-refined or spiritual condition -- gradually, and through various globes of life appropriate for such processes. That will be the involution of Matter and the evolution of Spirit. Thus, the visible emerges from the invisible, and, after a full period of expression, retires again into the invisible.
So with Man -- the Human Stock. Human flesh and bones, etc., have undergone a gradual solidification in the far past, and in the far future the process will be reversed, and human bodies will become more refined and less gross.
Man's association with this earth is comprised in Seven Great Races, or "Root Races," of which we, at the present time, are in the Fifth. The present Great Fifth Root Race had its beginnings four or five million years ago, and it will persist for a similar period in the future, after which it will be followed in due course of time by the Sixth, and then later by the Seventh. This Fifth Root Race grew out of the preceding Root Race, the Fourth, and that grew out of the Third, and so on up to the First Root Race. Prior to the First Root Race on this globe the Human Life-Wave had a history on a previous globe -- but we shall not speak of that for the present. The First Root Race on this Globe (called Globe D in Theosophical parlance) possessed forms and characteristics which are quite unfamiliar to present-day conceptions. They were the original protoplasmic sketches of the true Man or mankind that was to follow in far later Ages. Their bodies were composed of "astral" matter, a kind of matter that would be quite invisible to normal present-day sight. Their size was gigantic, and their shape was ovoid. They were not truly Human as we now understand the term -- for they were mindless, instinctual. As the Ages passed, this First Root Race slowly grew more material in structure, i.e., the Astral slowly thickened or condensed, became more concreted.
The Second Root Race, which was the First Root Race merely become more concrete and material, was likewise distinctly semi-astral, was indeed a gelatinous, filamentoid race, physically speaking. Both the First Root Race, and the Second, had either bones, nor organs, nor hair, nor a true skin. In the latter part of the Second Root Race, the internal structure was distinguished by nuclei, which were destined to become the organs as we know them, and filaments which were destined to become muscles, nerves, blood vessels, etc.
The First Root Race reproduced itself by fission, that is to say, by a portion of the parent breaking off, such portion growing to be like its parent, by division much after the fashion that living cells today follow. They were sexless.
When the Second Root Race gradually appeared on the scene, though still ovoid in general form, they began to show an imperfect outline in form of what was in ages later to become bodies of human shape. They were still mindless, and their method of reproduction had changed to budding or gemmation, i.e., a small part of the body, a bud, separated from the parent, dropped off from the main trunk, and thereafter began to grow and to develop into a being which was in all important respects like its parent. At about the middle period of the Second Root Race, these buds grew more numerous and became what Zoologists would call human spores or seeds, or what H.P. Blavatsky more accurately called "Vital Sweat."
Neither the First nor the Second Root Races left any skeletal remains. The latter part of the Second Root Race, and the early Third, through the production of these vital cells, became the progenitors of certain forms of life, which, ages later, developed into the various Stocks of Mammals.
After several millions of years, the Third Root Race began, perhaps 26 millions of years ago in Geologic conditions which are recognized by Science today as the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Eocene. The continent they inhabited was the Lemurian, roughly where now is the Pacific Ocean. It was during the Third Root Race that skeletal human remains began to be deposited.
From the commencement of the Third Root Race, the bodily condition showed a further gradual thickening or concretion into flesh, the shape also gradually becoming more human, but still gigantic in size. This was the era of the colossal Pre-Tertiary Giants and Titans, in the Secondary period, recognized by Science as the Age of the Gigantic Reptiles and Monsters of Air, Sea and Land.
The psychological condition of the Third Root Race was, in the early part, still mindless and instinctual. Man was indeed at that time merely an animal, but a Human animal, derived from his own stock, net from any animal stock. In general appearance somewhat similar to man as we know him today, but still gigantic. It was while Man was in this dazed, unawakened, mindless condition, after the separation of the sexes, that he allied himself with certain mammals, and produced the simian monkeys, but not the Anthropoids (they were much later). But let us not go too fast. In the early Third Root Race, which was then double-sexed or bisexual, androgynous or hermaphroditic, the method of reproduction was by means of the exudation of vital cells. They were called "The Sweat-Born." Later, they were actually egg layers. Even today the human ovum is an egg.
Later, as said, before the awakening of the Human Mind, the separation of the sexes occurred, and the method of reproduction which is known today had its commencement. But sex, as we know it, is only a "passing phase," affecting the latter part of the Third Root Race, the Fourth and the Fifth. It will have disappeared in the Sixth and Seventh Root Races of Mankind.
And now we approach that period in the biological history of Man when be truly became Man in the fullest sense of the word as we know him. It was about 18 million years ago, and something happened which can truly be described as the most important, the most marvelous and far-reaching event in the life of Man on this Globe up to the present time. It was when his Mind awoke -- it was when the powers of the Mind began to be used, the power of independent judgment, discrimination, self-analysis, the power to discern and control the emotions and impulses -- in a word, self-consciousness. From that time human beings became Thinkers, contrivers, planners, builders, artists, conscious learners. They acquired the knowledge of good and evil. They began to be potential Gods. They entered upon a new phase, the most important one of their existence, a phase which will not be complete until they have become self-conscious Gods.
This new grade could not be, and was not, achieved without help. Higher Beings, from a previous period of evolution in prior worlds, made it their sublime work to light up the mental powers in Man by deliberate mental contact with them. These Higher Beings we called the Manasaputras, or Sons of Mind. They were, as said, highly-evolved Men of a previous period of evolution, and by a species of perfectly natural White Magic they awakened Man's sleeping quality of Mind.
No evolution of manifested life occurs without the cooperation or the original intervention of more advanced beings -- as witness the seed, which is born from the matured plant. And just as Man's physical form and lower principles developed under the guidance of the Lunar Pitris or Fathers, physical generation, as it is well-known, being largely influenced by the Moon, so the development of his Mind was achieved through the help of the Manasaputras. Before that time, men were merely human animals, that is to say, the only parts of their constitution which had come into manifestation were those known as the Lower Quaternary. The Upper Triad of Man's Constitution was still in embryo or dormancy, and it needed the intervention of beings who had already developed this Principle of Mind in order to awaken it. These Beings, Manasaputras, belong to a superior Hierarchy of Intelligences on the Light-side of Nature and are connected with the Sun. They are the Men of a former period of manifestation, who incarnated in the semi-conscious, quasi-senseless men somewhat later than the middle period of the Third Root Race. It was an act of sacrifice on their part, because they belong to one of the Hierarchies of Compassion. They did it in order to give us intellectual Light -- the Divine flame of self-consciousness, relatively small though that may yet be. They set us on the path of self-directed evolution. We became responsible.
As we all very well know, the Manasic Principle in Man is not yet fully developed. In the masses of people the intellect is used in very small degree compared with its possibilities. And even intellect is only one of the lower powers of the Mind (or Manas). We must remember that Manas was only awakened in the Third Race, although for immense periods its use and enjoyment were unsullied by the lower passions and desires. But inevitably, the Third Race being on the Descending Arc, a grossening and a coarsening process was to occur, especially so when the Fourth Root Race became dominant at the lowest point of the Descending Arc. In those former innocent times, when the Gods walked with men and conversed with them and guided them, mankind enjoyed the use of the THIRD EYE. This was the organ of Spiritual Perception. But as the fall of man became accelerated on the downward cycle, this organ gradually receded from its functions and eventually became atrophied. It is now laid aside for future use, and its vestigial form is to be found as the Pineal Gland. Records of those dying Lemurian Races are perpetuated in the legends of wicked giants who had an eye in the forehead. The story of Odysseus putting out the eye of Polyphemus, a Cyclopean giant, with a red hot brand; and Finn in Ireland who is said to have destroyed a wicked giant's eye with a heated iron spit (iron being a symbol of passion and desire), epitomize the history of Man's decline from purity to grosser materiality.
Thus was the birth of the Fourth Root Race commenced, it also being destined throughout the millions of years of its seven subraces, to experience periods of great material splendor and those of grosser unhappiness. But the wonderful civilizations of Atlantis have now all disappeared, and the Fifth Root Race is now limned upon the screen of time. Mankind is once more slowly climbing on the upward or Ascending Arc, gradually etherealizing and spiritualizing his Fifth Principle (Manas) in this Fifth Root Race.
And as he will eventually approach the beginnings of the Sixth Root Race, the Manas Principle will expand with ever greater power as it becomes illumined with the Sixth Principle, Buddhi.
By Annie Besant
[Excerpts from a speech delivered at the Theosophical Congress held by the Society at the Parliament of Religions, at Chicago Illinois, September 15 -- 17 1893. Originally published in the Report of Proceedings. Reprinted here from the December 1986 THEOSOPHICAL NETWORK NEWSLETTER]
... Karma is simply a Sanskrit word meaning action, and is used in our philosophy to cover all action of every description in the Kosmos and in Man; action as cause, action as effect, so that it becomes the general expression of a sequence in Nature. The word is one which expresses continual inviolable sequence, the unbroken chain of cause and effect, each cause giving rise to an effect, which effect in turn becomes the cause of new effects, so that all thought, of life, all action, depends on the link that precedes it out of which no link can drop, for law is inviolable, subject neither to breach nor change. And the reason why this is so easy enough to grasp. What is the Universe in the widest extent of the phrase? The universe is but the form in which the divine thought expresses itself. It is but the manifested thought of the divine, but the necessary outcome of the divine nature; and inasmuch as the divine thought is primary and the form in which it expresses itself is secondary, therefore form must follow thought, and be the inevitable expression of the creative thought that originates divine ideation, which is the first manifestation of the deity. The universe and everything in it is but the gradual expression in the form of ideation that has preceded. Here is the sphere of causes. Here everything has its root.Out of the divine thought grow all possibilities of action, and so thought becomes the primary study, and Karma is but thought worked out in a manifested universe ...
It is from the meditation of the divine that all form proceeds, and so in its measure from human thought, from human meditation, all action springs, and every manifest thought is precipitated as action. It is the realm of thought that, as Dante phrased it, " In that realm where power and will are one," it is there, whether in the divine, in the Kosmos, or the divine in Man, that we must look for the root of action and the cause of all effect. Where the will has operated, the action is inevitable. That is Karma in a phrase. The will is the energizing force, the action is the mere crystallization of the will; and so, when this will has operated, there come forth into the world of manifestation acts which we perform, social systems amid which we life, physical environment that limits our energy, the very mold in which our life is cast ...
We have been making for ourselves by the creative force of our will, certain causes sent out from the realm of mind into the realm of matter; and it is in the realm of matter that are to be found the acts which from day to day we commit. Thought has made the action inevitable. The thought form must work out in the material world, so that day by day we are living in the result that we have created, and are surrounded from the cradle to the grave by these forms that are the offspring of our own mind. Hence we are born into the world time after time with the general mold, as it were, of our life cast in the preceding incarnations. We, and no one else, are responsible for the tendencies that we bring in. We, and no one else, are responsible for the environment which surrounds us, to work out year after year the lessons of our previous thinking, fettered by the fetters that our own hands have forged, hindered by the obstacles that our own hands have piled. But then, it may be said, if that be so, are you not teaching fatalism that will be destructive to human effort? Are you not proclaiming a destiny that will make all energy impossible, all spontaneous action removed from the possibility of Man? No, for the will that created yesterday those cause which to day are worked out in the very midst of the environment it has created and must enter, is the same creative potency making new causes for the morrow that shall work out in changed environment, in altered conditions improving or retrograding as life proceeds. It is true that wehave to live in that which we have made for our dwelling but it is also true that, working from within those limitation we have created, we can break one by one the fetters we have forged, and step out again free men into the world which we have made for ourselves ...
And so out of knowledge grows strength, so out of understanding grows peace; for all the pain, the real pain of life, grows not out of that which comes to us from without, but from the inner rebellion that is not able to accept, to understand what Karma means; to understand it as the expression of the divine nature, to realize that all that is worthy in life is to become one with the divine law, united with the divine will, and you will welcome pain which offers the possibility of union, and you will rejoice in the very fires of your agony, for they will purify you and give you gold and melt away the dross.
Thus is Karma the law of readjustment. I have spoken of the law of the Kosmos as the expression of the divine will. But we have human wills differentiated from the divine. One with it in essence, opposed to it for the while in practice. Why this possibility of conflict in the universe of law? Why should it be that in a Kosmos which is to be the expression of the divine thought there should be the possibility of any will in conflict with the one will, any volition of Man that can hold its own against he Supreme volition? It is because in the evolution of the soul there is something higher then mere automatic obedience to the law compulsorily impressed upon matter; because, the universe existing for the evolution of soul, that the soul is to become in every truth divine, self-consciously at its beginning. But if there is to be human will at all, that must include the possibility of rebellion. If the will can say, "I will obey," it must be able to also say, "I will not obey, I will go my own way, and carry out my own desire." And in order that the universe may not sound a monotone but a harmonious chord, not the one note ringing ever, but one key note with countless undertones giving richness and melody and all possibility of infinite harmony and beauty; so that while the key note is divine the harmonies of the human wills which gradually are trained into unity, and the work of the universe, are the evolution of the harmony, the conscious and willing harmony with the supreme will.
Therefore, it is that as the great will sweeps on, the lesser wills that set themselves against it cause friction. therefore pain and misery. And therefore it is that Karma, the expression of the law, works itself out so long as there is evil, by suffering, for only as friction disappears does harmony become possible, and it is the great law of readjustment that exhausts the friction that the human will has made.
And the Karma lying behind us in our immemorial past cannot express itself properly int he limits of one brief human life; and so, going deeper into the subject you will find divisions and sub divisions whereby we express the Karma that can be worked out in the one life for which the apparatus, so to speak, is here ready, while there is other Karma reserved, as it were, lying behind us, which in due time will come to the ripening and work itself out in the act. Not only is this complication one of the difficulties of the understanding of the detailed working, but also we have to recognize the working of Karma, but only individual but also national, but also racial, but also human, for all humanity is one. All these threads of Karma work in on mighty strand, and those who would understand it in its detail, those who would understand its full bearing on human life, must take into consideration all these different states and the fashion of their intertwining; and there comes in the abstruseness that I spoke of, which seems to make the subject lees intelligible as we thus study, that the Karma of one cannot be separated from he Karma of others; that you and I, one nation and another, one race and another, that we are all fundamentally one and have a common Karma that must work itself out in our common life; so that here, at the close of the evening as at the beginning of the morning we come back to the fundamental unity that makes all separation between us impossible, and then you begin to understand what is mean when it is aid of the guardians of our race, of those who have achieved, that it is their strong hands that hold back the Karma of the world, as the Karma is one and indivisible. Just in proportion as we destroy separateness, do we begin to bear the one Karma and share that one Karma come the common bearers of the race, not by vicarious offering but by the unity of our life within, for there is no difference recognized, no "mine" and "thine" to the expression. That has passed away in the merging into the common life, and if you and I, as we tread the path of life together, however obscure, however trivial, however petty it may seem to be day by day, if in the living of that life learn to trample on the lower self, if in the living of that life we learn to think not of self but first of others, and then as one with ourselves, if our daily life is made a daily offering to mankind, if every opportunity be seized upon, which may make us feel our union and makes us unconscious of our separateness, then we have put our feet on the path which makes us one with humanity and gives us the glory of bearing the common burden and using our strength for the common good of Man. Nothing can separate us from Man but our own will. Nothing can make us separate from out brethren save our own desire, our own longing for the lesser self, and the final lesson of Karma is, there is no such thing as separateness to the human soul. There is no such thing as Thee and Me to those who are in the supreme life; and the only reward that Theosophy offers to its followers, the only prize that Theosophy holds out to those who accept it, is that by struggle they shall become one with Man by following self sacrifice, that perfect sacrifice at last shall be their reward, that their fate shall be one with the fate of the world, their future one with the future of humanity, none outcast that is not one with them, none degraded that is not in their heart, whose pain they do not answer to, whose agony they cannot feel. the vilest and the lowest, the most degraded and the foulest, they are ours by right of our common divinity, and none shall come between us and them. That is the final triumph, that is the extreme goal. As was said in ancient Chinese scripture, we will open the door and go in together. For it is not worthwhile to be saved unless everything that breathes is saved along with us; and the one vow that is with the taking, the one vow that every Savior of Man perfects, age after age, is the vow which makes him the lowest in order that he may raise all, and makes him willing to be as the very ground men walk on, in order that, by the force of the spirit within him, he may raise them to the highest and make them one with the divine.