The value of intellectual knowledge is that it is a springboard to deeper, more intuitive experience.
-- Kalu Rinpocke, FOUNDATIONS OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM, 166.
By Wesley Amerman
Many Theosophists consider themselves above the blind acceptance of ideas, and think that while others may adhere to a belief system, they themselves accept ideas solely on their intrinsic merits. I used to think this about myself, and thought that I was the most objective, open-minded and clear-thinking person I knew. Most definitely I am none of these things -- sad experience has taught me better. While I still see this arrogance implied in the speech and writings of fellow Theosophists, I have come to realize how much of my own world-view is part of an "inherited" package of sorts -- those ideas and ideals that have come to me as part of my theosophical upbringing and education. My conclusion is that many Theosophists' beliefs are as dogmatic as those of any religious fanatic.
Before anyone "gets their knickers in a knot," as a friend's grandmother was once fond of saying, perhaps I had better explain how I came to this somewhat "heretical" conclusion. A few who read this may know that I have been an Associate of the United Lodge of Theosophists for most of my adult life. Fewer may know that for a while now, I have questioned the "ways and means" of the work at the ULT, not because I pretend to know any better myself, or because I suddenly became argumentative, but because I saw an entrenched rigidity that had nothing to do with the principles upon which the Lodge was founded. Because I question authority, and ask that the system be opened up for wider participation, some students there (but hopefully, not all) may consider me a renegade of sorts, perhaps even a danger to the ULT.
Recently, I have been reading about the revolutionary transformation brought about by the publishing of Charles Darwin's ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES in 1859, and the gradual acceptance of the theory of evolution until it became virtually an unquestioned dogma among the men and women of science. (The details of that theory, its shortcomings and lack of empirical evidence are unimportant here; anyone interested in the subject might want to read Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton). It occurs to me that thinkers in two widely different arenas have transformed preconceived ideas into facts, and suggests that similar psychological and sociological "acceptance mechanisms" of belief operate among scientists and in the theosophical world!
How does this occur? Let us examine a typical if hypothetical "organization," "movement" or set of ideas, as it becomes an "institution." Most such groupings of individuals have to fight to be born, require a great deal of creative energy and are founded by visionary types who carve out a space for their cause. When fully established, the once-radical group becomes by turns more and more conservative, seeking to maintain its status and stature against all sorts of internal and external forces. This process may take place gradually or swiftly, but it invariably occurs sooner or later. Eventually, it tends to attract those people with the need and ability to fill the role of protector or guardian, who gravitate toward politics, holding office, running elections, etc.
This kind of institutionalization occurred with the acceptance of the Darwinian version of evolution, an outcome never anticipated nor wished for by Charles Darwin. He might have been appalled by the hostile attitudes that have often been displayed toward challengers and dissenters. The idealized free and open pursuit of facts that should be the heart and soul of the scientific community was gradually degraded into orthodoxy. Once certain aspects of the special theory of evolution were shown to operate within species, the general theory was widely applied to all aspects of evolution and to the very origins of life. Despite the lack of direct evidence for the theory, it began to be touted as proven fact. Since truth was obviously at hand, It was an easy step to regard dissent almost by definition as "irrational," since who in their right mind would dispute "truth?"
Why do theosophists think themselves immune from the psychology of belief? Several reasons come to mind, and no doubt critics of this piece will think of more and better ones than I can suggest:
1. We are human -- our minds operate pretty much the same way, regardless of the belief system we advocate. If I may be allowed one quotation from H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine that seems remarkable appropriate here: " Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities." (I, 40) In effect, we incarnate into ideas, our minds and our desires even more completely than we incarnate into and identify with our physical bodies. This is both the necessity and the opportunity for evolution: as essentially spiritual beings, we incarnate into limitations in order to learn. It is therefore natural that we do this, but along the way, do we have to forget who and what we truly are?
2. Ideas are important, but so are education, training and culture. As spiritual beings, we incarnate into various limitations and we are subject to countless external and internal influences, all of which may be called "karmic," a word which only partly explains and certainly does not justify our errors and misconceptions. To say that our limitations are our "left over karma" from past lives only serves to put at a distance our responsibility and our ability to rise above and make constructive use of them. Our backgrounds in this lifetime may be beyond our control, having already worked their karmic influence upon us, but part of our real growth may be an honest recognition that we have earned these influences. Theosophists of all people might set an example here, and admit that we have biases and limitations that are not that much different from those of others.
3. Human activity and belief are changed by group interaction. Our world view depends more upon the social support it receives than upon the empirical content or rational consistency. Traditions -- "inherited" institutional patterns and habits of thought -- play a far greater role in human affairs than we realize, and are important elements of our "plane of consciousness." Part of our personal human nature is to want to belong to something. No one wants to appear "different" or be the outcast from a group he or she values. Add professional standing, social status or economic benefit to any of this and our need to belong becomes nearly overwhelming. "Rational thinking" can seldom prevent us from complete "group think" when any of these are at stake. I have observed this in theosophical groups, and it operates there just as certainly as it does in economic (business), religious (church) and scientific communities. Like the backgrounds we inherit as individuals, our collective karmic backgrounds exert profound impacts upon Theosophical groups. It would be a nice start for students at ULT and elsewhere even to admit the possibility of a collective myopia in their cherished institutions, and might mitigate some of the criticism (often aptly hurled) in that direction.
4. Theosophists, like the scientists who profess "objectivity" but hold many ingrained assumptions about the world, operate under a double sort of ignorance: we recognize the problem in others, but cannot see it in ourselves. We think we know better, and therefore we think our group or institution is better, because our ideas and principles are better than those we criticize. Otherwise intelligent Theosophists have said as much to me, as justification for not questioning the practical group decisions that affect others! The weakness and folly of this sort of specious logic should be apparent to all.
One solution perhaps is to examine our most cherished fundamental assumptions about the world, and then be willing to make application to our own situations, painful though that process may be. Theosophical principles should be applicable to all phases of our lives, if they are to have real meaning. One of those areas certainly should include our theosophical institutions. This would constitute real growth, not only for individual students but also for the groups to which we belong.
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, September 1936, 196-202, where it was reprinted from Y FFORWM THEOSOFFAIDD, Cardiff, Wales, May 1936.]
It will inspire with high moral ideals ... A superb work.
-- Dr. H. N. Stokes in THE 0.E. LIBRARY Critic, February 1936
This, from the Jupiter Tonans of Theosophical Criticism, is far from honestly quoted; but one incurs the karma of one's cheating gladly for the sake of holding a mirror up to Nature. It is what anyone can do with the writings of anyone; and what is very commonly done with the writings of G. de Purucker; and in order to belabor him, with the writings of H.P. Blavatsky. Only not in the kindly spirit used here. You just choose what context to leave out. The results are often amazing. Praise comes gracefully only from a superior; and it is not Y Ff. Th's business to praise THE ESOTERIC TRADITION or its author. Books live by their merits; not by what is said about them. Indeed, it is a good omen for a great book to be heralded with abuse; one reads Dr. Stokes's review not without satisfaction. What Dr. de Purucker hates is a glib "acceptance" of his teachings which shows that his teachings have not done their work of stirring, deepening, and illuminating minds. HPB also spent laborious days trying to make her writings foolproof against the shallow manufacturers of dogma. Quite early in the Path toward Discipleship the feeling has taken possession of a man's soul -- "Perish my name, my reputation, me, but let Truth stand!" -- without having attained to that, none could give help to any man. So, mud may be thrown at Dr. de Purucker, as it was at his predecessors; bless you, he expects that, and has no time to notice it anyway. But Y Ff. Th., spiritually speaking, hails from the Great State of Missouri: a voice crying in the wilderness, "You gotta show me!" Fain would it get between some of that mud and its target; intercept it, secure it, and subject it to chemical analysis! One has really to thank Dr. Stokes, whose review is in a way impersonal and voices mainly what good old "they" are supposed to say, for arranging the mud conveniently for the analyst.
DID G. DE P. IMAGINE THE TEACHINGS?
There is not a scrap of evidence, we are told, that what is new in THE ESOTERIC TRADITION was not made out of whole cloth by Dr. de Purucker. The same charge was made against HPB in her time; HER answer was, that to have imagined the teachings in THE SECRET DOCTRINE she would have needed to be about ten Mahatmas rolled into one; one really does not know that Dr. de Purucker could think of a better one. But what is the meaning of this very human cry for evidence of authority? Let us get to the root of that ... What we fear to be or to become is Men. There is a thing called Manas, mind, supposed to exist in men but not in the brutes. It is the faculty wherewith we ought to THINK. But do we? Any old umbrella is good enough to put between our heads and Manas, lest disturbing influences from it should descend and drench us. But these jiggetty little personal brain-minds of ours, children of the Manas, have in the course of their evolution to become Manses themselves: able to think, reason, grapple with the meanings of the universe and life. We have to become Men, using mind grandly. All the churches, creeds, and dogmas in the world are defenses raised against the onslaughts of Manas. It doesn't matter whether the creeds are religious or scientific. The lower reaches of science are just as dogmatic and thought-stopping as the lower reaches of religion. The higher reaches used to be. But Theosophy comes like the Manasaputras of old to light the fires of mind in men. That was why HPB, Judge, and Katherine Tingley wrote and taught. That is why G. de P. writes and teaches.
MANAS -- OR AUTHORITY?
If the ideas and teachings called Theosophy are to have the effect on men they were designed to have, it is clear that not an item among them could be enforced by or gain weight from authority. A man, to have his Manas awakened, must examine these teachings and judge them on their own merits. What concerns him is to ask, not "Who said so," but "Do they inspire me with high moral ideals, perceived by me to be such? Do they answer the demands of the highest reasoning I can exercise? Can I so exert my thinking faculty that it will expand into the shape of these teachings?" If the answer is yes, then they are doing their work on him, awakening his Manas, aiding his evolution. The only possible "evidence" for the authority of any teachings would be, the teacher's say-so, which should carry no weight, or you would be accepting the notions of a lot of people Dr. Stokes objects to; and the nature of the teachings themselves.
It is complained that there is no clear statement as to the source of the teachings in THE ESOTERIC TRADITION. Is it expected that Dr. de Purucker will preface all his books with the statement, "I am the Chela of such and such a Master, and this is what I have been taught and am now commissioned to give out to the world?" But what if his choice is between backing his teachings with authority and having them do their work, thought out and understood in themselves and for their own sake? The introductory phrase he uses is, "The Esoteric Tradition is ..." Look into that and you see that it means, "Thus was it handed on to me," "Thus have I been taught," ITI MAYA SHRUTAM in the Sanskrit,the phrase used in the Esoteric Schools of the East. Dr. de Purucker's phrase introduces the teachings impersonally, yet tells the whole tale to one who looks beneath the surface. If there is a form that could serve his purpose better, one cannot guess what it might be.
Then the sweet charge is made that Point Loma members "have to" accept G. de P.'s teachings without thought or question -- bolt the lot unmasticated. Marry come up! The teachings themselves would show who a Theosophist's Teacher really and ultimately is: his own Inner Self. You may hear or read the highest revelation from highest heaven, but unless that one within you assents, you don't believe. And this is true of every variety of teaching on earth, from the ULT's to the Pentecostal League's: those who believe do so because what they believe in answers the demands of what they can get of the teacher within, what they have evolved forth of that one.
No doubt Point Loma Theosophists have received THE ESOTERIC TRADITION with enthusiasm; but why? You will answer according to the principles of your own nature. If you are one that must have his beliefs from a pope, or based on mere outside, material evidence, you will talk about 'blind faith' and suchlike tommyrot. But that is not the only possible answer; and it is the least noble answer possible. Nobler, and actually the true ones, would be such answers as, "Because it inspires with high moral ideals, and Because those points of teaching which G. de P. gives and which HPB did not are so highly reasonable in themselves that we should find it extremely difficult not to believe them true."
WHERE TO BEGIN
Why on earth should it be supposed that HPB gave out all she knew? Time and again she contradicts the idea. Good lord, when you are painting a picture, don't you begin by making sketches; don't you rough in the outlines then, and gradually work on towards the stage when you can paint the details? When you are building a temple, don't you begin with the architects' plans and drawings? Do you really place the weathercock and lay the foundations all at once? Do you teach kindergarten children the differential calculus? At least the Masters of Wisdom, in giving out this Infinite Philosophy of Theirs, are guilty of no such folly; but begin at the beginning, and the broad outlines and rudiments; then giving time for these to be digested; and enouncing more as the need and possibility arose. Does anyone think the whole of Theosophy has been given out? Or that even the highest of the Masters regards himself as other than a beginner on the endless Road of Learning? Are WE not to grow?
THE TEACHINGS THEMSELVES
Our fool brain-minds are things that crave the comfort of a roof over them, and walls as close around as may be. They are ego-centric, nation-centric, creed- and sect-centric; and funk the contemplation of boundless space and eternal duration. We want things to have begun as recently as possible, and to have an end of worries and responsibilities when we die. Personality hugs itself and dreads the impersonal; a little limited thing, it wants a universe that is little and limited. HPB, in view of this general phobia, took things only as far as to the end of a solar or a galactic manvantara and Nirvana gained by the now human hosts of souls; and no further. It was something to set mind and imagination working; vast compared with anything we had thought of before; and it never is any use to try to waken people with a blow that would stun them. Manvantara and pralaya, period of universal activity and period of universal rest, were, she intimated, of equal duration: as many billions of aeons to the one, so many billions of aeons to the other. But now watch this: in the pralaya "time was not." But how could a pralaya in which time was not be equal in time of duration to the cosmic life-cycle that preceded it, in which time was: nonexistence with existence? Who, outside the Boundless, kept the clock wound up and tore off the sheets of the calendar, that he might know when to waken the Boundless at manvantaric dawn? In the Boundless time was not; but in this fellow's office outside the Boundless the clocks were kept going, believe me! -- Smart Alecks here and there had excuse to rise and cry, Shows all that's the bunk!
The truth is we had not carried our thought to the horizon beyond HPB's teachings; considering not only what she wrote, but what it implied. Then came Dr. de Purucker and took us right up to what was the horizon when HPB left us, and showed us a new horizon beyond. Some of us accepted his teaching, as we had accepted hers long since, because the moment it was enounced, its truth seemed obvious; we asked ourselves, "Why haven't I thought of that before?" That, then, was how it could be said that pralayas lasted as long as the manvantaras they followed. Time was not for the hosts of entities in Nirvana while their home universe was in pralaya; but a couple of hundred lightyears or so away in space was another universe in full swing of its manvantara, in which there was plenty of time by which the pralaya of the other might be measured. There is always somewhere the time we measure with our clocks. So, HPB, your teachings did not after all lead to a dead end and absurdity! But to think you did not know! ...
Contemplation of the Infinite has a depersonalizing effect on the mind; so that G. de P.'s teachings, which are reasonable in themselves and illumine HPB's, also aid a man's evolution towards Impersonality. But bless your heart, you don't have to believe in them if you don't want to! It's entirely up to you. If any brother wishes to think that duration began one fine day in March, B. C. 10,000, and will end on a wet October evening in A. D. 10,000, he may; but he won't get much growth of faculty out of it. So too, if anyone wants to, he may believe that at the end of space there is a ten-foot wall topped with broken bottles, and beyond that nothing at all -- not even more space. There are things no one can imagine unless he has no imagination at all; and these are among the number. Their opposites seem to be things which should be obvious, but which no one did imagine till Dr. de Purucker gave them out.
There has been a deal of loose thinking on this Infinity business. Ten miles this side of the end of space is a point you could never reach, because there is no end of space. "Infinite," "almost Infinite," "half a dozen less than Infinite," and "a billion quintillions less than Infinite" are synonymous terms; because the point of infinity you are measuring from, however swiftly you may approach it, is always as far away as it was before. When HPB says "an almost infinite number of monads," and G. de P., "an infinite number of monads," they have said exactly the same thing. Put "infinity" at a thousand miles away, and "almost infinity" at 990; well, when you have traveled the thousand, "infinity" is still a thousand miles ahead of you, and "almost infinity" is still 990; and they will be forever and ever. You could no more come up with the one than with the other. How infinite space could be made up of less than an infinite number of monads, Y Ff. Th. is to learn. But what a fuss has been made, odd times, over G. de P.'s "infinite" and its supposed contradiction of HPB's "almost infinite!" When all HPB put in the "almost" for was to soften things for phobia-ridden minds. It did not sound so appalling ...
THAT FINAL 'N'
What dovecotes Dr. de Purucker fluttered when he took to spelling old familiar KARMA with a final 'n'! How many went to work earnestly with the hope that they might "shatter him to bits and then remold him nearer to their hearts' desire"! -- It would appear to be a case of the rights of Sanskrit VERSUS the rights of English. Y Ff. Th., being only concerned with the rights of Welsh, sees the thing from a different angle altogether. Here is a straw to show the wind's direction; a little "n" to test your discrimination between essentials and non-essentials -- and how far you have learnt toleration. What matters is not how it is spelt, but that it should be a living fact to you, and not a dead dogma: a source of love, hope, and courage, and not a phrase you repeat and repeat and never think upon at all. Any harmless thing that makes a rut less easy to get into and tends to keep the molds of one's mind unfossilized is to the good. Oh, one sees a value in that final "n," quite apart from the compliment to Sanskrit!
To jolt you into thinking, too, HPB, having spoken of Karma as an "infallible Law" of "absolute justice" -- words which surely mean something -- goes on to refer to "unmerited suffering." It sounds like a contradiction, but IS a paradox; the explanation is simple and easy, but you must think it out for yourself, and not fall into creeds and parrot talk. G. de P., in saying that every effect has its precedent cause, has NOT contradicted HPB with her infallible law of absolute justice. Who will may see in Karma a hit or miss affair, law and chance playing catch as catch can through a bewildered universe; but HPB and G. de P. and common sense are for a majestic order of things, justice absolute and infallible; and so would we be if we would think. The other view may be a stage on the road towards Thought, and is certainly highly gymnastic, but manas had little part in the fathering of it, it would seem.
THE STYLE IS THE MAN
A little word on Dr. de Purucker's literary style, which comes in for much fustigation. Every sentence in the two big volumes, every clause, is constructed with infinite care and patience to make it foolproof against rendering false impressions. It is a style suitable for a source book, a permanent record of important ideas; and that, and not a detective yarn, Lamb's essay, or lyric poem, is what the book is. Yes, the style is the man: infinite care, infinite patience, in rendering the message exactly. A HAWDD DDWEYD UN-AR-BYMTHEG to his critics!
By John Patrick Deveney
The THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY website has been updated and expanded, and can now be found at its own domain:
(1) The full text of the early numbers of the Journal are being uploaded, and some are now available online. More to follow.
(2) Original documents of THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY are being uploaded, including H.P. Blavatsky's naturalization papers.
(3) The table of contents of the next (July) issue of the Journal, with fascinating contributions by Joscelyn Godwin, Leslie Prise, Jean-Louis Siemons, and others.
(4) Notices of some of the vast full-text archives relating to Theosophical history that are now online, including ISIS UNVEILED, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, HPB's letters to Hiram Corson, and much more.
(5) Announcement of a book on the archives of Willhelm Abbe-Schleidenn (1846-1916).
(6) Notes & Queries has notes on: fascinating research projects and queries on the relationship of HPB and Rudolf Steiner to Ernest Haeckel and Rudolf Steiner; seeking information on the artist Hugo Hoeppner (1868-1948), known as FIDUS; announcing a book on Russia and the occult seeking information on the Eddy Brothers; and announcing the publication of a fascinating book on the Philadelphia inventor John Worrell Keely.
Leslie Price also announces the imminent beginnings of "The Pioneer" -- an electronic journal devoted to the pioneers of the psychic field in areas such as Modern Spiritualism, Mesmerism, Theosophy and Psychical Research.
Early issues will deal primarily with Emma Hardinge Britten and Andrew Jackson Davis.
Announcement is made that Architronic, The Electronic Journal Of Architecture, has recently published a theme issue entitled "Architecture and Theosophy."
And Professor Santucci has announced the program and tentative date for the upcoming Consultation on Western Esotericism from the Early Modern Period at the American Academy of Religion in Boston from November 20 to November 23, 1999.
By United Lodge of Theosophists
[A letter dated June 21-25, 1999, sent out to members of the ULT.]
At all times we stand on the razor's edge between the past that has evolved and the future that is to come. We build and we record. This Janus-faced vision may inspire but the position also has danger. The eyes of even the most inattentive observers are awakening to the keynote of this cycle -- change. Change must be met and attended to. The philosophy, itself, provides the basis for understanding the problems of change.
The modern Theosophical Movement was launched by less than two handfuls of individuals in 1875. What was the nature of their trust? It was to establish a foundation -- a nucleus -- for that Universal Brotherhood, supported by a science of ethics passed down from the night of time to help return man from the FEAST OF HUSKS UNTO TRUTH'S REPAST.
The United Lodge of Theosophist has a service to offer and a duty to perform. Its specific duty is to keep available the "original teachings of Theosophy" as recorded by HPB and her colleague Mr. Judge. It also provides meeting places where these universal ideas, viewed as both ideals and practical propositions, can be studied and discussed. In this, it serves a dual aspect: as a gateway to theosophical ideas and as a channel for work. Today's students bear responsibility for the continuation of this program in rapidly changing times. The "science of ethics" -- if stabilized, sustained, and maintained -- will firmly root great ideas.
The work continues. The message of Theosophy is ever more widely diffused over the medium of the Public Broadcast stations in various cities and communities and the response has been encouraging. Translation of the original teachings proceeds in many languages and areas as interest grows. In Los Angeles an active group of Spanish-speaking students gathers several times a week to discuss and learn from Theosophy. A combined meeting with those who speak English is held every two months with a moderator who translates back and forth in both languages. Theosophy School also reflects this growing interest.
A series of discussions on theosophical subjects produced by New York Associates for television, and preserved in video form, will be made available on the ULT Web Site. In keeping with this, interest on the "Internet" grows in ever-widening circles. Centers of discussion on THE SECRET DOCTRINE, on the Fundamental Propositions of Theosophy, on the law of Karma and its operation, on Reincarnation, etc., etc. are in active operation.
The past year witnessed a change in the format of THEOSOPHY MAGAZINE. More pages are now available to enable readers to draw a broader purview from the materials presented. Each issue endeavors to offer a study in depth of a specific theosophical study subject. Of great help in this endeavor has been a renewed collaboration with ULT Associates in New York.
Growth in attendance at public meetings has taken place in Kent, Washington; Brookings, Oregon; and San Diego, California. Brookings students will hold their annual 3-day meeting in August, with students from various Lodges participating on a panel and informal discussions. And then too, New York Associates have also reached further out by inaugurating a study class on Thursday evenings on the West Side of Manhattan. In San Diego, Theosophy School for children moves forward, and is regularly attended. In addition, a monthly newsletter on ULT activities has recently been started. There are also plans pending to begin a San Diego theosophical study class in Spanish.
As to new translations of the original writings during the past year, it is of interest to note that the study group in Lisbon, Portugal has published AN EPITOME OF THEOSOPHY in Portuguese. In Spanish, translations of the following booklets of articles by H.P. Blavatsky have been published in Los Angeles: THEOSOPHICAL PSYCHOLOGY; MORAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES; BASIC QUESTIONS ABOUT THEOSOPHY; THEOSOPHY AND "HPB"; and THE ESOTERIC CHARACTER OF THE GOSPELS.
Looking to the future, we know that if we make of ourselves an active center for the practice and spread of Theosophy, and keep available the original writings, it is inevitable that powerful forces, which are able to influence men and women for good, will be generated. Such an inner attitude will reach many persons who are thinking along these lines. Each can be a living center of light and hope. That is our essential work.
By Dallas TenBroeck
In THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, as in THE SECRET DOCTRINE or ISIS UNVEILED, HPB has left a legacy to us of certain KEY IDEAS and BASIC STATEMENTS. If these can be culled and placed together as we go along, we will frame for ourselves a picture of what Theosophy deals with.
This need not be discursive, but can be briefed down to essentials.
1. The three Fundamentals from THE SECRET DOCTRINE (SD I 14-19) are the first BASE.
2. To "Spirit" is referable all aspects of Consciousness, [see SD I 328 top ]. This includes semi-consciousness or even "un-consciousness." Why does HPB say this?
3. To "Matter" is referable all forms and limitations -- it is the arena where Consciousness operates. Why is this plane of manifestation we live in and call our "matter" necessary? Why does the eternal and imperishable Monad, which is the core of our "being" have to pass through this as experience?
4. To "Force, Energy, Will -- or FOHAT" is referable the powers of "spirit in action." What is that Force (as an example) which starting with the Mind as "plan" and "choice," actuates the physical muscles to specific acts? [ Fohat is called (SD I 16) the mysterious link between Spirit and Matter. It is also called Intelligent Electricity? (SD I 493) ]
5. In MANIFESTATION -- every conceivable "differentiation" is an ETERNAL, and an IMMORTAL "Monad." (an infinitesimal point of SPIRIT/MATTER) It is the "Center that is everywhere, and the Circumference that is no-where." -- a mystery to the materialistic mind, and an inspiration to the intuitive. The Lower Mind cannot fully grasp the concept (yet); and the Higher Mind delights in the relief of its universality being recognizable.
6. To Evolution -- is the whole field of progress. It is "an Equal-Opportunity" Universe. Every Monad has the "time" to grow and develop. The concept of cooperation and brotherhood are facts because there is no alternative. Actually evolution is not only an expansion of individual Consciousness to the Universal, it provides the field of work, as well as the meanings and causes that have lead to this situation that involves all Beings. It also explains the need for KARMA. And, the total and ultimate sensitivity of "Nature" to all decisions of any kind. It eliminates the (false) concept of "isolation." It shows the necessity for being a "volunteer" and always "acting for and as "the Self of all Creatures."
Adeptship and Initiation are not "elitism" (except to the envious who would like to have the fruits without the growing) they are the natural outcome of realizing one's "oneness" with everything else. "The Universe grows I." And, I tolerate all things, while strictly guiding my own work in terms of those duties that are mine to perform as a benevolent and harmless (to others) cooperator. To achieve this, the personal consciousness has to be sharpened and attuned to the existence, reason and needs of "All the rest."
As we get better at this work, our own field of work and influence expands and abuts to those who are already cooperating in assisting the progress of many others. This interior sense of Companionship strengthens. We sense the Brotherhood of Adepts and their companions always at work, benevolently in Nature and our World. Thus there is individual as well as general advance in spiritual learning and practice all the time. It is the limited consciousness imposed by "form" which is being transformed into the Unlimited consciousness of the ALL-FORM. We, and every other being, have a well-defined part in this. We are each a "part of the 'whole.' " And that is a "return" (so to say, in terms of comprehension) to the Spiritual Condition for the Monad.
The Spiritual Nature of each Monad is constant. The variations are of the limitations that the "forms" imposes. As these limitations are understood, the Consciousness, active within, transforms those and clarifies them. The presently "hidden" planes of consciousness and life become visible as the necessary links between LIMITATION and the LIMITLESS. We are the living thread of Consciousness that all the time serves to hold not only ourselves, but many others together. Hence "Unity in diversity."
Monadic responsibility does not cease with focused and active Spiritual Knowledge, but the wider and deeper aspects of duty then prevail as "opportunity." Such an enlightenment of the personal consciousness is encouraged by the resident Monad, which can return to become an advisor, a "tutor" to other Monads who reach the "Man-Mind" stage. What else is our HIGHER SELF ? It is simultaneously "Us," and not-"us." It is the "Eternal Man" -- the potential Buddha.
Hence, Theosophy in the world is both a Wisdom and a practice -- which by gradual comprehension changes from "theory" into a "way of practical spiritualized life."
By W. Emmett Small
[from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1938, pages 293-96.]
Occultism teaches us that ideas based upon fundamental truths move in the eternity in a circle, revolving around and filling the space within the circuit of the limits allotted to our globe and the planetary or solar system; that, not unlike Plato's eternal, immutable essences, they pervade the sensible world, permeating the world of thought; and, that contrary to chemical affinities, they are attracted to, and assimilated by, homogeneous universals in certain brains -- exclusively the product of human mind, its thoughts and intuition; that in their perpetual flow they have their periods of intensity and activity, as their durations of morbid inactivity. During the former, and whenever a strong impulse is imparted on some given point of the globe to one of such fundamental truths, and a communion between kindred eternal essences is strongly established between a philosopher's interior world of reflection and the exterior plane of ideas, then, cognate brains are affected on several other points, and identical ideas will be generated and expression given to them often in almost identical terms.
-- HPB in "The Religion of the Future," THE COMPLETE WORKS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, IV, 249
Theosophy is not only a scientific formulation of little known laws of Nature. It is a pathway of life. Not only is it a PHILOSOPHY about "things as they are," but, if understood and applied, it becomes for each student a religious necessity to EXPERIENCE "things as they are." It is this practical demonstration of the inseparable linking of thought with action that is the great contribution of Theosophy to the present age, for it is this subtle yet strong unity of invisible with visible which not only creates ideas but carries those ideas into virile action -- depending of course upon the will of the individual actor.
In other words, Theosophy is a LIVING power in the world so long as there are a few true Theosophists working along real Theosophical lines. It is not quantity that creates, but quality: one great man may be the spiritual proponent of a new religion which will change millions of lives. The directing fluid, intellectually and spiritually, lies in the ideative plane, and it is on this plane, or from this plane that such great souls work.
"H.P. Blavatsky in 1938" is but a way of stating that the teachings of the first Theosophical Leader and Messenger still inspire the hearts and minds of devoted followers. It is a way of saying that the channel that she successfully kept open and clear, indeed which she WAS, is still open and clear; a way of declaring to the world that through the Theosophical Society or Movement one can contact that ideative plane wherefrom as one of the great Leaders and Changers of human thought H.P. Blavatsky labored.
Our work as Theosophists lies in the inseparable twofold activity of (a) studying the teachings of Blavatsky and Theosophy, and passing them onto others as we have received them, and (b) living the Theosophical teachings, practicing them in our lives, exemplifying them in our conduct, in our aspiration, in our inner and outer thought. In this way we link our spiritual forces with the stream of the ideative or creative side of the Universe. We become to a degree at least creators, architects, instead of merely builders.
When one considers the tremendous change in the thought-life of the world since HPB's days, there is no question but that Theosophy has played a major and profound part in what even the lay mind will admit is a general conversion from a materialistic outlook on life to an intellectual attitude, in many quarters even questioningly, gropingly spiritual. This is because HPB's mission did not fail. She succeeded in planting the seeds of the ancient Wisdom Religion into fertile minds. She succeeded in stirring the embers of the heart-fires of men so that what she taught was accepted by them.
Of her followers many remained faithful to her direct message, faithful to the heart of the organization which she founded, faithful to the Leaders who followed her in serial succession.
Others, starting groups of their own, yet had the germ of Theosophy as their inspiration; and this seed, fecundating and finally flowering as this band or society of sincere searchers of truth, has in the last sixty years literally dotted the face of the globe with offshoot groups; and these in turn have had branches which in their own way have promulgated teachings which have helped stir the world of thought and aided the general retreat on materialism.
Still another class -- even in HPB's time, and in growing numbers in the last decade -- individuals of intelligence and spiritual aspiration, seemingly with no knowledge of Theosophy, have plucked from the air, as it were, basic Theosophic ideas and expressed them in their own language. This has been possible because of certain karmic conditions that our present cycle has brought, coupled undoubtedly with the concentrated work in the world by students of the ancient Wisdom Religion in thinking Theosophy, in speaking it, and in living it. It is a point to remember in moments of discouragement that those silent workers whose devotion may seem to go unrecognized, whose efforts even to themselves may so often seem to be unavailing, have and wield a power to affect "cognate brains," as HPB says, so that "identical ideas will be generated and expression given them."
The degree of power to aid humanity obtained by all these various searchers for truth, as individuals, or as societies, it is obvious, lies in their ability to approach the "world of thought," to tap the reservoirs of ideas within our planetary or solar system, and to remain illumined in their intuitions from such contact. This subtle, tenuous, but strong plane of thought is the most powerful medium affecting the inhabitants of the earth. To work on it is not reserved alone for the Messengers or the Masters. It can be done by any of us with the requisite will power and courageous effort; and the degree of success or failure in achievement marks the difference between a negative Theosophist and an active one.
It was on this higher plane that HPB worked; and because she came at an important cyclical time, and because she was what she was -- a Messenger from the Lodge of the Masters of Wisdom -- she was able to and did let loose upon the earth, through herself as the channel, this great stream of ideative power, these "ideas based on fundamental truths," this "strong impulse" on a "given part of the globe." And as a result countless lives have been affected, the current of their thought radically changed -- directed, as one reviewer wrote of her, to the sun. Therefore she lives today in the success of a work that is growing like the famed rooting and rerooting of the branches of the banyan tree.
HPB lives today in the T.S. -- yes, in all the different Theosophical Societies, but in all of them IN DEGREE. In so far as they represent Theosophy to the world today, it is evident they represent her -- whether worthily or not is another question. But in so far as they DO worthily, each one of them, represent her, in so far does the real spirit of HPB still inflame the world. Furthermore, there is a living stream of inspiration from the Masters into this world. HPB was the channel for this in the early days of the Society; but with her death the outflowing energies from the Lodge did not cease. Theosophists, at least those of the Point Loma Theosophical Society, and doubtless many others not of this Society, hold and declare that that same stream of spiritual force pours into the world, and that the channel still is open wherever hearts and minds remain faithful to truth and duty. The question leaps then to life: Are you as a Theosophical Society a fit instrument for the Masters to work through? Are you as a Society teaching, studying, living the Theosophy of the Masters of Wisdom as brought to the West by their Messenger? Are you as an individual F. T. S. doing all in your power along the lines open to all men to fan this flame into a steady fire?
SURSUM CORDA. Lift your hearts to that plane of ideative and creative thought where you can contact the causal realm of this universe; aspire to reach what HPB had reached, and to be a channel as she was a channel; live nobly and impersonally -- and you will be doing well your work in the world, for you will be affecting for good the world's consciousness, determinedly cooperating in the main work of the Theosophical Movement, which in these perilous times exists for the purpose of changing men's hearts and minds, instilling into them thoughts of the Ancient Wisdom which little by little will soften the horrors around us, alleviate distress, and help diminish the evil which is the heavy karma of our present age.
By Daniel H. Caldwell
In the forthcoming edition of my book THE ESOTERIC WORLD OF MADAME BLAVATSKY (Wheaton, Illinois, The Theosophical Publishing House), I've compiled scores of primary source accounts on HPB's life, occult phenomena, encounters with her Masters, etc.
My archives and files contain hundreds of OTHER accounts and articles (positive and negative) on Madame Blavatsky. The Blavatsky Archives Online plans to publish many of these documents. The three items below are a mere sampling of what will eventually be published on this web site.
Statement of Mr. Bhavani Shankar [on the Theosophical Mahatmas].
Theosophic Thaumaturgy -- A Startling Story [from The Bombay Gazette]
Critical Historical Review of The Theosophical Society [An Expose of Madame Blavatsky] by William Emmette Coleman
Visit the site at:
By Eldon B. Tucker
[Original version on an article that first appeared in THE QUEST, July 1997, pages 5-7.]
As we marvel at the advances made by modern science, the question comes to mind: What do the Mahatmas know of this? What do they actually know? How much, for instance, would a Master, sitting in a cave in 107,234 BC, know of chaos, fractals, nonlinear dynamics and interation, and how they provide new ways of viewing and modeling the world?
The question is important, and becomes an even greater item of concern as science continues its fantastic advances. Our concern grows as various comments regarding science in our theosophical literature come under scrutiny. When reviewed in the light of present-day science, various statements may be shown to be wrong.
We may have to consider each statement, point by point. Some references to science may be true, and modern science is simply not yet correct in its understanding. Other references may appear to be false, but are really veiled references, pointing to true facts, when they are given a different interpretation, having a metaphorical or symbolic meaning. Again, we'd have to look at the particular passage to determine if this was the case.
For someone with an a priori belief that Theosophy is wrong, that it is something that was made up by Blavatsky, finding some scientific references that can be disproved would be sufficient to write it off. But this just shows a tendency in human nature to find evidence to support one's already formed beliefs. There's much more to Theosophy, which in its heart is a living link to the Wisdom Tradition, which could be called a Mahatma-dharma, a lineage of knowledge and teaching that goes back to humanity's infancy, and beyond that, originating in divinity.
What, then, do the Masters know? Apart from walking up to one and putting the question to him, we are left with taking what we know of the philosophy, and making reasonable inferences. What does Theosophy, as we understand it, and as far as we dare extrapolate, suggest?
Let's start with what Blavatsky herself says about their knowledge. Reading in The Inner Group Teachings of H. P. Blavatsky, pages seven to eight, we find:
The white Adept is not always at first of powerful intellect. In fact, HPB has known Adepts whose intellectual powers were originally below the average.
So having an advanced intellect is not a prerequisite for adeptship. This is not to say, of course, that the intellect is not important, and won't subsequently be developed by the exceptional individual that becomes an Adept without first developing it.
It is the Adept's purity, his equal love to all, his working with Nature, with Karma, with his "Inner God," that give him his power.
Here we have the paramount qualities: genuineness, compassion, unselfishness, a willingness to work to better the world (e.g., the Bodhisattva Vow), and the making of one's inner spirituality a living force in one's life.
Intellect by itself along will make the Black Magician. For intellect alone is accompanied with pride and selfishness: it is the intellectual plus the spiritual that raises man. For spirituality prevents pride and vanity.
These noble qualities of the spirit are of primary importance. If our intellectual development outstrips our inner work, we fall prey to pride and vanity, which are signs of the dark shadow created by the personal self.
The personality itself is not something bad, not something to get rid of. It is like a work of art, something original, creative, expressive of our uniqueness. What goes, with spiritual practice, is the dark cloud produced in us by the sense of personal self. The ugly bias of "what's in it for me" disappears from our awareness and we start seeing life in universal terms. The common good becomes best in our eyes, and we simply don't think or feel in terms of ourselves as distinct and more valuable than others.
Metaphysics are the domain of the Higher Manas; whereas physics are that of Kama-Manas, which does the thinking in physical science and on material things ...
In both physics and metaphysics, we have rules, formulas, general principles that are applied to understand life. The difference is that physics is always literal, whereas metaphysics deals with a different faculty of thought.
With metaphysics, we're dealing with symbolic thought, thought which is fluidic, rich with meaning, and which can be applied to situations in the world with tremendous flexibility, creativity, and richness. We have a different manner of thought, of understanding life, of viewing things. With physics, the thought is rational, crystallized, orderly, predictable, and closely tied to things in the material world.
The mathematician without spirituality, however great he may be, will not reach metaphysics; but the metaphysician will master the highest conceptions of mathematics, and will apply them, without learning the latter.
We now come to the key passage, the words that give us our clue to the nature of what the Mahatmas know regarding science.
There is, though, more than one important idea found in this passage.
First, the metaphysician (and Mahatma) will master the highest conceptions of mathematics, or of a scientific discipline, and be able to apply them, without learning the latter.
How can this be? Because the highest conceptions are the general rules, the principles regarding how life works, the insights into the workings of Nature that can be understood in general terms. These insights can be arrived at by meditation, contemplation, and training, independent of learning specific examples of the insights as provided by different scientific disciplines, such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, economics.
It is possible to know the highest conceptions and be able to apply them, without having to study the sciences. But this does not mean that the Mahatma has general knowledge in the various scientific disciplines, which takes us to the second point.
The Masters have a generic ability to know things, which is different than detailed knowledge in specialized subjects. Such detailed knowledge requires a process of learning and study, and takes time. There is simply not enough time in the world to master all the areas of human knowledge. But with the development of higher facilities of knowing, a generic knowledge can be obtained.
What is this generic knowledge? It's not something that can readily be discussed, or it would have been in the past. In part, it is the ability to direct the mind at something, and by that focusing of attention, to start to know things about that subject.
There are rivers or currents of thought, reservoirs of knowledge about us in the Universal Mind, Mahat, and it is possible to come into touch with them, by the direction of one's attention.
(Such a stream of thought, for instance, is the theosophical doctrines themselves, which a student can, through persistent study and spiritual practice, make a living force in his life, which can become akin to an inner teacher, a source of knowing about Theosophy from within.)
The Mahatmas could be said to have a talent for whatever they study. For detailed knowledge, they would have to undertake the same process of learning as anyone else. We might find, though, that they have a better recall, a better ability to understand, and are not limited by the current state of knowledge. They can learn all there is to offer, and keep learning more. If they were to spend the time, they could advance the forefront of human knowledge in whatever field they would undertake.
Someone might look on one of them and think, "there's an individual with tremendous creativity, with outstanding insight, with a talent for discovery." They might not know that the Mahatma had an advantage at what he was doing, that the Mahatma was applying faculties of knowing and understanding things that transcend the orderly, one-two-three sequential nature of the rational mind.
Now consider a Master that has not studied a field. Were the Master to comment on that field of science, what would or could he say?
He would be as ignorant, having not studied the field, as anyone else. He might be intuitive, a good guesser, a person with a talent for speculation. Were he to comment on the field, he could pick out information from the general thought atmosphere.
The Master might pick out an idea that parrots popular thought, that reflects the current scientific view on the subject. If he did so, and the science of that day was later proven wrong, he would be subsequently charged by unsympathetic critics of not knowing what he was talking about.
The charge would be true, in a sense. He would have not known what he had said from study, because he was merely referring to what was popularly thought. The only fault we might find with this would be the lack of citing his source, that is, that he did not state that this was where the idea came from, giving us the impression that it instead came from specific knowledge of his, rather than coming from an unreliable source (popular scientific thought).
With the progress of science, there is considerable new knowledge being generated. Much of it is in disciplines that simply did not previously exist, like nonlinear dynamics, and its relation to turbulence. And various models like the "bifurcation curve" provide us with descriptive tools, and with new symbols and metaphors for understanding life.
It might have been possible to have an intuitive sense of something like the "bifurcation curve" in the past, but computers were necessary to first realize it. Without computers to perform billions of calculations and generate graphical displays, there are things that would simply remain unknown to this day. (The field of "chaos" is rich with theosophical symbolism, and is deserving of articles, if not books of commentary. It can only be mentioned in passing in this article, due to a lack of time and space.)
A Mahatma might have had a general understanding of life, but not of the specific details and symbolism that can arise out of the advances of science. How can this be? Because the Mahatma has outstripped humanity in spiritual evolution, and may not be at the forefront, yet, of intellectual advancement. And the Mahatma also only has 24 hours to his day, and may devote a smaller percentage of it to intellectual study than a typical man of science.
When a Master would focus his mind on a subject, without having a background of study in it, he'd get an overview, a layman's summary, a cursory glimpse, but not the same rich understanding that is had by a specialist in the field. But he would also get a connectedness with the ideas, having the ability to know what it means and how it relates to life. He'd see the symbolism, the key to understanding other areas of life that it reveals, and his study would broaden his mind in many directions at once.
A Mahatma would approach his study with a sense of wonder, as had by a little boy in a giant library, a library having books on everything in the world. His wonder is based upon the conviction that he can know anything, if he chooses to, given the necessary time.
We have, then, two kinds of knowledge, the specific and the generic. In his development, the individual on the Path unfolds the generic faculty of thought. Combined with specific knowledge, the power of the lower mind, he could achieve mastery over the world. But such mastery is secondary to mastery of the self, and to the work to aid suffering humanity, which are the primary goals of those on the Path, of those carrying forward the work of the Hierarchy of Compassion.
It might be possible for a scientist to say "I know something you don't know," and to be true when he says it. But he simply wouldn't realize that his way of knowing things was incomplete in itself, and that there are as yet, to him, untapped powers of understanding. A Mahatma may not know the particular fact that the scientist is thinking of, but could reply, if it were appropriate to say such things, "yes, but I see things with a depth and clarify that you have no idea of, and also know things in different ways, in ways that cannot be explained, but only experienced."
As theosophical students, what do we do with this? How do we approach the different ways of knowing things?
First, we can keep abreast of the advances in science, from a layman's point of view, with journals such as Discover Magazine.
Second, we can work on keeping our minds open, flexible, and not crystallize in our thinking, always seeking to view things from different perspectives.
Finally, we can study the theosophical literature, approaching it with dedication, until we reach a point where we can go no further, a point where we have to push through into an new way of experiencing things.
We need to seek out our limits of knowledge and push on them until they yield to us, and we find a wellspring of ideas flowing into us. We take manas and push on it, arriving at what might be called paramanas, manas pushed beyond its ordinary limits.
The ways we have of thinking about things and knowing of the world are not limited to what we've been brought up with. There are as yet many untapped powers of mind, awaking their chance to awaken into life in us. Let's provide them with the necessary sunlight and water within, so that they may germinate. Let us work on opening up within, not just in terms of feelings, of perceptions or clairvoyant images, or in terms of powers, energies, or pranas, but rather in terms of ways of knowing things.
By Reed Carson
1. With much positive portent, I would say, a group of students have formed, and asked for the following announcement to be included in this newsletter: Blavatsky Net will be spilling out of cyberspace this fall!
This fall Blavatsky Net will be starting a live study group in Manhattan New York that will meet twice a month to study the original teachings of Theosophy. The group will probably meet on alternate Sundays. Let us know if you are interested in participating in such a group in New York City and any thoughts you have about it. Please contact either David (email@example.com) or Stella (firstname.lastname@example.org). Look forward to hearing from you.
2. Amedeo Nazzaro, a longtime student of Theosophy, has joined the help desk. We expect he will be helping Blavatsky Net with the above study class and in other yet to be determined ways. We are, of course, very appreciative that he has offered his services. He can be reached at email@example.com.
3. We have decided to repeat the practice of last month and speak on something outside this site.
Where did the early inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere come from? The traditional theory, taught in many a school book, is that they migrated from Asia across an area where is now the Bering Strait and down into the American continents no earlier than 12,000 years ago. This theory was called the Clovis-first theory from archaeological finds in Clovis, New Mexico.
Unfortunately the Clovis-first view became so rigid that other claims for an earlier and different origin for the older inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere have been blocked. The result has been the erection of what one scholar calls the "Clovis curtain".
Theosophy holds to the existence of an inhabited "Atlantis" land mass extending from the North Atlantic down to the South Atlantic Ocean. Gradually that land mass sunk leaving a principal island and finally that sunk as well. The Azores and Canary Islands are other remnants of that continent. Modern plate tectonic theory shows that continent to have as its backbone, the mid-atlantic ridge -- so called by geologists today. Migration from that land mass leaves an easy alternative explanation for the peopling of the Western Hemisphere. Also Theosophy holds to a much greater age for humanity in general. Therefore, Theosophy would expect much earlier dates. And it does ascribe some contact between Atlantis and the Americas, at least in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
Now the Clovis curtain is showing rents. New archaeological finds are producing hard-to-dispute evidence. Resistant views are changing. Older dates are becoming accepted. DNA analysis of American Indians shows similarities to some DNA in Europe requiring a more open view that is also compatible with an Atlantic land mass. Also Linguistic analysis requires a much older date to account for the degree of difference in some dialects of the Americas. One linguist says "Clovis-first is not remotely possible".
I can recall talking with a longtime student of Theosophy years ago, before so much evidence had come forward and these ideas had made so much progress. Simply from a knowledge of the teachings of Theosophy he ridiculed the Clovis-first theory and was positive the Clovis curtain would be falling. And so it is.
Since this represents a change of a paradigm we included a very informative article on this subject under "Weathervane" on the home page.
4. Just to let you know -- for the remainder of the summer my own personal activites may slow down work on this site and on this newsletter, but I hope to emerge all the better for it when all is settled. I will be attempting to build a new home that is a geodesic dome up on a mountain side on the northern slopes of the Catskill Mountains in New York State. The site is too far from electricity so it will be "off-grid" and powered by solar panels and wind turbine. I expect to be soon living in a one room shack on the property and connected to civilization by the thin tether of a solar powered portable computer and a cellular phone. If nothing goes wrong it will be wonderful.
[For more information on Blavatsky Net, go to:]
By Joy Mills
[Chapter Five in LIVING IN WISDOM: LECTURES ON "THE SECRET DOCTRINE," copyright 1989, Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland / Amsterdam. Reprinted with permission. The booklet was transcribed from a class given at the August 1988 Summer School of the Dutch Section of the Theosophical Society.]
We'll turn now more directly to the study of ourselves. We have been looking at some of the great metaphysical concepts concerning the origin and development of a universe, and remember it is suggested at least that the intent of THE SECRET DOCTRINE -- not only those volumes by H.P. Blavatsky but the esoteric tradition itself -- is to awaken a new mode of consciousness. When we turn then to the material in the second volume dealing with "Anthropogenesis," we must keep very clearly in mind that central purpose, otherwise we are likely to be lost in very confusing details.
What I hope we can see is the central thread of our origins and development. The occult story of our origins and development is really a tremendous myth. It is the story that must always be told therefore in terms that are metaphorical and poetic. At times however, the story that is told in the 49 Slokas of volume II would seem to stretch our credulity. The history that seems to be referred to seems too fantastic and too removed from our present condition to be either believable or even relevant. But I would suggest that the importance of this part of the two volumes, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, lies in their being a guide to our true nature, not in their being a history of the evolution on the surface of this planet. Because they show us our origins, they also show us our way of return, not through the rejection of life, but through the flowering of our still unrealized potentials.
Our physical evolution must necessarily form part of the story, but beyond or behind that particular story -- the physical evolution -- we begin to see the patterns of events which come from and are symbolic representations of the patterns in the human soul. However you want to explain the matter, the men of the past are present in us now. That is, their psychic patterns, if you like, are ours. And in a similar manner, the men of the future are also within us. So our studies are always studies of us -- as we were, as we are, and as we will be. In the last analysis, if I may put it this way, we must come to know that we are gods. The gods exist within us -- and so do the devils -- but it takes a god to become a man. All the ancient myths and legends refer to this fact and the occult tradition reminds us that it takes a man to become a god again.
So one of the truly profound doctrines of the esoteric philosophy is that we are the repository of and the elements comprising the universe. This is certainly not fully recognized by contemporary science but is coming to be recognized by contemporary psychology, particularly that branch of psychology following the work of Carl Jung. Everything resides in us; we are the epitome of all that is -- the microcosm of the macrocosm. As the Greek philosophers had it, we are "the measure of all things."
In addition, the esoteric philosophy teaches us that we also hold within ourselves the history of all that has ever been, all of what we may call the "inferior" stages of development through which we have passed. So we are both the storehouse, the repository of all past forms and of all future types. In this sense we throw off the past forms as we evolve through the ages, and each of those becomes in its turn what we may call a new "stock." This concept or doctrine has been called the concept or the doctrine of "vital off-throwings"; it is a very mysterious one. HPB refers to it, not in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, but in another place, as "the transmigration of life-atoms."
Now to understand all that is meant by what I have said so far, we need to consider what is called "the man-pattern," that is, the archetype of the manifested human being. Distinguish this archetype from the human being in manifestation; the pattern is called in THE SECRET DOCTRINE "the Heavenly Man." To use a term that is very much in use today, it is "the divine Paradigm." HPB tells us:
The doctrine teaches that in order to become the fully divine god, even the highest spiritual primeval intelligences must pass through the human stage. And when we say "human" this does not apply merely to our terrestrial humanity, but to the mortals that inhabit any world, that is, to those intelligences that have reached the appropriate equilibrium between matter and spirit as we have now, since the middle of the fourth root-race of the fourth round has passed. Each entity must have won for itself the right of becoming divine through self-experience.
So all that I have said so far is beautifully summarized in that one paragraph, but I have tried to put it first in a way that could perhaps be more easily understood -- mainly because HPB speaks of this subject as "so very mystical" and therefore the most difficult to explain in all its details and bearings.
What we need to recognize is that man stands as the middle term of the extent of being. There is a continuum of being, and the middle term is the human condition. We can say that our essential Self derives from the unmanifest and transcendental Root of Self. And again, that our Self is the individualized spark of incarnating mind. So on whatever level we speak of the self, it is finally only in us that we find any experiential point of reference. It is interesting that we use the same word "self" for many aspects of the movement on this continuum of being.
You may remember that when I spoke of the archetypal motifs of creation, one of those motifs was one of a ritual murder, in which the victim is the divine man. This in some cultures remained as a ritual murder. And then there arose in some cultures the substitution, so there arose the concept of the scapegoat on whom all of the burden of the sacrifice was placed instead of on man himself. It is interesting to trace how this concept has continued through history, because in one sense we still "murder" each other. We place on the other all the blame of whatever is buried within ourselves. Do not think we can so easily escape from the guilt of this ritual murder; it is a kind of distorted reflection of this ritual murder. I do not want to pursue this but I think you will begin to see some of its implications.
In the archetypal pattern, the victim is the divine man. In Hindu cosmogonies for example, it is PURUSA, the first man, the original person, who is in the shape of the cosmos. He has a thousand heads and a thousand feet. He extends beyond the world and covers the whole universe; and out of his body, the world is created. He is cut up, and each part of him becomes one aspect of the universe. We have this even in the remembrances in the Christian Eucharist. In all great traditions there is this ritual murder of the original man, and it is reflected in us. Our central task through all the aeons of development may be said to be the reassembling of the original man, the archetypal pattern. This is a reassembling which is done by making conscious the entire universe.
Now if one studies the great myths dealing with the emergence of the hero -- that is, the one who is now reassembling his own nature -- there can be seen seven stages in his development. And I propose that in some deeply mysterious way, these seven stages correspond to what have been called in theosophical literature the "root-races." This was a most unfortunate term that was chosen. It was a term that was not pejorative in the last century, it did not have bad connotations, but referred to a very profound concept and certainly did not refer to ethnic groups, although unfortunately it has been applied in this manner. I would like to remove the term "root-race" from all of our literature, because it has been so often misunderstood.
What is really referred to are the seven developmental stages through which we progress on our cyclic journey. Now in terms of the great hero-myth, these stages are given in this way. I just thought you might like to know how they are generally defined and we will look then at how they are defined in THE SECRET DOCTRINE tradition. The first stage is known as the "fire-thief," the thief who steals fire. Obviously this must refer to the coming of the mind. The second stage is the "deluge-survivor." Of course in this case it is the psychic nature which can flood consciousness, and one has to learn to survive that. One can see this today in those who are not surviving the "deluge" of the psychic glamour, who become overwhelmed by the glamor of the psychic realm, but the hero survives that stage. The third is known as the "dragon-slayer." Having slain the dragons of, shall we say, greed, jealousy -- all of the dragons that arise within us -- the fourth stage is that of the "prophet" or "instructor." The fifth is the stage of the "demigod," and the sixth the "divine scapegoat." One sees this very clearly in the myth of the Christos. The seventh then, which is well exemplified by the stage of Buddhahood, is the "world redeemer."
So we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with a symbolic account of psychic movements within us as living man. Consequently all the stones and waters, fathers and mothers, and so on of "Anthropogenesis," are glyphs -- symbols of the patterns of our inner and outer beings. Therefore I look at this as the tremendous myth which each one of us must live, and the pattern is already present within us. In the translation of a Tibetan text of Dr. Herbert Guenther -- one of the leading students of Tibetan literature who has translated it in his work THE MATRIX OF MYSTERY -- there is a very beautiful statement which points to the presence of this archetypal pattern, all of these stages, in all existent beings. This is going to be a little difficult, but because it is so beautiful I will give it in full:
In each body of every sentient being there resides pristine cognitiveness tending to coming into presence. It coils itself up in its own bed which is the continuum of being, the spontaneous "thereness" of being.
Not easy! But let us look at it, because it expresses a deep truth. In each body of every sentient being there is the original knowing -- here it is "pristine cognitiveness," but it is original knowing, primordial universal Mind that is present everywhere which is tending into, moving toward an expression. In its original state it is as though coiled up in its own being -- in its own bed, in its own nature -- which is the continuum of being, we talked about it. Now what is also being pointed at is that what we are engaged in is an uncoiling process which is accomplished through seven stages, and marks the coming into expression of the divine Paradigm.
Now we must note a very important aspect of the esoteric doctrine here; HPB points out that there are three schemes of evolution which she says in our system are inextricably interwoven and interblended at every point. We cannot go into this in depth, but it is there in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. The point that I wish to make is that these three are named: the MONADIC, which is concerned with the growth and development into still higher phases of activity of the monads; in conjunction with the second stream, which is the INTELLECTUAL -- or we can call it, if you like, because it encompasses it, the "psychological," or if you like another term: the "soul" -- and the third, which is the PHYSICAL, around which, as HPB has said, nature has concreted the physical body. And it is this body which serves as the vehicle for all the transformations that take place in the other two.
So HPB says, "it is the union of these three streams in him which makes man the complex being he now is." What I am pointing to is that the "uncoiling" is a process of transformation and the central area or focus of transformation is indeed, as HPB indicates, the second stream, the "intellectual" -- or, as I would like to call it, the "psychological" -- she says: " ... represented by the MANASA-DHYANI'S." It is the MANASIC realm where our focus has to be. It is then always that in conjunction with physical incarnation; that is why "in each body in every sentient being there resides" this knowingness. And so the teaching is that we realize all these stages here in physical incarnation we win our immortality. What we are talking about, in that sense, is the realization of these stages at the psychological level, but frequently in the Slokas in "Anthropogenesis" it appears that it is merely the change of physical form, and indeed that form does have to follow the interior transformation.
I would also give a word of caution here. We must not think of the stages as just clearly marked; there is a great deal of overlapping. There is a kind of what is called in biological theory today a "punctuated equilibrium" which marks the process of evolutionary development. This it is, some scientists are proposing, that development is not just a smooth line but that there is a movement, and then a sudden leap to a new level of complexity. And this is called: the theory of punctuated equilibrium. Now there is also at times a merging of one stage into the next.
Having given you the stages in terms of the great myths, we will examine the characteristics of each stage. The summary of the stages is given in Sloka 39 of "Anthropogenesis." It is not an easy one, but it gives the whole process:
THE FIRST (Race) ON EVERY ZONE WAS MOON-COLORED (yellow-white); THE SECOND YELLOW LIKE GOLD, THE THIRD RED, THE FOURTH BROWN, WHICH BECAME BLACK WITH SIN. THE FIRST SEVEN ( ... ) SHOOTS WERE ALL OF ONE COMPLEXION IN THE BEGINNING. THE NEXT (seven ... ) BEGAN MIXING THE COLORS.
That gives us a very interesting summary, and of course it may seem very puzzling at first. Now a word about the use of color. The Sanskrit word VARNA, which is often translated as "color," also stands for "figure, shape, outward appearance." It also means ""character, nature or quality," so there is a wide range of meanings to the word HPB simply translates as "color." We must never misinterpret these developmental stages as, or confuse these stages with, skin pigmentation. The list of the "colored races," so to speak, represents the objective expression, and also the internal quality being expressed.
So we have to look very closely at what is signified in this, it becomes very logical from this point of view to call the first stage "moon-colored." Not only is there a reference immediately to the origin of the physical form -- that is that the model-body for our life-wave here, was a gift of the LUNAR-PITRIS or moon-fathers -- but also that the beginning of human development has a kind of shadowiness about it, a kind of glitter, and a filminess. There is almost a transparency, and this indeed is the first stage in our human development. It is interesting to think in terms of our own first groping for meaning. There is a kind of filminess about it; sometimes it is easier to see this when we think about other people than about ourselves. You can think of the embryo. The correspondence is there. The correspondences incidentally are exact with the complete stages of gestation and birth.
Now the interesting thing also to note is that with each of these stages it is said that one of the senses developed and so it is said that with this first stage of very filmy structure, the sense was that of sound. You will remember what I said about the web known as Akasha. Its chief characteristic is that of sound, so there is a kind of "sounding," a kind of resonance with the sound that is the universe. Incidentally, this is again repeated in the growth of the embryo, this pulsating, this "sounding." It is well known for example that in the embryo of a chicken, there is a pulsation before there is the organ of the heart, and in human beings also. The pulsation is there before the organ of pulsation is formed. It is as though there is in us at this very first stage a kind of dim awareness of the heartbeat of life itself.
The second stage is said to be yellow as gold. This marks a more developed stage, so to speak, a decline, if you like, in which the pure brilliance, the glitter, is beginning to harden into form, so there is now a shining outward. And the pure brilliance is somehow becoming now more formed. We can look now again at the sense that is added, for it is said that the second stage awakens the sense of sound and TOUCH. Touch becomes possible when there is a hardening of form.
Note that the third stage, the color assigned to it, is red. It is a very interesting color or quality assigned. As touch develops and attention is turned outwards, there is an awareness of others, the arising of a sense of individuality -- not really true individuality yet, but as touch moves outward, there is a reaction that is an awareness, a reaction of desire or aversion. So we may become red or excited with desire; that redness or desire results in a tremendous motion further outwards. We want now to possess or to hold, as it were, or to push aside. And now the sense of COLOR is said to be added. It is interesting that HPB does not say the sense of sight, but she says the senses of sound, touch, and color -- because sight is veiled by color. Only at the final stages is there real sight, in-sight -- the stage of the enlightened one. Here it is color in which we see the world. We see the other -- in color. And often we use even in our language color to express our feelings. Sometimes we say that a person is "black with depression." We use the expression "I feel blue today." Or he is "red with anger." Our sight at this third stage, which is an interesting stage -- and remember, in the myths this was the stage of the "deluge-survivor" -- is the emotional, psychic nature. And the individual who is carried away says "I see colors everywhere ... !" This is, if I may say so, a kind of "primitive hangover" from an earlier stage of development. What is so great about seeing colors? That is still not "clear seeing"; it is merely a phenomenalistic event, and has no relation to genuine, spiritual sight. How many get caught up in this third stage! But one has to move further; one has to plunge into the very depth of being. There is a final plunge into what we may call full physical embodiment.
The next stage, the fourth, is said to be brown; in which, it is said, it becomes black with sin. In the great gnostic myth, "The Hymn of the Robe of Glory" -- sometimes it is called "The Hymn of the Pearl," one finds this in one of the gnostic texts -- this whole process of the hero is the moving out of the divine kingdom, into the land of Egypt. Egypt of course symbolizes the fun physical embodiment, the land of Al-Khem, where the transformation now must begin to take place. And we must not give the word "sin" a moral connotation, but recognize that with the third stage, the sense of color, there is inevitably a sense of choice. The tradition tells us that therefore in the middle of the third stage there was the awakening of MANAS, the entry into the nascent form of the MANASAPUTRAS, that great creative hierarchy that now could take hold of the form that had developed. Those familiar with THE SECRET DOCTRINE will know some of the details connected with this. And those not familiar, will just have to become familiar! With this awakening of MANAS, there is now choice and when there is choice, there are consequences to be faced. You see, in the gnostic "Hymn of the Robe of Glory," the son who left his fathers home, who was sent to Egypt to recover the pearl of wisdom, succumbed to the condition in which many of us find us -- he went to sleep. And of course there are many sleepwalkers among us. Or, as in the wonderful hero-myth, the myth of Parcival, we have Lancelot who frequently wanders from the right path, and always had to be reminded that it was possible to get back on the right path again. And so, the reference "black with sin" refers to a certain loss of sight. It is a certain wandering from the path. You remember I spoke of the archetypal motif of failure. But failure, as I tried to suggest, is an absolute necessity for the human condition. It is necessary if true consciousness is to be awakened or developed. Now it is interesting therefore that the sense which is to be awakened at this stage is the sense of TASTE. And here it is that we eat the apples from the trees that grow in the garden ...
Now it is interesting that the fifth stage is noted for being a mixture of colors; that is of course the stage where humanity today lives. This is the point of interaction between the physical and the entire range of subtler realms. Truly we are today in a condition of a mixture of color. All of these past qualities, colors, are still present and they are in quite a mixture. We are faced with a tremendous task at the fifth stage of trying to clear up ourselves, so to speak. We have to, as it were, "unmix the colors." This is a state where it is very uncomfortable, a level where there is an interaction between all that is present and all that is still to come, as well as with the past. It is the stage at which the mind, the MANASIC principle, is really focusing, and becomes the link between the most dense exteriorization of energy and the spiritual or MONADIC actuality of our essential being. Indeed, we do find ourselves hung on the cross and we are torn in two directions. Here is the genuine sacrifice to be made. True, it is not a very comfortable situation in which we find ourselves, but it is a necessary stage.
I have always been interested in the undeniable fact that the significant growth of understanding today appears to be in the realm that we could call "psychological." The charter of the UNESCO begins with those amazing words: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be built." This is where we are, and it is not comfortable, is it? It is not comfortable to be torn between all these divisions. Here we are!
And yet we know that there are further stages. Very interestingly, very little is given about the sixth and seventh stage. No colors are assigned, so we can only postulate that a new direction must be taken. We have to recognize that the colors are present in us, psychologically speaking. And the work to be undertaken is a kind of clearing of the coloration. It is not then that adjustments have to be made in the outer circumstances of the world in which we live; the outer circumstances are not the problem. The problem is within us. It is what we will do to clear the coloration of MANAS. The outer circumstances are a clear reflection of the interior state of humanity's consciousness.
Hence, the tremendous work that was given by HPB to her students. In fact, this year is not only the centenary of the publication of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, it is the centenary of the establishment of her inner school, the Esoteric School. Now why did she establish such a school? Because, she said, there were two principal reasons. The Theosophical Society as a body was failing to exemplify the brotherhood for which it had been established. Have we done very much better? Secondly, because of the failure to understand the doctrine. And let me be blunt, we haven't done much better a hundred years later, when our branches and groups still fail to study the teachings.
Here is our central task: to transform the mind of man, to transform, or to redeem the world-mind. And we can do this only if we have transformed our own consciousness. So we can spend all our time rearranging the furniture of the world, in the hope that by such rearrangement we can bring about a new world-order, or we can undertake the more difficult but truly worthwhile task of awakening a new kind of consciousness.
Now let us come back then to the senses, because this is very interesting. I have commented on the senses that are said to mark, and they do mark, the development of these earlier stages. The sense of sound, touch, and color for the first three, the sense of taste for the fourth -- and we are tasting all of the fruits, good and evil, the knowledge of the opposites. The sense that is said to be awakened at the fifth stage is the sense of SMELL. Now why smell for the fifth stage? It has been said that in the language of symbol, the nose and the nostrils for breathing are representative for volition and free will. The control of breathing indicates both restraint and a discipline of the physical nature. The use of the nostrils for smelling is symbolic for the function of the lower aspect of the mind, to discriminate those aspects or qualities of the soul which are to be transmuted into nobler or higher qualities. Hence the teaching for our time is indeed that the first requirement is discrimination. One may also recall a statement made by one of the Masters in writing to Mr. Sinnett: "There is a moral smell as well as a physical one." So smell has always been defined as a symbol for discrimination of what is beneath in order to move to that which is symbolically above.
The sixth and the seventh, it is said, will deal more with psychological than physical laws -- that the sixth sense, which has often simply been called "intuition," has to do more properly with the perception of inwardness. The seventh sense is the sense which is the full awareness of our unity with all life. In one way it recapitulates on a higher level the first sense. One now hears "the voice of the silence." And so, the cycle of our growth will one day have been completed.
We have then a magnificent panorama presented to us of the totality of our development which is possible. The divine Paradigm reflects itself in forms which become vehicles of that inner soul process, by which that indwelling awareness can come to know and understand the meaning of existence. So the developments are seen as outer manifestations of an inner pattern. And ultimately, those outer manifestations must be assimilated within us. This is our task, and not an easy one, but a very wonderful one. A really glorious future opens up before us, if we take up the challenge and the responsibility.