We simply must keep several ideas in our heads at once in essaying an exposition of these intricate subjects. There is one of the secrets of understanding the Ancient Wisdom: to retain in the mind more than one conception at the same time; it is our safeguard against mental biasses, and it is easy. Let me illustrate: A man is driving an automobile: he may be at the same time watching the road, watching for other automobiles, while in the back of his mind there may be forming some plan of work; and he may also be talking to a friend. Let us keep these various thoughts, all that has been spoken of so far this evening, in our mind, as we consider this present matter.
-- G. de Purucker, FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, 348
By Wesley Amerman
[A report on a conference in Brookings, Oregon, held August 13-15, 1999.]
The Fifth Annual Theosophical Gathering in Brookings was held the weekend of August 13-15 in the small coastal towns of Brookings, Oregon and Smith River, California. Hosted by the Brookings Theosophy Study Group, an independent group of theosophists affiliated with the United Lodge of Theosophists, the conference attracted not only local interest, but also theosophical students and inquirers from Washington State, Northern and Southern California, Arizona, New York and Belgium. This series of annual Gatherings has provided an inspiration to all that have attended, as an example of what is possible for individual lovers of Theosophy to do, despite limitations of a small town and long distances. It is difficult, if not impossible to convey the tremendous energy and dedication required to put on these conferences, but the high level of enthusiasm can be indicated by the fact that both meetings ran way over time, and no one wanted to leave either!
"The Ancients and Science -- Today" was the topic of a panel presentation and discussion held for two hours on Friday night at the Beachfront Inn. Although the meeting was advertised in the local papers and attracted well over fifty people, it did not draw the "Christian opposition" encountered at similar meetings a couple of years ago.
Everyone at the Friday meeting was invited to the less formal discussion round table held the following day at the home of Bill and "Willie" Dade, who also graciously hosted a wonderful buffet brunch! The discussion topic, "The Path of the Disciple," picked up where the energetic dialogue of the night before left off.
This report is in two parts: The first gives an outline of the meetings and a portion of the material presented at the Friday night panel. The second, which should be available for publication in next month's Theosophy World, contains the text of the other two panel presentations, plus highlights of the discussion held on Saturday.
"The Ancients and Science -- Today" (Friday, August 13, 1999):
An introduction and welcome were given by Steven Mahaffey, who put everyone at ease with his warmth and friendly wit. Jerome Wheeler, who served as a sort of moderator for the meeting, broke from long-standing "tradition" and introduced himself and the panelists. He explained that at most ULT meetings, the names of speakers are not announced, since the intent is to focus on ideas, not persons. However, since every year at these conferences someone usually asks "who are you?" it seemed appropriate to begin by answering the inevitable question!
Joyce Tromblee began with a consideration on the three Fundamental propositions of the Secret Doctrine. The next speaker was Elmore Giles from San Francisco, followed by Wesley Amerman of Los Angeles, and David Roef, who came all the way from Antwerp, Belgium. Transcripts of Elmore's and David's presentations will be available for publication next month. The meeting concluded with a lively discussion period, which ran well past the scheduled hour and resumed the following day.
The basics of Theosophical philosophy were stated thus by Joyce Tromblee:
First: Everything came from the One Source: the universe, the galaxies, stones, metal, insects, animals and man. In man, the Atma is the self-conscious spirit, or soul. The Buddhi is the (higher) intellect, and the Manas is the mind, of which there are two kinds, an upper (or greater) and lower (lesser). The body is the vehicle to house the Atma. The body-mind complex may have many forms and names, but the Atma, the witness, has none. The conviction that you are not the body has to grow in you. The body is only the instrument used to discover the indweller, Atma. Brahman, the One substance, is derived from the formless, eternal Absolute.
Second, Karma and Reincarnation: Karma is the law which traces each effect back to its cause. We are the ones who create the cause and karmic law adjusts the effects. Reincarnation is the law of rebirth. Each of us has struggled upwards from stone to plant to animal to man. Desire is the cause of birth; time is the cause of death.
Third, Evolution: The lowest forms each hold a spark of the Divine, and as they struggle to secure self consciousness and at last come into the highest form of man, depending upon the individual's own will and effort. This is all done under the law of cycles.
Following are exceprts from my historic overview of the Ancient World from a Theosophical perspective.
The Bruckion library in Alexandria, Egypt, built in the Fourth Century BC by the Ptolemies and said to have contained nearly a million books, was destroyed three times -- first by Julius Caesar in 48 B.C., (possibly by accident), then again by the Romans in 390 A.D., and finally by the invading armies of Islam. The library contained books on all the subjects we might discuss tonight -- astronomy, architecture, history, literature, medicine, philosophy and much more ... and, the largest collection of all was on Magic. Magic! What a difference between our paltry modern definition of the term, and what the Ancient World knew and taught! Most of the evidence has been destroyed of course. What remains is fragmentary and tantalizingly suggestive -- the secrets of astrology, building, longevity, levitation, Greek fire, etc. Most important was thaumaturgy -- the process of self-transformation, hidden and described in a thousand and one forms, which has come down to us through the Middle Ages as Alchemy.
What is Alchemy? Medieval texts describe it as the process sought by the Alchemists, or Fire Philosophers, to turn base metals, such as lead, into gold. But think about it for a minute -- in the Middle Ages, if you talked about bringing out the God within you, if you even hinted at our Third Fundamental -- evolution -- discussed earlier, you would have been burned at the stake as a witch! You literally risked your life to talk about ideas we speak about openly today. So, it was necessary to disguise the philosophy behind something not even the Inquisition could object to -- turning lead into gold! Now, this period in history is hardly the Ancient World, and the Alchemists probably knew less about these occult processes than did the ancient scientists in the Land of Chem (Khem, an ancient name for Egypt!) But it is indicative of one last glimmer of the Ancient Wisdom that once burned so brightly in the ancient world, and which only now is beginning to be recognized.
Alchemy is self-transformation, we have said. What does that mean? Simply put, it is the transmuting, or changing of the base metal (lead) of our lower natures (Kama Manas) into the spiritual gold of our higher (Buddhi Manas). It required heat (the fire of self-reflective Mind), Oxygen (the vital force), operating in the foundation of the lower but still essential principles of nature -- water (liquid fire), air (etheric fire) and earth (solid fire), etc.
The Ancients did not view Science the way we do today -- as a separate discipline apart from religion, art or philosophy. Known as recently as the 17th Century as Natural Philosophy, it was regarded in the Ancient World as one aspect of an integrated Whole of Knowledge. It never occurred to the Ancient World to separate and compartmentalize these world views as we have come to do almost naturally in the West:
Science -- looking at the external world.
Religion -- looking at the interior world of gods and men.
Philosophy -- looking at the relationships and meanings of the world.
Art -- the expression of the relationships between these three views.
Art in the Ancient world was almost always sacred art. The temple was often a sort of symbolic model of the universe, the world, an human being or the principles that compose these. It was also living art, that embodied the religious knowledge of the time. It was built to evoke meaning, like a symphony in stone, and illuminate us in its presence to a consciousness of divinity. For example, a temple in Ancient Egypt was not just a temple to the neter (god) for which it was built, it was a House for the god. A statue was not a symbol of the god, it was the god. Art on the temple wall did not merely depict the activities of the god in nature or in relation to man, it was, or became, the function of the "god" and its work in the world. The disciple entering the temple who knew the symbology of its art and construction would learn simply by being in the presence of its "frozen music" and wisdom. It became a part of him, and even ordinary people were inspired, uplifted and educated by the presence of an edifice in their community. Even the ordinary traveler today can sense the spiritual wisdom still evoked even by remnants of this ancient knowledge.
What of Science today? We think of it as a separate discipline, a way of looking at the world, and an attempt to view facts and data dispassionately and objectively. We even believe that such objectivity is possible -- separate, compartmentalized and often irrelevant to our daily lives. Even so, there is a growing movement among the best our scientists to re-evaluate our epistemology (Epistemology -- 'what do we know, and how do we know it?') Since HPB's day, there has been a radical restructuring of the Western scientific world-view. Often still materialistic in most of its assumptions, nevertheless it has many elements that we could consider hopeful from a Theosophic perspective. Briefly, I would like to outline some of those ideas:
Radiant Matter -- x-rays and radiation were not discovered until after HPB's death, yet she predicted all of it, including the end of the "billiard ball" theory of the atom and its infinite divisibility.
Quantum Theory -- the study of sub-atomic particles has given Science a whole new view of matter and energy. While "consciousness" is not widely considered a part of this equation, it still has been discovered that the observer influences the results of the experiments!
Evolution Theory -- While the Specific Theory of evolution explains changes within species, the General Theory cannot explain the greater types and divisions, whose origins are still as much a mystery as they were a hundred years ago.
Systems Thinking -- the living, dynamic interchange of the web of life. Recognizable patterns of development and creative self-renewal are key ideas in this blossoming field. Central to this idea is the ancient concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The Web of Life -- all life is interdependent and interlinked at multiple levels. A macro view of this is contained in ...
Gaia Hypothesis -- the Earth demonstrates all the characteristics of a living system -- circulation, input/output, interrelated and interdependent sub-systems, duplication of system functions, etc. Some scientists even see an implied sacredness of life.
Fractal Theory -- related to systems theory is the idea that the whole is represented in each of its parts. This is demonstrated by the science of holography, in which a portion of a holographic picture contains all of the data (in fact, a miniature version) of the whole picture, which can be reproduced from the fragment. This is a restatement, in a way, of the ancient Hermetic axiom, "as above, so below."
Morphogenetic fields -- living, electromagnetic "fields" surround all objects and especially living systems (which includes the whole planet according to the Gaia Hypothesis!). These are hardly theoretical any longer, and are used to explain phenomena as unrelated as the growth of plants and animals and the migratory patterns of birds and the school and flock behavior of fish and birds.
This is just an overview of Ancient and Modern Science. Much more can be said, of course, and we can discuss and expand upon these outlines later in the meeting. Our next speaker will discuss a Science for living, and applications of the Ancient Wisdom to daily life.
By Katherine Tingley
[From THE GODS AWAIT, 178-86, Woman's International Theosophical League, Point Loma, California, 1926.]
Many who have abandoned belief in a personal god and the other vanities and subtleties of sectarian metaphysics, and are thinking seriously, in the depression the unrest of the age is causing in them, of life and its many problems, have found in the teaching of Reincarnation that which makes clear the meaning of it all.
For here is explanation of the differences of human fortune, so that they cease to seem unjust and intolerable. Here Man is revealed in the splendor of his native godhood, a traveler through eternity, moving from life to life, gaining by experience after experience that knowledge which will make of him at last the Ideal, the Perfect Man.
We are of the family of the Eternal; we are the highest expressions that we know of, of Universal Deity. Are we to think that the experience to which we have a right can be gained in the few score fleeting years of a single lifetime, before these bodies of ours cease to be useful, and drop away, following the laws of physical life, and return to the storehouse of Nature? The material things have their place; but the essential and everlasting things are in the eternal self. They are the attributes and faculties of the soul. These are what we are here to develop, working in harmony with the mighty and compassionate heart of Nature.
Could a soul filled with the melody and splendid influx of music fulfil itself even in the longest period that could elapse between its body's birth and death? A man who has no musical heredity or inclination that he knows of, may find himself sometime startled into listening, and stirred; and listening longer, and stirred more deeply; and still pausing and listening, overwhelmed by it at last, so that silent and wonderful currents of vibration and feeling are started within him; and perhaps he is a mechanic in a shop, or caught in the grind of commercial life with neither time nor energy to spare for music -- it does not matter. That divine thing has touched him. It may be that lying within his nature are the potentialities of a great musician. Must they not come out in time, and be expressed?
A promise of eternal progress is stamped upon all human hearts; everything in Nature proclaims it. Why should we not have the same trust in our essential divinity that the flowers have in the beneficence of the sun?
To what purpose are the ideals we cherish unspoken; the secret, noble, and unfulfilled aspirations; the questions we put to life, and to which life -- our present life -- makes no answer? To what end are the agonies and despairs; the unrest and intense longing to be so much more than we can ever attain to being, now, before death takes us? Were they born in a day, these thoughts of ours that stir us sometimes almost to the point of revelation? Were they fashioned of the experience we have gathered in the few years since our bodies were born?
Their word to us is always that we are greater than we seem; that there are no limits to the power of the Soul; that though our understanding of this beautiful universe will go on increasing forever and ever, we will never attain a dead finality of understanding, that we have all eternity in which to work out the magnificence of the Law, and that there is no break in the everlasting continuity; that one may falter today and fail, but tomorrow brings another chance; that we live many lives, again and again the same in essence though different in aspect -- we Immortal Beings, natives of Eternity made subject here to mortality and time.
Few, whether religious or not, go out satisfied into the Great Unknown and into that sleep which is not sleep in the sense of inertia, BUT A SLEEP IN ACTIVITY and a divine activity in sleep.
No matter how noble a man's life may have been, is it possible to think of it as having reached that sublimity of perfection in one single lifetime, that would find its true expression in an eternity of bliss? How much more reasonable to believe that we live again and again, traveling the path of the ages with opportunity after opportunity recurring always, than to imagine ourselves the poor creatures of a single life, created at our birth out of nothing, and at death to be relegated to an eternal heaven or an unending hell, in neither of which progress is possible, nor opportunities are to be found, nor any goal lies ahead, nor hope exists for inspiration and incentive!
Could a soul that was really noble accept peace for itself, and find happiness in heaven, whilst here on earth humanity is still aching and in chains and sorrow? The Soul holds within itself the attributes of Deity. It is all made up of compassion, justice, abnegation; what delight then, what self-expression, could it find in such selfish bliss? Were a man come into the fullness of his Soul -- to be, wholly, that Divine Thing -- he could not endure the thought; his will would be set on returning to earth, to share in human suffering and point the way for the unfortunate to that self-knowledge which brings peace. He would work forever and ever for the glory of the Divine, for the glory of the God innate in Man, aware that because of the divinity within us, we have the power to shape all human destiny toward perfection. I tell you, the god within us awaits!
To the blind beggar by the roadside, what a song in his heart knowledge of Reincarnation would be! Then first he would understand that a bright future and high achievements might be awaiting him; his fate would no longer appear something mysterious and terrible for which he could never be compensated, no longer some punishment afflicted upon him by an omnipotent and vindictive power, but a ministration of the Law that fashions from suffering godlike destinies for men, apportioned to him that he might build up his character for a more royal birth.
He would understand that there was hope for him; that all his darkness would be made clear; that a day would come when his inner longings would be much more than mere unattainable aspirations; that he might then and there be preparing noble fortunes for himself. The Gods await!
Life is not cruel; there is no injustice in it. In the light of Reincarnation, the sufferings we considered unjust lose the sting of their supposed injustice and become easy to endure. We come to look on them as blessings, because means of liberation and our chief incentives to growth. Experience and pain are our teachers. We are reminded constantly by the difficulties we have to overcome of the majestic mercy of the Law.
Life exists only for service. We live in order that we may serve. Hold to that idea in your hour of trouble, and you will accept your difficulties graciously, as a gift graciously given. You will not think of them as pangs and burdens to be endured, but as beautiful fires to purify and set free.
This is not, though, that one should be humble in the ordinary sense. We should hold our heads high; there is altogether too much of the other thing. We are quite too submissive to our own weaknesses. If you have strived with your whole soul and with a trust impossible to break; and still the thought is forced upon you that your position has not changed nor your stumbling block been removed, if you find yourself compelled to say, "Though I have lifted myself up toward my ideals, and approached the Divine within me daily, I am not set free," take courage yet again; it is the time to do so. The thing you have struggled against in vain may become a blessing; it may be the very saving power in your life, holding you back in the place where alone you could learn the lesson you most need to learn.
Thus, though our minds have been under serious shadows, adversity should but leave us with the solution of our problems, teaching us the secret of readjusting our lives, because it is the aspirations of our own souls that kindle the fires in which we are tried. We may find a glory in suffering, disappointment, and heartache, and understand the sublime comfort of the change called death.
If the errors of the past did not produce their results that we might learn from them the lessons they are to teach, if life were without struggle, work, and effort, we should be things on the face of the earth, and not Souls as we are. Only by means of these can we draw near to truth and gain a sense of the largeness of life, of eternity, of the augustness of the laws that hold us in their keeping. Only so can we find the way to live the real life, which is altogether cheerful, optimistic, radiant with generous affection. The life that sees no terminus in the grave, nor any limit to its vistas in birth or death.
Thus Reincarnation gives us room and time to grow, as Nature provides soil and season for the flowers, to grow and to learn what life and the world can teach us, and to acquire use of the godlike qualities of our inner selves and the light hidden within the Soul of Man which alone can illumine the path we must tread and enable us to solve the stern and awful problems, the pathetic problems, life so unceasingly sets before us, and to know its unspeakable beauties as well.
We advance from age to age and from heights to greater heights forever. Understanding this, the old become young again in spirit, and the young look out on the world with a new joy.
The days are long and the path is wide. Go forward, then, with farseeing hope and trust, toward the Great Ultimate! "The Gods await!"
By Charles J. Ryan
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1948, pages 265-71. Originally appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, 1917, then revised and amended by the author.]
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known; ... I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move. . . . . . . . And this grey spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge, like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. . . . . . . . Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
-- ULYSSES by Alfred Tennyson
Having passed through the initiation in the Underworld and having learned unspeakable things therein, Odysseus is in danger of being overcome by pride and rash self-confidence and may yield to the fascination of the temptation. The satisfaction of intellectual desires alone threatens to lead him from the direct path into destruction, for the Sirens are man eaters. Knowing well the overwhelming power of this temptation, and that before he can be safe he must be willing "to appear as nothing in the eyes of men" [LIGHT ON THE PATH], the hero takes every precaution. He has himself firmly bound to the mast so that he cannot fling himself out of the vessel, and he stops the ears of his crew with wax so that they cannot hear the Siren voices while they work the ship. Exposed to the full force of the temptation Odysseus struggles to be free, but he gets through in safety. The sailors, whose ears are deaf to the allurements of the intellectual seductions, seem to represent the remaining traces of the gross elements in man's nature, particularly in view of the next incident of importance, when they kill and devour Apollo's sacred oxen to satisfy their gluttony. This so greatly arouses the wrath of the god that he sends a great tempest and destroys the last of Odysseus' followers. The hero is now left alone with nothing but his own strength and the favor of Pallas Athene, his Guide, to bring him safely through. But he is not yet completely free from the chains of personality and in his desperation and loneliness he meets with a temptation that nearly proves his undoing, i.e., the dalliance with the lovely nymph Calypso in her enchanted Atlantean island upon which he is cast by the waves. Seven long years he lingers with Calypso, unmindful for the most part of his purpose, and dazzled with the glories of her magic realm. Now and again something faintly stirs within him calling him to be up and doing. The poet says he has never been quite able
To banish from his breast his country's love.
Calypso even offers him
Immortal life, exempt from age or woe.
But with the help of Athene, the personification of Divine Wisdom, he has enough strength to resist this supreme test. This is one of the passages in the Odyssey that show the profound wisdom of the poet and the high quality of his teaching, for here he shows the great difference between the real immortality gained when the lower elements of the personality are dissolved and ultimate union with the Higher Self is made, and an artificial prolongation of the unpurified life of the ordinary personality with its selfish cravings and desires. Odysseus recognizes that to drink the elixir of life in any form before he is truly purified would be a fearful error. A great deal might be said upon the philosophy of this, for it goes very deeply into the roots of our being, but it would carry us too far for our present purpose. We are irresistibly reminded of the words of Christ:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
-- Luke ix, 23, 24
Paul, the "wise master builder," in common with all the great teachers of antiquity, refers to the same principle when he speaks of being changed "in the twinkling of an eye," a very cryptic saying suggesting the springing into activity of the inner eye or power of intuition which sees the difference between the higher life and the delusions of sensual gratification. To Odysseus, after his luxurious existence in Calypso's magic island and the promise of eternal youth, the return to ordinary life and duty offers a great contrast and many trials, but at the bottom of his heart he languishes "to return and die at home." When he makes his decision, the irresistible power of the Olympian deities is exerted in his favor: Calypso abandons her enchantments and, like Circe, is transformed, from the tempter she at first appears to be, to become a helper.
Calypso's Isle is said by Homer to be far away, over
Such length of Ocean and unmeasured deep; A world of waters! far from all the ways Where men frequent, or sacred altars blaze.
Calypso was the daughter of Atlas, and the island was called "Ogygia the Atlantic Isle." H. P. Blavatsky points out, in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, that the poet, in certain passages, distinctly refers to the lost continent of Atlantis, mentioned later by Plato, and to certain historical events that took place upon that former seat of a powerful civilization.
Odysseus builds a new vessel with his own hands and sets forth joyfully, feeling sure he will soon reach his goal. But, although he has received the powerful aid of Athene and other Olympian gods, the opposition of Poseidon, who has been his enemy from nearly the beginning, is not withdrawn, and he still has many perils and trials. Poseidon, the god of the sea, was the father of Polyphemus, whose third eye was destroyed by Odysseus. This is significant, for the sea often stands in symbolism for the great Illusion, the ever-shifting unstable elements in life. Odysseus is no exception to the rule that all who start on the great adventure for self-knowledge and the higher life must fight continually against the false ideals and illusions of their surroundings; they are swimming against the stream of the ordinary worldly consciousness. The hero in Homer's epic is just strong enough -- with the divine aid -- to save his life, and though wrecked and left WITHOUT AN ATOM OF PERSONAL POSSESSIONS, he reaches the friendly coast of the wise king Alcinous who helps him to reach his native land, Ithaca.
Odysseus had rashly and without orders trespassed on the territory of the Cyclops. It was therefore his own act that aroused Poseidon's wrath, and became the fundamental cause of his misfortunes. Pallas Athene and the other gods could not avert the consequences, and the great Zeus himself had to put forth his power to restore his fortunes after long years of suffering and sorrow.
Upon his arrival home he discovers the terrible straits to which his wife and son have been reduced by the outrageous conduct of her admirers, and he soon perceives that his greatest battle is yet to come. Though the odds are apparently against him, he knows that he cannot fail, for his cause is just and has the help of the gods.
At this point we have another opportunity to admire the profound insight of the poet, and to realize that he must have been a true initiate into the mysteries of human life. Penelope, the noble wife of Odysseus, who stands for the climax of his endeavor, his goal, his higher self, does not immediately throw herself into his arms in welcome. Ragged, worn, and disguised as an old man, he is not recognized by her, though his old nurse and his faithful dog know him quickly. Is this because they are less sophisticated? Even when Athene restores him to his prime of life and to greater dignity and beauty than before, he has to prove his identity to Penelope without a possibility of doubt before she can accept him as her long lost husband. This hesitation on her part is not, as some have thought, a blemish on the story; it could not be otherwise and remain true to the meaning Homer wished to convey, if our hypothesis of the general import of the poem be true. It is the law that the aspirant for recognition by the higher self should make a clear demand; he must give the complete password before he can be admitted to the inner chamber. A mystic writing on this subject warns us:
Look for the warrior and let him fight in thee ... Look for him, else in the fever and hurry of the fight thou mayest pass him; and he will not know thee unless thou knowest him. If thy cry reach his listening ear then will he fight in thee and fill the dull void within ...
-- LIGHT ON THE PATH
and a greater Teacher said:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Odysseus' final opportunity to prove his quality comes when he finds his palace invaded and his wife surrounded by a mob of suitors all trying to persuade her that he is surely dead and that she should choose a second husband among them. They are utterly repugnant to the hero; they have no power over him; but he must destroy them before he can regain his rightful place. They represent the last lingering traces of the lower desires, even "the very knowledge of desire" mentioned by H. P. Blavatsky in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, which must be slain forever, even though its force has passed away.
The suitors have already received a warning from Zeus in the form of two eagles fighting in the sky. This is, of course, a direct reference to the stirring up of the lower nature when the awakening of the higher aspirations compels it to realize that the time has come for the last desperate battle in which no quarter is asked or given. The scene of the struggle which shall decide is in the very home of Odysseus itself. This seems strange, yet how could it be otherwise! It is from the heart that comes the issues of life. The higher powers, symbolized by Athene in the background, give encouragement, and at last the battle is won and the evil forces annihilated. The master of the house, calm, purified, and restored to more than his former beauty, attired in his royal robes, proves his identity to Penelope and is joyously recognized by her.
From a practical point of view, the method adopted by Odysseus in attacking the suitors may seem singular, but there is good warrant for it in the mystical symbolism familiar to Homer. Although the struggle takes place in the confined space of the palace hall, at very close quarters, the hero depends upon his mighty Bow for success -- the Bow that none other can wield -- instead of trusting to his sword or spear, which only come into action later. In making the Bow so prominent Homer shows his knowledge of a profoundly significant symbol in ancient psychology. The bow is the weapon of Apollo, the god of light, and the day of Odysseus' victory is sacred to that deity. In Indian philosophy the bow, or in some cases the arrow, stands for man himself who must be strong enough in texture to stand the strain or the spiritual archery will fail. The bow, not the sword, is the principal weapon of Arjuna, Prince of India, the hero of THE BHAGAVAD GITA, the Indian allegorical poem, famous as the vehicle of a profound philosophical teaching. In other Oriental scriptures the bow is a frequent symbol. One of the Upanishads says:
Having taken the bow, the great weapon, let him place on it the arrow, sharpened by devotion. Then, having drawn it with a thought directed to that which is, hit the mark, 0 friend -- the Indestructible. Om is the bow, the Self is the arrow, Brahman is called its aim. It is to be bit by a man who is not thoughtless; and then as the arrow becomes one with the target, he will become one with Brahman ... Hail to you that you may cross beyond the sea of darkness.
William Q. Judge wrote a very striking article, "Hit the Mark," in THE PATH, September 1890. He gives the practice and theory of archery as an illustration of concentration, poise, firmness, high aims, and other valuable qualities. In this article he says:
The bow figures in the lives of the Greek heroes, and just now the novelist Louis Stevenson is publishing a book in which he sings the praises of a bow, the bow of war possessed by Ulysses; when war was at hand it sang its own peculiar, shrill, clear song, and the arrows shot from it hit the mark.
Archery is a practice that symbolizes concentration. There is the archer, the arrow, the bow, and the target to be hit. To reach the mark it is necessary to concentrate the mind, the eye, and the body upon many points at once, while at the same time the string must be let go without disturbing the aim. The draw of the string with the arrow must be even and steady on the line of sight, and when grasp, draw, aim, and line are perfected, the arrow must be loosed smoothly at the moment of full draw, so that by the bow's recoil it may be carried straight to the mark. So those who truly seek wisdom are archers trying to hit the mark. This is spiritual archery ...
The Odyssey closes with the hero, now triumphant as the rightful king and leader, going forth and subduing the few remaining rebels, after which, the poet says, the "willing nations knew their lawful lord." His future peaceful and wise reign is left to the imagination, but it is secure, for he cannot fail after the final conquest of the enemies who found lodgement in his own house.
In an editorial in LUCIFER, September 1891, we find these eloquent words which fittingly close our very brief study of the esoteric side of the Odyssey:
There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the heart of the Universe ... There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onwards there is reward past all telling -- the power to bless and save humanity; for those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come.
By Ernest Wood
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, June 1948, 337-41.]
When the subject of reincarnation is mentioned it is quite usual for people to think of a series of bodies as the means for experience by a soul. I use that word soul in a vague and general sense because that is the way in which people usually think of the matter. It is seldom that they dwell upon the subject of reincarnation from a psychological point of view, and ask themselves just how that soul obtains what it is seeking or what it is intended to attain through this process.
We shall understand the method if we say that a life-cycle is really an act of meditation. That is looking at it from the point of view of the mind of the soul that is going through the experience. This meditation is a composite of three mental processes in succession. First, we give our attention to something, and if we attend to it closely we get a clear and strong active consciousness with reference to that thing. One can emphasize this with a little experiment, as follows:
You hold up a pencil and ask a friend to look at it. You then put it behind your back and ask him what color it was. He says, "Yellow." You then ask him "How yellow?" He generally replies that he does not understand you. You then request him to imagine the pencil or think about it, and ask him if he can think of the yellow color that he saw. Then, after a moment, you bring out the pencil again, and you say: "Look at it carefully. Does it look more yellow than it did before?" "Why, yes," he says, with some surprise, "It does."
All I have done is to trick my friend into paying more attention to the color yellow than he did before. What he has really done is to put out more of himself towards the yellowness of the yellow. This is what is called concentration, which is the first step in meditation. In ordinary life, the utility of things is that they compel our attention and at the same time they restrict our attention, so that at the point of concentration our consciousness achieves quality and power which would not otherwise be obtained.
The first point, then, in understanding the psychological uses of reincarnation is to see that objects or environment present us with opportunities. The environment does not do anything to us but give us the opportunity to gather ourselves together and control ourselves upon limited things whereby our state of consciousness is educated. Every such piece of education, though it be but a passing experience, produces a permanent effect in consciousness.
Here I like to mention the simile of the camera. A camera is a dark box with a little hole in front and a chemical plate of film at the back which can receive and record the effect of the pencil of light that comes through the little hole in the front. The simplest form of the camera is that which is usually shown to students at school in the physics class when they begin to study the properties of light. In that case we take just a plain box. We take out the back and put there a piece of ground glass or glazed paper to form a screen, and in the front we make a little hole with a pin. We now point this camera at a bright object and the pupil sees the picture of that object on the screen at the back of the camera. We then tell him that this is due to the fact that the same picture appears at both ends of a ray of light. We next ask him to imagine what will happen if we enlarge the pin hole, and he says we shall have more things in our picture. So we push something through that hole to make it bigger and the student finds to his surprise that the picture becomes blurred. Then we take out the whole front of the camera and no picture is to be seen on the screen. We have at this point to tell our student that he is quite mistaken in thinking that there is no picture there, for what has happened is that many pictures are there, that all the pictures brought by all the light rays are there, that there are so many pencils of light all falling upon one another that all he can now see is a mass of light.
With the aid of this simile we can understand that the body is like the camera box and that the senses are like the little pinhole. The limiting effect of the body and the senses enables us to get a clear picture on the screen of our consciousness, but without that there would just be a blaze of glorious light which would mean nothing definite to us.
The second point in this psychological process is the expansion of our pictures. The concentration gives us grip and now we are to obtain a larger grasp and take in a bigger picture without losing the quality of consciousness which I have called the grip. It is just as with a hand we can have a firm grip and also a large grasp.
Behind every such psychological action there is something that we must call a soul-hunger. We want to experience something. Leaving aside for the moment why we want to experience it, we can see how we do it and what the effect is. A painter has the hunger to paint a picture because as he does it he gets some enhancement of his consciousness. He gives all his attention and faculty to the work, so really he is not merely making a picture but he is also making a man, himself, and it is the enhancement of consciousness that in some degree satisfies his soul hunger and gives him the joy of a richer life. This is only one illustration; it is the same with every creative act in our lives.
It is noticeable that when a soul has attained some satisfaction of that hunger it turns away from the mere object by which it was obtained. The artist is now tired of that picture; his hunger shifts a little and he will now try to satisfy a slightly different phase of the same hunger. This explains why in the course of incarnations all objects are either destroyed or dropped aside, but the consciousness goes on with its process of self realization. We need some external thing, as we call it, to assist us in our work of concentrating our consciousness so as to educate it in the special effects of the compartments of its own being. Here, then, on the whole we see the reason why the objects should be temporary while the man is eternal, and we cease to grieve over the temporariness of those things.
There is a third step in this meditation process, which we call contemplation. It is that part of the process in which we become so intent upon the object that we forget our idea of ourselves. In the beginning of these efforts we think of ourselves as looking and making an effort to see while we examine the object but in the process at its best we just forget the idea "I, so-and-so, am looking," and we become engrossed in the object. We all know how when it is something of beauty, such as a sunset sky or a lovely piece of music, we become what is called enraptured. We have not then lost ourselves. We are in fact at our very best. We are enjoying the highest delights of enhanced consciousness. But we have forgotten ourselves, if by "ourselves" we are to mean that picture of ourselves as something in the world which so commonly accompanies our activities and thoughts.
In the contemplation we get our best awakening of consciousness, and in the result of it we find that some deeper part of ourselves has received what we sometimes call intuition or inspiration. It is something that makes such a deep and indelible impression upon us that we can speak of it as now a part of our character. Before this the thing was simply something that we knew about or we knew, but now we can say that the experience has been really digested and the result is new power in consciousness, which we rightly call character. I am not the same after that sunset or that music as I was before.
If we give our best attention and our best creativeness to the business of life and the world, we are attaining our best growth and moving towards the fulfilment of the purpose of the incarnation. This is education. At the same time it is self-education, for the objects which give us the opportunities are of the nature of karma. Briefly, the world of each one of us is his own karma, something that he has made by his work in the past. He has made that according to his character at the time, so it is an expression of his own imperfection, that is, his own limitation. I have myself made the things that stand up there outside me and compel my attention, and profit me to the degree in which I willingly give the utmost attention to them.
At the end of a life period in the body it can be truly said that we have acquired quite a lot of experience, we have stored up thoughts and feelings, but for the most part these are only the beginnings of thoughts and feelings -- they are not mature and ripe and they have but rarely attained the quality of contemplation. What then happens after death? Death is not the end of the life cycle. The principal thing now to come is what we theosophists call Devachan, and this is described as a kind of meditation, rising to the quality of contemplation, in which we get the full value of all those experiences which are useful to the soul of a permanent man. In this state we can say that those experiences are now digested into character. It is just as though an artist painted a picture. He has brought a variety of things into his scene and has achieved a certain realization through that. He is a better artist at the end than he was at the beginning, and now he sets aside that picture and starts upon another, which will take him to further attainment.
Let us now think upon the phases of life. We go through childhood, youth, maturity, elderliness, old age, death, and Devachan. In each of these phases there is a certain quality of experience and a certain direction of attention. This is a sort of rounded out picture, in which experience is seen from different points of view. It is evident that there is something more at work here than the karmic presentation of objects and the psychological experience of these objects. There is something that moves the man from within to go through these phases. The hunger of the soul has some plan of its own which causes it to follow this cyclic form of growth.
It is here that the will comes in and makes its decisions. It is a section of our psychology that is not mental. It is an obedience to some central spiritual law, in the intuitive obedience to which the will gets its own delight and sense of power; not a sense of power over things or power over others, but an intuition of an inner freedom. Such happy intuition is our character in the degree of attainment of unity with that part of ourselves already beyond the need of the psychological process of meditation.
There is in us a central urge, and the hunger of which I have spoken, which expresses the phases of that urge. The will in us is the future speaking to the present. That is why it is free.
It is not for the mind which deals with external objects to try to characterize that freedom and harmony of the unity-making will with any descriptions taken from its field of knowledge. Its work is in its own sphere, to assist in that psychological process in which contemplation produces fulfilment.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, p. 281-89.]
The question of the destruction of illusion is one that naturally can be treated from very many aspects. What do we mean by illusion? Because after all, all the philosophers of India -- metaphysicians and what not -- have told us for centuries after centuries that all the manifested universe is illusion. Now of course we know that in a sense that is so, but on the other hand, as HPB pointed out, this universe that we live in, this planet on which we live, our own bodies that are related to that planet, are very real to us. They have a very outstanding importance, relative importance, but none the less necessary for us to take into consideration. We cannot leave it out of account like the great school of Deniers, who say that there is no matter, and that it does not exist. No! Our School is one of what is called objective idealism, that is to say that the Universe has an objective existence during certain periods of time, and after the expiration of that period of time it is withdrawn into the bosom of That from which all things proceed, and unto which all must again return. Now that Infinite, Divine Principle is actually the Light of our being, the source of all our spiritual strength, and it is this that we rely upon to join ourselves to, to reach to union with, in order to destroy, to rise above, the erratic illusion. There is no other means. I speak of illusion of all sorts -- whether it results in every kind of what is called in Christian terminology "sinful action," or whether it results in misguided action based upon ignorant searching for Truth in regions where it simply does not exist. I refer to those seekers who investigate into the mayavi (illusory) realms of the Astral Light, into the dismal regions of spooks and what not: seeking to tear off the veils that Nature has kindly put upon their inner sight; seeking to open the pathway of their being into these astral realms, where indeed they become overpowered by the great influence of the very serpent of illusion: for everything there bears a kind of glamourous aspect, and yet, as THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE says, "under every flower there is a serpent coiled." There is no wisdom in these psychic regions; there is no spiritual object, no spiritual reality at all, in the purely psychic faculties that we share with the beasts. They have these faculties too, but they are proper in the beasts, because they are at that stage of evolution where their progress is not dependent upon their wit, but upon natural impulse. Therefore it is not their function to overcome illusion in any sense of the word.
One of the most striking thoughts when we meditate upon this, is to discover what in our lives is due to the action of maya, of illusion. We are staggered by the extent to which this illusory power of nature works upon us: how it hides from us the truth about ourselves, about the universe, about others; and therefore it behooves us to enquire a little as to how we may recognize when our consciousness is being obscured by one or other of the possible forms of illusion.
Now the great devotional book called THE BHAGAVAD GITA is, I suppose, one of the greatest scriptures that the world knows of: a very ancient book giving to us the matchless wisdom and knowledge about the nature of man, given in the words of a divine incarnation, who, as you know, was called Krishna. In the sixteenth Discourse he gives to us a list of the different qualities that you find in human beings, when the various states of illusion or their absence are operative. We cannot fail to profit from the teaching of THE BHAGAVAD GITA:
Fearlessness, sincerity, assiduity in devotion, generosity, self-restraint, piety, and alms-giving, study, mortification, and rectitude; harmlessness, veracity, and freedom from anger, resignation, equanimity, and not speaking of the faults of others, universal compassion, modesty, and mildness; patience, power, fortitude, and purity, discretion, dignity, unrevergefulness, and freedom from conceit -- these are the marks of him whose virtues are of a godlike character, O son of Bharata.
A wonderful collection of qualities. It is a marvelous book for calming the mind, and for removing the veil that hides our vision from the truth. You pick up the GITA and it causes the lamp of true knowledge within you to burn more brightly. At one time these qualities are present in us, and then each one of us will find certain things of which we can say, "Yes, I have experienced this at times," and we shall know that in the light of the teaching of the GITA there is a certain spiritual quality working; and you will find at other times when the illusion is there, when the personality is blotting out the light, that you show qualities of a different kind:
Those, O son of Pritha, who are born with demoniacal dispositions are marked by hypocrisy, pride, anger, presumption, harshness of speech, and ignorance. The destiny of those whose attributes are godlike is final liberation, while those of demoniacal dispositions, born to the Asuras' lot is continued bondage to mortal birth; grieve not, O son of Pandu, for thou art born with the divine destiny. There are two kinds of natures in beings in this world, that which is godlike, and the other which is demoniacal; the godlike hath been fully declared, hear now from me, O son of Pritha, what the demoniacal is.
Those who are born with the demoniacal disposition -- of the nature of the Asuras -- know not the nature of action nor of cessation from action, they know not purity nor right behavior, they possess no truthfulness. They deny that the universe has any truth in it, saying it is not governed by law, declaring that it hath no spirit; they say creatures are produced alone through the union of the sexes, and that all is for enjoyment only. Maintaining this view, their souls being ruined, their minds contracted, with natures perverted, enemies of the world, they are born to destroy. They indulge insatiable desires, are full of hypocrisy, fast-fixed in false beliefs through their illusions. They indulge in unlimited reflections which end only in annihilation, convinced until death that the enjoyment of the objects of their desires is the supreme good. Fastbound by the hundred cords of desire, prone to lust and anger, they seek by injustice and the accumulation of wealth for the gratification of their own lusts and appetites.
This today hath been acquired by me, and that object of my heart I shall obtain; this wealth I have, and that also shall be mine. This foe have I already slain, and others will I forthwith vanquish; I am the lord, I am powerful, and I am happy. I am rich and with precedence among men; where is there another like unto me? I shall make sacrifices, give alms, and enjoy.
In this manner do those speak who are deluded. Confounded by all manner of desires, entangled in the net of illusion, firmly attached to the gratification of their desires, they descend into hell. Esteeming themselves very highly, self-willed, full of pride and ever in pursuit of riches, they perform worship with hypocrisy and not even according to ritual, but only for outward show. Indulging in pride, selfishness, ostentation, power, lust, and anger, they detest me who am in their bodies and in the bodies of others. Wherefore I continually hurl these cruel haters, the lowest of men, into wombs of an infernal nature in this world of rebirth. And they being doomed to those infernal wombs, more and more deluded in each succeeding rebirth, never come to me, O son of Kunti, but go at length to the lowest region.
The gates of hell are three -- desire, anger, covetousness, which destroy the soul; wherefore one should abandon them. Being free from these three gates of hell, O son of Kunti, a man worketh for the salvation of his soul, and thus proceeds to the highest path. He who abandoneth the ordinances of the Scriptures to follow the dictates of his own desires, attaineth neither perfection nor happiness nor the highest path. Therefore, in deciding what is fit and what unfit to be done, thou shouldst perform actions on earth with a knowledge of what is declared in Holy Writ.
This is a very healthful way -- to me at least -- of finding out how to destroy illusion. I would like to say just this: that when we find that any of these lower qualities begin to become active in our consciousness, there is no other way of dealing with them except somehow by an effort of will, an endeavor to rise in consciousness into the higher part of our being; and in that state of consciousness the illusory aspects of personality cease, they lose their power, and the man is able to regain balance, calm, peace. The supreme guide, life itself, is always providing opportunities to test us. Some concatenation of circumstances arises, and, as you know, an individual may go along life's pathway, quietly, serenely, thinking that everything is lovely in the garden; and then some person comes along who is so constituted that he touches a certain button, a certain knob in the psychological constitution, and some personal ego within, of which there are many by the way, reacts, and plays its tune, pleasant or unpleasant -- a kind of gramophone record that plays over and over again the same tune. It will be found, after we observe ourselves closely, that similar stimuli tend to produce these similar recurrent phases, good, bad and indifferent, which proves to us that part of our illusion is caused by the mechanical nature of our being. In other words that it is not perfectly under the control of the real part of us. The inner individual is not master of its vehicles of consciousness that we call the personality and through which it expresses itself. We do all sorts of things in a most mechanical way, and it is our reactions to sudden stimuli through various circumstances in life that teach us perhaps the greatest lessons, because amongst spiritually-minded people at least, among all seekers after truth, there is the sincere desire to live in the light of one's Higher being, and the great misery and unhappiness of at times doing quite the opposite. This is the kind of illusion that we must seek out the means of eradicating, and one of the best ways of all, I believe, is a constant and daily steady reading of such a book as THE BHAGAVAD GITA. You have to be very discriminating in the kind of book or scripture that you rely upon to give you that spiritual sustenance without which man cannot live -- spiritually speaking, especially in this striving, material, difficult world that we have to live in.
Day by day we must see to it that we give ourselves five or ten minutes -- if only that -- for spiritual sustenance. The first thing in the morning, if possible, before another thought enters your consciousness, if you spend a few minutes of quiet reflection, self-examination, aspiration towards the higher part, of your being, help does come in a very strange way that has to be experienced in order to realize it.
There at any rate are a few thoughts upon this question of illusion, so now I will leave it to you to raise other questions if you wish.
QUESTION: Among that list of divine qualities that you read in the sixteenth Discourse of THE BHAGAVAD GITA, is one that I think must be a mistranslation. I do not think that one understands it as a divine quality -- and that is mortification.
Many questions like that crop up in the study of THE BHAGAVAD GITA. What does it mean? The questioner suggests that it is a mistranslation, but I think it is only a matter of understanding what is meant by mortification. I think that I cannot do better than find out what Krishna has to say about this subject of mortification, because it is really very interesting:
Honoring the gods, the brahmans, the teachers, and the wise, purity, rectitude, chastity, and harmlessness are called mortification of the body. Gentle speech which causes no anxiety, which is truthful and friendly, and diligence in the reading of the Scriptures, are said to be austerities of speech. Serenity of mind, mildness of temper, silence, self-restraint, absolute straightforwardness of conduct, are called mortification of the mind. This threefold mortification or austerity practised with supreme faith and by those who long not for a reward is of the SATTVA quality.
QUESTION: Is not truth even to this day indefinable?
I think it is probably truly so, because in what terms are you going to define truth? You may turn round to me and say, "Do you think that you said anything that is true tonight?" And I say, "Well, at least I hope that it may be what you might call relative truth." I do not believe that any attempt to expound philosophically ideas of Ancient Wisdom, which after all are an attempt to state some aspects of truth, can be perfectly performed by any one who is not perfect. How can it be so? So you must have a Mahatma or Divine Being who can perfectly express truth in human language, and even then it will not be so much the words that he utters, but that which his whole being does to your consciousness -- raising it to that point where it is able to perceive truth.
Now can we give or have any kind of conception of what a Theosophist means by truth? I can only tell you the way I reason about it and it is simply this: that truth is the reality, the facts of Nature where it operates in the particular sphere that you are considering. What you call truth has to reflect perfectly the workings of that department of Nature that you are studying. So I think the questioner is quite right -- it is impossible to define truth. It exists perfectly at the level of Universal Mind. If we want to perceive truth we have to rise into our spiritual being, where we are not subjected to the distortion of the brain-mind.
QUESTION: It is possible to get into a dangerous state when we get out of our body and feel that everything is illusion?
I think that the best advice in such a case, assuming that we are talking to a person who is interested in these matters, is to hand him a copy of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, underlining the seven Paramitas -- that is the Buddhistic qualities of perfection. In other words there are certain rather short ethical precepts, concentration upon which we are told will have a very beneficial effect upon the mind. Now that may sound trite, but nevertheless really something like that is the only thing to do, because if you get into a state of complete confusion of that kind then you have lost your moorings, your anchor, you have not got hold of your rudder, and you have to do something about it; and the surest thing is to attempt to concentrate upon and practise the Paramitas, and look for some healthy, religious or philosophical literature that will be of benefit.
QUESTION: In the demoniacal qualities in the sixteenth Discourse it stated that the personality, I presume life after life, seemed to sink lower and lower each life. Now is that a fact? Does not karmic action make it so very unpleasant for the personality that automatically this sinking lower and lower is checked?
In the ordinary case of evolution -- Yes. That is to say that the average human being who does not live marvelously well, but not too badly -- he has his moments when he jumps off the deep end, and it is these things that he will be sorry for afterwards. Well, if the balance of his karmic memory gets below a certain point, he is going to add and add to these actions of a personal character, and if that goes on, then he begins to slip down the scale life after life. But Nature will react against him: he will have scored karmic penalties which are designed by merciful Nature to wake him up, and then the natural impulse of evolution will gradually straighten things out. Nevertheless the slip down the decline mentioned in the GITA is, we believe, a possibility in Nature. We do not need to dwell upon it, but there it is.
QUESTION: If all the people connected with such a one were to help him, could not the fall be avoided or checked?
I think that is an important question because we must all have the experience in life of being associated in our own families perhaps or elsewhere amongst our human relationships, with someone who is finding the battle of life too much, one who seems to be losing in that battle of life. Now when the questioner asks if those associated with that person can do anything to help, I venture to suggest, that instead of pointing out to that individual all day and every day just exactly what one thought of him, even to the point -- what shall I say? -- of lowering one's self-respect by the constant criticism -- instead of doing that, let him keep his own consciousness on as high a level as he knows how to do, including this individual within his spiritual meditation. This has a wonderful effect. I have seen it work over and over and over again, and I have seen the terribly cruel and destructive effect of criticism. It is a strange fact, you know, that Brother Judge pointed out in a little book called THE EPITOME OF THEOSOPHY: that in fixing your thought in condemnation (and the stronger the hatred that goes with it, the more important and lasting the effect) you mix yourself with the quality in the other person that you hate, and you pretty soon begin to express that quality. It comes back to you. So I believe that one of the most important things you can do is to keep your own consciousness up and include the sufferer in your spiritual meditation.
By Reed Carson
The readers might like to know that all the awards received by Blavatsky Net (BN) have been unsolicited. In particular, a few days ago BN received a prestigious award for "academic excellence". This site was included as among the best "education" sites, for being of "research quality". We will be gratified if such standards can help make a difference. That award is now on the homepage. (http://www.blavatsky.net).
Now that September has rolled around, Blavatsky Net would like to launch a new effort for Theosophy.
Last month we made available the new geographically sorted member profile report. This month we would like to use that report as a key part in launching a definite effort to start new study classes in the real world. To encourage the start of such study classes the homepage now has a click for "How to start a study class".
BN will do several things to help study classes start. First it provides the info on the profile report about others in the same geographical area who might be interested in attending or leading such study classes.
Secondly we are offering a sample study course syllabus with accompanying material for those who might find it suggestive and helpful for starting a study class. David Grossman, Stella Heun, and Amedeo Nazzaro are working on the final details of this material. The material will aim to help relate the often abstract teachings of Theosophy to ourselves and our life. If you would like to comment on this effort please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thirdly, we have placed on the homepage a click called "How to start a study class". More info on the sample syllabus will soon appear under the "How to start a study class".
Fourthly, we would like to place info about any individual study classes, as appropriate, on the "meetings" page that can be found on the home page. The meetings page lists the location and other details of various study classes and how to obtain more info. If this meetings page grows, then more people will find more classes suitable for them and everyone will be helped.
Fifthly, BN is launching a new online study class in the form of a moderated discussion list that will begin operation on Sunday October 3. This course will follow the same agenda as the sample study course syllabus mentioned above. So any study classes that start along with it will also have an online, worldwide study class going on concurrently and which might provide stimulating interchange back and forth with the real world. This list will be called bn-basic.
This new discussion list called bn-basic will be covering the basic teachings of Theosophy. It is intended to provide a nurturing environment where these things can be studied without the "intimidation" or seeming irrelevance of more obscure discussions. It may also be helpful for those who would like to return for a "refresher" course. You can sign up for the course starting now and it will launch with whoever is signed up on Oct 3. Our current discussion list, bn-study, will be continued as described below.
In addition to this, Blavatsky Net will be starting its own first real world study class in Manhattan on October 3 and following the same agenda. For more detail on this class see the "meetings" click on the homepage.
And Sixthly (if there is such a word), we have added an additional technical feature that we hope will add a little influence in this direction. Now the last paragraph of this letter is computed by the mail delivery software and customized for the individual recipient. It shows information about the number of members overall, and if new members have joined in the recipient's state (or country if not in the U.S.) then the number of those local new members is shown. This will allow members to be notified as more members join in their area. (At the moment there is one reservation in that records with invalid emails still show up in the count. Eventually we will fix this.)
Of course we can never predict what is going to happen with internet related activities but we are putting forth this effort. We hope it blossoms with benefit for all.
Further, I am working on a new technical feature for the discussion lists that I should mention now. Sometimes discussion lists are scanned by software to obtain email addresses for purposes of spam. Since discussion list software requires the use of email addresses this can be a problem. The new software at BN allows a person to subscribe to a discussion list and request for this purpose an email address of email@example.com where "userid" is a member's userid at Blavatsky Net. This email address will not accept spam and will thereby offer a new level of protection for participants of BN discussion lists. This feature is being called "anti-spam email" and can be found now on the membership record. I expect it to be fully implemented before Labor Day (September 6 in the U.S.).
Speaking of lists in the plural, as we add bn-basic we will be continuing the bn-study list. For a topic of study for this list for the next year we have chosen an old syllabus used at one time by ULT. It will cover a wide range of cultures and explore traces of ancient Theosophy and other matters. More on this later. Current participants of bn-study can also get the fancy new email feature by going to their membership record (clicking on "members" on homepage), and making the appropriate choice.
Those who are currently members of BN-study must take an active step to join the BN-basic list -- it is not automatic. (We want to make the fewest choices for members in general even if it sometimes requires more work for members.)
The following is mechanically produced and if any members were added during the last month in your state (or country if outside the US) that is also indicated:
There are now 1254 members including 111 who joined last month. Of all those, 655 are visible in the profile report. 64 members are in CALIFORNIA with 4 added last month.
By Leo Tolstoy
[From Chapters 11 and 12 of Epilogue II to WAR AND PEACE. For the complete ebook and other writings of Tolstoy, see: http://www.tolstoy.org]
History examines the manifestations of man's free will in connection with the external world in time and in dependence on cause, that is, it defines this freedom by the laws of reason, and so history is a science only in so far as this free will is defined by those laws.
The recognition of man's free will as something capable of influencing historical events, that is, as not subject to laws, is the same for history as the recognition of a free force moving the heavenly bodies would be for astronomy.
That assumption would destroy the possibility of the existence of laws, that is, of any science whatever. If there is even a single body moving freely, then the laws of Kepler and Newton are negatived and no conception of the movement of the heavenly bodies any longer exists. If any single action is due to free will, then not a single historical law can exist, nor any conception of historical events.
For history, lines exist of the movement of human wills, one end of which is hidden in the unknown but at the other end of which a consciousness of man's will in the present moves in space, time, and dependence on cause.
The more this field of motion spreads out before our eyes, the more evident are the laws of that movement. To discover and define those laws is the problem of history.
From the standpoint from which the science of history now regards its subject on the path it now follows, seeking the causes of events in man's freewill, a scientific enunciation of those laws is impossible, for however man's free will may be restricted, as soon as we recognize it as a force not subject to law, the existence of law becomes impossible.
Only by reducing this element of free will to the infinitesimal, that is, by regarding it as an infinitely small quantity, can we convince ourselves of the absolute inaccessibility of the causes, and then instead of seeking causes, history will take the discovery of laws as its problem.
The search for these laws has long been begun and the new methods of thought which history must adopt are being worked out simultaneously with the self-destruction toward which -- ever dissecting and dissecting the causes of phenomena -- the old method of history is moving.
All human sciences have traveled along that path. Arriving at infinitesimals, mathematics, the most exact of sciences, abandons the process of analysis and enters on the new process of the integration of unknown, infinitely small, quantities. Abandoning the conception of cause, mathematics seeks law, that is, the property common to all unknown, infinitely small, elements.
In another form but along the same path of reflection the other sciences have proceeded. When Newton enunciated the law of gravity he did not say that the sun or the earth had a property of attraction; he said that all bodies from the largest to the smallest have the property of attracting one another, that is, leaving aside the question of the cause of the movement of the bodies, he expressed the property common to all bodies from the infinitely large to the infinitely small. The same is done by the natural sciences: leaving aside the question of cause, they seek for laws. History stands on the same path. And if history has for its object the study of the movement of the nations and of humanity and not the narration of episodes in the lives of individuals, it too, setting aside the conception of cause, should seek the laws common to all the inseparably interconnected infinitesimal elements of free will.
From the time the law of Copernicus was discovered and proved, the mere recognition of the fact that it was not the sun but the earth that moves sufficed to destroy the whole cosmography of the ancients. By disproving that law it might have been possible to retain the old conception of the movements of the bodies, but without disproving it, it would seem impossible to continue studying the Ptolemaic worlds. But even after the discovery of the law of Copernicus the Ptolemaic worlds were still studied for a long time.
From the time the first person said and proved that the number of births or of crimes is subject to mathematical laws, and that this or that mode of government is determined by certain geographical and economic conditions, and that certain relations of population to soil produce migrations of peoples, the foundations on which history had been built were destroyed in their essence.
By refuting these new laws the former view of history might have been retained; but without refuting them it would seem impossible to continue studying historic events as the results of man's free will. For if a certain mode of government was established or certain migrations of peoples took place in consequence of such and such geographic, ethnographic, or economic conditions, then the free will of those individuals who appear to us to have established that mode of government or occasioned the migrations can no longer be regarded as the cause.
And yet the former history continues to be studied side by side with the laws of statistics, geography, political economy, comparative philology, and geology, which directly contradict its assumptions.
The struggle between the old views and the new was long and stubbornly fought out in physical philosophy. Theology stood on guard for the old views and accused the new of violating revelation. But when truth conquered, theology established itself just as firmly on the new foundation.
Just as prolonged and stubborn is the struggle now proceeding between the old and the new conception of history, and theology in the same way stands on guard for the old view, and accuses the new view of subverting revelation.
In the one case as in the other, on both sides the struggle provokes passion and stifles truth. On the one hand there is fear and regret for the loss of the whole edifice constructed through the ages, on the other is the passion for destruction.
To the men who fought against the rising truths of physical philosophy, it seemed that if they admitted that truth it would destroy faith in God, in the creation of the firmament, and in the miracle of Joshua the son of Nun. To the defenders of the laws of Copernicus and Newton, to Voltaire for example, it seemed that the laws of astronomy destroyed religion, and he utilized the law of gravitation as a weapon against religion.
Just so it now seems as if we have only to admit the law of inevitability, to destroy the conception of the soul, of good and evil, and all the institutions of state and church that have been built up on those conceptions.
So too, like Voltaire in his time, uninvited defenders of the law of inevitability today use that law as a weapon against religion, though the law of inevitability in history, like the law of Copernicus in astronomy, far from destroying, even strengthens the foundation on which the institutions of state and church are erected.
As in the question of astronomy then, so in the question of history now, the whole difference of opinion is based on the recognition or nonrecognition of something absolute, serving as the measure of visible phenomena. In astronomy it was the immovability of the earth, in history it is the independence of personality -- free will.
As with astronomy the difficulty of recognizing the motion of the earth lay in abandoning the immediate sensation of the earth's fixity and of the motion of the planets, so in history the difficulty of recognizing the subjection of personality to the laws of space, time, and cause lies in renouncing the direct feeling of the independence of one's own personality. But as in astronomy the new view said: "It is true that we do not feel the movement of the earth, but by admitting its immobility we arrive at absurdity, while by admitting its motion (which we do not feel) we arrive at laws," so also in history the new view says: "It is true that we are not conscious of our dependence, but by admitting our free will we arrive at absurdity, while by admitting our dependence on the external world, on time, and on cause, we arrive at laws."
In the first case it was necessary to renounce the consciousness of an unreal immobility in space and to recognize a motion we did not feel; in the present case it is similarly necessary to renounce a freedom that does not exist, and to recognize a dependence of which we are not conscious.
By Dallas TenBroeck
[The second part of a private paper dates November 16, 1998.]
DIFFICULTIES IN THE TRANSTATIONS OF ORIENTAL TEXTS
Modern translators of Oriental texts rely heavily on new interpretations by current scholars, some of whom have emigrated from those remote countries. Why have they not also given attention to what HPB has to say and teach? We are not going to find the academics are any more anxious today to consider or prove the accuracy of the Adept records than they were 100 years ago. Witness, for instance the controversy currently raging between Geologists and Egyptologists over the data that deals with the weathering of the Sphinx by water, not wind-blown dry sand, but rain water around 13,000 or more years ago.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE is written in English for world use. It almost seems a waste of time and energy to try, with the prejudiced opinions of modern orientalists, to review the statements made in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. It seems also a waste of our energy to try to adjust some unproven source with what is placed in plain English for us to use by the Adepts.
Surely the Masters, and HPB were aware of the attempts at confusion that could arise. The Adept proofs are innate to the teachings and do not depend on "academic" theories that are now called "scholarship" by those who are working backwards. The Theosophical Adepts were living "Witnesses on the Scene," and Their records are records of observation and not of backward calculations based on the scanty observations of the present. Further, many of the dimensions that Theosophy considers to be more vital than the physical are disregarded by academics. Those proofs lie in the dimensions of morals, and the eternal process of ever-becoming. That perception is almost entirely lacking in the academic attitude towards the records of the Adepts. They cannot see the need and value of the ethical application of facts and laws as active Wisdom. This is what Theosophy offers to all of us. Without Karma and Reincarnation, the concept of the Unity and the cooperation of life are mental cul-de-sacs. And what is more, the purpose of our existence, of any goal or of possible "perfection" is lost.
Why would one become doubtful of the Masters and HPB? Has not their philosophy been shown to be coherent? Are contemporary views destroying it? The modern method is to analyze, to try to devise by theory and hypothesis "Universals" from "very scattered particulars." Instead of reversing the process, and basing himself on the Universals, the "modern scholar" uses his own limited lower manas to try to review, revise and criticize the observations of living Adepts, who in ancient times saw what happened. It is only natural that there will be differences when these partial and experimental hypotheses are compared with the information provided by the Adepts. Do we have the knowledge and the ability to make clear distinctions in these matters? Is it significant in regard to the ethical and moral molding of our lives?
These questions are not raised so as to refute polemically the questions asked, but to give a greater depth of perspective to the problem. The materialists do not consider the total aims and objectives of evolution nor do they realize the potential of the perpetual motion and the intelligence resident in every atom. And the atom is made of force-fields, not substance. (That is, unless one is willing to equate force-fields with substance, and qualify it with intelligence and a degree of freedom of choice.)
What kind of a yard-stick are we to use to determine the veracity and the accuracy of such matters? This is offered to demonstrate that the overall value of the philosophy as a whole should be used as the gauge to settle divergence of opinion. This is the dimension that modern scholarship lacks -- they do not view the reincarnating Ego, and the goal of refining every last atom of "matter," and freeing it to become a "god" in its own right with self-consciousness as its manifest destiny. This is why the touchstone of HPB's 4 golden links in the chain: Universal Unity and Causation, Human Solidarity, Karma and Reincarnation, [ KEY, p. 231 ] are so important in their use as tools for our minds to grasp individual statements made in our texts and correlate them elsewhere.
Hitherto comparatively little attention seems to have been paid to these dates as given relative to these cycles. Individuals may have tried to determine their significance, and mathematical use. What is the ethical and moral use?
For instance there is a threefold festival celebrated in the Buddhist World, when, on the same full-moon day (around May) the Great Buddha, Gautama Siddartha, called the Sakyamuni, was said to have been born, to have attained enlightenment, and when, at the end of 80 years of labor he put off the body. The date is movable, as we see it occurring, as it is regulated by the Moon. So is Easter, so is the Muslim Ramadan. It changes from year to year by our calendar, following the Moon (not the Sun) but it is fixed by the old calendars used by the Buddhists in their religious and secular systems. This following of old "moon" has some great hidden significance. If, as HPB says, the "moon" will disappear in the future, then what will be the mental and emotional condition of mankind as a whole by that time?
ERAS AND CALENDARS
The calendar and era of the Jews, which is close to 6,000 years old, may have originated when one of the waves of their emigration from India began, some 7,000 B. C. This chronology whereon they base their calendar is different from the presently used Samvat of the Hindu Panchangams. [ Annually a Panchangam, or horological calendar based on ancient Hindu astronomical calculations, giving many celestial events, is published in India (see SD II 47 et seq.) ] The South Indian one is considered particularly valuable and practical. It contains dates and times for lunar, solar, and planetary events, the return or position of known comets, the zodiacal relationship of our earth and the sun, etc ... The Samvat, or commencement of the present Hindu era, is based on the old calculations codified and brought up to date in Central India during the reign of the Adept King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. This has been kept up-to-date thereafter by and in those Brahmin families who are responsible for the preservative features of this work.
Chinese and Tibetan calendars differ in era from these, and the Buddhist calendar is one which closely agrees with the Hindu one. This was adopted by the early Sangha, the Buddhist fellowship of monks, in making its records.
The Jains, the oldest of the Hindus, [Ujjain was their ancient capital, destroyed long after Vikramaditya, around the 12th-14th century by Mogul invasions] maintain the chronology entrusted to them. Many of the old Jain families retreated West and North after the fall of Ujjain to the peninsula of Kathiawar, and to the desert fastnesses north of that in Gujerat, and Rajestan on the borders of the Thar desert. They harmonize with the Hindu environment of the present but their roots antedate both the Vedic and the Aryan Brahmanical lore, said to be close to 1,000,000 years old. They had a still more ancient and very secret calendar which is said to be several million years old. It was used in the astronomical calculation in Rajestan, where they lived undisturbed and where a line of ancient Hindu Kshatriya Kings (some of the "Raj-Rishis") retained their independence up till modern times. It was from these that the era of the present Hindu Calendar beginning in the reign of King Vikramaditya springs.
In South India, the Dravidians live. They are the remnants of the ancient pre-Vedic inhabitants of India. They made peace with the Aryan invaders, and to some extent a mutual assimilation was affected, and certain Brahmin families are today holders of the ancient line of records, and are the modern heirs of that ancient lore. Some of those families have retained their ancient oral traditions, passing them from father to son, secretly and in code. These are not entirely lost, but it would take an Indian brahmin of some great stature to educe from them those ancient secrets.
ASTRONOMICAL AND ASTROLOGICAL WISDOM
The last well known King Adept of Rajestan (Rajah Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur) lived in the age of Akbar, a wise Mogul Emperor (called by HPB an "Adept") of the 16th-17th century. It was Akbar's life's endeavor to learn about and reconcile all religions (see his "Din I Illahee -- "The Day of Illumination"). In this he was opposed by his horrified, orthodox Muslim ministers, but he was partly assisted by his friend, the independent Rajestani Raja: Sawai Jai Singh, whose capital, Jaipur, was a few hundred miles South-East of Mogul Delhi.
Raja Jai Singh was a wise astronomer and a student of the influences of the "stars." Apparently he was one of the last historical Rajput kings to bring astrology up to date and to employ it. The Mogul emperor Akbar, gave him the title "Sawai," meaning that he was the man who stood above all the rest in learning. His observatories in Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer and Delhi are still usable today. The Delhi observatory was built under his instructions so that the astronomers of the Mogul Emperor could use it.
The observatories at Ujjain, are now in ruins, and although some attempts have been made to have them partly restored, are virtually unusable, although their original plans are still said to be kept secretly. In south India, the Brahmins of the Dravidian communities who are some of the oldest in India, have their own records and observatories in Kanchipuram, Tanjavur, Chidambaran, Kumbakonam, Salem, Tirupattur, Tiruvanamalai, Madurai, Sri Rangam and elsewhere. Astronomical and other data are constantly being added as the old calculations and observations are kept up to date by certain brahmin families who have chosen to serve as the preservers of this ancient lore.
REGARDING THE TRUTH OF DATES GIVEN TO US
Getting back to the dates questioned. Why would HPB give us dates that may have been true in 1888, and false thereafter? That would indeed be futile, and very confusing. Also it seem it would destroy any confidence in the Theosophical texts she was responsible for.
If one considers the translations of the writings that are currently attributed to Tson-Ka-Pa one is forced to rely on two factors: 1. the authenticity and accuracy of the manuscripts from which the translations are made, and 2. the fairness and the accuracy of the scholars who have made the translation. All these factors have to be verified.
It is for this reason that the modern student of Theosophy has to be firmly based in the metaphysical and philosophical tenets of the Wisdom Religion. He has to be able to view and understand at a glance the evidence inherent in any statement, whether original or translated, of that wisdom. In considering details and differences, he needs to ask himself constantly whether he is dealing with actual truth, or the "blinds" that were drawn by the writers, or their translators, over those facts.
There is another and more important consideration: as time passes, students engaged in the preservation of the original teachings of the Masters as recorded by HPB and WQJ, are, and will be increasingly faced with the suggestion that the records they are faithful to, are no longer in tune with the advances that are being made in our world, that they are no longer true or exact, and that the work of HPB, for instance, has been surpassed and improved upon.
Does one really believe that allegations and doubts, such as these are constructive to the continuity of the work of the Adepts? It was very early after HPB's death that Annie Besant and G.R.S.Mead decided to "improve" on what HPB had left. In fact, taking advantage of HPB's last illness, Mead started to apply his concepts of scholarship to her writings, and began to make changes, that he thought were an "improvement," on them. As a consequence after her death, THE SECRET DOCTRINE was reedited (1893) with over 40,000 major and minor "alterations." Then, in 1897 a spurious "3rd. Volume" was published. Annie Besant took responsibility for this. And there is now no trace of the MSS from which it was copied for printing. Changes in later editions of THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, and in the VOICE OF THE SILENCE, and in others of her writings have been sanctioned by Adyar TS "authorities."
Were it not for the work of maintenance by the ULT and its republishing the original texts (starting in 1912 by reprints in the monthly magazine THEOSOPHY, and later by the actual facsimile reprinting of HPB's books we would be in sad shape. Probably the Theosophical Movement would be rated as a "failure" by now.
If we think over the history of the modern Theosophical Movement, we can see how vital the will of perhaps a single individual (Robert Crosbie is a case in point, as is also Mr. Judge) has been to preserve the message for the benefit of the future. We can think of the "tests" that those individuals were faced with and which they were "successful" in passing through. We are the beneficiaries, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. ULT will remain, if it continues in its work pure and undeviatingly, a repository for the original teachings. Its associates should strive for nothing more than that preservative aspect. And, to make those teachings readily available to others.
Let us take it for granted that HPB and the Adepts, writing for us in our age, used that now universal scientific calendar which we would be using for our calculations, of which they were well aware, as also of the fact that the English language would become the widest used language in the future of the next century (ours) for their writings to be diffused in. If we begin to pay attention to the external claims of "authorities" and "doubters," we will lose our hold on that which we sense is at the core of the teaching: a sense of our own immortality, of the accuracy of the Masters' knowledge, of the justice of universal Karma, and finally of the Unity of all Life. Those are at the core of our wisdom, the rest is detail.
The sole benefit of history (if accurate and non-partisan) is that it enables us to avoid repeating errors. The lure of change, of "excitement" is kamic, it snatches away the reason, and diverts it by the thrill of "novelty."
Buddhi and Higher Manas alone give stability. So we need to control the gyrations of our own kamic impulse, and center our attention on learning the laws of growth which the Adepts have taught. The most valuable "novelty" is in watching our own perceptions widen and deepen, and the real thrill is in seeing that the lore we are assimilating is proved true every day we live.
In any period of manifestation cycles of finite time exist. The Dhyanis begin their work in and with Nature at a definite time. They, we, and all beings, who participate in evolution and manifestation are divine and immortal in our essential nature. The personal and physical is illusory and changeable. They stand as examples to us, of the perfection of experience. They embody those perfections that for us are still only a goal. Our stage is marked by self-devised and self-directed efforts in learning about ourselves, self-consciousness, and the vast program of cooperation which we call evolution. We need, as a concept, the example of Those who have achieved, who have reached the goal that life represents as ideals. And we need to recall always that we are immortal MONAD at heart. The source of our wisdom in interior, initiation is from within.
The promulgation of Theosophy by HPB on behalf of the Mahatmas, gives us outlines of both the rules of self-development, and the record of facts in Nature. This recent event (the promulgation of Theosophy) marks a turning point, a change in the way of thinking and understanding Nature and ourselves. It has been called by Mr. Judge: "a change in the Manas and the Buddhi of the Race." (WQJ LETTERS, 72)
Any "birth" is a fresh incarnation. It is characterized by a curriculum involving the development of individual responsibility, and the duty to learn and practice the ethics of brotherhood, based on eternal and essential unity.
When a fresh endeavor in the general education of mankind is to be attempted, it would be chosen, by those who are wise, to synchronize with those cycles of spiritual forces which echo from earlier commencements down the ages. Some of such "echoes" are annual. Some occur at wider intervals. The last quarter of each century is said to be such a time.
We could take this to represent in our own reincarnation, the connection that is reestablished between our three-fold spiritual consciousness and the skandhas (the life-atoms) that are simultaneously reassembled to provide the necessary physical bodies for our, and their, continued evolution. Those living elements of life were used by us in the past, and under karma it is justice that we meet with and continue to work with them for their evolution and ours.
In dealing with the mystery of Man's spiritual nature working in and through a personality, HPB offers a genealogical clue. She writes:
If the reader were told, as in the semi-esoteric allegories, that these Beings [the higher Manas] were returning Nirvanees, from preceding Maha-Manvantaras -- ages of incalculable duration which have rolled away in the Eternity, a still more incalculable time ago -- he would hardly understand the text correctly.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 79-80.
Theosophy was diffused a century ago, at a time when it became possible to bring to the attention of mankind its psychological make-up.
This was done through the doctrines of universality and eternity based on the Unity of the one Source, on Karma, on Reincarnation, and by disclosing the "Key" : the sevenfold nature of man and Nature. This seven-fold division is represented by the seven primordial Spiritual Instructors, the Rishis and the Mahatmas who are the Dhyanis. They are those "Planetary Spirits," that guard and preserve mankind and our Cosmos.
The present educational program is being conducted over a vast period of seven great, and a number of seven-fold minor cycles of time (called Rounds, Globes, Races, Sub-races, etc.) in the evolutionary sweep. The process develops perfection of each one of the seven principles present in man and in Nature, and, the awareness of unity through the patterns of collaboration which the seven great forces of Nature are seen to manifest in the various classes of beings. These represent stages of conscious development in themselves. This sense of unity is reinforced by an influence, which we could call a "birthday" when it recurs annually.
HPB, as "messenger," presented the doctrines most helpful to review and which it will be the best for us to use to change our moral outlook.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE was deliberately written in English -- a language which the Masters knew would be the one most widely diffused in the near future of the world. It was filled with those notations that our culture and science could understand the reasoning of, so as to open the next vista to us. In giving such information we find throughout the book that They used the calendar notation and calculations of our time, rather than one more ancient, which only a part of the race might know of. Students of THE SECRET DOCTRINE find that they are consistent in doing this.