The ever-unknowable and incognizable KARANA alone, the CAUSELESS Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart -- invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through "the still small voice" of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the UNIVERSAL SPIRIT, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only vsible and objective sacrificial victims to the PRESENCE.
H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 280.
By Dara Eklund
[L. Gordon Plummer, August 8, 1904 -- September 10, 1999.]
Like a journey to an enchanted isle it was, to have encountered Gordon Plummer. Known to some as an "Instructor in Symbolic Mathematics", brimming with wit and inquisitiveness, he conjured the world of Space and Number for young and old alike.
I first met Gordon at mountain camp for sixth grade children in the Cuyamaca Range east of San Diego. As a teacher trainee chaperoning several classes, I admired his sense of humor as he regaled the kids with magic tricks, accordion playing and astronomical tidbits. Later in the evening we discussed philosophical ideas, and I said to him, "you sound like a Theosophist." From this encounter grew a lifelong friendship, as he would come up to Los Angeles to visit his twin sister Gertrude and Boris de Zirkoff.
Gordon's wife Esther had taught with him at a private school in Topanga Canyon (near Malibu, California) where they met. She was his guiding light in later years as he lost the sight in his one good eye. Sympathetic to Theosophy, she lived the life of a Theosophist, although more inclined to the Unity movement.
Countless children of the San Diego Unified School District shared Gordon's enthusiasm over the decades. Nurtured by Theosophy, this enthusiasm conveyed his certainty that we are innate Gods, evolving towards our true Divine stature, just as the stars are evolving suns. One of Mr. Plummer's last titles, The Way to the Mysteries, reflects all the wonderful thoughts he shared with us during the Solstice and Equinox gatherings from the early 1980's onwards, until his eyesight prevented his long bus trip to Los Angeles. Earlier he had travelled on lectures tours, not only in the United States and Canada, but also as far afield as Holland and Finland. In his declining years he used a huge magnifying glass to construct his intricate geometric figures comprised of string and doweling. These greater and lesser mazes were used to tutor students, who still trekked up to his retirement home, into his late eighties. By one mobile of a dodecahedron which enclosed all the other geometric shapes he taught the concept of interpenetrating worlds. Photographs and drawings of these shapes as well as the Platonic solids are found in his books. Even after totally losing his sight he fashioned moebius strips, scribbled with his beloved number sequences.
Gordon had ventured beyond these teaching aides by the invention of a universal self-correcting sundial, dedicated by the San Diego Hall of Science in November of 1975. As son of the noted American geographer, whose name is borne by Plummer Peak in the state of Washington, Gordon certainly made his mark upon the world, both inner and outer. We are deeply indebted to him, and wish him a restful sojourn within the Devachan of his celestial imagination.
Gordon's first book was FROM ATOM TO KOSMOS, followed by STAR HABITS AND ORBITS, ASTRONOMY FOR THEOSOPHICAL STUDENTS (with Charles J. Ryan; Theosophical University Press, 1944). In this latter book you find him unfolding the occult interpretation of nebular evolution and sharing his boyish delight in the celestial orbs which never left him. His most popular book MATHEMATICS OF THE COSMIC MIND (Theosophical Publishing House, 1966; rev. ed. 1970), was followed by three Point Loma Publications: BY THE HOLY TETRAKTYS! (1982), THE WAY TO THE MYSTERIES, INSIGHTS ON THE SEVEN JEWELS OF WISDOM (1991), and THREE STEPS TO INFINITY (1993).
By Boris de Zirkoff
[from THEOSOPHIA, Winter 1973-74, pages 3-5.]
Hobart Lorentz Gottfried de Purucker was born at Suffern, Rockland County, New York, January 15, 1874. His father, Gustaf Adolf H.E.F. von Purucker of Bavarian and Franconian ancestry, as an ordained minister, was for some years chaplain of the American Church in Geneva, Switzerland, and later served in the same capacity in Rome and in Strassburg. His mother was Juliana Smyth of Anglo-Irish descent, who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and belonged to a New England family of distinction.
Gottfried was one of seven children and received somewhat severe training in his youth. In 1881-82, when his father was a young clergyman in Texarkana, Texas, he barely survived typhoid fever. Though declared dead by his physician on one occasion he slowly recovered. Later the family lived for a time in St. Joseph, Missouri, and in Rome, New York, and Gottfried was expected to follow his father's footsteps in the service of the Church. After they moved to Geneva, he studied in various schools including the College de Geneve, and was taught Greek and Hebrew by his father. He specialized under private tutors in ancient and modern languages such as Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Sanskrit, Italian, and Spanish. French and German were spoken in the family. In 1888 he translated the entire Greek NEW TESTAMENT as a Christmas gift for his father, and a couple of years later made a translation of Genesis from the Hebrew.
At eighteen, he returned to the United States where, after a few months sojourn in New York State, lie settled for several years in California, spending some time for experience on different ranches, among these Old Fort El Tejon, near Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains. He then moved to San Diego, where in 1892 he joined the "Point Loma Lodge" of The Theosophical Society (chartered in April 1888) then under the national jurisdiction of William Q. Judge, and at nineteen conducted therein a class in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. In 1894 he met Mr. Judge in San Diego while the latter was on a lecture tour of the Pacific Coast. A year later, Gottfried returned to Geneva to live for a time with his people. It was in that city that he first met Katherine Tingley, on September 2, 1896. She was on her first world tour as successor to William Q. Judge, who had died March 21, 1896. During this brief meeting, he was able to provide her with specific information about land available for purchase on the Point Loma Promontory, near San Diego, and drew for her a pencil sketch of the area, thus enabling her to secure for her intended "White City in the Golden Land of the West" acreage which she had felt was there but which her agent in San Diego was unable to locate.
In the years 1897-98, Dr. de Purucker traveled extensively in South America, and in 1899 returned to Geneva via New York.
He then spent several years in Paris where he was for a while associated with Ralph Lane (later Sir Norman Angell, M.P.) on the editorial staff of the PARIS DAILY MESSENGER, an old and famous continental paper published in English, founded by Galignani in 1814 and originally known as GALIGNANI'S MESSENGER. A year after his father's death in 1902 he came back to the United States and after some weeks of travel took up permanent residence on August 4, 1903, at the International Theosophical Headquarters, Point Loma, California.
During the years 1903-1929, the period between his arrival at Point Loma and the death of Katherine Tingley, Dr. de Purucker was engaged in many and varied activities, acting as Private Secretary to Katherine Tingley in the early years, as member of her Cabinet in later years, and as Editor of THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH after its initial publication in 1911. He supervised the publishing of successive editions of H. P. Blavatsky's works, and utilized to full advantage his great scholarship in this field of endeavor. He engaged in many administrative activities under the direction of Katherine Tingley, and soon became one of the most trusted members of her staff. He accompanied her on her world tour of 1903-1904, and on her European tours of 1908, 1912 and 1926. A great deal of his work was done in the quiet of his office and on the whole he lived a somewhat retired life, and was never married.
When Katherine Tingley died on July 11, 1929, while on a trip to Europe, Gottfried de Purucker succeeded her as Leader of the Point Loma Theosophical Society. He inaugurated many new activities for the expansion of the work, one of which was a worldwide Theosophical Fraternization Movement, with the object of bringing all Theosophical groups into closer friendly relationship one with the other.
In 1931, he went on a lecture tour in the United States and Europe; in 1932-33, he established for a year a temporary Headquarters at Oakley House, Bromley Common, Kent, England; and in 1937 made another short trip to Europe.
Soon after taking over the administration of the Society, Dr. de Purucker started publication of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, the first issue appearing in September 1929, in this manner reviving the name of a small organ inaugurated many years previously by W. Q. Judge. In 1936, THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH was combined with THE FORUM.
Through the years of his administration, Dr. de Purucker delivered a great number of public lectures, mostly in the Temple of Peace at Point Loma, and conducted members' and private meetings for the deeper study of the Esoteric Philosophy. Some of his works have been compiled from these lectures, while others were dictated by him as independent texts.
In June 1942, Dr. de Purucker moved the Headquarters to a new location near Covina, California, and died soon after very suddenly on September 27, 1942.
Dr. de Purucker's literary output throughout his lifetime was very considerable in extent and unique in character. His profound knowledge of the recondite teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy, his great mastery of HPB's writings, and the results of his own scholastic studies, especially of the Classics and the literature pertaining to the origins of Christianity and its early Mystical Schools, as well as his linguistic achievements, combined, one and all, in making him an outstanding expounder of the Occult Doctrines. This he did in complete harmony with the original installments of that doctrine given by HPB and her own Teachers, elucidating and clarifying many obscure points of the teachings opening up new vistas and disclosing still deeper levels of the Wisdom-Religion. He had a special aptitude for answering questions in a manner which disclosed the qualities of a born teacher attempting to lead the student to a greater grasp of the subject by arousing in his own intuition and reasoning capacities.
By G. de Purucker
[A private letter in answer to questions submitted, reprinted in THEOSOPHIA, Winter 1973-74, pages 10-12]
Boldly stated, it is perfectly correct that man, not any one man, but the human kingdom, i.e., the class of human monads, are the parents so to speak of the monads below them. In fact, every such hierarchical class leads every class beneath it, and is in fact not only the inspirer of that lower class, but emits or emanates or throws off the lower class during the unfolding process, and this occurs especially on the downward part of the rounds.
Thus a cosmos is brought into being in the same manner, the highest plane unrolling the next lower, and so forth down to the bottom of that hierarchy from the original cosmic plane, and then upwards again. So it is with every Kingdom or Class of Monads, the human included. Most of HPB's teaching has been concerning the Fourth Round, with only relatively few sidelights on preceding rounds. Thus in this Fourth Round the Human Kingdom preceded the mammals, which came into being shortly after man had developed the mammal stage. Please remember next in order that it is the monads that explain the evolutionary processes of these kingdoms, and that the bodies are merely the results of the urges or impulses originating in the evolving monads. It is the monads which make the classes of monads or the kingdoms which evolve. The bodies are merely their vehicles. Please keep this strongly in mind.
On the other hand, it is equally true that every individual monad, which means of course every class of monads in the larger scale, must pass through every plane of nature, and every other kingdom, in order to gain universal experience. It is the monads that do this passing through the different kingdoms. These two rules, the one just described above, and the one I am now referring to, occur even today in the human kingdom, as evidenced by embryology. The human germ is cast off by a human being, and yet that human germ, before it can grow into another human being, must pass through every kingdom, the Mineral Kingdom as a germ, the Vegetable Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom, and then by evolution as a child in the Human Kingdom. The monad is behind the growing embryo, developing its body to, become human.
Keep this fact of embryology in mind, and you will have a key to the other statement, that all monads must pass through all the kingdoms. As this embryological illustration shows, even a human being or monad enters incarnation in any life through the lower kingdoms, as just described, indeed from the elemental to the human inclusive. The difficulty here of course is to puzzle out these two processes or procedures; but this can be done by keeping in mind constantly that it is the monads which are the Ariadne's thread, and not merely the bodies.
On the moon, for instance, the human kingdom, or what is now on earth the human kingdom, was then the higher part of the beast kingdom there, and the lowest part of the then moon human kingdom.
The elemental begins its long evolutionary pilgrimage by emanating from the bosom of the Divine its godhood, its own monadship in other words, already in itself, but it must attain self-conscious realization of this divine monadship. This comes through the "descent" or "fall" through all the lower kingdoms of nature already existing from previous manvantaras. Thus the monad passes slowly through every kingdom according to, the Cabalistic saying: the stone, i.e., the monad in the stone becomes a plant; the plant a beast; the beast a man, the man a god. The reference here is not to bodies, but evolving, ascending, developing monads.
So with our own human monads. During the first Round on this globe, and in fact on this chain, the highest and lowest, to wit the Dhyani-Chohans and the elementals, were the first to appear, and they gradually laid the foundations, giving bodies for the other intermediate classes to manifest themselves. At the end of the first Round the procedure changes in the respect that beginning with the second Round and thereafter the kingdoms have: been established as foundations, and each class thereafter embodies in its own kingdom. Thus we have both procedures working in a sense, at least for a time, simultaneously and coordinately, rising upwards through the kingdoms. Yet each higher kingdom preceding the kingdom beneath it, or guiding the kingdom beneath it, and throwing off as it evolves the kingdom beneath it ...
During the second Round, recapitulation begins on every globe of the chain and for every class. Taking one kingdom: beginning with the second Round, it is a brief recapitulation of its monad's descent through all the lower kingdoms, until they attain their own monadic kingdom or status, our human kingdom. Thereafter they continue in the human kingdom because they have not yet evolved to become the lowest Dhyani-Chohanic kingdom; but continuing in their own human kingdom in this recapitulation, they throw off and help the lower kingdom beneath them. Indeed, as stated above, every kingdom does just this.
Thus, during the fourth Round on globe D, our human kingdom -- leaving aside the shishtas here in order not to complicate things -- the incoming monads of the human kingdom have a very brief recapitulation of their monad's descent through the lower kingdoms, but rapidly as the human infant does in the womb. But once this recapitulation is ended, and they have attained their own kingdom, then they begin to evolve as human monads on this fourth globe during this fourth Round. They lead all the other lower kingdoms, helping these lower kingdoms, and throwing out from themselves molds as it were, or germs which are passing through their bodies. If these germs are viable, i.e., fit to live and evolve, they continue as a new branch of the lower kingdom. I am thinking of the mammals as an instance. Man in his kingdom was in this fourth Round before the mammals from his own rapidly changing types of bodies, before man or the human kingdom attained the distinct human form that now he has. There were many early mammals which died out because they proved themselves unfit to continue. These mammal monads will have to wait till the next chain embodiment. But once the human mammal form was established for its own period of evolution, then the human bodies became more or less continuous. But during the Sixth and Seventh Root-Races ahead of us, the mammal form will change into something else, I mean of human beings ...
2) The astral molds left behind man are not merely astral pictures in the Astral Light. They are more than pictures. They are, as it were, forms, living entities, vegetating in the Astral Light until they are awakened by animal monads finding them fit vehicles to begin evolution in the lowest part of the human kingdom. If you have never seen or understood an astral mold, I fear it is very difficult to explain just what these astral molds are. They are more than astral pictures, more than mere impressions. They are in fact just what they are called, "astral molds," and I cannot think of a better term. It is these astral molds, abandoned in the Astral Light by humans who have finished with them, which remain for ages before they disintegrate and become, if needed, the vehicles or astral bodies of the monads of the highest animal kingdom, which then seize or possess these human astral molds which thus give them the pattern to follow after the human kingdom, and become as it were the humanized animals of the animal kingdom, to develop into true human beings at a later age.
3) It is, however, not quite true to call the human stock, "the most primitive stock on this planet," because the three kingdoms of the Dhyani-Chohans are higher than the human; what is meant is that the human stock is more primitive, during the fourth Round, then the mammals are during the fourth Round on this globe.
4) The globes are not the principles of A chain, but they have a close correspondence, interestingly enough, and this is merely because nature works analogically, having her one set of laws throughout all her being. Indeed, each single globe of any chain is an entity in itself, having its seven principles. Here the analogy of the globes in a human constitution is again seen. Our earth, for instance, globe four in our chain, following HPB's seven-globe chain, has its seven principles. Furthermore, the gross body of our earth which we know, which is the sthula sharira of our globe, following analogy again, has its own corresponding seven principles. This is alluded to by the Master in THE MAHATMA LETTERS, page 94.
We should not consider the seven classes of evolving life-waves on each globe as being the principles of that globe. The evolving life-waves pass through the globes much as the life-atoms pass through the physical body of a man. They are not the seven principles of man's physical body, although indeed seven classes of life-atoms can and do pass through every human being's constitution. Therefore again I say that the seven classes of life-waves or monads are NOT the principles of any globe. They are merely entities passing through the globes and evolving on the globes, as the life-atoms on the seven planes of a human constitution pass through those seven planes.
By Dallas TenBroeck
[A question was asked recently of a Psychologist that used Theosophy as a base for his work if a good definition of addiction and its cure could be offered. The following is extracted from the tape of the conversation, and is useful to consider. -- Dallas]
The quotations that you have advanced deal with the MORAL UNIVERSE that we all live in. It is that which reacts and is impressed when we make any choice. And, that attracts KARMA. It is of course unseen, and so far never well described in our western descriptions. It is of course unseen and in our present condition is largely UNRECOGNIZED.
That it has not been a subject for education or general talk, as one of the effects of the Western Theological imposition for the past 2,000 years, has been to keep the masses ignorant of their own inner potential -- and of the HIGHER SELF that is fundamentally the essential reality in each of us.
As I have understood it, Theosophy seeks to awaken us to this interior fact that restores control to our own perception and will. The struggle to do this engages us all at various self-chosen levels. Most of the articles in the early Theosophical magazines like THEOSOPHIST and LUCIFER and especially those by HPB address themselves to the effort that is needed to get us to see ourselves AS WE ARE.
If one is ADDICTED it means that one is OBSESSED or even POSSESSED (which is rare -- in this last case -- by an evil entity from the Astral Plane for which a connection may have been established in a past life or, earlier in this life through the use of drugs that temporarily remove the ever-DIRECT control over one's personality by the HIGHER SELF).
At such times it is possible for the link between the two minds -- the Higher and the Lower -- to be partially obscured or even diverted and in rare cases entirely broken. And the result could be OBSESSION, ADDICTION and POSSESSION.
One ought to look into the literature of the occult and the abnormal, of the past century. there we will find for instance, that Bulwer Lytton wrote on this subject in one of his novels : A STRANGE STORY. It is written in the older English style of last century and with a lot of description that in our modern days we would consider a wading through extravagance of description -- we all want the "action" today. The psychological prizes are in the book if one looks for them.
ZANONI, by the same author is one that all of us students of Theosophy ought to read at least once. It deals with the trials of chelaship and Adeptship.
To cure an addiction requires first the honesty of recognizing it. Next the feeling that something is wrong, needs to be carefully analyzed Following that one ought to adopt an attitude of constant ATTENTION and never allowing the WILL consciousness, while awake, to become PASSIVE.
Once in any incarnation that one has become subject to such bifurcation, the effort to restore FULL CONTROL over the personal mind and consciousness is a vast struggle.
But strangely, we are presently all engaged in such a struggle. HPB speaks of it, we deliberately may avoid those statements as they hurt us too much were it counts -- our personal pride in our personality -- as separate from any other. It also reveals that we (the embodied mind) are rarely "in full control." If you want to see how this is described, read carefully the pages of THE TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE, Theosophy company in Los Angeles has gathered those into a handy volume.
From pages 66 to 76 you will find that there is a description of the way in which the HIGHER SELF seeks to be able to secure the active assistance of the Lower Self to heal and improve itself -- I mean the Lower Self, as the HIGHER SELF is a perfected Dhyani who has given itself (under karma and by a voluntary decision) the task of being a "tutor" to us (as the embodied Lower Self) for the present Manvantara. One ought to consult that which HPB has written in SD II 79-80, 93-4, 167, 254-5. Her expressions on this point, I believe, ought to be considered important for us to realize.
Additionally, as all good students we ought to do our research and proving for ourselves. There is always danger in accepting "authority" that the "authority" is wrong. The proof can be found in careful thought and meditation on our powers and potentials. This will also enhance our powers of concentration and attention.
If you wish you can look on our present universal condition, where we have made of vice and evil reasoning our constant (lower mind) companions -- we have allowed ourselves to sink -- all of us -- to a very low moral/ethical level indeed. Fortunately there is in each of us the HIGHER SELF.
The VOICE OF CONSCIENCE is ITS voice speaking and warning us. We have to listen to it carefully and attentively -- I mean the kind of attention that we develop through "meditation" of the spiritual type that is concentration and will. I would further draw your attention to Mr. W.Q. Judge's articles on MEDITATION, CONCENTRATION WILL, and also THE CULTURE OF CONCENTRATION.
We are at a very impatient juncture of our lives -- all of us -- we are an IMPATIENT society and we desire to get things done in a hurry, to put them behind us, and to GO ON. Where we want to GO ON to, we don't really define very well. You will find that a good deal of the goals we really desire consist in "relaxing" and "doing nothing -- if we can "afford it." Hence the very mistaken and misleading idea in the East that the goal of Perfection is "Moksha" or "Nirvana" -- where one spends an immense time dong nothing and having no responsibilities -- till the rest of the world (our brother Souls) catches up with us, and we find that we are again at the tail-end of the procession. Then back to work and all the lost time to be made up.
[I have read about this in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 79-80, regarding "returning Nirvanees." -- Dallas]
On analysis, addiction and obsession are a part of the present psychological cycle. Importantly, HPB warned us all about that in the FIVE MESSAGES -- there she says that this cycle will find this kind of general psychic illusion descending like a fog to obscure the minds and progress of many in the World, and America in particular. Part of our obsession with speed, and "doing things" is this same obsessive fog that demands our forgetting that individual progress requires that we "go slow" and think out our own choices carefully before jumping into "new" things.
It is truly amazing how credulous people are when it comes to trying to secure something for nothing. Those who are sly bank on their greed, and for a fee they seek to provide a "course" using mystical jargon and "old" manuscripts said to be "secret" and "occult" that will enable a student to "progress." and even to receive "powers" and to perceive other planes. But on advance examination they will rarely provide any evidence of their personal success.
Sometimes we do not want to make decisions, we hope that there is "someone else" who will be able to make them for us, and very foolishly, we abandon the struggle to learn and to know (and to make those crucial but difficult personal decisions for self-guidance and independence that we ought to be learning to make) and we put our RELIANCE on this selected (usually with complete ignorance) other person or program.
Ultimately Karma acts and sets a situation up to awaken us: We are then confronted with a problem that DEMANDS our full attention. This is why it is impossible to buy lessons in Occultism, or to pay for Yoga to help us to escape the annoying burden of our decision making. It is well to recognize that these attitudes are generated by our own self-molded personal habits of the past -- now making change difficult. No one can BUY progress and wisdom. We have to earn it through hard work of the most subtle an demanding type. But, how else would we learn to truly value it ?
In other words, part of our universal addiction is the false idea that we do not really need to pay close and strict attention to EVERYTHING that we FEEL, THINK and DO.
Theosophy says otherwise. Therefore the Theosophical psychology of attention is so important for all of us to use to CURE OURSELVES. For instance: an employee who rents his time and brains for money to an employer, does not thereby give up the power of his own independent decision making faculty.
The boss may say: "I am not paying you to think, I am paying you to do what I tell you to do." Sorry. The Theosophist cannot agree to that. If he, or she adopts the attitude that they are placing their time and work in the hands of this "boss," and if they conceive the idea that "he will bear the karma of it." they err.
They will bear the Karma of conniving actively with the "boss's" evil intentions, and an increment in their own development of a " passive acceptance," for they fear being "fired," or, losing some position they value.
Interiorly, they scorn the ways and methods of such a "boss." As honest and true Theosophists they have no business being there at all. The sooner they terminate such an employment, the better. In doing so there is always an improvement in karmic situations, and even the "boss" may learn to approve of their honesty.
What we call ADDICTION, OBSESSION, POSSESSION today are the more blatant, exaggerated and obvious aspects of this abnormal but general condition. One must also take note of the general attitude of "modern psychology." It deals almost entirely with the consideration of making the "personality" HAPPY, and AVERAGE. It rarely takes into account as a primary fact that all progress is always self-developed and self-applied. In many cases it seeks to relieve a sense of personal guilt by diverting the attention to the acts and training of early youth by parents and teachers -- and one frequently hears "They are to blame for what I am at present."
Our attitude towards our early school lessons is symptomatic of our natures -- we either accepted and worked at them, employing our power of concentration to lean all we could, or we did not do that. This attitude which inclines towards close attention is to be found being established in successful efforts made in prior lives, and continued in this one. But the reason that I mention this is because when we identify a character gap in ourselves, we ought to set to work and fill it. Right now. This gets us out of the ADDICTION to laziness and self-indulgence that we may find we have developed -- even unconsciously. We, are the only one that can do that work.
HPB and Judge constantly draw our attention to this. But, we have blunted our own perceptions to the point where it is very difficult, almost impossible to see the terrible and universal situation we are all in. HOW DO WE CHANGE AND TAKE CHARGE, really TAKE CHARGE of our own lives? One is tempted to indicate that the great Buddha is one of the worlds master psychologists and all his teachings were directed at illustrating the power of our own innate Higher Self. One needs only read through the DHAMMAPADA -- which consists of his direct sayings, to assure ourselves of this crucial fact.
First we are confronted on the psychological side of our lives with the immediate reaction of our close family and loved ones who may not understand the change that we are making -- we no longer follow or participate in all their "pleasures," "family gatherings," and "use of leisure."
If we are wise, we tailor our "abstention" gradually, and gracefully, tactfully, so as not to confront them with a complete "BREAK" -- that they may interpret as a "lack of love" -- and they may accuse us of that. Such a situation adds to our problems and we ought to avoid that.
If we wish their cooperation we need to take time to offer explanations. The attempt to get them to understand will reinforce our own ability to understand and make those changes we decided were essential to our well-being. We will need to develop a number of analogies as pictures to offer -- "possible" situations to depict, beginning with "What if ...."
We have to recognize that as the power of habit (in both them and us) to keep the illusion of our present deluded state going -- until some new crisis forces us all to take steps to revalue things and make those important decisions that lead to control and true SANITY.
The "pain" is always "personal," because it is the personality that has to change and restore in itself the needed spiritual perception and honesty. In our "heart of hearts" we all know this (the Voice of Conscience always nags at us on this theme) -- we hope that it will "go away," and let us "enjoy in peace what we have always done and have learned to like." That is the "Personality" which we have constructed because we were inattentive to the needs of the "Spirit Within" speaking.
Please: do not think that I am preaching in any way, nor do I intend to act as a "teacher." I only state things bluntly as I see them -- and it has taken most of my life to be able to do this, and I have to fight almost every moment (like every one else) to prevent a relapse into the "complacency of the average."
By Walter E. Kent
A cool, silent, starlit night is entered. The fresh air is both gentle and yet vibrantly full of life. The brilliant stars shine forth in all their might. The silence speaks with such a sweet voice that one's heart cannot but melt in love, engulfed in the peace. On a night like this, majestic, treasured, precious spiritual events and possibilities sing forth their wondrous song. One is filled with such a joyous, bright, happy, yet serene calm that one can merely look at life in awe. To think on things and take any action is simply too irreverent. One's heart is simply filled with a love for all that is, a love that cares not for anything in return. One's mind quietly, slowly, reverently approaches the omnipresent beauty and draws religious symbols, holy grails to hold this wine of the spirit. One bathes in the spiritual waters of unselfish love and reverence for life and is for the moment washed clean of all petty and selfish passions and habits. One has touched the divinity within things and has found a breath of cool, fresh, vibrant air. In one's reverent reflections, one builds thought-images filled with the beauty and majesty of this wondrous moment. It is these images that carry over into one's everyday life and uplift and inspire it with a taste of the joy of the spirit. May the pure waters of unselfish love and devotion to truth felt tonight forever cleanse and ennoble your life.
By H. Groot
[Theosophical University Press, Covina, California, 1946, pages ix-xi.]
The author of this book, who asked me to introduce this work to the reader, knows that I comply with his request not only on account of the sincere friendship that binds us, but especially because I, just like him, hold the view that the thoughts developed in this book are of the greatest importance to our disabled world, which is looking for guidance in its restoration and reconstruction.
The book places before its readers a curious paradox.
It was begun as an almost desperate attempt of the individual to keep his foothold in the sudden rapid flow of the events of time, which dragged with it so many reliable and seemingly well-founded certainties. The author who saw the world totter about him, wondered whether nothing that was really valuable and full of sense would remain. In the whirligig of the outward facts and events of the horrible war-years he turned toward his own inward self, and tried to ascertain if there perhaps the stability and certainty were to be found which had appeared to be a delusion in outward life. So the plan of the book might be called subjective and personal.
Moreover, there was no small danger that the book might degenerate into a flight from reality to a dream world which would have few or no points of contact with daily life.
However, this danger was always distinctly present to the author's mind, and he immediately declares: "This book is no flight from reality."
No, its object, on the contrary, is to make use of reality -- however hideously it might present itself -- as of a fixed point of support, on which the ladder of a higher spiritual consciousness can safely rest.
The author does not want to disguise or ignore the world picture, but to grow above it by fixing his eyes upon that which is the timeless background of the eternal circle of creation, existence, decay -- a circle which forms the only reality with which our senses can bring us into contact.
However, how many people know and acknowledge the existence of this timeless background?
Large is the number of those who regard as an idle game of fancy, a beautiful but unreal dream, everything that is beyond sensory perception and not limited by time, space and mechanistic causality. To them the author says: "I do not write about unreal things. They are not far or strange." And indeed, he who allows the ever rising flight of thoughts to act upon him, will come to the conclusion that this book deals not with unrealities, but with the most essential core of man.
And this is the paradox: the subjective, personal plan leads to views in which all personal experiences are raised to the level of the intimate union of man and man, nay, even of man and cosmos. Thus, the book ends in an emancipating statement, devoid of any personal sorrow or personal struggle, but which breathes quietude, and the certainty of him in whom sorrow as well as happiness have been transformed into a higher insight:
Though we seem separate beings, we form together the tissue of the universal consciousness; it pervades us, it raises us, it binds us. We are the facets through which the light shines in various colors and shades, in variegated diversity.
May this book, which comes straight from the author's heart, come into the hands of many searching, tired and mourning people, who have lost their way in the chaos of conflicting experiences in which the often cruel reality placed them; they will be able to find in it what is more than the opiate of consolation -- emancipating insight.
By H. Oosterink
[Theosophical University Press, Covina, California, 1946, pages 1-7.]
In the treasure chamber of our life we find images, mind-images, ideas born in quiet hours of meditation.
Consciousness directed to the invisible worlds of a higher, spiritual existence has attracted these images like a magnet: images still clothed in the splendor native to these worlds. The artist who calls forth these images in our minds, the sculptor who conjures them up, is the Spirit. From the formless and wordless beauty of the soul they take shape within us, as the fruit of golden hours passed in quiet meditation, which raised us above the grievous experiences of our everyday life.
We all have such a wealth of images hidden within us. In this book I give you mine for contemplation. Perhaps one of these images will strike you and you will take it aside and consider it with greater attention.
What remained speechless in me may then penetrate into your mind, and things for which I found no words may become clear to you.
This book was written during the war. I have set down my thoughts in it as they came to me and took shape in a time when our resistance and power, more than ever before, had to be found in us and not in the world about us. In fact, the losses sustained made it necessary for me to express my spiritual possessions in words, and I wanted to test their value in these disturbed years. Therefore I wrote, as one who keeps a diary, until my thoughts began to mature and raised me above the gripping events of those stirring times.
That's why this book does not contain abstract reflections, as if the author, standing outside life itself, wanted to escape reality.
The circumstances gave little opportunity for this. But while writing I kept in mind that life has not only an outward form, but also a soul, a background from which outward life rises, from which it originates and matures. He who penetrates into the soul of life, sees life in its entirety.
I mentioned the events of the war only in passing -- how much happened in those days! -- but the greater part of what I wrote down counterbalanced the fear and sorrow that fell to our share.
Though the war-events and the terror that attended them were cruel and horrible, however hard the facts might be that we had to accept -- I had to look further -- to look behind the facts, for the source from which they sprang, to find the solution of all contradictions which bewildered me, in the UNITY AND THE HARMONY of the passing and the everlasting. I could only find this solution by looking at the facts around me in the light of our boundless existence.
HARMONY -- not the attitude of the man who, in isolation, shrinks into himself and leaves the world as it is. He who isolates himself does not understand that life flows from one source, that the great life reflects itself in each creature and in all creatures, and that this fact ties us more firmly together than we accept as a rule.
No seclusion, but on the contrary, a stronger unity with our suffering fellow-men, when we find each other again and recognize each other in the unity of the spirit from which we all originate and which we are. This thought -- the unity of life -- defines the sphere of our hearts and our love from man to man.
It is as if the facts and events looked upon in this light take on another meaning, as if they dissolve and lose their cruelty because we have thus traced them to their starting-point.
In this way my thoughts deepened and matured into the pages of this book. It raised a spiritual power and certainty within me, which widely surpassed the influence of the chaotic world around me, bent on self-destruction. It gave me the power to rise above it.
It freed me from a burden which otherwise I should not have been able to bear, and it did more: it kept my heart open for the love of humanity, which I did not want to lose at any price.
That which is human in us protests against an attitude of resignation, and justly so, for he who accepts unthinkingly has adopted a negative attitude toward life. But he who adopts this attitude of resignation coupled with the idea of an eternal absolute existence -- an insight into the substance and essence of all things -- will view life from a different angle.
He sees and sees through the interconnection of the things that take place around him -- and the causes from which they spring. This idea leads him to the realization that all is well.
He who sees life in this way, does not escape from reality; on the contrary, he lives in the midst of life as it is, but a life that rises above the level of him who cannot see beyond the appearance of things.
Many people are so much fascinated by everything which takes place around them that they forget the connection between the temporary and the eternal. The stream of life carries them along and they do not find in themselves any power for reflection and rest.
The endless misery that surrounds us every day, the interminable sorrow we meet wherever we go, have filled the hearts of many with bitterness. They ask themselves passionately why all these things happen. They want to know why people treat each other so cruelly.
Airplanes roar along the night sky bent on devastation and death. Tanks and flamethrowers, guns and submarines do their destructive work. People delight in torturing each other psychically and physically; prisons and concentration camps are crowded, and the horrible persecution of innocent citizens continues.
Reproachfully they say: you speak of higher spheres in which our spirit is invulnerable, of vast fields of consciousness and of the justice of cosmic laws.
But we want to know how we can live in peace on earth, we want to build a better community here below.
To them I would say: "What else is society but a reflection of our inner self, a projection of what we really are?" We built up this community together. We unchained this storm. The outbursts of hatred were caused by tensions of our own making, which culminated in war and revolution. The atrocities we see about us are only their results.
If our economic systems are wrong, their injustice originates from us.
If man wants to create a better world, man must change himself, and he changes only through self-directed growth.
And this growth begins when man realizes whom and what he is, when he allows himself to be affected by the powers of his soul, when he awakens himself and manifests what we call the beauty of the spirit. This is done by focusing all our thoughts on the spiritual splendor within us, in other words by meditation.
A meditative life, a contemplative frame of mind does not lead us to a dreamworld, nor does it mean an escape into other worlds; meditation may open up a real world, a world from which we can draw the power and certainty to overcome the difficulties of outward life that threaten to crush us.
Like the sunbeams which, touching the unruffled surface of a mountain-lake, penetrate to the bottom, the light of the spirit illuminates the mind and heart of the man who sees life from a quiet and reflective standpoint.
When the storms of life rouse our emotions, carry us off and get a hold on us, we live helplessly in the shadows of a lightless existence.
The efforts to become conscious of our highest essence involve a continuous contact with the spiritual side of life; the raising of our consciousness, an escape from the psycho-magnetic attraction that originates from the sphere of low desires and strife, of hatred and false notions in which we daily live. Then we begin to experience an unassailable peace in ourselves, in spite of the influences that daily life exercises upon us. And thus, if people could only be induced to adopt this reflective attitude toward life, a new community, a spiritual brotherhood would be the result, binding all people together in love -- love of mankind -- an expression that is hardly ever heard nowadays.
People lack love. It is a spiritual poverty that is worse than material misery. Material poverty is its outcome.
There is a spiritual injustice that is worse than any social injustice. Social injustice results from it. It is secondary. Let us then look for the primary causes and open our eyes to the world of the spirit by introspection. When our eyes have opened, let us go to meet outward life with a word of love and understanding, ready to give a reply to the vital questions that are tormenting mankind, and to soften their grief.
Lao-tse as well as Jesus lived in a time that was as dark as the days in which we are living, and yet at their appearance a spiritual light was diffused in the hearts of men, and their lofty conception of life brought to millions a consolation they badly needed in their worst afflictions.
Forms disappear, life passes and destroys them, but above this passing life is the immortal eternal spirit, immutable, embracing and inspiring all alike, a light that shines forever.
Brotherhood, love of man for man -- in spite of social, cultural or spiritual differences, in spite of all sectarianism -- is the only basis for a just community.
We see a community of all sorts of living entities engaged in a struggle among themselves, with an urge to self-preservation, including those people who regard only their outward appearance as the "man" and want to maintain it. But according as one increasingly realizes that man is more than his form, and as this realization finally leads him to the conviction that behind the outward life there lives the spirit from which the world of phenomena originates and by which it is inspired, all antitheses and divisions will find a solution in the recognition of one powerful unity of life, in which there is no place for separateness. He who realizes this knows the all-embracing love which makes us see ourselves in any other creature.
Religion is a form in which religious man expresses his devotion to the supreme; what I have been looking for and have committed to paper is not the form, but the essence, the continuously renewed discovery of spiritual life, the holy joy flaming up from a growing realization of what man really is, an approach to, a closer contact with our true Self -- a penetration into the Kingdom of God, within us.
A few words must be added to this introduction: This book is not written in a simple form. But if the reader will take the trouble himself, or together with others -- to think about what I have tried to express, the reading of this book may give him the same joy that I experienced when writing it; perhaps it will raise him above the grief that befell him, just as the writing of it helped me, in finding myself again and gave me the power to rise above this world of hatred and sorrow.
By Reed Carson
[For more information, see http://www.blavatsky.net.]
We have made a major technical decision. After studying the matter for some time, Blavatsky Net has decided to install its own dedicated server. The dedicated server will provide faster response times for visitors to the site and will allow us more freedom in exactly what we can offer. One of the advantages is that we will be able to offer any number of discussion lists with the same smoothness of operation as we currently experience with the BN-study discussion list. I will be installing the upgrade during October.
For a long time I have regretted not being able to offer a discussion list in Spanish. We have found a recurring demand for it. With these new capabilities we will be launching a Spanish talk list to be called BN-esp. Anyone can sign up for it starting now and the first message will go out November 1.
Due to the effort this change will require, the two other lists will also be postponed to start on November 1.
During this past month the syllabus for BN-basic, prepared by David, Stella, and Amedeo as an introductory agenda, has been finalized and placed online. I think they have produced a real work of value that should show the relevance and depth of Theosophy to participants. You can see it by clicking on "talk" and then on "BN-basic syllabus". Let me say generally here -- I do hope some of the long-time students will join this list and help out. But please remember the intended audience -- newcommers to the philosophy and those desiring a refresher course -- and aim the remarks appropriately.
Finding the proper subject matter for continuation of BN-study has been a vexing problem for some time. It should not be presumed to be an "advanced" form of BN-basic. It should not conflict with BN-basic and perhaps, even, it should allow scope for different individuals who have a wide range of exposure to the subject and simultaneously be a subject of great interest. And it should bring out Theosophy. After thinking about it more, it occurred to me that the best choice I could come up with to meet these characteristics (and others) is a course syllabus that I had created for the United Lodge of Theosophists for their seminar-style class in New York City in 1985. This course was entitled "The Bible in the light of Theosophy". As it stands it has 36 topics. Exactly how this might work as an online discussion list is, of course, quite unknown. It depends on all of us.
You can find that syllabus also by clicking on "talk" and then "BN-study syllabus". Any thoughts are welcome.
On other fronts, two new study classes were added to the "meetings" page this month. Bob Waxman has moved to Sarasota Florida and started a class there. He reports it is "moving along well" and extends a cordial invitation to all.
Another group, calling itself "The Long Beach Theosophy Center", is becomming increasingly active in Long Beach California. It appears that a number of long-time students are adding impetus there. On Oct 18 they are holding an open house. Just a few days ago word of the upcoming study of the bible at BN reached Long Beach and we received back a very interesting clarification of a new bible class there (quite coincidentally having similarities to the proposed BN-study topic). We were told the following (which also appears on the "meetings" page):
A 2 year class called "The Christian Scheme", studying and collating H. P. Blavatsky's works with the Bible on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of month. (First class Oct 5th, 1999 7-9pm.). The course will also include Gnostic gospels, Huston Smith videos, etc. It is designed to capture the esoteric meaning of Christianity, by tracking its essential core through various religions, symbols and myth. Study will be somewhat structured and includes syllabus.
There is the possibility that we may be exchanging various forms of helpful information with that class. Perhaps we will add some material online for accessory reading for everyone on this subject of a bible class (not a normal "bible class" lest there be any confusion). This in turn suggests another possibility. If other people have material they would propose for online placement I would be glad to consider it. In its fullness, this is a vast field.
In passing let me mention again that the new study class in Manhattan is starting on Oct 3. Details are on the meetings page.
We are very pleased to report that the first portion of the paper by Rich Taylor, a step toward his PhD, is now available online under "scholarship forum" on the homepage. To be fair to everyone, in places his views are expressed in a way that BN would have expressed differently. Please bear in mind it is aimed at a professorial audience. I think that whatever the details of one's views, his paper contains much material that is very useful to have assembled. In some cases it contains notable insights and we are aware that when that work is completed it will contain descriptions of some of his discoveries from research that we think will help the movement. I agree with an underlying premise of Rich, that where we can, and while respecting the occult nature of our subject matter, we should bring to bear the tool of research. (Hope I didn't put too many words in your mouth, Rich.)
I wish to particularly thank Jim Stratos. There is constant routine work to do behind the scenes at Blavatsky Net to keep it operating and at the standards expected on the internet. Jim has volunteered to help with these matters and that will be a constant invisible aid to this whole effort.
We wanted to make reference in this newsletter to Blavatsky Archives Online, maintained by Daniel Caldwell. (Can be found through the "roadmap" click on homepage.) For some time now he has been placing online original source material relating to Theosophy and the movement. The site presents reprints that are rare and hard-to-find source documents on the life, writings and teachings of Madame Blavatsky. We extend our thanks to him for this ongoing selfless effort and look forward to the constantly increasing value of his site.
A software error was found a few days ago that I need to confess to. The feature for sending email on the member profile was not working for September and perhaps a little longer. If you sent mail the recipient did not get it, though the resulting message was contradictory. The error got fixed quickly once we knew of it. (The error message was: "No recipient addresses found in header".)
The Weathervane click on the homepage is intended to describe changes in the underlying thought of our times. This month we found an interesting article on Hell. Officialdom now views Hell less in the image offered by Dante and more philosophically. Hell has become a state not a place. You might find the article interesting reading. Hell hasn't frozen over yet but it no longer smells of sulfur.
There are now 1306 members including 59 who joined last month. Of all those, 692 are visible in the profile report.
By James Sterling
[Written June 7, 1989. Says the author: Due to the impractically of specifically referring to both male and female in this article, the use of the masculine gender has been used to refer to both sexes.]
Self-directed evolution is the high-minded pursuit of taking control of your own destiny, i.e., taking destiny into your own hands. It means evolving from imperfection to less imperfection until the royal crowns of perfection are finally achieved and culminated. Step by step we can take that magical evolutionary staircase to the stars.
Courageous souls in the past have taken on this challenge to purify their lives. Aspiring souls have taken on the challenge to better themselves and the world around them. Presently, they stand at the pinnacle of the human race in their own evolution, sending their love and compassion back to us ... calling us to take up that sacred path and duty unto ourselves.
"Climb higher," they call to us. You can hear the mystical whispers of the Bodhisattvas in the breeze through the rustling trees. "Climb to your golden destiny. Spiritual knowledge is for all souls who have earned the privilege."
From one viewpoint, man's inner nature is essentially divided into a spiritual dichotomy -- his higher nature, called his Higher Self; and the lower nature, his own personal, selfish ego. In each human being, there is a general blend of both the lower and Higher Self together.
From man's Higher Self, his inner divinity, his "Father in Heaven," comes all his noblest aspirations. The Higher Self is from where man receives his notions of impersonal love, forgiveness, compassion, sympathy, pity for others, or unselfishness.
The lower self is intrinsically egotistical, self-centered, petty, unforgiving, wrathful, or fearful. The Higher Self constantly influences the lower self; yet the lower self absolutely never influences the higher. The Higher Self is the eternal flame of deathless spirit burning with divine inspirations in a man's heart. The lower self desires things for itself without regard to the needs of others. It exists only for its own selfish needs.
One of the first steps of self-directed evolution is to aspire to live in the higher part of your constitution or being. Be gentle, be just, be forgiving, be charitable, be compassionate -- the great spiritual teachers of antiquity have taught us. If this is done successfully over a period of time, the spiritual growth within will be greatly enhanced. You'll feel yourself growing toward the good, then even better, and leave behind the selfish desires of the lower self.
Learn to live to assist and benefit others around you. Help your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, relatives, etc. in whatever capabilities you possess. The splendid attitude of helping others will be a positive force within you. And as you help others, you help yourself! By unselfishly looking out for the needs and concerns of your fellow man, you're making tremendous karma that will help you progress in your own evolution. Self-sacrifice is the sublime service and duty for promoting spiritual growth. It benefits everyone.
Another crucial step in the journey on the evolutionary path is purification. Purification is the grand process of eliminating impurities from the mind and body. (Naturally, the inner man benefits greatly from this process). Called KATHARSIS by the ancient Greek philosophers, purification is the cleansing process that promotes self-discipline, self-abnegation, and self-forgetfulness.
All vices, both mental and physical, must be conquered. As the old allegorical adage tells us: "Only the pure of mind can see God." The human soul must be pure in order to move forward in its spiritual evolution.
The body is considered to be the "Temple of the Living God." As stated in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 3:16, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Verily, there is more than meets the eye of what constitutes the inner man of the human being. For truly, man possesses divinity within himself.
The body is not just a physical apparatus and nothing more. It houses the human soul and other significant principles. Therefore, the body must be kept clean and be considered holy so that what lies within is also healthy and strong. Pollute the body with too much weight from overeating, too much alcohol or drugs, too much smoking, i.e., vices of anything toxic, and this has a direct effect on hindering spiritual progress.
The human body must be fit and strong to deal with the rigors of the evolutionary path of life. Only the purest of foods should be eaten to keep the body healthy. Vegetarianism is recommended but must be the natural decision and personal commitment of the aspirant. There are many factors involved in becoming a vegetarian and the reader is urged to investigate the possibility for himself. What may be right to eat for one person may not be right for another. Research and discretion are highly advised.
As physical purification is most important to self-directed evolution, mental purification is just as significant if not more so. Mental purification is the vital cleansing of the mind. This aspect of purification lies within the depths of ourselves. The inner thoughts we possess shape our actions and destiny. We are the sum total of all of our previous thoughts up to this point in our lives and evolution. Purify the thought process, and we purify a critical portion of our nature. A Buddhist thought dictates: "We are what we think."
All personal, psychological difficulties must be eliminated in order to succeed. Negative thoughts such as black hatred, burning revenge, fierce anger, intimidating fear, blinding jealousy, or other deep-seated feelings only poison the mind. When we can free ourselves of these troublesome thoughts, we take a major step forward in our evolution.
The Delphi Oracle of ancient Greece stated majestically: MAN: KNOW THYSELF. This succinct statement has a deeper pregnant meaning than at first glance. However, in order to achieve mental purity, you must truly begin to know yourself. You must study your strengths and weaknesses. When self-analysis occurs, and a subjective inventory has been taken of your good and bad characteristics, an attempt must be made to turn weaknesses into strengths.
For example, the weak-willed man needs to develop will power and strength; the shy needs to develop friendliness; the angry needs to be calm; the strong must learn gentleness; and the rushed should cultivate patience.
There is an old Sanskrit maxim appertaining to this theme. "Yadyad devata kamayate tattad devata bhavati." Which says, "Whatever a divine being desires, that very thing the divine being becomes."
Thoughts need to be pure as sunshine. But trying to pacify an unruly mind is no easy task. With each negative thought that enters into our minds, we must diligently contradict these thoughts with purer thoughts of goodness. The more this task is accomplished, the more we begin to think with a more positive attitude, thus eliminating grooves of bad thinking. Remember that thoughts always precede words and actions. Purify the thought and, therefore, purify the deed.
For more severe psychological difficulties, perhaps professional counseling may be required. This is a personal decision and should be regarded with deliberation and care. Work with a professional with whom you feel comfortable. Go with a definitive purpose of solving a particular problem. Channel your thought energies toward solving the problem; in time, with will power and persistence, you'll solve it. Once you conquer one problem, it will easier to "jump over the next hurdle" in the future. You'd be surprised to ascertain how much you will grow and develop, channeling your energies toward a specific spiritual goal. In time, you'll find you'll have more confidence in yourself.
Also, if you pay close attention to the circumstances of your life, you will discover Nature assisting you in very distinct and subtle ways to help you achieve your goals. For example, certain obstacles may be put in your path that will force you to develop certain positive traits. A woman having fearful thoughts might find herself confronted with circumstances that will help her develop courage. Suddenly, she is given more challenging responsibility at her job. Over a period of time, she has the wonderful opportunity to overcome her fear if she meets her challenge successfully. As a result of her success at work, other situations that were once very fearful were not quite so intimidating. She had taken a major step forward in her evolution.
Examples of evolutionary challenges like this one can be found throughout a myriad of human experiences. The reader is urged to study the events of his life in order to make self-directed evolution work for him. Once he begins to do this, he can begin to quicken his growth by lessening or conquering his weaknesses.
The rewards of purification will pay spiritual dividends in the future. There is nothing like a peaceful mind without nagging negative thoughts to trouble it constantly. You become more effective in work and any kind of concentration.
Mental purity is well worth the effort, no matter what the obstacles and the amount of endurance necessary. Self-directed evolution, once applied assiduously to one's life, becomes a lifelong process. The spiritual progress made is joy and satisfaction well worth the initial effort.
Another pertinent factor that affects spiritual growth is the ability to control emotions. Emotions are elusive and slippery, and can be most difficult to control when we are confronted with stressing circumstances. However, learning to control emotions is highly emphasized for successful self-directed evolution. In order to achieve this, EVEN-MINDEDNESS may be recommended to keep the mind balanced and in equilibrium.
Even-mindedness is the noble practice of keeping the mind from going to extremes, either in elation or despair, depending on the particular external event. The goal is to keep the mind in one place at all times -- even -- in between the pair of opposites, joy and pain. This is identical to the fourth Buddhist Paramita, Virag, indifference to pleasure and to pain.
Once you begin to practice this valuable mental technique, you will eventually experience the difference between the overreaction of emotions and staying balanced, thus even-minded. Even mindedness is the perfect antidote for the petty, annoying nuisances that plaque us all in our daily affairs and routines. It will promote peace of mind and valuable self-control -- prizes within themselves!
It is the Bodhisattva conquering his lower, personal emotions who practices keeping his mind even. He knows the wisdom of controlling his emotions, thus keeping his mind fixed, and therefore, concentrated in any proper direction that he chooses.
Self-directed evolution can become a daily joy if you believe that there is more to life than the nine-to-five consciousness. Self-directed evolution combined with our daily work and family duties presents us with a worthwhile healthy challenge to make our lives better, even more productive and harmonious.
Perhaps the great poet Tennyson illustrates these ideas succinctly when he pens:
"That men may rise on stepping stones Of their dead selves to higher things."
The secret of self-directed evolution lies within the soul of the reader. He can strengthen and purify his life, thus quickening his spiritual growth and evolution. If the road seems difficult in the beginning, it's because this new aspect of discipline and self-control has not yet been exercised to a greater extent in the past. Don't be discouraged if you fail. The Great Souls who have traversed the spiritual path before us fell many times. The great difference is that they got up, brushed themselves off, and kept moving. They are perfected because of their noble persistence.
Life is like a dusty trail; but the real pioneer is the one who keeps moving forward when the fierce wind blows dust into his face. He just squints into the hot sun and rides on.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, p. 346-59.]
In the Theosophical Society we make it a practice to hold out the hand of friendship to every religious body, to every body of students who are working along lines, different though they may be from our own, which nevertheless have ultimately for their aim and purpose the spiritual elevation of mankind, to some degree at any rate. It is this very attitude we hold to the movement known as Christian Science, and also to the individuals in that great movement, including in its ranks, as it does, some millions of people. Therefore anybody who comes to hear what Theosophy has to say about the particular doctrines which are believed in and practiced to a very large extent by Christian Scientists, will please understand that we examine these views very impersonally, very sympathetically, and purely with the object of trying to understand what the ancient Wisdom Religion of mankind that today we call Theosophy has to teach about the particular science which Christian Scientists claim to practice.
As a matter of fact I have personally had many conversations with Christian Scientists, and it has been my experience that in many ways they are an extraordinarily open-minded body of people. I think it is just to say that for those who take it seriously the spiritual life is for them the main thing. The sincere among them are seeking the religious life, and the way they go about it certainly brings results to some degree. At any rate they are decidedly not a materialistic body; they do care for the things of the spirit, and what we are going to examine tonight is how their ideas and their philosophy and their so-called metaphysics work out in practice.
The ideas of Theosophy, the ideas of the Wisdom Religion, upon the whole question of metaphysical healing, as indeed upon other questions, are not the ideas and speculations of any single individual, but they are the great Truths that have been stated and restated by all the great Sages and Seers of antiquity. You will find them in the teachings of the great Buddha; you will find them in the teachings of Confucius and Lao-tse; you will find them in the teaching of Plato and Plotinus; and in the teachings of the Syrian Sage Jesus. Therefore do not think that these ideas have sprung from any limited personal viewpoint. Not at all. They are a statement of the very laws and fundamentals not only of our own nature, but of the relationship of man to the Universe of which he is a part. Understand that to be in brief what the great doctrines of Theosophy are. Therefore the first thing that we have to grasp in connection with Theosophical teaching is this: that it is primarily a metaphysical and ethical system which is designed, by bringing about a purification of the lower nature of man, to inculcate right thought, right living, and, as a consequence, that correctness of action which ultimately results in liberation from not only all physical disease, but from all suffering.
WHAT IS TRUE IN CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
We may well ask ourselves: Is there anything of real spiritual value in the teachings of Christian Science? Well, unhesitatingly, as a Theosophical student I would say decidedly there is. Its adherents have many of the great Theosophical truths, which they not only believe in but which they practice to a considerable extent. As said, it is always one of our objectives, not merely to seek differences between the Theosophical viewpoint and the viewpoint of other people, but by comparative study to strive to see what there is of truth underlying the ideas of other religions. We strive to apply the principle of the Buddha as declared by the Emperor Ashoka, the great Buddhist Emperor of India: that there shall be no decrying of other sects, no depreciation of others without a cause, but a rendering of honor to whatever in other sects is worthy of honor. It is in this spirit that we shall approach our subject of study.
In asking ourselves what there is of value, let us apply the old Christian teaching "By their fruits shall ye know them." It is a fact that today many of our most efficient business executives in England and America are Christian Scientists. There are many people all over the world in high positions who, without saying much about it, actually believe in the doctrines of Christian Science and practice them. It is a curious but interesting fact which I have myself observed, that in the lives of these men there are certain spiritual factors. I have noticed that they believe first of all that the great life of commerce and business is not something which should operate on the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth -- not at all. They believe that the life of commerce and business is primarily an activity of service on the part of each business organization to the whole as a unit. They believe that in the conduct of their business affairs, if they do not treat those with whom they are entering into business relationships in the same manner in which they would like to be treated themselves, they realize, I say, that one day it will come back to them. They realize the wonderful truth of the Sermon on the Mount: that if you would have men act toward you in a certain way, you must act in that way toward them. They practice it in their business, and they will tell you that as a result they are phenomenally successful. The accounts they give of their success are absolutely amazing. They will succeed where another man will starve.
I have often heard from them similar stories to this one: "Yes, you know, I was finished, down and out. My business had gone to pot, and I had no religion. I had had a big business and I held a big position; but I always believed (and I took a pride in it) that if I could put the other fellow out of business -- well, I should be doing something. I put many of my opponents out of business, and finally I was put out of business myself. That was the result. When I was finally down and completely out, somehow the great ideas of Christian Science came to the rescue, and I got up and I began to apply those principles in my business. Then a great change came over my attitude, and I gained a certain faith, a certain strength, a certain security of outlook; and the result was that little by little those men I had fought in commerce became my friends; we worked together, and I found business where previously I had found nothing." Thus, they built up little by little even their material business without injuring anybody; conducting honorably and fairly all their enterprises, and the results were good in every way.
I think if Christian Science produces that profound effect in people's minds, there must be a certain amount of good in it. That same good is to be found in the lives of those who really practice the great truths of Theosophy; for remember, the ethics in every religion are practically identical. They are presented in a different form, but that is the only main difference. I have related that story simply to illustrate to you that we do not look upon this problem from an unsympathetic point of view.
WHERE THEOSOPHISTS DIFFER FROM CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS
Now I want to turn to our understanding in the light of Theosophy of this whole problem of metaphysical healing; for we do differ from the Christian Scientists upon certain rather fundamental things. We agree with them in many things, but we differ from them in others. It is absolutely essential (and we should not be doing our duty if we did not do so), from time to time to make it quite clear what those differences are. I do believe this: that Christian Scientists would be probably the first to have an open mind and to listen to the ideas of the Wisdom Religion upon this subject. Certainly one Christian Scientist friend of mine said to me: "By Jove! What wonderful ideas there are in Theosophy; there are beautiful things in it; I wish I knew more about it." And he said: "You know, if you could show the Christian Scientists a better way to do what they are doing now, they would be the first to take it up."
We differ from them upon the question of the application of the mind to the healing of the diseases of the body; upon the whole question of affirmation and denial; and to some extent on their attitude to money and the taking of money in connection with healing processes that they claim to be spiritual. What is the teaching of Theosophy upon the cure of diseases of the body by the influence of one mind upon another? First of all we must consider the cause, according to the ancient teachings, of the diseases of the body. Primarily, they are rooted in the mind, they are rooted in wrong thinking, they are rooted in wrong action, because wrong action is always the result of wrong thinking.
Immediately I can hear my Christian Scientist friends saying: "Well, but that is exactly what we say." It is true. They do say it. Wherein then is the difference? First of all, just think for one moment and, you will probably be able without any difficulty to remember many cases of invalids who have been born with mortal or chronic diseases; at least they have acquired them so early in life that there cannot be the slightest doubt that these individuals, as children, did not do any wrong thing to bring upon them such diseases. Moreover often they cannot be traced to the parents, because there are many cases on record of physically sound and particularly high-minded and good parents who produced such an unfortunate child. Here you have one example where the Christian Scientist's idea of all physical disease being caused by wrong thinking is not explicable by their science, but is nonetheless explicable in the light of Theosophy. We say that the disease of the baby IS caused in the long past by wrong thinking, and the truth is that so-called right thinking, even spiritual thinking and spiritual living here and now, is quite incapable of wiping out the more serious physical effects of wrong thinking and living in past lives. In other words our present physical diseases, --
[For the sake of completeness it should be emphasized here that modern psychological research has demonstrated that many real physical diseases such as the common cold, lumbago, rheumatism, pneumonia, etc., can be the result of a deep psychological neurosis. Such manifestations are an exception to the general rule above mentioned. Cure the neurosis and the recurrence of these physical symptoms disappears.]
-- and in particular the malignant ones, are not amenable to treatment by altering any thinking process here and now; because the roots, the seeds, of thought which have eventually come to fruition in the disease of the body actually were planted or sown in the long past, in preceding lives. Theosophy, remember, teaches the evolution of the soul through a long series of reincarnations, from body to body: that is the way that the soul gradually learns the lessons of life, rising step by step to perfection.
You will see that once you get the idea that the joys and sorrows of our present life are the fruits very largely -- not entirely but very largely -- of the thoughts and actions of a previous birth, it immediately throws a different light upon the cure of physical disease, because the Theosophical teaching is that those physical diseases that we see manifested in our own bodies here and now, are the results of this wrong thinking working downward and out of our system for ever. It is the final demand and retribution of the karmic law: "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." Those actions of disharmony or wrong are evil, and inevitably they will work out, not only in disease but in other ways. Therefore when they reach the final stage, which is the physical, they are in the nature of a purgation and you will get rid of them. The actual pain, the suffering, and the discomfort, are all things that to the man with the spiritual point of view can in a very real sense be accepted and welcomed in a truly Theosophical spirit, because he knows he is getting rid of the evils; they are on their way out; he is clearing a debt to himself and nature.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PICTURE
Now then, let us look at the other side of the picture: What happens and what is the effect of the practice of so-called mental healing upon the diseases of the physical body? We may put ourselves in the bands of the Christian Science practitioner, or one who practices mind cure, or mental healing, or hypnotism: whatever the different categories may be, they all come back to the same main method and principle. First of all, then, we have to consider the effect upon ourselves of treatment by another -- a practitioner -- and then the application of the same principles to ourselves. When we put ourselves in the hands of a so-called mental healer, what happens? He applies his psychological power of suggestion and will to the mind of the patient, and to the inner or astral body of the man, which is an exceedingly sensitive mechanism, the farmwork upon which the body itself is built. This astral body retains its structure and remains throughout the whole of the life with practically no change at all, whereas the physical body is constantly changing and in a state of flux. It is through the astral body that impressions and thought are actually conveyed to the human brain. In it and through it play the life currents and nerve forces which feed the physical body with life and heat and energy.
It is upon that astral body, by the action of thought, that the Christian Science practitioner, unknown to himself, begins to work; and the first thing that happens is that by conversation and by his own mental practice, which is called I believe "absent treatment," and by similar methods, he actually teaches the patient to deny the reality of the diseased condition of his mechanism; and not only for some particular disease, but he teaches him to deny the reality of the material element of his being altogether. The practitioner says that matter has no existence at all; that it is pure illusion of our senses and is therefore evil; that the only reality is Spirit, which he calls God or Good; and he quotes and interprets many passages of the Christian Science scriptures to show that all bodily ills and all the ills of the flesh were never meant to be at all, that they are all resolvable by simply identifying us with this principle of good, and denying the existence of what we all know to be a fact.
We have bodies; there is not the slightest doubt about it. Look out in the solar system and you see the great planets and stars, and you know that there is a material Universe. It is built of matter. The great Theosophical teaching is that matter and spirit are one substance; they are only different in their different degrees of manifestation, and only during manifestation. The ultimate root substance is one; but during the whole period of a manifested universe there are three factors, three principles, that we cannot get rid of. One is Spirit, another is matter, and the third factor, friends, is consciousness or intelligence. Remember that consciousness or intelligence would be unable to function and to know itself as I-am-I without that same despised matter, which the Christian Scientist denies.
This statement of fact which you will find in the great religions of antiquity is one that carries with it a corollary, namely, that the mind or consciousness in man is dual in character and nature. It can identify itself with the material pole of its being, or it can identify itself with the spiritual pole. As it identifies itself with the higher, the lower is transformed and raised into divinity. As it identifies itself with the lower, man becomes more brutal, more animal, more selfish, more separate. Matter is a fact; and in every atom, in every point of boundless space, matter exists, even though you cannot see it; and in every point of that boundless infinitude pulses the great rhythm of life, the Great Breath as it is called in the esoteric philosophy. That Great Breath, that Spirit of Life, which pulses in the heart of you and of every created thing, pulses likewise in the very core of every atom of this vast Universe: even so-called dead matter is radiant with life.
Therefore, good and evil are purely relative terms. They are purely relative to our consciousness. That which we call evil is merely the activity, the pull, of the material pole of our being: that material substance which is absolutely necessary to the divine consciousness as a means of expressing itself in this material world. In order to contact this material universe we have to have a body of flesh and blood through which to act, and that body is composed of lives and atoms which have not been raised to the level of conscious thinkers as we have ourselves. They have their own nature, their own existence; but while recognizing that the animal nature is good and right and proper and necessary for our activities here, we can identify ourselves with the spiritual nature in us, and shall thus be able to separate ourselves in consciousness from that material thing in us so that it has no power over us.
That is the truth that the Christian Scientist is trying to get at. He denies all power to what he calls mortal mind, or the material aspect of his being, and he strives to identify himself with the spiritual pole of his being. To the extent that he is successful in merging his intellectual consciousness with his own Divine Spirit, he is living in terms of the Theosophical philosophy; he is living in terms of the highest ethics that have been taught by the Sages and Seers, but -- and here is where the rub comes -- in striving to perfect himself spiritually and physically he says to himself, "Well, it may be that my body is an illusion, but I have a very diseased body, and it does not suit me. I am not going to endure it; it is all wrong. God is good; I am trying to live a spiritual life, and I am going to get rid of this disease." So what does he do? He gets to work with his mind -- or the practitioner does for him! -- and he denies the diseased condition. He says that it is no longer there, and he goes on denying it, and any manifestation of pain he denies. He says: "No! Away! This body is perfectly sound; it has no reality at all really, and I am going to be well right here and now." And he continues this in such a concentrated fashion that if he has a successful mental practitioner, and if he is determined himself, the result is, friends, that even a malignant disease may disappear.
Now you may say: "But, surely, that is what we want." Well, now, is it? This is the secret of the great attraction of Christian Science for humanity. What do we want out of life? We want health and the material needs of existence to make life worthwhile. Therefore if someone will come along and say, "This is the very thing, you will get all the money you want and lose all the disease that you have," it must be a very attractive proposition if you have never heard of any other teaching -- most attractive. That is the secret of its success. But what happens in this process of mental healing? The mind actually seizes upon that inner sensitive mechanism upon which the body is built, the inner mind of man, and the actual physical effect is forced back -- so strong is that mental force -- it is forced back where it came from. It is forced back to the germ of thought from which it originated and it is replanted in the mind as a thought of evil, as a thought of disharmony, of disruption, carrying with it also the evil and selfish intention of the individuals concerned therein. Now that is a mighty serious matter.
On the other hand, a little patience and the original disease, with the help and assistance of a competent physician, would probably have eventually worked out of the body. Do Theosophists believe in doctors or medicine, shall we say? Why, if good physicians, decidedly yes; in a good system of medicine, yes; and in fact we advocate most decidedly that the diseases of the flesh should be treated by physical means; and the object of every good physician should be to find a means to guide and help the body to throw off the poisons which are the root of the disease. It has reached its last stage; the cause of it has already left the mind and is present in the body.
THREE TYPES OF HEALING
You may say to me, "It is all very well, but healings do occur." It is quite true that they do; and they occur in three categories. The first is by means of this process of inhibition or damming back, which is a replanting of the diseased condition for future births -- and remember that those seeds of thought will come to fruition in this or a succeeding birth plus compound interest of course. It is very like putting your finger upon the end of a garden hosepipe with the water turned on: you know how the pressure gets greater and greater, and eventually the water comes out with added force. That is what happens in the case of damming back the disease.
There is another way that healings do take place, and we must say this in justice to the Christian Scientists. There are many diseases which are actually caused in this present life very largely by imagination. So powerful is human imagination in its effect upon the human body that it can and does actually cause the derangement of the life forces; and many ills, many nervous troubles, can actually be cured by directing the thought of the patient to higher things, by the practice of the ethics of all the great religions, by a forgetting of self in the practice of kindness, tolerance, brotherly love, sympathy, compassion. Any good physician will tell you that the effect for good upon the bodies of his patients of these human qualities is enormous. If you can get people's thoughts off themselves, and get them to study the great Theosophical philosophy, you will immediately begin to do something for them. Healings do occur in that way, and it is a perfectly legitimate healing -- there is no damming back. Take yourselves: you may have all sorts of ailments -- dyspeptic and general derangement, that you suddenly begin to find mysteriously leave you when your mind becomes energized with spiritual things. Now actually do you think about your body under those conditions? No, you don't. You forget yourselves in the service of the human race. You raise the mind to its spiritual pole; you study the great teachings of all the great Sages; and little by little you find that this mortal self of yours becomes purified and translucent, and the many troubles that you had disappear. Your whole being and mind begin to open, begin to expand; you begin to widen your sympathies, and the result is enormously beneficial. But don't confuse that method of healing with the other one of deliberately denying and damming back the cause of the disease -- that is a different matter.
The third category which we must mention is that of the healing that took place by the agency of the great Saints -- a Buddha or a Christ. There are records in the New Testament of how Jesus, for example, did heal many diseases, many sick people. Do you ask how that is possible if these other things spoken of are true? Well, friends, many things are possible to a great Sage that are not possible even -- shall we say -- to a Christian Science practitioner? Show me anybody today of the stature of Jesus of Nazareth, and show me his healings, and I will believe when I see. Actually a great Master of Wisdom is alone capable of knowing the inner causes that have led to any particular condition of any individual. He is a knower of the law of Karma; therefore where he has in authenticated cases completely healed one who was blind from his birth, where he has raised the sick, cured the lame, and so on, there are two things to bear in mind. One is that he can know when that original cause has reached its final stage, and then he can by the application of his own knowledge of the laws of nature hasten that process; and you will find in the Theosophical philosophy that it is nearly always by physical means that he does it; by a transference of physical energy. You remember the case -- I think it was a woman -- in the New Testament, who tried to get near to the Christ, and finally touched the hem of his robe, and he knew that something had happened, because he perceived that virtue had gone out of him, as he said. Well, it is merely a transference of the physical life energies, and no interference with the mind at all.
Those are the three categories of healing. So you see it is both true that "healings" occur and it is not true. It is true that there is something that looks like a healing, but actually is something which is more potent for evil than the original disease --in fact the last stage of the man who is healed by the damming back process is far worse than the first.
THE MESSAGE OF THEOSOPHY
And so we come now finally to the message of Theosophy to those who, whether by disease, whether by poverty, whether by any of the circumstances of life, need help, who feel that they have reached the end of their tether and that there is nothing to be done. Well, friends, Christian Scientists would say that the condition of anybody is not hopeless. Theosophy says exactly the same thing. Both have remedies and they are very similar in some respects. Both appeal to the spiritual nature of the individual; but you will probably find that ultimately the Theosophical appeal is the nobler one, because it is founded upon an absolute knowledge of the laws of every man's own being. It is founded upon a knowledge of the laws of the relation of man to the Universe, and therefore we would expect that Theosophy would be able to give something vital, give something practical, to everybody under all conditions of life: that it would have a solution, in other words, for every problem; and, friends, it has. There is not the slightest doubt that if you go about it in the right way, if you look for the light of the Universe, the light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world; if you look for it where Christ the Galilean Sage told us to look, namely within our own hearts, you will find something.
You remember that marvelous Sermon on the Mount. You remember how Christ drew attention to the facts of Nature: to the birds, to the growing things, to the beasts of the field, and so on; and he pointed out how their needs were supplied by nature; and then he said, "Ye of little faith, do ye imagine that your Father in Heaven [your own spiritual higher nature] does not know that ye have need of these things?"
Theosophy first of all is the quintessence of duty, and the living of the spiritual life is first and foremost the performance of duty in your own place, the doing of that task which lies next to the hand of every individual in the sphere of life in which he was born -- not the neglect of it, not the running away from it, but the effort to perform every aspect of duty that he finds before him simply from day to day in the light of the spiritual nature within him. I will venture to say that the man so living never will find himself "down and out." I would say to the man who is down and out: let him get the spiritual point of view; let him get a new mind; let him turn his material mind toward the Higher Nature within himself. He will be amazed at the result. He will set forth in the morning with that complete confidence that having performed every known duty that he has to the very best of his ability, that which he needs will undoubtedly be forthcoming; but he has to work for it -- it won't come miraculously. He has to do the simple things in the simplest way with that faith in his own higher nature that will illumine every step of the Path he takes in his day's work. Friends, it is a simple thing, but it is a profoundly true one. It is possible of practice to each one of us. It works as a living benediction in the lives of those who practice it and it can be brought about by invoking the aid of the Higher Self, that Spiritual Self in us.