The attempt to render in a European tongue the grand panorama of the ever-periodically recurring LAW -- impressed upon the plastic minds of the first races endowed with Consciousness by those who reflected the same from the Universal Mind -- is daring, for no human language, save the Sanskrit -- which is that OF THE GODS -- can do so with any degree of adequacy. But the failures in this work must be forgiven for the sake of the motive.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 269
By H. Oosterink
[Theosophical University Press, Covina, California, 1946, pages 8-18.]
In these days of unrest and confusion, of human misery and smarting pain, my thoughts often return to the day that suddenly brought us to the threshold of a new world of experience.
I shall never forget the evening following the day on which Holland was compelled to lay down arms. A few bright spring days had gone by, unreal through the events of the war, bewildering by the sudden change from a country at peace to a country at war -- and then the capitulation followed.
We wondered fearfully what the immediate consequences of the capitulation would be.
In the morning we learned that our country had ceased further resistance and that the German troops were to enter our town. The day passed in great suspense, but nothing happened. We remained in our houses and waited. It was very quiet, no one appeared in the streets. Nature breathed peace and quiet, as contrasted with our unrest, but toward the evening it became unbearable to remain indoors any longer.
Then my wife and I went outside and walked along woodland paths leading to the wide, deserted heath. It was an exceedingly beautiful and peaceful evening. We went on in silence and gradually our minds relaxed.
The events of the previous days fell into the background. Nature is good and lenient. It possesses a magic power that speaks to the soul. It brings peace to a restless heart. On this peaceful evening I conquered my oncoming fear. Though the future looked gloomy, though all sorts of things could happen to us, that we could not yet imagine, I asked myself why I should worry unnecessarily. In my life I had always found the power to overcome difficulties. My inner experience, my philosophy of life, my deep-most faith had always raised me above oncoming feelings of weakness. So why should not I be able to stand this ordeal -- together with those who were dear to me? Even if everything should change, and the storms of war and misery that had risen so suddenly should assail us vigorously, a strong man ought not to go down before it. He ought to collect all his strength for the fight against fear and anxiety.
While I thus meditated, the thought struck me to write down my reminiscences, to inform others of that which would give me strength, to help them in word and writing. I thought: what I gain in faith and insight may be an encouragement to others.
I shall free myself but also others; I shall write down whatever is valuable and I shall string my thoughts and connect them with the golden thread of my soul.
Alternately I shall write about the events that follow -- and, moreover, about that which I feel in my soul.
Thinking thus, my mind calmed down. When I came home, I was prepared for the things to come, whatever they might be.
Life may hurry us, hurt and wound us, terrify us or make us desperate, but only when we forget whom and what we are. Behind the part of us that receives these impressions for digestion, there lies in the stillness of our being that which has no name, the Nameless, the Boundless, which we are. This is the background of our life, an unassailable world where we are safe from whatever may happen to us and into the quiet of which the din of this world does not penetrate.
From this invisible and nameless world of our own comes the strength on which we live, whatever name may be given to it. What, as a rule, penetrates to our consciousness are the daily occurrences that influence our feelings and thoughts. Without knowledge of the invisible worlds which form the background of his life, man is helpless, at the mercy of any storm which may drive him hither and thither.
In days of trial he falters.
Well, we, the part of us which has a name, our personality, which lives in the midst of these world-shaking events, we have to pass through this time. But with the knowledge of the boundless background of our being and the certainty of the unassailable peace of the spirit we shall try to be ourselves; that is, to be conscious in our highest Self.
We can find the way to it within ourselves and follow the still path which leads to the highest contemplation.
I want to work out this thought. I want to ask myself why life underwent this sudden change. Though people are startled and driven on by a sudden storm and life is still confused, these thoughts of the higher laws of life and the confidence in them will give us rest. We do not want to perish in a world of war, in a revolution.
Now that life suddenly has assumed vivid colors and people do not want to understand and love any longer, it is now that we must try to rise above it.
The first few days depressed by excitement and fear of the things that are to come, go by. Social life, which for a moment gets out of joint, recovers quickly. Soon the tumult of war fades away, or rather, is farther off. We do hear of much sorrow that has been suffered in our country, and realize that farther south, in Belgium and France, people are enduring the same. Will fate take a turn for the better, after all?
And yet, in spite of all these occurrences higher thoughts again occur to me, thoughts which I write down as in a diary, by the side of the events of the day, collected as a whole, a collection of images that fill my life, give substance to it.
The Germans have come and have occupied our country. Unrest reigns among the Dutch people. They see the change and try to understand what this occupation means. Outwardly life has remained the same. The baker brings bread, the butcher meat, the milkman milk, and yet our hearts are aching throughout these days. In our minds there is a feeling of indignation at the wrong done to us, which determines our attitude and makes us immune to slogans and propaganda.
Strange soldiers march through our streets, singing. They are unobtrusive in their behavior, but we ignore them; they do not belong here. We, civilians, are compelled to perform all sorts of services in the A.R.P.
The war is raging in Belgium and France. Deeper and deeper the German armies penetrate into these countries and we feel that the situation there is leading to a catastrophe; in the night, trains go to Germany; the rails run behind our house and during the night heavy goods trains go to the East; we realize that our stocks are running short; the press is beginning to change its tone; pamphlets about the new times appear. The NSB [National Socialistische Beweging, the Dutch Quisling Party] shows its head; the first regulations are published. The Dutch people wait and see. They feel that the pressure will become stronger, and they take a firm stand against the things that will come. Convinced that no harm will be done, true-hearted, they fill out the forms that are sent to them, in which they register their possessions, their cars, their stock of gold and foreign currency. They try to keep up their old standards, their societies, associations and parties. It becomes increasingly clear that an inevitable change is being enacted in social life.
Many thoughts occur to me. Above all I want to remain conscious of the immutability of the great background of life, whatever the norms may be that the occupying power will apply to life, whatever the social changes which they want us to get used to, whether good or bad. In reality all events only disturb the surface of life.
Although a hurricane may rage on the ocean, tossing the waves, the deep sea remains unperturbed. Thus it is in human life.
In spite of all the tumult which surrounds us, Creation works on in silence. And in this creation Man lives, partly mortal, partly immortal.
We see the existing form, the personality, which has a name in life, but we do not see behind it, the nameless world of Man, from which he rises, from which he originates and derives his essence, a nameless world, the background of which is the whole creation, the Boundless Self. In the spaceless depth of the core of his soul, Man is eternal. Spaceless because it does not occupy space, deep because it embraces everything. In it is rooted the force on which Man lives and this force pushes humanity along irresistibly. There reign the eternal laws which no man infringes with impunity. He who looks into this nameless, boundless world of himself sees everything clearly and knows -- in all peace -- that all is well.
This world is unassailable, and it is the foundation of the outward life which changes and passes away.
There, where silence reigns, Nature builds a temple of living bricks; all entities that are created are used in it; their consciousness grows and reflects with increasing clearness the light that shines eternally.
This is the essence of life itself. The divine forces inherent in Man and Cosmos drive Man along with irresistible power. The forces of eternal laws that no man can escape, control Man's growth from inside. The evil that happens to Man is of his own making; it results from the infringement of these laws. So why should we worry? Who is able to come into touch with this deep-most life within ourselves? Who can penetrate into the silence and peace that reign there?
When these days or years of trial have gone by, we shall have gained in inward strength. The stream of life will flow with greater force, because it had to flow narrowly between the rocks of our sorrow.
Ordinances to surrender foreign currency. Declaration of Aryan descent. Action of W.A. [a group of armed Dutch Quislings, corresponding to the German S.A.] detachments. Persecution of the Jews.
Strikes, fines, hostages, new ordinances. The National Socialistic system is applied with increasing rigor and begins to influence social life.
Shops sell out. Display-windows are filled with dummies; purchases rationed, prices fixed.
Now that people begin to realize the uncertainty and unsafeness of their existence, they are going to look for other ways. Many of them become contemplative. It is not so much the social problems that confront them, but rather the vital questions of life and death. The furrows of life are ploughed in the field where later on the seed of new norms of life will be sown. A new time is coming, but it is different from that which we are made to believe in now.
Not a time in which people aim only at solving economic problems, but one that will build a new life out of ruined existence, one in which the inspiring strength and beauty of the spirit will flourish.
Life is a wonderful mystery. The outward phase is full of noise, the inward phase invisible, silent, but always active. It is as if a great vital project is materializing, conducted from within, which infuses every human being. No haphazard destiny is man's; the soul drives him through many experiences, and humanity, living and learning, laboriously grows into a better future. I want to look upon this time in its new significance.
The accidental events like the arresting of innocent people, the imprisonment of hostages, the infliction of punishments, the stiffening of the anti-Jew laws, all these events which lay hold of a man -- and which agonize the victims involved -- are in fact only of minor importance in the great perspective of cosmic time. We must trace the ways of the destiny and evolution of humanity to receive an answer to the question why these calamities befall our world.
When our thoughts wander back to prewar days, we remember hours of relative peace and rest, of legal security and safety. In reality we lacked every feeling of enthusiasm, of inward contemplation, of spiritual edification or consideration. People were obsessed by a craving for wealth or distraction, or by a passion for material benefit. There was no figure, no leader, no reformer to whom they listened. We did have spiritual movements which aimed at renewal, but they obtained no hearing. It was as if life prepared humanity for an even deeper fall to bring it back to itself, to its deepest Self. People had strayed far from the things that are of real value, and the form in which this value found expression was old and worn.
New movements hardly excited interest. What could be expected by a world that lived in this way? The river of life flowed sluggishly and became muddy. Such was the world which preceded the second world-war. The "mene tekel" was written in large letters on the wall of life and everybody saw it.
This community headed for a catastrophe; it was drawn to it inevitably.
When people are guided by a vision which calls up what is best in them, when they live with their eyes fixed on the real inner beauty of their essence, when they see the relation between the temporary and its eternal background, they live in peace, supported by the strength of their souls.
An old Hebrew expression says: "Where the people have no vision, they will perish." Humanity had no spiritual vision, no inner life, no inspiration and strength to elevate life.
They had ceased to know the beauty of the soul which may illuminate a whole epoch. This was the real cause of the catastrophe. People did not ask for a catastrophe. It befell humanity like an ordeal.
If people have no vision, they are liable to be guided by slogans; if there are no real spiritual leaders the demagogues get their chance.
True spiritual leaders lead people back to spiritual heights. They appeal to man's higher consciousness. They make him realize the true essence of his being. When their voices are heard and people's eyes are opened again, when their doctrines find acceptance in the hearts of the people, then a new community gradually arises, guided from within.
The Sun of their Eternal thoughts drives away the clouds of sorrow, decline and chaos in which people roam about, and a new era of hope and joy has come.
For all injustices and calamities, war, unemployment and terror, result from the incapability of seeing the truth that man is a spiritual being with a boundless background of life, which may extend and deepen itself indefinitely and which is inexhaustible in its possibilities to reveal higher truths IN HIMSELF.
The cause of decline and chaos, of which life shows such a sad picture, is to be found in the great contrast between a community guided by the thought explained in the last paragraphs, and a world without vision, in which people are unconscious of their greatness, of their lofty parentage and ultimate destination, a world without hope and spiritual light.
This may suddenly be realized when we call up the picture of a world as it might have been and compare it with the picture afforded by a soulless and materialistic era.
Thus, this chaos arose. Thus, terror and war could rage, this self-destruction that could not be averted.
But behind the sorrow of this life the compassionate forces of the soul are preparing a new future of spiritual growth that will come when a new feeling will touch the hearts of suffering humanity. Compassionate, because all the sorrow that is suffered brings us closer to the true, inner life. No sorrow is purposeless, every painful experience softens our hearts and makes us sensitive to the sorrow of our fellow men, who are our other selves. They compel us to look for a solution that will bring us peace and the strength to accept our fate; thus germinates the seed of life and starts a new period of growth.
By Martin Euser
In February this year I opened my own domain euser.net. It hosts some of my theosophical articles I've written during the last five years, and, it hosts some real-audio lectures of Vitvan, an American teacher of the Gnosis. Lately I've been adding search-capabilities to my domain in order to help spiritually interested people locate those pieces of text that they're most interested in. It is an ongoing effort, especially directed at offering a diverse approach to "small t" theosophy and "big T" Theosophy as well. One thing is certain: the books-archive is growing larger and larger!
Those interested in my work will have noticed a slight shift in my approach towards matters of the spirit. Instead of staying on the old tracks of promoting the known Theosophical works, which has its merits of course, I have moved towards a more scientific approach, including elements of such seemingly different fields as psychology, general semantics and physics. This leaves me some room to incorporate some ideas, experiences and insights of myself into my articles, more than I allowed myself to do so before.
Speaking about theosophical activities: in my country there are dozens and dozens of study groups, opportunities to acquaint oneself with the Wisdom-religion offered by the many Theosophical groups that are active here.
The group I'm participating in, Via Theosofia, is also very active. Some of its members have three or more study groups going on through the year. I myself have just started a study-group somewhat near the East of my country. As you might have expected, I have chosen to incorporate some ideas of general semantics into this course as an additional tool for conscious abstracting.
Those who have gotten curious can have a look at my site, where some of these developments have taken shape in articles and lectures.
By Katherine Tingley
[From THE WINE OF LIFE, Woman's International Theosophical League, Point Loma, California, 1925, pages 5-9.]
I have looked over the blue waters of the Pacific; and watched the sun rise above the mountains and listened to mockingbirds singing; and the beauty of the awakening world grew marvelous for me with suggestions of the hidden harmonies of life. Then I thought of humanity, and wondered what would happen could the veil of external things fall from before our eyes and reveal the glory of the Law ... We should stand in silence motionless, thrilled through with the grace and plenitude of its compassion.
Long ago there was a time when men lived in purity of thought and act, and knew little of selfishness, and moved through the experiences of their incarnations not bound down or interfered with as the human mind is today. Better than we do they understood how to conduct their lives: there was not the rush and whirl of things; they lived more inwardly, in communion with what is best and noblest; -- the splendor of spiritual life was manifest, and through all human consciousness shone deepest reverence for Nature and truth. Better than we do, too, they knew how to work with Nature; and found in her something the people of modern times have never discovered.
How many today are satisfied with their lives, or sure that they possess the truth, or know whence they came when they were born, or, after death, whither they are going? Yet there is a promise in our hearts and in the Divine Law that all that mankind has been, it shall be again. All that we have forgone we shall recover.
We lost touch ages ago with the Mighty Mother, Nature; and now need to go to her again, for the most part, in her forests or on her hilltops or by the seashore, to find our own souls in her quiet places, and to learn that all matter responds to the spiritual touch. Out beyond hearing and seeing and thinking are infinite Laws that control our lives: divine Laws hold us in their keeping; and immediately behind the veil of visible things, and but a little way from the consciousness of our mortal selves, are Higher Forces at work for our good.
They speak to the soul to make the way broad and beautiful; they speak to us at all times through the sunlit sky and the starlight; the shining silences of Nature proclaim to us always the greatness of the world and the hidden grandeur of man; so that in the desert, in the deep caverns of the earth, under the heaviest weight of sorrow, "he that hath ears to hear" is never alone; and were he lost in the great waste places, or in a rudderless boat on the open sea, or were he on the brink of created things and far from the world of men: he would carry within him still the Kingdom of Heaven, and might find in his heart all the revelations for which humanity is longing.
It is the Spiritual Message that the world is crying for: a baptism of the spirit of the Divinity of Man, whereby we should be made to realize that the heavens are opening to our needs; that the light is breaking and new stars are shining; that the things we do not see are greater than the things we see -- what the heart yearns for more than we know; that Nature is supremely just, and in all this grand universal Scheme of Being not a thought, not an aspiration, not the smallest effort is lost or wasted.
You who are despairing, who have little faith in yourselves or hope of tomorrow, or belief that you can control your conditions, -- seek aid here of the Great Mother: look up into the blue sky or the stars; catch in the air the feeling of her universal life; and then examine yourselves, and discover that many of your sorrows have come to you because you have not been willing to suffer.
I find treasures of experience in suffering. Any real attainment must come through discipline; and no matter how it may be outwardly, we can meet it as that which will call forth the stronger side of us, until it becomes at last the pride and joy of our lives and we love it as we love the sunshine and the aroma of flowers.
We cannot succeed unless we work with Nature: who will not accept half-hearted service. We receive no answer when we call to her only in moments of dilemma or disappointment, and then turn again and desert her. She has no word for the insincere or indifferent; she responds only to those whose minds are awake to the highest aims.
It is as we reach out in thought to the best and noblest that her answer comes back to us, and out of the great dark surroundings of life dawns the enlightenment of the Inner Man, when the Soul of Man shall speak, and we who were under the shadow of our affairs and difficulties become aware that this is indeed the Gods' universe which Divine Laws do govern, and that Nature is all friendly and humanity need not be otherwise, -- for there is no need for all this human quarreling and fighting and doubting: could we trust ourselves, we should trust our neighbors; could we trust our neighbors, we should trust the Divine Law; then we should know that life is beautiful and true.
Fear is the basis of all discouragement. Only cultivate fearlessness in meeting the trials from without and the weaknesses within, and you cease to be alone; you attain discernment of a grand companionship ever present with you, and become aware of the God "that is within you and yet without you," -- the Everywhere-existing whose voice you may hear, listening for it, in your own spirit, and no less in the murmur of the brooks and in the birds' chorusing: for the Mystery in the heart of Nature is also the Mystery in the heart of Man; and the same wonderful powers are in both.
The secret of life is impersonal love. It is impersonality that is our great need today; impersonality wins her secrets from the Mystic Mother. If we dismiss the idea of a personal god, and dismiss our own personalities with all their limitations and misgivings; if we carry our minds beyond self into the limitless, our thought into the universal order; and from the inmost recesses of our consciousness regard the universe in its magnificence, until, lifted out of ourselves, we recognize within ourselves greater things than ever we have dreamed of, and draw near to inspirations unendingly beautiful and rich; and make question then as to the interpretation of it, and the meaning of all these limitless rhythms of law and order that throng the immensity of space: her answer will come back to us, and we shall behold the universe as the outgrowth, the expression, of an infinite scheme proceeding from an Inmost Source beyond our comprehension -- the Fountain, the Center, the Unknowable Absolute Light: flowing out from Which, following the plan of evolutionary law, passing through the many lives ordained for our growth towards perfection -- we are here to work out the purposes of existence.
By Bart Lidofsky
[I have decided that there is far too little humor in Theosophy. I plan to remedy this by writing humorous Theosophical articles. The first, I think, is a little controversial, but may yet help bring some smiles to to many faces.]
There was a general Theosophical Conference last month. All groups calling themselves Theosophical were invited (as the organizers felt that they could not claim a definition of "true" Theosophy). The conference started out with surprisingly little fighting. That is, until a lightbulb burned out. At that point, the various groups started an argument as to the proper way to change the lightbulb.
"You cannot force evolution", said the traditionalists. "It should be allowed to express its current level of development, and change itself, over time!"
The followers of Annie Besant did not agree. "Sometimes, one must force a lightbulb to change so that it can continue its evolution."
"If we allowed ourselves to become sufficiently evolved", replied the followers of Leadbeater, "we would all shed our own light (in the color of our own ray, of course), and would have no need of lightbulbs".
The Alice Bailey group said, "It doesn't matter that the lightbulb burned out. We have a much more advanced lightbulb with which to replace it, anyway!"
The Esoteric Section appeared with a lightbulb which they tried to keep hidden, although everybody was sure that they had already seen it.
The representative from the Krishnamurti non-group said, "We cannot, of course, tell you the proper way to change a lightbulb. But we do have some suggestions that you might want to try out."
The Pasadena group said that the lighting was much better in the western end of the room, and everybody should simply move over there. Point Loma, on the other hand, didn't really care much how the light bulb was changed, as long as they got the publishing rights.
A man representing the Church Universal and Triumphant, said, "We have the One True Light Bulb, but we can only use it if it is properly protected against the coming of the Armageddon."
A member of the Thule Society stated that any lightbulb could be used, provided that it was of European origin. The Cult of Annoyed Theosophists agreed that any lightbulb would do, provided that it was not the same brand as the previous one. The ULT members, in the meantime, also agreed that any lightbulb would be OK, as long as the person who changed it remained anonymous.
The followers of Benjamin Creme declared, "With our light bulb, you will never need another light bulb again. It will reveal itself when you are all ready for it; as a matter of fact, it appeared in Istanbul last May!"
The followers of Sai Baba were silently attempting to materialize a light bulb out of thin air. The Therapeutic Touch group, in the meantime attempted to meditate until they could find an answer.
The proceedings grew hotter and hotter, until they were about to reach a decidedly untheosophical pitch when a member of the Theosophical Order of Service caused an abrupt halt in the arguing by pointing out that the Henry S. Olcott Fan Club had just gone ahead and replaced the lightbulb.
By Christine M. Hanson
[based upon an October 8, 1999 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
What attracted me to the Theosophical Society in the first place was my grandmother, Virginia Hanson, who never waved banners about her membership. She simply was about the only person capable of communicating with me in a deep way about my spiritual experiences, mostly through letters (she lived far away), and I responded to that, and she sent me books, and I asked questions, and one thing led to another, and that's why I'm a member, really.
I found a great feeling of peace and truth in reading the books she sent, and loved my visit to Ojai (Krotona). I was impressed that she never proselytized or preached, but simply shared "that's how it seems to me" information, for me to agree or disagree with as I saw fit. In fact, she bent over backwards NOT to try to persuade me in any particular direction, probably mainly because my parents would have had a fit and she desired not to cause any trouble in the family.
She also told me that many people will agree with the IDEAS of theosophy, but once you put a label on it, they get nervous. (Kind of like vegetarian food ...)
My grandmother was anything but nameless, faceless, or bland -- what she did have was a marvelous sense of judgment and dignity, which informed her choices about what to reveal of herself and what was better left for some other time.
Her wonderful housemate and dear friend, who was at Grandmother's bedside when she died, said that she read aloud my last letter to Grandmother; in it, I told her that I had joined the T.S. My grandmother reportedly said, "Tell Christine I am thrilled." And those were her last words to me.
Amazing to me that I felt a sudden urgency to join about two weeks earlier, and a need to tell her that I had joined, even though I had been "flirting" with the idea for years.
By Reed Carson
This month we can celebrate. The total "hit count" of visitors to Blavatsky Net passed the 100,000 mark. We put up a special click (with music) on the home page for those who would like to join the celebration.
We thought this to be an appropriate time to share with you some of the numbers that measure the progress of this site and the message it seeks to spread. The visitor counter was installed on August 25, 1996. Sounds long ago doesn't it? Measured in internet time, it was. A year later in September 1997 the hit count was 10,000. In September 1998 the count was 40,000. This past September the count was over 90,000. And on the 22nd of October the 100,000 mark was crossed. With this rate of increase in growth -- more than doubling the cummulative total every year -- we are looking forward to the impact this site will help make in bringing this message to the world.
Some other numbers: There are now 424 "participants" in the bn-study discussion list. A significant percentage of them (maybe 25 percent but I don't know at all exactly) do not receive daily email -- just have access to the archives. That's a lot of lurkers. And a lot of value. (Every so often a letter of real thanks to all the contributors gets sent to my desk.)
At this point, 735 people receive the quote of the day as we "tour" the Secret Doctrine. I think that is amazing especially considering that these are "heavy" quotes. HPB's own words traveling around the world in such a format, imagine! Regularly people unsubscribe and signup for that list with the net number steadily growing.
I do not have an exact total for the number of people who have subscribed to the automatic 10 week home study course. Roughly two people a day sign up. That means about 1,000 people have subscribed to that course since it started in June 1998.
The number of members is technically over 1,300 -- as specified more accurately at the bottom of this message -- since membership was offered in May of 1998. However, that does include emails that are now obsolete and not yet purged from the system. (Sometime we will get that number more accurately.) These members include those who are also active members of all the other Theosophical groups, from prominent to hardly known, and of course includes individuals independent, and otherwise unclassified. What a gratifying thing to see that level of interest in these teachings -- and, may I say it, without having to heed the otherwise understandable divisions that sometimes separate us. Rather just studying Blavatsky's material directly. And of these members, over 700 have made their information available to other members on the membership page!
While all these numbers, I think, are impressive, there is one lesson that struck me repeatedly at the outset and still does. There are many of us out there! We just don't know about each other and don't have easy contact with each other. And one other point -- the message of Theosophy is alive, and, I say based on these numbers, growing!
Well now, back to this month's progress.
Technical news: I have been very hard at work in switching the site to the new dedicated server. It has taken a great deal of my time. Less than a week ago I had to throw out all the progress made and start over due to a technical snafu and the need to have a clean solid foundation without lurking mysterious problems. So at this moment I have only a "foothold" on the new system. But some is actually operating there now, and in computers a foothold is a lot. Without doubt it will all get moved over in November. Because of these delays the Lyris mailing list software is not yet installed. Also it does not peacefully coexist with the native procedures in the server for handling email. They conflict. That must be solved at low levels of technical complexity that routinely stun even hardened programmers. I am hoping I can plow through these problems in a week -- I am aiming for less time but won't know for sure till its done.
Discussion lists: The bn-study list will definitely start its new subject "Bible in the light of Theosophy" on November 1. I have the opening comment ready to send out to the list on the 1st. I am really looking forward to this -- it has the potential to be very valuable for all -- depending in the end, of course, on the collective effort of the participants.
On the home page there is a new click called "Bible" in the "Topics" section. It contains HPB and Judge articles on the Bible with some other articles. It connects to the Bible study syllabus. There may be all kinds of other material you might like to suggest for this page. That's an open invitation for you to suggest material. That syllabus has some "free" time added for other Bible related issues.
The BN-basic list is high on my own desire list. I am working hard to start it on Nov 7. As I have said before its syllabus has been designed from scratch by David, Stella, and Amedeo who are currently handling a live discussion of that syllabus in Manhattan. I think it is particularly effective and if you haven't seen how well it has been put together you might want to visit it by starting a click on "talk" on the homepage. (A starting place for all this discussion-list info.) It is aimed at newcommers and those who would like a "refresher" course in the basic teaching. We will be trying hard to aim the discussion at that audience -- whatever that means. I am delighted to announce that Wesley Amerman and Adelasie will be moderating that list. David Grossman will be joining in the beginning to lend continuity and Estela Piscope will be helping as well to keep up the timely flow of email. I will be sending out an email to those on the list to get it started. Meanwhile those three working in Manhattan have sent me background material from HPB and Judge that goes along with the course. I may have it online by the time you read this.
On the Portuguese page: Marly Winckler has now placed online Judge's Epitome. Also she has reported to me that Marina Sisson, is producing a report on HPB, which will come out more or less regularly. (We are avoiding the pressure of implied deadlines here.) She is a student of HPB's life and works for many years, and now intends to share the result of her studies and research. Her reports will be placed in Portuguese on that page. Perhaps later they will be translated into English and placed on the English part of the site also.
San Diego California has added another set of regularly scheduled meetings. They are also offering internet time for Theosophical studies -- of course not to be abused. Many readers of this newsletter are in California. Maybe you will want to check the "meetings" page and look them up.
So end-of-letter. (That's computer lingo.) I will be back pushing hard to start the bn-basic course and looking forward to hearing all of you on the discussion lists and in your private email. Thanks to you.
By James Sterling
In the Land of Magical Poetry, there exists a world of bliss. Nature is silent and majestic in all her peaceful doings -- as if she moves in a mystical prayer of wonder. Flowers speak in a colorful rhyme; trees kiss the mothering sky; and clouds feel the serene movements of the land below.
The Land of Magical Poetry is love, and love lives in this enchanted land. There is never any strife, hatred, or disharmony -- for these things simply do not exist.
This place is peace; peace is harmony; and harmony is the spirit of universal love.
The birds know nothing but harmony -- the sounds echo through the canyons as they whistle. The grass is always pure green as the blades stand at attention under the pureness of the golden sun.
The Land of Magical Poetry exists with the depths of all souls. If we look deep enough within ourselves, we'll see something that brings all people together -- laughter, calmness, and peace. The feeling of comradery that leaves you thinking that in its truest sense all men are truly brothers.
The Land of Magical Poetry lives on. The rivers flow in rhythm and wind slowly to the sea where the wind carves its symmetry on the crystal sand. In our brightest moments, perhaps we will remember to search for the Land of Magical Poetry. It lives within all of us.
By Grigor Vahan Ananikian
[based upon a September 22, 1999 posting to email@example.com.]
What is theosophia? And what is the condition of the relation of the Theosophical Society to Theosophia, today? I suggest that, to the extent that there is a need for the first question, the answer to the second question is that the relation is poor.
Part of the strength and color of HPB, that made her a formidable woman who could endure the harsh conditions of travel in Central Asia, who could find and get into hidden places that usually forbade the admittance of women, is that she was raised in the Caucasus.
Here, in the nineteenth century, the conditions of daily life were harsh and not for the meek at heart. Here, spirituality was that which was superior, stronger, and more real than those harsh conditions and there was little time or luxury or tolerance for any parlor-room neurosis parading as spirituality.
Here was a rich confluence of hardy peoples and tribes, Armenians, Georgians, Turks, Aisors, Kalmucks, Cossacks, and Russians. With them we find Zoroastrianism, Judaism, various forms of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the strong tradition of Naqshibandhi Sufism of Daghestan, Yezidis, Buddhists, and the legacy of nameless religious traditions found in remote valleys hidden in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus.
Here their various religious traditions, whose authenticity and viability were constantly tested by their ability to effectively transform human nature and human existence under the harsh conditions of a region that was the frontier and crossroads of many peoples, were challenged by their exposure to other religious, other perspectives, other ways of life, and by their constant exposure to conditions within which they had to prove their transformative mettle.
Ideas, beliefs, and practices had to pass the acid test of being exposed to other ideas, beliefs and practices, and finally, the acid test of being found valid by a people whose life and survival did not allow them either the luxury nor tolerance for spiritual bunk, bogus guides, parlor tricks, or anything that encouraged a retreat from the realities of life.
If spirituality was to prove itself a real dimension of human life, if it was to prove itself the superior power operating in human life, if it is was real, then it had to show itself to be more real, more important, more powerful, more valuable, and superior to the harsh conditions and hard priorities of earthly life in the Caucasus. It had to make a real difference and transmute strong characters and rugged personalities whose lives gave them a discerning sobriety of what was authentic and what was fake.
In this author's opinion, we need to recapture a little bit of what the conditions of the Caucasus gives to its children and gave to HPB in light of the current condition of the Theosophical Society.
As the illimitable Shaykh Sharafuddin ad-Daghestani put it, commenting on the westerners' (Russians) fascination with Spiritualism and Mesmerism, "they have no sense of smell, so they can't avoid stepping in it."
So, what is theosophia? There are three things it is not but which some mistakenly have come to believe that it is.
First, theosophy is not something apart from morality. In fact, it is the process of how to become a truly moral person. Yet, few years back some people interested in theosophical ideas were surprised when they heard a quote from HPB's THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY that said practical theosophy was a transformative process of higher moral development.
Some were surprised, some shocked, that theosophy had anything to do with morals because of what had been taught, and because of what had not been taught in some current theosophical publications and in some publications partly derived from theosophical sources and from other New Age, Channeling, and New Thought sources (which this author suggests, HPB would regard as the contemporary forms of Spiritualism and Mesmerism that she criticized as forms of pseudo-spirituality and carefully sought to distinguish true Theosophia from).
They correctly thought theosophy was about the soul, higher bodies, evolution, and the meaning of life but mistakenly assumed all this was apart from morals.
Second, theosophy is not about cultivating a process of self-hypnosis that brings about dreamy positive states of feeling and positive moods.
Theosophy is not about feeling good through a process of self-hypnosis but being good. Rather it is about morally waking up as the terms bodhi and buddhi both convey.
Theosophy is about cultivating buddhi which is the faculty that is the precise opposite of hypnosis. We might make it almost a mathematical equation: buddhi is the wakeful capacity to not be hypnotized and the susceptibility to be hypnotized, suggestibility, is precisely the lack of buddhi.
Again some people were surprised some years back when they learned that the techniques of positive thought, of leaving positive thoughts and resolutions to oneself by some device that would play them to you as you awoke, and all such techniques of self-hypnosis was not, in HPB's opinion, spiritual development. It was hypnosis and she had a low opinion of hypnosis.
The spiritual life, according to her, is precisely the overcoming of our inner susceptibility to be hypnotized. In our ordinary state, we are mass man, a product of the anonymous "they," hypnotized all the time by the world, our emotions, attractions, thoughts, need for esteem and status, and by our own inner self-evasions and hypocrisies.
Because we are not awake (fully), we are inner forms of suggestibility by which the forces of our lower natures, the world, and others have power over us, pull our strings, and push our buttons. As long as suggestibility exists within us, we are neither fully awakened (buddified?) nor free from our inner slavery to every little way the world irritates us and pushes our buttons.
For example, take anger, while anger feels like a powerful thing, it really is an inner form of weakness. Anger is the state where the world disrupts me. It is the state of being negatively overcomed by and mastered by the world. It is a sign of the lack of true and complete self-mastery. The result feels powerful, but then, so does the rush of blood out of an artery.
Anger is when we have lost control and the world controls us.
But to move on, third, theosophy is not about celibacy and vegetarianism, contrary to what some writers and leaders in the Theosophical Society have postulated. These are not ends-in-themselves but mere means, useful at certain phases of spiritual development and not useful at other phases (and even possibly harmful), to the real goal of becoming responsible higher beings assuming our destined roles in a moral universe of immense scale and responsibility.
Given these deplorable conditions, that is, since, for some, these three points about what theosophy is and is not have been forgotten, and since theosophy has also become too much a thing of reading and discussing books, some publications have come out on the path and perils of the spiritual process of transformation by individuals who have not trend the path nor the competence of a life of tried and tested practical theosophy.
Such authors don't know its nature or goal. They synthesize their "map" and "how to guide" from all sorts of sources of mixed and dubious quality without the accomplished and experienced ability to discriminate between the junk and the jewels. Then new aspiring authors, wishing to see their name on a book with a chance to play the lecture and seminar circuit, come out with a new rehash of these earlier and questionable "how to guides" leading to a progressively worsening situation of blind guides inspiring blinder guides to further mislead the blind.
Thankfully, since for many, theosophy has unfortunately become a bookish pastime of vicariously reading about the spiritual life rather than living it, the damaging effect of these blind guides has been minimal.
Interestingly enough, we take great care that our physician is fully qualified, and often, cautiously get a second expert opinion if a procedure is recommended yet we listen to anyone or read anything that, well, looks interesting when it comes to our spiritual life.
Of course, we have standard methods by which a medical expert is trained, qualified, and recognized. And the fact of the matter is, most of us are not qualified to determine whether a physician is a competent doctor or not, let alone, a real one. We depend on other experts who are qualified to recognize a fake or incompetent physician.
There are cultures that had the same sort of thing set up for spiritual experts. Alas, our culture has no such means, and yet, instead of realistically recognizing our plight, we take upon ourselves the task of discerning who is a competent spiritual expert or we experiment as "do it yourselfers."
But consider. We wouldn't study a few books, listen to a few inspiring quacks, and then go out to a buy a "do it yourself" surgical kit to operate on ourselves. We even take better care of our cars than we do our spiritual life. We make damn sure the mechanic is competent and honest. Maybe we do this because one is more tangible and more real to us than the other. Maybe we do this because we really believe in the physical world more than we believe in the spiritual world and higher bodies.
Solovyev once commented that "with that which is important or of known value, a man is always cautious. Those matters in which a man devotes great care are those matters he really believes in and values as matters worth his efforts and esteem."
With things spiritual, we are not cautious nor devote great care. Intellectually, we may wistfully believe in higher bodies and cosmic cycles but in our hearts, habits, and cavalier attitudes towards spiritual things, we don't believe. Intellectually, we have become, perhaps, book-wormish believing theosophists but emotionally we are atheists because experientially we are inexperienced in really following the spiritual path of awakening.
Let us consider some of these points a little more. Turning now to our first point, namely that theosophy is about our higher moral development, let us briefly examine the theosophy within some older traditions and religions.
Practical theosophy, according to the teachings of these traditions, is a path from our moral sleep, inner hypocrisy, and evasive self-hypnosis, by which we become inwardly divided against ourselves and the higher I is refracted into many forms of identification, into integrally whole Selves, in which all our inner parts are in clear and distinct contact with each other, in which no part is out of touch, so that we have no moral unconscious.
Integrity, as the Sufis say, is to have no part or aspect of ourselves or our lives be a form of moral unconsciousness. To have such inner sincerity, as the Sufis call it, to be a state where nothing in me hides from the truth or from other parts of me, a state where all my inner parts know all my other inner parts in an experiential state of lived self-honesty, is to begin to progress in the way of conscience.
Conscience is the embryonic form of the Sophia in us. Conscience is the blueprint, the compass, for all spiritual development that has as its goal Sophia. Note that Sophia is the celestial feminine.
In the theosophical teachings of Jacob Boehme, from whose circle many, such as Walther Balthazar, traveled east to regain this wisdom, we are creatures of contraries which are united by the fire of awakening the soul's power of awareness and uniting it to the inner Divine Sophia. Within this fire, the hellish within us, becomes transmuted in the light of higher wakefulness, to become the energy and vitality of the fully illumined soul united to Sophia.
In earlier Latin alchemical traditions that preserve something of theosophia, this is the development of conscientia into scientia by inwardly integrating and awakening the fallen intellectus (intellectus is buddhi, while ratio is manas) in its union with conscientia by which the anima (soul) is transmuted, and as the early Christian medieval philosopher put it, the body of light is created.
In the Greek traditions as preserved in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, intellectus or buddhi is called the nous. The spiritual process of transformation, called in Eastern forms of Christianity "theosis" (deification) or "theopoesis" (god-making), begins as a process of awakening the inwardly fragmented (hypocritical) and fallen nous from its hypnotized-sleep (hypnos, in Greek, means both sleep and hypnosis), which is also a inner separation of the true inner I (eso ego, or eso anthropos) from all its identifications.
A beginning phase of this process involves an inner separation of nous (buddhi) from the rationalizing and conceptualizing lower mind (dianoia, manas) by inwardly concentrating nous upon itself (enstasis, samadhi) and connecting nous to syneidesis (conscience) so that together the gaining of self-knowledge and experiential skill to remain illumined in all situations and under all conditions, or gnosis, turns nous, syneidesis, and gnosis into Sophia. Syneidesis (conscience) in Orthodox Christianity is the seed of the divine wisdom within us. It is to develop into our inner deification as the Hagia Sophia or Holy Wisdom.
Wisdom is fully developed conscience plus higher consciousness. Contrary to what some have written, higher consciousness is not a trance state, a high, nor an altered state. Rather, it is an intensification of being awake or being conscious.
Trances and altered states are just higher forms of hypnosis that are distorting higher aspects of being awake fully or enlightened. Trances and altered states are distorted experiences of higher powers without buddhi.
In Zoroastrianism, practical theosophy is likewise the process of awakening the khirid (buddhi) and connecting the mortal soul (urvan) to the higher conscience and wisdom (den, the Daena or feminine higher twin of the soul). This Daena, at the postmortem Judgment, appears as either a beautiful maiden or an evil old hag depending upon one's deeds. She is the higher part of the self that is, at first, the implanted seed of wisdom, conscience, that develops into our inner participation in and inner contact with the divine wisdom, the Daena of Ahura Mazda.
As the mortal soul (urvan) in Zoroastrianism becomes inwardly married to the conscience (Den, Daena), it becomes immortalized by the energetic spiritedness of immortal life, the fravashi or fravahr, by which a new immortal diamond body is grown called the "kes i tan."
This same motif appears in Tantric Buddhism, where the faculty of awakening, buddhi (Buddha means awakened), the seed of Buddhahood or conscience (bodhi) are two aspects of the same relation found in Zoroastrianism.
The five Buddhas of the Mandala are the fully awakened forms of the five key dimensions of human existence according to Buddhism (or five aspects of the Adi Buddha, Samanabhadra). Each have a higher consort. She is their wisdom or Prajna (and each of the five Prajna's are aspects of the one Prajna of Samanabhadra). Prajna grows out of conscience or bodhi.
To further show that this is the same motif that we find in Zoroastrianism and Orthodox Christianity, we can refer our readers to the Judgment Scene in Yama's Court in the Bardo Theodol (TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD). Here the individual is confronted with his conscience (and potential Prajna) in the form of two female figures, bad conscience and good conscience.
To become a Buddha is to become so one with one's conscience (Bodhi now transmuted into Prajna, the Consort of a Buddha) that it is represented as a sexual union.
For those who think they have even begun to trend the spiritual path, it is well if they ask themselves, in honest self-evaluation, which attraction is stronger in their life, sex or conscience?
To have the sexual force alchemically unite you irreversibly to one's conscience so that conscience is the strongest force in one's life is the meaning of those Tantric images where a Buddha is in sexual union with his Prajna.
Yet, how far are we from that high state if we confronted with a difficult moral dilemma between doing what we know we should do in opposition to doing what we want to do and the temptation is experientially felt as a stronger force than the inner call of conscience. How far are we from that high state if doing the right thing inwardly feels like a cost we would rather not have to pay? For a Buddha compassionately doing the right thing for all sentient beings is the ONLY impulse without this inner conflict.
By G. de Purucker
[INTRODUCTION from THE MAHATMAS AND GENUINE OCCULTISM.]
Oh my Brothers, unlock the divine in your own being! It is very easy to begin this effort. Aspire, forgive, love impersonally, control yourself, exercise your spiritual faculties, cultivate your intellectual powers, do good to others. But always learn to love, to love more, to love still more greatly, to love more grandly still. Let your compassion reach even to the stars in thought and in feeling. Then you are indeed on the Pathway to the gods. You are becoming a genuine Occultist, and some day great powers will be yours and you will see the Vision Sublime -- that vision which will enable you even while yet in the physical body to look within and beyond, and to see Truth face to face.
There is a hunger in the human heart for beauty; there is a longing in the human soul for harmony and for peace; there is an unceasing aspiration in the human mind for an understanding of the problems of the Universe; and all these qualities of heart and soul and mind are fundamentally one, arising out of that amazing spiritual fire which dwells in the inmost of every human being, and which is a reflection in his human character of the Divine Flame which is fundamentally the Spiritual Man; and this flame is the core of his being.
Men yearn for truth; they yearn for light; they yearn for peace and happiness; and alas, in how slight a degree is this divine hunger satisfied! It is unsatisfied because men will not self-consciously realize who they are, what they are, in the core of themselves; their human consciousness refuses to recognize the living existence in them of this Divine Flame of the spirit. Nevertheless, there is through the ages a pressure toward this realization, and when recognition comes, then indeed breaks the splendor of the spirit on the mind and illuminates it divinely. The man's soul is then moved: and the very depths of his being are stirred, for he recognizes not only his kinship but his oneness with the Universe of which he is a child, an inseparable part.
There is light to be had, because there is system and order in the Universe, the results of flaming intelligences and cosmic compassion, and anyone whose heart impels him to carry on the search indefatigably and with a mental refusal to take discouragement at any time, but to carry on, will receive that light.
When this recognition of his inner spiritual grandeur comes to him, he knows that there is spiritual grandeur in other human beings. Then he recognizes the kinship of other human spirits with his own. Thus the man who is spiritually awakened, recognizes that other men also can be grand and great, and that their hearts are filled, as is his, with an innate and instinctive spiritual nobility; that the divine is working in them. A man then realizes that he may find others higher than himself: one or more who have become more or less at one with the inner flame of divinity, with the inner God, with the divine spirit stirring within.
Such intimations or intuitions of the living divinity within persuade us beyond cavil or argument that our noblest aspirations are true, are based on fact; that indeed there are such wondrous men in the world who have evolved to the point where the divine flame within, the inner God of them, is expressing itself more or less fully and according to the evolutionary stage of advancement of the individual.
Such Great Men it has been customary from immemorial time to speak of as Saviors of their fellows. They are the spiritual Saviors of men, the great and outstanding human spiritual geniuses of the human race; they have shaken men's hearts by the magic of their teaching and by the example of their lives, and by their power to explain life's mysteries to inquiring minds hungering for truth and light.
Look at history. See the Great Men that the human race has produced: Gautama the Buddha, the very embodiment of wisdom and love; Jesus the Avatara, another embodiment of love and wisdom; and others of these Great Ones, whose names perhaps are less well known; and we realize as we survey these human embodiments of spiritual light that our intuitions and intimations are true. Then, as all men know, beneath these genii of the spirit and of the intellect there are, and have been, and there will be in the future, other men whom we call geniuses, men of wondrous ability, men of high and vaulting talent, whose souls commune with the very stars, and pluck from heaven heaven's own flame of truth, and tell it in phrase and in teaching to their fellows. We know that these men exist: that records of them are written in living flame across the pages of history. Where then shall we pause and say that human genius cannot go higher than this level, or than that level, or than the mediocre plane which average mankind already has attained in its evolution?
It is our Theosophical teaching that greater men even than those geniuses exist in the world at the present time and existed in past times; and they have lived and taught and guided their fellow men; and these Great Ones compose a spiritual Brotherhood of the Great Sages and Seers of the human race. These are what are called the Theosophical Mahatmas. They are the Elder Brothers of mankind. They are men, not spirits. They are men who have evolved through self-devised efforts in individual evolution, always advancing forwards and upwards until they attained the lofty supremacy that now they hold. They were not so created by any extra-cosmic Deity, but they are men who have become what they are by means of inward spiritual striving, by spiritual and intellectual yearning, by aspiration to be greater and better, nobler and higher. They are not what they are by any favoritism either of a god or of Fate, but are what they are because they have run ahead of the great multitude of men. There they stand; they are Helpers, they are Seers, they are Sages. All that they have -- which means all that they are -- all that they have evolved to, all that they have become, they have gained by self-devised efforts in individual evolutionary growth.
By Daniel H. Caldwell
Blavatsky Archives Online http://sites.netscape.net/dhcblainfo/index.htm
This web site publishes material (including rare and hard-to-find source documents) on the life, writings and teachings of Madame H.P. Blavatsky (1831-91), the founder of modern Theosophy.
For the last thirty-one years I've collected several thousand books, articles and unpublished documents on every aspect of Madame Blavatsky's life and teachings. A selection of some of this material consisting of primary source accounts on HPB's life, her occult phenomena, and encounters with her Masters can be found in the forthcoming edition of my book THE ESOTERIC WORLD OF MADAME BLAVATSKY (Wheaton, Illinois, The Theosophical Publishing House). See the web edition of this book at
It is my intent to publish hundreds of other accounts and articles (both positive and negative) on the Blavatsky Archives Online website. Almost two hundred items are currently being processed for web publication by Spring 2000. More than 60 rare items have already been published in the online archives.
Titles of the most recent additions to the archives follow.
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY: The Lamasery at New York. Interviews with Madame Blavatsky -- The Wonderful Author of the Book of Wonders, "Isis Unveiled" [Reprinted from the Hartford Daily Times (Connecticut), December 2, 1878, p. 1.]
From Hinduism to Hinduism by Parbati Churn Roy. In this extremely rare work Parbati Churn Roy devotes three chapters (pp. 36-58) to his personal reminiscences of H.P.Blavatsky, H.S. Olcott, the Mahatmas and The Theosophical Society.
Portrait of the Master Morya by J.D. Buck A brief description by Buck about this portrait and an accompanying photographic reproduction.
A Letter from Mahatma Koot Hoomi to Gustav Gebhard This letter from the Master K.H. was received August 25, 1884 in the house of Gustav and Mary Gebhard of Elberfeld, Germany. It was addressed to Mr. Gebhard. This letter has never been published before.
The Book of Dzyan Research Reports by David Reigle The Book of Dzyan is the name given by H.P. Blavatsky to the secret source of the stanzas given in her book The Secret Doctrine. David Reigle's research on the Book of Dzyan attempts to trace its ideas to known sources. Four of his articles on this subject are now available through Blavatsky Archives Online. Information is also given on how to order Reigle's new book Blavatsky's Secret Books published by Wizards Bookshelf.
Theosophy in Calcutta by Norendra Nath Sen. [Reprinted from The Indian Mirror (Calcutta), Vol. XXII, April 14, 1882.]
How a Hindu of Madras Interviewed a Mahatma at Sikkim by R. Casava Pillai. [Reprinted from The Indian Mirror (Calcutta), Vol. XXV, March 3, 1885 and March 7, 1885.]
The Himalayan Brothers by Henry S. Olcott [Reprinted from Light (London), March 4, 1882.]
The Theosophical Society: Russian Intrigue or Religious Evolution? by Richard Hodgson. [Reprinted from The Melbourne Age (Australia), September 12, 1885.]
H.P. Blavatsky's Adieux: The Ci-Devant Countess Ready to Depart for the East. [Reprinted from The Daily Graphic (New York), December 10, 1878.]
Citizen Helen P. Blavatsky: That Newly Naturalized Personage Explains Some Interesting Matters. [From The Daily Graphic (New York), July 9, 1878.]
The Kiddle Incident More than 20 original articles and letters from the 1883-1884 controversy concerning charges of plagiarism against the Master Koot Hoomi.
The Truth About Madame Blavatsky by Walter A. Carrithers, Jr. (Published by the Blavatsky Foundation.)
Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to Her Family in Russia. More than 60 pages of text with scores of HPB's letters written to her
Interested students should be aware that in early November of this year the web edition of Obituary: The "Hodgson Report" on Madame Blavatsky by Walter A. Carrithers, Jr. (published by The Blavatsky Foundation.) will be available on our site.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 235-45.]
The subject of the Creative Power of Thought is intimately related with the first principle in which our Theosophical Movement is rooted. You cannot consider the dynamic and creative effects of the thinking power of the human mind without immediately being struck by the fact that all nations and all men are in reality interconnected to such an extent that they are affected morally and physically by the thoughts and actions of each other. In other words, if there is a nation which is bent upon a vicious, destructive, downward and degenerate course, that nation will inevitably poison the very thought atmosphere of this globe. Then by means of the inner constitution of the planet upon which we live, there is conveyed to all other nations of the earth that main current of thought and destructive energy that such a nation -- or if we choose to make the application, such an individual -- chooses to generate.
If that is true, there is fortunately a more cheerful side to the picture, and that is, that just as we are affected morally and physically to our detriment if we are negative and weak enough to be so affected, so also, even unconsciously and against our will, we benefit by those nations and men of goodwill, those individuals of high spiritual nature, who are pouring forth their beneficent thought upon the world. Because of the inescapable unity in which we are all rooted, it benefits with its creative power in the same way that the other, destructive kind of energy pulls the whole fabric of universal life downward -- or shall I say slows it somewhat in its upward progress.
This is a very fundamental thought, as I see it, from which to commence our whole study of the subject. In that rather famous book called THE IDYLL OF THE WHITE LOTUS, there are stated three great Truths, and one of them is to the effect that man has it in his own hands to create his own weal or woe, his own future life and future destiny. It is done without any doubt at all by means of the dynamic, creative force of his own desire, his aspirations, his thought, and his will. These are the tools which the Theosophist, the occultist, the disciple, the Mahatma, and the man of the world, have at their disposal.
The Theosophical philosophy, therefore, at the very outset of our study ennobles man, and shows him that he has within a godlike and creative power to make for himself the very conditions for which his heart most yearns, most secretly aspires toward. We have all, I have no doubt, tried to experiment with these laws in greater or less degree, in an endeavor to apply them to ourselves. But as a practical example: what should we do if we find ourselves surrounded by conditions we do not want? First of all it is necessary to create the clear mental picture of that which you individually want to achieve, the particular objective that you have set yourself; and immediately very powerful forces are set in motion, for which you individually have a great responsibility. Everything that we desire, especially when the desire is very strong, immediately sets up a current along magnetic lines of force to those layers of space which contain that which we seek; thus creating lines of magnetic attraction with other human beings or spiritual entities who have the capacity to bring to it that which we have set our minds upon. Directly you begin to desire a thing, immediately you are beginning to create for yourself opportunity, and the opportunity will come inevitably to work out that which you yourself, for good or ill, have set your creative forces in motion to bring about. Therefore is it necessary to emphasize the tremendous importance of submitting every such determination, aspiration, desire, to the dictates of the Higher Self in each one of us, to the Silent Witness of all our endeavors. For otherwise, if we are not willing to take the position that was taken two thousand years ago by those who created for us the New Testament; if we have not the point of view "Not my will but Thine," then we may risk creating something of a personal effect or result which will hang around our necks like milestones: for the forces that we set in motion are real -- they will bring to us that which we want them to bring. Fix your mind, and your will, and your desire to bring evil to another, and you will be destroyed yourself by the reaction that such kind of work brings about.
These forces -- we are talking about occultism -- are creative and destructive: hence the very thorough drilling that those who study the genuine teachings of Theosophy receive in the moral and ethical basis of the Theosophical philosophy. For if that is not rooted in the student's and aspirant's mind, it is more than likely he will make an application of these laws, when he begins to understand them, that will not only wreck or bring evil (and untold evil) to others with whom he is associated, but still more will he wreck himself.
Now a word as to the means by which the thoughts of other individuals and other nations affect us. It is by means of that which Eliphas Levi called the Astral Light, that part of the Cosmic Ether which is actually the lowest part of that universal Cosmic principle which in the East they call AKASHA. That astral light interpenetrates our whole Globe just as it does every other planet in the Solar system. It is imponderable, tenuous, and contains the picture, the impress, the record, and therefore the memory, of every thought and every act that has ever been performed on this Globe. It is because thought travels, that when we emit or permit to pass through our minds a thought, which is a living intelligence, a thing full of life, we are setting in motion a force which goes to the farthest confines of space. Think of all the creative ideas for good along constructive and healthy lines: great inventions, wonderful ideas dreamed by inventors, by poets, by Adepts, by Mahatmas, which are stored up as it were in the Akasha, in the Astral Light, waiting for that man or woman who is high-minded enough to give them expression in action. This is the explanation why, when an inventive mind is concentrated upon a particular problem, the complete solution will often come into his mind, although he has not worked out all the logical steps to the solution that is eventually arrived at. In other words it is possible, if we learn how to do it, to call to our aid the thoughts of the past, and those of the mighty, spiritual thinkers of our own era, to help us, to encourage us, in any worthy purpose that we may have, or may be engaged upon. Conversely, to the extent that we are living under the control of the sense life, of the personality, of negative states of mind and thought -- to that extent we are calling to -- I won't say our aid, but we are attracting, setting in motion, a reinforcement of the very negative, sensual, destructive or evil states of mind in which we may be at any moment of time.
So what does it amount to? It amounts to this: since our mind and consciousness are always busy with something, even when we are almost in a state of inertia, there is some thought, some idea, some aspiration, and some desire, coloring the whole kama-manasic consciousness. Whatever it is that is in our mind is being reinforced, strengthened, by all past thinking along the same line that is stored in the astral light. See how important this is. Without any volition on our part, if we are living at a consistently low level, we are inviting all the same forces of a low level to strengthen us in that negative and weak attitude that we are adopting. See, therefore, what tremendous powers and implication and hope the spreading of the Theosophical philosophy and teaching has for mankind. Why? Because you are giving them something in the way of food for their minds that lets the whole Inner Soul of the man rise and take in its comprehension the vast sweep of the Universal Mind, letting in the sunlight of the spiritual life, giving it food, attracting the human soul and the human mind upward.
Directly you link to these teachings on the Creative Power of Thought, the doctrine of Karma, and the doctrine of Reincarnation, you begin to see where we are being led: what happens to a man before birth, and what happens to him after death. What he believes about those two stages -- antenatal and after-death -- will necessarily govern his thinking here and now. Therefore, these great subjects which have occupied the greatest minds and intellects that the world has ever known, and on which we have a very rich collection of teaching, are necessarily of the greatest importance, just because they do influence our thought, and therefore our action.
There is a very telling page in William Q. Judge's EPITOME OF THEOSOPHY, which deals with the mechanism by which thought really works, and it shows how, if we fix our mind in disapproval or judgment upon another human being, we attract to ourselves elemental entities of the very nature of the fault that we are condemning, and then we proceed to build into ourselves the very condition that we wish to eradicate in somebody else. So the fault goes backwards and forwards, intensifying the characteristics in both. The obligation and the remedy are obvious in this case. Exactly the reverse is true if we dwell upon thoughts of beautiful qualities that we would like to see, and do see around us in many cases; for then we are strengthening by our approval, and our goodwill, these characteristics in ourselves and others.
I would like, in connection with this subject of thought, just to touch very briefly upon the relation of the Theosophical classification of man's constitution, with that of modern psychology. What is the connection between the conscious mind of the modern psychologist and the Theosophical classification? What is meant by the modern psychologist's subjective mind, and where does it fit into the scheme of occult science?
I venture to suggest that the objective, or conscious mind of the modern psychologist is the lower manas, which is responsible for our ordinary everyday objective thinking; but the unconscious or subjective mind is another matter. The psychologists mix up, from lack of knowledge, the two parts of the mind -- the Spiritual, that which inheres in Buddhi: that power of direct cognition and discrimination: the higher part of man; and the force inherent in what we may term the instinctive mind, the mind that is connected with kama-manas. We share this instinctive mind with all kingdoms of nature below us, and in particular the animal kingdom. Here we have nascent thought in the higher exemplars of the animal kingdom; and in that instinctive mind are many of the characteristics that modern psychologists attribute to the subjective mind. But they leave out of account, or are unable to account for, the source of all those higher, nobler ideas of the human mind, which really come from the Divine part of his nature, and which they just classify as the unconscious. These things are very important for us because the Theosophical classification gives a clue as to what we must do in order to use our mental and creative faculties to the highest end.
There is one aspect of this problem that is particularly interesting and very helpful. I have no doubt that many of us have at times been -- afflicted, shall I say, with a problem which seems at times beyond our individual capacity to solve: a problem of such difficulty that the advantages and disadvantages of each course are almost equally balanced; and the mind becomes weary, the capacity to think and to solve apparently so inefficient that the person is in a very difficult position. It happens every day for many people. If we apply the laws that are behind this practical application of occult and scientific principles, it is quite possible to relegate the solution of the problem to the right department of the mind, and cease to worry. What do you think is the origin of the useful old practice of not making a decision until you have slept on it, until you have given time for this higher part of what the psychologist calls the Unconscious, or subjective mind, to get to work? It is capable of providing the solution of any problem. Read what HPB has to say in ISIS UNVEILED about the power of the Adept to rise into the higher consciousness, and know all that ever was, is, or can be known about any subject in the Universe. Why? Simply because the higher part of us, the Divine part of us, is actually omniscient: therefore all we have to do is to find the means of opening ourselves to the inflow of this knowledge -- and it can be done by asking for it, by aspiring toward it, by opening our minds to it, by presenting the problem in a good and orderly fashion, and leaving it to that higher part of the mind to find the solution; and if you have a sufficiently strong desire, and a sufficiently developed will, and enough confident expectation (which you may, if you wish, call faith), the result is quite certain, and you find within the requisite time the solution of the problem. This, of course, is a law which is constantly used by all of us all the time -- generally perhaps more or less unconsciously; but nevertheless it is a law which works, and it is an extremely creative law. There are many illustrations of the working of it which you have probably read about and know very well.
Can thoughts be seen in the Astral Light?
Yes, if we have the necessary power of psychic vision, of course they are very easy to see; but if you have not this psychic vision opened you won't see them -- you will see just what is before your eyes as usual.
In what form would they be seen or colored?
It just depends upon the person who has created the thought -- whether he is able to think with precision and clarity, in which case the thought will achieve a very definite form, and will be imbued with pranic life and color in accordance with the quality of thought, emotion, aspiration, desire, that the person injected into it at the time the thought was emitted. It might be said that the kind of thought which is sent forth with the most powerful type of will is usually the most evil and material. Thoughts that are sent out with passion and hatred are very powerful, because they are energized with a tremendous amount of pranic vitality. Stronger still, of course, are thoughts sent out by a highly spiritual entity. Such a thought will actually have the power, when projected into the aura of an individual, or into a room full of people such as this, of producing a peaceful and beneficent influence almost as great as if a Mahatma were present in the very room. These are some of the different effects of thought, but of course the subject is a big one.
The laws of desire and thought -- ought they to be used for any practical purpose in one's own life, or used merely for spiritual purposes?
I have been trying to give illustrations of the way we can use them in our daily lives. It just depends: if our lives are selfish then our desires and thoughts will necessarily be selfish; but probably you are attaching too low a value, and too much significance, and at the same time too little significance, to our personal and everyday needs. I think it is a profound mistake to try to divorce the everyday demands of life that we all experience from the spiritual part of our being. Man should be looked upon, and we should look upon ourselves, as complete entities, not chopped up into little parts. If we have spiritual ideals and objectives, we shall also have personal duties in life to perform, and thus the laws that we learn and study in Theosophical teaching are properly applied to the regeneration of our personal lives, desires, thoughts, feelings and all the rest. Certainly we should use them.
In what sense did you use the words "creation of a thought?"
The thought itself is not created, but we are janitors of the temple so to speak, and we can permit or refuse the entrance into the temple of the mind whatever thought we like. In that sense I have been using the idea of creative thought, because we are arbiters of our destiny, and therefore in a true sense creators. Though we do not create thought, we nevertheless create those causes for which we are responsible for good or ill.
How is thought affected by Karma? If a man's thoughts are negative and evil and he suddenly changes.
If people have for years or lives thought negatively, that is because that is the state of their own inner being. Once the reaction, which must be extremely painful, as all negative states are not only painful but also destructive -- when the suffering caused by such reaction has reached sufficient intensity, and gone on long enough, the man will be compelled by nature's beneficent and compassionate law, to turn inward upon himself and seek the cause of this negative condition, and then he will realize that he has placed himself in a prison of his own making. You will find that his course has been downward into matter all these years or lives, and he will say, "Well, I have put myself in this box, I will get out of it." By aspiring upwards and making a good strong effort of his spiritual will, he begins to create real thoughts, living messengers of good for himself and his fellows. Certainly he can begin right now. He has no need to wait. We have it in our hands to do these things.
Would you say that the thoughts fade out of the Astral Light as the effects of them are worked out, or do they remain just as evident?
They tend to dissipate as they are translated into action. Assuming that powerful thoughts are generated, they are not necessarily translated into action. There are plenty of people who are very good at dreaming and inventing clever things, but who are not really men of action; and these thoughts will remain in the astral light until eventually they find a responsive mind, and their energy is dissipated by being worked out in action; but then they are created thereby still more powerful. For example, you think of an invention that nobody knows anything about except the inventor; then somebody takes it up, translates it, and all the world knows about this new invention. Well then the Astral Light is more impregnated by this idea than it was before. If the thoughts are weak then they tend to dissipate more quickly, but if spiritually vital or destructively powerful they last quite a long time.
At that rate there may be cases where there is no record left at all of certain thoughts?
There is actually a record, permanent and indelible, in the higher parts of Akasha. It is so for thought in the same way as there is a permanent and indelible record of all past history. It is there, but there is this difference: that a record may be there, but there is no dynamic force in a record per se. It is like a page of a book, which is nothing unless someone reads it and is affected by it; but thought force, creative thought, energy, which is of course an elemental creature -- actually comes into being around an idea or a powerful desire, and is a creative energy in the Universe; and then, when it has worked out its destiny -- fulfilled its karmic destiny -- then only the record remains as distinct from the undischarged charged and vital energy. It is like the record that we leave behind us when we depart from this earth. It is not the same thing as having the man here in life. He is the vital entity who can do things. The record can do nothing.