Tradition points to a grotto, a vast cave in the deserts of Central Asia, whereinto light pours through its four seemingly natural apertures or clefts placed crossways at the four cardinal points of the place. From noon till an hour before sunset that light streams in, of four different colors, as averred -- red, blue, orange-gold, and white -- owing to some either natural or artifically perpared conditions of vegetation and soil. The light converges in the center around a pillar of while marble with a globe upon it, which represents our earth. It is named the "grotto of Zarathushtra."
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 464
By H. Oosterink
[Theosophical University Press, Covina, California, 1946, pages 38-57.]
The question arises, what are we to do to enter the Kingdom of the Spirit? Is there a possibility of sharing the experiences of our Higher Consciousness in full awareness of it?
In other words, how can we raise and enlarge our consciousness and see the truth of things and remove our blindness?
Do we possess slumbering capacities which we can develop, capacities which have been lost under the effort of the human being to make himself at home in this world? The world of the spirit is no abstraction, but a real world, which our consciousness may get to know after we have found the way to it. All people should be fully alive to the importance of this truth.
Why would the great spiritual teachers of humanity speak with so much authority, with such conviction, if they were not seers -- i.e., people who have seen the vision in all its splendor? And should it not also be possible for us to follow the path they have gone?
However, would people who are taken up with life outside themselves be able to be absorbed in their internal life? Would people who are driven hither and thither by their thoughts, have the possibility of finding in themselves the peace which is necessary to enter a world of stillness and peace? Can they concentrate on the spiritual truths when their souls do not yearn for them?
Asking these questions means answering them. He who wants to unseal his mind to the world of the spirit should do this in quiet and stillness.
The intellect has a quality which enlarges its activity.
It may be directed to, or concentrate itself in, one point. This directional and concentrated thinking compares with the activities of a lens. When we catch sunbeams in a lens, they are concentrated in the focus and in this point an increased activity results from the united activities of the rays, which makes it possible to burn something through.
The mind acts in the same way. If we want to consider or to see through something, we must adjust the lens of our consciousness in such a way that all our thought-rays are focused in one point.
Even in ordinary social life, people must know how to concentrate their thoughts on one single point. How could a person achieve something in spiritual matters when his thoughts fly hither and thither and escape his control?
How can an unpracticed intellect proceed a single step in the regions of a higher consciousness? And yet in the development of our consciousness not a single capacity of man may be left idle; they are the only tools nature gave us on our journey to the Endless. Concentration is the first requirement, the first step on the way to a deeper insight.
But we can also use the mind in a different way.
We can practice bringing our thoughts to rest, withdrawing them from the things of everyday life, in which we are absorbed day in and day out.
And then, when this mind is at rest, we must direct it to spiritual truths.
Reflection on the highest truths results in true contemplation. This exercise, performed at the beginning of the day, gives us rest and happiness which impart a special splendor to the day.
We call this meditation, a word that I use only hesitatingly, partly because the word has so often been misused, partly because meditation breathes such a devotion and rest that we may put meditation on a level with true prayer.
It is generally assumed that meditation is an oriental practice -- that by their very nature westerners live in a world of action and activity. As if the happiness of inner vision or introspection were reserved for only part of humanity!
It is abuse of meditation when we aim at a forced stimulation of psychical powers by making ourselves oversensitive, and consequently lose control.
Real meditation is something different: meditation is guiding the stream of our thoughts either upwards or inwards, after the ordinary hurrying thoughts of every day have been eliminated. Meditation means -- with the mind at rest -- dwelling on the highest truths we know.
That's why rest is one of the first requirements in our thinking.
Spiritual growth requires devotion. This growth demands daily practice, but the consequence of this practice is that it rouses a dynamic force in the spiritual life of the devotee.
If our minds are disturbed and under the influence of our emotions, it is as if we look through a blurred windowpane.
A quiet mind reflects the light of the spirit unbroken.
When we make this daily meditation a habit, it will have a profound and beneficial effect in our lives. It brings peace, rest, love, a sense of spiritual beauty, and more -- it brings the ecstasy which inspires and pervades man like a living, radiant force; meditation makes us attract the highest thoughts and ideas as a magnet does. It brings evenness of temper in foul and fair, and under the magic it conjures up, our super-consciousness opens slowly like a flower.
Let us imagine what it means when our highest consciousness becomes active, and let us understand what perspectives are opened then.
Let us imagine what it means when the Mystery of the endless, boundless evolution of our consciousness is revealed to us, and what it means to dwell in the highest regions of human thinking, on the summits of spiritual enlightenment.
Behold ... in the quiet, virginal fields of our highest consciousness the first rays of the spiritual Sun break through and gradually set these fields aglow.
We are surrounded by an ocean of wisdom, beauty and spiritual light in which we can be absorbed infinitely, but of which we are able to take in only a part. In order to penetrate it, it is necessary to develop within ourselves a capacity that reaches beyond mere thinking; we must rouse our intuition, that is -- reach a state of spiritual vision. I do not write about unreal things. They are not far from us or strange. The entire Creation is suffused with a spiritual life and light, it is an expression of it, and we live in its middle. We have come from it, and we shall return to it.
We keep only a memory, a hankering of the soul for that which is inexpressible. Approaching it is our highest spiritual joy, it raises us above this world which has resulted from it -- above life as we know it, it makes us see the unity of all that is.
What do we really know about life? We can penetrate it, but we shall never be able to get to the bottom of it. Look at man; how lonely and lost he is in the silence of the night, surrounded by myriads of suns and solar systems. How much is there of him in this infinitely large universe, in this wonderful creation? And yet a divine longing, an irresistible craving for investigation and understanding urges him on to search deeply the world about him, an irresistible craving to solve the problem of his existence. Thousands upon thousands of stars twinkle in the night sky; solar systems and milky ways speak of the greatness of creation and its beauty penetrates the soul of the investigator and makes him silent.
The more man loses himself in this grand spectacle, the more he is absorbed by it and becomes conscious of his greatness. Is it no wonder that he is able to bend his thoughts on this mystery, no wonder that he is able to open his spirit to the majesty of creation, and to experience the marvel that he can become conscious that he is all this? In that -- which is beyond thinking and understanding, from which this creation resulted -- he finds the essence of his being.
He comprises, and finds within himself, all that he absorbs, the greatness and the beauty of which he becomes conscious; he himself is all this. And in the only mysterious center of his existence, the center which is his only mainstay and reality -- the Self -- all is concentrated. This center is indestructible, infinitely great in its smallness, unfindable and yet comprising everything. Is this no wonder -- has not it always been and will it not always be, did not it comprise everything and will it not comprise everything? Man is infinitely small and at the same time infinitely great: limited in his essence, as long as he partakes only of earthly life, but universal when he rises to the Boundless. If we dare to lose ourselves in the mystery in which we are nothing, the boundless spirit blooms and we have allowed ourselves to be absorbed by the Divine, in a state of pure contemplation.
There is a world above boundaries, space and time, where real happiness may be found. This truth will one day reach the dejected people, like a message from higher spheres.
The people who have called forth this catastrophic war did not know this peace. Religion was no longer a living force, because it forgot the Kernel of Faith -- devotion. They did not observe the daily exercise of the faculties that were to gain for them entrance to the Eternal Observer -- the Spirit.
This practice does not lead man outside life, but shows it to him in its higher sense, and suffuses life with a splendor of beauty, and illumines it.
But how many disasters and how much suffering, which humanity has drawn toward itself, must be gone through before it will begin to live in a meditative world of contemplation instead of losing itself in a world of desires, before the only source of inspiration and spiritual life, the Internal Self, is roused and begins to flow?
It is not sufficient to open the gate to show an unknown world of beauty for a single moment; there must be a constant longing for a hidden world of infinite greatness and happiness which can only be entered slowly, and which grows more beautiful every moment.
In reality there is such a world within man.
Our consciousness opens but slowly to it and never before the searcher has found rest and peace, and the Internal Way to that which I have called the background or the soul of life.
The earthly sphere in which we live comprises only a fragment of the great cosmic creative consciousness, part of which is revealed and becomes active in this life on earth. The great perceiving Spirit, our real "I," registers all impressions and experiences of the infinite consciousness. Our "I" is affected by means of the faculties that are in the possession of earthly man only to the extent that this "I" has become active in the human existence, however sublime this may become.
But consciousness is infinite when man is boundless. From many sides, along many channels, by endless capacities, the great spiritual Perceiver, or the Spirit, absorbs these impressions. And yet the wisdom of this everlasting and immortal "I" is our wisdom, Its love and rest are ours.
In the fabric of our boundless existence wonderful mysteries are hidden, but they are only within reach of him who succeeds in gaining entrance to the internal worlds of contemplation, of him in whom the divine light of intuition burns.
The image we call forth keeps receding and leads us further on the path of investigation. And the most wonderful thing is that as our insight takes us further into the unsuspected depths of our being, the world in which we live and which seemed to us the only reality, becomes more and more unreal to us, and the unknown, quiet, unreal world of consciousness that we are about to enter becomes our security.
If we want to rise beyond human knowledge to superhuman contemplation, we enter an unknown world in which we have to orient ourselves; we are born again in a new world. And as a child which is born on earth becomes conscious only after years of growth, we must grow to find our place in this new world in which we are born again.
I am thinking of Jesus' words: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." But in that case man enters A VERY REAL WORLD, he develops one by one his slumbering faculties by his devotion to higher life.
At present brutal things happen. The things people make their fellow creatures suffer are indescribable. The things that take place about us, the persecution of the Jews, the seizure of their goods, the carrying off of these unhappy people, the keeping of hostages who forfeit their innocent lives, the total lawlessness; we must accept it without any possibility of protest. What judgment is called forth by the absolutely blinded persons who commit these things? The people are unconscious of a higher law that holds everyone responsible for their actions; they do not know what they are doing
The noblest instincts of man are violated. Feelings of love and compassion are considered weakness.
On this small planet, this obscure, out-of-the-way spot of the universe, hatred reigns supreme. In ordinary life people have an even temper; as soon as great events come into play, everyone becomes deaf to another's insight. No understanding, no patience, no compassion. So much are people absorbed and fascinated by the world in which they think they are living that they deny their highest principles of life. The words of their sublime Master -- "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; and whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain," -- which breathe a commandment not to resist violence, have not become popular.
People want to defend themselves, and, as a matter of fact, it is the only thing they can do.
In my heart lives a feeling of compassion for the people who steel their hearts and who have to do this because they cannot rise above themselves, because they do not know themselves. But by acting thus, people close themselves against their higher consciousness. When the delicate and noble impulses of the soul are forced back, man remains deserted; deserted in the most literal sense of the word.
It is my deepest conviction that man is never completely deserted, that only a limited insight makes him inaccessible, that compassionate powers are only waiting till man becomes conscious of them. Compassion and love are magic powers, and the more man opens his heart to them, and the more he forgets himself and thinks of others, the closer he approaches the heart of the universe. The heart of life is love, because everything originates in this heart, and after endless wanderings everything returns to it.
The evolution or unfolding, the development of consciousness, is the course of the LIMITED AND FINITE life to the UNLIMITED AND INFINITE life. It is the development or growth of the seed which germinates in the fields of the boundless existence, because the heart of life is concentrated there.
That which is supreme, cannot be thought of as limited. However, it is from this supreme, this boundless, that sprang limited creation. There -- in the boundless -- lies the origin of all limited life; there is the Heart of all that is.
The journey which the human Self makes, the endless development of his inner life from the boundless to the boundless, is the "mystic Path" that the "I" sets foot on. This path, sprung from and forming a part of the Boundless, is also trodden by men, while it is continued far beyond the human form and never ends. This is the Path along which the Pilgrim travels and on which he, paradoxically speaking, remains immovable.
For, whatever man achieves, where his growth may lead him -- he has always been this. We may consider this a journey from the finite to the infinite, but also a journey back from it. We are the Infinite and now we are going along the road of the Finite back to the Infinite.
We may say that "the unlimited has limited itself"; the Infinite has made itself finite, as if the eternal has concentrated itself on this world of time and space and has limited itself to it, to bring about this Creation, this temple of life and consciousness.
The Infinite has concentrated itself within us, in one point, in the numerous creatures in numerous points; it is just like one life that focuses itself in a germ, while the number of germs is legion. Every germ contains the complete entity. Thus every creature contains in itself the possibility of infinite growth, every creature, from the smallest Infusoria to the completely developed universe. All these creatures are repositories of a certain form of consciousness. Each separate life, each being sprung from creation, is driven to ever grander unfoldment under the irresistible impulse of his inner being.
The unlimited has divided itself (as a source of light or a beam of light divides itself into numerous rays) into as many separate centers of consciousness, which I have called the infinite "I" of the percipient Spirit that comprises everything.
These seeds of life are numerous and distributed all over the universe. They are the building stones of Creation and it is immaterial whether in their present phase of growth they manifest in the form of plants, animals, or men. From these germs spring the centers of consciousness. They may reveal themselves in human or other beings, in a solar system or in a Cosmos.
They compose the infinite chain of life of which universal life and consciousness has been built.
Together they form the fabric of cosmic consciousness, a fragment of which enlightens our earthly sphere. Each life is one of the numerous lives, each life contains the Boundless in itself.
Just as the sunlight, when the rays are broken, shows a play of colors, life, broken by the numerous facets of different kinds of consciousness, shows the shades of the spiritual splendor that enlighten cosmic consciousness.
In the course of the infinite duration of Creation these lives have been produced, and now they are in different phases of growth. On this earth we see only a small part of the great life; i.e., just as much as our perception enables us to see. That is why there must be numerous hierarchies of life which we do not know, and which do not exist for us any more than the colors and sound vibrations that are beyond our power of observation, which science teaches us do exist, although we cannot perceive them.
What induces people to think that eternal Creation should have exhausted itself? That all through the aeons it has produced no creature higher than man, and no spiritual being of a higher order?
Is not everything that lives visibly or invisibly suffused with, and one with, the infinite spirit that produced this Creation? Is not every being, whether plant or cosmos, animal, man or solar system, the outgrowth of a divine seed, an invisible, indestructible center of boundless life within this being, but different only in its manifestations, as they are all in different phases of growth?
When we reflect on these things, it is as if a veil that was thrown over our view of life is suddenly removed. For, how important is the thought that life is consciousness -- one great consciousness in different forms, material, psychical, mental, spiritual or divine -- and yet, in spite of its variations, ONE! And how important is the thought that man is closely connected with the great cosmic consciousness! He originates from it, he rises from it, he returns to it, and the path that leads him back lies within himself. If we manage to withdraw ourselves from the grip of life, if we know how to stem its tide which tries to carry us along, if we live on quietly, confiding in the higher laws which regulate our spiritual unfolding, we are heading for a revelation of ever increasing, sublime consciousness. If we suffer ourselves to be impressed by this thought, we banish our baser impulses. Peace, love, wisdom and light fall to our share.
It was a decline in the perspective of the life of men when they began to consider themselves the center and highest manifestation of life and took the hour of their birth on this earth for the starting-point of their existence.
If the spirit is eternal, we men are only one of its vehicles or lives, built after aeons of time and active in a lower sphere of life. Then life is a peregrination through the eternal and boundless, with a prospect of possibilities of life that are far beyond our highest imagination. Then there are intelligent entities, so sublime that our own intelligence sinks into insignificance compared with them -- spiritual entities with whom our life is closely connected.
Neither science, philosophy, nor religion is built on this view today, though Science, growing bold, throws its spotlight on a wider field of investigation, giving us hypotheses that revive our imagination. These three attempts to investigate man confine their observations to the perceptible and cannot give us an insight beyond the sphere of their investigation. But that is why the spiritual life of man is so dull, so colorless, without inspiration and without devotion to the sublime within him. That which we cannot perceive is consigned to the world of phantasy. What a restriction of our insight!
What is to become of the world that has drawn around itself such a narrow sphere of thoughts? For if man has no spiritual perspective, if he lives without inspiration, the lower life becomes everything to him. Then he allows himself to be absorbed by the things to which his desire drives him, a chase for possessions or pleasure.
Is it to be wondered at that this catastrophe has come? Would a humanity guided by higher principles, conscious of an idea of the splendor and beauty of its beings, have caused such a conflict?
Would a humanity guided by an insight into the divine laws of life have dared to unchain such a bloody war, unworthy of man? Would not a purer idea of the brotherhood that binds us all together have prevented us from hating others and from treating them hardheartedly?
Were there no ways to find each other, without a conflict of material interests?
What will the generations that come after us think about this time?
Will not the conditions under which we are living now seem barbarous to them? Will they be able to form an idea of this narrow cycle, in which the thoughts of man moved without the Gospel of Hope that is implied in these doctrines?
Time was when people thought that they lived on a flat earth, surrounded by stars which moved around the Earth. What widening of horizons when people realized at least that they inhabited a small planet lost in an infinite world of suns and milky ways in a boundless space! What will be the reaction of people who have made the great discovery of the Divine Worlds and their Sublime Consciousness, and who have opened their eyes to a vision that makes them see behind the veil of life, whose intuitive capacities have been roused, and who have penetrated into this world, whose spiritual eyes have opened, and who have brought their lives into harmony with the wonderful discovery of their souls?
They will wonder how people of our days could live. They will speak about us as we speak about the Middle Ages. They will say: these people thought that they were the only intelligent, rational entities and that only the Earth on which they lived, this single house of life, has produced living creatures; and that the rest of the universe was dead and deserted.
They thought that for aeons Creation had produced only man as the highest form of the manifestation of life. They thought that of all living creatures only their existence had a special purpose and that the rest of the creatures which came behind them in growth and development had been created without use and without any purpose. They lived their lives hastily, without thinking, many of them paralyzed with terror when they thought of death. They thought that after their death part of them would go through a great many horrors and another part would spend eternity in the joys of Heaven; why they lived on this earth they did not know.
Those generations will not be able to follow these ways of thinking, this lack of Divine vision. They will wonder if there were no spirits broad and great enough to paint a more sublime picture of life, and how we could live without inspiration, without any conception of the great beauty within us.
We are lonely people, strangers to each other and estranged from our Selves. Periods of unknown duration passed away before we came to this earth, and now that we are here we live in a world which is quite in conflict with our being.
We have fettered ourselves in our visible form, separated ourselves from our fellow creatures, imprisoned ourselves in cocoons of egoism -- thus has been the course of fate.
In spite of this blindness we are connected with the highest spiritual consciousness by invisible ties, and at the same time we are blind to its beauty, losing ourselves in an illusory world of strife and desire: lonely people, though we are brothers by nature, strangers, though together we form the life of the universe.
Oh, this loveless world of ignorance! Within ourselves we keep the soul-memory of a remote and glorious past; in front of us we see a perspective of infinite beauty and growth, we border upon worlds of unknown peace and rest, we can realize that we are the cosmic consciousness, the universal Self, but how much sorrow and misery is necessary to make a man realize his inner self!
We are lonely people and strangers to each other, we pass each other without noticing those who go by amidst millions, and yet every one of us is a CHILD OF THE BOUNDLESS!
In the treasure chamber of our life we find the images, the mind images, the ideas born in quiet hours of meditation.
Consciousness directed to the invisible worlds of a higher invisible existence has attracted these images like a magnet; images, still suffused with the splendor of these worlds. The artist who calls up these images in our minds, the sculptor who evokes them, 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 raises us above the grievous experiences of our everyday life.
Creation is the expression of the cosmic thought of the Universal Spirit; it forms itself as man forms his mind images, growing slowly to greater perfection, and evolves the formless and speechless beauty of the universal soul.
When I call forth in myself this sublime picture of life, I feel as if I were standing on a mountain overlooking the vast landscape below me.
This is life as it really is, full of, and enlightened by, the Divine power of the universal Spirit, the universal Spirit with whom I am one.
I see the vision before me in all its beauty. This small world at my feet, a world of hatred and strife, with narrow limitations, is not the real life.
In these few years a world has perished that will not return for many centuries to come. Our attention will be drawn to new economic problems, great social changes.
But I am convinced that, as life goes on, and in spite of all the misery we shall have to go through, the spiritual truths will one day again spread the light for which a weary humanity, tired of fighting, will be longing.
It is the only wisdom which can be built upon with safety. It is the only road along which the growth of humanity can make progress. The new world which people want to build will also perish. They will turn away from it, because the soul keeps searching and searching till it has found its destination, the way to its boundless home. One day people will be looking for it again; the truth lies within man himself, the way to enlightenment is always the same, the craving of the soul is of eternity.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 53-60.]
I am very happy to be amongst you all again after an absence from England of rather more than two months, and I would like to take this opportunity to speak to you on several important matters in connection with our Theosophical work. The whole purpose of our work and studies in the Theosophical Movement is to fit us one day to play a part -- a conscious part -- in the direction of the forces which govern and guide the human race under Cosmic and Cyclic Law. Nothing less is our future destiny if we want to tread the age-old Pathway that leads to knowledge and to wisdom. Time is one of the factors that the occult student must take into consideration, because in real esoteric work there are times and seasons for everything -- for initiating work, and for completing it. Our regular Lodge Meetings must and should begin promptly at the advertised time, whatever that may be. This is an elementary but fundamental principle in the conduct of any work such as ours. It is not only a matter of wholesome discipline for us, but there are larger issues at stake.
There are times when certain things may be done; there are other times when it is not only folly, but it is dangerous, to do the same things. The very opening and closing of a Lodge Meeting according to the scheduled time is only a kind of symbolical exercise wherein we recognize the fundamental harmony of the Universe, and take into consideration that the advertised time is the right time when we have decided to come together, with heart and mind to study the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. We have asked Those who stand behind this work to take note of it, and to give us, if we are worthy, of their inspiration, their energy and their guidance. If then we turn up five or ten minutes late for a meeting! -- it just shows that we are not sufficiently interested, that's all, and that we do not know what it is all about. It is the business of this exoteric movement to inject into the mind of the Race some elementary knowledge -- first ideas -- of the Teachings of Occult Science; and on the principle that a little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf, thereby make it possible for those who do play a conscious part in the direction of the destinies of this Race of ours, to come and work amongst us more openly than they can at present.
I am going to try to speak tonight of what it really means to come into this Theosophical Society and to work in it. You cannot, it would be wrong, to think of it as a body which in all its affairs is directed by some great Initiate or Master of Wisdom. That would be to mislead you and it is not true. But what is true is that these great Beings began the work of the Theosophical Society as a great hope -- a great experiment -- for the education and enlightenment of the Races now inhabiting this Globe, so that, if it might be successful, they could come into ever closer and closer touch with humanity.
The great masses of the people are for the esotericists, 'the profane' -- those who have not reached spiritual birth, who have not commenced to set their feet upon the Path of enlightenment and knowledge. We must remember, however, that one of the Masters once said that Humanity in the mass has always a paramount claim upon them. None the less they have to protect their time and energy from interference by the curious and ignorant. They necessarily must do so; but the important fact for us to bear in mind is that these esoteric circles have, even in the Theosophical Society itself, individuals with whom they have entered into some kind of relationship -- individuals who have proved for themselves that they exist. And some of these people live and work and do their best in the ranks of the Theosophical Society. The fact that they do so means that sooner or later each one of us has the opportunity of coming in contact with somebody who KNOWS -- thereby coming more closely within the sphere of the Masters' influence. Obviously, as you can see for yourselves, all the individuals with whom Masters have entered into any kind of relationship are themselves points of observation for these Masters; therefore the people that they in turn come in contact with must come under observation of Masters also, at least to that extent.
But we have always to bear in mind that a great Adept has a vision which is Universal. He can look over the surface of the globe in its most densely populated parts and also in the less populated, and there see, if he so chooses, anyone who has succeeded in lighting his spiritual lamp, even if it be but a feeble glimmer. Such individuals they look for, they watch over, they help to nourish and to tend the flickering flame, and to bring them sooner or later within the sphere of influence of any particular work in the world that one or other of their pupils may be doing. It is folly, in my humble judgment, to look upon the work of the Theosophical Society as the ONLY work of this kind going on in the world. I do not believe that idea. We are not a sect, we are not a narrow Church that believes that we are the only ones who will be saved, and that only through us can Light come to humanity. We know, if we think for a minute, that such an idea must be false. I know personally of several groups in different parts of the world that have nothing whatever to do with the Theosophical Society, but the members of which know things -- because they are being taught.
The human race is looked after, guided, helped, and opportunities are given for those who want them; but as Katherine Tingley said, if you want it you have got to work for it, and if you don't work for it you won't get anything. And when I say you "won't get anything" I hope that no one will say to me that he did not think that was the idea -- to get something. It is not, but think a little further. What I mean is this. If we start out in this work to try to do our best to serve our fellows, to help others, to share what little light and knowledge we have, immediately we are face to face with the problem of human individuals who are ignorant, suffering, and who need help. When they come to you in their need, what are you going to give them? By what means are you going to do the good that you want to do, if you don't know how?
The answer is that you have got to find out. You have to get the knowledge; and all your effort, all your endeavor to get, is in order that you may GIVE; and if that is your purpose your motive is a true one, and you need have no fear. Let us search, therefore, all of us for the truth -- within ourselves and without, let us seek for it in order that we may have that with which we may feed those who starve. The Theosophical life is nothing if it is not a fearless, courageous, open-minded search for Truth. And I hope it will never be our lot to hear any member of any of our Lodges talking and acting as if they no longer have to SEARCH for Truth because, forsooth, they have come into the Theosophical Society and they have found it already within the pages of some book or another. Unfortunately there are such in the Theosophical Movement who take just that position -- we do not have to search because we have it. Poor souls! We have none of us got it as a final thing, but we may have started out to find it. Then we have gained something at least. We cannot give what we have not got, and so we must "keep up the aspiration and the search," as Mr. judge used to say.
I believe that the true attitude is never the one which merely accepts everything without question which is handed to us. Think of the words of the Buddha: "Do not accept anything just because I say it." He, the Blessed One, the Teacher of Gods and men -- do not accept it just because he said it, or because some other great Sage said it, or because you find it in one or other of the sacred Scriptures; but rather go in a spirit of humility, in a spirit of eager QUESTIONING, asking to be taught. Go to those sources of inspiration of the human race, and try to understand what you will find there. See if it is reasonable, logical, whether it brings you illumination, whether it shows you the Pathway before your feet; or whether it sends you to sleep in a kind of self-satisfied smugness. If we do not understand a thing, if it is repugnant to us, if we disagree with it (no matter from what source it comes) QUESTION, and do not be afraid. I personally enjoy to meet a man or a woman who takes another viewpoint in these matters than my own -- that is if it is a sincere one and not an affectation or a pose. We do not have to have a dull agreement on everything. I say that we want to encourage the presence amongst us of fearless seekers after truth, along whatever line they may be going. Let us hear what they have to say. We should not permit them to cause us to diverge from our own course, but encourage them to express an honest doubt, to say perhaps: "But your theory, gentlemen, is not reasonable; we do not understand it; we have no sympathy with it, and what good does it do?" and then expound if you can -- give them the solution of the riddle if you have it; and if you have not, for the love of the Immortal Gods let us admit it.
Let us thereby learn our lesson -- that this (the work of a Theosophical Lodge) is our field of training in the Masters' service. Do you realize that? I believe that each one of us ought to be prepared to accept the conditions of our training if we want it. It applies to all of us -- Presidents of Sections, Presidents of Lodges, Officers of Lodges, Officers of Sections, all the way down the scale. Let us follow this fundamental principle and accept our condition of service. It will be at times uncomfortable, especially if we have a wrong point of view, but do not let our members and the public come here and go away empty-handed, saying "But these people do not understand -- they do not grasp my questions; they give me nothing in reply; they do not seem to know." That is wrong. Cherish above almost everything the intellectual integrity and freedom of thought of our Theosophical Lodge, the intellectual honesty of our students; and let our purpose be to go to work; let us go like students to school, and let us study, let us go where we can get instruction, and get the information and make it a part of our being. But it does mean work.
It does not signify if you have been a member for fifty years of the Theosophical Society, if you have not done any work in those fifty years, and if you do not know your stuff. There may be no harm done except for yourself; but be humble enough to go to work now. BEGIN, because if you do not begin today, well tomorrow you won't be any better off, and you will have nothing to give the other fellows. Oh! How one longs to see the members of our Theosophical Lodges becoming more and more intellectually and spiritually alive, growing and discriminating purposefully in their Theosophical work, day by day learning more of the Ancient Wisdom: learning it, opening up their own inner faculties, so that they are not placed in the position very often of having to say, "I don't know"; but never miss the opportunity of saying you do not, if really and truly you don't. Why? Because it makes for mutual confidence, so that others can think: "At least these people do not pose, they do not pretend to know something that in fact they do not know."
You know that was one of the most marvelous things about our old HPB. She was never a deceiver. She made hundreds of mistakes PERHAPS -- and I personally have very little use for the people who do not make mistakes. If you are a human being -- learning, struggling, engaged in the affairs of this world, you are bound to make mistakes and thereby you learn. And therefore it is never necessary to put on the pose that you never make a mistake. Be honest about it.
And I would like, if the President of this Lodge will permit me, to voice to you a suggestion I have already made to him. I would earnestly suggest this for your consideration, as I always do to all the other Lodges -- have your business meetings when they are necessary, but have them at a time other than the regular meetings of the Lodge -- either before or afterwards; but do not interfere with the very life, spirit, and purpose of your Theosophical work in order to discuss how you are going to do something. Set your time, ask the people to come -- lay emphasis, appeal to them to come at that time; but your proper Lodge Meeting time is the time for your Masters' work. That is the time that you want some illumination, and you won't get any in business meetings -- or very little. But they have their proper place and purpose, and they are good. I am delighted to hear that your President is taking steps to get more active cooperation from all the members of the Lodge and from the members of Committees, so that they all take their share in the common work. Shoulder the burden and delight in it; that is the right way. But do not let us get things out of proportion. Give business its proper place -- but no more than that.
We stand at this moment at one of the most critical periods, I suppose, that the Theosophical Movement has had. I feel myself that if we go the right way about it; if we keep our views and our work broad enough, alive enough, if we are willing to accept Truth where it may be found, during the next few years we shall have an opportunity of an increasing amount of help from what we call Esoteric circles. Remember that everyone who succeeds in making himself a fit channel for them to work through is going to do something for this Society, and through it for the human race, and that in time will bring its own result. It is our objective. We ought to work for it.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1938, pages 192-196.]
Many students of Theosophy experience something akin to a psychological and mental 'shrinkage' when asked to give a little talk to a group of people. When confronted with the proposition of actually addressing an audience at a public meeting, their psychological state becomes similar to the one graphically described by a Slavonian proverb, according to which the 'soul' of the party in question takes refuge in his heels -- whatever may be the process by which this is accomplished! Others, with a certain amount of what they term 'courage,' go through the 'trial' of facing an audience, brave the tribulation of hearing their own voices, and, in general, 'stick it out' to the bitter end -- and then are surprised to find out that the audience was not particularly interested in what they had to say, or felt the meeting to be too long. Cool reasoning would suggest that the above-mentioned attitude is a sheer waste of energy, a waste of time, and a waste of fun. It is all a matter of outlook, rather of change of outlook, and public speaking can become not only easy but actually a pleasure, a relaxation, and a source of inner satisfaction at having shared, however little, some noble thoughts with one's fellow men. No one can do it for you; you have to do yourself; although a few suggestions from others might be of some help.
The first thing to establish seems to be this: What are you actually going to do when called upon to speak? Are you going to speak in order to share some beautiful thoughts with others, to whom these thoughts may not be familiar as yet, or are you going to gather together any kind of idea that might be around, in the realm of your mind, so as to fill the time allotted to you? Are you going to think, while speaking, of the often unvoiced hunger of the audience for a little help in life, or are you going to express to your listeners, irrespective of circumstances, some idea or ideas that happen to be paramount in your own mind, that mean to you a great deal, but may mean nothing at all to your listeners? Are you going to show them how well you can build a sentence and how beautifully you can deliver it, or are you going to use simple language, everyday words, in order to give utterance to a few simple, everyday truths? Are you going to speak on a subject which tasks the imagination of the highest minds, places under stress the mental capacities of the most learned ones, and takes everybody right out of all daily concerns or practical relation to life, or are you going to speak to your listeners about issues which are a LIVING REALITY within your own self, about problems which vibrate with life in your own mind and heart, and are in sympathetic accord or touch with the yearnings and unsatisfied longings of others? Are you going to think of the impression your personality might produce upon the audience, and spend energy and time trying to appear 'impersonal,' and 'natural,' meanwhile being as awkward as anyone can be, or are you going to search somewhere in your audience for a pair of intelligent eyes, wherein can be sensed a keen expectation of receiving an answer to some unvoiced question? Are you going to speak from your brain-mind and anxiously watch the timepiece lest it runs too fast and some of the many quotations you have brought along with you remain unread, or are you going to forget all about any set program and give a few definite, helpful ideas, which will 'stick' and be remembered by those present, because they are universal in their appeal and simple to understand? Are you going to try to cram into the allotted time as many facts, arguments, ideas, thoughts, statements and proofs, as you possibly can do, speaking 'a mile a minute' so as to be able to cover all the ground you had in mind to cover, or are you going to bring to the attention of your listeners one, two, or three thoughts, at the utmost, repeating them over and over again, in different language each time, thus bringing these few well-chosen thoughts or teachings home to everyone who listens?
When you do find yourself on the public platform or anywhere else, facing an audience, never look at the front row or any of the rows close by; look toward the farther end of the hall most of the time, particularly if you are a beginner in public speaking. This will help your thought to fill the hall, to permeate it with its message; you will include in it, encompass in it, the whole of the audience, instead of being crowded out yourself by the magnetism of eyes looking at you from everywhere. Choose, as subject, a teaching or a thought which you KNOW the truth of, which you have embodied in your own being, which nothing can take away from you, which no amount of argument will ever shake, and which therefore will radiate from your whole being, while you speak of it to others. Against such a background, you can project, as it were, other teachings which you know only in an intellectual way. To illustrate: the Oneness of all Life can be expressed in simple, eloquent language, as an integral part of your being, as the basis of your own life; and against this REALITY you can project some of the teachings regarding the Doctrine of the Spheres, or the Circulations of the Cosmos. If you start with the latter ones, you will be, more often than not, repeating what you have read in books.
By all means, do not take yourself too seriously. Do not think for a moment that you are 'saving' souls from 'hell,' or helping to place the Theosophical Movement on its feet once again, or are representing the Masters themselves on the greatest and most spiritual platform of public speaking that was ever erected in the Occident. Let no one in the audience imagine for a single instant that the Theosophical Society is made up of people who are in any way different from the rest of humanity, that before it was started in the West no one knew anything about spiritual teachings anywhere in the world, and that 'Dark Ages' prevailed all over the globe before H.P. Blavatsky came to America and wrote ISIS UNVEILED, nor that the only work which imbodies a lofty ethical standard is THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE or other Theosophical books. And above everything else, when you have made your audience think a little, make it also smile a little, by making some timely and harmless joke, either about some idea, or about yourself, as a speaker. This will help them to remember (if they had a chance to forget it) that you are just as much a human being as they are themselves.
Do not speak in a monotone, nor in a chantlike manner, nor like a bubbling rivulet, nor as if you were on the verge of ecstasy, nor with rhetorical grandeur, nor with mile-long technical terms which only confuse the meaning of what you intended to say, nor so loud as to shatter people's nerves (already heavily strained by the probable stuffiness of the hall, or the impossible shape of the chairs), nor again so low as to be heard exclusively by those in the front row. Do not use the language of law-courts, nor make anyone believe you are prosecuting him for his remarks, or court martial him for his question, or flay him alive for being 'unorthodox,' or seem to try to make him apologize for having come to attend the meeting, or perchance reprimand him for being alive at all.
If you have gone to the platform with a sincere desire to serve your fellow men to the best of your knowledge, to bring them light, to give them encouragement and a new strength, from out of the little light and courage that you yourself have found in Theosophy through the years; if you have started speaking about teachings which, like those of karma and reincarnation, are basic, fundamental, vital, living, real, and truly helpful, and have done so because you know what these teachings have done in your own life; if you have used simple English, or simple Swedish, or simple French, or simple anything, and have made your audience feel that you are an integral part of itself, one of them, their brother and friend, not their tutor or disciplinarian; if you have made your points amply clear to everybody by expressing them in varying language over and over again; if you have added here and there some real humor and made everybody feel at home with you -- the chances are overwhelming that you will have felt calm and composed yourself, happy to be doing it, encouraged and strengthened inwardly as a result of it, and that the audience will have departed with a keen feeling that it was 'a heck of a good meeting' and that it was too short.
By Grigor Vahan Ananikian
[based upon a November 10, 1999 posting to email@example.com.]
Consider a comparison of the gradual path and sudden path. It seems to be a cross-cultural phenomenon. I will first survey a few traditions in an effort to support the idea that the two paths are cross-cultural.
In the West (pagan Neo-Platonism, Hellenistic Judaism, and Christianity), the gradual path is characterized as three stages of purgation, illumination, and union. The two premier early Christian representatives of this gradual path are Dionysus the Areopagite and John the Silent. Later, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila are representatives of the gradual path. The representatives of the sudden path, in the west, were some of the later religious Stoics (following Poseidonis), the Pythagorean forerunner of Neo-Platonism Numenius of Apamea, the Hermetic school of Alexandria, Evagrios, R. Bacon, and Eckhart. In the Buddhist East, the representatives of the gradual path are represented by Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga and the lam rim traditions of Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism. The Buddhist representatives of the sudden path are Dzog chen and some forms of Chinese Ch'an and Zen. In Sufi circles, the gradualist approach is widely represented in all Sufi lineages that speak of a inner way (tariqah) within the Law of Life (Shariat) that is comprised of progressive degrees of "states" (ahwal, typically a situation where the next higher level is realized but has not become a permanent state) and "stations" (maqamat, typically a state that has become a permanent state of being). Meanwhile, the sudden approach (where the Truth or al-haqq is immediately touched as a state and the work, which we shall see is typical of sudden path ways, is to convert that state into a station), with strong ties to Central Asia (as do the other sudden path traditions) is found in some Sufi lineages of the Naqshibandi and in the illuminationist (Israqi) school of Suhrawardi. As legend has it, of the Sufi and Buddhist forms of the sudden path, they both attribute the original knowledge of this way as coming from an ancient and off-planet source that had been preserved on this planet by a secret lineage of teachers within Zoroastrianism.
Contemporary movements seem to display both gradual and sudden path characteristics. Early Theosophy, in practice, appears to have been a gradual path. Without getting too far into the issues surrounding Krishnamurti, from a Dzog chen perspective, it appears to this author that he was being trained, following the early gradualist form of pratical theosophy, in the gradual path when suddenly a sudden path "process" (as Krishnamurti himself described it) took over. Both the descriptive phenomenology of his experience of the "process" and his later iconoclastic statements to the effect that there is "no path" (i.e. that truth is a trackless land) are indicative of sudden path realizations. The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff, as described by the current leader of the Gurdjieff Foundation of Paris, Michel de Salzmann, in a series of talks in 1975 at Far West and published as "Man's Ever New and Eternal Challenge" in On the Way to Self-Knowledge edited by Jacob Needleman and Dennis Lewis, appears to also be a "way" of the sudden path type.
Now it is time to examine what the contrast is between these two paths to the same goal.
As indicated, the gradual path has a general structure of purgation, illumination, and union. By contrast, the sudden path immediately realizes (as a temporary state) the unitive state of which illumination and purgation are automatic manifestations or effects of the unitive state. The task of the sudden path is to make these temporally realizations of the unitive state into a permanent state. It is now time to describe these paths in more detail.
For both paths, what is wrong with unenlightened persons is that they are enslaved and ruled by emotions that are distorted because the proper order of the soul has been destroyed because the higher ruling power (nous, intellectus, buddhi) has been darkened. Thus, they become the play- things of the world's drama because as primarily the emotional reactions to the outer world that they take as the "pseudo-I," they identify themselves as, and thus, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, through identification or attachment, they ARE mostly, in their very identities, the inner effects of an outer world pushing their buttons. The same inner helplessness not to be one's emotions that incapacitates unenlightened persons is the same samsaric process by which karmically a personality and the dispositions of future reactions (lives) is created by the outer forces that make the "pseudo-I" an almost a passive and accidental product of "forces that live the person" (who is lived by forces without because the inner power to authentically live from within is asleep). By contrast, the enlightened person is one in which the ruling power restores the proper order in the soul and which transfigures the emotions into higher powers of insight and effective response. It is time to examine the two paths while keeping this in mind.
The first phase of the process of transformation in the gradual path is purgation. Purgation has three components. Meanwhile, it is important to keep in mind that purgation, illumination, and union are three stages of the functional interrelations of these three components (1. intellectual or pure awareness part of mind, 2. rational or logical part of mind, and 3. emotions). As Buddhism puts it very clearly, besides the Eightfold Path, there is the threefold training that trains each of these components: right samadhi for awareness/buddhi, right views/mindfulness for the rational thinking part/manas, and sila for emotions.
Purgation of the awareness (nous, the Greek for buddhi) is the practice of samadhi or as the Neo-platonists and Eastern Christians put it, enstasis. This process overcomes the clouded distractibility of the awareness as it becomes a stable, lucent, presence of sober wakefulness. This initial phase is the purgation/purification of awareness of disruptive and interfering thoughts and emotions by separating it from them. Many Americans and contemporary theosophists think this is the whole of what is called "meditation." This is a mistake. What they mistakenly believe to be "meditation" is just a preliminary phase of right concentration.
Purgation of the reasoning/conceptualizing part of mind (dianoia, Greek for manas) is the development of its powers of analysis and logical reasoning. The initial phase is purgative because it is a training of the reasoning/logical powers of mind to not be distracted, fuzzy-headed, or fallacious by separating it from other factors like emotion. A heightened training in analysis and logic was one of the ascetic (here meant merely as pertaining to training) goals of the medieval disputations found in western and eastern Christian monasteries, Sufi tekkias, and Buddhist monasteries. Astounding feats of quick mental logical evaluation, of opposition, inversion, and contra-position that transforms the categorical propositions of syllogistic logic (i.e. the operations of the "square of opposition" found in western logic textbooks) into each other's correlate, and identification of fallacies, as well as prodigious feats of mathematical calculation as displayed by followers of the Jadguru of the Advaita school, are displayed by advanced monks while western logicians need to get out a pencil and paper. With the growing concentrative ability that training of the awareness produces, well-trained logical and conceptual operations become illumined in a way that allows the effective pursuit of Socratic "elenchic dialectic" (the clarification of the nature of a phenomenon through a mutual cross-examination, the elenchic part, devoted to define it's essence), of Descartes' pursuit of rendering the cogito clear by seeking to make its cogitationes or ideas clear and distinct, or by rendering authentically possible Husserl's epoche as the founding act to clearly and distinctly gain phenomenological access to the essential nature of the "things themselves." As Suhrawardi teaches, illumination makes rational and conceptual philosophical thought truly possible in an effective and authentic form.
Purgation of emotions is developing them into well-crafted patterns of response and perceptive insight by purging them of patterns of resentment, hurt, and other crap of an emotional past haunting the mind as baggage, as bad habits, and as the emotional knot falsely taken to be "me."
Illumination has the same three corresponding aspects. Where the initial phase of purgation was to separate and normalize the three functions without mutual interference and disruption, the illuminative phase starts to bring them back together in mutually supporting and harmonious roles within.
Union is where these three spheres have to be fully fused with each other and with the higher guiding reality that controls/is how the universe flows (to put it as broadly as possible, whether Tathagatahood, Tao, Isvara, or "God"). Thus, contemplation (theoria) has three components in all these phases.
Theoria = enstasis/hesychia of the nous + diakrisis (discriminative powers of rational mind) of dianoia + praxis of the eso kardia and thymos. Once harmonized, theoria leads to episteme, gnosis, or sophia (depending on which tradition you refer to, I use the pagan and Christian Greek here).
The gradual path seeks to remove obstacles to clear/correct functioning in these three spheres first, and then, bring on the enlightened state of the harmonious co-functioning of these three spheres. By contrast, the sudden path says the enlightened state is automatically self-correcting.
The trick is to find it and learn how to stay in it in a variety of situations just as if one was learning how to stay on a surf board through all sorts of waves/conditions. Thus, for Evagrios, one found the unitive state which was automatically an illuminative and purgative state. This was also the view of Eckhart. It was also, I'd argue, what Krishnamurti discovered. In a theosophical context, I'd say Krishnamurti became a teacher of the sudden path while books such as Taimini's Self Culture are gradual path texts.
So, again, emotions are movers -- e-motors. They had been evolved to be rapid bodily responses to situations. Thus, they have a bodily aspect as moving or emoting. Muscles are prepped to be flexed for action or relaxed by biochemical, neural, and lymphatic signals sent to prompt for a line of action. And they have a psychological aspect where they are experienced as a strong imperative "do this." At least in effect.
As evolved patterns of almost automatic response, they are the legacy/replacement of behavioral instincts. They boot up body and urge the mind. But they stop. Then it is time for mind and/or training to take over. And further, as almost automatic patterns of rapid response, they have to have been correct enough of the time to allow the body to survive. So, most of the time (maybe with few defective bodies that can't harm overall viability of a species) they correctly respond appropriately to situations.
Imagine a type of animal that had fear/flight in face of food and anger/aggression at a predator for which it was food. Soon the whole species would be dead. The human trick is to train and refine these patterns of emotional response from their endowed primitive forms into higher and more nuanced forms. Because emotions are movers, they can enhance or interfere or interrupt other mental processes in the mind due to the legacies of bad karma as chronic malfunctioning.
Besides being patterns of response, I said emotions are cognitive. They are forms of perception beyond the five senses. There has to be a correct recognition of a situation for the emotion to be a correct response. But what is more, without emotion, sometimes the situation is left unknown especially if it is an emotional or social situation.
Emotions can only cognitively mislead us only if we are rightly relying on them to see or get information. The eye can deceive as well as the ear for same reason. If we rely on them to perceive, they sometimes mislead. The same is true of emotions.
The problem with emotions as both mover and as perceiver in modern society is that they are not trained. The gradualist approach seeks to train each main power, buddhi-nous-intellectus, manas-dianoia-ratio, and the emotions first to work correctly alone (purgation), and then, in tandem (illumination -- in lam rim, "higher insight"), and finally, as one integrated power of being (union -- in lam rim, "perfect insight" or "enlightenment."). The sudden approach says that to find the unitive state is self-correcting (automatically illuminative and purgative), and the task, is learning to maintain it and practice it in a variety of situations.
Now consider virtue ethics. The standard conceptions of it are mostly gradualist in approach. A virtue is a well-crafted competence that has been cultivated into a high degree of excellence. The Greek arete (virtue) literally means excellence. Virtue ethics was not about finding correct rules to manage a large social group (decide how to behave in one) but often said to be training persons to be of good character. The goal was to create not good rules but good people. In Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Greek philosophy, an important component of ethical training was training emotions (dispositions of heart, of thymos, etc.) into reliably and as excellent patterns of emotional insightful response as possible. There was the training of emotions.
This is part of any Buddhist meditation training as well as yogic training. On the gradualist path, the first step is the meditational separation of awareness from the inner useless and usually negative chatter of thought driven by emotional resentments and identifications until at least dhyana (pure awareness without thought or emotional interference or distraction) or samadhi is achieved.
As indicated, most westerners mistakenly think this is the whole of meditation. Through the practice of right concentration/awareness training, ability to be purely aware is achieved (right concentration). But this is a mere means to an end. Most western mediators get no further than this thinking this is meditation. Again, this is wrong.
On the gradualist path there is also a discipline of thought by its learning correct information correctly understood and logical training in non-formal mental reasoning into a very high state of logical expertise (right views or right discrimination/inferencing). This is why earlier-mentioned debates, mental math, and mental logic are part of the training of Buddhist monks, as it used to be for Christian monks, and still is for the illuminationist school of Suhrawardi. They perform, in their head in an instant, astounding feats of mental contraposition, conversion, and observation of the categorical propositions of a syllogistic argument that it takes western logicians a pencil and paper to work out. They do this in debates.
Third, the gradualist path has the crucial training in ethical practices which are include the training of emotions and the cleaning out of resentments and other emotional crap.
The main characteristic, again, of the gradualist path, is the three phases of this development. Once these three absolutely necessary and separate lines (at the purgative stage) have reached a certain level of proficiency, they begin to enhance the other lines (at the illuminative stage). Thought, instead of distracting and clouding awareness, in its disciplined form sharpens it into sharp analytic, clear, and distinct awareness.
Clear pristine awareness that is a gathered and concentrated focus that cannot be distracted can give enhanced attention to the implications and ramifications of a line of logical inference. Purified emotions no longer disturb (in their moving aspect) reasoning processes or awareness processes and no longer (in their cognitive aspect) cause awareness to misperceive or reason to falsely or fallaciously mis-infer.
Positively, they become enhanced forms of insight integrating the five senses into a total empathetic response or taking in of a situation in an insightful fashion. Then, these three aspects of human development, beyond enhancing each other, begin to fuse and interpermeate each other (at the unitive stage). They become fused into one consciousness.
The sudden path says to find the unitive state first, and the illuminative and purgative processes happen automatically. Then, they are trained together, as a form of enlightened functioning, as we practice being enlightened in various situations that are like tests at the skill of being enlightened within them.
In both approaches, emotions have their role. Thus the ultimate objectivity is a Buddha's insightful compassion -- the SOLE emotion of a Buddha, and thus, the SINGLE-FOCUSED INSIGHT of a Buddha (the cognitive aspect) and SOLE MOTIVE of a Buddha (the moving aspect).
By Point Loma Publications Board
[A general letter dated December 12, 1999, with best thoughts and love.]
Again we are happy to greet you during the December/Winter Solstice and take this sacred time to share with you some of our plans and news for the upcoming year and new millennium. In our avenue of education and community involvement, we have initiated the transformation of our bookstore into Wisdom Traditions Institute [WTI]. The new Institute will be a focus for sharing the teachings of the Wisdom Tradition. During the past two years we have offered a variety of classes from different aspects of the Wisdom Tradition. We endeavored to maintained a focus on an essential underlying depth of view and vision based in the experience of the unitive view of Reality from which these Wisdom Teachings come. We will be continuing and expanding our offering of classes, workshops, and symposiums from the heart of the Wisdom Tradition during this next year.
(The WTI Schedule for January to June, including presenters and faculty, can be found on our webpage:
Our first publications of the new millennium include a collection entitled WISDOM PRACTICE: GATEWAY TO ENLIGHTENMENT by G. de Purucker It is a collection of de Purucker's insights from Mahayana Buddhism and Vedanta from a Universal Theosophical view. Point Loma is also republishing A. Trevor Barker's THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT. Barker was famous for his publishing of THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT in the 1920's, and on his untimely death in 1941, W. Emmett Small and Helen Savage Todd prepared a compilation of his lectures and writings, THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT. Many of de Purucker's closest students in the esoteric school saw in Barker one who embodied and expressed the qualities of a genuine teacher and successor to de Purucker in the Point Loma lineage. [These students includedHelen Savage Todd, Elsie Benjamin, W. Emmett Small, Ila Beale Barborka, Katherine Heck, et al.] Barker's sensitive health, however, was shattered when during a bombing of London during World War II he was in a building when a wall collapsed. He died a few months later and a year before de Purucker's own passing. De Purucker wrote of Barker:
A deep and very simple character, he worked through an unusually complex personality ... Spirit, mind, and soul in him were dedicated to Theosophy; and from the beginning of his awakening in this life to Theosophical work until the day of his passing ... Trevor Barker had but one thought, one objective, one aim: the delivery of our Masters' Teaching to mankind.
-- THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, by A. Trevor Barker, Point Loma Publications, Inc., ISBN: 1-889598-04-6, 400 pp. $14.95.
Point Loma Publications has also made available a number of tapes on the Theosophical Wisdom Teachings including studies in Sacred Geometry, Death and Dying, Spiritual Awakening, and Karma and Reincarnation, from speakers including Boris de Zirkoff, Judith Tyberg, Gordon Plummer, Emmett Small, Iverson Harris, Alvin Boyd Kuhn, and W.Y. Evans-Wentz. Some of these recordings were from a class entitled "Theosophy and Contemporary Thought" which met at the Unitarian Church in San Diego during the 1950's and 60's. It is within this context that for example Emmett Small gave the progressive and challenging talk: "Reincarnation and Karma as Viewed Against the Backdrop of Nuclear War."
In the Spring, Point Loma Publications will also republish Gordon Plummer's study in sacred geometry, MATHEMATICS OF THE COSMIC MIND, with additional annotations from Blavatsky and classical sources, and new and expanded illustrations. It will be reissued under the new title SACRED GEOMETRY OF THE LIVING COSMOS (ISBN: 1-889598-05-4) and will include a cd-rom with the geometrical images self generating their new forms symbolic of the Cosmos in manifestation composed by Michael Bartlet.
We close with a few thoughts for reflection upon our vision, intent and work as we enter the new millennium. Moving to a deeper, a more interior view let us reflect on what are the interlinking networks necessary to manifest the Wisdom Tradition in the world today? How do we best apply our compassion and knowledge to the world around us? Recently at the end of the Parliament of World Religions in Capetown the Dalai Lama shared some unusually strong words for all to consider:
In a stern message for the 21st century, the Dalai Lama said Wednesday that religious people must do more than offer prayers if the world is to become a better place to live. "Change only takes place through action" said the Dalai Lama. "Frankly speaking, not through prayer or meditation, but through action." Addressing an interfaith conference of nearly 7,000 people from around the world, the Dalai Lama urged the spiritually minded to get off their knees and become directly involved in solving conflicts. "New ideas and visions will become useless in the New Millennium if they do not lead to change." "The new millennium itself is nothing special; day and night, sun and moon will come just the normal way, but if you make good preparation for the new millennium the new millennium can be more peaceful" At a news conference the Dalai Lama was telling reporters that the conference was "Not very useful" and "Does not have much meaning." He reiterated his wish that delegates tackle more substantive issues. "This message is taken with deep reverence," Jain said, "He's telling us 'You have done the talking, now go back and make a difference in your communities'.
-- LOS ANGELES TIMES, Dec. 11, 1999
Let us now enter this new millennium with the Dalai Lama's words and inspiration in mind with new vision to generate change in our communities, deepen human values, and seek opportunities for direct involvement in resolving human conflict. Let us keep these basic ideas shared by the Dalai Lama as keynotes for us in the new millennium and 'points' of focus to carry our compassion into ever deeper and more concerted action!
And a closing thought of inspiration for entering the new millennium from Trevor Barker:
Let those who have climbed the hill and seen the vision, and in that clean, sweet air have heard the keynote of the dawning cycle -- holdfast -- and remember in the days that are coming -- the sweetness, and the beauty, and the truth they have seen.
-- A.Trevor Barker from the Introduction to THE MAHATMA LETTERS.
By Geoffrey A. Farthing
[Reprinted, with permission, from a booklet in private circulation dated June 1995]
Many thoughtful students of Theosophy are genuinely confused at the discrepancies they find between what has become known as second generation Theosophy (the Annie Besant / C.W. Leadbeater or AB/CWL system) and the teachings of the two Masters instrumental in setting up the Theosophical Society and introducing Theosophy as given out through H.P. Blavatsky (the HPB/Masters system).
These discrepancies do not come to light as long as only one system is studied. In the minds of such students there are no difficulties or inconsistencies to worry about. The attitude can then well be that really there cannot be any serious divergences because surely the source of data, the main outlines of the Esoteric Science, are common to both systems, therefore discrepancies are likely to be trivial and really inconsiderable. This attitude is not really tenable but it is one generally held by those who have studied nothing but second generation literature. Moreover, it is this second generation literature which has become the commonly accepted one throughout the Adyar Society and generally in the world at large. Its classifications of the principles of man and the planes of Cosmos are now the commonly accepted ones. They do not accord, however, with those originally given out in the vast Blavatsky literature. Some of the areas of difference are presented and examined in this article. It will be seen that nearly all hinge on the introduction into the AB/CWL literature of the Etheric Body into the constitution of man. Many alterations not only to that constitution but also to the planes of Nature had to be made to accommodate this introduction, chiefly to preserve a sevenfold classification.
The purpose of this paper is not only to point out the discrepancies but to demonstrate that they are unjustified because there is not and cannot be such a thing as an Etheric Body constituted as described by Leadbeater.
The ramifications of the impossibility of there being such a body are discussed.
SOME AREAS OF DIFFERENCE
The main areas of difference are in the classification of the human principles and the 'planes' of being. These differences stemmed from the division in the AB/CWL system of the physical plane into seven subplanes, with three of them regarded as dense physical and four as 'etheric', a term first used by Leadbeater to describe four states of matter he had observed during a clairvoyant examination of the common physical elements.
In the book OCCULT CHEMISTRY which records some prolonged and painstaking investigation work done by Leadbeater and Besant over about three decades in their discoveries of the graded formation and the nature of the subatomic aggregations that make up physical atoms, there is a passage toward the end describing four pre-normal states of the common elements of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen which Leadbeater named 'etheric'. He added that this was done 'perhaps unadvisedly' (see OCCULT CHEMISTRY revised edition 1919, table opposite page 7, and Appendix after page 109). He said this because of the sense in which the word ETHER was then being commonly used. Ether was then regarded as the postulated universal all-pervading 'substance' which conveyed electromagnetic vibrations such as heat, light, electric charge, etc., throughout space and through a vacuum. Nevertheless, the term ETHERIC as above defined was adopted and became generally used thereafter in the AB/CWL literature, making three gross states, viz. solid, liquid and gaseous, and four etheric states.
It is important to note that these investigations were done clairvoyantly, or, in the author's parlance, using astral sight (presumably in Blavatsky's nomenclature). This is important because, according to the Blavatsky teachings, there is a laya center, or neutral condition between each plane of Cosmos and it is explained that senses of a different order are needed for each plane. In other words, physical senses will not respond to 'astral' stimuli and vice versa. This means that anyone using 'etheric' (astral) sight could not be seeing physical matter. What would be seen would be the etheric (astral) counterpart of the physical, not the physical itself. In order to examine these 'etheric' subatomic structures Leadbeater had to use a special power of the will (siddhi) to break down the atoms from their normal state (of gaseous) to the abnormal disintegrated substates which he saw. It must be stressed, however, that these sub-states of matter were created by Leadbeater using his siddhi, and that they do not exist in the normal way, either in the 'etheric' (astral) plane or at physical level. They have never been observed as existing in the 'free' state at physical level, although specimen states corresponding to them may exist under abnormal conditions, for example during sophisticated and powerful experiments. If they exist at physical level, they would be observable by normal physical senses or suitable sense-extending instruments. Similarly the astral (Blavatsky) world being that from which all that is in the physical is protected, would contain the counterparts of 'etheric' atomic states normally (i.e., without Leadbeater having to break down atoms into their constituent parts). However, they do not, or he would have seen them without having to use his siddhi.
If these 'etheric' states do not exist at physical level, there is no matter of which the 'etheric' double could be composed. That there was, was an assumption made by Leadbeater. This assumption could have been checked by his clairvoyantly examining an Etheric Body direct. There is no record of such an examination and presumably none was made, i.e. the assumption of the composition of an Etheric Body was not checked by direct observation, neither was the real existence of such a body (as described) ever established by him or any other person.
The 'etheric' states of physical matter, or its astral Blavatsky counterpart, were 'created' by Leadbeater, and the idea of an 'etheric' body or semi-physical plane, was an unsound deduction.
LEADBEATER'S 'ETHERIC' STATES OF MATTER
The conception of an 'Etheric Body' and its location on an 'etheric' semi-physical plane arose from the naming as described of what might be regarded as the formative stages of the atoms of common chemical elements, by a series of aggregations of what Besant and Leadbeater called the ultimate physical atom (Anu). It is important to note that, whereas in such a developmental stage, i.e., moving from one 'etheric' state to the next, there is a change in atomic structure, but in the three normal states of matter, i.e., solid, liquid and gaseous, there is no such change. This is an inconsistency from the normal process of change of state.
Besant refers (on page 72 of THE ANCIENT WISDOM) to these etheric stages as 'higher' than the physical atoms of science. There is a serious objection to this contention in that the 'etheric' states are clearly formative, i.e., more primitive states than those of the elements as they now exist. If there were such a thing as an Etheric Body it would be lower on the evolutionary scale than the physical body.
Furthermore, as pointed out above, apart from the chemical elements (listed in the periodic table) composed according to Leadbeater of the subatomic particles of his investigations, which comprise the 'matter' of our objective world, Leadbeater's sub-particles have normally no independent existence. Therefore no bodies, and no plane, could be composed of them.
Besant later, consistently with the original (Blavatsky) literature, added 'fire' to the gross physical states, corresponding the classical four elemental states of Earth, Water, Air and Fire and the invisible beings, the elementals, supposed in mediaeval times to have been associated with them, viz. the gnomes, the sylphs, the undines and the salamanders. These four Elements correspond in the original literature to the tattvic states of matter which include Fire but the AB/CWL classification in OCCULT CHEMISTRY omits Fire as a state of matter, having however its four etheric states. If Fire is included as an element there is room only for three etheric states. In Blavatsky's classical scheme there are seven tattvic states.
TATTVAS AND CORRESPONDING STATES OF MATTER
In several places, Blavatsky identified the four states of matter, viz. earth, water, air, fire, and associated them with elementals of corresponding classes and with the Tattvas under the Hindu names of Prithivi, Apas, Tejas, Vayu. Continuing up the tattvic scale she put the fifth as Alaya or Akasa, and then mentioned two more above that, viz. a sixth, Anupadaka and a seventh, Adi. These are the expressions used (BCW, XII, 614) and compared with the AB/CWL nomenclature in the table below:
|HPB/Masters System||AB/CWL System|
|Tattvas||No.||Elements & States of Matter||No.||States of Matter (Unrelated to Tattvas)|
|Adi||#7||Aether (Akasa)||#1||Ether 4|
|Anupadaka||#6||Divine Flame||#2||Ether 3|
|Alaya (or Akasa)||#5||Ether||#3||Ether 2|
1) Adi simply means first or supreme, it is not used to apply to a plane in THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
2) Anupadaka (literally meaning "parentless") Apart from being the name of a tattva, it was applied to the seven Dhyani Buddhas (SD, I, 571.)
3) The inversion of the numbering should be noted. It is a further cause of confusion to students.
In the SD III Table the fifth Tattva (Alaya) is referred to as Akasa, but is the equivalent of the second differentiation from Adi: commonly in the text of the SD Akasa is synonymous with Aether, i.e., the One Element. Alaya is referred to elsewhere as (and corresponds to) Ether. Further it must be noted that the Table in THE SECRET DOCTRINE shows the correspondences of the Tattvas with, among other things, the human Principles, which include the Linga Sarira (as such). Ether is significantly mentioned (SD, I, 12) wherein it says,
For clearer understanding on the part of the general reader, it must be stated that Occult Science recognizes SEVEN cosmic elements, four entirely physical and the fifth (Ether) semi-material, as it will become visible in the air toward the end of our Fourth Round, to reign supreme over the others during the whole of the Fifth. The remaining two are as yet absolutely beyond the range of human perception. These latter will appear as presentments during the sixth and seventh Races of this round, and will become known in the sixth and seventh Rounds respectively.
Obviously the first four entirely physical elements are those enumerated above and the fifth, Ether, is in the process of manifesting now, but the other elements, whether regarded as Ethers or not, are not yet manifest on our globe. There is therefore nothing in the HPB/Masters system that could correspond to the AB/CWL system's four ethers or etheric states of matter.
SUBATOMIC STATES OF MATTER
It can be asked, if the above is true, what is the matter that is manifest at spiritualistic seances as ectoplasm and of what are the 'auras' of Kirlean photography composed?
To answer the second question first, Kirlean photographs are relatively high voltage discharges affected by the emanations from living bodies, or where a part of a body has been detached (cutoff or severed by accident) the astral (not etheric) model still remaining intact effects the discharge. An understanding of this involves a knowledge of how forms or models in the astral are projected into objectivity at physical level.
The first question concerning the exuding of the matter called ectoplasm from mediums (spiritualistic) during seances involves a process of the disintegration of the physical substance of the medium's body, i.e., the creation of a special state of physical matter for the time being. The phantom's weight increases as that of the medium correspondingly decreases. Ectoplasm is exuded as an amorphous mass from an orifice, e.g., mouth or nostril, and then it, or some of it, assumes a form, or a number of forms, of recognizable likenesses. These are impressed on the substance by psychic (astral) force by elementals from patterns in the minds of those present or in the Astral Light.
Blavatsky describes (SD, I, 257) what characteristic of matter will correspond to the 'etheric' state when it does manifest, and she says it will be that of 'permeability'. Along with it a sixth sense will develop in man which will enable him to see 'through' solid matter. Not only that, in the then proper 'etheric' state a solid object will be able to pass through another solid one, say a wall, or knots will be able to be tied in an endless cord, etc. This is something that elementals are now able to do and sometimes do at seances. If the etheric states as described by Leadbeater were of this nature this state of permeability and the sixth sense would also be here now, but they are not. It should be noted that, just as Leadbeater 'created' his etheric states of matter, so there must be other states of matter than those we normally know -- as implied a number of times by Blavatsky -- which do not ordinarily exist in a free state. An example of the temporary creation of one of these abnormal states would be that of the endless cord knots just cited, wherein abnormal states of matter would have been created by the Elementals.
When Blavatsky wanted to describe something that was nonphysical and tenuous in nature she used the word 'ethereal' (not etheric), which again she specifically related to the astral plane (SD, II, 299). Further, toward the end of an article that she entitled "A Danger Signal" written for LA REVUE THEOSOPHIQUE, April 1889, (BCW, XI, 185 et seq.) Blavatsky makes the following statement:
The terminology established some fifteen years ago in the Theosophical Society is the correct one, because in every case these terms are a faithful translation of their Sanskrit equivalents, almost as old as the latest human race, and then significantly she adds,
This terminology could not be modified at present without running the risk of introducing into the theosophical teachings a chaos which would be deplorable and dangerous to their clarity.
This statement is particularly relevant and significant in the light of what in fact happened to the theosophical terminology in the books written later on.
It was in 1889 that Blavatsky wrote THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY and therein she very carefully defined her terms and their meanings. Toward the end of Chapter IX (page 171 Original Ed.) she wrote a section, "Definite words for definite things." In this she was concerned that the terminology should be settled. She used a large part of that section for definitions of the elements of the human 'soul'. In a footnote (page 175) she puts, "Shifting of Metaphysical terms," which she says:
applies here only to the shifting of their translated equivalents from the Eastern expressions: for to this day there never existed such terms in English, every Theosophist having to coin his own terms to render his thought. It is high time then to settle on some definite nomenclature,
and this she did in THE KEY where she defined precisely all the more commonly used words and gave their Sanskrit equivalents. She set out the constitution of man, giving the English equivalents of the Eastern names, in Table II which follows.
Besant's THE ANCIENT WISDOM was written in 1897, eight years after this terminology had been established. In it (p 194) she equates the Linga Sarira to her Etheric Double which in her system, as explained above, she places on the physical plane. This introduces a difficulty because the Linga Sarira in the Hindu and original theosophical sense is on the plane above the physical.
It must also be remembered that, according to Blavatsky, there is a Laya Center between the physical plane proper and the one of the Linga Sarira (the astral) above it, and therefore distinctly different sets of senses operate on the planes on either side of the Laya Centers. The physical is cognizable by physical senses but the plane of the Linga Sarira (the Astral in the Blavatsky system) is not; the latter require astral senses, i.e., those of clairvoyance and clairaudience. In the AB/CWL system, however, the Etheric Body or Double being 'etheric' physical, but on the physical plane, would not be separated from the dense physical by a Laya Center: physical senses would therefore apply to both the gross physical and the etheric physical.
TABLE II -- THEOSOPHICAL DIVISION (KEY, VI, 91-92)
THE LOWER (PERSONAL QUATERNARY)
THE UPPER IMPERISHABLE TRIAD
She gave some further significant definitions which are of relevance in the light of some later usage of the terms:
I. Atma, the Higher Self, is neither your spirit nor mine, but like sunlight shines on all. It is the universally diffused divine principle, and is inseparable from its one and absolute super-spirit, as the sunbeam is inseparable from sunlight.
II. Buddhi, the spiritual soul is only its vehicle. Neither Atma nor Buddhi separately, nor the two collectively, is of any more use to the body of man, than sunlight and its beams are for a mass of granite buried in the earth, unless the divine duad is assimilated by, and reflected in, SOME CONSCIOUSNESS. Neither Atma nor Buddhi are ever reached by Karma, because the former is the highest aspect of Karma, the WORKING AGENT OF ITSELF in one aspect, and the latter is unconscious ON THIS PLANE. This consciousness or mind is
III. Manas, the derivation or product in a reflected form, of AHAMKARA, 'the conception of I,' or 'Ego-ship'. It is, therefore, when inseparably united to the first two, called the spiritual Ego, and TAIJASA, the radiant. This is the real individuality, or the divine man. It is this Ego which -- having originally incarnated in the senseless human form animated by, but unconscious of, the presence in itself of the dual monad, since it had no consciousness -- made of that human-like form a real MAN. It is this Ego, this 'causal body', which overshadows every personality into which Karma forces it to incarnate. It is this Ego which is held responsible for all the sins committed through and in, every new body or personality -- the evanescent masks which hide the true individual through the long series of rebirths.
[Key, VIII, 135]
The HIGHER SELF is Atma, the inseparable ray of the Universal and One SELF. It is the God above, more than within us. Happy the man who succeeds in saturating his INNER EGO with it!
The SPIRITUAL DIVINE EGO is the spiritual soul or Buddhi, in close union with Manas, the mind-principle, without which the former is no Ego at all, but only the Atmic Vehicle.
THE INNER, OR HIGHER EGO, is Manas, the 'fifth' principle, so called, independently of Buddhi. The mind-principle is only the SPIRITUAL EGO when merged into one with Buddhi; no materialist being supposed to have in him SUCH an Ego, however great his intellectual capacities. It is the permanent INDIVIDUALITY or the reincarnating Ego. THE LOWER, OR PERSONAL EGO, is the physical man in conjunction with his LOWER self, i.e., animal instincts, passions, desires, etc. It is called the false PERSONALITY, and consists of the lower Manas combined with Kama Rupa, and operating through the physical body and its phantom or double.
[Key IX, 176]
It is also important to note that, whereas there are tattvic correspondences to the solid, liquid, gaseous and fiery states of matter, there are none to the four physical 'etheric' states.