The first lesson taught in esoteric philosophy is, that the incognizable Cause does not put forth evolution, whether consciously or unconsciously, but only exhibits periodically DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF ITSELF to the perception of FINITE Minds.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 487
By Dara Eklund
These notes are from a pre-Spring weekend seminar on YOGA VASISTHA, provided by Joy Mills at the Krotona School of Theosophy. The YOGA VASISTHA is a little-known text of Indian Philosophy, although a few prominent scholars such as Bhagavan Das (MYSTIC EXPERIENCES, 1927) have commentaries upon it. A translation by K. Narayanaswami Aiyar was published by the T.S. Adyar in 1914, and Dr. B.L. Atreyas' YOGAVASISTHA AND ITS PHILOSOPHY was published in THE INDIAN THEOSOPHIST in 1988; based on earlier lectures at the T.S. Benares (1932).
Very little is known about the sage Vasistha (pronounced VASHISTHA). After the seminar we located a few references to the sage. Blavatsky's THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY has a brief line: "One of the primitive seven great Rishis, and a most celebrated Vedic sage." On an internet site, N. Ranganatha Sharma describes him as a great Hindu ascetic, born of the God Brahma himself.
He was a preceptor to great kings like Raja Harischandra and Lord Rama. He had conquered all his passions and was a Jitendriya. He was married to Arundhati who was a great devoted wife and learned lady. Both these names occur in our scripture a number of times and are considered so great that in the Great Bear there is a star that is named after Vasistha and a small one close to him named Arundhati. In Sanskrit the great bear is known as Saptarshi (seven ascetics) ...
[The name Vasistha is sometimes spelled Vasishta; for consistency we have kept it to the text's spelling, in the first paragraph above and made minor English corrections.] On the internet site:
one may find fascinating legends about the great sage.
Joy began our Friday evening session with a brief explanation of the text which is known as the "Greater Ramayana" -- since it deals with the Inner life and training of Rama when he was only 16, and before the epic [termed the "Lesser Ramayana"] which deals with his outer life and trials. Rama is troubled by questions which afflict all of us:
Valmiki, the sage who wrote down the world-famous RAMAYANA sends Vasistha to answer these questions and instruct him.
As only the awakened are capable of becoming enlightened by the Truth, Rama must first wake up before he can be instructed. Therefore, the YOGA VASISTHA has been called a text upon Self-knowledge. For whom is this dialogue narrated? It is for those who seek liberation from ignorance and illusion, and those who have a concern for human sorrow. The root of the problem is to control the wavering mind and through self-effort gain the illumination to overcome ignorance.
There are four "Gatekeepers" or qualifications to gain this illumination, "Four Warders" as termed by Bhagavan Das. They are according to the CONCISE YOGA VASISTHA
1. Self-control -- Dispassionate Calm of Mind
2. Spirit of inquiry -- Invincible untiring Reflection
3. Contentment -- Greedless, non-acquisitive serenity
4. Good company -- i.e. of the wise or holy ones
These qualifications are provided in various orders by interpreters, but all agree that if you achieve one, you might achieve the others.
We were provided with a number of stories, in which various demons such as Sambara and Karkati (the giant demoness of unsatiable appetite) represent the mind. These are transformative allegories which present the journey of the Monad through Samsara to Nirvana, invariably connected with the above four requirements for illumination.
The story of Karkati is about a Giant demoness who devours men for their life-energy by becoming the size of a needle. But via penance she is allowed to gain the boon of regaining her huge form, where she might still consume unworthy mortals and even sages. But now she tests their wisdom first. Her taste has become discriminative. So she tests the wisdom of the King and his minister with probing questions. Joy handed us a list of these questions to discuss, of which a few are:
Who but a very intelligent demon could ask such questions? Then Joy asked us to explain the conclusion of the story when Karkati spares the King and becomes a charming young woman by day, but at night resumes her demoniacal form, consuming criminals and sinners? And of course, a number of students felt Maya and the Dual aspect of Mind were the answers. Joy related another story of Gadhi, an allegory of the Mind's illusion.
Vasistha reveals to Rama, the importance of direct experience, admonishing "Your knowledge needs confirmation." He emphasizes SELF-EFFORT at the close of each chapter, for example
"Rama, you are already liberated. Just live like it."
In the fifth chapter Vasistha urges Rama to engage in spontaneous and appropriate action. That is, live in the moment and face what needs doing!
The sixth chapter (and longest portion of the text) is epitomized as "I have given you a net woven with words, with which you must down the bird of your mind and let your mind rest in the heart." The Life of the Liberated One is revealed in this section as That knowledge which is not mere belief, but one gained by realizing that the "Experience and the Experiencer are One!" Further it delineates Seven States of Wisdom or YOGA
1. Constant inquiry
2. Direct observation (as to what to do, or not to do)
3. Non-attachment or freedom
4. Mind becomes free of division
5. Only undivided Reality remains (Yet the yogi still labors)
6. The yogi reaches the Turiya stage where he transcends duality, the real or the Unreal; and becomes like a full vessel immersed in the Sea.
7. Enters as the disembodied Liberated ones into the Supreme Brahman, or Supreme Bliss.
Forming small groups for discussion's sake, we were asked to ponder how one might live knowing that one is already liberated. How would he respond to pleasure or pain? Here of course many correspondences to THE BHAGAVAD GITA arose. What would be the mental state in times of calamity, disaster or sorrow? To what extent would there be a different state of mind when all is going well, when someone else receives praise, or when we are praised? How would such a liberated one engage in worldly activities, how would we treat Friends? Enemies? Strangers? What might be the emotional nature of such a person, his outer appearance? All these questions drew worthy commentary, but I especially like the YOGA VASISTHA's description as his outer appearance being with the "Luster of cheerfulness," one whose conduct annoys no one.
After Rama enters Supreme Bliss, Valmiki urges Vasistha to bring Rama back to a bodily form. The text closes with a revelation of whom Rama is "The Supreme Purusha of everyone -- the Godhead, protector and redeemer of all." ...Therefore "Rama, Get up and bring joy to all."
I should like to also enclose some key ideas on Truth as expressed in Chapter IV of the YOGA VASISTHA. In the archives of Theosophy World, some passages selected by Nicholas Weeks on "The Path of Self-Reliance" are available. These were shared by Joy Mills during our beginning sessions, and provided as printouts for participants.
O Rama, he sees the truth who sees the body as a product of deluded understanding and as the fountain source of misfortune, and who knows that the body is not the self.
He sees the truth who sees that in this body pleasure and pain are experiences on account of the passage of time and the circumstances in which one is placed, and that they do not pertain to him.
He sees the truth who sees that he is the omnipresent infinite consciousness which encompasses within itself all that takes place everywhere at all times.
He sees the truth who knows that the self, which is as subtle as the millionth part of the tip of a hair divided a million times, pervades everything.
He sees the truth who sees that there is no division at all between the self and the other, and that the one infinite light of consciousness exists as the sole reality.
He sees the truth who sees that the non-dual consciousness which indwells in all beings is omnipotent and omnipresent.
He sees the truth who is not deluded into thinking that he is the body which is subject to illness, fear, agitation, old age and death.
He sees the truth who sees all things are strung in the self as beads are strung on a thread, and who knows "I am not the mind."
He sees the truth who sees all this is Brahman, neither 'I' nor 'the other.'
He sees the truth who sees all beings in the three worlds as his own family, deserving his sympathy and protection.
He sees the truth who knows that the self alone exists and there is no substance in objectivity.
He is firmly established in the truth who feels"What should I acquire, what should I renounce, when all this is the one self?"
Salutations to the abode of auspiciousness who is filled with the supreme realization that the entire universe is truly Brahman alone, which remains unchanged during all the apparent creation, existence and dissolution of the universe.
-- THE CONCISE YOGA VASISTHA, Chapter IV
By W. Emmett Small
[This was the last editorial in THE ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST by W. Emmett Small, while he was Editor of the journal. It appeared in the Winter 1992 issue, pages 2-3.]
Although Theosophical ideas have entered into every development or form which awakening spirituality has assumed, yet Theosophy pure and simple has still severe battles to fight for recognition.
Those are words of H.P. Blavatsky given over a hundred years ago to the American Convention in Chicago of April 22-23, 1888. Direct and clear they tell the story still for today. So we ask, What of the Theosophical Movement as we approach the last years of this century? Let us be honest. Let us face facts.
There are a growing number of theosophical groups or Societies in different parts of the world seriously studying the writings of HPB and THE MAHATMA LETTERS and trying to put these Teachings into practice. There are an increasing number of scattered theosophical students, no longer subserving an administrative body, also studying conscientiously and searching for truth.
On the other hand, in larger T.S. groups or Societies there still is an acceptance of what is known as the Liberal Catholic Church, based on the distorted ideas of C.W. Leadbeater, opposed to true Theosophy, as well as other later self-styled gurus and their followers pandering to what an ignorant public cries for. There also is an increasing number, even among them, beginning perhaps a hesitant appraisal of what they've been taught, awakening to the dangers facing the future.
Foreseeing dangers that the Movement would face, HPB stressed (again writing to the same American Convention) what we might call the great necessity:
HOLD FAST EVER TO TRUTH, to "Theosophy pure and simple."
But she also warned that in doing so there should be no "orthodoxy." It calls for careful thought.
Diversity is a universal fact of life. It does not mean discord among Theosophists -- IF there is belief in basic Truth itself. That great underlying trust and belief should ever be the core of Unity despite individual variety in understanding or approaching it. HPB writes clearly on this:
Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body ...
And, completing the thought, she warns of that necessary Diversity having "other ugly features." So what are they? And we quote here from our editorial in THE ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST, No. 45, March 1978:
Does that diversity open doors to acceptance of actual distortion of teaching, pawned off on an inquiring public as the Theosophy of the Masters? We are in a cycle similar to the dawning years of the Christian era, the Fish Age. Now in the Aquarian beginnings, tumultuous in opportunity, shall the Movement go the same way, with emphasis on psychic vagaries, in vestures and outer trappings and the shell, while the reality, "the living and breathing spirit of Truth," fades away sought by the relative few? And when it comes to theosophical principles, is it an agreeable complacency that is preferred tolerant of the pull and trend of the times and hesitant of determined stand?
Today, as interest grows in the transcendental and occult, and the wildest ideas are seized upon as genuine occult revelation, is there not urgency for Theosophists to make clear what Theosophy is ... to NOT state what it is not? If, as HPB declares, Theosophy is the source from which the religions of the future will be born, if "it alone can furnish the beacon light needed to guide humanity on its true path," what then is our duty? So we see that in guidance of the Theosophical Society, method or form of work can change dependent on outer conditions and circumstances, but the driving inner force remains one with Truth. "I work for TRUTH and in accordance with my sacred pledge and vow, which I, at least will never break" -- again HPB writing to Fellows of the American Section in the last years of her life. So we must not confuse the diversity of outer change with inner Truth.
It was the same with W.Q. Judge who worked so closely and loyally with HPB all his life. Dangerous conditions in the Movement demanded of him necessary action to preserve the true teaching. History knows of the break of the T.S. then into two main parts, called "the Split."
In the next century Katherine Tingley was ever loyal, too, to the original Teaching and Program, her method emphasizing a practical demonstration of Universal Brotherhood, at least its possibility, in her School on Point Loma.
And after her was G. de Purucker. His method again in working for the great Cause and devoting his full energies to spreading Theosophy was shown when he started some sixty years ago what was called the Fraternization Movement: Break down the barriers between the various Theosophical Societies, not then even on speaking terms. Get down to real study of Theosophy. Treat other T.S. workers with decency and respect even in disagreement. In a dozen years it succeeded in degree, and Theosophical world conditions will never be the same.
But let us take note of G. de P.'s last thoughts on this subject, written in 1941 during World War II. We quote a few lines:
So far as the Point Loma Society is concerned, it has absolutely no intention of trying to reunite with other societies -- The common work in the world will be just as well served by the different Theosophical Societies -- [Diversity!] -- following each its own path, but with cordial and fraternal relations amongst themselves, and especially SYMPATHY by us toward others of other societies of theosophical bent, or Theosophical Societies which return to the original policies, teachings and procedures of the Masters and HPB ...
This seems to hint that for some years to come, and especially now for us in these closing years of this century, the method will be one of many theosophical groups, lodges, or individuals free from administrative control working along theosophical lines they find helpful under their own conditions and circumstances. And that then as the years advance and Theosophy "pure and simple" becomes more widely recognized that in itself will generate a Call, and a wider, more universal unity and union will result.
Our own work of Point Loma Publications, its growing number of published volumes since its founding in 1971, as well as the pages of our ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST, attest to what we have striven for: holding firmly to the basic principles and Teachings brought by HPB and her Teachers, and sharing these with our growing number of readers around the world.
HOLD FAST TO TRUTH. This should be the undying motto of the Theosophical Movement, its Societies, Lodges, individual members. In those four words we find both daring challenge and daily opportunity.
I now step down from the editorial office of our quarterly ECLECTIC, and our son Kenneth will become Editor. He has been Associate Editor this last year, and has also been a member of Point Loma Publications since its founding and is its present Secretary. We trust he too will have the steady friendly support we ourselves have enjoyed these many decades for which we are deeply grateful.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 269-75]
The result of Theosophical study should be that the inner something which HPB called the Real Man should come to predominate over the exterior form and take possession of it, and thereby become, in a real sense of the word, the Captain of the ship. It is something which those who have taken the pursuit of spiritual things seriously must have glimpsed to a larger or smaller extent: a realization that comes, after a certain period of study and effort along the lines of the spiritual life, as a result of inward and upward striving. It is an inflow of energy and inspiration from the higher part of their being, which enables them to steer the ship of their own life with a sense of conscious direction, which they never had up to that moment.
I wonder what this title, "The Evolution of the Soul," signifies to you. Probably if you have not had the inestimable privilege, as we believe it to be, of studying the Theosophical philosophy, you will be saying to yourselves that the evolution of the soul has reference to the development and growth of something within a man, and you will probably leave it at that. But to the Theosophist, immediately you talk of the evolution of the soul a vast picture presents itself -- not of man alone, but of the whole universe. One of the fundamental statements of the Theosophical philosophy is that the whole universe exists for but one purpose, and that is the evolution of the soul.
What is meant by that statement? For there is another one that goes side by side with it: that every entity in the universe either was a man, or is a man at the present time, or will be in the future. This idea of the whole universe existing for the evolution of the soul immediately suggests that Soul is everywhere present: that life and spirituality and consciousness are present at every point in space; that there is no such thing at all as dead matter anywhere. Therefore to the Theosophist, when he thinks of this problem of the growth of the soul, it signifies the unfolding of Divine powers and capacities in the life which is everywhere present, even in that which scientists call inorganic matter. That means that we are not merely concerned in our thought with the problems of man and his growth and development, but we realize that the whole of the Universe of which we are a part, is a living entity, bound together in one indissoluble unity in all its parts, in all its kingdoms, and united by the unfolding intelligence which is indwelling in every atom of which it is composed.
Think of the vast ocean of space in which this Universe "lives and moves and has its being." Everything proceeds forth from it, and one day will return into it again. But immediately you think of evolution and growth, and you wonder: Where did it all begin? Actually what is the origin of a solar system? Well, if you look at the Universe IN TOTO as a vast plane which is periodically the playground of numberless Universes which come and go incessantly, then you realize that the birth and death of a man, the birth and death of a planet, is a process not different from that of the birth and ultimate dissolution of a solar system. Therefore, when we study man himself, we realize that there is something within man which is eternal, which is undying, and which is, as it were, a seed of life into which everything returns at the end of any one of his excursions into manifested existence, such as a single human incarnation. There is that into which all this outward manifestation that we call a man is indrawn. Then at a single moment in time, under cyclic law, that seed -- that divine spark, if you will -- fructifies. It puts forth its energy, and once again, evolving and growing from within without, a little child is born, and the entity that we call a man emerges once again on the stage of human life. I would like to suggest to you the thought that exactly the same process takes place in the evolution of a universe or a solar system. There is a germ within the root of a solar system which periodically fructifies in exactly the same way.
Evolution, according to Theosophy, proceeds in three streams. We must not merely regard it as an evolution of form. If we do regard it thus, we should be materialists. That is why the scientists' search to answer the riddle of evolution fails, because they do not realize that it is not a problem of the unfolding, development and differentiation of species of physical forms at all. It is essentially a problem of the evolution of the soul: the indwelling life within the form. Yet they came very close to the true solution of the problem of evolution when they discovered that the embryonic stages of the evolution of the foetus recapitulate all the kingdoms of nature. From that they deduced from that this human form of ours has actually descended from animal ancestors. Yet there is no greater illusion in the world than that; and it is absolutely necessary when attempting to speak upon Theosophical doctrines concerning evolution, to draw a sharp line of distinction between the philosophical and religious conception of the evolution of the soul on the one hand, and the scientific ideas of Darwin, and the evolution of human forms from animal ancestors, on the other hand.
I said a moment ago that evolution proceeds in three streams. These are, the spiritual, the intellectual, and the physical. In man, these three streams become evident and provable to us. We can observe these three streams if we observe ourselves. We know that we have an external form; and if we delve deep into ourselves we realize the existence of the intellectual and thinking part of us that. HPB called the Real Man; and then, if we delve still deeper, we realize that there is a sovereign immortal spiritual principle, brooding over and illuminating the two lower principles; and it is that which is the fountain and origin of all the inspiration which any man at any time ever became the recipient of.
The beginnings of life in any solar system, and the origin of any individual man, must be a subject of the profoundest interest to any thinking person. You remember the words of Edwin Arnold in THE SONG CELESTIAL:
Nor I, nor thou, nor any one of these, Ever was not, nor ever will not be, For ever and for ever afterwards.
And probably there is no one, whoever began the study of Theosophical teachings, who was not profoundly perplexed about this riddle of the eternity of life, of this beginningless and endless existence which we are attempting to show forth the characteristics of.
I would like to try to elucidate a little. What does it mean when we say to ourselves that we as spiritual beings never have a beginning and we can never have an end? Does it convey anything to you or not? Here is the answer that Theosophy gives. You cannot separate yourself in thought from all the other beings of the universe, and especially you cannot separate yourselves from that to which you owe your origin. What is the origin of an individual man? It is what the New Testament called his Father in Heaven -- not in the sense of any personal God according to the teachings of the churches; but there was that spiritual principle which the Avatara of the New Testament declared himself to be at one with; and it is exactly the same for any one of us. There comes a time when we realize that we ourselves owe our origin to -- we are indeed the children of -- that divine part of us. See how this links onto the question of "Never was I not, and never shall I hereafter cease to be."
There are three streams of evolution: spiritual, intellectual, and physical, and the physical and objective part of us is but the child or manifestation of the Inner Man, and that Inner Man is in turn the child of the spiritual part of us; so that you can say that an outer form of a universe, of a planet or a man, signifies an indwelling entity, eternally linked to and the expression of a spiritual being behind it. The divine entity, which is the parent of a man, for example, is in every case a God -- "so many men on earth, so many Gods in heaven." The men that we are today -- fallible, erring, but striving upwards to union with those deities -- what were we yesterday? Obviously if evolution is a truth, then there was a time aeons ago, when we were actually passing through and struggling out of the beast kingdom, as today we are passing through and struggling to emerge from the human kingdom into something higher. Do you see the point? That entity, which at one time was embodied in the kingdom of the animals, is today, as a result of its inward growth and development, embodied as a human being.
And the divine being, that immortal entity which is the inspiriting force behind the evolution of any being or world or system: what about it? There was a time when it was a thinking man, when it too looked to its divine parent. So you see that life and consciousness is a hierarchy of being and existence. There are many entities within man. Man is not just a simple being: he is a very complex entity; and those beings, if we look within ourselves, exist on a hierarchical principle; and that Golden Chain, that Sutratman, that thread of eternal consciousness on which our whole being is strung, has no possible beginning and no possible ending, for it is rooted in the very fabric and structure of the Universe itself.
Just think to yourself of this chain of life: eternal because ever being, that is strung upon that thread and is progressing to higher and higher states of being. The man that we are today, tomorrow will have won his way, if he runs the cosmic race successfully, up to that higher stage of being where he in his turn will have become the inspiriting force behind the men of tomorrow. So the men of today emerge at the end of a great world period of evolution as perfected God-men, fully self-conscious, fully developed; and when the time comes for the manifestation of life in a new period -- a new world period -- then the humanity of the last period become the leaders, spiritually speaking, of those who will emerge on the stage of human life in that period, who were ensouling the world of the animals during the preceding world period. So the evolution of the soul presents a rather complex picture, if I may so express it.
Lastly, I would like to leave this thought with you and invite you to raise questions on all those many aspects of the doctrines of evolution that I have left unsaid, and that last thought is this: if, in the unfolding of the powers within man it is possible for us to unfold spiritual and intellectual and psychical powers equal to those of the highest entity that the mind of man can conceive of, think of the noble and grand picture of the great Teachers of the human race, as they are recorded in religious history, for example, those who are virtually God-men. If those beings have truly trodden the ways of men, they show forth an ideal, they hold up a lamp, which shows us that what they have done we must necessarily be able to do and to achieve one of these days. Why? Because it is a fundamental of this philosophy that there are no special privileges in nature for any being in the Universe, except those that the individual has won by his own efforts and striving. Therefore the Mahatma and all great souls possess the powers that they do over space and matter simply because they have found the way as a result of a long series of lives of bringing forth the virtually omniscient powers of their own spirits, and have acquired full control of their own mechanism of consciousness. It is actually that goal that humanity is set in its evolutionary progress to unfold from within itself: that spiritual power by which the human, thinking entity within us is raised into indissoluble one-ness with the divine principle of his being. That is the goal of all Theosophical and spiritual endeavor. Those Teachers of the human race who now hold the lamp of spiritual truth for us, at one time stood exactly where we stand today. They are men like us: but spiritual men, who know because they have realized the power of the Divinity that lies at the root of their being.
By Reed Carson
Theosophy keeps moving on. This month sixteen articles by William Q. Judge have been added online to this site. On the "roadmap" page we have added links to a new site in Tanzania and to another that has been up for a little while in London. Students of ULT have placed online 6 more videos since last mention, bringing the total to 21 free half-hour long Theosophical videos available online.
On this site this month we have worked at enriching the bookstore, adding 8 new aisles and numerous books. Some are worth particular mention here.
One new aisle is called "For Beginners". A constant dilemma is what to offer to the newcommer to read. Now this new aisle does what is a little unorthodox in some circles. Before listing Judge's Ocean it suggests 2 books by Geoffrey Farthing. Farthing was president of the Blavatsky Trust and fills both books with quotes from HPB. I think his writing style and emphasis on HPB fill a real need. (If you read them and disagree, please write me.) That aisle also offers abridged versions of the Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled in paperback for starters. We hope people will move up to the full hardbound versions later, but people need a way to start.
Another important new aisle is for the Mahatma Letters, the important Theosophical classic book first published in 1923 that contains the actual letters they wrote last century. That aisle currently features the 1998 version of the Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett that has been arranged and edited by Vicente Hao Chin Jr. (Chin donated the articles by HPB in text form to this site helping to give it a start in cyber-life in 1996. He also first placed the SD into the computer, a significant event, I think, in Theosophical history.) An important change is that the letters are in chronological order. This change is helpful and useful other material is in the annotations giving when and where etc. Yes there is a note suggesting that material offically meant to be published should be read first. To contribute some Theosophical meat to this newsletter I am quoting one of the letters form the Masters, appearing on the back cover of Chin's version, that ought to have significance for all of us.
Nature has linked all parts of her Empire together by subtle threads of magnetic sympathy, and there, there is a mutual correlation even between a star and a man; thought runs swifter than the electric fluid, and your thought will find me if projected by a pure impulse, as mine will find, has found, and often impressed upon your mind. We may move in cycles divided-not entirely separated from each other: Like the light in the sombre valley seen by the mountaineer from his peaks, every bright thought in your mind, my Brother, will sparkle and attract the attention of your distant friend, and correspondent. If thus we discover our natural Allies in the Shadow-world -- your world and ours outside the precincts -- and it is our law to approach every such an one if even there be but the feeblest glimmer of the true "Tathagata" light within him -- then how far easier for you to attract us.
-- THE MAHATMA LETTERS, Letter XLV
The work of the scholar Henk Spierenburg has been recommended more than once. Now his works have been added to the store and form the initial basis of the new aisles that take a serious approach to studying religions. He collates HPB's statements and adds his own scholarship. His books are very much centered on HPB.
And an inspiration aisle has been added for at least a little balance to all the heavy material in the store.
Of course the store is not yet done. But it has been deepened in depth, scope, and number of authors represented. Hope you like it.
The total membership on the two Blavatsky Net talk lists, BN-study and BN-basic, with some overlap, is now over 750. There has been much active exchange of thought and, I think, much growth. We will want to know your view! See us at:
By B.P. Wadia
[The last part of a paper -- "Will the Soul of Europe Return?" -- offered to the first World Congress of the Theosophical Society in 1921. This is from a reprint in a private pamphlet by Himalaya Prakashan, Bangalore, August 20, 1979. ]
In this Aryan Race, mind development in seven stages is taking place. The principles of human constitution relate themselves to races and sub-races of the human kingdom. In the new international state, a sublayer of the mind principle of the race will operate. We are not here concerned with the beginnings of the next sub-race. I refer to the Aryan European family race growth in terms of mind. The advance sixth sub-race is related to and to a certain extent dependent on the mind unfoldment of our fifth sub-race in all its ramifications of family-races. The advance guard of that family is passing out of the stage in which the use of the scientific mind is made, to that in which the philosophic mind operates. The front-rank pioneers of that advance guard are getting even beyond that -- passing out of the philosophic to the use of the archetypal mind. The bulk of the European race is still in the two lower stages of Kama-Manas. We of the Theosophical Society have to help the manifestation of the philosophic mind and aid the early expression of the archetypal.
At the beginning of a race, a certain seclusion takes place by the advance-guard of the race for the proper introduction of the activities of the new principle which is to operate in that race; in other words, the fixing of the type of the race takes place. What is true of a race is also true of its subdivisions. The early work of the unfoldment of the principle, which will operate in the new world now coming into being, will take place in seclusion. But seclusion, not as it is ordinarily understood by the world or even by the generality of our members in the T. S. To enable the new world to proceed on the right roads of its many-sided evolution, it has to be convinced of certain fundamentals. We cannot convince people save by imparting the right knowledge about those fundamentals. A new culture must mold and shape the new civilization. Who is to bring forth into being this new culture? It will not drop from heavenly regions; it has to be imbibed and assimilated by higher mind-processes, and gradually and steadily and healthily it has to be brought down from the sphere of mind to that of action. Our politicians will have to possess the faculty of looking heavenward to do the work referred to by Plato.
Plato speaks of the artists in his Republic who imitate the heavenly pattern.
Herein will lie the difference between them and every other legislator -- they will have nothing to do either with individual or state, and will inscribe no laws, until they have either found or themselves made, a clean surface.
The making of the "clean surface" is the immediate task in hand, and then must be taken up the "filling in" work.
And when they are filling in the work, as I conceive, they will often turn their eyes upwards and downwards: I mean that they will first 1ook at absolute justice and beauty and temperance, and again at the human copy; and will mingle and temper the various elements of life into the image of a man; and this they will conceive according to that other image, which when existing among men, Homer calls the form and likeness of God.
The new Nobility of Culture cannot come to birth in the slums of space, of struggling, cursing, unhappy Europe. The new society, with varied capacities to supply the common needs in the spirit of sacrifice and true altruism, cannot arise unless a few begin to live that life. To sacrifice for the benefit of others we must possess something worthy of sacrifice; to be capable means to possess some faculty. I have referred to a new Revolution, in terms of law, order, harmony; a new crusade for a spiritual kingdom; a new message from the Ancient Seat to guide the band of European humanity, not by the way of war but by that of wisdom, to a realization of a new commonwealth affording opportunity to all to be kings unto themselves. But the Eternal Hermitage must yield new sages for the spiritual crusade to precipitate the new kingdom. Therefore the Eternal Hermitage must be reproduced in the world-copy. When of men.
What are required now, immediately, are a few Cultural units or centers where men and women, of the international world, may strive with all the powers of their souls to create and work out, as fully as may be possible, with the help of their philosophic and archetypal minds, the many phases which will enable the international state to come to fruition in the course of time.
The cultural centers must be focal points at which the international state in miniature may exist. A new type of politics must replace the struggles of politics -- "where all are for the State and none for the party"; where representative government ceases, for all govern and take part in government; where capacity is taxed in terms of the common need, and the currency of culture and not of coin obtains; where worship is offered not in dimly lighted churches and with gorgeously-clad priests by lip-mummery to man-created half-gods, but in the open expanse of Nature to the God within us, who keeps company with the true Theosophical Societys in heaven, as we mortals of this world keep company with mortals; where the creator using the language of art does not suffer from the fret and fever of material life, but undergoing an inner conversion, impelled by a divine discontent followed by a spiritual realization, works with a deeper motive and a profounder suggestion, "seeking to wean humanity" from the obvious and the external reality of the senses "to a higher view of life, work and world," by holding forth to its vision "significative forms to suggest the formless infinity which is hidden behind the physical world of forms. " Where, in short, may be gestated a race of humans who could not conquer others because they have conquered themselves, who do not hate others because they have cast out fear from themselves, who teach by life and not by words, who create by life and not by brains, who work with life and not with hands, who perceive by life and not by senses. These are not symbolical, allegorical or paradoxical phrases; they must be taken as simple truths of a higher world. To an animal our language of mind culture might appear so, for it works with instinct-culture. To it a new sun rises every morning, which is rank ignorance to us; but for us a new spring rises every March -- which may be, nay, is rank ignorance to creatures of a higher realm.
Therefore, a new and finer asceticism must be practiced, which will awaken that aspect of the spirit in us which is also to manifest, in the course of decades, in the new civilization now coming to birth.
(Incidentally it may be mentioned that the archetypal mind unfoldment ultimately brings about the illumination of the mind; in other words, Buddhi-Manas begin to blossom, the mind which has to operate in the sixth sub-race. Thus will the fifth sub-race begin to merge into the sixth sub-race and become one with it. Just as the first became the second, so will the fifth become the sixth, as HPB has clearly shown in her "Secret Doctrine. ")
That is why we must start the work of building spiritual centers, cultural units. The Pythagorean unit made Greek culture; the monks retired to their monasteries when the "barbarians" began the invasion of the Roman Empire and later gave to Europe their Christian culture. Who is to give to the young world, which is now being born, the necessary culture it will require in economic, political, artistic, religious and philosophic spheres?
The world has to be educated -- the international world. This is not a narrow world of a few thousands, but a wide world of millions upon millions. "What is the use of a few cultural units?" people might exclaim.
It is the little leaven which leaveneth the whole lump. From five loaves and two fishes the Christ fed a whole multitude. A few Theosophists may function as the leaven. But we must possess that which we desire to give. Let us acquire that which we want to possess.
EVER THE DAWN BREAKS IN THE EAST
The "circling path of time" has brought us to a new dawn. "The clock of Karma" indicates the beginnings of a new day.
The modern tendency in commerce, art, philosophy or religion is toward the East. Soul-forces sometimes utilize the material instincts and the psychic urge to achieve their own purpose. The collapse of the West is like unto a night; the gloom of its darkness surrounds us and penetrates into our very being; but it inspires hope, for the morn is coming and our gaze stretches far on the Eastern horizon.
Those who are sustained by that hope are active supporters of the idea that adequate use should be made of the night, its darkness and its gloom.
A careful study of the great message of HPB points to the necessity of a labor of love on the part of a few who should endeavor to gain an inner conversion in personal consciousness and then be possessors of the culture which will enable them to precipitate in the physical world of action the new international state. To attain this, what I have called cultural units are necessary. Small community life-centers where people will learn the art of a spiritual self-expression, in an atmosphere of freedom of thought, discriminative study, profound contemplation on the society-to-be; where the knower of the field will till the field, till the latter are full of green and gold crops sufficient to feed the hungry world; where soul will contact soil.
THE SOUL AND THE SOIL
In a new manner, at a different time, the old teaching of the thirteenth discourse of THE BHAGAVAD GITA has to be applied. In the midst of carnage was the message delivered then; in the midst of desolation and suffering its wisdom holds the inspiration for a few now. Not for all, but for a few so that they can serve all:
The wise, who soar, but never roam, True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home.
But those who soar to heaven will descend to homes to sing the Song of the Life of the Real.
Let us as souls contact our soil -- our real SWADESH, our true PATRIA. Let us weed out the elements of discord, the selfishness of patriotism, the strength of egotism, the glamor of the psyche within the body, the blinding power of the senses, the automatic rule of the sense-organs, the brainpower which enchains the mind-faculty, instincts which interfere with aspirations, impulses which mar the expression of intuitions, binding activities, many and varied, which stifle the manifestation of the one spirit.
The higher asceticism will purify and transform our modern goodness into strength, our modern charity into brotherliness, our modern virtues into their heavenly prototypes. It is not the wickedness of men that is so dangerous to civilization as what Passes off for virtue. The fire of meditation will burn to ashes the selfhood of personality made respectable by adornments of knowledge from the books and brains of others, and bring into being the soul individuality which lives by the sacrifice of wisdom, by the joy of service dependent on its own inherent divinity and on its own spiritual vision.
A few such soul-individualities will produce a new religion of life in the place of creeds, a new art on which a new morality will be modeled, a new politics to legislate for an international state with politicians of the type Plato referred to as quoted above. They will make the philosophic mind operate; a few among them will begin to use the archetypal mind and work toward the illumination of Buddhi and the realization of Atma.
We are at the parting of the ways. With a false turn we may enter the dreary long lightless road of a dark age; with a right turn, and we may march into the avenue of beauty and harmony of a new day. The former, by a circuitous, exhausting and weary travel may bring us after a time to the latter, but we can avoid much suffering and gloom by a right understanding of the situation, a right interpretation of the signs and tokens nature and her laws give, and a right application of knowledge to the conditions of today.
The message, which the Great Eastern Masters gave through HPB in the last century, contains wisdom which will enable us to help the advance of human progress, if we make that wisdom our own. We of the Theosophical Society must not offer something which satisfies our competitive civilization, and our greedy and grabbing humanity. Let us not, like clever tradesmen, produce goods for sale, and pamper to our customer's idiosyncracies and try to make them buy by making them happy. Let us give humanity a chance by speaking and living the truth and wisdom those Eastern Masters gave. Thus, perhaps, we will succeed in leading our fellow men onto that peak of spirituality from which they can perceive for themselves the grandeur and beauty of divine will working out in evolution, and where clarity of atmosphere will give them the power of right valuation.
If the Theosophical Society, true to its original impulses, does this work, it will be instrumental in saving the European humanity of today. If it does not achieve that, it will be because it has proven false to those impulses. We, the present day members, are some of the trustees in this world of the wisdom which HPB brought. Shall we be found worthy of the trust when the recorders of destiny's page write their judgement? Time alone will tell. May their blessings help us to earn the privilege of rendering unto God the things that are God's, and thus be chosen again as such trustees in a future day and generation. Let us courageously, with an honesty of purpose, a purity of motive, and a single eye to truth as we perceive it, live striving for the precipitation of the kingdom to which HPB belonged, and from which she came to help this race to realize it for itself.
By Phillip A. Malpas
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, December 1946, pages 588-94.]
It is difficult today to go back to the mental conditions of England in HPB's day. For religious people the keynote was fear, and I mean fear. The strange effort to make children believe that the fear of God and the love of God were the same thing merely created confusion.
At baptism my dear old godmother, an Aunt, gave me a huge PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, with several illustrations. One was of a soul in hell floating on the flames seen through a trap door opened by an angel looking rather like a police inspector. The look on the poor soul's face is stamped on my mind in indelible ink, and the fact that his hands and feet were bound did not detract from the grimness of the artist's purpose.
When it thundered, someone told me it was because I had stolen a piece of sugar from the table and God was angry -- he fiercely growled like some enormous dog.
Everybody seemed to be "lost" except those who belonged to a particular church. "Dissenters" seemed to be rather more lost than anyone else. When I came to read later that there were only to be 144,000 "saved" in heaven, or 12,000 from each tribe of Israel (didn't the Bible say so?) I began to wonder why people thought it worth living at all, and even a child could see that there was something unfair in causing children to be born of whom only a minute percentage were to be saved. And the prospect of being saved was a little bleak, because I was distinctly unmusical, and the understanding was that only the musical would be in their element in heaven.
The situation was a good deal relieved when I discovered the claims of the British Israelites who "proved" that they were the lost ten tribes of Israel, so that at least 120,000 Britishers had a sporting chance of attaining heaven. It was some years later that I heard the convincing proof of this proposition in the assertion that the Saxons, that is the British, were certainly the Israelites, because Israel was the son of Isaac and Isaacson was obviously the uncontracted form of the word "Saxon."
Maybe I was seven or eight years old when my father took me to one of the great London exhibitions. It was full of interesting things, but one thing puzzled me, a large mass of white substance.
"What is that?"
"Asbestos!" said my father. "You cannot burn it and anything you wrap in it cannot be burnt."
"Why do they not make suits of it?"
"They do. For firemen."
I was silent. My active brain saw the danger of disclosing the wonderful idea that had come to me. If everybody bought it, there might not be enough for me, and my father had said it was expensive. More than ten shillings, and nobody knows how old I might be before I might have accumulated such riches.
But I made up my mind I would save my money and buy a suit of asbestos FOR USE ON THE LAST DAY!
I regret to say that being a normally untidy and careless boy I felt a chill of repulsion at the fearfully clean and neat streets of New Jerusalem paved with gold and jewels. I would have preferred bird-nesting in the woods.
At the age of ten or twelve, perhaps, we used to sit over the midnight embers discussing the strange wonders of the Apocalypse, full of thrills and terrors, especially the last tribulation.
The world was created out of exactly nothing. Had not an Archbishop said so? He gave the date, too, 4004 BC. The odd "4" was intriguing, like the odd two extra feet in the height of Mount Everest, 30,002 feet in those days, if I remember rightly.
At school, a very religious school, we went to chapel twice a day and three times on Sundays. In spite of this, the period of religious sentimental fervor lasted several years, but there were certain shocks which required mental adjustment.
For instance there was an ex-sixthformer who left school and became a parson. He returned to the school as one of the masters. When the Headmaster, also a clergyman, was not there, he developed a system of turning the litany into a race. I think the record time he made was a little less than six minutes for the whole service. Later when he joined the armed forces he became a chaplain and apparently thought it his duty to make himself popular by indulging much too freely in strong drink. The problem of practical religion was not eased by these happenings.
It was a terrible day when, being allowed into the school library, I read in the papers that there was an attempt being made to import Buddhism into Britain. It was an unspeakable horror that such heathenism (I didn't quite know what heathenism was) should actually find a footing in our beloved Britain, which, for me, consisted in "home" and our magnificent playing fields at school. About the same time Sir Edwin Arnold's story of reincarnation, ARMOREL OF LYONESSE, was running in one of the weekly magazines. We heard much of a lady who was doing astonishing things in London, Madame Blavatsky, but we saw no point or purpose in what we read. Still, things were changing, and we with them.
Into this careless schoolboy world came an incident like a stone thrown into a pond. A favorite master, whom we all admired immensely in spite of his quick temper, one day talked seriously with me, and my whole emotional nature was upset. The school in the six years when I knew it, was passing through a phase of being "good," and I believe this was the work of one of the senior boys. It seemed that many schools have alternating periods of viciousness and decency, and I had coincided with the latter phase.
Exactly what this talk of the master was about I do not remember, but it did result in the quickening of all sorts of feelings and ideas, and especially religious enthusiasm -- that was the phase it assumed.
It was many years afterwards that I learned that a journalist had intended calling on Madame Blavatsky for an interview and had invited this master as a friend to accompany him. He went, and I suppose that was the time he so powerfully affected me for the future. He had not noted anything special about HPB, but she had asked him about his schoolmastering and had instantly put her finger on the deepest problem any master ever has, probably giving him a hint or two that might have been useful later. Soon he went East and had much to do with the education of many Rajahs and other highly-placed folk. Whether he was unconscious or not of any influence from HPB I do not know, but the fact is that he exercised an enormous influence for good over those Orientals, and they used to say that he might be English but he had a Chinese heart, or perhaps a Malay heart. He insisted on morality in the schools.
I left school, soaked in years of intensive religious training. In the Royal Navy there were chaplains enough, but there was a great deal of unreality about the compulsory services. As a young man I began to write a diary of ideas and for about three years in Newfoundland, and Labrador, and the West Indies these thoughts took slow shape on paper. In a small ship there is plenty of time for thinking.
Small incidents began to loosen my respect for official churchism. Just as at school there was one hymn absolutely barred before the holidays, there were hymns which were taboo at sea. When all the boys were counting the days and hours to the holidays and marking them off on calendars, dreaming of the popular home-train to Waterloo station in London at 7:53 on the final day, it was tactless to announce a hymn in chapel which fitted in with the words:
Oh, what the joy and the glory must be, Sailing along by the seven fifty-three!
The only thing to do in such a case was to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the rolling chorus of the parody as it echoed round the "house of God."
So in the same way it was fatal in a Plymouth ship to sing a hymn by a similar parody referred in feeling terms to the hateful halfpenny tollgate still existing in the neighborhood of that West country seaport. The tolls were owned by Lord Mount Edgecumbe, the local magnate.
This is the way the hymn would run, sung by a hundred voices of unshy sailors:
Lord DEE Edgecumbe, Lord divine, All the hakey fish are thine, All the fishes in the sea, Lord DEE Edgecumbe belong to thee! Lord DEE Edgecumbe good and great, Take away the hap'ny gate, For thy credit and renown, Lord DEE Edgecumbe, PULL IT DOWN!
All trivial incidents, but they had their effect in cumulative thought as to whether it was religion or not.
In one lonely North American village, I was consulted by the local parson as to what hymns the sailors liked. I had to say something, so I recommended one which I omitted to remember had two equally popular tunes. We had no harmonium on board our small ship.
On Sunday the parson came off to the ship and gave out the number of the hymn. Half the crew lustily sang one tune and half the other. They stopped in surprise at the end of the first line and each, to oblige the other, changed over to the other tune, with the same result as before. Then they stopped again and the first Lieutenant started with a lead of a bar or so and they all followed him with complete harmony.
Except for me. When it was found out that I was the cause of the trouble, life became pretty sour for quite a while. The vinegar of it had its share in cooling off my enthusiasm for formal services.
One's dignity suffered on occasion. At St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland, the local officials and others duly came to call on the ship on arrival. The calls had to be formally returned. Our numbers were very few and it devolved on me to return the call of the masters of a local college. I was very young, but the dignity was flattering.
Knocking at the door, I waited. No one came for a few minutes. Meanwhile a dear old bishop came to the door and, seeing me waiting, did not knock or ring. He waited, too. He was really very genial and talked to me quite nicely. I was getting on famously. Then the door was opened. I presented my card.
The Bishop looked at me in surprise.
"I thought you were the new boy," he said.
My wounded dignity reduced my respect for the church more than ever.
So passed three years and my thoughts were taking shape, on paper. I had written a little book of them. They were simple, but mine own.
We returned to our home port in England, to Portsmouth, the great naval base. We boys had not much money. I had a shilling for the theater. On the way I was tempted to have a shot at a rifle range. I missed, but the shilling had become eleven pence. Not enough for the theater. It began to rain. Where to go?
I remembered an advertisement of some meeting at one of the local lecture halls and went there.
There was a gentleman there talking about what he called Theosophy. Suddenly I realized that he was talking about what I had been writing in my diary for the past three years, and I grew very interested. My secrets were no my own property any more.
I went further into the business. I was enormously attracted by the phenomenal side of things, as many people were in those days. So many imagined that phenomena and psychism were Theosophy. It was years before I realized that it was precisely this that Theosophy warned people against, and supported its warning by explanations of what it all really was. It was a long time before I realized that all this psychic stuff was about as important as a dream, and not always a pleasant dream either. I met the word 'materialism' many times in HPB's books but I did not know what it meant. It was years before I learned that the material, including the psychic, and the spiritual are two very different and opposite things.
The next thing was my meeting with Katherine Tingley, at Brighton in 1899. There were many speeches made at the Congress held at the dome, but in a debate on Theosophy and Christianity there came the question from a Christian: You have taken away our Christ from us, what do you propose to give us instead?
And the answer, given positively, strongly, triumphantly, came ringing down through the great hall, "A WORLD FULL OF CHRISTS!"
It was like the tearing away of a veil, of nine veils. I never forgot it and never shall, though it may take many lifetimes to realize the idea in practice. All the littleness of formal churchism fell into the background against this one big idea.
Phenomena? There was a lot of talk about phenomena in those old days, and some wrecked their spiritual progress in the whirl of desire to see such phenomena. But it was psychical phenomena they craved for. Looking back over the years I can see that the phenomena have been amazing, but they were spiritual phenomena, not psychic. The latter, as HPB said, are "only psychic tricks." But if there is any phenomenon greater than that quiet, determined, persistent, divine sacrifice of the leaders' lives for the sake of helping humanity on its thorny path, I do not know what it is. Only one phenomenon remains to be realized, the dawning in human hearts of the idea that universal brotherhood is the key to humanity's future, and nothing else. It was the first stone in the Theosophical structure and it is the cornerstone which must and shall be raised to the head of the corner; or better translated, it is the keystone of the arch.
It is the gradual growth of these ideas as practical everyday truths which explains why I became a Theosophist.
By Annette Rivington
A lot of us who were dreamers or imaginative as children were punished or ridiculed for our time-wasting behavior. We were taught that life was for learning to concentrate here and now, learning communication and work skills. Others enjoyed filling our minds with useful facts and trying to remember them until the time some circumstance or person demanded the use of them. We were supposedly developing concepts that were not in existence at our birth. We were with other people constantly, except when we slept or escaped, seeking to be alone. We soon realized that we were experiencing needs that were not there until we were taught them.
It's now time to unlearn. The following exercise is a meditation in freedom of thought and experience. It was not taken from any book. Consider it and enjoy! Remember that life's great!
Imagine standing on the planet looking toward the horizon, recognizing all the forms in view between yourself and the horizon, mentally saying for each form, I know that one, and that one, and continue, until you reach the horizon, then recognize that beyond the horizon you do not know what is there.
Instantly break the bounds of being fixed on the planet and imagine yourself as a giant in space beyond the planet holding a collapsible telescope up to one eye watching the tiny speck of yourself on the small planet looking toward the horizon and slowly bring that self close in view then back far away in view, then ask yourself, "Where is the horizon?" Come back to the here-and-now.
Imagine laying on the planet looking up at the clouds moving across the sky, recognize yourself watching the view now.
Instantly break the bounds of time and recognize yourself as a child laying and watching clouds moving across the sky, then ask yourself in either point in time as yourself, "Which is now?" Come back to the here-and-now.
Stand or lay and close your eyes recognizing the absence of things in view including the edges of your body and any feelings of body. Know that your energy is indestructible and let it float out from where and when you remember you are.
Instantly bring your energy back by creating white smoke out there so you can see your energy stream and attract or will it back into your body. Before you open your eyes, imagine your body as any shape you choose and recognize its form. Come back to your 3-dimensional being.
Know that the bounds of your dimensions are not fixed because you have just experienced it, assume a comfortable position and hold your arms over your eyes until you see a black and blue swirling pattern. In that pattern instantly break the bounds of space, time and form and be in the pattern.
Recognize that you are all alone, restricted, aware of something like a vague idea that is untested. Imagine a clock showing a year and instantly look at the clock again and see it showing a million years later. Recognize that you have not changed.
Instantly cry out, just an expression in sound. Imagine hearing the sound echo back at you, and recognize your voice. Play with your sound for what seems like ages. Glance at the clock again and see that it has only moved forward a tiny amount of time.
Recognize an idea of repeating the sound experiment with something new. Choose your form. Play. Take a rest from playing with anything and return to the black swirling point of yourself.
When rested, wake up and experiment with space. Create another place to visit. Go back and forth. Gradually get an idea of leaving yourself in both places, one of you playing/experimenting and the other of you resting. Imagine your waking up from a resting period, moving to where your other self is, and immediately upon seeing that self coming into view, you recognize that you feel something, emotion.
Keep the discovery of emotion to yourself but switch places with your other self so that you can play for a period and other can rest. Create another universe to visit, another time period to play in, and other forms to emote about. Recognize an idea that all these created forms in places and times emote like you. Instantly communicate with your resting self and the created forms in the universes.
Play and rest, play and rest and play ...
Come back to the here-and-now, to yourself.
What you know from this experience is your knowing. Here's mine: I do now and will recognize then what I already know. I know far beyond the horizon of what I emotionally recognize now. My view is in space, time and form, but not bounded by these, because beyond the horizon of the here-and-now, there are unknown recognitions in play not yet created.
[Taken from a leaflet produced by the Northwest Branch of The Theosophical Society (Pasadena).]
The universal law of cause and effect, acting to restore harmony and allowing us to learn from always meeting the results of our choices. Unpleasant or desirable, these circumstances provide us with the opportunities we most need to learn and grow. Each of us is responsible for our fate and character, the sole creators of our present and future.
As spiritual beings, we live many times, growing and learning from our experience. Our personality in each earth-life is like one of many pearls strung on the thread of our imperishable individuality. Because we return to earth to meet the events and people we knew before, there is always another chance to improve and to make amends to others.
As it is above, so it is below, among the many interblending states and beings which form our living universe. Everything from the subatomic to the super-galactic is at its heart an evolving center of consciousness.
Each being is the expression of its unique selfhood. Its present status results from eons of self-development. All evolution comes forth from WITHIN the individual, from the innate urge of its inner divinity.
Nature expresses itself through duality and rhythmic pulsation, so that every entity evolves forth its inner potentials through endless cycles of activity and rest. In infinite space, universes and their inhabitants cycle from spirit into matter and back into spirit again. They then circle through inner worlds before beginning physical evolution anew.
THE TWO PATHS
The age-old struggle is between selfishness and altruism, the constant choices we each must make in our daily life and our aspirations between caring most about ourselves or centering our attention on others' welfare. Even those pursuing spiritual growth must choose between being self-absorbed or focused on the good of all.
Man, know thyself! We can attain all knowledge through self-knowledge since at the core of our being is the one transcendent Cause, the root of all. Every part mirrors the whole, containing all its capacities in potential, so that looking without and within both eventually achieve the same goal.
By Henry Travers Edge
[From pages 7 to 15 of a booklet published by Theosophical University Press in 1943, with materials based upon MAN IN EVOLUTION by G. de Purucker.]
Question: What is the distinction between body, soul, and spirit?
These words, though loosely and variously used, can be conveniently employed in the present connection, as follows. We may say that soul is the vehicle of spirit, and matter is the vehicle of soul. Hence soul is both spirit and matter, at different times, or as viewed under different aspects; for it may function as matter on one plane and as spirit on the next lower plane.
Question: How does this point bear upon the question of the atoms?
These may be regarded as compact of spirit, soul, and body: a spark of the universal life; the first embodiment of this, forming the monad; and the next embodiment, forming the atom. See H. P. Blavatsky's chapter on "Gods, Monads, Atoms," in THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
Question: And how does the same principle apply to the other kingdoms of nature?
Each animal, plant, mineral, etc., may be regarded as compact of spirit, soul, and body, in the same way; provided always we remember the temporary nature of this distinction, and its consequent liability to modification in the light of other considerations. This particular view is of the utmost importance in clearing up the difficulties in understanding evolution.
Question: How does this threefold analysis of a living being agree with what was said a while back about a fivefold division as shown in man?
The fivefold division is merely an amplification of the threefold. In the fivefold scheme we have three triads: 1, 2, 3; 2, 3, 4; 3, 4, 5; and in each of these triads the members bear to each other the relation of spirit, soul, body. But this does not exhaust the possible number of such groupings.
Question: What is the bearing of this upon evolution?
It enables us to explain evolution as an intelligent process. In evolution we must consider agent, cause, purpose, process, result, and perhaps other factors; and these can be neither properly distinguished from each other, nor severally accounted for, by the very scanty apparatus of the conventional evolutionists.
Question: What is the purpose of evolution?
The attainment of self-conscious godhead. In conformity with what has already been said, we must regard any great cycle of evolutionary activity, such as the present Globe-Round, as consisting of an outbreathing followed by an inbreathing; a double process which has its analogies throughout nature, as in the systole and diastole of the heart, the rising and falling of seasons and tides, the growth and decay of organisms. We can regard the Universal Spirit as a tree scattering countless seeds, which then proceed to grow, passing through innumerable stages, until each and all eventually evolve into full expressions of their divine parent.
Question: What has science told us about the purpose of evolution?
To speak generally, the question has been shelved, as lying without the sphere of science. Some have even impatiently ousted it, as tending to obscure the light of cold reason. But is it ever possible to interpret a process correctly without reference to its purpose? And, even if so, can the human mind rest satisfied with such an interpretation? The result is that we find in our minds a hideous picture of a mindless universe, without starting point or goal, experimenting blindly -- a real nightmare that weighs alike upon intellect and heart.
Question: What is the usual idea as to the active cause in evolution?
Agreeable to the atomo-mechanical philosophy, the theorists have had to rely on what they regard as the inherent properties of matter. To these are given such names as affinity, chemical action, heat, energy, inertia, and the like; which, as has so often been pointed out, denote effects rather than causes. But with every day science is coming nearer to the conclusion that no force or property found in matter is anything in itself, but that all are manifestations of will and intelligence. And will and intelligence are themselves the attributes of a conscious being.
Question: What are the active agents in evolution, according to Theosophy?
They are the functions of the consciousness of the monad -- that is, of the animal or plant itself. These functions are desires such as we find operative in ourselves. They operate on the environment of the organism, that is, on its body and on whatever it comes in contact with outside its body. This continual interaction causes growth by calling into play the natural agencies which build up. The whole process may be summed up as a desire on the part of the consciousness within the monad to express itself and to build up vehicles for its self-expression.
Question: And what about the plan of evolution?
Here again we find theorists of the materialistic school falling back on vague notions about inherent properties, or speaking as though they thought a being could grow and evolve without any preexisting plan, the plan being formed during the process, so to say. Here Theosophy comes down flat-footed on the proposition that plan must always precede process; or, using other terms, function precedes organ.
Question: And as to the method of evolution?
There is but one fundamental operation of nature, and this operation is the same in every part of nature, in each of the innumerable beings which constitute nature; so that, while each atom, plant, or animal, follows its own path, it at the same time necessarily accomplishes the general plan. Each evolving monad is seeking to express the seed of individuality latent within it; and, by doing so, inevitably follows the general law.
Question: Give a brief sketch of what is generally known as the Darwinian theory.
It declares that the various types in the animal kingdom form successive links in a continuous line of evolution, a universal, end-on line. The obvious gaps which we find between the links of this chain are supposed to have been filled by forms now extinct. The lower forms are supposed to have changed into the higher through ordinary processes of physical procreation, these changes being accomplished by the accumulation of many smaller changes. The small changes are produced by the effect of environment upon the organism.
Question: What is the doctrine of the survival of the fittest?
It was designed to account for the said accumulating of small variations. It was supposed that, among a multitude of variations induced by environment, the majority would not be perpetuated; and that only such variations as were favorable -- or, to use the technical term, 'fittest' -- would survive; thus, by a process of accumulation, producing a new species.
Question: What are objections to this view?
The facts, when candidly examined, do not furnish evidence for it. It has been shown that a particular type of animal, which has been modified by special influences, such as domestication, reverts to its original standard type when these special influences are removed. In other words, the variations produced show no tendency to persist and thus to give rise to an entirely new form, but they tend to disappear, thus leaving the gap as wide as ever.
Question: Have any attempts been made to overcome this difficulty by means of an alternative theory?
Yes, the plan of evolution, instead of being one continuous line, has been represented as a tree. The different forms, instead of proceeding continuously the one from the other, are supposed to have diverged from a common point of union, as do the branches and twigs of a tree. For instance, while some have supposed that man is a direct lineal descendant of the anthropoid apes, others have sought to show that both man and ape have descended from one common ancestor situated lower down in the scale. But the various theories as to where this point of divergence should be placed are numerous and conflicting.
Question: What is the bearing of this on the Theosophical view?
The analogy of the tree and its branches comes much nearer to the Theosophical teaching, but does not go far enough; as Theosophy says there is not one tree but many. To explain the discontinuity of the alleged chain of evolution is the most serious difficulty.
Question: How does Theosophy explain this discontinuity?
By stating that each form has followed its own particular line of evolution for long ages; so that, the longer that evolution has proceeded, the more divergent do the forms become from one another. This also explains why we find among the animals such extremely specialized organs and functions, which are entirely absent in the higher types, and cannot be regarded as links in a continuous chain.
Question: Then what was the single original stock, if any, from which all the different forms have thus diverged?
It was (so far as the present Globe-Round is concerned) the human stem, which Theosophy regards as the most ancient and primitive of all the mammalian stocks at present on the earth.
Question: Then did the animals descend from man?
Yes and No. There never was a descent in the Darwinian sense; animals are not degenerated men; they did not come from men by procreation. What we state is that the human stem of evolution threw off seeds which subsequently developed into the various mammalian types lower than man. But this occurred very long ago, when man, though human, was in many respects unlike the man of today.
Question: What is the origin of man?
He came into existence on the spiritual plane as an unselfconscious spark of divinity, and ends his career (for one period of evolution) as a conscious god. He is a monad, more or less awakened; awakened by comparison with the beings below him, sleeping by comparison with those above him. He is a child of the gods -- that is, of fully self-conscious and progressed beings. The ancestors of man were man himself, prehuman perhaps, but still man. The strain from which humans come was human as to its source on this earth; and its origin was in godlike creatures who came to our earth in the earliest days of the planet's life.
Question: What can you say about the earlier races of mankind?
The first physical men existed on this earth 18,000,000 years ago; but before that, man existed on earth in astral or ethereal form. There are seven great Races of the human line, of which we are now in the Fifth. The First Race was in Paleozoic times. Each of these great Races had its peculiar form and its peculiar method of reproduction, but these details are omitted for the present.
Question: When did the mammals issue from the human stem?
The first physical men and the astral-ethereal men who preceded them were the progenitors of the mammalian stocks. At this time man was 'mindless' -- that is, he was instinctual, for the light of human self-consciousness had not yet been kindled in him. He was able at that time to start the evolution of the various mammalian types by the cells or seeds cast off from his own body. These seeds then pursued each its own special line of evolution, thus during ages producing those widely divergent types which we find today.
Question: What of the stocks below the Mammalia, as the reptiles, birds, fishes, and so forth?
These issued from the human stem in a preceding Globe-Round or great evolutionary cycle.
Question: What special case is there with regard to the monkeys and the anthropoids?
As surmised by many men of science, these are FROM man and not toward him. But they differ from the other mammals in the particular ways in which they were derived from the human stem. The monkeys were born from the "mindless" human race, which, being only instinctual, allied themselves with animal beings. This took place in the Mesozoic age. At a later date, during the Miocene period, when the Fourth great Race of mankind had passed its climax, certain degenerate remnants thereof repeated the "sin of the mindless," with the then existing simian stock, and thus gave rise to the anthropoid apes. This explains the resemblance of these animals, especially the pithecoids, to man.
Question: What confirmation does science afford of the fact that the numerous types have all diverged from a common stem which has persisted throughout?
Weismann's theory of the germ-plasm. Weismann found that, of the elements transmitted by procreation, some are passed on from parent to offspring unchanged throughout the generations; while other elements contribute to the building up of the body of the offspring. In other words, he found that there are two kinds of cells transmitted. One kind, which he called somatic cells, multiplies by fission and thus creates the body of the offspring; the other kind, which he called germ-cells, are transmitted unchanged through the generations. This is the outline of his theory; there are many details, but they are even more confirmatory of the truth as stated by Theosophy. Here, then, we have direct biological confirmation of the fact that there is a main trunk of evolution going back to the remotest antiquity; and not an end-on evolution, as supposed by the transformists.
Question: It was stated just now that the early human races were "mindless." Can this be elucidated further?
The word MIND here means the human self-consciousness, with its powers of self-examination and intelligent choice. This is absent from all animals, and the distinction marks off mankind as a separate kingdom. Mankind acquired this faculty at a certain stage in human evolution; the present animals will not acquire it until a following Manvantara (with a possible exception in favor of anthropoid apes).
Question: How and when was this power acquired by man?
Toward the end of the Third great Race, when man possessed a kind of consciousness which may be compared to that of a daze or daydream. It was accomplished by the partial incarnation, in these waiting human individuals, of godlike beings perfected in a preceding Manvantara. They projected sparks of their own self-consciousness into the childlike humanity, thus awakening in those childlike men the dormant seeds of mental powers already latent in the latter. These beings may be called gods, for they are superior to man as we know him. In the Scriptural account they are so spoken of, but the word GODS or DIVINE BEINGS has been confused with the word GOD. In the Hebrew the word is plural, as is also shown by the plural pronouns used. We call these beings the Manasaputras or Sons of Mind.
Question: Then you do not believe that the human mind has developed out of the animal mind?
Here again we must answer Yes and No. Such a development could not take place by gradual transformation. Self-consciousness is either present or absent; the degrees are discrete, not continuous. Self-consciousness is latent in the animal, but cannot awake until kindled into activity by a being already possessing it. Such beings were, as already stated, the progressed humanity of a previous Manvantara; it was their duty, as it will one day be ours, to pass on the light to beings below them.
Question: How does Theosophy explain the obvious existence of design in the universe?
By declaring that it is the work of designers -- surely a natural inference! Scientific theory on the atomo-mechanical lines has failed utterly to account for the marvelous, infinitely various, infinitely resourceful bounty of nature; for to represent all this as the unplanned result of a few blind forces makes too heavy demands on the average powers of gullibility. It is evident that, behind every crystalline form, every leaf and petal, every beautiful animal organ and function, lies mind, plan, purpose. Since these words denote mere abstractions unless regarded as the attributes of intelligent beings, we must infer the existence of designers.
Question: Who or what are these designers?
Certain orders or hierarchies of intelligent beings whose function is thus to act. The universe comprises many more kinds of beings than such as are apparent to our physical senses. But the need for restricting our present scope precludes us from following up this line of study here. In our human nature, which is a copy of the universe, we see the forming and executing of designs.
By Herbert Coryn
[THE THEOSOPHIC ISIS, April 15, 1896, pages 104-09.]
All the foregoing can, of course, be said with far greater emphasis of the real illumination of the mind by some spiritual truth. For in philosophy, occupying itself with the higher problems of life and the world, the same thing occurs. There is a philosophizing with the brain, and a deeper knowledge beyond the brain in its origin, and which in flashes visits the brain after that is quieted, when effort is done.
The philosophy of Jacob Boehme, THE PERFECT WAY of Anna Kingsford, both came from regions of consciousness beyond the brain, and in the former case when the brain was still occupied with other matter.
The purely intellectual philosophical systems of today are limited, tied, tell us nothing great or final, deal not all with the "gods," the greater powers that stand behind the man in the brain. The brain searches, balances this and that, is hot, confused, tells us only of the outer worlds in nature and ourselves, and if the thinker believes that the outer world is all there is, that to him will BE all. The brain knows of one fact, and that leads to another, and that to another, but all are on the same plane and so nothing worth in the great quest.
Whether on the purely mechanical, intellectual, or philosophical planes, we are seeking that force of the center which can group facts and set them on fire. Behind the thinker in his chair and beyond his brain, is his spiritual antetype, his other self, or himself as other, a true and eternal light. In all study, throughout life, if we think much of that, if we hold that our brain-self is not the thinker in or for itself, if we make of it a mirror to the man who stands behind in light, than when brain has done its best of its kind, it will catch something from above and learn effortlessly. The learning is effortless, but follows effort; it does not make tense the brain.
Feeling about in consciousness for the place that is then the center of activity, we feel that that center is not in the ordinary brain, but above, and from that we act downwards upon the brain, effortlessly except with the effort to keep the brain-mind from starting off upon its own account and from raising a thousand confused issues.
Reasoning comes after; THIS is the direct, if for the moment dim and uncertain, vision of truth. Reason first; read, think; then banish concrete thoughts, hold the mind still on its point, above the brain, almost motionlessly brooding, in the state of thought without thoughts. We feel that we are in the temple, in the place of knowledge though at first no knowledge comes. Let us be peaceful, unanxious, repeating the attempt day after day and always. That nothing comes except a sense of elevation means only that the brain is not yet fine enough to catch the silver reflex. Time will prevail, though it may take many years. We are training a new faculty and sense. We have beckoned to Mercury to be the go-between from the Sun to ourselves.
And as it is effortless so it is emotionless. Emotions may follow, like reasoning; THIS is the cold white light of truth, only blurred by joys or tears or anything we call emotion. It is too steady a stream of consciousness to tolerate emotion. If you feel that there are great things in consciousness and life, great mysteries in nature, do not stand afar off, emotionally worshiping; come in close and grasp them on their own plane; look straight forward with calm eyes, taking what you can. If you take nothing, try always again, flinging your whole self beyond brain-thought, after that poor instrument has done what it can.
All the gods of mythology, all the planets, all the stars, are modes, forces, and embodiments of consciousness. And they exist, all of them, in ourselves as well as in nature. All the symbols, the circle, the square and what not, all the colors, all the musical tones, all the numbers, are ways of indicating consciousness in its activities. And all the modes of consciousness through which we pass from hour to hour, raised to their utmost power, are the forces of nature and the worlds. There are no other forces. We have always to try and think of them in the terms of their consciousness rather than snore remotely or objectively.
We could take an infinity of examples. Let us try one, the primal trinity of all nations, and attempt to put its members into terms of our consciousness. The earliest Vedic Trinity, I suppose the earliest of any mythology is Agni, Vayu, and Surya; Fire, the Air, the Sun. Who is Fire, Agni, in consciousness? Under other of its names it is Kama, Desire.
When we speak of the Fire of Desire, we are not using a metaphor. For on the one hand desire is subjectively that which, when objective, is the visible flame, and on the other hand the visible flame in outer nature is desire on the conscious side of nature. We must extend the word Fire so that it will include also the parts of it that are not visible.
We can see the heated metal become red, orange, yellow and then as a glowing liquid vaporize, probably passing through the remaining colors to invisibility. We cannot see the same colors as ice passes to steam through water, but the process is the same. We can see the fire by which the wax of our candle passes through its path to its elements. We too can see the flash with which some of those elements under proper conditions reunite to form water. So Fire is the force of transition; visible or invisible, it is the force that takes matter from state to state, destroying one and creating the next.
All in the universe is consciousness, and that of man can be modified into the form of Fire from within or without. He who looks at Fire takes feebly into his consciousness, some of the very transforming energy of the outer Fire. Consciousness does not SEE itself as Fire, but it knows directly. Fire is the force of transition, destroying in its activity the form upon which it plays; when its activity ceases, a new form condenses. And as forms flow everlastingly, as there is ceaseless transition from dawn to night of the Manvantara, so Fire runs from end to end of the universe, and, as the deity of movement, is the universe. A form only IS during an absolutely brief moment of time, and if we assign to that moment ANY duration by reason of human weakness of thought, throughout that duration the form is changing. "Maya" is only the concept of fixity.
In the body, changes of form are operated by desire, in and not in consciousness. THE desire of animal life is a creative expansion and warmth, and then is born a new organism with the power from that Fire to complete all its parts, an all-potent cell.
The mystery of generation is, to physics and physiology, insoluble forever, for they deal only with visible and objective body. In the consciousness of the physical are the specters of what will be, unembodied, unlit fuel, antetypal forms. And they absorb the Fire, Kama, Agni, expand, whilst in their condensation they annex about them, raising it to their own terms, matter needed for their clothing. Thus, arises the cell. The current of psychic matter is a solution of all forms. Among these some are selected from time to time. It is IMAGINATION (in which nature shares) actuated by Fire, on the physiological plane.
On the plane of the mind there exist the archetypal forms of all inventions; these, struck by Fire, become suns about which group themselves the necessary planets, subordinate forms of fact in consciousness. So the invention passes into the concrete.
Beyond which are spiritual archetypal forms to be fructified by Fire. Thus man fashions and fructifies himself, being the new and the old Sun. Above the physical are desires in the mind to KNOW; above these, others in the soul, to BE; these fires also, dissolving for new precipitation the tissues of mind and soul, fashion for us new forms that can hold the knowledge, new forms with new capacities of being.
And as physical friction, which is motion, the Deity, causes it to shine manifestly as heat across the diameter to the quiescence of the new form on the opposite side of the circumference (the crossing Fire being the upright diameter and the crossed substance the transverse), so the Kundalini -- the mystical, regenerative Fire -- is born from "friction" among the finer elements that surround the self.
In dwelling upon these and all such, as they stand put together for us in the pages of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, consciousness takes a new life; it sees the ways of its own activity, learns its own powers, and acts from knowledge instead of blindly. By will we arrange the order and working of our consciousness, and energize it voluntarily along its proper and self-appointed paths, and we too follow the order and scheme of the Universe.
There is everywhere the same trinity in many forms and on many planes. As we saw, in studying them or any others, the ray of comprehension seems to come with a sense of effortless and freedom from emotion. For it comes from the Sun, the Self, the inner eye. Light emerges quietly and the flame is only where it falls.
To put it in terms of the principles, the Sun is the Manas; Vayu, the Lower Manas; Kama or Agni, the Fire. Physically the Vayu is the Astral; Prana, the Sun ray. Spiritually the Sun is the Atma-Manas, the ray is Buddhi, Vayu is the highest garb of the soul, Agni is Kundalini.
Vayu, air, space, is the field of cosmic consciousness, filled with ideation, with all the pictures of what has been and what will be. And upon these, through the spaces, shines the light from the Sun, the self-knowing Logos, striking the pictures into fire, so that they expand and then condense into the worlds and all thereon. In man Vayu has correspondence with the lower mind, the field of all memories and pictures, and as the Light of the thinker, the Sun, passes amongst them, wanders among them, they flame up in desire and lead to action, expansion, condensation.
IDEATION or imagination, energized by WILL of an EGO, are the three factors of magic, and the threefold ray falls formatively into matter for an objective result. That is the process from top to bottom of the scale, the three falling into the four.
Surya is the Sun, the center, the I, the Manas, who does what he likes, directs his light upon this or that of his pictures, of his brain cells, the Logos of any group. From it, whether in or out of the body, the light passes cyclically through the fields of the lower consciousness, bringing all seeds into fruit for Karmic purposes.
This must be our work at THE SECRET DOCTRINE fruitless all of it unless we can relate its facts to some function, or power, or state of consciousness. It is a book of practical occultism, so written that he who runs may read, and get nothing. Many tables of correspondences may be constructed, many abstracts made, still to no purpose, if reference home is not constant.
But it is nevertheless well to make for meditation these groups of correspondence. We have to look within, passing by nothing until it is related to consciousness. Then we see that the process indicated must be so; we are described, reflected, in the pages.
Our home is all this universe; we have lived on every plane, in every portion of space; WE BROUGHT IT FORTH, we, the total brotherhood of life; we are but rays of the One Light in the illusion of manyhood. That is the keynote of this book.
Through the thought-aura of its pages we sense the Teachers who wrote, and their teaching, for us, is less and less veiled. Mentally we touch them as we read. We are striving to attain the plane of their ideation, and he who would fain reach some level of consciousness, however high, is, in, degree, already there. So, feeling out for them, along some plane of mind, we touch those writers; it is not otherwise here.
If this book feels unhuman, lifeless, that is but a sign that more effort is required; putting forth that needed increase, we will find that it has an intense life of its own, coming from its own, from nature, and from our inmost selves.
By strong effort we must tear down the veil, and by that same effort we get sight of ourselves, finding that the Gods, the stars, the winds, and storms and elements of mythology are the points and powers and the blowing here and there of the mind of man.