The whole essence of truth CANNOT BE TRANSMITTED FROM MOUTH TO EAR. Nor can any pen describe it, not even that of the recording Angel, unless man finds the answer in the sancturary of his own heart, in the innermost depths of his divine intuitions.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 516
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, 228-30.]
Financiers and politicians guide our civilization. Our citizens accept them as their natural leaders. As a result, a social order has arisen different from those known to history. Ancient ideals have become unsuitable in modern life. Thus the institution of the Pilgrimage, which had great educative value, which inspired minds and hearts to rise to nobler heights, is lost to us. Even where it exists and is observed, for example among the orthodox Hindu Tirthakas or the Muslim Hajis, it is a creedal rite which may bring respect to the "pilgrims," but does not possess the power of mind transmutation.
Leaving aside the minority even of such pilgrims as visit Kashi and Rameshwaram, or Mecca and Medina, or Lourdes and Canterbury, etc., what about the others? Today .the secular form of pilgrimage is holidays. Vast populations take advantage of vacations and leaves of different types (casual leave, sick leave, annual leave, etc., which are customary, and now in many cases legally enforced on the employer) to entertain themselves, each according to his tastes and desires. The true Pilgrim is rare; he has given place for the most part to the secular traveler. "Change of air for the body," "freedom from work," the "putting aside of business worries and family concerns," "sight-seeing," and the like allure the tired earner of daily bread and his family. They all use time, money and energy differently from when he and they are in harness at office, home or school. Decent folk -- and most are that -- desire to forget the routine of life by breathing a cleaner air, drinking different and health giving waters, consuming "richer and better" foods, seeing different sights and scenes. The glamour exercised by all these strengthens their illusion. It is the bodily and sense life, the mundane mind and morals, which are titillated during holidays. True soul refreshment and mental re-creation are not so gained. That is why so many return home from their vacation a little refreshed in body but with a sense of disappointment. Holidays and travels do, however, have their uses and are in some ways beneficial -- we are not overlooking that.
But the traveler is not the pilgrim. The pilgrim does travel, does glimpse sights and scenes his eye had never beheld, but his vision is fixed upon the Place of Pilgrimage, where his Soul is going, The moral and spiritual purpose of the Pilgrim enables him to gain from new sights and scenes, from new foods and herbs, from new human contacts, moral and intellectual values and an uplift which the traveler misses out. The object of the traveler is his own entertainment; that of the Pilgrim is mental enlightenment, moral uplift and above all some spiritual realization of the Divine.
In these days when life presses hard on millions of men and women and sheer existence demands laborious efforts, it is rarely possible to go on a real pilgrimage. But this Kali-Yuga, our dark cycle, affords us the opportunity to turn ordinary acts and events into sacraments. So we must learn to utilize our short vacations and well-earned office leave to the very best advantage. Freemasons go from labor to refreshment; philosophers value re-creation; poets themselves need the repose from work to listen to the Silence singing to them. And did not Jesus himself tell his disciples returning from their holy labor to come apart into a desert place and rest awhile?
But what are true rest and repose? How can we refresh ourselves in real re-creation? Are holidays and vacations to be merely mundane experiences?
Pilgrims go to holy places because these are hallowed by the ideas and images of holy men -- saints, seers, and sages. Such centers have been called "spiritual seminaries." They recall to the mind the penances and prayers performed, the praises sung, the sermons preached; and the pilgrims try to gain their inspiration and energy for self-purification and soul-enlightenment.
The ordinary holiday-maker is centered in his sensorium; the serious traveler is bent upon educating his brain; the earnest and sincere pilgrim returns home a better-hearted and a nobler man, if he has been able to osmose the merit which is enshrined in the place of pilgrimage, the light which radiates therefrom and the peace which surrounds it.
Thus have I heard:
Man is an Eternal Pilgrim. His responsible purpose in life is to visit Holy Places. Thereby he learns to erect within himself the Temple of Seven Shrines.
[from the AUSTRALASIAN T.S. NEWSLETTER, June 2000, pages 1-2.]
Love them or loath them, computers are having a dramatic impact on all our lives. From commercial deals to spiritual life, computers figure somewhere along the line for most of us. So how will the rapid growth in easily available computer technology, and particularly the Internet, affect theosophy and the work of our Australasian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in the future?
Computers have an unprecedented capacity to reach out and touch people wherever they are in the world. The Internet, with all its faults, is an expression of the new Aquarian Age consciousness, with its hallmarks of communication and brotherhood. Our Australasian Section has made extensive use of the Internet since the mid-1990s with our homepage of Section information available since 1997 and the Internet version of this newsletter available every three months since 1998.
We have also taken part in Internet discussion groups and chat lines to swap ideas and views with theosophists worldwide, such as the new "FTS Forum" initiated by the South African Section this year.
At the suggestion of one of their members, the South African Section has organized a members' electronic meeting of Sections around the world, using the email facility of the Internet. About 20 members around the world participate in discussions on subjects ranging far and wide from philosophy to practical ideas for building Section work.
In the future, these activities will increase and diversify with the technology to help us remain in touch with a scattered membership around our huge continent and in communication internationally. How will the Internet affect world theosophy in the next few years?
Already most of the theosophical classics by H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge and other major theosophical writers, are available free of charge on the Internet at such sites as our own Theosophical University Press Online.
New and exciting projects that seek the direct collaboration of readers, such as Dr. G. de Purucker's ENCYCLOPEDIC GLOSSARY OF THEOSOPHY, and the Internet magazine THEOSOPHY WORLD, are now available to everyone who has a computer with a modem.
Computers will allow people to directly access information without the intermediary of a formal theosophical organization such as our Australasian Section. People will probably therefore become less aware or concerned about the differences between theosophical organizations and affiliations and more concerned with the quality of the ideas they read on the Internet which are applicable to their lives.
This will create many difficulties for the established Theosophical Societies in maintaining control over a particular point of view about what theosophy is and how to approach the teachings.
This is especially a problem for our Society as the multitude of ideas and choices on the Internet going under the banner of "Theosophy" becomes confusing for enquirers and leads people into the many "byways of occultism" that theosophical founder H.P. Blavatsky warned us about.
On the positive side, consider the Internet's emphasis on the individual approaching the teachings rather than organizations. This is the logical conclusion of our former Leader James A. Long's work in the 1950s with our Society to encourage less emphasis on structure and more on living theosophy, or as he would often say: "the esoteric has become the exoteric and the exoteric esoteric".
These technological developments relate to the "physical body" of theosophical work in Australia. What about the soul?
The ancient challenge of disharmonies in human thought, producing the worldly problems with which we are all so painfully familiar, will no doubt continue into the 21st century. So will the challenge to "Live the Life" and put our theosophical philosophy into action every day no matter what is our situation. The core message of Brotherhood, "to Love thy neighbor as Thyself" will forever be relevant, even as the means at hand to promote it changes with computers etc. I can do no better than quote a recent message from our leader, Grace Knoche, about our continuing mission in the 21st century:
"The more it changes, the more it is the same" -- this is the promise and strength of our endeavor. For our theosophic purpose to remain a vivid and exciting challenge, its form and outer expression must change with the changing need.
Otherwise, we run the risk of negating the power of our wondrous philosophy to inspire and quicken the soul to grandeur ... What is our work but to support with our finest efforts the ageless and sublime task of transmuting the base metal of human nature into the gold of conscious awareness of its divine origin and destiny.
By United Lodge of Theosophists
[A letter dated June 21-25, 2000, sent out to members of the ULT.]
In the early years of this century, ULT focused on the revival of the "original writings" of Theosophy. The founders of ULT were concerned that without an emphasis on the diffusion and study of this treasure, there was a danger of the original writings going out of print. Today, Theosophy is very much alive, and it is safe to say that maintaining, promulgating, and pointing to the living words of the Masters as presented by HPB will prove one of the most important chapters in modern history. (Currently, printings of the original editions of The Secret Doctrine, Isis Unveiled, The Key to Theosophy and The Ocean of Theosophy are readily available from any number of sources.)
The work continues and remains a primary responsibility of current students. We are participating in a crucial cycle, one designated by HPB, Mr. Judge, and the Masters as a "Transition Age." Never before in recorded history has the public found itself able to consider the life giving waters of Soul Wisdom set forth in HPB's writings. Theosophy offers a view of the Universe, its Laws, its Purposes, and man's relationship to all of life.
Promulgation of the fundamental principles and objects of Theosophy is the essential work. In this we may emulate the great Manasa Dhyanis, who self-consciously assumed the responsibility of remaining in the "field of battle" to offer true service for humanity. It is no easy task to know how to offer "true service." Mr. Judge's articles contain many good suggestions that promote Brotherhood.
Mr. Judge says that it is not high intellectual study that is needed, but intelligent promulgation of the great truths of karma, reincarnation, and the perfectibility of human nature. No proposal for theosophical work should be rejected outright, provided the proposer has the clear motive of doing good for his fellow men. Each man is potency in himself. Our duty is to discover what we can do and to encourage others. In doing this we draw strength from one another.
A review of the Annual Reports submitted by the "General Secretary of the American Section" between 1886 and 1896 reveals how the work progressed as well as how effectively Mr. Judge inspired others. During that period, the membership in America grew from 350 to over 3,000, and from 12 Lodges to over 160. In the light of Brotherhood the first object-energy such as this put into the early work may be seen bearing fruit in the liberalization of attitudes, and of the many protections now extended towards the poor, the sick, the weak, to women and children. Our collective duty is "nonsectarian" promulgation.
This past year has witnessed increased activity in the establishment of area discussion groups, making Theosophy more available to those who have difficulty attending central ULT Lodges. Sarasota, FL, Big Rapids, NC, and Seoul, South Korea are three groups that recently have ordered Theosophy Co. publications. More than in years past, ULT students are making themselves available to speak on theosophical subjects to informal gatherings at libraries and in homes. Also, once a month on Saturdays a group of students assemble in L.A. to tape an ad hoc discussion of basic theosophic texts. The videos produced will be suitable for either the Internet or TV.
Publishing efforts in a variety of languages continue. One notable example that somehow has not been mentioned here before is that in Sweden. A monthly magazine is published in Sweden by ULT students along with a steady and continuing flow of theosophical articles. This work has been in process for a number of years. Special editions of important theosophical works are published in France and India virtually every year. Additional ULT pamphlets in Portuguese and Spanish went to press this past year. A newly revised, attractive soft cover edition of HPB's Biography is also now available.
New ULT Web pages are in place in Washington, DC, London, England, and London, Ontario, Canada, while Bangalore, India, Bombay, India, and San Diego, CA have Web sites under development. Cooperation between the various "streams" in theosophy has continued to grow. Gatherings such as that known as the Brookings, OR "get together," though sponsored by ULT'ers, draw from theosophical students at large. Last year representatives from four countries attended.
By Katinka Hesselink
So well has the lesson that good thought is important, taken root in our spiritual culture, that sometimes it seems people forget about the more difficult: good action. Prayer-groups, meditation-groups and healing-groups all make use of the fact that thought works actively in the world. There is nothing wrong with that. But I think we tend to forget that action is important too. Right action is a terribly difficult thing. It is easy to rely on hard and set rules in this department, because knowing what to do in specific situations is very difficult. This is probably the reason that so many members of theosophical societies emphasize being a vegetarian and not drinking alcohol as important for their spiritual life. These things make them feel they are at least doing their best. But right action does not always include being a vegetarian. In practicing theosophy, it is not easy to realize the truth of what Buddha says in THE DAMMAPADA, verse 252:
The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of oneself is difficult to perceive; the faults of others one lays open as much as possible, but one's own fault one hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the gambler.
There are very concrete things all of us can do, if we only stopped complaining of other people's wrongs and started looking to see what we can do ourselves. Pestering a coworker, for instance, is a widely known phenomenon. This practice, often by the whole office, makes a good working relationship impossible. The effect is to isolate the worker that is teased and it works to boost up the ego of the leader of the pestering. If no such pestering-leader is among the readers, still the other co-workers also play a part. They either do not protest to the pestering or they protect their own status in the group by not reaching out to the victim of the abuse. Thereby they do nothing to change the status quo and keep the isolation of the victim in place. Both protesting and reaching out to the victim, are a risky business. The pestering may turn on me, I may also be isolated, are logical and realistic fears that stop people from acting in cases like this. Still, if we want to consider spiritual practice, this is probably one of the places to start.
On the upside: good example is usually followed. Once the dictatorship (which emotionally it is) of the pestering leader is broken, others usually follow in discontinuing the abuse. Also, if defending the people and learning to reach out to those who are not popular, becomes habit, we become more watchful of peoples needs, and less focused on our own happiness. Again, this is risky business, because it means we have to learn to rely on our own judgment and not on the group. With all our modern talk of independence, usually we still conform in seemingly unimportant issues to what the group thinks is logical. The problems come when the acceptance by the group is paid for by the betrayal of our own consciousness. This is very common, but if we truly want to live a spiritual life, it has to stop. Only when we learn to stand apart in this way, can the voice of the group be replaced by the voice of our best selves. And only when that voice can count on a hearing in our consciousness, can it start acting outwardly, without us seeming to do a thing about it.
In her Esoteric Instructions, Part I, (BCW, XII, pages 533-34), H.P. Blavatsky writes the following on this subject of the importance of action, as opposed to prayer:
Our prayers and supplications are vain, unless to potential words we add potent acts, and make the aura which surrounds each one of us so pure and divine that the God within us may act outwardly, or in other words, become as it were an extraneous Potency. Thus we have Initiates, Saints and very holy and pure men been enabled to help others as well as themselves in the hour of need, and produce what are foolishly called 'miracles,' each by the help and with the aid of the God within himself, which he alone has enabled to act on the outward plane.
It is said somewhere: the Mahatma can act without seeming to lift a finger. But what we forget when reading that is: we have first to learn how to act, before we can expect nature to help a hand.
In the Theosophical Society [Adyar], often people talk about motives as being a prime factor in spirituality. I think this is true. When the motive for good action becomes reincarnation in better circumstances, for instance, then we are not being very spiritual. On the other hand, motive just is not enough. As said in THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, letter four, page 25:
Motives are vapors, as attenuated as the atmospheric moisture; and, as the latter develops its dynamic energy for man's use only when concentrated and applied as steam or hydraulic power, so the practical value of good motives is best seen when they take the form of deeds.
Again, we are reminded of the importance of deeds. Motive is important, but action is more important. Without right motive, nothing good would happen. But without action, good motive means nothing. It reminds me of the way in which the whole world becomes full of goodwill, around Christmas. But since this good will is hardly translated into action, the good will ends the day after. Many people pray for peace, but unable to see the relation between the small wars in the working place and the large wars on the television screen, they keep acting the same. The spirit of strife remains, competition is paramount, and guerrilla-wars keep our news reporters busy.
You are invited to attend our sixth annual gathering of students of Theosophy on August 11, 12, and 13 in Brookings, Oregon and Smith River, California, USA (side-by-side coastal communities). It would be our pleasure to have you present with us, participating in the informal discussions concerning the promulgation of Theosophy and the furthering of the Cause of the Theosophical Movement.
On Friday evening, August 11, 7:30 to 9:30 PM, a Public Meeting will be held in the Recreation Room of the Ship Ashore Resort, Smith River. The topic of the meeting is: HUMAN SOLIDARITY IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM -- AN UNDERSTANDING OF KARMA AND REINCARNATION. There will be a panel discussion and we anticipate a lively exchange of ideas with the audience.
Before the Friday evening meeting, there will be a potluck buffet at 4:00 PM at 14390 Ocean View Drive, Smith River, California. Also, Brunch will be served Saturday morning at the same address; followed by a further discussion of HUMAN SOLIDARITY, the keynote of all our endeavors. We expect many helpful ideas and suggestions will be shared.
There are numerous inns, bed and breakfasts, and motels in the area, as well as camping and RV accommodations at Harris Beach State Park. It is wise to make reservations early. The State Park reservation number is (800) 452-5687.
All students, friends, and inquirers are welcome. For further information, please call (707) 487-3063. Please leave a message and we will return your call. If you wish to E-mail us, our addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org and DwyldaD@netscape.net
By Adam Grey
[Reprinted with permission from THE THEOSOPHIC LINK (Newsletter of the American Section of The Theosophical Society [Pasadena]), Winter 2000, pages 3, 6.]
Three and a half years ago, the Northwest Branch of The Theosophical Society was formed by six theosophists in King County, Washington (near Seattle). Their main areas of interest, as a Branch, are putting theosophy on the Internet and producing introductory literature. In the past, Branches have, over time, formed a library as part of their theosophic service to the community. The Northwest Branch has formed an electronic library, available literally to anyone in the world. As they describe it, "We believe the web sites we have constructed provide a refuge where people may find for themselves plausible answers to the human condition and to the dilemmas affecting all humanity."
Their web site contains over 650 theosophical articles and chapters from books arranged by topic, pamphlets, booklets, as well as several complete books, an expanded CHILDREN'S BOOKLIST, introductory manuals from Katherine Tingley's era, their newsletter (THEOSOPHY NORTHWEST VIEW [TNV]), links to theosophical books and related sites, and more. A valuable resource on the web site/library is the COLLATION OF THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARIES compiled by Branch members, that combine, term by term, several glossaries in a single alphabetical listing. Included are glossary entries by Blavatsky, Judge, Purucker, Barborka, and Tyberg, among others. Log on at
The Branch also volunteered to design the International Headquarters web site,
and the Theosophical University Press Online web site at
This provides a rich theosophic resource on the Internet utilizing SUNRISE magazine, the writings of 29 authors, and over 80 full-text titles, many with search engines. Some of the titles with search capability are: THE SECRET DOCTRINE, ISIS UNVEILED, THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A. P. SINNETT, THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, FOUNTAIN-SOURCE OF OCCULTISM, THE DIALOGUES OF G. DE PURUCKER, and THEOSOPHY: THE PATH OF THE MYSTIC. Notable are out-of-print books now available only online, and the draft for the ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, a work in progress begun under G. de Purucker. Scholars and researchers are invited by TUP editors to make note of any errors of fact or typography that they find in this online edition as part of the preparation for its eventual publication in book form.
The Branch holds one public meeting each month at a regional library for interested people. Having tried several formats, they presently hold roundtable discussions on announced topics or questions such as "What Can the Ancient Wisdom Teach Us?" and "Astrology: Do the 'Stars' Affect Us?" For each public discussion, a handout is prepared related to the meeting's topic that inquirers can take with them. A members' meeting is held about once a month to discuss Branch business, coordinate projects, and visit.
The Northwest Branch also has produced brochures, pamphlets, and fliers describing Branch activities, theosophical books in the local library system, and books in their lending library. Introductory pamphlets are also made available: "What Is Theosophy," "Reincarnation," "Karma," and "The Six Fundamental Propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE," a reprint of an article by John P. Van Mater. They plan to expand the subjects of the introductory pamphlets.
The newsletter contains information on the monthly meetings, other news, and short articles on the first page, while the second has a longer article written by a local member or taken from a theosophical publication. Anyone wishing to receive it may send a request to the Branch with his/her address. Current and back issues are also published on their Internet site.
A special project of the Branch has been encouraging the King County Library System to buy more theosophical books. Although their collection contained some books by H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge, there were none by G. de Purucker, Katherine Tingley, or James Long. The library system bought several titles over a two-year period. This is a real aid to the person looking for theosophy. The King County Library is online. From library or home computers, patrons can order any book in the system to be available at their local branch library for borrowing. In combination with the pamphlet on theosophical books available through the local library, this makes theosophy available over a wide area and books available to the inquirer at no cost.
The work the Northwest Branch has accomplished online is helpful to individuals, study groups, and other Branches, which may expand their own work. For further information on obtaining pamphlets, you may contact the Northwest Branch or the American Section.
By Reed Carson
With July we are beginning a major effort with a new study/discussion list to study in-depth THE SECRET DOCTRINE of Madame Blavatsky. I have asked Jerome Wheeler to lead this effort and in turn he has gathered together a total of ten people from around the world who will act together to moderate and otherwise work together to make this the best possible study list on THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
The group is calling itself a "circle". The members of the circle come from six different countries. Truely this is a world-wide effort. In the total amount of committment of this group to the subject and their knowledge of the material, this is an amazing collective effort.
The list is called BN-SD and the mailing address for it is email@example.com. It will be studying the SD sequentially over a period of years with some initial review of topics for six weeks.
If you would like to study the magnum opus of Blavatsky, whether contributing or lurking, you will be most welcome. The list is now started. You can sign up for it on the Blavatsky Net membership page by clicking on "members" on the homepage.
I hope this effort has much consequence in the world for the study of Theosophy.
Here is the first version of the welcome message for the list:
Welcome to the BN-SD study/discussion circle covering THE SECRET DOCTRINE, the magnum opus of Madame Helena Blavatsky. This information, plus more, is available at
The email for sending messages to this list is:
We will be studying THE SECRET DOCTRINE from cover-to-cover. However, as a matter of actual choice your contribution may refer to any location in the book at any time. If you choose a topic inside the current material that's great, but as all students of the S.D. know, references in one place lead to a whole clan of relatives scattered throughout the book.
Before the long trek begins we will study an article given by HPB to Capt. Bowen. In that article there are several items HPB suggests we cover first in order to acquire an "overview" and get a "feel" for the citadel of thought being approached. During the initial six weeks we will consider the article and suggested items.
A critical document to point to at the very beginning is the article "Authorship of the Secret Doctrine." The best version of the article can be found in William Q. Judge's collected writings, ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, Volume I, pp. 321-29, published by Point Loma Publications, Inc.; P.O. Box 9966; San Diego, CA 92109. It is also available at
The average student does not realize the rather elaborate precautions the Masters took in accepting responsibility for the contents of The Secret Doctrine, saying that it was "dictated to HPB" by Them.
When you and I study the S.D. we are being exposed to a stream of thought given us by the Masters and made available through HPB's sacrifice. Whenever mental life goes from a higher plane to a lower a scapegoat, or conduit is required -- HPB was the voluntary Promethean victim for the project. This material, seriously considered, is potent karma, and like all purifying agents has to destroy as well as build. What the Master's viewpoint does indirectly is, in this student's opinion, more important than what it does directly though there is an ample harvest on both fronts.
This list is moderated. We require only that the tone be kept courteous to others and relevant to the Blavatsky-centered orientation of this list. The results will be archived and will be searchable by key words, by writer, by date, or by discussion thread.
There are four levels of participation available: Mail -- you receive all email as it occurs on the list; Digest -- in one email per day, you receive all discussion that occurred the previous day; Index -- in one email per day, you recieve the subject headings of all discussion that occurred the previous day with a convenient way to retrieve any single message; Nomail -- you receive nothing in the mail, but like the other participants, you can visit the archives and search over past discussions.
We expect the archives will create a valuable study tool for those following in the footsteps of the progress of this list. But don't let that intimidate you. If anything, please be encouraged to ask questions and make comments so that the discussion may help everyone.
1. For the overall quality of the list, the software imposes the following limits (and sends a message if you exceed them):
a) No more than 3 messages per day per person.
b) Messages must not exceed 50K bytes.
2. Please do not send attachments for technical reasons and because we don't all have the same word processors.
3. Please choose good subject headers -- to help make the archive files more useful.
Thanks for your cooperation.
TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THE LIST: Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TO SUBSCRIBE: Become a member of Blavatsky Net by clicking on "signup" at
and be sure to place a check for participation in the BN-SD discussion list.
TO CHANGE YOUR PARTICIPATION: Go "members" at
http://www.blavatsky.net and use the "change" option.
TO VISIT THE ARCHIVES:
Enter your email and the password you use for your membership record at Blavatsky Net and click on "enter bn-sd". Then click on "Read Messages". TO UNSUBSCRIBE: Easy way: each message has information at the bottom for unsubscribing. Just send a message to that address and you are off the list.
TO CONTACT LIST MANAGER:
If you have any questions or problems with your subscription please contact the list owner at: email@example.com Thanks for joining!
Just to explain how we are attempting to orient the now three lists at Blavatsky Net, BN-basic continues its effort aimed at the beginner (though with some heavy discussion along the way), BN-SD aims at the challenging magnum opus of HPB, while bn-study will aim even more clearly at "second object" material after its summer rest. (The "second object" of the Theosophical movement was declared a century ago to be the study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies, and sciences and the demonstration of the importance thereof.)
Nine more articles by William Q Judge went online this month bringing the total to 206 with 72 more articles awaiting their turn.
By accident some past issues of "In the Light of Theosophy" from the magazine "The Theosophical Movement" had not been "showing" as available. So now you can see the February to May material.
Two months of back "Quote of the Day", from this past January through February, are now online available by clicking on "back quotes" right under the day's quote.
As mentioned last month, The Manhattan Theosophy Study Group will be holding its first workshop this Sunday July 16, 2000. Topic is "The Journey Of The Soul". There will be a keynote talk followed by small group explorations, then reconvening for a panel discussion. Admission is free. For more details see events page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope you can make it to this special event of a dynamic, nearly year-old, group.
Continuing in August
Early in this past month the new BN-SD discussion list was launched. Even though summer talk can be slow, this list is certainly now in full swing. For a while the format has been to study individual quotes from the Secret Doctrine sequentially through the book. However, much of the discussion has been concerning very serious issues relating Buddhism to Theosophy. For the depth of discussion that has ensued, I am amazed.
I had predicted in advance that this list would surpass 200 members by the end of the year. Now there are 152 members. So it is well on its way.
The BN-basic list has been quite active in its discussions and its membership has broken a new record for itself. The membership is 435 which is approximately double the number of participants that it started with at the beginning of this year.
Rather startlingly, BN-study, the site's oldest list at one and a half years, now has 624 participants. My hope remains that we may later convert the topic of that list to study "second object" type of material later in the year. However, now it is considering the material from "In the Light of Theosophy" that covers current developments as presented in "Theosophy Magazine" published in Bombay. It includes scientific material and is quite interesting.
Thanks to all the moderators and especially to everyone listening and talking on each of these lists. It is the total contribution of everyone that makes them what they are.
Five new Judge articles have been placed online. Some technical snafus were found in the old ones and are mostly fixed now.
By Caren M. Elin
In Honor of the Life and Work of Anita Atkins: A Selfless Servant of The Theosophical Movement
December 12, 1915 -- June 20, 2000
To the world, she was known as Sylvia Cranston and to her theosophical friends and community worldwide she was our most humble Anita Atkins. Born on December 12, 1915, Anita spent her early years living off the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, New York. Her parents both attended meetings at The United Lodge of Theosophists in New York City, ever since Anita was a young teenager. Anita's introduction into the philosophy of Theosophy came from her father's reports of the meetings he attended. Anita always stated that her "soul soared" each and every time her father returned home from a theosophical meeting. Anita would ask her father to tell her of every idea that had been presented during the lectures. Due to Anita's extreme shyness, it took her many months before she could bring herself to attend her first public theosophical meeting, in which she was accompanied by her parents. Once this first meeting was accomplished, there was no way to turn Anita away. From that day on as a young teenager still in high school, Anita attended every possible meeting.
During Anita Atkins' lifetime, she wrote and published five wonderful books, introducing hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide to the ideas of Theosophy through reincarnation. These works are: REINCARNATION AN EAST -- WEST ANTHOLOGY, REINCARNATION IN WORLD THOUGHT, REINCARNATION: THE PHOENIX FIRE MYSTERY ... REINCARNATION A NEW HORIZON IN SCIENCE, RELIGION & SOCIETY, AND HPB, THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE & INFLUENCE OF HELENA BLAVATSKY, FOUNDER OF THE MODERN THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT. The first three volumes have become known as the Head & Cranston Anthologies, while the last two were with the efforts of Carey Williams. It has been an established policy that all the royalties earned by these volumes shall only be used to purchase the books back and donate them to libraries worldwide. The policy still being honored is: not one penny shall ever be used for personal use, but can only be used to promote the ideas of Theosophy through these volumes in order to aid suffering humanity. Anita's brother "Bob" (A. Edgar) Atkins has always been Anita's financial and moral support and a steadfast researcher throughout the HPB biography.
Anita Atkins spent her whole working life at The United Lodge of Theosophists -- New York City, the 5cents and 10cents Store, and Eastern News Distributors. Never married she chose to direct her efforts towards humanity through her lectures for various theosophical groups and organizations, teaching Theosophy School at ULT, as well as participating in innumerable radio interviews, and some major Television interviews. To many researchers and academics in the world, Sylvia Cranston has become a respected authority in the field of Reincarnation. Today her books are still in print and are available in multiple languages throughout the world, remaining ever steadfast as a beckon light for individuals searching for soul-knowledge on their chosen path of life.
Throughout Anita's lifetime she read every word ever written by HPB multiple times. One keynote struck out as a call for Anita to serve Theosophy. This was HPB's address to the fourth American Convention in 1890. HPB stated:
What I said last year remains true today, that is, that the Ethics of Theosophy are more important than any divulgement of psychic laws and facts. The latter relate wholly to the material and evanescent part of the septenary man, but the Ethics sink into and take hold of the real man -- the reincarnating Ego. We are outwardly creatures of but a day; within we are eternal. Learn, then, well the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, and teach, practice, promulgate that system of life and thought, which alone can save the coming races. Do not work merely for the Theosophical Society [or ULT], but THROUGH it for Humanity.
Anita's heart was pierced by this proclamation, so at the age of 16, she began compiling what great thinkers, writers, artists, and composers had to say on the subject of death and reincarnation throughout history. This idea came to Anita to compile an appendix to a friend's book she volunteered to type on the subject of reincarnation to be published by the Theosophy Company. This appendix grew into a volume of its own and Mrs. Grace Clough of the ULT -- Los Angeles advised Anita upon her visit there to select a pen name and have her appendix published as a separate book by a major New York publishing house. Grace Clough then selected Sylvia Cranston as the nom de plume of Anita Atkins. All these events did occur, the first four Cranston anthologies on reincarnation, were published by Crown Publishers, and the fifth volume, the HBP biography, was originally published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, both of New York. Today these books are still available and in print within various theosophical and non-theosophical publishing houses. "Bob" (A. Edgar) Atkins has been an invaluable asset in helping in this effort through both his moral and financial support.
Anita Atkins is survived by her faithful brother, friend, and companion "Bob" Atkins. He has stood by Anita's life and work for his entire lifetime, and at the age of 79 formed Path Publishing House along with Caren M. Elin to keep the HPB biography alive and in print. In the future, this biography shall appear online.
The lifetime work of Anita Atkins shall continue to be carried on through the efforts of her faithful friend, companion, and co-author Carey Williams. The new and uncompleted sixth volume started by Cranston and Williams shall be completed in the future.
Anita Atkins selected to depart this lifetime on the Summer Solstice, June 20, 2000, while residing in Santa Barbara, California. The last 6+ years of her life were spent advising Carey Williams of her desires for publishing and the contents of her lectures and articles while enjoying the magnificent coastline and panoramic views of the Santa Barbara area. It was Anita's undying wish that the ideas of Theosophy be used to benefit Humanity through gentle acts of service, beginning with those who cross our path daily -- family, friends, and coworkers. An additional wish was for all of the Theosophical groups and independent individuals to work symbiotically for the Theosophical Movement and through it to benefit Humanity.
Anita Atkins never wished any acknowledgements for her lifetime of selfless work, and now that she has departed the scene, I believe many join me in saying thank you Anita for a lifetime of selfless devotion to the Theosophical Movement and to Humanity.
A Celebration of Anita Atkins' (Sylvia Cranston's) Life and Work will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2000 at 8:00 P.M. in Crosbie Hall of The United Lodge of Theosophists, 326 West Sola St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101. All are welcome. For additional information, please call Caren M. Elin 805-344-1414.
By Herbert Coryn
[From THE THEOSOPHIC ISIS, September 15, 1896, pages 264-68. ]
There is no act, no thought that does not make a force in consciousness. No power can finally stay that force from its entire manifestation. That sounds like fatalism, but it is not so. Fatalists neglect a factor to which we will at once make reference. It is the WILL of each of us.
The will is a generator of force, a liberator and a destroyer of forces that already exist. The will of man is a spark from the great flame of will that brought this entire universe into manifestation. Its energies are for each man not limited. It is the very center of being, and we so study it.
This central will in nature, from which we derive our own, is shown in SCOPE OF ACTION. Actions of little scope have this will but little, resting rather on impulse, or on the smaller motives of personal humanity. The wider the scope the more of the central will. So, carrying it further, we say that a Master is he who acts with the full and unlimited scope of THE central will. THE central will in its full scope brings forth life. He imitates that whose actions bring forth scope of life in him and others.
He who seeks matter seeks death, and annihilates in himself the central will. He who seeks spirit obtains life, and gives of it to others. Between these are all grades. Seeking matter is seeking gratification in the sensations of matter, the aim of the personal man.
From the man wholly given to lusts, bringing about disease and death to himself and others, arise in long gradation, those who seek the higher and higher activities, and the higher the activity they seek, the more they are leaders among men. They take power from the one life they seek, and help others to that. That, in perfection, is the ideal of the Theosophical Society, whose members aim nearer and nearer to that central life whose ministers are the Masters.
We saw that a man is tied by his past acts, since they become in his consciousness pendulums tied back, silent, but full of potential energy, awaiting the time when they shall be slipped loose from their catches, to clang upon the bells of manifested action.
That is true, that we are so tied, but it is also true that the pendulum once loosed can be made to break its force upon an opposing force. For he who meditates to good, day by day, upon his life, ties back into the position of power some pendulums charged with the force of good, and these, slipping when the evil slip, neutralize them and destroy their force. And this is because a critical review of daily life, and all meditation in aspiration, is a generation by the will of force to good.
In the past we meditate on evil -- and may do so yet -- drawing the forces of the will, thus aroused, to the reinforcement of evil, and that evil is the silent, dark set of PRESENCES in consciousness, waiting the hour of their emergence. Now, we can consciously undo that and reverse the currents. So it is alike true and not true that a man is bound by his past, though he and he alone in absolute verity can unbind himself.
That is our answer to the doctrine of fatalism. It is always well to distrust those answers to the problems of life that are easy to get at. The "will of God," and the "will of fate," or the "determination of necessity," are suspiciously lazy and easy ways of explaining why things happen. It is difficult to delve back into the recesses of consciousness, and there find and estimate the forces. And it is easy for those who have not done it, and cannot do it, to deny the experimentally reached results of those who HAVE done it.
Three principles well kept in mind make the problem a little easier. The FIRST principle is that the outer Universe is a manifestation of an intense inner activity. NOTHING is at any moment as it was the moment before. SECONDLY, as you look at the various kingdoms of nature you find that upon SOME activities, as the mechanical in the stone, OTHERS are added; just as the freer life of the plant has all the mechanical activities of the stone PLUS ANOTHER, what we call life proper.
The animal has these and another yet, namely, special consciousness. Man has these all and another, namely, intellectual consciousness. And there is yet another, namely, spiritual consciousness, in higher men. So we arrange the scale of being and put highest that which has the MOST activity.
We see that the central life in nature keeps urging outwards its creatures to new activities. Each of us feels in himself that central life urging him to activities of act and consciousness. In the end he gets the most satisfaction with himself, the fire in him is most satisfied with him, the wider his activities.
When to the ordinary activities of life he adds those of thought, he is pleased, and nothing hinders. When to thought he adds spiritual meditation and feels the great life around him and sees clearly that it is also HIS life, that pleases him more, for he begins to make his activities of the same range as the universe.
As the life in the universe acts in all creatures to expand them, so he begins with those who know less than he, and takes pleasure in teaching and expanding them; for at first unconsciously, then consciously, he feels himself to be in them, and expands there. That is altruism, and it is not compatible with hurting them. Even giving food to a beggar, expands that beggar's mere physical life, and is prompted by sympathy, which IS the desire to expand life.
Neither is it compatible with crimes and lusts, for crimes diminish life, and lusts are but the animal life again and diminish the greater life. The THIRD principle is that all which happens to us is due to its having been brought upon us by elements in our consciousness that crave for activity, and the order of the events is the order of the cravings, the two fitting each other. The difficulty in accepting this seems to arise from confusion between the DEEP cravings and the SUPERFICIAL whims.
Say a man wishes to be celebrated. He thinks he may become so by taking up music, and says he wishes to be a musician, which is not so. Music is only a path he has selected which he hopes may lead him to his real goal. He commits himself to a career of music, fails to succeed in becoming celebrated, and thinks he might become so in the law. Fate denies him that, because it is a passing whim or idea, not the real thing.
If his internal wish to be much talked of is real, that will some day come about. If with that, there is also an internal leaning, a delayed pendulum, for crime, the two may combine, and he will become what he wanted, celebrated, but for a great crime. If to those two he adds a third wish, for unlimited debauchery, it may come about and be gratified by his execution at the rope, and so he is freed in the astral world to gratify himself through all the mediums and villains on earth with whom he can ally himself.
Or, and at the risk of making the illustration absurd, suppose that his third eternal wish, coexisting with the others, is for rest, or for some monotonous occupation that is equal to doing nothing -- and many crave that -- he may be imprisoned for years and so THAT is satisfied.
This is all, of course, a very rough example, but it will show what I mean. It will show that the conditions of life are NOT the will of God or of fate, but our OWN will, and that our own will, or the unexpected cravings WITHIN us, are rarely the same as the passing SURFACE whim.
We long for rest or loneliness, only occasionally on the surface knowing that we do so. We so long for it that it comes to be WILL. That is a stored up force. But we longed for a lot of other things as well, and this last longing must either MIX UP with them, or take its place at the end.
If it mixes up, we may not like loneliness AS COMBINED WITH THE OTHER CONDITIONS ALSO WILLED FOR. If it comes at the end, we may by that time have ceased to want it. We spend life after life in a wretched and contemptible series of longings. Then we grumble, when they are gratified, AS THEY MUST BE, and the longings are SO numerous and so incompatible that the mixture produces all the strange happenings of life.
Let us long but for the WHITE LIGHT OF THE UNIVERSAL LIFE in its fullness and wisdom, and that will eternally satisfy. But it is a good plan to examine all the happenings of life, and see how they resulted from past blended-but-incompatible longings, producing nasty mixtures.
Those who have begun to do this, will see how true is that which we have been taught in Theosophy, that we alone make each our own aimless and endless stream of longings. But those who would shirk the problem by that easy phrase "Fate" must do so. They MUST indeed do so till they can accept reincarnation, and the lesson of life after life with all their pains, till we have learned to yearn only to know that one Great Light which is all men and worlds. This is that FINDING OF THY SELF which we have resolved to undertake.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 255-68.]
Friends, HPB quoted in THE SECRET DOCTRINE those familiar words, "Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men, Wisdom in minds attentive to their own."
An early Christian writer remarked that the business of Wisdom is to discern first that which is true, and then to be able to discern that which is false. Now Theosophy -- the Wisdom of the Ages -- points out the fundamental duality, as it were, that runs throughout the manifested Universe. The whole of manifested nature is rooted in an indissoluble unity. It is the business of Wisdom to discover that unity, to realize it in our own consciousness. We pass in thought from that boundless, infinite unity which in this philosophy we call Parabrahman, the Absolute. Then we come down in thought necessarily to the contrast in nature between Spirit and Matter, subject and object, and so forth.
This, applied to man, immediately shows us that we have a spiritual pole to our being, as well as a material one. In ISIS UNVEILED, the first book of Mme. Blavatsky, she pointed out that there is indwelling within the external form of man and of the Universe a connecting link between Spirit and Matter, which in the human entity she calls "the Real Man."
This inner Real Entity in man is the thinking, human, striving soul, the Personal Ego, the Astral Monad, the Manas. It is this Entity, as it were, that is fixed, crucified in Space between heaven above and the earth beneath. Now it is the whole purpose of Wisdom, I venture to suggest, to show how it has to tread the Golgotha of life. It is a pilgrim marching literally through eternity, from age to age, but which is not unconditionally immortal.
Wherever there is a spark of the Boundless All, there you have all the sevenfold principles of life in embryo. It is purely a question of degree of unfoldment. The consciousness is latent in the life of an atom as it is in the highest God that your mind can rise to. Therefore it will not come as a shock, the idea that this intermediate principle in man, striving towards Wisdom on the one hand, and pulled down towards matter on the other, is a being that has to win immortality.
The process by which he mounts the ladder of life, the stairway of evolution, is by ascending the seven rungs of his own being. As T. Subba Row said in the early days of this Movement: "[Occultism] is the process by which man learns to transfer his individual consciousness from his mortal, material body up the stairway of his being to the incorruptible world of non-being represented by his seventh principle."
Wisdom is that state of consciousness that is achieved when the human entity has learned how to merge itself into an indissoluble unity with its own Divine part, with its Higher Self, the Higher Ego. This is what in Theosophical terminology is called Manas indissolubly united to Buddhi.
All men have this higher nature. It is, if we did but know it, a god not in embryo but in actuality, dwelling in full power, omniscient almost. It is one with the Universal World-Soul. And it is because this Higher Nature of ours is part of that indissoluble unity of the Supreme Soul itself that we have an aspect of our being, which is of the nature of Truth. Half our task is but to open ourselves, open a certain door of our being, that we may enter into the inspiration, the light, the knowledge, which is actually inherent in that part of our being.
I dared to call this lecture "The Dual Aspect of Wisdom." I do not want to concentrate attention too much upon the lower side, the lower aspect of wisdom. It must nevertheless be evident to all of us, as was shown so perfectly by St. James in the New Testament, that there is a terrestrial, psychic, and devilish Wisdom, if it may be so called, as well as the Divine nature.
I think that if you will permit me I will just read you the passage, because it shows the Wisdom that is to be found scattered throughout the New Testament. In the third chapter (11-17), you find these words, and here are shown very beautifully the contrast between these two poles of man's being:
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
You will remember that HPB in the early days of the Movement in a mood of protest at the lives of certain Theosophists, pointed out that pure water could not be given to the world out of a foul bucket, and that the lower nature of men must be cleansed.
Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries, either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.
I ask you to note that phrase:
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
There you get in the New Testament the statement -- one of the statements -- of the dual aspect of Wisdom. HPB has a remarkable article dealing with the subject in one of the early volumes of her magazine LUCIFER. She pointed out how often Theosophists are taken to task because they believe in the Wisdom of the Ancients. They uphold it. They stand for it. They believe in it.
Disciples of modern knowledge, so to speak, think and believe that modern scientists, modern inventions and thought and psychology and so-called philosophy, are in every way equal, if not superior, to the Wisdom of old. The question is, "Is that so?"
HPB challenges the whole position very, very strongly. Her words are so suggestive, so pregnant with illuminating ideas, as well as rather amusing, that I should like to read you some of the passages that she has in this article. She is replying to somebody who has put the point of view that modern wisdom is superior to the Ancient. She says:
Our correspondent is welcome to his own views, but so are we to ours. Let him imagine, if he likes, that the Eiffel Tower dwarfs the Pyramid of Giza into a molehill, and the Crystal Palace grounds transform the hanging gardens of Semiramis into a kitchen garden. But if we are seriously "challenged" by him to show "in what respect our age of hourly progress and gigantic thought" -- a progress a trifle marred, however, by our Huxleys being denounced by our Spurgeons, and the University ladies, senior classics and wranglers, by the "hallelujah lasses" -- is inferior to the ages of, say, a henpecked "Socrates and a cross-legged Buddha," then we will answer him, giving him, of course, our own personal opinion.
Our age, we say, is inferior in wisdom to any other, because it professes, more visibly every day, CONTEMPT FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE, WITHOUT WHICH THERE CAN BE NO WISDOM. Because our civilization, built up of shams and appearances, is at best like a beautiful green morass, a bog, spread over a deadly quagmire. Because this century of culture and worship of matter, while offering prizes and premiums for every "BEST thing" under the sun, from the biggest baby and the largest orchid down to the strongest in fist fighting and the fattest pig, has no encouragement to offer to morality, no prize to give for any moral virtue.
-- "The Dual Aspect of Wisdom," LUCIFER, VII, Sept. 15, 1890
She is wonderful in the language she chooses, that HPB!
I think that none of us can question the truth of this challenge that she throws down. Some of you who have read that book called THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT will remember that one of the Masters there states that Wisdom will ever be denied but to those who seek it for its own sake without any secondary motive of turning it to personal profit and gain. The whole of the Theosophical Movement rests upon that high endeavor.
You will find the lower side of the dual aspect of Wisdom rampant in the world today. Go out and look, for example, at the advertisements in some present-day magazines. There you will find every kind of psychism and claptrap and exploitation of human beings. You will find money is asked for initiation into so-called Rosicrucian rites, where the "secrets," so-called, of the Ancient Wisdom are offered to be sold for money in the marketplaces of commerce. You will find every kind of medium, spiritualistic performance, and goodness knows what.
Now all these things are expressions of this lower, psychic, terrestrial aspect of wisdom. It is not that the psychic and the so-called clairvoyant who take your money and offer to tell you something about yourself do not tell you a good deal that you may find very interesting and true, and that may give you all sorts of pleasant dreams about the future, which often also are true.
The main point is that true Wisdom cannot be obtained where there are any motives of self-seeking of whatever kind. Anything in the nature of personal gain or taking of money in the realm of the occult is fatal to Wisdom. Yet it is everywhere rampant at the present time, in this crisis in the world's history, when the earth is passing through one of the critical points of her great cycle. Men and women are looking at each other, examining themselves, not knowing quite what is going to happen. It is at such times as these that the soothsayers and the clairvoyants and the like burst forth in a great crescendo of psychic activity, the terrestrial lower wisdom, if you like to call it so.
There is another aspect that we have to deal with. It is, briefly, that if there is a true Wisdom in the world, there is also a spurious wisdom, shown forth by this manifestation that I have been speaking about. I must not fail to mention that it is preeminently shown forth in that flood of literature that may be termed pseudo-occult, pseudo-theosophic, which again diverts men's minds from the true Wisdom, fills them up with a lot of psychic junk. The seeds of thought that are in these books sink deep into the psychic nature of the individual, and bring forth but evil fruit. That is another manifestation.
Furthermore, one should mention here the fact that there is such a thing as wisdom in evil, where there are self-conscious human beings who have made evil their God, and who have a knowledge of all the laws of the universe, and can turn them to their own evil ends -- in one word, sorcery.
These are some illustrations of the lower aspect of Wisdom. You can work them out in a thousand different ways. But I should like to dwell upon the higher aspect by referring to what are called in certain parts of Theosophical literature, and the literature of the Ancients, the seven Jewels of Wisdom. They have relation exclusively to True Wisdom or Magic, those seven Golden Keys or key doctrines around which THE SECRET DOCTRINE of Blavatsky was actually written. Test this statement for yourselves.
Those seven doctrines I have no doubt you are absolutely familiar with, but may I just enumerate them for you? The first is the doctrine of Reincarnation. The second is Karma, the law of cause and effect. The third is the doctrine of Hierarchies, which means that everything in the universe is interlinked and interblended with everything else, which it really interpenetrates in its essential nature. You will see how everything in THE SECRET DOCTRINE can be related to one of these seven Jewels, and therefore they are worth remembering.
The fourth is the doctrine of what in Sanskrit is called Swabhava, which is the essential characteristic of a thing, of a being, of a Monad. Interpreted, this means that a man is in his outward nature but a reflection of what he is in his inward nature. It means that everything in the universe is different, although rooted in unity. It means that there are not two beings in the universe alike, any more than there are any two atoms, or two grains of sand, or two flowers, or two trees, or two beasts, alike. Every single thing in the universe has its essential characteristic, its Swabhava, its keynote. You and I, we all, have our characteristic spiritual tone, our note that we try to show forth. In the great drama of life we learn to bring forth from within ourselves, that is from within that seed-root of Divinity, that Monad, the germ from which all our lower being springs, which is its Father in Heaven. It is this that provides our characteristic, essential, true Self. It is the eternal "I" which never perishes.
The fifth key is the doctrine of Evolution. The sixth is related to something that I was saying just now. It is the doctrine of what in Sanskrit -- if you will forgive me for quoting a Sanskrit term again -- is called the Amrita-Yana and the Pratyeka-Yana, which means the right-hand Path and the left-hand Path. They are the Path that leads to Wisdom, and the path that leads downwards, the Path of Wisdom and the path of self. There again you see the contrast of the two aspects of Wisdom, the sixth of the keys around which THE SECRET DOCTRINE is written. And last is Atma-Vidya, which is the knowledge of the Self and of the marvelous teachings concerning how the One becomes the Many.
I asked you to allow me to mention those seven keys to you for a particular purpose. There are certain formulae in the Theosophical system of thought that as a student I have found immensely helpful. They are things that one can make a part of one's being, and apply to any problem of life in meditation.
Whenever one has a quiet moment one can revert to the statement of fundamental principles that is given in the twelfth chapter of Volume II of ISIS UNVEILED. There are ten of them. You can turn to that formula and to the three Fundamental Propositions in the Proem to THE SECRET DOCTRINE, and find the basis on which the whole philosophy is said to rest. It rests on these seven jewels that I have just referred to, and the seven or ten Paramitas that are given in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE.
The last thought that I want to leave with you is the correspondence between the order of the seven Paramitas, the Buddha's virtues, which the disciple makes his code of ethical conduct, and the order of the seven jewels. The Paramitas are so beautiful that I will read them to you, and I want to try to show that this correspondence is most suggestive.
The first of these keys is Dana, "the key of charity and love immortal." At first sight does this connect with the first jewel, the doctrine of Reincarnation? I believe you will find that it does if you think deeply enough about it, for reincarnation means regeneration. Reincarnation or reembodiment takes place in a human being when the indwelling consciousness has grown to that point where the existing form no longer serves it. Then there is a death of a certain part of the being. There is regeneration and a rebirth into a higher state, into the higher part of the nature. It is here and by this process that all love comes into a man's life. He cannot live or express Wisdom or Charity immortal unless this regenerative process is going on.
The second Paramita is Shila, "the key of harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect and leaves no further room for Karmic action." I think that it is sufficiently obvious that the second jewel, the doctrine of Karma, exactly corresponds to the second Paramita.
The third is not so obvious but contains an inspiring thought. It is Kshanti, "patience sweet, that naught can ruffle." How does this relate to the third of the jewels, the doctrine of Hierarchies? I suggest that there is no more perfect example of that patience sweet that the disciple is called upon to show forth in his life than the Silent Watcher. In THE SECRET DOCTRINE, you remember, he is shown as sitting at the threshold of darkness which he will not quit until the weary, sore-footed pilgrims of humanity have each passed into the great Nirvana before him. That is the picture of the great summit, the Heaven of the spiritual, psychological Hierarchy of Adepts, the Silent Watcher of our world or Universe.
The fourth Paramita is Viraga, "indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived." I suggest that there is a very direct correspondence between that and the doctrine of Swabhava, the essential characteristic of a nature, for which you will have to go to the very root and core of a man's being. When consciousness is rooted in the higher part of the man's being, is it only then possible for it to show forth his perfect spiritual keynote or tone, and that balanced indifference to pleasure and pain.
Then comes Virya, "the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial." What better illustration can you have of evolution than that Paramita? It depicts the whole struggle out of the corruption of matter to the incorruptible world of the Spirit. That is Virya, the dauntless energy and courage that we are called upon to develop.
The sixth Paramita, Dhyana, "whose gate once opened leads the Naljor towards the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation." This, being interpreted, means meditation. Meditation, as you will agree, I believe and hope, is intimately related to the sixth of the seven Jewels, that which is concerned with the Amrita-Yana, the Immortal vehicle, the right-hand Path. But there is no treading of this Path except by the practice of the Paramita called Dhyana or Meditation.
And last is Prajna, "the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis." That relates to the last and final jewel, Atma-Vidya, knowledge of the Self, the means by which the One, the Supreme, the Infinite, became the many in this entire marvelous manifested Universe.
QUESTION: To which, if any, of the different keys would you relate the law of cycles?
ANSWER: I should relate it to the law of Reincarnation or Reembodiment, which is a manifestation of the law of Cycles. But you must remember that all these Jewels in the Doctrines of Theosophy are interblended with each other. You cannot understand one without the other.
You cannot understand the law of Karma, the law of the rhythmic flow of cause and effect, which is also intimately related with the doctrine of Cycles, unless you understand the doctrine of ebb and flow as it expresses itself in the law of Reincarnation and Reembodiment.
This is the rhythmic pulse of Nature that goes through the life-cycle of the tiniest infusoria. Even a mosquito, a butterfly, any of these creatures, exhibits the law of cycles. It reembodies itself. Then, too, it is shown forth in the attraction of the tides, in the phases of the moon, in the pilgrimage of the planets in their orbit around the sun, in the birth and death of worlds, of solar systems -- for worlds are born and die just as man, only in infinitely longer cycles of time.
I think you can relate it to the first, and if you wish, to the second of the Jewels. I hope that this is responsive to the question.
QUESTION: Is it correct to say that the left-hand Path is incomplete wisdom because mastery of the lower self has not been obtained? In other words, it is incomplete because inhibited by the personal?
ANSWER: In a certain sense that is perfectly true, for we all of us fail to tread the highest Path in any moment that we act from a consciousness centered in our personality. It is the personality that enshrouds our spiritual vision and prevents our seeing the Light, and therefore prevents our seeing the right-hand Path.
Do you remember the definition of these two Paths given by Master Koot Hoomi in THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, where (on page 114) he gave a definition of the Amrita-Yana and the Pratyeka-Yana? He shows that these are simply another way of stating the doctrines relating to the individuality and the personality, and the Personal Ego and its identity with the Astral Monad. Now the Personal Ego is that, you remember, which goes to Devachan. What is the Personal Ego? The Personal Ego, he says, is a combination of the five lower principles. The Immortal vehicle, Amrita-Yana, the Higher Ego, is, of course, the combination of Higher Manas united to Buddhi.
QUESTION: My question is regarding the lower and distorted aspects of wisdom such as one finds in modern science and even psychism. Do not they conform to the unity of Evolution, since in the Cosmic economy there can be no such thing as waste? There may conceivably be people who need the left-hand Path to find the Right.
ANSWER: I would interpret this in a slightly different sense. There is what is called the descending arc and the ascending arc. They are the Path of going forth, as it is called, and the Path of ascent, or return. They are the Path of Involution into matter, and Evolution out of it.
I personally am a little in doubt about this idea that men need an evil path. I do not think that this is what is meant. But they do have to descend into matter, and they do have to evolve out of it.
There is another interesting point from a student's point of view here. You know the doctrine of a Planetary Chain, and you know that this Planetary Chain is represented symbolically as a ring of circles. It goes down on the left side and goes up on the right side. The side on the left is the descending, and on the right the ascending arc.
Has it ever occurred to you what is the correspondence in our lives of that idea? It is this. When we live in the higher part of our being we express the spiritual qualities. We are identifying ourselves in consciousness with the superior qualities of the Planetary Chain, in what in Buddhist -- or rather Brahmanistic -- terminology is called the Lokas. But when we live in the lower part of our being we are concerning ourselves with the descending arc and with the Talas. This is a stimulating thought. It says that we can live in the Lokas, or in the Talas, in the higher spiritual part of the being, or be buried in the personal.
QUESTION: Does not a study of technical Theosophy tempt one towards becoming merely an armchair philosopher? In other words, do you not think that the appeal of THE SECRET DOCTRINE is more to the intellect than to the heart?
ANSWER: Those who have studied HPB's teachings realize that there is some truth in what the questioner has suggested. It is possible to study these teachings and become a mere armchair philosopher. In other words, they can be studied from a purely intellectual point of view. You may become acquainted with a great deal of her teachings, and do nothing whatever about it, merely remain sitting on the fence or in your armchair. You may entirely fail to lead the life, as she stressed in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, which is the necessary prerequisite to an obtaining of any measure of Wisdom at all.
The Theosophist has a perfectly complete answer to the charge of the complexity of the doctrines hiding the essential life of the spirit, which is another way -- I take it -- of saying what the questioner meant. All I can say is that if any individual finds there to be such a doctrine, all he has to do is to concentrate upon the ethical aspects of the teaching, as found, for example, in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, in the seven Paramitas I read to you.
I venture to think if he sets to work to practice the seven Paramitas of perfection, he will have his hands full. If our brother will give himself that exercise I think he won't have much to complain about, because he will understand a very great deal by the time he has finished that exercise.
I imagine the Masters of Wisdom had a very good reason for casting their philosophy and message to the Western world in the way they did. One must come to the conclusion that since the characteristic of our present age is an endeavor to develop the thinking principle -- a characteristic of our Western people is that they want reasons for everything -- in the Theosophical philosophy they get a closely reasoned explanation for almost everything in the Universe.
I think that is sufficient. If you want an explanation of the Universe there is the philosophy to satisfy you. If you want to live the life, you have the Sermon on the Mount. You have the teachings of Buddha. You have the ethical principles of all the great religions, as well as the precepts to be found in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. It is only that the Theosophical system is infinitely rich not only in ethical ideas but in philosophy as well. There is food for the spirit. There is food for the heart, and satisfaction for the intellectual part of the man, in the whole system. At least that is how I understand it.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording of a private class held on March 30, 1955.]
You say you have somebody who likes to drink a little. Do not tell him not to. Do not do it unless he begins a conversation with you on that subject. As long as you never touch the stuff in front of him -- and of course you are not going to do it behind his back -- he will always remember what he might consider a curious fact. "That chap never touches alcohol. Why?" As long as he has a "why" in his mind, there is a possibility for him to change. It is a good thing for a human being to have a few "why's sticking out in their mind as question marks. He is wondering. As long as he is wondering, there is a possibility of growth.
While on that subject, going back for a moment to the question of drink, there is still another thing involved in that strange habit. Drink is not altogether the same as some other vice. There are similarities of course between all vices, but alcohol just happens to be a substance that has peculiar magnetic affinities to the lower emotions and thoughts of the people. This does not apply to water. It does not apply to fruit juice. It does not apply to many other things. It does not apply to certain so-called alcohols, speaking in the language of chemistry, such things as wood alcohol. It applies to this type of fermented juices. They imbibe the lower psychic elements or magnetisms of the people who were instrumental in producing them.
You absorb there the concentrated essence of a great many psychic sediments that came from the people through whose hands this thing came. Do you see what an evil thing that is? This is not unique. I do not mean to point this out as something unique. Because it is perfectly true that if you happen to be in a rage inside or in a very big emotional turmoil and you go and cook a meal for somebody, part of your emotional turmoil is going to be in that soup and in those beans and in that dessert. The other people are going to eat it and may be poisoned. Yes, I have seen something happen like that, more than once. You can transmit a portion of your psychic emotions into the food you have cooked, and you can poison others. The other thing is not unique, but being enormously more intense. It stands out.
For years in Point Loma, there was a very careful supervision exercised over those who worked in the kitchen and cooked the meals for nearly 200 people. They were supposed to be in a very placid, quiet, and peaceful frame of mind. They were selected among those who had tendencies to be peaceful and self-controlled. They were not people with fits of temper or any other thing that many of us did have.
Katherine Tingley was exceedingly careful about it for years and years, long before I came there, so that the food would be saturated with the atmosphere of impersonal service. It was going to be sent up from the kitchen to the dining room. It was going to be an up-building set of elements which would bring not only what they have in themselves, but the loving thought of impersonal service by the people who were instrumental in cooking it. This was so that the others, including themselves, would be able to build up their bodies that day with clean food. The food was not just physically clean but psychically clean, because of being prepared in an atmosphere of devotion and service. The human body was supposed to be a temple to be built up as a fit vehicle to work through.
Today there is extensive research that is being done in different parts of the world about healthy growth or blighted growth of crops under the influence of negative or positive human thinking. They have photographs to show, on a small scale, photographs to show that trays of plants that have been deliberately magnetized in a certain way are blighted, and the others luxuriantly grow. This is with everything else being the same, you see. The soil, light, chemicals, everything was exactly the same. The seeds were taken out of exactly the same bag of seeds, but influenced by different type of thoughts, directly channeled onto this or another tray of plants. Some universities have taken this up. They are rediscovering a little bit of the old yoga. Where is this going to end? Some are bound to misuse it. Somebody will come up and use the same knowledge to destroy some part of an army, or make the stocks move down instead of up, or something.
Question: I was thinking of people who go to church regularly every Sunday. They are establishing a pattern. I was wondering if it is good for them. Well, it has bound to help some, no matter what it is.
Yes, I am glad you brought that up. I think we are very prone to jump to the conclusion that most of their churchgoing is just an old habit, just a pattern and that the less we have of it, the better. Well of course, in many ways it is perfectly true. It is something. The spirit has fled out of a pattern. The majority of people probably go to church to just to show to their neighbors how they are dressed, or to meet friends, or perhaps as a matter of duty.
There is something more behind it. It can hardly be the case in America because America is too young. I suppose that it might be the case in some places, but I do not know the country well enough for that. In Europe, it is obvious to anyone who is attuned.
You enter some of the old Gothic cathedrals. Some of those are Roman Catholic and some of them are Protestant, but they have been Roman Catholic some centuries ago, so either way. You are uplifted. You are lifted right out of the workaday world. Whether anything goes on there or not is of no importance whatsoever. It makes no difference whether anybody is reciting something or the priest is anywhere around or some service goes on or whether it is deserted.
The point is that for centuries and generation after generation there have been individuals who have gone there with just one set of thoughts. They wanted to commune with something that they called God. It does not matter how you call it. Their brains are occupied with Roman Catholic theology. That is not my point. They went there with a motive that was high, however deluded were their ideas. Their motive was high. They went there to get away from everything else in their daily life. In reverence they did something that they have called "praying." Each one has a different idea about it. What idea he had about it is not important.
The atmosphere of that place -- the stones, the bricks, the walls, the ceiling, and the pews -- is saturated with that force. It is unquestionably a spiritual force because that is what they went there for. For centuries, it has been there. It is in here. It is in every atom of that place.
More than that, whole communities of people built the old cathedrals and they spent years and years, sometimes more than an hundred years building a cathedral. They contributed not only money, but they contributed their labor and time by the thousands of people, skilled and unskilled, to build that one great thing in their own particular town or county.
It is all there. No wonder a sensitive person comes in and the spiritual atmosphere of that seat of reverence will uplift him. It does not matter whether it is Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Brahmanistic, or Buddhist, because there are equivalents of these temples all over the world. What counts is the combined effect of a direction of thought. Do you see what I mean? That is what counts. The church going, of course, can be an empty show. This is not true everywhere, not everywhere.
Lauren: Could we establish a pattern? At the first thing in the morning on waking up, we can think of a certain thing, and repeat it everyday. That establishes a pattern?
Yes, certainly. Not only can we, but we ought to. That pattern will become easier and easier as time goes on. It will become habitual. We will not have a happy day, after awhile, unless we have done it first thing in the morning. We will miss it if we do not do it, you see, after a while.
It is not a matter of anything like repeating mantras, but involves some quiet time away from any thought pertaining to the duties of the day, away from any thoughts connected with worldly life at all. This is just as if you were to have a visit with a higher entity within yourself, a heart-to-heart talk with whatever you consider to be the highest in you. It is an entity, much higher than we humans, a part of our inner consciousness, not an outside thing.
If we can commune with it for a while, it is not a matter of saying anything. It is not even a matter of thinking anything. It is rather an attitude of quiet, silence, serenity, expectancy, and reverence. It is like listening in. You will know what you are listening to. You are expecting. You may hear something, but not a human voice, no.
Lend your ear, metaphorically speaking, to whatever is the highest in you and occasionally you will have an inspiring thought or realization. Or if no inspiring thought, then perhaps just a feeling of quiet and peace and warmth that will suffuse you, as if coming from nowhere. That too is a voice, if you like to call it that way. It is an influence. Call it influence.
Shut out the world. Shut out all other disturbing thoughts, emotions, and ideas. If that is too difficult to begin with, just take something from an ancient scripture, just a few words, anything. You can invent it yourself. "I and the Universe are One." Try to meditate over that. Each of us has to devise our own way. Establish a pattern.
The chances are overwhelming that during the day, sometime, even in the thick of battle, in the office or anywhere else, that impression is going to come back. Your mind will revert to it. It may come back once, maybe twice. It becomes habitual.
Strange things will happen when it becomes habitual. You will find yourself meditating all day long. This may be after some months or even years. This happens without the slightest interference with the carrying out of your duties, because two entirely different levels of your mind do it.
You are actively engaged on the outward plane. Your inner thought meditates upon a set of ideas completely unrelated to any of it. You derive strength in the outer world from that inner link.
Q. How might a mutation occur in an archetypal structure of a living form? Is it established through this habit pattern in nature? Suddenly there is a mutation. The archetype has changed slightly. The pattern that is forming is a little different.
Q. Why does mutation occur?
Essentially, mutation happens through the power of human thought. A full answer to that cannot be given. For that answer, we would have to see the workings of the inner principles of man or of the world in which we live.
The scientist speaks of mutations in the sense of genetics. Very suddenly, a great change occurs in a species. It is sudden for the scientist. It is sudden in its physical manifestation. Actually it is not sudden, because the cumulative changes have been taking place right along in successive stages in the inner principles of that entity.
This is similar to the fact that when a certain temperature has been arrived at, the water boils. The water seems to boil suddenly to the one who knows nothing about temperature, to the one who does not know anything about chemistry. The water appears to boil suddenly. We know that a good deal of time has elapsed. The water had to be brought up to that temperature before it could start boiling. The outward expression is sudden, just like water being congealed into ice. In actuality, it is not sudden.
There are sudden changes that occasionally occur in human consciousness. A man or a woman suddenly goes through a great change of consciousness, practically overnight. They appear in all these reactions a completely different person. This is simply a sudden, outward manifestation of a long, cumulative process. It only appears sudden, but in reality, it is not.
Therefore, what we call "mutations," for lack of a better term, are periodic, radical changes of the pattern. They are an effect that was produced by a long series of inner transformations, which the outer eye or senses would not know.
I am reminded of one of HPB's passages where she was fighting against some materialist who was trying to argue his point. It appeared that the definition of that particular man of a living thing was that it could reproduce itself. He argued that because anything that could not reproduce itself was not living. So she said at that rate, the mule is not a living thing. It cannot reproduce itself, so it is not alive.
We were talking about mutations in the sense of sudden changes. We see sudden changes every day, but we do not give enough thought to them. They are not mutations in the scientific language, but they could be called mutations by extension of meaning, sudden changes, which the word "mutation" means.
I mean in this case any ordinary tree that sheds its leaves in the fall. It falls into a condition of latency. You look at it. It is as good as dead. Not only does it appear gray and lifeless, has lost all its leaves, the branches have changed their color somewhat, but more than that, the sap inside does not flow. For practical purposes, it is dead. The only difference is that the consistency of the wood is such that you cannot break it as a dead thing will break.
The question could be asked, "Where is the dynamic life of that tree during the winter sleep? Where is it?" It is not in the roots. You cannot take it out with the roots. The roots are asleep too. There is no function. Where is the life gone, that animated that tree in the summer? Do not think that this is an easy question to answer! Where is it?
Yet a day finally comes. It is connected with weather, connected with warmth, connected with the position of the sun, and probably the position of some other planets as well. Suddenly there are buds, a sudden "mutation." Suddenly, something begins to flow, called sap. The sap is flowing. There are definite dates for that in different climates of the earth. In a few days, the tree is full of leaves. After that come flowers. The tree is dynamically alive. Sometimes we do not ask ourselves questions that we should ask ourselves. "Where is the life of the tree gone to?" I do not intend to give a full answer.
Q. Is this the same thing as "hibernation?"
Yes. In hibernation, where is the individual? Where is the hibernating bear, everything that made a bear a bear, and act like one? Where is it? The general answer is this. The life of that tree, that is, the entity that manifests itself as a tree, the monadic life, is in the inner principles of that tree. The life is functional in the inner, invisible principles of that tree, in the astral structure of that tree, or even higher.
The hibernating animal is functional, to some extent, in his internal principles. The human being can do that, too. It is one of the stages of yoga to learn how to be functionally independent of the body while the body hibernates. We see it every day in vegetation, and we take it for granted.
If we did not take it for granted, we would realize that there is an important occult law operative there. It is a stage of disembodiment. It is not reincarnation, because the vehicle is not going to be a different one. Therefore, it is a stage of disembodiment, a functioning on the inner planes, and then an inflow again into the same vehicle for a new day. I am speaking of deciduous trees, things like that.
Imagine recording all of this. I wonder how it sounds. I think that we can do something more than we have done so far with these recordings. I am going to try to do so. Some people in two, three parts of the country would like to hear them. The trouble is, there are more people than just two, or three who would like to hear them.
Not many people have machines available, unless they rent them, and it costs money. A few have machines. The idea would be for them just to invite a few people to their house and hear this. Maybe they can ask some questions of each other, or send their questions to us. We could try to answer them and have them record it also.
Let us go back for a moment to where we started. I think we can never realize too strongly, too definitely, nor can we ever repeat to ourselves too often, the fact that we are creative beings. We can create things by the power of thought. We can recreate our own character by working upon it. Nobody else will. We have built in ourselves what we have today. The things that we indulge in are the habits that we have established, which mean the rhythms that we have established.
The rhythm of your habit is not in the least different from the rhythm of the motion of a planet around the sun. It is established. It has not always been so. It is interplay of forces. The planetary body has gravitated around another body in magnetic relation, because of a magnetic relation that exists between living entities on the planet and on the body around which it gravitates.
There are spiritual, magnetic relations between the inner principles and the divinities that embody them. Our habits are also gravitating around certain centers of attraction. We have started this gravitation by indulging in certain impressions. By choosing nobler centers of gravitation for our thoughts, we will establish the rhythms that will be powerful tools for inner as well as outer growth.
A vast difference exists between an individual who can be called integrated and another that for the lack of a better term we will call disintegrated.
One individual is integral. That is, he is unified. The other is disintegral, which means disunified. That is all there is to it. It is funny, when you say the man is disintegrated, but that is precisely what the majority of people are. They are disunified. Instead of having a harmonious correlation of all their principles, elements, and energies, they have them all warring with each other. It takes ages to produce the change.
Fundamentally, that is the only difference between Adepts, the Masters of Life and Wisdom, and us. It is just that we are relatively disintegrated and they are fully integrated. Our energies are flowing in various crisscross directions. They are warring with each other on the physical, pranic, intellectual, and spiritual levels. Yet, in those higher beings, all these energies from bottom to the top run parallel with each other in integrated, mutually related channels. These beings are men, but they are the finest flower of mankind.
Consider a carriage that is being drawn in the same direction by eight or ten horses. Now consider a carriage that is being pulled apart by a number of horses in different directions. There is a vast difference between the two! It is going no place. In fact, it is astonishing how much some people do achieve considering the strange quirks they have in their character pulling them apart.
What enormous things can an individual achieve when he becomes integrated! I would say that the definition of a Master of Life is simply an individual who has become fully, harmoniously integrated or unified throughout his entire constitution. It does not mean he is perfect, not at all. Compared with our state of disequilibrium, he is a Master of Life, because he has mastered the technique of integration, of spiritual integration.