... while we will help ... as fully as possible within our rules ... the strict law of justice forbids us to do aught to lessen in the slightest degree the merit to which HE WHO shall make the dream a reality will be entitled.
-- K.H., THE MAHATMA LETTERS, Letter 79, 3rd ed., page 376
By B.P. Wadia
[from THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 171-73.]
Each man is to himself absolutely the way, the truth, and the life....
The way and the truth come first, then follows the life.
-- LIGHT ON THE PATH
Perception, inference, and testimony are declared by the ancient teachers to be the means of obtaining knowledge, whether fallible or infallible.
Knowledge is threefold: sense-knowledge, head learning, Heart-Wisdom. Each one of us, now and here, possesses a triple storehouse of knowledge. We have the powers of observation and of the sensations that are ours using the sense organs, offering data for one order of information. We have the power of the mind from mere cerebration to profound thinking -- which yields to us our head learning. We have our emotions -- lower passions or exalted aspirations -- that manifest our Heart-life and bespeak our Heart-Wisdom.
All three are partial and faulty for all mortals. Those only who attain to true Immortality possess in perfection complete and infallible Wisdom. This is the coordinated, concordant, and complete Wisdom. Sense data are correctly comprehended by head learning, which in its turn is inspired by the pure light of the Heart, which is the seat of the Great Self. Real Immortality mortality means possessing this triple Wisdom.
Mortality implies not only death through the decay of the body but also the presence of ignorance about innumerable things in space, the motions of time and the events in history. Further, the separation which personal feelings and lack of altruism make between the human heart and the grand heart of Nature, which is Compassion Absolute.
Men suffer because the body decays, the mind continues to be ignorant and the heart remains selfish. Death is feared. Ignorance is found difficult to overcome. Selfishness is considered a natural inheritance of every man, woman, and child. From death to death mortals pass, knowing only sorrow at which they tap their foreheads and say, "Kismet."
The innate divinity at the very core of our being whispers, "There must be a way out of the death of the body, the darkness of ignorance, the corruption of selfishness." We do not seek the Way to Wisdom. We lose ourselves in our busyness to exist day after day, to eat, to earn, to pursue pleasures, to avoid pains. It hardly occurs to us to seek the meaning and the purpose of life. We do not live progressing from light to greater light, from love to deeper love, but stumble from confusion to corruption.
All Prophets and Perfected Men have pointed the Way. They have spoken the Truth. We remain ignorant about such instruction. THE BHAGAVAD GITA and the UPANISHADS, the GATHAS and the KABBALA, the Sermon on the Mount and the Epistles of Paul, the greatest of the Apostles -- these are instinct with a life of their own. Many read them. Some read them with triple attention of eye, head, and heart. Only the rare few attempt to accept the advice. "Mistrust thy senses, they are false," or "Separate Head-learning from Soul-Wisdom," is advocated, or bring the heart to "Forsake every other religion and take refuge alone with the Great Self." We do not appreciate because we do not understand the promise contained in the potent words of Krishna: "I shall deliver thee from all thy transgressions."
There is the Path. There is Truth. If we find these, the possibility of living the Life is perceived, and the experience of Immortality is assured.
How are we to find the Path? There are diverse ways that the knowledge of materialistic sciences, of speculative philosophies, of creedal theologies, tells us about. Broad are these paths, visible and accessible to all. They have not led the educated and civilized man to the light, strength, and peace of Truth. The Upanishads call this lower knowledge, and name the Wisdom of the Supreme as the Higher.
It is also taught that the Path to the Supreme True is inward -- from thought and mind to Heart and Soul. It is taught that the Science of the mystic and the occultist is hidden, esoteric, named GUPTA VIDYA, and described as the Royal Wisdom. The search for that Way to Hidden Truth proceeds from the mundane and mortal mind to the Soul of Light in the Cave of the Heart. Awake, arise, seek the Great Teachers -- it is said. Between the mortal and the Immortal, there is The Bridge. What is that Bridge?
By Geoffrey A. Farthing
[This letter, dated May 30, 2000, has been in private circulation. It is included in THEOSOPHY WORLD to show an example of other efforts to organize Theosophists and support Theosophy than are going on in the world. Geoffrey Farthing can be contacted for additional information by writing to 36 The Mount; Fetcham, Surrey; KY22 9EA United Kingdom.]
In a letter dated 24th February I made the suggestion that there should be a loose Association of all people within the theosophical movement who were keen and dedicated students of the original theosophical literature, i.e., that given us by the Masters through HPB and in their own writings. I have had some replies, some enthusiastic, some with reservations.
My letter referred to a loyalty to the Adyar Society, but in some quarters strong exception was taken to this. I now modify my view and feel that the Association should be for students of the original teachings quite irrespective of any theosophical organization they may belong to. I did deplore the fact that the Theosophical movement had for one reason or another been fragmented and that this had created a division of loyalties within the movement. The Association, it is hoped, will override all these differences and provide a base for a single common interest and loyalty, i.e., the theosophical message as originally given us.
I regard the outpouring of Theosophy at the end of the last century as a world event. It was obvious that it could have affected many thinking people in the fields of science, philosophy, and religion, had what was given out been fully appreciated. Because of HPB's stupendous literary efforts, we have those teachings, as far as they were given out, intact now.
There is also little doubt that at the outset a theosophical society was envisaged. Most of us know the story from the Society's founding in New York and that that Society was never officially wound up. Whereas, however, Judge remained in America, Olcott and Blavatsky went to India where they setup in Bombay the Theosophical Society, which later transferred its headquarters to Adyar. Olcott remained there as President up to 1907. HPB left India in 1886 never to return.
From that moment, it is on record that the influence of the Masters at Adyar declined until we have it in their own words, "and we have let it go." Later, soon after HPB's s death, Judge left the Society and continued to disseminate Theosophy in America to very good effect.
Nevertheless, in THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY written in 1888 there are sundry references to the Theosophical Society. An important one reads as follows:
... Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom, reflecting its radiance on the earth, while the Theosophical Society is only a visible bubble on that reflection. Theosophy is divine nature, visible and invisible, and its Society human nature trying to ascend to its divine parent. Theosophy, finally, is the fixed eternal sun and its Society the evanescent comet trying to settle in an orbit to become a planet, ever revolving within the attraction of the sun of truth. It was formed to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy exists and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its Eternal Verities.
-- THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, original edition, page 57
In a place in the Countess Wachtmeister's memoirs HPB is reported as having said that she had given her heart's blood to the Society. In another place in the Maha Chohan's letter (1881) it is said, "The Theosophical Society was chosen as the corner stone, the foundation of the future religions of humanity." In other places, HPB referred to it as persisting only if its members remained true "to its original program." Some of this original program is encapsulated in its objects that went through some changes even before HPB died, but essentially remain the same.
Significantly, we have HPB's three letters to the American Convention and her very important supplement to THE SECRET DOCTRINE in the form of the Instructions to her Inner Group, which operated until her death. Interestingly all the members of that group had to be members of the Theosophical Society.
It is to that Society which now remains only as a dream, a memory, and an ideal, that I owe a loyalty. I was asking would-be members of the Association also to give it their loyalty. As this idea was so nebulous and impractical and raises the question of what happened to it in numbers of ways so soon after HPB's death, I completely withdraw this suggestion. Let us have an Association of earnest students and let that be the sole consideration.
Such an association of students could in time become a kind of substitute Society and with their common interest in original Theosophy they might survive as a unified body and fulfill the tasks intended for the original Society.
Two dangers immediately become apparent: one is that of the teachings becoming dogma, and the other opinionated interpretations of those teachings. As far as dogmatism is concerned, there is the saying that "the letter killeth." In the case of opinions, these cannot be countered by other opinions. This merely leads to argument and dissension. To combat dogmatism all aspirants would need to hold their views very lightly, realizing their limitations and honestly admitting some fundamental ignorance. The adage, "Thus have I heard" should be the attitude of those who put themselves forth as conveyers of information. Few I imagine would presume to assume the position of Teacher.
The kind of loose Association I envisage would be one whereby a central register of members with their particulars would be kept and sent out to all members. Communication between them would then be based on knowing what the others did and had done. This would make the organization worldwide. There would in fact be no other organization than this central clearinghouse of particulars which function I would be pleased to perform while I can. There would be no officers, no fees, no expenses, no establishment but there could well be projects put forward for the dissemination of Theosophy in which all members could participate if they were felt to be worthy and practical. Some enterprises might need money. The Association, by way of its members, could find the financing, if this was found necessary. The responsibility for the execution of projects would lie with the person who proposed them.
It is suggested that there should not be any publications. There is a wealth of literature and articles already available, which could be classified and catalogued, and that information made available to members.
The principal language has to be English but amongst the members, there will be students able and willing to supply translations of all significant material. This will be particularly valuable for Internet purposes.
It is hoped that Members of the Association would subscribe to the view that their sole guide in theosophical matters should be the classical literature. Since that was written, however, much other material has been produced, some with considerable claims to be authentic. The one sure guide amongst this later writing must be that of HPB, the Masters, and Judge, who was known to be a direct accepted chela of one of the Masters for many years. This does not apply to the other authors. Nothing of what is said here is meant to imply that later writings by way of commentary, supplementary information, etc., are valueless. The problem is to establish their proper value, however authentic they may seem. The question of the difficulty of understanding the original literature is often raised. The contention here is that the envisaged members of the Association are not beginners. They must have the mental capacity and have spent the time necessary to appreciate the value and meaning of the teachings. That literature was given out just the way it was in full knowledge of its likely readership. Those who cannot immediately understand it can at least grow in comprehension and faculty until they can. The Masters knew what they were doing.
Are you are in favor of the suggestions made above? If so, and you have not already done so, please complete the enclosed form. Include your personal details, addresses, accomplishments, publications, and present activities. Perhaps you could let me have the names and addresses of anyone not on the enclosed list of addressees who you feel might qualify as, or be interested to become, a member.
By Gordon Rowe
[From THE THEOSOPHIC ISIS, June 15, 1896, pages 154-59.]
With fevered mind I wandered one time in a forest, surrounded by the quiet and serenity of an Autumn star-lit night, where I might question all undisturbed the hidden soul within me. Perchance this night I might be vouchsafed some satisfying answer to the passionate, burning questions that for months past I had put to myself without avail.
"Is there a Soul?"
"Am I it?"
"If so, how is it I know not myself?"
"Whence do I come?"
"Whither do I journey?"
These formed the vicious circle of my interrogations.
"How long, how long," I cried in my anguish of heart, "shall I hear as reply nothing but the mocking echo of my own thought?"
However, this nighttime and place lent me their inestimable aid. About me sang the singing silences that soothe and stay the troubled mind. The baneful influence of the witching moon was almost withdrawn from earth. The Queen of the Night was in her wane. Her horrid perfidious light streamed harmlessly out into sun-illumined space, lost in the glory of the Light of the Lord.
How far I wandered, I do not know. Suddenly in the midst of my questioning, a peace passed by me, leaving me gladly apprehensive. To use Rosetti's sweet, expressive phrase, "I felt a light about my hair." A Presence, weighted with knowledge, and stately with the Power that knowledge confers, brooded over me. Joy, deep and exquisite, filled me. Then a Voice, inarticulate, but louder than a thousand oceans' roar, spoke to me. I listened reverently, and as I listened the scales dropt from my eyes, and I saw the labyrinthine ways of inner space, teeming with generous life, open up before me. My place in Nature was revealed to me.
"Know," spake this bell-like Voice, "that the weary probation is ended, thy heavy Karma exhausted. Know that thou thyself, and none other, art responsible for thy long year of frenzied blindness. THY deeds exiled thee from Me who am thyself. THY deeds, wayward and bold and awful, shut out from thy sight and hearing the Tireless Friend who yearned to guide thee. There is no tyrant but thyself, no tyrant but the Dark Quality that abideth in thee. There is no destiny but what thou thyself dost choose. In vainglory of exalted sense of separateness, thou didst shun my light, didst step from out thy proper path, and didst lose thyself in the sheen, the glamour, and the unreality of the WORLD. Now look within and above."
In sweetest diminuendo, the Voice trembled into silence as sun-kissed waters settle into perfect stillness, and I, in charmed expectancy gazed into the depth of my own Being.
In body, I still wandered through the starlit forest, but *I* dwelled in the height of the heavens, whence I surveyed the earth beneath me. A brilliant sphere of grass-green light, with a jeweled grotto of many unknown colors set in its very center, thus it was our Earth first appeared to me. My gaze wandered away from the grotto towards its surface. I saw with surprise that from the surface outwards, and filling the entire region of the atmosphere there was an unholy darkness, gloomy and somber. It was relieved by weird Shapes of multicolored light moving incessantly hither and thither, and by thin shafts of loveliest-hued green light that pierced the Dark perpendicularly, and for every shape a shaft. The Shapes I knew to be men, amongst them was my own, walking slowly and as a sleep walker walks.
Beyond the pall of the Great Dark wherein my fellow men and I dwelled I perceived the Heaven world. Poised in a golden Fire-mist, brighter than brightness, and delicate with auroral glories of tinted sunset hues, were myriad Fiery-spheres, gently rocking on the ebb and flow of the flaming billow. Of these Spheres, some were self-contained, and of a serene delight, while others seemed fraught with a great care.
It was from this latter sort that the thin shafts of grass-green light, I had previously descried, depended. These heaven-rays entered the hearts of the Shapes that I knew to be men, and from thence were sometimes reflected upwards so that they illumined their brains, and sometimes were absorbed by other and less gracious colored rays, I peered at my own Shadow-self, and I saw with pleasure that the grass-green light shone brightly about my head.
But I knew it had not always been so. I called upon Memory. "Shew me myself," I cried, "myself as I was but yesternight." Memory responded, and in her last recorded page, I saw myself of yesternight; saw the raging, maddened, hopeless creature that I was but erstwhile ago. Still the light came to me from the Fire-mist. Still it entered my heart. Then it was rejected of Passion and Sin. It was consumed by lurid red, and by green, the green of a shore-bound sea. It consumed, and its vital spirit wasted to feed the forces of evil that lived in me, so little time past. I saw that then I dwelt, at times in my brain, and below the heart, in the region of passion. I knew naught of the heaven world, or of the Harbinger of Light that was my self and the mainspring of my reason and will. How could I know? The passions of many lives' kindling raged within me. Their flames sent up to my brain stupefying fumes which drank up the radiance and shut out from my sight its glories and its starry source above.
For a long time since I had tried to restrain these passions and though it had been a long struggle, once more the truth of the words that each failure is success, and each sincere attempt brings its reward in "time" was demonstrated. On this night, these flames had died down; languished for sheer want of fuel. On this night, therefore, I had clearness of sight, and I -- that engrottoed center of consciousness that had so long lain prone in the cruciform prison house of the Senses -- perceived my own and claimed it for my inalienable heritage.
I now dismissed Memory and appealed to my Higher Self, the Magus dwelling in the Fire-mist. "Shew me my Future and the path that I must tread." The Magus quickly made reply. He projected on the screen of the Fleeting present a towering form as of man-made God. I leapt from my body. I inhabited this form. I saw the Shadow-world with its many Shadow-selves, as grass beneath a stately oak. I stood as the future races of men shall stand. I sought my dwarfed reflection on earth. Still yet, the Ray from the Incarnating Self stole down to my heart. It entered the heart, then, as of yore, it was thwarted in its purpose though no longer by lurid red, or by that green, the green of a shore-bound sea. Gross passion I had subdued.
The qualities of the Shadow-world attacked me now in subtler guise. I lived in the brain, but my thought world was much more capacious. I lived in an extended prison of my own construction. The sphere of the lower-mind was enormously enlarged; like the poor Princess in Franz Hartmann's "Among the Gnomes," I seemed to be toppling over because of the size and weight of my head! I had used up the substance of the Starry-way in the creation of a strange, fantastic theory of life.
Idea upon idea I had grouped together in weirdest fashion, making a very lumber-room of my head, and rising in proud preeminence over my less intellectual fellows by virtue of the variety and extent of my imaginings. Intellect was my God. I was not a Materialist. The vision I now enjoyed, and whose effects never would wholly abandon me, prevented that. A cankering skepticism of anything not seen of my waking consciousness had eaten its way into my system. I believed but little in the Oversoul or in the Magus that dwelt there, who was my Higher Self.
"Enough," I sighed to my Soul, "I have seen enough. What I have seen I know must happen, but inasmuch as I have seen it before its occurrence I am forewarned, though I must pass through the experience, it shall be a speedy passing and that house of cards of the intellect shall be dissolved away even as the flames of yesterday are now quenched utterly."
One last view my Merit afforded me; the Home of the " Living-dead." The "living-dead" are they whose consciousness is entirely unillumined by the Higher Self. Oh the sorrow of it! The yearning pity of that patient Oversoul! The fiery vehemence of the incarnate rays as they strive and struggle to pierce or to subdue the deluded ideas and motives of their shadow-selves in earth. In what an orgy these unsubstantial mortals partake. How they satiate themselves of one folly, only to participate in another.
All the while, the flaming Fire-Mist, pregnant with a mighty Purpose, sings in unheeded silence the Song of the Soul. Unheeded, save by a few here and there who catch up the song, and as they sing it the Fire-Mist sinks nearer to earth and irradiates the Great Dark of the Shadow-world with its Solar glories.
But mark! One sings more sweetly than the others. The Living dead hear him. They gesticulate madly and wildly for him to cease. His song troubles and strangely perturbs them. Some of them hearing it forsake their follies. This but maddens the rest. They approach the Songster. Ah! Forgive them. They know not what they do. They trample him to death. A deep-toned sigh spends itself around the earth. The Fire-mist withdraws. Earth is left to many years' madness and many more years' sadness for the evil just done.
Thus, I watched and learned my lessons. As I watched, a purpose -- a destiny -- unfolded itself to me. I too would sing the deathless Swan song.
I recovered from my deep reverie. The Purpose was with me yet. I still felt the light about my hair. On the morrow, work came to me. I honored the Soul by the Hand. I worked.
By Theosophical Book Association for the Blind
[From TBAB NEWSLETTER, No. 3 (June 2000), pages 2-6. For more information, write TBAB@compuserve.com]
In 1910, Mr. Ole Dahl, residing in Boston, Massachusetts, founded the Theosophical Library for the Blind. Mr. Dahl had a great interest in the Theosophical Society's literature and eagerly wished to share it with the sight-impaired community. He created a hand printing press to duplicate Braille materials, which were prepared on metal plates comprised of Braille typesetting. The press he invented has been described as looking like and working like an old-time clothes wringer. All this was accomplished in his very own basement.
On January 6, 1910, Mr. Dahl received a personal note from Annie Besant, who was residing at a Branch of the Theosophical Society located in Benares City, India. The letter read as follows:
I am delighted to hear that you are going to help the blind. On my return to Adyar (29th) we shall have a meeting at the Order of Service Council and will authorize your League. A similar league has been started in England (T.S., 106 New Bond Street, London) I heartily wish you success.
-- Annie Besant
In 1916, Mr. Dahl brought his chosen work for Braille to the Krotona Theosophical Center located in Hollywood, California. He requested Mr. Florian A. Baker to take over the work, while Mr. Dahl himself returned to Boston, due to the demands of his career.
Mr. Florian Baker was born in the small town of Bingham, Maine, on December 15, 1866. Due to his poor health since childhood, he was forced to give up his cherished ideal of a good academic education. He became an excellent and acknowledged landscape artist in Maine and Massachusetts. In 1915, Florian visited Hollywood, California with his sister Ada, to be closer to the Theosophical Headquarters and to help with the work. There he started a career painting portraits of the movie stars. Some of his paintings were life-sized, full-length portraits to be used in front of the theaters that were showing the movie in which the star appeared.
In 1917, Mr. Baker learned Braille, at the request of Ole Dahl, according to the Braille Round Table meeting document, found in our archives, and believed to have been written by hand in the period between 1941 and 1945. This period was calculated based upon the content mentioned about World War II. The actual document's last pages are missing, as well as the name and date of the transcriber.
At this meeting, Roy Snyder asked this question: "I suppose Mr. Baker was a Braille expert at the time and that was why he was asked to do it?" Mr. Fred Hart gave a very interesting and startling reply:
No, Mr. Baker knew nothing about Braille at that time, but he and his sister, Ada, were anxious to serve [the world] in some way that was needed and so he took the small library [to his] home, set up the hand machine [that Ole Dahl invented] in his kitchen... and set to work to read and write Braille in his spare time.
Roy then asked a second question: "Is that the way all members take up Theosophical service?" Flavia, in turn gave her insightful reply:
No indeed, many members have only one thing they can do and they stand around waiting, sometimes for years, for the Society to have use for that one particular thing they can do, instead of adapting themselves to the needs of the Society ...
In 1919, Florian Baker founded the American Brotherhood for the Blind, which published the BROTHERHOOD PROGRESS MAGAZINE on a quarterly basis. On November 25, 1921, Mr. Baker founded the American Brotherhood of Free Reading for the Blind, Inc., with the assistance of his childhood friend, Fred J. Hart of Springfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Hart joined Florian Baker and his staff, and together they began to carry on the work and vision of Ole Dahl, manufacturing books in Braille for the United States Library of Congress, and twenty-six other libraries for the blind in America until 1940.
In May of 1932, Florian Baker founded the ALL STORY MAGAZINE, which was one of the most popular Braille magazines in print. He was also was President of the American Brotherhood of Free Reading for the Blind from 1921 to 1940. In 1940, Mr. Florian Baker retired from his offices and other magazines to enable him to devote the remainder of his life to Theosophical work.
When Florian Baker retired, The American Brotherhood for the Blind gave up printing their own books and magazine. They then began sending fully edited materials to the American Printing House for the Blind, which today, is still located in Louisville, Kentucky. The American Brotherhood for the Blind, Inc., also donated all of its Braille printing machinery and equipment to Mr. Florian Baker for his Theosophical work in California.
One of the first new endeavors that Mr. Baker engaged in during his retirement was the starting of the Braille Radio Log for Southern California, which he carried on until his death in 1947. He founded THE BRAILLE STAR THEOSOPHIST magazine in. 1926, which is still alive today. When the magazine first began, it contained many articles by J. Krishnamurti and prominent Theosophists.
In 1930, Mr. Baker's childhood illnesses began to take a toll on his life, causing him to have both his legs amputated in two separate surgeries due to Tuberculosis. From 1930 on, he spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair, with failing sight and hearing. Mr. Baker carried on the work until he departed this life on May 12, 1947 in Hollywood, California at the age of 80.
In 1938, Florian Baker had summoned Mrs. Flavia B. MacKenzie from her home in Washington State to come and help him with the Theosophical work. Flavia had been doing Braille transcribing at home as a hobby. Flavia, a fellow Theosophist, was being trained by Florian to take over the Braille work. Upon Florian's death, Flavia was a ready and able individual to direct the work.
In 1941, Flavia B. MacKenzie married Roy C. Snyder, and in 1945, Roy began to take up the Braille work as a hobby. Roy acquired his Braille transcriber's certificate, and started working full time for TBAB in 1946. When Flavia joined Florian in his work, the Braille Lodge of the Theosophical Society in America was chartered with ten blind members. Flavia gave the number ten, but the actual charter lists only nine members. Through the years, the blind membership of the Braille Lodge members had continued to increase.
A second smaller magazine called THE BRAILLE LODGE PROCEEDINGS was started, and was written solely by the blind members themselves. A few years after its inception it was renamed The Members' Supplement to THE BRAILLE STAR THEOSOPHIST MAGAZINE. Its goal was to provide articles and information of special interest to the members: The Members' Supplement has been discontinued; Dennis Gottschalk, our Board member, and Caretaker of TBAB printed the final issue in 1997. Our audience has now grown to include multiple organizations, of the Theosophical community internationally, as well independent soul-searching individuals worldwide.
When Florian Baker and Flavia Snyder incorporated the Theosophical Book Association for the Blind, on May 12, 1943, in the state of California, Mr. Baker was nominated President of the Board with ten Directors. While World War II was in progress, they legally established the corporation as a nonprofit Corporation, which received priority status for acquiring the zinc plates necessary for typesetting Braille.
According to Flavia Snyder: "the problem of a permanent home for our Braille work was solved when we were offered a site of [over] two acres of land located on the Krotona Estate of The Theosophical Center at Ojai, California." A forty-year lease was signed by the Board of the Krotona Theosophical Center and the Board of The Theosophical Book Association for the Blind, Inc. on January 30, 1948, while Miss Marie Poutz was the Head of the Krotona Estate. The work then commenced on the building of the first of four structures. Roy Snyder and his brother-in-law, Mr. Milton Ward, and a few volunteers did all the work. While the buildings were being constructed and financed by The Theosophical Book Association for the Blind, Inc., Flavia single-handedly carried on the Braille work in Los Angeles until it was time to move the operation to its new home in Ojai, California. Mr. Ward was a carpenter by trade and Roy was an electrician, so we can say the necessary skills were manifested to achieve the task. A double garage was built first to use for the storage of materials and furniture.
On March 14, 1948, the cornerstone of the Baker Memorial Library and print shop was laid. Since Florian A. Baker had worked for so many years and under such difficult handicaps, the Board voted to name the buildings in his name, in honor of the steadfast and faithful service rendered by him. The cornerstone was set during a full Co-Masonic ceremony. After six months of construction had been completed, on June 21, 1948 the large two-room press building was far enough along in construction to allow the press to be moved into it. In July 1948, the Snyders' home was started next to the press and Library, and was not completed until December 1949. Mr. Will J. Ross, a friend of the Snyders' volunteered his services and drew the architectural plans for the construction of this unique building. Almost two years of non-stop construction and Braille work went on simultaneously. Even as late as 1961, three additional rooms were added to the Library and Press building.
In 1952 we launched a new department of work for the sight-impaired by recording books on the Soundscriber plastic discs, which could then be played on small record players. As our work kept expanding, the need for a larger staff become apparent and volunteers came to aid in the Braille work of printing, recording, and office management. Miss Esther Natterlund from Washington State was the first volunteer to join our effort in 1952, and remained on staff even in the 1970's.
In 1957, a tape recording division was developed and more volunteers appeared. We made the recordings and loaned tape recording machines for those who could not acquire one for themselves. All of our original audiotapes were produced by volunteers in their own homes. Many were made by acknowledged Theosophists through their own efforts, such as Clara Codd and Geoffrey Hodson. Even Boris de Zirkoff wished to assist and contributed his lectures to our library.
Also, in 1957, a new magazine called ETERNA SABIDURA was born. We have been told this was the first Spanish Braille periodical in the world. It was very welcome indeed. Mrs. Julia de Rivera and her cousin, Carmen Garcia volunteered to do the Spanish Braille transcribing and the Spanish narration for the audiotapes. In 1951, Mrs. Marjorie Dawn nee Hurd joined our staff as the bookkeeper. These individuals remained well into the 1970's.
We at TBAB owe a lot of our recorded written history to the memoirs and scrapbooks of Flavia Snyder. These books and mementos after the 1970's became more sparse and sporadic due to the demands on Flavia's health. Flavia's life was a life of sacrifice to allow the blind to see. Flavia wished all the sight-impaired to become Braille literate.
Flavia Snyder was establishing herself as a renowned Braille literacy educator for the Red Cross and other government agencies. After training the remaining staff to carry on the work at the home front, Flavia and Roy Snyder in February 1955 left for Pakistan to hold classes in English Braille, so that the government of Pakistan could open more blind schools. The Snyders' graduated thirty-two blind and sighted teachers. They then toured many of the blind schools around the world. They attended the School of the Wisdom, located at the T.S. International Headquarters in Adyar, Madras [Chennai], India, and the International Convention also held there in 1955. They returned home to Ojai in June of 1956 after completing a final tour of many European blind schools.
Two Branches of our Theosophical Book Association for the Blind Libraries were initiated in 1957. One located at the main Theosophical Society International Headquarters in Adyar, while the other library was located at the Theosophical Society National Headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa. Duplicate copies of every Braille book printed were donated to these two libraries up until 1996 at which time a two-fold event occurred. First, the resignation on August 31, 1997 of Mr. Dennis Gottschalk, Director of Operations, who had served TBAB for over 20 years, and secondly, a written letter from the presiding President of The International Theosophical Society, Radha Burnier, dated November 6, 1996 demanding that The Theosophical Book Association for the Blind vacate its buildings located on the grounds of The Krotona Institute of Theosophy. Due to these events, our donations of library books had to be temporarily curtailed.
In 1959, The American Foundation for Overseas Blind, Inc. of New York City donated Braille printing machinery to Karachi, Pakistan and asked Flavia to set the system up. Flavia went to Karachi, set up the equipment in good working order, and trained two gentlemen to typeset Braille in Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, and English. This enabled them to print their own textbooks for their country's blind schools. Flavia returned home in May 1960. Miss Khorshed Engineer from Karachi arrived at Ojai in December, and spent the next six months being tutored in Braille printing at TBAB. When she departed, she was adept at teaching Braille to the sighted as well as the blind or sight-impaired.
Flavia managed to recruit fifteen volunteers in America to learn how to copy books in their own homes and then send back the pages to Ojai, CA. for binding. From all over the United States the volunteers were mainly taught through correspondence and were required to first proofread the pages. When the magazine was ready to be sent out at least twelve members of the Ojai Valley Theosophical Lodge volunteered to help collate, bind, stitch, and label the magazines along with the RSVP volunteers (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program), creating one big "STAR PARTY".
In 1975, Mr. Dennis Gottschalk was employed to become the new Braille press operator. After becoming another self-taught Braille literate worker, he began to take on more and more duties. In the 1980's, Dennis helped bring our efforts up to speed with a computer embossing system. He kept abreast of the state of the art technology available in the Braille publishing field. In 1993, he prepared a lengthy grant proposal for The Kern Foundation to consider. As it turned out Mr. John Kern, of the Kern Foundation, offered a matching grant to acquire our Duxbury interpoint computer generated embossed printing system in 1994. The 1997 Members' Supplement was the first complete edition of a magazine to be done completely with our new technology. Today we can print approximately one book a week, with proofing and then corrections to the text and formatting, instead of one book in nine months as was the case in Flavia and Roy's day.
In 1997, Caren M. Elin was elected the new Director of Operations and still presides today. It has become the task of the present Board of Directors to find our nonprofit Braille Public Benefit Corporation a new home. While this endeavor is occurring, we are still answering all correspondence, printing our new 2000 Star Magazine, and printing our new Audiotape and Braille Library 2000 catalogues. Presently our whole staff and Board of Directors are comprised of volunteers without any financial remuneration. Our hearts remain fixed on serving the needs of the sight-impaired community nationally and internationally.
Dr. Elin is a Chiropractic Physician based in Los Alamos, California. Under the pen name of Carey Williams she was the research assistant for HPB, THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND INFLUENCE OF HELENA BLAVATSKY: FOUNDER OF THE MODERN THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, by Sylvia Cranston, and the co-author of REINCARNATION A NEW HORIZON IN SCIENCE, RELIGION AND SOCIETY. She is currently the President of the Board of Directors.
Three new theosophical mailing lists have been announced in last few months. Two are non-English -- in German and Dutch -- and the third is for Young Theosophists.
DUTCH MAILING LIST (theosofie-groep)
The Dutch mailing list is managed by Katinka Hesselink (email@example.com). It can be accessed at:
There is open membership in this unmoderated list. All members may post to the list. Archives are for members only. And no email attachments are permitted. The list started in April, currently has 17 subscribers, and had 133 postings in August.
GERMAN MAILING LIST (theosophy-dialogue)
The German mailing list, is managed by Frank Reitemeyer (firstname.lastname@example.org). It can be accessed at:
There is open membership in this unmoderated list. All members may post to the list. Archives are for members only. Email attachments are allowed. The list started in July, currently has 28 subscribers, and there were 132 postings in August.
YOUNG THEOSOPHISTS LIST
The Young Theosophists list is managed by Richard Ellwood (email@example.com). It can be accessed at:
There is open membership in this unmoderated list. All members may post to the list. The list started in May, and there were 69 postings in August.
A description of the list, written by Richard Ellwood, follows.
A new mailing list has recently been founded to expand the theosophical Internet scene. The "Young Theosophists' Mailing List", as the name suggests, is a group intended specifically for young theosophists. In actuality anyone is welcome to join. All the same, the list draws a younger crowd.
The idea behind the name, "Young Theosophists", is not so much to indicate a necessary criteria of being physically young, but rather to suggest a younger frame of mind. The members of the list enjoy posts with a fresh outlook or a new way of looking at things. "Theosophy" is undefined, as the group sees it, and perhaps it could be stated that to create a NEW definition of this word is an important goal of the list. However, this is just the opinion of this author -- no doubt if I posted that statement to the List itself I would get several replies indicating that I'm wrong!
So far the topics have been very far ranging. The List has touched on everything from physics and the philosophy of science to literature (theosophical or otherwise) to "pure" theosophy. So far the group has stayed very nicely on topic, and there has been quite a number of interesting discussion threads, such as, "if you were trapped on an island with only one book, what would it be?", or on the evils vs. the virtues of modern science. As of this writing, the members are beginning a discussion of THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY. The mailing list is proving itself to be a successful online community of faithful readers.
By Dallas TenBroeck
Why is so little known about meditation? As in most things, concerning which there seems to be little general knowledge, we ought to seek for the definitions that are around us. Theosophy has a specific definition. According to Theosophy the meditation technique is one that a student uses to learn about oneself and nature.
Theosophy considers every human being is a Soul, or mind, and is an Eternal Pilgrim. The mind principle (called Manas) is that which stores the thoughts of all our lives. The total quantity of life-thoughts makes the stream of our life's meditation -- or that upon which our heart is set.
We do not often have this as a precise concept, but it can be discovered. It is not outside of us, but an interior attitude. Our mind links our embodied consciousness (mind) to the inner Spiritual Root of our nature. This places us in a position that we can choose to activate with the Spiritual Principle of the Universe a portion of which (a "ray," or, "spark") is in us and forms the root-base of our existence and gives us a sense of permanence and of purpose in our existence.
With each one of us is associated a measure of Karma, the fruit of our choices and motives for decisions made in earlier lives. This manifests in our life as character and tendency, as interest and talent, or their lack. We also ought to include in this our interest in "meditation." Why do we seek to understand and use it? We tend to place all these things together and call it "our nature." But we can also see that "our nature" reaches out to other "natures" and we meet with such friends or enemies in this life that we may have established in earlier ones. One cannot understand or practice meditation without this as a consideration that interlinks us all.
Mme. Blavatsky says:
[Meditation] is silent and unuttered prayer, or, as Plato expressed it, "the ardent turning of the soul towards the divine.
-- THE KEY TO THEOSOHPY, page 10
This divine is the Higher Self, Atma/Buddhi, or the divine Spirit Wisdom within each of us.
And Damodar writes:
Occultism requires "physical, mental, moral and spiritual" development to run on parallel lines ... the prime factor in the guidance of thought is the Will ... The first requisite for it is thorough purity of heart ... A cultivation of the feeling of unselfish philanthropy is the path that has to be traversed for that purpose. For it is that alone which will lead to Universal Love, the realization of which constitutes the progress towards deliverance from the chains forged by Maya around the Ego ... An Adept is intensely active and thus able to control the elemental forces.
-- Damodar K Mavlankar, "Contemplation," THE THEOSOPHIST, Feb 1884, page 112
Consider two objectives to Meditation.
The first objective is directed at enhancing the Personality in its selfish acquisition of "powers." It is selfish, and it isolates. It concentrates one's effort on personal results. If meditation is persisted in, it will produce some limited results. At death, it leaves nothing for Devachanic meditation. Anything that "isolates" is selfish and harmful to the permanent Self, to the true immortal aspirant and devotee.
The other is that which is aimed at understanding the Inner HIGHER SELF and the potential that it can make available for practical, universal and righteous action. This kind of meditation leads to compassion and a real effective care for others. It views us as one among many. It also considers that as an "immortal" Mind/Soul we have innately to ourselves a mission that needs the joint cooperative assistance of others to achieve. We can only reach "Perfection," or the "Goal" envisaged, by joint work. The whole of humanity, and all Nature is engaged in this.
A chela's meditation should constitute the "reasoning from the known to the unknown ... Occultism does not depend upon one method, but employs both the deductive and the inductive. The student must first learn the general axioms ... "To believe without knowing is weakness; to believe because one knows, is power."
-- Damodar K Mavlankar, THE THEOSOPHIST, Feb 1884, page 112
HOW CAN MEDITATION BE USED AND DEVELOPED?
In considering the development of the meditative faculty we need first to learn and then seek those applications, which can be made compassionate generously and practically. Our perception grows deeper and more universal as we are able to widen our effectiveness in helping others to grow themselves.
That we do it for the sake of others is a good thought to always keep in mind. We grow best when we give away. But we have to give away with discrimination and that takes sound preliminary learning. There is the accumulation of facts, then their arrangement in logical relationships, and, finally, the construction in our own minds of the structure of a universal verity to which we will always be able to refer as a basis for understanding what appear to be "new" concepts.
THE PRACTICE AND MEANING OF MEDITATION.
Now we come to the meaning and practice of meditation. It should never be conspicuous, or spoken about. That is because it is the normal extension of one's study of universal principles. Everyone knows about study. Everyone has devoted a long time to actual study and meditation in school life. To study, we place "facts" (or data) in our minds as "memory."
To meditate one selects from among our memories a group or an area of study. The memories are evoked and then compared with such basic facts, as we are already sure of. Therefore, every time that one studied a subject, or wrote an article, or an important letter, or prepared for a talk, the meditative aspect of study was invoked.
Even when one is not studying, but only doing one's work, and happens to think about some subject that is kept "in the back of the mind," it is evidence of meditation being pursuing as an ongoing process. Reflect on this. The process is: selection, gathering information, adjusting data so that a cohesive picture grew, identifying areas that were uncertain, and finally looking for analogous or similar conditions.
Anything new has to be adjusted so that it is seen to agree with basic information already proved to ones' self. If in the course of meditation one is confronted with some fact that is not congruent with already proven verities, this necessitates a most careful review of all our earlier built conclusions. If we should arbitrarily accept anything without this checking and verifying process we might be increasing an area of error in our thinking.
THE UNIVERSE IS COHESIVE AND COOPERATIVE.
Theosophy shows how the whole Universe is integrated and has a profound cohesive and logical meaning. Everything fits together, and invites our scrutiny and testing. There are no secrets as such, nor any dogmas or beliefs that we should adopt without understanding. Nothing will ever be expected of us that we cannot understand and would do willingly once we are sure of the intention, methods and results.
Our lives are part of the Universal Life. As we seek to know it better, we delve deeper into our own being. We try to find out what we are and what are the powers of our mind and our own Spiritual Self. We try to find powers of mind that we can use in the "here and now."
VIRTUES: BROTHERHOOD, COMPASSION, AND ALTRUISM.
We should discover that this leads to friendliness, brotherhood, compassion and altruism. And, those should be practiced with discrimination and care for others all the time. The interior "WE" is really the HIGHER SELF. It is the Lower self, the Lower mind and the Personality (which have recognized the existence of the HIGHER SELF), that are now disciplining themselves so that the HIGHER SELF may "come through" with greater ease.
CONSCIOUSNESS is ONE. It is the one attribute of the Higher Self. It alone is able to pierce up and down the seven planes of being and retains a clear memory of experiences on each plane. Our memories on this plane are fragmentary, until by effort we learn to unify them. The practice of "attention" does this, but, it has to be attentive to grasping the operations of the One Law and impersonal in our application of that to our personal selves.
MEDITATION AND THE MONAD (Atma-Buddhi-Manas).
Meditation is the process of digesting, assimilation and thinking about some subject matter. By this method, one is inviting the discriminating and Wise principal, Buddhi, to work actively as the "intuition." This allows insights to appear, to help us. They come from within. They are the "points of light" that come from the Higher Self working through the lower Self, which has to make itself "porous" to them. Then our lives become illumined by the TRUE, and become friendly to all others. Our lives become just and universal.
Meditation is serious and concentrated thought. It is not a ritual, or a discipline that involves anything of the physical or the psychic. It should not be advertised or made obvious to others, nor should it make life more difficult. It is essentially a search for TRUTH. It is a quiet and unobtrusive mind exercise. It is something that requires that we be fully awake and totally concentrated in the waking state. There is no "blanking of the mind." It is to be entirely self-controlled and self-generated. It is not an exercise that can be practiced with others, even though there are silent moments. It is not passivity, but a time of most active mental effort.
We ought to draw no attention to our practice. If we should be interrupted, we should accept it as a kind of test of our equanimity and let there be no apparent reaction. We are immortal beings and have all the time we need for our future advance, so long as we are able to include everyone else in our progress. That is the real key to advance: our sharing of ourselves. We should always make time to assist.
Meditation, especially involves getting a TRULY CORRECT UNDERSTANDING of what words mean. It involves getting a correct understanding of what words are potentially able to do, whether they are pronounced correctly or not. To merely learn the definitions of words is all physical, external and fruitless. The real power resides in the application of the motive as a carefully controlled and always beneficent creative power. In those who aspire to assist Nature this is never personal, and is always used (only if necessary) in a harmless, wise and compassionate way. They approach Meditation with a Mind that is determined to be a servant and assistant to all Nature. There is openness to serve the least of beings that approach them under the direction of Karma. We should consider all those as being, themselves, divine MONADS, and give them the respect and attention (as our brothers) that they claim or, we become aware that they need.
Real meditation is a mental determination to live a totally moral and ethical life. This is done all the time to the extent that one is able to do that. It is nothing extraordinary except for this one orientation that has to come from WITHIN. We have to assure ourselves first of all that our learning is not self-directed at all, but that our motive is "to better help and teach others."
THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE and its statements ought to be considered as one of the primary practical sources of inspiration for true Meditation. We ought, by reading a little every day, to become familiar with it and the explanations contained in the footnotes there.
It is most important to remember that we are the HIGHER SELF in our innermost core. (And everyone else is so also). Every being exists because of the essential and ETERNAL MONAD that it is. That Monad is SPIRIT and MATTER conjoined, or ATMA/BUDDHI. That is interior to all without any exception. It is the ETERNAL PILGRIM. It is the "Real You."
Every human being (and every other type of being is also at root a Monad) and in the past our MONAD once occupied a position that is comparable to that which it now seems to occupy. We only appear to be separated at present, because we have, each, our own individual path. In the end, at the end of the Manvantara, all those 'Paths' converge. From that point of view, it is not useful to seek "guidance," or any "leader" who will prescribe some ritual or formula. Books will not be able to tell anyone what to do, but they can offer advice. It is too easy to be misled.
We must remember that the Monad is immortal. It cannot be "erased" as Individuality at the end of a Manvantara. The economy of Nature demands that all those INDIVIDUALITIES (experienced MONADS) be employed again, in continuation of their present "advance" at an appropriate place in a new Manvantara, which will be the Karmic child of the present one. (See HPB ARTICLES, III, page 265.)
Everyone has been at this business of self-improvement for eons. It does not begin for the first time in this life. In this life we are all renewing that age-old study that was ours in the past. If we could recover the "memory of past lives" the whole process of advancing would be much easier. We are now considering the study of Theosophy. That study is that which, if and when applied, will make our embodied minds (the Lower Self) clearer and porous, so that the Higher Memories may be accessed.
PATANJALI'S YOGA-SUTRAS -- A BASIS FOR MEDITATION.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, translated by W. Q. Judge, is most valuable in a study of the nature and procedures of meditation, especially the first three books. It gives a clue as to what true meditation is. It is the attempt of the embodied mind (the Lower Manas) to reach up to and understand the work of the Higher Manas within. And from there the lower Manas participates in the work of the HIGHER SELF.
As a beginning, one might at first study, frame questions, and then begin to assemble all that one has learned or has available on a selected. This assembly gives a review of those subjects and ideas. One ought then to put them all together. One ought to see if one can secure a glimpse of the inner reason and meaning for their being there.
To do this one ought to ask the all-important question, "Why?" That question takes the practitioner to basic principles and enables a clear perception of their inter-relation with others and thus to the CAUSES.
And that is MEDITATION.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 313-21]
Our subject is one that must be of intimate and personal concern to every one of us. Every thinking man eventually is brought up against this problem. We have to admit that the religious teaching of the West is almost entirely lacking in a satisfactory explanation of the important question. You may search the New Testament, and, although you will find ethical teaching of deep Wisdom that will satisfy you for the living of your daily life. You will find it there in all its purity if you have the eyes to read it and to understand it. The teaching about the life after death is not given there. It is one of those Teachings that Jesus kept for his disciples. He taught them in secret. To them he explained those Mysteries that Christian priests are inclined to say that:
They were never meant for you and me to understand. They are something over which Nature has drawn a veil. It is not for us to penetrate, either by the opening of the psychic senses, or by the penetration and understanding of our intellects.
It is because of this lack of information in the orthodox Christian sources in the West that a tremendous demand has been made for at least the last fifty years by thinking and progressive people for something more satisfying. The two main Movements that have striven to satisfy that very natural human yearning are the Spiritualistic Movement, so-called, and the Theosophical Movement.
Somewhere about 1850 the investigation of psychic and occult phenomena began to develop very strongly in America. Before long mediums whose names will probably be well known to those who are students of the subject, began to perform phenomena in public, and a good deal of evidence was collected. It aroused, of course, an enormous amount of opposition and incredulity. The said mediums were getting into very deep water because they were accused -- and in many cases unfortunately quite rightly -- of fraud.
Eventually H.P. Blavatsky, who was at the time in Europe, set out to America to see whether she could do something to give this Spiritualistic Movement a very much needed upward impulse, while providing at the same time a philosophical and rational explanation of the occult phenomena which were undoubtedly taking place even under test conditions.
She unmasked fraud where it existed. At the same time, she also sought to give some help and protection to those mediumistic sensitives who were doing their best, according to their lights, to lead men from a purely materialistic outlook to something that was in their view more spiritual. All men must admit that if their beliefs were not spiritual at least they were super-physical.
So into that world came H.P. Blavatsky, able to perform with the power of her own will the very phenomena that the psychics of New York and Boston were performing they knew not how, as the unconscious instruments of certain forces which controlled and utilized them.
That is a true definition of what a medium is. A medium can function only when some exterior agency takes possession of the lower instrument, which by a variety of means is rendered unconscious: either by trance or hypnotism, or by some other means. Therefore these mediums have no longer any control of their mechanism of consciousness, and they claim that the fact that some invisible, and as they call it SPIRITUAL, entity, takes possession of their vehicle and produces varieties of phenomena, proves that their experience is valuable and must be useful and uplifting.
It is precisely upon these points that H.P. Blavatsky, while confirming the genuineness of many of these phenomena, uttered a tremendous challenge to all those who accepted the main spiritualistic hypothesis. Her challenge was that these phenomena were the production of excarnate human entities that had returned, so to speak, from the veil of death in order to communicate with their friends who were still living on earth.
H.P. Blavatsky was, as always, extremely uncompromising on the point. She showed, demonstrated, and taught, that these phenomena were not produced by the excarnate human entities that they represented themselves to be. Not at all! There were the phenomena that take place with various kinds of automatic writing. This included the phenomena of speech that take place in trance, the sermons that were uttered by an entranced medium, and particularly the materializations whereby the images or faces of people that sitters were able to recognize, were materialized by a certain process, thus becoming visible to the audience.
The Theosophical teaching about these matters is something entirely different from the Spiritualistic belief. One of the great truths that HPB hammered home was the fact that these pursuits, these investigations, into the psychic realms of Nature, were actually more materialistic from a certain point of view -- that is from a spiritual point of view they were actually more materialistic -- than a purely materialistic outlook.
She showed, and history proves her to have been correct, that the individuals who pursue these investigations of a psychic nature, who attend Spiritualistic seances, for example, and who constantly have their minds and emotions concentrated in these unwholesome psychic realms, become thereby debased.
Their spiritual, psychic, physical, and in some cases their moral tone suffers, by reason of the fact that the minds of such people are being concentrated in the world of ghosts and spooks -- the atmosphere of the graveyard in other words. This is an unwholesome thing. Moreover, H.P. Blavatsky pointed out with great truth the extraordinarily unsatisfactory results that come about for the mediums themselves.
Now turn from this aspect. (Afterwards, if you wish, you can ask questions about this psychic side of the matter, but I should prefer to turn to the Theosophical teaching as to what happens to the personal man after death.)
What is the personal man? He is the collection of psychic and mental energies and emotions that express themselves through the physical body of man during life. A new combination of those bundles of energies is made at the beginning of earth-life for every entity. He is a new combination, and that combination is given a name and a form such as you and I now bear.
That combination has never existed before. It never bore that name before, and as such, it will never exist again. It is here for a short while. It is transitory. Perhaps we believe that the lower personality of ours is all that there is to survive. Perhaps we concentrate our attention upon its wants and needs, and are unable to raise our thought and aspiration to something higher. If so, we shall be of that vast company that H.P. Blavatsky called "the living dead," the soulless individuals that she said we elbow at every street-corner.
If anything is to survive death, surely you will agree that it has to be worthy of immortality. Therefore, the question immediately arises, "Is man immortal according to the Theosophical teaching, or is he not?" What has just been said would lead you to suppose that man is very decidedly mortal, and one part of him unquestionably is.
Let us go a little deeper. We find that this personal part of the man is, after all, only the envelope, the container, the instrument, and the vehicle through which the flame of spiritual consciousness is striving to irradiate, illuminate, and guide this erring personal entity through the intricacies of earth-life. There are many, though, who lose their way through its intricacies.
Therefore, we come to the position that man is only conditionally immortal. In other words, the real entity who is living his life, and trying to express himself through this lower personality, has to find the way to raise himself inwards and upwards into union with the spiritual, permanent, eternal and immortal part of his own nature.
Every initiated Adept has succeeded in doing precisely that task, to a greater or less extent. The whole purpose of occult science, the object of the initiation of the Initiate, is to bring him to a recognition that there is within, and brooding above the human individual, a definite entity which can be reached, the energy of which even today for every one of us shines into our personal nature in moments of crisis (personal and otherwise) when the personal man is, as it were, driven right down to his very foundations. It is then that he is forced to look inward and upward to the only source of inspiration that any man really has when he reaches bedrock. There he finds that "still small voice" that can make itself heard if he listens for it. It is the inspiration to spiritual actions of whatever kind, to kindly human actions.
There is at these moments the guiding and the saving spiritual energy that comes from the immortal part of his being. For most of us, this contact is fragmentary. It is spasmodic, but we do get glimpses of it. It is the main purpose of the study of Theosophical Wisdom: that we shall learn how to make our human brains porous, as Mr. Judge used to say, to that higher influence, so that day by day, week by week, it will beat down into our brains and we shall become more and more permanently aware of that spiritual influence in our lives.
This can be done without any mediumship. In fact, mediumship militates against the spiritual influence. Yet, you see, the difficulty is that the psychic intermediate state offers such an attractive door to some natures. It is true that with very little difficulty the psychic senses can be opened by every one of us. Then we shall become aware of various kinds of entities that the spiritualists call their "spirit guides" and "angel guides" and what not.
If they could see the said guides face to face, I think they would get a very rude kind of shock. H.P. Blavatsky went so far as to state that most of the angel and spirit guides that come to mediumistic seances are the spooks of departed entities -- not the entities themselves any more than your body is you -- and you know the state of the human body after it is buried! You can easily imagine that after death the psychic remnants of your being are not in the cleanest condition. In other words, they are disintegrating.
This part of our being, this cast-off remnant through which we expressed our psychic and intellectual emotions during life, has a form in the psychic worlds, which can be seen by sensitives, and it bears the shape and appearance of the human individuals that we were in life. So much so that a perfectly correct description can be given of Mrs. Jones or Mr. Smith, and the sitters can immediately say, "Oh, that is dear Mary," or "our John." "Nobody else was ever just like that. This must be a very holy person who is giving us all this interesting psychic information." They believe everything they are told!
Yet, what has actually happened? Two things at least are possible. Both of them are quite different from the explanation given by the believers in the Spiritualistic Movement. These explanations are definitely interesting.
First of all every one of us, in the magnetic sphere that surrounds us, contains an indelible record of every thought and act that we have ever committed from early infancy to old age -- a somewhat staggering, perhaps uncomfortable thought. This is because any mediumistic sensitive can read in this aura or magnetic sphere all that we are doing or have done, and incidentally can see, therefore, an image of those people who have made the deepest impression on our lives. In this way, many descriptions and personal incidents are related without the entity concerned even being present.
Exactly the same thing can be done from the memory of Nature, for there is recorded everything that takes place in any individual life. If the psychic is sufficiently developed, that impression on the astral light can be read.
Therefore, these are two explanations of phenomena. Yet, a third, and a very frequent one, is that the excarnate entity is attracted to the seance, and that spook or ghost (whatever you like to call it) has a complete record of everything that it did and thought and said, but it has no power to act on its own.
It is an unconscious bundle of energies. It can only be stimulated or galvanized into activity by the psychic and electrical energy of the peculiar power of mediumship. That energy stimulates the ghost and it will play like a phonograph or a gramophone the records of anything that you like to call out from it, generally determined by the particular personal recollections of the sitters.
All the personal part of the man is doomed to disintegration. Only the part that is worthy of immortality really survives. According to the teachings of Theosophy, the real entity in man very soon after death falls asleep and becomes unconscious.
He then enters into a period that technically has been called the gestation state. This may come in a longer or shorter period. How long? It is determined by the relative degree of spirituality of the individual. The more spiritual he is, the quicker he shakes off the lower vehicles of consciousness, the psychic part of him. This exactly corresponds to the period of gestation of the human entity before physical birth. I should like you, if you will, to note the fact that there is a state after death exactly analogous to the state of gestation of the fetus before physical birth.
One of the great Teachers to whom we owe some of the Theosophical teachings has recommended us to keep a spiritual eye upon the physiological processes of human birth if we want to understand some of the mysteries of nature: mosquitoes, animals, and man, as well as planets and solar systems, come to birth by identically the same process.
Therefore, this entity after death sinks into a state of sleep. After a certain period, it is reborn in the Devachan. (Note that Devachan is the region of the Gods, the Heaven world in the Christian language.) How long might this take? It is determined by the ethereality of the spiritual energies that it generated during life. Reborn as a little child, it will live over again there. This life is minus all the recollections of the personal lower things: the evil passions, desires, hatreds, and so on. It lives over again a kind of spiritualized recollection of all the beautiful and spiritual things that the entity dreamed about during life.
Very few of us succeed in working out practically our spiritual aspirations and dreams. We have busy, work-a-day lives, and much remains to be worked out in the after-death state. In this ideal world, we live from birth, through youth, adulthood, middle age, and old age, and we assimilate and get the maximum understanding and development of all those aspirations of a spiritual kind that we had during life.
However, even this state one of these days ends. Eventually the period of assimilation and digestion, spiritually speaking, of these energies is completed. Then the hour strikes. The entity once again is drawn back inevitably to earth-life, for the fact that it has experienced this state of Devachan, which is a kind of spiritual illusion, though a very high one -- the fact that it has experienced that state proves that it has not yet won its freedom from the wheel of birth and death.
Devachan is only possible to those who lead relatively spiritual lives, RELATIVELY spiritual. An arrant materialist will not have that experience. One of these days we all have to learn the lesson that even that state is not the highest. We all have to learn, I say, that there is a still further step. One day we as individuals will learn how to think and act so that the full spiritual meaning of every action and event is assimilated here and now. In this step forward, we have become fully self-conscious individuals.
Then for us the interior worlds are open. There is no more death for us for there is no break in consciousness. Consciousness proceeds unbroken, through sleeping and waking, through birth and death. Such a one is worthy and able to bear the burden of his immortality. He has no Devachan in the sense of which I have been speaking of it. Periods of rest he must have, but that stage of illusion he has conquered and gone beyond.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording of a private class held on February 2, 1955.]
Friends, in thinking over our meetings, various meetings which have been held here and elsewhere, both with this particular group and other groups in other towns, putting the whole thing into one picture, with its various ramifications and aspects -- there is one thought that emerges out of it. At least it does in my mind. The thought emerges against the background of what we know of the teachings and of the principles, foundations, and methods of occult work. The thought is that at no time can we as students of these teachings consider ourselves fighting a lonely battle, or being left out, or having no companionship and being all alone. At no time can we say that nobody cares. The opposite is true. We do not realize, I think, to what extent the opposite is true.
I think that it would be quite correct, quite factual, to generalize here. Some of us have studied the ancient teachings alone, without any association of other people. Others have had an association with a group studying the ancient teachings. No matter the approach, no matter what the age, each of us, men and women, have planted our feet upon a certain path. We have registered a certain intensity of interest. Some have not only done that, but have actually done something to forward these thoughts. They have spread them, helped somebody else with them.
All of these men and women have registered or recorded their name in a certain mystic ledger. This is not their literal name, not Mr. Brown or Mrs. Jones. It is their name in the sense of their individuality. The book is not one of a material kind. Being recorded in this book, they place themselves under the operation of certain laws. They have attracted the attention, at least to some small degree, of those who, behind the scenes, are especially interested in people, young and old, whose spiritual interests lie in this direction.
We have had dozens, not only dozens but even hundreds of people, attend various groups. As an illustration, I might say that on Saturday evening we had a group on Naughton Avenue. We had over 250 people, all more or less of the same age, who had been in that group at one time or another. Well, cut out one half of them. Say that one half had only made a slight contact with no further genuine interest. Leave one half. Say that fifty percent continued the study of Theosophy. They moved away to other towns, sometimes to other countries, but they were permanently inoculated. That is a poor word, but you know what I mean. Something has been brought out from within their hearts and minds. This something has permanently changed their lives. A smaller percentage of them have become serious students, are scattered up and down the coast, and are not here anymore. Even in this group right here, some have to move away. They are quite serious students.
All these people, no matter how scattered, have unquestionably -- at least, that is my feeling, and I think that you will support it -- have unquestionably made a mark upon that mystic stream. There are those who are behind the scenes, behind the veil of the visible. They are interested in such matters. They have an eye to them, an interest in them. They are bound to have an interest in them, in us all, because we have evident interest in the spiritual laws of nature and have made at least some steps, some faltering steps, along the path of self-improvement and spiritual knowledge. Some of us have advanced a little more than others, but all have advanced some.
We are not alone in the game. We are not alone in the effort. We cannot say that we are left to ourselves entirely. We are not. Every time we make an effort in the right direction, there is an unseen, but sometimes strongly felt, assistance and help that comes. It does not always come from within our own higher nature. It comes from there. It is also seconded, supported by the help of those higher individuals. This help is irrespective of distance, place, or location, as they have that under control. They have a specific interest in our further growth. They feel a certain degree of gratitude for the fact that we are interested and that we are willing at times to do our small bit to add to the work of others in the same general spiritual direction.
If the question were to be asked, "Are we watched?" I would say, "Yes, we are." It is a great thing that we are, because sometimes we are about to make some pretty bad mistakes, to trip and fall down, or to unwittingly use some of our little knowledge for some selfish ends, for lack of wisdom or lack of selflessness. Because we are watched, because we have registered our intentions, this watchfulness on the part of higher entities is in itself a help that makes it possible for us, perhaps more easier than otherwise, to pick ourselves up, to get up again and to make further efforts where we have failed at first.
This should be understood to be strictly of a spiritual nature. Do not let psychic inclinations lead you to misunderstand, to believe that I am talking now about some kind of a semi-spiritualistic audience of invisible spooks watching us. It is nothing of the kind. I have in mind living men, living individuals far ahead of us. Their business is in the Hierarchy of this globe to help aspiring students along inner lines. This help is irrespective of distance and location, because such things matter not to individuals who have under control, or have become independent of such things as time and space.
It is a heartening thought, and an encouraging one, and a strengthening one, to realize that our efforts do not go unnoticed. Those who know far more than us realize the degree of our own efforts. They realize the difficulties that we are working under. It is also chastening to know that both our victories and our failures are known.
Not only are our victories and failures known in certain quarters, but also our MOTIVES are known, sometimes far better than we know these motives. We can delude ourselves unwittingly. Sometimes we can delude ourselves wittingly. Up to a certain point, we can play with ourselves, one part playing against the other. In those quarters where these failings and these characteristics have been overcome, those individuals who know far more than we do along this line know what our motives are. They both know our motives for our interest in these spiritual things, and those motives that result in our temporary failings and downfalls. Sometimes we fall down and fail in an attempt that was worthwhile.
Sometimes we triumph, seemingly, in an undertaking that looks nice, but was motivated by some selfish interest. We can fool ourselves about these things. Those who know far more than we do are not fooled.
Consider when we analyze ourselves. We appraise ourselves. We compare our good and positive points on the one side with our bad and negative points on the other. We should bring into play, into consideration, certain awareness. Other people, higher people, more wise people, who are interested in our spiritual welfare, have also done this appraisal of us. Their appraisal of us is far more just and has far fewer mistakes than our own appraisal. Their vision is clearer. Their knowledge is surer. They are more detached. They are therefore more objective. They just know more. When we know as much as they do, our own appraisal of the world, of ourselves and of others, will be equally increased. Our insight will become deeper.
There are a great many things that we are apt to forgive in ourselves. Sometimes it is all right as well. Who cares? After all, I am fighting this battle. Many people DO care. These people, this higher type of people behind the scenes, they do not care about our personalities. That is not what they care about. They care about our ultimate spiritual triumph over our lesser selves.
They care about us being victorious and successful in spiritual growth, because that means new allies, new helpers, and new supporters, strong and faithful, in an ancient cause, the cause of human spiritual liberation. It also means allies in a battle that is not fought with physical weapons, but a battle between the forces of light and the forces of relative darkness. Between these forces, we have to choose every day. They too have to choose. Their choices are different from ours, in intensity and degree. As their wisdom is greater than ours, so their choices can hardly be compared with ours, except in principle. We all have to choose on one level or another.
It pays us to stop on that. We pause on that thought. We become increasingly aware that when it comes to spiritual work, growth, or self-control, our lives, our endeavors, our motives, our performance -- all these things -- are watched. We are not watched by some kind of a vindictive taskmaster, not by some selfish boss, not by a prying spy, not by individuals who would penetrate, unwittingly to us, against our will into the secrecy and the privacy of our own lives. That is not the idea. There is an overall watchfulness, an overseeing. A helpful assistance is provided. We can receive more of it than we realize by making more of an effort. We can make a greater effort than we all do along the lines of self-purification, detachment from worldly ambitions and entanglements, which have a place. They have a lesser place in our lives than in the lives of others.
We can increase that inner relation with the assisting powers, which are living men, by registering within ourselves a steadily increasing degree of self-control. We can also register within ourselves a steadily increasing degree of selflessness, because the whole thing seems to hinge on selflessness. We might do great things, spectacular things, world-resounding -- that is, relatively speaking -- in the cause of the Theosophical movement and do it with some selfish motive in view. The net result of that work is against us. Ultimately, it is written against us in the mystic ledger.
We can do in the Theosophical work, in the occult cause, some small, little thing, of which few people will hear anything. It will have no great worldly momentum. It will not be heralded by anyone, and certainly not by ourselves because we will not be interested in heralding it. This may be a small action in itself, a small move or decision or effort. Small it may be, yet it may have a profound depth of sacrifice in it. It may have an intensity of self-dedication and devotion and selflessness. In the appraisal of the Good Law -- which is not human-made, man-made -- it will be seen to have a far greater effect. This effect is both upon our own inner growth and upon the improvement of other people. The impact may be far greater than those resounding, spectacular things that some other students have done with objectives and motives that were somewhat questionable.
The appraisal of our actions is not a worldly appraisal, in other words. The little things, the littlest thing, may be of tremendous importance and may be registered upon that mystic stream in terms of a great spiritual flame. A thing that we think is big may register on that mystic stream as almost nothing. There may be some little good about it. The rest is useless. The measurement, the scale of value in these matters is not a worldly one.
This is something I personally consider practical. It is not a mystic abstraction, a metaphysical abstraction. There are living men who represent the Hierarchy of the Adepts all over the world. Chances are that most of us are not going to run into them. Some of us, though, might, or have. That is unimportant. The fact is that to every great Adept, there may be dozens and hundreds of smaller agents of theirs, their own disciples, who are scattered the world over in the most curious and strange places, if there is work to be done there. And these individuals, while only disciples of greater ones, have nevertheless enough inner spiritual growth and have attained enough spiritual illumination to be able to discern inwardly where we may be -- we aspirants, we would-be disciples and neophytes and seekers. It may not be in their province to come and meet us. There may be no good resulting from it, or there may be, according to circumstances. That is not essential.
It is my understanding that one of the tests in one or another incarnation is to be able to work in this cause with no outward recognition. One seeks to do one's duty, seeking to grow, seeking to help others, seeking to understand more, with no outward sign of any recognition whatsoever. From time to time, from one life to another, you may run into somebody who will become your symbol for a while of that inner contact. In a way, your life has been made easier if you once run into such an individual and have made a physical contact, as it were, with him or her. It is easier than at the stage when you are not sure whether anybody knows, whether anybody cares, whether there is any door anywhere through which you could walk. At that stage, you feel lonely and have no physical recognition or evidence that your work is recognized.
It is precisely at that stage that it is good for us to bear in mind at least intellectually that every one of our efforts MUST be recognized. It is necessary. Because if it is not recognized in due quarters, those quarters are a joke! They are not what you thought them to be. They are not as genuine and as true as they ought to be if they failed to recognize light in the surrounding darkness, to recognize your light when it was beginning to shine.
As we know that these quarters and these people are genuine and are not a joke, therefore the deduction is that every genuine effort on our part IS registered, IS recognized. That does not mean that that recognition is conveyed to us. You do not receive a telephone call or a letter saying, "Yes, you have been recognized, thank you." But one time, some time arrives when recognition is given and you meet somebody in one incarnation or another that you definitely know to be the link, the agent, the -- what shall I call it -- the emissary of somebody else higher in the line of that Hierarchy.
If you do not have the intuition for it, then it does not mean anything to you. How many people are just not ready? I have seen many good-hearted people with a general interest in such things as Theosophy. They would meet an individual like Dr. de Purucker, but it would not mean much to them. They notice some odd peculiarities about his person, and that is all. They attend a lecture. Yes, he is a fine speaker. However, they are not ready. To other individuals, they meet the same man, and they do not SEE the person, metaphorically speaking. The personality hardly exists. To them that individual is an open door through which pours light which they were ready for at that particular moment.
They MADE themselves ready. It took them more than one life to become ready. If you are blind, you do not see it. If you are blind, well, a full-fledged Mahatma could walk into this room. It would not mean anything to you. So many stories have been told about it. So many legends exist about these things. We think that if somebody were to knock at this door and we would see a mendicant begging, why, you would let him in because you had the heart to do so, and give him a meal. How do you know who he is? He might well be an individual who has come to try your intuitions, to find out how do you act. Where is your heart? Is it open? Is it closed? What plane do you function on? Knowing you to be a seeker and a student, find out how much of a student you are in action.
Appearances are exceedingly deceptive. It is difficult to recognize such individuals in a humble, modest garb of some lowly person who has no intellectual or other decorations. Even today it is difficult for some people to recognize a messenger of the Lodge in an individual like the Comte de Saint Germain, who would be hovering around kings and thrones and throw around diamonds and live in fantastic wealth for a purpose. The purpose is just as important in THAT case. The surrounding is just as accountable for as the modest, humble, and curious ways prevailing in other cases where THAT kind of an appearance is called for. Appearances are merely illusions. They are quite honestly made to achieve certain ends in view. Illusions are not to be understood to be deceptions. Illusions are simply things that look different from what they are. They are not deceptions.
A certain trend of thought has been running in my mind these last few days. I would like to share the ideas with you. They apply to all of us. I am sure they also apply to those who are far higher than we. They have their own tests. They are watched also. They have their own degrees of growth and illuminations, far higher than anything we know of, but they are learners as well. We speak of HPB sometimes in adoring language. This is something that we should not do. She had her own terrific tests. She had herself to cope with watchfulness on the part of her superiors, of a kind that we could not possibly stand because we are not ready. No matter how high you go, there is the same thing. That is, I would not say "however high you go," but "however high you go UP TO A CERTAIN POINT." The same law prevails, beyond which point, a high one, you are your own judge, because you have reached to a full-fledged membership among the Great Ones. That takes you out of this realm with its methods into a higher realm where far higher methods and principles prevail.
We are learners. We can and we must realize that we do have that guidance. We can never be deserted. No one of the higher ones can ever desert US. WE can desert THEM any time by failing, and then failing to get up and try again. We can desert them, oh yes, any time. They will not desert us. That is the main thing. And if we keep in mind this companionship of a mystic kind, which is a reality that can be increased daily, hourly, we begin to feel less lonely in our inner self, however much loneliness we may experience at times in our relatively weak and faltering personality. That will feel lonely many times, in higher stages than ours as well. There is a loneliness that we cannot overcome, a loneliness arising out of our personal nature. Our lower loneliness, though, is gradually transmuted into a sense of joy. As our selflessness increases and our personality becomes controlled by the higher individuality within us, this transmutation progresses. We realize a participation in a tremendous cosmic scheme that has neither beginning nor end. It has that ultimate objective of the spiritual liberation of all that lives.
That is about all. Maybe you yourselves have something to contribute along these lines. Maybe you could share with each other some of your own realizations of these and other things.
Up to a certain stage, say Buddhahood, the spiritual liberation of the individual is personal and gradually becomes universal. After that stage, would there be any more individual seeking of spiritual liberation? There should be no end to the evolution of the individual. As far as having completely, definitely, and finally established this spiritual link, is the entire motivation of that individuality from there on is just devoted to the spiritual liberation of humanity? Is there no more personal seeking of spiritual liberation? If that is true, at what point in a person's evolution does this happen. Is that Buddhahood?
It is earlier than that. The stage is known in the East as the Bodhisattva, a stage below the Buddha. It might perhaps be considered the pivotal point at which the personality is completely transmuted and completely suffused with and identified with the inner self. Curiously enough, the two opposites always meet. Before the Monad in its unfoldment reaches the stage of manhood, it has no personality. It then goes through a long cycle in the Human Kingdom, building up a specific, separate, and at first selfish and self-centered personal selfhood. It then gradually depersonalizes it into becoming increasingly selfless a personality. When it reaches those higher stages of humanhood, which the Masters occupy, it is verging on the stage where the personality completely melds into the spiritual individuality, so that below the human stage there is no personal self, self-center, and beyond the human stage there is no personal center of that nature. The opposites meet.
The animal channels a great deal more of spiritual guidance than the human does at certain stages. That spiritual guidance is manifested in the animal in the infallible instinct. The instinct in the human is fallible. It is already tinged by the personal temper, which militates against the spiritual guidance. In later stages of humanhood, the personal becomes increasingly translucent, transparent. The guidance of the spiritual self asserts itself again, stronger and stronger. That is intuition. What is instinct in the animal is intuition in man. It comes from the same center.
When you finally reach those higher stages of manhood, stages that are verging on the next Kingdom, you again become attuned and translucent to the inner spiritual self. Your strong, positive personal center that you have developed in humanhood has become a great weapon. It is completely attuned to the spiritual light. With it, you can work as a powerful force for good. The animal does not have this center. In the lower human stages, the center is an obstacle. In the higher stages, the center is the servant of this spiritual self. When it comes to higher Adepts, Bodhisattvas, and indeed Buddhas, and to a supreme degree in the Dhyani-Chohanic Kingdom, individuals are increasingly powerful channels of spiritual life. They transmit -- almost you might say transform, like a transformer -- this higher current down into the hierarchical levels from which they have ascended, through which they have been before.
The Dhyani-Chohans are more spiritual than the Buddha. The Buddha only comes once every -- whatever the cycle is. The Dhyani-Chohans do not have the ability to incarnate. They cannot appear even once every million years. They cannot ever get on this material plane.
No! They have nothing to do with incarnations. The Buddha might still be considered a human being, however sublime he is. One may call him a Christ, which would be the same thing. He is, nevertheless, a human being. If he is reborn, he is reborn at will. He is reborn in a human manner and for certain human purposes, objectives, for humanity. The three Dhyani-Chohanic levels should be looked upon as the next three Kingdoms above the human. They are not human. They are as far above the human level, even the highest human level, as the human level is above the animal level. They are the next Kingdoms. They are at the next stage in the unfoldment of the Monad.
The Dhyani-Chohan is not operating at any time through a physical body. Not a Dhyani-Chohan, but less, an aspect or phase of a Dhyani-Chohanic consciousness, may overshadow some lofty human for a time. That is not the whole of the Dhyani-Chohan, just an aspect of his consciousness. This happens while he may be overshadowing with another aspect of his consciousness some other lofty human. I would say even on more planets than one.
When we talk about Dhyani-Chohans, we are speaking of demigods. You might even call them, some of the higher ones, full-fledged divinities, of a lesser degree than, let us say, the Solar Gods, but nevertheless, full-fledged divinities. That is what they are. To them, the average human being is probably about as far lower in consciousness as the average animal or flower may be to us. We are aware of it, but we do not know -- well, at least our personality does not know -- what are the functions of their consciousness. Naturally, the Dhyani-Chohanic Kingdom is fully aware of what the consciousness of the human being is, and when we progress higher in the human stage, we will be aware of what the functions of the animal and plant consciousness is. Still, the Dhyani-Chohans are in their own realm.