When we begin to delineate it and define it, we endow the Divine with our merely human figments of thought, imperfect, limited, because we are imperfect; and therefore it is that we Theosophists always speak of this wondrous, ineffable Mystery by the one word THAT. This is infinitely more reverential than to begin to label the Divine or to ticket it or to qualify it with the imperfect attributes of our human existence.
-- G. de Purucker, STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, 482.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 213-14.]
There is great activity all over the world to further the ideals of freedom, of peace, and of culture. It is not difficult to understand that these three great ideals are intertwined; there cannot be peace of the right kind when the citizens of a state are slaves or savages.
There are people who think that freedom is of primary value, who look upon peace as a distant goal and regard culture as means to further national ends. This causes great confusion, and it would be worth our while to consider the interrelationship of the ideals of culture, peace, and freedom.
The present clash of ideologies -- turning upon whether the state is for the citizen or the citizen is but a cog in the great machinery of the state -- has to be resolved if the world is to free itself from the nightmare threat of another great war. For this, what order of importance shall we give to freedom, peace, and culture, we who are lovers of our fellow men, who have no political bias, national or international, who neither consider Soviet Russia a republic of free men, nor look upon the Western nations as true democracies of men with peace in their own hearts?
We have to reorient our thinking; an individual revolution ought to take place in every educated mind. If a man has not real culture, he cannot be at peace with his fellow men; he cannot tolerate, far less appreciate, a point of view other than his own. It is, therefore, real culture enshrined in the soul of man, the real man, which will resolve the friction of conflicting ideologies.
True culture will reveal not only that the citizen must not be looked upon as a slave of the state but also that the state is properly a playground for the full development of its citizens. The citizen has, however, reciprocal obligations which culture will also reveal. The man of culture will not take his stand upon the all-importance of his rights but will acknowledge the duties of man as the citizen of the state.
Such culture cannot come out of a view of life that is materialistic and mechanistic, maintaining that might is right. A man of real culture will recognize that humanity is one, diversified into groupings called nations, communities, races, and that culture alone will enable him and the group to which he belongs to live at peace with all other men and all other groups. Therefore, if war is to be banished and peace made permanent it cannot be by any other way than by a large number of people, especially among the leaders of the world, undergoing self-discipline and self-training to make themselves men of culture. Those leaders and their followers will then be able to adapt themselves to viewpoints different from theirs, because within those viewpoints they will find something of value of self-improvement.
Then only can liberty of the individual as a citizen come to birth. Therefore the triad of culture, peace, and freedom ought to be properly understood, and it should be recognized that culture is the apex; from it alone can come peace for the many nations of the world and freedom for all men and citizens.
By Katinka Hesselink
It seems the Theosophical Society is continually asking itself what its objects are for. I tend to think that this preoccupation is in part due to the fact that we do not really practice these objects. The first has become so common an ideal, that to actually say it out loud seems an anomaly to many. The second object has the disadvantage of talking about religion, philosophy, and science in general, instead of theosophy specifically. The third is so far off general practice in the Theosophical Society that it seems irrelevant.
But let me start by reminding the reader of the three objects as formulated by the Theosophical Society, Adyar. The objects of the other theosophical organizations do not vary much from this theme, except that the third object is often left out and the second split in two.
1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy, and Science.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in Man.
In talking about the Theosophical Society, the first object has been stressed most. I think this is right. Brotherhood (or sisterhood) is the most important ideal we could aspire to. All our talk about ethics is based on this object and all our aspirations about practising these ethics are also based on this object. Still, even if this object seems as an ideal obsolete, as a practice it is very far away. Wars all over the globe point to the relevance of trying to live brotherly with those we disagree with, or look different from us, etc.
The second object was added (historically) latest to the three objects. In fact it was the current third object that the Theosophical Society started with. At the time the aim of the Theosophical Society was formulated as follows:
The objects of the Society are, to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the universe.
-- C. Jinarajadasa, THE GOLDEN BOOK OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY (1875-1925), 243-50
At the time it was probably assumed that this would include, perhaps mainly, the laws governing the spiritistic phenomena. Still, all anyone seems to be doing on this score is reading up on earlier work from within the Theosophical Movement, without considering the work done outside the Theosophical Movement.
The second object was for me personally the main reason of joining the Theosophical Society. I have always been fascinated with religion and philosophy and it seemed to me that this group of people were actually open to different points of view, guaranteeing free research. Now that I have been a member of the Theosophical Society for some years it seems to me that this is not entirely true. First of all (as often stressed) the Theosophical Society is in fact simply a group of people and while it (as a group) aspires to such tolerance and free research, its group-dynamics and the individual shortcomings of its members make actual tolerance difficult, though not impossible.
It seems to me that in this strange and fortunate moment in time when literature from people all over the world are so easily accessible, the Theosophical Society could be the place where people with different backgrounds and philosophical or spiritual preference could join hands and compare notes. Or otherwise put, they could learn to see that their own tradition is not the only one relevant to spiritual living. If we actually practiced that, we might really be a force towards religious tolerance and free thought.
The same goes for the third object. If we actually studied (in practice, not just in books) the different techniques of meditation and healing practised in the "new age" world, and combined this with a knowledge of what Blavatsky and other theosophical writers have said about these and similar subjects, the Theosophical Society might help moderate some of the excesses of New Age.
I started this article in saying that we do not really practice the three objects of our society. What we do, and what many people seem to believe is the object of the Theosophical Society could be summed up thus:
1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
2. To study the literature which originated with the Theosophical Movement and to compare this privately in each individual home with other spiritual and scientific literature.
3. To condemn any use of spiritual powers and abilities because these automatically (it is thought) lead to black magic.
I think this is wrong, stupid and contrary to what H.P. Blavatsky, Olcott, Judge, Damodar and Subba Row were trying to do. To end this discussion on a positive note, I think the hope for free research lies exactly in the way we tend to think of the second object: to study different philosophies and sciences in the privacy of our own homes. The fact that this does happen means that in fact the Theosophical Society does practice the second object, though this might be strengthened by lodges and study-groups taking on the study of some book not published from a theosophical press.
By Eldon B. Tucker
The American Section of the Theosophical Society [Pasadena] had a three-day gathering July 7-9, 2000. It was a working conference for members, where everyone had a chance to share the theosophical work that they were doing. The conference had been in planning for over a year. It covered topics of interest to workers of any theosophical group.
Unlike many conventions where the emphasis was on making public presentations of the Teachings, this gathering was focused on the networking of theosophical workers within the T.S. The hope was that the weekend would help make the T.S. more visible and understandable to members, so that they feel part of it.
Following are some brief impressions and assorted information on the conference. Everyone's experience was different. We met people we may have only known before on the Internet. Some familiar faces we might have seen were not present, unfortunately, as the conference was for members only, and they may not have been invited.
The conference was held in a large meeting hall at Pasadena City College. There were speakers, panels, computer displays (projected on a screen), and general discussions among all the attendees. The conference covered, excluding breaks and discussion periods, the following topics:
There is now an effort to open branches and study groups. More than one branch in a large geographic area might be needed, each a hub with satellite study groups. A theme common to all theosophical efforts emerged: the need for more activities that are public and the involvement of young people.
Regarding lodge work, it's important to keep the ideas out there. It is important to have somebody to talk to, a human touch, and not just the impersonal printed word. Efforts such as online mailing lists, and as the online directory of Blavatsky Net help in this:
In the Pasadena T.S., it only takes three members to form a lodge. (Seven are required in the Adyar T.S.) A lodge is expected to have its own phone and address, and provide a public presence and outreach effort.
There are no dues. Everything is paid for via donations and volunteer help. One can donate to the Theosophical Endowment Corporation, the Theosophical Society, one's National Section, or the local branch.
The Theosophical Society is a registered association, so it cannot own property. The Theosophical Endowment Corporation (dba Theosophical University Press) gets properties other than small donations that exceed the limit that the IRS allows, like title to real estate. The American Section is a California non-profit organization with very specific tax rules.
Some aspects of public outreach include a greater accessibility on the Internet and in public libraries of the theosophical literature. All the titles of Theosophical University Press are online, and 750 theosophical articles, and a massive consolidated set of theosophical glossaries. There is also a search engine that allows for finding materials of interest to the online reader. See:
The library in Altadena has over 35,000 books. There was a six-year project to color code all the books, coded by category and subcategory. Materials are organized by a system developed by the T.S. library to better organize materials by geography, religion, and philosophy.
A series of correspondence courses are offered by both regular mail and email:
The printing press is highly important too; most people meet and learn about Theosophy by way of books.
Besides books, various leaflets and pamphlets have been produced, including biographical sketches of Blavatsky, Olcott, Judge, Tingley, Purucker, and Conger, and an instructional leaflet on "Forming a Theosophical Reading Group."
Lodges have their own newsletters:
http://www.centurytel.net/theosophy (THE KALI YUGA RAG) http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw (THEOSOPHY NORTHWEST VIEW) http://www.greenheart.com/amsec (THE THEOSOPHIC LINK)
In addition, the Society has a general interest theosophical magazine, Sunrise:
Another effective means of publicity is press releases. Good results have come from sending them to religious editors, sending both email and hardcopy.
Theosophical mailing lists are also effective, but full-sized public lists have not been tried to this point. What has been tried are "email discussion circles," where two or three long-time students and three-or-four enquirers privately exchange emails in their group discussions. A "reply-to-all" is used in individual emails, rather than formal mailing list software.
Eight-week classes on special topics are offered, which repeat periodically. The idea of short topic-focused classes is a useful tool that various branches and isolated individuals might at times consider.
The objects of the Theosophical Society are:
The objects are like a mission statement. A mission statement says why a group exists, what it is trying to do. Various points came up in a general discussion of these objects.
We endeavor to form a sangha or community of fellow seekers. We study, teach, and promote the philosophy. We also study other areas of thought and self-improvement. We encourage creative self-expression, including the spiritual, intellectual, heart-life, and artistic leading to self-enrichment and a brightening of the world.
Theosophical work is often person-to-person, with whomever we meet. We find out what people are asking for and seeking. We do not recruit members. If someone writes in and wants to join the Society, we want to know something of them, of their interests and backgrounds, before they actually become members.
It is important to listen to the views of others. It is ok for different organizations and expressions of Theosophy to exist in the world. There can be lodges and groups with their own specialties. Someone asked if it is possible that there could be a theosophical heretic. A member joked -- Can we be drummed out for our beliefs? While this might be possible of any group, a better question might be: Where are we at home in doing our theosophical work? We can tell, if we listen within, if we are in the right place and doing the right work or not. If we are out of place, it is our karma that we move elsewhere, seeking out our homecircle. It is best that we observe and act on our inner feelings, rather that waiting for life to act for us -- from without -- making us go places and do things that we should have realized were right and done under our own initiative!
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, May 1926, as reprinted in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, July 1947, pages 410-20.]
THE TEMPEST, with CYMBELINE, PERICLES, and THE WINTER'S TALE, belongs to the fourth and last group of Shakespeare's plays. Its first recorded performance was at Whitehall before King James on November 1,1611; probably it had already been acted at his own Globe Theater in Southwark earlier in the same year. It is probably not the last play he wrote; but almost certainly, when he wrote it he intended it to be the last, and was consciously giving in it his farewell message to the world. "When I have required some heavenly music (which even now I do)," says Prospero, who is Shakespeare:
I'll break my [magician's] staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I will drown my book [of magic].
It is the last of the plays in which he records his own spiritual life and adventures; in this respect following HAMLET, the representative or central play of the third period, as this is of the fourth.
The crux of both is that a king, a rightful king, has been ousted from his throne by foul means: a wrong has been done that must be righted. This is a reflection, or a symbol, of the whole wrongness of life -- the evil in the world and in man. When he wrote HAMLET, say in 1602, Shakespeare saw no means of righting this wrong except through disastrous expiations -- deaths and deaths and deaths: by 1610, when he wrote THE TEMPEST, he had discovered that there was another means. Man was not the helpless creature of fortune, doomed to ruin by his own weakness, or to be saved only by sacrifice; instead, there was in him a magician, a being of power, who can command his destiny. So for Hamlet, the "hesitating Dane," we have Prospero the Master of the Elements; and for the old redemption by sacrifice, we have redemption by power and peace: a power and a peace that Prospero has found within himself and imposes upon his surroundings, natural, elemental, and human.
Externally, the play was suggested by certain current events; there was much in it of topical interest. In 1609, Sir George Somers sailed with nine ships for Virginia; the fleet was scattered by a storm; some of the ships reached their destination; others returned to England with news of the probable loss of the admiral's ship, the SEA-VENTURE. It had, however, really been driven to the Bermudas, and found its safety there.
In the following year, a pamphlet was published in London giving an account of the whole affair. The SEA-VENTURE had sprung a leak; the sailors, exhausted with working the pumps, had given up all hope, taken leave of each other, and fallen asleep at their work: to wake in calm seas, under salubrious skies, within a stone's throw of land. The ship had been jammed between two rocks close inshore; and all hands were brought off with perfect ease, onto an island uninhabited but delightful, with air mild and delicious, and soil teemingly fruitful.
The title of the pamphlet is indicative: THE DISCOVERY OR BERMUDA OR DEVIL'S ISLAND. The Bermudas had been supposed to be enchanted; Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596 had given them a bad name because of the storms that infested them; Shakespeare in this same play alludes to the "still-vext Bermoothes." Here then he found his material nexus, his external suggestion: here was a tempest; an enchanted island; a ship despaired of and wrecked, and as if by magic unharmed after all; and a part of the fleet (or crew) returned home lamenting the supposed loss of their leader. All of the incidents we find reproduced in the play. He used them as scaffolding for, or a means of setting forth, in its final perfection, his profound philosophy of life.
Through a number of plays, he had been haunted by the duality of Nature, human and otherwise. He sensed constantly a Hidden Divinity: at his very bitterest; and he did fall to great bitterness. He would have gone to the stake for it that this God in Man did exist, or had existed, or ought to exist. But he also saw clearly that it was in defeat and retirement, obscured by the forces of evil, which in this world have it mainly their own way.
In his late thirties, realization of these things had begun to oppress him; and grew through seven years or so, creating an internal agony in whose white heat the grand tragedies were forged. Undoubtedly his understanding of the matter -- which was intense, burning-clear, and personal -- came of the fact that he could watch the contest primarily in his own life; in which, somewhere about 1600, some dark shadow seems to have loomed up to be conquered or to destroy him. That he did conquer it: that he arrived at a perfect serenity of wisdom, a clear insight at last, THE TEMPEST is there to prove.
It was in about his thirty-eighth year, when he wrote JULIUS CAESAR, that he began to notice this usurpation by evil of the sovereignty of good. He was not at first greatly troubled by it. He shared the general view of his age: which saw in the king the head and heart of the nation, a kind of link between it and the Divine Ruling of the universe, and so the symbol of Good always as opposed to evil. In JULIUS CAESAR, it is Caesar himself, of course, who holds this symbolic position; we see certain of the lower human elements, and particularly envy (impersonated as Cassius) rise against him, involving in their conspiracy the not ignoble qualities that are in Brutus; but we feel that Shakespeare has no doubt of the issue. The conspirators might kill Caesar, but they were powerless against Caesarism: Octavian is Caesar as soon as Julius is dead, and his return and triumph are inevitable as fate. Shakespeare had not yet realized the power of evil.
Next came HAMLET; and here the result is far more uncertain. Octavian is sweeping to his revenge. We have Hamlet groping and hesitating after it. When we remember that these two characters have to play the same part, it becomes clear to us how far more deeply Shakespeare had become involved in the struggle with evil in the latter than in the former play, though probably not a year had passed between the writing of them. Still he foresees a final righting of the great wrong: the usurping evil (King Claudius) is to be killed; the murdered good (King Hamlet) is to be avenged; there will be peace at last, he is assured -- but at what cost! All is doubt and uncertainty. He was himself his model for Hamlet, and Hamlet's dead father, and Claudius; he foresaw that, before the atonement could be made, Hamlet -- his own superb intelligence -- would be sacrificed.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE, OTHELLO, MACBETH, and KING LEAR followed: each gloomier than the last. In each, he struggles towards the righting of the great wrong, the undoing of the great usurpation. In each, he foresees atonement, but the price to be paid for it is always greater. Until in KING LEAR, it is Cordelia, the divine Soul in man itself, which must be immolated. It is as if he had said, "To undo the evil that humanity is, humanity, with the god in its heart and all, must be blotted out and a new race created." Then came two bitter scourgings of the falsity of women, TROILUS AND CRESSIDA and ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. Then came the savage TIMON OF ATHENS, in which the tortured soul of Shakespeare proclaims its disgust with and despair of mankind. Then, seven years after JULIUS CAESAR, he reached the lowest depths he ever did reach in PERICLES; and there, in deep hell, turned, looked upward, and once more saw the light.
If he did not write the parts we dislike of PERICLES -- and very likely, he did not -- still it is noteworthy. It is still indicative of his inward history, that he should have turned from the bitterness of TROILUS and TIMON to take a play by another man, far fouler and bitterer than either, and redeem it into sweet serenity; -- come so quickly from the creation of Cressida and Cleopatra, to that of Marina. What is positive is this: a new day had dawned for him; a new sun shone; the bitterness is gone; the tortured soul is at peace; he believes in the divine within himself again, and consequently he believes in the divine in humanity; where a year before he was hating, now he is pitying and forgiving.
Then came THE TEMPEST. Here the Dethroned Divinity holds all the power in his hands. A glance at the story will serve to show what a marvelous change had taken place in Shakespeare's outlook.
Prospero, Duke of Milan, in order to get time for his studies, principally of magic, had committed the charge of his duchy into the hands of his brother Antonio. Antonio grew ambitious, and at the price of making Milan tributary to her traditional enemy, Alonso King of Naples, called in the latter's aid; and with it, dethroned Prospero and set him adrift with his infant daughter Miranda in a crazy boat in mid-sea. But fortune or Prospero's art guided the boat safely to an island, where reigning through his magic over a world of spirits, he brought up Miranda and bided his time.
The play opens twelve years later; when, all his enemies being upon a voyage in those parts, Prospero raises a storm, which produces on them the illusion of shipwreck, and all are cast ashore on the island. There the heir of Naples, Ferdinand, Alonso's son, separated from the rest, falls in with Prospero and in love with Miranda, as her father intended he should. Alonso, imagining Ferdinand lost, and despondent on that account, is prepared upon the denouement to restore to Prospero his dukedom. Ferdinand and Miranda are betrothed. It transpires that the ship is in perfectly sound condition after all. The entire party returns in it to Italy. Prospero thus out of the whole adventure having won for his daughter not only his own Milan, but queenship in Naples as well.
Here then Shakespeare sees the fearful struggle, which has been life-wreck, ruin, and desolation in the previous plays, as but an illusionary storm raised by the great dethroned magician -- the Divine Soul in man, really -- in order to bring all the factors in the drama of life, all the principles represented, into his power. Prospero does this not for revenge's sake, but that the universal wrong may be righted: that "earthly things made even" may "atone together"; that the hereditary antagonism, Naples versus Milan, may vanish changed into union; that Miranda may be queen in both.
He had tried the same theme years before in ROMEO AND JULIET; but then, without philosophy, with no deep truth in mind to tell, he had found no solution to his problem except that of conventional tragedy. Montagues and Capulets had stood for nothing: they had been, simply, two Italian houses at feud. But Milan and Naples in THE TEMPEST proclaim themselves the eternal duality of evolution: matter that rises, spirit that descends and informs; and when the child of Milan weds the heir of Naples, that atonement takes place which Shakespeare groped after so often half-blindly in the early plays; which had taken place in himself when he wrote THE TEMPEST; which he had always sensed as a far-off bright event, the most tremendous in the history of a human soul. Ferdinand, the heir of Naples, is the highest point of material evolution upwards; that is to say, he is the intellectualized animal-man. Miranda, heiress of Milan, who weds or redeems him, is the ultimate expression of descending spirit, the point of it, so to say, that contacts matter and becomes the redeemer of human life.
This then is the core and last word of Shakespearean philosophy: Miranda -- the principle she represents -- is to be mistress of both worlds; the whole epopee has taken place: Prospero lost Milan at first: that she might possess not only Milan, but Naples too. That accomplished, Prospero will lay by his powers and turn his face graveward. What then, in plain human terms, is Miranda?
Shakespeare leaves you in no doubt. The first words she utters tell you: she is pity, compassion, the will to serve and save, and the refusal to ever condemn or to allow a harsh solution for any problem. Miranda is the knowledge that you have solved nothing when you have hanged the criminal; that you have gained nothing by your victory at war; that he who condemns another is himself condemned -- self-condemned. It is the last word of human wisdom, said Shakespeare; and certainly, Jesus thought so too.
The mushy-minded and thought shirking, or thought-incapable, delight to call this sentimentalism; they will have none of it at any price. When a man is down and out morally, it is easier to hang him than to cure him; because to cure him calls for stiff fundamental brainwork, and illuminated brainwork at that; but to condemn him, we need but to be befuddled. In just the same way, it is much easier in case of plague and epidemic, to parade your fetish in galatoggery through town and incense your Mumbo-jumbo and the like, than to attend to sanitation and science.
Shakespeare, however, by this time knew life inside and out, clearly, sanely, and wholly. He leaves this as the sum and finality of his doctrine, his last message to the ages that should follow him. That message is that all this grand agonization, life, (he says), exists solely to teach us -- even the silliest advocate of brute-force and legalized murder among us -- that compassion which will not and cannot turn away in condemnation from any living being. This is the compassion which is the most supreme wisdom and enlightenment that can come to man, because it is recognition of the unity of all life.
At this point one might take a glance at the Bacon theory, because all this does so forcibly, violently indeed, NOT remind one of Bacon. The uncritical and ignorant of human nature are fond of arguing that Bacon wrote the plays; it could as easily be true that Disraeli wrote Dickens. Men are naturally divided, it has been reasonably said, into Platonists and Aristotelians: Bacon out-Aristotled Aristotle, and by much; but Shakespeare in the Elysium sitteth on the right hand of Plato himself. Or Mr. Shaw somewhere divides minds into those that look into the past and say, "Why?" And those that look into the future and say, "Why not?" Of that latter diviner group is the man that wrote the plays; his lasso was always whizzing about the neck of Perfection; it is a wonder it has not more been noticed, how passionately he asserted the Divine in Man. But Bacon ... No ... Oh dear me no!
No two minds could be more unlike. Indeed, though Shakespeare was the very child of his age, and will fit into no niche in European history, except his own niche in Elizabeth's England, there is no other Elizabethan, among the known names, whom we could think of as the author of the plays. Fletcher, perhaps, was the likeliest man; but I think Fletcher took Shakespeare consciously for his model; and at that was spiritually and intellectually a frightfully poor imitation. So, if William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon and the Globe in Southwark was not the man, it must have been someone else still more obscure, and much less probable.
Bacon's was a very great mind: strong, daring, and ambitious. He seems to have nourished ambitions towards the throne itself; there was a good deal of the paranoiac in him; it is said, I am not sure on what authority, he thought himself the great Queen's son. He never doubted himself or his powers. His weaknesses -- ambition, avarice, and a proneness to peculation -- he never recognized as weaknesses at all; and when the downfall came, and he was convicted of bribe-taking, he took it all with a sort of solemn grandeur, as "scorning" (says Ben Jonson) "to go out in a snuff." Pride made him strong against the world. An intellectual giant, spiritually he was a kind of embryo -- he had not rightly begun to be.
But Shakespeare knew HIS weaknesses very well. He suffered terribly from them, being of the type that scourges itself unmercifully for every slip. He was highly-strung, sensitive; where Bacon was all masculinity, he had very much, in a good sense, of the woman in him: it has been said that he never drew a heroic man; but he certainly did draw many ideal women. He fought his way to a divine self-realization, through boundless elations and limitless despairs. Bacon, the strong man, would probably have despised him utterly. Ben, who was something Baconian in masculinity of intellect, but who had -- as Bacon had not -- a great heart as well -- loved Shakespeare "this side of idolatry" as much as any man: loved him really nobly, and could appreciate his genius as well: but even in Ben's admiration for him there was a garlic-soupcon of affectionate contempt.
Shakespeare's life came near to being a tragedy: he saw the depths: he descended into hell: but THE TEMPEST is there to tell us that, having escaped final tragedy by a hair's breadth, he reached serene undreamable spiritual success. The man who wrote the plays had done that by 1608: Bacon was a peculator until 1621. Bacon's life, proceeding from achievement to achievement statelily, came near topping the last heights of mundane triumph; and missing them by a narrow margin, toppled into infamy and ruin. -- But to return to THE TEMPEST:
Prospero's power in the island comes of his control of non-human beings; and chiefly of the monster Caliban and the delicate spirit Ariel, both of whom were there when he came. Indeed, Caliban must be called half-human: though his maker is at pains to tell us he is soul-less -- incapable of soul -- without that inward divinity which makes one a man. He is the animal-elemental in man. Prospero holds him strictly enslaved; keeps him busy as hewer of wood and drawer of water: and therein Shakespeare the Life-Teacher tells us what to do with those baser parts of our minds which make all our trouble for us. Put them, he says, to work; keep them concentrated on the common duty of the moment and the day; thus they are in your power, under your control; otherwise they will be attempting wrong against the divinity within you -- as Caliban did against Miranda at first, and does in the play against Prospero.
Yet there is this curious thing to note about Caliban: he speaks no line of prose, as all Shakespeare's clowns do. Every word he says is in verse. Much of it is uncommonly beautiful. The reason is that he is a part of the great Nature: the inchoate, rudimentary, undeveloped part. The human mind does not work in him at all; and it is a truth that has many times been repeated, that poetry and rhythm are the language of Nature, as prose is of that only part of Nature which is so to say exiled from Nature and unnatural -- our human brain-consciousness.
Held down as a slave, Caliban is useful enough. He becomes dangerous when you lend him a share of your human mind. He falls in, in the play, with a couple of drunken sailors: vulgarians, beside whom he is a kind of gentleman in the comparison; nevertheless they are human beings -- and instantly Caliban becomes dangerous; he plots with them against the life of his master. He plots in vain, of course, because Prospero is the lord-enchanter of the island, and nothing can succeed against his magical powers. But even Prospero, in the midst of his magic, is perturbed by this revolt, and must take quick action.
Through Ariel, of course, his other chief servant; and here again profundities of wisdom are concealed. Ariel is one of the Life Master's most wonderful creations: an intelligence unhuman and immaculate; that craves human love as a child craves the love of its parents, and yet whose own place, always longed for, is the sunlit solitudes of Nature. He is the principle agent of Prospero's power; there is nothing but beauty, delight, and wonder in him; and yet he must be controlled as firmly as Caliban must; to him, as to Caliban, Prospero seems wholly a tyrant -- though to him a tyrant beloved.
Ariel's songs are little miracles of poetry. There is no human cerebration in them, no more so than in the drowsing of a dumbledar on a summer's noon from blossom to blossom, or in the whisper of a distant lazy sea. They do not make any sense at all, as we say; and yet they have perhaps as much as any lyric in the language that supreme power of poetry which is its ability to lead our human consciousness out of itself and into the great consciousness of Nature. This power of suggesting infinity is the highest magic there is in art.
By Ariel, then, Shakespeare means the imagination that sees out beyond self into the vast magical universe of non-self: this is the instrument of the universal Prospero's triumph -- the means whereby the hidden divinity in man may come into its own and reign. SYMPATHY is one word of it, or the first letter of it; it is the power to step into other people's shoes, as we say; and not into PEOPLE'S merely, but THINGS' as well.
Ariel may be contrasted with the jolly merry mischievous Puck of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM; whose business there is chiefly to try confusions with the clowns. So here is Ariel's with Caliban and the drunken sailors. But all to a much more serious end, so that we feel that the writing of the earlier play was mere practice for the writing of this. Invisible Ariel is to upset their conspiracies. To do so, he needs but negate their ill suggestions with the sharp denial "Thou liest!" And this too is practical wisdom, which who hath ears to hear, let him hear! The truth and beauty of Nature, says Shakespeare, are a magical power that can give the lie decisively to every prompting of the beast in man.
Speaking of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM -- that of course is the play with which THE TEMPEST most instantly challenges comparison. These are the two in which the Life-teacher leads us into the realms of Faerie. Hazlitt says that the former is the greater poem, the later the greater play; but this judgment, especially the second dictum of it, is very disputable. MIDSUMMER NIGHT is the fresh adventure of the Boy-Poet into fairyland (near Athens-on-Avon in Warwickshire); he riots there irresponsible in company with a pack of hempen homespuns whose antics keep his sides gloriously shaking -- but THE TEMPEST is the stately voyage of mellow perfection and maturity, through magical seas beyond the sunset. For irresponsibility, you have a grave and tender wisdom; and the fairies, which were before but petulant poetic children, are now right fairies: lovely apparitions incomprehensible, beneficent and exquisite spirits of the vasty deep.
There are perhaps, as Hazlitt argues, fewer quotable passages of exiguous beauty; but that is because the whole play is such a passage. In none other is there so glowing, jewel-like, rainbow-like, an effect of color. In MIDSUMMER NIGHT, the hues are the flickering greens and browns of an English woodside, blue-flecked above with sky-glimpses -- or the staidness of an English dusk, faintly rippled through with elf-lights. Or in ROMEO AND JULIET we have the burning color of human passion; so too in ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, but there with the pomp and magnificent opulence of imperial Rome and Egypt added.
But through THE TEMPEST, one senses an effect of subtropical sunsets: the splendors and sapphires of a Mediterranean or Caribbean evening, the cloud-capped towers and gorgeous palaces of the Islands of the Blessed. Like the dying dolphin of mythology, Shakespeare would go out in a glory of color; but there is no riot or wild disordered excess in it: he is all serene Prospero here: a master enchanter -- lord of every hue and shadow. It is as if the grandest sweetest music of Nature herself were the accompaniment played to his exit, because he had achieved perfection and majestic harmony at the last, and went out her peer.
By G. de Purucker
[This paper was written September 25, 1942, just days before he died. It appeared THE DIALOGUES OF G. DE PURUCKER, III, pages 65-70.]
The matter of the animal monads entering the human kingdom sounds complicated; I suppose it is, yet the principles are simple enough. Suppose we abandon the details and just turn our minds for a few moments to fundamental principles, and then perhaps we can get the Ariadne's thread that will make it easy. Details are important always, but they confuse minds.
Now then, the general principles by which any life-wave or kingdom of beings moves into the next higher kingdom are the same for the entire ladder of life, the same in analogical outline, not necessarily the same in details. This is the first point to remember, and it will be illustrated by the manner in which humans move into the lowest of the three Dhyan-Chohanic kingdoms just above our own.
The next point to remember is that it is the migrating, peregrinating monads, which are the important things to keep in mind. If they have attained self-conscious individuality, you might call them even higher egos. If they have not attained self-conscious individuality, the term monad is better. Thus, we speak of the monads of mineral, vegetable, and even animal kingdoms, although the highest animals, the very highest, are beginning to become egoic. In other words, the monad is sufficiently experienced in these low planes to have built around itself an egoic sheath of consciousness.
The third point to remember is that monads cannot enter into the next higher kingdom until it is itself ready to receive the incoming monads from the next lower kingdom. The next higher kingdom must have very lowest ranges of beings providing bodies for the monads from the kingdom below, and these monads from the kingdom below are always the highest from that kingdom, otherwise they would not be ready to move into the bodies of the lowest of the next kingdom above.
Thus, the highest of all animals are the anthropoid apes, which are the most evolved as regards a feeble glimmering of egoity. During the Fourth Round the egos -- or infant-egos or monads -- of the apes will gradually begin to incarnate into the very lowest, most savage, and least evolved of the humans of the Sixth Root-Race. Please remember this has nothing to do with the BODIES of the apes. The apes as apes will die out during the Sixth Root-Race, thus freeing the apes to enter into the very lowest human bodies of the Sixth Root-Race.
The bulk of the animal kingdom will also die out, and go into the animal Nirvana where they must wait for the next earth embodiment before they can have their chance to become humans. The reason is that the bulk of the animals are not yet ready to follow the Ascending Arc, but the anthropoid apes will be able to do this and will become in the manner explained very low humans by the end of the Sixth Root-Race. The opening of the Seventh Root-Race in this Fourth Round will see anthropoid bodies no more at all. They will have died out, and their baby egos will be then the lowest humans. Some animals, many indeed, will have appeared for a brief while during the Fifth Round on our Fourth globe, but they will not last long, and will die out more quickly than they will in the future die out in this Fourth Round. Then indeed, they will have entered their Nirvana permanently for the remainder of the Seven Rounds in which our Chain is now working. All these sidelines of thought are parts of the explanation and therefore must be brought into the picture.
Thus, the lower kingdom by evolving gradually rises towards the kingdom immediately above it, and the monads in many manners and in many ways seek to enter the higher kingdom, just as we humans seek to become Dhyani-Chohans by evolving more. We can enter the Dhyan-Chohanic kingdom by several ways. The beasts can enter the human kingdom by several ways. Please remember I am speaking of MONADS, not of bodies. No beast body ever becomes a human body. No human body ever becomes a Dhyan-Chohanic body.
Now with regard to the so-called Animal Monads in the human kingdom, these animal monads in the human kingdom are the highest of all possible animal monads, and are the first to become genuine humans in a new or future Manvantara. They are monads at one time belonging to the animal kingdom below the human. Because of karmic links of destiny with a monad, they pass into the human kingdom as a human animal monad. This happens when that animal monad out of the animal kingdom has reached what might be called a semi-human stage, the dawn of egoity, the beginning of semi-human consciousness, but yet of an animal type. It is what might be called an animal human, and not a human human, as human beings are.
Carry out the same line of thought on how human monads enter the lowest Dhyan-Chohanic kingdom, and you will perhaps understand it better. Just above I have spoken of the ape monads, or ape baby egos, entering the lowest stages of the human kingdom during the Sixth Root-Race. Now what does this mean? It means that an ego called X of an ape, when it has finished with the animal kingdom and is seeking embodiment, does not again reincarnate in the animal kingdom because it is finished with all possible evolution there. Its tendencies are upward, and it is as it were caught by a human monad, which will incarnate in one of the lowest races of the human kingdom.
Thus, this ape, X, when the apes die out towards the end of the Sixth Root-Race will on its last ape-embodiment be semi-human, or a little more. Its egoity is beginning to function, and it will reincarnate as part of the constitution called the animal monad of a low human being during the Sixth Root-Race, and will become the human animal monad of that low human of the Sixth Root-Race. That is what has been happening in the past and provides us human beings with what we now call our animal monads. They are graduated animals from the animal kingdom, caught by karmic links of destiny in the incarnation of a human monad, providing that human being with his human animal monad.
Now then, at the next Chain-Manvantara, the next embodiment of our globe, we humans, or human monads, will become the low, lowest Dhyan-Chohans of that future chain-embodiment when our earth will be the moon of the new chain. What are now our human animal monads will then be the distinct human humans of the human kingdom of that new chain. I hope all this is clear. I am being much more explicit than I have ever been before, because I think sufficient time has elapsed for the puzzled minds of our students to have pretty nearly grasped the truth by their own efforts, and thus they will not forget that truth.
Let us recapitulate. Animals enter the human kingdom by any method nature permits. There are several such methods, but they all reduce to a few general facts. No animal can enter the human kingdom until that animal's baby ego has become ready to do so, in other words more or less human. It then enters the human kingdom by attaching itself because of karmic links of the spiritual past with an embodying human at some stage in that human being's destiny, and thus becomes the animal monad of that human. It is thus that the graduated animal egos become distinctly humanized, by being for long periods a part of the constitution of a human being. They finally become fully human, and are then independent human human beings, or human monads when the age arrives. Please understand that there are always exceptions to every rule. But even to touch upon the exceptions would, I fear, bring about intolerable confusion, for the teaching is so contrary to anything the West has known for ages -- contrary to its religion and to its science, and even to its philosophy, nevertheless, intuitively perceived by poets sometimes or other uninitiated people who get flashes or glimpses of the truth.
With the exceptions referred to, it is my belief that no animal monad can pass directly from the animal kingdom into the human kingdom as a human being, for there are intermediate stages of mental and psychical growth that must be passed through before an animal monad by unfolding itself can become a true human. These intermediate stages are found in the animal monads in human beings. I hope these many repetitions are not tiresome, but I have discovered that unless I repeat and keep repeating thoughts do not sink home.
Numerous questions in the minds of students are bound to arise, mainly because they ask questions before they have tried to solve these questions themselves by careful meditation and brooding over the matter. So students should not be anxious if questions arise in their minds about this new raising of a corner of the veil. Students should themselves endeavor to reconcile what I have here stated with what they already know before rushing into questions and expecting to have them answered. The only way of learning a thing thoroughly is by solving it yourself, and that is what a true teacher always does. He tries to stimulate curiosity, to arouse the student's own intuitive perception, and even will not answer a question plainly, but will insist that the student answer his own questions. Only when the student is too confused to get a clear answer from his own mind will the teacher give another bit of help.
By Richard Heinemann
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, October 1946, pages 487-91.]
No course of action can so quickly antagonize people, or bring their worst qualities so explosively to the surface, as merely keeping your head while they are losing theirs. Since people in masses "think" emotionally (we call this "crowd psychology"), any challenge to the conclusions they have reached seems to them an attack on the worth of their own persons or personalities. Still more to the point: emotional thinking is so self-centered and self-satisfied that a sudden awareness of the mere existence of an opposing idea comes with the wrenching force of an emotional shock. Especially is this true when the opposing idea lies on higher mental or spiritual levels than the one it challenges, for mind and spirit are the great enemies of emotional smugness.
A Jesus always will be crucified, a Socrates always will be sentenced to drink poison, a Christian always will be thrown to lions or crocodiles: that is the natural price one pays for being a Jesus or a Socrates or a Christian. Such persons, by merely standing for the higher truths of being, attract to themselves the resentment of all crystallized minds. Apparently, it is necessary for most men to defeat a superior opponent by material force, as a sop to their own egotism, before they can consider his ideas. They must crucify, or at least satisfactorily persecute their savior before they can recognize him.
In the process of learning, it is necessary first for an idea to be presented to the consciousness -- that is, it must be able to get a hearing. This does not mean only that the person must be told of the idea (for how many thoughts go in one ear and out the other); it means he must become aware of the idea. In this process of awakening awareness, sometimes the idea is accepted; much more often, it stands as a point of irritation in the consciousness. When an irritation disturbs our physical body, our first impulse is to scratch it. When the irritation is emotional, the impulse also is to scratch, and we attempt to do this by scratching out of existence the person or thing that bothers us.
In order to "scratch" the annoying idea, we must turn our attention squarely upon it. This furnishes it the golden opportunity to sink a few roots into our consciousness. However we may abuse the unfortunate person who brings it to us, nonetheless the idea has been planted as a seed in the very heart of our being. Under proper conditions, it may grow -- and all learning is entirely a matter of growth. Every happening that in any way touches the idea from that time on will force us to make unconscious comparisons, and on these, the seed within us grows. In the course of time, as we destroy one after another form the idea takes in the world outside of us, we become vaguely uneasy. Within us is a stirring; the old, long crystallized ideas gradually become hollow and undermined, till they may be shattered by the next challenge from the outside world -- perhaps by the next savior that we stone to death. Then the miracle happens, and like Saul of old we hear a voice that cries (within us): "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest."
That is why real teachers and real saviors are not concerned about the way people treat them. In their hearts is the knowledge that whether they are well received or cast out, whether they are praised or persecuted, the people nonetheless must learn from them. A real teacher measures his progress, not by how easily the people seem to learn, but by how well they learn.
One of the most worthwhile speakers in America today, Sadhu Grewal, paused at the climax of one of his finest lectures to explain: "But lectures like this are not teaching!" His audience, under the illusion that they were actually learning the information being presented to them, did not understand this deep point of psychology. However, if you were to ask those people today what they learned at that lecture (delivered only a few months ago), you would find that they remember practically none of it. Scientific figures show that people remember only three percent of the things they hear at a lecture. Even of this three percent, it is questionable how much is really learned, and how much remains as mere "information."
It is only when there is some point in our own experience that we can use to picture to ourselves the ideas a speaker is trying to present, that we can even begin to understand them. These points of experience are the "fertile" spots in our consciousness, on which ideas may land and begin to grow. In other ideas we may have a cold, intellectual interest, but they do not become a part of us -- we do not actually learn them. They may remain in our minds until some experience opens a "fertile" spot for them, but until that time we only imagine we understand them. It is here, indeed, that we may realize why the same statement or idea will mean different things to the various members of an audience, for each approaches the statement from his particular background of experience, and can understand it only on the basis of his particular points of comparison.
Some teachers have a habit of asking, "Can any one of you give an example to illustrate this point?" This practice is of doubtful value. Not only are the "examples" likely to be far-fetched, but also if the student must consciously search for them, they are apt to be nothing but intellectual comparisons. Real points of experience are the ones that leap out and seize hold of an idea as soon as it is grasped by the brain-mind. Such examples certainly should be discussed, but the best practice is to encourage the students to present them spontaneously, just as they come to mind.
Another criticism of the plan of asking for examples is that it keeps the students in a tensed state of mind that psychologists call "voluntary attention." This makes learning difficult, on the same principle that the person who watches his feet is not a good dancer, or the person who keeps his muscles tensed is a poor automobile driver. What is more desirable is "involuntary attention": the kind that is given because the student simply becomes lost in the subject. The mind under these conditions is most receptive; it is absorbed in the learning process, without any sense of strain. In a classroom, such conditions can be created only when the relationship between teacher and pupils is entirely natural and spontaneous, and the students can simply forget they are in a classroom.
The spiritual leader, who sees all the world as a school and its men and women as the pupils he must teach, puts all his reliance on the involuntary kind of attention. Where it is not present, he creates it. Those who come to him for instruction he very often drives away, knowing that the more sincere and earnest of them will return again, and that this delay in the instruction will sharpen the attention and arouse an eagerness that will produce something very much like a "fertile spot" in the pupil's consciousness. The eagerness with which a pupil learns has much to do with his ability to absorb a lesson into the actual habits of his thinking.
The true teacher cares nothing for the motives that bring a pupil to him, but is ready to bless any motive that can arouse the kind of attention the pupil must have to make him receptive for the lesson. If a man feels contempt for him, this teacher is not displeased, for he understands that even the contempt may be a tool with which he can drive home a lesson in the man's consciousness. The bishop in LES MISERABLES was a true teacher when he made something near to a saint of Jean Valjean by allowing him to steal, and then go unpunished with his "victim's" blessing, and the stolen goods as a gift. Jesus left some lesson with every person who came near Him, though in many cases it may have taken years for such "pupils" to begin to understand the lessons. What is most important is that Jesus very seldom taught these lessons by words or preaching, but rather by allowing men to observe the ordinary conduct of His life -- and compare it with their own.
The true teacher sets an example, but does not go out of his way to call attention to it. Least of all does he insist that others follow it. He allows everyone to draw his own conclusions, for he knows it is better for a man to do his own thinking, however badly, than to accept without thinking the judgments even of a sage.
Hate, fear, enmity, contempt, doubt, distrust, or self-seeking may be negative emotions, but they do center the attention of the one who feels them on his victim -- and if the "victim" happens to be a teacher or holy man, he can use that attention to drive home a lesson. Jesus taught the men who crucified Him. Perhaps of all His disciples none learned more, or had the lessons driven home more vividly than the one who betrayed Him. Indeed, in no other case did Jesus so prove His worth as a teacher as in taking Judas for a disciple and allowing Himself to be betrayed -- for He must have known that Judas could learn his particular lesson only by the experience of trying to live with his own soul after the betrayal.
More often than not, the lessons are not learned from one single experience. Knowledge and understanding are results of growth, and are developed by long series of experiences and comparisons. Whether the actions of a teacher will complete the growth and bring the knowledge to full flower, or will merely plant the seed, or perhaps only help to cultivate a seed someone else has planted, must depend on the circumstances and the "pupil's" degree of preparation. The true teacher, understanding this, never grows impatient, and never feels there is any wasting of his efforts.
Very often, the finest teachers do not call themselves teachers, or assume any titles that might seem to set them apart. It is told of Socrates that when men asked him to recommend a philosopher to them, be would recommend philosophers, without mentioning himself, so easily did he bear being overlooked. Epictetus taught his followers that when they were among men who were discussing philosophic ideas, they should "remain for the most part silent." He desired them to digest the things they studied, and express them outwardly through the effect on their way of life.
Such is true teaching. All else is oratory.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part I. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
All day long a traveler had followed the foothills, his eyes longingly turning to the snow-capped peaks which all his life he had yearned to make his home, forgetful of the bawling and recriminations of the race of men. From this he was banished by hard duties without foreseeable end, willingly undertaken, but bitter. At nightfall, he found himself lodged in a poor place surrounded by the scarring and debris of those to whom a mountain is only a mountain, a tree only a tree, and sadly composed him to sleep.
In that state between sleep and waking, where universes merge and wisdom comes to those who seek it, folly to others, he saw rise before him another mountain range, in a land, it seemed, that was yet to be. From giant rolling buttresses clothed with green unmarked, unbroken, without smoke, cleft with deep ravines of mysterious darkness and somber beauty, rose a fairy mass of white peaks, line upon line and height upon height, merging into the sky above breathable air, and untrodden by living foot.
Before this stood a crystalline city, whose slender soaring towers and spirals, magnificent to man but only a symbol, not a rival of the heights beyond, attested to the aspiration of this race. Beautiful of color, glittering like jewels was this city. Its approach was through no garbage heaps, no sordid abodes, no roaring, wearing highways; but up a vast width of rose-colored steps traversed by a colorful crowd, whose gay raiment matched the happy distant murmur of its voices.
By a means unknown, he approached the place and passed through it, observing, listening, and sensing. It was not such a city, as he had known. People were not strangers to each other there, even though met for the first time. Man greeted maid without hidden design, and maid responded without fear or calculation. A passerby interested by a word heard from a group, joined that group without insolence, and was received without affront. All doors stood open, but when closed for thought and quiet, all understood, and none were offended. Children played at their own devising aside from the stern eyes of preceptors, and none took hurt or received injustice. In the streets, no man carried a monitory weapon or scanned the crowd for disorder.
The elder did not show dislike for the youth, nor did the youth show contempt and disdain for elder. The child greeted the patriarch with a smile, admiring a task of living nearly finished, that he himself had just begun; gray beard beneath broad unfurrowed brow parted to show white shining teeth in return. No sick were there; men came to their term and passed quietly in the night.
Man and wife passed by without shrill dispute, or growl of criticism, mate against mate. It was one woman for one man, one man for one woman, for by sacrifice and service in past lives, man and maid had long set foot in those paths that crossed at the proper time and place; and no animal experiments were called upon to find companions for a lifetime.
Men were busy everywhere, happily and in concert, at tasks complex and incomprehensible to the Traveler; but no overseeing power or center of government could he find. One sad place alone there was: the great museum and library where were kept the records and relics of elder races. Here men went to study, and passed again into the bright streets with faces shadowed for a time.
It struck the Traveler as strange that this sky was laced with no paths of cacophonous monsters, that the outward roads were filled with no roaring machinery, but quietly faded out into the fields and woods ere the horizon was reached; that there were no rushing incomers and outgoers.
"But this," he thought, "is clear enough. This is Ultima Thule; within foot-reach lies all of the world that a man could ever desire. If there is need for this folk to travel, it is on inner paths of Soul and Self, not on roads of sky or plain."
Glory of city and grandeur of mountain faded, merged with the lowly room in which his body lay; he knew not for a time upon which he was truly gazing, and hastened, before the vision was lost, to question that which was himself but somewhat more than self; the Voice that sometimes responded in times of high aspiration.
"Is this to be?" he said. "Or is it fantasy, a fragment of Devachan born untimely from my sadness and the grime of my daily task?"
"What a man can see, even one man, is what shall be -- in due time and place."
"How soon? How many dreary ages stretch before, how many sorrowful labors?"
"Ask not how soon. Ask how many. The one determines the other."
"I seem alone."
"Not alone by millions. The Vision is broken, the shards are misshapen, the substance scattered from pole to pole. Yet in man as a whole, is the thing complete, even today. The very sins of man are often his misguided efforts to bring the Vision to life."
"Why then does it not live?"
"Because of fear. Risk is equal to gain, and the path to Heaven skirts the abyss of hell. Man fears the bliss that he cannot understand, and clings to the agony that he knows. Men fear one another; they fear loneliness; they fear themselves; they fear death, and they fear life."
"How shall I teach them -- I, who fear so many things?"
"Is your fear for self, or others? Has fear ever turned you back from a duty?"
"For others in the main, I truly believe. To the other question: No! This I may say."
"Then are you fit to speak of courage. The man who has never known fear is only a fool. The greater the terror facing one, the greater the merit of one who turns not from it. Go -- try to give men COURAGE! When their courage matches what they already know -- give them more knowledge!"
The sagging wings of Sight folded; the Traveler passed on into Sleep, happier than for many months. Later came the light of gray dawn through dingy panes, to replace the Glory, but it would never wholly fade.
By Gertrude W. van Pelt
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, July 1947, page 391.]
When this Theosophical Society had its Headquarters at Point Loma, it owned in the early part of this century, a large piece of property on the opposite side of the road, known as Tent Village. It was so called because of the many tents placed there by members who could not be accommodated at Headquarters. Later there was a large building added, which housed members who were old and weak or chronically ill. Dr. Ross was put in charge of this department, and for a long time I went there every afternoon to read to Madame Peterson -- an old member. Madame Tingley, in driving by, often stopped for a little talk, seeking to inspire and encourage those who lived there. I remember one occasion when she spoke very earnestly about Kindness. She said that probably few could look back over their lives and review their dealings with others without longing in some instances for another chance to do better, to act more wisely, with greater kindness, consideration, and understanding. But these opportunities have passed and perhaps the actors in them are no longer here. Yet who, she said, can be sure that he is not daily meeting similar opportunities -- "another chance" to right an ancient wrong, to restore a balance disturbed in other lives.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "Karma, Soul and Ego," made of a private class held on August 4, 1954.]
At our last meeting, friends, we went rather carefully into the subject of Karma, into the derivation of the word and the various ideas which flow from it. At that time, I asked whether two of our students would prepare a paper on that subject. Jay Mendez is not here today, but she probably will have her paper next time. We just have Nancy. I would like to ask her to give us what she wrote.
I found that the more I thought about it, the more difficult it became to write about karma.
The most comforting, practical, and universal truth, to me, is the doctrine of Karma. It is timeless, infinite, and inherent in all that is or ever was, for nothing dies. It is painfully simple and yet extremely difficult to grasp. It can be easily taught to a child, but its many ramifications are beyond the reach of the most erudite. All religions, all philosophies of any lasting value have taught it.
What is Karma? The English language is inadequate in defining it. Karma could be called "The law of cause and effect," "Action and reaction," perhaps even "Retribution." The Bible chooses "As you sow, so shall you reap." This saying is, in its utter simplicity, as apt a way of explaining the doctrine of Karma as any. Absolutely nothing in nature in embodied form is free of this universal truth. No action is without a reaction. The action immediately and simultaneously brings about a reaction, in direct proportion to the action.
No thought can emanate from an embodied consciousness without its result. A thought cannot die. It cannot float at random. It cannot lie fallow. It has its impact upon nature, and that impact is in perfect balance with the energy expended upon it. Nothing can be put into motion without nature feeling the motion and understanding it for exactly what it is. Therefore, the motion continues in nature and is transformed, so to speak, into a resultant motion that will in time justly and inevitably boomerang upon the thing that set the motion going in the first place.
Karma cannot be called good or bad. It just is. Any deed performed because of a desire to help, to share without thought of recompense, any deed unselfishly performed is in time going to elevate and thus enlighten the individual who performed the deed. The motive behind any deed or thought is of immense importance, for nature has woven into its fabric basic, fundamental truths. Throughout nature, there are the immortal qualities of love, self-sacrifice, yearning, faith, humility, and a striving for perfection. Thus, it is, and shall always be.
Man is his own architect. He is the builder of the temple, which contains the divine spark. By exercising his free will, by his own choosing and making, his temple may be gray and wretched, with a shaky foundation, or it may be shining and golden, impervious to storms, inaccessible to the unworthy and with spires like arms outstretched to the constant stars.
Things are what they choose to be. They are where they deserve to exist. Only they are capable of altering their circumstances. The blame or the reward is theirs and theirs alone. This is the doctrine of Karma -- ever watchful, ever just, and forever.
Thank you. It is an excellent production. It is clear, simple, and quite to the point. I think we all benefit by this type of self-expression. We also learn our own inadequacies of understanding when we try to express our ideas in writing. Certain thoughts come to a focus, as it were, when we try to express them. We see the subject in a greater perspective, quite apart from the fact that our own expression of our understanding helps others.
At this particular point, I would like to ask if anybody here would like to say anything on this, or resume our former discussion on Karma. Maybe the writer herself would like to say something. Nancy?
I am surprised that nobody else wants to say anything. I brought up something in my paper that I am not sure is correct.
Well, and what is the point you have in mind?
The idea I wonder about regards things set in motion. Anything started or thought is concrete. It is a motion that goes off somewhere and comes back like a boomerang to where it started. Actually, karma is just a transformation. You spoke about how an action, once started, simultaneously starts a reaction. Dr. de Purucker says so. I thought that out. I could not see how you could have a reaction from an action unless it were alike a state of motion. It goes out into space somewhere, gradually is transformed the way it should be, and comes back as it should. I was just wondering about that idea.
Yes, I think it is approximately that way, although I have considerable uncertainties in my own mind as to the workings of it. There is no doubt that thought, action, and emotion originates a train or chain of causation. That chain of causation moves out, to use our own human terms, into space, but somehow or other comes back. It is a mysterious subject. We say, for instance, that individual human beings live, die, go out on a journey of consciousness, and return to Earth. This is a simple idea. It becomes metaphysical, and less understandable, but equally true, if you say that certain ideas originated by us move out into space, endure somewhere, somehow -- not in any embodied condition that we know of -- and as the cycles roll around, these ideas are back with us and manifest themselves again.
I am not speaking of human beings. I am speaking of ideas, thoughts, thought forms, currents of thoughts, and emotions. There is definitely a cyclic return, not only of beings but also of ideas. To be true, ideas are living things. They are not abstractions. Still, what kind of gyrations they perform, and where, before they are back, is anybody's guess. I certainly do not venture the slightest idea on that subject, although I think that what has been said so far is relatively correct.
You have there a combination of different ideas, thoughts. Action and reaction are simultaneous in the world of the metaphysical, in a world beyond time. This is apparently a fact. In the world of time and space as understood by us, they are not simultaneous. That is somehow or other somewhat of an illusion. The last word on it I am afraid is far beyond our present understanding. I would not venture any particular idea beyond that which has already been expressed.
Did Dr. de Purucker use the word "instantaneous" in this text? To me that word says it is an illusion that there is time between the cause and the effect. When he says it is "instantaneous," he means that one follows the other immediately. In our living in the dimension that we do, there is time that elapses between the two. In the cosmic timetable, there is no time at all.
Purucker is correct in that sense. Cause and effect are so interblended that there is no separation between the cause and the effect. They are simultaneous. The point is this: our brain cannot encompass events except in succession, which we measure as time. The whole universe -- whether we talk of the matter that affects our senses, the mind part, or the emotional aspect -- is not a "thing," but a process that has neither beginning nor end. It is a process in motion. That process in motion is also a totality. It only appears to us as parts.
A school of Buddhism has defined that as the inter-diffusion of the parts in the whole. In other words, what to us appear to be separated things are not separated. They say, for instance, that a chair and a horse are the same thing, and are parts of the whole, and the whole is the chair and the horse. That is what they call the inter-diffusion of things. Consequently, in the time that separates cause and effect, or in you might say "volume" or "expanse," we can consider things simultaneously. Our mind takes only one small facet of that totality at the time. We see things in time, whereas they might happen simultaneously. The whole process of evolution and the whole Manvantara may be just a single thought of the Logos, which forms the universe out of its own substance.
Yes. That is a terrific trend of ideas there. It is true. Curiously enough, this whole subject of time is little understood in the Occident. It is only now that the scientific aspect of our Occidental thought is beginning to occupy itself with the problem of time. Yet, suppose we put it this way: It is of course true to say that your previous incarnations are removed from this one by a certain number of years. It does not matter, for our argument, whether it is 200 or 2000 years. You had an incarnation some years ago and you have one now. Is not the totality of your past lives present in its total result in what you are now? This is obviously so. Your past does not exist in any other form than as you are today. You are the complete and final product of that so-called past.
That in itself is geared to the subject of Karma because from that angle, Karma is you. You are at any one particular moment the sum total of all your actions in the past and of all their reactions. Ask the question from that angle, in such terms as "What is your Karma?" If you ask it not in terms of events but in terms of results, your only answer would be: "My Karma is I, as I am at this particular moment." My Karma will be different ten minutes from now, because I will have altered in various ways. Ten minutes later, it will be another result. My totality will have altered to that extent. That will be my Karma. It will be I at that time, ten minutes later.
You have Swabhava, which says that ten minutes from now, you are not going to be anything that is not already in you. You are right back where you started!
Yes. You will have brought forth somewhat more for what you were within, with all of its corresponding results and reactions.
I would like to remind us of one thing. It seems to be a weakness in the trend of human thinking. I have often noticed among students of Theosophy that when the subject of Karma comes up, and illustrations and examples of it are brought up for discussion, it is always the painful, the sorrowful, and the cataclysmic that is brought up. It is rare when students mention great happiness, joy, and good fortune as illustration of karmic results. There are wonderful opportunities to serve and to be a force for good in the world. There are karmic results of great growth, or opportunities for renewed work or study, or excellent health, or any of the things that are on the positive side of the ledger. When the subject of Karma comes up, one usually thinks of the negative side of a karmic record. I do not know why it is so. True enough, the negative side is prevalent in the world of today. The positive side has its marked and notable cases too.
Then a curious confusion exists between what is called "good" and "bad" by the ordinary human being. There is no such thing as "good karma" or "bad karma." That is a human conception and an illusory one. Some of the worst cases of karmic retribution, which we can see before our eyes, are probably exceedingly good from the standpoint of the soul. The soul finds an opportunity, and learns and grows thereby.
We might mistakenly classify some cases as excellent karma. Happiness, pleasure, wealth, and great opportunities for all sorts of things may well be unfortunate. The soul may gradually fall asleep spiritually, through a trend of affairs in which it identifies itself with its material concerns. It forgets its spiritual birthright, only to have it brought back, perhaps forced out of that condition in some future incarnation by a great violence.
Karma should not be considered as good or bad. These human conceptions do not enter into the operation of karmic law or function. It is simply the adjustment and re-adjustment of equilibrium, through both what the human being calls or miscalls good, and through what he miscalls evil.
Get away from man-made conceptions, from man-made appraisals of situations. Look at the world against the background of its own functions, irrespective of human ideas. Then you will glimpse the actual operation of natural forces, which are completely unaware of human appraisal of what is good and what is bad.
Even our own intellectual conceptions should show us with great ease, if we pause and think it over, that what is good for one is evil for another, that what is evil for one is good for another. What seems most unpleasant comes out later as having been a portal to the light. The reverse is true too. This shows how relative human conceptions are. It shows how little bearing concepts have upon the impersonal functioning of natural forces. These forces are activated behind the scenes by spiritual intelligences, whose views are cosmic, and whose conception of justice is universal.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 180-88.]
What is the Theosophical conception of the doctrine of Correspondence and Analogy wholly based upon? It must have a basis. One of the most ancient axioms upon which it is founded is the Hermetic one, which goes something like this: True without error, certain most true: that which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, for performing the marvels of the Cosmos.
"For performing the marvels of the Cosmos" -- that is a strange phrase, is it not? The key to it you will find in that very remarkable twelfth chapter of ISIS UNVEILED, II, 635, where HPB states that "The trinity of nature is the lock of magic and the trinity in man is the key that fits it." This threefold nature of man, or if you like to call it sevenfold nature of man, fits the threefold, sevenfold, or tenfold lock of magic of Nature and the Universe.
It is possible by knowledge of these principles of correspondence to perform the marvels that are recorded as achieved by all the Great Sages and Magicians of past ages. They all use the same method: the sovereign will of the illuminated Adept acts through his unified sevenfold nature upon the corresponding part of that aspect of matter or Prakriti wherein he desires to produce his phenomenal results. In other words every one of our sevenfold principles or vehicles of consciousness is necessarily built of matter.
These principles, or the matter of which they are composed, necessarily relate us to the corresponding plane of matter in the vast Universe. Our body relates us to the planet Earth on which we live. Our Linga-Sharira, our astral body, relates us to the corresponding principle of the Globe. This continues right through all the different planes of Nature and being.
Once the Adept is freed so that he can mount at will the stairway of his own inner being, changing the level at which his consciousness at any one time is polarized either in his material physical brain; in the Mayavi-Rupa; in the thought-world. In the principle of direct knowledge and cognition which we call the intuition, or Buddhic principle -- aye, even Atman itself once he can do that -- which is necessarily a very advanced state of being -- he is freed of all the planes in the Universe; and by a knowledge of the principles of Nature he can call upon and utilize any of the sevenfold principles, which contain all the forces and energies in the Cosmos, and do literally what he wants, because he is a self-conscious being. This is one aspect of what is called liberation. He is being free to roam through the spaces of space -- outer and inner -- on this planet and the other Sacred Planets of our Solar System. Continuing from the twelfth chapter of ISIS UNVEILED, Volume II, pages 587-8:
Nature is triune. There is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and, above these two, SPIRIT, source of all forces, alone eternal, and indestructible. The lower two constantly change: the higher third does not.
Immediately now we get an example of correspondence:
Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third -- the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
Only an Immortal entity is free of the planes of Nature in the sense that I have tried to express to you.
I will try to show by analogy, and by direct reference to parts of the teaching that are well known to you just how this law of correspondence works. If those axiomatic propositions that I have just read to you are true, then you will find that you can understand the first Fundamental Proposition of THE SECRET DOCTRINE by knowledge of these principles.
You have the threefold principles in operation in the very highest metaphysical triad that you can think of: the Boundless, the Absolute, That upon which no speculation is possible, symbolized in THE SECRET DOCTRINE under the aspect of Eternal Duration. You also have the abstract idea of Space, and the abstract idea of Motion. Come down a stage in your thought, and apply the same rule of correspondence, and you find in the manifested Universe the whole of Nature pervaded by duality. What does this corresponding to? It corresponds to motion and to space. You find it reflected in Spirit and Matter, in your own consciousness, and in the elements and principles of which the Cosmos is composed.
Where is the third mysterious, connecting link between Spirit and Matter that HPB speaks of in this first Fundamental Proposition? Obviously, that mysterious force that unites Spirit and Matter is in the nature of man supplied by the bridge that in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE is called "antahkarana." It is the power of upward aspiring thought that connects your lower, personal soul or perishable self with the Immortal and indestructible Divine Ego. Note that this mysterious bridge or link on the scale of correspondence that I am now speaking of depends upon upward aspiring thought and nothing else. If it is a low kind of thought, identified with matter, there is no bridge between the lower part of the man and the higher; and such a man in such a state of consciousness is unable to use this threefold key which fits the lock of magic. He can never become a magician; he can never become an Adept or a disciple, let alone a Master of Wisdom.
Space -- the seven-skinned Mother -- a curious phrase: the seven-skinned Mother. It means the differentiated matter, material, or substance of which our Solar system or our Universe is composed. The most usual way of thinking about the planes of being, or the substance of which they are composed, is by reference to the elements and principles. Now, is there any difference between the principles and elements? The elements you are probably familiar with under the names of Aether or Akasha, earth, air, fire, water.
These may not mean a great deal to you, but the principles which or rather without which these elements would not exist, are possibly more familiar to you, for they are the sevenfold dynamic, spiritual and Cosmic energies which course through our own consciousness, and which keep the planets in rotation and being. In fact, they are an expression of what the Brahmins called the Tattwas. What are the Tattwas? They are the forces that are distributed to us through the Seven Sacred Planets, and to use the Brahmanical phraseology they are: Adi-tattwa, the highest, most spiritual one, Anupapadaka-tattwa, Akasha-tattwa, Vayu-tattwa, Taijasa-tattwa, Apas-tattwa, and Prithivi-tattwa.
Beginning at the bottom the forces come to us: -- Prithivi from Mercury, Apas from Venus, Taijasa from Mars (that is why it is red in color), Vayu from Jupiter, and Akasha from Saturn. The highest spiritual Tattwas come from the two Sacred Planets connected with the Sun and Moon, and when I say connected with the Sun and Moon I mean that intra-mercurial planet which some modern astronomers christened Vulcan, and that mysterious body which lies behind the Moon -- very close to the Moon, but which is actually a planet.
There is a planet situated just behind the Moon, and you will say to me "Well, if there is why don't we see it?" If we had the eyes to see it we should see it, but there are many more planets than are ever suspected by astronomers in our Solar system, who now only recognize seven. We cannot see this particular one, simply because it is on a plane of matter which is a little bit higher than our ordinary physical sight will enable us to perceive. It is, though, the explanation, I believe you will find, as to why the Moon is called one of the Sacred Planets, which otherwise it is not, because it is a dead planet. Nevertheless, the Moon is the transmitter to us of some of the highest spiritual energies that we receive, as well as the transmitter of some influences that are distinctly evil.
I will try to elucidate just a little further these tattwic forces. They are not so mysterious as you think, because each one of our sevenfold principles is directly related to one of these planets, and is the particular vehicle of that planet with which it has a direct correspondence. All these spiritual energies play through all the principles, because every principle is sevenfold in its turn, and seven times seven make up the forty-nine fires spoken of in THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
On page 153, Volume I, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, the correspondence between the human principles and the seven Globes of the planetary chain is very clearly set out if you refer to the diagram. "These invisible companions" (i.e., the invisible companion Globes of the planet -- our Earth, HPB says) "correspond curiously to that which we call 'the principles in Man.'" Rather an odd phrase -- "correspond curiously." One might be led to suppose that the seven Globes of the Planetary Chain are actually the higher principles of the planet. Now the question is, are they, or are they not? This word "curiously" seems to suggest there is a snag somewhere, so I just point it out to you.
Here is another passage from THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Volume I, pp. 154-5:
It is said that the planetary chains have their "Days" and their "Nights" -- i.e., periods of activity or life, and of inertia or death -- and behave in heaven as do men on Earth: they generate their likes, get old, and become personally extinct, their spiritual principles only living in their progeny as a survival of themselves.
Do you not see the master-hand in that paragraph?
It reminds one of another statement in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol. I, pp. 203-4, in reference to the birth of a comet:
A laya center is lighted and awakened into life by the fires of another "pilgrim," after which the new "center" rushes into space and becomes a comet. It is only after losing its velocity, and hence its fiery tail, that the "Fiery Dragon" settles down into quiet and steady life as a regular respectable citizen of the sidereal family ...
And what is there so impossible that a laya center -- a lump of cosmic protoplasm, homogeneous and latent, when suddenly animated or fired up -- should rush from its bed in Space and whirl throughout the abysmal depths in order to strengthen its homogeneous organism by an accumulation and addition of differentiated elements? Why should not such a comet settle in life, live, and become an inhabited globe!
We have here some analogy and correspondence.
Bearing in mind that other phrase that the invisible Globes of the Planetary Chain "correspond curiously" with the principles in Man, listen to this from p. 159, Vol. I, THE SECRET DOCTRINE:
Our Earth, as the visible representative of its invisible superior fellow globes -- its "lords" or "principles" -- has to live, as have the others, through seven Rounds.
That looks as if the higher principles of the Planetary Chain are the seven principles. I wander how we can resolve the difficulty. I suggest a reference to THE MAHATMA LETTERS. I am going to read to you several passages because they are extraordinarily apropos. Master M is describing the birth of a Globe. We quote verbatim from pages 70-1, filling in words missing in the original manuscript:
Nothing in nature springs into existence suddenly all being subjected to the same law of gradual evolution. Realize but once the process of the "maha" cycle, of one sphere and you have realized them all. One man is born like another man. One race evolves, develops, and declines like another and all other races. Nature follows the same groove from the "creation" of a universe down to that of a mosquito.
In studying esoteric cosmogony, keep a spiritual eye upon the physiological process of human birth; proceed from cause to effect establishing as you go along, analogies between the birth of a man and that of a world. In our doctrine you will find necessary the synthetic method; you will have to embrace the whole universe -- that is to say to blend the MACROCOSM and the microcosm together -- before you are enabled to study the parts separately or analyze them with profit to your understanding. Cosmology is the physiology of the universe spiritualized, for there is but one law.
You notice we are to "keep a spiritual eye upon the physiological process of human birth." Why? Because it gives the key to what happens in the inner worlds. We have discussed the relation or correspondence between the birth of a little child and its rebirth in the after life in the state of Devachan, and you have here an exactly analogical process.
The birth of a child is preceded by a gestation period, in which the child is unconscious, and the birth of a man in the spiritual world after death is preceded by a gestation period in which he is unconscious. Then when he is reborn he begins his spiritual meditation at that point where his first conscious spiritual memories of his last earth life began, and then working them out, corresponding exactly to the course of the man on earth.
We all experience this. We know that we are born on this planet; we know that we must die; and we can reason from this, by this occult law of analogy and correspondence that because it happens to man therefore it must happen to planets, and it must happen to solar systems. All wake and sleep, sleep and wake; there is day and night, there are the seasons of the year, the rising and falling of the tides, the sun and the moon -- all these things reflecting the law of analogy and correspondence in themselves -- showing the marvelous interdependence of every part of the Universe and its perfect harmony.
Let us turn to another passage describing the birth of a world (THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, p. 94):
Now the life impulse reaches "A" or rather that which is destined to become "A" and which so far is but cosmic dust. A center is formed in the nebulous matter of the condensation of the solar dust disseminated through space and a series of three evolutions invisible to the eye of flesh occur in succession, viz., three kingdoms of elementals or nature forces are evoluted: in other words the animal soul of the future world is formed; or as a Kabbalist will express it, the gnomes, the salamanders, and the undines are created. The correspondence between a mother-globe and her child-man may be thus worked out. Both have their seven principles.
Those seven must necessarily correspond with the seven planetary types. This is important. Please note it because there are in everything in nature, these sevenfold Cosmic energies showing themselves, so that there are seven main types or classes of minerals, -- or may I put it this way: that every mineral will fall into one of the seven tattwic and therefore planetary groups. The same is true in the vegetable world. Look how important this is from a physiological point of view, in the cure of disease, for example.
The occult therapist of ancient days knew the Cosmic relation and correspondence between planets, minerals, plants, animals and man, and was therefore enabled to select the particular mineral or herb which corresponded to the nature of the patient, and so cured him: this is what we have to rediscover.
The homeopaths have got on to this principle, knowingly or unknowingly. Possibly Hahnemann, the originator of the system, knew. He seems to have been a man with occult knowledge of some kind. In homeopathy, it is possible to find for each individual what is called his constitutional remedy, which always seems to benefit that person, and is therefore worth a very great deal to the patient when once it is discovered. I think it will be found that the plant or mineral from which the medicine was made belonged to the same planetary essence as the patient, and thus gives more satisfactory results, being so to speak in harmony with his own nature.
Now to continue the quotation from page 94 of THE MAHATMA LETTERS:
In the Globe, the elementals (of which there are in all seven species) form (a) a gross body, (b) her fluidic double (Linga-Sharira), (c) her life principle (Jiva); (d) her fourth principle kamarupa is formed by her creative impulse working from center to circumference; (e) her fifth principle (animal soul or Manas, physical intelligence) is embodied in the vegetable (in germ) and animal kingdoms; (f) her sixth principle (or spiritual soul, Buddhi) is man (g) and her seventh principle (Atma) is in a film of spiritualized Akasha that surrounds her.
There we have the basis for understanding what is meant by the seven principles of the Globe. Man is actually the Buddhic principle of the planet on which he lives. Relate that to the occult hierarchy -- the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, the Dhyan-Chohans, the Wondrous Being, and the Silent Watcher -- and you can understand something of what is meant by man being the sixth or Buddhic principle of the Globe on which he lives.