I have been often taken to task for using expressions in ISIS denoting belief in a PERSONAL and antropomorphic God. This is NOT my idea. Kabalistically speaking, the "Architect" is the generic name for the SEPHIROTH, the Builders of the Universe, as the "Universal Mind" represents tho collectivity of the Dhyani-Chohanic Minds.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 579 fn
By Wesley Amerman
The Brookings, Oregon Theosophy Study Group hosted its Sixth Annual Gathering of friends and students the weekend of August 11, 12, and 13, 2000 in Brookings, Oregon and Smith River, California. People came to exchange ideas, meet new friends, and renew acquaintances under some of the best sunny weather available in this often-drizzly coastal region. Well over sixty showed up from as far away as Belgium, England, The Netherlands, and Sweden, as well as from New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and California.
Friday night's panel discussion was hosted in the meeting room of a local resort. It consisted of a series of short presentations on the topic, "Human Solidarity in the New Millennium: An Understanding of Karma and Reincarnation," and was followed by a lively question and discussion period. All were also invited to a picnic lunch the next day at the home of Bill and Wylda ("Willie") Dade, which included a two-hour discussion period to continue some of the same themes. Sunday at 11 AM was the Brookings Study Group's usual meeting time, and many visitors joined the local students for their weekly study. In between these meetings, people talked, shared meals, took walks, explored the beaches, and enjoyed the spectacular coastline with its craggy rocks, pounding surf, and sunset views.
Friday night, after a brief but warm introduction and welcome by Shirley Crocket (a local student), four panelists each spoke for about twenty minutes. Jerome Wheeler moderated the discussion for the rest of the two-hour meeting. The presentations included suggestions on how we might find inspiration in the teachings of theosophy to be brotherly toward others. Elmore Giles from San Francisco suggested meditation as one way to discover the spiritual aspects of life and begin to share that viewpoint with others in a non-dogmatic way. The Declaration of the United Lodge of Theosophists was presented as sort of meditation on Theosophical work.
Will Windham of England discussed the ideal of universal brotherhood as found in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. He gave evidence of how this apparently idealistic goal has a chance at succeeding, and indicated that if brotherhood is a fact in nature, we should be able to find ways to demonstrate its truth for ourselves.
In the next talk, Odin Townley from New York used the Redwood trees as an example of how we might become more sensitive to the life around us. These trees work together, beginning with their interlocking root systems, which although independent, still help to keep each other upright. "The masters are like rugged oaks, that have no disguise." (William Q. Judge) Like the oaks (and redwoods!), they live not only for themselves, but also for others. Like the trees, they foster a complex ecosystem and support a far-reaching community of lives.
David Roef, from The Netherlands, spoke about the importance of the ideas of karma and reincarnation in explaining the human condition. All human beings desire happiness. In fact, no creature intentionally creates suffering for itself. Are we bad in our innermost natures, then? No, Theosophy teaches we are instead merely ignorant. We are not lacking knowledge in the usual sense, for we all know a great deal. At least, we have opinions about life! Those opinions do not alter the structure of the world. No matter how many people once thought the world to be flat, it did not change the facts of nature.
What we lack is real knowledge about our spiritual nature, a kind of ignorance that takes three forms: First, the idea of separateness, that we are somehow individual cells unconnected to the rest of the world. Second, the fallacy of linear time fosters the illusion that life begins with creation and occurs only once. All beings are subject to cycles, and nature shows her richness through the process of recycling, as illustrated by the life of the redwood tree. The third fallacy is that we can change the world outside of us without first changing ourselves. Karma and reincarnation, when understood, can help us overcome these fallacies, which act like sicknesses in us.
Pierre Wouters, from Antwerp, Belgium, discussed the three fundamental propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE in an unusual way. He asked, with Laurel and Hardy, "How do we get out of this mess?" Three options present themselves: God, Coincidence, and Law. The consequences in our lives of taking each position were discussed in humorous yet profoundly philosophical detail.
Also of note was a report by Alan Donant of the Theosophical Society, Pasadena, on the work of that group in disseminating the original teachings of Theosophy. Alan discussed the publishing efforts, study groups, and libraries that serve students and inquirers alike.
What was the attraction of the Brookings Gatherings? Why did people travel long distances by airplane and car to come to these meetings, which were never intended as anything more than informal get-togethers? Superficially, one could say that part of the attraction was the company of like-minded Theosophists. However, just as casually, some might also say that the attraction was the food that Willie Dade prepared for months ahead of time! One hint of a deeper answer may be that the gatherings were free -- not only in the sense of there being no charge (most Theosophical meetings I have ever attended were free, or nearly so), but also in the sense of being unencumbered by organization.
No one was in charge, although many worked very hard behind the scenes to ensure that things went smoothly. They were also preeminently friendly affairs. Everyone was made to feel welcome and valued. It was a subtle thing, but after decades of coolly aloft, even diffident Theosophical meetings, the contrast was welcome. It was more than welcome -- students hungered for it. ULT has always tried to avoid personalities at their meetings. No living person's name, for example, goes on the programs. Taken to extremes, the meetings have paid a price. For that reason, I included the names of the panelists in the above outline. This is not to call attention to them as authorities, but to give a bit of a human face to this brief narrative.
This year will likely be the last of the Gatherings at Brookings. The study group there will quietly go on about its work, no doubt, inspired by the teachings of Theosophy that gave it birth. Sadly, however, only a few days after the conclusion of this year's meetings, Willie Dade was rushed to the hospital with advanced leukemia. She died at home on Thursday, August 24, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
Those who knew and loved her were in turn awed and inspired by how hard she worked for so many years. We also knew that these gatherings were largely her contribution to the world, so, at the risk of becoming too "personal," I would like to dedicate this narrative to Willie Dade, whose efforts encouraged us all to work for humanity through Theosophy. I hope that students will find a place to continue to gather in support of that cause.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 210-12.]
What conscious Art of man can give me the panoramic scenes that open out before me, when I look up to the sky above with all its shining stars? This, however, does not mean that I refuse to accept the value of productions of Art, generally accepted as such, but only that I personally feel how inadequate these are compared with the eternal symbols of beauty in Nature.
These are the words of Gandhiji. They signify the importance of real Beauty in man's mortal life. Man's environment is not to be neglected. The soul has environed itself in the corpus and not without a purpose.
In India, both body and environment are grossly undervalued. For centuries, we have neglected the teachings of the Sages on body and environment. It would seem as if one of the hidden purposes of the British Rule in India had been to awaken us to the truth that matter, body, and environment have values.
The Occident has over-emphasized and over-valued environment. It has blundered into the belief that sanitation and architecture, pictures and songs, radio and television sustain and evolve the soul. Nay more -- these are the creators of the human soul! India seems likely to be lured by the glamor of gadgets.
Lusts of all kinds continuously enslave man; often he knows it not. When his attention is drawn to his enslavement he excuses himself after a fashion and philosophizes -- it all is as Science teaches, Determinism. Modern knowledge, even of psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis, does not provide the answer that the ancient Oriental Psychology gives. The latter offers an explanation and a remedy for the lust of things.
The constant enemy of man on earth is a power that circulates in his brain, his blood, his glands, and his senses. It overpowers his mind, blinds his intuitions, and silences the action of Spirit Itself. The process is well described in the closing portion of the third chapter of the GITA.
It is this power, inimical to Man, the spiritual Thinker, which brings about "enjoyments which arise through the contact of the senses with external objects which are wombs of pain." This power inclines man's senses to objects of possession and creates in him the strength of egotism and causes pride to rule his will. It causes the contact of the senses with the many objects created by human hands and human mind. These are often created for the purpose and in the hope of increasing the wealth and power of their creators. Such man-made objects are not always after the pattern of the pure mind.
What human hands create as objects is surcharged with human feelings; they carry the magnetism of the maker of the objects. In the shop window, objects attract by their form, their color, and their glitter. However, the attraction is ensouled by the ambitions, yearnings, and hopes of the fabricating hand and brain. The lure of the world is not as imponderable as it appears to be. The substantial nature of human magnetism is not suspected by ordinary knowledge. The transmission of the fabricator's magnetism to the objects of his making has become very complex in our machine age with its mass production. However, the subtle aura of man-made goods, however invisible, is a fact and it plays an important part in the lure that attracts men and women to the siren song of the "constant enemy."
Occultism, the Science of the Higher Life, warns against following the desires and the passions and advocates discrimination even in the purchase and use of objects. That great Science does not advocate foolish asceticism, or recommend sensuous hedonism. It suggests the Vow of Poverty to be observed in and by the mind of the Heart. The motive of such poverty is the enjoyment of objects of the senses as vehicles of experience that will lead to true development.
To enjoy the totality of human creation without coveting the wealth of another is possible, when the GITA teaching is followed. The good, the beautiful, and the true have pragmatic values. To use the world as his footstool in the true sense, man must be practical, as the up-to-date capitalist, bourgeois, or proletarian is not; nor is the modern aesthete practical. Between the creative artist and the skillful artisan, there is a gulf. It has to be bridged. The Sage who worships Pure Truth, the Saint who embodies Pure Virtue, and the Seer who creates Pure Beauty are builders of that bridge.
The great pair of opposites, Necessity and Luxury, contains a clue. The balance point between the two must be reached. The pride of poverty is as false and as ugly as the pride of possessions. Egotism, separating the True from the Beautiful, is the source of Evil. Destroy Egotism and Evil dies and Good lives. Then man-made beauty reflects Divine Beauty. Is not that the truth to which the Buddha was pointing when he said to Bhaggava, the Wanderer, "Whenever one reaches up to the Release, called the Beautiful, then he knows indeed what Beauty is?"
By Marjorie M. Tyberg
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, February 1936, pages 81-85.]
Stars move in their courses. Planets move in their orbits. We live in an ordered universe in which law rules. One of the laws most plainly evident is the law of periodicity. Given the right moment, what happens one time happens again. When Halley's comet flashed into the western sky in May 1910, appearing for the 27th recorded time, it came because it was time for it to come.
It is possible to make astronomical calculations of the positions of the heavenly bodies in distant periods of the past and of the future. In the great cycle called the Precession of the Equinoxes, the Sun returns to its original position in relation to the zodiacal constellations. In the interim, the Cosmic Family has swung through vast and varied regions of Space, as the Sun moved from one zodiacal house to another, and has gained untold wealth of experience yet unrecorded by us.
For man, who has the mind to conceive of an ordered universe and observe the working of its laws, is there no organized history of his part in the vast whole? Is it possible to widen the horizons of human history that a more ancient past may suggest what conditions may recur in the future life of mankind? Has no one ever read around the clock of human progress? Is there such a clock?
World conditions clamor for wider horizons. We MUST look before and after. The present is so poignant an experience that it tears veil after veil from our eyes. Humanity has not yet seen where the earliest dawns broke or where the light breaks through ahead of us. We know that civilizations FALL, and that present conditions echo those that were a portent of fall in the past.
We cannot be resigned to this. Something that stirs in us forbids us to entertain the idea of inevitable fall. We seek a new unity of history. We feel intuitively that there is a rationale for enduring progress. That rationale explains the problems we face. We desire to orient ourselves to the Cosmos. Has the world lasted three billion of years, as the scientists tell us in 1935, without anyone having found the way to do this?
Only 60 years ago, amazingly few persons in the West had begun to doubt the Biblical chronology. That chronology claims the world was created in 4004 B.C. Few questioned the view that man's cycle of life in this world was for three score years and ten with an eternity somewhere else to follow. Materialists held that man had descended (or ascended) from the brutes, acquired mind in some way not thoroughly understood, and when his one life on earth was over, that was the end.
These are such limited horizons! How can one construct a cosmic history of mankind upon such a basis? The West was soon to have a salutary awakening to the fact that the whole world had never held such inadequate, parochial notions. It was to learn of the existence of an Archaic Science, a complete science of man's life-cycle, recorded and tested during hundreds of thousands of years, a science which at stated times in that long period of development is restored to the knowledge of man.
H.P. Blavatsky came to the Western World in 1875 as a Messenger of the Guardians of the Archaic Wisdom and Science. The Message that she brought marks the end of the nineteenth century as an extraordinary event. Her work initiated the systematic and universal restoration of the Archaic and the Ancient. ISIS UNVEILED and her writings in THE THEOSOPHIST led the way to THE SECRET DOCTRINE. Published in 1888, it presents an outline of the dawn of a period of manifestation. It presents the development of a universe with its family of Sun and planets, with particular reference to the history of the Earth and Man.
In this great system, which spans millions and millions of years, man is shown as developing pari passu with the universe from the beginning. Man lived in form after form corresponding to the state of matter of the Globe on which he was functioning. He stored in his enduring individuality the experience gained in race after race, civilization after civilization. The forms perished, the essential entity never. Man rounded many lesser cycles of life, descending and ascending, but ever moving forward in the Great Cycle of his destiny with his home-planet and his home-universe.
HPB's statement in 1888 that man in his present form had 18 million years of history behind him was at that time a startling one. Every year since then has witnessed the receding of the horizons of human history towards the long chronology, with which the Brahmanical system and some of the Hindu records are in harmony. The traces of this chronology are to be found in many ancient and prehistoric religions, including the Hebrew. HPB boldly placed the history of the human race in its cosmic setting, thereby accomplishing that basic historical orientation now recognized as an urgent need of our time.
In this vast system covering millions of years, we find the long range that permits correlated recurrences quite impossible to perceive without it. There is a range including not only the scientific observation of the last few hundred years but also taking into account an intelligent plan in the whole. The plan encompasses the interaction of visible and invisible planes of human and cosmic life. Here we find the possibility of reading the clock of human progress. In the ascending arc of some of these mighty cycles that opened in the morning of time, we read of spiritual heights, of ages to recur, when the Inner Light shall be less obscured than in the lower arcs, those valleys of experience that must be traversed in every cycle.
As to the import of the hour towards which the hands of the great clock were moving surely and swiftly in 1888 when THE SECRET DOCTRINE was published, its statements were explicit. In many articles in LUCIFER as well, HPB uttered stern notes of warning and of challenge, pointing out that beneath the surface of comfortable security of the 1880's there lurked all the menacing conditions that characterize what is called in the Eastern chronology the Kali Yuga or Dark Age. She stated that several cycles would close in 1897. This would be a fateful turning point in human history. Striking changes would occur in scientific, religious, and philosophical ideas.
We have now no difficulty in recognizing the changes, nor the peculiar conditions that mark a Dark Age. These were long ago clearly described in the LAWS OF MANU and the VISHNU PURANA. They included the inordinate desire for riches, enjoyment of luxury on the one hand and dire poverty and misery on the other hand, increase in the number of criminals, inharmony between the classes of society, decay of spiritual ideals, and disregard of the spiritual life. Every day now brings its stint of war omens, political upset, and calamitous destruction of human life.
Where shall we find and follow the gleam? The twentieth century finds great rents in the materialistic conceptions of man and the universe, as HPB prophesied. The menace of a retrogressive scientific dogmatism may be averted. Distance has vanished. The whole world now can know the whole world's woe and weal. There is a physical basis for the united life of Humanity. There are indications that the human heart does more fully utter itself in compassionate acts.
The teaching of the Ancient Wisdom is that in the Dark Age -- the shortest of the Yugas, though there are 426,962 years of it left to run -- effects can be more rapidly brought about than at any other time. Any effort on behalf of humanity at this time invokes additional direct assistance from the spiritual hierarchies in the universe. That effort makes a channel for such help to reach us. Why should there NOT be descending celestial influences in time of test and need?
In this Kali Yuga, an awakened human race must bend their backs to create the conditions of the Krita Age that follows. So far, the Krita Yuga seems to be coming, but WE must bring it to pass! The teaching tells us that "Justice is four-footed and entire, and so is truth; nor does any gain accrue to men by unrighteousness." Every brotherly act, every unselfish aspiration, every sincere desire to help humanity draws upon the spiritual resources of mankind and awakens the higher intelligence that makes it possible for man consciously to move onward with the cosmic purpose.
To correctly read the clock of human progress would mean the power to avail oneself of the outflow of energy that accompanies the opening of the myriad lesser cycles in the life of nations, races, etc. In presenting the Theosophical system in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, HPB gives us the key to this knowledge concerning the destiny of man. Moreover, she sounded the call to right action here and now.
Modern life offers possibilities for unity hitherto undreamed of. Preoccupation with the material aspects of these possibilities and the manipulation of means of increasing power and enjoyment have so far been the rule. The kernel of united life is in the spiritual oneness of all that lives. The kernel is in the belief in this and in the inner divinity of man. It can illumine the outer life and lead to the establishment of a Universal Brotherhood of humanity, the avowed object of the Theosophical Society that HPB was sent to found. We will consciously ascend in our cycle, enabled by Brotherhood IN ACTU, to rule the stars in the present crisis of human affairs.
By Dara Eklund
The most acute loneliness one can experience is estrangement from one's True Self. We are burdened with a sense of loss or dejection when that inner Voice or Presence is not heard or felt. Some call it Conscience. I have heard a depressed friend once pronounce, "I have no conscience." He meant that he had not awakened his own conscience. Therefore, he could not recognize it in others. Yet, even a hardened criminal has a spark of nobility. Gottfried de Purucker once declared in a Lecture of July 22, 1930:
Conscience is the working of your spiritual being, a spiritual manifestation of the inner god of you, managing to send some faint gleams of light and truth and harmony and love into the poor, heavy, material brain-mind in which most men live and suffer and die.
-- QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, V.2, 640.
Krishna states in THE BHAGAVAD GITA (V, 42):
Assimilation with the Supreme Spirit is on both sides of death for those who are free from desire and anger, temperate, of thoughts restrained: and who are acquainted with the true Self.
It is on the mental plane that we must restore the balance. By restraining thoughts and desires which oppress the brain mind, we allow streams of light from the Real within to replace them.
In a lecture of July 15, 1930, G. de Purucker gave an example of many whose conscience is not yet awakened in a poem about a stone:
I wish I were a little rock A-settin' on a hill, A-doin' nothing all the day But jest a-settin' still. I wouldn't eat, I wouldn't sleep. I wouldn't even wash -- I'd jest set still a thousand years And rest myself, by gosh!
G. de Purucker constantly urged us to get off our duffs and become aware of our Godhood. Once awake, we can no longer live the wasted life. In fact, it is our bounden duty to share the light with others. We are not guards, but custodians of truth. This does not mean to "cast your pearls before swine," but it does mean a courageous declaration of truth. Far too many of us compromise our statements of Theosophy, either due to the prevalent influence of the God idea (denied emphatically in Mahatma Letter #10), social or political correctness, or fear of criticism.
In the end, we can either take with us courage and peace from a life well-lived, a lifetime of seeking virtue in a world of moral compromise and decay, or we can take with us the opposite, a record of unrealized aspirations, dreams and goals -- in short, a wasted life.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part II. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
Cleon and his pupil Chrysopharos were walking near the waterfront in Delos, when they beheld a man laying the leather upon his wife, who resisted after the manner of the women of that district. In some bewilderment, Chrysopharos gazed upon the impassive face of his preceptor, who made no move to interfere.
"This," he though at last, "must be a testing, it being for me to recognize the nature of my own duty without prompting.
"Whereupon, he aimed an earnest but clumsy swing at the man's head. In a trice, he found himself face downward, a cushion in the dust for the weight of the twain, the woman belaboring him over the head, while the man twisted a foot with relish.
Chrysopharos painfully turned his head to gaze with one eye upon the face of the teacher.
"And what," he inquired, "is the nature of THIS manifestation of Nemesis, O Master?"
Cleon sat down upon the curb.
"It is," said he, "the karma of many a chivalrous youth who has essayed to adjudicate between husband and wife since the beginning of this peculiar Age some twenty-five hundred years ago."
"But why," groaned Chrysopharos, "has the woman no gratitude?"
"In this Age," replied Cleon, "men and women regard one another as possessions, the which is the source of such -- like disharmonies. It is to be noted that while reserving to oneself the right to deal with a possession according to desire, the laying hands thereupon by a stranger is ever resented."
"And how long, O Preceptor," said Chrysopharos, knitting his hands behind his head as an insufficient protection against the blows, "must this teaching endure?"
"When the lesson is learned, the necessity ceases."
At this moment the couple, hearing this discourse without understanding, but sensing therein somewhat a reflection upon their character, stood up and regarded Cleon balefully. Meanwhile, a menacing crowd, seeing a pair of its own kind being in some manner oppressed by two of the hated Aristoi, began to surround them, and a cobble glanced from the wall.
Cleon, taking the dazed pupil by the hand, departed speedily by an alley which he had retained in the corner of his eye -- he being of those harmless as doves, who of necessity are wise as serpents. Reaching a safe place in the upper part of the town, Cleon busied himself with wiping blood from the nose of Chrysopharos and binding up an eye with a wet cloth. Chrysopharos, though ashamed of the secret thought, was unable to avoid wondering whether some of this solicitude, bestowed in a more energetic manner earlier, might not have forestalled considerable pain.
Said he at last, "This, Master, is not an encouragement on the path of helping mankind."
"It is neither an encouragement not a discouragement; it is a lesson. There are those who may be helped and those who may not be helped."
"How was one to discern in this case?"
"Those who know have their own means of discernment. For one such as thou, certain keenness in perception of outward signs is of use. There are some who sensations are pitched at such low level that without an occasional bath of shrieking brutality given or received, they feel themselves but half-alive. Being at peace, they must ever seek strife.
"Those who have not the light of Pallas Athena, such as children and animals, cripples; also any who meet a buffeting with dignity, without resentment, with a sense of the justice of Nemesis -- such may be aided with profit. In this case, the strident screaming of the woman carried a certain message. The lines of habitual peevishness in her face might also have been traced, likewise the scratches upon the face of the man, both new and old. The genesis of a buffeting is oft discernible in the marks of a history. Applicable to a tribe, also," he added thoughtfully.
Chrysopharos felt that the mounting of a new step toward the terrace of enlightenment had been worth a certain number of lacerations. He also cogitated whether it were possible that the teachers of the Wisdom, unlike those of the world, had no need of the cane to impress a lesson upon dull minds, because the world was so full of arms eager to do that task for them.
By Enoch Albert Holmes
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, November 1946, pages 552-555.]
The surplus of life very quickly passes through the previously developed Atman/Sthula-Sharira, gives the Buddhi touch to it, and passes down ...
-- G. de Purucker, THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, September 1943, page 403
Given a "birth" of each of man's principles from the previous higher principle, during the process of involution, can it be assumed that the Atman of each such principle has some subtle connection with the Sthula-Sharira of the one higher?
This body of ours, nay the very stones on which we tread -- all manifested matter, has a grossness and a divinity; that divinity which "liveth in the heart-life of all things." What is the Atman of matter? Does that divine immanence brood on the hills? Is it found brooding in masterpieces of art, as in sculpture and in architecture?
In the wild melodies of old Orphic singers, or before the images of those gods of whose perfect beauty the divine theosophists of Greece caught a fleeting shadow, and with the sudden might of artistic ecstasy smote it, as by an enchanter's wand, into an eternal sleep of snowy stone -- in these there flashes on the inner eye a vision beautiful and terrible, of a force, an energy, a soul, an idea, one and yet million-fold, rushing through all created things like the wind across a lyre.
-- Charles Kingsley, HYPATIA, page 126
That which is physical, however sublime, must have form; and as this idea of form seeps through the antahkarana of the eye, does it not become the "Form of Idea" or the garment of Linga-Sharira? Dr. de Purucker has given us a hint.
It will be a marvelous instrument, attuned to the harmonics of nature, individualized man himself. It will be like a sounding board catching every vibration.
-- THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, September 1943, page 404
Will it be a sounding board for the vibrations of Prana? Is the Atman of Linga-Sharira just this side of the bridge whose other posts lie on Pranic ground? Has vitality a basis in complete awareness of the inner sentient existence, of transcendent imagination?
Where, now, comes the acme of vitality or Prana? We are told that it will become an individualized force capable of supernormal powers such as Wotan is said to have wielded.
Can one detect, or does one only fancy the connection between use of such a power, in its destructive aspect, and that principle of the passions and desires, which is Kama?
Did the ancient "berserker" (and maybe his modern war-time counterpart) summon up the last surge of his vitality by flying into a passionate rage? From sane gentle humanity, mankind can let its ego-consciousness sink even below desire, to this level of the animal passions.
What of the Atman of Kama? We know it as aspiration -- desire upward. Do we also know it as ambition, and only find substance for it, as such, in the brain-mind, in the lowest aspect of Manas?
Is wisdom the highest altitude in Manas? Then maybe wisdom etherealized is the justice-compassion footstool of Buddhi. Then maybe the Bodhisattva attains to that boundless space, which, in turn, is but the form of consciousness per se.
HEIGHTS BEYOND AND BELOW
If we grant this end-on evolution of the principles of man, we seem to belittle, even to castigate, in turn, the highest manifestations of each of the planes of being. We have supposed the most rare of works of art to contain no higher intrinsic worth than "ideas of form." Beyond this, any other sensation they arouse "flashes on the inner eye," which is self-illumined.
Of course, the lower hierarchies of the physical atoms live their own consciousnesses in their own "boundless space," and who knows but that each of the atoms in a statue, or in the colors of a portrait, has its own sensations to its own degree? Yet, these are irrespective of the sculptor's chisel and of the artist's brush.
Perfection of the inner senses we have analyzed as still being a sentient existence. Prana at its strongest we have indicted as consort to passion. Kama at its best is suspect of ambition. Manas leads to wisdom, which pales before the "attainment" of Buddhi, which in turn, merges into the Shining Sea of Consciousness. Even this Consciousness may harbor the seed of self in the Pratyeka Buddha.
Must we disown each of these summits as we ascend the heights beyond?
"Kill out ambition," says LIGHT ON THE PATH, yet "Work as those work who are ambitious." Here perhaps is our answer. It will apply on all planes.
As ambition turns to ashes, so does material beauty fade. Be alive to it, appreciate it to the full, but do not become enslaved to it. Many sovereign souls may be found under a rough exterior, as many a bright verdure conceals a deadly bog.
H.G. Wells finds (in his EXPERIMENT IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY) that there is a certain beauty in the taste of cheese on the palate, and in the savor of beer. Many of us will take his word for the latter, but I think he would be among the first to agree that this beauty of sentient existence is not the highest of man's faculties, nor is it the ultimate purpose of his life.
Let us enjoy our cheese -- and our beer, if we take it! -- but do so incidentally, for the sake of living.
In Pranic-vitality, we have the beauty of the rhythm of that life-force which sparkles in the running brook and is absent in the stagnant pool, until the water and plant life seek to grow to their own Pranic fruition.
We, too, must grow to our Pranic fruition. As the aeons roll will come those powers, and the responsibilities surrounding them. Is not the Warrior in THE BHAGAVAD GITA abjured to stand detached in the heat of "battle," to fight the good fight, yet not allow passion to cloud the vision?
There is a beauty in Kamic aspiration that will not be gainsaid. We shall not be free from the desire to become perfect until perfection is attained. Yet if Caesar was ambitious, "'Twas a grievous fault."
What is our motive in this universal urge to perfection? Is it to "attain," or is it to become more useful to brother man? The first implies ambition. For the second we can bend all our efforts. We are working as those work who are ambitious.
There is a beauty of philosophical thought in the wisdom -- Atman of Manas. Yet, we are told that to live the Life is to know the doctrine. "First seek ye the Kingdom of Heaven." Then even that same wisdom, which is sublime in its own sphere, "shall be added unto ye," as an incidental concomitant.
Maybe these superlatives of Manas, Buddhi, and Atman -- man's highest principles -- had best be left inviolate. Any attempt to dethrone them by the pen would have a worldly savor of "sour grapes." Yet, does not Aeschylus have Prometheus foretelling the supercesion of Zeus, in his PROMETHEUS BOUND?
Beauty, Truth, and Goodness, then, are present on all the planes of existence. They are qualities that can excite a responsive chord in each of man's seven principles. If the Atman of Sthula-Sharira is of less puissance than the Atman of Linga-Sharira, it is no more so than is the glorious Atman of man less puissant than Brahma, or Brahma than Parabrahman.
Who are we to ignore the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, because she is divine of matter only? Who are we to question the divinity of Pegasus, steed of imagination? True enough he can only wing us to the gods on pinions of aspiration.
Thomas Carlyle defined the province of literature and drama as the means of interpreting great thoughts through the emotions. Great thoughts can also be interpreted by good works, by a cheering vitality, by hitching our wagon to a star, by sharing such of the wisdom of the Masters as we have heard, and by demonstrating, each one of us, that Universal Brotherhood is a Fundamental Fact in Nature.
By Abbott B. Clark
[A transcript of an address given May 5, 1946, published in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 1946, pages 343-46.]
The first heard of Madame Blavatsky on the Pacific Coast was in San Francisco late in the year 1854. She herself speaks of being there and of buying a lot. We find in the SAN FRANCISCO BULLETIN of that time that she had a box at the Opera, and that there appeared in her company a very remarkable and distinguished looking Oriental, tall, commanding, and wonderful to look at, so that the people took their glasses off the stage and looked at Madame Blavatsky's box at this distinguished guest.
Years afterward there joined in Oakland a member of the society whom I had known in my childhood as a very intelligent and reliable woman, a Mrs. Tuttle, who with her daughter Jennie became very active members. Mrs. Tuttle had grown up in San Francisco. When she saw the picture of the Master, she started with delight and said: "Why that looks like the man I saw in Madame Blavatsky's box at the Opera when I was a girl of 16. Why, he charmed me so, I looked at him more than I did at the actors on the stage. And he is the Leader of our Theosophical Society?" She was joyously enthusiastic.
The next we hear of Madame Blavatsky's work on the Pacific Coast was just after ISIS UNVEILED was published. ISIS was published in 1877. Competent critics of the time said that it was the greatest rouser of thought of any book that had ever been published in any language, in any age. The entire first edition was sold out within ten days. Copies of that reached the Pacific Coast. One copy was obtained by C.C. Clark of Boise, Idaho. [He was an uncle of the speaker, living in Boise, Idaho, and later in Covina.] He said: "This is going to be my Bible." He invited his gentleman friends to come out every Sunday afternoon, and he told them: "You have heard, many of you, your minister read from his Bible, now listen to my Bible and we will discuss it." Thus, Theosophy began in definite class work, with 30 or 40 men early in 1878.
Between 1884 and 1886, it seemed as if an interior wave of spiritual earnestness, a spiritual awakening, took place all up and down the Coast. People woke up intuitively, and realized that this exterior world was only a shell, that the reality was an inner spiritual world and they must find that reality. It was as if HPB, the real Master within, had called across the silent spaces: "My children, awaken spiritually, awaken and go to work." We began restlessly to stir and to hunt for Theosophy. All over the Coast that thing happened: Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco and its environs, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and environs, San Diego.
The most remarkable case that will serve as an illustration for the rest occurred in Alameda, a suburb of Oakland, California, where Mrs. Martha Bangle, an elderly woman and active church member, far gone in consumption, received a leaflet from Mr. Judge. She took the train to New York. She found Mr. Judge and was initiated into the Society. She bought all the books, which meant ISIS UNVEILED by Blavatsky, ESOTERIC BUDDHISM and OCCULT WORLD by Sinnett, LIGHT ON THE PATH, and copies of Mr. Judge's magazine. Coming back, she started a class in her own home and advertised it.
Into this class came two men who were to have very distinguished careers in the Theosophical Movement, Dr. Allen Griffiths and Dr. Jerome A. Anderson. Edward B. Rambo came in a little later. This was the foundation of the first Lodge on the Pacific Coast, the Golden Gate Lodge in San Francisco, chartered in 1885.
A little later, when there were a good many members up and down the Coast who had been corresponding with Madame Blavatsky she wrote to them:
In view of the importance of the Pacific Coast in the New Age, the time has come for you to do definite organized propaganda work. Let every man and woman west of the Rocky Mountains have the opportunity of hearing of Theosophy at least once. There is a magic potency in the word that, even if it does not bring them into Theosophy in this life, will make a connection with us in the future.
In order to carry this out a committee was formed of two or three of the most active members in each Lodge with a Board of Directors in San Francisco. The directors were: Dr. Griffiths, Dr. Anderson, Edward B. Rambo, Mrs. Colonel Beane, Mrs. Sarah A. Harris, Mr. Julius Oettl, father of Mrs. Hazel Minot, Mr. and Mrs. Felter, grandparents of Mrs. Hazel Pool of International Headquarters' Staff, Pierce and Alfred Spinks, active workers for Theosophy, and Abbott B. Clark. We secured a fine Headquarters and a permanent Secretary. As a youth Orange I. Clark acted as assistant at Headquarters. We raised several hundred dollars a month for the work.
We started a magazine, THE PACIFIC THEOSOPHIST, printed hundreds of thousands of leaflets, not thousands, but hundreds of thousands, for free distribution over the Coast and for translation and distribution in Mexico. We appointed Dr. Allen Griffiths as Pacific Coast lecturer. We took a map of the Coast. With the aid of directories we mapped out an itinerary that included every town west of the Rocky Mountains with 500 inhabitants or more, and smaller villages, or any country place where there was a member or correspondent who would get up a meeting in his own home, or in the country school house. Dr. Griffiths went to every such place and lectures were given on Elementary Theosophy, especially stressing unity, harmony, cooperation.
It is to be noted as a fact that soon after this, voluntary cooperative societies sprang up over the whole of the West, so that almost every product of the soil that is grown, or raised on a ranch, is at present marketed cooperatively. To the minds of those of us who traveled over the Coast, these two facts are sequentially related.
In every town, we had lectures on harmony, brotherhood as a fact in nature, cooperation, Karma, Reincarnation, the Masters as ideals and facts, and all these lectures were reported in the papers. Every country paper had anywhere from three inches to three columns on Theosophy -- the total amounting to several hundred columns a year.
At one time, this Committee proposed to send one of its own to London for training under HPB.
She replied: "You do not need to. You are strong enough to stand alone and intuitive enough not to make any serious mistakes."
Both in the United States and abroad this committee was considered the model for the Theosophical world.
Dr. Griffiths traveled and lectured continuously from 1892 to 1896 (or 1897). Abbott Clark lectured most of the time from 1891 to 1899, stopping only to earn money to pay his own expenses. We organized 36 Lodges and had 600 members west of the Rocky Mountains.
We found that to a large share of intelligent people Theosophy could be made the most interesting of subjects. It answers more questions, solves more problems. It shows how to gain self-knowledge and self-control and to bring harmony, peace, and happiness into domestic and private life. Its knowledge brings distinction and shows how to command honorable success and respect in public life.
In 1889, Madame Blavatsky sent her private secretary, Mr. Bertram Keightley, an educated English gentleman, to America for a lecture tour of the United States. He told me that his especial work was on the Pacific Coast, first, to strengthen the Pacific Coast Committee; second, to meet all of Madame Blavatsky's personal students and charge them that the Theosophic life, the living and embodying Theosophy and its ethics, its moral conduct, its spiritual activity in your daily life, was the key to all esoteric knowledge.
We were told to tell our members and the public from HPB, that THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE was the key to the understanding of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. And she said this: You might learn the whole of THE SECRET DOCTRINE by heart and that if you did not incorporate in your thought and feeling and your life the ethics of compassion as taught in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE you would turn out to be only an intellectual Pratyeka, or a Black Magician. If, on the other hand, you could not get anything out of THE SECRET DOCTRINE but a headache, if you lived the life of impersonality and compassion you would be safely on the Path of Compassion that leads to the perfection of human evolution.
By A. Trevor Barker
[This was a talk given in 1933, 67 years ago, which appeared in THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 5-14.]
Our thoughts rather naturally turn at this season of the year to such a subject as we have chosen for our study together tonight. Just at the moment when the Sun has taken its turn on its yearly pilgrimage, and once again begins to travel northwards, so do we as spiritual pilgrims manifest our unity, not only with Father Sun but with the whole of Nature; so do we at this season of the year turn our own thoughts sunward, taking stock of our limitations, looking towards the source of strength and light, that we may find the means to leap over the obstacles which have so far hindered us in finding the philosopher's stone that will enable us by a power more than our own to change the base metal of our lower, material nature into the pure gold of the spirit. Is that not the meaning of this mystical season of the year? So it has always appealed to me.
For many years now this month of December has signified to me a month of inward searching; a month of spiritual preparation for the six months -- the six sacred months -- of the Sun's northern pilgrimage during which all spiritual effort should be commenced; because if initiated during this period it has a greater productivity, and that which we try to do yields, instead of tenfold or twentyfold, a hundredfold.
This brings me to the first thought that I want to place before you in relation to the vigorous, inward, psychic and spiritual life that is at this season of the year brought to birth in the planet itself, which is our material mother. It has been declared in substance by the one who brought us the knowledge of this Ancient Wisdom in our modern era, H.P. Blavatsky, writing in her magazine LUCIFER, the Light-Bringer, for the month of January 1888, that it is no vain myth, the idea that resolutions, wishes, determinations, actions, aspirations, begun during the seasons bounded by Christmas and Easter have a hundred times more chance of succeeding, simply because the aspirant has set himself in tune with the great Cosmic urge and rhythm of Nature itself.
When the psychic life of the earth is young and strong, the disciple, uniting himself with those uprising currents, and cutting through all the difficulties and obstacles that he has put in his own way by his blind struggling and unilluminated and unguided wandering; seizing the sword of spiritual knowledge, setting himself in tune with the great rhythm of the Cosmos, sets forth with the Sun on its northern pilgrimage.
He knows that if, with faith, he travels along that Pathway in the footsteps of those that have preceded him, the light of the Supreme, which he finds burning in his own heart, will show him the Pathway before his feet always and forever, even though it be but the next step.
It is not far that we need to see, if only we can see just the next step. Then the Divine Krishna, as we have heard in that reading from THE BHAGAVAD GITA tonight, in the Lord's Song, will enter into our hearts, and be the Warrior that will fight in us, giving us strength to do that which in our feeble, personal humanity we have been unable to accomplish.
Why is it, do you think, that men at this season of the year make so many resolutions upon which they turn their back within a few days or weeks, or sometimes hours? It is not that we have concluded that the things we set out to do were not worthwhile -- not a bit. We are just as convinced that it was necessary to make certain changes in ourselves; but we have merely demonstrated once again that as long as a man is divided against himself, as long as he is pursuing not one end but a dozen or two, as long as the different parts of his personal nature are divided up, each one with the little 'I,' the little Ego, pursuing its own little desires, likes and dislikes, just so long will the individual man be unable to make those deep and permanent changes in his own psychology which he recognizes to be so necessary when he reflects upon what he really is; when he really faces himself round about the first of January.
It is not necessary for me to ask, is it, whether you have tried the experiment of changing yourselves? I think we have all tried; and have we not all found to our ineffable disgust that if we do seem to change something, it has a most amazing way of changing back again, and we smile and shrug our shoulders and say "Well, one more resolution gone west."
A great Sage once said that for a religion or a philosophy to be true it must contain the answer to every problem, and if Theosophy can answer those problems it has done for you and for me almost all that we can ask of any religion or philosophy; because if we can change ourselves, fashioning the base material of our natures into a fitting expression of the Gods that we inherently know ourselves to be, why, it would not be long before we could transform the face of this weary modern world of ours. It is spiritual and individual regeneration that we want to find the key to.
"Yes," you will say, "perhaps, but it is a tremendous task -- a task indeed the most difficult, the most tremendous, that the spirit of man can undertake." That is true, but should you and I be put off entering the most sublime spiritual adventure that man can embark upon, merely because it happens to be the greatest adventure, the greatest task, and the most difficult one? I do not think so. In fact it is my conviction that too much is made of the difficulty of the task, and not enough of its possibility of accomplishment for you and for me in this very hour.
It is that which is the clarion call of Theosophy to men and women of all religions and all races and all creeds: that if they will arise and seek out the ancient Teachers of the race, they can conquer, they can win in the greatest task that the spirit of man has ever had before it. Otherwise what is the good of philosophies and what is the good of religions, if they have no message for the millions of the outcast, the poor, the suffering and the oppressed -- the people that seek for the bread of life and do not know where to find it?
If Theosophy were only for the few, for the one in ten millions, I would doubt its value. After all the same light lighteth every man into the world, the same problems beset humanity; and you have the great Masters of Compassion telling us always that their concern is not so much to care for the successful disciples, those who take knowledge by their own strength -- for those people you cannot stop; they will seize their divine heritage and make it their own. But it is to take to the great orphan humanity the knowledge that they also have a Divine heritage; that it is for them also to open the gates of their inner being, to let in the light that is there shining, if they will but have courage to dare to enter upon the great adventure.
In all the Scriptures and all the great religions of antiquity you have had the same story, put in myth and parable, in simple language, as well as the more difficult kind of metaphysical ideas.
A very good example is that reading that you had tonight from our Chairman: the end of the Fourth Discourse of THE BHAGAVAD GITA -- the Lord's Song, the Song of the Soul. And note the paragraph that comes at the end of every chapter: "The Holy BHAGAVAD GITA the colloquy, i.e., THE CONVERSATION; and the Divine Teacher: not an external man, not a Savior who shed his blood for us in his human nature to wipe away or to make atonement for our misdeeds, but verily the only Savior that the Wisdom of the Ages recognizes -- the Divine Spirit in man himself, the Christos in man, the Krishna.
What is his message in that Fourth Discourse of THE BHAGAVAD GITA? Why this: that even the most evil man -- note: even the most evil man -- when concentrated with singleness of heart and mind in devotion to the Supreme, will speedily cross over the mire of his sins and failings in the bark of spiritual knowledge.
In the ninth chapter, called "The Yoga of the Kingly Knowledge and the Kingly Mystery," he uses practically the same phrase, pointing out that such a one should be accounted a righteous man because he had decided rightly; he had learned after all his disillusionment, his sufferings, and his defeats that there was only one means, by whatever road he might travel, to get to that state of consciousness.
This was the recognition that his individuality, which with suffering and pain he had built up, developed, grown, through all his age-long evolutionary pilgrimage up to that point, was after all but an instrument of the Divine Self, which at last he was called upon to set aside. He had got to renounce the personal Ego, to realize that of his own power he could do nothing, and he comes to that most difficult of human tasks -- to jump over the brink; to plunge into the abyss, as it seems to the human aspirant, willing at last to lose his own life, yet sure by the light of the faith burning in his heart that there would be reborn in him something all-permeating, powerful, strengthening, revivifying, alchemical -- transmuting all the baser elements, all the obstacles in his personal nature that he had battled with in darkness and found no victory up to that time.
That idea was beautifully put by a disciple that wrote under the pseudonym of "The Dreamer" in his STUDIES IN THE BHAGAVAD GITA:
Happily for him, from his bleeding and lacerated heart now wells up the prayer -- "My heart is weighed down with the vice of faintness, my mind confused to all Dharma. I ask Thee which may be better; that tell me decisively. I am Thy disciple, suppliant unto Thee. Teach me."
Aye, prove it to me. I am defenseless. I have set aside all weapons. I am face to face with myself at last.
This prayer, not lip-deep as before, this complete self-surrender of the immortal man to the Divine, this recognition by the heart of the supremacy of the Spiritual Self, forges the last link in the chain of the sixfold virtues which binds us to the Guru, who is ISHVARA. This prayer of the human self, the soul whose "feet are now washed with the blood of the heart," this complete renouncing of all Dharmas, this final falling back upon the Self of all as the only refuge, this final union, which in the words of the Sage Sanjaya is the guarantee of the final victory of the human self, goes up to the Divine.
You see, it is in this that we really find the explanation of the statements in mystical literature: that it is not until this moment that the voice of the individual aspirant is even capable of really making itself heard in the courts of the Holy Ones -- the great Teachers of the human race. So far his voice has only been the voice of the personal man, but at this moment his cry goes up to the Divine.
And now, and now only, does the soul get the loving guidance of the Logos, and from the Divine comes a down pouring of spiritual life and energy which unifies the discordant forces in the man ...
You will note here that it is the Divine power that does this once the great surrender has been made:
From the Divine pours in the sweet melody of the Song of Life, the Eternal GITA, the Harmony of Love which synchronizes the jarring forces in the bodies of the man; the Supreme Melody, which opens the eye of the now divine man to the one Life, Consciousness and Love, which unifies the Lokas and the Talas, the high and the low, the virtuous and the vicious, dharma and sin, knowledge and ignorance, attachment and dispassion -- the ineffable harmony of the One.
As I understand it, that is the message, the essence, of the teaching of THE BHAGAVAD GITA. It is the essence of the teaching of the New Testament, the essence of the teaching of Buddhism. You will find it everywhere without exception when you begin to look for it, for it is the age-old message that man can never find redemption by looking outside himself; and the joyful news -- the glad tidings -- that there is within man a power that will enable him to do that which he and all men really want to do, aspire to do, long and yearn to do, if it were not for the binding forces of those attractions which constantly lead the dual nature of man away from his Divine possibilities.
This idea is implicit in every line of every Theosophical book. It is implicit in every line of the Christian Gospels. It is implicit in every line of THE BHAGAVAD GITA. There are men and women of real spirituality everywhere. Wherever you may go, you will find fellow pilgrims, brothers who understand the meaning of the Lord's Song, because they have found it in their own lives. They call it by many names, but that to the Theosophist means nothing. We care not what terminology a man uses. He can call it what he likes. It is not the words that matter. What matters is whether the man has experienced it, whether he can do it.
What is the meaning of that fellowship which the Theosophical Movement aspires towards when it talks of Universal Brotherhood? Believe me it is not only a recognition that all men are physically, psychically, mentally, spiritually united by indissoluble bonds, as they are with the whole of nature. It is not merely that intellectual recognition.
Why is it, think you, that not only in the Churches, but to a large extent in the Theosophical Movement, there is not that living fire of spiritual fellowship which is a thing that gladdens the heart and liberates men from all feelings of separateness and antipathy? Why is it? I will tell you. All spiritual fellowships and ideas of Universal Brotherhood are built on the assumption of a common experience, of a common realization of God, of deity, of divinity, which each man, each aspirant, finds in his own life, and then walks with that Divine Companion, as it were, following in the direction that is shown to him.
Do you not see that in a Theosophical Lodge that is composed of men and women who believe in their own Divinity, who have experienced it and know its power and its tremendous joy; that in such a Lodge there must be a real spiritual fellowship that is entirely different from that which exists theoretically, because of a philosophical conception that all men must necessarily be one?
When you know that in the fellowship to which you belong are men and women who are trying to live day by day in the light of their own Divinity, who never do anything unless they seek out the Warrior within, first pausing to stop and think before initiating any action lest the personal man get in the way -- Ah! There is the basis of true Brotherhood.
Did not LIGHT ON THE PATH tell us just that thing? Listen to what it says in the beginning of the second series of numbered paragraphs:
Stand aside in the coming battle, and though thou fightest be not thou the warrior. Look for the Warrior and let him fight in thee. Take his orders for battle and obey them.
Now that means it is possible to receive the orders, otherwise you cannot take them, but you will not receive them unless you believe in your own Divinity. Believing means doing, otherwise you do not believe, obviously.
Obey him not as though he were a general, but as though he were thyself, and his spoken words were the utterance of thy secret desires, for he is thyself, yet infinitely wiser and stronger than thyself. Look for him, else in the fever and hurry of the fight thou mayest pass him; and he will not know thee unless thou knowest him. If thy cry meets his listening ear, then will he fight in thee and fill the dull void within. And if this is so, then canst thou go through the fight cool and unwearied, standing aside and letting him battle for thee. Then it will be impossible for thee to strike one blow amiss. But if thou look not for him, if thou pass him by, then there is no safeguard for thee. Thy brain will reel, thy heart grows uncertain, and in the dust of the battlefield thy sight and senses will fail, and thou wilt not know thy friends from thy enemies. He is thyself. Yet thou art but finite and liable to error.
You see this keynote running right through the whole of mystical literature, warning that the personal man can do nothing of himself except to prepare the instrument, prepare the vessel, and sweep clean the Tabernacle. That is all.
He is eternal and is sure. He is eternal truth. When once he has entered thee and become thy warrior, he will never utterly desert thee, and at the day of the great peace he will become one with thee.
Again there is our beloved HPB telling us that once a man's Divine Spirit enters into the Tabernacle of his body, it will very soon redeem him. I would to the Immortal Gods that we might get a new spirit abroad in this Theosophical Movement of ours, realizing and practicing these ideas, and that we might begin at home right here with this New Year that is dawning before us this very night. Why should we not do it? A new spirit that will enthrone not external leaders, not Presidents of Lodges or National Sections, not priests or those with temporal authority.
Let us be willing to step down from our places of authority. I believe that all men who have ever experienced the saving power of the spirit within them must recognize that of themselves they are nothing; that at best they are but instruments of the Universal Spirit of Truth, of Wisdom, of Love and Compassion and Pity that men call God, or Christ, or the Kingdom of Heaven, or Nirvana -- I say enthrone That, and let him who would be greatest amongst us be willing to be the servant of all in this that we call a Universal Brotherhood.
In that way we can bring into existence a real living Fraternity, not a lip thing, or a mere ideal theory, but a reality based upon an experience of the Soul, whereby each Theosophist recognizes in his brother one who has enthroned the Supreme in his own heart -- the One Reality, in whose light all are living, working, laboring, in a common Cause. That would be a real Brotherhood, and possible here and now, not for one or two, but for all, otherwise of what value?
Just imagine plans, campaigns, individual and corporate, made under the direction of the Higher Self, which being ultimately the Self of all, could not, by its very nature, be against the interests of any. Each for all and all for each. But let us be honest with ourselves. It is impossible to realize this idea, IMPOSSIBLE, if in this day and hour we do not invite the companionship, the Divine power of the Spirit within to fight and work in us, so that we may truly change.
If we take these ideas into our lives and into our hearts this night, at the turning point of the year, backed by the tremendous energy and faith of our spiritual wills, who shall say what miracles may not be accomplished in the eventful year of 1934 that will be with us in such a few short hours.
Let us close with the prayer that those who feel called to enter that sublime adventure, will dare to risk all that they have and are, to lose and forget themselves, in order that they may take the Kingdom of Heaven by storm or by violence, or whatever term you may like to use. For it is such men and women that will bring about a new order of ages in this weary world. Verily, the Kingdom of Heaven coming in the hearts and minds of men.
By Michele Lidofsky
[Based upon August 24-26, 2000 postings made to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I was laying on the living room couch, reading a trashy novel, and eating a Twinkie -- well, maybe TWO Twinkies.My cat, seeing I was excessively happy, began to play his favorite game of chicken.He knocked over and started to tear apart knick-knacks, piles of books, papers, and half-full drinking glasses while I refused to move.He refused to quit, but mercifully decided to stop toying with me.His goal of launching me out of the reclining position is achieved as he plays his master card, making his final assault upon the ONE object he has insightfully predetermined that I will not be willing to sacrifice in order to win the game.
Then the subject of animals and abstract thought came up.How apropos.I had been considering this philosophical mess between reading steamy text and licking Twinkie filling off my fingers.
What seems to me to be happening here is what happened when Bill Clinton's celebrated, er, indiscretion with a certain young woman came to light.In that case there were THREE questions involved: "Did he really do it?" and "Is this an impeachable offense?" and "Should he be kicked out of the White House as a result of that impeachment?" We were badly bungling the questions because everyone involved seemed to be trying to answer these THREE completely different questions with ONE answer, "Yes, or "No". And of course, that ain't gonna work.
In the case of "animal kingdom versus human kingdom," we are faced with multiple questions too, which for some reason we appear equally determined to try to synthesize into one.The first is "Have we taught primates to speak ASL (or any other human language)?" The second is a variant of the first, but better distinguishes the central issue -- "Can the behaviors (CONTENTS of consciousness) of humans be determined to be more COMPLEX than those of animals?" Next comes "Would greater mental complexity indicate superiority?'" Lastly, "If the animal kingdom is less complex than the human kingdom, might humans still choose to reincarnate into animal form?"
I will try to address all these questions individually, trying not to relate each question to the SEPARATE issue of "inferior or superior."
SPEAKING HUMAN LANGUAGES
"Have we taught primates to speak ASL (or any other human language)?"
My answer is no, we have not taught primates a full human language which must by definition include complete phonology, morphology, and syntax, inflected for agreement, aspect; declension and case.We HAVE taught them a pidgin version of human language that extends to approximately the level that a human child reaches at two years old.I believe that all the authorities agree on this, including the linguists AND the primatologists.(More importantly, we all seem to agree that detaining dressed up primates, drilling them and coercing them with rewards to try to force them to 'converse' with us, is not an ethical or legitimate avenue of inquiry).
MORE COMPLEX BEHAVIORS
"Can the behaviors (CONTENTS of consciousness) of humans be determined to be more COMPLEX than those of animals?"
I would say definitely yes to behaviors.I don't think that someone can argue that the reason that animals don't vary the construction of their habitats, cultivate food, write books, foster social institutions such as government, churches, and schools, create adornment in the wild, and attempt to travel to the moon is because no animal society, anywhere, has yet "felt like" doing any of the above.
I'd say the CONTENTS of their consciousness might be considered less complex because they have not universally evolved the layer of moral systems based on empathy for others and self-reflection, that would OVERRIDE instinctual desires.(Note that this question has nothing to do with complexity of spirit or consciousness itself.It just deals with mind, which is the CONTENT or OBJECT of spirit or consciousness.)
DOES COMPLEXITY MEAN SUPERIORITY?
"Would greater mental/conscious complexity indicate superiority?'"
This to me is an absurd, irrelevant, and unanswerable question.
Would we ever think of asking, "Is a wolf 'superior' to a rose?" (But I think there is no question that the behaviors (or contents of consciousness) of a wolf are more COMPLEX than that of a rose).
MIGHT HUMANS STILL WANT TO INCARNATE AS ANIMALS?
"If the animal kingdom is less complex than the human kingdom, might it still be possible for humans to choose to reincarnate into animal form?"
I realize that theosophy says "No" to this question.I can think of three reasons why philosophically and practically it might not make sense.
The reason most often given to wish to reincarnate into animal form is the desire to enjoy and appreciate fabulous abilities. An animal is able to navigate in complete darkness, jump ten times its height with ease, fly high above a mountain range and spot a mouse a mile below, find its way home from any location hundreds of miles away, or know what is going on in an entire night-forest just using its sense of smell and instinct.As animals, if we would not be able to SELF-REFLECT on these abilities, we would not be able to enjoy them as we think we might.
Second, as far as our SOULS, we have for so long "been there, done that" that we really would not need nor want to repeat those experiences.
Third, it may be a DUTY to move on in a preordained fashion. Maybe the desire to hang loose as an animal is akin to an adult wishing to could chuck it all and be a kid again.The above are SUPPOSITIONS I have tried to base on reason, rather than emotion.
ASPECTS OF ABSTRACT THOUGHT
There are two ways of interpreting and storing information that human beings share with other animals.
An ICON is something bearing a physical resemblance to something perceptible in the environment, like a toy mouse that looks like a mouse to the kitty, or a statue of George Washington represents (re-presents) our first President.
An INDEX is also a sensible object that refers to some other perceptible in the environment.(The symbol of mouse droppings means 'mouse' to kitty.The symbol on a chimp's plastic lexigram has a trained association to something in the environment, like "X" means "banana").
But human beings have a unique piece of "hardware" in their brains that enables them to run an extraordinary program that allows us to plan, reflect, organize, re-organize and store the concepts of consciousness in a third way that no animal can.We call this program language.This program lets us use words as permanently stored re-presentations of objects and ideas, in a kind of 'virtual database' that we call the human mind.No other animal on earth can join us in this virtual space, which consciousness uses as the work-shop and birthing place for the creations of human culture.
Words establish a logical fixed relationship solely between two abstract symbols.In this SYMBOL-TO-SYMBOL relationship, neither symbol bears any perceptible connection to a physical referent in the environment.
(When a human being recognizes that a string of symbols in German has the same meaning as a string of symbols in English, they are rising above the perceptual level, for what is grasped here is that the two sets of symbols have the same meaning even though they have no sensible or perceptible relationship to one another).
This unique syntactical ability in humans is also elusive to computers, and has become one of the biggest problems in the development of Artificial Intelligence programs.When a computer reads the sentences, "The woman saw the puppy in the basket.She immediately wanted it." it is almost impossible for the computer to determine whether the woman wants the puppy, or the basket. Yet, a child of three has no difficulty with this discrimination.
Take this ambiguous sentence, posted in a department store:
"Dogs must be carried on the escalator."
This sentence poses an insurmountable difficulty for the computer, who has no contextual clue as to whether the woman must carry her dog on the escalator, or whether she cannot ride the escalator without a canine companion.
I have seen people pull from the file drawer numerous examples of animal behavior at the cutting edge of its potential.They compare it to examples of human behavior when the vehicle has been hurt.(Although the vast majority of mental retardation occurs as a result of anoxia during gestation or birth, or anoxia from later accident, which may or may not be considered scientifically valid for comparison.) On the other hand, I leave in the file drawer numerous examples of human behavior in its sleepwalking, unawakened state, which, it may fairly be argued, is the current condition of much of humanity worldwide.
The behaviors we are describing are not discrete or isolated phenomena but part of a continuum that is represented in every aspect of reality.The red on one end of a rainbow is in no way better or superior to the violet on the other end.
While we can show where one part of the spectrum is red, and the next part of the spectrum is orange, we cannot show EXACTLY where red ends and orange begins.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "Awareness and Reverence," made of a private class held on December 5, 1954.]
Friends, when we come together to study the teachings of Theosophy, I like to think of our gatherings as little centers from which both spiritual force and spiritual light and peace emanate. With any group of students who are sincere and who would like to KNOW, this is unquestionably the case. We are all out to receive knowledge from whatever source it may come.
The greatest source of knowledge is that center within ourselves, if we can tap it. Each one of us taps it in his own specific way, to his own specific degree. When we think of our gatherings in terms of a center of light, we immediately think of its counterpart or opposite, the overwhelming darkness that exists in the world today in spiritual matters.
I wonder how it would look to us, if we could see the world of present-day humanity in terms of spiritual light and material darkness. Many things that people admire would appear as centers of great darkness, as somber clouds with no spiritual light in them. These people are without a philosophy of life. They value things in terms of strength, power, wealth, and magnitude of various types. There are other things that people despise, ignore, or simply know nothing about. These things, about whose existence they know nothing at all, may well appear as centers of light, centers of radiance in the surrounding darkness.
When I speak of darkness, I do not just mean sheer materialistic ignorance and a denial of spiritual values. That is one of the main characteristics of our present age. We also have to consider that there are thousands and thousands, perhaps millions of people, who have seen a certain amount of spiritual light. These people have registered a certain amount of spiritual yearning in their hearts. They have thrown away or discarded the grossest materialistic interests.
These people seem hopelessly confused, mostly along psychic lines. They are not materialists. They have a spiritual yearning. They are people who have a great deal in common with us. They are deluded in a welter of psychic, chaotic thinking. All sorts of people take advantage of them, dragging them into some kind of a bypath. They are taken away from the genuine age-old spiritual teachings, which are not only present today in our language, but also present in many languages the world over, and for thousands of years.
There is a double darkness. One is that commonly understood as being such, materialism. The other is a more subtle kind of darkness, which is made up of confused, psychic thinking. This second one consists of desires and various phenomena wherein some facts of nature are correct, and some are hopelessly mixed up.
I do not mean to say that people here and in other similar groups do not have their own confusion. Yes, we are confused on many points. We have seen a certain degree or quality of spiritual light. We try to stick to it, and definitely go towards it. We refuse to accept the lesser light, having seen the greater light within our own inner consciousness.
Materialism has its own light. This is a light of a material kind. It is necessary for many people who cannot see anything else in life. The psychic type of thinking and feeling has its own light too. This light is small, but it is sufficient for some. In spite of the confusion it creates, it is at least a step or two ahead of materialism.
Spirituality is not found in that psychic light. It is difficult to define spirituality. To many people, it sounds like an abstract thing. I do not know if I could ever define it but in words that sound abstract.
Anything to do with the noblest ethics is spiritual. These are not the changing morals of men, but are rather the laws underlying the evolution of a process of the universe, laws that are both ethical and spiritual. Ethics are an aspect of spirituality. Anything to do with consciousness, with the study of consciousness in all its manifestations, taking us away from the concerns of a purely material type, is spirituality. Anything that has to do with the noble precepts of conduct is too. The teachings are spiritual that concern the structure and operations of the universe on all its planes, as compared with the concerns of matter.
Items pertaining to materialism include that which is connected with the form of things, with our personal selfhood, with our material advancement and material success, and with the denial that anything BUT matter exists.
Some people are confused when Theosophists come up and say, "Matter essentially is spiritual. Matter is spiritual in its essence." By this, we simply mean that if there was no spiritual life in matter itself, it could not exist. A mind occupied with material concerns, though, is not occupied with the spiritual life in matter. It is occupied with the world of forms and what can be achieved through them for personal aggrandizement.
In the several years of our study together, no one in this group, and likely no one in similar groups, has ever gotten anything for himself or herself personally, in the worldly sense, out of this study. Nothing of position, power, money, honor, or any kind of riches has come out of it.
It is quite conceivable and probable that we did receive a widening, a broadening of consciousness, a deepening of the intellect, and a quickening of the spiritual pulse. We may have applied this on occasion to material pursuits, with some noble objective in view. There is nothing wrong with that.
Theosophy is not supposed to make of people but abstract thinkers, unfit for worldly pursuits. That would be an awful misconception of the purpose of Theosophy. The study of Theosophy is to make individuals more valuable as members of the community and of mankind as a whole.
There are people, among the thousands of students, who will prefer not to be related to the work at all. They are natural-born mystics who may be karmically finished with worldly pursuits. We cannot say if they will retire into the forest, or if they may lead the life of an ascetic in the midst of a city. There will always be some. They are exceptions. There are exceptions in all spiritual movements.
Most of us do not intend to give up the world and become odd specimens of humanity, unfit for the era in which we live. It is bad enough as it is. I think most of us, having seen a greater vision, are a little out of gear with the world of material pursuits. We do not have to make it any worse than it is. It is something that we cannot avoid, because our spiritual interests are so different from the worldly interests. If we can still live in the world, be a useful part of mankind, and not identify ourselves with its ignorance, materialism, and spiritual emptiness, we will be doing pretty well. We will have our hands full for the rest of this incarnation.
This does not mean that just because we happen to be living among mankind we should go along with all its shady and oblique ethical pursuits, habits, and behaviorisms, just to not appear odd. That would be simply intellectual and moral suicide. We must develop, in due course of time, enough know-how to live among the everyday people of the world. We must learn to be vastly different from them, and yet appear to be one of them.
That is quite an intellectual trapeze in mid-air. It is not easy. It is a regular circus act. If you have not tried it, try it sometime. There is no other way. Either we do it, or we are going to develop into ascetics. Then we might just as well go into the forest. That is not intended to be! That is NOT practical Theosophy. There are rare cases, good for the men and women who do it. It is not a general rule.
Try to live the great and noble theosophical precepts of conduct in the midst of the people. Be useful participants in the general pilgrimage or procession, untouched by the ways of others, which we have already renounced, or are not in sympathy with. Practice our Theosophy unnoticed by others. Be unnoticed so they cannot say, "What an ODD specimen that one is. He is probably a Theosophist!"
You will find a way whereby the teachings become a living power in your life without too many people knowing about it. Then you can be helpful to others, and arouse no antagonism, no resentment, and no ridicule. All of these things could easily be aroused if we PUSH our Theosophy on other people. I have seen some parents push it down the throat of their own children, who are not ready for anything like that!
There is an unobtrusive way of living the teachings. We do the worldly work, if that is our duty, following our vocation, employment, or occupation. Yet, at the same time, we become a sower of seeds in human minds, so that people look upon us as worthwhile portions of humanity, only a little different from others. We meet some men and women with whom we can talk things over and offer constructive suggestions for life. Yet, we do not appear different enough to be considered odd, outlandish, or peculiar. That keeps people from being repelled from Theosophy because of the antics of the student. Do you see what I am trying to say? That is one idea I wanted to leave with you.
EXPECTANCY AT THE WINTER SOLSTICE
Another thought is preliminary to our next meeting. The Winter Solstice is not just a day, although many important spiritual things happened on the actual Winter Solstice, as you know. The whole of this preparatory period is a couple of weeks before the Winter Solstice in December through the first week of January -- a stretch of four weeks, two weeks on each side of the solstice. That is an important spiritual period in the cycle of the year and, therefore, in the lives of those who are attuned to mystical, spiritual realities. It is somewhat similar in the Spring Equinox, in the Summer Solstice, and the Autumnal Equinox, but not as much as it is around the Winter Solstice.
Cut out, in our minds, the exaggerated commercial picture of Christmas. Cut out its the useless and empty aspect. It has become more in this country a source of added profit, speculation, drinking, something else, and something else again. Cut this all out of our minds. Then we may rightfully consider the preparatory weeks before and after the Winter Solstice as different from the rest of the year.
In ancient days, people used to prepare themselves for the welcoming of the Winter Solstice season, which has become our Christmas season. At that time, spiritual teachings were a living power in the lives of men. There were civilizations that are more spiritual. In the future, ours will more spiritual again.
Even today in the Christian churches, there is a great deal of that preparation. This can be found in both in the theology and in the mysticism of the churches. It varies. Sometimes it is more in one type than in another, or more in one part of the world than in another. They have still preserved the idea that there is a preparation to be gone through, that there is something to be received, and that there is something to be thankful for after receiving it, in the days succeeding Christmas.
That is an echo from ancient knowledge, the true causes of which, and the true reasons of which, have unfortunately disappeared, both from the churches and from the social customs of the day. We try to be students of these things. Let us remind ourselves that we can, if we want to, enter upon the Winter Solstice period of the year in a special frame of mind. This is not a hurried frame of mind. This is not the rushing frame of mind. We do not fill the day with all sorts of unnecessary and empty activities of a commercial, social type, or even empty religious type, as many churches unfortunately have.
We enter as students into this period in a frame of mind of reverence for the unseen. We enter with a frame of mind of recognition of the reality of the mystical experience, or experiences of the Winter Solstice. We can recognize that there are many things going on behind the scenes of which we know but little, behind the veil of the visible. In attuning ourselves to that frame of mind, we can catch, as this period passes by, some of the aroma, the perfume, the vibratory rates of the greatest spiritual things that are taking place in the world, in more places than one in the world around that time.
Of all the periods of the year, this is the best to build up added reverence for life, added gentleness of conduct, added and strengthened peace within oneself, kindness, sympathy, and the recognition of the unbreakable unity of all that lives. It is the best time of the year to get into such a state of consciousness.
We listen just as if there were going to be some special broadcast. We tune our inner dial to nothing in particular. In a general sense, we tune into something nobler, more ethereal, and more beautiful. We tune into something that is about to happen, to strike like a bell, or to be heard, sensed, or perceived. We tune into nothing in particular, but hold an expectant attitude.
That is the best word: an attitude of expectancy. It is not an empty attitude, because we know that our expectancy is always answered from some mystic quarters of the world. We know that listening in on our part has to be answered by additional inspiration, health, strengthening power.
We are not straining our eyes and ears, peering into a blank nothingness. We know that when we listen, each one in our own way, we receive an answer. We are lifted in consciousness. Something is aroused within us that we were not cognizant of before. It is a spiritually constructive process. It can be done by any of us who are aware of these things. The only thing that stands in its way is when we give way to the hurry, the bustle, the social whirl, and the other useless things that detract the soul of man from the cognition of spiritual values. Nothing else stands in our way except ourselves, to the degree that we fail to get hold of the spiritual reality within our own hearts.
That was the other thought which I wanted to leave with you. Maybe, some of you would like to express something along these lines. I do not mean questions, although they are welcome, but I would like to hear from some of you something.
I would like to know how you feel about these things. I think we should express ourselves a little more than we do. I am glad to answer questions, but everyone has a lot on their minds -- constructive ideas, I am sure. Let us hear them for the benefit of the rest of us, and hear them for the benefit we give ourselves whenever we express our thoughts and feelings in complete language. There is actually growth in that effort.
During the average day, I do not put in as much concentrated thought on these subjects as I KNOW that I should. There are times, though, when I really concentrate to write one of the papers that we sometimes do. I may have been pouring over THE SECRET DOCTRINE in order to familiarize myself with a point that I could write on. It is a strange thing, but suddenly it seemed like it was only a few minutes, when I realized that I had been sitting there for an HOUR! I find things that I never could quite figure out now came together.
There is a place deep within your where you can get. It is inside rather than outside of you. Therein all answers are found. Completely isolate yourself from all of the problems and circumstances of your life. Dwell within yourself for a while. You will find peace there. You see that everything suddenly networks, as though there were overlapping cycles and what have you. You can almost see your life and the way people fit into it. It is rumination. I do not like to use that word, although I suppose that is in a slight degree correct.
If that amount of concentration and devotion were given daily, how enriched my life would be! How much easier it would be to live by these ethics, to do these things that I know I should be doing, and not do the things I should not be doing, if I would really devote myself! I try to give perhaps a minute's meditation in the morning. To really sit for HOURS, though, what TREMENDOUS nourishment it would be!
Yes, it is up to you. It can never be demanded, requested, or legislated. It is not anything that can be forced on anyone. It has to come from within the student. It does so much, twice so much, or ten times so much in his own inner life. Not with his hands, necessarily. He may never write the word nor say the word -- or he may. His growth is made up of inner attitude and realization.
Is there anything that you could say further that would help the other students in realizing the, what might be called the technique of doing it?
I was trying hard to understand this well enough to express it. I was trying to put it into words and express it, the way I really felt about it. Then it was suddenly just THERE! Everybody in the room knows what happens when you sit down, concentrate, and really study for an hour or so. It is amazing. You are alone. You take the phone off the hook so you will not be bothered. The same thing can happen again. You are left feeling cleansed and purified.
There is not a special technique for this. Any of us can get that feeling occasionally. It seems to be a channel opening for a few moments. This is the most appropriate time to concentrate on doing something like this, because everyone feels so rushed around Christmas. Maybe it is because karmically we are supposed to have difficulties to overcome before we can find some good. This is the only time of the year in which it seems that EVERYONE is in a hurry. We have to do this, to do that, to shop, and all of the unimportant of things. We do not take time out to sit and meditate when we should most of all. Is this the easiest time to reach a spiritual source?
Yes, definitely. That is exactly the point. It is easier to become attuned around this time to certain spiritual realities, which you have already within yourself. You cannot import them from outside and put them into yourself. They are there. You can only bring them out. The outside rush and the way in which our lives are built often prevent the soul from speaking in definite terms.
Rather than just thinking about this every now and then, I find myself ALWAYS thinking about it. It has caused me a lot of nervousness. It has many aspects to it. It sets up a conflict. I think of the way things SHOULD be and think of the way that they are. I like being able to talk about it.
Let us get one point straight. You understand that I am not opposed to theosophical students being considered "odd" as compared with the world. I am opposed, though, to letting everybody know how "odd" we are. This may to some sound like a difference without a distinction, or a distinction without a difference. It is not.
The moment we realize what things SHOULD be and what things ARE there is going to be a conflict within us. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind about it. That conflict is a private affair. Nobody needs to know about it. Maybe some close friend or relative might, if he is interested. Overall, the conflict is our own. We do not have to share or show it to many people, creating thereby a conflict between them and ourselves. The moment we create a conflict between others and ourselves, we are fifty percent defeated in our desire to improve the situation. We have already aroused somebody else's antagonism against our idea. They have realized that we are having a conflict within ourselves.
Here is a subtle thing. We have to find enough wisdom -- and no one of us is too wise -- to navigate through life's reefs with no pilot other than our own spiritual intuition. Avoid the reefs, and enter into the desired harbor in due course of time. Do this, making friends right and left. Make friends who know little about our inner conflict, who are willing to help us because we show a fine side of our nature in life. If we push our best ideas too much forward, they will antagonize other people. Then instead of friends, we are going to make enemies.
I do not say that these so-called enemies are completely wrong. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that some people are enemies of ours, that they dislike us. So what. The ideal is that we do the same job and go through the same passages of life, creating friends right and left. This ideal situation exists rarely. When it happens, though, we begin to learn the wise application of the teachings to everyday life. The everyday life is made out of other human beings. It is not made out of inanimate objects.
One student says there that he has these things in his mind all the time. I am sure he has. Precisely because he has these things uppermost in his mind -- precisely for that reason there is a conflict, and probably a strong one, too. That is all to the good! Where there is conflict, there is tension. Where there is tension, there is friction. Where there is friction, there is motion. The motion is forward, obviously.
If there is motion, there is friction. If there is friction, there is tension. If there is tension, there is conflict, but conflict between what? Obviously, there is conflict between two portions of human consciousness. One portion moves ahead, following the vision of what things should be. The other portion, the lesser human self, is mainly occupied if it can in putting brakes on, producing the friction, because it does not want to move as fast as the inner self does towards the vision.
I am not afraid of having any conflicts in anybody, least of all in myself. I know that they are disagreeable and personally unpleasant. Conflicts are a sign of forward motion, of expansion of consciousness, and of inner growth. I can tell you one other thing: that appearances are exceedingly deceptive. I have known in my life at Point Loma quite a number of characters that had within themselves a raging conflict much of the time. They were torn apart by the battling higher and the lower. Although when they were with other people and they performed their various duties, they emanated an atmosphere of peace and goodwill.
Their situation is not easily explained. What came out of them was a stream of higher consciousness that helped and uplifted people. Within themselves, in their own fortress, there was a battle. Every time there was a battle, additional light came out of it. That is worth thinking about, because it applies to every one of us to some extent.
Not anyone in this room has to feel the least discouraged, despondent, or worried about battle, conflict, and struggle within themselves. Keep it up, I say! If there comes a moment you have the sense of great peace, quiet, loveliness, abundance, and serenity, then look out! The next stage is stagnation. You have reached the end of some little side alley. You did not see when you got off the main highway.
That is a peculiar way of putting it, perhaps. You are not going to have struggle and conflict ALL of the time. There will be periods of quiet and peace WITHOUT stagnation. Conflict in itself is GOOD. It is good in spiritual work, because you are not fighting PEOPLE. You are struggling within yourself on the battlefield of your own mind, where the opposition exists between the greater vision and the lesser realities of the lower man. Every one of us has this conflict. No one in this room could say which of us has it worse. It is a sign of growth and expansion of consciousness.