It is not only impermissible for the neophyte-beginner to win and use powers now lying latent within him, and to awaken faculties not yet in function within him, but it is actually the fact that those who may happen through past karma to be born with such awakening powers or inner faculties have to turn their backs upon them and abandon their use when beginning the training for chelaship ...
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC PATH: ITS NATURE AND ITS TESTS, page 71.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 113-15.]
The Initial Existence in the first twilight of the Maha-Manvantara is a CONSCIOUS SPIRITUAL QUALITY.
It is Substance to OUR spiritual sight. Men in their WAKING STATE cannot call it so; therefore, they have named it in their ignorance "God-Spirit."
In our solar world, the One Existence is Heaven and the Earth, the Root and the flower, the Action and the Thought. It is in the Sun, and is as present in the glowworm. Not an atom can escape it. Therefore, the ancient Sages have wisely called it the manifested God in Nature.
"Who, Where, What is God?" "What is a secular State?" "What is Religion in the life of a citizen?" These are questions which many an Indian must have asked himself or his neighbor. For there has been discussion in the Constituent Assembly at New Delhi about permitting the highest officer of the State, if he desires to do so, to invoke the blessing of God in assuming office in our secular State.
Freedom of religious worship is already recognized by the Constitution and so the protection of places of worship is guaranteed. This is as it should be. What God is to be invoked? Certainly, it is not the God of the Christian or of the Jew, of the Hindu, the Muslim, or the Parsi.
A secular State cannot recognize tribal gods or racial deities. Egypt, inspired by Akhnaton, recognized the One and Indivisible Spirit, which like the sun, sheds its countless rays dwelling in countless minds of men and women. Our secular State should similarly recognize THAT as God, which is common to all men who intuitively hold the belief that Deity is potent in every form of matter.
What is the nature of such Deity?
All speak of the Omnipresence of God but many picture God as a gigantic person ruling earth and its humanity from a distant heaven. This false doctrine is the womb of atheism. Between idiotic anthropomorphism and speculative atheism, there must be a philosophical mean and reconciliation. The secular State of India can never be atheistic any more than it can be creedal and sectarian. The genius of the ancient land is persistently active; the ancient culture is still vital and viable; therefore, here this philosophical mean is not difficult to get at. The Boundless and the Infinite can never be limited and conditioned to one manifestation individualized in one man -- Krishna, Buddha, Christ, or any other -- or even in one nation or one race - Aryan, Semitic, or Teutonic.
A dozen texts can be cited from the Hindu Shastras, the Zoroastrian Fragments, the Semitic, and the Christian Scriptures, to show that Deity is the Great Living Presence, which is potent at every point of space and moves from within outwards by infallible Law, which is Wisdom Itself.
Educate the citizen to seek the Light of the Soul, to look to the heights of the heart. This is of primary importance if our secular State is to succeed in establishing a real Democracy. The voice of the people will become the Voice of God only when people feel that the Light of Spirit is active in the Kingdom of India, because It is activating them. The true citizen must feel himself to be the vehicle of the Light of Spirit which finds expression in growth -- not only in the Virtue of Justice but also in the Wisdom of Mercy.
The materialistic influence dominating the present cycle is not conducive to this inward recognition. The striking regret expressed in the Mahayana text is echoed everywhere.
Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the Great Soul, and that possessing it, Alaya should so little avail them!
If, therefore, the highest officer of the secular State is to take the Name of Deity, the common citizen must be educated and become intelligent so that he may comprehend the true nature and power of the Divine Presence.
It is written:
Man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of IDEAS, by becoming to the best of his ability a COWORKER WITH NATURE in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable KARANA alone, the CAUSELESS Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart -- invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through "the still small voice" of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the UNIVERSAL SPIRIT, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the PRESENCE.
Behold how like the moon, reflected in the tranquil waves, Alaya is reflected by the small and by the great, is mirrored in the tiniest atoms, yet fails to reach the heart of all. Alas, that so few men should profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the non-existent.
By Iverson L. Harris
[The following is based upon an article in THE ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST, September 15 and November 15, 1974.]
THE JOURNAL OF SAN DIEGO HISTORY in its Summer 1974 issue carries an article "Reminiscences of Lomaland: Madame Tingley and the Theosophical Institute in San Diego" by Iverson L. Harris, in an Interview by Robert Wright; Editing and Introduction by Dennis E. Berge, Ph.D., of the faculty at San Diego State University and currently Chairman of its Department of History.
The article is well illustrated by pictures mainly of early Lomaland scenes. The whole issue is given especial historical Eclat by the reproduction on its cover of the oak doors of the Temple of Peace, which for so many years was the center of unique activity at the International Theosophical Headquarters on Point Loma. A fire partially destroyed the temple in 1952 (the Society had moved its headquarters to Covina, California, in 1942) and it was subsequently demolished, but the doors were saved. These were carved by Reginald Machell, one of the faculty of Lomaland artists, formerly of the Royal Academy in London, and depict the artist's conception of the ideal man and woman. They stand 12' 4" high, measure 6' 6" across, and are now on exhibit at Serra Museum, in Presidio Park, San Diego.
This 32-page interview -- informal, factual, and anecdotal -- is probably the best historic record today of certain aspects of the life of Katherine Tingley and of the "quality and texture" of life of the residents at Lomaland in those days. Historians consulting this report will receive specific and accurate information as well as some interesting sidelights and find many bogeys laid to rest.
Despite its relaxed tone the authoritative voice is there of one whose memories are clear and vivid. Because of so much surmise and mistiness about Katherine Tingley and about the Society, which she headed for some 33 years, the ECLECTIC editors feel readers will not regard as chauvinistic their decision to quote at some length from this interview, which has added value from its well-documented Notes by Dr. Berge. We should add that not even a discourse of this length can convey the complex story, but at least from it a picture is caught, a flavor captured -- and a page of history preserved. We start with extracts from about the middle of the interview.
-- Helen Todd & W. Emmett Small
I want to get to Madame Tingley herself. Can you give me any biography on her? Where was she born? How did she get involved with the Society? When did she die? Where is she buried?
She was born in West Newbury, near Newburyport, Massachusetts on July 6, 1847. Her father was Captain James Westcott, who organized a regiment during the Civil War. Her mother was Susan Chase from a prominent New England family. Lady Susan they called her. She had two brothers that I know of. She was particularly drawn to her grandfather, by the way, who was the descendant of one of those who joined Roger Williams in the founding of Rhode Island.
The tendency of the family was towards liberal-mindedness right from the beginning ... Her grandfather and Whittier were good friends. They both seemed to see in her as a child great promise of a future along cultural and spiritual lines.
She tells the story that when she was a child she had this dream of what she called a Gold Land in the West where she would one day establish the city beautiful where people could come together in brotherhood and live together, nourishing all the finer things of life. And story has it -- this is just hearsay -- I cannot possibly know -- it is just what Madame Tingley told us -- she said that Whittier told her grandfather, "Let the child have her dreams, they may come true some day."
Of her younger years very little is known, except that she was sent to a Catholic Convent in Montreal -- Villa Sainte Marie it was called. Sometime around 1911 or 1912, I was with her and we visited the old convent where she went to school. It seems that at one time she had the desire, as I suppose many young women in convents do, to become a nun, but she said that an old priest who was in charge of the personnel at the convent told her, "Kitty Westcott, this is not for you. You have another destiny." That is the story she tells.
Then she went through a number of vicissitudes. She was married to a printer by the name of Cook, and adopted a child, Flossie, with him. Things did not work out right. They were divorced and then she married a Mr. Parent, who was an inspector with the railroads, and that did not work out. Finally, she married a scientist-inventor, Philo Tingley, and they had a beautiful home on the West End in New York.
While she was married to Tingley, she turned to charity work on the East Side. During the cloak makers' strike in the early 1890's, she was ladling out soup or directing the soup kitchen ... in the cold winter weather, when William Q. Judge saw her carrying on the work there. (Judge was one of the cofounders of the Theosophical Society, with Madame Blavatsky.) He evidently recognized that she had unusual executive ability and a humanitarian instinct. He called on her at her residence and became very much impressed with her spiritual outlook and her native spirituality.
He became very ill with tuberculosis and she nursed him during his last illness down at some resort in Texas. When he died, the group in charge of Headquarters at 144 Madison Avenue found among his papers several cryptic messages pointing out that Katherine Tingley was the one who could help carry on his work. The Council turned to her and recognized her as the head of what was called the Esoteric Section -- the inner group that carried on the teachings.
There was some disagreement, some dissension, of course, since Madame Tingley was at that time not well known at all in Theosophical ranks, but she had very greatly impressed William Q. Judge, and he was recognized by all of them.
Judge had built up a big Society in this country. Earlier, in 1895, before Madame Tingley was known at all, there had been a convention of the Theosophical Society in Boston. At that time, what had been the American Section of the Theosophical Society disassociated itself entirely from what had been the Theosophical Society with headquarters at Adyar. This was because of the devotion of the American Section to Mr. Judge, who had been attacked by some of the Adyar representatives -- accusing him of fraud and so forth. At this meeting in Boston by a vote of 191 to 10, I believe, Judge was elected president for life of the Theosophical Society in America. After that, Madame Tingley became known.
In January 1898, Madame Tingley founded a new organization called the Universal Brotherhood. She sent for my father, who was a lawyer, and he came up from Macon, Georgia. He helped her draft the constitution of this new society called the Universal Brotherhood, inaugurated on January 13, 1898. Then in February of that same year, there was a convention of the Theosophical Society in America at Chicago. I have a photo of that. It was thoroughly written up.
At that time, my father was made chairman of the committee on resolutions. The committee on resolutions met privately. This committee included most of the active members at headquarters and different parts of this country. At the appropriate time, my father presented to the convention a resolution that the Theosophical Society in America should merge with the Universal Brotherhood organization and become the literary department thereof. There was immense enthusiasm, because with Judge's backing and the backing of some of the headquarters staff.
People at that time recognized that Katherine Tingley was a very unusual woman. They voted almost unanimously -- not entirely unanimously but almost. They accepted her with acclaim as the Leader and Official Head of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society.
The constitution that my father helped her to draft put almost autocratic power in her. Dr. Herbert Coryn of England, when someone raised the question and said, "This is an autocracy," said he preferred to have an autocracy with an adept at its head. It was not universally accepted. In other parts of the world, many went with the Universal Brotherhood, and others stayed with the old Society. The basic outline of that I published last year in my book called THEOSOPHY UNDER FIRE, which gives the story.
That is how Katherine Tingley came into prominence. Even before that, she led a crusade of American Theosophists around the world in 1896 and ended up in 1897 with the laying of the cornerstone at Point Loma.
Is it true that she heard about Point Loma from General Fremont?
Here is the story as I learned it. She attended the Second Inauguration of General Grant. General Fremont was one of the guests there. The story as I heard it is that she told him of the dream she had had as a child of the white city she was going to establish in the golden land in the West. She described Point Loma to a certain degree in a general outline. General Fremont is quoted to have said: "Why, I know that place, I have been there. It's Point Loma, that forms the Western shore of San Diego Bay." Of course that was a tremendous confirmation to her of the dream she had been dreaming since she was a young girl.
That was before her association with the Theosophists?
Oh, yes, that was back in the time of General Grant's Second Inauguration. Then when she became the leader of the Theosophical Society, she led the crusade of American Theosophists around the world.
When she was in Geneva, she had sent a representative out to buy a piece of property on Point Loma where she was going to establish what she then called the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity. When she was in Geneva, she received a cable from her representative, a Mr. Rambo, saying that there was no property available for sale on Point Loma. It was all government property. She was greatly distressed.
There was a very cultured, highly educated member of the Theosophical Society living in Geneva at that time, Gottfried de Purucker. His father was a clergyman in the Anglican American Church there at that time. He was quite a young man, but in his younger days, he had been to San Diego. He came to call on her at her hotel in Geneva and she told him that she had just received this word from Mr. Rambo that there was no private property for sale on Point Loma.
Mr. de Purucker said, "Your representative has been misled. It is true that the government owns the south end of Point Loma, but there is private property north of the government reservation." ... He proceeded to draw her a rough map, showing there was property available.
She cabled back to Mr. Neresheimer in New York: "Tell Mr. Rambo to look again; there is property available." They bought the property and that is where they laid the cornerstone when they arrived at Point Loma in February 1897.
When did Madame Tingley actually come to San Diego?
She came in 1900. Point Loma became her headquarters from then on.
She arrived after you did then?
After I had settled there, but she had been there before. She had a lecture-tour throughout the United States and she went abroad again before she settled at Point Loma in the summer of 1900. That is when she moved the headquarters from 144 Madison Avenue, New York, to Point Loma.
She lived therefrom then on until when?
From 1900 on, that was her permanent residence. She traveled a great deal, but she lived there from 1900 until she died in 1929. She actually died in Sweden on July 11, 1929.
In May of that year, she had undertaken another lecture-tour to Europe. Her chauffeur, late at night, drove into a stone embankment, an abutment of a bridge near Osnabruck, Germany. She was severely injured, and she never recovered from that. They took her to her Swedish headquarters on the Island of Visingso, Sweden, and there she died on July 11, 1929.
What was your first impression when you first met Madame Tingley? You were still young then. You were about ten years old.
I just thought she was a very vivacious, lovable, middle-aged lady. I must tell you a story about that. You bring back memories to me. This story shows you that somehow or other I belonged to Point Loma and the Theosophical Movement.
After the Congress in 1899, the delegation from Macon -- my father, Mr. Ross White, Mr. Walter Hanson, and others -- were assembled in her office in the southwest corner of the then Point Loma House, Dr. Wood's Sanitarium. We all were there to tell her goodbye. I was dressed in my Little Lord Fauntleroy suit ready to go to the train to go back to Georgia. I was sitting on the floor playing with her little cocker spaniel -- Spots was his name -- and they tell me (mind you, I don't remember this), that I looked up and said, "Mrs. Tingley, I know what you want, you want me to stay here." I was eight years old at that time.
"Iverson," she said, "do you want to stay here?"
I said, "Mrs. Tingley, if you want me to stay, I will stay."
So then, she gave me an American flag and I led the procession to go to what was called the Colony. They were going to establish a little colony considerably north of the headquarters. Talbot Mundy owned the property later.
I led the procession over to the colony and that is how I happened to stay at Point Loma. When the delegation from Macon, as I told you, arrived back in Macon, mother's little boy was not there. I was associated with the work at Point Loma from then on ...
What were her physical characteristics? How tall was she?
She was a short woman -- short and plump -- but she knew how to dress so that she had height. You have seen her pictures in the magazines. She knew how to give herself the appearance of being taller than she was. I will show you a picture that illustrates this.
She had beautifully delicate hands and sparkling brown eyes. I do not claim to read faces, but obviously, hers indicated vivacity, life, and vigor.
She had a sense of humor and enjoyed a good story immensely. She had a rippling laugh, but she was also an executive. She had a strong hand. As the Cuban boys used to say, "She no go for folly." She was an organizer and a boss, and she had much about her that was inspirational.
I would never call her a student or a profound scholar like her successor was. Dr. de Purucker was a wonderfully learned man and Madame Blavatsky was immensely learned and had an encyclopedic mind. KT just knew how to run things. To my mind, one of her greatest assets was that she knew how to inspire others to live a dedicated life and to serve and to be proud to do so.
The most wonderful thing about Point Loma, outside of Katherine Tingley's own creative and organizing ability, was the wonderful dedication of the people around her. Most of them asked for nothing but the opportunity to serve as best they could. Now that is a fact. That was the unique quality of the Point Loma Institution. They were not there for what they could get, but for what they could give, and they did it too. People gave of their time and their money and their talents, and were proud to do something to carry on the work.
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, June 1936, pages 448-54, where it was reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, IX, December 1915.]
Brightness, honor, power, splendor of countenance, and Vedic glory, these things, verily, were possessed in former times by Atidhanvan-Sanaka, king of the Videhas, in such measure that there was none like him to be found in the world, and even the gods were astonished. On his body, it is said, were the two and thirty marks of perfect birth and the birthmarks of the Chakravartin: the wheel, the orb, and the discus of unbounded sovereignty.
To speak of the tributary monarchs that bowed down to him, would limit the infinity of his power. From the seven continents, they came bearing wealth to his treasury. His armies went forth even to Patala. Such was the fame of his beneficence, that they achieved victory without the shedding of blood. He conquered the resplendent worlds. "Whatever tribute we may pay to him," said the kings of the earth, "it is upon us that the balance of benefit falls." Among the countless crores of his slaves and subjects, there was none to hanker after the lightening of his yoke. There were none to complain of his rule, or desire any other lord.
This pertained to his rank as Chakravartin. Heaven knows he was greater than a Chakravartin possessing world-sovereignty.
Shvetaketu-Dalbhya overheard seven flamingos discoursing as they flew over the palace in the night.
"Short-sighted brothers," said their leader, "fly not too near, lest the splendor of the good deeds of Atidhanvan-Sanaka scorch your wings."
Ushasti-Shalavatya listened while the bull of the herd was conversing with the cows.
"As for Atidhanvan-Sanaka." said the bull, "he, verily, is to be named with Raikva with the Car."
"How was it with that Raikva?" asked the cows. "How is it with Atidhanvan-Sanaka?"
"As in a game of dice," said the bull, "all the lower casts belong to him who conquers with the Krita cast, so all good deeds performed by other men belonged of old to Raikva, and belong now to the King of the Videhas."
Prasnayana-Jaivali heard the altar-flame soliloquizing.
"Atidhanvan-Sanaka," said the flame, "knows that Golden Person who is seen within the sun, with golden beard and golden hair, whose eyes are like blue lotuses, and who is golden altogether to the tips of his nails. Atidhanvan-Sanaka, verily, knows the Golden Person, the Lonely Bird."
He who knows this, says THE UPANISHAD, knows Brahman.
Certainly, then, the king knew Brahman. Though he was a warrior of the Kshattriya tribe, many Brahmanas came to him to learn wisdom. They put questions to him, and he answered. He revealed to them the Self, making known to them the wanderings of the Lonely Bird. He revealed to them that which is the Breath of the breath, the Eye of the eye, the Ear of the ear, and the Dwarf in the heart. Then he put questions to them, and they were dumb. "Master," said those proud ones. "Teach us!"
Kingly indeed was Atidhanvan-Sanaka. He was a majestic man, black-bearded, with dark and flashing eyes, severe and noble of aspect. He was constantly in action. It was constantly shining forth surrounded with the pomp and magnificence of his sovereignty. No one ever beheld him at rest. As with chanting of Vedic hymns and with ceremonial rites, the priests conduct the sacrifice.
As the sun passes through heaven, adoring that Brahman, so Atidhanvan-Sanaka conducted the affairs of the world. "Whatsoever the sun or the moon sees, or the light or the darkness hears, whatsoever the heart conceives, or the hand performs, or the tongue whispers, he knoweth it, he knoweth it," said the people. Yet, where one feared him, millions loved him. So great was the influence of his will and benevolence, that righteousness was maintained everywhere, and evil put down firmly in every quarter of the world.
In those days, there dwelt three ascetics in the Forest of Grantha-Nagari: Vaka-Kakshaseni, Satyakama-Kapeya, and Gautama-Kaushitakeya, or as he was called, Pautraya-Glava. They were assiduous in the quest of wisdom. They had spent three hundred years in meditation, performing many penances, and silently repeating the udgitha. They had attained many powers. Yet, there was that to which they had not attained.
At the end of a hundred years, Vaka-Kakshaseni said: "Sir, Satyakama-Kapeya, knowest thou that Brahman?"
"I know it not," said he.
At the end of the second hundred years, Satyakama-Kapeya said: "Sir, Gautama-Kaushitakeya, or as thou art called, Pautraya-Glava, knowest thou that Brahman?"
"I know it not," said he.
At the end of the third hundred years, Gautama-Kaushitakeya rose up and said: "Sirs, we have dwelt here these three hundred years in meditation, performing many penances, governing the inbreathing the out-breathing, and silently repeating the udgitha. We, verily, have attained to many powers. Yet, there is that to which we have not attained. There is that Atidhanvan-Sanaka, king of the Videhas: a Kshatriya, housed about in worldly pomp. He performs day by day the mere duties of a world-sovereign. He practices neither meditation nor study of the Veda, governing none of the breaths, performing no penance not austerities, nor repeating silently sacred texts. Yet, it is said that he knows the Brahman. Is it your opinion that we should go to him, and request him to teach us?"
"We are Brahmanas, and he is a Kshattriya," said they. "Were we to seek as our Teacher one unworthy to teach us, our heads might fall off."
"Our heads might fall off, truly," said he.
Then said Satyakama-Kapeya: "Sir, Vaka-Kakshaseni, what is thy opinion?"
"That one of us should go into the palace in disguise, and make inquiry as to the king's knowledge, and by what means he has gained it," said he.
They said: "Sir, Gautama-Kaushitakeya, do thou go."
Gautama-Kaushitakeya took the guise of a sweeper, went into the city, and mingled with the crowd that gathered in the morning when Atidhanvan-Sanaka comes into the Hall of Justice. He saw the king ascend the throne of clear saffron and bright vermilion, like the splendor of the sun at dawn into a sky of gold and scarlet.
He listened while the judgments were being given, and understood that no lie might be maintained against the king's perspicacity of vision. He saw that whatsoever deed was done, or thought was thought, or word spoken, it was known to Atidhanvan-Sanaka, and could not be concealed from him.
He abided there from dawn until noon, marveling increasingly. The motions of the king's hands, it seemed to him, were as the motions of Karma to administer rewards and punishments. The glances of the king's eyes seemed to penetrate compassionately into all corners of the earth. At the end of the morning, the people prostrated themselves and said: "Justice hath been done, even to the ultimate particular." Gautama-Kaushitakeya answered, "Yea, justice hath been done." He was not a man to be impressed with outward shows.
Then he went back to the forest. "Hast thou any news, sir?" said his companions.
"Sirs," he answered, "the glory of Atidhanvan-Sanaka, as he ascendeth the throne of justice in the morning, is like the glory of the sun at dawn ascending into a heaven robed in gold and scarlet, in diaphanous saffron and vermilion lovely to behold. His person, verily, is like the Golden Person that is seen in the sun, whose eyes are like blue lotuses, and who is golden altogether to the tips of his nails. I listened in the Hall of justice during the morning, and ceased not to marvel even at noon, when he went forth. The motions of his hands were as the motions of Karma, rewarding hidden merit, and punishing concealed wrong. No lie in the world might be maintained against the clear perspicacity of his vision."
Satyakama-Kapeya said: "There is nothing in this concerning knowledge of the Brahman."
Gautama-Kaushitakeya, or as he was called, Pautraya-Glava, said: "Sir, what is thy opinion?"
"That another of us should go in disguise to the palace," said he. "Sir, Vaka-Kakshaseni, do thou go."
Vaka-Kakshaseni went forth in the guise of a Kshattriya, and rode into the city at noon, and came into the Hall of Audience where the tributary kings and the ambassadors of foreign lands were waiting. There were seven score great princes present in the hall, all of them wise and mighty leaders. They were handsome to the eye of the beholder. Their apparel was exceedingly rich and adorned with gold and rubies, with costly emeralds and pearls.
Then came in Atidhanvan-Sanaka and took his place upon the throne, with sovereign magnificence like the heaven-riding sun at noon. He came with glory of countenance and Vedic splendor so multiplied upon him, that whoever else was present seemed but as a little candle lighted at midday in the face of the golden sun. The motions of his hands were the upholding and giving peace to distant empires. The glances of his eyes were enlightenment for far and barbarous peoples. The words of his mouth, even the least of them, brought peace where there had been contention, and brotherly kindness where there had been ambition, envy, and strife.
Vaka-Kakshaseni marveled until nightfall, and did not cease to marvel when the king went forth. It was well known that he was not a man to be impressed by outward shows and pomp. Then he returned to the forest of Grantha-Nagari, and sought his companions.
"Sir," said they, "hast thou learned the secret?"
"The glory of Atidhanvan-Sanaka," he said, "is like the glory of the end of judging people. In the doorway, as the crowd went out, he met a heaven-riding sun at noon. It was aloof, magnificent, sovereign, and not to be contemplated with naked vision. The other princes of the world, appearing in his presence, are as little candles in the face of the noonday sun. I listened, marveling, while he received the kings of distant countries. The movements of his hands uphold their empires. The glances of his eyes bring enlightenment to barbarous peoples. The glances spread joy and delight over the world. Even the least of his words cause peace where formerly were strife, envy, and ambitious contention."
Gautama-Kaushitakeya said: "There is nothing in this concerning the knowledge of Brahman."
Vaka-Kakshaseni said: "Sir, what is thy opinion?"
"That the third of us should go to the palace in disguise, and make inquiries. Sir Satyakama-Kapeya," he said, "do thou go to the palace."
"I will go tomorrow," said he.
On the morrow, he went forth in the guise of a sweeper, and came into the Hall of Justice at noon, when Atidhanvan-Sanaka had made an end of judging the people. In the doorway, as the crowd went out, he met a man of the sweeper caste, and questioned him. "Sir," said he, "by what means is it reputed that the King attains his knowledge? All that hath been spoken, thought, or done appears and is known to him. How is this?"
"Come into the garden and I will show thee," said the sweeper.
They went out and came to a lake where lotuses bloomed, some in color like the snows of Himavat, some like the clouds of sunset, some like the middle blue deepness of the sky at noon. In the midst of the lake was a lofty tower built of coral and ivory. It rose from no island. About its base, the floating leaves and blossoms of lotuses lolled, and the blue waters reflected the clouds.
"It is called the Tower of the Gandharvas," said the sweeper. "The King goes up into it nightly, and feasts there upon celestial food. Indra and Prajapati, they say, are his companions. The Gandharvas, the celestial singers, come to them in the tower, winging their way hither out of the region between the earth and the moon. Many that pass through the garden in the night hear their singing. It is sweeter than any sound that might be imagined. They sing for Atidhanvan-Sanaka until dawn, making known to him, as to their Teacher, all that is spoken or thought or done."
"That may be," thought Satyakama-Kapeya. "But there is nothing in it concerning the knowledge of the Brahman."
He went forth, and meditated upon that until dusk. Then be assumed the guise of a hotri or fire-priest, rose up, and went into the Hall of Audience when Atidhanvan-Sanaka was making an end of receiving the tributary kings and ambassadors. He saw that all were filled with awe and astonishment because of the Vedic splendor of the King. Going to another priest, he said:
"Sir, tell me to what Atidhanvan-Sanaka owes his astonishing glory. There is none like him, truly, in the world. Even, it is said, he knows the Brahman. Where gaineth he this perennial knowledge?"
"Sir," said the Brahmana, "come with me into the garden, and I will show thee."
He led him to the shore of the lake, and pointed to the tower. "Therein he receives illumination by night," said the Brahmana. "I think that one of the Rishis dwells there, and imparts instruction to him between nightfall and dawn. From his going in until his coming out, celestial music issues from the tower. The ignorant call it the Tower of the Gandharvas, and consider that those celestial singers who instruct him. The Gandharvas may sing during the instruction, or the music may be caused by the mere words of the Sage, his Teacher."
"That is probable," thought Satyakama-Kapeya. "But there is nothing in it concerning the knowledge of Brahman."
He went forth, and meditated upon that until midnight. Then he rose up, took upon him the guise of a moth, and flew into the garden. Verily, the whole place was filled with celestial music that issued from the tower. There was a sweet flood of sound intense with holiness and peace, making the scented night wonderful with holiness and peace. He lighted down on the closed petals of a lotus on the lake, and listened. It appeared to him that he was near to the knowledge of the Brahman. Then he flew up, and hovered round the tower, seeking a cranny by which he might enter. He found one at last, and went in. As he entered, he heard the music no longer.
He way nothing that he expected, neither the chamber of a king, nor the cell of an ascetic engaged in samadhi. "He is not here," he said, and prepared to fly forth again, but stayed. "I will watch this conflict."
He saw a lantern hung from the ceiling, shedding vague light over a room barren of adornments. The floor and walls were covered with filth and slime. The room was filled with an abominable stench that rose out of a vast pit in the midst of the floor.
There was a man in the room struggling with a demon. He was stripped to the waist. Blood and sweat poured from his body scarred with old wounds and new. The muscles of his limbs stood out in his agony. The clutch of the demon was upon him.
In dreadful silence, they writhed, swayed, and struggled. All night long Satyakama-Kapeya, strangely interested, watched them fighting. Fouler and more hideous was the demon than man's imagining can paint. One now, then the other seemed uppermost. All night long in dreadful silence, they writhed, strove, and made conflict. In dumb agony, the one was in foul malignity. The other was striving. "Where is Atidhanvan-Sanaka?" thought the ascetic. "Where are Indra and Prajapati?"
Dawn-light shone at last. The man gathered the demon in his arms, lifted it in the air, crushed the vile life out of it, and flung it into the pit that was in the midst of the floor. Then he stood up. The sunlight fell upon him. Satyakama-Kapeya saw the marks of the wounds upon his body glow in the sunlight. Behold, they were the two and thirty marks of perfect birth. Amongst them, shining like the sun, were the signs of the Chakravartin: the wheel, the orb, and the discus of world-sovereignty.
He flew forth meditating, and came in his own guise to the forest. "Sirs," he said, "I have the secret. He, verily, is fitted to be our Teacher. Come!"
That day the three of them came to Atidhanvan-Sanaka, bearing fuel in their hands. "Sir," they said, "teach us to know the Brahman."
"Be it so," said he. "Abide ye in the palace as fuel-carriers for seven years. Then come to me again."
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part V. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
The Wisdom had been in the place thrice seven years. Hardly greater in number were the listeners, and arid was the soil. In the learning of the true are two periods -- that of the old knowledge and that of the new -- the morning dawn and the hours of midday labor in the heat. The effortless revelation, the release from the one-life view: this is the dawn, this is the old, and this is memory of past inner knowledge speedily awakened by the outer word. Thereafter come the years of new effort, self-induced, self-devised, bringing wisdom beyond that of past lives. Without ever-increasing works and ever-assiduous study, the tongue of the golden expounder, the letter of the noblest book, seem repetitious and dull. These are the years decreeing the harvest of the new life.
Here, most seed grew stunted. Some, faithful in the letter of a duty undertaken, came on the hour, departed on the same hour; slipped imperceptibly out of fellowship; others starved inwardly for companionship needed unknowingly. Some sat with sight reverted upon household duties, or diversions, waiting the end of the hour. Some drifted in and out on the winds of transient affinity, running here and there. "That one must be heard while he remains! THIS place is ever ready of access!" Many, their compassion drawn by the ceaseless turmoil of those expiating karma in the Kali Yuga, said, "We must fill stomachs before we can fill minds," and devoted their loyalty and substance to empty bellies and cold backs; of empty bellies and cold backs there was no end, of wisdom no beginning.
Some were willing enough to teach, but unwilling to learn the Dharma of the teacher. Seeing the Companion toiling alone, they thought it to be from pride and self-sufficiency. They heard not the invitation to responsibility multifold extended, and suspected not that the Companion was bound by the requirements of a teaching founded upon a thousand ages of wisdom.
The young, without family guidance, came when game or arena did not command prior allegiance. If reminded at home, they brought but meager remembrance of the hour seven days gone, an hour crowded out and paled by more luring diversions. The heavy hand of war lay on the land, its crimson flames tinging the minds of old and young, damming out the Radiance.
On a day, the Companion, trying to ascertain the needs of the learners, put a question: an old question, asked an hundred times, answered an hundred times from the book. He framed it in new words. The pupils, surprised, regarded him with knitted brows.
His gaze sought the sunlight at the windows, and inwardly he asked:
"Say that the key to this place should turn for the last time, within the hour, what real difference to any, save myself?"
There arose the Voice of the Silence, bestowing the solace of a hard saying:
"Long ago, in a land forgotten, you willingly accepted this station, in compensation for the years through which others awaited your own tardy awakening. In no other way could you have met again these delayed ones -- delayed by your own indifference. Who suffers? In their ignorance, they are content -- for now. Cast your own reckoning."
Cogitated the Companion:
"The Work after all is good; otherwise the Voice would not have been heard. In what is it good? This I must know, in order to extend the necessary, avoid the unnecessary ... looking to myself, I have acquired a little knowledge of men, some humility, many gray hairs, and much weariness ... of positive qualities, perhaps some steadfastness. Steadfastness learned in the pond of this life may be of importance in some ocean of the future.
"What of these others? Why are they here at all? In earlier years, it could have been -- surely, it often was -- because of my vibrant voice and reassuring vitality. Not now. What is now here is truly of the Eternal. The flame in them burns low and flickering, often is seen not; yet, it lives and from no earthly fuel at all. Surely it cannot die.
"In the world of the Great Illusion, earth-shaking deeds are being performed by the hour. When the captains and the kings depart, the tumult and shouting dies, and the dust of battle settles to carpet universal desolation. What, then, of all that? Perhaps in this score of years, we have but provided a grain of sand for the Guardian Wall -- but the Wall is of Eternity. Let us then seek the grain of sand."
(The "Guardian Wall" or the "Wall of Protection." It is taught that the accumulated efforts of long generations of Yogis, Saints and Adepts, especially of the NIRMANAKAYAS, have created, so to say, a wall of protection around mankind, which wall shield mankind invisibly from still worse evils. See THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, page 72.)
Taking thought, he found another frame for the question, neither according to the words of the book nor according to his learning, but in a manner to be understood only by the heart. On the face of the seemingly dullest pupil broke a quick shy smile of understanding.
The grain was found.
By Pete Stieler
[From the Winter 2000-01 issue of the KALI YUGA RAG, pages 7-8. The KALI YUGA RAG is the newsletter of the Great Lakes Branch of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). For more information, see:
Also from pages 9-10 and 16 of the same issue is a theosophical crossword puzzle, also by Pete Stieler. It can be found at:
The puzzle is on a separate web page since it contains graphics.]
I got further reassurance by many others at the conference, reminding me that the Theosophical Society is not a "recruitment" organization.
I remember attending my first theosophical study group back in January 1996. I was initially attracted to the "all-inclusive" format that theosophy allows. Anyone is welcome to a meeting or discussion group. It seemed to me that the more diverse the group, the better my perspective of how these teachings can be interpreted. During the spring of 1999, the hosts of the theosophical discussions moved to Mecosta County, Michigan and subsequently, the meetings have since been held there.
After four years of attending these meetings on every other Sunday, it occurred to me that I might be able to hold meetings at my home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There is a strong concentration of Christianity here and some of the third and fourth generations are questioning their faith, and very sincerely seeking answers. But as much as I revel in the teachings, I felt I lacked what it took to host meetings of this import. I hardly felt I had enough understanding and knowledge to answer questions that many would have.
Then, this past summer, I attended the Conference 2000 of the Theosophical Society's American Section in Pasadena, California. To me, it was one of the largest study groups I had ever had the privilege of attending. The Leader of the Theosophical Society, Grace Knoche, reminded me that we are all students. Her words sounded like music to me. Here is a woman in her 90's who, after having been deeply involved in theosophy for literally all of her life, made a simple statement that both humbled and empowered me at the same time. I got further reassurance by many others at the conference, reminding me that the Theosophical Society is not a "recruitment" organization. Whether or not an individual pursues these teachings has always been a personal choice. There was never any pressure to attend the study groups or become a member of the Theosophical Society. The basics were established.
I decided that my basement was the best area for meetings. It was already partially remodeled in 1968 by the previous owner, so there is one finished den area immediately at the bottom of the stairs. Some white paint helped brighten it up and made for a cleaner appearance. Fortunately, my wife is a thrift store shopper. She found suitable furniture for a great price. We have a two-piece sectional sofa and two chairs along with a tall round table with three tall bar stools around it. Enough to comfortably seat eleven people. Four folding chairs from the closet are at the ready in case of a full house.
My insurance agent said that if money was being charged there would be a problem. But because no money is ever asked of anyone at anytime, she reassured me that my standard homeowner's policy covers me quite adequately in case of accidents. I did not even know my policy would provide this coverage until I asked. Of course, in this snowy winter climate, it is my responsibility to clear the sidewalk of snow and ice when needed.
A comfortable meeting place will soon be realized and it is my intention to start meetings when the sidewalk to my side entrance is repaired. Perhaps as early as March 2001! Stay tuned for the Grand Rapids meeting schedule by calling locally 616-456-8386 anytime.
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, March and July 1897.]
There sometimes comes on us a mood of strange reverence for people and things which in less contemplative hours we hold to be unworthy; and in such moments we may set side by side the head of Christ and the head of an outcast, and there is an equal radiance around each, which makes of the darker face a shadow and is itself a shadow around the head of light.
We feel a fundamental unity of purpose in their presence here, and would as willingly pay homage to the one who has fallen as to him who has become a master of life. I know that immemorial order decrees that the laurel and the crown be given only to the victor, but in those moments I speak of a profound intuition changes the decree and sets the aureole on both alike.
We feel such deep pity for the fallen that there must needs be a justice in it, for these diviner feelings are wise in themselves and do not vaguely arise. They are lights from the Father. A justice lies in uttermost pity and forgiveness, even when we seem to ourselves to be most deeply wronged. Why is it that the awakening of resentment or hate brings such swift contrition?
We are ever self-condemned; and the dark thought which went forth in us brooding revenge, when suddenly smitten by the light, withdraws, and hides within itself in awful penitence. In asking myself why it is that the meanest are safe from our condemnation when we sit on the true seat of judgment in the heart, it seemed to me that their shield was the sense we have of a nobility hidden in them under the cover of ignoble things; that their present darkness was the result of some too weighty heroic labor undertaken long ago by the human spirit; that it was the consecration of past purpose which played with such a tender light about their ruined lives, and it was more pathetic because this nobleness was all unknown to the fallen and the heroic cause of so much pain was forgotten in life's prison-house.
While feeling the service to us of the great ethical ideals that have been formulated by men, I think that the idea of justice intellectually conceived tends to beget a certain hardness of the heart. It is true that men have done wrong -- hence their pain: but back of all this there is something infinitely soothing, a light which does not wound, which says no harsh thing, even although the darkest of spirits turns to it in its agony, for the darkest of human spirits has still around him this first glory which shines from a deeper being within, whose history may be told as the legend of the Hero in Man.
Among the many immortals with whom ancient myth peopled the spiritual sphere of humanity are some figures that draw to themselves a more profound tenderness than the rest. Not Aphrodite rising in beauty from the fairy foam of the first seas, not Apollo with sweetest singing, laughter, and youth, not the wielder of the lightning, could exact the reverence accorded to the lonely Titan chained on the mountain, or to that bowed figure heavy with the burden of the sins of the world; for the brighter divinities had no part in the labor of man, no such intimate relation with the wherefore of his own existence so full of struggle.
The more radiant figures are prophecies to him of his destiny, but the Titan and the Christ are a revelation of his more immediate state; their giant sorrows companion his own, and in contemplating them he awakens what is noblest in his own nature; or, in other words, in understanding their divine heroism he understands himself. For this in truth it seems to me to mean: all knowledge is a revelation of the self to the self, and our deepest comprehension of the seemingly apart divine is also our furthest inroad to self-knowledge; Prometheus and Christ are in every heart. The story of one is the story of all. The Titan and the Crucified are humanity.
If, then, we consider them as representing the human spirit and disentangle from the myths their meaning, we shall find that whatever reverence is due to that heroic love, which descended from heaven for the redeeming of a lower nature, must be paid to every human being. Christ is incarnate in all humanity. Prometheus is bound forever within us. They are the same. They are a host, and the divine incarnation was not spoken of one, but of all those who descending into the lower world tried to change it into the divine image and to wrest out of chaos a kingdom for the empire of light.
The angels saw below them in chaos a senseless rout blind with elemental passion forever warring with discordant cries which broke in upon the world of divine beauty; and that the pain might depart, they grew rebellious in the Master's peace, and descending to earth the angelic lights were crucified in men; leaving so radiant worlds, such a light of beauty, for earth's gray twilight filled with tears, that through this elemental life might breathe the starry music brought from Him.
If the "Foreseer" be a true name for the Titan, it follows that in the host which he represents was a light which well foreknew all the dark paths of its journey; foreseeing the bitter struggle with a hostile nature, but foreseeing perhaps a gain, a distant glory o'er the hills of sorrow, and that chaos, divine and transformed, with only gentle breathing, lit up by the Christ-soul of the universe.
There is a transforming power in the thought itself: we can no longer condemn the fallen, they who laid aside their thrones of ancient power, their spirit ecstasy and beauty, on such a mission. Perhaps those who sank lowest did so to raise a greater burden, and of these most fallen it may in the hour of their resurrection be said, "The last shall be first."
So, placing side by side the head of the outcast with the head of Christ, it has this equal beauty -- with as bright a glory it sped from the Father in ages past on its redeeming labor. Of his present darkness, what shall we say? "He is altogether dead in sin?" Nay, rather with tenderness forbear, and think that the foreseeing spirit has taken its own dread path to mastery; that that which foresaw the sorrow foresaw also beyond it a greater joy and a mightier existence, when it would rise again in a new robe, woven out of the treasure hidden in the deep of its submergence, and shine at last like the stars of the morning triumphant among the sons of God.
Our deepest life is when we are alone. We think most truly, love best, when isolated from the outer world in that mystic abyss we call soul. Nothing eternal can equal the fullness of these moments. We may sit in the blue twilight with a friend, or bend together by the hearth, half whispering, or in a silence populous with loving thoughts mutually understood; then we may feel happy and at peace, but it is only because we are lulled by a semblance to deeper intimacies.
When we think of a friend, and the loved one draws nigh, we sometimes feel half-pained, for we touched something in our solitude which the living presence shut out; we seem more apart, and would fain wave them away and cry, "Call me not forth from this; I am no more a spirit if I leave my throne." But these moods, though lit up by intuitions of the true, are too partial. They belong too much to the twilight of the heart. They have too dreamy a temper to serve us well in life. We should wish rather for our thoughts directness such as belongs to the messengers of the gods, swift, beautiful, flashing presences bent on purposes well understood.
What we need is that interior tenderness shall be elevated into seership, that what in most is only yearning or blind love shall see clearly its way and hope. To this end, we have to observe more intently the nature of the interior life. We find, indeed, that it is not solitude at all, but dense with multitudinous being: instead of being alone, we are in the thronged highways of existence. For our guidance, when entering here many words of warning have been uttered, laws have been outlined, and beings full of wonder, terror, and beauty described.
Yet there is a spirit in us deeper than our intellectual being which I think of as the Hero in man, who feels the nobility of its place in the midst of all this, and who would fain equal the greatness of perception with deeds as great. The weariness and sense of futility which often falls upon the mystic after much thought is due to this, that he has not recognized that he must be worker as well as seer, that here he has duties demanding a more sustained endurance just as the inner life is so much vaster and more intense than the life he has left behind.
Now the duties, which can be taken up by the soul, are exactly those that it feels most inadequate to perform when acting as an embodied being. What shall be done to quiet the heart-cry of the world: how answer the dumb appeal for help we so often divine below eyes that laugh? It is the saddest of all sorrows to think that pity with no hands to heal, that love without a voice to speak should helplessly heap their pain upon pain while earth shall endure. There is a truth about sorrow that I think may make it seem not so hopeless.
There are fewer barriers than we think. There is, in truth, an inner alliance between the soul who would fain give and the soul who is in need. Nature has well provided that not one golden ray of all our thoughts is sped ineffective through the dark; not one drop of the magical elixirs love distils is wasted.
Let us consider how this may be. There is a habit we nearly all have indulged in: We weave little stories in our minds, expending love and pity upon the imaginary beings we have created, and I have been led to think that many of these are not imaginary, that somewhere in the world beings are living just in that way, and we merely reform and live over again in our life the story of another life. Sometimes these faraway intimates assume so vivid a shape; they come so near with their appeal for sympathy that the pictures are unforgettable; and the more I ponder over them the more it seems to me that they often convey the actual need of some soul whose cry for comfort has gone out into the vast, perhaps to meet with an answer, perhaps to hear only silence.
I will supply an instance. I see a child, a curious, delicate little thing, seated on the doorstep of a house. It is an alley in some great city, and there is a gloom of evening and vapor over the sky. I see the child is bending over the path; he is picking cinders and arranging them, and as I ponder, I become aware that he is laying down in gritty lines the walls of a house, the mansion of his dream. Here, spread along the pavement, are large rooms, these for his friends, and a tiny room in the center, that is his own. So his thought plays. Just then, I catch a glimpse of the corduroy trousers of a passing workman, and a heavy boot crushes through the cinders. I feel the pain in the child's heart as he shrinks back, his little lovelit house of dreams all rudely shattered.
Ah, poor child, building the City Beautiful out of a few cinders, yet nigher, truer in intent than many a stately, gold-rich palace reared by princes, thou wert not forgotten by that mighty spirit who lives through the falling of empires, whose home has been in many a ruined heart. Surely, it was to bring comfort to hearts like thine that that the Buddha ordained most noble of all meditations.
He lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of Love, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, and everywhere, does be continue to pervade with heart of Love far-reaching, grown great and beyond measure.
That love, though the very fairy breath of life, should by itself and so imparted have a sustaining power some may question, not those who have felt the sunlight fall from distant friends who think of them; but, to make clearer how it seems to me to act, I say that love, Eros, is a being. It is more than a power of the soul, though it is that also; it has universal life of its own, and just as the dark heaving waters do not know what jewel lights they reflect with blinding radiance, so the soul, partially absorbing and feeling the ray of Eros within it, does not know that often a part of its nature nearer to the sun of love shines with a brilliant light to other eyes than its own.
Many people move unconscious of their own charm, unknowing of the beauty and power they seem to others to impart. It is some past attainment of the soul, a jewel won in some old battle that it may have forgotten, but nonetheless this gleams on its tiara and the star-flame inspires others to hope and victory.
If it is true here that many exert a spiritual influence that they are unconscious of, it is still truer of the spheres within. Once the soul has attained to any possession like love, or persistent will, or faith, or a power of thought, it comes into spiritual contact with others who are struggling for these very powers.
The attainment of any of these means that the soul is able to absorb and radiate some of the diviner elements of being. The soul may or may not be aware of the position it is placed in or its new duties, but yet that Living Light, having found a way into the being of any one person, does not rest there, but sends its rays and extends its influence on and on to illumine the darkness of another nature.
So it comes that there are ties that bind us to people other than those whom we meet in our everyday life. I think they are most real ties, most important to understand, for if we let our lamp go out, some far away who had reached out in the dark and felt a steady will, a persistent hope, a compassionate love, may reach out once again in an hour of need, and finding no support may give way and fold the hands in despair.
Often we allow gloom to overcome us and so hinder the bright rays in their passage; but would we do it so often if we thought that perhaps a sadness which besets us, we do not know why, was caused by someone drawing nigh to us for comfort, whom our lethargy might make feel still more his helplessness, while our courage, our faith, might cause "our light to shine in some other heart which as yet has no light of its own?"
The night was wet: and, as I was moving down the streets, my mind was also journeying on a way of its own, and the things which were bodily present before me were no less with me in my unseen traveling. Every now and then, a transfer would take place, and some of the moving shadows in the street would begin walking about in the clear interior light. The children of the city, crouched in the doorways, or racing through the hurrying multitude and flashing lights, began their elfin play again in my heart; and that was because I had heard these tiny outcasts shouting with glee.
I wondered if the glitter and shadow of such sordid things were thronged with magnificence and mystery for those who were unaware of a greater light and deeper shade that made up the romance and fascination of my own life. In imagination, I narrowed myself to their ignorance, littleness, and youth, and seemed for a moment to flit amid great uncomprehended beings and a dim wonderful city of palaces.
Then another transfer took place and I was pondering anew, for a face I had seen flickering through the warm wet mist haunted me; it entered into the realm of the interpreter, and I was made aware by the pale cheeks, and by the close-shut lips of pain, and by some inward knowledge, that there the Tree of Life was beginning to grow, and I wondered why it is that it always springs up through a heart in ashes: I wondered also if that which springs up, which in itself is an immortal joy, has knowledge that its shoots are piercing through such anguish; or again, if it was the piercing of the shoots which caused the pain, and if every throb of the beautiful flame darting upward to blossom meant the perishing of some more earthly growth which had kept the heart in shadow.
Seeing too how many thoughts spring up from such a simple thing, I questioned whether that which started the impulse had any share in the outcome, and if these musings of mine in any way affected their subject. I then began thinking about those secret ties of which I have speculated before, and in the darkness my heart grew suddenly warm and glowing, for I had chanced upon one of those shining imaginations which are the wealth of those who travel upon the hidden ways.
In describing that which comes to us all at once, there is a difficulty in choosing between what is first and what is last to say: but, interpreting as best I can, I seemed to behold the onward movement of a Light, one among many Lights, all living, throbbing, now dim with perturbations, and now again clear, and all subtly woven together, outwardly in some more shadowy shining, and inwardly in a greater fire, which, though it was invisible, I knew to be the Lamp of the World.
This Light, which I beheld, I felt to be a human soul, and the perturbations that dimmed it were its struggles and passionate longing for something, and that was for a more brilliant shining of the light within itself. It was in love with its own beauty, enraptured by its own lucidity; and I saw that as these things were more beloved they grew paler, for this light is the love which the Mighty Mother has in her heart for her children, and she means that it shall go through each one unto all, and whoever restrains it in himself is himself shut out; not that the great heart has ceased in its love for that soul, but that the soul has shut itself off from influx, for every imagination of man is the opening or the closing of a door to the divine world: now he is solitary, cut off, and, seemingly to himself, on the desert and distant verge of things: and then his thought throws open the swift portals; he hears the chant of the seraphs in his heart, and he is made luminous by the lighting of a sudden aureole.
This soul which I watched seemed to have learned at last the secret love: for, in the anguish begotten by its loss, it followed the departing glory in penitence to the inmost shrine where it ceased altogether; and because it seemed utterly lost and hopeless of attainment and capriciously denied to the seeker, a profound pity arose in the soul for those who, like it were seeking, but still in hope, for they had not come to the vain end of their endeavors. I understood that such pity is the last of the precious essences that make up the elixir of immortality, and when it is poured into the cup, it is ready for drinking.
And so it was with this soul which grew brilliant with the passage of the eternal light through its new purity of self-oblivion and joyful in the comprehension of the mystery of the secret love, which, though it has been declared many times by the greatest of teachers among men, is yet never known truly unless the Mighty Mother has herself breathed it in the heart.
And now that the soul had divined this secret, the shadowy shining which was woven in bonds of union between it and its fellow-lights grew clearer; and a multitude of these strands were, so it seemed, strengthened and placed in its keeping: along these it was to send the message of the wisdom and the love which were the secret sweetness of its own being.
Then a spiritual tragedy began, infinitely more pathetic than the old desolation, because the very nobility of the spirit brought it about. This soul, shedding its love like rays of glory, seemed itself the center of a ring of wounding spears: it sent forth love and the arrowy response came hate-impelled: it whispered peace and was answered by the clash of rebellion: and to all this for defense it could only bare more openly its heart that a profounder love from the Mother Nature might pass through upon the rest.
I knew this was what a teacher, who wrote long ago, meant when he said: "Put on the whole amour of God," which is love and endurance, for the truly divine children of the Flame are not armed otherwise: and of those protests, sent up in ignorance or rebellion against the whisper of the wisdom, I saw that some melted in the fierce and tender heat of the heart, and there came in their stead a golden response which made closer the ties, and drew these souls upward to an understanding and to share in the overshadowing nature.
This is part of the plan of the Great Alchemist, whereby the red ruby of the heart is transmuted into the tendered light of the opal; for the beholding of love made bare acts like the flame of the furnace: and the dissolving passions, through an anguish of remorse, the lightnings of pain, and through an adoring pity, are changed into the image they contemplate, and melt in the ecstasy of self-forgetful love, the spirit which lit the thorn-crowned brows, which perceived only in its last agony the retribution due to its tormentors, and cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Now although the love of the few may alleviate the hurt due to the ignorance of the mass, it is not in the power of anyone to withstand forever this warfare; for by the perpetual wounding of the inner nature it is so wearied that the spirit must withdraw from a tabernacle grown too frail to support the increase of light within and the jarring of the demonic nature without; and at length comes the call which means, for a while, release, and a deep rest in regions beyond the paradise of lesser souls. So, withdrawn into the Divine Darkness, vanished the Light of my dream.
Now it seemed as if this wonderful weft of souls intertwining as one being must come to naught; and all those who through the gloom had nourished a longing for the light would stretch out hands in vain for guidance: but that I did not understand the love of the Mother, and that although few, there is no decaying of her heroic brood; for, as the seer of old caught at the mantle of him who went up in the fiery chariot, so another took up the burden and gathered the shining strands together: and to this sequence of spiritual guides there is no ending.
Here I may say that the love of the Mother, which, acting through the burnished will of the hero, is wrought to highest uses, is in reality everywhere, and pervades with profoundest tenderness the homeliest circumstance of daily life; and there is not lacking, even among the humblest, an understanding of the spiritual tragedy which follows upon every effort of the divine nature bowing itself down in pity to our shadowy sphere; an understanding in which the nature of the love is gauged through the extent of the sacrifice and the pain which is overcome.
I recall the instance of an old Irish peasant, who, as he lay in hospital wakeful from a grinding pain in his leg, forgot himself in making drawings, rude yet reverently done, of incidents in the life of the Galilean teacher. One of these which he showed me was a crucifixion, where, amidst much grotesque symbolism, were some tracings which indicated a purely beautiful intuition; the heart of this crucified figure, no less than the brow, was wreathed about with thorns and radiant with light: "For that," said he, "was where he really suffered."
When I think of this old man, bringing forgetfulness of his own bodily pain through contemplation of the spiritual suffering of his Master, my memory of him shines with something of the transcendent light he himself perceived; for I feel that some suffering of his own, nobly undergone, had given him understanding, and he had laid his heart in love against the Heart of Many Sorrows, seeing it wounded by unnumbered spears yet burning with undying love.
Though much may be learned by observance of the superficial life and actions of a spiritual teacher, it is only in the deeper life of meditation and imagination that it can be truly realized; for the soul is a midnight blossom which opens its leaves in dream, and its perfect bloom is unfolded only where another sun shines in another heaven: there it feels what celestial dews descend on it, and what influences draw it up to its divine archetype: here in the shadow of earth root intercoils with root and the finer distinctions of the blossom are not perceived.
If we knew also who they really are, who sometimes in silence, and sometimes with the eyes of the world at gaze, take upon them the mantle of teacher, an unutterable awe would prevail: for underneath a bodily presence not in any sense beautiful may burn the glory of some ancient divinity, some hero who has laid aside his scepter in the enchanted land to rescue old-time comrades fallen into oblivion: or again, if we had the insight of the simple old peasant into the nature of this enduring love, out of the exquisite and poignant emotions kindled would arise the flame of a passionate love which would endure long aeons of anguish that it might shield, though but for a little, the kingly hearts who may not shield themselves.
But I too, who write, have launched the rebellious spear, or in lethargy have ofttimes gone down the great drift numbering myself among those who not being with must needs be against: therefore I make no appeal; they only may call who stand upon the lofty mountains; but I reveal the thought which arose like a star in my soul with such bright and pathetic meaning, leaving it to you who read to approve and apply it.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "Karma, Soul and Ego," made of a private class held on August 4, 1954.]
There is something that I would have liked to mention on other occasions. It just happens to be close to what we are talking about now. The intellectuality does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with spirituality. The development of our intellectual powers does not always go with lofty ethics and a keen sense of spiritual oneness with all that lives. In the majority of cases, it is just the other way around. Highly intellectual people are often unspiritual. Many people of intense spiritual aspiration are not intellectual.
The higher grades of humanity, the great occult leaders of the human race, have balanced spirituality, intellectuality, and everything else. I am not speaking about those who have unfolded the complete balance between the various principles and aspects of their consciousness. Personally, when I see an individual giving signs of a strong, powerful intellectual grasp of the teachings of the esoteric philosophy, I get uneasy! I almost expect to see that individual to eventually show some fundamental ethical weakness. I expect to see him deny or reject some basic spiritual code of conduct, or shut himself away, in the ivory tower of his great intellectual achievement. He will shut himself away from the intense heart sympathy, the keynote of true spirituality. He will even shut himself away from ordinary feeling for fellow human beings.
The word "spirituality" has become hopelessly misused in the Occident, even in the Orient, but particularly with us here. Sanctimoniousness has become synonymous with spirituality. Religiousness has become synonymous with it too, but should not. I would define spirituality as an intense, keen inner sense and realization, or awareness, of the utter oneness of all that is, and the ability of the individual to rise above his sense of separateness, and to see all things as one.
I hope I am not too hard on intellectuals. I have primarily in mind theosophical intellectuals. These students have almost learned by heart THE SECRET DOCTRINE, and other books. They can rattle away by the hour their own remembrance, or memory, or memorizing, of what they have learned in those books, and appear from the platform or a study class as being great exponents of the Ancient Wisdom.
The same individuals will perform in a different manner in other aspects of their lives. They can stick daggers into you because you thwarted their ambition. They can, with the greatest of ease, sacrifice their best friends, and the best interests of those friends, to serve their own vanity, or to serve their love of power, or love to shine, or any other qualities that are of personal benefit to them at any particular time. They can misrepresent you behind your back. They shut themselves away from any participation in the suffering of the world. They refuse the proverbial penny to the beggar or any other helpful gesture to those in need, perhaps in spiritual need rather than monetary. Yet, they prate without end about their great understanding of the teachings.
I think these people are a menace, a peril, and blight upon all metaphysical and theosophical movements throughout the ages.
Are there many souls like that? It is a paradox to read and love something like most of us love Theosophy in all its ramifications, and then turn around and do something like that.
Yes, unfortunately. If the majority of students were the opposite of that, if they were centers of great spirituality, and lived the theosophical teachings that have become a living power in their lives, the Theosophical Movement would be a leading spiritual power. It is not.
Everyone likes to join societies. They are the fellows who talk. They talk the loudest at the meetings, make the most noise, and the most propositions, and so forth. They always do the least for the real benefit of the rest. The same thing happens in the Theosophical Society. Some find the intellectual aspect appeals to them, and that is all there is to them, nothing else. I have known a few. They were not bad people, just too intellectual.
It is the tragedy of most spiritual movements in our age. By our age, I mean several thousand years. I do not mean this century alone, or two or three of them. It seems to be the testing ground, the great ground for trials and tribulations, tests, and the searching of the human mind and heart. Is the individual going to move intellectually? Is he going to move ethically and spiritually? I would identify ethics with spirituality. That test has been the test of all the cycles. It has been the test of all mystical and metaphysical organizations. The decision would naturally lie in the individual, in his own inner self.
What is the paradox? It is that scores and thousands of individuals can be attracted to a genuine spiritual movement, and yet be intensely selfish. I can imagine that for some it might be difficult to understand. They might think that individuals attracted into a spiritual movement are of necessity of a higher ethics, more unselfish than others, more advanced in all respects to the other part of humanity, and so they are naturally attracted to that light. That is not so. That is again one of those things where we are constantly and repeatedly deceived and self-deceived.
We find a modern Theosophical Movement with thousands of people whose main interest is an intellectual pastime. These are the exceptions. We find one man here, and one woman there, and a couple of people here and there, maybe. They are the embodiments of the simple Theosophical teachings. They live these teachings thoroughly, because they have become saturated with the practical application, in some unselfish way, of the teachings in their daily life. Such people are exceedingly few. There seem to be fewer today than there were in the early part of the movement. Of course, the same difference between the two types exists in other organizations, and among people who belong to no organizations.
I am appalled at times in witnessing how vast is the intellectual equipment of some students and how shallow is their spiritual mooring. They carry vast intellectual ballast. When a period of test comes and their souls are pulled through the fire, they fizzle out. They have nothing to stand upon. The Theosophical Wisdom in which they wade does not come up higher than their feet or ankles. The air they breathe is saturated with intellectual abstractions and general confusion. They are not the living power of spiritual knowledge and wisdom that their friends mistook them for being.
I have also seen some who could hardly understand, intellectually, any of the more technical teachings. They lived every minute of their lives for someone else. They never lived for themselves at all. They constantly ministered to the needs and the spiritual interests of others. When tests came in their lives, they stood like pillars of granite. When tests came in other people's lives, they could be called upon as examples of fortitude, spiritual firmness, and an unyielding determination to stand by principles of conduct, against all odds. Which would we like to be?
Many simple people in the world have never heard of Theosophy, yet live it daily. They may never find Theosophy. It would be a great philosophy, what there is to offer. There are so few people in it, though, who make it a living force in the world. It is like you said. It attracts certain types. Simple people are not attracted putting in a life of study. The school of adepts was exceedingly optimistic in putting forth these teachings and expecting anything to happen.
Some people do not have to find Theosophy as "Theosophy" to become Adepts. They can become Adepts without ever even hearing the word, because of their ethics, their living, their spirituality, and their unselfishness. They could be some hillbillies. It does not make any difference. They could be perfectly wonderful people.
People need to go together. The approach does not have to be Theosophy. The name does not matter. There must be some structure. Then all can at least know that there is another person, maybe two blocks away, someone that feels the way they do. This helps them be a force in the world, something that is going to change humanity's thinking to where people feel brotherhood and love. Most are here and there and everywhere, going to different churches, living different lives, all scattered.
In the Bible, you have the injunction there, "Lead the life, and you shall know the doctrine." You have to lead that life in which you see the whole thing as a whole, not as separate parts, and act accordingly. You can reach that point through religion. Some religions will lead you into that, if you follow religion to that extent. You have to branch out beyond ordinary ethics into the mystical aspects of the particular religion that you follow. Most religions -- the Catholics, the Buddhists, the Hindus, Mohammedans, and whatnot -- have produced great mystics whom have left something for posterity. They never used the word "Theosophy."
Separate the idea of the so-called goody-goody people. That does not mean anything. They are not going to become "Mahatmas." We have the self and the Self, the Higher Self. The sign of the spirituality is when one realizes the true Self, and tries to become it, or when one realizes that one is that Self. Regardless of whether you go through the door of Theosophy, Hinduism, or Mohammedanism, you can reach that. THE BHAGAVAD GITA says that there are many the roads that come to Me.
That is an essential point. We must not lose sight of it. Maybe it could, as well, be put in some other way. There is a certain body of teachings that we call the technical teachings of Theosophy. This body of teachings is not to be found in any exoteric approach, in any religious form. The body of teachings is kept from age to age for the study and assimilation by such people as can grasp them.
The living of a Theosophic life is synonymous with living a truly Christian life, or a truly Buddhist life, a truly anything. That living is not necessarily dependent upon the understanding of the technical theosophical teachings. All sorts of people, all over the world, can lead it. The day will inevitably come in their lives, in one incarnation or another, when they will dip into the common source of the higher teachings, and receive the intellectual explanation of how the universe works, and how it is built. If at that time they are already living examples of truth and high ethics, it will be much easier for them to understand.
It is downright a menace, when an individual grasps the higher theosophical teachings and has not done anything to live the higher life. He can be a danger. He can ruin himself, and ruin others in so doing.
Representatives of religions -- priests, monks, pastors, or bishops -- are not spiritual men. They simply make a living by what they do.
Might many of the Society's people who are highly intellectual about Theosophy be unaware that they do not apply as much as they should to their own daily lives? They have applied a certain amount of Theosophy in their personal life. They feel that they are living the Theosophical life. How would you point out that they are not fully living the life, that they are still too much on the intellectual plane?
It is a good question. It is difficult to do. What is your duty when you point out to people exactly how they appear to you to be? They turn against you! They thoroughly dislike you to point out to them any defect of their character. You get along nicely with people if you encourage their good qualities, mention the good, and never mention any of their ugly qualities. You get along nicely with them. If you know them well, you might occasionally say something you show them indirectly that there are things in themselves that could be whittled down, changed, or altered. If you speak directly about any negative quality, you rouse them into a fighting mood. You arouse their animal self. They will use some excuse to turn against you and become your enemy, or to leave you cold and never come around again.
An individual who can take on the chin someone else's appraisal of his negative qualities is ahead of others. He is so sincere in his life that he actually likes it when someone points out his defects. That man is superior to others. I have known but few. How rare those people are! How infrequent are those people, who want to become disciples!
The disciple has only one right. That right is to get discipline. That is why he is a disciple. He wants discipline. He gets it. Discipline does not consist in the teacher telling him about his good qualities, except occasionally. It consists in his getting the rod where the rod is called for. We are not so advanced that we can give the rod to anybody else, because those people, with perfect justification, can give us the rod too. We are not different from them. In the case of a true spiritual teacher with disciples, his business is to see that they get the discipline that they have asked for. The teacher does not administer it against the will of the disciple. The disciple has asked for it, so he gets it. Then he grows. To the extent to which he receives it, takes it, and does something about it he grows. Is it surprising that there are few people like that? Is it surprising that we do not have more of them?
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1936, pages 264-68.]
Exploding the Satan myth was an important part of the work undertaken by H.P. Blavatsky in bringing to the world the message of Theosophy. This curious perversion of the truth has done much harm during the ages from which we are emerging. Its rectification will be coincident with a new gospel of hope and help to humanity.
H.P. Blavatsky issued a challenge to theology by boldly naming her new magazine LUCIFER. This name, as its etymology shows, means "light-bringer," and is applied to the morning star that heralds the light of day. Its equivalent in Greek is Phosphoros, which means the same. It is strange indeed that an angel with such a name, indicating such attributes, should have been transformed into an angel of darkness, a synonym for Satan, the evil counterpart of God, foe alike to God and man.
To understand how this has come about, we must refer to the sacred allegory found in the early chapters of Genesis, whose meaning has been similarly perverted. If it were asked what reason we can give for preferring the Theosophical teaching to the usual theological interpretation, we can give two answers. One is that to understand any given scripture it is necessary to compare it with other scriptures. By adopting this method, we sift out from each whatever is accidental and arrive at what is essential and common to all. The other is that the true explanation is found to conform to the facts of human experience, whereas the false interpretation conflicts with those facts.
During Christian times, there has always been an antagonism between religious sanctions and the spirit of free inquiry. The authority of churches and of representative religious leaders has been unfriendly and often hostile to individual initiative in the search for truth. Often there has been war to the knife, at other times mutual indifference. At the best, there have been attempted adjustments between elements assumed (by those attempts) naturally diverse.
The natural intelligence of man has felt that the truth must be one and single, not divided into two opposite species. A God that is all wise and all loving cannot rightly be conceived as an obscurantist. Then there is the well-known problem why such a God could create man, allow him to fall or be led by Satan into corruption, and then provide for his rescue by doubtful means and one that (in strict theological interpretation) comprehends but a minute fraction of the human race.
Things like these have driven many worthy souls out of religion altogether, unaware that there was any genuine truth to replace the spurious article which they have rejected. This is what is meant when we say that the theological interpretation conflicts with human experience instead of explaining it.
This divorce between two vital aspects of truth has also had a disastrous effect on science, causing it to propound a view of man's origin and nature based on purely physical influences.
The duality of man's nature is the most common fact of experience, constituting as it does the entire motive of the drama of human life. It is surely the function of any body of doctrine, whether it pose as religious or scientific, to explain this fact of man's duality.
If we compare the stories of man's creation as found in the various scriptures and mythologies, we find everywhere a dual creation of man. He is created as an innocent being, without knowledge of good and evil, without free choice, living in a state of harmless and unprogressive bliss. Afterwards he is enlightened by the gift of divine fire, which turns him into a responsible being, made in the image of his divine creators, and destined thenceforth to learn wisdom by experience of pain and pleasure, wrong and right.
Such is the true interpretation of the allegory in Genesis. The Serpent is man's real Savior. It is this Serpent that teaches man the knowledge of good and evil and makes him like unto the Gods. The Serpent is actually the Lord God in another form, perfecting his own original work and making of the earlier mindless man a complete being, a fitting image of his divine author.
The Greeks tell the same thing in the story of Prometheus. He takes compassion on helpless mankind and brings fire down from heaven in a tube, enlightening men. There is the same apparent hostility between Zeus and Prometheus as between the Lord God and the Serpent. It is evident that the man of Eden, and the man whom Prometheus enlightened, were little better than automatons. Such a being could only become a real man by having a choice given him. Only thus could he exercise free will, that attribute of divinity.
The exercise of free will and choice can be construed into an act of rebellion. Satan is said to have rebelled against God and fallen from heaven. He did so in compassion for man, performing an act of self-sacrifice for the salvation of man, just as Prometheus sacrificed himself and was ejected from Olympus to be fastened to a rock. Satan is the head of a host of angels, who with him rebelled against God and fell from heaven. They were the true enlighteners of man.
This allegory of the Fallen Angels has been so misrepresented that it may seem as though we were being profane in so speaking of it. In fact, it is one of the most holy and sublime teachings of ancient wisdom. The kind of evolution studied by science cannot produce anything higher than animals.
The human self-conscious intelligence can never have been evolved from the animal mind. It is a gift apart. This gift of the divine intelligence is passed on from beings that have it to those who come after them. It is brought to men from above, not worked up from below.
The scriptures say that in ages long gone by, man walked with the Gods. Man had intercourse with divine beings. It was thus that man received that marvelous intelligence which, all obscured as it is by his mortal clay, yet makes him so immeasurably above the animals. The earliest races of mankind were mindless, sinless, and devoid of initiative. Later in evolution, the divine fire was passed to man from beings who had acquired it before. Man was enlightened.
This teaching regarding the evolution of human races is too long to be entered into here, but can be found in Theosophical books. It is allegorized in the Bible and other sacred books. The temptation of flesh in the Garden of Eden is a gross misinterpretation of the allegory. God has been represented as cursing forever what was a purely natural act and function. Here is another false antithesis, by which natural functions have been connected with the idea of sin. Man has been set at war with himself. Endless moral confusion has gone down through the ages.
If this Biblical Satan is a name for man's enlightener, and not the archfiend and enemy of God and man, nevertheless there may be a real devil among us. This devil is our own personified passions and evil thoughts. We know this devil by experience. We know how the alliance between fleshly passion and human self-consciousness can engender an evil personality that steps into our clothes and wears our mask.
It is not mere physical immorality, harmful though that may be, that is the worst foe of man. It is selfishness, hate, anger, cruelty, and heartlessness. These whither and petrify the soul. It is riot those who have been most noted for sanctimoniousness who have been most free from this kind of sin.
Man's true redeemer is that Divine Spirit which was breathed into him when from being an unselfconscious creature he became like unto the Gods. For man, good is what expands and evil is what contracts. Good sets the common weal above so-called personal interest. Evil seeks to promote self-interest regardless of the common weal. Good is constructive and makes for harmony. Evil is destructive and makes for discord.
Equally fatuous are both those who accept the Eden story in its literal sense and those who scoff at it as foolish superstition. They both make the same mistake. They are guilty of the same lack of proportion. The story is symbolic and allegorical. The same symbols are universally found.
What is that Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that Tree of Life, that pleasure garden? The Garden is the state of primitive innocence in which dwelt early man, when yet the light from Heaven had not kindled the latent spark within him.
The Tree, Tau, and Cross are universal symbols of the Wisdom-Religion, as is the fruit which hangs near the top of the Tree. Around the Tree, we often find a Serpent coiled -- the universal emblem of Wisdom. ("Be ye wise as serpents.") This is the origin of the Christian Cross, which should symbolize the sacrifice of self for Self, the salvation of man by exchanging the mortal for the immortal, the true Resurrection from the dead.
These most sacred symbols have been turned into a dogmatic system, in which man is made to believe himself doomed by the sin of Adam to eternal damnation, only to be saved by an act of homage to a crucified God. See how good and evil have been mixed up, that which is holy profaned, and man made to damn his own god-given faculties.
The above is not an advocacy of anything like Satanism or devil worship, or any such evil cult as may be found lurking in dark corners today. The distinction between good and evil is clear enough. If Satanism means the deification of evil passions, black magic, and sorcery then the name of the divine archangel has again been traduced.
Such unhallowed cults are simply one of the natural results of denying man his own natural power of self-directed evolution. By cutting him off from the true light, we drive him to seek refuge in false lights. The Bible is one of the world's sacred scriptures. When we know the keys, we can interpret it aright. It can also be interpreted entirely wrong, so that a fraud has been practiced on humanity.
The above is written to clear away some confusion. It is time that the crucified Christ was resurrected from the tomb where his so-called followers have cast him. It is time that man should again recognize his true Redeemer in the Christ within all men.