The Chela is not only called to face all the latent evil propensities of his nature, but, in addition, the whole volume of maleficient power accumulated by the community and nation to which he belongs. For he is an integral part of those aggregates, and what affects either the individual man, or the group (town or nation) reacts upon the other.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC PATH: ITS NATURE AND ITS TESTS, page 65.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 116-20.]
The Cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat Awake the God of day; and at his warning Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, The extravagant and erring spirit hies To his confine.
He [Socrates] was beginning to grow cold about the groin, when he uncovered his face, for he had covered himself up, and said (they were his last words) -- he said: Crito, I owe a cock to Aesculapius; will you remember to pay the debt?
The ancient Sages were highly scientific in creating their symbols and emblems, their tales and talismans. The Hierophants were not only mystics who felt the unity and moral power behind the manifested universe, relying on intimations, which however intuitive were vague all the same. The experiences of most mystics consisted in lofty and stirring feelings. They touched heights of the heart and in themselves were content in the hope that others in due course would have similar experiences. Not so, the Sages who also felt but who sought knowledge to understand what they felt and, not content with the experience of bliss, secured full mastery over the Powers of Nature as of Self. The Sages saw and understood the mighty magic of Prakriti, and controlled it through the power of Purusha, the Spirit.
Such a Sage is able to rise to the Highest Place; controlling both Spirit and Matter he becomes Uttam Purusha, the Superior Man, the Mahatma very difficult to find. The Sage not only feels the Presence of the Macrocosm, within and beyond himself, as the mystic does. He knows the Great Universe, how it comes into being, what laws govern it, how evolution spirals onward. He gains the victory over death and so becomes Master of Life, surviving every change, every transmutation, every destruction. He is the Regenerated, Puissant One in whom Compassion Absolute throbs, keeping time and rhythm with the heartbeats of Wisdom.
Therefore, Sages who see the sorrowful plight of humankind try to save man from the death of the Soul, which follows mental blindness and moral decay. The Sage-Seer helps human souls drowning in the ocean of Samsara, constantly as well as cyclically using the Light of Wisdom-Compassion that he embodies. One way in which such helpful knowledge is imparted is through symbols, allegories that can awaken the human mind.
Ancient Symbols are profound. Such true symbols are not arbitrarily created. They are true, living messengers in the manifested universe. The Sage has deciphered and points to them as visible signs of hidden eternal verities. The Powers of Krishna, enumerated by himself in THE GITA are an example. In Iranian Mythology as in those of Greece and Scandinavia and in others, many striking symbols are to be found. Thus, the Egg is a symbol; the Tree is another. There are flowers, birds, beasts, and reptiles, which are concrete messengers of grand truths.
Sages did not invent symbols and allegories; they were natural concrete objects that carried hidden truths, through the verities they represented. Between the Seer's penetrating gaze and the poet's or the philosopher's flights of fancy there is a difference. A distinction must be made between true symbols, emblems, and allegories, which form part of living Nature or Pan-Sophia and man-made images, similes, and comparisons. The former prove the Law of Correspondence and Analogy actually at work in living Nature. Man-made images often distort the operation of that Law, confusing human perception.
Today we are pointing to one such true symbol from the Zoroastrian VENDIDAD, which mentions the Holy Cock PARO-DARSH. -- "He who fore-shows the coming dawn."
The cock is known for his eerie crowing and poets and dramatists have sensed its weird significance. Not all have evaluated truly the nature and character of the bird, which the Greeks named Alectroun, because it is the most magnetic and sensitive of the feathered tribe. The cock was sacred to Aesculapius, the SOTER, the Savior, who had the power to raise the dead to life. The cock was always connected in symbology with the Sun, Death, and Resurrection. The cock crows in time producing .one rhythm; out of time and then it is out of tune. Its crowing is held to be a sign of death unless the bird crows in the small hours of the morning -- herald of the dawn, the resurrection of night into a new day.
In this sense some verses in the VENDIDAD, are worth reflecting upon. In the 18th chapter, Ahura Mazda declares that the cock Paro-darsh is the vehicle of the shining Sarosh who embodies the Holy Word. In the small hours of the morning that cock absorbs the peculiar dauntless energy of the Ushah period and gives out his cry. This period is also that of Usha, the Maiden who is at work preparing to welcome the Sun. What does the cock cry? -- "O men, awake, praise the Purity of the True and thus destroy the powers of darkness! If you do not, the demon of idleness and inertia, Bushyasta of the very long arms, will crush you." This demon tries to throw over the waking men his darkening net of lazy lolling, whispering "Sleep, O poor man; this is no time to do work." The cock crows again: "O men, overlong sleep is not suitable for you!"
This, which is written in reference to the body, is an allegory of the Soul. The mind waking to the pearly light of a New Day, while catching a glimpse of the Rosy Dawn, is tempted to procrastinate, and too often returns to his material, sensuous environment wherein the Demon of real idleness rules. The devil of the sensuous social order is busy; keeping men and women tied to their sense-life he is the destroyer and harasser of Soul Life. Verily that demon has long, long arms and they catch to his embrace thousands of men, many of whom have glimpsed the Light of the True, and who, therefore, should be beyond his reach.
There is the Christian Gospel story of Peter and the cock crowing thrice. Is not this its message? -- That the Master gave the opportunity to Peter to resurrect himself -- to die so that he might live -- an opportunity which Peter failed to use? Who can say that the failure of the Roman Church to be true to the pure teachings of the Master was not due to this failure of Peter, who denied his Lord to save his own skin?
We may well take these lines in HAMLET about the Birth of the Christ-Spirit as an intuition that the great dramatist expressed:
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Savior's birth is celebrated, The bird of dawning singeth all night long.
The cock has the power to resurrect. His cry is the symbol of the resurrecting power of the benign Spirit, which lights the mind and works for the series of progressive awakenings. Those who refuse to receive its benign influence go from death to death. Those who bow to its influence pass from life to life. Does not everyone aspiring to resurrection owe, like Socrates, a cock to Aesculapius?
By Iverson L. Harris
[The following is based upon an article in THE ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST, September 15 and November 15, 1974. It was excerpted from the Summer 1974 JOURNAL OF SAN DIEGO HISTORY. In it, Robert Wright interviews Harris.]
That brings up another question I am going to ask about. San Diego at that time was not large and it grew from 1900 on. How did the citizens of San Diego feel about the Institute out there on Point Loma?
When I came to San Diego in 1899, the city had a population of 17,000. It was a little jumping-off place then, and the clergymen more or less banded together to repudiate and to slander Theosophy and Point Loma and the whole Institution. They wielded a great deal of influence at that time.
Katherine Tingley got possession of the old Isis Theater, which was previously the Fisher Opera House, the most beautiful theater in San Diego, and one of the finest on the Pacific Coast at that time.
There was a debate between Theosophy and Christianity carried on for a number of weeks. I have a full report of it. It was Point Loma's answer to charges made by the San Diego clergy at that time. That prejudice lasted quite a while.
The educational, cultural, and high-minded public meetings that we conducted in San Diego every Sunday changed a large number of people's attitudes. Many of the highest officials of San Diego like Mr. Hugh Baldwin, who was the head of the Board of Education, and different mayors and judges and others were open-minded, and to a degree, sympathetic. We had quite a large local lodge in San Diego.
Madame Tingley had enemies. There is no doubt about that. A person of strong intellect and powerful organizing power or ability inevitably steps on people's toes at times and some of them resented it very much. Some of the Students at Point Loma resented the rather severe discipline.
Say what you will, she was a Puritan. Her standards as regards promiscuity and any association between the sexes would be considered very square today. She was going to keep Point Loma above reproach in that regard and she did. I mean to say in our teens, we boys perhaps could meet the girls at a supervised social once a month, something of that kind. Otherwise, we had to admire them at a distance.
Were the classes segregated, then?
Most of them were. Not the little ones. The young children were not segregated. The older boys were separated from the older girls in our classes, but not in our musical work. We all joined the same orchestra and chorus. The little children in their classes were all together. When we got up to the dangerous teenage years, we were kept apart.
Since you have answered all my questions to the fullest and beyond, can you think of anything that I have not asked or anything that you want to add about the Institute? I was interested in what it was like there. Was it always a happy campus?
Overall, it was a remarkably contented and happy group. It was made up of idealistic human beings, but human beings can never always live up to their ideals. We had difficulties and personal disappointments. Human weaknesses came up at times, but I do not know of any place in this whole world where there were so many people thoroughly at peace with themselves and with their fellow men.
I must show you one thing. Did you ever know "Yorick," the chief editorial writer for THE SAN DIEGO UNION?
He was Edwin H. Clough. Being a highly educated man, he quoted from world literature. He was most enthusiastic and appreciative of what he found at Point Loma. When he passed on in 1923, I compiled A NOSEGAY OF YORICK'S EDITORIALS, mostly those that he had written about Point Loma and our public presentations ... There was one of the outstanding minds in San Diego, highly educated, keenly observant, and most penetrating, who really appreciated Katherine Tingley and the work she was doing at Point Loma.
Could you give me an example of what it was like for a week at the Institute at its height? For instance, starting on Monday morning and going through Sunday evening, how was the time spent that you had? Did you eat in the cafeteria, breakfast on Monday morning, and then class? Did you march there? What was it like?
Of course, it changed somewhat during the years. I mean it matured, as everything grows. It did not stay static all the time.
I will start as children then. We would get up in the morning about 5:30 and we would go out and have calisthenics, physical drill ... Then at about seven o'clock, we would all march to breakfast in the community dining room where we all ate together.
The parents, in those early days, at any rate, put their children in the Raja Yoga School at a very early age, because they felt the school could do better for them than they could do themselves, and it freed them to do the necessary work in the different departments. They did not have to do their own cooking. That lasted for a number of years. It did not always work out to the best, because sometimes the parents were not satisfied with being separated from their children and they thought they could do better. At any rate, that was the basic attitude for many years.
Then all the children would clean their houses. We had no hired servants. The children would make their own beds and clean their houses. Then they would go to school from about nine to twelve, then have lunch together. Then in the afternoon, they would have their music practice. We all learned to play some instrument. They would have their art classes. They would go out to the athletic field and play tennis or baseball or exercise on the rings and swings. We would have an early supper at about half-past five o'clock, and then in the evening, we would all do our homework. We had supervised homework, and we had to prepare our lessons well too. We had a thorough scholastic training; and then we would have our orchestra and choral rehearsals. There would be individual music practices in the afternoon.
In the evening besides our orchestra and choral rehearsals, we sometimes had meetings in the Temple where we would listen to some fine cultural talks and on anniversary occasions, some of the old-timers would give stirring talks about the early days of Theosophy.
I must say that until Dr. de Purucker took over we had no technical training in Theosophy at all. Madame Tingley said that people must not send their children here and feel that they were going to be indoctrinated in a way that the parents might not approve. We were given a thorough cultural education, but only those who, when they reached an age when they wanted to, would have teaching in technical Theosophical doctrine.
Did you have Saturday and Sunday off?
We had Sunday off. Generally in the morning we would have our Lotus Circle [for young people] ... Sunday was the day we visited our parents. On Sunday evening, there would generally be a meeting in the Temple or in the Rotunda of the Academy, where we listened to talks by the older people or we had our club meetings.
I forgot to say the older people, after breakfast, would all go to work in the different departments. We had the tailoring department, carpentry department, the painting department, and many of them worked in our splendid press.
We had a wonderful press. Instead of the dirty, dingy rooms that most pressmen have to work in, we had wonderful windows looking over the broad Pacific. That is where we had our linotype, and our monotype and our press machines. Our presswork was very highly commended and praised by the Printers' Association of California. At the International Exhibition of Graphic Arts in Leipzig, our publications won one of the first prizes. We had a wonderful German Bookbinder, Mr. John Koppitz. He taught a number of our people how to bind books as only a German craftsman could do it. Beautiful bookbinding, he did. First, Mr. Sam Bonn managed our press. After he left, Mr. William E. Gates managed it. Gates later became a very well known authority on the Mayan hieroglyphics and Mayan civilization and president of the Mayan Society.
All of our uniforms and clothing were made at the tailoring shop for the men and at the Woman's Exchange and Mart for the women. The children in the school all dressed in uniforms. They had their blue serge uniforms for everyday schooling and the boys had theirs. The men had olive-green uniforms. Then for our public concerts, we had white uniforms with RYS or RYC written on them.
Then, of course, there were all the meals to be prepared. It was no small undertaking to prepare meals and serve 400 or 500 people three times a day.
Was there anything special about the meals? Perhaps they were vegetarian?
People had their choice. They could either have vegetarian if they wanted it or eat meat if they wanted to. There was no particular rule about it.
There must have been enormous costs out there, but since nobody received any pay ...
Of course, that eliminated enormous costs.
Was the cost met for clothing and food and physical things by a tithing by the members or how?
We had people of means who lived at Point Loma. They not only helped with the work, but they paid their own expenses too, rent and board. That was only a handful of people. A few well-to-do people contributed generously. Then we made good money from the sale of our books. Our printing press was very well managed.
The parents, both those living at Point Loma and those living abroad paid, if they could afford it, a rather generous yearly tuition for their children. (We had pupils from Sweden, and Holland and England and different parts of this country who were sent there to be educated.) In later years when we had more paying pupils and there were not so many Cuban and other orphans there, the school was quite successful in meeting our expenses. It was all on a voluntary basis. The Institution itself was wonderfully situated. It was one of the most beautiful situations in this whole world.
We went financially on the rocks after the Depression in 1929. Just to illustrate, when Madame Tingley died, her personal estate was appraised, as I recall, at some $378,000. Before it was settled during the Depression, it had shrunk to $65,000 and that was not nearly enough to pay off all her creditors. At the end, I was the administrator de bonis non. An older gentleman had been administrator until he died.
Those figures show what we ran up against during the Depression. We were in terrible straits. We were land poor. We had this enormous estate and the taxes had gone up enormously. Just the year before the Depression, the County had appraisers come down from Los Angeles and appraise the property. They had the property appraised at something like five times what it had been before and the taxes increased accordingly.
I thought a recognized religious group or a church or something like this was tax-free.
Only the Theosophical University proper at that time was tax-free. The University was not established until 1919. The University occupied only a part of the property. It was tax exempt. The rest of the property was not exempt because it was not used exclusively for religious purposes. We had a private school there, and people lived there. We never had exemption for the bulk of the property. The taxes were enormous. That got us into a very serious financial difficulty. Finally, we had to dispose of all except the main buildings. We had to move some of the living quarters and the press and the shops down from South Ranch. We had to dispose of that property.
Then the coup de grace came in 1941 after Pearl Harbor. The military people came over and put gun emplacements on our Western slope. We were in a most vulnerable position. If the Japanese had known how unprepared the country was at that time, they could easily have attacked the entire military establishment of San Diego. It was a big one too. There was Fort Rosecrans. There was the Naval Training Station, and the Naval Air Station and all the rest of the military establishment.
Point Loma was right in line of gunfire, so Dr. de Purucker said, "There is a wonderful tradition back of Point Loma, but I can't risk all our people being bombarded in this war." That was what finally determined us to move up to Covina. By that time, we had sold off enough of our estate, so that we could at least subsist and meet the taxes.
Before you go, let me add that you have been asking about a unique Institution in this whole world. There are institutions that parallel it and are like it in some respects, but there has only been one Point Loma Institution in this world and that was situated in San Diego.
I know that there were a number of depressions in San Diego at different times. Oh, another small question, the means of transportation out there, did you use boats from the main town from down in San Diego, or --?
We used to cross over on the old launch, Fortuna, owned by Captain Oakley J. Hall. He used to run the launch across the bay. We would walk down to the landing place at La Playa or Roseville. We had a horse and carriage for those who did not feel equal to the walk.
When we used to go to San Diego on Sunday nights, as members of our orchestra, we would walk down to the launch and then go to San Diego by launch, then take the streetcar up to Fourth Street to the Isis Theater.
In the very early days before there was even the launch service, we used to have Kelley's Livery Stable drive the tallyho out to Point Loma and we would all drive in the tallyho down to San Diego. For individuals going down, we had a horse and buggy to drive across to town. Do you know where the Naval Training Station is now? That was just mudflats in those days, and at high tide sometimes we just could not get across. It was flooded. Then, as I say, we crossed over the bay. Later on, they ran a streetcar out as far as Chatsworth. We would go in on the streetcar. Then the automobiles came in and the buses. I have gone all the way through from the one-horse shay up to the present time.
In looking through your scrapbooks, I saw many pictures called "Lomaland." What is Lomaland?
Lomaland was the name that we early adopted as our name for the Theosophical Headquarters estate. Point Loma, of course, was its geographical name, but our whole estate came to be known as Lomaland ... I believe in time even the County Recorder's Office recorded our estate under the name of Lomaland. It was the official name of the estate. Point Loma was the place. Lomaland was confined to the Theosophical Headquarters grounds.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part VI. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
Dromo, having accumulated enough years for the due testing of life in the Kali Yuga, went to Perspax with questions. This Perspax was his preceptor whenever Dromo could spare time to listen to him. Perspax had no house; his cave was warm and dry, needed never any repairs; he paid no tax to the King and no monthly toll to a builder. Because of using this cave, Perspax was deemed a fool by men of substance. Likewise, Perspax, having learned to feed on the grain of the field and the fruits of the forests tended by himself, knew naught of the rises and falls of the trading centers, nor of standing in line for food, with swollen feet. For this he was esteemed thrice a fool by those of the city, who by toiling assiduously when work was to be had, could guzzle tavern wine in favorable seasons.
Perspax, ever happy, pointed to the Wisdom. Seeing him happy, many came to hear, departing to remark that Perspax had a nice theory, but for practical men! However, Dromo followed on the Path of the Wisdom -- at some distance.
Said he to Perspax: "Am I not a just man?"
"As men understand justice."
"Then why does not this Karma work with me?"
"Wherein does it fail you?"
"Of all things attempted, none are gained wholly; of those gained, none are found to be what I had thought."
"It is not a new complaint; but for example?"
"When my fields are full, the price of the crop is low; when rain falls but little, the price is high, the crop small. Neither way do I gain beyond subsistence."
"Such is the lot of those who till the soil. One may always apply to the King for equalization."
"Then one must do the bidding of the King in the planting and selling. I wish to be a free man."
"Such is Karma, which decrees merely that the price be just, whether of freedom or of crops."
"My desire in marriage was harmonious passion enduring forever."
"My wife's tongue is sharp, and when I desire to arrange my thoughts, her words clatter as the beating of flails in the field."
"Words sharp and over many are not new, nor confined to women. Ofttimes they mask the emptiness of a neglected heart."
"My children also. They are an endless care and noisy burden in their smallness. When their minds are sprouted, there is time for a few words -- then they are no longer mine. They belong to the world and to their friends."
"Take thought of your cattle, whose offspring belong only to the herd -- and to the butcher -- once the last milk is drawn."
"My son goes to his tasks unwillingly, even though necessary for his own subsistence; often he neglects them to visit the fields of a neighbor, where he works mightily, not as he does for me."
"No doubt you often remind him that with you he labors for himself, therefore deserves no thanks?"
"Yes. Still he does not see."
"And by example of duty, you, having undertaken the study of the Wisdom, allow neither snow nor rain nor hail nor the lure of game or playhouse to keep you from the Assembly?"
"And your other troubles?"
"These will do. All are of a piece. Is there no fulfillment in life?"
"Imagine any one of these desires fulfilled to perfection. What then?"
Dromo thought long; then said, sighting: "Alas! Beyond any perfection is only emptiness -- or a new task."
"Well that it is so. With full triumph of the flesh, the Soul would be bound therein until the day of dissolution -- and would vanish therewith. This ever-falling short is the Soul's rejection of what men call 'life' in their delusions. Especially in this, the Kali Yuga."
"But I could not yet endure the Great Void -- even to be free."
("The Great Void," thought Perspax "which some know as 'The Fullness of Life.'") "No, for Karma is not yet fulfilled. Observe the word upon which all your complaints were strung, as red beads upon a black string. That word was 'mine.' See this oak. How many acorns lie under it?"
"How many have sprouted through the years?"
"I see only one sickly seedling."
"Does the oak care?"
"The oak does not know."
"The oak does not desire. It knows 'I am oaken.' It does not say: 'I am this oak, of excellent growth and possessing a special place on the hillside." Its life is the life of all oaks, the failures or successes of its particular acorns of no moment in the forest of oaks. When you learn to say: 'I am a man,' you will understand the joyous, indifferent freedom of this being. First comes Dharma. Find you duty. When planting your crops, is your thought of the hungry mouths of the world, or of the gold to be laid to your account at harvest? Before seeking the Great Void, find the nature of the emptiness of heart in which your wife's too many words are wont to echo. Ask yourself: in raising children, are you raising superior livestock for your own profit, or noble citizens for the world? Of what neglected Dharma of the spirit is your son's mundane indifference the echo? Man is bound by desire to triumphs ever partial, frustrations ever present. The frustrations march with the desires and must end therewith; the balance must be adjusted by fulfillment, and fulfillment comes by the dharma of perfect understanding."
Dromo, having of himself come to ask questions, went back down the hill, lightened by a new understanding, but weighted by new responsibilities.
By G. de Purucker
[Based on the March 10 and April 14, 1935 meetings of the Point Loma Lodge of The Theosophical Society, chaired by E.D. Wilcox, taken from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1936, pages 31-36.]
Brother Clark I believe spoke of light and color. There is the sevenfold solar beam we perceive as white light. Pass this ray through a prism and you have a beautiful series of colors. Each color is individual. Nature produces it every time under the right circumstances. We have an example of seven different forces of Father-Sun occupying space.
When joined, these seven forces of the solar beam form white light. It needs all to form common or ordinary light. Is white light then the most spiritual or the most material? To form the complete man we need all his seven principles.
It is neither the most spiritual nor is it the most material. It combines all in one unity. I think the white light can be by analogy, spoken of as Space. White light has within it the polarity of the most spiritual, the most material, and all the rays in between. In space, that polarity manifests as consciousness and substance. It manifests as the consciousness side and the substance side of the universe. If neither is unitary throughout in its methods of manifestation, there is a perfect analogy from one realm to the other. We can see in white light the sum-total of colors, as the sun is the sum-total of the energies of its universe. So is space that which does not merely contain all there is but is also all that can have existence.
-- Boris de Zirkoff
I agree with Mr. de Zirkoff. If you regard the physical body as a representation of the spiritual as well as the material cause, white light stands in relation to all the colors as does the physical body to the organic body that manifests itself by six distinct forces, or as we say in Theosophy, by six principles. Those came out of the one, but that one we do not see. That one is Darkness. It seems to me that the most divine is darkness and the least divine (the most material) is the white light, that which we see in space.
-- O. Tyberg
A reflection has been going through my mind in this way: that as you may pass a beam of white light through a prism, causing it to split up into the seven prismatic colors, so this spectrum may be passed through a second prism, thus bringing the colors together, and making white light once more.
Symbolically the prisms are like laya-centers. The light, which in itself is invisible until it strikes the eye, represents consciousness on its way to manifestation as a seven-principled entity, which latter is represented by the multicolored spectrum.
The return of the consciousness-center into unmanifested life is symbolized by the passing of the seven colors through the second prism. It does not seem that white light is more spiritual than colored light. The law of correspondences determines which colors are more spiritual and which are more material. Therein it is found that each color is directly associated with one of the human principles. White light is the sum-total of all the colors. This shows that it contains within itself, though undifferentiated, the spiritual as well as the material.
-- L. Plummer
The answers have been splendid. These thoughts are suggestive if we do not wander off into distant spaces of abstraction. For instance, this thought occurred to me, Mme. Chairman. The colors of the solar spectrum originate in the sun. The colors are represented on earth as light. Every color is the outflow or efflux of a distinct force or principle from the sun.
These forces and substances are in essence divine to us human beings with our scale of relativities. Which of the seven colors is more spiritual than the others? That is an interesting thought to me. It is suggestive.
Do not think of color as a pigment, as one speaker pointed out. Recollect that the Sun is the vehicle of a Divinity. Whatever flows forth from it is rooted in the Divine. There are seven -- or ten -- solar forces or elements. From these seven solar individualities, powers, or forces flow streams of substance or force. These streams combined in the light that we receive and recognize by our eyes as daylight, white light. Pass this solar beam through a prism, and you have it broken up into its component parts, which we call colors.
Which one of these colors, forces, energies, or rivers of life is the most or the least spiritual?
I am anxious to clear our thoughts with regard to the meaning of this question. The matter of color as a pigment or a light can be found in science books. We do not need to bother about that. The seven colored rays of the solar spectrum are seven effluvia. They are seven auric flows of vitality, from the solar heart. That is what I am after -- not so much the difference of the colors, and which one is to be preferred. That thought may be valuable to us as a side-thought.
The heart of my question is: which one of these effluvia, combining to make light, as we understand it, is the most spiritual? Which of these effluvia, flowing forth from the Sun's aura, the seven effluvia of its vital aura, of its life -- which one comes from the Sun's highest part? Is the question plainer now?
Just like Brother Tyberg, I feel that all has been beautifully said. It has been informative and instructive. Putting myself in the mind of each speaker, I think I can truthfully state that I agree with everyone, which means, however, coming to the answer that I was hunting for, I agree with none! A strange paradox!
Everything that has been said has been true. Yet, it was not the answer for which I sought. Not one of the colors in essence is superior to any of the others. I say this in all humbleness of spirit. I say it with all the reserve that I feel that I should make, subject to correction by a greater mind than anyone here, than my own certainly.
The colors are all divine in origin. That statement was made. By comparison on the plane of material existence, and having in view the work which each of the effluvia from the Sun does on this scale of differentiated life, we are bound to make distinctions. We might say that Atman is colorless, Buddhi is yellow, Kama is red, and so on. This is not what I had in mind.
Listen carefully. As Brother Fussell pointed out -- and I speak of it in especial because the same thought was running in my mind -- do not get it in your heads that red is an evil color. It is no more evil than gold, green, yellow, or any other color. It is misuse of force that is evil, not the force itself.
"Desire first arose in the bosom of It." The spiritual yearning, the desire to manifest its transcendent glory, arose in It, the Boundless. Kama is the Sanskrit term for this Desire. Every time you aspire in your heart for greater things, every time you yearn to become at one with the Spirit within you, you are in the Kama principle. Every time when in this beautiful aspiration you guide your steps with wisdom, then you are likewise in the color of the indigo, Buddhi-Manas, both working together.
Here is the answer that I was aiming for. Any of the seven colors of the Solar spectrum is itself septenary -- or denary, as you will. You can divide it into seven or ten. These subdivisions merely repeated in the small what the great originates. It is obvious! You cannot cut a slice out of an apple and get something different from the apple. Consequently, every minutest portion of infinity contains every essential element and force that infinity contains. Every subdivision or sub-plane contains its own repetitive septenary that it derives from the surrounding universe. The microcosm simply repeats the Macrocosm.
Take a man whose Swabhava or swabhavic character is red or Kama. If he lives in the Atman part of it, he is living on a far higher plane than one with an essential Swabhava is golden yellow, and yet who lives in the lower. Do you get my thought? It is the principle that you live in that places you on the Ladder of Life. Live in the Atman, the highest part, the spirit, the essential Self, and the divine part of any color, of any force, of any element. Then you are matched only by your own feelings. You are in the higher state of consciousness, and living far more nobly than a man who may be dwelling let us say in the indigo, but on a low plane of it.
A man may be born in a humble station of life. He may be without education, crippled in body, with everything against him. In this illustration, say he has the mind of a Seer and the heart of a god. If so, he is planes above a man who is born with a golden spoon in his mouth, with all the education that the world can give to him, and yet who lives with a heart filled with vipers and evil.
This is not politics. I plead with you. This is Theosophy. I am not referring to politics at all. Consider an artist. You know what irregular and foolish lives artists often live. HPB once compared an artist to a priest in a church. She told her students the artist in his heart sincerely yearned to live a better life, even though he failed constantly. The priest was wearing the skin over his knees hard by kneeling and praying to "Almighty God" every day, though he inwardly had a heart that was a den of vipers. The artist had a greater chance of chelaship than the priest. That was the idea.
The plane on which you live places you where you belong. The thing is to strive to live in the highest plane where there is no color, where all is colorless glory. As soon as you descend into color, you descend into manifestation and differentiation producing a corresponding amount of Maya and consequent ignorance. Color shows manifestation, differentiation, the world around us, matter, in their densest and most condensed form.
Take the spectrum: Red, orange, yellow, run through the scale to the ultra-violet. A new red begins, and if you follow it into invisible light, you will be passing upwards, until you reach a still higher red, after passing through the intermediate stages. Deduction: There is a divine Kama. There is a debased Kama. There is a divine Buddhi. There is a human Buddhi, which is the reflection of the other. Every plane is subdivided and patterned after its grand plane.
No matter in what station of life a man may be born, no matter to what "Ray" he may belong, this does not place a man. What places him is where his consciousness is focused. If it is focused upwards, rising into the colorless sphere of Atman, then he contains divinity. In the Absolute, no color is more spiritual than another, because all are born from the heart of Divinity.
When we come down into the worlds of differentiation, then we are obliged to make divisions. In the abstract -- and this is not contradictory of what has been said -- it is perfectly true that the more rapid the vibration, the greater the frequency of vibration a color has, the closer to matter it is. What we call physical matter is intensity of vibration or force. That is what produces the atom, the electrons, and all the rest of it. Modern science now says that they are all composed of energy-points, points of electricity, intense vibration. The greater the frequency of vibration, the more condensed the substance is.
Follow out the thought, but do not jump to the conclusion that because violet is an intense vibration, therefore it is the least spiritual of the colors. There is an Atman to the violet, a Buddhi in the violet, and so on down the scale. It is a tangled theme of thought. I asked the question to try to clarify our ideas. I think we have succeeded!
By Kenneth Morris
[An translation of Ou-Yang Hsiu of Lu-Ling (AD 1007-1072) which appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, November 1946, pages 556-57.]
One night, when dreaming over ancient books, There came to me a sudden far-off sound From the south-west. I listened, wondering, As on it crept: at first a gentle sigh, Like to a spirit passing; then it swelled Into the roaring of great waves that smite The broken vanguard of the cliff: -- the rage Of storm-black tigers in the startled night Among the jackals of the wind and rain. It burst upon the hanging bell, and set The silver pendants chattering. It seemed A muffled march of soldiers hurriedly Sped to the night attack with muffled mouths When no command is heard, only the tramp Of men and horses onward. "Boy," said I, "What sound is that? go forth and see." My boy, Returning, answered, "Lord! the moon and all Her stars shine fair; the silver river spans The sky. No sound of man is heard without; 'Tis but a whisper of the trees." "Alas!" I cried, "then Autumn is upon us now." 'Tis thus, O boy, that Autumn comes, the cold Pitiless autumn of the wrack and mist, Autumn, the season of the cloudless sky, Autumn, of biting blasts, the time of blight And desolation; following the chill Stir of disaster, with a shout it leaps Upon us. All the gorgeous pageantry Of green is changed. All the proud foliage Of the crested forests is shorn, and shrivels dawn Beneath the blade of ice. For this is Autumn, Nature's chief executioner. It takes The darkness for a symbol. It assumes The temper of proven steel. Its symbol is A sharpened sword. The avenging fiend, it rides Upon an atmosphere of death. As Spring, Mother of many-colored birth, doth rear The young light-hearted world, so Autumn drains The nectar of the world's maturity. And sad the hour when all ripe things must pass, For sweetness and decay are of one stem, And sweetness ever riots to decay. Still, what availeth it? The trees will fall In their due season. Sorrow cannot keep The plants from fading. Stay! there yet is man -- Man, the divinest of all things, whose heart Hath known the shipwreck of a thousand hopes, Who bears a hundred wrinkled tragedies Upon the parchment of his brow, whose soul Strange cares have lined and interlined, until Beneath the burden of life, his inmost self Bows down. And swifter still he seeks decay When groping for the unattainable, Or grieving over continents unknown. Then come the snows of time. Are they not due? Is man of adamant he should outlast The giants of the grove? Yet, after all, Who is it saps his strength save man alone? "Tell me, O boy, by what imagined right Doth man accuse his autumn blast?" My boy Slumbered and answered not. The cricket gave The only answer to my song of death.
By Helen Savage
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1936, pages 323-27.]
The Two Paths are described in the teaching of the sixth Jewel of Wisdom. There is a Right-hand Path and a Left-hand Path. There is a path upward and a path downward, a path of unselfishness and a path of selfishness, a path of ultimate joy and a path of ultimate sorrow, and a path of immortality and a path of annihilation.
We see these two paths everywhere. Many think it is a matter of chance. Spiritual teachers say this is not a matter of chance, but is based on the structure of the universe. People think that there is a spiritual side of the universe and a material side, with the spiritual and the material being divorced. There is no more a dividing line between the spiritual and the material than between the colors in a rainbow. Take red and orange, for instance. They are two distinct colors. When you see them in the rainbow, it is impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends.
It is so with the spiritual and material sides of the universe. There is a gradation of beings from the unevolved to the evolved, in increasing degrees of perfection, from the unconscious to the fully conscious. Therefore, in a general way, we speak of the matter-side and the spirit-side of the universe. The beings that compose the material side of the universe are not evil if that is where they belong. They are simply unevolved. If a higher being identifies himself with this matter-side, with something less than himself, then he is relatively evil.
Man stands between the spiritual and the material. If he turns his eyes to the material, stops his climb upward, and retraces his steps, he is going on the downward path. If he turns toward spirit, he is going on the path of light. This latter is the natural path for the human race to follow now. It is according to nature. We have passed as centers of consciousness through the matter-side of being. As higher beings, we find it useful to express ourselves through it. We are not the material. It is only through ignorance that we imagine we are, and act accordingly.
This Sixth Jewel of Wisdom is difficult to understand in all its reaches, from its loftiest heights to its vastest depths. This is true of all the Jewels of Wisdom. Reembodiment, for instance, means not only coming back into earth-life, but it includes all the grand experiences that the spiritual part of us passes through after death, taking up body after body, reembodying itself, each body fit for the sphere in which it expresses itself. Can any but the Seer penetrate into the mysteries of these lofty peregrinations? Again, thinking now of the Second Jewel of Wisdom, who has the eye of the Seer that can envisage the more intricate weavings of the Web of Destiny?
The Sixth Jewel cannot be understood in all its vast reaches. We would have to be Masters of Life. Only such can know fully what it means to travel the Path of Light. Suppose a solar being, a solar god, should come to earth to try to explain even what the interior of the physical sun was like! He would have to speak in terms understandable to us. All he could say would be that the sun is a tremendous vortex of life, pouring forth floods of energy. We could not understand much more. If we had the solar consciousness, we could.
In times to come, we shall have a consciousness that will understand the great heights the human race will attain to on this Path of Light. Nevertheless, because the small mirrors the great, because every experience in life touches upon the greatest mysteries of being, we can know something of this Sixth Jewel of Wisdom. The upward path is not a path to be trod only when we become Adepts. We can begin right here and now.
What are the qualities that help us along the way? They are the qualities that every man admires. Ask one hundred men what qualities they consider an ideal human being should have. He would have courage and self-reliance. He would realize that he is fundamentally interwoven with all other beings. He would have sympathy for all that lives, spiritual wisdom, and vision. We have within us these qualities. It is for us to bring them out. Thereby we may consciously and intelligently follow the path toward the light.
To speak of it as the path UPWARD is to discourage many. The word "upward" suggests the idea of a constant struggle. We can think of it in other ways. Consider it a path we follow by working WITH the forces of the universe. By turning our backs upon it, we are working against the forces of the universe. Convinced of this, we forget it is difficult. We would say: "The forces of the universe are with me. I will go forward!"
Ordinary people find it difficult to travel upwards. Perhaps we can understand better if we know the meaning of the technical terms used in Theosophy for the Right-hand Path and the Left-hand Path. We use Sanskrit words to not confuse the student or impose difficulties upon him. This makes the teaching simpler. In each line of work, terms are adopted for the key thought of an idea. For the two paths, we use the Sanskrit terms Amrita Yana and Pratyeka Yana. Yana means "path," and Amrita and Pratyeka describe these paths. Amrita is the path of Individuality, and Pratyeka is the path of Personality.
Man has both an individuality and a personality. The former is his real Self. The latter is the undeveloped part of him, which like small things imagines itself to be the whole show. The personality has its place. Nobody would want to get rid of it. It should be the servant and recognize its superior in the individuality.
We can use this personality without identifying with it. One can think of a man going out to the hills for a walk with his dog. A dog may see a rabbit and dash after it. That does not mean that the master must also dash after it. No, he pursues his ramble, and if the dog becomes too obstreperous, he whistles for him to follow at his heels.
It is the same with us. We are the individuality. We are the Amrita Yana. We are not the personality, however much we may think that we are. We can make the personality serve and follow us. This is what mankind has forgotten. Supposing man to be less than he is, he finds the upward path of Nature difficult to travel.
Sometimes the meaning of the word Pratyeka is given as "each one for himself." He who follows the Pratyeka path, the path of each one for himself, divorces himself from the rest of the universe. He deprives himself of the strength that the spiritual forces of the universe can give him.
The Ancient Wisdom teaches that if he follows this downward path consistently through many lives he finally meets annihilation. This is not strange. It is but another truth of Nature. What being can set his strength against the mighty universe and survive?
I am reminded of a tale from Danish folklore of a spider that tried to build his web without the thread from above. He built it, indeed, but since a strand of the great Web of Being did not hold it, it was destroyed in the first storm. The thread from above is the individuality. As long as there remains one most slender strand of it stretching down to support the feeble web of the personality, there is hope for that personality. Fortunately, we are told, few allow this thread to snap entirely. Few break away from the universe.
We search for this thread of individuality in the hearts of our fellows. He who searches and finds is the true humanitarian. Dickens was one. He loved his fellow beings and could see beneath the often-ugly exterior. When he wrote OLIVER TWIST, many friends criticized his portrayal of Nancy. They said she was a contradiction. No depraved creature would have shown the selfless and devoted love that she did. The object of her love was unworthy.
The story first appeared in a magazine. When the story appeared in book form, Dickens mentions this criticism in the preface:
It is useless to discuss whether the conduct and character of the girl seems natural or unnatural, probable or improbable, right or wrong. It is TRUE.
He goes on to say how many of such objects of our pity he came across in his first-hand studies of human nature.
[They manifest still] the hope yet lingering behind; the last fair drop of water at the bottom of the dried-up weed-choked well. It involves the best and worst shades of our common nature; much of its most ugly hew, and something of its most beautiful; it is a contradiction, an anomaly, an apparent impossibility, but it is a truth.
In Bill Sikes, the object of Nancy's love, Dickens pictures a creature that showed no spark of divinity. Bill was one who "would not give, by one look or action of a moment, the faintest indication of a better nature." In these two characters, he touched two great truths. First, there is hope of salvation for the personality by the individuality. The exception holds the second truth. There is no salvation for those few whose lower nature have severed all contact with the higher, through a course of evil-doing persistently followed.
In discussing this Sixth Jewel of Wisdom, dwell not on the dark side. All of us love the sunlight. We love to turn to the sun. We do not care to turn our backs upon it and follow our shadows. For further encouragement, we can remember that on this path to the light we are not alone.
For every step we take backwards, we pull back weak and vacillating souls. For every step we take upwards, we raise others with us. We help those behind us who are less strong. There are those ahead of us, the Masters of Wisdom, who have blazed the trail for us. They lead and light the way, although they cannot tread the path for us. When we consciously and intelligently travel towards the Light, they extend a helping hand and bid us ever "Come up higher!"
By John Rau
[In February 2000, John Rau was invited by the Humanities Department of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan to outline theosophical philosophy and tie it in with world mythology. John was speaking on behalf of the Great Lakes Branch of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). See
for more information on their lodge.]
WHAT IS THEOSOPHY?
We should first concern ourselves with the definition of the word "Theosophy" and then quickly move into how this philosophy relates to your mythology studies. Theosophy is a Greek compound word: "Theos" and "Sophia," divine and wisdom, thus "divine wisdom." Some dictionaries will translate Theosophy as "God wisdom." "Divine wisdom," I think, is best. Another extended definition has been handed down as "the philosophy the gods themselves study."
EXOTERIC AND ESOTERIC
How does this relate to mythology? Two words that you may be familiar with are "esoteric" and "exoteric." They are in any good English language dictionary. "Esoteric" is that which is sometimes said to be hidden. "Exoteric" is what is on the surface. Quite often, you will find in various teachings of a religious and philosophical nature a common knowledge that many have heard of. It is these common teachings that we can call "exoteric." "Esoteric," on the other hand, is what is within the teachings, behind the scene. It is a teaching sometimes harder to understand.
In mythology, you read stories. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what it is that these stories mean. By analyzing these mythological stories, you can bring meaning and understanding up to the surface. Sometimes the meaning is simple while other stories may be more complex. Are there similarities within various myths and religions across time and cultures worldwide? Take the time to study world mythology, world religion, history, and science. Compare the results. Remove what are seemingly man-made unimportant dogma from religions, and the unnecessary added filler from myths. The similarities, Theosophy claims, should become apparent. Myth can take a holy teaching, devised by the ancients, and carry it through time.
One of my favorite examples of this process is the expression "Holy Moly." Aside from its use as an exclamation of surprise, few know what the Holy Moly is or how old it is. It is a myth out of Homer's Odyssey. We find the warrior Ulysses on an island being given drug-laced wine by a temptress who desires to gain control over him. Drug-laced wine from my point of view would be dogma. Dogma is a firm teaching that people want you to believe because they think it is the only right way to think.
The god Hermes brings Ulysses the herb "Moly" as an antidote to the drugged wine. Moly in the story is a mythical herb that is hard to pull out of the ground. Esoteric thought is hard to understand. The root of the Moly is black. Black (the darkness) is often thought of as a point of wisdom. This is where the Mysteries are: in the darkness, esoteric, hard to understand. The flower of the Moly is white. It is in the sunshine, easy to understand, exoteric. Holy Moly was given to Ulysses by Hermes, which is one of several names for the god Mercury, the planet Mercury.
In India, they call this god/planet Budha, with one 'd' instead of two. A "Buddha" with two d's is what you've all heard of, the Buddha, an enlightened person. Budha with one 'd' is the planet Mercury (or Hermes). It simply translates to our English word "wisdom." Flower deliveries are often sent to those in need of healing. This Hermes is the same fellow that you see with the winged feet who delivers flowers here in Big Rapids and elsewhere. What is the name of the company? Is it FTD? They deliver flowers and Hermes is their symbol. We have Hermes delivering flowers in our time and Holy Moly is a flower delivered to Homer's ancient character Ulysses, by the same god 30 centuries ago.
Myths travel through time and they can conceal truths. Storytellers need not understand the esoteric nature (the embedded truth) of a myth when they sing their song, share their story. That makes myths a fit vehicle for preservation of ancient truths.
One can view these knowledgeable adept "ancients," the makers of the myths, as being a few thousand years old, or, as some theosophists believe, as being millions of years old. It matters not which view we take. Their selfless efforts through time have -- by this way of thinking -- been successful. The truths are not lost, even in translation from other languages, if we keep an esoteric eye open. As generations change, the truths continue through myth and are maintained generation after generation by story-telling people.
Another example is found in symbol. You all know this one. In the Moly, we had a black root and white flower. In the Yin-Yang symbol from the East, one side is black, the other white, or darkness and light, positive and negative, male and female. It is dual. We have an outside (exoteric), and an inside (esoteric). You have seen this symbol on people's tattoos here in West Michigan. You have seen this symbol in books, movies, and on television. This too is an ancient symbol or myth traveling through generations and carrying with it more than picture art. These symbol-myths are thought provoking, which was the intent of the ancient artists (whoever they were).
We mentioned studying ancient and modern science. Science, too, can be seen as myth and religion alongside fact. You already know that science changes through time. Everything changes. When I was in school, science taught me, or rather lead me to believe the exoteric teaching that outer space was an empty vacuum. I now know that there were scientists who thought differently. Today science teaches that space is not an empty vacuum, rather it is full of what we can call "plasma." Space is full, not empty. Ancient teachings have also said that space was full. There is no emptiness. Today classroom science and ancient wisdom agree on this issue. Both viewpoints are correct. One point of view is exoteric, a popular on the surface opinion. The other point of view is esoteric, an inner scientific and ancient opinion.
Science is important. We should never ignore it. Science is a gathering of assembled facts. It is also philosophy. It is also religion. Science is not the type of religion where you go forth, worship, and pray. It is a religion as in "binding together" certain dogmas, opinions, and facts. This binding together of philosophical opinion and fact, always prepared for change in truth and thought, is a scientific method. In my opinion, it is a fine way to go through life. Many theosophists view the path to truth in just such a fashion. We understand truth one way today. Tomorrow or next year, we alter our perceptions. Growth, change, this way of life in the East is referred to as Jnana-Yoga. The words religion and yoga, by the way, both seem to come from roots that mean to "bind together" or "to yoke."
From all continents, these world myths oftentimes carry embedded Mystery Teachings. Theosophists hold an opinion that these Mystery Teachings originated in Mystery Schools. If you read some of the extant writings from philosophers of the historical past, occasionally you will find references to "The Mysteries." There were exoteric displays for the public, which often incorporated pageants, parades, plays, and celebrations. We still have them today. Note that Easter, Christmas, and other holy days all spring from astrological calculations. There were also esoteric Mysteries for the few, of which little is recorded. Even in our western translation of the Christian New Testament, we find Jesus speaking in parables (myths) to the crowd, but to his close disciples it is said in the same testament that he teaches differently. We have Mystery Teachings.
In the mail recently, I received a book from which I would now like to give a few short excerpts from the foreword.
That which can be discovered by the sincere student may be likened to our knowledge of the atom. Who, for example, has ever seen the real atom? What microscope has penetrated the secret of its existence? Yet, today we know more about the atom with its electrons than has been revealed for centuries. Although invisible to both eye and lens, scientists have detected the flash of its track, its "way of light"; through diligent and painstaking labor they have studied this way of light until, through inference and evidence, the structure of the atom and its components, its almost spiritual origin, has been revealed.
Thus with the Mysteries: as we look at the pages of history, and further into the mists of unrecorded time, we do not see the schools themselves, but through study and devotion we may glimpse the flash of their track, their way of light. From inference and spiritual testimony, we can trace the pageantry of the light-bearers as they have passed from age to age, inaugurating the grand religions and philosophies of the human race. Some of these lights shine with immense glory, others with less strength, while still others are but fitful gleams of half-understood truth.
The physicist cannot point to the physical atom, yet he knows it exists as the basis, the foundation, of all matter; the student of Theosophy cannot show you a Mystery school, yet he knows it exists as the heart or atomic center of the spiritual and intellectual life of the planet. Who then would dare assert the non-existence of the Mysteries, of this potent atom of esotericism, when luminous traces of spiritual power are seen scattered all over the world?"
-- Grace F. Knoche, THE MYSTERY SCHOOLS
Atoms were also considered and spoken of by ancient thinkers and writers. I have a translation of a work on science and mythology. It is SURYA SIDDHANTA: A TEXTBOOK OF INDIAN ASTRONOMY (reprinted by Wizards Bookshelf). It comes from India. It is old. A fellow in the 1800's, who was interested in astronomy, translated this book into English. The title can be rendered "The Sun's Astronomy Book." The myth, the teaching behind the formation of the book is that the Sun, as a being, sent a portion of itself to Earth, and delivered this text through a great man. Such a man the Eastern Philosophy might call an Avatara, something like a Jesus, a son of the sun, a Son of God. In this book, atoms are mentioned as building blocks of the world, of matter. Here we read that atoms are the small from which is built up a series of divisions that gain in size, larger, larger, and larger and then eventually we arrive at something the size of a hangnail. Mystery, myth, science, and truth are here blended in old words.
Another story loaded with esoteric truth is THE BHAGAVAD GITA. The GITA is a section out of an even-longer epic. It is also from India. Some devout Hindus sing, read, or chant the verses daily. The two central characters in the story are Krishna, a god or a god-man, and Arjuna, a man, a great warrior. The setting is a battlefield. Krishna comes to Arjuna (as Hermes came to Ulysses with the Moly) to be his helpmate. He teaches Arjuna of duty in life and in the battle in which he is about to engage himself. Here, again is duality. We have a god from above or within (darkness, wisdom), and a human from below or outside (in earth, in the light, action). The Yin and Yang.
Myths often deal with pain and suffering because it is easy for people to understand. You could create a story about getting up and going to work or school in the morning, which I will admit is also sometimes pain and suffering, but most listeners would not take the time required to relate to the story. A dull story does not travel easily through time.
There was for a short time in the fourth century an Emperor of the Roman Empire by the name of Julian. He was a Neo-Platonist ("New" Platonist) and a great battlefield General. He was also a follower of the Mithraic Mystery School. In the Loeb Editions of Julian's writings (THE WORKS OF THE EMPEROR JULIAN, reprinted by Harvard University Press, Cambridge), the translator, C.W. Wright, says that:
[This Emperor] regarded the myths as allegories to be interpreted by the philosopher and theosophist. They are riddles to be solved and the paradoxical element in them is designed to turn our minds to the hidden truth.
Julian himself says, when addressing Cynic Philosophers, that "myths are like toys which help children through teething." Scholars who have studied his life and career find that he, like others who also were involved in Mystery Schools, left in his writings little concerning what was taught in secret.
Care and protection was always of prime importance in the protocol of those involved in esoteric teachings. Just as only a few centuries ago, here in America and Europe, the people of Julian's time had to take care to avoid for themselves and their associates persecution, or even execution for heresy. A lack of tolerance for serious truth seekers has indeed been a problem proven by history. An example of this persecution found in Christian history is the burning at the stake of the English translators of our Judeo-Christian Bible by those in the Church who felt that the common people should not read the words for themselves.
Theosophy is an old way of thinking. There are, however, modern theosophists. The modern movement was jump-started again in the mid-to-late nineteenth century by Madame H.P. Blavatsky, a Russian, and one of the founders of the Society of which I am a member. The theosophical movement does not really stop and start, but unfolds from the past into the future as truth in evolution.
The modern movement claims to be reviving the work of Ammonius Saccas, a Platonist philosopher of the third century. He apparently did not write books, but you can find his influence in the work of his student Plotinus. Ammonius Saccas and others of his time used the term "Theosophy," meaning divine wisdom. It is said that Ammonius Saccas desired to gather together teachings and people from the various world religions and philosophies into Alexandria (a port city in northern Africa through which people of different cultures traveled via Eastern and Western trade routes). It is also said that the aim was to organize and prepare a philosophical harvest from these gathered beliefs and ideas, and thus unfold a truth that we are all indeed brothers under our various cloaks of dogma, faith, and culture, and thus unfold a Universal Brotherhood.
The work was then (and still is now) an effort not only to seek out the so-called "truth" of our being by analyzing our different "bindings and yokes" of beliefs, but also to ease the conflicts we humans impose on each other regularly in the form of war. It was an anti-war movement from the inside out. Like all action, war is born first in our thoughts, and then applied in our world. The core of all theosophical thought and effort is indeed the truth of Universal Brotherhood, of Peace.
Theosophically, the concept of "Universal Brotherhood" is not just about us human beings. A theosophist is not exclusive of other Kingdoms of life as part of his definition. We are brothers not only with our other human selves, but also with solar systems, divinities, suns, planets, animals, plants, and the elemental Kingdoms in invisible, atomic, and sub-atomic worlds. We are brothers with every living "thing." Every "thing" that we can conceive of has the breath of life. Everything is alive and evolving.
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, September 1897.]
I heard that a strange woman, dwelling on the western coast, who had the repute of healing by fairy power, said a little before she died, "There's a cure for all things in the well at Ballykeele." I know not why at first, but her words lingered with me and repeated themselves again and again, and by degrees to keep fellowship with the thought they enshrined came more antique memories, all I had heard or dreamed of the Fountains of Youth. I could not doubt, having heard these fountains spoken of by people like herself, that her idea had a druid ancestry. Perhaps she had bent over the pool until its darkness grew wan, bright, and troubled with the movements of a world within and the agitations of a tempestuous joy. Perhaps she had heard, as many still hear, the wild call to "Come away" from entreating lips and flame-encircled faces, or was touched by the star-tipped fingers, and her heart from the fairy world came never back again to dwell as before at ease in this isle of gray mists and misty sunlight.
These things are not fable only, for Ireland is still a land of the gods, and in out of the way places, we often happen on wonderlands of romance and mystic beauty. I have spoken to people who have half parted from their love for the world in a longing for the pagan paradise of Tir-na-nog, and many who are outwardly obeisant to another religion are altogether pagan in their hearts, and Meave the Queen of the Western Host is more to them than Mary Queen of Heaven. I was told of this Meave that lately a peasant, who made a poem on her, calling her "The Beauty of all Beauty," saw her in a vision. The man who told me this of his friend had himself seen the jetted fountains of fire-mist winding up in spiral whirls to the sky, and he too had heard of the Fountains of Youth.
The natural longing in every heart that its youth shall not perish makes one ponder and sigh over this magical past when youth, ecstasy, and beauty welled from a bountiful nature at the sung appeal of her druid children holding hand in hand around the sacred cairn. Our hearts remember:
A wind blows by us fleeting Along the reedy strand: And sudden our hearts are beating Again in the druid-land.
All silver-pale, enchanted, The air-world lies on the hills, And the fields of light are planted With the dawn frail daffodils.
The yellow leaves are blowing The hour when the wind-god weaves, And hides the stars and their glowing In a mist of daffodil leaves.
We stand in glimmering whiteness, Each face like the daystar fair, And rayed about in its brightness With a dawn of daffodil air.
And through each white robe gleaming, And under each snow-white breast, Is a golden dream-light streaming Like eve through an opal west.
One hand to the heart, another We raise to the dawn on high; For the sun in the heart is brother To the sun-heart of the sky.
A light comes rising and falling, As ringed in the druid choir We sing to the sun-god, calling By his name of yellow fire.
The touch of the dew-wet grasses, The breath of the dawn-cool wind, With the dawn of the god-light passes And the world is left behind.
We drink of a fountain giving The joy of the gods, and then -- The Land of the Ever-living Has passed from us again.
Passed far beyond all saying, For memory only weaves On a silver dawn outraying A cloud of daffodil leaves.
Not indirectly through remembrance only, but when touched from within by the living beauty, the soul, the ancient druid in man, renews its league with the elements. Sometimes as the twilight vanishes and night lays on the earth her tender brow, the woods, the mountains, the clouds that tinted like seraphim float in the vast. The murmur of water, wind, and trees melt from the gaze and depart from the outward ear and become internal reveries and contemplations of the spirit, and are no more separate but are part of us.
Yet, these vanishings from us, and movements in worlds not realized, leave us only thirstier to drink of a deeper nature where all things are dissolved in ecstasy, and heaven and earth are lost in God. So we turn seeking for the traces of that earlier wisdom which guided man into the Land of Immortal Youth, and assuaged his thirst at a more brimming flood at the Feast of Age, the banquet which Manannan the Danann king instituted in the haunt of the Fire-god, and whoever partook knew thereafter neither weariness, decay, nor death.
These mysteries, all that they led to, all that they promised for the spirit of man, are opening today for us in clear light. Their fabulous distance lessens. We hail these kingly ideals with as intense a trust and with more joy, perhaps, than they did who were born in those purple hours, because we are emerging from centuries indescribably meager and squalid in their thought. Every new revelation has for us the sweetness of sunlight to one after the tears and sorrow of a prison-house. The well at Ballykeele is, perhaps, a humble starting-point for the contemplation of such mighty mysteries; but here where the enchanted world lies so close, it is never safe to say what narrow path may not lead through a visionary door into Moy Argatnel, the Silver Cloudland of Manannan, where,
Feet of white bronze Glitter through beautiful ages.
The Danann king with a quaint particularity tells Bran in the poem from which these lines are quoted, that
There is a wood of beautiful fruit Under the prow of thy little skiff.
What to Bran was a space of pale light was to the eye of the god a land of pure glory, Ildathach the Many-colored Land, rolling with rivers of golden light and dropping with dews of silver flame. In another poem, the Brugh by the Boyne, outwardly a little hillock, is thus described:
Look, and you will see it is the palace of a god.
Perhaps the mystic warriors of the Red Branch saw supernatural pillars blazoned like the sunset, and entered through great doors and walked in lofty halls with sunset-tinted beings speaking a more beautiful wisdom than earth's. They there may have seen those famous gods who had withdrawn generations before from visible Eire: Manannan the dark blue king, Lu Lamfada with the sunrise on his brow and his sling, a wreath of rainbow flame, coiled around him, the Goddess Dana in ruby brilliance, Nuada silver-handed, the Dagda with floating locks of light shaking from him radiance and song, Angus Oge, around whose head the ever-winging birds made music, and others in whose company these antique heroes must have felt the deep joy of old companionship renewed, for were not the Danann hosts men of more primeval cycles become divine and movers in a divine world. In the Brugh too was a fountain. To what uses it was applied to, the mystical imagination working on other legends may make clearer.
The Well of Conula, the parent fountain of many streams visible and invisible, was the most sacred well to be known in ancient Ireland. It laid itself below deep waters at the source of the Shannon, and the waters that hid it were mystical, for they lay between earth and the Land of the Gods. Here, when stricken suddenly by an internal fire, the sacred hazels of wisdom and inspiration unfolded at once their leaves and blossoms and their scarlet fruit, which falling upon the waters dyed them of a royal purple. Fintann the Salmon of Knowledge then devoured the nuts, and the wisest of the druids partook.
This was perhaps the greatest of the mysteries known to the ancient Gael, and in the bright phantasmagoria conjured up there is a wild beauty which belongs to all their tales. The suddenly arising forests of golden fire, trees whose roots drew honey sweetness from the dreams of a remote divinity, the scarlet nuts tossing on the purple flood, the bright immortals glancing hither and thither, are pictures left of some mystery we may not now uncover, though tomorrow may reveal it, for the dawn-lights are glittering everywhere in Ireland.
Perhaps the strange woman, who spoke of the well at Ballykeele, and others like her, may know more about these fountains than the legend-seekers who so learnedly annotate their tales. They may have drunken in dreams of the waters at Connla's well, for many go to the Tir-na-nog in sleep, and some are said to have remained there, and only a vacant form is left behind without the light in the eyes which marks the presence of a soul. I make no pretence of knowledge concerning the things which underlie their simple speech, but to me there seems to be forever escaping from legend and folktale, from word and custom, some breath of a world of beauty I sigh for but am not nigh to as these are. I think if that strange woman could have found a voice for what was in her heart she would have completed her vague oracle somewhat as I have done:
There's a cure for all things in the well at Ballykeele, Where the scarlet cressets o'erhang from the rowan trees; There's a joy-breath blowing from the Land of Youth I feel, And earth with its heart at ease.
Many and many a sun-bright maiden saw the enchanted land With star-faces glimmer up from the druid wave: Many and many a pain of love was soothed by a fairy hand Or lost in the love it gave.
When the quiet with a ring of pearl shall wed the earth And the scarlet berries burn dark by the stars in the pool Oh, it's lost and deep I'll be in the joy-breath and the mirth, My heart in the star-heart cool.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "The Dissemination of Esoteric Knowledge" made of a private class held on March 2, 1955.]
Friends, I want to compare current thought with ideas prevalent when the Theosophical Movement was started. We hear much about the negative phases of life. It is true. There are wars and rumors of wars. We hear of inhumanity of man to man. People have unpleasant, negative, violent, and pessimistic views about the future.
Newspapers and magazines do not play up the brighter side. They would not know how. They do not play up achievements of human thought, changes of human minds, changes in the view of nature and things. These changes have taken place in the last 50 years. To some people, the changes are completely unnoticed because they are not interested in them, because there is nothing spectacular about these changes.
To the students of the Ancient Wisdom, particularly those earnest in their study, interested in the psychological condition of the human mind, these positive changes are important, universal, and greater in scope than appears on the surface.
Let us mention a few of these positive changes. In 1875, the Theosophical Movement was restarted. What chance would there been then to talk about One World? You might have talked about the unity of the human race. You could have talked about the interrelation of cultures, races, and ethnic groups. You could also have told people about the need of an integrated from of civilization, a family of nations united on cultural rather than political grounds. How popular would your talks, books, or articles have been with intelligent people?
People talk about these ideas daily. I do not mean the illiterate people, but the intelligent and semi-intelligent people. They talk about these things and read material about it, even if they also read nationalistic propaganda.
Some years ago, when the Theosophical Movement was starting to hew through the jungle of materialism, these ideas were limited to just a few outstanding thinkers, both past and present then, and to a few books, which few people read. Perhaps the most outstanding book of the day was Bellamy's LOOKING BACKWARD.
A great many ideas were unknown. One is that a universal culture is coming from the interrelation of the Orient and the Occident. There is the spiritual richness of the Orient and the Occidental mastery over material nature, mechanically and otherwise. The two provide a spiritual and material background to a universal type of civilization to be. Today the ideas are of everyday concern. Even people who do not believe in them talk about them. Even people who oppose them talk about them. It is not important if there are people who oppose an idea, just as long as they are talking about that idea.
Today, the materialism of the science of 50 years ago is shattered. Nothing is left of it. Go to a library and pick up a fifty-year-old textbook on any aspect of science, say on physics, chemistry, astronomy, or genetics. The approach used is non-existent today. The foundations on which science stood have completely crumbled.
Simultaneously with the crumbling, new foundations grew. The outstanding men of science recognize these foundations, but not necessarily the small fry. Not necessarily the schoolteachers, but the men and women of science who write the books, head the institutions, and engage in the research. They are practically unanimous on certain principles, and these principles are out-and-out theosophical. These things are in THE SECRET DOCTRINE or ISIS UNVEILED, books of H.P. Blavatsky. They may be phrased differently in another language, in occult works of other lands.
Today there are no conceptual barriers between matter and energy. They are seen as two modifications of the same something. That is one of the foundation points of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. Today most outstanding scientists speak of the material universe as an illusory appearance, a world of energies and fields of forces that cannot be sensed by physical organs or even perceived at times by instruments. That is a fundamental point of the Esoteric Philosophy. There are inner worlds expressing themselves temporarily in physical form, which is only an illusion of our senses. The causal factors are all within.
Today we have an entire scientific department dealing with the latent and little-known powers of man. Professor Ryan of Duke University and a score of others have established scientific foundations to study these powers. They study telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and telekinesis (moving objects without visible means or tools or obvious physical forces). Their research is into the psychic world rather than the physical, although the two are correlated and interpenetrate each other.
Science now recognizes that there are other worlds beside the physical. One idea says that there could be more than one world present at the same time and place. These worlds would not be perceivable to each other unless certain mathematical correlations were to be established between them. Then one could pass from one into the other. Dr. Benjamin Swan, the great British physicist, said there is no scientific basis against this possibility. He even said the atom unquestionably has a degree of free will. Other scientists have expressed the same idea.
In the world of astronomy, we have some foundation principles of the Esoteric Philosophy. Astronomy has fundamentally changed ideas about the formation of worlds out of the original nebulae, ideas that now are practically identical with what THE SECRET DOCTRINE teaches.
More recently, the ideas of living beings on other worlds and of interplanetary communication are becoming firmly rooted in the human consciousness. Suppose it were possible -- which is not the case -- to finally and completely disprove every sighting of so-called flying saucers. Millions now think of other worlds as possibly inhabited, and of possible communication between worlds, or at least within our solar system. Could anyone stop the growing idea that we are not the only human beings? Certainly not! These ideas have come to stay. They have taken hold of the human imagination within the last few years. They are basic ideas of the Esoteric Philosophy.
As students of Theosophy, we could not have brought people to think along these lines, even if we had lectured every day and in every hall throughout the world. More powerful currents of thought have gotten hold of human minds, much stronger than anything we as could have done, even collectively.
As a small band of workers, we have promoted these ideas. Never numerous since 1875, we have tried to push and push and push them, sometimes gently, sometimes a little more forcefully. We have talked about and written about them. Somehow, they have become implanted in human minds. Scientific evidence has been found. Stronger evidence is being found daily in support of these ideas.
Neither the works of H.P. Blavatsky nor the toils and labor of other students will be given recognition by the world. We are not trying to be recognized. We are not looking for credit. The main thing is the ideas have spread. They have simultaneously arisen in minds throughout the world. With a birds-eye view of the last 75 years, we see in every department of thought there are views growing that are part of the Esoteric Philosophy, of Theosophy.
The perilous side of things, the impending wars and disasters, and the dangers existing in the thought atmosphere are also obvious. They are less important, though, than the currents that have brought about the great revolution of thought.
Consider the few thousand years that our historical records cover. Even with but a small schoolbook, you see there were just local civilizations. Some were great like in Egypt, India, China, Chaldea, Babylon, Greece, Rome, and Carthage. We know little about the Mayan civilization and the Incas and the others, but they were too were great in their own right. They were all local. They did not contact each other to any particular extent, barring a few exceptions.
In the last 75 years, there has grown the backdrop of a future civilization that will not be local. It is not international or global just because science has invented the airplane and television so that we can see and talk to each other. It is not just because of that. It is become global because the human race is beginning to think in global terms. It is increasingly difficult to think in local terms. Nowadays, everything that happens involves everybody else. Everything that happens militates against local thinking, against parochialism, against the sectarian and small view, of which we have plenty as yet, against the die-hards.
The opposition will continue, but opposition is good. It makes other ideas grow, just because the better ideas in battling the opposition grow in strength. Never be afraid of opposition. It is unpleasant but salutary. It is good in the end. It makes people think. It makes them appraise their own resources.
Students of Theosophy in the last 75 years have struggled against many odds. Consider how few we are. Consider how little the world talks about Theosophy, how few people read technical theosophical works. Consider how little direct influence we have upon prominent people in the world. Understandably, things may appear discouraging.
Never forget that thinking and meditation, the internal effort of the students of spiritual truths, is a tremendously potent force. It is constantly at work, day and night. Do not forget that there are greater thinkers than we, behind the scenes, unbeknown to the masses, and often unbeknown to us. They are our own superiors in knowledge, superior knowledge.
Spiritual effort is not gauged by material standards. An effort along spiritual lines may be small outwardly, but immensely potent inwardly. The spiritual regeneration of one man may be strong enough to act upon thousands, unbeknown to them. Material effects gauge material effort. Spiritual and highly intellectual effort, which also implies great ethical effort, has effects that are like overtones. They cannot be readily described, prophesied, fully foreseen. They are a leaven of far greater intensity. They produce far-reaching results that are difficult to appraise, but which can be seen after awhile.
Think of the power of thought. A few people start the great movements. Their great efforts may have been exceedingly good or bad, or in both directions. If powerful enough, their effect was produced in due course of time.
Today the world we work in is greatly changed. Picture H.P. Blavatsky working now. How many obstacles of her day would be gone from her path? How many of the things that she struggled against could she ignore, because they are no longer of moment?
I have not said anything about churches or religions. They have not widened, progressed, nor grown as fast as science has. Nevertheless, they have become honeycombed with progressive ideas. They are entirely different than they used to be, with some unfortunately exceptions.
The greatest thing about the Occidental churches is that they have stopped talking about medieval theology. The churches have not become great seats of spirituality, nor have they adopted principles of the Ancient Wisdom, as science has. They have not, barring a few exceptions. There is, though, a broadening view. The leadership of progressive churches has improved along lines of interracial understanding, peace, and goodwill. Things are outstanding in many ways unheard of 70 years ago. At that time, no minister would have kept his job if he had expressed some of the ideas today spoken from almost any Christian pulpit.
Overall, there is hope. We students have many new allies. We have allies in science. We have allies in progressive churches. We have allies in modern psychology. We have excellent allies among leaders of men whom think in terms of global civilization. Perhaps we will never have any relations with these people. They may know nothing of Theosophy as such. Nevertheless, they are doing the work that we hoped years ago might be done by somebody in the twentieth century, and it has come about.
What a tremendous shift in human consciousness might happen between now and the end of the century! There could be regeneration along ethical lines, where we still lag behind. We have little ethical discrimination compared to our intellectual understanding of Nature. Without a change of minds and hearts along ethical lines, our intellectual achievement is in jeopardy. This regeneration will happen if we do not give way to the worst and begin another world war. I do not think we will!
Consider the extraordinary situation in the world. There are scientific institutions, the pride of not only a nation but of a continent. They are seats of learning, of research, of libraries. They have given us a scientific understanding of nature. Such institutions might be reduced to ashes by ordinary bombing, as in Germany, Holland, and Belgium.
We have achieved a great deal. We have not yet, though, succeeded in controlling for good the unethical, the selfish, the ambitious, the stupid, and the foolish tendencies of the lower human nature, the human emotionalism. Our ethical understanding has not kept pace with our intellectual achievements. Therefore, the latter are in jeopardy. These two things have to be balanced. How are they going to be balanced? I do not know. It is for us to do it. Nobody else is going to do it for the human race. The leaders of men have to do it. Those who are not leaders yet, but sincere followers, where they see the light, have to help them.
Outstanding about our era, unquestionably to be recorded by future historians, is the precarious balance between our growing achievements and their possible destruction. It is almost an unbalance. The moment it becomes unbalanced, there is a war. There is a precarious balance of the scales. We can never be sure our achievements will be safeguarded. They might be destroyed.
Picture an ordinary family. What if everything was in constant jeopardy? This includes the safety of a family, the life of the family, the education of its children, and the business of its father. A family member might take out the kitchen knives and start a murder spree in the house. Another might get matches and begin to put the furniture on fire. There would be constant jeopardy, because we could not know when someone would go wild. Perhaps one fellow said a nasty word to the other, one fellow called the other names, or there was a little hurt personal pride. Why is it that this does not happen?
There is a strange teaching in the Esoteric Philosophy that an individual is more progressed than the collectivity of the human race. It is possible to do better things in individual families down Main Street or Broadway than can be done on the scale of nations. Individuals, or small groups of individuals, seem to have a higher moral standard -- however relatively low it yet is. It is relatively higher than the moral relations of one nation to another. At the drop of a hat, a nation can take actions against another that no city allows of its citizens. They call out the police and put an end to it.
Unfortunately, we do not have an international police to put a stop to the incipient problem. We need a police that is motivated by noble, spiritual ideals, and not by politics. We are going to have it. That is going to be another thing that Theosophists say will evolve, in due course of time: a body of men and women to police the world. Perhaps they will have some weapons to begin with, and later just work with ideas. Some say impossible. You cannot have a policeman without a gun. This may be so, here in America, but you never heard of police in London carrying any weapons in centuries. It can be done. If it can be done on a small scale, it can be done on a greater scale.
Let us give rise to a body of men and women that brings about reverence for law and love for peace. Do it without threats. Use those intangibles that make a man respect law -- even man-made law. War will end and our achievements will no longer be in jeopardy. If it can be done in the small, it can be done in the great.
Some of us have devoted our lives to the fostering of these ideas. In the end, it will come about. Time -- that is nothing. Time is only an illusion. When you work with ideas instead of working to acquire material possessions, time means nothing. If you have to wait for the accomplishment of something, you wait. You wait with the complete and firm realization that in the end, time is invariably your friend. It brings things about.
Only the man with evil and selfish ideas is in a hurry, because he will lose eventually. The man with great ideas is never in a hurry, because these ideas are bound to win in the end.