The Boundless, or the Without Bounds, the infinitude of the encompassing SPACE, is obviously beyond reach of any human conception or even intellectual similitude, because it is both formless and without confining frontiers, and yet is the Cosmic Womb of all the Universes which appear from it like the sparks of Eternity. Therefore has it frequently been quite properly called by mystics of various ages and of all countries, the VOID.
-- G. de Purucker, SPACE AND THE DOCTRINE OF MAYA, page 10.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 145-49.]
Our knowledge is the amassed thought and experience of innumerable minds: our language, our science, our religion, our opinions, our fancies, we inherited. Our country, customs, laws, our ambitions, and our notions of fit and fair -- all these we never made; we found them ready-made; we but quote them.
People are always talking about originality; but what do they mean? As soon as we are born, the world begins to work upon us; and this goes on to the end. After all, what can we call our own, except energy, strength, and will? If I could give an account of all that I owe to great predecessors and contemporaries, there would be but a small balance in my favor.
"Originality" is prized and honored by our civilization. Are we not overlooking what many thinkers, some of them profound, have asserted -- that nothing is said, written, or imagined, that has not been anticipated by men in the past? Man has been called an imitative creature. He walks in the paths trodden by others. Even those who are famous as original thinkers or writers have, often unconsciously to themselves, "stolen" ideas from others. Literature is full of "coincidences" which some call plagiarism -- the pilfering of another person's "brain property." Is there any writer who is not a plagiarist in some sense? Is there a book but is the shadow of another volume? Is there ANYTHING that is not the reflection of something that exists somewhere in some form in the infinitudes of space?
Emerson's essay on "Quotation and Originality" offers very important truths; they will lead sincere and earnest minds to a "new" line of thought. Emerson writes:
By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. We quote not only books and proverbs, but also arts, sciences, religion, customs, and laws; nay, we quote temples and houses, tables and chairs, by imitation. The Patent Office Commissioner knows that all machines in use have been invented and re-invented over and over; that the mariner's compass, the boat, the pendulum, glass, movable types, the kaleidoscope, the railway, the power-loom, etc., have been many times found and lost, from Egypt, China, and Pompeii down ...
The highest statement of new philosophy complacently caps itself with some prophetic maxim from the oldest learning ...
If we confine ourselves to literature, 'tis easy to see that the debt is immense to past thought. None escapes it. The originals are not original. There is imitation, model, and suggestion, to the very archangels, if we knew their history. The first book tyrannizes over the second. Read Tasso, and you think of Virgil; read Virgil, and you think of Homer; and Milton forces you to reflect how narrow are the limits of human invention. The "Paradise Lost" had never existed but for these precursors; and if we find in India or Arabia a book out of our horizon of thought and tradition, we are soon taught by new researches in its native country to discover its fore-goers, and its latent, but real connection with our own Bibles."
How do our thoughts arid images emerge in our own consciousness? How do they come from others? How is it that our ideas and inventions which we value as "original" can be traced to older roots -- that in reality they are but reflections of what men before us have thought, maybe aeons ago?
One aspect of the invisible counterpart of the visible universe is a picture gallery, a library wherein are to be found our ideas and images, our fantasies and fancies. It has its higher phase or aspect, Nature's Noble Archives, the Aether-Akasha of the ancients. The archetypal Ideas shine in Akasha, and radiate their reflections from within and above in a denser medium called the Astral Light by the European mystics such as the Rosicrucians, the Fire-Philosophers, etc. Paracelsus, Boehme, St. Martin, and others were familiar with the truth of its existence and its influence on humankind.
Professor H.H. Price of Oxford University has written of the concept of a third realm intermediate between mind and matter as having
Long been familiar in the philosophy and cosmology of the Far East; and something not unlike it is found in Neo-Platonism ... Perhaps if we reject it out of hand ... we are merely being parochial.
His "ether of images," "like matter in being extended, and yet like mind in that it retains in itself the RESIDUA of past experiences" is obviously none other than the Astral Light.
Our memory in the present is related to this sphere in more than one way. From it come the "bolts from the blue," the sudden flashes of premonition and hunches. The Akasha is the Divine Astral, and its lower and gross counterpart absorbs and retains our thoughts and images. Says H.P. Blavatsky:
Occultism teaches that no form can be given to anything, either by nature or by man, whose ideal type does not already exist on the subjective plane. More than this; that no such form or shape can possibly enter man's consciousness, or evolve in his imagination, which does not exist in prototype, at least as an approximation.
Men of today need to recognize their "vast mental indebtedness," not only to the knowledge and experience of the ancients, but also to Living Nature. Goethe had the humility and the insight to admit his indebtedness to many:
What would remain to me if this art of appropriation were derogatory to genius? Every one of my writings has been furnished to me by a thousand different persons, a thousand things: wise and foolish have brought me, without suspecting it, the offering of their thoughts, faculties, and experience. My work is an aggregation of beings taken from the whole of nature; it bears the name of Goethe.
Applying rightly a thought one finds in a book need not imply the mental inferiority of the borrower. "Only an inventor knows how to borrow." True talent, a Sage has said, "will become original in the very act of engaging itself with the ideas of others." Shakespeare is a classic example. The plots, the characters, and the major part of the incidents of his plays he borrowed from others, yet he is considered "more original than his originals." He transformed the dross of previous NOVELLA into the gold that shines in his dramas and carries the hallmark of his originality. "The bees pillage the flowers here and there, but they make honey of them which is all their own," says Montaigne. THE DHAMMAPADDA exhorts us to be like them:
The bee gathers honey without injuring the scent or the color of the flower. So should a silent one (Muni) live his life.
-- Verse 49
Let us then take all knowledge to be our sphere, for truth is the monopoly of no individual. What does matter? Great Ideas, noble Truths, and true Sentiments. These are immortal. Their source, their authorship, is of passing interest. The long line of Sages and Seers, rightly described as Lords of Meditation, have been the mediators between the Divine Archetypal Ideas and the human creators who use Their Wisdom-Light.
By Judith Tyberg
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1938, pages 28-32.]
When we consider the vast treasure of age-old truths that may be found in the ancient Oriental literature that has come down to us, we realize that there must have been an esoteric fount of Truth open to the ancient peoples. If the Upanishads, "the mirror of eternal Wisdom," (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 484) are exoteric works, there must have been some teaching of a deeper and esoteric nature given to the ancients.
The question is raised, were there still-more-mystic writings known to the ancients? Some students of ancient scriptures insist that there must have been "fragments of a primeval revelation, granted to the ancestors of the whole race of mankind ... preserved in the temples of Greece and Italy." Eastern Initiates and Pandits have also proclaimed at times that the West does not know their most sacred writings.
What has H.P. Blavatsky to say on this subject? As usual, we find something helpful in her SECRET DOCTRINE, this time in her Introductory (page xxx):
While a prominent Singhalese priest assured the writer [HPB] that it was well known that the most important Buddhist tracts belonging to the sacred canon were stored away in COUNTRIES AND PLACES INACCESSIBLE TO THE EUROPEAN PUNDITS, the late Swami Dayanand Sarasvati, the greatest Sanskritist of his day in India, assured some members of the Theosophical Society of the same fact with regard to ancient Brahmanical works.
When told that Professor Max Muller had declared to the audiences of his "Lectures" that the theory ... "that THERE WAS A PRIMEVAL PRETERNATURAL REVELATION granted to the fathers of the human race, finds but few supporters at present," the holy and learned man laughed. His answer was suggestive. "If Mr. Moksh Mooler," as he pronounced the name, "were a Brahmin, and came with me, I might take him to a gupta cave (a secret crypt) near Okhee Math, in the Himalayas, where he would soon find out that what crossed the Kalapani (the black waters of the ocean) from India to Europe were only the BITS OF REJECTED COPIES OF SOME PASSAGES FROM OUR SACRED BOOKS. There was a "primeval revelation." It still exists. Were it ever lost to the world, it would later reappear, though the Mlechchhas will have to wait."
Of all the writings of old India that have come down to us, the Upanishads contain the most mystical and Theosophical teachings. H.P. Blavatsky says that in the Upanishads and the Vedanta we have to look for the best corroboration of the occult teachings. She also tells us that the mystical doctrine of the Upanishads is "the only Veda of all thoughtful Hindus in the present day." (FIVE YEARS OF THEOSOPHY, page 192)
Yet, even these writings of the Upanishad have reached us in a spoiled condition. Why are they demolished? Who has done it? The following passage by H.P. Blavatsky (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 269-72) gives answer.
After stating that what is given in THE SECRET DOCTRINE can be found in full nowhere else, she says:
It is not taught in any of the six Indian schools of philosophy, for it pertains to their synthesis, the seventh, which is the Occult doctrine. It is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt, nor is it any longer graven on Assyrian tile or granite wall.
The Books of the Vedanta (the last word of human knowledge) give out but the metaphysical aspect of this world Cosmogony. Their priceless thesaurus, The Upanishads -- "Upani-shad" being a compound word meaning "the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of SECRET, SPIRITUAL knowledge" -- require now the additional possession of a Master key to enable the student to get at their full meaning. The reason for this I venture to state here as I learned it from a Master.
The name, "Upanishads," is usually translated "esoteric doctrine." These treatises form part of the Sruti or "revealed knowledge," Revelation, in short, and are generally attached to the Brahmana portion of the Vedas, as their third division. There are over 150 Upanishads enumerated by, and known to, Orientalists, who credit the oldest with being written PROBABLY about 600 years BC. There does not exist a fifth of the number of genuine texts.
The Upanishads are to the Vedas what the Kabala is to the Jewish Bible. They treat of and expound the secret and mystic meaning of the Vedic texts. They speak of the origin of the Universe, the nature of Deity, and of Spirit and Soul, as of the metaphysical connection of mind and matter. In a few words: They CONTAIN THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF ALL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, BUT THEY HAVE NOW CEASED TO REVEAL IT since the day of Buddha. If it were otherwise, the Upanishads could not be called ESOTERIC, since they are now openly attached to the Sacred Brahmanical books, which have, in our present age, become accessible even to the Mlechchhas (outcastes) and the European Orientalists.
One thing in them -- and this in all the Upanishads -- invariably and constantly points to their ancient origin. (a) It proves that they were written, in some of their portions, BEFORE the caste system became the tyrannical institution that it still is. (b) Half of their contents have been eliminated, while some of them were rewritten and abridged.
"The great Teachers of the higher Knowledge and the Brahmans are continually represented as going to Kshatriya (military caste) kings to become their pupils." As Cowell pertinently remarks, the Upanishads "breathe an entirely different spirit" (from other Brahmanical writings), "a freedom of thought unknown in any earlier work except in the Rig Veda hymns themselves."
The second fact is explained by a tradition recorded in one of the manuscript on Buddha's life. It says that the Upanishads were originally attached to their Brahmanas after the beginning of a reform, which led to the exclusiveness of the present caste system among the Brahmins, a few centuries after the invasion of India by the "twice-born." They were complete in those days, and were used for the instruction of the chelas who were preparing for their initiation.
This lasted so long as the Vedas and the Brahmanas remained in the sole and exclusive keeping of the temple-Brahmins. It lasted while no one else had the right to study or even read them outside of the SACRED caste. Then came Gautama, the Prince of Kapilavastu.
After LEARNING the whole of the Brahmanical wisdom in the Rahasya or the Upanishads, he found that the teachings differed little, if at all, from those of the "Teachers of Life" inhabiting the snowy ranges of the Himalayas. The Disciple of the Brahmins, feeling indignant because the sacred wisdom was thus withheld from all but the Brahmins, determined to save the world by popularizing it.
Then the Brahmins, seeing that their sacred knowledge and Occult wisdom was falling into the hands of the "Mlechchhas," abridged the texts of the Upanishads, originally containing thrice the matter of the Vedas and the Brahmanas together, without altering, however, one word of the texts. They simply detached from the manuscript the most important portions containing the last word of the Mystery of Being. The key to the Brahmanical secret code remained henceforth with the initiates alone, and the Brahmins were thus in a position to publicly deny the correctness of Buddha's teaching by appealing to their Upanishads, silenced forever on the chief questions. Such is the esoteric tradition beyond the Himalayas.
Sri Sankaracharya, the greatest Initiate living in the historical ages, wrote many a Bhashya on the Upanishads. There are reasons to suppose that his original treatises have not yet fallen into the hands of the philistines, for they are too jealously preserved in his monasteries. There are still weightier reasons to believe that the priceless Commentaries on the esoteric doctrine of the Brahmins, by their greatest expounder, will remain for ages yet a dead letter to most of the Hindus, except the Smartava Brahmins. Sankaracharya founded this sect, which is still powerful in Southern India. It is now the only sect producing students comprehending the dead letter of the Bhashyas. The reason is that they alone occasionally have real Initiates at their head in their monasteries, as in the "Sringagiri," in the Western Ghauts of Mysore.
There is no sect in that desperately exclusive caste of the Brahmins, more exclusive than is the Smartava. The reticence of its followers to say what they may know of the Occult sciences and the esoteric doctrine, is only equaled by their pride and learning.
Yet, in these tattered remnants of the Upanishads there is great inspiration, and an inner experience for those who make their lofty teachings a part of their lives. The truths they contain have inspired many a great mind. Anquetil Duperron, the first European who read the Upanishads and translated them into Latin, said in his introduction:
Here is the key of India's sanctuary, somewhat rough with rust. Enter, if thou darest, if thou canst, with pure and clean heart, drawing near to the highest being, and merging in it. Let the outer senses rest. Awaken the inner. Let thy body be as dead, and sunk in the ocean of wisdom and unwisdom. Know it -- after Indian custom -- as a divine law, that thou seest nothing but the Eternal; that nothing is, but the Eternal.
The wisdom of the Upanishads is truly the sacred relic of antiquity, and these truths are as old as the divinity of man, older even than our world. It is part of the virtue of these old mystery-teachings that they are quite inexhaustible. Every advance in enlightenment gives us a new insight into their meaning. The sooner we make these truths actual in our lives, the sooner will the secret sanctuaries containing even profounder writings be opened once again. We must open these locked doors ourselves, but first we must earn our way to their divine treasures.
The Self I cannot know, but I can BE that Self.
-- Kena Upanishad
By W. Emmett Small
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1938, pages 293-96.]
Occultism teaches us that ideas based upon fundamental truths move in the eternity in a circle. They revolve around and fill the space within the circuit of the limits allotted to our globe and the planetary or solar system. Not unlike Plato's eternal, immutable essences, they pervade the sensible world, permeating the world of thought. Contrary to chemical affinities, they are attracted to, and assimilated by, homogeneous universals in certain brains -- exclusively the product of human mind, of its thought and intuition. In their perpetual flow, they have their periods of intensity and activity, as their durations of morbid inactivity. During the former, and whenever a strong impulse is imparted on some given point of the globe to one of such fundamental truths, and a communion between kindred eternal essences is strongly established between a philosopher's interior world of reflection and the exterior plane of ideas, then, cognate brains are affected on several other points, and identical ideas will be generated and expression given to them often in almost identical terms.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, "The Religion of the Future," COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, IV, page 451.
Theosophy is not only a scientific formulation of little known laws of Nature. It is a pathway of life. Not only is it a PHILOSOPHY about things as they are, but, if understood and applied, it becomes for each student a religious necessity to EXPERIENCE things as they are. It is this practical demonstration of the inseparable linking of thought with action that is the great contribution of Theosophy to the present age. It is this subtle yet strong unity of invisible with visible that creates ideas and carries them into virile action, depending upon the will of the individual actor.
Theosophy is a LIVING power in the world so long as there are a few true Theosophists working along real theosophical lines. It is not quantity that creates, but quality. One great man may be the spiritual proponent of a new religion that will change millions of lives. The directing fluid, intellectually and spiritually, lies in the ideative plane. It is from this plane that such great souls work.
The teachings of the first Theosophical Leader and Messenger still inspire the hearts and minds of devoted followers. She kept that channel open and clear. She WAS that channel. Through the Theosophical Movement, someone can contact that ideative plane wherefrom H.P. Blavatsky labored as one of the great Leaders and Changers of human thought.
Our work as Theosophists lies in the inseparable twofold activity of (a) studying the teachings of Blavatsky and Theosophy, and passing them on to others as we have received them, and (b) living the Theosophical teachings, practising them in our lives, exemplifying them in our conduct, in our aspiration, in our inner and outer thought. In this way, we link our spiritual forces with the stream of the ideative or creative side of the Universe. We become to a degree creators and architects instead of merely builders.
When one considers the tremendous change in the thought-life of the world since HPB's days, there is no question but that Theosophy has played a major and profound part in what even the lay mind will admit is a general conversion from a materialistic outlook on life to an intellectual attitude, in many quarters even questioningly, gropingly spiritual. This is because HPB's mission did not fail. She succeeded in planting the seeds of the ancient Wisdom Religion into fertile minds. She succeeded in stirring the embers of the heart-fires of men so that they accepted her teachings.
Of her followers, many remained faithful to her direct message, faithful to the heart of the organization that she founded, faithful to the Leaders who followed her in serial succession.
Others, starting groups of their own, had the germ of Theosophy as their inspiration. These seeds, fecundating and finally flowering as bands or societies of sincere searchers of truth, have in the last sixty years literally dotted the face of the globe with offshoot groups. These in turn have had branches which promulgate teachings that help stir the world of thought and aided the general retreat on materialism.
There is still another class of followers. They existed even in HPB's time, and in growing numbers in the last decade. Individuals of intelligence and spiritual aspiration, seemingly with no knowledge of Theosophy, they have plucked from the air, as it were, basic Theosophic ideas and expressed them in their own language. This has been possible because of certain karmic conditions that our present cycle has brought, coupled with the concentrated work of students of the ancient Wisdom Religion, thinking Theosophy, speaking it, and living it. Remember in moments of discouragement that those silent workers whose devotion may seem to go unrecognized, whose efforts even to themselves may so often seem to be unavailing, have and wield a power to affect "cognate brains," as HPB says, so that "identical ideas will be generated and expression given them."
The power to aid humanity of these various searchers for truth, as individuals, or as societies, lies in their ability to approach the "world of thought," to tap the reservoirs of ideas within our planetary or solar system, and to remain illumined in their intuitions from such contact. This subtle, tenuous, but strong plane of thought is the most powerful medium affecting the inhabitants of the earth. To work on it is not reserved for the Messengers or the Masters. It can be done by any of us with the requisite will power and courageous effort. The degree of success marks the difference between a negative Theosophist and an active one.
HPB worked on this higher plane. She came at an important cyclical time, because she was a Messenger from the Lodge of the Masters of Wisdom. She let loose upon the earth, through herself as the channel, this great stream of ideative power. She let loose these "ideas based on fundamental truths," this "strong impulse" on a "given part of the globe." As a result, countless lives have been affected, the current of their thought radically changed, being directed, as one reviewer wrote, to the sun. Therefore, she lives today in the success of a work that is growing like the famed rooting of the branches of the banyan tree.
HPB lives in the Theosophical Society, in all the different Theosophical Societies IN DEGREE. As far as they represent Theosophy, they represent her. It is another question whether they do so worthily. As far as they do represent her, the real spirit of HPB inflames the world. Furthermore, there is a living stream of inspiration from the Masters into this world. HPB was the channel for this in the early days of the Society. With her death, the outflowing energies from the Lodge did not cease. Theosophists of the Point Loma Theosophical Society, and many others, declare that that same stream of spiritual force pours into the world, and that the channel is still open wherever hearts and minds remain faithful to truth and duty.
The question leaps then to life: Are you as a particular Theosophical Society a fit instrument for the Masters to work through? Are you as a Society teaching, studying, and living the Theosophy of the Masters of Wisdom as brought to the West by their Messenger? Are you as an individual member doing all in your power to fan this flame into a steady fire?
"Sursum corda," they say. Lift up your hearts to that plane of ideative and creative thought where you could contact the causal realm of this universe. Aspire to reach what HPB had reached, and to be a channel as she was a channel. Live nobly and impersonally and you will be doing well your work in the world. You will be affecting for good the world's consciousness. You will be determinedly cooperating in the main work of the Theosophical Movement. In these perilous times, that work exists to changing men's hearts and minds, to instill in men thoughts of the Ancient Wisdom. Little by little, this will soften the horrors around us, alleviate distress, and help diminish the evil that is the heavy karma of our present age.
By Leoline L. Wright
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, February 1939, pages 110-13.]
It was now five years since the holy man had been sealed into his remote mountain cave. He dwelt in darkness and solitude never again to hear the voice or to see the face of a human being -- immured there in the eternal silence of the mountains until death should release his spirit.
Close beside the spot where he sat yogi fashion on the hard rock, a small opening had been left near the floor of his cave. Once in so often, a monk came from the monastery of which he had been abbot. The monk thrust a quantity of barley grains through this opening. Providing him with a few grains daily was enough to keep life just pulsing in his emaciated frame.
Wrapt in his vow of silence, dedicated to the attainment of liberation while still in the body, month upon month and season upon season of meditation passed over him like invisible shadows. He had spent years of preparation, tempering body and mind to the awful strain of his self-chosen destiny. Slowly before his entranced inner vision, there opened the sublime reaches of the inner worlds. The bliss of freedom began to gleam now like a shining threshold within reach of his serenely laboring spirit.
And then! What was it? His inner sense began to sink like a plummet. Something, somewhere far below, had fastened itself upon his consciousness with a dead weight of mortality. A wave of dull disappointment surged over him and the plummet dropped lower still. Had he not been certain that the mortal in his nature was long since forever extinguished? Had he then overlooked some sin of the flesh that had suddenly sprung out of the dim past and fastened itself upon his soul to chain him back to physical consciousness? Alas! Whatever the cause, his unwilling human self had awakened again to insistent demand and he found himself once more attentive to his body.
He unsealed his physical vision and saw at a glance what had recalled him from the spheres. On his lap lay a child. The child was shivering and whimpering. It tugged with half frozen hands at the shreds of his rotten old garment. At first, he could hardly credit the sight of his eyes. A child! Here in this horrible waste? Impossible! No!
He felt the slight body which clung to him and which now as it nestled against him drew a little comforting warmth even from his withered members. As he gazed down into its uplifted face, his ancient eyes met full and sweet the engaging trustful smile of a three-year-old man-child. His arm, in spite of the stiffness due to long immobility, crept gradually around it and finally held it close.
"So, manling," he murmured, his lips mouthing with difficulty the unaccustomed words. "Thou is it who hast brought me back from the threshold of liberation?" Desperate anxiety now invaded his tranquility.
"What shall I do with this youngling?" he demanded of the dark and the emptiness surrounding him. "Plainly it has wandered from its parents -- some caravan of pilgrims, perhaps themselves lost in the wilderness of these mountains. They will miss it. Will they surely come in search of it? It must have left some trace of its flight. I must wait and meanwhile cherish it as best I may. It is a misfortune, a terrible misfortune for me. I have broken, how easily and unthinkingly, my vow of silence. All this will unavoidably cripple me. There was so much ground now to be made up."
Here the child interrupted him once more. It had caught a fold of his garment and was industriously sucking it. "The poor little one is hungry!" He reached down into his small sack of grain and fed it lavishly with the clean barley. As it munched in contentment, he looked more closely at it with his dim eyes. Of Hindu parentage, is this child. That was evident from its rich coloring and lustrous eyes and the already eagle fineness of the nose with its delicate nostrils, as well as the cut of its warm garments. In far past days of his youth in the monastery he had often seen parties of these plainsmen, pilgrims from beyond the ranges. So now, he recognized the characteristics.
Yes, the child was a Hindu, possibly from its facial lines a Rajput. Then he noticed that on one thumb was a heavy gold ring that upon examination bore what appeared to be a crest of some sort, cryptic to him. The gleaming insignia lay under his eyes like a message. He shuddered a little. Alas! Alas! All he could do was wait in impotent patience.
Three days he waited. Nothing happened. The child, completely tired out, slept and wakened, whimpered, and was fed. All this time he held it close to keep it warm and comforted. Slowly the sweet pulsations of its confiding nearness crept into his withered heart and numbed the sharp ecstasy of his vision of freedom.
It was then that it came to him, deep in the watches of the night, that through the child he had lost the opportunity to freedom. That freedom to which he had devoted long terrible years of discipline and renunciation! He had broken his vow of silence. He also now knew that he had lost his hold upon complete non-attachment. More than that, he had even lost the freedom to return to his monastery. To return there now would mean the disgrace of failure. He might even be a candidate for the last ignominy. Then, what might happen to this forsaken little one? He could not face the thought of its uncertain future.
Months later, when spring was blossoming in the rich valleys of the lower ranges there appeared upon the outskirts of an old Hindu city an ancient man who bore in arms a beautiful man-child. He carried a begging bowl and wore the yellow robe of a mendicant. In spite of his great years, the holy man was still erect and clear of eye. Indeed, so benign and penetrating a power seemed to go out from his presence that all who beheld him felt impelled to do him reverence. This was more so because he seemed unobtrusively to avoid it. Only in one case would he accept the offer of service and that was from a simple housewife who spoke a kind word to the pretty boy and tried to coax it to share the midday meal of her own children.
"It is well, my daughter," he assured her tranquilly, "and I thank you. I will accept for the hour your kind offer of hospitality to this motherless little one. And you, youngling," he said, setting his charge down amongst the children squatting beside a large bowl of rice and sweetmeats, "abide here in obedience to this good woman while I pay my respects to the priests at the temple." On the word, he strode out of sight down the narrow winding street.
A few moments later, he was deep in talk with the head priest of the principal temple of the old city. From the folds of his yellow robe he had taken the child's gold ring. "Knowest thou these insignia?" he asked the priest.
The Hindu's black eyes widened in amazement. "Why, it is the royal signet of our kings!" he ejaculated. "But whence, Oh wandering lama, hast thou acquired it?" The keen suspicion of his glance died before the noble candor of his visitor's regard.
"It was found on the child's thumb, the lost child I found ..."
"By Vishnu!" and the priest got excitedly to his feet. "The little lost princeling. It is the son of our Prince here who ..."
"Went astray last year upon pilgrimage," the lama finished for him. "Send thou for the child's father."
So was restored to the arms of its mother a son who was to become a wise, powerful, and upright ruler. Men said that he owed much of his great virtue and insight to the teachings of a holy man who lived in a poor but near the outskirts of the city and taught the good law to all who would hear him.
"Reverence not me," said this holy man once to a beloved disciple. "For I was not so long since an ignorant seeker after selfish liberation. A messenger was sent to me. A little child put into mine its confiding hand and led me away from the ignoble quest of the Pratyeka pathway. Down from the cold and barren heights it guided my steps to the valleys where men still suffer in ignorance and pain.
Yet were such men more merciful than I had been, for they succored, clothed, fed us, and sent us comforted upon our way. And so, my son, never again will I seek or accept selfish individual salvation. Never will I enter final peace alone. Thanks be to the Celestial Buddha that mine eyes were opened in time and that I was permitted, chastened and joyous, to return back from the other shore.
By Helen Savage
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1939, pages 4-10.]
It is the 31st of December, and here in California, 4 o'clock in the afternoon. We have been listening to a short-wave radio program of merry-making from the BBC in London. Suddenly the laughter and singing become fainter as Big Ben strikes the hour -- twelve deep-toned bells, and with the last stroke the voice of the announcer says: "We wish you the old, old wish: A Happy and Prosperous New Year!" As we shut off the radio, we realize that already the New Year has dawned for half the world. Already the peoples of half the world have put away thoughts of the old year, whatever it was, whatever it might have been, and are looking to the unseen days ahead with hearts full of hope.
It is actually a wave of hope that moves steadily around the earth and encircles the globe, as that magic moment when the old year is dead and the new is born touches each longitude on the spinning earth. There is cumulative power in this surging wave. There must be. The least enlightened must for the first early hours of the New Year feel, as a deep-rooted intuition, that somehow, somewhere, there is a means of finding spiritual security. They must feel that beauty, joy, and love belong to the human race. Perhaps the first intimations of a new wisdom about life await them in the unspoiled days ahead.
We need not consider here the fact that as the days of the New Year unfold and prove to be but the children of those that have gone before, too often this hope, this intuition of the fundamental rightness in the Universe, dies. We shall note only that it has lived, however briefly, and because of the quality of this hope we know that it is based upon a reality. It is a flash of light from a REAL world that seems to surround us but eludes us, and it fills us with conviction for a moment.
Is there a means by which we can step over the threshold and move familiarly in this realm where our inspired dreams become actualities? How can it be done?
An ancient symbol, which has never grown old, holds within its manifold significances the answer to our question. It is the symbol of the Sun. This symbol contains within itself the secrets of man's unawakened powers. First, the Sun is a symbol of immortality. Even science conceives of its life as a virtual eternity, for we are told that in 150 billion years it will not lose even one per cent of its stupendous mass.
The Ancient Wisdom adds that the earth will know many deaths, but with each new embodiment, it will witness again the shining of the great luminary. During the long ages of the earth's obscuration, this luminary has known no night and no lessening of its vital power. It is continuously replenished from the secret stores of its own inner being.
Further, in the Sun we see a symbol of generous giving of oneself. It is pouring forth its vital substance at the rate of 133 trillion tons a day, according to science. This is not merely in prodigal wastefulness through the vastness of the heavenly spaces, but in order to sustain and nourish all the planetary satellites of its kingdom, and for the maintenance of all beings that live therein. The life of the planets is part of the life of the Sun. It is one life pulsating through the entire system.
Then there is kingliness with its attendant attributes of benevolence and wisdom. Who, contemplating the orderly workings of cosmic law in the solar kingdom can deny that this mighty sovereign rules by divine right?
Beauty, also, is symbolized in the Sun. The pale radiance of the early dawn, the prismatic colors in the rainbow, the green, gold, and scarlet of trees and flowers, the flash and fire of jewels, the blue haze of far distant hills -- all these are solar in origin. It is beauty stepped down to us, since we are incapable of beholding face to face the glorious veil of the Sun God himself.
Here we have slipped unwittingly into the phraseology of the ancient pagan world. In spite of what the scholars may say, the ancients were not mere children adoring a bright disc in the sky. There is nothing infantile in the ancient Vedic prayer:
Unveil, O Thou that givest sustenance to the Universe, From Whom all things proceed, to Whom all must return, That face of the True Sun, now hidden by a vase of golden light, That we may know the Truth, and do our whole duty On our journey to Thy Sacred Seat.
The Egyptian Osiris, the Persian Ormazd, Surya and Mithras, Adonis and Apollo, the Scandinavian Baldur, Lugh of the Long Hand among the Celts, Tonac-Atlcoatl (Serpent-Sun) god of the ancient Aztecs -- under whatever name it may have appeared, it was a Divine Being whom the ancient peoples addressed. They recognized that the solar universe was governed over by a divine hierarch, the SPIRITUAL Sun, whose real being is veiled in a garment of light. He was to them the vortex of the divine-spiritual fire of the universe. Spiritually as well as physically, he nourishes all within his kingdom. Whatever might befall mankind, they knew that in their inner being they were secure as long as they allowed his beneficent rays to light them within.
For those who were students of the Mysteries, there was even a deeper significance to the Sun-symbol. They were taught that as the source of the solar universe was a divinity to which all the lesser planetary gods made obeisance, so the little universe of man had its own central sun, a ray of the solar deity. To this central sun, the purely human in man, an unawakened god indeed, should be a faithful servitor.
Why a servitor? It is because we owe our very life to it. The Mysteries taught that the Evolver or Sun God within has built up the human self of ours through many ages. Gradually, from unconscious elemental substance, through intermediate degrees of semi-conscious life to the time when the form was ready to contain the light of mind, the delicate process had taken place. Like the golden drop of honey that the bee must gather from a thousand flower-chalices, so the precious soul-fabric had been built from the essence of countless embodiments.
With mind came power, and the ability to learn to serve with self-conscious understanding the sacrificing parent within. It is by means of our soul that our divinity may shine in the grosser worlds of substance. If the soul succeeds in becoming the perfect channel, pellucid to the shining of the solar light, it has the ineffable reward of itself being born in the spiritual world. Then the human being actually becomes a dweller among the gods even while he performs his appointed duties among men on earth. This rare phenomenon was announced mystically with the words: "The Sun has arisen! A Sun God is born!"
It was also a fact of common knowledge among the ancients that the phenomena of the visible world are a symbol of and in fact delineate what is taking place behind the veil of outer things. Therefore to the enlightened among them, the cycle of the year, with changing seasons, was a mystery-pageant enacted upon a cosmic stage, each episode of which depicted in symbolic form a spiritual verity.
Thus when the time of the Winter Solstice came round, and the sun began again his journey to the northern hemisphere, they saw more in it than merely a time for rejoicing because the world would be filled with warmth again, and the fields would again be green and fruitful. They read the symbol aright. Their hymns were to the True Sun, to the Sol Invictus, to the Unconquered Sun, whose steadfast shining throughout the aeons is a guarantee of the spiritual security in the Universe. It was a sign to them that because of the focus of certain solar forces it was a fruitful time for communion with the Sun God within.
Even candidates in the Lesser Mysteries knew that at this season "the trained and fully prepared neophyte might enter at least temporarily into the Heart of the Universe, into the Light of the World, and bring back with him an unimpaired memory of what the greatest of Adventures had taught him." He returned surrounded with a nimbus or aureole. He was "clothed with the Sun." (See THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, page 1079.)
It is this fact that is the basis of all the traditions of the ancient peoples in which there was a correspondence between initiates, great kings and heroes, and the Sun. The Babylonian heroes, Nimrod and Gilgamesh both became Sun Gods after undergoing a series of trials. Hercules, Theseus, and Perseus of Greece were all born of a virgin and were sons of the Sun. God hero of the Mexicans Quetzalcoatl was a Sun God. His name means 'Feathered Serpent,' a symbol with them, as among the Phoenicians and others, of certain solar attributes. Krishna is represented in THE MAHABHARATA as born of Aditi, the bright Dawn-Goddess, who gives birth to the Sun. Mithras, a Sun God, was called 'Giver of Glory' because he was supposed to bestow upon his successful suppliants in initiation the aureole or nimbus, as shown in many Mithraic monuments. In the Egyptian mysteries when the candidate for initiation awakens from his trance, it is said that the Hierophant-Initiators appeared "and the sacramental words were pronounced, ostensibly, to the Sun-Osiris, addressed in reality to the Spirit Sun within, enlightening the newly-born man." (See THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 559.)
The Christian Savior also must come under this enumeration of Sun Gods if we are to consider authentic the records of early Christianity. H.P. Blavatsky says (LUCIFER, Dec., 1887), after quoting from Ralston Skinner certain interpretations of the Christos-myth as typifying the Sun:
For, as the same author shows further, John, Jesus and even Apollonius of Tyana were but epitomizers of the history of the Sun "under differences of aspect or conditions." The explanation, he says, "is simple enough, when it is considered that the name JESUS, Hebrew *** and Apollonius, or Apollo, are alike names of the SUN IN THE HEAVENS, and, necessarily, the history of the one, as to his travels through THE SIGNS, with the personifications of his sufferings, triumphs and miracles, could be but the HISTORY OF THE OTHER, where there is a widespread, common method of describing those travels by personification.
The early Christians themselves obviously accepted this interpretation of their Christ-Sun as passing through the Twelve Zodiacal Signs -- a symbol of the trials undergone by the initiate in the Mysteries -- because there exist even today relics of this belief.
The representation of Jesus as the "Christ-Sun" and of his twelve disciples as representing the twelve Signs of the Zodiac, may be seen even today graven on the building-stones of not a few churches in central and southern European countries.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, page 1082.
As the above brief illustrations show, in the minds of the ancients what happened in and to the Universe was inextricably interwoven with what happened to man -- and rightly so. For apart from the Universe, man was indeed a lost creature. Consider the present-day erroneous method of looking at our relationship to the universe. This outlook is responsible for the sense of aimlessness in so many quarters, responsible for the sense of drifting in an alien world. Yet, we feel hope at times like the New Year. We feel that the confusion and apparently irreconcilable conflicting elements in the peoples of the world are all but a bad dream. Such intuitions show that a ray from the Sun God of their own being illumines sometimes even the least of men.
Were there no systematized philosophy of life to guide men in their search for the Real, had there never appeared among men a single Teacher to proclaim the age-old secret, we should still have with us as a daily and yearly testimony the glorious Sun in the heavens, symbol of the Unconquered Sun within ourselves. To meditate upon the significance of this symbol, as H.P. Blavatsky urges us to do, is to have at least an introduction to the study of the Real Self and our relation to it. First, like our day-star, it is immortal; for though the earthly man is dissipated at death, there is no death for the Inner Sun, and with the disappearance of its earth-child it takes up its duties in other spheres, only to return again at the appointed hour to bring to birth again in another earth life, its yet undeveloped child.
Further, like the Sun in the heavens, it is the generous giver of itself. Its life is our life. We can grow by its power alone. As for benevolence and wisdom, it is from this source that springs our ability to know, to act wisely, to sense the deepest aspects of the cosmic workings, to reach out in sympathy towards another fellow being, to use discrimination, restraint, and compassion.
Finally, in the creation of all that is beautiful, we are stepping down its beauty. We are allowing the beauty of the solar light to shine on earth. This is even truer when we have made of ourselves a work of beauty. Beauty of character is the supreme tribute to the god-sun within. To the degree that this is attained, we are living in the sunlit world of the spirit and have shown that our hope of the New Year was not a mere dream.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part VII. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
Ti Sang came to the village of Chen Yueng to establish himself in trade. His art was that of making bricks, wherefore he found a clay bank of unusual color and fineness. In Chen Yueng, he found Lin Gong also.
This Lin Gong, a massive man with beetling brows, whose looks of menace were a stock-in-trade against rivals, held in his hand all the brick-making of Chen Yueng until the coming of Ti Sang, which he did not like. However, Ti Sang, being young and adept at his trade, could be neither frightened nor undersold. For a considerable space, he lived and prospered with his young wife. He attended frequently at the Assembly of the Wisdom, whose preceptors wore the Yellow Robes. Ti Sang looked beyond the immediate situation in life. He looked to the ultimate taking of the Path, which he planned in earnest after family duties were discharged and the waning of material forces set in.
At last, however, Lin Gong fell in with a Redcap from Bhutan, who showed him how a poison might be put into brick clay that would bring sorrow to the vendor thereof. Thus it happened that after a time, numerous houses made with the bricks of Ti Sang effused a leprous nitre that wandered over the walls in random patterns like fungus, destroying all beauty; and when scraped away, ever returned. Thereupon the possessor of these places fell upon Ti Sang and reft from him all that he owned. His wife was without proper food and medicine. Shortly thereafter, she and her newborn child -- her first -- died.
In his madness, Ti Sang forgot Karma and the gentle teaching of the Yellow Robes, whose faces then became dim and far away to him, and their words soundless. He swore a blood oath and purchased in the marketplace a sword long and sharp. Calling soon at the place of business of Lin Gong, he learned that this man, hearing of the oath and the sword, and moreover tortured by conscience, because he had not intended such measure of disaster, had fled and left for him a bag of gold in appeasement. Ti Sang hurled the sack into the street, where the pieces went tinkling along the gutter, while the passers-by fell upon them. Hastily preparing, avoiding the places where the face of any Yellow Robe might be seen, he took up the trail.
This led across the Western wastes into the foothills of the Mother of the World's Mountains; a trail Ti Sang had expected to take some day, but not thus. After many hardships and much hunger, as the snows came on, Lin Gong found himself in a branching of valleys growing ever more stringent and steep, with Ti Sang on his jaded horse but a few miles behind. Lin Gong's heart grew cold with terror to match the increasing freezing of his hide; for the winter wind had set in from the highest peaks, gelid and terrible. The heart of Ti Sang blazed hot with lust of the nearby prey, even as he beat his arms upon the breast of his padded coat to preserve his own life.
Then, coming about a turn in the narrow path that clung to the side of a bottomless abyss, he beheld a strange sight. Lin Gong and his horse had fallen together over the brink, but the rope that had guided the horse and was bound about the wrist of Lin Gong had caught in a crevice. Thereby Lin Gong was suspended over the depth. He spun and swung in the wind, his eyes closed, the tortured arm swollen and blackened with frost and strain. For a time Ti Sang stood and sated his vengeance with his eyes, noting the marks of long suffering and hardship, the emaciated face and ribs, the black patches of flesh some time frozen and now peeling from the face of his enemy.
With his sword half drawn to sever the rope, he became still in his tracks, his blood cooling and slow horror entering his soul. This was his deed; no more than Lin Gong had sought the death of the wife of Ti Sang, had Ti Sang envisioned this tortured debris of a human as the result of his own vengeance. The visage of the chief Preceptor arose before his eyes, no longer kindly and loving, but stern and granite-like. All that he had heard of Karma poured back devastatingly into his soul; sobbing and frantic, he hauled on the rope with blistered hands until Lin Gong lay on the icy ledge. Cradling Lin Gong in his lap, he covered him with his own garments and chafed the frozen limbs.
After a time, Lin Gong, aroused by the hot tears falling on his face, looked with dawning terror into the face of his Nemesis. Looked, and looked again; seeing the horror and pity in Ti Sang's eyes, smiled weakly, and fell asleep like a sick child taking comfort from its mother's arms; he, who in life despised gentleness. The icy wind, howling down the pass, whirled a drift of snow over their forms. Soon both were beyond pain.
The Preceptor in Chen Yueng smiled as he gazed in his cloister upon what would seem to most as a blank wall. The Path is multifold, though uphill to the very end. Some accomplish it by easy gradients, in well-chosen seasons. Some choose awful precipices, and self-purging by limitless agony. They Who Know view the struggle with calm, being content wherever the road is seen to be relentlessly upward. At the end lie the pure lands under an eternal sun. Ti Sang and Lin Gong had a destiny together.
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.]
Most of the time, when we encounter the term "evolution," we think of science and what we have been taught in our western culture through inference, on television or in school. Science has delivered to us many facts. Who can deny some of their truths? We evolve. The world evolves. We change. There is, however, no one way to view evolution. Not yet. Many scientists, some more than others, are today altering their thoughts concerning this subject and modifying their theories within the so-called Darwinian model.
I have come to prefer a view of the evolutionary process as an unfoldment from within, or above (I call it vertical) combined with the contemporary scientific view (I think of it as linear). My viewpoint is always open for alteration and change. The vertical and linear work together through time, at least this is the way I see it. Other theosophists may view the subject quite differently.
It seems to me that no one can deny that humans and other beings are evolving through time. If we focus our minds, and pay attention to our lives, we can see ourselves evolve. Here in America we are all, as a unit, becoming Americans. Our bodies are not the collective Europeans, Native Americans, Africans, or Asians that our ancestor's bodies were in the past. We, as a unit, are in a process of becoming, thus the bodies are evolving.
It is said in Theosophy that evolution is a process of unfoldment into the outer material life of a stored up "essence" within. This "essence" is a flexible ever-changing blueprint of a "beness" which we already are. Thus, a certain species of a frog becomes a frog, not a snake. An oak tree becomes an oak tree, not a grape vine. A human becomes a human, not a wild beast.
In this philosophy, we become as individuals that which we have already packed up and stored for us: our personal essence, in a somewhat metaphysical traveling suitcase (our individual seed). This seed, this essence, was prepared by us through our actions and evolutions in past worlds and built out of our past lives, efforts, previous deeds, urges, desires, and experiences. We can use a Sanskrit word to name this "essence." The word is Swabhava.
Now we come to the concept of Hierarchies. There is a hierarchy here at Ferris State University. You have a President, Vice Presidents, and other tags and labels working down, or up. There are hierarchies in organized religions, businesses, and governments. This is a natural unfoldment, an order, and a natural way for beings to proceed. It is nature's way.
In theosophical philosophy, there are hierarchical unfoldments during the manifestations of worlds and beings. There are worlds within worlds, beings within beings. There are gods (and I do mean gods plural, not one God) of greater and lesser degree. There are gods in advance of man and there are god-like beings that are less than man. If you pause here and think this statement over, a resulting thought of gods above and below man is that, logically, man then must also be at least god-like in his "beness," if not actually a god himself. We say that man is indeed an incarnate god spark. This spark also exists in that essence that is working through the animal and vegetable Kingdoms. Everything is god-like in essence. Everything is evolving as sparks of divinity through various Kingdoms within Hierarchies.
Karma is an operation of cause and effect. The translation of the Sanskrit word Karma is "action." Our actions continuously affect our Swabhava and when we leave a current life, or daily situation, we take our karmically altered Swabhavic blueprint with us. This Swabhava we will use to cast a future life.
REEMBODIMENT OR REINCARNATION
Technically the word "reembodiment" applies to the rebirth of beings such as the Earth or the Sun, for example, as these beings are not composed of flesh. The word reincarnation means to take on a new body of flesh. When our bodies burn out because our life energy has become too strong, or a cycle has run its course, we discard our current bodies and eventually rebuild new ones. These bodies are either of flesh (as in the case with humans), or of another substance applicable to the evolving entity when the time arrives to experience rebirth.
Theosophical philosophy gives our Earth the status of a living being. The Earth has a life and a soul of its own. We human beings -- along with the other Kingdoms of nature, the other god-sparks working through various bodies or souls in evolution -- are a composite part of the hierarchical scheme of our earth. Likewise, the earth is a composite part of our solar system (which is also a living being of a type), which is part of yet another greater being, and so on into infinity. Nature is hierarchical.
EARTH GLOBE CHAIN
With these keywords held in our thoughts, we can now look at our chart. Please remember that this chart is composed of symbols that we use for presentation. These symbols do not represent cut-in-stone facts or dogmas. We are attempting here to discuss and think out a system of esoteric and non-corporeal philosophy. We are doing so with the exoteric corporeal brain stuff stored inside our skulls. Truth transcends mind and therefore truth is impossible to express perfectly in symbol or word. Symbols and words are steps toward truth and necessary guides, but the symbols and words used are not the truth itself. Again, truth transcends mind.
This diagram is what modern Theosophists call a "planetary chain." This symbol of a linked chain, or linked worlds, is also found elsewhere outside of modern theosophical books and charts. It is found in the Hebrew mysticism called Kabala. Also, in book eight of Homer's ILIAD, which you have likely encountered in your classes here, we read these words of Jove (Zeus or Jupiter):
Hang me a golden chain from heaven, and lay hold of it all you, gods and goddesses together -- tug as you will, you will not drag Jove the supreme counselor from heaven to earth; but were I to pull at it myself I should draw you up with the earth and sea into the bargain, then I would bind the chain about some pinnacle of Olympus and leave you all dangling in the mid firmament.
-- Samuel Butler, translator, THE ILIAD OF HOMER AND THE ODYSSEY, from Great Books of the Western World, Encyclopedia Britannica.
He also speaks thus:
I will hurl him down into dark Tartartus [under the earth] ... where the gates are iron and the floor bronze, as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth ...
Here in words from Homer, we find a symbol of hierarchical steps similar to the lecture hall we are here gathered in today. I am down here in the pit and some of you are up there on top of this classroom world.
Another classical mythological reference to our linked worlds is found in Hesiod's THEOGONY:
A bronze anvil falling from the sky would travel nine days and nights to reach the earth on the tenth day and a bronze anvil falling from the earth would need nine days and nights to reach Tartartus on the tenth day.
-- Apostolos N. Athanassakis, translator, HESIOD: THEOGONY, WORKS AND DAYS, SHIELD, John Hopkins University Press, pages 720-25.
Tartartus is the lowest world, or hell with many steps, or days in between.
Here is a book from ancient Egypt. (Actually, these are from THE DIVINE PYMANDER OF HERMES, translated by Dr. Everard in 1650 and reprinted by Wizards Bookshelf.) Here is Hermes or Mercury, the wing footed messenger god of wisdom again. Here we read, "Having all Power, he considered the Operations or Workmanship's of the Seven." (Seven creators. Here on our modern theosophical chart we see seven globes). A few fragments later, we read the phrase "Seven Governors." (The globes are alive. They are ensouled, hierarchical, and governed).
In classical Hindu mythology, there is talk of seven -- sevens and more sevens. Sometimes these seven worlds are seen in a different way and are transformed into three, a trinity of worlds. This is true in the east and west: Trinity here, Trinity there. There are also esoteric-thinking Christians with their sevens and threes, some scholarly in their work, some mystical, some both. If you look into it, you will see this truth.
Another myth we should look into, from the northern land of Finland, is THE KALEVALA. (See THE KALEVALA, AN EPIC POEM AFTER ORAL TRADITION, Oxford University Press, by Elias Lonnrot, translated from the Finnish by Keith Bosley.) There is a copy on the table here. I, however, will read to you my preferred translation found in Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
In primeval times, a maiden Beauteous Daughter of the Ether Passed for ages her existence In the great Expanse of Heaven, Seven hundred years she wandered, Seven hundred years she labored, Ere her first born was delivered. Ere a beauteous duck descending, Hastens toward the water-mother ...
In our Biblical Genesis and other creation myths, we have "waters" employed as a descriptive term. In other world-creation stories, we find worlds represented as "eggs" -- seeds - Swabhava.
Lightly on the knee she settles, Finds a nesting place befitting, Where to lay her eggs in safety, Lays her eggs within at pleasure, Six the golden eggs she lays them, Then a Seventh, an egg of iron ...
Here, this afternoon in a short time together we read of ancient myths of descending Grecian steps to gates of iron, Egyptian worlds of seven, and a Finish seventh world (egg of iron), and of our modern theosophical globes. Here on our chart we see at the bottom of our chain a globe we call Globe D (our Earth). We can postulate for ourselves philosophically and scientifically a correlation to "the iron" world in our search for truth.
A Theosophist can choose to study religions, myths, and sciences in an effort to unfold an "idea of truth." They represent maps of truth, if you like. This momentary truth is, as said before, open to new thoughts and ideas, applying these ideas as we choose to our individual mental models while discarding those that we find unworkable as independent thinkers. A slogan adopted from Hindustan by Theosophists is that "there is no religion higher than truth." One takes from the teachings only that which one is prepared to swallow.
On our chart, we see a philosophical system of globes identified with the letters A through G. We think of these globes as living beings. Their life spans could be thought of in terms of millions and billions of our human years as we record time. The globes, these worlds, are born like us. They live their life. They pass away. In time, they are reborn. The process repeats itself again and again.
The life that becomes a world globe evolves into grander and greater spheres and planes through this process, as do we eventually. We humans as individual god sparks have been involved in this cycle of life with our Earth through many manifested embodiments. The Earth, the mother of our bodies, has been in a similar relationship with our solar system in which the sun is both brain and heart. The solar system also experiences birth, life, and passing out into higher realms. Eventually it will return with companion life-waves including planets and humanities. This again is hierarchical.
Let us go back to our planetary chain. From an exoteric point of view -- that is, on the surface -- before the apparent birth of our globe chain there appears to be empty space, a seeming nothingness. Remember that our physical eyes can perceive only a relative set of vibrations within a given spectrum. Science will verify that.
In space, on a so-called higher vibration or plane, there is a "flutter," a movement. A birth is in progress similar to a seed in a mother's womb. Vast time passes. Eventually Globe A descends and becomes manifest. This is on a plane still higher than ours, and therefore still invisible to our lower plane eyes, yet we say it is there.
Imagine now three elemental Kingdoms or life-waves, also invisible and in some way related, I am sure, to current scientific teachings and theories concerning atomic and sub-atomic worlds.
In European myths, the elementals are given various names that you may recall as Gnomes, Fairies, Salamanders, and Sylphs. In other cultures, they are given other names. Globe A became manifest due to the activities of these three elemental Kingdoms, which, when they finished their work on A, moved down a plane (or vibration) and started their karmic work of building Globe B.
As these Elementals move downward into greater materiality, they are followed by other Kingdoms we can call Mineral, Vegetable, Beast, and eventually Human. Each Kingdom follows the other in the building up of these worlds in the ranks of various waves of life due to their hierarchical status through evolution at the point of passing out of the material life of the previous Earth Globe Chain. All the Kingdoms are parts of the whole. All are god sparks, or as the old saying goes, "chips off the old block." Everything is alive and evolving. This process continues and the chain of worlds is built. Each visible planet we know of in our exoteric solar system has a chain of its own just as we see on our chart.
It is said that there are seven earths on four planes with three planes above the seven. We see only the globe we are on now, D. It is said that over vast periods, we travel (or evolve) through these seven worlds and embodiments seven times. We are just over half way through our total current planetary experience and therefore in our so-called Fourth Round. A Round is a completion of travel and experience once through the seven worlds -- Globes A through G.
The Hindus have an elaborate time scale system as to the age of our Earth and Solar System. As to the correctness of their system, little today can be said one way or the other. We should say that we Theosophists use the system so that we may speak of these subjects and have a mathematical basis we can all share. Many of us believe the scale to be "close" to the truth.
We do not have time to enter into their extended calculations today, but to give you an idea of their system, we can say that we are in what is known as Kali Yuga, which translates as "hard age" or "dark age." This Kali Yuga is a repetitive age, as all the cycles are, and is relatively short. We have been in this evolutionary cycle for 5000 or so years and we have still nearly 430,000 years left before us. It is also said that in these "hard" ages, we, all of us, evolve in a quickened fashion. It is expected that we will all experience many incarnations in Kali Yuga before we enter yet another "age" in our collective destiny.
Here on Globe D, on our Earth, after the Elementals, follows a Mineral Kingdom, followed by the plants or the Vegetable Kingdom, followed also by a Beast Kingdom, or those beings that most of us call animals. After our animal brothers, come us Humans in a Kingdom of our own. We are more advanced than the beasts because our Swabhava has "unfolded" into a state of humanity after passing through a beast nature in previous existences in other worlds.
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, February 1938, pages 92-93.]
In one of the numbers of W.Q. Judge's magazine, THE PATH, there is a translation of a tale by the German physician, poet, and mystic Justinus Kerner. This story is illuminating as to the nature of man and the way of overcoming difficulties a student of life may meet. The spirit of a coarse, violent, drinking, and swearing man obsesses a young woman, causing her great affliction. A good and benevolent female spirit, an angel, also visits her, giving comfort.
The young woman applies for help to a man who, under the guise of a humble worker, is known as the possessor of practical wisdom. He tells the girl that BOTH of the spirits are obsessing her, that she must get rid of the angel as well as the coarse one. He shows her how to assert her individuality. She must place her hand two inches below the pit of the stomach and say "I." The result is that both influences are banished. Observe what happens next. The two obsessing entities enter into a league to share the girl between them, which renews her troubles, though the end is victory.
Such an obsession is rare, though it represents what occurs to students of practical occultism in less dramatic fashion. These two obsessing entities stand for the two poles of our emotional nature. This emotionalism has to be gradually disentangled from our make-up. Use caution in interpreting the allegory. A hasty view might say resist both good and evil and remain indifferent. That is far from the case. We should eliminate the emotional element out of our endeavors. It is hostile to our success.
We know what it is to oscillate between extremes of exaltation and reaction. Lurking in our exaltation is an element of the reaction we dread. Symbology calls these poles the head and the tail of the dragon, or the horns of the moon. Religious revivals are succeeded by relapses into profligacy. The state to be aimed at is calm and peace. Religions have been debased by the neurotic element: intense and exaggerated devotion, passion, and intolerance of the opinions of others. When such conditions of over-enthusiasm exist, the other pole is not far.
An attitude of cold indifference, of Laodicean "blowing neither hot nor cold," is not to be sought. This would be equivalent to that "abandonment of action," reprobated in THE BHAGAVAD GITA. The true attitude is well indicated therein: being constant in devotion to Me, the same in heat and cold, standing apart from the qualities of nature, without however suspending their operation.
Our story explains the errors of genius, which achieves its summits at the expense of falls into abysses. Half-baked psychologists, eager for hasty generalizations, have said that genius is a morbid condition, but genius is the immortal fire that Prometheus brought. We only have to learn to use it. This two-headed Serpent is spoken of in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. For those who suppress human spontaneity and originality, this Serpent is called the Devil. Though in itself a duality, it is also the nether pole of a duality. The mysteries of nature are sublime.
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, July 1893.]
Here is a legend whispered to me. I cannot tell its land or time. It may have been in the old Atlantean days. There were vast woods and a young priestess ruled them. She presided at the festivals and sacrificed at the altar for the people. She interceding with the spirits of fire, water, air, and earth that the harvest might not be burned up, nor drenched with the floods, nor torn by storms and that the blight might not fall upon it, which things the elemental spirits sometimes brought about. This woodland sovereignty was her heritage from her father, who was a mighty magician before her.
Around her young days floated the fairy presences. She knew them as other children know the flowers, having neither fear nor wonder for them. She saw deeper things also. As a little child, wrapped up in her bearskin, she watched with awe her father engaged in mystic rites. She watched when around him the airy legions gathered from the populous elements. The spirits he ruled and the spirits he bowed down before fleeting nebulous things, white as foam, came forth from the great deep and fled away at the waving of his hand. Yet rarer, she watched the great sons of fire, bright and transparent as glass, who though near seemed yet far away and were still and swift as the figures that glance in a crystal.
The child grew up full of mystery. Her thoughts were not the thoughts of the people about her, nor were their affections her affections. It seemed as if the elf-things or beings carved by the thought of the magician, pushed aside by his strong will and falling away from him, entering into the child became part of her, linking her to the elemental beings who live in the star-soul that glows within the earth.
Her father told her such things as she asked, but he died while she was yet young and she knew not his aim, what man is, or what is his destiny; but she knew the ways of every order of spirit that goes about clad in a form, how some were to be dreaded and some to be loved. Because of this knowledge, she succeeded as priestess to the shrine, and held the sway of beauty and youth, of wisdom and mystery, over the people dwelling in the woods.
It was the evening of the autumn festival. The open grassy space before the altar was crowded with figures: hunters with their feathered heads, shepherds, those who toil in the fields, the old and hoary were gathered around.
The young priestess stood up before them. She was pale from vigil, and the sunlight coming through the misty evening air fell upon her swaying arms and her dress with its curious embroidery of peacock's feathers. The dark hollows of her eyes were alight and as she spoke, inspiration came to her. Her voice rose and fell, commanding, warning, whispering, beseeching. Its strange rich music flooded the woods, piercing through and through with awe the hearts of those who listened. She spoke of the mysteries of that unseen nature: how man is watched and ringed round with hosts who war upon him, who wither up his joys by their breath. She spoke of the gnomes who rise up in the woodland paths with damp arms grasping from their earthy bed.
"Dreadful," she said, "are the elementals that live in the hidden waters. They rule the dreaming heart. Their curse is forgetfulness. They lull man to fatal rest, with drowsy fingers feeling to put out his fire of life. Most of all, dread the powers that move in air. Their nature is desire unquenchable. Their destiny is never to be fulfilled, never to be at peace. They roam hither and thither like the winds they guide. They usurp dominion over the passionate and tender soul. They love not in our way. Where they dwell the heart is madness and the feet are filled with a hurrying fever, and night has no sleep and day holds no joy in its sunlit cup. Listen not to their whisper. They wither and burn up the body with their fire. The beauty they offer is smitten through and through with unappeasable anguish."
She paused for a moment. Her terrible breath had hardly ceased to thrill them, when another voice was heard singing. Its note was gay and triumphant. It broke the spell of fear upon the people.
I never heed by waste or wood The cry of fay or fairy thing Who tell of their own solitude; Above them, all my soul is king.
The royal robe as king I wear Trails all along the fields of light; Its silent blue and silver bear For gems, the starry dust of night.
The breath of joy unceasingly Waves to and fro its folds star-lit, And far beyond earth's misery I live and breathe the joy of it.
The priestess advanced from the altar. Her eyes sought for the singer. When she came to the center of the opening she paused and waited silently. Almost immediately, a young man carrying a small lyre stepped out of the crowd and stood before her. He did not seem older than the priestess. He stood unconcerned though her dark eyes blazed at the intrusion. He met her gaze fearlessly. His eyes looked into hers. In this way, all proud spirits do battle. Her eyes were black with almost a purple tinge, eyes that had looked into the dark ways of nature. His were bronze, and a golden tinge, a mystic opulence of vitality, seemed to dance in their depths. They dazzled the young priestess with the secrecy of joy. Her eyes fell for a moment.
He turned round and cried out, "Your priestess speaks but half truths, her eyes have seen but her heart does not know. Life is not terrible but is full of joy. Listen to me. I passed by while she spake, and I saw that a fear lay upon every man, and you shivered thinking of your homeward path, fearful as rabbits of the unseen things, and forgetful how you have laughed at death facing the monsters who crush down the forests. Do you not know that you are greater than all spirits before whom you bow in dread? Your life springs from a deeper source. Answer me, priestess, where go the fire-spirits when winter seizes the world?"
"Into the Fire-King they go. They dream in his heart," she half chanted, the passion of her speech not yet fallen away from her.
"And where go the fires of men when they depart?" She was silent. Then he continued half in scorn, "Your priestess is the priestess of ghouls and fays rather than a priestess of men. Her wisdom is not for you. The spirits that haunt the elements are hostile because they see you full of fear. Do not dread them and their hatred will vanish. The great heart of the earth is full of laughter. Do not put yourselves apart from its joy, for its soul is your soul and its joy is your true being."
He turned and passed through the crowd. The priestess made a motion as if she would have stayed him. Then she drew herself up proudly and refrained. They heard his voice again singing as he passed into the darkening woods,
The spirits to the fire-king throng Each in the winter of his day: And all who listen to their song Follow them after in that way.
They seek the heart-hold of the king, They build within his halls of fire, Their dreams flash like the peacock's wing, They glow with sun-hues of desire.
I follow in no fairy ways; I heed no voice of fay or elf; I in the winter of my days Rest in the high ancestral self.
The rites interrupted by the stranger did not continue much longer. The priestess concluded her words of warning. She did not try to remove the impression created by the poet's song. She only said, "His wisdom may be more true. It is more beautiful than the knowledge we inherit."
The days passed on. Autumn died into winter. Spring came again and summer. The seasons, which brought change to the earth, brought change to the young priestess. She sought no longer to hold sway over the elemental tribes. Her empire over them departed. The song of the poet rang forever in her ears. Its proud assertion of kingship and joy in the radiance of a deeper life haunted her like truth. Such a life seemed unattainable by her and a deep sadness rested in her heart.
The wood-people often saw her sitting in the evening where the sunlight fell along the pool, waving slowly its azure and amethyst, sparkling and flashing in crystal and gold, melting as if a phantom Bird of Paradise were fading away. Her dark head was bowed in melancholy and all that great beauty flamed and died away unheeded. After a time, she rose up and moved about. She spoke more frequently to the people who had not dared to question her. She grew into a more human softness. They feared her less and loved her more. She ceased not from her passionate vigils. Her step faltered and her cheek paled.
Her eager spirit took flight when the diamond glow of winter broke out over the world. The poet came again in the summer. They told him of the change they could not understand, but he fathomed the depths of this wild nature, and half in gladness, half in sorrow, he carved an epitaph over her tomb near the altar,
Where is the priestess of this shrine, And by what place does she adore? The woodland haunt below the pine Now hears her whisper nevermore.
Ah, wrapped in her own beauty now She dreams a dream that shall not cease; Priestess, to her own soul to bow Is hers in everlasting peace.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "The Dissemination of Esoteric Knowledge" made of a private class held on March 2, 1955.]
You said the balance holding back disaster is precarious in our day, but you also mentioned a change in the thinking of people the world over. I think that the balance is less precarious now than it was 75 years ago. It is a blessing that our scientific achievements did not happen then. We were not ready for them. Since then, the thinking of people has advanced. We treat sickness in a different manner. We have sympathy for the alcoholic and the insane. We try to do constructive work in the courts, as when we bring in a court psychiatrist. In most instances where people would immediately be hung, they are treated more humanely. We even have institutions that take care of animals. We are being fair in placing orphans. Who would have wanted an adopted child 75 years ago? Not many. The family and the home are coming into its own, where before it was almost a facade. If we have achieved this much so quickly, it won't be long before our thinking takes a definite swing, and we won't be sitting on this powder keg any more.
I agree, but we will not escape a number of localized conflicts like Korea. These localized conflicts may indirectly involve many nations, but will not break out into universal brawls. We will escape future universal brawls.
These eruptions are curiously like the life of a periodic drinker. An old habit asserts itself suddenly, and there is no telling how far it will go this time. Periodically, we give way to a well-established habit. The habit is really a thought form. Collectively, millions of thought forms might get us frenzied about something, turning out to butcher each other in various modern ways. Today we are beginning to control our giving in to these urges. The urges are as strong as ever, perhaps worse, but when they assert themselves, we do not break out in violence.
There are powerful forces acting as brakes upon this violence. It is more difficult to start a universal conflict than it was. That is an achievement. Every week, more is gained for the forces working for peace.
When looking at newspapers, you will see nothing but individuals working for war, but that is not so. It is a distorted view. If anybody had the money to publish a newspaper on nothing but good things, it would be big. Remarkable things are happening in terms of peace, culture, and mutual understanding. As that side is emphasized more, it becomes more difficult for the other side, the habitual side, to show its colors. Do not be afraid of the opposition. It spurs the better side to action.
You mention that instead of local government the trend is to go global. It is impossible to get away from some localized things. We have a local community, a local police force, and a local governing community. We have a national government, state governments, county governments, city governments, and community governments. Each does their part. Even if you have a world government, you still need local government.
The one does not exclude the other. The local is to be merged into something greater. Look at our United States. We have many governing bodies from the city to the federal government. They merge into each other. There is friction, because we are human. There is a degree of integration, so the individual on any street recognizes the paramount authority of the federal government, right through the entire hierarchical structure.
With just a few more steps, national governments will realize the necessity of merging into a universal government, where all nations are represented and work together.
Would you suggest the erasing of boundaries between countries? Are you thinking of us becoming one global country, and doing away with the nations?
I am inclined to say no. Each ethnic group has its own traditional background, and represents a keynote in the overall human family. As such, that keynote cannot be erased. It must become a harmonious part of a symphony.
To erase any unit would be a loss, because each contributes a color, a tone, and a vibratory rate. The peculiar characteristics of each unit must be amplified to the nth degree. We have a symphony where the constituent parts make up a chord. They are still units, fully emphasized, never erased, and never slurred over, and yet they merge into a greater whole, the symphony itself.
Some people have not thought this out. They wrongly imagine that there is a leveling process, making everybody alike, with no differences between one another. That is impossible. It is no more possible than to play a beautiful piece of music on a piano where the keys are be equal or unrelated to one another in any mathematical way.
Just consider a single family. You cannot use the same discipline on one child that you use on another. You cannot treat everyone the same, because all are different. The wise parent recognizes these differences.
I am a foreigner. I came here many years ago. I am not American born. Something struck me forcibly, after I had been here a while. There is an utter dissimilarity between a Californian, and a man from the South, or a man from New York. When the Europeans came, they were people who would have previously belonged to different nations. As I met them and began to know them, I found that each considered themselves Americans, and I saw them as Americans too. Something that is "American" is behind their differences.
Project the same thought onto the world scale. The Frenchman will remain a Frenchman. The Englishman will remain an Englishman. The same will hold with the Chinaman. There are binding forces that will assert themselves strongly, so that they recognize one another as brothers. There is their common humanhood, their common origin, and their common spiritual goal, all of which is the background of a universal cultural trend. The skin is not going to alter. Traditions will not alter. Future objectives, though, will alter, because they will be less nationalistic and more universally minded.
This can never happen from politics. We need an integration of culture, the realization of human spiritual unity, and the knowledge of the facts of spiritual evolution added to facts of physical evolution. A change in human minds and hearts is needed, a change of philosophy. This will be followed by new economical and political systems, which will simply adapt themselves to the new way of thinking.
It will not happen overnight. It is happening quicker than some realize. I can imagine my grandfather and mother, and people of that generation, coming to life. They would not recognize the strange world we live in. They would be unable to adjust their thought processes. Everything would shock them. It would neither be seen as good or bad, just incompatible. Their minds worked in a different groove. The vibratory rate was different. Many were wonderful people, but the mold in which their minds were cast was different.
I was wondering about the reincarnating cycle. It seems to me that the cycle is much less than 300 to 1500 years. In order to get knowledge required for our stage, you need to come back sooner, because of the great changes that are taking place in the world and the essential learning that must be derived from these changes.
In the theosophical literature, we often hear that there is 1500 years between incarnations. This is an approximation. It is an average.
Now, what is this average based upon? Our information is insufficient to tell. If you take THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, you will find that the two Adepts that wrote these letters -- M & K.H. -- mention an occult law. That law states that one remains in the inner worlds between lives about 100 times the length of his incarnation. Therefore, if the average between lives were 1500 years, the average human life would be 15 years. That sounds peculiar, but remember that one of the Adepts is speaking, not a city statistician, a government expert, or some occidental scholar. Their vantage ground so much higher than ours so that they really know what is going on the world over. From that standpoint, the average human life is 15 years. We are dealing here with an average. In Herodotus, the average was 3000. That was the ancient teachings of the Egyptians.
Averages must be treated like any mathematical mean. If we took the mean value of the intelligence of people in Los Angeles, it would not be very high. Against that value, we would have to make many adjustments, both lower and immensely higher, because we have some of the finest scientists in the world, and we have our sloths. Averages are tricky. They must not enamor us.
In my understanding of the teachings, there are people who remain between incarnations thousand of years. There are people who remain between incarnations only a few hundred years. The stay in inner worlds depends upon many factors. These include their spirituality or and decreasing attraction to matter, their understanding, their desire to work for the good of man, and their karmic past.
Millions in any country will stay between incarnations much longer than 1500 years. Others have enough incentive for spiritual work to come out of Devachan sooner. These are high-minded, and may work in the Theosophical Movement and allied efforts. They work for the good of the human race. They are trying to control and improve themselves, deliberately changing their lives. I would not be surprised if it were 200 to 300 years for these people, whom perhaps include a great many of our own friends. Perhaps they were last in some European country, or this country, and now have resumed with great vigor and zest the work they have dedicated their lives to.
Do not become enamored by averages. We do not know how far the deviations may be in both directions. Also, do not apply averages to those whom in their very nature are exceptional people. Some people may we way below average. Others may be far above. To apply the average against either would be wrong.