In Esoteric philosophy the Demiurge or Logos, regarded as the CREATOR, is simply an abstract term, an idea, like "army." As the latter is the all-embracing term for a body of active forces or working units -- soldiers -- so is the Demiurge the qualitative compound of a multitude of Creators or Builders.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 380 footnote
By Eldon B. Tucker
Emmett Small, former student of G. de Purucker and resident of Katherine Tingley's theosophical community at Point Loma, California, passed away Thursday October 25 at 8:34 PM PDT.
We know Emmett more recently for his significant role in helping to found and lead Point Loma Publications [PLP]. It has kept in print literally hundreds of significant theosophical books. See www.wisdomtraditions.com for more information on its booklist and activities.
At an age of 98 1/2, he had survived the others of his generation, including Iverson L. Harris, Helen Todd, L. Gordon Plummer, Geoffrey Barborka, Elsie Benjamin, and many, many more people coming out of the Point Loma community to make a significant contribution to the theosophical community.
Emmett edited many books for publication, was senior editor of the PLP periodical, THE ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST, and carried on a significant worldwide correspondence. His work tied together theosophists of many backgrounds into a cooperative community.
He is survived by his daughters, Clara and Gwen; his son, Ken; and wife, Carmen. Carmen has carried on the leadership of PLP, acting as President for the last several years. Ken also plays a significant role in keeping PLP going.
Saturday, Emmett was hospitalized. On Sunday, it was determined that he had kidney failure and had only a short time left. Then Thursday evening, he passed away.
According to Ken, "His passing was extraordinarily peaceful. The many greetings from friends both close and from around the world were shared with him as he rested at the San Diego hospice during the week for which he was most grateful. Both of my sister's were present with myself at the time of time of his passing."
We will remember Emmett not so much for any specific outstanding event in his life. We will think of him with HIGHER regard. He was one of those behind-the-scenes workers that hold the Theosophical Movement together. Lives like his, spend in selfless labor for a greater cause, come and go with little fanfare. But they are the bedrock upon which the Movement stands.
By Grace F. Knoche
[The Theosophical Society; Pasadena, California; October 25, 2001.]
At this sacred time when a loved one is loosening his earthly bonds a peace descends upon him, as though something of the wonder and beauty of what is to be is already enveloping him. While the loss to family and friends is all too real, with the pain comes a profound assurance that "All is well" and that the afterdeath period is not only a needed respite but a boon for the soul.
AVE ET VALE! Hail and Farewell, Emmett. You have faithfully stayed the course for nearly a century -- and now we bid you Godspeed along the invisible paths of destiny. In the course of cycles we shall return to take up anew the ageless quest. The old Latins recorded this well in their epitaphs: "Dormit in astris" and "Gaudeat in astris".
May you, Emmett, sleep well and rejoice among the stars, until we meet again.
By Judith Ann Christie
Emmett, I would like to have been with you when you left this world. We will greatly miss your unknown greatness and tender heart. The world is a lesser place as you move onto new vistas in the grander scheme of things.
As I sit here, I think of the wonderful earlier days, when so many of us vibrated with enthusiasm for our Theosophical Activity. Back then, I would visit you and family to enjoy long philosophical discussions, which of course often included the early days at the Point Loma Theosophical Campus. Each visit included a walk with with you you over to the old Point Loma Campus. At times my children joined our walk listening intently to wonderful stories about the happy days attending classes there. Wistfully they wished such a school still existed back then.
I remember many lovely days. One such day, the Dalai Lama's entourage came upon you, and my son Carson, and me in the Greek Theatre. There on the Point Loma Campus, Carson stood high up reciting, "To be or not to be, that is the question."
I recall all of us sitting around your kitchen table at your house, so near the campus. Your sweet wife, Carman, prepared special lunches and Swedish coffee! A frequent visitor, I was always treated royally.
Your guides were the Adept Masters, H.P. Blavatsky, Katherine Tingley, and G. de Purucker. Moment by moment throughout your life, they occupied a palpable place in your daily activities. You saw them clearly with your spiritual vision. You conversed with them in your dreams and waking hours as well.
In liberating self from personal ego, you opened your crowned lotus to the blazing Divine Light of spiritual awareness. You have gone deep within to search for answers before exiting this life. You have found an ever-expanding spiritual awareness and rebirth into Divine consciousness.
When prepared, you could transcend the physical body with help from your ego instead of remaining slave to the body. Facing the end of life, you now see as a divine creative connection to the archetypal world. The eternal buddhic flame now rejuvenates you. Bask in its rainbow golden beams of light at your gleaming desk or rainbow bed where you dream sweet dreams.
By Gregory Tillett
The passing from this life of Emmett Small is a great loss of Theosophical scholarship. Whether Emmett would have regarded himself as a scholar, I do not know. I do know, however, that he embodied more of the qualities of the true scholar in this field than many who laid claim to such a title.
John Cooper and I once light-heartedly discussed the possibility of writing a "Good Food" guide to Theosophical scholarship wherein we rate resources for research. Such a project might be entertaining, but we decided it was too risky a venture. Those liking what we said about them would be far fewer than those who would sue us. Had such a review been written, Emmett would have had to be awarded more "stars" than most, if not all.
I recall with great affection and gratitude my brief time with him and our correspondence. He was honest, open, generous and enthusiastic, eager to share what resources and information he had, even when he did not necessarily agree with the position being taken by the enquirer.
The sparkle in his eyes was not that of the narrow-minded fanatic, but that of the inspired and inspiring enthusiast. He was a man with a great sense of humor whose vision went far beyond mortal peculiarities and politics and thus enabled him to see both in true, and appropriately amusing, perspective.
For Emmett, Theosophy was not a patch of territory to control or defend, but a philosophy of life to be lived.
By Ernest Pelletier
My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Emmett and Carmen for the first time in the spring of 1988 when we spent a week in San Diego. For a good part of that time, we were busily researching in the Point Loma Library, housed on the Small's premises. A number of hours were idled away in discussions around various topics. Emmett never seemed to tire of conversing about theosophical ideas and ideals. He had a positive outlook on things and did not appear capable of animosity towards anyone or anything. Emmett and Carmen provided us with a tour of the Point Loma grounds. The experience could be likened to seeing the panorama through the eyes of an enthusiastic youngster -- Emmett never lost the child's sense of 'wonder' about the world and life.
We also had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with Emmett and Carmen in 1997. Emmett was much frailer by then but he had not lost his mischievous side or his enthusiasm for things around him. We have fond memories of the hours spent with him and count ourselves fortunate to have had the honor of being included among his circle of friends.
By Dara Eklund
Of his striking qualities, I remember Emmett's robust enthusiasm, his fine mind, and his articulate description of our noble philosophy and the colorful personages that shaped it. He had the dramatic quality of an accomplished orator. Rejoicing in the characters he had played in old Point Loma days, he would stride down the worn steps of America's first Greek Theater, bringing those mighty heroes to life to visitors and friends once more. The tours he took us around the old grounds vividly brought back those halcyon days of the early 20th century Theosophical community there.
It was not always easy for Emmett after the Theosophical Society left Point Loma during World War II. One can sense the influence of those difficult times by reading his book THE PATH OF SELF UNFOLDMENT (published in 1986). His essays show the deft hand of an excellent editor, as did his Eclectic Magazine during its heyday.
Emmett's close friend, Boris de Zirkoff, first introduced me at a grand memorial of perhaps thirty old Point Loma friends who gathered to celebrate the passing of 100-year old poet John Davidson, whose sprightly verse had often appeared in the local San Diego newspaper. Each member shared a bit of verse. I was impressed with both Emmett's literary background and with the joyful memorial shared by friends who really understood that death is only a birth unto the next stage of Life.
Later on, Emmett helped me editorially in appraising our selection of William Q. Judge's articles for ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, as he had a keen sensitivity to Judge's style.
I loved Emmett's wry humor, sharp wit, and kindly but exacting criticism. Of exhaustless energy, Emmett always urged me to "make haste slowly." As president of the Browning Society, he also held writer's workshops that influenced many young people.
You who were Apollo in THE EUMENIDES and Prospero in THE TEMPEST -- you now have entered a new stage in the theater of Life beyond our earthly setting. "Hail to him who greets the Dawn!"
By W. Emmett Small
[From pages 241-47 of THE PATH OF SELF UNFOLDMENT, a collection of Emmett's writings privately published by his family in 1986, dated May 3, 1983.]
W. Emmett Small is President of Point Loma Publications, Inc. He was born in Macon, Georgia, but before he was two years old, his parents placed him in Katherine Tingley's Raja Yoga School at the Point Loma international Theosophical Headquarters, near San Diego, California. He is a graduate of the Theosophical University and later taught there. For several years, he was Assistant Secretary General of the Point Loma Theosophical Society, Assistant Secretary of the University, and Secretary of the Cabinet. For sixteen years, he was one of the editors of, and a regular contributor to, THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, and LUCIFER, THE LIGHT-BRINGER. He also edited all books published by the Society at Point Loma.
That is the usual blurb used by periodicals prefacing some article of mine. Born in Georgia, why was I taken to California way back in March of 1905? The answer was unusual parents. My mother was a first cousin of Walter T. Hanson, President of Bibb Manufacturing Company of Macon, Georgia. He became interested in Theosophy in the early 1890's when W.Q. Judge headed the destinies of the Theosophical Society in America. He organized a Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Macon, which flourished and became one of the leading centers in the United States. Later around 20 or so members moved to Point Loma when Katherine Tingley (who succeeded Judge as Leader, on Judge's death in 1896) moved the Headquarters there. My mother evidently received her inspiration of Theosophy from her cousin, and she later told me dedicated me to Theosophy before I was born. The Raja Yoga School started with five members, all from Macon, in 1900. My father, not a member then of the Theosophical Society, but understanding of my mother's devotion, agreed to my being educated away from home, though relatives and friends near him considered the idea outlandish.
From then on, Point Loma was my home, and the children, and later the adults, there became my large "family." I felt truly at home there. The ideals and the philosophy appealed to me. The teachers of the various subjects in the school became friends. When on those few occasions when (after 19 years of age) I visited my Georgia home-folks for short periods, I felt immediately lonely and longed for the hour of return to my growing duties.
I was a terribly shy boy, and perhaps my most pressing and demanding necessity was to try to overcome that trait. I worked at it. Later the very curriculum there educated me to some degree out of it. As I grew to young manhood, I became a young group teacher in the Boys Department. I taught English literature and History (and even bookkeeping!). With all the others, I had become a member of the Boys and Girls Chorus, of the Orchestra, and the Band. I first tried violin and piano, but was not very good at them. Then at 14, I tried the clarinet and gained some proficiency, and later playing solos when we were broadcast over KFSD by remote control. I also tried the cello, which I loved most.
Katherine Tingley [KT], for reasons that she perhaps alone knew, also threw me into the dramatic effort. She believed the drama was a great teacher, that it had lessons that could be taught in no better way of the nature of life, its purpose, its tests, and its inner victories. I was given roles in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, and particularly (way back in 1927) in THE TEMPEST as Prospero. I was young for that part, but she thrust me into it, and I believe I learned from it.
Our physical education was not neglected. We played tennis, football (called Association Football in those days, like Soccer today), baseball, basketball; trained in broad-jump, high-jump, rings, and bars; hundred-yard dash, etc. I enjoyed them all, especially tennis and baseball. Holidays -- Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, etc. -- we had great times, decorating the athletic field with flags and bunting; tennis matches in the morning; band music and a big feast for everyone at noon; and games in the afternoon. The Raja Yoga slogan was, "Balance of all the faculties: physical, mental, moral, and spiritual. I would say our curriculum in sound degree lived up to that."
As a boy, I also worked in what we called the P & S Department, typing, with my cousin Ross White, the weekly requisitions from the 500 or so students on "The Hill." I also delivered (on bicycle) the mail to the students who lived in scattered tents and dwellings (later they all came to the office to pick up their own mail, which we handed them from the slots into which they were placed on arrival). Later, (when about 19 or 20) I helped Axel Fick, then Purchasing Agent for the Society, and with him went to San Diego on Mondays and Tuesdays to help with all kinds of needed requisitioned items, such as toothbrushes, razor blades, soap, etc., etc. Those years I was still studying.
Then when I was 22, I worked for a year as secretary in the General Manager's Office, and the next year moved to help in the office of the Secretary, Joseph H. Fussell, in what we called the UB Building at South Ranch. That became my home in a way. I remember well KT once meeting me at the top of the stairs of the Temple, and saying to me: "You are to help Mr. Fussell and Professor Purucker." It turned out that way. I remember toward the end of the afternoon in those early days I'd run down the sloping hills to the large vegetable gardens the Society had just above the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. There I'd work for the last hour of the day before suppertime. Some years earlier I used to take the boys' group there first thing after breakfast from about 7:30 to 9 o'clock (we'd had breakfast at 6:20), so I knew something of the general layout, what to do in thinning out the young onions and carrots, in shucking corn, digging sweet potatoes or yams, and so on. We enjoyed it.
I remember well the Memorial Service for KT (who had suffered a fatal auto accident in Osnabruck, Germany, on May 30, 1929, and died at Visingso, Sweden, on July 11, at the Theosophical School grounds there). The atmosphere of devotion and gratitude can with quick thought be brought to life again. Under Dr. Gottfried de Purucker (generally known as G. de P.), some of us did more active work in speaking before the public at Point Loma and at the various lodges, mostly in California, and our past training was seen to have been soundly supportive then. I also worked in the Editorial Office and soon came to realize that that was my basic forte, for I stayed in that area (and the last year at Point Loma was wholly there) until the Headquarters (because of the War) moved in May of 1942.
Before that, I had fallen in love with a young schoolgirl whose parents were members of the Society from Sweden. In fact the girl's father, Axel Fick, was the one before mentioned who headed the Purchasing Department until his death in July, 1925. The mother Gerda Fick, was a sister of Tell Berggren, a physician for a while at Battle Creek, Michigan. She was an assistant teacher and housemother in the Girls Department. When I fell in love, the girl, Carmen Helena, was considered "too young," and it was arranged she visit her relatives in Sweden. She was two years there, but when she returned to Point Loma and became a young teacher herself in the School, we were engaged and next year were married (Feb. 25, 1939).
Since then my life has been filled with the blessings of a loving wife and in due time three lovely children, two girls and then a boy (Gwen Hillhouse, Clara Nugent, and Kenneth Robert). To them, all four, I owe unsaid but treasured memories and experiences of the crowded decades. When in 1969 Clara married William Berno (Bill), a talented son-in-law was happily added to the family.
When G. de P. died in 1942, our life at Covina, some 25 miles or so east of Los Angeles, carried on much as before in a community-like atmosphere, though the numbers were greatly diminished. Then in 1945-46 came internal troubles in the Society, and in July of 1946, we realized we should move and reorganize our life. Those were difficult years. There is no need to dwell on them.
We settled eventually, strange as it seems, back in Point Loma. What was my job? Mr. Wood, who had bought the property and had now set things up there as a kind of housing project, needed a gardener and cleaning-up man. I volunteered and he hired me. Carmen, Gwen, and Clara joined me on October 31, 1946, and we were fortunate to rent what was known as the Spalding Annex. We lived there until February of 1949, when we scraped together all our pennies, including what Mormor Fick contributed, and bought the house in Loma Portal on 3022 Ibsen Street. For the next 22 years, that was our home. Kenny was born there in June, 1951.
In the meantime, I taught a semester at San Diego State University in the English Department, filling a vacancy caused by the serious illness of Dr. Gulick. He, however, returned for the fall semester of 1947, and I sought a job elsewhere, first in Civil Service, later in the San Diego School system, in their printing department. In 1951, I got the job of English Editor at the Bill Jack Scientific Instrument Company, in Solana Beach; and later as Technical Editor at Ryan Aeronautical Company for nine years, and the same at General Atomic for a little over a year, then gave my full time to teaching English and Creative Writing in Adult Education until forced retirement time at age 65. This teaching experience I particularly enjoyed, making good friends among both faculty and students. A group of writers still meets monthly at our home, sharing their problems and successes and what they are currently writing or recently published.
In 1970, Iverson Harris wrote me a note telling of a dream he had of organizing a publishing company to carry on the work of the old Point Loma days, and asking my reaction. I enthusiastically endorsed his efforts. In January of 1971, Point Loma Publications was incorporated as a non-profit corporation by the State of California, and Iverson became its first president. Helen Todd and I were made editors of the bimonthly magazine "The Eclectic Theosophist," which has continued, with international subscription and support since then, and is in its 75th issue this month. It has been a joy to work through PLP and to be thus in touch constructively with friends and fellow theosophists in England, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Australia, South Africa, and, of course, the United States.
In 1970, we moved from Loma Portal to Point Loma, just seven minutes' walk to the open-air Greek Theater and other buildings on the former Theosophical grounds now occupied by Point Loma Nazarene College. Here as I type these lines, I am on Charles Street where as a little boy one of my older cousins, or perhaps a teacher, walked me to the two-story house just four doors east of us, to see my mother and father when they came out for a visit and stayed there. Life has come full circle in many ways.
So you see how fortunate I am, with past and present in harmony, and with loving wife and children to brighten the full hours of Today.
I have not touched on the individual lives and fortunes and destinies of Gwen, Clara, Kenny, and Bill, or for that matter Carmen herself. That is another story, perhaps best told by each one of them.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 41-43.]
The aspiration to enlighten the heart becomes a compelling urge with some men. They seek to be, rather than only to think. Not sacrifices in mere deeds which are seen objectively as outside of the doer, but natural expressions of the man who is not aware that he is unselfish and sacrificing.
The desire to be good, helpful, and charitable is very common. It is the way of the world that these desires are forced into expression by conscious effort. They have not the sweet natural fragrance of the rose but the scent of the attar of roses manufactured by men.
Belief in a religious creed is very different from the inner way of life which, discarding creed, seeks the security of Naturalness. The integration of inner perceptions to outer life, the harmonious fusion of inner attitude with outer conduct, does not depend on study but on application. The study of true principles of the science of the soul, Psychology, gives theoretical knowledge. Applied Psychology is another matter.
Our religious, social, and other beliefs have to be tested by the painstakingly acquired knowledge yielded by study. To know HIMSELF, man has to apply that knowledge -- discarding unenlightened beliefs and habits. Our views have to stand the test of quiet knowledge. Thus commences application in the art of becoming integrated. To live the doctrine, to be what we know, to be true to the perception of the educated mind, requires application. In the sphere of application, there should not be the poser, of whom Hamlet is the classical example. We must know and then determine what we aspire and plan to BE.
One of the greatest psychologists, a great master in the art of application and one who certainly knew himself, has said:
Irrigators canalize the waters; fletchers bend the arrows; carpenters carve the wood; wise men fashion themselves.
-- THE DHAMMAPADA, Verse 80
The Enlightened One repeats the same verse but uses the word "good," i.e., bent on fulfilling noble resolves, in place of the word "wise." (Verse 145) When we become noble by exercise and application, we fashion ourselves to BE noble. There is a difference between the scholar and the Sage. It is rooted in application. A scholar knows. A sage embodies Wisdom. Master Gautama has illustrated the difference in Verses 51-52:
Like a beautiful flower, full of color, but without scent, are the fair but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly.
Like a beautiful flower, full of color and full of scent, are the pure and fruitful words of him who acts accordingly.
Words and acts are integrated in the Sage. The Light of the Soul radiates in and through his sensorium. Exercise, practice, and application make the Sage out of the scholar. Intellectual recognition becomes spiritual realization when the mind's knowledge passes through the fire of experience. Most of the few who seem determined to become truly good and wise lack perseverance, assiduity in devotion. The Master has said that, "a lax ascetic only scatters the dust of his passions more widely." (Verse 313) The persevering effort should not be spasmodic. Strenuous should be the watch, daily the warding off of evil. THE DHAMMAPADA says:
Let a man guard himself. Let him be like a well-guarded frontier fort, with defenses within and without. Not a moment should escape his vigilance. He who allows the moment to slip from the right suffers grief, like unto the pain of hell.
Another difficulty of the student who resolves to practice is his lack of correct philosophical knowledge. His studies are often materialistic and mechanistic. He pushes himself to the dangerous precipice of neurosis. A strange verse seems exaggerated at first sight. The Master Gautama says:
If a man has transgressed a single Rule, if he lies, scoffs at another world, there is no evil he will not do.
-- Verse 176
The breaking of a SINGLE law and the scoffing at the existence of another world (the invisible is implied) are put in the same class as falsehood. These three seem to be wombs of evil deeds. There are some cogent verses in the Ninth Canto, which is about evil, sin, and vice (papa).
THE DHAMMAPADA (Footfalls of the Law) proves a reliable Companion for the ardent practitioner. What inspiration is to be derived from this confessional verse by the Master!
This mind of mine went formerly wandering about as it liked, as it listed, as it pleased; but I shall now control it perfectly as a rider controls with his hook a rutting elephant.
-- Verse 326
By Christmas Humphreys
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1949, pages 6-12.]
The Chinese are concerned with processes, rather than with results. Things have their value, but all things are in a state of flux. One finds contentment of mind, therefore, in the flow of life itself, not in the buildings, either of hands or of thoughts, which house that life for the space of a butterfly day or the brief span of the clay's mortality.
With its insistence on direct experience, unmindful of the forms of wisdom from which the life too swiftly ebbs away, Zen was extremely acceptable to the Chinese mind. The Chinese are in a way the British of the East. Most of the attributes above described apply to the average Englishman.
This Mahayana development was gradual. It was in the midst of the process that Bodhidharma, "the bearded barbarian," arrived from India. Into the crosscurrents of the stream of Chinese thought, he threw the hand-grenade of Zen. The four propositions that summarized his purpose and technique were:
A special transmission outside the Scriptures; No dependence upon words and letters; Direct pointing to the soul of man; Seeing into one's own nature.
In brief, he proposed a direct transmission of the Wisdom without our depending on words and proposed the direct seeing into our own nature.
While some of the best Chinese were translating and writing commentaries on the metaphysical scriptures of Indian Buddhism, this brutal frontal attack on the citadel of truth must have caused an enormous sensation. Hence, Dr. Suzuki's phrase that Zen was the Chinese revolt against Buddhism.
It was not until the time of Hui-neng, a hundred and fifty years later, that Zen became a genuinely Chinese form of Buddhism, to have immense effect on the Chinese art of the T'ang Dynasty. Bodhidharma regarded none of this apparent extension of the original teachings as moving away from them. He claimed to be returning to the spirit of the Buddha's teaching. If Buddhism is a record of Buddha's Enlightenment, he was right. This is the very foundation stone of Zen. Those who petrified the flow of truth in the written word of the Scriptures were the ones slaying the Dharma. From this point of view, Zen was the dredging of a stream made foul with ritual and worship, with the niceties of logic and rational philosophy, and the debris of all manner of conceptual thought.
We largely derive our knowledge of Bodhidharma from THE RECORDS OF THE TRANSMISSION OF THE LAMP. Although written in 1004 AD, the book references contemporary records now destroyed. Our second authority is BIOGRAPHIES OF THE HIGH PRIESTS by Tao-hsuan, compiled in 645 AD. The records differ in detail, but the outline is clear.
Bodhidharma will live forever in the annals of Zen Buddhism for introducing into it the element of satori, the immediate experience of truth as distinct from understanding about it. He did not merely offer this original contribution to Chinese Buddhism. He lived it. He was born in south India. Tradition says it was in Big Conjeeveram. He studied Buddhism under his teacher, Prajnatara, for forty years. From Prajnatara he acquired by merit the patriarchate of the Dhyana or Zen School, thus becoming the 28th Indian, as he was to become the first Chinese Patriarch.
On the death of his Teacher, he sailed for China, arriving in 520 AD. The Emperor Wu at once invited him to his capital, the modern Nanking. On his arrival, the Emperor, a most devout Buddhist, began to boast of his good works.
"I have built many temples and monasteries," the Emperor said. "I have copied the sacred books of the Buddha. I have converted Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, now what is my merit?"
This silent, ferocious-looking Indian Buddhist replied, "None whatever, your Majesty!"
Taken aback at this brutal answer, the Emperor tried again. "What is to be considered as the First Principle of the Dharma," he asked.
"Vast Emptiness, and nothing holy therein," replied the Patriarch.
"Who, then," asked the Emperor, not unreasonably, "now confronts me?"
"I have no idea," said Bodhidharma.
Thus, in a brief but historic interview, they laid the foundation of a School that became the dominant sect of China. It is one of the two main schools of Japanese Buddhism, having enormously influenced both countries in their character, culture, art, and philosophy.
Having introduced in his own inimitable style the teaching and technique of Zen Bodhidharma, Bodhidharma retired to the country. He meditated in silence for nine years in a Shao Lin monastery. Finally, there came to him a former Confucian scholar. Shen Kuang asked him for instruction in the Dharma. The Master took no notice. For seven days and nights, the petitioner waited in the snow and finally, to prove to the obdurate teacher the life and death sincerity of his demand, he cut off his arm, and sent it in. The Master saw him.
"Pray," said the exhausted student, "pacify my mind."
"Let me see your mind," said the Master, "and I will pacify it."
"I cannot produce this mind which troubles me so much," said the would-be pupil.
"Then I have pacified your mind," said Bodhidharma, and the pupil was at last enlightened.
The truth of the story is immaterial. It is of highest value as a most dramatic account of the birth in China of Zen principles. That is nearly all that we know of the founder of Zen Buddhism, whose fierce, aggressive, bearded head has been the theme of a thousand artists from that day to this. Even his end is a matter of mystery. It is in the true tradition of Zen to believe that people last saw him at a tremendous age returning through the Western Gates of China with one of his sandals on his head. That may be comic. It may have been symbolic. From such a man it was most certainly Zen.
The Confucian monk whose soul had been so swiftly pacified became the second Chinese Patriarch under the name of Hui-ke. To him the Master handed the Lankavatara Sutra as containing an epitome of the secret of Zen. This explains the popularity of this Sutra with students of Zen today. He was the first Zen martyr, put to death in 593 AD for teaching a false doctrine. He spent his life preaching Zen to the lowest strata of society. The popularity of this beggar in rags aroused opposition from the forces of well-fed orthodoxy. Before he died, he passed on the robe that had come to be the insignia of the Patriarchate to Seng-ts'an, who survives in history as the author of the Hsin Hsin Ming, a metrical rendering of the principles of Zen. A translation of the poem appears in Dr. Suzuki's ESSAYS IN ZEN BUDDHISM, I, 182-7. Here in print is the way to dissolve the Opposites.
The fourth Patriarch was Tao-hsin.
He had asked the previous Master, "Pray show me the way to deliverance."
Said the Master, "Who has put you under restraint?"
The enquirer answered, "No one."
The Master enquired in turn, "Then why do you seek deliverance?"
Under Tao-hsin (580-651), Zen Buddhism divided into two. One part did not survive the passing of its founder. Hung-jen headed the other branch. He was later the fifth Patriarch, who lives today in the famous Sutra of Wei-Lang (Hui-neng), the sixth Patriarch.
Like a famous character in a later religion, Hung-jen prepared the way for another greater than himself. This was Hui-neng. According to a southern dialect, we may pronounce his name "Wei-long." We know him better by that name in the West because of the late Mr. Wong Mou-lam's translation of his famous "Platform Sutra."
Under the fifth Patriarch, Hung-jen, Zen rose from a small retiring sect of earnest students to a position where it was ready to support a full proclamation of Zen. This was Hui-neng's destiny. He became the second founder of Zen Buddhism. His was the mind responsible for developing Zen into a purely Chinese form of Buddhism, both in teaching and means of expression.
Hui-neng was poorly educated. He was never a scholar in the usual sense of the word. His Sutra tells his story, ranking as one of the classics of eastern literature. In it, he clearly shows the close affinities with Taoism. At times, he uses the words "Tao" and "Dharma" synonymously with some of the later Masters.
This Sutra offers a diamond mine to the student of Zen, as does the Commentary upon it that Dr. Suzuki has written under the title of THE ZEN DOCTRINE OF NO-MIND.
The failure of Hui-neng's rival, Shen-hsiu, to receive the robe from the fifth Patriarch caused him to secede from the latter's following, and set up a northern school of his own. This rival was an ex-Confucian. With his School of 'gradual' enlightenment, the Emperor gave him protection and encouragement. Within a hundred years of the founder's death, the School had utterly disappeared. The 'Sudden' School of Hui-neng prospered mightily. As Dr. Suzuki says,
The latent energy that had been stored up during the time of naturalization suddenly broke out in active work, and Zen had almost a triumphal march through the whole land of Cathay.
Hui-neng appointed no successor. Soon after his passing, the Master Hyakujo founded the system of the Meditation Hall, which is still in use. In all other schools of Buddhism, and in most other religions, an image of the Founder is the central feature of a temple or a monastery. Only in Zen is the Meditation Hall of paramount importance.
By the tenth century, the koan had come to be the recognized device for attaining satori, Enlightenment. With the koan, all the main features of Zen Buddhism were in being. They have hardly varied in the thousand years since. In Japan, the tradition carried on the best. By the thirteenth century, Zen Buddhism in China had begun to lose its initial impulse.
As early as the seventh century, Zen had reached Japan. It was not until the twelfth century that a Tendai monk called Eisai crossed into China to study Zen, and returned to found a Zen monastery in Kyoto. Kyoto was the headquarters of Shingon and Tendai Buddhism. It was in Kamakura, under the powerful wing of the Hojo family, that Zen took root in Japan.
Eisai founded the Japanese branch of Rinzai Zen. Soto Zen arrived a few years later, in the hands of his pupil, Dogen. Ingen introduced the third of the three sects of Zen, the Obaku, in the seventeenth century. It is now but a part of Rinzai Zen. The difference between the schools is chiefly the importance given to the koan exercises. In the Rinzai Sect, this is still the basis of spiritual development. In the Soto sect, it is far less used.
The military class seized Zen and made it its own. The Tendai and Kegon sects of Buddhism, both philosophies made up from a synthesis of diverse material, were too philosophic for the Japanese knights of the Middle Ages, who were yet most cultured men.
Jodo and its later extremist derivative, the Pure Land School of Shin, needing no learning, and demanding but a constant invocation to the spirit of Buddhahood. These sects were more acceptable to the people. Shingon Buddhism, with its emphasis on ritual, was extremely popular at Court.
Zen was a warrior creed. It called for action, for the most rigorous self-discipline, for self-reliance, and for contempt of death. So did the iron cult of Bushido, the Way of the Knightly Virtue. The warrior owned but his swords, and his swords were his honor and his life. By the larger sword, he lived. By the smaller sword, he would die by his own hand, when his honor was injured or at his Lord's behest. This was a man's life, and it needed a man's religion.
Zen is 'poor.' If the light is to enter, the heart must be emptied of all else. It calls for that loneliness of heart that woos the Absolute, for adaptability to outward circumstance, and for contempt of the accidents of changing form. Yet, being as Dr. Suzuki calls it, radical empiricism, it is utterly practical and "lives in facts" to the utter exclusion of ideas.
Naught must come between a man and his loyalty to his Lord. Naught must intervene between a man and the mind's experience. To think, when the enemy's sword is descending, is death. To act, and to act rightly as the result of years of training, here is life, and the flow of life, with no intermediate.
At a later stage, we shall see how this virile, stern, yet laughing philosophy of life produced in Japan great art, great warriors, and a culture second to none. Cradled by a warrior class, it is not surprising that Zen in Japan is violent in the means employed. Are we not all warriors? As the Buddha said in the Canon of the Southern School,
We wage war, O Bhikkhus; therefore are we called warriors ... For lofty Virtue, for high endeavor, for sublime Wisdom, for those do we wage war. Therefore are we called warriors.
We must take the Kingdom of Heaven by storm. Only then shall we find that we have never left it.
Buddhism recognizes no authority for a spiritual truth, hence its tolerance. Buddhists regard the transmission of the doctrine as of great importance. One cannot become a Zen Master without sanction from his own Zen Master. Buddhists regard one who teaches without such sanction as heterodox. Through all the changes of Japanese national life, from the feudal system that extended into the nineteenth century to a modernism based on American patterns, the Japanese still keep the tradition high.
The Roshi or Zen Master uses less violent means of arousing understanding today, although he is still a man of tremendous spiritual development. He still claims to be in the direct line of the Buddha's direct experience. The power of the light within must vary with the individual. The lighting of the lamp is the purpose of Zen Buddhism. The light is Zen.
By Ethel G. Bailey
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, December 1950, pages 732-36.]
I can remember so well an afternoon in the Temple at Point Loma, California, many years ago, when Dr. de Purucker was to speak. The room was crowded with an eager, expectant audience. He walked with his deliberate stride to the rostrum and then, without saying a word, just stood and looked at us. The entire audience held its breath. The waves on the beach below the cliffs plainly heard, at the Temple, must have come and gone more than once and still not a word. Then suddenly G. de P. smiled, at first gently, then quite broadly. Immediately, like a sudden shaft of sunshine through a dark room, an answering smile swept the audience and ended at the outer edges in a little ripple of laughter.
"You looked so awfully solemn," he remarked, half-laughing. "I wanted to see if you COULD smile."
It is interesting to realize that the human is the only animal that laughs. No doubt, it is because he is so much more than animal. While some dog-lovers claim that their pets smile, and people say that hyenas and loons laugh, that is really stretching the word. We do not find true laughter -- a real sense of humor -- in the scale of evolution below the human. It arises from a sense of the grotesque, from the startling and surprising, or from a sense of the incongruity of ideas.
A baby laughs when you surprise it with, "Peek-a-boo!" A sage chuckles at some metaphysical incongruity. It is the gift of a human to be able to compare, and comparing, he judges. He alone can make for himself a ladder into abstract ideas and into impersonality. When the Manasaputras lighted the mind of man in the Third Race, I believe there was one jolly old god who used a candle of Nonsense, a taper of pure Fun for the work. It was one of the best gifts made to mankind.
Dr. William Crawley of Stanford University said recently that the "test of Education is maturity," and "not so much our words, as the things we laugh at show what we are."
It seems to me that we cannot lay much claim to maturity of mind until we have learned, in all sincerity, to laugh at ourselves. We know a trick or two of modern living that would make the Australian bushman open his eyes, but compared to the Elder Brothers of mankind we are ignorant toddlers. As for our magpie collection of trinkets, they might tolerantly remind us that the ancient Greeks had the right idea when they said the "fewer our wants, the more nearly we resemble the gods."
We might extend somewhat the significance of laughter, this gift of the gods. There is a deeper laughter than that of the lips, which latter too often is thoughtless or cruel, or an expression of mere animal spirits. Kipling's phrase for it was "hob-nailed mirth." This other kind of laughter most often is silent. It is the laughter of the heart. It may take the form of lovely music or simply rise like a beautiful cloud of harmony and serenity, wrapping the earth in a garment of glory. The poets sing of the music of the spheres. The sages and seers speak of it. The modern scientists expound it as a fact in nature. This music of the spheres is no sentimental vapor of the imagination, but is a scientifically established fact.
Let us go a step farther into the realm of intuitive perception. May not this music of the spheres be the compassionate laughter of the gods? Seeing that all laws, all processes, always and forever go forward according to the inescapable, compassionate, and magnificent plan, surely they cannot help but sing. Beneath the song springs up a wonderful cosmic laughter, so much deeper and richer than our own that we can only wonder what it may be.
It is interesting to note what an important place even the joke has begun to hold in modern education. General Barrows, ex-president of the University of California, used to begin every public address with a humorous story to get a laugh. It relaxed the audience and put it in sympathy with the speaker more quickly than any other approach. After nearly half a century, I am amused to realize that I can remember some of his jokes, although I have completely forgotten their context.
Angelo Patri was talking one day on Palomar to a group of teachers, speaking quite informally, and someone asked him what he thought was the most common failing among teachers as a class. He thought a moment, smiled, and then he let us have it. "You don't laugh enough," he said, "you are always standing on tiptoe. It won't make you any taller, you'll miss a lot of fun, and you'll just have strained arches."
David Grayson tells how he met a country preacher in the small farming community where he lived. He was shocked at the man's sad and care-worn face. There was something hopeless about his whole manner and appearance. Before Grayson could stop himself, he blurted out the thought that had been thrust upon him. Laying his hand sympathetically on the preacher's arm and looking earnestly into his face, he asked, "Is God dead?"
The preacher recoiled. "Why do you ask that?"
"Because it seemed to me that nothing else in the world could make you look so sad."
"Did I really give you that impression?" asked the minister. He sighed deeply, and after a few moments said, "Then it is just as I feared. As a preacher I have failed."
Then follows a little sermon preached not by the minister this time, but by David, who gets him laughing and shows him that even Care has another face. It too has a countenance of joy that is far more healing and acceptable to the world.
Did Stevenson say that a difference of taste in jokes could break up a home? That may be an exaggeration of a point but it serves to illustrate how fundamental in character, how closely interwoven in temperament, a sense of the humorous can be.
A practical joke with a custard pie for the main prop, and a banana peel and a fat man thrown in for good measure, might convulse a certain type of person and leave another cold. A subtle play upon words or an absurd double meaning might amuse a philosopher for years, while the practical joker would marvel at the ease with which the thinker was entertained.
We are a little hurt and out of sympathy with one who does not see eye to eye with us about a point of humor. It is almost as bad as to differ about politics, religion, modern art, or music. We feel that the other person is almost deliberately "playing dumb." It is hard to forgive him.
There is a story about Queen Victoria that illustrates an interesting point. It seems that after the death of her husband, to whom she was deeply devoted, she sank into a deep melancholy. No one ever saw her smile. The weight of the duties of the State fell heavily upon her and no one knew how to help. In vain, her friends tried comforting and cheering her. The fine old bishops of the Church of England offered the consolations of religion without avail. Then one day the servants outside the door of her rooms heard her laughing. Amazed and delighted, they contrived to send in one of her maids under some pretext or other to discover what had worked such a miracle in their Queen.
"A book," exclaimed Victoria, holding up a volume, "such a lively, amusing book. It is so gay, so absurd! It has done me a world of good. I wish I had one like this to read every day."
The Queen's wish was law, of course, and an order was immediately sent for all the books by the same author. They arrived shortly. She examined them with lively interest, but her face fell quickly. "There has been some mistake," she said. "These books are all concerned with mathematics. They are not even written by the same man at all. These are the works of a C.L. Dodgson. My funny little book, THE ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND, is written by Lewis Carroll. "
Perhaps in shamefaced fun, C.L. Dodgson wrote the gay little book to please a small girl. Using the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, this professor of mathematics had succeeded in lifting a queen from melancholy. People have all but forgotten his serious books, but THE ADVENTURES OF ALICE has been a bestseller for generations.
When Abraham Lincoln was President, he used sometimes to disappear, to the great annoyance of his secretaries, during the dark days of the Civil War when the burdens of the Commander-in-chief were almost too heavy for any mortal to bear. Although it often was difficult to locate Lincoln, his best friends knew where to search. He was most apt to be where common men were telling stories, himself most often the storyteller. He said it rested him more than sleep -- of which he had practically none.
When Cicero describes the Eleusinian mysteries, one of his chief recommendations for them is that "those initiated attain the art of living joyfully and of dying with a fairer hope."
There is a touching picture of the poet Milton: old, blind, and disillusioned, sitting in the perpetual night of those to whom the sun never rises. Past joy and laughter have the special gift of returning with remembrance. I cannot but believe that Milton, sitting imprisoned in his blindness, still smiled as he recollected the joys of his youth. His poem "L'Allegro," so rich in the vital urge of living carries a warm handclasp of hearty good-fellowship and cheer to this day. It was a gay soul who wrote charmingly of:
Sport, that wrincled Care derides, And Laughter, holding both his sides.
There is a great army of those who failed and yet were not defeated. Some were soldiers who lost the battle. Others were sportsmen who smiled and shook hands with the victor, sages who died scorned by their contemporaries but who retained their equanimity. All those who never, no matter what happened to them, ever gave up! How much of their magnificent spirit is due to that wisdom of the Higher Self that allows them to see all round any situation, to extract a certain grim humor from the bitterness of their experiences, and to know intuitively that there is always another chance, as Theosophy teaches. To that end, let us keep ever alert.
Ina Coolbrith was a California poet who wrote about half a century ago. Her book is probably out of print now. I do not believe she called herself a theosophist. Poets seldom tabulate themselves at all, for they only know truth as it enters their hearts. She speaks as eloquently as anyone I know of the consciousness in Nature. She tells us that life is indeed joy to one who sees, and that Nature is a comforting, smiling, helpful mother who tries to guide her children toward happiness and understanding. We need only to look with the inner eye, to listen with the fine inner ear, to understand and indeed to joy.
Oh, Earth, Thou hast not any wind that blows That is not music. Every weed of thine, Pressed rightly, flows with aromatic wine. And every little humble, hedge-row flower that blooms, And every little, brown bird that doth sing, A message bears to every living thing; Although it bears the message unawares. A spirit breathes amid the grass, Vague outlines of the everlasting thought, Are in the melting shadows as they pass. The thrill of an Eternal Presence fills The fringes of the sunset and the hills.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part XII. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
Caharqua sought wisdom and essayed the helping of mankind. He was of the place once called "Central Land" but now lost to the annals of man. Being both strong and able, he also sought for gold and the praise of men.
His life was not as he had hoped. He applied to Joncala, the Companion, whom he respected for his advice. Said Caharqua, "I have sought the fulfillment of aims, and have achieved in diverse ways. Envy and jealousy have always pursued me. In the moment of triumph, I have been flagellated with lies and scourged by contumely. Yes, even at the hands of those most benefiting! When seeking renown, men striving toward the same end have accused me of overweening ambition. Others, holding much gold less scrupulously attained, accuse me of greed. It is as though hate were drawn to me as by a magnet, clinging to deeds esteemed innocent when done by others. Upon occasion, when the land was in peril of evil times, I pointed it out, showing the measures that must be taken lest disaster befall. They spat upon me for this, including those having most to lose by ignoring my words. I was even threatened with the King's wrath for upsetting the equanimity of the realm."
"It then happened," continued Caharqua, "that sorrow came as I had warned. Instead of proclaiming my wisdom and making amends, the people elevated small men, even those who had abused me for my foresight. They were given new powers. These powers were used to bring about, in a weak and partial way, the measures I had first preached. My name was not mentioned in this. These small ones proclaimed loudly that THEY had possessed the wisdom all along. The people, who a brief year previously had scoffed at my understanding, believed them. My name, when recalled at all, was of one known as mad. Indeed, mention of my name brought to some a vague resentment, they having in some inscrutable manner identified me with the cause of that disaster."
"Thus," he said, "How is it that I am unloved and without ease? Among those sadly needing my service and guidance, I am able and capable. I also hold much wealth and am successful in many enterprises."
Said Joncala, "You do many things well in a land where men do few, poorly. In spite of envy and hate, you have gained wealth, with multitudes opposing such gain. Have you noted fear toward you on the part of the people?"
"Yes, but why?"
"There are two kinds of men in the world. To one, an encounter with the unknown is an invitation to embrace and understand. A meeting with superiority is an incentive to emulation. To the other sort, all that is unknown is to be feared. Perceived superiority is to be envied and hated, without hope or emulation.
"It is your karma to have been born in a land ruled by this latter breed. Your success is envied by them, has hitherto walled from you also the few who might have been understanding friends."
"What sin have I committed to be thus born out of time and place, in a tribe where superiority makes me inferior?"
"It is not a sin. It is an enterprise not yet understood. Imagine a man of noble aim secretly entering a foreign land, conspiring to liberate. How would he conduct himself?"
"He would go in other than his own likeness."
"What occupation would he seek?"
"Whatever occupation would best bring him to those of like mind."
"Would the achievements dear to the natives be an object to him?"
"No. Such achievements would not interest him, and in fact would bring upon him undesirable notice. This would also be true of those whom he sought. In this relation, superior capacity exhibits itself in perfect simulation of the commonplace."
"If necessary to pursue his object, would he sweep floors, clean sewers, or even cut up corpses on the Hill of the Dead?"
"Such exigencies would perhaps forsooth lend spice to the great adventure. Such poor are pinned down, unable to move, restricted in association, and lack time for aught but winning bread."
"Then tell me his conduct in your own words."
"He would disguise himself upon entering the land. He would discover the paths of those of like mind, and place himself in their way by following some suitable but modest occupation. He would be neither poor nor rich in seeming. He would seek lodgings neither bare nor luxurious. He would eat food neither cheap nor costly. In a word, outwardly his way would be to the Great Median, and inwardly to secret enterprise. Such a man, if of good address, may associate with the great, yet move also unquestioned among the poor. The spies of warlords so act with ill intent. A lover of mankind might so act with good intent."
"Then for him the gaining of gold and fame would be at best diversions from the issue. At worst, such gain would prove a dire hindrance and peril to the mission?"
"Even so. Illumination now falls upon the perplexities of my life."
"Would there be another reason why this agent of a superior land should not exhibit his accomplishments in this dark and inferior one?"
Caharqua thought for some time.
"Perhaps. What else?"
"I think that envy and hatred roused by one of superior power would retard the evolution of these beings and bring upon them great future disasters. Better then, that these things be done badly by them, than well by others, if hate be the price of the doing."
"Then have we really anything more to discuss on this matter?"
"Only this: I know no land of birth save this one. Of what superior race am I native?"
"Let us assume that in entering this dark land, an agent of its deliverance must at the border suffer a sickness depriving him of material memory. This would not change his true nature, nor change the power of a vow undertaken long ago?"
"No. It would not. What then is the name of the oppressor from whom this land is to be delivered?"
"Mara is the name."
By Grace F. Knoche
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1950, pages 5-14.]
On May 22, 1792, Baron de Liebistorf Kirchberger, member of the Sovereign Council of the Republic of Beme, Switzerland, wrote a letter:
I will declare to you, Sir, with Swiss frankness and sincerity, that the most eminent writer, in my eyes, and most profound of his age, is the author of OF ERRORS AND OF TRUTH, and that to correspond with him would be to me one of the greatest satisfactions of my life.
Addressed to the Unknown Philosopher, that letter proved to be the opening of five years of remarkable correspondence. Therein, two "theosophers" of the late eighteenth century discoursed on the "active and intelligent Cause" of the universe, and the means by which man might attain conscious union with his Divine Principle again.
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin sought to screen his identity by the nom-de-plume The Unknown Philosopher. No ordinary "theosopher," he was a man far above the mediocrity of savants, Spiritualists, Masons, Rosicrucians, and so-called Mystics that thronged Europe during the French revolutionary period. Saint-Martin was one "who walk with God" -- whether for a moment, or longer, the reader may judge. He was thoroughly convinced of the actuality of the Divine Center (Sophia or Wisdom) and that one could experience it. His daily prayer epitomizes the one-pointed aspiration that dominated his life.
My God, be Thou with me so entirely that none save Thyself can be with me!
-- PORTRAIT HISTORIQUE, I, 27
Theosophical University Press republished THEOSOPHIC CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN SAINT-MARTIN AND KIRCHBERGER [TC] in 1949. Some 150 years have elapsed since these two "theosophers," one a pupil and the other a guide and cherished friend, wrote each other. The book presents a stirring challenge to the modern theosophist.
In this book, there is no clear-cut outline of theosophic doctrine, no strongly etched system of rounds and races, globes and monads, or planetary and solar chains. Yet, that intangible called ATMOSPHERE is within its 110 letters. It is the aroma of a strongly spiritualized individual, conscious of his mission, living in wholehearted dedication to the restoration of erring man to God. To some, the dedication may seem strange, difficult to grasp, and perhaps insignificant. To others who are sensitive to inner concerns, recognition will be simple. To them, the validity of Saint-Martin's words is readily seen.
Those having soul will lend to my work what is wanted, but the soulless will deny it even that which it has.
-- PORTRAIT HISTORIQUE, I, 129
Born at Amboise, in the province of Touraine, France, January 18, 1743, of "pious and noble parents," Louis Claude de Saint-Martin was reared strictly in the Catholic faith, to which he adhered nominally throughout his life. When he had entered the college of Pontlevoi at an early age, a small book on THE ART OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE sowed the first seeds of mystic thought. He later termed the book "sentimental rather than profound." Still, it was to this apparently insignificant treatise by Abadie that that Saint-Martin owed his primal impulse toward the inner life.
On his father's advice, he then studied jurisprudence. Attaining the position of King's Advocate at the High Court of Tours, Louis Claude realized that as a magistrate it would be his duty to devote his entire time to his office. He therefore chose the army, in which profession, "during peace, he would have leisure to pursue his meditations, and to study man," to quote his friend and admirer, Monsieur Gence, in BIOGRAPHIE UNIVERSELLE (TC, page iv).
At twenty-two, Saint-Martin, with a lieutenant's commission in the regiment of Foix, then garrisoned at Bordeaux, entered upon the next stage of his promising career. Unknown to himself, yet nonetheless potently, the mystic was being led through the labyrinth of worldly experience that he might pick up the ancient thread of truth consciously.
The next year, at Bordeaux, the young subaltern was to meet Don Martines de Pasqually de la Tour, otherwise known as Martinez de Pasquales, who was permanently to stimulate the urgent desire for the inward life. In 1768, joining the Order of the Elect Priests (Cohens), founded by this Spanish theurgist, Rosicrucian, and Mason, Saint-Martin was forever to be indebted to this teacher.
With zeal and exactitude, he gave himself to the cause of his Master, so that in 1771 he felt called upon to abandon the military profession in order the more fully to devote him to the propagation of those seeds of wisdom that he had already received in no small measure.
Fortunately, in 1772, his preceptor received orders to go to St. Domingo, never to return, with death following for de Pasquales in 1774. It was not long before Saint-Martin had far outdistanced the practices and rites of this Order. Nevertheless, as his letters to Kirchberger abundantly show, written twenty years and more after this period, Saint-Martin maintained to the last grateful reverence for the man who had turned him to the inward life. He firmly believed that if Martinez de Pasquales had lived, he might have shown to him the "inward" way rather than merely the "external." As he writes on July 12, 1792:
My leader therein was a man of active virtues, and most of those who followed him, with myself, received confirmations thereby which may have been useful to our instruction and development. Nevertheless, I, at all times, felt so strong an inclination to the intimate secret way, that this external one never further seduced me, even in my youth; for, at the age of twenty-three, I had been initiated into all those things; so that, in the midst of what was so attractive to others, in the midst of means, formulas, and preparatives of all sorts, in which we were trained, I, more than once, exclaimed to our master, "Can all this be needed to find God?"
-- TC, pages 12-13
By the death of Pasqually in 1774, Saint-Martin had already established himself in his own line of work. It had taken a twofold direction. One was of private social contact with personages of the higher circles of society, at Lyons, Paris, as well as at Bordeaux, whom he hoped to interest in the deeper issues of life. The second was in literary labors. Of Saint-Martin's personality, Monsieur Matter, his biographer, writes:
At the age of thirty years [1773,] M. de Saint-Martin found himself very favorably placed in the world. An expressive countenance and polished manners, marked by great distinction and considerable reserve, presented him to the best advantage. His demeanor announcing not only the desire to please but something to bestow, he soon became known widely and was in request everywhere.
-- SAINT-MARTIN THE UNKNOWN PHILOSOPHER, page 74
As for his literary output, one has only to read Monsieur Gence's careful description of the works of the Unknown Philosopher, included by Penny in his Preface to TC, to recognize that in 1775 -- note the year! -- the publication of his first work, OF ERRORS AND OF TRUTH had definitely enlisted Saint-Martin in the fight for truth.
This work was to inspire the Bernese philosopher, Kirchberger, eighteen years later, to take up his pen and seek the guidance of the "Unknown Philosopher." Significantly, it was also this first book that was to be condemned twenty-three years later by the Spanish Inquisition as "subversive of true religion and the peace of nations," to quote A.E. Waite in THE LIFE OF LOUIS CLAUDE DE SAINT-MARTIN, THE UNKNOWN PHILOSOPHER, page 32. Herein Saint-Martin, indignant at Boulanger's assertion that "religion sprang from the fright occasioned by the catastrophes of nature," declared with vigor that there did reside within man a Divine Principle, and that it was not only possible but the duty of man to gain intuitive knowledge of this "active and intelligent Cause" from which all things sprang. Furthermore, contrary to prevailing opinion, he asserted that the "Will constituted the essential and fundamental faculty of man."
In 1782, his next work in two volumes appeared, also pseudonymously, NATURAL TABLE OF THE CORRESPONDENCES BETWEEN GOD, MAN AND THE UNIVERSE, in which man's fall into generation was described, but also the hope instilled that man could, by the exercise of his moral and intellectual virtues, recover that which he had lost.
During the next five years, there is a considerable "gap" in our knowledge of Saint-Martin's whereabouts. This should not surprise us, as the recorded history of other adepts, whether recognized as such or not, always includes a "lacuna" in their outward life. What takes place at these periods is not the concern of the public, nor is it ours today. We believe that he did considerable traveling, not only to England, Germany, but also possibly to Russia.
In 1787 on his visit to England, it is known that he became acquainted with the works of William Law (who had died in 1761), a theosopher and ardent student of Bohme. It was not until the next year while at Strasbourg with Madame de Boecklin that he became fully introduced to the profundity of Jacob Bohme's writings -- "What depths this author opens to me," he was later to write to Kirchberger (TC, page 91).
In his forty-fifth year, Saint-Martin had at last come into his spiritual majority. Without question in the shoemaker of Gorlitz, he had discovered a companion-in-arms, whose revelations through divine inspiration and a fearless defense of truth brought Saint-Martin lasting strength. So intense was his admiration that he applied himself, despite his nearing fifty years and failing eyesight, to learn the German language that he might not only read for himself the original, but also share with his compatriots in French translation his magnificent Bohme, whom he regarded as "the greatest human light that had ever appeared" (page vi).
THE MAN OF ASPIRATION did not appear until 1790, though he began it in England. Of this work, reputedly his most exalted and inspired, Saint-Martin gives evidence of that steady "guidance" which was to direct his inner genius throughout his life. Writing to Kirchberger, who had said that he regarded the work "as the most refreshing, and the richest in luminous thoughts that has appeared in this age" (page 126), Saint-Martin replied:
I acknowledge also that there are germs scattered in this work the properties of which I knew not when I sowed them, and which open to me daily, thanks to the aid of providence and our authors.
-- Ibid., page 130
More books followed, each a development of the initial theme: that man is primitively a "thought of God," and that for renovation he must think and act solely by the Divine Principle within him. The reader is again referred to Monsieur Gence's summary of Saint-Martin's numerous works, and his translations also of Bohme's writings, found included in the Preface of the book under study.
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, September 1893.]
I have often thought with sadness over the fate of that comrade. That so ardent and heroic a spirit, so much chivalry and generosity should meet such a horrible fate, has often made me wonder if there is any purpose in this tangled being of ours. I have hated life and the gods as I thought of it.
What brought him out of those great deserts where his youth was spent, where his soul grew vast knowing only of two changes, the blaze of day and night the purifier, blue, mysterious, ecstatic with starry being? Were not these enough for him? Could the fire of the altar inspire more? Could he be initiated deeper in the chambers of the temple than in those great and lonely places where God and man are alone together?
This was my doing. Resting in his tent when I crossed the desert, I had spoken to him of that old wisdom which the priests of the inner temple keep and hand down from one to the other. I blew to flame the mystic fire that already smoldered within him. Filled with the vast ambition of God, he left his tribe and entered the priesthood as neophyte in the Temple of Ishtar, below Niniveh.
I had sometimes to journey thither bearing messages from our high priest, and so as time passed my friendship with Asur grew deep. That last evening when I sat with him on the terrace that roofed the temple, he was more silent than I had known him before to be. We had generally so many things to speak of. For he told me all his dreams, such vague titanic impulses as the soul has in the fresh first years of awakening, when no experience hinders with memory its flights of aspiration, and no anguish has made it wise.
That evening there was, I thought, something missing, a curious feverishness seemed to have replaced the cool and hardy purity of manner that was natural to him. His eyes had a strange glow, fitful and eager. I saw by the starlight how restless his fingers were. They intertwined, twisted, and writhed in and out.
We sat long in the rich night together. Then he drew nearer to me and leaned his head near my shoulder. He began to whisper incoherently a wild and passionate tale. The man's soul was being tempted.
"Brother," he said, "I am haunted by a vision, by a child of the stars as lovely as Ishtar's self. She visits my dreaming hours. She dazzles me with strange graces. She bewilders with unspeakable longing. Sometime, I know, I must go to her, though I perish. When I see her, I forget all else and I have will to resist no longer. The vast and lonely inspiration of the desert departs from my thought. She and the jewel-light she lives in blot it out. The thought of her thrills me, like fire. Brother, give me help, ere I go mad or die. She draws me away from earth. I shall end my days amid strange things, a starry destiny amid starry races."
I was not then wise in these things. I did not know the terrible dangers that lurk in the hidden ways in which the soul travels. "This," I said, "is some delusion. You have brooded over a fancy until it has become living. You have filled your creation with your own passion. It lingers and tempts you. Even if it were real, it is folly to think of it. We must close our hearts to passion if we would attain the power and wisdom of Gods."
He shook his head. I could not realize or understand him. Perhaps if I had known all and could have warned him, it would have been in vain. Perhaps the soul must work out its own purification in experience and learn truth and wisdom through being. Once more, he became silent and restless. I had to bid him farewell, as I was to depart on the morrow. He was present in my thoughts. I could not sleep because of him. I felt oppressed with the weight of some doom about to fall. To escape from this feeling, I rose in adoration to Hea. I tried to enter into the light of that Wisdom.
A sudden heartthrob of warning drew me back. I thought of Asur instinctively, and thinking of him his image flashed on me. He moved as if in trance through the glassy waves of those cosmic waters which everywhere lave and permeate the worlds, and in which our earth is but a subaqueous mound. His head was bowed, his form dilated to heroic stature, as if he conceived of himself as some great thing or as moving to some high destiny.
This shadow, which was the house of his dreaming soul, grew brilliant with the passionate hues of his thought. Some power beyond him drew him forth. I felt the fever and heat of this inner sphere like a delirious breath blow fiercely about me. There was a phosphorescence of hot and lurid colors. The form of Asur moved towards a light streaming from a grotto. I could see within it burning gigantic flowers. On one, as on a throne, a figure of weird and wonderful beauty was seated.
I was thrilled with a dreadful horror. I thought of the race of Liliths. Some long forgotten and tragic legends rose up in my memory of these beings whose soul is but a single and terrible passion. Their love is too fierce for feebler lives to endure, bringing death or madness to men.
I tried to warn, to awaken him from the spell. My will-call aroused him. He turned, recognized me, and hesitated. Then this figure that lured him rose to her full height. I saw her in all her terrible beauty. From her head, a radiance of feathered flame spread out like the plume of a peacock. It was spotted with gold, green, and citron dyes.
She raised her arms upwards. Her robe, semi-transparent, purple, and starred over with a jewel luster, fell in vaporous folds to her feet like the drift over a waterfall. She turned her head with a sudden bird-like movement. Her strange eyes looked into mine with a prolonged and snaky glance. I saw her move her arms hither and thither. The waves of this inner ocean began to darken and gather about me, to ripple through me with feverish motion. I fell into a swoon and remembered nothing more.
I was awakened before dawn. Those with whom I was to cross the desert were about to start. I could remain no longer. I wrote hurriedly to Asur a message full of warning and entreaty and set out on my return journey full of evil forebodings.
Some months after, I had again to visit this temple. It was evening when I arrived. After I had delivered the message with which I was charged, I asked for Asur. The priest to whom I spoke did not answer me. He led me in silence up to the terrace that overlooked the desolate eastern desert. The moon was looming white upon the verge. The world was trembling with heat. The winged bulls along the walls shone with a dull glow through the sultry air. The priest pointed to the far end of the terrace.
A figure was seated looking out over the desert. His robes were motionless as if their wrinkles were carved of stone. His hands lay on his knees. I walked up to him. I called his name. He did not stir. I came nearer and put my face close to his. It was as white as the moon. His eyes only reflected the light. I turned away from him sick to the very heart.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "Heavens and Hells," made of a private class held on October 13, 1954.]
Last time, friends, we discussed the question of heavens and hells, the higher and superior planes through which entities journey in their evolutionary growth.
Purucker says people like to deal in abstractions rather than in the facts of being. This bears upon all aspects of the theosophical philosophy, to its many teachings. He warns us not to speak in abstract terms, as when we talk of the laws of nature. This awareness was prominent in ancient writings, in the scriptures of the world. The ancient philosophers and mystics spoke of living beings, intelligent centers of consciousness, operating behind the phenomena that our senses perceive. The western mind speaks of laws of nature, of abstract forces. This is meaningless. There are no abstract laws without intelligent beings that produce them, while evolving on their own planes.
An atom or electron in one's body speaks of the laws of nature. It means the human being. We see how abstract and unreal such a concept is. The human being is a center of consciousness. The laws of his physical nature operate by means of the person's intelligence impressing its force upon the various parts of its physical and astral body.
The same is true with nature. Nature in the abstract does not exist. Nature is the totality of conscious beings. Their mutual interaction results in what appears to be laws of nature. The workings of consciousness in nature are habits. There are habits of thought, action, and feeling of beings at all states of evolution.
The chapter ends with a few pages from Brahmanical, Egyptian, and Scandinavian mythology. We see ancient mystical scriptures dealing with a hierarchical gradation of heavens and hells, of higher and lower worlds. The same applies to the Mithraic religion, which came from Persia and practically became the state religion of Rome at one time. It brought the same ideas from the Orient, couched in allegorical language to keep the esoteric away from exoteric beliefs.
Also important is how we teach these ideas. Many westerners question our method. People know the teachings under many names, like the Esoteric Philosophy, the Secret Doctrine, and the Ancient Wisdom. The genuine exponents present the teaching in general outline first. They then go to something else, bringing up many other teachings. At some future occasion, they come back and give more details, things not touched upon the first time. Then they change the subject and go to something else again. They never exhaust a particular teaching. This is diametrically opposed to the method of Aristotle used by scholastic institutions, where an instructor teaches a subject thoroughly, in full detail, until its mastery, when the student passes on to something else.
Our method is the natural one, employed in the esoteric teaching because Nature operates that way. One illustration is how we learn in everyday life. We never learn everything in one experience. We learn a little and then other experiences supersede. Sometime in our life, the experience repeats and we learn more. It may repeat half a dozen times, each time giving a more thorough understanding.
An experience never stays long enough for us to learn everything about it. That is not Nature's method. Everything we contact is periodic, cyclic, repetitive, and partial. We may take many lifetimes to exhaust the lessons of a particular set of circumstances. Then we are through with them.
Many have been fretful and nervous. They were concerned about how some writers seem to jump from one subject to another. This includes THE SECRET DOCTRINE of H.P. Blavatsky, the writings of Purucker, some of the works of Judge, and writings of other exponents of the ancient teachings. There is a method in this. Follow carefully and you find this is not random. According to a plan, we pass from one subject to another, all connected with the first. Perhaps we pass half a dozen subjects. Then another occasion presents itself to return to the first subject and turn the key of understanding in that lock once more, bringing out new points regarding the original subject.
There is the writer, the exponent, or the book on one side and the student on the other. When someone first presents a teaching, the student's understanding is limited. After the teacher discusses other subjects that flow out of the first, another opportunity presents itself to say more. Then the student's understanding has grown. His consciousness has expanded. He has been studying meanwhile. He has applied the teachings in his life. Therefore, he understands more as the teacher brings it up again, since the student's understanding is deeper. The teacher can say other things about the teaching that the student will understand. He can say things that the student could not grasp the first time.
Suppose we embark upon the study of death and the after-death states one evening. You make a number of deductions and pass on to something else. A month later, we bring up the subject again. Now, we are talking among students whom have pondered the subject for the last month. Their minds are prepared to receive further detail about it, which they could not understand the first time.
We employ the Platonic method in conformity with how Nature operates. We do so in a cyclic pattern in an ever-widening succession of waves, not exhausting the subject.
Then in the chapter, we come to Devachan. However important, it is a world of sublimated illusions. It is a dream world. It is spiritually more real than anything is in embodied existence, but both are dream worlds, both unreal. Devachan is beyond any condition the average man knows while alive.
Unclouded by the illusions of the senses, the true spiritual worlds of reality exist. They are beyond the after-death dreamlife. The Buddhist knows them as Nirvana. Most western scholars grossly misunderstand that term. The term means blown out or extinguished. Nirvana has the same root that gives rise to "wind." Westerners have misinterpreted "blown out" to mean non-existence. To the esoteric Buddhist student, it means the cessation of existence in the world of the senses. The personal consciousness stops, extinguished like a candle blown out. Only the real individual remains, entering spheres of spiritual experience completely beyond the expression of our finite words.
We reach Nirvana by evolutionary growth here in embodied existence. We train ourselves to widen our consciousness and achieve spiritual illumination. We do not grow after death. That is not the idea. After death, we are the same as here, except resting. When we attain to initiation, to the higher stages of spiritual illumination, we enter the Nirvanic condition. We do not have to die to experience it.
In summary, the chapter speaks of innumerable gradations of spheres, realms, planes, and worlds, home to various hierarchies. Each hierarchy exists on a considerable gradation of realms that provide the necessary experiences for its evolving entities.
There are retributive worlds. Magnetic attraction draws people to them. The lower ones are not for punishment. The higher ones are not for reward. Either attraction is due to the type of lives that people live. Theologies have developed their hells and their heavens based upon this magnetic attraction to higher or lower worlds. Their punishment and reward is an exoteric statement of this fact.
There are appropriate realms for every state of consciousness, each with its corresponding vibratory rate. A being transcends each realm as it takes on a higher state of consciousness.
I was reading in THE MAHATMA LETTERS where Master M wrote on the Rounds and Races. Even the Dhyani-Chohans make mistakes and must pay the consequences. Perhaps the center of consciousness of Globe D, our Earth, is a tremendously high entity, a fallen divinity, which must stay until the Manvantara ends before regaining its place and starting again. It is here, suffering because of humanity. To it, it is in hell.
Yes, there are spiritual entities that descend to lower spheres. Some do this because of mistakes. To us, these mistakes are so supernal that they mean nothing. They work to regain their higher condition by self-sacrificing labor, lifting other entities out of those realms. Other entities freely choose to descend out of sacrifice. While performing their work, they experience hellish conditions.
Suppose you could descend into the animal kingdom without losing your human consciousness. Suppose as a sacrifice, you did this to work there. You would experience much that was unbelievable. You do so to help millions of animals gain a higher state of consciousness. Consider this analogy. It holds the secret of why many high spiritual entities like Dhyani-Chohans work among us in the Human Kingdom, visibly or invisibly.
This could be a willful descent for purposes of initiation. It could be a karmic necessity because of mistakes made. It could be both an initiation and a punishment. It is a complex.
Purucker says that after death the personal soul gets together with the Monad (which is the Higher Manas, the Buddhi, and the Atman). The soul enters Devachan. Being higher, the Monad does not enter.
The human soul experiences the devachanic state of consciousness. That is the only part of us that needs the experience. It hungers for and must have it. The lower parts are not spiritual enough. The higher parts have evolved too far to have it.
I will put this differently than Purucker did in his book. After death is the purification period in the Kamaloka in the astral world of the Earth. This ends with the second death. At that time, the Higher Manas withdraws the aroma of spiritual experience from the lower personality. It takes the spiritual portion of the personality.
The most spiritual part of the personality is higher Manas, Manas illumined by Buddhi. It is the human soul. It enters and experiences Devachan within the realm, the bosom, the over-brooding consciousness of the Spiritual Monad (Atman and Buddhi). The Spiritual Monad does not experience Devachan. It is completely beyond it.
A friend may have died and now is in Devachan. Where is he? Is he in this room? Is he on Earth? Is he soaring around the Earth? His Atma-Buddhi, his Spiritual Monad, is journeying from planet to planet on the Outer Rounds. His human soul is having its Devachanic bliss within the bosom of his Monad on its journey. We cannot say where, because it is not a matter of physical location. We might say that he experiences Devachan on the Outer Rounds, but he is unconscious, because completely plunged in Devachanic sleep.
Where is your Spiritual Monad during your embodied existence upon Earth? It is on its own monadic plane of consciousness, which it does not leave. The Monad is never embodied. It embodies only a ray from itself. It is on its journey through the Outer Rounds. Journeying through the Sacred Planets, the Monad presently connects with or abides in or around the Earth. This is because you, one of its rays, are living here. When the Spiritual Monad reaches the Earth on its Outer Rounds, it embodies a ray from itself upon the various globes of the Earth Chain. On this particular globe, it is you or I.
When the planetary chain has lived its long span of life, it disintegrates as a form. The spiritual entities evolving upon it during the millions and millions of years of its evolution enter into the interplanetary Nirvana, a higher form of spiritual Nirvana where they abide until the chain reembodies itself.
There are many stages in that condition. The most spiritual entities are fully conscious. Lesser entities are not so fully conscious. Still lesser ones experience only lower degrees of Nirvana. It is similar to what happens after death. One is on the individual scale and the other is on the cosmic scale.
The mysteries of death, after-death states, and consciousness after death are enormous. We have never spent an evening on the subject. In the last fifty years, teachers have given out many teachings on it. There are many more teachings that they have never given out and probably never will. They have shown that there is no such thing as death, only constantly changing conditions of consciousness.
The teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy say we are cosmic entities. There is nothing small about us. The picture that it paints is sweeping and majestic. The teachings on death are important to the modern Theosophical Movement, because they destroy fear. One of the most horrid fears is the fear of the unknown regarding death and the hereafter.
Go back for a moment. Draw this analogy. The journey of the Spiritual Monad of man through the seven Sacred Planets is the same as the journey of living entities through the globes of our planetary chain through the Rounds. The former are the Outer Rounds and the later the Inner Rounds.
This might be difficult. Try to grasp it. Apart from details, bear the general blueprint in mind. When someone dies, he leaves upon this globe his physical sheath in the lower part of the astral. In due course, he leaves his kamic or desire element, also of astral substance, in the Kamaloka, the aura of Earth and Moon. After the so-called second death, where the human soul frees itself from the lower kamic elements in the Kamaloka, it gradually ascends from the lower globes of the chain to the higher globes.
Bear the analogy, now. Analogy is the key to these things. The Ascending Arc of human evolution began after the midpoint in the Atlantean root race. It is from Globe D to Globe E, Globe F, Globe G, and upwards.
Consider this Round, the fourth. Our evolutionary pilgrimage through the Root Races will take us from Globe D, the lowest, along the Ascending Arc to Globes E, F, and G in future ages.
The pilgrimage is heading out of matter towards the spiritual realms. Nature is full of channels, of rivers that flow with lives. The droplets of fluid coursing in the rivers of nature are living entities of all kinds. There is only one way to go. We rise through the upper Globes of the chain on the Ascending Arc.
When someone dies, he must take the same road on his way to spiritual rest. There is no other road. Am I clear? An individual has passed on. At the second death in the astral world, he now heads towards his devachanic condition. Ask yourself what route he takes. The answer is that he goes upward through the higher Globes of the planetary chain. The average person has not dreamt of such things!
Accustomed to earthly consciousness, one is unable to experience the upper Globes consciously. He falls into a deeper and deeper condition of dreamlike spiritual rest. Ascending from this Globe to the higher Globes of the chain, he enters an increasingly ecstatic devachanic sleep. Without barrier, only impersonal love can reach him.
One reaches the heavens or the higher Globes. One rejoins his Spiritual Monad, which is not here at all. Then he is plunged completely in devachanic sleep. He sleeps within the encompassing consciousness of the Spiritual Monad, which dwells in the higher realms of the planetary chain. It does not dwell here. From then on, he travels the Outer Rounds. Between two incarnations, one passes through the other planets of the solar system, to the sun, and back again. One does not know it, being asleep since leaving the Earth's sphere, Globe D.
Do not be frightened by complications. The blueprint is simple. There is more to the Spiritual Monad than its one ray embodied on Earth. The Spiritual Monad ranges the entire planetary chain in its consciousness. Each of us is a ray of a Spiritual Monad. We might call it "Our Father in Heaven." It is a monadic entity. It is a godlike being. The Spiritual Monad has other rays. It is a father of twelve children. Each Globe of the Earth planetary chain has a ray from the Spiritual Monad embodied on it.
Most important of the twelve is the ray embodied on Earth presently. The focus of evolution on this chain is on this Globe. If the focus were on another Globe, that would be our most important embodiment. For the past millions of years, presently, and for millions of years to come, Globe D is the center of gravity of the chain. The host of entities centers here primarily. Here it has reached the bottommost Globe. These embodiments are the most important for the present. That will not be so forever.
Consider when the Spiritual Monad is back from its journey. It is again near the Earth planetary chain. The human soul is about to end its devachanic sleep. These various events gear together or coincide amazingly. The human soul -- you or I -- approach the Earth for another incarnation. We can only reach this lower Globe through the Descending Arc of Globes A, B, and C. That descent takes time. We come down the Descending Arc to the bottom, Globe D, where conception occurs. To give you the general outline, I jump over a big abyss. I leave half a dozen other things unmentioned.
There are Inner Rounds, and there are Outer Rounds. The Inner Rounds pertain to the Globes of any chain. The Outer Rounds pertain to the journey through the sacred planets. Along the Outer Rounds, you travel the sacred planetary chains of the solar system to the sun and back. This is true whether you start from Jupiter and go back to Jupiter or start from Venus and go back to Venus. You go through a chain of systems. The chain is not long. There are seven or twelve planets, depending upon how you count them.
What kind of embodiments do the other rays have on their Globes? I cannot describe them. They are fleeting. They are temporary. They are quick. They are not of great importance. They are not like one hundred years of our life here. This is the main station now. The embodiments are of a different nature. They are material enough for the particular Globes on which they manifest. For now, the embodiments on this globe are of primary importance.
When the human Ego is ready to reincarnate, it has to descend the Globes before conception can begin. Because the Globes are in obscuration, the human quickly passes through the Descending Arc. It is a relatively fast process. Nevertheless, both entering devachan and emerging into incarnation from devachan take many years. It is relatively quick compared with the hundreds and sometimes thousands of years spent in devachan. It takes more time than you may imagine. It is a matter of years. I cannot be too specific. We do not flash here to there as fast as lightening.