If tomorrow the continent of Europe were to disappear and other lands to reemerge instead; and if the African tribes were to separate and scatter on the face of the earth, it is they who, in about a hundred thousand years hence, would form the bulk of the civilized nations. And it is the descendants of those of our highly cultured nations, who might have survived on some one island, without any means of crossing the new seas, that would fall back into a state of relative savagery. Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into SUPERIOR and INFERIOR races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 425.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 192-96.]
Let the sins of the whole world fall upon me, that I may relieve man's misery and suffering.
Thus spake the Enlightened Buddha, the Compassionate One, the Sage of high heart and philosophic mind. Destiny, suffering, and sins confuse mortal minds. Even students of logic, metaphysics, and moral philosophy are often bowled over when face to face with the work of Nemesis.
Joseph Addison is not only a master of English prose, but at times proves himself a practical philosopher of mystic insight. In THE SPECTATOR, September 13, 1712, he writes an essay full of wise thoughts founded upon these words of Horace: --
Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus Inciderit
(Neither should a god intervene, unless a knot befalls worthy of his interference).
We cannot be guilty of a greater Act of Uncharitableness, than to interpret the Afflictions that befall our Neighbors, as PUNISHMENTS and JUDGMENTS. It aggravates the Evil to him who suffers, when he looks upon himself as the Mark of Divine Vengeance, and abates the Compassion of those towards him, who regard him in so dreadful a Light. This Humor of turning every Misfortune into a Judgment, proceeds from wrong Notions of Religion, which in its own Nature produces Goodwill towards Men, and puts the mildest Construction upon every Accident that befalls them. In this Case, therefore, it is not Religion that sours a Man's Temper, but it is his Temper that sours his Religion.
Among church-going persons, there are hard-hearted and narrow-minded unjust men and women whose arbitrary self-righteousness is riveted on the misdemeanors of others. They are unfaithful to their Master, who demanded:
Why behold thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Similarly, in the minds of many Indians who believe in the Law of Karma, suffering and error, justice and mercy, and acts of men and curses or blessings of God and Gods, are so mixed up that confusion worse confounded results.
The first expression of man's real religion is in his belief in Karma or Nemesis -- the nature of fate and the function of human free will. Whence suffering and what is its source? Kismet? Whence "accident" and "chance?" To what result is taken the active man? Where do his pleasures take him? Have they lessons to teach? Is learning only from affliction and agony? Can one be the maker of one's destiny and the master of one's fate? How can we rise above "this place of wrath and tears?" How many of our race and our civilization can assert with Henley:
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Addison in his essay castigates, and rightly, the habit of judging our neighbor, acquaintance, or friend in the language of faultfinding and condemnation. He instances the gentlewoman who "is so good a Christian that whatever happens to her self is a Trial, and whatever happens to her Neighbor is a Judgment." He goes on to say:
I cannot but look upon this Manner of judging upon Misfortunes, not only to be uncharitable, about the Person whom they befall, but presumptuous about Him who is supposed to inflict them.
He refers in passing to God and Judgment Day from the then prevailing theological notions, but he lights perforce on a great fact of spiritual philosophy:
We are all involved in the same Calamities, and subject to the same Accidents. When we see any one of the Species under any particular Oppression, we should look upon it as arising from the common Lot of humane Nature, rather than from the Guilt of the Person who suffers.
In the course of his discussion he gropes after an answer to the question: "What are Calamities and what are Blessings?"
If we could look into the Effects of every Thing, we might be allowed to pronounce boldly upon Blessings and Judgments; but for a Man to give his Opinion of what he sees but in Part, and in its Beginnings, is an unjustifiable Piece of Rashness and Folly.
Karma is merciful. It brings to the unjust judge the nemesis of revealing to him his own weaknesses and folly. Our inner faith is shaken by the test of our own Karmic precipitations. We commit offences that we have not intended or planned. We omit to do the good that we have planned to do. The Wisdom of Karma, the Law which ever compensates, is a shield that has justice for its one side and Mercy for its other. It protects us against "the bludgeoning of chance," and it takes the offensive against "the Horror of the shade" and "the menace of the years."
The trials of the neophyte are the test of his faith. He may fail, as in the story told by Rabindranath Tagore: --
There has been related in one of our Bengali epics the legend of a merchant who was a devout worshipper of Shiva the Good, the Pure, -- Shiva who represents the principle of renunciation and the power of self-control. This man was perpetually persecuted by a deity, the fierce snake-goddess, who in order to divert his allegiance to herself inflicted the endless power of her malignance upon her victim. Through a series of failures, deaths, and disasters, he was at last compelled to acknowledge the superior merit of the divinity of frightfulness. The tragedy does not lie in the external fact of the transfer of homage from one shrine to the other, but in the moral defeat implied in the ascribing of a higher value of truth to the goddess of success -- the personification of unscrupulous egotism -- rather than to the god of moral perfection.
On the other hand, the great drama of job's bodily leprosy and soul-suffering reveals a lesson in Resignation leading to Redemption -- "My redeemer liveth."
Judge not. Condemn not. It is added, "Forgive and ye shall be forgiven." The final way of paying Karmic debts to individual fellow men or to collective influences, national, racial, and even cosmic, is enshrined in the word "Forgiveness." In the "Vana Parva" of THE MAHABHARATA, this is said:
Strength might be vanquished by forgiveness; weakness might be vanquished by forgiveness; there is nothing which forgiveness cannot accomplish; therefore, forgiveness is truly the strongest.
By A.L. Conger
[This lecture was given September 7, 1947 at Covina, California. It originally appeared on pages 7-10 of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM.]
Companions, we need to study the early history of the Society (which as we all know began in the year 1875 in New York). It is especially important that members of our Society understand the basis on which one writes true history.
Consider who Madame Blavatsky was, the woman who founded the Society and dominated it until her death in 1891. How do we know she existed, where she came from, and what were her acts which have borne so important a message? The canons of good history writing are simple to state but difficult to fulfill. We hear about source-history, which is important to understand if we are to avoid letting incapable writers mislead us.
What is the source that a historian should accept as a basis? One who presents evidence must be an eyewitness to the fact he adduces. There is more. How did he communicate his observation and contribution to history, if we accept it? What were his facilities for observation of what he relates?
Is he a good observer? Is he in a position to testify to what he adduces? Even more, was he attentive when history happened before him? We must ask about the fact that he adduces. Did the witness write it down when it was happening? Time plays strange antics on memory for specific events or statements.
Next, inquire into the mental attitude of the witness. It may affect the reliability of his testimony. Has he animus against the parties? Do his party affiliations have a bearing on his making this or that statement? Is there reason to doubt whether the direct statement is a fact? It may be a joke, an understatement, or written to serve some ulterior purpose.
Having satisfied ourselves about this source in a technical sense, we have not proven the fact yet. An independent source must confirm the fact.
Examine the histories we see in bookstores. On all sorts of topics, they often represent an attempt to produce a best seller. The writer is seeking some financial profit. How does one write the average historical book? One takes what he thinks is a standard history. Putting it on a reading desk in front of him, he gets a second book, and if possible a third book on the subject. This is done without thought as to whether these histories are witnesses concerning the events they are on. It is likely that the books selected derive from secondary rather than primary sources. The true scholar would not permit materials to be his source unless their authors indicated their sources.
Take an example of how a scholar writes history as contrasted with a faker of history. A friend of mine, Professor Justin H. Smith, spent ten years traveling through Mexico and studying the records of the Mexican Government in its various departments. He finally accumulated more than a bushel of priceless documents and copies of others he could not obtain.
Professor Smith attended a meeting of the American Historical Association, whose magazine does so much to maintain a high standard of the printing if not the writing of history. He said to me following the lecture, "I wish you would tell me the name of someone whom I can consult regarding the military background of the history of Mexico, which I am writing, because I am convinced after today's lecture that no book worth reading can be written unless guided by one with such military knowledge."
Consider books on Theosophy such as PRIESTESS OF THE OCCULT. People like Mrs. Williams cannot write such a book well. Someone ignorant of Theosophy cannot write a historic book on the subject with sound scholarship.
What has this discussion of history to do with the early history of the Theosophical Society? In the last number of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM appeared the PREAMBLE adopted by the Society with the sanction of H.P. Blavatsky. In the forthcoming issue, the article on "Our Directives" will follow, covering the period from the founding of the Society in 1875 down to the death of Madame Blavatsky in 1891. Further publications of source and key material will follow next month's message, establishing facts important for members to understand.
Theosophists like to build up for themselves and their associates a Theosophical library. Among other things, the Press is turning out a reprint of G. de Purucker's book of classical conversations known as QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK. There is no pleasure keener than to take hot from the press the latest Theosophic thriller. This is not to expect new material to lead us straight to Nirvana.
Considering the nature and methods of true historical writing, our interest in studying these documents as they become available should grow. Our literature is the most potent factor in obtaining new recruits for the Movement. A long-term member may go stale on theosophical reading. Reflecting on the early history of our Society with its many trials and tribulations, he enables himself to face the future both for himself and for the Society with renewed interest. This sets his feet on a new path that will lead him to his proper place inside the walls of the Temple of Shambala.
By Madeline Clark
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1950, pages 160-64.]
Oddly, but undeniably, when we think of karma, we generally consider it in its immediate relation to ourselves, and associate it in our minds with the idea of punishment or retaliation for acts committed or omitted. Tacitly, it comes to be a sort of Nemesis, or agent of divine retribution. This is only as our consciousness is touched by the ever-immanent mystery surrounding this most recondite, most mysterious doctrine of the theosophical philosophy. Let us once begin to broaden the idea of karma to universal proportions, and we see it as one of the majestic rhythms of the universe, protective even in its most awesome aspects.
Protean in its forms, it appears variously to our imagination. It is divine justice. It is compassion. It is an energy of the Hierarch of which we all are parts, continually rectifying itself, just as we in our smaller way continually bring ourselves into line. It is the music of the universe ever developing its themes and arriving at its resolutions. It is the activities of all beings of whatever kind, moving on to their respective culminations. It preserves and restores proportion, balance, and equilibrium throughout the cosmos. We ourselves share in its mighty rhythms, and we are just one of the armies of beings hastening on to the fulfillment of our destinies.
Karma is fulfillment. It is a rhythmic interaction between beginnings and endings, between acts initiated and acts completed, between causes and results, which are in reality one, because they are inseparable.
According to the dictionary, fulfillment is to bring to completion or consummation, to carry out the purport of, to bring out or manifest fully -- though this last meaning is given as rare. We add that it is significant. We have fulfillment of hopes, of desires, of expectations, of promises, of prayers, of prophecies, and of duties and obligations. All of these are karma.
In the light of this teaching, fulfillment is a flowering, the crowning reward of effort, the consummation of a long series of efforts, an ending, a completion, of any related series of actions. It is not stationary. It is forever coming into being, ever moving towards an ending, which is at the same time another beginning.
Fulfillment presupposes a promise. We could not be discussing this aspect now, were it not that in the past such a promise, fundamental and spiritually binding, had been born at the inmost center of our consciousness. This goes back to the time, in the beginnings of our planet, when as a host of souls, of spirit-monads coming over from an older world, we began our evolution on this new sphere.
In these beginnings was registered a purpose -- not of words, but sounded in the atmosphere itself of the subjective worlds -- to fulfill the destiny for which this planet was to furnish the setting. Thereafter a series of actions began, which has proceeded even to the present day, in fulfillment of that early promise. The present human race, whatever may be its present status, and into whatever byways it may have strayed, is in reality deep in its struggle to win out to the light and peace of spiritual maturity, forecast for itself in that early and innocent time.
In the same way, our birth into any one earth-life is a promise. There has been, before the birth of the soul, a contact, a connection, with that same godlike part of our nature that started us off in the beginning, in which resides wisdom and the prophetic faculty. There has been a moment of vision, when our human self, the self that is going to be conscious during this life, sees in perspective the life to come, and what needs to be accomplished in that life in terms of character and essential achievement. We can picture the human self, like the knight-errant of old, full of the energy of hope, embarking on the journey of life, soon forgetting, perhaps, the promise of that vision; or perhaps it does not utterly forget, and then we have an individual with a sense beyond the present moment, a sense of the hidden significance of his existence.
In the training of children, the teacher, whether consciously or not, is striving to keep that memory alive in the child. If the child is responsive, it establishes habits that lead in the end to the fulfillment of its spiritual aspirations. It gravitates towards ESSENTIAL actions, heeding those impulses that always urge it to act creatively. Then, as deeper understanding dawns, the soul will recognize what is its appointed work in life, and move forward to maturity where peace of mind is possible. The old motto: "Do well the smallest duty, and when the day is done, there will be no regrets, no time wasted -- then joy will come," takes on a poignant meaning when applied to a lifetime rather than to a single day.
Many causes keep us from fulfilling all we might do in a lifetime. One such cause, undoubtedly, is the failure to act in close harmony with the essentials of our destiny, the neglecting to make sufficient use of the faculties we possess. As Krishna says in THE BHAGAVAD-GITA: "He who doth not cause this wheel thus already set in motion to continue revolving liveth in vain, 0 son of Pritha."
Directly connected with the doctrine of fulfillment, certainly, is the teaching that at the end of life there is an accounting to be given. We might say that the Higher Self has set the human self a task to be performed. Yet its decrees are not arbitrary. Its energies are attracted to the weak points in our character-fabric, as air rushes into empty spaces, and we are impelled toward the fulfillment of our own profound purposes.
We can rarely trace this thread of consequence from life to life. One instance is found in the marvelous story "Karmic Visions," found in an old volume of HPB's LUCIFER, and probably written by H.P. Blavatsky herself. The first vision is of Clovis, king of the Franks in the Fifth Century A.D. He was a great warrior, conqueror of the Romans and of the Visigoths, powerful and clever, but unscrupulous and ruthless when his warlike spirit is roused.
Clovis is called in the story a heartless despot, and is shown refusing mercy to the aged prophetess of the German barbarians, whom he has just conquered. As she dies by the hand of Clovis himself, the prophetess makes the following prediction: "Clovis, thou shalt be reborn among thy present enemies, and suffer the tortures thou hast inflicted upon thy victims. All the combined power and glory thou hast deprived them of shall be thine in prospect, yet thou shalt never reach it!"
We next see that same Ego-soul, in another incarnation -- the next but one, perhaps, as hinted -- as the unfortunate Frederick III, king of Prussia and later Emperor of Germany, at first victorious in war (in the Austro-Prussian conflict of 1866, and the Franco-Prussian war of 1870). As Emperor, he lived but a few short months, all the time suffering intensely with an incurable and agonizing disease. The story of his life is well known.
Frederick rests in his villa on the Mediterranean. He is a prey to unbearable thoughts, to a sense of frustration. He has a deep desire to carry out needed reforms and humanitarian works among his people, yet is powerless to fulfill these hopes, know that he will never in this life be able to serve his people as he so longs to do. The prolonged months of agony transforms and spiritually awakens him. In his turn, he exclaims, "Why, oh why, thou mocking Nemesis, hast thou thus purified and enlightened, among all the sovereigns on this earth, him whom thou hast made helpless, speechless, and powerless?"
W.Q. Judge, in THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, in naming a few such possible reincarnations, confirms this one of Clovis and Frederick III. As historical curiosities and examples, these instances are of interest, and serve to bring home to us the drama of karma as it plays itself out from life to life.
From one great Race to the next, the same law applies. Our present Fifth-Race civilization struggles with evils that had their origin in the less evolved, grossly material days of Fourth-Race Atlantis, our Atlantean Karma holding us back, slowing our progress toward our racial fulfillment.
Even from one great cycle of planetary activity, geologically speaking, to the next, there are still consequences, unfinished beginnings to be completed and fulfilled. Take such a little thing as our lead pencil. The graphite in that pencil was once a part of the luxuriant foliage that waved in the lush forests of the pre-Cambrian jungle. Take the uses of coal, and its various derivatives, or the changes in our way of life since the discovery of the great oil-deposits, and right there we have an object lesson showing how the activities of one cycle or epoch can affect the conditions of a later one.
The same is true of still greater cycles -- even the lifespan of universes. When a great universal embodiment ends, whatever causes are still not worked out are held over and will come to fulfillment in the next great embodiment. In fact, as the ancient Hindus teach, each manvantara is a karma. The new one could not come into being but for the karmic causes left unfinished by the actions of entities in the former one.
Human beings all, at times, are subject to a sense of doom, of an impending fate, of prophecies about to be fulfilled, of destiny, kismet, "the twilight of the gods," expressed in the god Krishna's somber words, "I am Time matured, come hither for the destruction of these creatures." Perhaps this is especially true in this age, when as a race we are at a crucial point in the endings (and therefore in the beginnings) of several important cycles.
Whatever the age has brought about by its actions, the fulfillment is at hand. "The old order changeth, giving place to new, and God fulfils himself in many ways." Yet, the new is being born amid the husks of the old. Certain phases of a great civilization, let us say, dissolve before our eyes. The overall picture changes.
For the individual human beings who have been involved in that change, a new era has begun. The field of experience is as rich as ever, only different. Old orders fulfill their destiny and pass away as such, but new institutions come into being because they have not yet developed their possibilities. It is with individual lives. There are episodes. A phase of experience begins, gathers momentum, reaches its peak, declines, and comes to an end. At about the midpoint of that phase, a different one has begun, and is on the way up towards its climax.
Life, evolution, is full of endings as well as of beginnings. The thing is done. It is of the past. It is the Nitya-pralaya that the ancient Hindu philosophy speaks of, the moment-by-moment continuous dissolution of all things, their karma having been fulfilled. Yet there is also, moment by moment, something new being born.
It is the destiny of the races of men, as of all other beings below man, to reach at some time conscious godhood. There are two ways of arriving at this point: one, the long, long way appointed by nature for the mass of humanity who drift and as it were simply respond to the stimulus of events, driven by their karma; the other, conscious altruistic effort, sustained creatively and in harmony with the trends towards a sublime fulfillment. That fulfillment, that consummation, brings with it the greatest of all rewards: "the power to bless and serve humanity."
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part XVII. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
In 1790, the Great Master had fallen into the King's disfavor. This followed an incident involving a diamond necklace, cunningly arranged by the Master's enemies. The Master was now beyond the Italian border. He found himself in the hands of the Inquisition. His fate was uncertain. His name was to go down the centuries as an imposter. His erstwhile friends had been among the great. At one time, they had stood numerous as the wheat stalks in the field. Now they vanished as mice seeking cover when the hawk swoops.
Behind the Master's power, riches, and fame, a secret work had grown through the hands of smaller and quieter folk. He had set this work in motion to teach the knowledge of man. They built a brotherhood that would have its day in the future.
The bloody French Revolution was coming. Operating under cover and helped by the example of the Americans, this folk worked to leaven the revolution. The light of brotherhood that was to emerge would be dim and red-smeared, but still for the good. In a final struggle for power, King and Church began to infiltrate the highways and byways.
A friend came by night to warn Arnaud Bonpays, mentioning an English smuggling ship off the mouth of the Seine. As a tailor, Arnaud was notoriously slowly paid, so he had to hastily collect a few small debts as travel money. Then Arnaud secretly departed. In due time, he breathed the foggy freedom of England on the Thames.
George III, King of England, did not trouble himself about obscure philosophers. His people profited by the example of their erstwhile rebellious colonists. Arnaud and his ideas might be laughed at in England, but he would meet neither guillotine nor Inquisitorial dungeon.
Arnaud found free speech in England, but not a people free with money. It took time to regain enough trade to begin anew teaching the Wisdom. Those who came were intrigued as much by the novelty of listening to a "Frenchie" dispense philosophy as by the philosophy itself. After listening, a few stayed to learn.
Arnaud did not despair. He was a little man with a big mission. The Great Master said that a few must continue in the secret wisdom. The coming of a greater one in the distant time of 1875 depended upon this. A few must continue to ensure the survival of all that France and England knew as civilization.
Back in France, the Great Master had sometimes spoken in detail, but Arnaud had never grasped it competently. The Master had admitted that no words existed in the West for the powers, weapons, and perils of the future. Arnaud had grasped little. He became convinced that someone's life, happiness, or prosperity counted little. Such counted no more than a grain's weight compared to the bettering of people's minds toward each other.
Arnaud struggled on undaunted. He closed his mind to sorrow over his sacrifice and over the seemingly small results of his efforts.
One evening, among the dozen sat someone different. Here was a fellow stocky, sturdy, of rosy complexion, and well-cut clothing. This individual asked a question. Arnaud's heart leaped as he heard the familiar accent of his homeland. The stranger put other questions. All were well framed. The stranger ever made comments that put Arnaud's arguments in clearer light, in better words. Flushing with pleasure, Arnaud said to himself, "Have I at last found a companion and helper?"
As the group dispersed, the stranger introduced himself.
"I am Charles Delaville," he said, "formerly of St. Aignan. It is easy to recognize in you a countryman."
"Arnaud Bonpays, yes. I am of extreme happiness to greet you."
Over coffee, Delaville enlarged.
"This Wisdom of yours, it is not altogether new to me. I too have listened to the Great Master, and have seen that there is more to this muddy world than the outward seeming. Even so, a balance is needed. One must keep the things of the world and of the next in equilibrium, lest both be lost. The Master of ours was great indeed. Yet, it must be recognized that he was not wise in all things. Otherwise, there would not have been the affair of the necklace and the Inquisition for him."
Arnaud bristled inwardly. "You recognize this unwisdom?"
"I may say so. I foresaw the fall of the Master and avoided losses for myself. I converted my holdings into English securities, preserving that which is necessary for good works in this world. This was doubly wise, because my kind was finished in France. In a few years, blood will run from border to border. Then my life would be worth little, perhaps priced a dozen for a copper coin. If I may say so without offense, your attire bespeaks one more behindhand than beforehand. Is this not so?"
"So indeed. I never was one to look far down the coming road. I always had enough trouble with the cobblestones under my feet."
"It need not be thus, with friendly advice from one who knows the world enough to cope well."
"And what you would advise?"
"For one thing, try handling these shop-keeping English differently. You have to admit that the showing has not been great at present. Yet, we both recognize that the Wisdom is truly great. Look you! These fellows are set in boring ways in dingy streets. They are hungry for life, color, and imagination, even though they scoff at such outwardly. Give them these things and a hundred will follow you eagerly for each one that now listens with caution and doubt."
"I am not a fine talker. I can only say one word at a time, as I see its truth. What would you say?"
"With a proper teacher, one may learn. You set forth the mysteries as one might add up a ledger! You say, 'Behold friends, there are two on this side and another two here. Set them together and observe four.' They see that everyday. What they desire is a two that when added to itself comes out something more, perhaps five."
"But the Great Master taught that the Law always renders a four for two twos. It does not no matter in what region of life."
"That is true, but gently leaven the grimness with fancy and imagination. It is not enough to show one reaps exactly as sown. For those not ready, leave room for a belief in exceptions. Leave room for the belief that each good deed was sown well, so there need be no anxiety over the reaping."
"Pardon me, but that is not honest. I present the problem of life as it is."
"What is honesty? It is in the sought-after end, not in the means. You seek naught for yourself, all for others. This is your aim? It matters not if there be a devious route if a good end is gained by all."
"So! In what other respects might my method improve?"
"Well, you have an unused asset in our incurable French accent. You try to suppress it. That is a vain hope. You are conscious of it as a defect. You do not use it."
"This had never occurred to me. How do I use it?"
"It really should help. It smacks of the exotic, the strange, and the mysterious. These stodgy English manifest a scorn for such things. This covers a hunger for them. Deeply scratch a skeptical Englishman with the right pin, and you will find a true believer. Exhibit your accent. Add to it a hint at times that you have seen wonders and might teach of them to those deserving. You will carry the field. The Englishmen will be intrigued, and the English women will be completely captivated."
"I have seen no wonders. I have no powers, nor can I teach others to gain powers."
"You need not do so. You should not make claims so plainly. People hear what they want. Knowing this, one learns to slant phrases toward a preconceiving ear. What is wrong if a temporary misconception forms a steppingstone on the path? This is all for the final good, mind you."
"Your philosophy is interesting."
"And it is sincere. I mean it. Endowed with the wherewithal of living, I still am of a mind to help mankind. I would like to work successfully, fortified by a practical knowledge of the ways of men. Were you to amendment your presentation, I would assume the rent of this place and other expenses. To be frank, I have neither gained my fortune nor saved it and my skin by supporting those whom do not have due knowledge of practicalities."
"You may be assured that your advice is well understood. I shall think it over seriously." ("What a damned liar he has already made of me," thought Arnaud. "I have thought this approach over already, not just now, but years ago.")
After further conversation, they parted at the tavern door.
"As a parting word," said Delaville, "I say again to ponder what I have said."
"Quite so. And my parting word is RETRO ME SATHANAS." ("This meant," Arnaud thought, "Get thee behind me, Satan!"
Delaville frowned. "Latin? I fear that I do not follow you. You do not wish to translate? You do not have to, but remember what I have said. Adieu!")
Arnaud turned out of the muddy street into his dim hallway. He enjoyed the offer of help, finding it amusing.
By Isabel B. Clemeshaw
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1951, pages 166-75.]
In Chaucer's time, a poet could not read Latin classics without Platonism imbuing them. Plato's PHAEDO and MENO reached the Oxford Library in Aristippus' Latin translation as early as the twelfth century. Roger Bacon was familiar with these.
Earlier than this, Englishmen wrote Latin poetry in the seventh century. The APOLLONIUS OF TYRE fiction belonged to the ninth century, showing a feeling for expansion and a curiosity for something more instinct and possible of development than faith alone offered. The ANKRON RULE was composed of passages from Seneca, who, like Boethius, was a lover of Plato's philosophy. Alfred the Great translated Boethius' CONSOLATIONE in the ninth century, but his language was scarcely understandable to Chaucer's contemporaries.
England had since become familiar with the French romance literature. It carried the Platonic tradition too. Augustine brought Platonism to the early English Church and fused it with Christianity. He converted from Manichaeism due to reading Plotinus's ENNEADS and Porphyry.
More specifically, to Pelagius (c. 360-420) of Briton goes the honor of teaching the ancient Wisdom once known to all early Races. He taught the doctrines of reincarnation and karma as well as discoursed on the freedom of the will. Man has the choice of good or evil.
Early British monasteries connected with the Orient and held views on philosophy recognized by the Eastern Church Fathers and Neo-Platonists. Different aspects of indirect Platonism permeated the early English Church, English philosophy, and English literature.
Dante carried this tradition on. Chaucer had much to gain from him and Petrarch, but Chaucer doubtless learned more from his own translation of Boethius' CONSOLATIONE. It was for his assimilation of a mystic Neo-Platonism that he earned the honor of people calling him the Father of English literature. This universal element outlives even historic pictures, and caused Deschamps to say of him, "O Socrates, plain de philosophie."
When we have dismantled the story of the soul's battle for life over the passions, as told in the "Knight's Tale" of THE CANTERBURY TALES, we find that the theme is based on Platonic duality, the duality of mind or soul. In the Middle Ages, people called this theme Platonic Love. The capacity of various poets to merge philosophy with their religion and experience gave great variety to the narrative, and range to the quality of Latin and early English literature.
It is a spiritual-intellectual love that abounds in Platonism, a logical or reasoned ascent from this shadowy Earth through the contemplation of the Divine Reality. Western literature personalized Platonic Love in the form of Woman as the link between man and the Divine, as in Dante's Beatrice, a purely spiritual concept. This symbol of a separated Prince and Princess, or distraught lover for his mate, is common to ancient Sanskrit literature, as in the Nala and Damayanti tale. It antedates Plato and the Greeks.
The occult mystery of the theme is concealed through the centuries from the dogmatic casual reader and the urgent teacher by the splendor of romance in high places, and by academic learning and importance of language. Concentration upon prosody, syntax, and memorizing to keep alive a sense of rhythm is important for intellection. This, plus the study of allusions, topography, and comments in an exhaustive array of Notes affords an excellent screen.
Consider an ancient battle. Herodotus describes the onslaught of the Persians when they met King Leonidas of Sparta at the Pass of Thermopylae. There were Indians in cotton garments, Assyrians with bronze helmets, Caspians in goatskins, and Ethiopians wearing leopard and lion skins. The Persians and Medes were the best soldiers, for they had conquered all the others. They wore coats of mail and trousers, and armed themselves with spears, bows, and wicker shields. On the March, the Great King, Xerxes, rode in his chariot in the center of the army, just behind the image of his god, carried on a wagon drawn by eight milk-white horses.
King Leonidas was defeated in his famous heroic stand. The altar tomb of his three-hundred fallen soldiers tells the story:
Tell them in Lakedaimon, passer-by That here obedient to their word we lie.
The battles fought by the souls of Greeks are more elaborate and ancient in description. You cannot find them in history books. They belong to literature. Chaucer recognized the hidden truth. He dutifully passed it on in the following tale.
The story is well known. It tells of Palamon and Arcite, and the great sage Duke Theseus, lord and ruler of Athens, as well as of the Beautiful Lady, Emily, with whom the two Princes fall in love.
As the Lord Theseus rode forth with a compassionate heart, he met a group of weeping ladies, all of whom were queens or duchesses who were captive slaves of Thebes, and their husbands denied burial.
To avenge their sorrow, the great Duke forthwith turned his steed to Thebes, and the red image of Mars with spear and breastplate shone out from his banner so that it illumined the meadows for a great distance.
When you recall that the Lord Theseus had slain the Minotaur in Crete, you will be able better to imagine how dazzling was his gold pennant, with the image of the Minotaur stamped into its metal. Only the elite of knighthood were worthy of his company that day. Followed by his host, he cantered into Thebes. He straightway slew King Creon and disorganized his foul machinations.
In the astounding heaps of debris resulting from the demolition of the city of Thebes, the conquerors found two royal Princes wounded almost to death. By their nobility of brow and by their escutcheon, they were recognized and dragged to the tent of the Lord Theseus. He sent them to Athens as prisoners of war to remain behind bars for life. The Greek bard gives this semblance of historic fact to ground his story. He then leads us into a world of romantic beauty and pageantry that our imaginations become so active in picturing the events that we lose sight of the will-and-conscience struggle of everyday life.
Ever interested in man and the Planets, Chaucer reminds us several times that the events happen in the month of May when Mars is powerful. It was on a May morning that the angelic Emily arose early and went to her garden to pick red and white flowers. Such a vision of beauty the two princes in the tower had never seen. Both instantly fell in love with one whose form could be only that of a goddess.
Palamon had the higher emotion. This personification of beauty carried him into an ecstasy of delight. Arcite claimed that he had the best right to possess her for he loved her as a creature while Palamon's love was that of a holy sentiment.
One day, Duke Pirothous visited Lord Theseus in Athens. Loving Arcite as a brother, he begged his greatest friend, the Duke, for Arcite's release. This Theseus granted. There was a condition. Arcite would lose his head if someone ever found him in a realm of Theseus'.
Prince Arcite wanders now. His very freedom denies him the sight of the Beautiful Lady. In his worldly diversions -- the objects of sense -- he becomes lonely and longs for a hope now lost. Soon, he returns in disguise and seeks the discipline of service to the Sage, Theseus. He serves honorably for seven long years.
During this time, the imprisoned Palamon had almost a daily vision of the Beautiful Emily. He suffered from the newness of prison life, i.e., the difficulty of overcoming the lower desires for the spiritual purpose. In his agony he demanded the gods answer many questions concerning why they punish the innocent while the irresponsible are often free as the animals.
Chaucer interrupts his story here to ask the reader who is in the worse plight, the one who rides where he lists but shall never see his Lady, or the one who may see his Lady daily though himself in prison. The poet felt loneliness in both conditions.
[From a booklet that appeared when G. de Purucker became head of the Theosophical Society with International Headquarters at Point Loma, California.]
This brochure appears on Dr. de Purucker's first appearance in England since he assumed the Leadership of The Theosophical Society. The interested inquirer will find in these pages a brief but authoritative account of his birth, education, and connection with the Theosophical Movement from his first meeting with William Q. Judge in 1896, down to July 1929, when he became Leader in succession to Katherine Tingley. The brochure gives the general policy he is pursuing and the broad outline of his message in the form of answers to questions put to him in 1929.
The student of Theosophy recognizes that to the inquirer, reliable information about the Leadership of any particular Theosophical organization is of vital, if not paramount, importance. This statement is made without fear of contradiction, because it is evident that the life force of any Society (Theosophical or otherwise). In greater or less degree, THE SPIRIT WHICH ENERGIZES THE MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS is the same as energizes the responsible Leader. This is true irrespective of whether the members acknowledge the leadership openly or prefer an attempt to conceal it.
For those who may not be familiar with the qualities that from immemorial antiquity have been characteristic of genuine Theosophical Teachers, the following summary may help.
(1) He has brotherliness for all, whether friend or foe, consistently applied in public and private.
(2) He has had personal contact and instruction from the preceding Teacher, so that the Teacher could hand on the Light to him.
(3) He possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the Archaic Teachings of the Wisdom Religion.
(4) Both written and oral, the Teachings he gives bear impartial examination and comparison with those of his predecessors. We find them consistent.
No one who is qualified to express an opinion can deny the remarkable consistency on these points in the lives and writings of H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, Katherine Tingley, and Gottfried de Purucker. It is for individual inquirers to go to work and prove to their satisfaction that the statements here made are facts that anyone who takes the trouble to do so can verify.
There are many sincere students of Theosophy who exhibit a certain confusion of thought in these matters, due to their inability to distinguish between the METHODS that vary with every Teacher and the unchanging ethical principles exemplified by them all. Regard only the principles as essential. The differences of method are relatively unimportant. In fact, the methods employed by all the above-mentioned Teachers were as radically different as their writings are different in literary form.
To possess the true faculty of discrimination is to have something that is beyond price. Words can tell its value. Those who strive to make Theosophy a LIVING POWER in their lives develop it. By self-directed effort, they grow nearer to the ideal hidden in the heart of each. They will they find springing up within them as facts of their own conscious knowledge, the sign, the password, and the symbols by which the Teacher can be recognized.
A. TREVOR BARKER, President. The Theosophical Society, English Section.
INTERVIEW WITH KATHERINE TINGLEY'S SUCCESSOR.
[From THE SAN DIEGO UNION, August 3, 1929]
The nation and the world will know more of Theosophy, its aims and ideals, under a program of international expansion outlined yesterday at Point Loma by Dr. Gottfried de Purucker, new Leader of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, who has taken up the work that death forced Madame Katherine Tingley to relinquish.
Coupled with the expansion will be a decided effort to bring the methods of teaching Theosophy back to the original lines laid down by its Founder, H.P. Blavatsky in 1875. This, however, will be only a change of method, as the Society has not swerved from the original ideals, the Leader said.
Sitting in the study from which he directs the international Society that has its fountainhead on Point Loma, Dr. de Purucker made it clear that he feels the time has come for a slight change in the method of administering the order. The expansion plans, which he hopes will bring many to the teachings of the Society, will make it almost necessary to organize branches at various places. Hitherto there has been no such thing as set meetings of Theosophists in the various cities and communities.
"I've been thinking of making a change," he said. "I feel that the time has come when the members should know what it means to represent the Society before the world."
The Leader himself will head Theosophy's new crusade. Throughout the world, lectures, members of the Society, and various publications will carry it out. Dr. de Purucker expects to leave in about two months on a lecture-tour of the world, on one of which Madame Tingley engaged herself when death overtook her.
Tall and slender, with the eyes and forehead of the deep thinker, Dr. de Purucker has the happy faculty of making his callers at ease. Frankly and freely, he answered questions relating to the Society, and, when the queries stopped, he volunteered additional facts. No questions were too personal for frank answers.
A man of great scholastic attainment, Dr. de Purucker had no hesitation in employing what purists might term slang when he felt that such would make his meanings clearer. He was, in fact, rather of a revelation to one who had thought Theosophy and its principles a closely guarded citadel of silence.
Clad in a gray suit, with brown oxfords and brown socks, pinstriped shirt and semi-soft collar, Dr. de Purucker looked far different from what one might imagine a Theosophical Leader would appear. Iron gray hair fences the wide brow of the scholar and the blue eyes, while alive with intelligence, did not yesterday appear to be the eyes of anyone but a man keenly interested in his work and eager that the world know more of it. Clean-shaven, his face has the stamp of determination, softened by the thoughtful expression of the scholar. Over all he was the host, eager that his visitor be pleased and satisfied. He even lighted and smoked a cigarette as he talked, to remove any feeling of restraint that might exist.
He went on:
She was very much misunderstood. She had character, energy, idealism, and the practical sense. As a man, I will feel freer to carry out the changes than my predecessor did, though it was her hidden wish to do so. Certain circumstances that made it impossible for her to do so have now changed. I do not mean to say that a woman does not have the same chances as a man in the world. In fact, I think a man does not have the same chance as a woman has, but he can take steps that a woman cannot.
We will lay special emphasis on the esoteric branch of the work, which is really the heart of Theosophy.
There is so much of the beautiful in Theosophy to tell people and to show them. Is the membership behind the plans to expand? Within twenty-four hours after they learned of the plans, there were contributions of more than $100,000 to carry on the work. This is just a beginning.
What are the requisites to becoming a Theosophist? What would you say the requisites were to become a Christian? Very simple, you say? It is so with Theosophy. A decent life, an aspiring mind, a desire to do good to others, and a belief in universal brotherhood.
The Society is not in politics. Some politicians have come with the request that the vote of the membership be turned to them. This has been declined.
The human race has one common spiritual aspiration, one common destiny. If all were Theosophists, there would be no call for disarmament conferences.
Does a person have to give up his religion to become a Theosophist? No, the Society does not require this. Of his own volition, he would put aside the dogma of the creeds.
The home life of the member of the Society is his own, and into this the Society does not intrude. Universal brotherhood does not extend to advocating miscegenation.
Funds for carrying on the work of the Society come largely from donations. There is the small amount from membership dues and the publications of the Society.
The Theosophical Leader was enthusiastic about the children attending the school maintained by the order. Mental, physical, and spiritual supervision is exercised. Coming from small classes, individual attention makes this possible. The work lies largely in bringing out the sense of honor in the children, the beauty of idealism is stressed and has been wonderfully effective, the Leader feels.
"Not all the children in the Theosophical University, which embraces teaching of Theosophy, letters, arts, and music, are the offspring of Theosophists," Dr. de Purucker explained. "It is much easier to go out than it is to come in," he added.
Everyone at the International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society is on his toes, to use the idiom, the Leader said, and all are keenly desirous that the world at large know more about the teachings of Theosophy and universal brotherhood that all may enjoy a larger life.
Then the interview was over, an interview of surprises and one that seemed far shorter than the span of time indicated.
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY Founded at New York City in 1875
G. DE PURUCKER, LEADER.
H.P. BLAVATSKY 1875-1891 WILLIAM Q. JUDGE 1891-1896 KATHERINE TINGLEY 1896-1929
International Headquarters, Point Loma, California, USA
The Theosophical Society is part of a universal, spiritual, intellectual, and ethical movement, which has been active in all ages. This movement bases itself on the Reality of Spiritual Brotherhood. That Brotherhood is of the very essence of Being. The Society represents no particular creed and it is entirely non-sectarian.
The objects of the Theosophical Society are:
To diffuse among men a knowledge of the laws inherent in the Universe.
To promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is, and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in Nature.
To form an active brotherhood among men.
To study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy.
To investigate the powers innate in man.
The single prerequisite to affiliation with The Theosophical Society is an acceptance of the principle of Universal Brotherhood; and to every sincere advocate of this fundamental principle, the Society extends a cordial invitation to Fellowship. To those desirous of receiving instruction in the deeper Archaic Esoteric Wisdom, and who give the right knock, the door will be opened.
Ask, and ye shall receive. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
The exoteric authority for the conduct of The Theosophical Society as an International Organization or Spiritual Federation is vested in its Leader. In respect to local and sectional affairs, all Lodges and National Sections are autonomous within the provisions of the Constitution.
As all Lodges are bound by unbreakable bonds to their own National Section, spiritually and as far as humanly possible in the conduct of their affairs, so equally are all National Sections bound together, each with every other Section of this Spiritual Federation, by the bonds of union that find outward expression in the Constitution of The Theosophical Society.
Fellowship in The Theosophical Society may be either in a Lodge or "at large," and applications should be addressed to the nearest Lodge or direct to the Headquarters of the National Section. For further information, apply to:
A TREVOR BARKER, President, English Section, The Theosophical Society, 62 Baker Street, London
KENNETH MORRIS, D.LITT., President, Welsh Section, The Theosophical Society, Gwalia House, Fitzalan Road, Cardiff
[From the Report of the First Convention of the Theosophical Society in America, session of April 29, 1895.]
The Theosophical Society in America by its delegates and members in first Convention assembled, does hereby proclaim fraternal good will and kindly feeling toward all students of Theosophy and members of theosophical societies wherever and however situated. It further proclaims and avers its hearty sympathy and association with such persons and organizations in all theosophical matters except those of government and administration, and invites their correspondence and cooperation.
To all men and women of whatever caste, creed, race, or religious belief, whose intentions aim at the fostering of peace, gentleness, and unselfish regard one for another, and the acquisition of such knowledge of man and Nature as shall tend to the elevation and advancement of the human race, it sends most friendly greeting and freely proffers its services.
It joins hands with all religions and religious bodies that direct their effort to the purification of men's thoughts and the bettering of their ways, and avows its harmony therewith. To all scientific societies and individual searchers after wisdom upon whatever plane and by whatever righteous means pursued, it is and will be grateful for such discovery and unfoldment of Truth as shall serve to announce and confirm a SCIENTIFIC BASIS FOR ETHICS.
Lastly, it invites to is membership all those who, seeking a higher life hereafter, would learn to know the Path to tread in this.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SKETCH
[This sketch has reference only to the Theosophical Society, not to the Esoteric Section.]
The Theosophical Society was founded at New York in 1875 by H.P. Blavatsky, H.S. Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others. The New York Society was the parent Society, so designated as late as 1882. As it expanded to other countries, in order the better to carry on its work the different groups in different parts of the world were organized into National Sections, the original American Theosophical Society being known thereafter as the American Section.
In 1895 at its annual Convention at Boston because of differences that had arisen within the ranks of the Theosophical Society and in order that it might continue its work along the original lines free from all dissensions, the American Section, as the original American Theosophical Society, by a vote of 191 delegates to 10, assumed and declared its complete autonomy as "The Theosophical Society in America," with William Q. Judge, President for life, with power to nominate his successor. The American Section was by far the largest of the Sections then existing, and this vote represented a majority of the active members throughout the world, which members still further increased by taking similar action in other parts of the world.
In 1898, The Theosophical Society in America, at its convention held at Chicago, by an almost unanimous vote, over ninety percent of the delegates present, accepted the Constitution of the Universal Brotherhood Organization, and adopted the name "The Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society," of which Katherine Tingley was Leader and Official Head for life, with power to appoint her successor. Again, affiliated Societies took similar action in other parts of the world.
In 1929, at the passing of Katherine Tingley, the direction of the work was taken over by her successor, Gottfried de Purucker, and at the Convention of the Society held at Point Loma on December 5, 1929, it was decided to resume the original name of the parent Society, to wit, The Theosophical Society.
On February 17, 1930, the Leader again reiterated the policy of The Theosophical Society to be one of fraternal good will and kindly feeling towards all students of Theosophy, inviting all other Theosophical Societies and individual students of Theosophy to cooperate with us and unite in forming one Spiritual Brotherhood which shall ultimately include all who seek the spiritual welfare of mankind.
It is to this end that the above printed Proclamation, first issued in 1895, is again sent forth.
By J.H. Calmeyer
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1950, pages 276-80.]
One of the main points of dissension that led to the Reformation, and caused Christians to split up into Protestants and Catholics, was the contention that it should not be the exclusive privilege of the priesthood to interpret the Bible to the faithful. The Holy Book should be the common property of every son and daughter of the Church and all should diligently read.
This dissension must have arisen as the result of one of two assumptions. One is that the Bible may be plain sailing and holds a clear and simple message for everybody to understand, needing no interpretation. The other is that the priest is not the ideal and rightful interpreter (having failed in his task or his title thereto being denied), and it is rather the divine heritage of every individual believer to gain, through study and introspection, a measure of understanding. Thus is presumably a greater measure than could be his through any vicarious interpretation and one better suited to the particular limitations of his comprehension.
It must be obvious to anybody who has read the Bible and has seriously tried to understand its meaning that people cannot conscientiously uphold the contention that the Bible contains nothing but plain narrative and a straightforward message. Whatever the merits may be of the dispute as to the means whereby textual enlightenment should be obtained, the need for enlightenment itself can scarcely be denied.
One of the most cryptic statements and one that must be meaningless to many people is in the well-known opening phrases of the Gospel according to St. John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
What was the mysterious Word whereby all things were made and without which was not any thing made that was made?
When we think of a beginning, we think of an all-embracing Omnipotence, a Cause without cause, in which all the potentialities of the manifested world hide. We cannot think of a beginning out of nothingness, mainly because we cannot think of nothingness. This is quite rightly so. For nothingness is a meaningless word. Derived from "not something," it is extended to "not anything," but this is a logical absurdity, for the full meaning of "not something" is of course "not something, but something else." That which precedes a beginning cannot be nothingness, but must hold in its womb the seeds of all things to come.
When do these seeds spring to life? Obviously, they do so when they consciously known that they do. In other words, their coming to life is in the consciousness thereof. Prior to the beginning of all things, i.e. the beginning of existence as we know it, there was no such consciousness. We cannot conceive of the great Cause of all causes being conscious of Itself. Consciousness means appreciation, appraisal, whether praise or criticism. This again postulates intelligence outside of the thing it appraises, an observer on a level of its own. This would imply a duality that runs counter to our conception of a beginning. There must be one before there can be two.
If there is no consciousness at the beginning of all things of whatever there is supposed to exist, then we may reasonably assert that it does not in effect exist in the sense we apply to that word. Therefore, for there to be any effective existence something must issue out of this seeming state of nothingness, something that, because of its being part of the whole, will have a recollection of the whole.
When we think, therefore, of a beginning, we can only think of something that we know to be a secondary phenomenon, an effect of that Cause without cause, which must needs be produced to enable that First Cause to manifest itself, in other words to gain existence.
Why it should be necessary for that First Cause to have an existence at all is something that we simply cannot answer. Presumably, the question is irrational because based on our conception of things in dealing with matters that are entirely beyond our limited, poor, three-dimensional comprehension. We know that there are certain things of which our mind cannot conceive, like infinity and eternity. In mathematics, we have a language that goes on from the point where our mental images fail us, and which proves to us that there must be conceptions that we cannot at present grasp. "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known," and it is our divine heritage to attain in due course to the knowledge of all these things.
On the basis of the duality inherent in consciousness, we must assume that the conscious part is less perfect than that of which it is conscious, because the former has issued from the latter and can, therefore, never in any sense be more. Neither can it be equal, as in that case there would be no duality. Manifestation then becomes an aspect of loss of perfection and the essence of the Divine Origin reflects in the Manifested World as consciousness. Consciousness is a yardstick: the part applied to the whole. We are equally justified in saying that every emanation from the whole, by being of its substance, must have a consciousness of the whole, as in saying that being part of the whole is in having this consciousness.
There is nothing in the Universe that the researches of man have found to be stationary. Neither can we reasonably impute to this secondary phenomenon a state of absolute immobility. In analogy of all that nature has taught us, we can only think of the issuing of the manifested world from a state of non-manifestation as a kind of vibration. In order to manifest itself, the Divine Source must externalize itself. Looking at it as we would at a physical phenomenon, we would say that this would set up a tension. The source irresistibly draws its externalized part, like a string that pulls away from the bow. On the outward swing, it loses some of its perfection. Adhering to this scientific analogy, we might say that some of the energy of this perfection converts into the power required for the outward movement. On the inward swing, it gains perfection, until it identifies itself again with its source, thus completing one pulsation.
Of course, we should beware of taking this literally. An image helps us visualize a difficult concept. It helps building a bridge to cross the gap between the beginning of all things, which our logic tells us can have no effective existence, and our conception of a world that surely must have had its origin in a material manifestation of some sort. The duality of an oscillatory movement -- in-and-out, wave, and node -- makes this easier for us to understand: a going-out-of-itself for the purpose of manifestation, to gain existence, yet a constant returning to itself to retain the essence of its indivisible divine being.
It may be mentioned in passing that this idea of the manifested part, i.e. the created world, being of necessity the product of a loss of perfection, may be at the bottom of the notion of original sin.
Manifestation then means existence and a higher or lesser degree of consciousness. Existence -- or consciousness -- implies substance. For we cannot think of any kind of existence, without thinking at the same time of substance, of something observable outside the self -- be it physical or mental matter, such as dreams are made of.
Looking at it again as we would at a physical phenomenon, it is easy to understand that the primary pulsations of manifestation will propagate themselves in this externalized substance. Just as a pebble thrown into the water will not cause an isolated ring to open and close again around the point of impact, but send ripples all over the surface of the water, so will cosmic ripples, pulsations of energy, be sent out in all directions. There is consciousness. There is matter. There is pulsation. A new world has come into being.
These ripples, as the new world grows and unfolds itself on the breath of Brahma, may travel a long way from their source. They may, on the same principle as has been applied to the first pulsation, lose perfection and gain lesser manifestations of power. They may, as it were, lose spirit and gain matter. They cannot go on in the outward direction forever. In common parlance we would say that in that direction there is nowhere for them to go. Their only fulfillment is in their ultimate return to their Source. We all instinctively know this. It is all we ever can know of the purpose of God's Creation.
Let us now go back to John, the Apostle.
In his days, it was not the custom to write long and explicit philosophic dissertations. Certain records were kept in a cryptic style for those who had ears to hear. For those who had not, explanations were given orally by the initiated.
Now if you had to express in a short and cryptic message what we have so ponderously tried to explain, what image would you think of? How would you convey the idea of Nothingness fraught with the potentialities of a completely new world, the throbbing pulsation of the birth of this world, its existence -- separate yet inalienably related to its Source? It is a nothingness that is the Ultimate Perfection and that is so complete, so all encompassing, that it is beyond the sphere of conscious perception.
"The Word," says the Apostle, "was with God, and the Word was God."
A void, therefore, which holds in its womb everything that ever is or will be. For it holds the Word.
Try to visualize what this means. Here we have the larynx, connected with the lungs as with a pair of bellows. Lungs and windpipe fill with air. Can we think of anything less substantial than air? The bellows begin to work and still nothing happens. Some particles of air are displaced. For the rest: nothingness.
Air presses upward through the larynx. This time larynx, tongue, and lips assume certain positions, make certain movements -- and lo! -- there is suddenly not only sound, but also meaning: a word. Materially, we can hardly trace what has happened. Vibrations have been set up with such tremendous consequences! Just think of the prisoner in the dock; of the youth to whom Life holds out a glorious promise; of those who are laden.
To be hanged by the neck.
Until death do us part.
I am the Resurrection and the Life.
These are just words, vibrations out of the nothingness of thin air. To those who hear the words, reality is created. They hear the reality of the ransom of a wasted life, the reality of blissful adventure, and the reality of the solace of eternal life because of eternal love.
Out of No-thing-ness new worlds are created.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
For those who have ears to hear, could we have chosen a better image?
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, April 1893.]
A tradition rises within me of quiet, unspoken of years, ages before the demigods and heroes toiled at the making of Greece, long ages before the building of the temples and sparkling palaces of her day of glory. The land was pastoral, and over all the woods hung stillness as of dawn and of unawakened beauty deep breathing in rest.
Here and there little villages sent up their smoke and a dreamy people moved about. They grew up, toiled a little at their fields, followed their sheep and goats, wedded, and gray age overtook them, but they never ceased to be children. They worshipped the gods in little wooden temples, with ancient rites forgotten in later years.
Near one of these shrines lived a priest -- an old man -- who was held in reverence by all for his simple and kindly nature. Sitting one summer evening before his hut, a stranger came to him whom he invited to share his meal. The stranger seated himself and began to tell the priest many wonderful things. He told stories of the magic of the sun and of the bright beings that move at the gateways of the day. The old man grew drowsy in the warm sunlight and fell asleep. Then the stranger, who was Apollo, arose, and in the guise of the priest entered the little temple, and the people came in unto him one after the other.
Agathon, the husbandman, entered the temple first He said, "Father, as I bend over the fields or fasten up the vines I sometimes remember that you said the gods can be worshipped by doing these things as by sacrifice. How is it, father, that the pouring of cold water over roots or training up the vines can nourish Zeus? How can the sacrifice appear before his throne when it is not carried up in the fire and vapor?"
To him, Apollo appeared in the guise of the old man and replied, "Agathon, the father omnipotent does not live only in the ether. He runs invisibly within the sun and stars, as they whirl round and round and break out into streams, woods, and flowers. The clouds are shaken away from them as the leaves from off the roses. Great, strange, and bright, he busies himself within, and at the end of time his light shall shine through, and men shall see it moving in a world of flame. Think then, as you bend over your fields, of what you nourish and what rises up within them. Know that every flower as it droops in the quiet of the woodland feels within and far away the approach of an unutterable life and is glad. They reflect that life as the little pools the light of the stars. Agathon, Zeus is no greater in the ether than he is in the leaf of grass, and the hymns of men are no sweeter to him than a little water poured over one of his flowers."
Agathon, the husbandman, went away, and he bent tenderly in dreams over his fruits and his vines, and he loved them more than before. He grew wise as he watched them and was happy working for the gods.
Then spake Damon, the shepherd, "Father, while the flocks are browsing, dreams rise up within me. They make the heart sick with longing. The forests vanish, and I hear no more the lambs' bleat or the rustling of the fleeces. Voices from a thousand depths call me. They whisper, they beseech me. Lovelier than earth's children, the shadows make music. This music is not for me, though I faint while I listen. Father, why do I hear the things others hear not, voices calling to unknown hunters of wide fields, or to herdsmen, shepherds of the starry flocks?"
Apollo answered the shepherd, "Damon, a song stole from the silence while the gods were not yet, and a thousand ages passed ere they came, called forth by the music. A thousand ages they listened, and then joined in the song. Then the worlds began to glimmer shadowy about them, and bright beings to bow before them. These, their children, began in their turn to sing the song that calls forth and awakens life. He is master of all things who has learned their music. Damon, heed not the shadows, but the voices. The voices have a message to thee from beyond the gods. Learn their song and sing it over again to the people until their hearts, too, grow sick with longing, and they can hear the song within themselves. Oh, my son, I see far off how the nations shall join in it as in a chorus, and hearing it, the rushing planets shall cease from their speed and be steadfast. Men shall hold starry sway."
The face of the god shone through the face of the old man. It was so full of secretness that, filled with awe, Damon, the herdsman, passed from the presence, and a strange fire was kindled in his heart. The songs that he sang thereafter caused childhood and peace to pass from the dwellers in the woods.
Then the two lovers, Dion and Neaera, came in and stood before Apollo, and Dion spake, "Father, you who are so wise can tell us what love is, so that we shall never miss it. Old Tithonus nods his gray head at us as we pass. He says only with the changeless gods has love endurance, and for men the loving time is short, and its sweetness is soon over."
Neaera added, "But it is not true, father, for his drowsy eyes light when he remembers the old days, when he was happy and proud in love as we are."
Apollo answered, "My children, I will tell you the legend how love came into the world, and how it may endure. On high Olympus, the gods held council at the making of man, each had brought a gift, and each gave to man something of their own nature. Aphrodite, the loveliest and sweetest, paused, and was about to add a new grace to his person, but Eros cried, 'Let them not be so lovely without; let them be lovelier within. Put your own soul in, Oh mother.' The mighty mother smiled, and so it was. And now, whenever love is like hers, which asks not return, but shines on all because it must, within that love Aphrodite dwells, and it becomes immortal by her presence."
Then Dion and Neaera went out, and as they walked home through the forest, purple and vaporous in the evening light, they drew closer together. Dion, looking into the eyes of Neaera, saw there a new gleam, violet, magical, shining -- there was the presence of Aphrodite. There was her shrine.
After came in unto Apollo the two grandchildren of old Tithonus, and they cried, "See the flowers we have brought you! We gathered them for you in the valley where they grow best!" Apollo said, "What wisdom shall we give to children that they may remember? Let us give them our most beautiful!" As he stood and looked at them, the mask of age and secretness vanished. He appeared radiant in light. They laughed in joy at his beauty. Bending down, he kissed each upon the forehead. Then he faded away into the light that is his home.
As the sun sank down amid the blue hills, the old priest awoke with a sigh, and cried out, "Oh, that we could talk wisely as we do in our dreams!"
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From the second part of a tape recording entitled "Death and After-Death States, Part II" made of a private class held on November 10, 1954.]
Consider one Reembodying Ego. It belongs to a planetary chain such as the Earth. It issues forth twelve rays or souls. To make a distinction, we shall call these rays Reincarnating Egos instead of Reembodying Egos. Each ray belongs to one of the twelve globes of the planetary chain. We are Reincarnating Egos for Globe D, our geographical Earth. That is our human consciousness. Each of us has a Reembodying Ego of the Earth Chain, containing eleven other rays, each ray belonging to one of the other globes of the chain.
The center of gravity is on our lowest globe for a long time to come. Any activity on the other globes is brief and passive, except for adepts and initiates. They are becoming self-conscious in other portions of their inner constitution. They are learning to visit the other globes of the chain with conscious awareness. That is a big story in itself.
Our subject involves Esoteric Astrology, utterly unknown in the Occident. Many write books and lecture on Esoteric Astrology. They know no more about it than they know about Theosophy. Few know Esoteric Astrology. It is hardly touched upon except by the chief theosophical writers. Esoteric Astrology deals with the intimate connection of the planets of the solar system and the so-called zodiacal signs with the evolution of Spiritual Monads and their respective rays and sub-divisions of rays.
The Spiritual Monad is free of enslavement to anything more material than it is. The relatively insignificant personality has not pinned it down to this earth, holding it back from its peregrinations until the release of death.
On its journey through the Outer Rounds, the Spiritual Monad pauses at each planetary chain. At present, its stop on the earth chain is longer. That is all. Nothing impedes its progress. At times in its evolutionary journey, it stays longer in a particular chain. In this case, the stop is on earth. The same will happen on another chain when we find the focus of human evolution there.
Prior to the Earth on the Outer Rounds, the planetary chain on which the human hosts evolved was Venus. After the Earth, the chain on which humanity will evolve is Mercury. Understand that this is in terms of the Outer Rounds. Today, the Earth chain is the station where this host of monads evolves. All others are only briefly touched. In its Outer Rounds, this host of evolving entities will move to the next chain, as it had moved to this one from another chain previously.
Are there human kingdoms evolving now on other planets of the solar system? Asking specifically about Mercury and Venus, we would say yes. There families of human egos are different from the family that is on the Earth chain. They are different bodily and even spiritually.
Picture a family of people native to Los Angeles. They constitute the bulk of its population. They rarely go out. They pass their lives there. They are distinct from the family native to Chicago, tied to that locality, staying there, and not going anywhere else. Their evolutionary experiences magnetically connect to Los Angeles. Some people may travel. Most will never leave the city.
The same principle applies on a larger scale to the inhabitants of a land. They rarely transfer by the millions to another land. They stay in their country for centuries or perhaps thousands of years.
On a larger scale yet, there are families of human egos going through their evolutionary experiences on a particular planetary chain. Meanwhile, other human families have their experiences on other chains.
There are circulations through the seven or twelve principles of the human constitution. There are others through the twelve globes of the planetary chain. There are yet more through the twelve chains of the solar system. There are even circulations through chains of solar systems and galaxies. We have the same pattern throughout nature.
There is not a place in nature -- visible or invisible -- where the pattern breaks. There is one fundamental law. Everything ties together. Everything is a child of something greater and has its progeny. It is impossible for one law to operate here and another there. Consider a melon. It is not like an apple there, an orange in another part, and over there a berry. It is all melon. Nature is fundamentally the same. The principle is that the nature operates the same way in one part as in all else.
During the after-death conditions, does someone evolving on another planet, like Venus, Jupiter, or Mars, visit the Earth? Yes, because even the Earth is a sacred planet. They go through seven planetary chains that are sacred to their planet, that bear a special relation to it. Say they evolve on Mars. Is the Earth Chain one of Mars's seven sacred planets? I cannot say. If it were, they will visit the Earth.
There are more planets in the solar system than we know. There is some multiple of twelve. The Earth is a nursling of the seven sacred planets. It may also be nursing another planet. That planet's egos will visit us too.
Everything is interrelated. The numerous planetary bodies belonging to a solar system are not all visible. Some are on other planes. They subdivide themselves into clusters of twelve naturally. Astronomy knows only the husk of the solar system, just its physical part. That is all. Even then, they discover new planets, such as Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. They suspect another nearer the Sun than Mercury. They are not through with their work.
From the occult standpoint, there are many dozens of planets, most on non-physical planes. They are sacred to each other in bunches of seven or twelve. I cannot tell you how the subdivisions happen. I can give the general principle, but not the detail of it. I do not know how it works.
While in devachan, we, the human egos, visit the seven sacred planets on the Outer Rounds. We continue our sleep, not knowing anything about the journey. The devachanic state of consciousness remains unbroken. We live in our world of spiritual consciousness. In unalloyed bliss, we weave a dream about ourselves until coming back to Earth.
From within, the Spiritual Monad issues a ray or ego on each planetary chain, something appropriate. The ray represents the human stage that belongs to a particular planet magnetically and by ancient karmic ties.
The Spiritual Monad will touch the evolutionary conditions of each chain that it passes through with the corresponding ray. These embodiments are unlike our 80-year life on earth. They are brief. I may be wrong, but I suggest that the embodiments are as life-atoms. They are for gathering certain forces and creation of nuclei of forces. This is not necessarily as human, animal, or any other entity. Perhaps it is only as life-atoms. Use embodiment in quotation marks. There will be a brief embodiment of a kind.
Everything is analogy. The same fundamental law is behind everything. Wash the mind free of the conception of human time. There is only one deduction that we can make about sleep and death. Death is the greater analogy of sleep. Marvel of marvels, these processes take place briefly when we sleep. In the brief interval of daily sleep, part of our consciousness flashes from planet to planet. Sleep, death, and conscious death or initiation hangs together, since they are exactly the same process.
When we go to bed and have a profound sleep, how do we have the time to go through the inner worlds? Obviously, the human ego does not go through the worlds! It is not dead! It is only asleep! Potencies, magnetic rays, and forces within the higher human consciousness go. They flash from center to center. Human time is not involved. Remember that everything is present everywhere at the same time. There is no separation.
It does not take time for the spiritual consciousness to pass from Earth to Venus. Completely give up the human conception of space and time. Venus is not where we see it in the sky. Jupiter is not where we see it in the sky. The things we see in the sky are physical counterparts of the planets. Where are the inner worlds of Venus and Jupiter? Perhaps they touch us here. Is the Sun here? Yes, it is throughout the entire solar system. Are we here? Yes, part of us is decidedly here.
We cannot take that part with us. The moment that we die, it is finished. That part of us will be nothing but ashes. That is all. Is it the real entity? No. How far do we extend? Our intermediate principles are at home throughout the planetary chain. Our spiritual part extends throughout the solar system.
Devise new terms and ideas. Without this, we cannot express the teachings adequately. In a lame way, we might convey some ideas to sensitive people. We might have conceptions satisfactory to us, but without good words. We will not clearly understand the teachings.
Conceive of the possibilities that exist. Widen the consciousness. The universe will appear differently. The growing child sees the surrounding universe differently than when an infant. It has widened for him. He realizes things he never understood before. Even with all our human understanding, we fail to understanding the spiritual side yet, without a similar widening of consciousness.
Consider the people who might walk in here and call us a bunch of lunatics. In our evening meetings, the ideas we exchange show a tremendous growth of understanding compared to where they are.
In review, consider the panoramic visions that happen in the after-death states. The first takes place when someone has withdrawn from all the body except the brain. The brain is the last to die. Before leaving, the inner man centers in the pineal gland and the pituitary body. Then he enters the panoramic vision of the life just passed. When the vision finishes, the light in the brain goes out. The higher part of the man withdraws then. This is usually through the upper portion of the brain.
The human body may or may not be disintegrating. That is completely immaterial. The first panoramic vision does not use the cells of the physical brain. It uses the astral brain. It primarily concerns the record of the life just passed. It includes but a glimpse into the future incarnation, because the life now ending has an influence on it. The more spiritual a man, the more he sees that future. Right this moment, I know somebody probably undergoing that condition. That individual will probably pass out tonight.
The second panoramic vision takes place at the second death. This is when the individual is leaving kamaloka and entering devachan. It repeats the life just passed, but with greater emphasis on future incarnations.
The third panoramic vision takes place just before incarnation, when one enters into definite magnetic touch with the physical plane. In these last stages before coming into rebirth, the human ego sees the panoramic vision of its last life in reverse. The vision must run in reverse, since one is coming into birth, not going out. Coming in now, the flow is the reverse of what it was when the man was going out. When does the vision happen? The exact time may be near when conception is about to take place, or perhaps has already happened.
This process takes him from old age to childhood again. He has to start as an old man and run up into childhood. For him, it is up, although it is down for us. As he reaches the earliest pictures of his last childhood, he becomes a child again. Consider the utter logic of it! The panoramic vision helps him to think himself into childhood.
In that third vision, he has a considerable glimpse of the incarnation about to begin. He realizes the justice of the events, their karma based upon his past. When the vision finishes, there comes complete unconsciousness or oblivion. The ancient Greeks called this crossing the river of Lethe.
When the child is born, there is no memory in the brain. If spiritual, someone may remember a bit sometime during life. For most, there will be no memory of the past until their dying moment. When more evolved, we will know more about our past lives and more about the pattern of the future. There is no predestination. Our past creates the future pattern.
Can hypnotism surface memories of a past existence? Yes. Are the hypnotists just experimenting? Are they men or women of impure life? If so, it is dangerous to work with them. We must warn people.
There are also men and women of pure life. Their motives are unselfish. They search for the truth for its own sake. Say they have the hypnotic power developed. They can induce in one's hypnotic sleep states stages of spiritual lucidity. In such states, one can talk about events that took place before physical embodiment, possibly from other lives. When awakening from hypnotic sleep, one does not remember.
This regression is possible. People have experimented with it a great deal. There is a tremendous science there. I am not absolutely down on hypnotism, but because of the type of people practicing it, ninety percent of it is dangerous.
No matter what you do, you establish profound magnetic connections. You forge karmic bonds between you and the hypnotist. If he is noble-minded, good, and inwardly pure, the karmic connection is perfectly fine. Nevertheless, you are bound. He has invaded your consciousness. You have submitted to it. Now, you have karmic ties that might endure more than a lifetime. Consider this. Particularly with the ins and outs of human consciousness, you cannot play with another without establishing profound and lasting karmic ties. They might not be bad, but there are ties, responsibilities to one another.
How can someone remember what happened when they were in devachan? Through hypnosis, one can reach the particular state of consciousness that experienced the devachan. Although there was neither brain nor nervous system, one can remember.
There are many types of memory. One type is the memory of the soul. This memory is inherent in the Reincarnating Ego, independent of the brain. There is also a brain memory, but it is the lowest kind of memory. The hypnotist frees the individual from the brain. Outside the brain, the individual functions through the astral constitution. Even so, with the help of the hypnotist, one still can use the body to speak.
Coming into incarnation, most have little choice of parents and little choice of which karma they will face. They do not care to choose. They drift. The more spiritual one is the more choice he has. One chooses before the panoramic vision of the future incarnation. In the majority of cases, the glimpse of a future life in the panoramic vision only shows possibilities. There may be many possible futures. It is not set. It is complicated, and I am not clear about it myself. The future incarnation depends largely upon the one that has just closed.
You cannot choose much. How much is in the balance? To a small extent, the future life depends upon how one goes through the intermediate spheres in kamaloka. While in the process of going out of life, one's reactions have a minor influence on the future. It is minor, but not to be disregarded.
The child has some choice in picking its parents. There is an automatic choice. It is not self-conscious. There is no emotion involved, which is an essential point. The choice is from within. Others cannot interfere. Even our Spiritual Monad cannot do much. It is too far away. The guiding spirit is our Reembodying Ego, the intellectual monad within us.
Others help the child. In the higher part of the astral world, there are beings helping people in their peregrinations from sphere to sphere. They include Teachers, spiritual beings, and Dhyani-Chohans.
Consider all the subjects that we have covered. There is justice in them. There is a set of consecutive values hanging together by cause and effect. We see beauty in the arrangement and functioning of universal laws.
From another viewpoint, we find great solemnity and awe in the teachings. They are grand. There is nothing small about them. They pacify. They broaden our consciousness, widen our outlook, and deepen our feelings. They induce peace and goodwill. They induce a sense of the fitness of things. They help create within our consciousness a wide, sweeping horizon of thought. If we will that it be so, upon this is projected pictures of grandeur, pictures of ever-receding vistas of human spiritual possibility.
The teachings bring us closer to reality. Within our mind and soul, they deepen our perception and comprehension. Without breaking any ties with the everyday world, they take us out, placing us at a high vantage point. For the time, we see life in a different perspective.
Understand that life and so-called death are but phases of cosmic life. Both phases are of equal importance. There is no death because there is no separation. We are constantly within the same family of being. Whatever part of nature we may be in throughout the solar system, we are at home. We are at home everywhere. We go here and there many times, and then back again, but we can never step outside of the spheres to which we belong. There is a part in us that belongs to them all.
Even if people understand only the elementary teachings, they achieve a radical change to their conception of life and death. What used to be sorrowful is clothed with sunshine. The shadowy side of life becomes gloriously radiant with spiritual possibility. That result alone is sufficient reward for the study.
Unity forms the basis of life. Life has constancy. There is an unbreakable continuity throughout its many phases. As one studies the teachings, the heart fills with an ever-strengthening awareness of all this.
Someone passes on into glorious spheres of spiritual realization. As students of the teachings, we witness the transition with a different attitude. We can help others realize that they may use the experience of human parting as an opportunity for spiritual growth.
You can help someone who is passing. With your attitude, you can contribute to a happy and harmonious after-death. Show utter peace. Maintain compassionate sympathy, understanding, and vision. Any show of human emotion drags the spiritual glory into the mire of human life.
The so-called death is spiritual birth. As students of the ancient wisdom, we maintain calm reverence and quiet solemnity in those brief moments before someone's death. While present at their deathbed, never forget that there takes place a solemn communion between the human soul and the spiritual self.
Every time one passes out, he meets the tribunal of his spiritual selfhood for a moment. Only it can pronounce a final and irrevocable judgment upon the incarnation just ending. There is no appeal from that judgment.
Within us is a spiritual selfhood or demigod. It is present in the solemn moments of physical death and the moments following it. It is closer than at any other time during life. The demigod enters and identifies with the human consciousness and the human identifies with the demigod. In that momentary identification, the spiritual self pronounces final judgment and closes the books upon the record of that life.
In that final closing of the books at the deathbed, your attitude can give added strength to the individual. The collective love, sympathy, and understanding of those intimately related to him play a role. In future lifetimes, they will all meet together again, as they have in the past.
The passing of a human from incarnation into the inner worlds is like going home. At that transition, one rises in consciousness temporarily. Normally, one's consciousness ascends through the seven grades of the inner constitution to touch the Spiritual Monad. It then goes down the levels again to touch the brain. Reviewing its future pathway, it ascends a second time through the inner principles, touches the inner self, and returns to the brain.
Pure, clean people are so happy before they die! They see things. They are at peace. It is beautiful. It is wonderful what they see. It is lovely. They have no words to express it. Their human consciousness has risen twice. When they touch it the second time, the threads of their pranic fluids completely withdraw from all but the brain. Then the panoramic vision takes place. Finally, they rise a third time touching the inner spirit.
Even with the little we understanding of these things, we take part in nature's mysteries. We cooperate with nature in its marvelous functions. We become a creator, working towards ultimate peace, light, and truth forever.