Nature's heart is compassion absolute, because that compassion is absolute harmony. Nature moves on a cosmic scale, and in comparison therewith our ordinary brain-minds are microcosmic, with small reaches of understanding of the great cosmic issues involved.
G. de Purucker, STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, page 664.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 197-99.]
How can a man expect spiritual gifts or powers if he persists in ignoring spiritual conditions, in violating spiritual laws?
At the core of every man's heart, there is the aspiration to be good, noble, and generous. What happens to it? How is it that that Divine Intuition which each feels from time to time does not express itself more abundantly and more frequently?
Man's divinity is natural to him. His sophistication is acquired. Born alone with his experience, the Soul possesses the capacity to deal with the material universe, to learn from it and to enrich his wisdom. The child experiences the first touch of sophistication in his schooling at home and his breeding at school. He acquires by osmosis thoughts and feelings not natural to the Soul, which affect adversely his native goodness, rhythm, and light. The Soul's own vesture is of sattva-guna. Its native hue is golden. Its native content is bliss.
Every Soul is born with the prospective vision of his future life, the purpose of which is that he shall live in harmony by dissolving disharmony and labor for and in unity with others, with all men, with the whole of Nature.
The Great Seers have reported that at the end of Swargic bliss, of the joy which each disembodied Ego experiences, there comes to him, on the threshold of a new incarnated existence, a Vision of what is to be. The Soul sees in silhouette his next incarnation. The radiating lines of forces reveal the picture of his coming life. It is like an architect's plan of a new house -- a blueprint whose delineations are in its own peculiar language of linear measurements. It gives some idea, however hazy to intelligent beholders of the blueprint, of what the house is going to be. The details are not on the blueprint but the size of the rooms and the general character of the structure are shown.
The human soul comes down to material life "trailing clouds of glory." The doors and the windows of his body bring him intimations of his heavenly affiliations. Soon, however, by the influence of his family at home and his companions at school, a "strong personality" is developed, i.e., one that becomes possessive, fights for possessions, and overpowers others in securing them. Thus, the boy or girl becomes a dual intelligence -- the Vision of the Being of Sattva is clouded over.
Shankara and other Occultists have taught that there is the projective power of ignorance. The power of projection that envelops the Soul is that of false knowledge, worldly wisdom. It leads men astray into the belief that "all is for enjoyment only" which THE GITA describes in its Sixteenth Chapter. This force becomes in man the womb of love and hate -- for the world. Its chief characteristic is that it smothers the noetic memory of the divine and the heavenly, and induces the psychic memory of the devilish and the earthy.
In pain, anguish, and suffering, the Soul's noetic memory awakens. The man is lulled into sleep by worldly wisdom -- again and yet again. Thus a whole life, a full incarnation, finishes -- much lost, little gained.
There are two ways of beings in the world -- the one divine, the other demoniacal. The latter predominates in our civilization. How true is the description in THE GITA of the demoniacal, who
... know not the nature of action nor of cessation from action, they know not purity nor right behavior, they possess no truthfulness. They deny that the universe has any truth in it, saying it is not governed by law, declaring that it hath no Spirit; they say creatures are produced alone through the union of the sexes, and that all is for enjoyment only ... Fast-bound by the hundred chords of desire, prone to lust and anger, they seek by injustice and the accumulation of wealth for the gratification of their own lusts and appetites ... Indulging in pride, selfishness, ostentation, power, lust, and anger, they detest me who am in their bodies and in the bodies of others.
The Divine persists. Unlike the demoniacal, a quality that is changing and mortal, the Rhythm of the Divine persists for it is ever abiding, Immortal. Its intimations come to each of us in darkness and gloom as well as through light and beauty. Man has to seize these intimations and work with them. Therefore, it is said, "Put yourself at once in line with the Divine ways, in harmony with the Divine laws."
By Geoffrey A. Farthing
[This was the 2001 Blavatsky Lecture, given July 29, 2001 at the Summer School of the Theosophical Society in England. Slightly edited, it appears now with permission of the speaker and the Theosophical Society.]
Geoffrey Farthing was born in England on 10 December 1909; educated conventionally at two boarding schools; matriculated London University, but became apprenticed into engineering, attended night school at Manchester College of Technology of which he became an Associate; served six years in the Army in the Royal Signals, leaving the service as Major.
Geoffrey joined Leeds Lodge of The Theosophical Society in England (Adyar) in 1945. With his background of reading, it was soon discovered by the Lodge members that he was knowledgeable enough to start giving lectures, and this he did almost as soon as he joined. Since then he has lectured in many countries around the world and held most positions in the Theosophical Society in England, including a spell as General Secretary (1969-72). He served a term as a member of the Society's General Council at Adyar, India, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Federation for several years.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Geoffrey was a regular course leader at annual residential weekends exploring THE SECRET DOCTRINE, held at Tekels Park, Camberley, Surrey. He has taken an active part in the Theosophy/Science weekends held each year within the English Section and continues as a tutor in the European School of Theosophy, of which he is a founding member. In the 1970s, Geoffrey set up a sister organization -- Blavatsky Trust -- whose aim is to disseminate knowledge of the writings of H.P. Blavatsky
Farthing has written a number of theosophical books: AFTER-DEATH STATES AND CONSCIOUSNESS; DEITY, COSMOS AND MAN; THEOSOPHY, WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT; WHEN WE DIE; and EXPLORING THE GREAT BEYOND. In 1974, he gave the prestigious Blavatsky Lecture at the Annual Convention of the English Theosophical Society on Life, Death and Dreams, and in 1996, he was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his significant contribution to theosophical literature.
But you, Occultists, Kabalists, and Theosophists, you well know that a Word, old as the world, though new to you, has been sounded at the beginning of this cycle, and the potentiality of which, unperceived by others, lies hidden in the sum of the digits of the years 1-8-8-9; you well know that a note has just been struck which has never been heard by mankind of this era; and that a New Idea is revealed, ripened by the forces of evolution. This Idea differs from everything that has been produced in the nineteenth century; it is identical, however, with the thought that has been the dominant tone and the keynote of every century, especially the last -- absolute freedom of thought for humanity.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, COLLECTED WRITINGS, XI, 133
Theosophy is in its fullness a comprehensive knowledge of the nature and the workings of Nature, in which man plays a prime part. The human kingdom is a critical stage in the immense evolutionary program when 'Man,' the thinker, is born.
The knowledge of Theosophy is gained by generations of trained seekers and enquirers, Initiates in the Arcane Mysteries. It claims to be an expression of Truth, the facts of existence. It is therefore not a matter of conjecture or belief.
Nature herself is seen as a collectivity of all that comprises her in a series of hierarchies of living beings from the very lowliest to the highest, from the elements comprising the matter of our objective world, up the evolutionary ladder through the kingdoms of Nature to man and beyond, into the realms of super-humanity. Theosophy postulates grades of superhuman beings which, as collective beings with their accumulated wisdom and knowledge, comprise the 'creators' and 'governors' of our planetary system.
Theosophy tells us that one common Essence is at the heart of all things. This essence manifests as 'Life.' Everything is endowed with it. There is no dead matter. Similarly everything has its degree of sentience, even if only an ability to respond to, or just 'feel,' i.e., react to outside stimuli, and even memory.
In its more developed forms, sentience becomes consciousness. This sentiency manifests from the lowliest elemental or mineral forms, through the more complex ones of vegetable and animal, to full-blown consciousness in man. Thereafter it passes through all gradations to levels of awareness of a grandeur hardly dreamt of at our level of evolution.
Because of the developed faculties and purified spiritual nature of these denizens of the highest levels of being, we may regard them as gods. As they have developed them in themselves, so they can bequeath to man who can express them the most ennobling and compassionate impulses. These increase as the ladder of evolution is ascended.
The potentialities of Theosophy then can be thought of in terms of the ways that they affect behavior. This is particularly the case in man himself and the whole human situation. Twelve aspects of these potentialities can readily be identified:
1. The notion of Deity in Cosmos and Man.
2. The Occult Constitution of Man and the Planes of Being.
3. Divine Law, regulating the all-embracing cosmic process.
4. Evolution, Life ever becoming, the majestic march to perfection.
5. The notion of Reincarnation, in relation to Cycles of Becoming.
6. Religion: all systems for the guidance of Man on his spiritual journey.
7. After-death states, Spiritualism and the Paranormal.
8. Ecology, a sympathetic relationship to Nature.
9. The Ordering of society: freedom within a framework of wise laws.
10. Education: the instilling of healthy values and right culture of the individual.
11. Science: man's attempts to understand the workings of Nature.
12. The Arts, Health, Psychology, and Parapsychology.
Some students of Theosophy may wonder why Theosophy's grand Cosmology has not been mentioned. The Cosmology when studied in depth provides answers to many questions as to how things come to be and to be as they are, and 'things' here include those things which to us at the physical level are not only objective but subjective, pertaining to our inner natures. This Cosmology, or an acknowledgment of it, is not, however, a potentiality for the benefit of humanity ordinarily now.
One of the principal potentialities of Theosophy is its explanatory nature. It provides us with an encyclopedic knowledge, data for a viable universal model or paradigm to use the language of modern science, until we can know for ourselves.
Potentiality One: THE NOTION OF DEITY
The notion of Deity can be regarded as Theosophy's foremost beneficent potentiality. By it, man, in his inner essence, is regarded as divine, with an inseverable relationship to the Cosmos. He is not just in it. He is of it. This is exemplified in the theosophical constitution of man, wherein all his principles reflect the cosmic planes of being. Cosmos functions on various levels, from the physical to the highest spiritual.
The total universal process is an expression of the One Life. This is the animating dynamism behind the activities of everything. It is its life manifesting as its internal energy. It is the vast dynamic force which keeps the whole ordered process going, right from the beginning of a period of activity, i.e., the birth of the Cosmos (Manvantara), to its end when the whole mighty process subsides into rest (Pralaya) bearing with it the fruits of its immense period of activity. These fruits are the aggregate experience of countless myriads of lives that have come and gone in their season during the whole mighty process. All is garnered and stored as universal memory.
Deity is the very essence of each man's being. The influence of this idea may at first be tentative and spasmodic but it increases as does his spiritual nature with his experiences in his long series of personal lives. He slowly becomes more or less conscious of his inner divine nature. This manifests as inspired motivation in his actions; he feels the guidance of conscience.
Concerning the notion of Deity in the creation and governance of the universe:
[the Secret Doctrine] admits a Logos or a collective "Creator" of the Universe; a Demiourgos -- in the sense implied when one speaks of an "Architect" as the "Creator" of an edifice, whereas that Architect has never touched one stone of it, but, while furnishing the plan, left all the manual labor to the masons; in our case the plan was furnished by the Ideation of the Universe, and the constructive labor was left to the hosts of intelligent Powers and Forces. But that Demiourgos is no personal deity, -- i.e., an imperfect extra-cosmic god -- but only the aggregate of the Dhyani-Chohans [Archangels] and the other forces.
As to the latter -- They are dual in their character; being composed of (a) the irrational brute energy, inherent in matter, and (b) the intelligent soul or cosmic consciousness which directs and guides that energy, and which is the Dhyani-Chohanic thought reflecting the Ideation of the Universal Mind.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 279
The Theosophical Deity is an Entity, but only in the sense of a collectivity, an aggregate of the Dhyani-Chohans.
[They are] the highest gods ... the divine intelligences charged with the supervision of Kosmos.
-- THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY
This might cause us to think of Deity as "out there," something apart from us individually. Be mindful of HPB when she teaches:
No matter what one may study in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, let the mind hold fast, as the basis of its ideation, to the following ideas:
a) The FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE. This unity is a thing altogether different from the common notion of unit -- as when we say that a nation or an army is united; or that this planet is united to that by lines of magnetic force or the like. The teaching is not that. It is that existence is ONE THING, not any collection of things linked together. Fundamentally, there is ONE BEING.
-- Robert Bowen, HOW TO STUDY THEOSOPHY
The implications of this are profound, far-reaching, and hard to realize, but the clear meaning is that there is not Deity and us. There is only one thing. Everything, including each human being, is that 'One Thing.' For Theosophy to become real, every student must come to this realization. What a change in perspective, in attitude towards one s self, is thus engendered!
This principle of UNITY is of greatest significance in the fields of Science, Religion, Education, and Ecology.
Unity expresses itself during manifestation as almost infinite diversity. This diversity leads to the sense of separateness in humans causing the prolific difficulties in human affairs. Eradication of the effects of these difficulties in our society is a major benefit of this Potentiality. The notion of Deity as Unity, when sufficiently realized and worked out, becomes a powerful background to our attitudes.
There is a significant corollary to the idea of Unity in the Bowen Notes:
The third basic idea to be held is that Man is the MICROCOSM. As he is so, then all the Hierarchies in the Heavens exist within him. But the truth is there is neither Macrocosm nor Microcosm but ONE EXISTENCE. Great and small are such only as viewed by a limited consciousness.
-- Robert Bowen, HOW TO STUDY THEOSOPHY
This idea should be kept in mind when studying the Constitution of Man, Potentiality Two.
Potentiality Two: THE OCCULT STRUCTURE OF COSMOS AND MAN
In the teachings of the Great Knowledge, Theosophy, there are seven levels of cosmic being, each classified according to its characteristic nature. Of these seven one is physical, the others are non-physical, inner and invisible to it. They are, first, at the highest level, Spirit (Atma) which is supreme, but without some vehicle to operate in or through it is ineffective. The next level down is that of the vehicle (Buddhi).
Taken together these two levels constitute a duality, or two poles of Being, Spirit and Matter, referred to as Monad, which pass down through all levels of creation. The duality is the basis of subjectivity and objectivity manifesting in us as consciousness, and that in which consciousness can arise, i.e. form or vehicle. It is also that of which consciousness can be objectively aware.
The two aspects of the One in manifestation (the Monad) give rise to the dualities of life and form, positive and negative, active and passive, male and female, and so on. Their Essence is the ultimate universal Unity, common to every thing in existence, to all creatures including man. Their existence is according to cyclic law. Periodically they (or it, the Monad) manifest as substance or things with form, the objective side of Nature, and as inner or subjective which is motion or activity, the basis of sentience or a degree of consciousness depending on evolutionary status, i.e. the development of forms.
All activity of living things is subject to alternations of activity and rest, in-breathing and out-breathing, heart beats, tide and season, and so on. These rhythms are universal. The nature of their diverse expressions depends upon the characteristics of the vehicles, the life forms, through which they function. These vehicles, in the aggregate, constitute manifest or objective Nature, at all her levels, physical and non-physical.
In man, his Individuality (Ego), his feeling of "I," focuses in his mind, his thinking principle (Manas). In universal terms, this is Mahat, the cosmic principle of Mind or Divine Ideation. Manas has two aspects, an upper and a lower. The upper is orientated towards the Monad, i.e., Spirit (Atma) operating through its vehicle Buddhi, and the lower is the vehicle for the normal personal thinking process. There is, however, only one mind principle but it operates at these two levels: one the divine (the Universal) and the other the personal self, during the life of a man.
Ordinarily these two aspects of mind are in effect separate, the higher affecting the lower only occasionally. The lower mind is the personal one, periodically in incarnation in distinct successive physical bodies. The higher spiritual individuality (Ego) is on a long evolutionary journey. It gathers its nurture from the purely spiritual experience of its personalities. The ordinary experiences of personal life do not contribute to it.
The personal man is four-principled. He has his lower mind (Manas), emotions (Kama), a 'life' principle (Prana), with its vehicle (Astral), and lastly the objective, physical body.
In the average man, the personal mind is associated closely with his desires, passions, and concerns of a mundane, purely personal nature, his immediate family, his possessions, his livelihood, his social position, etc. This personal mind is his 'tool' for performing all the necessary functions of a mental nature, i.e., calculating, memorizing, forming judgments, coming to decisions, all necessary for his effectiveness as a person in the world.
The majority of them are not spiritual. Faculty and competence may be acquired by experience at personal level but they are of no consequence to the development of the divine Egoic entity. Only the highest of motivations like duty, love, compassion, pity, altruistic helpfulness and so on, affecting actions, are of a spiritual nature.
This list of spiritual qualities not only reflects the nature of our divine selves but also reflects into the sub-principles of our personal emotional nature. There are aspects of them in different modes at different levels of being. In their pure form, they are spiritual but at personal level, most of even our highest emotions are tinged with selfishness.
Below mind (Manas), the next principle is the personal emotional one: the principle of desire in all its forms. This principle is closely coupled with the lower mind, which can always justify what we 'want' to do. This combination of mind and emotion is sometimes referred to as the 'psyche' or mortal soul.
The last of our principles is our physical body, in which during earth life all our internal subjective activities are focused. Emotional urges are turned into appetites, hence our more animal urges. Our bodies are our means of perception and action in the physical world. It is in our bodies (physical brains) that we are normally conscious. The 'here and now' for us wherein we have our very existence is tied up with our bodies. There is evidence, however, that independent subjective existence is possible, for example, in out-of-the-body experiences.
It is obvious that our physical bodies are endowed with 'life' that is regarded as a separate principle. This 'life' principle (Prana or Jiva), as animating energy, is 'collected' and stored in another principle closely associated with the physical, a very important one, known as the Astral body. It reflects the Astral Plane wherein exist the forms that are projected into the physical world. The Astral as either a body or plane is also the reservoir of memory.
This information about the occult constitution of man is, perhaps, not in itself a beneficent theosophical potentiality but it is essential to an understanding of the religions, the post mortem states, the spiritualistic phenomena, the operations of Karma.
(To the more advanced student, man's relationship to the Hierarchies of the Heavens becomes of importance to his fuller understanding. See the Bowen Notes and the COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, II, 568, and Diagram V opposite, page 660).
It is through our physical bodies, however, that normally all our activities both inner and outer express themselves. The significant experiences we gain from living depend on its activities.
Our physical bodies are living entities, composed in their entirety of hosts of subordinate lives (cells). All of them are specialized to perform the body's various functions. Even our brains are composed of such specialized cells. One of the secrets for the proper understanding of the functioning of our brains is that they, and even each of their constituent cells, like us, have their principles in the invisible worlds.
Each cell of our body is a living thing, very importantly with its own consciousness and memory (and even will). It has its counterpart in the Astral and, whether active or dormant, at even higher levels of being, i.e., the emotional, mental and spiritual. Obviously also the cells are suffused with the life energies which sustain and animate our physical bodies.
Through the inner subjective realms, we are given some understanding of ourselves otherwise unknown to us. For example, they provide data for a more comprehensive system of psychology, relating us not only to emotional but to mental and spiritual levels, right up to the divine.
These principles of man are seen as reflections of the seven cosmic planes. By analogy -- "as above, so below" -- man's total being in all respects is the same as that of the Universe. He is a microcosm to its Macrocosm. As everything in Cosmos is living, the planes are constituted of lives that in turn are members of an ascending Hierarchy.
Overriding all these various aspects of being is that of Unity, never to be overlooked or forgotten by the student. (See the Appendix for the Occult Constitution of Man in THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY on pages 22, 91, and 175 of the original edition).
By Isabel B. Clemeshaw
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1951, pages 166-75.]
After seven solitary years (a cycle of preparation) on the third day of May, Prince Palamon made his escape from the prison and wandered into the enchanted wood nearby, a free man. Prince Arcite also strolled into the same wood. It was Friday and with fickle Venus ever changing her aspect, he was one moment downhearted and the next moment singing lustily. Soon they saw each other and had hot words over the Beautiful Lady. As Palamon was not equipped for a duel, Arcite promised to bring armor and spear better than his own that his rival might not be at a disadvantage.
In the morning of the next day, Arcite appeared as arranged. With courtesy, each helped the other to arm. Then the battle began and they laid on to each other with the ferocity of tiger and lion. They were up to their ankles in blood when that interference known in all drama, as in life, came: the Ultimate Law of the Universe. People have called it Accident, Destiny, Fate, Fortune, and Karma. Later, they called it the will of God. Chaucer says it is a foreordained Providence, which though the world went contrary to it, it would still prevail and befall only at that particular time in a thousand years.
The watchful eye of Providence guided the good Duke Theseus to that spot. The Duke forced both disputants to give themselves up. The pity of the ladies accompanying the Duke (symbolizing his Higher Self) saved them from death. He softened the sentence as he stood reasoning over the follies of a man in love, until his ire had departed.
Then with shining eyes, the Duke praised the God of Love who had just worked a miracle in his own heart and helped him to discern between pride and humility. Was it not love, even if foolish love, that had placed before him this temptation to use his authority cruelly? The Duke reasoned that since these two Knights were serving the God of Love -- "Are they not in a noble plight?" for they deemed themselves "full wise." "I know myself that a man may sometimes be a fool." He decided to forgive them "every whit."
The two Princes swore devotion, but he still had a problem. Which should have the Beautiful Emily? He had to consider their destiny. With destiny, he must not interfere. He would have to give them an opportunity to work that out. He offered them the usual terms by which Knights settled their disputes. They must depart for fifty weeks whither each one wished, and at the end of that time, each was to return bringing one hundred knights "armed in all perfection" and contend for their prize. To the winner he would give the hand of the Fair Lady. The Knights rode away for this season of preparation.
The noble Theseus straightway addressed himself to building a theater fit for this battle. He called all the craftsmen in the land to aid the architects and builders, including specialists in geometry, mathematics, and sculpture. The theater was within a wall of stone surrounded by a moat. The seating capacity was sixty paces high encircling the stoa a mile around. The entrance gates at the east and west were of white marble. It contained three Temples: one to Venus, one to Mars, and one to Dian. These represented Love, Ambition, and Chastity.
The Temple of Dian was of coral and alabaster, free of all human art but of her statue and her hounds, for it was dedicated to that chaste spiritual goddess. The decoration of the Temples of Venus and Mars appealed so strongly to the earthly passions that none would be able to look beyond them.
The Temple of Venus was emblazoned in noble carvings. Its walls were wrought in imagery portraying of the Earthly conquests of Venus until it would seem that no fortitude could hold out against her attraction. Here was the fall of the powerful Hercules, the hard-hearted Turnus, the enchantments of Medea and Circe, Croesus with his wealth, and pensive Narcissus. There were scenes of pale sobs, insomnia, burning pangs, sacred tears, and lamentations. There were oaths and covenants, flattery, and anxiety carved in the walls. There were feasts, music, singing, dancing, and all the paraphernalia of love. In sooth, an image of Venus herself floated waist deep in a green sea. She played on a lyre and the rose garland on her head was so fresh that it was sweet smelling.
Could the Prince Palamon after his long absence worship here and tear his heart away from possessive love? Could he plead for the Beautiful Lady in purity of heart?
The Temple of Mars was as forbidding as the temple of his supreme home in cold grizzly Thrace. On its walls were painted a forest of gnarled old leafless trees and sharp hideous stumps, a forest in which neither man nor beast could live. Through it blew a tempest, a rushing noise unpleasing to the ears. There was a picture of his great Temple, wrought in burnished steel. It showed a deep narrow doorway out of which blew a terrifying blast. Its only light was a chill north ray at the entrance door. The pillars weighed a ton and were of iron. The heavy doors were of everlasting adamant.
In this Temple was pictured pale dread, felony, cruel ire, the smiling one with the knife under his mantle, the treacherous murder in bed. There with a gaping mouth was the slayer of oneself. There were many slain but like the corpse in the bushes with throat cut, not slain by pestilence. Here was dejection and sorry vision and armed complaint; the barber and butcher were forging sharp swords. The statue of Mars stood armed on a chariot. A wolf was before him at his feet, red-eyed and devouring a man.
Could the Prince Arcite worship here upon his return without succumbing to the ambition that would make him a ruthless rival and the slayer of himself?
Chaucer interrupts to tell us that there were pictures shown in the Temple of Mars of events that had not yet happened on Earth. The Stars have the picture long before the events appear here. The Stars know who shall be slain and who die for love.
Upon the day of their returning to Athens, each Prince came to keep his covenant with an hundred Knights armed for combat. Never since God made sea or land have there met so noble a fellowship for knightly exploits. From all parts, they came armed in hauberk, breastplate, light jupon, shield, and mace, each after their own conceit.
Let us describe one of Prince Palamon's chosen Knights. It will be the King of Thrace, Lycurgus himself. His beard was black and his visage manly. His eyes glowed of a smoldering yellow and red. He scouted about like a griffin because of his shaggy grim brows. He had great hard limbs, broad shoulders, and long round arms. Typical of his countrymen, he stood unusually high in his chariot of pure gold, driving four white bulls. Over his harness, he wore an ancient coal-black bearskin with yellow nails bright as any gold. His hair was long and shone like the raven's feather. On his head was a diadem of gold as large as an arm, of huge weight, and set full of dazzling jewels, rubies, and diamonds. Twenty white mastiffs played about his chariot, each one as great as any steer and eager for lion or hart hunting. King Lycurgus had an hundred stouthearted lords in his own troop.
As the opponents were equal, we must do justice to the commanding spectacle of King Emetreus of India whom accompanied the Prince Arcite. He compared with Mars himself, riding in on a bay horse armored in steel and covered with a diapered cloth of gold. The King's tunic was of cloth of Tartary studded with large white pearls. His saddle was of fresh forged gold well burnished. Upon his shoulders, he wore a short mantle inlaid stiff with fiery red rubies. The Sun was not brighter than his crisp curly hair. His nose was high, his lips full, and his eyes bright citron. He was about twenty-five years of age with a young beard and a voice that thundered like a trumpet. Lusty green laurel crowned his head and a tame eagle white as any lily perched on his hand. One hundred richly attired knights attended him, and on every side, tame lions and leopards frolicked in great numbers. For the sake of love and upholding the glory of knighthood, this noble company gathered.
It was on Sunday at noon that these warriors arrived. The excellent Duke Theseus entertained and feasted them extravagantly, having the fairest ladies for the dance and song and having hawks and hounds for the hunt. Early the next morning, Mars' own day, Palamon heard the lark and arose in Venus' watch, with a holy heart to make his pilgrimage to her Temple. There, he fell upon his knees and acknowledged his bewilderment and said that he cared not for victory nor for the vain recognition of the world, nor did he care if Arcite was victorious, if only in some way he could gain the hand of Beautiful Emily in marriage. He would forever wage war in chastity. Venus promised him victory -- with delay.
Emily arose with the Sun. She went immediately to the Temple of Dian and begged to be a maid all her life. Emily asked that the two Princes come to peace and be brothers. Dian told her that the gods decreed that she must marry one of them. Sorrowing, Emily put herself in the care of the higher Powers.
In the hour of Mars on that morning, Arcite went forth to the Temple of fierce Mars to do sacrifice. He prayed ardently that he might win over Palamon with the force of arms and have Emily as his reward. Mars promised him Victory.
This caused such strife in heaven that Old Saturn, wise in experience, said the matter was hers to settle, as her course circled so widely that she had the duty of the chastisement, being in her right aspect, the sign of the Lion, for that function. (This symbolizes the return of karma in a large cycle from a bygone time.)
The party jousted and danced all day Monday as only they could do "in the lusty season of May." Tuesday morning broke clear to the excitement of the tourney. The clattering of mail and sound of horses accompanied rare sights of goldsmithry and embroidery in gleaming shields and harness, and of gold helmets, hauberks, and tunics mixed with foamy steeds gnawing on golden bridles. Knights' retainers and squires could be heard nailing on spearheads, buckling helms, and lacing shields. There were thick crowds of yeomen, and burgesses with staves massed by the battle sound of bloody blasts from pipes, trumpets, drums, and clarions. The crowds in the hall were full of conjecture as to which side should win, causing loud argument.
The thunder of this clamor awakened the great Duke Theseus from his quiet sleep and he arose and attired himself like a god on his throne where people pressed to do him reverence. He had a herald call for silence from a high scaffold and then the mighty Duke declared his will. Upon seeing the nobility of the warriors, he was touched and could not bear the sight of mere destruction of noble blood. He ordained such modification of his intention that none should perish in mortal battle. He barred from the lists any manner of missile, or pole-ax, or short knife, all short swords for stabbing, and all sharp spears. The assembly shouted for joy that the victory was not to be gained by destruction and death.
The ride of the bands of Knights to the lists through the broad city of Athens would need pages to describe its splendor. They followed the Duke Theseus and the Beautiful Emily, flanked by Kings festooned with gold cloth. About high noon, Theseus and Emily sat in their tiers. The crowds pressed to their seats in the great arena. With a red banner, Prince Arcite entered under the Gate of Mars. With white banner, Palamon entered the east Gate under the shrine of Venus. In the entire world, people have never known two companies so even, so without inequality. The roll was called and the herald cried, "Do now your devoir, proud young Knights!" The battle was on.
Only a bard could describe the thunder of shafts shivering on thick shields, and mighty maces hewing and splitting helms, and the hurtling of knights as one after another was dragged to the stake wounded and out of the lists. As the afternoon wore on, woeful Palamon was reluctantly brought to the stake.
Arcite had won, so Theseus called off the tourney. Arcite's success caused a deafening uproar from the entire assembly. Both parties were eager to acclaim the appearance of distinction. The fierce Arcite doffed his helm to show his fine face to the admiring crowd while on a courser he spurred down the long field gazing up at Beautiful Emily. Saturn ordered Pluto to do his duty, and Pluto obediently sent "an infernal Fury" up that burst the ground and frightened Arcite's steed so that it jumped, throwing Arcite on the crown of his head. This mortally wounded him. So terrible was his fall, he had to be carved out of his armor. Soon "his spirit changed house."
Duke Theseus, Prince Palamon, and Princess Emily mourned in infinite sorrow and tears until Aegeus had to come, because of his greater experience, and comfort them. He explained the transmutations of the world and of all things and the painless peace brought by death. The grandest scene in this TALE is the cremation ceremony of Arcite, which space bars us from telling. Its pyre and flame reached the heavens and it sparkled with thousands of jewels, and there was incense from every known wood from the surprised ground of the enchanted forest.
Years rolled over the sad heart of Prince Palamon of Thebes before the Duke Theseus of Athens approached to inform him that the time had come for marriage with the Beautiful Emily. Nature, he said, did not take her origin from any part of a thing, but from a stable and perfect state. She had descended and had become corruptible. Things below can endure only by succession and not eternally. Even the oak and the hard stone in time waste away. All things convert to their proper source from which they derive. Therefore, man must accept what is decreed for him. To murmur would be folly and make him a rebel against Nature. Palamon and Emily must ever find where the most sorrow is and there go and make amends. Palamon lived thus with Emily in all weal, ever serving her kindly and she loved him tenderly.
By Lady C.C. Vyvyan
[From pages 692-96 of the November 1934 issue of THE ARYAN PATH, published by Theosophy Company in Bombay, India.]
Ever since the first echo of human speech rang and died upon the air, man must have recognized, if he did not actually define, the worth of silence. Before ever a poet scanned his rhymes, interpolating syllables, marking a caesura, silence alternating with sound had beat out the universal rhythm to whose law natural forces are forever subject.
The groaning of the ice pack, falling of a leaf, thunder's reverberation, backwash of a broken wave, howling of the storm-wind, and whisper of a breeze, all are intermittent with the force that is credited, in the kingdom of sound, with a merely negative existence, the force that men have dowered with the strange, elusive name of Silence.
There are many, assuredly, for whom silence is only the flat-faced negation of sound, carrying no more significance than the mere absence of any of the other senses might carry, the absence of taste, touch, or scent. They would join Robert Browning in his curt dismissal of silence as existing only to imply sound. Only a deep intimacy with silence will lead one to realize that it has a quality and indeed a force of its own.
There is an experience connected with one of our five senses that goes far to strengthen such a theory. The absence of color, interpreted in human phrase as the quality of whiteness, owns the strange power of absorbing into itself every ray of the sun. It is possible that silence will operate in ways analogous. While appearing to be devoid of positive attributes, it is possible that silence is unobtrusively the storehouse of great power.
It is perhaps easier to apprehend the meaning and scope of silence after considering what is the meaning and scope of sound. Every sound is a form of self-expression, every sound of nature and humanity is but a cry, uttered in plaint, growl, croon, or alleluia of "Me, me." The part of any listener is nothing more than surrender, in the guise of a victim, to the worldwide clamor of individuality. The oratory of a tub-thumper is in truth no more insistent in its demand for a hearing, no more egocentric in its disregard for other personalities, only perhaps a little more self-conscious, than bird-song, the sigh of wind, the roar of breaking waves, or the ripple of a stream.
We are bound as listeners to suffer partial disintegration from the sounds that impinge upon us, and that no doubt is the explanation why those who sought to possess at least their own souls withdrew as hermits into places where no sound could touch them.
In speech or sound, there is always a triple journey to be made before one being can reach another. It is a journey from the soul of the speaker into the thing uttered, from the thing uttered across a great gulf into the thing heard, and from the thing heard down into the soul of the listener. Seeing that this triple journey is inevitable before the act of listening, even of deliberate willing earnest listening, can reach its consummation, speech or sound as means of intercourse must needs be imperfect; a conclusion that inclines one readily to contemplate the rival merits of silence.
In such contemplation, we shall become aware that there are more far-reaching effects of silence than the enabling of a man to possess his own soul. First, there is in silence a means of direct communion with some individual, human or inanimate, a means quite independent of the clumsy action of the senses. In deep surrender to the emanations of silence, the human spirit may achieve communion with a rock, a tree, a friend, or a cloud.
The phrase "emanations of silence" has interposed a veil between the truth and us. If silence were indeed, as Carlyle said, the element in which great things fashion themselves, then silence is but a medium through which the emanations reach us.
Imagination need not travel far to picture silence as a bridge between unknown worlds and the more receptive beings in our own universe. There is no reason to believe that such emanations come only from the human and inanimate individuals to which we have referred, and it may even be possible for men of fine perceptions, on entering a quiet place, to achieve communion with the very spirit of love, of mercy, of courage, of pity. At the mere thought of such a possibility, veil after veil lift and we are carried far beyond the range of our senses into regions nearer abstract truth.
For myself, I know not such experience, but even in this short lifetime, I have once known direct communion with the spirit of Time. I knew it in an ancient Spanish town, in the dim aisle of a Romanesque cathedral some eight hundred years old.
The heavy, very ancient leather door fell softly to its jamb and I stepped down into twilight that flooded nave and aisles to the roof. My first impression was a vivid sense or memory of the sunshine in that square I had just left, of the noises in the city all now completely muffled by the leather door, the honking of cars, the shouting of urchins, the shrill talk of women. They seemed to die away reluctantly in that dim silent place, like the reverberations of an echo.
A moment later, I had lost all memory of sound and sunlight, in contemplation of the massy pillars. They, it seemed to me, were self-appointed guardians of the silence that hung within this building like a presence. So vivid was my sense of a living presence within the cathedral that I held my breath, apprehending that in another moment I would hear a voice or feel a touch.
After a while, this restless feeling of expectation died away, consciousness of physical things blotted out, and I enwrapped into the very spirit of Time that had gathered all the worship, prayer, and praises that in eight hundred years men had offered to their God.
There is another type of silence. We may hardly define it. We never may seek and find it at will. We might say that in this silence a soul contacts the spirit behind all things. Our words would be but fumbling round things inexpressible.
Represent this silence in pictorial fashion. For the sake of contrast, draw first a man in the act of speech. Our picture would be a little biped radiating spokes from his own person, these spokes forming a shield or veil so that the light of the sun can never fall directly on him, nor the wind's breath shake his equilibrium, nor any emanation reach him from the soil.
Then draw the same figure, now mute and clear in outline. Upon him fall gigantic rays from the far spaces of earth and sky. He is in communication with the entire world. In such a pose, at such a moment, an ant's movement and the roar of an avalanche may awaken similar echoes. The clarity of his own silence enhances, enshrines, and perpetuates vibrations indescribably faint and inexpressibly far.
It is clear then that all those, whether they are hermits, world listeners, or otherworld listeners who recognize that silence is something other than and something greater than the negation of sound. All through the ages, the powers and products of silence have been innumerable.
Some, like the leader of the Chorus in Agamemnon, have "learnt to drug all woes by silence." Some, like Savonarola, have prescribed it as an aid to devotion, while Street and other writers have advocated its use as a steppingstone to fortitude. Thoreau, Maeterlinck, and others characterize it as a prelude to friendship. To Carlyle, it is the sole repository of greatness. For Oliver Wendell Holmes, it has a healing property after the blows of sound.
In epic, history, and drama, silence has played a notable rather than a negative part. There have always been momentary experiences of joy and anguish that cut deep across the path of accustomed life. They evoke not a cry of gladness nor a wail of sorrow, but the silence wherein feeling glows like molten fire. They are experiences when perhaps the struggle of a lifetime comes face to face with failure or success, when despair turns feeling to stone and expression of feeling to muteness, when one must seal resolution with something stronger than speech, when joy emerging from the fetters of language can only reach the greatest heights in silence.
Such was the silence of Cortez on that peak in Darien; of Clytemnestra before and after she committed murder that fulfilled the House of Atreus' doom, of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar who sat upon the ground seven days and seven nights by the side of their unhappy friend, of Niobe wordless at the tomb of her children, transformed into a stone that she might be through the ages a symbol of dumb grief, of Captain Macwhirr, Cordelia, Chryses the priest, and many another famed in history or fiction. Always, such a silence would prolong the action or heighten the emotion, being poignant as the reverberation of a deep-toned bell.
So much for silence as a medium of understanding, silence as a force directed to some end, and silence as a form of self-expression more eloquent than speech. Silence is also an integral part of nature, a property of stones, and an efflux of the stars.
Without adhering to a pantheistic or any other creed, many human beings have sought these silent aspects of nature as flowers turn to the sun. It is not possible to define the character of man's communion with a silence of nature that, like some clear jewel in ornate setting, is often to be found encircled by earth's multifarious voices.
Among animate forms, the tribes of butterflies and fishes are mute exceptions to creatures that express themselves in tones ranging from nightingale melody to the squeak of rodents.
As for inanimate forms, nearly all are subject eventually to that lord of nature's music, endowed with power to awaken the very stones. The forest with a million leaves and branches will lend itself as a single harp string to his touch. The little grasses whisper to each other under his caress. The billows gathering momentum at his command hurry with a roar to dissolution. Yet there are times and places in which the wind will not roar, wail, nor whisper. There are the stars that from ancient days have kept their counsel in serenity and the mountaintops that hold inviolate silence as in some cloud-defended sanctuary.
The silence of the hills inspired the Psalmist to lift his eyes thither for help. Ever since his day, silence has drawn to the heights men of every caliber: the mystic, the adventurer, the man of action, and the man of thought, the man who sought escape from self and the man who sought to find himself. Many are the mountain-lovers who have borne witness to the spell of mountain silence. They include Archdeacon Hudson Stuck on the summit of Mount Denali, Seton Gordon in his well-loved Hebrides, Robert Service with phrases hard-bitten as the features of a Klondike pioneer, Obermann the plaintive pessimist, and Miguel de Unamuno from the sanctuary of Nuestra Senora de la Pena de Francia.
As for those poets who celebrate the silence of the stars, they are innumerable. Wordsworth in quiet communion with the "silence that is in the starry sky" stormed a citadel impregnable to all man's restless questioning. Heine read in the many-thousand-year-long silence of the stars what he also read in the face of his beloved. Matthew Arnold went so far as to hold up the quiet stars for a moral example:
These demand not that the things without them Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.
In truth, those who have paid homage to silence as integral part of nature have done so in every attitude and manner, ranging from Walt Whitman's boisterous fellowship with the sun:
Give me the splendid silent sun
to Pascal's timorous recognition of the silence of space:
Le silence eternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie.
Yet, each of those to whom we have referred has done nothing more than express his own emotional reaction to one form or another of nature's silence.
In our world, men who have won dominion over steam, electricity, and mechanism are the doorway to their Paradise of speed. Herein, what part can silence play save a Devil's negation of their newfound deity?
Others have never sought nor won dominion over things that we can see. What can the silence of a Quakers' meeting say to them? What says the owl's mysterious flight, the quiet shining of the stars, the stillness of new-fallen snow, or the movement of a tide "too full for sound or foam?" For them, these soundless things express life's deepest meaning.
Yet, as our words go probing, pushing, circling, with denial, definition, or eulogy, we are still far from the heart of silence. In this everyday world that we call Life, it sometimes seems as if silence were no more than a little star pricking the universal background of sound and movement.
It may be that in some other world, silence is the universal background and every sound but a Devil's whispered protest to the God that said "Be still." Or it may be, in that other world, that silence is an element which will never for a moment project one particle of itself in sound or movement, but forever in quietude will absorb into its own stillness the sounds that break against it.
Imagine what we may about the silence in worlds heretofore and worlds hereafter, we can never change surmise for certainty, but in our world today, we may well believe that each man finds in silence his deepest need which is his own ideal. Certain it is that man has nearly always found in silence exactly what he sought. The wanderer has found rest, the troubled spirit power to endure, the lonely man his friend, the worshipper his deity.
[From a booklet that appeared when G. de Purucker became head of the Theosophical Society with International Headquarters at Point Loma, California.]
GOTTFRIED DE PURUCKER and THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
[From THE SAN DIEGO UNION, July 27, 1929]
Appointment of Dr. Gottfried de Purucker to succeed the late Madame Katherine Tingley as Leader and Official Head of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society was announced yesterday at the International Headquarters of the Society on Point Loma. Katherine Tingley made this appointment before she died. Dr. de Purucker also assumes duties as Outer Head of the Esoteric Section established by Helena P. Blavatsky.
The new Leader of Theosophy is fifty-five years old, a native of the United States, and a bachelor. He has been identified with Theosophy for many years and came to Point Loma to live in 1903. His acquaintance with the late Madame Tingley began in 1896 in Switzerland, where he was instrumental in selecting the present international headquarters of the Society he now heads.
Resident members of the International Headquarters were informed on July 26 of Dr. de Purucker's elevation to Leadership. The announcement was made by Joseph H. Fussell, General Secretary.
Secretary Fussell stated that immediately upon receipt of the news of the passing of Katherine Tingley a meeting of her cabinet officers was held at the Point Loma Headquarters. At that meeting, recognition of the appointment of Dr. de Purucker as the new Theosophical Leader was given, and with the full trust and confidence not alone of the cabinet officers and members of the executive committee, but also of the entire headquarters staff, he at once assumed general direction of the Society throughout the world.
Mr. Fussell added that the general administration of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society and all the work connected with the International Headquarters at Point Loma would be conducted with expanding energy, branching out into wider fields of activity made possible by the new resources that will be available to the Society in the near future. Plans for the progress and development of the Theosophical work, including additional activities at the International Headquarters, as outlined by the late Leader, Katherine Tingley, also will be put in operation very shortly, inaugurating the new Theosophical cycle just opening with unusual promise, Mr. Fussell said.
News of the elevation of Dr. de Purucker was given to reporters at a gathering of the Theosophical cabinet that preceded the private meeting of last night. The reporters were conducted in a body to the cabinet meeting, where Mr. Fussell handed to each reporter a plain envelop, saying that it contained the name of the new Leader, his photograph, and biography.
The newsmen were requested not to open the envelopes until they had left the grounds and a Theosophical automobile carried them back to the gate.
It was stated that while Theosophists the world over had agreed to accept the Leader that Katherine Tingley named, his identity was known only to the cabinet and executive committee until yesterday afternoon. Cablegrams went out last night from Theosophical Headquarters giving the name of the new Leader.
The rest of this article is part of the statement prepared for the newspapers by Mr. Fussell:
Gottfried de Purucker, M.A., D. LITT., the new Leader of the Theosophical Movement throughout the world, successor to Katherine Tingley, who herself succeeded Helena P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, is an American by birth, a German-American by parentage, and a cosmopolitan by education and sympathies. He was born at Suffern, Rockland County, New York, on January 15, 1874. He has occupied the chair of Hebrew and Sanskrit at Theosophical University since its foundation by Katherine Tingley in 1919. He is now its President.
Dr. de Purucker is well known to Theosophists throughout the world. He has traveled extensively all over Europe and in South America, as well as in this country. In 1903-4, he accompanied Katherine Tingley on a Theosophical tour around the world. Their itinerary included Egypt and Japan, touching also many other oriental countries. In Egypt, he and his late Teacher visited many of the temples of the upper and lower Nile.
Gottfried de Purucker's father came of a very old German family of social and official distinction. His mother belonged to an old and distinguished New England family allied with the noted Winthrops and descended from William Brewster of Mayflower fame. Both parents are dead. The father was ordained a clergyman of the Episcopal Church in the United States and served as clergyman for a time in England and as American and English chaplain on the continent. He was a man of liberal ecclesiastical sympathies and of broad human understanding, a profoundly learned scholar, widely read in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and throughout his whole life a devoted Christian.
Katherine Tingley described Dr. de Purucker's mother: "My ideal of a woman -- physically, mentally, and spiritually well rounded out ... The dearest and most beloved woman friend I ever had."
Gottfried de Purucker was one of a family of seven, of whom three sisters survive with him. The youngest of these, Miss Peggy, is a violinist of some European renown, professor at the Academie de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland, and was one of Katherine Tingley's party in the automobile at the time of the accident near Osnabruck, Germany, on May 31, from which accident the late Theosophical Leader herself never fully recovered. Miss de Purucker has now completely recovered and expects to come to Point Loma early next month with the rest of the members of Madame Tingley's party.
Dr. de Purucker himself has never married and has devoted all his time and energies since young manhood to his Theosophical labors and private studies. The new Theosophical Leader was educated mainly in Geneva, Switzerland, where his father at one time was pastor of the American church. Before coming to Point Loma in 1903, Gottfried de Purucker was associated for a time with Norman Angell on the editorial staff of the PARIS DAILY MESSENGER, one of the oldest and most famous continental papers published in English, which attained its great reputation under the name of its founder, Galignani, and was at first called GALIGNANI'S MESSENGER.
Ever since he came to Point Loma, Dr. de Purucker has been Katherine Tingley's chief assistant in editing the official monthly organ of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH. In more years, he has delivered a public lecture course at Theosophical University on "Theosophy, Religion, Science, and Philosophy."
During Katherine Tingley's numerous and extended tours abroad within recent years, Dr. de Purucker has occupied a leading position in the executive committee appointed by her to administer the affairs of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society and its allied activities during her absence. He joined the Theosophical Society during the nineties of last century under Katherine Tingley's predecessor, William Quan Judge. It was Mr. Judge himself who spoke to Katherine Tingley about Gottfried de Purucker and of the importance of her meeting him, expressing to her also his complete trust and confidence in him.
The following is of interest because it gives in the new Theosophical Leader's own words, a brief statement about his early training. It is quoted from an address on the subject, "How I Became a Theosophist," delivered recently in the Temple of Peace on Point Loma.
My father destined me for the church. He was a clergyman of the Anglican Communion and pastor of the American church in Geneva. My father taught me Greek and Hebrew. He had teachers for me in other languages. Living in a French-speaking country, of course I spoke French; my mother being an American, of course I spoke English; my father being a German, of course I spoke German. I was also taught Italian and Spanish. I was likewise taught Anglo-Saxon ... When I was about fourteen years old, I remember translating, as a Christmas gift for my father, the entire Greek New Testament, and he said it was very well done ... When I was seventeen, I translated from the Hebrew the book of Genesis as a birthday gift to my father.
Dr. de Purucker is a born mystic. When there first fell into his hands the translation of one of the noble Upanishads -- the Theosophy of ancient Hindustan -- this trait of his character, this inner urge for more light, impelled him to study the original Sanskrit; and as time passed, he perfected himself under tutors in this perhaps noblest of Aryan languages.
Continuing the report of his address on "How I Became a Theosophist":
The speaker then recounted how his studies had led him to choose a different career from that to which his parents had destined him; how a small book on Theosophy fell into his hands, and how he was startled.
I saw high thinking! I felt that there was more in this book than what an agnostic had seen. My years of study and reading of the literatures of the world -- ancient literatures especially -- had taught me to recognize ancient truth when I saw it. I was fascinated with something that I had always known in my heart; and it was this, that there has always existed, and that there exists today, a band, a company, a society, an association, of noble Sages, great Seers, "Wise Men of the East," as this book called them.
The lecturer then related how he came to San Diego thirty-five years ago, when it was a small town of fifteen or sixteen thousand inhabitants. He said how he had casually attended a Theosophical lecture here and subsequently joined the Theosophical Society under the Leadership of William Q. Judge, Katherine Tingley's predecessor. He then said how he had visited the Theosophical library following "the memorable night" of attendance at his first Theosophical lecture.
From that day to this, I have studied Theosophy daily, meditated upon it in the silence of the nighttime; and the more I think and the more I reflect, the more I see in it. I have given to you a brief outline of what took one human being out of unhappiness into happiness that passeth the understanding of any man or woman who has not experienced it as I have and as my fellows of the Theosophical Movement have.
History will always link Gottfried de Purucker's name with the establishment of the International Theosophical Headquarters on Point Loma by Katherine Tingley. The story of his connection with this great event in the history of the Theosophical Movement and of his first meeting with Katherine Tingley reads like an old symbolic myth of the webs of destiny that control human events. Here are his words.
It was during the summer of 1896 that I first met Katherine Tingley in Geneva, Switzerland, where I was at the time living with my family. On the preceding day, Katherine Tingley had arrived in Geneva in the course of her Theosophical tour around the world. She had dispatched one member of her staff to insert in the newspapers a notice of a public Theosophical meeting held on the following day.
It so happened that the young man in charge of the advertising bureau was an old friend of mine, himself an Irish-Scot belonging to a family of high distinction. My friend immediately told Madame Tingley's envoy that he knew me to be a member of her Society; and it so happened that this envoy also was a Theosophical acquaintance of mine. He immediately called for a cab and drove around to my home; and in a few moments after that, we were speeding to meet Madame Tingley at the hotel.
I never shall forget the effect that the great Theosophical Teacher produced on me -- an impression of strength, reserve power, compassion, and of a mind that looked through one. I was instantly and strongly drawn to her. Our conversation lasted for an hour or more, during the course of which she invited me to accompany her party on their tour. To my lasting regret, I felt obliged to refuse. I now wish that I had accepted her invitation. It would have meant my immediate union with the Theosophical forces.
It was also during the course of this conversation that Madame Tingley asked me if I had ever been in America.
I said, "Yes, certainly."
"In what part of America?"
"In what part of California?"
"In San Diego."
Imagine my surprise when two of her party, who were present, jumped from their chairs and exclaimed, "My God!"
Katherine Tingley then asked me if I knew the surroundings of San Diego.
I said, "Certainly."
She said, "Is there a promontory or headland near San Diego?"
I said, "Yes. There is -- a very beautiful one called Point Loma."
She said, "Is there any land that can be purchased there?"
I said, "Certainly, the southernmost tip is owned by the United States government, the rest, I believe, is held under private ownership." Thereupon I drew a pencil sketch of the outline of Point Loma and of San Diego bay and Coronado, and soon after left. I met her at her hotel the morning after, before she departed.
Some years later, I came to the United States and within a few weeks was on my way to Point Loma to join the Theosophical Headquarters staff. There, some time afterwards, Madame Tingley showed me, with eyes suffused with gladness, the very pencil sketch that I had made. She told me that had it not been for that she might have lost the land which she had seen in her childhood dreams as the site to be for her headquarters -- or, as she then called it, her "White City in the Gold Land of the West."
The most interesting part of this story about my assistance to Katherine Tingley in the purchase of this land on Point Loma in 1896 was that she had been informed by her own agent, at that very moment in San Diego trying to find the land she had described to him, that no such land was procurable anywhere. She had just cabled that most certainly there was and that he should continue the search. I have never understood how such a cable could have come from San Diego. There it was. She had it in her hand when I entered the room.
Since I had been in San Diego only two or three years before, I gave her my information. The same evening, Madame Tingley dispatched a long cable to her San Diego representative giving the name of the promontory and a brief description of the land that she could procure. Because of this, they acquired the property at Point Loma on which they built the International Theosophical Headquarters.
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, August 1894.]
The emotions that haunted me in that little cathedral town would be most difficult to describe. After the hurry, rattle, and fever of the city, the rare weeks spent here were infinitely peaceful. They were full of a quaint sense of childhood, with sometimes a deeper chord touched -- the giant and spiritual things childhood has dreams of.
The little room I slept in had opposite its window the great gray cathedral wall. It was only in the evening that the sunlight crept round it and appeared in the room strained through the faded green blind. It must have been this silvery quietness of color that in some subtle way affected me with the feeling of a continual Sabbath.
The bells, chiming hour after hour, strengthened this. The pathos, penitence, and hope expressed by the flying notes colored the intervals with faint and delicate memories. They haunted my dreams. I heard with unutterable longing the dreamy chimes pealing from some dim and vast cathedral of the cosmic memory, until the peace they tolled became almost a nightmare, and I longed for utter oblivion or forgetfulness of their reverberations.
More remarkable were the strange lapses into other worlds and times. Almost as frequent as the changing of the bells were the changes from state to state. I realized what is meant by the Indian philosophy of Maya. Truly my days were full of Mayas, and my work-a-day city life was no more real to me than one of those bright, brief glimpses of things long past.
I talk of the past, and yet these moments taught me how false our ideas of time are. In the Ever-living, yesterday, today, and tomorrow are words of no meaning. I know I fell into what we call the past, and the things I counted as dead forever were the things I had yet to endure. Out of the old age of earth, I stepped into its childhood, and received once more the primal blessing of youth, ecstasy, and beauty. These things are too vast and vague to speak of. The words we use today cannot tell their story. Nearer to our time is the legend that follows.
I was, I thought, one of the Magi of old Persia, inheritor of its unforgotten lore, and using some of its powers. I tried to pierce through the great veil of nature, and feel the life that quickened it within. I tried to comprehend the birth and growth of planets. To do this, I rose spiritually, and passed beyond earth's confines into that seeming void which is the matrix where they germinate.
On one of these journeys, I was struck by the phantasm, so it seemed, of a planet I had not observed before. I could not then observe closer, and coming again on another occasion, it had disappeared. After the lapse of many months, I saw it once more, brilliant with fiery beauty. Its motion was slow, revolving around some invisible center.
I pondered over it, and seemed to know that the invisible center was its primordial spiritual state, from which it emerged a little while and into which it then withdrew. Short was its day. The planet's shining faded to a glimmer, and then into darkness in a few months. I learned its time and cycles. I made preparations and determined to await its coming.
THE BIRTH OF A PLANET
At first silence and then an inner music, and then the sounds of song throughout the vastness of its orbit grew as many in number as there were stars at gaze. Avenues and vistas of sound! They reeled back and forth. They poured from a universal stillness quick with unheard things. They rushed forth and broke into myriad voices gay with childhood. From age and the eternal, they rushed forth into youth. They filled the void with reveling and exultation. In rebellion, they then returned and entered the dreadful Fountain. Again, they came forth, and the sounds faded into whispers. They rejoiced once again, and again died into silence.
All around glowed a vast twilight. It filled the cradle of the planet with colorless fire. I felt a rippling motion that impelled me away from the center to the circumference. At that center, a still flame began to lighten. A new change took place. Space began to curdle. A milky and nebulous substance rocked back and forth. At every motion, the pulsation of its rhythm carried it farther and farther away from the center. It grew darker. A great purple shadow covered it so that I could see it no longer. I was now on the outer verge, where the twilight still continued to encircle the planet with zones of clear transparent light.
As night after night I rose up to visit it, they grew many-colored and brighter. I saw the imagination of nature visibly at work. I wandered through shadowy immaterial forests, titanic vegetation built up of light and color. I saw it growing denser, hung with festoons and trailers of fire, and spotted with the light of myriad flowers such as earth never knew.
Coincident with the appearance of these things, I felt within myself, as if in harmonious movement, a sense of joyousness, an increase of self-consciousness. I felt full of gladness, youth, and the mystery of the new. I felt that greater powers were about to appear, those who had thrown outwards this world and erected it as a palace in space.
I could not tell half the wonder of this strange race. I could not myself comprehend more than a little of the mystery of their being. They recognized my presence there, and communicated with me in such a way that I can only describe it by saying that they seemed to enter into my soul, breathing a fiery life.
I knew that the highest I could reach to was but the outer verge of their spiritual nature. To tell you but a little I have many times to translate it, for in the first unity with their thought, I touched on an almost universal sphere of life. I peered into the ancient heart that beats throughout time. This knowledge became changed in me, first into a vast and nebulous symbology, and so down through many degrees of human thought into words which hold not at all the pristine and magical beauty.
I stood before one of this race, and I thought, "What is the meaning and end of life here?" Within me, I felt the answering ecstasy that illuminated with vistas of dawn and rest. It seemed to say:
"Our spring and our summer are an unfolding into light and form, and our autumn and winter are a fading into the infinite soul."
I questioned in my heart, "To what end is this life poured forth and withdrawn?"
He came nearer and touched me. Once more, I felt the thrill of being, which changed itself into vision.
"The end is creation, and creation is joy. The One awakens out of quiescence as we come forth, and knows itself in us. As we return, we enter it in gladness, knowing ourselves. After long cycles, the world you live in will become like ours. It will be poured forth and withdrawn; a mystic breath, a mirror to glass your being."
He disappeared, while I wondered what cyclic changes would transmute our ball of mud into the subtle substance of thought.
In that world, I dared not stay during its period of withdrawal. Having entered a little into its life, I became subject to its laws. The Powers on its return would have dissolved my being utterly. I felt with a wild terror its clutch upon me. I withdrew from the departing glory, from the greatness that was my destiny -- but not yet.
From such dreams, I would be aroused, perhaps, by a gentle knock at my door, and my little cousin Margaret's quaint face would peep in with a "Cousin Robert, are you not coming down to supper?"
Of these visions in the light of after thought, I would speak a little. All this was but symbol, requiring to be thrice sublimed in interpretation ere its true meaning can be grasped.
I do not know whether worlds are heralded by such glad songs, or whether any have such a fleeting existence, for the mind that reflects truth is deluded with strange fantasies of time and place in which seconds are rolled out into centuries and long cycles are reflected in an instant of time.
There is within us a little space through which all the threads of the universe are drawn. Surrounding that incomprehensible center, the mind of man sometimes catches glimpses of things that are true only in those glimpses. When we record them, the true has vanished, and a shadowy story -- such as this -- alone remains. Yet, perhaps, the time is not altogether wasted in considering legends like these, for they reveal, though but in fantasy and symbol, greatness we are heirs to, a destiny that is ours though it be yet far away.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the first part of a tape recording entitled "HPB Highlights" made of a private class held on January 9, 1955. Some spots on the tape were hard to make out so there may be a few inaccuracies in the edited version of the talk.]
Blavatsky's life and work was of considerable importance in the development and growth of the modern theosophical movement.
What do we know of the personal lives of the great teachers of ancient days? As far as recorded history, we know little. The full record likely exists in the hands of Initiates. What we read of Plato or Pythagoras is sketchy. What do we know of the personal events in the life of Jesus? Certainly, we know nothing historically.
Blavatsky was the chief founder of a movement that probably will go on for centuries. In her case, we have a well-known life of a great teacher. The records of that life are available in detail, except for some obscure periods prior to her public work. She never said much about that time. Short of loss to some future cataclysm, history will still know her.
She was born in Russia. On one side, her parentage was Old Russian. Princess Dolgorukov was her grandmother, from an Old Russian family. On the other side, it was from a German family that immigrated to Russia 300 years before. By then, it was Russian too. Her maiden name, Von Hahn, was German.
From childhood, Blavatsky was an unusual individual. She was exceedingly psychic, rebellious, and independent. She was born at night between the 30th and the 31st of July (according to the Russian calendar). In the Slavonic tradition, on that night certain elemental forces are active in nature and seem to prevail. Any child born then is supposed to be in control over the elements. She certainly was!
From 1831 until maybe her fourteenth year in 1843, she grew up in an ordinary way. Blavatsky studied with her own people mainly, not at school. She always felt she had some protective agency. Occasionally, she saw a figure in a long robe psychically. Later in life, she understood this robe to have been the Hindu dress. This individual protected her from danger.
Once she was climbing up on a table, chair, and other things to hang a picture. Everything collapsed! She knew that somebody picked her up so that she would not hit the floor. Another time, she was on horseback. She was quite a horsewoman. She was riding without a saddle. She started to fall. The horse was about to drag her. She also saw that same individual keeping her from crashing and keeping the horse from dragging her.
Blavatsky was exceedingly independent. Socials or dances were altogether too much for her. She did not have the slightest use for them. According to her own story, her French governess told her she was so independent, rebellious, and naughty at times that nobody would ever marry her except perhaps some nitwit. She took that up.
She said, "That is wrong! I can make anybody marry me -- for instance, that old man over there." She pointed to a state official named Blavatsky, who served under her grandfather. Yes, he was old enough not only to be her father but beyond that. Sure enough, she had him propose to her. He married her. She was completely uncontrollable.
No one has ever told the full story. Nobody really knows it. We can read some of her letters and put two-and-two together. This may have been her way to get out from under the thumb of her family and start out on her own. That is our best explanation.
She was only eighteen. She ran away from that man within three and one-half months. She had never been his wife. She boarded an English steamer docked in one of the Caucasian harbors in the Black Sea heading for Constantinople.
Only her father, an artillery officer, knew where she was at all times. She idolized him. He knew where she ended up. Nobody else knew. She traveled in Turkey, Greece, France, and England. She was sometimes in the company of a Russian woman, a distant relative who lived in Europe and sometimes all by herself. For ten years, she never set foot on Russian soil.
At one point, she had been to England and France. Now she had gone to France and then to England, where she became sick. In that month, there came from India an ambassador from the Prime Minister of Nepal. His party had important business to transact between Nepal and Great Britain. Within that staff was the Hindu she had seen psychically during her childhood.
She was walking in London, watching the Nepalese procession to the palace with all its pomp and ceremony. A little off from the ceremony, a man on horseback came to her. He was that Eastern teacher and high initiate later known as "M." In his physical body, Master Morya was on the staff from Nepal. That was her first meeting with her teacher in physical body.
No one has ever told what transpired between the two in the next few minutes. He took her under custody as disciple more definitely. Two or three years later, she met him in England in physical body again. The teachers travel. They attend to their own business. We just do not know what it is.
She went to Canada and the United States. Manly P. Hall once was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There was an old house there. He heard that about 100 years ago a Russian woman lived in it for a while. People were not sure if she was a witch. Chances are great that HPB was in Santa Fe for some reason. The years coincide.
Blavatsky studied many things including people's customs, occult practices, psychic forces among the Indian tribes, and even voodoo. After traveling through the United States, she boarded a steamer in New Orleans for South America.
In ISIS UNVEILED, she wrote about South America, including Peru and Chile. This is probably from what she witnessed on that journey. She met two or three individuals, one German, the disciples of the same teacher. They went together to Java and thence to India. She tried to penetrate into Tibet but failed. The British authorities turned her away. It was an unsuccessful attempt. She was not ready. She went back to England.
In 1854, she went to the United States again, crossing the continent all the way to San Francisco in a covered wagon. We know little about that trip. She traveled in men's clothes in independent fashion. An old member told me that. We have found no mention in the early newspapers of San Francisco, but the information is probably in a foreign paper.
There was an account in a San Francisco paper. It was about a Russian woman present at the opera with a Hindu wearing a turban. I understand that to be HPB with her teacher. Was that teacher in his physical or astral body? We do not know. I am still looking for it, but the earthquake and fire destroyed many records.
Blavatsky traveled a lot during those ten years. Then she turned up at the home of her sister in northern Russia, coming from a visit to southern Russia. She stayed with her for a while and then went with her down to the Caucasus.
Her so-called husband was there. That man whose name she had was old, but still alive. She says in a letter that she stayed around the Caucasus for a year or two until he died. In Russia, one could have a marriage annulled if no one had seen any sign of the spouse for ten years. He or she did not need to get a divorce.
That period was her preparatory career. What kind of training was she under? We do not know. She had not been to Tibet. She traveled most of the time. She lived on money sent to her by her father, but also undertook industrial ventures. She made artificial flowers. She played the piano beautifully and had concerts in France and England. Having returned to the Caucasus once under a pseudonym, she had a project to get cork from the Caucasian Mountains flowing down river to the harbor for resale abroad. I would say that she was quite enterprising!
During that sojourn in the Caucasus, profound internal changes took place in her. She underwent an initiation and began to control her inner principles and forces. Instead of just having visions and being psychic, she came to command some elemental forces of nature as only an initiate could do. This is obvious from study of that period, her letters, evidence furnished by others, and her own statements. (She always only made casual statements about that period.)
Then she left for parts unknown. For several years, she traveled in Europe, Africa, Asia Minor, and to the Orient. It was during those years of 1865 to 1871 that she penetrated into Tibet on two occasions, spending considerable time there.
Blavatsky says that she lived in the home of the sister of Master KH. He was a close friend of her teacher, Master M. That period was her most severe training. She never said anything about it. Even the dates are unsure.
About 1871 or 1872, she emerged from the orient and visited southern Russia for a few weeks. This came after travels in Egypt and Greece. She had been on a steamer that blew up. It carried powder. Perhaps two-thirds of the people died. She lost everything. Miraculously escaping injury, Blavatsky picked up out of the sea and landed in Egypt. Many things followed, including another crisis in Egypt that she also escaped.
She received peremptory orders from her teacher to take the first steamer to the United States. Landing in July 7, 1873, she received an order to investigate the Spiritualistic seances of the Eddy brothers at their farm in Vermont. The papers were reporting their impressive seances, well known in those days. She was to find out what was going on. The first day she went there, she met a man in the audience. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott was retired from the United States Army and working as a reporter for the DAILY GRAPHIC of New York. He was a man of considerable achievement. At that time, he was 41 and she was 42.
Their association never ended, except by death. As we learn from the letters of the teachers themselves, they pre-arranged that meeting. They saw these two as most suitable to do certain work in the western world. She would help as an advanced occultist and he as an able but exoteric executive of a society to be born.
HPB and Olcott struck a close friendship on that basis. Present at seances and in complete control over certain elemental forces, she produced phenomena without anybody knowing she had anything to do with it.
She was told to begin training Olcott, showing him how immeasurably greater are trained powers, unlike the negative psychic phenomena of an ordinary medium. The Eddy brothers were good, but they were ordinary mediums.
Another year passed without them forming a society. HPB did considerable work with her pen. She published some of her first articles, the first that she wrote in any language. They appeared in the Spiritualistic press of the day, and they appeared in THE NEW YORK SUN, THE DAILY GRAPHIC, and THE NEW YORK WORLD. Olcott often helped her with her English. She spoke Italian, French, and one or two Oriental dialects, but her English was poor.
When she was small, her family got an English governess. Blavatsky began to learn and speak some English. The first time Blavatsky arrived in England, she discovered she spoke the Yorkshire dialect. That is the last thing to speak in England! In an independent mood after having run away, she decided to forget that she ever knew anything of the language! When she got to the United States, she began to learn ordinary English. Olcott helped her, polishing up her English articles. Having a remarkable talent for languages, she did not take long to master the language.
The effort continued for two years with articles and personal contacts with Spiritualists. The Spiritualists did not see the point. With manifestations, materializations, and messages their mediumship completely enthralled them. They did not know where the messages came from. Not wanting to set aside their preconceived ideas, they ignored the philosophy and real explanation. Spiritualism was becoming a sectarian church.
After she and Olcott had made considerable effort, HPB's teachers decided that this approach would not work. It was now up to the few earnest individuals coming along who saw a greater vision. There were 17 with more progressive minds included well-known Spiritualists C.C. Massey and Mrs. Emma Hardinge-Britten, as well as Colonel Olcott, Madame Blavatsky, and the Irish lawyer William Q. Judge.
After two preliminary meetings, they formed The Theosophical Society on November 17, 1875. It was for the study of higher metaphysical teachings. Its declared objects were: (1) To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood; (2) To study Oriental and Occidental religions, sciences, and philosophies; and (3) to investigate the potential, the inner powers of man.
The Society had a specific purpose that was not a stated objective. It would help the most earnest and sincere Spiritualists by explaining the cause of phenomena and how they might go beyond psychism.
Soon, many people dropped out. Most active were Blavatsky, Olcott, Judge, General Doubleday (the founder of American baseball), and a few others. As an organization, the Society had a small beginning in New York. There was a center there, another in Philadelphia, then a third center, and soon one in London. Next came one on the island of Corfu, off Greece. There were remarkable people there.
From 1875 to 1877, Madame Blavatsky wrote her first work. She was still in America when ISIS UNVEILED was published.
The Society still being small, most of the activity was lecturing by Olcott. HPB was not lecturing. I do not think she delivered more than one or two lectures in her life. Olcott lectured. Many including HPB wrote. There were no Theosophical magazines. With the exception of Spiritualistic magazines, other journals would not accept her articles. At least for that, the Spiritualists were open.
Around 1913, we began to dig out the articles she wrote in Spiritualist journals. They constituted the first volume of HPB's COLLECTED WRITINGS, of which we are publishing the sixth volume now. They were difficult to get, coming from all over, including Europe, the United States, and Australia.
In 1877, ISIS UNVEILED came out. Bouton Publishers dealt with progressive metaphysical, mystical, and oriental books in New York. J.W. Bouton was an American publisher with a French name. Thinking that the book would do well, he was willing take a chance by publishing the two big volumes.
HPB had named the book THE VEIL OF ISIS. Bouton had already set up the first volume when he discovered that somebody else had written a book by the same name. They could not use her title. After a big scramble, Bouton suggested turning the title around and making it into ISIS UNVEILED. If you look at the first volume of the book today, you will see the running head on top of its pages still has that original title, THE VEIL OF ISIS. It was a curious incident.
The first edition was around eight hundred to a thousand copies. It sold out within two to three weeks. Since those days, ISIS UNVEILED has remained an occult bestseller. I do not know why. It was Blavatsky's first literary production. Later on, she pointed out many errors in it. It does not hang together well. In it, she speaks of magic around the world and the history of magic. Because the subject is so fascinating, people love it best. This was never the case with THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
At the end of 1878, Olcott and Blavatsky received orders to go to India. They were to found a center somewhere it might flourish. They were to revive oriental literature, presenting it to the west. They were also to introduce the Hindus to the riches of their own ancient scriptures, largely forgotten.
The two went to India and founded the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in Bombay. That center had financial troubles galore. Within eighteen months, they moved south. They bought a property on the Adyar River near Madras. The property was renamed Adyar. It has remained a center of Theosophical work since 1882.
They did tremendous work in the area, from Nepal in the north to Ceylon in the south. In the early eighties, they made two trips to Europe. After an enormously telling work in India, HPB moved back to Europe permanently around 1885. Her health was unable to stand the climate any longer.
In 1879 a few months after her arrival in Adyar, Blavatsky started her first Theosophical magazine, THE THEOSOPHIST. It became famous, attracting subscribers from the best minds in India. THE THEOSOPHIST is still running today. Still a good magazine, it is not what it was. In those days, it was the first shot. It was the first Theosophical magazine published at Adyar.
In 1885, she moved back to Europe, seriously beginning to put her mind on writing THE SECRET DOCTRINE. She was going to write another great work. At first, it had no particular title.
HPB lived in Germany, then briefly in Italy, France, and then Belgium. She kept looking for a better climate and cheaper conditions. She had no private income. Her father had died. Her relatives were unfriendly. The society had slim means. She wrote in Russian travel stories from India, publishing them in two Russian periodicals and living on that money. Having learned English, she was a brilliant writer in both Russian and English now.
In Russia, she became famous as storyteller but not as Theosophist. She wrote a series called FROM THE CAVES AND THE JUNGLES OF HINDUSTAN. Written in Russian, only part of this fascinating account has since then been translated into English. We will complete that job and publish it in the COLLECTED WRITINGS. It is quite long, and may take about two volumes. It will be something new to most Theosophists. It is in a lighter vein than other writings. It has is a great deal of mythology from India, national customs, and occultism woven throughout its pages.
After all her travels, she finally established herself in London in 1887. That is where she completed THE SECRET DOCTRINE, wrote THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, and wrote THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. She also founded the famous Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society, with many prominent members including the great physicist Sir William Crookes. Thomas Edison was among the corresponding members.
From 1887 until 1891 when she passed away, she did her major literary work. She had been sick with various troubles. She just drove herself to death, working 16 to 17 hours a day for years without much exercise. Her teacher came and restored her to relative health by occult means when she was on the verge of dying. This happened over a half dozen times.
To use her own expression, she was finally ready to "peg out" and go home. She died on May 8, 1891. HPB had suggested than when she passed on, she would like that date commemorated. This was not to focus on her, but to honor her mission impersonally. Based upon what she had said, Colonel Olcott had her wishes honored. Since then, Theosophists have respected May 8 as White Lotus Day.