THE RELIGION OF THE ANCIENTS IS THE RELIGION OF THE FUTURE. A few centuries more, and there will linger no sectarian belief in either of the great religions of humanity. Brahmanism and Buddhism, Christianity and Mohammedanism will all dissappear before the might rush of FACTS.
-- H.P. Blavatksy, ISIS UNVEILED, I, page 613.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 251-53.]
European psychology deals with the how of the elimination of evil. Asiatic psychology with the unfolding of moral power, leading to intellectual enlightenment, both surcharged with peace.
-- FROM AN UNPUBLISHED LETTER
In the nineteenth century, the coarsening effects of materialistic science tarnished human thought. Man had to determine if he was on the side of the Angels or of the ape. A majority accepted their descent from the ape and became intelligent social animals at best. On the other hand, those on the side of the angels were mostly men of blind belief in some creed. Knowledge of their divine ancestry was available, but few made use of it.
In the twentieth century, technocracy has deepened the darkness of materialistic thinking. The social animal has deteriorated into a robot. One is speedy, automatic, and mechanically efficient. One turns out work, passing on from hard labor to questionable refreshment, snatches sleep, and then goes back to work again. The Machine dominates everything from the purchasing power of money to bread that one must procure.
The materialistic ideas and technological applications that dominate civilization today have ruined the refinements that endow life with beauty, dignity, and purpose.
Erich Fromm is a noted psychoanalyst whose previous books have given him the reputation of a clear and provocative thinker. His recently published PSYCHOANALYSIS AND RELIGION -- a small volume worth perusing -- presents a true picture of the modern man and his religion.
The threat to the religious attitude lies not in science but in the predominant practices of daily life. Here man has ceased to seek in himself the supreme purpose of living and has made himself an instrument serving the economic machine his own hands have built. He is concerned with efficiency and success rather than with his happiness and the growth of his soul. More specifically, the orientation that most endangers the religious attitude is what I have called the "marketing orientation" of modern man.
What is his definition of religion?
I want to make it clear at the outset that I understand by religion any system of thought and action shared by a group that gives the individual a frame of orientation and an object of devotion.
There are many good things in the volume, but Dr. Fromm's practical psychoanalytic therapy will not succeed when actually applied. He has quoted from different great religions of the ancient world. His chapter on "Some Types of Religious Experience" contains valuable remarks. Even so, his technique of adjustment needs revision.
Dr. Fromm's remedy of "adjustment" is an old method, well known to ancient Oriental Psychology. The great Gurus of old were not only teachers but also healers of souls. Their Compassion brought out the devotion of the disciple. Then the process of chelaship or psyche-adjustment began.
The Gurus had real insight and understanding. Adjusting the mind of the learners, they enabled them to develop the faculty of knowing more. They did not pour information into their pupils. They helped each to free his will from the bondage of desires -- the great disease. They inspired each to be an altruist, a humanist whose relations with kin and friends, with men and beasts, were according to Divine Ethics. This is a science in itself.
Western psychology refers in its classifications to mental states. The psychology of the Ancient East classifies moral states, treating the mental states as mere effects produced by moral conditions. Psychoanalysts like Dr. Fromm recognize this to some extent, but not enough to make their therapy uniformly successful.
Haltingly, slowly, western psychologists, psychoanalysts, and psychical researchers are nearing the domain of the Wisdom of the Oriental Sages. They would learn quicker to offer effectively aid were they to study with due humility the lore of ancient healers of the human soul.
By Gerald Schueler
Students ask: Why such secrecy about the details of a doctrine the body of which has been publicly revealed, as in ESOTERIC BUDDHISM and THE SECRET DOCTRINE?
To this Occultism would reply: For two reasons:
(a) The whole truth is too sacred to be given out promiscuously.
(b) The knowledge of all the details and missing links in the EXOTERIC teachings, too dangerous in profane hands.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, XII, page 600, starting the Section "Concerning the Secrecy Required" in Esoteric Section Instruction Number III.
We learn there was vital information too dangerous to give to the public or even fellow Theosophists. It is missing in the main theosophical books of Blavatsky's time, ESOTERIC BUDDHISM and THE SECRET DOCTRINE. Perhaps it is time for us to learn and share those ideas with others now. The sacred and dangerous key ideas include the following eighteen observations.
1. Karma is part of Maya. The two function together and neither has any meaning without the other.
2. There are seven Planes, seven Principles, seven Globes, and seven Rounds associated with our Earth Planetary Chain. All interrelate, functioning together. They interconnect as wheels within wheels. All are composed of a single substance, which is both Matter and Spirit. As close to one another as two sides of the same Coin, Matter and Spirit form out of Maya. Functioning subject to time, the Earth undergoes evolution and involution, which is Karma.
3. Karma and Maya are two strong chains of Bondage. They bind manifested beings to this manvantaric Planetary Chain.
4. Karma has nothing to do with Justice or with Fairness, which are solely human-mind concepts and concerns.
5. Spiritual Insight frees us from the bondage of both Karma and Maya.
6. Eternity is the Duration of a Manvantara because Time exists only within a Manvantara.
7. Infinity is the length and breadth of our Manvantaric Universe because Space exists only within a Manvantara.
8. Substance, being both Matter and Spirit, is Maya because Substance only exists within a Manvantara.
9. What exists outside of any Manvantara is Non-duality. It is the state of conscious awareness of the Indivisible Monad, our own naked, unobstructed, and purified Mind.
10. Law and Order are relative because they exist only in relationship to Chance and Chaos.
11. Manvantaric Evolution is not linear. It had no beginning and will have no ending. In any Manvantara, our Personal Evolution did have a beginning and will have an ending.
12. Our Personal Evolution is the Source of our Personal Karma. Manvantaric Evolution is the Source of Collective Karma.
13. We made the Laws of the Universe and we sustain them. Only we can change them.
14. Personal Karma is Law and Order. It functions as long as we have a Conscience.
15. Collective Karma is Chaos and Chance. It functions so long as we are members of a collective manvantaric lifewave.
16. All Monads in any Manvantara are alive because there exists both Causality and Non-causality, both Order and Chaos.
17. Because every Manvantara is Mayavic and Karmic, Progress and Evolution are also Mayavic and Karmic.
18. Good and evil always exist together. They are two sides of the same Coin. They confine their existence to the Human Mind.
By United Lodge of Theosophists
[Following is a letter to friends and associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists. This voluntary association of students of Theosophy exists "to spread broadcast the Teachings of Theosophy as recorded in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge." The ULT issued the letter June 21, 2002 under the letterhead of the Los Angeles Lodge (245 West 33rd Street, Los Angeles CA 90007).]
This year we have an abundance of contributions that share a wide variety of activities and insights into the work of several Lodges and study groups. Each represents an effort that might be diminished by attempts to summarize; yet space limitations necessitate some sort of brevity. Therefore, this ULT Day Letter will be in two parts, consisting of these introductory remarks and the enclosed Supplement, which will allow us to include many of the details that were submitted.
A theme common in many contributions is that of adapting to the needs and conditions of others in presenting Theosophy. Like the warp and woof of fabric, principles and their applications provide the basis to evaluate both the content and the processes of Theosophical work. Principles endure; the means usually vary with time and circumstances. Sometimes, it is hard to distinguish the new from the old, interwoven as they are at points of force in the patterns of our daily lives. At other times, the boldness of new paths taken and experiments tried by others jolt us from our complacency as we struggle to adapt timeless principles to the garments of the world. Yet, we can always look to principles and ideals for inspiration and guidance, always checking our own moral compass for a sense of fitness and rightness of things.
Another layer to the fabric of the movement is the transition from one generation to another. This can be challenging, especially when old forms no longer seem to interest younger people, and new ways of work have not yet been developed that resonate with them.
So, we share the enclosed contributions from our brothers and sisters around the world, trusting that students everywhere will make the best applications they can in the light of universal principles found in and inspired by the teachings of Theosophy.
Finally, we extend hearty welcomes and fraternal greetings to three new Lodges: Douala, Cameroun; Jacmel, Haiti; and Sarasota, Florida.
You are right in thinking that the essential principles of Theosophy are often stated without the use of that name, for it is the Universal fundamental system which underlies the religions of every age ... Of course, in Theosophy, as in any other Science, one understands more as one reads more, and I recommend you to read and digest such of our books as you can conveniently procure ... Be wise as serpents but harmless as doves.
--William Q. Judge
Contributions to this year's letter are plentiful and heartening. There is evidence of steady, continued work: holding meetings and study classes, answering questions of inquirers, keeping books and pamphlets available on book tables. Many mention commemorative activities such as Judge, White Lotus, and ULT Days and the need to find, nurture, and prepare the next generation of students. This continuing work one contributor appropriately called the "steady beat of the heart." New activities have augmented these essential ones: meeting locations with closer ties to the community, joint public meetings with other theosophical groups, Internet websites, emailings, two new magazines, translations, and other publishing efforts.
Below are the highlights of the material received, arranged somewhat geographically:
A letter from Bangalore, India, echoes the obstacles and challenges faced by students everywhere: public misunderstandings of Theosophy, confusing it with various religions such as Hinduism, the popularity of "gurus" and charismatic leaders, all exacerbated by internal difficulties of all kinds. The Indian Institute of World Culture, a sister effort to promote the broad objects of the Theosophical Movement through non-sectarian education, continues as a vital activity. Both groups are actively trying to find, nurture, and prepare younger generations of students to carry on the work. Encouraging signs include the success of the Internet as a communication tool.
Douala, Cameroun, one of three new Lodges, has begun an initiative to send email to individual mailboxes gathered by students, with provocative questions asked on the universal issues of life and death. They, like all concerned students, struggle with the indifference of the world to spiritual ideas, yet have actively decided not to use that as an excuse to stop the dissemination of the philosophy of theosophy. The fact that this is a new Lodge should serve as an example of the value of that approach.
In Paris, the "Association H.P. Blavatsky" has been founded by ULT students who take personal responsibility for actions on behalf of Theosophy. They write letters to correct erroneous reports in the press, publish articles, give radio and television interviews, and make audio and video records, without, as their memo explains, "having to claim the entirely IMPERSONAL 'authority' of ULT." They give examples:
A member of the Association has contributed a 30-page article (in English) to be inserted (as a German translation) in the German edition of the abridged version of ISIS UNVEILED (originally prepared by Michael Gomes). The title of the article is "How ISIS UNVEILED heralded the 'Theosophy' of the Masters." Another article is to be published in a monthly French magazine on Buddhism, with the view of showing how Madame Blavatsky and her theosophical movement contributed to opening the way to Buddhism in Western countries.
The French website www.theosophie.asso.fr offers a wide range of information on Theosophy and the Lodge activities, including our Correspondence Course by email, with all the usual texts necessary for distant students. This site, maintained up to date, is progressively completed by audio lectures and presentation of full seminars, etc.
The development, since 1984, of the Correspondence Course (by ordinary mail) is still in expansion, noticeably in French-speaking countries. In two of them, this course has been instrumental in helping the creation first of local Study Groups, then of regular ULT Lodges. In Cameroun, the Douala ULT saw the light June 9, 1999. More recently, in Haiti, the founding of the Jacmel Lodge happened the beginning of 2002.
They further report that their Theosophy School, while smaller, has begun a parallel meeting for adults, a free, informal discussion called "Discovering Theosophy." In addition, an associate in Paris has produced a Persian translation of THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, printed and now available in Tehran, Iran.
The new Lodge in Jacmel, Haiti now has a permanent space where they can get together. The participants contribute by bringing chairs, tables, etc. The next goal is the formation of an office where they can print pamphlets and periodicals. The study group dates back to 1994, but only recently has become a Lodge as the participation of associates increased.
London, Ontario, Canada relates:
One thing that is keeping us in contact with the community around us is "The Temple of the Drum" drum-circle. While offering the opportunity to join in music, the writings of Theosophy are available to all who are attending. It is an interesting mix of people and a few have joined our meetings on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
We are also developing a small magazine, mostly to bring the work of ULT to the attention of the surrounding area. It will feature the work of our meetings as its basis. What we are studying and what inspires us and the talks presented by students. It will also "advertise" the books of HPB and WQJ. It will inform people of THE AQUARIAN THEOSOPHIST, the ULT website, and Blavatsky.net. We will also feature MANAS and tell others where they may get a copy of the CD. The magazines from Los Angeles and India will also be featured and information for ordering made available to people in our area. The name of the journal is BUDDHI-MANAS, "A journal devoted to the Heart and Mind of All."
We have found a way to circulate the writings of Blavatsky and Judge in retail bookstores, by giving a few copies to the retail outlet, free of charge. They sell them at the cost price to us, and can keep the return, for the store profit. It was felt that this gives the buyer a broader choice. We are told that they are purchased in a short time.
A group discussion of Judge's OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY at a "Natural Life Healing Centre" was successfully tried until bad weather cancelled it.
Toronto, Canada tells us:
Our program takes place at a City of Toronto Public Library each Friday evening and the books used as study material are Echoes From the Orient, THE EPITOME OF THEOSOPHY, THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, TEXTS FOR THEOSOPHICAL MEETINGS, and readings from the devotional books. The questions we usually get deal mostly with everyday affairs and how to make use of the philosophy to get the best understanding and function in terms of Universal Brotherhood.
From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we received Issue 2 of THEOSOPHICAL INDEPENDENCE, produced monthly by Associates of the ULT in that city. It is provided freely upon request, and may be reproduced without permission. Comments, questions, and contributions for publications can be directed to the Philadelphia Lodge.
From Washington, DC, we have a report of the success of their Theosophy School:
Ranging in age from 5 to 16 years old, some enthusiastic participants raise questions about and discuss the various topics while others express their thoughts in highly imaginative drawings of their concepts of "Fohat" and other ideas being discussed. Two of the Theosophy School students have teamed up to provide Sunday lectures and answer questions on such topics as karma, reincarnation, and Theosophical symbols. The school was started in an attempt to help enlighten the younger ones but the adults are also finding enlightenment in the process.
Several times a year, ULT DC and the Washington DC Theosophical Society exchange speakers to bring messages based on the writings passed on to us by HPB and WQJ. The speaker exchange program helps develop our mutual understanding and facilitates participation in both groups by some students. Also, DC ULT students sparked lively discussions when they were invited to address theology students at Columbia Union College.
The ULT DC Internet web site attracts several hundred inquiries annually from throughout the world. Many inquirers "drop in" for a visit to view information on the web and associated links, while several have found the site to find their way to the Lodge. Students of the ULT DC find the web a useful way to share ideas with each other during the week.
Phoenix, Arizona reports:
On October 27, 2001, a public seminar was held on "Theosophy: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times" in Scottsdale, Arizona. The seminar was produced jointly by the United Lodge of Theosophists and the Theosophical Society, Phoenix. The featured speaker was Alan Donant of the Theosophical University Press, speaking on "Universal Brotherhood: The Path of Compassion." The talk was followed by a panel of students from both Phoenix groups in a question-and-answer session with the audience.
The Los Angeles Lodge reports a new Sunday morning class for adults was inaugurated January 6th. It correlates Theosophy to current events in science, the arts, human events, etc. The class has been enthusiastically received both in participation and attendance, and will continue through the summer.
On December 21, 2001, the three Southern California Spanish theosophical groups (T.S. Wheaton, T.S. Pasadena, and ULT) gathered at Theosophy Hall in Los Angeles. It was a chance to get to know each other and to study together extracts from TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE. The seminar format started at 2:00 PM and ended at 6:00 PM, with more than 60 people participating.
The second week of May, the Spanish Theosophical Society in America and Spanish ULT groups congregated at the Krotona School of Theosophy in Ojai, California for a weekend devoted to the study of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. This was the first time the two groups had gotten together at Krotona for this common purpose.
There is a small study group in Spanish in East Los Angeles that meets every Monday night. Their hope is one day to become a Lodge.
Another gathering of students will be held this year in Long Beach, California. It will be the eighth annual gathering held near HPB's birthday, August 11th. Details may be obtained by emailing email@example.com.
We look forward to hearing from all workers about what they find important in the year ahead.
Either Theosophy pure and undefiled is the most real thing in the world or we are all wasting our time and effort. If we are able to conceive its reality in all seriousness, we should then never cease trying to understand and apply what has been recorded by Masters' Messenger for our guidance and instruction.
-- Robert Crosbie
By Galina K. Tucker
A lady bug sits On my windowsill I watched it arrive I watch it still So free beneath The open sky The ability to escape The ability to fly Unfettered, wild In a word A wish to be free The thought absurd I am chained Forever I will be Perhaps death Would prove mercy To my body I am bound I hope my soul Will be found Tied to to home Tied to school Tied to parents All are cruel The ladybug leaves A new place sought Then in a spiderweb She is caught
By John Rau
One of the great foundations of theosophy is its universal call for brotherhood. This includes respectful consideration of the ever-changing opinions and viewpoints of others. Sometimes those views require a response.
Until recently, it seems that the traditional relationship of guru and chela never existed in the west. We may find that some martial arts camps and pseudo-spiritual schools seek results through mistreating their students. It is different in the guru and chela relationship, as we learn from theosophy. The Teacher always holds the chela in high regard.
The student learns to sacrifice. Some in the materialistic west may see this as mistreatment or infringing upon the chela's rights, but of course it is not always so.
To transcend the ego, a Teacher may or may not have the student act as if it did not exist. A student may be taught rather to view the ego as a "younger brother" in need of guidance, not unlike a child under one's care. One, it seems, does not use the mayavic ego (a portion of Manas) to transcend itself. It requires the use of all of our "so-called" seven principles. Manas fulfills its important placement, especially during this fifth Root Race. By its very nature, the Root Race heavily slants toward Manas.
Towards what do we work? One of the modern theosophical movement's founders reminds us that we work to change the Buddhi and Manas of the races to come. That includes us. We will become the future races, just as in races past we fashioned the selves we have today. Although we are not the same people as yesterday, the Sutratman or thread-self ties together all that we were, are, and will be. Our swabhavic essence.
Even just saying that our inner divinity is the best guru helps. At every breath, we start from where we are. How do we contact it? Every night while asleep, we all do. We also do when acting outwardly not looking for results, a hard thing to do. Even so, most perform actions naturally each day without seeking results.
Each of us requires different methods of training. A Zen teacher may hit someone with a stick. Hit me with a stick and see what happens next. Someone might claim that Theosophy has no valid gurus. There is no way that someone can know this to be true. It is not true in my world. It can be said that there are as many valid gurus as there are Theosophists. In certain places, the theosophical path may have degenerated. In many other areas, the influence of theosophical philosophy is most wonderful. As for myself, I always wash my potatoes before I eat them. They still taste good after I scrape off the degenerated portions. We may say the same of theosophy.
Is the Movement keeping students stuck in Manas by only emphasizing reading and study? No. It is not stuck. That idea is a misperception of what is happening. Theosophy is a path of action, which speaks louder than words. We may see many theosophical organizations. They are only bricks and mortar. There are some weak areas in any fortifying foundation. The organizations have little to do with true theosophy. Their fraternal action is promulgation of the philosophy and the life. They are not intended to be guru generators.
A chela comes into communication with his or her inner divinity. This is exceedingly difficult to achieve. The disciple does the work. Sometimes the disciple is not ready, and the Teacher turns him or her away. Other times, the Teacher is not right, and the student leaves in search of another teacher or life style more suitable to the task.
Application of Manas, as in theosophical learning and study, can be a valid start to the process of self unfoldment.
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.]
Potentiality Six: RELIGION
Another potential of Theosophy is in the field of religion. Its beneficence is that, if the tenets of Occultism were more widely known and accepted and allowed to affect human behavior, a mass of the world's religious strife would be ended.
This strife has persisted through long ages. It results from the differing belief systems propagated by institutional religions. Political factions for their own ends often aggravate it. Essentially religions are based on universal verities but they have become overlaid by superstitions, ignorance, and irrelevant practices. Many differences are due to arbitrary interpretation of scriptural writings. The proper meaning of their myths and allegories have been lost or remain hidden in the stories.
An example of this is the supposed sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to atone for the sins of the whole world, past, present and future. This omnibus pardon was for all who would believe in him. Anyone who thinks seriously about this must realize that an omnipotent and omniscient God with knowledge of the past, present, and future would have foreseen the events of the life of Jesus, his only son, including the crucifixion. He would surely have been moved to compassion and intervened to prevent such a tragedy.
One can also ask whether the Ruler of the Universe could or would really require such a sacrifice. If not, one must assume that it could not possibly be true, or that God contrived the whole episode. Does not the whole idea stem from the ancient primitive custom of sacrifices to gods to appease their wrath or to ensure their favor in national preservation or bountiful harvests? Was Jesus really a scapegoat? Surely, these ideas are untenable in this age and yet the story is a main tenet of the present Christian Church.
The religions referred to here are the religious establishments, institutions, with their hierarchical, sacerdotal government structures. These establishments are powerful and generally wealthy, with their 'servants' making a living from preaching, usually in the name of God. This promotes the religion but at the same time promotes the interests of the institution and ensures its preservation.
The power of these establishments can reflect into, or even become factors in, secular government. State religions or religious states are thereby born. Instead of a man being able or encouraged to see his relationship to 'god' within himself and in his own way, he is forced by social pressures to subscribe to priestly authority, to adopt passively a ready-made belief system which he dare not challenge or examine at all critically. All this makes for not only artificial barriers in human society but bitter enmity and strife between those of differing beliefs.
Theosophy is the great, nay the only, remedy for all this. It reconciles all the various religions, showing that in their origins they are all the same, and demonstrates the common spiritual heritage of all men, furthering the idea of Universal Brotherhood with all that that means in terms of right relationships.
Theosophy purports to be the "eternal verities." Its literature indicates that, in the first instance, these relate to an "Everlasting Divine Principle" which always IS, unchanging and unchangeable. It is referred to as The Absolute, as beyond all conception or power of thought.
Theosophy does not countenance the idea of an anthropomorphic God with human feelings of jealousy, wrath, vengeance, albeit merciful, just and loving, to whom prayers can be addressed, or of vicarious atonement by any kind of sacrifice.
In the light of these 'verities' may not the crucifixion story be an allegory depicting the crisis point (nadir) on the descending arc of the "materializing" of Spirit. The moment of the crucifixion is when the son of Man (Monad plus Manas equals Ego or Christos) knows that the end of the phase has come. Thereafter the Spirit looks upward to the process of the spiritualization of matter (resurrection) on the ever-rising spirals of the ascending arc.
Then starts the regeneration, the redemption, of matter when it can the better act as a vehicle for the ever-growing spirit of man during the cycles of his tremendous journey, cycling in the Rounds, through Globes E, F, or G of the ascending arc. This continues until the culmination of his life span on this Earthly Chain, at the end of Round Seven, before he moves on to higher ones on a superior succeeding Chain.
The verities of Theosophy relate to the manifest universe and all that comprises it. These verities tell us of the origins of "matter," the essential constituent of forms, the generation of which is from pre-existent patterns. They tell of universal memory and the living processes of expanding consciousness. They give us details of the after-death states and the vast evolutionary process. They tell of a working constitution of man at all levels of being, and the full reincarnation story. We are told of endless cycles of existence, with their greater and lesser cycles, of the Law by which everything is self-governed, and where man fits into the whole grand scheme.
All these constitute the very 'verities' of existence. Change is inherent in everything, but for practical purposes for us here and now, these verities as such are in principle unchangeable. It is upon them that Theosophy bases its ideas on religion. They are 'truths,' not opinions or beliefs, and about them HPB has the following to say,
It is perhaps necessary first, to say, that the assertion that "Theosophy is not a Religion," by no means excludes the fact that Theosophy is Religion itself. A religion in the true and only correct sense is a bond uniting men together -- not a particular set of dogmas and beliefs. Now Religion, per se, in its widest meaning is that which binds not only all MEN, but also all BEINGS and all things in the entire Universe into one grand whole. This is our theosophical definition of religion.
-- COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, X, page 161
She gave us many other illuminating passages on religion. An often-quoted one is:
The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart -- invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through "the still small voice" of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 280
Potentiality Seven: THE AFTER-DEATH STATES, SPIRITUALISM
Background knowledge of the natural processes involved in these fields is not only of inestimable value to mankind but essential to our understanding of them. Present beliefs about the after-death states are vague and misleading. Probably the most damaging is the idea that nothing is actually known about them, hence widespread ignorance and superstition and often apprehension, fear of the unknown.
Interest in spiritualism and psychic phenomena comes and goes in cycles. Spiritualists commonly hold the view that their phenomena are due to the 'spirits' of the dead. Theosophy opposes this view; it defines 'spirit' precisely and in its terms it says that neither spiritualistic happenings nor psychic phenomena can properly be the result of the activities of 'spirits,' but it does not deny the phenomena. It has its own explanations that involve a knowledge of the principles of man's constitution and of the corresponding planes of Nature.
In certain psychic phenomena, 'Spirits' are not involved, for example, in psychokinesis, thought transference, clairvoyance, or clairaudience. These are explicable in terms of knowledge of human principles and their characteristics. This knowledge is also essential to an understanding of what goes on after death.
In THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, the after-death processes are described in some detail. Nowhere else are these facts available in such detail and in plain language. Their importance is that they remove the doubts and profitless speculation surrounding this subject.
Our earthly personalities obviously do not survive death; neither do our mortal souls, i.e. our mental-emotional principles. Our spiritual Individuality (Ego) does survive and is virtually immortal. It gains experience, growing accordingly, from the spiritual experience of its many successive personal lives. At birth, each personal life is conditioned according to its immediate predecessor and probably its more remote ones. Every new person gets his just desserts by way of inbuilt characteristics, tendencies, and potentialities, determined by the doings of past lives.
The teachings tell us that spiritualistic phenomena through mediums are predominantly due to the psychic (mental-emotional) remains of the deceased that continue for a period, sometimes some tens of years, after the death of the physical body. They enjoy a declining life, and retain memories and attributes of the past personality for as long as they persist. They persist as living images of the dead, but they are devoid of their spiritual Egos. These shades, as they are sometimes called, are the direct agents for the majority of spiritualistic phenomena, messages, etc.
In the meantime, the real spirits of the deceased have, after a period of sloughing off their ex-personal principles, entered into a state of unalloyed bliss where they normally remain for a number of centuries of earth life. This is a state of uninterrupted recuperation, rest, and happiness during which the truly spiritual experience of the last life is assimilated into the Ego.
Psychic paranormal phenomena occur whilst personalities are still alive. They depend on activities at their various levels of the astral, the emotional and mental principles of a person who can operate in these subjective realms, consciously or unconsciously. The modus operandi of these phenomena varies with the phenomena but this is a subject of its own.
Potentiality Eight: ECOLOGY
The student of Theosophy soon learns that the grand processes of Cosmos, or Nature, are all expressions of One Life manifesting in numberless forms. This Life is also his life: he cannot therefore be separate from his universe.
To the extent that this is realized, he is in direct contact with Nature. All things and creatures are sharing his life. They express it each in its own way, and to the degree that its form is developed to express it. Forms become more and more complex as they rise through the kingdoms of Nature. As they do so, their inherent sentience, which to start with may be a mere response to environment, expands, giving rise to instinct in the animal kingdom. This response is without any mental modification but it motivates action appropriate to the entity and its environment.
Man's reactions to his environment, etc., are on the contrary modified by mind. He has the capacity to think about and originate action against a background of a whole variety of criteria from innate unconscious promptings or experience gained from upbringing, schooling, relationships, work, etc. All these can amplify, or even justify, but interfere with, the otherwise automatic unconscious promptings of instinct.
With this recognition of the 'livingness' of all things a caring for them can arise, an urge to nurture them, a feeling of responsibility for the environment and all that comprises it is engendered.
Further, the beneficence of this Potentiality Eight is that in acquainting us with the ongoing progressive march of Nature, which must necessarily involve us all, we see where we fit into the grand scheme. We not only learn of the scheme but we are inevitable participators in it. As we learn of this inescapable relationship, we become worthy cooperators with Nature to both her benefit and our own.
Man's perception of his intimate kinship with Nature is, however, almost totally eclipsed by his intense preoccupation with his material well-being, motivated by insistent self-gratification at almost any cost, hence his unfeeling, ruthless exploitation of Nature.
Everything we have and everything we are, including not only our bodies but also even our internal psychological and mental make-up, stems from Nature. There is no other source. Latterly when nearly all the processes of man's life have become mechanized and he lives in a self-created, super-structured environment virtually isolated from Nature in her natural state, he feels himself apart from her instead of a part of her.
Theosophy considerably enlarges the above picture of the world we live in because of its teachings on cosmology and anthropology. It helps us thereby the better to understand our intimate relationship. Our planet earth is a living entity. By analogy, the same processes apply to it as they do to us. In its economy and all its functions, it is self-regulating. It has healing and recuperative abilities, but as in the case of our bodies, any adjustments it has to make take time. If therefore we make demands on our earth's resources at a rate faster than they can be regenerated, they must run out.
Scientists tell us that we are polluting our atmosphere to such an extent that we are even affecting the earth's temperature. Naturally, a compensating restorative process will be set going but it takes time for what it can do to become effective. The natural economy is finely tuned. It is very much in our interests to become sensitive to this. Men have used the phrase that Nature is to be conquered or tamed, but Nature is our mother and sustainer, not our enemy. Our arrogant enmity towards her conditions the attitude of the elemental kingdom towards us. Caring friendliness towards Nature will work much more to our benefit than unfeeling indifference or even cruelty.
A similar argument arises over cosmetics. We inflict misery and suffering on animals to test our products for safety. When we see what dire consequences these experiments have on some of the test animals, then the karmic effects on the human race must be seen as an inevitable consequence.
The elemental kingdom plays a large and vital role in the workings of the global economy. We are not given many details of the way Elementals work but we are told that nothing happens without them. This includes even the awful catastrophes like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, droughts, or just the weather, all result from the activities of the Elementals. They are the proximate, the immediate cause of all that happens on earth. As the forces of Nature, they are the agents of Karma. But man can harmonize his relations to them. They are only quasi-intelligent, doing just what they have to do in the scheme of things. They are, however subservient to the great post-human beings above man in the hierarchical echelon, being subject to their will.
There is not a single thing going on about us, no matter what, that elementals are not concerned in, because they constitute a necessary part of nature, just as important as the nerve currents in your body.
-- COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, X, page 271
Potentiality Nine: THE ORDERING OF SOCIETY
Human society is a collectivity of individual human beings and any characteristic or quality it may have reflects an average of the qualities of its members. The collectivity is also a karmic entity formed not only of its present activities but those of its past. Any section of Society also has its individual Karma affecting all its members.
The degree of governance of any society will reflect its spiritual development and its overall character. The more developed the society the greater the freedom it can enjoy. What laws are necessary will be those relating to the common economy, tax raising for public services, etc.
What has just been said reflects into the rules of how wealth is generated. For example, there is the straight forward earning a living for one's self and family. There are certain aspects to the acquiring of money (purely as such) in our modern way of life where little or no such contribution is made, e.g., gambling on the stock exchange in exchange rates and in land speculation. All these are non-productive and for every winner there is a loser; they are immoral and quite unacceptable in a sane world. Further, there is yet no public conscience about the inequitable distribution of wealth however generated.
There is a saying that money makes money, justifying usury. In spite of our enormously complicated and extensive system of loan and interest, sustaining an ever-expanding economy, the saying is not true. The ever-expanding economy, with its attendant waste, and a growing realization that an abundance of 'things' beyond all reasonable need does not buy happiness, may prove disastrous to the system, especially when repayments (capital and interest) become too burdensome.
Money as such is sterile; it does not make real wealth. Only man's ingenuity and work does that. More and more money finds its way into the hands of fewer and fewer people. Moreover, the means of production of wealth can overstretch the capabilities of Nature's resources to supply them.
Theosophy demonstrates a prime need for altruism. All selfish acts, particularly those that adversely affect our fellow men, incur adverse Karma.
Theosophy teaches us of a hierarchical structure in the ordering of Cosmos. THE SECRET DOCTRINE, in telling us of the origins of the Universe says that there is the eternally unmanifest 'THAT' from which the Manifest One periodically emanates. This One differentiates into Seven Great Beings who characterize seven rays of development that in turn permeate all Nature with their qualities and attributes. Below them are an ever-descending series of Beings that constitute Architects, Builders, etc., down to three grades of Elementals representing the ultimate workers. They are the forces of Nature, each grade of which has its characteristic.
A proper structure of society would reflect this model. The wisest or most experienced heads a cone of authority over those lower in the scale, of lesser development. Nature is not a democracy but those 'in authority' have fitted themselves by Nature's processes to fulfill their exalted roles. This fitting has regard to their slow development in their series of personal lives according to the process of reincarnation.
In India, the laws of Manu reflected this process in the caste system. Against the caste system, however, is the fact that it became rigid. One could not change caste irrespective of merit or demerit. It is noteworthy that the Master K. H. commended Damodar who renounced his caste at considerable cost to his social standing. The system is also divisive.
We in the West have now become 'democratic.' The aristocratic 'nobles' (members of the ruling class) largely became unfit or just ceased to fulfill their traditional role. Whereas the hierarchical system has obvious advantages, there is the difficulty of choosing and electing persons of high integrity and motivated by altruism able to fill the senior positions in a modern hierarchy.
The very process of election, or choosing, nowadays presents practical difficulties. Our present democratic system could provide a working compromise if Theosophy were to become a significant factor in our lives. Any system of government can work satisfactorily if those working it make it do so.
Theosophy tells us of the differences between sections of humanity by way of Root Races, sub-Races, families and so on. Each of these groups has an historic background and each of them is developing its own aspect of man's constitution. The main races of humanity develop their respective principles in due season. At this time in the 4th Round, the 5th Root Race is developing the mental aspects of Kama (the 4th principle).
Each Sub-Race of each Root Race is developing or has developed one or other of these aspects but the Races and Sub-Races overlap. Later ones start before older ones have run their course. In this way, we are all at different stages. Our cultures manifest this. Seeing that we must all live in the planet together, tolerant allowances are essential if misunderstandings between the groups are to be avoided.
The occult view of human progress is that it is cyclical. The development and progress of human societies, in whatever units we may be thinking, from large national ones to small individual family groups, proceed by cycles.
There is a birth, a period of prospering, a decline, and a natural death. This rise and fall is analogous to the life of an individual man. The length of these cycles is variable depending upon the operations of the law of Karma. For example, if a group of people or a nation misuses its powers the karmic consequence is eventually in terms of time in the life of the community. Greedy exploitation would certainly have its effects; maybe it would shorten the life of one group, remove one nation's dominance over another, and so on. Wrong practices and habits of living tend to generate diseases, sometimes on a large scale, inevitably shortening the life of the community.
The beneficent potentiality of a well-ordered social society ensures the spiritual development of the members of that society. Every member of it would have enough free time to do 'his own thing.' This proper ordering of daily life would reflect not only into the opportunity of individuals having time consciously to undertake some personal development but also into the betterment of group health, with an attendant increased happiness.
Under the beneficent potentiality of Theosophy, the whole complexion of human society could and would change if it were but generally known.
From the depths of the dark, muddy waters of materialism ... a mystic force is rising ... At most it is but the first gentle rustling, but it is a superhuman rustling -- "supernatural" only for the superstitious and the ignorant. The spirit of truth is passing now over the face of the dark waters, and in parting them, is compelling them to disgorge their spiritual treasures. This spirit is a force that can neither be hindered nor stopped. Those who recognize it and feel that this is the supreme moment of their salvation will be uplifted by it and carried beyond the illusions of the great astral serpent. The joy they will experience will be so poignant and intense, that if they were not mentally isolated from their bodies of flesh, the beatitude would pierce them like sharp steel. It is not pleasure that they will experience, but a bliss that is a foretaste of the knowledge of the gods, the knowledge of good and evil, and of the fruits of the tree of life.
-- COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, XI, pages 131-32
By Louis E. Van Norman
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1948, pages 23-25.]
It was at a luncheon of a commercial club. The businessman who sat next to me seemed to be interested in what I had been saying about world religion. Suddenly he asked, with an unexpected earnestness:
"Tell me, please, something about that new, narrow sect that calls itself Theosophy. I understand that Theosophists consider themselves as better than the rest of the world, quite apart from common men. Like members of all sects, I suppose they believe themselves the chosen people.'"
With as much patience and good humor as I could apply, I replied. "In the first place, Theosophy is not new. In the second, it is not narrow. In the third, it is not a sect. In the fourth, Theosophists do not consider themselves as apart from the rest of the world nor in any way different, except that they believe they have begun to understand a little of what human life really means and where humanity is going."
I shall put this in plain, simple words, without exaggerating, and without quoting technical statements about the beliefs of Theosophists. Theosophy is universal truth. Theosophists speak of their belief as the Ancient Wisdom. They mean it comes from the facts of nature and the experiences and teachings of the great sages, the wise men of history. They find in it the reason for things as they exist today and as they were in the past. They recall the words of a German philosopher who once summarized human search for truth in these phrases, "Tell me! What is man? What does he mean? Where does he come from? Where is he going? Who is it that lives up yonder above the golden stars?"
We search for answers to these questions. They represent human endeavor to understand life and its meaning. What or who is God? What do we mean when we speak of God? Does order and justice rule this universe, or do only chance and caprice rule? Have we human beings learned anything since we came to live on this planet? Is not religion our effort to understand our relation to life, our human existence, and to learn into what manner of existence we enter after we leave the body of flesh? Theosophists hold that there is actually but one religion for humanity. They hold that the many faiths and creeds are all only streams of the great river of world-religion.
When thinking about human history at all, we of the middle 1900's think in terms of the few short centuries since our ancestors began to set down in graphic form accounts of their own activities on earth.
Our wise men urge us to realize that man has lived on earth much longer than these counted centuries. Through uncounted ages, man has sought the truth. Many efforts have been clumsy and without satisfactory result.
Throughout history, however, there have been leaders of mind and heart teaching the sublime truths of life. These spiritual teachers -- saviors, philosophers, and scientists -- have set forth the laws governing the universe. They do so in a way that even the humblest may understand. If we would only listen, we would see that the world's unrest, wickedness, misery, injustice, wars, and general depravity are all the bitter fruits of ignorance. The spiritual leaders say to give men understanding and in doing so enable men to save themselves from the results of misdoing.
Now the second question. Is Theosophy narrow? On the contrary, it is the broadest of life-philosophies. Theosophists honestly believe that our common father -- God, if you will -- has no favorites. At all times and in all lands, He has loved, an loves now, and will always love all His children. We believe that the way to salvation is to follow the example of St. Christopher who "saved his soul by working hard to help and save his brothers."
Finally, Theosophy is neither a sect nor exclusive group. The Theosophical Society endeavors earnestly to spread the ideas and standards of human brotherhood. It welcomes to fellowship all sincere lovers of truth in every land, all who are interested in high thinking and clean living. The Theosophical Society appeals especially to men and women seeking solution to the problems of life. They realize that human brotherhood is essential to this solution.
It is not difficult to become a Theosophist. In fact, it is easy. Many of us have been Theosophists all our lives without realizing it. H.P. Blavatsky declared as much. A man or woman may be of average intellectual ability. With a leaning toward the metaphysical, he or she may lead an unselfish life, finding happiness that is more real in helping neighbors than in receiving help. Unselfish and loving truth, goodness, and wisdom for its own sake and not for show, he or she is a Theosophist.
By Allen J. Stover
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1948, pages 59-64.]
For constancy the phoenix serves as a type; for understanding by nature its renewal it is steadfast to endure the burning flames which consume it, and then it is reborn anew.
-- Leonardo Da Vinci
The legend of the Phoenix Bird, periodically reborn from the ashes of its consumed body, is a myth from the mystery language of the Ancient Wisdom. It is so old that no one knows the time or place of its origin.
Found in both the East and the West, it everywhere sets forth in poetic imagery the law, universal throughout nature, that individuals, civilizations, races, and worlds are perpetually reborn from the ashes of their former selves.
Different peoples have brought out various aspects of the myth. As student compares these aspects, his mental conception of the Phoenix myth begins to take form and color. The student comes to see the idea as a symbol of eternal truth rather than as an image of fancy and superstition.
According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Phoenix came from Arabia at the close of every five hundred years, flying to its shrine at Heliopolis, Egypt. It deposited there the dead body of its parent (former self), which it had brought incased in an egg or ball of myrrh.
Another, later version tells of the bird at the age of five hundred years building a nest or funeral pyre of frankincense, cassia, and other fragrant herbs. Vigorously fanning the pile with its wings, it made the pyre caught fire. When the fire had entirely consumed its body, the Phoenix rose from the flames, flying away a new bird.
The Physiologus, a collection of popular Middle Age legends, describes the Phoenix as an Indian bird. The bird lived only upon air. After five hundred years, it loaded itself with fragrant spices and flew north to Heliopolis. Entering the temple dedicated to the sun, it depositing its load upon the altar and burned to ashes. At once, the renewed bird emerged. In three days, it was full-grown and flew away.
The Egyptians knew the Phoenix as the Bennu Bird. They closely associated it with the daily rising of the sun. They also referred to it as the "soul of Ra and symbol of Osiris." In THE BOOK OF THE DEAD, we find these words spoken by the deceased:
I am the Bennu, the soul of Ra, and the guide of the gods in the Tuat [the underworld]. Let it be so done unto me that I may enter in like a hawk, and that I may come forth like Bennu, the Morning Star.
... from many passages we learn that the Bennu, the Soul of Ra, which appeared each morning under the form of the rising sun, was supposed to shine upon the world from the top of the famous Persea tree [at Heliopolis in Egypt] wherein he renewed himself.
-- A.E. Wallis Budge, THE GODS OF THE EGYPTIANS, II, 97
The Egyptians used the Persea Tree, a member of the Laurel family, as a symbol of the "World Tree," representing the hierarchical system in which we live. In its higher parts, the Reincarnating Monad finds its rest. According to Egyptian belief, the self-regenerated Phoenix or Bennu rises like a fragrant flame above the Persea Tree. Again, at night as the soul of Osiris, it rests in this tree above the sarcophagus of Osiris. Elsewhere, we find the Nile god referred to as awakening to life the soul as the Phoenix-Osiris in the plants. There are also other references to the Morning Star ferrying Osiris or the Phoenix from the east.
In Persia, the world tree was the "Ox-Horn Tree." It contained the seeds of all plants and possessed the power of renewing the universe at the proper time.
On it perched the sacred eagle Simurgh. When he flew upward, the tree was so agitated that a thousand twigs shot forth. When he alighted, again he broke off a thousand twigs that scattered seeds on all sides.
-- J.S. Newberry, THE RAINBOW BRIDGE, page 171
Here is obviously an allegory of the cosmic out-breathing and in-breathing, an expansion and contraction that all things undergo.
The Turks knew the Phoenix by the name of Kerkes. Tradition said it lived a thousand years and then consumed itself by fire, arising renewed to live another thousand years. This repeated seven by seven or 49 times when the Day of Judgment came. Mme. Blavatsky says:
The "seven times seven," 49, are a transparent allegory, and an allusion to the forty-nine "Manus," the Seven Rounds, and the seven times seven human cycles in each Round on each globe. The Kerkes [of the Turks] and the Onech [of the Hebrews] stand for a race cycle, and the mystical tree Ababel-the "Father Tree" in the Kuran -- shoots out new branches and vegetation at every resurrection of the Kerkes or Phoenix; the "Day of judgment" meaning a "minor Pralaya."
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 617
The "seven times seven human cycles in each Round" evolve through a graduated series of seven races. Each race of whatever degree separates from its successor by cataclysms of greater or lesser magnitude. These take place at about the midpoint of the race, when reaching the peak and commencing the downward plunge.
G. de Purucker points out that while the Babylonian Neros of 600 years comes as close as any to the Phoenix cycle as commonly understood in Europe, nevertheless the symbol represents the cyclic nature of all recurring periods of time, both great and small, rather than any particular cycle. [See page 36 of STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY by G. de Purucker.]
Cycles of many lengths have been associated with the Phoenix. It is interesting to note that Dr. de Purucker gives the life cycle of what he called a tribal generation, or the active expansive period of what we know as a nation, as about five hundred years. At that time having reached its crest of importance, the nation begins to decline, while a new nation rises to take its place in the world.
Like the individuals composing them, all Races have their youth, maturity, and old age. Modern Europe rose from the wreck of the Roman Empire. When its time has come, it will give place to its successor. It would seem that in many places in the world today, the Phoenix Bird is fanning its wings above the fragrant pyre of national consciousness so a rejuvenated humanity with renewed hopes and ideals may again take a step forwards and upwards.
According to THE SECRET DOCTRINE, our European Family Race has many thousands of years to run. Nevertheless, there is evidence that new racial trends are already appearing, perhaps the Fifth National Race, perhaps only a new Tribal Race. The important thing is to keep the general scheme of intermeshing racial cycles in mind as an ideal pattern on which to brood and meditate.
At present, the world is undergoing a series of slow alterations in climate and structure fully as important as the events that have disrupted human society. These geologic changes will continue and slowly increase for thousands of years. Man and his home, the earth, cooperate and evolve together throughout the ages. One sub-race after another will gradually separate from its parent stock and enter upon its golden age, finding the physical conditions it needs for its development.
In America, the blending of racial strains is resulting in many new characteristics. Most have already combined several European strains and will gradually become a race apart. In Canada the English, Scottish, French, Indian, and other stocks have similarly combined. South of the Rio Grande, Indian blood colors two thirds of the population. There, the Mestizo is emerging and forming a new race or races, foreshadowing greater races to come.
Throughout these lands, Ancient America is springing up afresh with qualities and hopes unknown before. Fanned by the wings of the Phoenix, the world awaits rebirth.
Among many suggestions submitted for the great seal of the United States, one by William Barton included the phoenix in the design for the opposite side. Unfortunately, they did not adopt it.
They adopted Charles Thomson's original sketch and the text accompanying it for the opposite side of the seal. It names and depicts the American eagle as the emblem of our country. With the exception of the motto, the unfinished pyramid and all-seeing eye are from the design submitted by Mr. Barton.
The Americas have a living symbol, the Quetzal (ket-sal). Many say it is the most beautiful bird in the world. It lives high in the cloud forests of Guatemala and Honduras, commanding admiration whenever seen. In American mythology, the Quetzal was the solar bird, the dweller of the great spaces. It was symbolic of the supreme spirit. The green and red of the ancient wall paintings showed the colors of its plumage. The long, colorful ceremonial robes repeat its trailing tail.
The Quetzal nests only in the loftiest trees. The nest has two openings, one was to enter and the other to exit. The long plumes did not permit the bird to turn about or back up. Closely connected with the Quetzal was the serpent Coatl. It was symbolic of the earth. This was not inert matter, but rather the living fire of the globe, often represented as a two-headed dragon.
When the fire ascended and united with the solar or buddhic splendor in one, it brought him illumination. His inner vision opened upon infinity and he was clothed with the solar radiance. Then, they knew him as the plumed serpent, Quetzalcoatl. In India, they called his brothers Great Nagas or serpents. In China or Wales, they called them Dragons of Wisdom.
Quetzal plumes in the headdress symbolized the radiance of the spirit in America. From this custom, it came about that all chieftains gradually came to use feathers of other birds as a sign of honor and achievement.
Everywhere the Phoenix myth signifies, above all else, the principle of self-regeneration as a necessary part of the life cycle of both individual and race. It is therefore a doctrine of hope, and a promise of unending evolution.
In India was Karttikeya, born from fire and water and nursling of the Pleiades. He combines the attributes of Mars and Apollo. Indians said that he existed to destroy Taraka, a Deva who had seized occult knowledge and powers belonging to the gods alone. He is represented as having six heads, one for each century of the 600 year Neros cycle. They show him riding on the peacock (the Hindu Phoenix). The "eyes" of the peacock feathers were said to represent the starry heavens while about the body of the bird were concealed the signs of the zodiac.
The allusion to the destruction of the Deva Taraka as a punishment for possessing occult powers applies to the self-destruction brought upon a race by the misuse of atomic or similar force. This is a possibility the greater part of the world stands in abject fear of today. Karttikeya and his Phoenix-peacock steed represented the critical midpoint of any racial cycle.
The Ho-wo represents the Phoenix in Japan. It is a mythical bird composed of peacock, pheasant, and bird of paradise. The Ho-wo dwells in the high regions of the air and only descends to earth when bearing one of the immortals or upon the birth of a great sage or emperor.
In China, the Feng-Huang or Vermilion Bird dwells in the southern quarter of the heavens and rules over the midpoint of the day as well as over the midpoint of any cycle. Astrologically, the brilliant-red star Antares (in Scorpio) with its companions Regulus (in Leo), Aldebaran (in Taurus), and Fomalhaut (in Aquarius) rule the four cardinal points. The Persians know these stars as the Four Royal Stars. The Hindus know them as the Four Maharajas. Madame Blavatsky also refers to them.
That which Mr. G. Massey calls the four genii of the four cardinal points; and the Chinese, the Black Warrior, White Tiger, Vermilion Bird, and Azure Dragon is called in the Secret Books -- the "Four Hidden Dragons of Wisdom" and the "Celestial Nagas."
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, pages 408-9
The Chinese believed that Feng-Huang had its origin in the sun and drunk the waters from the K'unlun Mountains, feeding upon the tender sprouts of the bamboo. As in Japan, it is associated with the coming to earth of great souls and with the beginning of wise and beneficent reigns. It is the symbol of Yang, the spiritual principle. Its plumage contains the five colors. Its call is a sweet blending of the five notes. "Its low notes are like a bell. Its high notes are like a drum." When it flies, 360 kinds of birds follow and the legends told of it are countless.
(In America, the Quetzal's plumage reflects the seven colors of the solar spectrum. China traditionally endows the Vermilion Bird with the five colors and five sounds pertaining to the five elements of the Chinese philosophy.)
There is a thread of esotericism running through all these legends, linking the thought of east and west, vitalizing the myth, until the truth it embodies shines forth like a many faceted jewel. The myth gives a constant reminder that there is no death, but only endless change and evolution, as mankind progresses from being human to godhood. It is the symbol of the immortal self that after playing one part on the stage of life, it discards its old garments and passes on to another act in the Great Drama.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Preface and Chapter I, pages vii-9.]
When I am in my room looking upon the walls I have painted, I see there reflections of the personal life. When I look through the windows, I see a living nature and landscapes not painted by hands. So too when I meditate, I feel in the images and thoughts that throng about me the reflections of personality. There are also windows in the soul through which can be seen images created not by human but by the divine imagination.
I have tried according to my capacity to report about the divine order and to discriminate between that which was self-begotten fantasy and that coming from a higher sphere. These meditations are the efforts of an artist and poet to relate his own vision to the vision of the seers and writers of the sacred books and to discover what element of truth lay in those imaginations.
I had traveled all day and was tired, but I could not rest by the hearth in the cottage on the hill. My heart was beating with too great an excitement. After my year in the city, I felt like a child who wickedly stays from home through a long day, and who returns frightened and penitent at nightfall, wondering whether its mother will receive it with forgiveness.
Would the Mother of us all receive me again as one of her children? Would the winds with wandering voices be as before the evangelists of her love? Or would I feel like an outcast amid the mountains, the dark valleys, and the shining lakes?
I knew if benediction came how it would come. I would sit among the rocks with eyes shut, waiting humbly as one waits in the antechambers of the mighty. If the invisible ones chose me as companion, they would begin with a soft breathing of their intimacies. They would creep on me with shadowy affection like children who steal nigh to the bowed head and suddenly whisper fondness in the ear before it has even heard a footfall.
I stole out of the cottage and over the dark ridges to the place of rocks. Sitting down, I let the coolness of the night chill and still the fiery dust in the brain. I waited trembling for the faintest touch, the shyest breathing of the Everlasting within my soul, the sign of reception and forgiveness.
I knew it would come. I could not so desire what was not my own. We cannot lose what is our own. Desire is hidden identity. The darkness drew me heavenward. From the hill, the plains beneath slipped away grown vast and vague, remote and still. I seemed alone with immensity.
There came at last that melting of the divine darkness into the life within me for which I prayed. Yes, I still belonged, however humbly, to the heavenly household. I was not outcast. Still, though by a thread fine as that by which a spider hangs from the rafters, I found my being suspended from the habitations of eternity.
I longed to throw my arms about the hills and to meet with kisses the lips of the seraph wind. I felt the gaiety of childhood springing up through weariness and age. To encounter that which is eternally young is to have that childhood of the spirit. This it must attain ere the Magician of the Beautiful can mold it and it may enter the House of Many Mansions.
I had not always this intimacy with nature. I never felt a light in childhood which faded in manhood into the common light of day, nor do I believe that childhood is any nearer than age to this being. If it were so, what would the spirit have to hope for after youth was gone?
I was not conscious in my boyhood of any heaven lying about me. I lived in the city. The hills from which aid was to come to me were only a far flush of blue on the horizon. Yet, they drew me. As years passed and legs grew longer, I came nearer and nearer to them. At last one day, I found myself on the green hillside. I came to play with other boys, but years were yet to pass before the familiar places grew strange once more and the mountains dense with fiery forms and awful as Sinai.
While the child is still in its mother's arms, she nourishes it, yet it does not know its mother feeds it. It knows later in whose bosom it has laid. As the mother nourishes the body, the Mighty Mother nourishes the soul. Yet there are but few who pay reverence where reverence is due. That is because this benign deity is like a mother who indulges the fancies of her children.
With some, she imparts life to their own thoughts. With others, she endows with the vision of her own heart. Even of these last some love in silence, being afraid to speak of the majesty that smiled on them, and others, deceived, think with pride, "This vision is my own."
I was like these last for a long time. At about sixteen or seventeen, I was the slackest and least ideal of boys. Those desires of body and heart with which we so soon learn to taint our youth had already made my life dark. Even so, I became aware of a mysterious life quickening within me.
Looking back, I know not of anything in friendship or anything I had read that might call this forth. It was, I thought, self-begotten. I began to be astonished with myself. Walking along country roads, intense and passionate imaginations of another world, of an interior nature, began to overpower me.
They were like strangers who suddenly enter a house, brushing aside the doorkeeper and not allowing one to deny them. Soon I knew they were the rightful owners and heirs of the house of the body. The doorkeeper was only one who was for a time in charge, who had neglected his duty, and who had pretended to ownership.
The boy who existed before was an alien. He hid himself when the pilgrim of eternity took up his abode in the dwelling. Yet, whenever the true owner was absent, the sly creature reappeared and boasted himself as master once more.
The one from a distant country who took possession of the house began to speak in a language difficult to translate. My limitations of understanding tormented me. Somewhere about me, I knew there were comrades who were speaking to me, but I did not know what they said.
As I walked in the evening down the lanes scented by the honeysuckle, my senses were expectant of some unveiling about to take place. I felt that beings were looking in upon me out of the true home of man. They seemed to be saying to each other of us, "Soon they will awaken. Soon they will come to us again." For a moment, I almost seemed to mix with their eternity.
The tinted air glowed before me with intelligible significance like a face. The visible world became like a tapestry blown and stirred by winds behind it. If it would but raise for an instant, I knew I would be in Paradise. Every form on that tapestry appeared to be the work of gods.
Every flower was a word, a thought. The grass was speech. The trees were speech. The waters were speech. The winds were speech. They were the Army of the Voice marching on to conquest and dominion over the spirit. I listened with my whole being. Then these apparitions would fade away and I would be the mean and miserable boy once more.
So might one have felt who had been servant of the prophet, and had seen him go up in the fiery chariot, and the world had no more light or certitude in it with that passing. I knew these visitations for what they were and named them truly in my fantasy. Writing then in the first verses of mine that still seem to me to be poetry, I said of the earth that all things were her dreams, including us.
She is rapt in dreams divine. As her clouds of beauty pass On our glowing hearts they shine, Mirrored there as in a glass.
Earth, whose dreams are we and they, With her deep heart's gladness fills All our human lips can say Or the dawn-fired singer trills.
Yet such is human nature that I still felt vanity as if this vision was mine. I acted like one who comes across the treasure house of a king, and spends the treasure as if it were his own. We may indeed have a personal wisdom, but spiritual vision is not to speak of as ours anymore than we can say at the rising of the sun, "This glory is mine."
By the sudden uprising of such vanities in the midst of vision, I was often outcast. I found myself in an instant as those warriors of Irish legend, who had come upon a lordly house, feasted there, slept, and awoke on the barren hillside, finding a curse drawn about the lordly house.
The imagination apprehended truly that this beauty was not mine and hailed it by its heavenly name. For some years, my heart was proud. As the beauty sank into memory, it seemed to become a personal possession. I said, "I imagined this." I should humbly have said, "The curtain was a little lifted that I might see."
The day was to come when I could not deny the Mighty Mother the reverence due. I was indeed to know the being that had nourished me, sweetened me, and made me mad as a lover with the consciousness of her intermingling spirit.
The sages of old found that at the close of intense meditation their being drew into union with that which they contemplated. All desire tends to bring about unity with the object adored. This is no less true of spiritual and elemental than of bodily desire. With my imagination more and more drawn to adore an ideal nature, I was tending to that vital contact in which what I first apprehended in fantasy would become the most real of things.
When that certitude came, I felt as Dante might have felt after conceiving of Beatrice close at his side and in the Happy World. After believing it a dream, half-hoping that it might hereafter be a reality, that beloved face before his imagination grew suddenly intense, vivid, and splendidly shining. He knew beyond all doubt that her spirit was truly in that form, and had descended to dwell in it, and would be with him forevermore.
So I felt one warm summer day lying idly on the hillside. I was not thinking of anything but the sunlight and of how sweet it was to drowse there. Suddenly, I felt a fiery heart throb. I knew it was personal and intimate. I started with every sense dilated and intent, and turned inwards. I heard first music as of bells going away, away into that wonderland. As legend relates, thereto the Danaan gods withdrew. Then the heart of the hills opened to me.
I knew there was no hill for those who were there. They were unconscious of the ponderous mountain piled above the palaces of light. The winds were sparkling and diamond clear, yet full of color as an opal, as they glittered through the valley. I knew the Golden Age was all about me. We had been blind to it but it had never passed away from the world.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the first part of a tape recording entitled "A Discussion on Truth" made of a private class held on May 11, 1955.]
To students of the Esoteric Philosophy, one recurring theme deals with spiritual security. It relates to a fundamental truth we do not sufficiently ponder. We know a little about it. As it is unrelated to material concerns, it means nothing to ordinary people, having never delved into spiritual reality. What is it?
One psychological attitude toward life holds that you can learn about life, man, and nature almost by chance. Maybe you will run into some truths and maybe not. You are lucky if you do. If not, you should have expected nothing. You might discover interesting things about nature haphazardly, perhaps adding, "God permitting." Imagine how many millions live that psychology! In it, you would drift on a wave carrying you from one experience to another. Occasionally, you might discover a few laws apparently existing in nature. Most of the time, you are ruled by chance, luck, and haphazard.
There exists a fundamental, basic knowledge. It is almost like a spiritual bank wherein humanity has deposited a body of knowledge. Having discovered that truth gradually, a student holds a new attitude towards life. Enduring from age to age, this treasure house holds philosophy, religion, and science at the same time. Humanity has deposited this body of doctrines, teachings, and precepts of conduct as you might deposit money in a bank. Humanity has invested the deposits in the highest minds of the human race.
Do people learn by trial and error? Do they then select the best of that learning and construct a set of lessons? No, it is not like that. It is a basic storehouse of knowledge of nature. It is available to anyone within the limits of his understanding and fully available to demigods and gods.
The approach to this treasury is guarded, but not out of jealously. It contains secrets of nature you must be ready for lest you harm or destroy yourself and others. It is not unapproachable and unavailable. Once taught how to tap that source, you can get from it anything for which you are ready. Where is that knowledge? That treasury is not in a particular place. It is everywhere, existing in various forms.
This subject is nonsense to those not students already. The knowledge is in the custody of Adepts. We can have access to some of it. A few remarkable books embody a portion.
Apart from those who know, apart from books, and apart from our tapping it, it is a permanent and enduring record in the astral light or memory of nature. Nature records facts in that semi-material stuff. It is like books, ledgers, photographs, or maps in which the accumulated knowledge of the ages is stored. It is exceedingly difficult to describe. It is still more difficult to tap it at its source.
Consider Madame Blavatsky and her SECRET DOCTRINE. Her Teachers taught her much. Most of THE SECRET DOCTRINE is a description of facts from the records of the astral light. She saw them passing before her eyes using spiritual clairvoyance or inner vision.
There is a body of knowledge available. It contains the facts of nature, its structure, and the operation of its laws. It covers the nature of man, his past, his present, and to some extent an outline of his future. The only uncertainty about it is because of our inability to tap it and not because it does not exist. This puts it well, without getting too metaphysical.
Picture a man who cannot read. If not blind, he sees the fine books of the world just as well as we. He sees them, but their contents are non-existent to him. He cannot spell. He might understand some of the pictures. No matter what he does, the knowledge on the printed page is inaccessible. There is one simple thing that he can do. He can learn to read. Then he will understand some of it.
One unable to grasp spiritual truths is in the same position as this man who cannot read. Knowledge exists about nature. For him, it does not exist. As a mechanical device cannot tune to a vibratory rate to which it is insensitive, he cannot grasp these truths. If you rebuild the device making it more sensitive, it can convey the knowledge of the new wavelengths into which it can now tune.
As students, we are aware that this knowledge exists and is available. Although we know little of it, we do know the road leading to it. This awareness builds a sense of spiritual security in us. Having discovered these facts and the road, we cannot drift. Drifting is not satisfactory anymore.
As time goes by, we attune our hearts and minds to that knowledge increasingly. Instinctively, we go to that source for almost anything. Having a problem, we go there to throw light upon it. Wanting to achieve something, we use devices, tools, weapons, and precepts found in that knowledge.
We can no longer act bad, saying we did not know better. We know where the source is. We may not have a full understanding of the precepts of ethical living, but we have tapped the source. There is a current flowing from it through us, increasing our spiritual responsibility.
We can no longer decline to help another who is ignorant and adrift, saying we do not know how. To him, our small knowledge is great. He has not yet tapped the source and we have. We can largely distinguish a student of the Ancient Wisdom by his having discovered the source and learning to tap it a little.
We Theosophists are as good or bad as anyone is. When bad, we are more blameworthy, knowing where and how to appraise ourselves in the light of the Teachings. The same weaknesses are far more serious in our lives than in the lives of people who have not discovered the existence of that knowledge.
Like a great castle before you, an awareness of that wisdom gives spiritual security. We grow in awareness that we can have knowledge of any subject. It could in knowing the structure of the sun or the inhabitants of another planet. It could be on how to solve a tangled and difficult psychological problem, build a brotherhood of nations, or tap atomic forces. No matter what knowledge, it is available. It is not guesswork.
To most, learning is a process of guesswork. They do not know there is a source of complete and perfect knowledge upon which we can draw according to our capacity. If we got too big of a dose, it would to too much. We are not ready for much, but we can take from it a drop here and a drop there.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE is a book of two volumes, each of over 600 pages. Remember that H.P. Blavatsky called it just a lifting of a corner of the veil. That is all. How much do we fully understand of the book? Beyond it, we find the tremendous castle of that infinite knowledge.
Is this marvelous treasure static? Has humanity completely gathered the knowledge for all time? No, there are always new things to discover for the highest Adepts, super-human beings, demigods, and gods. There is always more to learn about the mysteries of nature in places, planes, and spheres that we only know of in legend. Remember again that this is not static knowledge, once gathered and forever the same. No, it can evolve, being added to in future ages. Everything changes constantly, but through the variations, the pattern remains.
This wisdom is the formulation in understandable language of the structure and operation of nature. It does not matter in what language it is. The knowledge is relatively the truth, as compared with all the other thoughts, opinions, and news, which are relatively false.
Standing amidst that knowledge and looking at people's views on nature, we see their opinions as relatively false. If we do not know much and are on the periphery with everyone, we find the various opinions relatively true. A ray from that central knowledge, they all have a little truth, being somewhat true and somewhat false. You cannot say that any view is entirely false. There is always a bit of truth or it would not exist.
The Initiates completely immerse themselves in that definite spiritual knowledge. It is not dependent on our five senses, our uncertain and confused psychic senses, or our lower mind. They acquire that knowledge by direct spiritual perception, tapping its source and getting at its root. To those like them, our opinions, views, and relative truths are largely false. In their universal sympathy and compassion, they do not blame anyone for having ignorance. They know well that they went through the same stages in past ages.
One basic thought among Theosophists is that there is no such thing as absolute truth. As far as we are concerned, truth is relative.
Many ideas appear wrong to theosophical students, based on ignorance, faulty in nature, and held in mistake. To those professing the views, they contain a sustaining truth without which they would be more confused and helpless. What to us is false may be relatively true and helpful to another. Having gone beyond it, we find it impossible to embrace.
Likewise, some have knowledge so greater than ours that they find our truths relatively false. They have transcended our stage. They look back and realize we have to grow in understanding, discrimination, and vision before we can abandon our half-truths and embrace their greater installment of truth.
Regarding absolute truth, there is no definite, incontrovertible, and complete truth short of Initiation. When you have past that point, you grasp the genuine facts of nature regarding which there can be no two opinions. They are facts. From this side of the fence, what we call facts is only relative.
What is truth to one is not necessarily truth to another.
I say, "Reincarnation is a fact. This is the way the Teachings stand. This is the way it takes place."
John sees it at once, but Harold does not. There was evidence sufficient for John in what I said. It was sufficient. His mind was completely satisfied. That is the evidence he was looking for. To Harold, my evidence was insufficient. He has to gather more evidence from things that will sway his mind.
Maybe in two years Harold comes to me and says, "I see what you meant. I have thought it over, gathered more evidence, and finally became convinced that yes, there is reincarnation and it is a fact of nature. I understand it now."
At once, the fact was true to John. He has grown into readiness for the idea, perhaps through more than one incarnation. Experience had already swayed his mind in that direction. The evidence was the final push bringing conviction. Harold had to gather evidence to sway his mind.
Relative truth comes from conviction. One gathers evidence through experience, thinking, and feeling. Harmonious with the structure of his mentality, the accumulated evidence sways his mind. Then he recognizes that idea as true and accepts it. Before that, that idea was not true to him. He thought it possible, but not accepted as true yet.
I repeat: Truth is the swaying of the mind into the acceptance of a fact of nature by the accumulation of evidence. This side of Initiation, it is a relative concept. Truth is relative until we unfold direct spiritual perception from within. Acting like an X-ray, it goes direct to the facts of nature and becomes aware of it. All else is indirect.
There are latent, dormant centers in the structure of our brain and nervous system. Particularly in our brain, we find the power of direct spiritual perception hidden. Live in such a way as to awaken this power. This is one major objective of the theosophical precepts of life. Note that this is not the theosophical intellectual teachings, but rather the theosophical ethical precepts of life.
Our physical body is active. At least in sleep, our astral is active somewhat. The lower mind is active during the day. Some have their higher intellectual capacities developed. Represented in the structure of the brain such as the pineal gland, the spiritual or buddhic centers are dormant yet. When they awaken, we begin to understand how to gather knowledge from that cosmic source. This is not by reason, logic, or intellect, but rather by direct spiritual insight, something completely impossible to explain in ordinary terms.
The Egyptians portrayed truth and justice as Maat, the daughter of Ra, the Sun God. Egyptian art portrays the eye as if looking at you. In this Goddess, they draw two eyes instead. The two signify male and female, the two aspects of truth, the positive and the negative.
In present language, the word "negative" has acquired the wrong meaning. When we say that the female is negative, understand that negative does not mean passive. It does not mean laziness, letting go, not caring, or the opposite of dynamic and outgoing. It is not that. It now means many things that it should not.
Negative electricity is as powerful as positive. Find a good book that you know contains truth. Sit down with it, wanting to study. As you concentrate on the reception of truth from it, you are negative. This only means you are receptive. It is just as important to be positive and outgoing.
If you are dynamic, positive, and outgoing, you find it impossible to sit down and study a book. Your mind occupies itself with things you want to carry out. To acquire something coming to you from a source, you have to be receptive. That is the real meaning of the word negative. Then, you can be as positive as you want, giving it out or doing something with it.
Truth involves everything. If you leave out just one atom, it is not truth anymore, because it is not the all. Dealing with life or the facts of nature, truth is dual. Everything in the manifested universe is dual, being positive and negative or outgoing and receptive.
Consider the most obvious scale, the human. Every time you breathe out, it is positive action. Every time you take air in, you are receptive. The lungs are in the positive state, followed by the negative state. The two states are of equal importance.
We misuse the word "negative." We say, "This man is all negative. He thinks of nothing but negative things." We do not mean that. We mean he is passive. He is spiritually or mentally lazy. He has no guts. He just does not want to do anything. His attitude towards life is mental, spiritual, or ethical laziness. We should not call him negative. A negative attitude is receptive. People like him are least receptive to truth. If they were negative in the sense of receptive, they would be absorbing truth and wise, but we know they are not. We misuse the word.
There is a positive side to truth, nature, consciousness, or life too. The ancients represented the duality in many ways. They had Gods and Goddesses and had geometrical symbols.
The positive and negative sides alternate all the time, everywhere. We see them in human life, animal life, nature's life, weather conditions, the seasons of year, day and night, and our waking and sleeping condition. The two states of consciousness are of equal importance.
Through both, the individual acquires knowledge about nature. We can learn by outgoing, dynamic action in a cause. We can also acquire profound knowledge of nature by a receptive attitude. We listen in quiet, strike an inner calm, and become ready to receive. There is attitude of expectancy.
Why have religions and philosophies spoken of male as positive and female as negative? It is simply because the sexes somewhat embody the positive and negative or outgoing and receptive. Do not get confused! Many men have a consciousness more receptive than women have. Not at all receptive, thousands of women are more outgoing and dynamic than men. Normally, it is the other way about.
Remember that those who are women today have been men a thousand times. Those who are men today have been women a thousand times. The human soul is not male or female. It alternates between the two polarities. I do not know the sequence. Consciousness has to learn both aspects of truth through evolution. It can only work under the universal pattern, wherein this polarity runs throughout the entire manifested universe. The pattern is not only on the physical plane, but also on the inner planes up to the Nirvanic, where manifestation ceases. With our finite words, we can say practically nothing of that plane.
Found in everyday life, truth is the simplest of things. We surround it with interpretations, with names, formulas, and symbols. Truth is simple. The ultimate law has to be simple. This is a cornerstone of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. It states that there is one fundamental law working throughout the entire cosmic structure. It ramifies, multiplies, and modifies itself, but it is the same fundamental law.
It is wonderful that we have a man with us for years, Albert Einstein, aiming to define the one fundamental law in mathematical form. To the higher mathematicians, this would be the root of all other sub-laws of mathematics. He has not fully defined it yet. Pythagoras succeeded. He did it geometrically, rather than in terms that we would consider mathematical.
Did Pythagoras hold back anything? Yes. As a high Initiate, he knew the world was not ready. Only now, we gradually begin to understand his mathematics. That knowledge exists. There are records. It may be centuries before we really understand it. Such understanding requires men to be both mathematical and spiritual. In the next few centuries, such men will show up.
Look at the history of the last two thousand years, at how far we had sunken in materialism. Obviously, we could not have understood the mathematical knowledge of Pythagoras. We are grateful that even though he did not write any books, his knowledge was preserved.
In terms of ethics rather than mathematics, the fundamental law is exceedingly simple. We cannot define it. If we could, we would know it. Knowing it would make us illumined. Knowing enough of the fundamental law to achieve illumination, men have appeared in the world at times. What they taught was simplicity itself.
The fundamental truth lies beyond the complexity of our senses and the world of restless minds and intellectual concepts. It lies in our spiritual root, the Buddhi, the Atma-Buddhi, or the higher Manas and then Buddhi. We see but a reflection of the godhood within us. By means of meditation, we may tap that all-so-simple truth.
No matter what words we use or techniques we mention, there is much we cannot say. This is the same as in ordinary science. Simple arithmetic is mathematics. Algebra and geometry are mathematics too, but completely incomprehensible to a little boy, only knowing the four rules of arithmetic. He is also a mathematician. To him, mathematics is what he has learned. To an older boy who has studied algebra and geometry, mathematics is complex, deep, and grand. Compared with the mathematics of Einstein, it is as nothing.
We can meditate. Consider the noblest among Theosophists in the last seventy-five years of our Movement, men proficient in meditation. How does our meditation compare to theirs? What is theirs compared to the meditative states of consciousness of an Adept? What is the meditation of an Adept compared with that of a demigod?
Meditation is progressive too. We can deepen our knowledge of it, making it grander and more majestic. Like with mathematics, mastery ranges from a little boy's understanding to that of a Pythagoras and beyond.
By the higher stages of meditation, you can acquire these fundamental truths. You cannot attain a stage without going through smaller stages first. None of us is skilled at it. Meditation is the road, not the use of intellect. Meditation intimately relates us to the spiritual, to a direct insight into things. This has nothing to do with mind. You do not meditate with the mind. If you ask me how you meditate, I do not think I could answer, because I do not have the words.