Personally it is a matter of small importance to me which one of the world's Great Teachers different men may think to be the greatest. To me the most important thing of all is to bring to suffering mankind and to our dark world the life-giving, light- giving, healing spirit of Theosophy, the sublime Wisdom of the gods.
G. de Purucker, STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, page 691
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 260-62.]
Our civilization does not correctly appraise the great virtue of contentment. In the name of progress, it allows the forces of rivalry and competition to take possession of our consciousness. Our educational institutions encourage, through the examination system, a form of prize giving. They encourage the development of competition and rivalry.
What the boy or the girl may acquire of the spirit of teamwork in sports weakens in the classroom, where the top rank is the coveted position. The seed of discontent enters in the heart of the boy, who carries it forward into the field of business and waters it to growth in the strength of rivalry. The girl similarly fosters the sprout of competitiveness in the atmosphere of home, club, and society. Even the realm of social service is not free from the debasing power of competition and rivalry.
People sometimes are fooled into calling this lethal force "divine discontent." Almost universally present, the ordinary discontent has nothing of divinity in it. Grumbling, grouching, lamenting, and bemoaning are marks of a discontent that is not divine, but pertains to the subhuman nature. It pertains to the animal which most carry within their consciousness.
Divine discontent shows itself in silent, intelligent resignation. This resignation has no trace of fatalism or kismet. On the contrary, it is positive and active. It spurs the individual to clear his environment of the fleas, ants, and mosquitoes of petty weaknesses and of the ferocious tigers and angry bulls of pronounced vices. This is done in silence and with a sense of humor.
True resignation always has within it the silence of knowledge and understanding. This silence is not that of the frustrated man who is morose. Similarly, true resignation evinces a sense of humor -- that vital virtue which has insight into the imbalance, the disproportion of what the ancient psychologists named the four humors. Hilarity and loud laughter do not always bespeak a sense of humor.
This higher or divine resignation carries with it the truly divine discontent. This inner, dual, divine power does not produce complaints of the environment with which man has to contend, nor even of his bodily or mental limitations.
The man who has aroused this twofold divine force recognizes the truth of ancient psychology that his outer environment -- be it mud hut or palace -- his standard of living -- whether he eats tasty viands or simple food -- are but reflections of his inner and psychological environment.
He primarily works with his mind with its knowledge and ignorance, its breadth of vision and depth of insight. His emotions of fear and enmity, of egotism and vanity, or of love, generosity, and harmony; and the energy to persevere in the search for Self-Knowledge that is the progeny of righteous acts.
Men and women complain of the street and the town in which they live, ignoring the great truth that the street of untidy thoughts and the town of the mean heart are causal. The heat and cold felt by the human body (and who is there who does not complain about the weather?) is a reflection of the likes and dislikes harbored in the brain and allowed to run their course in the blood stream, and of the ambition for wealth, fame, and power that becomes the energy or Prana valued as self and soul.
Each has the inner environment of thoughts and feelings that manufacture words and deeds. This inner environment evaluates, falsely indeed, our outer environment. Our standard of living is not really dependent on minted gold and silver coins or on paper money, but on the gold of Energy and the silver of Patience, on Harmony of the mind and the Height of the heart.
In the light of the Wisdom of the Rishi or Sage-Seer, of the singing thoughts of the Silent One, the Muni, how abject and petty is the "philosophy" that millions of mortals hug to their breasts. Such live in fear and compete in stealth, pretend to be good and succeed in tarnishing and debasing their own consciousness and the beautiful and bountiful Nature that surrounds them.
Within us is the Land of Content. Laboring thereon, we shall reap a harvest undreamt of by worldly "planners" who are almost wholly concerned with schemes and dreams of mere economic progress.
By Richard Taylor
[This is based on the first part of a talk given August 10, 2002 at the Long Beach Theosophical Conference. The talk was transcribed, edited, then sent to Richard Taylor for further corrections and review.]
How many of you have a picture of enlightenment in your head? Do you know what it looks like? I am not sure I do either! We spend time intellectualizing it. Is it something that happens to you in the distant future? Are you suddenly omniscient? Will you fly through the air? Perhaps you are more down-to-earth in your thinking about it. You see it as simple, as being kind to people. You picture enlightened people as humble, compassionate, and wise.
I do not spend time thinking about enlightenment. Personally, I feel caught up in the path. Feeling so far from enlightenment, I find most of my energy is focused on getting there rather than being there.
There is a big tradition in Buddhism that takes the opposite view of enlightenment, seeing it as immanent in our being rather than being vastly far away. Blavatsky takes that immanent view. What is this school? I am not going to say yet. It is too dangerous! We will get there. It sees enlightenment as where you are now.
This school of Buddhism holds that enlightenment is not something that happens to you someday. It is what you have now but of which you are not fully aware or actualized. It is not something magical that will happen 30,000 lifetimes from now.
Some Buddhists are not even sure they believe in reincarnation. They do not care about it. It is not important to them. Enlightenment is important, not how far you are from it nor how you get there. In the scheme of things, your problems of today do not matter. What matters is enlightenment. Blavatsky will help us get to this view.
Before going too far, I would like to hear what Blavatsky and her teachers say about Buddhism. I am particularly interested in Esoteric Buddhism. Consider what she says among the facts I present.
Some are unfamiliar with Buddhism. "Buddhism" comes from the Sanskrit root "budh," meaning "to awaken." The teaching is that we are actually asleep. We are asleep and dreaming. Our dreams have good and bad in them. Over lifetime after lifetime, you may dream, dream, and dream. As much as you do this, you are not dealing with reality still. You are simply dreaming. The dreams vary. One may be pleasant and another horrible. By earning all the good karma you can, you merely accumulate the good karma of a good dream. You are not awake. You are not enlightened.
Buddhism is about a path to Yoga. It is a system of effort. In its kernel, it is not a religion. Many religions have grown out of the Buddha's teaching. Like many other teachers, he did not come to found a religion. He came to awaken those that could be awakened. He also came for those not ready to awaken yet, so they might know there is such a thing. They may shoot for it at some point. It is always available.
The word "Buddhism" comes from the Sanskrit root "budh," "to awaken." The one who has awakened is a Buddha. That is a past participle, meaning that he is one who has awakened.
We are talking about the system of effort promulgated by Gautama Buddha in our current historical period. In the Buddhist tradition, he is not the first Buddha. He will not be the last. Like Blavatsky, he claims to have spoken from a long tradition of awakening, one that has existed since humanity was self-conscious. Who knows when that was?
Why do we care about Buddhism? Why talk about it today? I am going to say to you that Blavatsky was a Buddhist herself. I hope this is not too radical! If you do not believe me, consider the facts that I shall present.
I do not want to get my facts wrong. If wrong, let me know. It is a fact that on May 17, 1880, HPB and Colonel Olcott took pansil, a form of Buddhist vows. They took refuge in the Triple Jewel (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) before a large audience at the Buddhist temple in Galle.
They took shelter under the Buddha. It is actually a formal ritual where you repeat three times:
BUDDHAM SARANAM GACCHAMI (I go to the Buddha for refuge),
DHAMMAM SARANAM GACCHAMI (I go to the Dharma, the Dhamma, the Buddhist teaching), and
SANGHAM SARANAM GACCHAMI (I go to the Buddhist community).
These are technical terms.
Blavatsky was not saying that she is going to take directions from her friends and her loved ones. She is taking direction and placing herself under the shelter or triple umbrella of the Buddha, his teaching, and his Buddhist community. She did not embrace the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Spiritualists. She gave herself to BUDDHISM.
Why embrace Buddhism? Theosophy is a non-sectarian movement. Why would the two principal founders of the Theosophical Society take public vows to be Buddhist, to go for refuge to the Buddha, his teaching, and his community? They just set foot on the island a few months ago. Now they are converting, very publicly, with newspaper reporters, a bunch of Buddhist followers, and priests from the local Buddhist temple.
They did this before a big audience including really angry Christian missionaries. The missionaries felt these two were undermining the white man's burden just to bring up these poor, ignorant, dark-skinned natives that had not had the Gospel! Here were brazen, hubris-laden westerners, they thought, that probably do not even speak Singhalese!
The point of taking refuge is that you keep going at it until you are enlightened. You do not leave. It is a layperson's vow. They took refuge in the Triple Jewel. I think that is a fact. It is on record.
I do not know how many of you are familiar with THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT. Many share my opinion they were not originally intended to be published. Nevertheless, they have been published.
The next fact comes from something that the Master that we have come to know as Morya wrote. (Putting the passage in context, at the time that it was written, people were accusing Theosophy of not being relevant and not pandering to their wishes.) The Mahatma said:
What have we, the disciples of the true Arhats [a technical Buddhist term], of esoteric Buddhism [with two d's] and of Sang-gyas [which is the Tibetan word for Buddha] to do with the Shastras [which are a Hindu group] and Orthodox Brahmanism? There are 100 of thousands of Fakirs, Sannyasis, or Sadhus, leading the most pure lives, and yet being as they are, on the path of error never having had an opportunity to meet, see, or even hear of us. [Disciples of Arhats, Esoteric Buddhism, and Sang-gyas] ... Which of them is ready to become a Buddhist, a Nastika [that is an atheist, a non-believer], as they call us? None. Those who have believed and have followed us have had their reward.
-- THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, page 455
I do not know exactly who those are -- Damodar and others -- that have left their caste and traditional Hindu upbringing, to go to Buddhism.
Note the spelling. We have "Buddhist," with two d's. There is a ULT version of this letter in THE COLLECTED ARTICLES OF JUDGE where the two d's have been changed to one d. I took the liberty of going to the British Museum in London and looking at the original Mahatma Letters. It has two d's. The Mahatmas say they are Buddhist, followers of Buddha, Gautama Buddha. I think it is a fact.
Also in THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, the Mahatmas frequently refer to themselves and their brothers as Arhats, meaning "those who have killed the enemy." The enemy is the internal opponent to enlightenment. (As to the reference to brothers, I think that they are celibate Tibetan monks, which is where the word "brothers" is translated from the Tibetan.)
The technical Buddhist word "Chutuktu" is Mongolian for "Arhat." You will not find these words outside of Buddhism. They are unique to Buddhist terminology. It is great that nobody in the West knew Mongolian during Blavatsky's time. Here it is in print. She was the only western woman that we know of who has ever come in contact with people knowing technical Buddhist Mongolian. I think it speaks to her credibility. She really was there. She really talked to these people.
They called themselves "Bodhisattvas," a Sanskrit word meaning a being (sattva) on a path to awakening (bodhi).
They called themselves "Khobligan," which is Mongolian for "Bodhisattva," as if Mongolian for "Arhat" were not good enough.
They called themselves "Bjang-chub." Blavatsky sometimes used the Russian spelling "Tchang-chub." It is a Tibetan term for Bodhisattva. In Sanskrit, we have the term "Bodhisattva Mahasattva," Enlightenment Being -- Great Being, which is "Bjang-chub sems-p'ai sems-pa chen-po." Again, in THE MAHATMA LETTERS, we see they know that technical term. Apart from Blavatsky, I do not think other westerners in her day knew it. There was one dictionary by Soma de Koros, but Blavatsky's spelling is phonetic, and THE MAHATMA LETTERS have phonetic spellings of the Tibetan words.
They also use the word "Lha."
I give page numbers to the original edition. I think it is fact. Look it up. The Mahatmas knew these words. They are not Hindu words. They are not Muslim words. They are Buddhist words. I do not ever see the Mahatmas using anything but Buddhist terms to describe themselves. I think that is a fact. If I am wrong, correct me.
Finally, we have a passage from the 1880 letter from the Mahachohan. He was the Great Teacher of the Masters that Blavatsky claims to have worked with. He says,
Buddhism [with two d's] is the surest path to lead men toward the one esoteric truth ... No religion [it is pretty categorical] with the exception of Buddhism has hitherto taught a practical contempt for this earthly life, while each of them [other religions], always with that one solitary [Buddhist] exception, has through its hells and damnations inculcated the greatest dread of death ... That we, the devoted followers of that spirit incarnate of absolute self-sacrifice, of philanthropy, and divine kindness, as of all of the highest virtues attainable on this earth of sorrow, the man of men, Gautama Buddha, should ever allow the Theosophical Society to represent the embodiment of selfishness, become the refuge of the few with no thought in them for the many, is a strange idea ... And it is we, the humble disciples of the perfect Lamas [a technical Tibetan Buddhist word for "Guru"], who are expected to permit the Theosophical Society to drop its noblest title, that of the Brotherhood of Humanity, to become a simple school of psychology.
This was for the benefit of those westerners wanting a school of magic tricks. "Teach us to levitate," they would say. "Teach us to read minds. Teach us to do all the magical things that Tibetan Buddhists were supposed to do at the enlightenment stage." The Mahachohan explains that the Mahatmas do not care about any of that. They care about basic Buddhist truths, the program that produces as its graduate one such as Gautama Buddha. That was their interest and not western occultist parlor tricks.
Try the math with this early date, 1880. The intent was to steer the Theosophical Society away from western psychism into an authentic traditional path. It does not say that other religions are crap. It does not say that we do not care about Esoteric Islam, Esoteric Christianity, or Esoteric Hinduism. What it says is that we are followers of Buddha.
We have the Mahatmas, Blavatsky, and their collective teacher (the Mahachohan) on record stating they are Buddhists. This was an out-and-out public proclamation. It was "Buddhists" spelled with two d's. Deal with it! They are out of the closet!
Some may not be aware of how public Blavatsky was about being Buddhist. That is why I bring up these important facts from theosophical history. It is important to know this. It is great to see that most of us are aware of this. It is old news. I can save my breath.
Does this mean that Blavatsky is behind everything called "Buddhism," including burning incense, sitting on cushions, visualizing the chakras, and whatever else the Buddhists do? Absolutely not! Blavatsky knows what is exoteric and what is esoteric.
Her Teachers are not saying, "Join a club of Buddhism! Let us all be Buddhists!" The Theosophical Society was built for a reason. I think the path that the Masters were on was not publicly available, certainly not in the West. There were no Buddhist monasteries. There were no Buddhist monks in the West. The Dalai Lama was unknown to the public.
For all practical purposes, Tibet was a closed society to the West. This was on purpose. Yes, they had trade with Mongolia, China, and Nepal. To some degree, they traded with India and Central Asia. But by and large, Tibet was inaccessible to the West.
The West was rapidly falling away from its traditional religious paths into base, scientific materialism. There were those who care about the destiny of mankind. They cared that the West was about to fall off into a precipice from which there may be no recovery in this Yuga. That is a long time, folks!
What can we do to attract the western thinkers? How can we do some good for East Asians as well? What can we do that will draw the highest minds in every land to a spiritual renaissance? It needs to be non-sectarian if we are to get to westerners of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic belief.
Under cover of non-sectarianism, we are going to teach this one ancient path, one which has enlightened so many before us. It does not matter what you call it. Before Gautama Buddha, Buddhism probably was not known as we know it today. It was something else. It was called whatever. We do not know. We do not have records of much in India before 500 B.C.
Today, we know of Theosophy. What we know of Theosophy is exoterically a public movement to direct our minds towards spiritual reality. Esoterically, it is Tibetan Buddhist to its core. We can start with those facts.
Briefly consider the history of Buddhism. What we call exoteric or public Buddhism Blavatsky often called Hinayana. This is a slam. Hinayana is a technical term which means "Lesser Vehicle," "the Small Vehicle." The Hinayana Buddhists do not call themselves this. They do not say, "We follow the "Lesser Vehicle," we are pathetic."
There were 18 schools of early exoteric Buddhism. The school that has survived is Sthaviravadins. In Pali and other languages, it is called Theravada. It means the ones that follow the elders (Sthaviras). They take the view, path, way, and perspective of the Sthaviras, the early or eldest Buddhists. As Blavatsky would say in her characteristic subtlety, the Hinayana or "Lesser Vehicle" is a gradual path. It is a safe path. Life after life, one can practice morality, meditation, and study. One can gradually purify the five skandhas.
In Theosophy, Blavatsky has seven principles exoterically. Buddhism teaches five. I might go into detail about this, but suffice it to say for now that all seven of Blavatsky's principles are in the skandhas with the exception of Atman.
The exoteric Buddhists do not teach an imperishable principle surviving from life to life. They teach a life stream, which is how karma works. Every life you have produces another. The deeds of this life affect the next. Even so, you are not really "you." Life after life, you are your own spiritual child. I, Richard Taylor, give birth to Jane Whoever in Africa in my next life. She inherits my energy and characteristics.
In this school of Buddhism, nothing essential is passed on. Blavatsky had very little use for these people, except that they were the closest exoteric religion to the esoteric doctrine she was interested in.
HPB characterizes these people as being opposed to the Mahayana or Great Vehicle. ("Maha" means "great" in Sanskrit.) Why do we call it great? Well, it is just GREAT, that is why! [At this point in the talk, everyone laughs.] It is not for an exclusive few wanting to practice spirituality life after life after life. It aims at the great mass of humanity. It teaches the same doctrines as the Sthaviravadins, but also adds an inner doctrine not always accepted by the Hinayana.
The technical term for the words of the Buddha is "Sutra." With the Mahayana, we have extra Sutras. What does the word mean? Scholars are divided over its origination. It might refer to the Hindu Sanskrit word "Sutra," which means "thread," the thread that is teaching. More likely, I think, is that it comes from "su-ukta," meaning well-uttered. The Sutras were the well-spoken teachings of the Buddha.
The Mahayana School has massive scriptures teaching a more elevated view of Buddhism. What does it say? You can be enlightened in one lifetime. You can be enlightened even if you are not a celibate monk. You can be enlightened even if you have a day job. You can be enlightened even if you are a woman. (I know we think that is obvious -- "Even if you are a woman!" -- but back then it was pretty radical.) In all the ways that you can be different as a human, you can be enlightened.
In the Sthaviravada tradition, you only can be enlightened if you are a celibate monk. They are only allowed to be men. In the early days, there were nuns, but that order died out eventually.
Mahayana! Blavatsky is really big on Mahayana. Read her THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. Published near the end of her life in 1889, it is chock-full of Buddhist terms. Get a nice English-Sanskrit dictionary. Look up the terms in it. You will find word-for-word translations from Mahayana Buddhist texts.
There are two primary means of progress on the path in Mahayana.
First is compassion (Karuna). It is compassion for all beings. It is base or fundamental, without exception, absolutely foundational. It is not merely caring for your family and friends. It openly embraces the universe and its suffering and it contains the will to end that suffering.
Second is wisdom (Prajna). Believe it or not, but in Buddhism Karuna is masculine and Prajna feminine. Joined together in symbolic sexual union, they produce the mind of enlightenment (Bodhichitta), which is the preparation to fully actualize your Buddha nature.
You cannot do without either wisdom or compassion. They are the two foundational pillars of Mahayana Buddhism. Without wisdom, you are doing good deeds that may actually harm. Your compassion may lead you into error without wisdom. Wisdom without compassion is sterile, bland, the intellectual arrogance we see too much of in the world. Modern scholasticism can be the pinnacle of Prajna without Karuna.
By Rick Nurrie-Stearns
[This article first appeared on PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION magazine's web site. For more information see:
The author is a long-time student of Theosophy and past publisher of that magazine. He is also the editor of the book SOULFUL LIVING and had published the magazines THEOSOPHICAL NETWORK and LOTUS: JOURNAL FOR PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION.]
NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL (Written almost three years after the initial experience.)
Some months after the awakening, a spiritual friend suggested that I take up meditation again. I started sitting each morning for a couple of hours. Rather than taking the attitude that I had arrived at the goal, I felt that I now had something into which I could really sink my teeth. I started my meditation practice with beginner's mind and a feeling I was beginning a spiritual journey.
In the beginning, I had to learn to keep my eyes open during meditation to keep from disappearing into nothingness. When I would shut my eyes, I would drop into voidness. There was no "I" and no others. I let go of all prior ideas of meditation. At first, I had a challenging time letting go as I kept trying to do something. All of my deeper movements in meditation came when I let go, when I surrendered completely rather than trying to do something.
What little personal instruction I had previously received in meditation was only vaguely useful in the first couple of minutes of meditation. In particular, I found that watching the breath kept my mind engaged and that it was far more useful to let the attention rest on one pleasant sensation in the body. By letting attention rest on one sensation, I found I was less likely to activate thinking. After resting attention on the pleasant sensation for a short time, I learned to let attention become what it was resting on and I moved into deeper meditative states.
When I let go of preconceived ideas of meditation, a natural meditation bubbled up from within me, one that suited my temperament. One morning after some months of practicing my meditation, I randomly picked a book from my library shelf for inspirational reading. I was surprised to find that the natural meditation I had let bubble up was actually a Buddhist meditation detailed in that book by Ayya Khema, "Who is My Self."
After a couple of months of meditation practice, I found that I was able to keep my eyes open and experience both the manifest and the voidness at the same time. My experience became neither one nor the other but both voidness and fullness simultaneously. Seeing both as one and not two was a huge ah-ha for me. Everything exists and does not exist at the same time.
Sometime after the awakening, I noticed that meditation had become effortless. Deep meditative states happened spontaneously day and night.
One hot afternoon after doing some yard work, I felt exhausted to the point that I could not do any more physical work. I decided to go inside to finish up on some computer accounting that had long needed my attention.
As I sat in front of the computer, I noticed that the experience of bliss energy was increasing in my body. I was finding it increasingly difficult to shift my awareness into any other kind of thinking, including thinking about accounting. Feeling confined in the house, I went outside to sit in the shade on the porch.
As I relaxed into the chair, I fell into a deep meditative state. Everything seemed to slow down. I sensed my awareness expanding beyond my body to include the surrounding environment. Everything was vibrant and rich in color. The air seemed thick and full of energy. The birds were singing. The leaves of the trees gently rustled in the breeze as the dragoon flies flew in circles around the water garden. I relaxed and sank deeply into presence.
A horsefly flew around the corner of the house. It was flying as horse flies do, so fast they appear as a blur. As it flew nearer, I noticed the movements of its wings going slowly up and down as if I was watching it fly through the lens of a high-speed movie camera filming at many frames per second.
The point of my perception seemed to be an inch from the fly as it made a wide arcing turn several feet away from my body. During the arcing turn, I noticed its head cock to the left. I saw the many reflections from its multi-lensed eye as though I were looking at it through high magnification.
In another moment, it registered in awareness that there was only fly and no other. The immediacy and intimacy of fly startled me and I recoiled back into brain-mind consciousness. In that same instant, the fly zoomed off in the familiar blur of speed.
These Samadhi states happen spontaneously. They represent a total absorption in one object. I have had them in relation to other objects and even in relation to individuals. When one happens, I immediately and totally know that which I perceive. Expressing what I perceive has been a challenge. It is like trying to put words to a mountain of information.
Being the Sky
One morning, I worked in the yard building a water garden. I was contemplating the nature of consciousness and the meditative experiences I was having. Throughout much of the day, I wondered what it would be like to live from my deepest awareness. Needing some pipe fittings for the water garden pumping system, I decided to go into town to pick up the needed parts.
I drove, pondering my question about what it would be like to live from my deepest awareness. My awareness spontaneously expanded, it was as if I was 1500 foot above the car, seeing everything at once, all 360 degrees. I saw up, down, and all around while still being aware of driving. I was seeing the road from inside the car while also being 1500 or so foot above the car with awareness of everything in all directions. I was aware of the trees, wind, sky, the smell of the leaves, and gravel on the road. Then, as quickly as the expansion had appeared, it left me back in the car driving down the road.
Since the awakening, sleep has been one of the most perplexing changes in my daily experience. For over a year and a half after the awakening, I never lost consciousness. At night when I would lie down to sleep, I remained consciously aware. I lay there, meditating or watching the mind thinking or dreaming.
For months I was disturbed by this and realized how much attachment I had for unconsciousness. In the mornings I always felt rested and relaxed and very rarely did I feel tiredness during the day.
One of the pleasant side effects of maintaining constant consciousness was the near complete freedom from time. Since I slept very little I was free to do as I wished during the night, usually I went for walks with our dogs or sat and watched the night sky.
After injuring my lower back while working on the roof I found lying down painful. A side effect of this pain was that I learned how to go unconscious during sleep. Since that injury my sleep has changed, sometimes I'm conscious and sometimes I'm not.
To explain what enlightenment is, I must tell you a story from my childhood. When I was in the forth grade, my family moved to Big Spring, Texas. My dad had a small company that specialized in railroad construction. We traveled from town to town staying a school semester or two.
Big Spring was a small town built up around an air force base out in the middle of nowhere. One of the high points of living there was the Saturday morning matinee at the local Movie Theater. A local milk company sponsored the morning matinees. You could get in free if you brought five empty milk cartons. Tommy (my friend from down the block) and I used to meet in the alley behind my house every Saturday morning at nine.
On our way to the theater, we used to walk down the alley. We would go through garbage cans collecting milk cartons so we could get into the movie free. Sometimes the theater would have some cool monster movies. Most of the time, the movies were just so-so. Neither Tommy nor I really cared what was playing. It was just fun to go.
I remember watching a movie one morning. It was particularly fascinating, and completely engrossing to me. About three-quarters of the way through, the film suddenly slowed down. The hero and heroine were about to divulge the secret that would dramatically change the plot of the movie.
The film stopped a moment later. On the screen was a single frame from the film, a picture of the image of the hero and heroine. The next moment, the image slowly melted then caught fire. In another instant, the film broke, leaving nothing but an intense blinding bright light illumining a white screen.
I was temporary blinded by the light, only coming to my senses moments later when hearing the ruckus of a theater full of children yelling for the projectionist to fix the film.
I felt shock realizing I had just been watching a movie. A moment before the film broke, I had been so engaged that I had forgotten about my life.
It must have been ten minutes before they got the film going again. Starting back up, it was not as captivating as before. Now the characters seemed more like actors reading a script than real people.
My experience of enlightenment was similar in many ways to my experience as a child watching that Saturday morning movie.
We gradually construct our sense of self from life experiences over time as we grow from child to adult. If you believe in reincarnation, then we do this over successive live experiences. It is as if we are participating in a movie plot as it develops. We slowly come to believe that the drama of the movie is all there really is.
We live only a fraction of what is possible.
Enlightenment is right here, right now. There is no need to look outside of you for it. It is the very ground of our being.
One question I think most led to my awakening was, "What is life calling of me?" This questioning directed me to listen from a different place within myself, a place without regard for ego.
What do I recommend? Educate yourself. Take time doing nothing. Sit with spiritual teachers. Do psychological work and therapy. Watch your dreams. Take acupuncture. Keep a simple diet. Limit your energy loss. Follow your heart rather than head.
Whatever we give space to in life, we nurture. What we nurture in life is what we reap. Nurture awakening.
By Robin Pratt
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, July 1947, pages 434-37.]
Are we old Theosophists, fully informed about the intricate time schedules of the peregrinations of the rounds and the races, the complex interrelations of vast cosmic entifications and their energizing principles? Are we are but mere fledglings, gasping in full wonderment that here at last we find the Great Answer to It All? Either way, we like to "talk Theosophy."
Who among us, having for the first time encountered Theosophy in the questing years of life, but remembers the stunning, light-breaking impact of these great truths upon our minds, the thrill of new confidence within our hearts?
You who have known Theosophy from earliest memory, having been born into it, are in a way fortunate. But you have, in this life at least, missed that throb of sudden discovery after prolonged searching, that coming into the sunlight after years of tunneling, wrestling, and black conflict. Having missed that, you do not perhaps quite fully evaluate the wisdom that is yours nor sense how much others need it. One does not question or seek to share what seems a native inheritance.
Some of us find Theosophy only after much searching. Like most converts, we are slightly fanatic about it. We want to rush out and tell others all about it willy-nilly. This exuberance is reasonable enough if not allowed its head too long before it is broken to the bit. Ask any old Theosophist why. He will expatiate upon this swing of the pendulum in impressively couched terms, redolent of the more abstruse portions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, touching upon the Law of Cycles with a dash, maybe, of Sanskrit to give it just that touch or inkling of esotericism and ancient authority.
The point is that fanaticism, though excusable at first, is reprehensible when perpetuated beyond the time when the scales should be balanced and equilibrium restored. Fanaticism breeds fixity. The essence of the Theosophic teaching is away from crystallization of concepts toward the unfoldment of consciousness. It is toward expansion, ever becoming, adaptability, and change.
If we would have others listen to our teachings, we need to be good and receptive listeners first. Some of the greatest teachers of Theosophic Wisdom never preach at all nor even speak of it. From the eloquent silence of their vital, integrated, and luminous lives, and from their understanding hearts, they elicit enquiry and inspire unsolicited emulation.
He who is not really seeking does not want to hear what we may have to say. He will not listen. If our path crosses his, nothing but lives as they are lived and our sincere compassion for his problem will make any difference to him. Therefore, conversationally speaking, one does not set out to talk Theosophy. One knows it, lives it, and develops that special awareness of the moment's need so no true inquirer goes away unaided.
The true inquirer for a reconciliation of life's seeming anomalies asks everywhere. He asks within himself, seeks out his pastor, teacher, and consults the man on the street. Mind you, he is desperate. What is the reason for all the suffering? Why must we live only to die? Why does not life, with its myriad inequalities, add up better than it does?
He finds no answer within, and he is equally frustrated without. His pastor pontificates. If the pastor were a kindly, simple soul, he offers a well meant but unsatisfying blanket formula of dogma and the enjoinder that the supplicant opens his heart to the Lord and the Lord shall add all things unto him. The professor, privately sharing his uncertainty, offers cynicism in the guise of learning. The man on the street says, "Search me! Let's have a drink."
The one on a quest does not give up, even though no light shines. He is spiritually desperate. When the striving is great enough, the answer is forthcoming. Hope is almost spent perhaps, and then someone, somewhere, SAYS something. It may be but a word, phrase, or lecture attended with a chance acquaintance. Is this chance? It may be no spoken word at all but rather an encounter with a life so tranquil and yet powerfully pervasive that it bespeaks a motivation one longs to fathom.
One gets the hint and moves on to discover some of the many sources of answers to one's questions. Usually it is new, strange, and so absorbingly fascinating that the searcher yearns for plenty of soul satisfying talk. One desires conversation with someone informed of these ancient and eternal truths. Of course, he begins reading voraciously, but he needs the outlet of communication and clarification gained only through conversational interchange, especially at the beginning.
As all who know will attest, there is recognition in the experience of spiritual awakening. It is as if one were really coming home after a long journey. It is like waking from a long bad night of dreaming and seeing the sunshine streaming through the familiar ruffled curtains of one's bedroom. For a little while, give the novice the opportunity to talk it out. This is at the expense, maybe, of his guide's leisure hours and precious sleep. Usually the delight is mutual. The opportunity to help is beyond price.
How do we who have found our truths meet the needs of the true searcher? Do we open our hearts to his problem with compassion, seeing life from his point of view, sensing where best to commence, how little or how much to say, and in what language? Have we clarified our thinking, cleansed our natures of emotional coloration and pet prejudices, and familiarized ourselves with the fundamentals so we can answer his need lucidly, simply, and fully enough? Having the knowledge, perhaps a great fund of it, have we the fine discrimination to say less rather than too much, letting the neophyte articulate his newfound wonder and haltingly express what this truth means to him?
The temptation of the teacher is to hold forth, dilate, and submerge the pupil in a welter of verbiage. There is time for teaching in small doses, administered only when he asks his questions. These he surely will ask if Theosophy has sounded a gong in his being. Whatever the degree of his enthusiasm, it is not well to gorge him before digestion has a chance to do its work.
Depending on his background, the seeker needs a special intuitive response from his mentor. Does his search stem from emotional desperation or intellectual frustration? What are his prejudices? To trample roughshod on his tender corns before he has oriented himself can alienate and delay him.
Is his nature uncomplicated and well intentioned? Is his capacity for intake limited to a few simple, practical ideas and their working hypotheses? Is he one who needs to plumb the depths and reach beyond the farthest star before his questing mind can find stillness?
It is no time for blundering on the part of him who attempts to serve as guide. The moment is certainly not one for withdrawal into taciturnity. He may even wisely let the wisdom pour forth as one may that has the "gift of tongues." Even so, the general emphasis should be on the side of discreet reticence. The understanding heart in its compassion knows what help is needed. Partly with its stillness and partly with what it is moved to say, it aids the unfolding of a budding consciousness.
One whose privilege is to help will sense another's need and thus help comes through him. His years of study and his life have rendered him a suitable channel. If wise, he sternly checks the temptation to air his erudition. He remembers his own long-ago exquisite moment of discovery. He tunes his spirit to that of the newcomer, finding the right rhythm. Joy, discovery, and the wisdom of the heart blend in a true harmony of brotherhood.
Having accepted the intuitive appointment to serve in the early awakening of another, responsibility looms large in other ways than the mere imparting of the truth. Our lives and practices come under scrutiny. How do we exemplify the fine truths that we teach?
Though the eyes of the grateful pupil may be charitably blind to the faults of the teacher for a time, disquieting disillusionment sometimes mars the way of the neophyte. Therefore, disclaiming perfection, we nonetheless mend our ways and deepen the wellsprings of our hearts. The high wisdom of the heart channels its crystalline stream to the thirsty heart of another.
By Steven Levey
There are many worlds. All are filled with sound. These are Resident within a greater one. But, even it is relative to the ONE Which is completely Unbound.
Within this relationship are found Perfectly balanced hearts and minds. However seemingly intangible this is, Many intuit this unknown ground, Dreaming of an all-inclusive freedom.
We have seen ourselves too small. But, a few break through Our poorly imagined limits, Teaching us the truth, With a vision meant for all.
The Wise care for the well being of others, Consciously assisting as friends, then as brothers. They awaken that wondrous human need, Overcoming separateness and bringing us together At first intangibly and then by degree.
The life deep within us is a mystery. But the waters of compassion penetrate, Sink in and fructifying that which sleeps Awakened, it follows its natural tropism, To the surface of the mind.
Replete with healing power, An unsuspecting beauty will flower, Arising in time out of seeming confusionr, Having drawn together the constituent parts In the stillness of some unknown hour.
By Shrimati Lila Ray
[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1954, pages 346-50.]
Bereavement is bitter. Death presents us with a dilemma. Because it is so inescapable, we are ultimately compelled to define our attitude toward it in thought or action. Actions disclose attitudes. Death itself is as definitive as birth. "At the hour of death," writes Gide in his DIARY, "We shall be reflected in the past. Leaning over the mirror of our acts, our souls will recognize what we are."
A time comes when death confronts us. It is inexorable, inexplicable, baffling, and inevitable. How do we meet it? It could be the crown or shame of our life. As it need not bring shame with it, Diogenes did not consider it evil. Sophocles warned us to see the end of life before we count anyone blest. Does the wise man die like a fool? Both die certainly, but in different ways.
The death that brings shame truly brings double bereavement. We bereave not only of the company of those we love but also of their esteem. This is a double death. Bereavement is not bitter where separation is not painful. Sometimes it even brings a joyous sense of release and relief. When the bonds which bereavement breaks are not bonds of love, where there is no tenderness, and where there is a lack of affection or compassion, death is welcome. Death may even be sought. It has no terror. Death is not bereavement where there is no affection.
Death is terrible because it removes us from places and people dear to us. Unavoidable, the separation is painful. Physical pain is less unrelenting. It ends. The average person faces it many times in life. Modern medical science has effective means of relief. There are anesthetics for the fortunate. What relief do we have from the emotional suffering from the loss of a beloved person? The pain has no end. We only become habituated to it. An orphaned child cries for its father. A mother grieves for her child. Both are dumb with helpless sorrow. We fear death because of the hardship it brings to the heart.
The possible attitudes toward death include rejection, acceptance, or evasion. Rejection takes many forms, more often unconscious. The blind, unreasoning terror of an animal is one extreme. The eager adoption by sects like the Sufis of a doctrine of death-in-life is the other. What is inevitable cannot be rejected or evaded. There is no escape. This is why the Stoic attitude includes an element of despair. Death is accepted in desperation.
Psychological anesthetics have been sought down the ages. Historically, the most widely used is the cultivation of an aversion to the world. Have we not been taught that the day of death is better than the day of birth? A deep disgust for physical life, for life in the world, has been carefully nurtured. This is fear therapy.
At the root of it and other devices is a threefold dread: (1) the dread of the physical pain involved in death, (2) the dread of the emotional pain of separation from persons and things we love, and (3) the dread of the unknown to which we are dragged willy-nilly. Deny it as much as we like, we all rejoice in light and air, skies and waters, fruits and flowers, and birds and creeping, walking, swimming, jumping, and running creatures. Last but not least, we rejoice in human companionship. The thought of losing it all is frightening.
By eliminating affection and exiling love and delight from our lives, can we eliminate this dread? Is this the premise that has prompted monks and nuns to sever ties of home and family, leaving the world? What is meant by the world, if not love?
To them, the ties of affection are fetters. They adopt and urge upon others a policy of detachment. The contemporary ideal of a man "completely disengaged and uncommitted" as envisioned by Gide in his HOMME DISPONSIBLE and Robert Musil in his MANN OHNE EIGENSCHAFTEN takes its rise in the same fear. Certain intellectuals today preach non-commitment with the same fervor with which mediaeval monks preached asceticism.
Asceticism has gone out of fashion but sex relationships have tended to become casual. People evade responsibility for what they do. The modern man is irresponsible, seeking pleasure for selfish purposes. As the Bengali proverb suggests, it is like trying to catch fish without touching water. The good he seeks eludes him and he loses without knowing the loss. In his frustration and ignorance, he decries the good and seeks absolution in cynicism. He succeeds only in making the worst of all worlds.
The egoist mistakes the selfish evasion of responsibility for self-mastery. He is afraid to give. In the act of giving, we surrender our hearts as hostages. To him, the pain of it is too great. It is unbearable but also inescapable. By self-mastery is meant something different from the egoist's definition. If detachment means heartlessness then suffering is preferable. Even fear is preferable. Life is animated by the fires of affection. Nature is not detached, cold, nor mechanical. She hovers anxiously over every blossoming flower bud, every star bursting into light. Without warmth there can be no life.
How can fear of death be overcome? Fear of death is fear of pain. Our attitude towards death depends upon our attitude towards pain. If like an ascetic we are so afraid of pain that we kill our sensibility because sensibility is the source of pain, we lose more than we gain. Suffering terrifies the ascetic so he does away the source of suffering rather than face that terror. He forgets that the source is the marvelous and mysterious warmth that, in the delicacy of its response to the stimuli of our surroundings, is the proof and measure of our existence and its intensity.
Great strength of spirit and heroism are required to face and accept pain. It is necessary and inevitable. In order to avoid the necessity of suffering, to kill sensibility is cowardly and the recourse of the weak in spirit. It is an act that precludes the possibility of achieving a rekindling of life on any plane. A fire that has been extinguished cannot warm. The loss of the warmth is irreparable. That warmth is an indispensable ingredient of all life.
We can overcome the fear of death by overcoming the fear of pain. The fear is the same. Life is sentient and not to be sentient is to deny life. Knowing this, we can learn to suffer gladly. Then we can rejoice in our capacity for feeling both joy and sorrow. In so doing, we set ourselves freer than any ascetic has ever been. Gandhi taught us that the law of suffering is the one indispensable condition of our being. He said that we can even measure our progress by the amount of suffering we have undergone.
Suffering is related to the effort necessary to achievement something of value. Like a pregnant woman, we may be trapped in a painful situation from which there is no escape. We take our captivity captive by welcoming it and seeming to bear it lightly. "Turn your fetters into footholds," said Rumi.
St. Francis writes in the FIORETTI:
Above all the Graces and all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to His friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love to Christ, sufferings, injuries, discomforts, and contempt.
Out of love for her babe, the expectant mother accepts the suffering of childbirth. The wise woman makes intelligent and economic use of her pain to shorten the inevitable agony. Death and birth are two parts of a single process which begins in agony and ends in deliverance. The woman whose will and strength enable her to control and utilize her reactions to set the new life within her safely free is rewarded with a great and wondrous joy. She realizes the joy of being a coworker of the divine in the creative process, of being in partnership with God. It is the proud privilege of woman to prove on her body the purpose of pain. She knows its value.
The pain we fear is the means of our liberation and of others. In setting us free, it brings new life into being. Our life is in a new form. We are a new being. After learning the extinction of death, life is reborn through the power of love. Our progress lies through death, says Rilke. He adds that renunciation is the price of vision. For only renunciation out of love can give us the required endurance and strength.
Death, says Heidegger, is our salvation from bondage. It makes us strip ourselves of all illusions, talk, curiosity, and ambiguity. It reveals to us what constitutes our life. Through it, we are forced to realize ourselves as individuals. In the face of death, each is alone and unaided. Therefore, he says, we pass through death from an unauthentic to an authentic existence. Perhaps Goethe had this in mind, when he said:
[Iphigenie was] one of those sweet creatures who have accumulated an infinite amount of moral energy, partly because, having touched death, they have received the Eternal into their hearts forever and are dead to the world, to the material and superficial world. Their lack of joy in life is alone capable of bringing back both joy and life to a languishing and disheartened world.
And Blake's Jesus replies to Albion:
Would thou love one who never died for thee or ever die for one who had not lived for thee? And if God dieth not for Man and giveth not Himself eternally for Man, Man could not exist, for Man is love as God is love.
Like the mother, we must accept pain for the sake of love. Were it not for love, there would be no pain.
The sage is immortal, unassailable, and endowed with the magical power of creation. Like the mother, he remains in contact with individual human life, responding to the call of creatures. The greatest sacrifice an enlightened one makes is that of heaven itself. He refuses to enter until the last, least, and weakest of creatures has gone before him. In the cosmic refuge, one is not alone. One cannot save oneself from adverse experience by isolation. One's safety lies in union with the whole.
The Vimalakirti Sutra teaches that Samsara is Nirvana. Life is suffering. It is suffering from which we cannot escape without destroying life. Apart from it, there is no beauty, no bliss, and no rest. "But from my heart," protests Dante, "Love does not draw the thorn of pain that living I shall ever bear, though I should live forever."
Here also we perceive the secret of the cross of Christ. Christ crossed out suffering in his crucifixion. Nirvana is achieved if we can accept suffering. In identifying ourselves with the pain of all creatures, we see in this identification the heaven we seek. Psychologically, it is just as important as joy, even as the fact of death is as important as the fact of birth. Both are integral parts of life.
The authentic man sees both life and death steadily and whole. All men fear. The authentic man looks fear in its face and asserts himself against it. Such was Rilke. Unauthentic men hide from their fear and despair. They shrink from the responsibility of overcoming it. The measure of a man like Malraux is in his readiness to take on the burden of other people's ills rather than in his failure to find a cure. The greatest of Teachers is one receiving the gifts of the spirit but not departing from earth, knowing how to knot the thread of understanding. His usefulness exceeds that of all others.
Whenever and wherever it occurs, love is a miracle. It is a new birth, wonderful in itself, the act of transformation through which Nature continually renews herself maintaining her immortality. To deny it is to deny God. To accept it is to accept pain. Like the antinomy of evil, the antinomy of pain finds its solution in spiritual experience. Like birth, death can be life's crown. Death symbolizes renewal in the mystery rituals. The real name of THE BOOK OF THE DEAD is COMING FORTH IN THE NAME.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter IV, pages 19-26.]
There is no personal virtue in me other than I follow a path all may travel but few journey. It is a path within us where the feet first falter in shadow and darkness but later heavenly light makes it gay. I have traveled a little on that way and had some far-off vision of the Many-Colored Land. There are those who would fain believe in that world of which the seers spoke. Some cannot understand the language written by those who had seen that beauty of old and some might have thought the ancient scriptures but a record of extravagant desires. If I tell what I know, and how I came to see most clearly, I may give hope to them.
None needs special gifts or genius. Gifts! There are no gifts. For all that is ours, we have paid the price. There is nothing we aspire to for which we cannot barter some spiritual merchandise of our own. Genius! There is no stinting of this by the Keeper of the Treasure House. No one bestows it upon us. We win it. If he willed, yon man of heavy soul might play on the lyre of Apollo, the drunkard be god-intoxicated.
Nature does not bestow powers by caprice on any. Making exposition before his students, the formulae the chemist illustrates cannot be more certainly verified than the formulae of that alchemy by which we may transmute what is gross in us into ethereal fires.
Our religions promise that which they can only fulfilled beyond the grave. They have no knowledge we can put to the test now. The ancients spoke of a divine vision we might attain while yet in the body. Mistrust the religion that does not cry out, "I am today verifiable as that water wets or that fire burns. Test me that ye can become as gods." Its messengers are prophets of darkness.
As we sink deeper into the Iron Age, we meet the mighty devils of state and empire lurking in the abyss. They claim the soul for their own, molding it to their image, to be verily their creature and not heaven's. We need a power in ourselves that can confront these mighty powers.
Though I am blind, I have had moments of sight. Though I have sinned, I have been on the path. Though I am feeble, I have seen the way to power. I sought out ways to make more securely my own those magical lights that dawned and faded within me. I wished to evoke them at will and be master of my vision. I learned to do what is as old as human life.
Day after day when none might interfere through love or other cause, I set myself to attain mastery over the will. I would choose some mental object, an abstraction of form, and strive to hold my mind fixed on it in unwavering concentration, so that not for a moment, not for an instant, would the concentration slacken.
It is an exercise this, a training for higher adventures of the soul. It is no light labor. Cleaving the furrows, the ploughman's job is easier by far. Five minutes of this effort will at first leave us trembling as at the close of a laborious day. It is then we realize how little of life has been our own, and how much was a response to sensation, a drifting on the tide of desire.
The spirit would escape its thralldom. The rumor of revolt runs through the body. The mortal in us hurries along nerve, artery, and every highway of the body to beset the soul. Empires do not send legions so swiftly to frustrate revolt. More alluring than life, the beautiful face of one we love glows before us to enchant us from our task.
Old sins, enmities, vanities, and desires beleaguer and beseech us. If we do not heed them, they change. They seem to be with us. They open up vistas of all that they and we will do when we attain the new power for which we strive. If tempted down that vista, we find with shame after an hour of vain musing that it had lured us away. We had deserted our task and forgotten that stern fixity of will we set out to achieve.
Let us persevere in our daily ritual and the turmoil increases. Our whole being becomes vitalized, the bad as well as the good. The heat of this fervent concentration acts like fire under a pot. Everything in our being boils up madly. We learn our own hitherto unknown character. We did not know we could feel such fierce desires. We never imagined such passionate enmities as now awaken.
We have created in ourselves a center of power. It is dangerous, for we have flung ourselves into the eternal conflict between spirit and matter. We find ourselves where the battle is hottest, where the foemen lock in a death struggle. We are in grips with mightier powers than we had before conceived of.
What man is there who thinks he has self-control? He stands in shallow waters. He has not gone into the great deep nor been tossed at the mercy of the waves. Let him rouse the arcane powers in himself, and he will feel like one who has let loose the avalanche.
None would live through the turmoil if the will were the only power in ourselves that we could invoke. The will is neither good nor bad but is power only. It vitalizes good or bad indifferently. If all our labor would bring us was the rousing of the arcane powers and the increased turmoil, we would not be closer to divine being. We would only have a dilation of the personality.
The ancients taught us to gain this intensity. They taught it as preliminary to an unwavering, powerful meditation. Some explain the meditation they urged on us as, "the inexpressible yearning of the inner man to go out into the infinite." The Infinite that we would enter is living. It is our ultimate being.
Meditation is a fiery brooding on that majestic Self. We imagine ourselves in Its vastness. We conceive ourselves mirroring Its infinitudes, moving in all things, and living in all beings of earth, water, air, fire, ether. We try to know as It knows, to live as It lives, and to be compassionate as It is compassionate. We picture ourselves as It that we may understand It and become It.
We do not kneel to It as slaves. As Children of the King, we lift ourselves up to that Glory. We affirm to ourselves that we are what we imagine. The wise said, "What a man thinks, that he is. That is the old secret." We have imagined ourselves into this pitiful dream of life. By imagination and will, we reenter true being, becoming that of which we conceive.
On that path of fiery brooding, I entered. At first, all was stupor. I felt as one who steps out of day into the colorless night of a cavern. That was because I had suddenly reversed the habitual motions of life.
Normally, we live seeing through the eyes, hearing through the ears, stirred by the senses, moved by bodily powers, and receiving only such spiritual knowledge as may pass through a momentary purity of our being. On the mystic path, we create our own light. At first, we struggle blind and baffled, unable to see, hear, think, or imagine. We seem deserted by dream, vision, or inspiration, and our meditation is altogether barren.
Persist through weeks or months, and eventually that stupor disappears. Our faculties readjust themselves and do the work we will them to do. Never did they do their work so well. The dark caverns of the brain begin to grow luminous. We are creating our own light. By heat of will and aspiration, we are transmuting what is gross in the subtle ethers through which the mind works.
The dark bar of metal begins to glow, at first red and then as white heat. Ice melts and is fluid, vapor or gas, and a radiant energy at last. Likewise, these ethers purify and alchemically change into luminous essences. They make new vestures for our souls, linking us heavenward where they have their true home.
How quick the mind is now! How vivid is the imagination! We lift above the tumult of the body. The heat of the blood disappears below us. We draw ourselves to humility. The heart longs for the hour of meditation and hurries to it. When it comes, we rise within ourselves as a diver rises to breathe the air or see the light when under seas too long. We have invoked the God. The answer comes according to old promise.
As we aspire, so we are inspired. We imagine It as Love and what a love enfolds us! We conceive of It as Might and we take power from that Majesty. We dream of It as Beauty and the Magician of the Beautiful appears everywhere at Its miraculous art. The multitudinous lovely creatures of Its thought are busy molding nature and life in their image. All are hurrying, hurrying to the Golden World.
This vision brings its own proof to the spirit. Words cannot declare or explain it. We must go back to lower levels and turn to that which has form from that which is bodiless.
By Phillip A. Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by Point Loma Publications.]
THE EARLY YEARS
The pages which follow are largely based on the statements and remarks of Philostratus.
Our author begins with a note on Pythagoras and his rule of life, which was strictly followed by Apollonius.
"Though engaged in like pursuits and studies, Apollonius devoted himself to philosophy with a more divine enthusiasm, than Pythagoras," Philostratus declares, and continues:
"They that commend Pythagoras as the Samian, say of him, that before his birth in Ionia, he was Euphorbus at Troy; and that after his death at that place, which is recorded by Homer, he returned again to life."
"Pythagoras rejected the use of all clothing made from the skins of animals, and abstained both from eating and sacrificing them. He never polluted with blood the altars of the gods, to whom he offered cakes of honey, and frankincense, and hymns; for such oblations he knew were more acceptable to them than whole large-scale sacrifices (hecatombs) with the sacrificial knife."
("Honey, frankincense, and hymns," symbolize the essence and aroma of nature, besides having special significance in regard to the teachings of the philosophical schools. They were and are typical of a far higher spiritual education than the coarse and degrading bloodshed of lesser spiritual systems.)
"He conversed with the gods, and learnt from them, how men may do what is pleasing to them, and how the contrary. Hence he spoke of the nature of things as a man inspired: for he said that other men guessed only of the divine will, but that Apollo had visited him and declared his Godhead. Pallas and the Muses, he also said, had conversed with him, without declaring who they were, as did other deities whose names and aspects were not as yet known to mortals."
"Whatever was taught by Pythagoras, was observed as a law by his disciples, who reverenced him as a man come from Jove; and the silence he enjoined was most vigilantly adhered to by them, with a zeal which a doctrine so sublime merited; for whilst it continued, they heard many things of a divine and mysterious nature, which would have been difficult for them to retain and comprehend, had they not first learnt that silence itself was the beginning and rudiment of wisdom."
There was a disciple of Apollonius, Damis the Ninevite, who wrote a diary and an account of his travels, carefully noting the opinions, discourses, and predictions of his Teacher. A person belonging to the family of Damis called the attention of the Empress Julia to these writings of the Assyrian, which until that time had not been made public.
Also, Maximus the Aegean wrote of the actions of Apollonius at Aegae. These were the books used by Philostratus. The commentaries of Damis were plain, but not eloquent, and paid no attention to style. At the bidding of the Empress, the work of the philosopher Philostratus was to put the information in a more literary form and style.
Apollonius was born in or about the year 3 B.C. at Tyana, a town of Cappadocia, founded by Greeks. He was named after his father, who belonged to an ancient family, which might be traced back to the original settlers. He was wealthy, as were many of his country men.
Shortly before his birth, the Egyptian god Proteus appeared to the mother of Apollonius and announced that he himself would be her son. Proteus is the god who had a wonderful power of avoiding apprehension by transforming himself at will into anything he wished. He seemed to have foreknowledge of all things.
Apollonius was said to have been born in a meadow, near which there stood a temple dedicated to him. His mother was told in a dream to go and gather flowers in the meadow. Her young companions amused themselves in various ways, dispersed about the place, while she fell asleep. A flock of swans, feeding in the meadow, formed a chorus round her as she slept, and beating their wings, sang in unison, while a gentle breeze fanned the air. The song of the swans awakened her suddenly and the boy was born. The people of the place said that at that instant a thunderbolt which was ready to fall on the ground rose aloft and suddenly disappeared.
When the boy grew to an age suitable for instruction, his father took him to Tarsus and left him as a pupil of Euthydemus the Phoenician, a celebrated rhetorician. Apollonius became attached to his tutor, with whom, by his father's permission, he retired to Aegae, a neighboring town, not as noisy as Tarsus, and more suitable for the study of philosophy. Here he had opportunities for meeting students of the philosophy of Plato, Chrysippus, and Aristotle. He also listened to the opinions of Epicurus without condemning them. The teachings of Pythagoras were embraced by Apollonius with the utmost zeal and enthusiasm, though his tutor knew little of that philosopher and was not particularly addicted to study of any kind. This tutor was named Euxenus, a native of Heraclea. He knew some of the sayings of Pythagoras, precisely in the manner of birds that utter phrases they are taught without understanding a word of what they say.
Apollonius in no way despised this tutor, and kept faithfully to him while in his charge, though at times he would, like the young eagle that sometimes essays a flight above its parents without seeking to leave them altogether, explore regions of philosophy beyond his tutor's reach, while submitting to his authority, and being guided by him in the ways of knowledge.
DISCIPLE OF PYTHAGORAS
But at the age of sixteen, about the year Tiberius became Emperor, Apollonius became an enthusiastic disciple of Pythagoras and a zealous admirer of his doctrine, winged thereto by a superior intelligence. None the less did he continue to respect Euxenus, and as a proof of his regard, gave him a house which his father purchased for him, with a garden and fountains belonging to it, at the same time saying, "live you in what manner you please, but for myself, I shall live after the manner of Pythagoras."
Euxenus supposed, from this declaration, that his pupil had some lofty aim in view. He asked what beginning Apollonius proposed to make for his system of life. Apollonius replied that he would begin as the physicians do, for by purifying the body they prevent disease in some and cure others.
This reply was very appropriate, since the meeting-place of young philosophers in the town of Aegae was a temple of Aesculapius, the god of medicine, who occasionally revealed himself to his devotees.
Apollonius after this ceased to eat anything that had life, declaring it to be impure and weakening to the understanding. He lived on fruits and vegetables, saying that the products of the soil alone were pure. Wine, he admitted was pure since the vine is a tree not injurious to man. Doubtless he would say this of unfermented wine, but avoided controversy as to the fermented juice of the grape by saying that he considered it adverse to a composed state of mind by reason of the power it possessed of disturbing the divine particle of spirit of which it is formed, and therefore he abstained.
("The divine particle of air of which the mind is formed," is equivalent to the "divine particle of spirit." The Greek word for air and spirit is the same. The "Holy Ghost" is the "Holy Air" in Greek pneuma.)
So restricting his diet, Apollonius next changed his mode of dress. He went barefoot, dressed in linen, and would have nothing to do with garments made from living creatures. He allowed his hair to grow, and spent the greater part of his time in the temple of Aesculapius.
Those who officiated in the temple were astonished at these practical applications of his philosophy, and even the God himself sometimes appeared to the priest in charge and declared that he had pleasure in performing his cures in the presence of such a witness as Apollonius.
The fame of Apollonius spread near and far, so that the Cilicians and all the residents in and about the country came to visit him. There is a proverbial saying of the Cilicians which had its origin in this circumstance, for when they see one in great haste, they say, "Whither do you run so fast? Is it to see the young man?"
Of the work of Apollonius in the temple, a story is told in regard to a young Assyrian of luxurious habits who suffered from dropsy. This young man took pleasure in intoxicating liquor in spite of his sickness, and thus neglected the remedies he knew to be necessary. He slept on the couch provided for such patients, but the god gave him no dream indicating a cure. Upon the young man complaining of this, the god finally appeared to him and directed him to apply to Apollonius for advice that should make him well.
He asked Apollonius what he could do for him, and the latter replied that he could restore him to health and that he was not to be blamed.
"The god," said he "bestows health on all who are willing to receive it but you on the contrary, feed your disease. You live in total subjection to your appetite, and overload with delicacies a weak and dropsical constitution, adding clay to water."
Thus declaring clearly his opinion, Apollonius restored the Assyrian to health.
Another instance is given, also an illustration of the philosophy that lay behind the cures of Aesculapius, showing that the divine law of compensation could not be escaped, but must be fulfilled by the lawbreaker himself, neither vicarious atonement nor money being accepted from the man who remained impure at heart.
Apollonius saw one day in the temple much blood sprinkled on the altars, many sacrifices laid thereon, and several Egyptian oxen and huge swine slain; in addition, there were two golden bowls filled with most precious Indian gems.
"What is the meaning of all this," he asked the priest. "I suppose some great man is paying his respects to the deity?"
"You will be surprised to hear, I think," said the priest, "that the man has not yet even presented his petition nor has he dwelt the proper time in the temple nor has he received any benefit from the god. He has as yet received nothing; in fact, he only came yesterday, I believe, and yet he sacrifices with this extraordinary generosity. But he has promised to make more splendid and richer presents, if Aesculapius grants his petition. I hear that he is rich, and has greater possessions in Cilicia than all the rest of the Cilicians. His petition is that the god will restore him the eye he has lost."
Apollonius fixed his eyes on the ground, as was his custom, also in his old age, and asked what the name of the man was. When he heard it, he said, "I think he should not be admitted to the temple, for he is unclean, and met with the accident in a bad cause. I am of opinion that the mere circumstance of his making such costly sacrifices before the granting of his petition, proves not so much the honest maker of sacrifice, as one who wishes to deprecate the wrath of Heaven for some enormous offense."
Aesculapius appeared by night to the priest and said, "Let both him and his offerings depart together, for he is not deserving of the eye which remains."
When the priest made inquiries concerning the supplicant, he learned that he was living scandalously. His wife had put out both the eyes of her daughter by a former husband with a needle, and one of those of her present husband, who now sought to have it restored.
In this way, Apollonius showed the propriety of offering such sacrifices, and making such presents, as should not exceed the bounds of moderation. Many people flocked to the temple.
Apollonius conversed with the priest and said, "Seeing that the gods know all things, I think he who approaches them with a good conscience should pray after this wise, 'O ye Gods, grant what is convenient for me!'"
"Consequently," he declared, "good things are due to the good, and the contrary to the wicked. Hence the gods, who always act rightly, send him away whom they find to be of a sound mind and free from sin, crowned not with crowns of gold, but with all manner of good things; and him whom they discover to be corrupt and polluted by vice, they give over to punishment, being the more offended with him for presuming to approach their temples conscious of his own unworthiness."
Then Apollonius turned towards Aesculapius and said, "You, Aesculapius, exercise a philosophy at once ineffable and becoming yourself, not suffering the wicked to come near the shrines, even though they bring with them the treasures of India and Sardis; and this prohibition is given from knowing that such applicants do not sacrifice and burn incense from reverence to the gods, but from the selfish motive of making atonement for their own sins, to which you will never consent, from the love you bear to justice."
Many other philosophical discourses of this kind were uttered by Apollonius whilst he was still but a youth.
IN HIS TWENTIETH YEAR
In the year 17 A.D., Apollonius being in his twentieth year, and therefore still a minor, returned to Tyana to bury his father by the side of his mother, who had died sometime before. The fortune left was large, and Apollonius divided it with his elder brother, who was very dissipated and given to wine, though only twenty-three years of age; the latter had been independent of guardians since the age of twenty-one, as the law provided.
After this, Apollonius returned to Aegae and changed the Temple of Aesculapius into a Lyceum and Academy, in which resounded all manner of philosophical disputation.
When he became of age and his own master, he went again to Tyana, where a friend suggested that he should endeavor to reform his elder brother. Apollonius showed a delicate modesty in recognizing the presumption of such an attempt, but declared his willingness to try, as far as lay in his power.
Very tactfully he commenced his task. First he told his brother that he himself needed little and therefore was willing to give half of his inheritance to the elder brother who needed much. In this way he secured his brother's confidence without any appearance of presuming. Gradually he led his brother to the point where he would be willing to take advice.
"Our father who used to advise us is dead," he said. "It now remains for us to consult each other's interest and happiness. If I do wrong in any way, I ask you to advise me, and I will correct myself; and if you should do anything wrong, I hope you will listen to my advice."
By this gentle treatment, Apollonius first made his brother willing to listen to advice, and then by degrees prevailed on him to abandon his vices, which were common enough and fashionable at the time, such as gambling, drinking, a swaggering manner, and also a foolish admiration for his hair, which he used to dye.
After this success with his brother, Apollonius tactfully did the same with his other relatives. He did not hesitate to give those that most needed it the remainder of his fortune, with the exception of what his own small needs demanded.
As for himself, he declared that the saying of Pythagoras that a man should have but one wife was not for him, since he had determined never to marry. By this, says Philostratus, he showed himself superior to Sophocles the Athenian, who, when old, said he had got rid of a furious master, whereas Apollonius "subdued the wild beast in his youth and triumphed over the tyrant in the vigor of his young manhood."
By James Sterling
How often have I wondered About the mind of this tragic city: Figure eight freeways And littered gutters of broken glass. I'm breathing brown haze Instead of fresh, virgin air. Cool cascade air of an autumn breeze On a lonely mountain; Just you and I And thoughts that transcend the wind. The forest knows nature's secrets As the cold brook babbles; I know not its sublime language. Do I deserve to breathe this fresh, virgin air? Or am I a lonely visitor tolerated by The icy, belittling wind? I listen not to the voice of the city, Of its screeching tires and sirens, Harbingers of quiet death. I see no emptiness painted On the faces of the street. My place is neither on the mountain Nor the city. It's somewhere in between the beauty And waste of this Abraxas earth; Breathing virgin and harlot air At the same delicious time.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the second part of a tape recording entitled "A Discussion on Rounds" made of a private class held on June 8, 1955.]
Consider the coming back to life on Globe D Earth. Looking at the diagram of the Globes, you see that we go counterclockwise along Globes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G in order. There is much to this subject.
Everything is in motion. There is nothing static in the universe. The Greek philosopher Heraclites, a great Initiate, would say, "Panta Rei," which means everything flows. Things move in cycles. They constantly come back upon themselves, but not like a treadmill. The cyclic motion is repeated on slightly higher planes.
Today we are in June. If the Earth comes to the same position with regard to the sun next June, it will not be in the same part of space. The whole solar system will have moved millions of miles. The sun moves with the solar system so every June the Earth is in a different place.
Keep in mind that everything moves. Do not fail to apply this knowledge to even to the Globes of the planetary chain. They do not remain exactly where they were. They move too. They have their own circulations. That is why the overall picture can be both simple and greatly complex.
Picture the Earth moving around the sun. That simple picture disregards the motion of the sun. Consider the sun's motion and the motion of the Earth becomes a complicated spiral. Consider the motion of the galaxy and then the motion of the Earth become vastly more complicated. Higher mathematics is required to describe the motions, even when just dealing with the motions on the physical plane.
The same principle applies to spiritual teachings. Take certain things for granted. Explain them according to a certain scale. They are simple. Then bring other things into the picture and it gets complicated. If you bring in enough things it will become so complicated that only the highest minds can grasp it.
No matter how complex the picture is, if you grasp the pattern, you will not get lost. The fundamental principle is the same throughout nature.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE definitely states there is one law working throughout the cosmos. There is just one fundamental law. Einstein wanted to formulate it mathematically. He approached its threshold, but died without reaching it. That law could have a mathematical formulation, but it embraces much more than mathematics.
The principle of constant motion makes one think deeply, stretching one's mind. After stretching it for a while, even the best among us falls to the ground exhausted. It is wonderful how one is strengthened in trying to understand these things. Go on considering it, even though it may be confusing or misunderstood at first. It keeps one from becoming crystallized or getting stagnant.
Acting under a delusion, some people struggle to keep things the same, not wanting any change. They do not realize that the only permanent thing in the universe is change. This idea is fundamental. Not for a fleeting moment are things the same. While people try to stay the same, everything changes, including them.
What is that thing that we call a human being? Consider but the physical body. Every minute that one breathes, there is a stream of hundreds of millions of incoming and outgoing life-atoms. It is not the same for two consecutive seconds. With but few exceptions, nothing stays in the physical body more than a fleeting second. It is the same with everything else. The change is too rapid for us to observe. Our senses are too slow.
Say you could accelerate on the screen the changes your body underwent from birth to death. If you played the whole thing out in five minutes, anybody in the audience would see. This analogy is misleading, since our senses do not work that way. If I have not seen you in five years, I still recognize you.
Consider the experience of meeting someone who has aged considerably. We may unsure if it is the same person. There was a man whom I had not seen in five years. I knew him well. I met someone recently. I did not see him head on, but rather from the side. I saw him taking his meal in a restaurant for about ten minutes. I was not sure whether this person was him. If it was, it shows how the change is rapid enough at times to throw our senses off guard.
It is remarkable that what we recognize in others is not the physical body. The body has changed every minute of our life. What is that thing in us that stays relatively the same? What is it that remains so you can recognize an individual after not seeing him in thirty years? We see in others something beyond the physical. We think we only look at the physical body but also see something else. That inner, deeper level does not change as rapidly as the outer.
Consider another illustration. When I left Russia, I left behind two or three of my mother's sisters, aunts to whom I was much attached. Two died. The third came out of Russia five years later. With great delight, I looked forward to being able to meet her at the railway station in Germany.
I was horrified upon meeting her. She looked different. She has aged terribly. I thought, "Oh, no! This is not the individual to whom I loved so much. I certainly know how she looked! This is an entirely different individual!" It was a shock. The strangeness disappeared in the next few days. I again saw the same individual I had known ever since childhood, unchanged from what she was when I left Russia. I never forgot her true look. She never became the aged one again.
Ask yourself what it is that we see in people. The first recognition is of the body. I first saw my Aunt's body, which had been through hell those last five years, terrible experiences including the murder of her husband. The body had aged unquestionably. Why did the appearance of her being a different person disappear in the next few days? I thought about in, and came to realize that we see in others far more than just their body. Someday science will realize that there is more to us. Perhaps they will even be able to photograph something of our non-physical nature.
From another standpoint, we might say the reverse of this. Upon meeting someone of the same age level, someone not seen for years, you might see them and think they have not changed a bit. Nancy's husband just met a woman he had not seen in 20 years. Her husband is getting gray and fat and the woman is now around 40, but they looked the same to each other. As I heard it, they would have recognized one another anywhere.
There is a fundamental keynote which does not change rapidly. It gradually changes from one incarnation to another. For practical purposes, it remains the same throughout a life. There are subordinate keynotes that change at a certain time in life. At one time in life, the personality is one way. It is considerably changed later on. In the next ten years, it is considerably changed again. At the end of life, it is possibly vastly different.
There is a faster change in the coloring of the person and the more fundamental, less-changeable reality back of the person. It is like one is superimposed on top of the other, like changing shades of color superimposed upon a fundamental color that hardly changes. Various similitudes could be used to imperfectly illustrate this.
The exception is when the karmic pattern of an individual requires dramatic changes. Sometimes an individual has one-or-more times where one's keynote is drastically changed. There are many cases of this. We see a sudden and complete change of the entire personal characteristics of someone. It simply shows that he has outlived a certain karmic setup. He is almost entering a new incarnation without changing the body. That is what it amounts to. An entirely different karmic trend asserts itself from another incarnation and changes him so much that his friends do not recognize him. Sometimes the change is for the worse. Many times it is for the better.
When you see it happen to someone, like to Nancy's father, it is well worth studying. Can you explain it to others? You may be completely misunderstood. Others do not know what has taken place. They have not the philosophy of life. They have no way of explaining it. What are you going to do about it? Sometimes the individual is unaware. Generally speaking, changes do not take place with such rapidity. These cases are exceptions to the general rule.
QUESTION ON THE RACES
Let us come back to the question of the Races now. There are seven Root Races on each Globe. That means there are seven Root Races on Globes A, B, C, D, E, F and G. That is one Chain Round. It is repeated seven times. Wherever the lifewave goes, there is a rising tide. When it departs, the tide falls. When it has gone through all seven Globes, there is a temporary obscuration. The chain exists but is obscured. It has a period of latency and rest, after which it begins the passage of the tide for the second time throughout the entire global structure.
That is the Second Round and there are seven of them. We are in the fourth. We have been around the chain three and one-half times. After seven Rounds, the Globes of the chain disintegrate. That is the end of their lifespan.
A SLEEPING BUDDHA
There are cases of advanced Initiates that pass their current incarnation completely unaware of their status. This is an obscure subject. For some reason, they missed some particular experience of life in the distant past. They come to complete that knowledge, taking take up an incarnation in which their spiritual greatness is completely eclipsed. That enables them to go live out what they had missed. These are experiences that are required for them to complete their schooling in this particular Globe.
It might be the case with Jacob Boeme and with others we have read about or known by name. This may be the case of a Bodhisattva that had to go through the hardships of a simple life for some reason. He was illiterate yet able to author profound mystical treatises (through dictation to another individual).
Boeme did not know who he was. He did not see himself as a great teacher working in order make a living. He was the shoemaker Jacob Boeme and that is all there was to it. According to Blavatsky, Judge, and either Master KH or M, he must have been a Bodhisattva or a Nirmanakaya.
It might be the case with other types of people as well. This might also happen with the Buddha, who is immensely higher. Just at the verge of leaving the planet on some other errands, he might take such an embodiment. He may do so to gather the experience of one little set of circumstances that he missed in the record of past lives. At his stage, that record is completely open to his examination. As far as his brain goes, he might become completely unaware of whom he really is during that incarnation.
On a lesser scale, there could be quite a few such individuals. There are many Initiates on earth. Perhaps they are not advanced ones. Nevertheless, these individuals have actually been through one or more Initiations in other lives but are unaware of it now. They go through hard experiences in this particular incarnation. Maybe at the end of life, they become fully aware of what they really are.
Consider the wonderful portrayal of the mother in John Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH. She is ignorant, poverty-stricken, but of depth, selfless, and has a homespun philosophy of life. Uneducated and without material advantages, she displays a beauty of character that makes her stand head and shoulders above the rest. Could she be an example of someone greater that is taking such an incarnation? There are many more such individuals than we realize.
When everything is said and done, we are at no time alone. It would be utterly wrong, illogical, and untrue to imagine that at any time we are alone, deserted, and without help. The truth of it is that the teachers invariably are watching over those whose hearts and minds are aspiring to nobler things. I believe we should carry this thought in our minds. We should remind ourselves of this fact every now and then, drawing from it added inspiration.
The teachers of spiritual life, those great ones towards whom we aspire, are always looking for places and individuals where the need exists. Without exception, they invariably answer the call. The call for genuine spiritual help is answered wherever there is a need and one makes the call with a noble wish in one's heart. This happens because the teachers are constantly on the lookout for it.
The call for help must be impersonal. It must not be for escaping the results of one's misdoings. Then there is no answer. If there is a genuine spiritual call for help in order to grow, reach out to wider horizons, and be of service to others, that call is forwarded by those power currents that we call the Akasha. It is registered in proper quarters and answered.
How is it answered? The answer is different in every case. The teachers cannot change your life. You are the only one who can change it. They can give you opportunities to use or disregard. Along inner lines, they suggest opportunities for growth. They can place books in your way or send people that might be of help to you. They can manipulate certain forces, currents, and circumstances. This is providing that your personal karmic ledger allows it, because they cannot tamper with your karma, nor can they interfere with your freedom of will. You must make your own personal decisions in any matter.
There are many ways they can help with their wisdom without the slightest interference. It is up to us if we recognize the extended hand along inner lines, seeing the influence in circumstances that we meet. It is up to us to build within ourselves upon the strength of true manhood. It is up to us to be intuitive enough to recognize the help, perhaps coming from strange quarters and in circumstances which tax our intuition. It is not self-evident.
Whenever a genuine call that is made, neither distance nor time have anything to do with it. There is a constant connection between the aspiring soul in need and those perfected men towards whose status we as students aspire. They simply show us what we will become if we persevere.
At no time are we alone, no matter how dreary the circumstances surrounding us are or how difficult the problem facing us may be. The least quiver of our spiritual consciousness or the least little light of the Buddhic Splendor within us is at once recognized. The invisible hands that uphold the spiritual evolution of the world are ready at any time to extend whatever help we are ready to receive. There is no question about the help. There is only a question as to if we may recognize and take it.
In the study of this ancient Esoteric Philosophy, we encounter nothing that is given us as a gift. There is nothing that we can beg for. The man with his strong hand takes knowledge. If he has the power to take the knowledge then he has knowledge. That is why from the ancient Mystery Schools has come the injunction, "To know, to will, to dare, and to keep silent."