Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death.
LIGHT ON THE PATH, Chapter One, Rule Four.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 266-70.]
The writer has a rare volume published by John Chapman of 142 Strand, London in 1851. It contains an instructive essay -- "Elucidation and Analysis of THE BHAGAVAD-GITA -- Theosophy of the Hindus" in three parts -- (a) Introductory, (b) Summary of the Gita, and (c) Hindu Cosmogony, containing a "Note on the Occupations of the Four Castes."
Consider the theme of Repentance on which "January Searle" (George Searle Phillips) writes in this book. He is a mystic and a scholar, as the contents of the volume clearly show.
Writing on Repentance, he refers to "a nameless and super-sensuous power which keeps the heart pure." Man's stability depends upon his faith in this power, which also "strengthens each good resolution." Sinner though he be, man should have a correct view of self-reliance for this. "This noble virtue is the pivot on which life turns." We must obey our inner convictions to be truly self-reliant.
He points to the prevailing mental attitude -- intellectual reasoning -- and hints at "the new revelation of whose advent the idolatry itself is the sure and certain sign." He points to the Fourth Chapter of THE BHAGAVAD-GITA and the well-known pronouncement of Krishna about the incarnations on earth of the Divine. "One revelation closes and another begins." He describes thus the "idolatry," "the cultus of the age."
We are the idolaters of science, art, manufacture, and commerce; we have no longer a Temple for the Worship of the Invisible, for we no longer believe in the invisible. Our civilization is an intellectual organism, and there is no room within its pale for reverence.
In the opinion of the writer, who calls himself "January," looking like Janus at the past and the future, a good man can live outside the pale of idolatry and "listen to what the Spirit saith unto him." Referring to the struggle between mind and soul and its continuing in a new dimension today, he writes:
Let the intellect have free development and play, and occupy all its sphere; let it sift and reason; let it sit in judgment and pronounce sentence on all lies, frauds, and deceitful inventions -- on all tricks of men devised to enslave the mind and strip it of its right and liberty; but quench not the spirit; trust it rather to the end; for its silent whispers are the breath of God, and the source of all insight and wisdom.
Man, as an individual, is a part of the great whole in which family, society, and nation have their places. As such, man has his beliefs that make him "in all things either too intellectual or too superstitious." His duty to himself calls upon him to examine his beliefs and convictions.
"Do not think, that it matters not what you think." A wrong philosophical formula brings disaster. Every man, however unlearned, has a philosophy by which he lives. It is, therefore, his first duty, his duty to himself, to think aright. "Beware of indifference -- for this is death to the soul."
The fundamental principle of self-examination comes next.
There are eternal and infinite distinctions between right and wrong, which no intellectual demonstrations to the contrary can ever put aside. Hold by the right, though thou perish on its golden horns. It is better thus to die, than to die living with the wrong. The conscience is the dial of the man; do not blot out the image of God that burns upon its sacred disc.
Will the greedy commercial man, the wrathful retaliationist in society, the over-sexed man of lust, accept this truth about "eternal and infinite distinctions between right and wrong?" Does the modern psychiatrist, the psychosomatic doctor, or the psychoanalyst affirm that lust is lust? Does he try to make allowances and to gloss over sex aberrations, upsurges of anger, monetary covetousness, and thus without meaning to do so push the poor patient through the "gates of hell" of the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gita?
To one aspiring to a new dawn, the January of the calendar of soul life, our esteemed author advises "to stand upon his conscience and to respect the moral law." There are thousands today who look to a new dawn. If they turn within, their call of repentance will be heard.
It has been said in an ancient text that, "Time produces penance and meditation." However wrong and sinful we may have been in the past, it is never too late to mend. Only the door of death shuts off the grand opportunity. If we have not tried to take it while we had it, we shall find it more difficult to recognize in another incarnation. Says our author:
The soul is always pure, and delights not in frauds and sorceries, but is forever enamored of that divine beauty in whose image it is fashioned.
He puts a great psychological truth forward:
A man ought to be so well balanced that sin should be foreign to his nature; in other words, he should be master of himself, and suffer no miasma of the passions to foul the purity of his spirit. We are to use, not abuse, our faculties, which even in their lowest functions, are all good and proper to man, and can only be rendered evil by lawless fruition.
He advises us to guard against the lawless use of our mental, moral, and bodily faculties. Who among us has not erred, blundered, and even sinned? What of that? "Life is too short to waste in useless regrets; and regret itself is disease."
"So long as there is vitality in the conscience there is hope for the man," says our author, and he calls all who have erred or sinned to repentance, of which there are two kinds -- the theological and the intellectual. About the first, he says:
All the dreadful penalties and horrid pains recorded in the penal statutes of Christianity against the sinner, take such absolute possession of his nature that he is scared into madness, and sits in mute and awful despair, amidst the ruins of his intellect.
To a mind not diseased by the awful dogmas of innate depravity, with eternal torments as its consequences, repentance of our sin is a holy act, and brings with it both pardon and consolation. I know not how this happens, for it is dark and mystic in its process, although so beautiful and beneficent in its results. But we get a true insight here into the mystery of atonement; for the meaning is this -- at-one-ment with God; and the repentant man is once more in harmony with God's laws, and is thus literally at-one-with Him.
"We are safe without dogmas" -- Christian, Judaic, or Hindu. "Morality is the keystone of the world's arch." What is sin? What is morality?
Selfishness uses the power of Hate and sin is born: the sin of money and all types of greed; the sin of lust and all other passions; the sin of wrath and all expressions of violence.
The foundation of morality and virtue is selflessness. From it spring Compassion for all, Love for all, Charity for all. Universal Ethics can be learnt by Faith in the Self within. Every transgression against them can be remedied by Repentance. We have to learn the true language and speech of Repentance. The sound of that speech is silence and secrecy. "Thus have I heard."
By Richard Taylor
[This is based on the third 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.]
Tsong-Kha-Pa disputes the sexual and other literalisms degrading some Tantric practices. (See Wayman, YOGA OF THE GUHYASAMAJATANTRA, 1974, page 267.) From the very Guhyasamajatantra that Tsong-Kha-Pa is so happy about, Tsong-Kha-Pa comments:
The superior mudra [the union, the form, the seal of male and female] is the JNANAMUDRA [the wisdom-union] referred to in the CARYAMELAPAKA (-PRADIPA), when it says: Therefore, he bears in mind, that spurning an external woman and entering into union with the jnanamudra located in the heart, he will speedily attain [the rank of] Vajradhara [the diamond-holder, the diamond-realizer]; so he is to practice in complete solitude [and celibacy].
Are you with me so far? The Tantras are to be practiced by celibate monks and nuns. The sexual metaphors are metaphors.
But who is Vajradhara? Blavatsky helps us out again. She says in her SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 571:
ATMA (our seventh principle) being identical with the universal Spirit, and man being one with it in his essence, what is then the Monad proper? It is that homogeneous spark which radiates in millions of rays from the primeval "Seven;" [I am really curious what the "seven" are.] -- of which seven further on. It is THE EMANATING SPARK OF THE UNCREATED RAY -- a mystery. In the esoteric, and even exoteric Buddhism of the North, Adi Buddha [root Buddha] (CHOGI DANGPOI SANGYE), the One unknown, without beginning or end, identical with Parabrahm and Ain-Soph, emits a bright ray from its darkness.
She is pretty excited about this stuff:
This is the LOGOS (the first), or Vajradhara, the Supreme Buddha (also called DORJECHANG [diamond-holder in Tibetan]). As the Lord of all Mysteries he cannot manifest, but sends into the world of manifestation his heart -- the "diamond heart," Vajrasattva (DORJESEMPA) [in Tibetan]. This is the second LOGOS of creation, from whom emanate the seven (in the exoteric blind the five) Dhyani Buddhas, Anupadaka, "the parentless" ... These Dhyani Buddhas emanate, or create from themselves, by virtue of Dhyana, celestial Selves -- the SUPER-human Bodhisattvas.
I swear! We are almost done with technical terminology!
We go back to Buddhism now. Blavatsky is helping us on stepping stones, but we have to make the leaps. The Dhyani-Buddhas and their emanations are grouped by Tibetans into "Buddha families." Particular cycles of Anuttara or supreme Tantras are grouped around these families. There are five exoteric and seven esoteric families. Why five exoteric families? In Buddhism we have PANCHA SKANDHAS, five skandhas. Adapting from David Reigle's THE BOOKS OF KIU-TI, page 20, they are:
1. Kalachakra Tantra
II. MOTHER TANTRAS -- Teaching Wisdom (Prajna)
1. Teach All Six Families Equally Sarvabuddhasamayoga
2. Akshobhya Family Samvara, Hevajra, Buddhakapala, Mahamaya, Arali
3. Vairochana Family Chatupitha, Chandamaharoshapa, Achala, Krodharaja
4. Ratnasambhava Family Vajramrita
5. Amitabha Family Lokanatha, Tara-Kurukulla
6. Amoghasiddhi Family Namastare-Ekavimsati, Vajrakilaya, Mahakala
7. Vajradhara Family Yathalabdakhasama
III. FATHER TANTRAS -- Teaching Means (Upaya)
1. Teach All Six Families Equally None Preserved
2. Akshobhya Family Guhyasamaja, Vajrapani
3. Vairochana Family Mayajala, Yamari
4. Ratnasambhava Family None Preserved
5. Amitabha Family Bhagavadekajata
6. Amoghasiddhi Family None Preserved
7. Vajradhara Family Chandraguhyatilaka
The five skandhas are actually divine energies that have become corrupted in their manifestation. But we can purify them into Vajrakaya or Vajrasattva. We purify them gradually or purify them rapidly. Buddhism provides both paths: the Mahayana and the Vajrayana. Even so, it is the Buddhas that emanate our bodies. These divine Manushi-Buddhas and Dhyani-Buddhas made our world. We inherit our bodies and the world from previous generations, who were ourselves.
In divine representation, the metaphysical and Celestial Buddhas represent OUR higher selves grouped around five skandhas. They ultimately emanate from the first and second Logos (Vajradhara and Vajrasattva). You have been reading THE SECRET DOCTRINE, right? It is all in the book.
In the Tibetan tradition, there are three primary groupings of the supreme Tantras. (1) The first is NON-DUAL. It does not partake of either masculine or feminine. Which Tantra is it? It is the Dalai Lama's favorite, the Kalachakra. (And as you know, he is the head of the Yellow Hat sect, the lineage-holder of Tsong-Kha-Pa, about whom Blavatsky has never a negative word to say.) Even today, it is available. You can get initiated into it. The Tantras are no longer forbidden in Tibet. They are available today. (2) Second are the MOTHER TANTRAS. They teach wisdom. (3) Third are the FATHER TANTRAS, teaching means. Karuna is the vehicle.
The five profound Tantras that Tsong-Kha-Pa speaks of are: Kalachakra (from the Non-Dual Tantra), Samvara and Hevajra (from the Mother Tantras), and Guhyasamaja and Yamari (from the Father Tantras).
Of the seven Tantras comprising the Mother Tantra grouping, two were just numbered among the profound ones. The other five, the exoteric ones, are Akshobhya, Vairochana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, and Amoghasiddhi. Picture the five grouped as a mandala showing the Buddha of the four directions in the center, and the five Tantras arranged about him as his legs and Buddha head. The five are his skandhas.
This mandala is often drawn in an excellent manner with great iconography. If you integrate yourself with it, you are actually dealing with the esoteric and spiritual aspects of your own higher nature. You act to purifying your five skandhas (seven in Esoteric Buddhism) and becoming one with the first Logos.
These are the Tantras one would study to get more details on the Buddha families. They tell us about the first and second Logos, Vajradhara, about all the things that Blavatsky talks about.
I want to wrap up by giving you "An Introduction to Tantra," by Lama Yeshe, who has now passed on to Nirvana or wherever one goes at his level. He also emphasizes the purity of it, its non-sexual nature, the committed required, and that you do not wandering around on the left-hand path doing whatever you darn well please. On page 14, he says:
According to the Buddhist teachings, no matter how confused or deluded you may be at the moment, the underlying and essential nature of our being is clear and pure. In the same way the clouds can temporarily obscure but cannot damage the life-giving power of the sun, so too the temporary afflictions of body and mind, our confusion, anxiety and the suffering they cause, can temporarily obscure but cannot destroy or even touch the fundamentally clear nature of our consciousness. Dwelling deep within our heart and within the hearts of all beings without exception is an inexhaustible source of love and wisdom. And the ultimate purpose of all spiritual practices, whether they are called Buddhist or not, is to uncover and make contact with this essentially pure nature.
Did Blavatsky ask us to do anything different? The question is means. What means suit you? Let us look at the Tantric approach. Maybe it suits you. Maybe it does not.
According to the Sutrayana, the path to fulfillment is a gradual process of cleansing our mind of all its faults and limitations. By substituting bit-by-bit the bad for the good, we develop in its place beneficial qualities like love and wisdom.
This path consists of creating specific good causes, behaving ethically, developing our powers of concentration, and training in meditative insight. This is for the attainment of full awakening in the future. Because of this emphasis on creating CAUSES for future results, the gradual approach of Sutras is sometimes known as the Causal Vehicle to enlightenment.
Compared to this gradual Sutra approach, Tantrayana or Vajrayana is a far speedier path to enlightenment. Although Tantra practitioners do not neglect creating the same causes as the followers of Sutra, they take the future result of full spiritual evolution as the very starting point of their path. They START with the fact that they are enlightened.
In Sanskrit, a supremely skillful Tantric practitioner is called a yogi (male) or yogini (female). Each learns to think, speak, and act RIGHT NOW as if he or she were already a fully-enlightened Buddha. Because this powerful approach brings the future result of full awakening to the present moment of spiritual practice, Tantra is sometimes called the Resultant Vehicle to Enlightenment.
Now consider the last paragraph by Lama Yeshe.
According to Tantra, perfection is not something that is waiting for us somewhere in the future. "If I practice hard now, maybe I will become a perfect Buddha" or "If I behave well in this life and act like a righteous person; maybe someday I will go to heaven." According to Tantra, heaven is now. We should be gods and goddesses right now, but at present we are burdened with limiting concepts: men are like this, women are like that, I am a certain way and there is nothing I can do about it, and so forth. This is why we have conflict within ourselves and with one another. All this conflict will dissolve as we turn into a Tantric point of view and recognize that each man is a complete man and each woman a complete woman. Furthermore, each man and woman contains both male and female energy in their highest aspects. In fact, each one of us is a union of all universal energy. Everything that we need in order to be complete is within us right at this very moment. It is simply a matter of being able to recognize it, to stop and recognize it. This is the Tantric approach.
This is what Blavatsky leads us to when she talks about Kiu-te and the source of her teaching being the esoteric commentaries on Kiu-te. I have some great news for you. We have the Kiu-te and increasingly have the esoteric commentaries on it. You can read them tonight. Run to your public library, look up "Tibetan Canon," and dig in.
I would recommend that you read about how to learn Buddhist meditation. This is not specifically Tantric, but rather is preparatory. You might also read about the history and practices of Supreme Yoga Tantra.
Next is the most important thing I am going to say. Do NOT just start practicing Tantra! DO NOT START PRACTICING TANTRA! It is powerful. It is full of energy. It is dangerous. Blavatsky says that herself. You need a qualified, initiated teacher. I am not handing out names. Figure it out.
I encourage you to read about Tantra, because Blavatsky read Tantra and cares about it. She points to it over and over again. She is an Esoteric Buddhist. Her teachers are Esoteric Buddhists. THEIR teacher is an Esoteric Buddhist. It is a fact. Check it out, educate yourselves.
Olcott's Buddhist work is also interesting. While on his campaigns in Asia, Sri Lanka, and Japan, he was the first one to get all the Buddhists to organize their basic ideas into fourteen fundamental tenets. His outline is still being quoted by Buddhists today.
Without being literal, I say basically that Blavatsky, Olcott, and Tantric Buddhism are in bed together. It is important for us to figure out what the heck that means! And that is all I have to say.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
When some think of Buddhism, they picture monasteries in Tibet full of students seeking enlightenment. When enlightenment is attained, they are happy to go on to Nirvana. They do not fulfill the Kwan-Yin pledge of staying in incarnation as Nirmanakayas to help alleviate the suffering of the world.
That is the low path. In the practice group that I belong to and with all Mahayana Buddhists I have come across, part of the getting ready to do the Tantric practice is to commit to sticking around after enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. Blavatsky makes the same point in her THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. The low path is to get good and get out. The high path is to get good as quickly as you can to help others.
There is even a line in THE SECRET DOCTRINE about the Silent Watcher, the Dweller on the Threshold, the one who stands on the circle of darkness and light. Why does he do this? It is because the traveler can lose the way even at the last step. HPB did not make that up. It is a Buddhist image. She is lifting stuff left and right from Buddhism on purpose
Blavatsky got the Bodhisattva pledge of Kwan-Yin from Buddhism. (Kwan-Yin is the Chinese translation of Avalokiteshvara or the Tibetan Chenrezi.) Its commitment for us to stick around makes it a standard Mahayana Buddhist chant. In our Buddhist practice, we chant something like it every day.
How about the Buddhists in the United States? Many seem preoccupied building fancy temples and raising money.
We built a lot of theosophical lodges as well. They are not so fancy. I do not know if there is intentional symbolism in them.
Coming West, the Buddhists are trying to create conditions that trigger our esoteric energies to awaken. How do they do this? They have us see the five colors, the stupas, and the tanka paintings of enlightened beings. Acting as an artistic metaphor, it is hoped to trigger us to awaken.
Sitting is awakening. Speaking is awakening. Thinking is awakening. Viewing is awakening. Have they have gone overboard? I do not know what to tell you. Maybe they have. But it is on purpose. They are not doing it to compete with the Catholic Church!
Stanislaus, a friend of ours at the Malibu Study Class, is one of the world's great scholars on alchemy. He was talking to a gentleman who had photocopied every text from his teacher's library on alchemy.
Stanislaus said, "You will have a hard time getting all the information from all of these texts fully because they are photocopied."
The gentlemen said to him, "Well, it is just information."
Then Stanislaus replied, "No, there is something inherent in the beauty of a book that also relays information."
This may be the same as with the creation of a temple. There is an excellence inherent in the atmosphere of beauty.
That is quite true. Even so, since the Protestant Reformation, we have become a hemisphere of bibliolaters. The Catholics have joined in as well. Western scholarship makes it even worse. We worship books. This is bibliolatry. We think that everything you need to know is between the covers of a book. I must watch myself on this, since I am a trained scholar as well.
When we try to transform ourselves into another type of being, reading a book is not gonna do it. By itself, literal practice will not do it either. We need to be immersed in our practice. That is why we chant. That is why we visualize. We are immersing us in it.
Unlike going to church on Sunday, Buddhism is meant to be a full-time job. Even at your work, even if you are working at 7-11 selling cigarettes and alcohol, you can be practicing enlightenment. It is really here where we are.
There is a Buddhist term, "One Taste." It means that all true teachings -- "true" meaning they actually lead you to enlightenment -- have One Taste. That taste is freedom. It does not really have a taste. It is a metaphor.
If you practice a spiritual path and do not taste freedom, you are not on a true path. What kind of freedom is this? I do not mean political freedom, although it is nice. I mean spiritual awakening and release.
There are many ways to truth. Much as she is Buddhist and loves Buddhism, Blavatsky is the first to say that there are other paths. All should have that One Taste, that of Enlightenment.
A final question is why bother to study Theosophy. Perhaps we all should become Buddhists. I thought about it for quite a few years and almost left Theosophy altogether to became a Buddhist.
You do what is right for you on your spiritual path. Speaking personally, I find things in the writings of Blavatsky, Judge, and other key theosophists that I have yet to come across in Buddhism. I think these things are in Esoteric Buddhism, but that they are unavailable in the West yet. So why wait around until somebody translates -- or God forbid, I translate -- something I want to read when Blavatsky has already given it to us?
What does this mean? Buddhism is a wonderful path, but Blavatsky is unique. Among all the teachers in the world today, Blavatsky is a sure guide. Buddhism is wonderful, but even in it there are crappy, false, dangerous teachers and get-rich-quick and phony "easy enlightenment" schemes. Blavatsky has given me a perennial approach that is not "Buddhism! Rah-rah-rah! Everybody else go to hell!"
Everybody else in my Buddhist worldview has their place. Each has some truth. Blavatsky takes great pain to pull that truth out from amidst all the muck. (Yes, there is plenty of muck in Buddhism!) She pulls out the pearls of great price and strings them together. Blavatsky finds the most complete picture in Buddhism.
I do not think that my Buddhist practice takes away from my Theosophy practice. I choose to do both. I think many other Theosophists maintain their spiritual upbringing as well as benefiting from the practice of Theosophy.
By Hazel Boyer Braun
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, December 1947, pages 727-36.]
"Peace to all beings" is the message of the Christmas Sacred Season. In our hearts there wells a deeper urge for that art of living which can truly bring "Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men." The outer aspect is gift giving, the sending of loving greetings, for in obedience to this inner urge we reach out and touch the hearts of our fellow men.
A wealth of art has clustered about the celebration of the Winter Solstice. That of the past thousand years has dealt largely with the story of the Christ Child, but today when modern science is probing into the secrets of the universe, there is a more general recognition of a universal art which reveals this season to be sacred because it opens a doorway into the inner and spiritual realms of being.
It is a fascinating bit of research to seek out the legends of Christmas in many lands, to study the art that has sprung from them, and to recognize in them some of the most sacred truths that man can ever come to know.
The art of past civilizations reveals in sculpture, painting, and poetry a general recognition of this inner meaning in the stories of the birth of Saviors. There is evidence in the varied art forms of the fact that all the initiate teachers have taught man's innate divinity and his kinship with universal nature through his inner self, reflecting the same complex structure on which the Universe is built.
When a story captures the imagination of both children and adults, as this tale of the birth of the Savior does, we may be sure that it has a spiritual vitality that may be studied from many points of view. So it is that we find the type figures of each civilization calling attention to both the human and the cosmic interpretations of the events of the Christmas time.
The human and spiritual aspects of this story refer to an event which takes place in the life of great saviors and is destined to happen to every man in some future state of development. It is a great spiritual flowering which can come to a man only after lifetimes of purification. When this illumination is realized it is called the "second birth" for the initiate undergoing this sublime experience is thus reborn through his own spiritual will. Today some of us wonder why it took us so long to realize that the virgin birth is that birth of the spiritual nature which Jesus spoke of when he said: "Ye must be born again." (John 3.7)
The importance of the cosmic and astronomical aspect can be better understood only when we are aware of the close spiritual ties that bind us to our home solar system, for the initiatory birth recorded in all stories of the Saviors must always be in tune with the solar harmony.
Certain times of the year are more harmonious than others, and one of these is the Winter Solstice when the sun reaches its lowest point in its apparent yearly journey. Here it remains for about three days practically stationary before it begins the northward climb, giving birth to the New Year and lengthening days. The period from December 21st to January 6th, the Epiphany, commemorates the sacred experience that may come at this time.
In THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, Dr. G. de Purucker unveils the secret meaning behind the Christmas legend of the Three Wise Men, which further reveals the cosmic significance of this mystic teaching. For the three Magi, Melchior, Kaspar, and Balthasar, are seen to be none other than Venus, Mercury, and the Moon. These three planets, whose gifts to the Savior are the secrets of their being, are thus the bridge makers to the Sun. Dr. de Purucker writes:
The Christmas festival was celebrated ... in its greatest splendor and with the most telling cooperation of the cosmic influences of these three celestial bodies, when the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and our Earth, were in the position which astronomers call syzygy, a Greek compound word which means "yoked together" ... connecting the Earth and the Sun ... Esoterically, Mercury, Venus, and the Moon in ancient ceremonial rites were represented by three initiators ... This mystic "new birth" of initiation was the "birth" of the inner Christos, and during it the whole being of the initiant was transfigured, and, to use the saying of the Hebrew Bible, "his face shone like the sun."
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, II, pages 1107-8
This explains the halo used in both Christian and Buddhist Art.
So it is that the spirit of giving which touches the lives of so many at this Christmas time seems an outpouring from the very heart of the universe coming to us through the rising sun. Much as the New Year is given birth by the slow northward climbing of the sun, the Christmas spirit flames up in the hearts of men. Doorways have been opened into realms of spiritual grandeur by the advanced souls who are born at this Sacred Season, at this propitious time of all nature, virgin-born into the sun of their own natures.
We humans on this little planet feel it. We wrap our gifts in red paper to suggest love that is impersonal, unselfish, and glorious like that of the sun which gives us our life and light. We hang the boughs of evergreen as the ancient Druids did to hint of the ever-living sun part of all beings.
Let us take note of the inner significance of these traditional Christmas colors. This red that comes flashing with our gifts, symbol of love, of the divine fire of unselfish regard that flames in every heart with the Christmas spirit, and this green of the boughs that always are used as an invitation to the beneficial spirits of the forest to enter and bless the dwelling -- the holly, mistletoe, ivy, laurel, bay, yew, and cypress are especially dedicated to Christmas. With their berries, they suggest the blossoming power in nature, analogous to the blossoming of the Christos spirit in man.
Today we gather in the mistletoe as the Druids also did; but they had a ceremony of cutting it with a golden sickle to suggest the sun, and also the life of the mistletoe takes from a tree as we take ours, often unthanked, from the Divine Reality of Being.
The Druids used to carry hazelnuts to the outdoor altars and charred them there, suggestive of the trials that a human initiate goes through before he can bring home the nuts of wisdom -- the teachings concerning the structure of all nature -- to give to humanity that they may know who they are and why they are sons of the Sun. Perhaps another reason why they loved this symbol of the hazelnut is because it is so much like the human heart. Charring the nuts was the trial by fire, that suffering and searching for the true life that sears the heart and awakens sympathy for others. At Christmas we find ourselves breaking some of our shell and reaching out to give a little more of ourselves, to carry the spirit of love to others.
The Christmas tree is the embodiment of equilibrium. Its red balls hint of the suns and galaxies which so brilliantly bedeck the spaces. The "world tree" is behind the significance of all Christmas trees and of the countless legends about trees. It has its roots in the realms of spiritual reality; its branches are the celestial bodies that make up the universal life. There are often birds on the trees. Birds to all the ancient peoples symbolize the divine part of man's nature and that of the universe as well. The Egyptians revered the symbol of the winged globe as did the Babylonians and the Assyrians.
Everyone loves a tree whether it be an evergreen or not -- every tree brings forth some beauty, some fruitfulness that suggests the kinship of all nature and, at this Sacred Season, serves as another reminder of that blossoming power in man which brings forth from the "virgin part of his being" the higher man, the Inner Christos. Certainly the Christmas tree was especially loved by the Druids and the old Nordic folk, for the green of its eternal life is emphasized by the thought that each needle represents an incarnation on earth, and the pinecones the flowers of mankind, the initiates who have opened their hearts to the Sun.
As if by magic, groves of green trees spring up along the boulevards as the season approaches, young spruce, pine, and cedar, their lives cut short to carry some blessing into the home. Their sacrifice is more justified if we catch the symbolic intent of the Christmas festival -- its evergreens and lighted candles. In all times and places there have always been those who knew and those who had no conception of the inner meaning of the Sacred Season, yet if we but take the time to investigate it is surprising to find that the customs we take for granted held deep significance among the simple folk of all lands in olden times because universally based on recognition of the natural mystical order of the universe.
Yuletide, the word yule, derived from yul, ljue, liaul, or huul, meaning wheel, has reference to the wheel of the galaxy or perhaps to the rhythmic motions of sun and planets. The sun has played a leading role in the Christmas festival in many lands. The ancients always recognized it as the life giver of this earth and all the planets of our solar system, serving as channels for the in-pouring of the life of the universe, just as man also may become a channel of love and compassion.
Many have thought the olden peoples worshiped the sun; but they were too wise. They recognized the Sun-part, or the Divine-part of man, and they understood the kinship this suggested and thus they arrived at a true perspective, knowing them to be related to the sun through the divine part of their own natures. It is for this reason that their idea of prayer was more of an invocation. They may indeed have believed the sun to be a divine being, raised to the stature of this peak of giving and serving through its own efforts, and they made obeisance. The following paraphrase by Dr. G. de Purucker of a stanza from the Rig-Veda is so similar to just such hymns sung at the Winter Solstice in many ancient lands:
Oh thou golden sun of most excellent splendor, illumine our hearts and fill our minds, so that we, recognizing our oneness with the Divinity which is the Heart of the Universe, may see the pathway before our feet, and tread it to those distant goals of perfection, stimulated by thine own radiant light.
Then we note the following early Christian Hymn:
Oh Thou, Real Sun, infill us, Shining with perpetual light! Splendor of the holy (Cosmic) Spirit Pervade our minds!
In the celebration of the mysteries, the Greek seers were made wise. They knew the structure of the universe by sending their spiritual natures into the inner worlds and becoming at one with divine powers there. This bit from the Orphic Hymns has the characteristic grandeur of thought:
Hear, golden Titan, whose eternal eye With matchless sight illumines all the sky. Native, unwearied in diffusing light, And to all eyes the object of delight; Lord of the Seasons, beaming light from far, Sonorous, dancing in the four-yok'd car. With thy right hand the source of morning light, And with thy left the father of the night. With various-sounding golden lyre 'tis thine To fill the world with harmony divine. Propitious on these mystic labors shine, And bless thy suppliants with a life divine.
In the EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD, which is really the story of Initiation, there are many invocations to the sun, for the ancient Pharaohs were called: "Sons of the Sun." We quote a small section of one:
Homage to thee, Oh Ra, at thy tremendous rising! Thou risest! Thou shinest! The heavens are rolled aside! Thou art the King of Gods, thou art the All-comprising, From thee we come, in thee are deified.
Can we not believe that the North American Indian has the same universal idea in his mind when he greets the morning sun and says,
Oh thou that risest from the low cloud To burn in the all above, I greet thee! I adore thee!
It is necessary for us to begin to think in universal terms and to become sensitive to the symbolism that hints of sacred truths revered in the celebration of the Christmas season through the ages. Long before the coming of the Savior who is so close to us historically and whose teachings have held the interest of the peoples of the Occident, often to the complete oblivion of the many millions of years before His coming, humanity was even then guided by the messengers of wisdom. The human family has never been bereft of truth since, in its infancy some 18 millions of years ago, Great Teachers lighted our minds and started the race on its great cycle of self-conscious conquest.
By Steven Levey
There is value in knowing the Gunas and their relation to the Buddhist Doctrine of the Middle Way. Each concept helps define the other. Such ideas have practical application on a daily basis.
Make sense of the Middle Way before studying other doctrines. The study is a precursor to real knowledge of the Path spoken of in the Wisdom Religion or Gupta Vidya. (In our time, we know it as Theosophy.)
That which draws one to the Path differs with each person. Individual experience produces karma that ultimately leads to one seeking a unique path of study. That karma is different for each of us.
H.P. Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE discusses the Monad, mentioning Leibniz's profound study, MONADOLOGY. She describes our nature as Monads, as having pure individuality. This concept comes logically to mind. At some level of consciousness, we may have always felt it true. We all have a uniquely individual perspective.
The student is on a quest leading to self-knowledge. There is growing knowledge and the feeling of being rooted in one's metaphysical individuality. This understanding comes through experience and promotes ethical behavior. This is where the doctrine of the Middle Way comes into play.
The Buddha's quest to enlightenment illustrates the Middle Way. His initial involvement with the Path was as a Sunyasin, one who forsakes the world to gain enlightenment. Historically, this type of approach is dead end.
If not for the Buddha's motive to lighten the suffering of the world's creatures, he may not have had the necessary presence of mind to modify his approach. He gave up on extreme self-denial and found enlightenment as a possibility for everyone. At a monumental pivotal point in his quest, the Middle Way occurred to him.
He saved himself at that critical moment. Perhaps it was because he had vowed to save the world before consciously incarnating again in the world of men. From him, we see how to live the teaching to benefit others. The story of his enlightenment is compelling due to the grandeur of his sacrifice.
With the Middle Way, one forgoes all extremes. The concept cannot be new. Within all beings is a state of pure individuality. That state presupposes both involvement and non-involvement, being in the world but not of it, as Jesus said. This defines both the soul or Monad and the Middle Way.
The soul brings about incarnation but participates only as much as the personality allows its light to pass through. In time, the personal man wants to know its basis. There are many states of longing, going unfulfilled until one seeks to understand why and takes self in hand.
Experience teaches that material experiences never satisfy completely. One learns to stay centered and to detect deviations in involvement that might lead to suffering, keeping a sense of objectivity. One also avoids fear of failure so that action is natural, not mechanical. The Buddha taught us this balancing act.
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA has teaching about our involvement in the situations of life. Chapter XIV deals with the Separation from the three qualities or Gunas. These qualities are inherent in Prakriti, which makes up the sheaths of the soul. It is substance or limitation upon the spiritual nature. It is the necessary basis for incarnation and allows for the existence required by previous karma. Built up over time, the quality of mental attitude we have within ourselves determines the nature of these sheaths. Even so, these sheaths are imminently modifiable.
Sattva Guna is the sense of truth, equilibrium, and justice. Rajas Guna allows for action or flexibility, for quickness of mind. Tamas Guna has the instantiation, weight, inertness, and inflexibility.
These Gunas can be unbalanced within us. Rajas may over-shadow Sattva making us overly zealous or hyperactive and impatient regarding the Path. Overloaded with Tamas, we would be lethargic, set in our ways, unable to work through subtle thought, and tend to dogmatize. There are many ways we might have an imbalance in the make up of our Gunas.
Practicing the Middle Way in mind and action, we restore then maintain balance between our Gunas. Our thought attracts the elements of nature, and they are the Gunas. In them, we live, move, and have our being. As Prakriti, they make up our physical, psychological, and moral nature. We choose a direction in live and seek to motivate ourselves to follow it. Our work is easy or difficult depending upon that Prakriti out of which we have made ourselves.
What do we do? How do we know it? We wonder, perhaps driven to question life from pain or perhaps in soaring intuition. It also may arise out of love or compassion as in the case of the Buddha.
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA shows the inner search arising out of confusion and a need to understand one's duty in life. In it are shown devotion to duty and devotion to the happiness others. Commenting on the book, William Quan Judge says we are all Arjunas. One needs to see one in relation to all others. Something affecting an individual for good or ill affects everyone, even materially. All must fight this battle against indecisiveness and confusion.
This thinking alters our motives. We move away from selfishness. A sense of devotion and duty to others arises within. We attract the personal and impersonal surroundings that make our lives full of light.
The closing of Chapter XIV has Krishna saying, "But when the wise man perceiveth that the only agents of action are these qualities, and comprehends that which is superior to the qualities, he attains to my state." The teaching says this is literally true. Our daily lives can mirror that truth.
Arjuna was king. His Teacher and Charioteer was the most esteemed Krishna. The decisions he made may seem greater than those we make in our lives. This difference in apparent greatness does not matter. From the standpoint of our lives, our decisions are equally consequential. We also have our Krishna, the Charioteer. We can avail ourselves of him, the highest nature within us.
The GITA contains ancient teachings regarding the Gunas. It tells us to admit our ignorance before working to alleviate it. Look for that place within where there is perspective and true choice is possible. That is the Middle Way. Therein we find the basis for our humanity. It allows us to make our lives practically useful and therefore happy.
Paired, the two doctrines of the Middle Way and the Gunas form a yin and yang. One is the inner mental stance and the other is the product thereof. Take care not to picture them is an overly mechanistic manner. Even though a methodical approach is too rigid, an approach persistently applied bears far greater results than one that is sporadic. We must determine a method that works for us.
The Teachings are difficult to grasp, running deeper than we will ever know. Even so, a rudimentary grasp brings immediate results in daily life. A steady introspection, good humor, study, and patience are required. Then, one finds home in the Middle Way and becomes occupied with the welfare of others. Even with our little understanding of the Wisdom Religion, we join its Mahatmic Exemplars in practicing it for the benefit of others.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter VI, pages 38-47.]
Before I write more of that supernature which rises, a tower of heaven, above the depths where we move, I must try to solve some of the doubts and perplexities that come to most who hear of things they have not heard or seen for their own part. They will say,
An artist, you have painted such things. We know you have an imagination that creates vivid images. You are a poet, and it is the art of your tribe to gild for us the thoughts you have and the emotions you feel so that what moods are common with us you attire richly until they walk like kings.
How certain are you that it is not all fancy, and the visions you speak of were not born in the cloudy hollows of your brain? Could they not be glorified memories of things you have first seen with the sensual eye and memory refashioned afterwards? What certitude do you have that the things you speak of relate to a real world invisible to our eyes?
To solve these doubts, I must not fall back on authority or appeal for trust. It will avail not to say that others have seen such things and have looked upon them with me. They and I might speak of them together as people who see the same scene, who refer as they speak to rocks, waters, and trees, knowing these are a common vision. It would be true if I said this, but it would avail me not in my desire that you should go hopefully on the way I would have you journey.
As an ancient scripture says, to whatsoever place one would travel on that path, one's own self becomes that place. I must try first to uproot false ideas about memory, imagination, and vision. This may help people lead themselves out of error by pure reason. They must become able to distinguish between that arising in them and that coming otherwise, like a visitor from a far country.
In boyhood, I had the commonly held idea that the pictures of imagination are old memories refashioned. I first doubted this as a child. I would lie on my bed and there would come a sudden illumination of my brain. Pictures would move before my inner eyes like the colored moving pictures we see in the theater.
I saw, I remember, a sunlit hillside that seemed close to me. There were huge grey boulders strewn about. Beyond this hill-slope, I could see far distant mountains, pale blue through the sparkling air. While I looked, giants in brazen armor clambered swiftly up the hillside, swinging clubs that had spiked balls of brass held by a chain at the end. They glittered in the sun as they ran up and past me.
Motion, light, shadow, and color were perfect as things seen passing before the physical eyes. Then the illumination in my brain ceased, the picture vanished, and I was startled. In picture or theater, I had seen no hillside like that, no distant mountains, or giants in brazen armor. I began a speculation that soon ended. Childhood keeps no prolonged meditation.
I may take this as a type of vision common to most people. It happens when they sit in darkness, or with closed eyes, or as they drift into sleep or awaken from sleep. They pass through strange cities, float in the air, roam through woods, or have adventures with people who are not the people they meet everyday.
Such visions are common. It is in the interpretation of them that error arises. People pass them by too easily. They say, "It is imagination," as if imagination were as easily explained as a problem in Euclid. Imagination is a mystery. Every moving picture in the brain needs such minute investigation as Darwin gave to earthworms.
I was asked to believe that giants, armor, hillside, and sunny distance appeared in my brain because I had seen men who might be enlarged to giants, pictures of armor with which they could be clothed by fancy, brass with which the armor could be colored. People told me that imagination might multiply rocks from memory and enlarge them to form a hillside, and said that any sky of sunny blue would make my distance.
How plausible for a second! How unthinkable after a momentary consideration! If you gave me a hundred thousand pictures of heads, by cutting them up and pasting them together, I know I could hardly make a fresh face that would appear authentic in its tints and shadows. It would be a work of infinite labor.
These faces of vision are not still. They move. They have life and expression. The sunlight casts authentic moving shadows on the ground. What is it combines with such miraculous skill the things seen, taking a tint here, and a fragment of form there, which uses the colors and forms of memory as a palette to paint such masterpieces?
Some say, "Every man is a Shakespeare in his dreams." The dreamer of landscape is more than a maker of wondrous colors, because he makes his trees bend before the wind and his clouds fleet across the sky. The waking brain does not do this. It is unconscious of creation.
Do we refashion memories? To say so is to surmise in the subconscious nature a marvelous artist to whom all that we have ever seen with the physical eyes is present at once and as clay in the hands of a divine potter. It is such a swift creation that it rivals the works of the Lord.
I do not deny that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us or that the King is also in His Heaven. We need not deny that and yet hold that vision comes otherwise. Nor can be it denied that vision is often radiant and precise. Experience affirms that it is. Hundreds of artists, and indeed people not artists at all, will tell you how clearly they see in their dreams.
Many including I have had such visions. Some hold those visions are only the refashioning of memory, with nothing mysterious about them. To them, I say try to think out tint by tint, form by form, how these could be recombined. For whatever marvel I would have you believe, you will have substituted something just as marvelous but not so credible.
Not that it is incredible to think that the spirit in man is Creator. All the prophets and seers of the world have told us that. The common psychological explanation is not acceptable. We know that forms can appear in the brain, transferred there from one person to another by will.
When we know that the inner eye can see the form in another's mind, we must regard it as indicating an immense possibility of vision on that plane. There are strange cities and landscapes of dream, impish faces that flout at us when we are drowsy, and other visions living and moving in our minds. We ask ourselves how they come too. Did they come by way of the physical senses transformed in memory, as some suggest? Perhaps they really come like the image thought transferred or by obscure ways reflected from spheres above us from the lives and visions of others.
If we brood on this, we will come to think the old explanation is untenable. Addressing ourselves with wonder and hope to the exploration of this strange country within ourselves, we will try to find its limits. Whether from image or vision long pondered over, we may reach to their original being.
I think few psychologists have had imagination themselves. They have busy brains. As an Eastern proverb says, "The broken water surface reflects only broken images." They see too feebly to make what they see a wonder to themselves. They discuss the mode of imagination as people might discuss art, people whom had never seen painting or sculpture.
One psychologist writes about light being a vibration and the vibration affects the eye, passing along the nerves until it is stored in the brain cells. It appears that the vibration stays or is fixed there. Yet, I know that with every movement of mine, the words I speak and the circulation of my blood cause every molecule in my body to vibrate.
How is this vibration in the cells unaffected? It must remain unaffected in their hypothesis. I can recall the original scene, can discuss it, and can summon it again after years, finding the image clear as at first. I refer to it in thought and it remains unchanged. The physical explanation of memory itself breaks down even as the material explanation of imagination breaks down. How can a substance retain an unchanging vibration? The substance that holds the vibration is itself subject to continual movement.
The moment we close our eyes and are alone with our thoughts and the pictures of dream, we are alone with mystery and miracle. Are we alone? Are we secure from intrusion there? Are we not nearer the thronged highways of existence where gods, demons, men, and goblins all are psychical visitors?
I will not speak here of high things. I am trying to argue with people who see no wonder in anything. These people dismiss all high things with a silly phrase as fancy, imagination, or hallucination. I know from questioning many people that it is common for them before sleep to see faces, while their eyes are closed. Even so, they think are alone.
These faces are sometimes the faces of imps who frown at them, put out their tongues at them, grin, or gibber. Sometimes they will see not a face but a figure, or figures. Like the faces, the figures seem endowed with life. To call this imagination or fancy explains nothing.
The more that we concentrate on these most trivial mental apparitions the more certain we feel that they have a life of their own. We realize that our brain is as full of living creatures as our body throngs with tiny cells, each a life, or as the blood swarms with bacteria.
I draw attention to the mystery in obvious and common things. I ask that we explain them. Do not gloss over them as if no explanation were necessary. I ask the doubters of my vision to penetrate a little into the mystery of their own thoughts and dreams before they cry out against me. For many years, I have traveled far, coming upon lovely and inhabited regions to which I would lead them.
I know that my brain is a court where many living creatures throng. I am never alone in it. You can know that too, if you heighten your imagination and intensify your will. The darkness in you will begin to glow. You will see clearly. You will know that what you thought was but a mosaic of memories is rather the froth of a gigantic ocean of life. It breaks on the shores of matter, casting up its own flotsam to mingle with the life of the shores it breaks on.
If you will light your lamp, you can gaze far over that ocean and even embark on it. Sitting in your chair, you can travel farther than ever Columbus traveled. You can journey to lordlier worlds than his eyes had rested on. Are you not tired of surfaces? Come with me and we will bathe in the Fountains of Youth. I can point you the way to El Dorado.
By Allen J. Stover
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 1947, pages 508-12.]
The sacredness of the hearth-fire as a symbol of that spiritual spark in the heart of every being is a glyph in the unwritten language of symbolism that is worldwide in distribution.
Many of us preserve childhood memories of long evenings about the blazing fireplace. We read aloud, sew, talk, or idly watch the ever-changing pictures in the glowing embers. How much civilization has lost by substituting the gas or steam heated radiator for the open fire!
In all ages, men have reverenced fire as a symbol of spirit and the visible representative on earth of the Fire Celestial. The best known of the ancient fire ceremonies are those developed in Greece and Italy.
With Gaia, Vesta (the Greek Hestia) was the primordial spiritual earth (Mother of all the gods), the nourishing heart of our earth. As such, she became the symbol of the inner spiritual fire of every individual and the center of love and devotion of every home. This was like how the circular temple of Vesta with its ever-burning flame it represented the spiritual heart of the Roman Empire.
We see this ancient understanding in the FASTI of Ovid, Book VI:
Vesta is the same as the Goddess of the earth (Gaia), the ever-burning fire within each. The earth Goddess and the hearth are both symbols of the central heart of being. The earth is like a ball, resting upon no support, it hangs, a heavy weight within the air, upheld and balanced by its own rotation.
Unlike the other gods, people represented Vesta with no image save the sacred fire burning within the circular temple. In the time of the initiate and Teacher Numa, the temple walls were woven of tough osiers and roofed with thatch. Later on, these were replaced with materials that are more substantial. Bronze plates replaced the thatched roof. The shape always remained circular in form, as representing the round earth.
In Henry Riley's translation of the FASTI, Book VI, pages 294-98, Ovid says:
For a long time in my simplicity, I imagined that there were statues of Vesta. Afterwards I ascertained that there was none under her concave dome. The fire that has never been extinguished lies hidden in that temple. Neither Vesta nor fire has any likeness.
The Latin word for hearth or fireplace is FOCUS. Note the similarity between the Saxon roots HEORTE and HEORTH (from which the words HEART and HEARTH respectively derive). We see how deeply the Vestal symbol is ingrained in our language. This is not surprising since the cult once held an important place in ancient Ireland and the Hebrides.
Frazer saw Celtic Vestal Virgins in the nuns of St. Brigit, whom he describes in these words in THE GOLDEN BOUGH, II, pages 240-1:
Now, at Kildare in Ireland, the nuns of St. Brigit tended a perpetual holy fire down to the suppression of the monasteries under Henry VIII; and we can hardly doubt that in doing so they merely kept up, under a Christian name, an ancient pagan worship of Brigit in her character of a fire-goddess ... The nuns were nineteen in number. Each of them had the care of the fire for a single night in turn; and on the twentieth evening the last nun, having heaped wood on the fire, used to say, "Brigit, take charge of your own fire; for this night belongs to you." She then went away, and next morning they always found the fire still burning and the usual quantity of fuel consumed.
It was in Rome that the Vestal ceremonies reached their greatest importance and retained their purity the longest.
Originally, the guardians of the sacred fire were four in number, but later were increased to six. Still later, they added a seventh. The Vestal Virgins were chosen in childhood and carefully trained for their duties. In time, they became so highly honored as to almost command the respect accorded royalty. They were preceded in the streets by lictors bearing the fasces or symbolic axe wrapped in a bundle of rods.
Greatly honored as they were, their responsibility was also great. To let the fire go out was a terrible disgrace. It represented the spiritual heart of the Roman Empire and was to the Roman citizen much the same as the idea of Liberty is to the patriotic American. For those who knew, the ever-burning fire was a continual reminder of the spiritual fire burning within the heart of everyone, of the divinity within the earth and of the divinity within the sun.
Once a year, all fires were extinguished and the Vestal Fire renewed during an elaborate ceremony. In the early days, the new fire was produced by the friction of fire sticks operated by the Vestal Priestess. In later times, the burning glass was used. In either case, the fire was considered pure or elemental fire, in contrast to fire produced by any other means or under other conditions. When the central fire had been lighted, flaming torches were carried to the altars of the other gods, for Vesta was Mother of all the gods.
The Vestal fire of Rome has long since vanished along with the understanding of its significance. On the other side of the world, a similar tradition still exists among certain American Indians. The Great Circle Encampment of the Sioux and related tribes may be mentioned first. The circular teepees, each with its central fireplace, are arranged in a great circle about the council lodge. In the center is the council fire. The council fire in its turn is started by four men, each in turn laying a stick on the fireplace pointing to the east, south, west, and north, forming a cross. Then finer material is added and lighted by glowing coals produced by the friction of fire-sticks.
The teepees were representative to the Indian of the universe. This is shown by the general custom of decorating the upper portion with symbols of the sun, moon, or stars. The band about the bottom is given circles representing "fallen stars." Above this, the Indians often pictured mountains and the achievements of the owner with other matters pertaining to his life. The whole suggests the three worlds. There is our world, the world below, and the world above. The central fire was symbolic of the inner spiritual light at the heart of every being.
It is with the Pueblo Indians that the fire ceremony reached its greatest significance in America.
The Hopi kiva was circular in shape. It had an entrance in the roof. Near the center of the floor was another symbolic entrance into the lower world. With its central fire, it constituted an image of the world, the heart of which burned the divine all-nourishing fire.
Frank Waters seized the beauty and significance of kiva symbolism best, giving the following description in THE MAN WHO KILLED THE DEER. A young boy is entering a kiva for his first instruction and ceremonial initiation.
Hush, son! You are in the womb of Mother Earth. You will be here many months, a long time. You have entered a child. You will be reborn from here a man. Then you will know why it is you must stay ...
Let there be no more whimpering, no more questions ... You are in a womb: in it the eyes, the ears, the nose, and babbling mouth do not function. The knowledge that will come to you is the intuitive truth of the spirit, the quiescent wisdom of the blood, transmitted through senses you do not use outside. The pulse of the earth throbs through the walls that enclose you; THE EMBERS THERE REFLECT THE HEAT OF ITS GLOWING HEART, that little hole runs into the center of the earth, into the lake of life itself ...
But behind all this you will learn of previous emergencies. Of the significance of the four elements, corresponding to the four worlds from which man has successively risen: (1) the fire world of rampant primordial forces; (2)the world which separated from it; (3) the third world of water which came forth from the vaporous air; and (4) the present world of earth. From your understanding that the body of man is a world derived from these four and hence composed of their elements and corresponding attributes many things will be plain.
The New Fire Ceremony of the Hopi is described by J. Walter Fewkes in his report FIRE WORSHIP. He quotes the old chief. "There are many things in this ceremony that I might explain to you if you could only understand them, but you cannot." The New Fire Ceremony belongs to the same stratum of consciousness as the ceremonies of Vesta or Brigit. It differs from these only in having been preserved in the hearts and minds of men instead of in perishable books.
On the day of the New Fire according to Fewkes, all fires in the Pueblo are extinguished. All paths to the area are closed. The women and children remain secluded in the houses. In the kiva, the fire-makers are squatted on the floor. Their fire drills are fitted into the horizontal fireboard, awaiting the signal.
Then a short-chanted invocation comes. As the chorus begins to sing, the fire-makers rapidly rotate their drills. In a few seconds, this produces smoke. In about a minute, a spark is glowing in the shredded cedar bark. This is raised in the hand. Having been gently fanned, it burst into flame, and then it was quickly carried to the fireplace. Thus, they light the new fire of the year. Then follows the carrying of blazing torches to the other kivas where firewood is awaiting the flame.
Unlike the Vestal fire of ancient Rome, the sacred fire of the Pueblo is only allowed to burn a few hours.
It is not enough to show a similarity between the new fire ceremonies of Italy, Ireland, and America, but also we must seek in nature the reason for the custom. Such traditions are not inventions of men. Spiritual teachers gave them to mankind as a medium of preserving the deeper truths of the universe for those who might understand.
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.]
Apollonius determined to visit India and the wise men of that country that were called Brachmanes, and Germanes, saying it was the business of young men to travel and make them known in foreign countries.
(Brachmanes were, strictly speaking, Buddhist. The ancient basic teachings of the Brahmins seem to have been pure Buddhism as it was ages before Gautama the Buddha restored it. See ISIS UNVEILED, II, Chapter VII.)
(The Germanes were said to be Indian philosophers. They were generally called Gymnosophists, though not all of them were naked philosophers or yogis, as that term would denote. They lived alone in the forests, abstaining from wine and married life, and practicing many austerities. We call a man a "gymnast," although he may not be naked. Similarly, the world "gymnosophist" is not always restricted to its primitive sense.)
To converse with the magi at Babylon and Susa and to learn all they knew, he considered would be in itself sufficient reason for undertaking the journey.
He declared his intentions to his companions, who were seven in number, but they disagreed with him and endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose.
Then he said to them, "I have consulted the gods, and I declared their will to you, to make trial of your courage, whether you will go with me or not. Since I find you are not resolute enough to go, I bid you farewell, and desire you may study philosophy. It is my duty to go where wisdom and my Genius [daemon] lead me."
After this, he departed from Antioch, attended only by two domestics of his own family. These were expert scribes, the one eminent for the dispatch with which he wrote. He was probably a shorthand writer such as Cicero and others employed. The other was eminent for the beauty of his handwriting.
THE MEETING WITH DAMIS
At the ancient Nineveh, Apollonius met with Damis the Assyrian, who became his companion and disciple, and from whose memoirs, written as a diary, the main part of the present work is extracted. "Let us go together," said Damis. "God shall be your guide, and you shall be mine."
Damis further declared that his knowledge of the way to Babylon and his acquaintance with the languages of the Armenians, Medes, Persians, and Cadusians would be useful.
"My friend, I know them all myself, though I never learnt them," said Apollonius, to the amazement of Damis, though it was years before the latter began to understand the full significance of the statement. "Be not astonished," continued Apollonius, "at my knowing all languages, for I know the very thoughts of men, even what they do not utter."
When Damis heard this, he adored him, considering him as one inspired (Daemon). He then became a proselyte to the teachings of Apollonius and what he learned he did not forget.
Philostratus remarks, "This Assyrian had some eloquence, though ignorant of elegant writing. Yet his observation of whatever was said or done in company was acute, and he kept an exact account of all that passed, which appears from a book he wrote called THE APOLLONIANA."
So minute and trifling were the details that were sometimes recorded that a wit declared in a derogatory tone that the crumbs collected put him in mind of the scraps eaten by the dogs which snap up whatever falls from their master's table.
Damis replied simply. "If the gods have feasts, and eat at them, they also have attendants who wait on them, and whose business it is to see that none of the ambrosia be lost."
Such was the companion and friend by whom Apollonius was accompanied during a great part of his life.
When Apollonius passed into Mesopotamia, the customs officer at the bridge of Zeugma asked what baggage he had with him. The traveler replied that he brought Temperance, Justice, Continence, Fortitude, Patience, and many other virtues (all of them having feminine names). The collector of customs wrote down the names and said he had "made a note of the names of the maids."
"They are not maids," said Apollonius. "They are my mistresses, who travel with me! [This jest explains how in some legends strict ascetics have a number of wives.]
In Mesopotamia, there dwelt nomad tribes of Arabs and Armenians, among whom Apollonius learned the Arabian art of understanding the language of animals. Divination by birds among this people is as much respected as that by oracles.
"This talent is obtained according to some," says Philostratus in his symbolical language, "by their feeding on the heart, and according to others, on the liver of dragons."
After passing beyond Ctesiphon, Apollonius entered the territories of Babylon. The King, Bardanes Arsacida, was not fully settled on the throne, and all new arrivals in the country were carefully examined by the military guards, who suspected everyone. Apollonius was taken before the Viceroy, or Satrap, who was then taking the air in his palanquin (a covered litter carried on poles on the shoulders of four or more bearers). As soon as he saw the gaunt, linen-clad figure of the philosopher, he screamed out in fright like a woman. Finally, when his courage revived, he looked up and asked, "Whence art thou sent to us?"
"From myself," said Apollonius. "I am come to teach you to be men, in spite of yourselves."
"Who are you that you dare to enter the King's dominions," asked the Satrap, becoming bolder.
"The whole world is mine, and I have leave to go wherever I please through it," answered Apollonius.
"Answer me properly, or I will have you tortured," said the Satrap.
"Oh, that the punishment were to be inflicted by your own hands, that you might pay the merited penalty for daring to touch such a man," said Apollonius, boldly declaring the philosophical law that every man must pay for his own deeds.
That eunuch was astonished at the stranger's wonderful familiarity with the language. He changed his tone and adjured Apollonius in the name of the gods, to say who he was.
"Since you condescend to ask me so courteously, I will tell you," said the Greek philosopher. "I am Apollonius of Tyana, going to the King of the Indians to learn from him what is happening in that country. I shall be glad to see the King, for he is reputed to be not without virtue, if it is Bardanes who has just regained his kingdom."
"He is the man, divine Apollonius," replied the Satrap (for of you we have heard long ago). "He is one that would resign his crown to a wise man, and he will take care to have you and your companions provided with camels for your journey to India. For my part, I make you my guest."
Upon this, the bewildered Satrap offered him heaps of gold, to help himself, but Apollonius firmly refused to touch it. He offered wine of Babylon such as the King gives to his ten viceroys or Satraps. He offered roasted pork and goat-flesh, bread and meal, and all he could think of as being desirable for the philosopher's journey. Then he suddenly remembered who it was he was addressing, and was mightily confused, for he could hardly offer a greater insult than wine and flesh to such a man.
But Apollonius showed no resentment. "You will be treating me sumptuously if you give me bread and vegetables," he said.
"You shall have leavened bread, and great dates that look like amber for their richness. Vegetables you shall have from the river gardens of the Tigris."
"I prefer the vegetables that grow wild by themselves to those that are forced and artificially cultivated," he said, "for I think they are sweeter to the taste."
"I fear not," said the Satrap. "The soil about Babylon abounds in wormwood and tends to make the vegetables bitter and disagreeable."
Apollonius took leave of the Satrap with all the respect due to his office, but gently rebuked him for his uncivil reception, by his parting remark, "Cease not from doing good, but I say also, begin by doing the good."
In their subsequent journey they came upon a lioness that had just been killed by the huntsmen, who were amazed at her size and the extraordinary fact that there were no less than eight half-formed cubs. From this omen, Apollonius deduced the fact that their stay with the King would last just a year and eight months. He used the occasion to give Damis an opportunity of deducing an interpretation from the circumstance, before declaring the correct augury.
When approaching Cissia after entering the province of Babylon, Apollonius had the following vision in his sleep "prepared by the deity who communicated it." He saw some fishes cast on the shore and panting for breath. They complained like mortals and bewailed the element they had lost. They looked as if imploring the aid of a dolphin that was swimming near them, and seemed as much to be pitied as men in exile, deploring their hard fortune.
Apollonius considered the interpretation of the vision, but gave Damis the opportunity to explain it as best he could, before telling him what it meant. Damis was alarmed and almost ready to turn back at the suggestion that they were like "fish out of water" in a foreign land. Apollonius laughed at him, telling him he was not yet a philosopher, to be alarmed at the dream. Then he declared the purport.
The district of Cissia was inhabited by an isolated group of Eretrians exiled from Greece by Darius five hundred years before, like fishes taken in a net. The gods seemed to command Apollonius to take all the care he could of them, "for peradventure the souls of the Greeks, who were cast by fate on this land, have invited me hither for their benefit."
Apollonius did all he could for the dead and the living. He enclosed the graves and restored the tombs, he offered libations, and made sacrifices without victims or the shedding of blood. This was more than had ever had been done for those who had exiled them, for these died unburied about the Greek island whence they had come, ten years later. For the living, Apollonius in his very first audience with the King obtained the sole use and enjoyment of their hill, the only fertile part of their land, for them forever, by royal grant. This was a very important concession, as they had hitherto suffered from the annual raids of the nomads and desert tribes who left them little of the fruit of their industry.
Damis says that Apollonius had several conversations with the Babylonian Magi either at midday or midnight, but he was never permitted to be present at these interviews. Being asked his opinion of the Magi, Apollonius said, "They are wise, but not in all things."
The manner of his entry into Babylon was unusual. He bore no presents for the King and he merely gave a philosophical reply to the demand that he, like all strangers, should worship the golden image of the King as he entered. The only exception made was in the case of Roman ambassadors. On the presentation to him of the King's golden image, he asked, "Whose image is this?"
They told him it was the King.
"If this man whom you worship is so fortunate as to be praised by me for his virtue and goodness," said Apollonius, "he will have honor enough." And he passed through the gates.
The Satrap was astonished at such behavior and at his appearance. He noted his name, country, occupation, appearance, and the reason for his journey on the official tablets. He caused Apollonius to be detained while he reported the matter to the "King's Ears," the agents of the court whose business it was to guard against all possibility of action against the throne.
These officials sent for him, ordering that he should not be molested in any way. "Why do you despise the King," they asked.
"I do not despise him," was the reply.
"But you will do so later on," they asked again.
"Certainly I shall, if I find by conversing with him that he is not as good and virtuous as I expect."
"What presents do you bring him," they inquired.
"I bring fortitude, justice, and some other like virtues," said the amazing stranger.
"How is this," asked the King's office. "Do you bring these presents from an idea that our King has not such virtues already?"
"Not exactly that," said Apollonius, "but I suppose that if he has time already, I can teach him to use them."
"Yet it is by the very exercise of these virtues that our King has regained his lost kingdom and recovered his palace, not without much labor and toil."
"How many years ago did he do that," asked the philosopher. "Two years and two months," replied the King's minister.
Then Apollonius's manner grew intense and forceful, as he used the formula with which he emphasized his weightier sayings.
"O guardian of the royal person! HEARKEN TO WHAT I SAY. Darius, the father of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, after a reign of about sixty years, when he found his end approaching, is said to have sacrificed to justice, exclaiming, 'O MISTRESS, WHOSOEVER THOU ART.' From this, it is fair to assume that he loved justice all his life, though he knew her not, nor ever thought himself possessed of her. Thus it was that he educated his children so foolishly that they warred one against the other. One was wounded and the other killed by his brother. Now you praise beyond all deserving a King, as if possessed of every virtue, who perhaps does not know how to maintain his throne. Yet, if he becomes better than he is, the gain will be yours and not mine."
One of the Babylonians looking at him declared, "Without a doubt, the gods have sent this extraordinary man to us. I am of opinion that men of virtue conversing with a prince so well instructed as our king must make him wiser and better, and more gracious, inasmuch as these virtues are painted in his countenance."
Then all ran to the palace, proclaiming the good tidings of a man being at the King's gates, one who was WISE, and a Greek, and an EXCELLENT COUNSELOR.
By James Sterling
Waiting for a sign, a symbol perhaps, Or an omen of future days to come; Knowing the path to pursue or avoid. But the sign stays hidden; The omen never appears. Life, obscured by a shroud of leaded clouds, Leads the tap, tap, tap of the white cane Of the sightless man that is me. Where is the mentor of my dreams To offer wisdom of the ages And guidance for an adept? Wisdom can be learned only By those aware of their mistakes, Mistakes made blindly by taking the wrong road In a road-consuming life. Still I wait, hoping for a sign, a symbol perhaps, Or an omen for future days; Knowing the path to pursue or avoid. A path is meant for struggle As the snake struggles and twists To get out of its old skin, Old skin left to rot in the wind. Without a sign, there's only the wait, Long and hopeful. The virgin waits for her sign, Waiting in eager anticipation. I wait for my sign, too. But I lost my seed years ago; They never sprouted. We should all wait for our own signs, Whatever they may be. Perception is the wisdom Of seeing and then knowing when it arrives.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the second part of a tape recording on "Chapter XI of FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY," made of a private class held on April 28, 1954.]
There are two ways to look at nature. One is the materialistic Western idea of tooth and claw. The other is that nature bases itself on justice, mercy, universal love, and harmony. We adhere to the latter.
Nature is not merely a field of violent, cruel, and bloody conflict. Although it bases itself on justice and love, it has processes of adjustment. Universal Law accomplishes full justice wherever necessary. It leaves nobody is out. Nobody is behind. All are bound to reach where they belong because of that marvelous togetherness or unified pattern upon which life works.
Yes, you can temporarily fail and fall behind. You drop, but there are compensations that help you regain your lost stage through karmic atonement and purification. You regain your equilibrium. The Christian doctrine of vicarious atonement refers to this, but it has been completely misunderstood and dragged down into the mire. In the esoteric sense, there is purification through suffering. You settle karmic accounts. You correct mistakes. Then there is a tremendous upsurge of spiritual force in you. You regain that which you have lost. You are not behind any longer.
We are speaking of long intervals. Do not get stranded on that idea. Your personal mind lives in the illusions of time. At times in your life when you experienced a greatest happiness, there was no time. At times when you experienced great misery, time dragged. Everybody else has had the same experience. There are moods in which time goes like that a snap of the fingers and other moods in which time drags.
A Manvantara may appear to our personal minds as a long and possibly dreary stretch of several billion years. It does not appear that way to the inner self, the soul that bridges the gap between incarnations. That part of us dwells in time entirely unlike our clock time. What are a few million years to the evolution of the soul? From its superior spiritual standpoint, it may be perhaps half an hour by our clock. We must not apply our personal, illusory conceptions of time to the state of consciousness of our inner entity.
To the inner self, the passage of time is not what passage of time is to the personality. The soul has no clock. Has it a conception of time? Certainly, it does, but it is of a nature appropriate to its own plane. That is where human words cease. We cannot even understand well the nature of physical time.
To the reembodying entity, the past, present, and future of a particular lifetime are all one. It sees them all at a glance. It never identifies itself fully with its own embodiment. Dwelling in a spiritual state, it overshadows and remains spectator. It does this without completely entangling itself in our illusory conception of time and space, which our minds dwell on from birth to physical death.
Some great teachers are fallen angels. We also hear of Fifth-Rounders. Could the Fifth-Rounders be indigenous to the evolution on this planet, people having accelerated their evolution, or are they fallen angels? They might well be both. I would not draw too clear of a distinction between the two. As long as they are ahead of the game, ahead of the bulk of the procession, they might be more advanced entities from other spheres.
The Buddha is the only Sixth-Rounder of which we know. Of the Fifth-Rounders, there are many. The Mahatmas, Adepts, great Sages and Seers, thousands of high chelas, and perhaps some lower chelas are Fifth-Rounders of some kind. Having experienced some of the evolution of the Fifth Round, they have run ahead of average, Fourth Round humanity. For the fifth time, they have been around the chain of Globes. Some are ahead a little, others ahead a great deal, others much more yet.
They are of various degrees of attainment. They have tasted of experiences and states of consciousness of the Fifth Round already. They are in the vanguard of humanity. Some have run the race quicker. They are indigenous here. Perhaps the highest among them are guests here to help others.
There are many types of Fifth-Rounders. Anyone who strives to become a chela already tastes the Fifth Round consciousness. From that point up to and including the greatest Adepts of the earth, they are Fifth-Rounders. According to HPB and the Mahatmas, there is only one Sixth-Rounder that has manifested so far in our humanity, Gautama the Buddha. They said nothing as to other Buddhas having been Sixth-Rounders. Some may have been. I do not know.
Perhaps there will be some Fourth-Rounders in the Fifth Round, belonging to the lowest type of mankind. Are there Third-Rounders with us in physical shape today? I doubt it. Such entities may hang around caught in the astral light. I am not sure. We are far from the Third Round, having evolved through the entire first half of the Fourth. They may have gone into their rest by now. There are always laggards of one type or another.
Let us not confuse this with Root Races. There are Fourth and Third Root Race men with us now. These are Root Races of this Round.
Since the last Round, we have advanced so much that our physical bodies have taken a different shape and texture. The Third Round humanity would not have such coarse bodies. The Third Round was more ethereal than the Fourth. The Fifth Round will also be more ethereal than the Fourth. The Fourth is the bottom-most, the most physical or material, being the halfway point of seven.
On our way up the Ascending Arc, we will go back to using a more ethereal type of bodies. This will be on the following Globes of this Round and ever more so in the next Round. We find this even today in the Fifth Root Race compared to the Fourth Root Race of only a few million years ago. Even today on this Globe, our texture is slightly more ethereal than the texture of the Atlanteans.
Some points may confuse or mislead. A coarser texture is not necessarily more material. Sometimes smoother things are more material. It is complicated. We are not as coarse in the texture of bones and flesh as the Atlanteans were.
Again, I warn of other points of possible confusion. When we say "Atlanteans," what do we mean? If we contrast the Fifth Root Race with the Fourth Root Race, we must compare approximately the same period in their development. The middle of the Fifth Root Race is more ethereal than the middle of the Fourth. Compare us now, near the middle of the Fifth, with those at the end of the Fourth. You will find them more spiritualized than us. We must compare the same point of the spiral lest your analogy be false.
Be warned that there are false analogies. It is sometimes easy for them to catch you. Who were the most progressed Atlanteans? They were the Fourth Root Race in its seventh subdivision or subrace. They were some of the great spiritual sages and seers, the most advanced of the race. They were far ahead of anything we are today. Who were the fifth and fourth subrace men of the Fourth Root Race? Obviously, they were lower than what we are today.
Atlantis faced destruction in the seventh subrace of the Fourth Root Race. The main bulk sank from six to eight million years ago. The Atlanteans were one Root Race behind us.
It takes about 300 million years for the human lifewave to pass from Globe A through B, C, D, E, F, and G. You cannot divide this into equal parts because the Root Races are not the same length and the time for evolution on each Globe differs.
Those who know have never fully given out the real numbers. The mathematics of occultism is jealously guarded. I have my own feeling as to why. Unusually intuitive people might get hold of some true numbers. Numbers have a power of their own. Numbers are vibrations. These people might apply the numbers to their own constitution and to the constitution of others, playing havoc with their minds and their emotions. Numbers are power. Numbers are vibration.
Seen from the big picture of our Fourth Round, it was like yesterday that Atlantis sank. THE SECRET DOCTRINE speaks of two big islands. These two portions of the continent sank relatively recently, between 600,000 to 800,000 years ago.
When we say that Atlantis sank six to eight million years ago, we mean the Atlantean continent began geologic ages of breaking up at that time. This was not an overnight affair. It was the beginning of the breaking up of the continent. There will come a time when the central mass of the continents of today will begin to break up too. Noah's ark was one symbol of the sinking. The great seer came out with the guidance of adepts to dry land. He brought the best there was, the seeds of life, two by two.
Going through Globes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, we complete a Planetary Round. Of the Rounds, there is the First, the Second, the Third, and now we are in the Fourth. While correct to say that the seven Root Races on a Globe constitute a global Round, we best use the term "Round" to describe the evolutionary journey through all the Globes, from Globe A to G.
Depending upon one's zeal, it does not take Rounds to attain adeptship. It will take a certain number of lives. Within a Root Race, an individual can climb from an average condition to a high spiritual condition, unless he is definitely a laggard in the evolutionary procession and simply cannot make it.
It takes all 49 Root Races to change from one kingdom to the next. They form seven Rounds, which comprise a Planetary Manvantara. You change kingdoms from one planet to another. It will take you all seven Rounds to graduate from one kingdom to the next, although there are exceptions like the apes. It will take the entire Planetary Manvantara before we can step from our kingdom to the next, with the possible exception of the fallen angels. They could surge far ahead, eventually changing kingdoms.
Before the human kingdom, evolution is automatic. There is no freedom of choice yet. The will is dormant. We will go through these earlier stages again when we achieve another kingdom. In another planetary chain, we will have to start out as an elemental with no self-consciousness, but go through the stages exceedingly rapidly. The same unavoidable regression takes place every time we begin a cycle. Every time we come into incarnation through the processes of gestation, we begin as elementals. It does not take long to become a human being, a few months.
In a university, you take a course of study. Later you might go back to school to study another discipline, starting over just like a kid. It is familiar ground. You rush through it in review. There is no other way. The review is necessary. Nature runs that way. The currents run that way. On any scale, you have to enter a cycle through the same entrance, ever if you go through its stages at a different pace.
We are after the middle of the Manvantara in the Fourth Round on the fourth Globe. At this point, it is practically impossible for the lower kingdoms to command enough spiritual impetus to rise with the human race on the Ascending Arc. If they have not entered into the human kingdom before now, they will not enter in this Manvantara. This is not evil, not wrong, but is perfectly natural. They have not done anything wrong. They are not failures. They are simply moving at a different pace. There will be compensations. Will they come back in the next Round? No, they cannot because their consciousness is unable to vibrate at its higher rate.
If someone has not made the grade in high school, that person would not command the necessary understanding to go to university. He or she would simply fall behind. This is neither as a failure nor from having done anything wrong. It is just that one has fallen behind in the procession. Unable to follow, one enters a condition of sleep.
For an animal falling behind at this point, it enters its peculiar type of an animal nirvana. It enters into that state of consciousness until the next Planetary Manvantara. I do not know enough to describe its conditions.
Instead of going forward, go backward in thought. Consider the Moon Chain. Picture its most progressed animals, the highest that remained when it ended. They were ready to graduate, to become low humans in the next Manvantara, our Earth.
The animals of the Moon Chain were ready to raise themselves a rung on the evolutionary ladder. They were ready for incipient humanity on this planet. These highest animals in the Moon Chain are now the animal monads in man. Who were we on the Moon Chain, we who are fully human now? We were the lowest humans there. We are higher humans on this one. Its highest men are our spiritual leaders. Our animal or kamic part was an animal on the Moon Chain.
This is a complicated subject. We see high, domesticated animals on the verge of humanity. In the next Manvantara, what will be their condition? They will provide the animal consciousness in its humans. They will not finally become humans until the next Manvantara. There are two steps between the animal and a full human. It is already a great step for an animal consciousness to become part of a human constitution.
Could we become the human part in what the Greeks called the heroes? There is an analogy. We go through this stage and then emerge a demigod. We know little about it, but the analogy is correct.
We have recorded this discussion. The Smiths were interested in hearing us. Do we have a special message for them? They are wonderful students. It is a privilege to have them as part of our class, companions in our studies. It was a pleasure seeing them here at two meetings.
I think it remarkable how people living at a distance can nevertheless be part of us. They attune to the same vibratory rate, intensely feeling a spiritual companionship with us. That applies to many. More than once, I was especially impressed with the intuitive understanding of the Smiths. I hope we will have them here again for a longer time. We benefit by their intuition and the fruits of their studies.
We can benefit by sharing the understanding we all have. At times when together, each of us becomes much more advanced. None of us has advanced so far that he or she cannot benefit from such sharing.
Bring students together. Start them thinking along lofty lines. There will be spiritual alchemy. It might be by the intensity of our collective consciousness bent upon a lofty theme, evoking a force of its own. Individually, we may be good students or not so good. Bring us together. The intensity of our aspiration and one-pointed collective thought gives birth to a third power. It is not outside of us nor is it outlandish, strange, nor mystical in the usual sense of the word. This third power comes from the untapped potentialities within our consciousness.
Our mutual exchange and inward dwelling upon these thoughts evokes a higher level of consciousness. It would be wonderful if we could carry this home after we disband. That is difficult because of the impact of the outer world upon our lower consciousness. If we persevere, we gradually learn how to keep it with us.
There is great benefit from dwelling on these ideas quietly before retiring in the evening. We can make up our minds and find the way to do it. Especially after our meetings, it is wonderful to have few distractions between leaving the meeting and going to sleep. Returning to our families and having duties to perform, we cannot avoid some distractions. Even so, we can minimize them and retire quietly.
Our minds operate automatically upon the last thoughts entertained as we fall asleep. Dwelling on these ideas, we attune our consciousness to higher themes. Over time, the effect is cumulative. The more we dwell upon them, the more they present themselves as if welling up from within, sometimes unexpectedly. We begin to live more in the loftiness of spiritual thought.
Viewed from that angle, Theosophy is not an intellectual study. It is a way of life, a method of thinking, and a self-imposed training in the contemplation of spiritual realities. The power of a man as a thinker is more than his intellectual understanding. It is not exclusively his ethical nobility nor in his scholastic achievements. His greatness lies in the depths of his spiritual consciousness.
In the unplumbed deeps of his spiritual nature, the power lies in the profundities of his soul-life. How far can we retire from the outer world of confusion? How far can we penetrate into the recesses of the inner self, feeling at home in the greatness and universality of life? To that extent, we carry out from the recesses of that communion the power we need to meet the problems of life and to help to raise others to a nobler sphere of being.