"With faith all things are possible." The sceptical laugh at faith and pride themselves on its absence from their own minds. The truth is that faith is a great engine, an enormous power, which in fact can accomplish all things. For it is the covenant or engagement between man's divine part and his lesser self.
-- Mabel Collins, LIGHT ON THE PATH, pages 49-50.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 280-82.]
It is an ancient teaching that mental laziness provides a fertile soil for the germination and growth of many vices, among them vanity, jealousy, avarice. It is not only that Satan proverbially finds mischief for idle hands to do. To produce idle hands, that constant enemy of man on earth must instill indolence into the mind of man. If the mind moves aright, it creates virtues and establishes itself on moral principles. This the minds of men are not doing.
There is prodigious mental activity in the civilization of today. That activity in action spells restlessness and discontent; it deludes men and women into fancying that they are busy. People are busy whirling like mad dervishes, hoping for ecstasy! Ratiocination is mistaken for meditation and restlessness for activity. The myriad motions of passions, prejudices, and prides obscure mental laziness. When inordinate likes and dislikes move men, the men mistakenly assume that they are mentally active, whereas their minds are more or less inert.
Mental creativeness is rare. Imitation of the activity of the few creative minds is rampant and often those imitations are parodies -- pathetic when not ludicrous. In the solution of his problems, man rarely proceeds in the right way. The calm and dispassionate evaluation of one's own problems by the light of one's own mind, aided by Right Ideas that have always ruled the world, is not undertaken.
Our civilization is built upon false values. The ever-changing nature of matter is pointed out by modern science, but for the scientist himself and those for whom his word is law, the immortal and never-changing nature of Spirit is an unproven, vague generality. The masses of men ARE influenced by the Divinity at the core of their own being which shapes ITS ends, rough-hew them how they will.
Countless men who admire and worship science transfer their intuitive loyalty from the stability of immortal Spirit to the shifting sands of kaleidoscopically changing matter. Organized religions, on the other hand, confuse the human reason by false notions about god and gods, heaven and hell, and so lead men to a hedonistic activity ruinous alike to mental calm and to a steady life.
To overcome difficulties, to live intelligently and to move onward, one needs to hitch his wagon to some constellation of Divine Ideas. Such cannot be found in the constantly shifting sands called knowledge by the modern schools. There is that Knowledge that changeth not, which, like the Spirit in man, is constant. Its laws are thoroughly consistent.
Philosophical ideas and ethical ultimates are the basis on which that knowledge is reared. Psychoanalysis and the so-called science of psychiatry would do away with man's Divine Intuitions. Biology, physiology, and chemistry have all but done away with the philosophical principles of immortality, causality, and the activity in the many of Spirit, which is One. Still those innate ideas reveal themselves in the intuitive response to their presentation. Even today, the moral ultimates command assent from the consciousness of man.
Truth, Justice, Mercy, Harmlessness, mean ever the same. Passionate Minds may argue about them and write volumes, but the heart of the common man knows what is meant by and is implicit in these Divine Virtues, these moral Principles.
Ethics are difficult to practice because their cosmic counterparts are not glimpsed. The universe is moral. It is just and merciful. Aye, it is even harmless, though it may not seem so.
The pepper plant will not give birth to roses, or the sweet jasmine's Silver Star to thorn or thistle turn, for rigid Justice rules the world.
The moral order of the universe is a superb fact; the ancient sages taught that truth in which the human mind today needs to be trained. The moral universe and not only the material one is governed by Law. Our mental laziness will disappear when we perceive this truth and act upon its numerous implications.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, pages 56-65.]
We experience the romance and delight of voyaging upon uncharted seas when the imagination is released from the foolish notion that the images seen in reverie and dream are merely the images of memory refashioned. In tracking the forms seen in vision to their originals, we discover a varied ancestry for them. Some come from the minds of others. Of some, we cannot surmise another origin than that they are portions of the memory of Earth which is accessible to us. We soon grow to think our memory but a portion of that eternal memory and think that in our lives we are gathering an innumerable experience for a mightier being than our own.
The more vividly we see with the inner eye the more swiftly we come to this conviction. Those who see vaguely are satisfied with explanations that those who see vividly reject at once as inadequate. How do we explain what has happened unto many and often to myself? How do we explain that when we sit amid ancient ruins or in old houses they renew their life for us?
I waited for a friend inside a ruined chapel. While there, a phantasm of its ancient uses came vividly before me. In front of the altar, I saw a little crowd kneeling. Most prominent was a woman in a red robe. All were pious and emotionally intent. A man stood behind them leaning by the wall as if too proud to kneel. An old man in ecclesiastical robes, abbot or bishop, stood. There was a crosier in one hand while the other was uplifted in blessing or in emphasis of his words. Behind the cleric, a boy carried a vessel. The lad's face was vain with self-importance.
I saw all this suddenly as if I was contemporary, elder in the world by many centuries. Just as in a church today we feel the varied mood of those present, I could surmise the emotional abandon of the red-robed lady, the proud indifference of the man who stood with his head but slightly bent, and the vanity of the young boy as servitor in the ceremony.
Anything may cause such pictures to rise before us in vivid illumination. It may be a sentence in a book, a word, or contact with some object. I have brooded over the grassy mounds that are all that remain of the dunes in which our Gaelic ancestors lived. They built themselves up again for me so I looked on what seemed an earlier civilization. I saw the people, noted their dresses, the colors of natural wool, saffron or blue. How rough, how homespun they were. Even such details were visible as men cutting meat at a table with knives and passing it to the lips with their fingers.
I am convinced this is not what people call imagination. It is not an interior creation in response to a natural curiosity about past ages. It is an act of vision, a perception of images already existing. It is breathed on some ethereal medium that in no way differs from the medium that holds our memories for us.
The perception anew of an image in memory which is personal to us in no way differs as a psychical act from the perception of images in the memory of Earth. The same power of seeing is turned upon things of the same character and substance. It is not only rocks and ruins that infect us with such visions. When one is sensitive, a word in a book may do this also.
I sought in a classical dictionary for information about a myth. What else on the page my eye caught I could not say, but something there made two thousand years vanish. I was looking at the garden of a house in some ancient city. Two girls fluttered from the house into the garden. One was in purple and the other in a green robe. In a dance of excitement, they ran to the garden wall and looked beyond it to the right. There a street raised high to a hill where there was a pillared building. I could see through blinding sunlight a crowd swaying down the street and drawing near the house. The two girls were as excited as girls might be today if king or queen were entering their city.
This instant uprising of images following a glance at a page cannot be explained as the refashioning of the pictures of memory. The time that elapsed after the page was closed and the apparition in the brain was a quarter of a minute or less. The pictures were vividly colored and as full of motion and sparkle as moving pictures in the theaters. One can only surmise that they were not an instantaneous creation by some magical artist within us. They were evoked out of a vaster memory than the personal.
The Grecian names my eye had caught had the power of symbols that evoke their affinities. The picture of the excited girls and the shining procession was in some fashion connected with what I had read. I know not how. We cannot pass by the uprising of these images with some vague phrase about suggestion or imagination and shirk further inquiry.
If with physical eye twenty-five years ago a man had seen a winged airplane amid the clouds, it may have roused him to a tumult of speculation and inquiry. But if the same picture had been seen in the mind, it would speedily have been buried as mere fancy. There would be no speculation, though what appears within us might well be deemed more important than what appears without us.
Every tint, tone, shape, light, or shade in an interior image must have intelligible cause as the wires, planes, engines, and propellers of the airplane have. We must infer, when the image is clear and precise, an original of which this is the reflection. Whence or when were the originals of the pictures we see in dream or reverie? There must be originals.
Could the pictures of our personal memory unconsciously be reshaped into new pictures which appear in themselves authentic copies of originals? Could they move, have light, color, form, shade such as nature would bestow? If we are forced to dismiss as unthinkable such a process, we are then led to believe that memory is an attribute of all living creatures.
This is also true of Earth, the greatest living creature we know. She carries with her all her long history and it is accessible to us. This includes cities far gone behind time and empires which are dust or buried with sunken continents beneath the waters.
The beauty for which men perished is still shining. Helen is there in her Troy. Deirdre wears the beauty that blasted the Red Branch. No ancient lore has perished. Earth retains for herself and her children what her children might in passion have destroyed. It is still in the realm of the Ever Living to be seen by the mystic adventurer.
We argue that this memory must be universal. There is nowhere we go where Earth does not breathe fragments from her ancient story to the meditative spirit. These memories gild the desert air where once the proud and golden races had been and then passed away. They haunt the rocks and mountains where the Druids evoked their sky-borne and subterranean deities. The laws by which this history is made accessible to us seem to be the same as those that make our own learning swift to our service.
When we begin thought or discussion on some subject, we soon find ourselves thronged with memories ready for use. Everything in us seems to be mobilized that is related by affinity to the central thought. We meditate. Those alien pictures we see are not the pictures of memory. They are strange scenes, cities, beings, and happenings. If we study them, we find all of them in some relation to our mood. By powerful will, concentration, and aspiration we may made the gloom in the brain glow, evoking images of whatsoever we desire out of the memory of earth.
These earth memories come to us in various ways. There is an ethereal medium which is the keeper of such images. Is it like clear glass or calm water, not broken up by thought? When so and we are passive, there is often a glowing of color and form upon it. There is what may be a reflection from some earth memory connected with the place we move in. We may have direct vision of that memory. Meditation again evokes images and pictures akin to its subject and our mood, serving to illustration it.
Once, when I was considering the play of arcane forces in the body, a book appeared before me, a colored symbol on each page. I saw the book was magical. While I looked on one symbol, it vanished from the page. The outline of a human body appeared. Then there came an interior revelation. There was a shining of forces and a flashing of fires, rose, gold, azure, and silver along the spinal column. These flowed up into the brain where they struck upon a little ball that was like white sunfire for brilliancy. They flashed out of that again in a pulsation as of wings on each side of the head. Then the page darkened, and the changing series closed with the Caduceus of Mercury and contained only a symbol once more.
Such pictures come without conscious effort of will, but are clearly evoked by it. Lastly, but more rarely with me, because the electric intensity of will required was hard to attain, I was able at times to evoke deliberately out of the memory of nature pictures of persons or things long past in time, but of which I desired knowledge.
I now regret that while I was young and my energies yet uncoiled I did not practice this art of evocation more regarding knowledge of spiritual value. I was like a child who discovers a whole set of fresh toys and plays with one after the other. I was interested in all that came to me, being too often content as the servant of my vision and not its master.
For one born in a little country town in Ireland, it was an excitement of spirit to find the circle of being widened. Life seemed to dilate into a paradise of beautiful memories. It reached past ages, mixing with the eternal consciousness of Earth. When coming on the new, pause to contemplate it. Do not hurry to the end of the journey.
In themselves, the instances of earth memories given here are trivial. They are chosen not because being wonderful in any way, but rather because they are like things many people see. People may follow my argument more readily. The fact that Earth holds such memories is itself important. Once we discover this imperishable tablet, we are led to speculate. In the future, might training in seership lead to a revolution in human knowledge? It is a world where we may easily get lost, spending hours in futile vision with no more gain than if one looked at the dust for long hours.
These apparitions may arise for some during their spiritual evolution. I would tell them to try to become the master of their own vision. Seek for and evoke the greatest of earth memories, not those which only satisfy curiosity. Seek those that uplift, inspire, and give us a vision of our own greatness. The noblest of all Earth's memories is the august ritual of the ancient mysteries, where the mortal, amid scenes of unimaginable grandeur, was disrobed of his mortality and made of the company of the gods.
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 IN INDIA
In passing over the Caucasus (Hindu Kush?), Apollonius by a conversation with Damis declares the true road of philosophy. By making his first questions seem absurd and then point by point showing their inner meaning, he makes the lesson more easily remembered. Discoursing on the beauty of the mountain landscape, Apollonius asked Damis whether he thought that the previous day's journey in the valley was really on a lower level than their present lofty path.
"Of course it was, unless I have lost my reason," replied Damis.
"How do the two paths differ, then? In what lays the advantage of today," asked the Master.
"Today's journey has been made by but few, while yesterday's was through a country frequented by many travelers besides ourselves."
"Yet one may live far from the noise of men and in places frequented by few, even in a city," said Apollonius.
"I meant more than that," said Damis. "Yesterday we passed through populous villages, but today through regions not yet trodden by human foot; regions esteemed divine and holy. Even the barbarians, says our guide, call them the dwellings of the gods." Saying which, he lifted up his eyes to the lofty summit of the mountain above them.
Apollonius asked him, "What knowledge of the divine nature have you acquired by being nearer to heaven?"
"I have acquired none at all. What I knew yesterday of the divine nature, I know today without any addition at all."
"Then you are still below and have learnt nothing by being above and my question in not so absurd as it looked at first."
"I acknowledge I had some vague idea that I should be wiser than when we ascended, on coming down," said Damis. "I have heard of various philosophers who made their celestial observations on eminences and lofty mountains, but I fear that I shall not know more even if I ascend mountains higher than any of them."
"Nor did they so learn more," said Apollonius, "no more than any goat keeper or shepherd who sees the heavens from the hilltops. In what manner does a Supreme Being superintend the human race? How would he be worshiped? What is the nature of virtue, justice, and temperance? Mount Athos will show none of this to those who climb its summit, nor hymned Olympus, if the soul does not make such studies the object of its contemplation. But if it does engage in such topics pure and undefiled, I tell you that it will rise far above Caucasus itself."
So they traveled, Master and Disciple, over the mighty peaks and passes of Caucasus, where the drama of the world and chained Prometheus left so deep an impression on the unlearned dwellers of the plain that they showed the bolts in the mountainside, where the mighty titan had been held in bonds that humanity might rise to heights above all the cloud-capped peaks of earth below, while yet engaged in daily duty truly done. For that is true philosophy.
When they met a tribe of wandering Arabs who received them with pleasure and gave them wine, honey, and lion-meat, Apollonius told Damis of the use of meat and wine drinking. They rejected the meat, but Damis took the date-spirit and prepared to drink, pouring out the usual libation to God the Savior, Jupiter Salvator.
Damis was so unversed as yet in the spirit of his master's teachings (he had not known him long) that he offered some of the date-wine to Apollonius himself, saying it was not the product of the vine, therefore need not be refused. Apollonius tried to bring the Assyrian's mind to realize that the material was nothing, but the spirit everything; that the love of money does not cease to be love of money because the thing desired may be coin of another metal or country than the Greek, or money's worth; that the insult to the soul of intoxicating liquor is not lessened because it comes from another tree than the vine.
"Besides, you do in reality look upon it as wine, for you have made the usual libation to Jupiter. But what I say is in my own defense and not a rebuke to you. I do not prohibit you or your companions from drinking it. Even more! So little do I see that you have profited by the abstention from eating meat, I give you permission to eat it. I see the abstention from meat has profited you nothing at all. As to myself, I find it suitable to me in the practice of that philosophy to which I have devoted myself from my youth."
So gently did the great philosopher declare the matter that Damis, having not seen the grain within the husk, was pleased at the permission given to eat and drink with his companions. He had approached the mountain, but his mind was still below, far below.
The sight of elephants aroused much interest and discussion. The work in life of Apollonius was to practice philosophy and to teach it to those willing to learn. Therefore he draws moral lessons from the natural history of these wonderful animals, so gently as not to offend by seeming to preach to one who was not strong enough of character to take his wisdom neat, as one may say.
The Master leads Damis to considering the wonder of an animal as powerful as a living fortress being guided by a little Indian child not big enough to bear a spear or shield. Damis confesses it is so wonderful to him that he would buy the boy if he could, for if he could rule an elephant, surely he could rule a large household even better. Yes, he would put him in charge of racehorses, but not a warhorse, because the little fellow could not carry the armor. Not a doubt of it, the boy was one of the most wonderful children in the world!
Not so, declared the Master. It is the elephant that is wonderful, because he possess such self-control as to govern himself, for love of the boy. "Of all creatures the elephant is the most docile, and when once accustomed to submit to man he bears all things from him; he conforms to his taste, and loves to be fed out of his hand like a favorite dog. When his keeper comes, you will see him fawning upon him with his trunk, and letting him put his head into his mouth, which he keeps open as long as is desired. This we saw practiced among the Nomads. Yet at night he is said to bewail his servitude, not with a loud noise, as at other times, but with a low and piteous murmur. And if a man happens to surprise him in his situation, he restrains his sorrow, as if he were ashamed. Therefore it is the elephant which governs himself, and the best of his own docile nature, which influences his conduct more than the boy on his back who seems to manage him."
Damis records this conversation, and Philostratus publishes it. The discourse of Apollonius is so full of wonderful lessons that it seems a pity that there is no indication whether Damis saw the application or not. However, as the teachings of the Indian school of philosophy which Pythagoras practiced are not unknown, we can see the drift of much that may have appeared to many people to be little more than philosophic chatter. In this simple talk about elephants, which it seems Apollonius knew better than his disciple, though they had both seen them for the first time on this journey, Apollonius is using an exoteric illustration to portray the doctrines of universal brotherhood including all that lives and breaths and not only mankind; also the life of the philosopher who submits himself to the laws of nature of his own free will, and not as a slave to a master, doing his duty in his present position until he grows out of those circumstances in course of time, the wiser for the experience. So many of these conversations show the method; the situation is put colorlessly before the pupil, and if he is wise, his intuition will show him the application, to be followed or not as he pleases; the Teacher never forces him at all, one way or the other, and often conceals propositions of immense importance beneath a seemingly trivial conversational exterior.
As Philostratus says, "Many philosophical discourses they had together of this kind, most of which were taken from such occurrences of the day as deserved to be noticed."
In the words of the Indian School of Philosophy, "Life is the Great Teacher."
On arrival at the Indus, they asked their Babylonian guide if he knew about the crossing. He said he had never passed over and therefore did not know whether it was fordable or not.
"Then why did you not provide yourself with a guide," they asked him.
"Because I have one here that will direct you," he said as he produced a letter written by Bardanes. This mark of kindly thoughtfulness on the part of their host was much appreciated. He reminded the Indian Governor of the Indus of former favors which he had never desired should be recompensed; it was not his custom to expect requital for favors done. But if he would treat Apollonius well, and convey him wherever he desired, the debt would not be forgotten. Also the guide had been given gold, that there might be no necessity to apply for help to strangers.
On receiving the letter, the Indian Governor expressed himself as valuing it highly, and promised to treat Apollonius as though he had been recommended by no less a person than the king of the Indians himself. The royal barge was placed at his disposal, with ferries for the camels and guides for the country of the Hydraotes. The Governor provided him in addition with a letter to his own sovereign, entreating him to this Greek, this divine man, with the same respect as he had been treated by Bardanes.
The king invited Apollonius to be his guest for three days, as the laws of the country did not allow strangers to remain longer than that time in the city. The Greek philosopher was then conducted to the palace by the messengers and the interpreter sent by the king.
No pomp or pageantry was visible in the palace; no spearmen or lifeguards appeared; there were merely a few domestics, such as are usual in any good house, and not more than three or four persons in waiting who had constant access to the king. Apollonius was more pleased with the simplicity that reigned throughout the palace than with all the proud magnificence of Babylon. He judged the king to be a philosopher.
Through the interpreter, Apollonius addressed the king. "I am happy to see you study philosophy!"
"And I," replied the king, "am equally happy that you think so."
"Is the moderation I see established everywhere the effect of the laws or is it produced by you," asked the Greek.
"The laws," said the king, "prescribed moderation. But I carry my idea of it beyond the letter, and even the spirit of the laws. I am rich, and I want little. Whatever I possess more than is necessary for my own use, is considered as belonging to my friends."
"Happy are you," said Apollonius, "in being possessed of such a treasure, and in preferring friends from whom are derived so many blessings, to gold and silver."
"But it is my enemies," replied the king, "on whom I bestow my riches. By their means I keep the neighboring barbarians in subjection. Formerly these used to infest my kingdom, but now, instead of making raids on my territories, they keep others from doing so."
Apollonius asked, with reference to the great Indian King conquered by Alexander nearly four hundred years before, if Porus was accustomed to send them presents.
"Porus loved war, but I love peace," was the king's answer.
So delighted was Apollonius with this reply that when in later times he rebuked one Euphrates for not behaving like a true philosopher, he said "Let us reverence Phraotes."
A provincial governor was desirous to crown Phraotes with a rich diadem in token of his great obligations towards his benefactor. The king refused. "Even if I admired such things, I would cast it from me in the presence of Apollonius," he said. "To wear ornaments to which I am not accustomed would show an ignorance of my guest and a forgetfulness of what is due to me."
As to diet, the king informed Apollonius that he drank no more wine than he used in his libations to the sun. Satisfied with the exercise alone, he gave all the game he killed in hunting to his friends, and was himself well content with vegetables, the pith and fruit of the palm tree, and the produce of a well-watered garden. In addition, he had many dishes from trees he cultivated with his own hands.
Never forgetful of his duty in preparing Damis for a life of true philosophy, Apollonius cast many a glance at Damis while the king spoke, showing his pleasure at the recital of such moderation of life in eating and drinking, and doubtless hoping that his disciple would appreciate the indirect lesson in the "Science of life" which is true philosophy.
After settling everything relative to the journey to the "Brachmanes" (Buddhist philosophers and adepts), seeing the Babylonian guide well looked after, and the guide from the Governor of the Indus on his homeward way, the king, taking Apollonius by the hand, told the interpreter he might depart. Then in Greek he asked Apollonius, "Will you make me your guest?"
"Why did you not speak to me in Greek at first," asked Apollonius, in some astonishment.
"Because I might have appeared too presuming, either from not knowing myself, or from not remembering that it has pleased fortune to make me a non-Greek. But now, overcome by the love I have for you and the pleasure you seem to take in my company, I can no longer conceal myself. I will give you many proofs of my acquaintance with the Greek tongue."
"Then why do you not invite me to be your guest, rather than ask me to make you mine?"
"Because I regard you as my superior in virtue; for of all gifts a prince can possess, I deem wisdom the brightest." When he had said this, the king took Apollonius and his companion to his own bath. This was a garden, about five hundred feet long, in the middle of which was a tank fed by cool and refreshing streams. Running-paths were on both sides of the pool, and here the king often exercised with discus and javelin after the Greek fashion. A young man of twenty-seven years, he was of a sound and robust constitution, much given to physical exercise. Afterwards he would plunge into the bath and amuse himself with swimming. After the bath they went to the royal banquet, crowned with flowers, as was the custom whenever the Indians were invited to the feast in the king's palace.
The manner of dining is described: the king reclining with not more than five of his relatives in his company, and the rest of the party seated round the central large table, to which they go and help themselves as they need. Jugglers amuse them, such as the boy who leaps from a height at the moment that a very sharp javelin is thrown upward from below. So well calculated is the aim and the leap that he only misses falling on the point by a somersault which appears to keep him suspended in the air, for a moment almost touching the point of the spear. Then there was the man who would hit a hair with the sling, so accurate was his aim. Also the acrobat who would outline his son with javelins as the son stood stiffly against a board, without wounding him.
Damis and his companions were vastly taken with the skill of the acrobats, but Apollonius, who had a seat among the king's relatives at his own table, took little notice of these circus tricks. He asked the king how he had learnt the Greek language and philosophy, as he supposed there would not be any teachers in that part of the world.
The king smiled at the philosopher's persistence in questioning all as to whether they were philosophers, just as his ancestors used to ask every arrival by sea if he were a pirate, so common was the practice of that great crime.
"I know with you Greeks the profession of philosophy is considered a kind of piracy," said the king. "I am informed that there is none like you, though there are many who, like common robbers, put on the dress of a philosopher and strut about in loose flowing garments which belong to other men. And as pirates, with the sword of justice hanging over them, give way to all manner of excess, so do these self-appointed philosophers indulge in wine and love, and dress in the most effeminate way. The cause is in the laws, which punish adulteration of the current coin with death, and suitably punish the crime of substituting a spurious child; but if the same man imposes on the world a false philosophy, or adulterates it, no law restrains him, and there is no magistrate appointed to take cognizance of it."
Evidently King Phraotes knew more about Greece and about Apollonius in Greece than might be expected of any ordinary man. His description of the candidature for the philosophical life in India is in vast contrast to the state of affairs he speaks of in Greece, yet he had, with a twinkle in his eye called himself a "barbarian." This is what he says:
"With us there are but few who make philosophy their study; and they who do are tried and examined in the following manner. A young man, when he has reached his eighteenth year (which, I suppose with you, is the age of puberty) must go beyond the river Hyphasis, and see those men to whom you are going. When he comes into their presence he must make a public declaration of studying philosophy; and they have it in their power, if they think proper, to refuse admitting him to their society, if he does not come pure. What is meant by his coming pure is 'that there be no blemish on either his father's or mother's side, nor on that of any of his forefathers, even to the third generation; that none of his ancestors be found to have been unjust, or incontinent, or usurers.' And when no stigma or mark of reproach is discovered, the youth's character is then examined into, and inquiry made whether he has a good memory; whether his modesty is natural or assumed; whether he is fond of wine and good living; whether he is given to vain boasting, idle merriment, to passion or evil speaking; and lastly, whether he be obedient to his father, and mother and teachers; and above all, whether he makes a proper use of his beauty. What information concerns his parents and ancestors is collected from living testimony, and registered tablets, which are hung up for public inspection. Whenever an Indian dies, the magistrate appointed by the laws goes to the house of the deceased and writes down an account of his life and actions. If the magistrate so appointed is discovered to have acted with duplicity, or suffered him to have been imposed on, he is punished and forever after prohibited from holding any office, as one who has falsified the life of a man. Such information as relates to the candidates themselves individually is acquired by a minute investigation of their looks. We know that much of human disposition is learnt from the eyes, and much from examining the eyebrows and cheeks; all which things being well considered, wise men, and such as are deep read in nature, see the temper and disposition of men just as they see objects in a mirror. In this country, philosophy is esteemed of such high price, and so honored by the Indians, that it is very necessary to have all examined who approach her. In what manner the teachers are to act and the pupils be examined, I think has been now sufficiently detailed."
The story of Phraotes himself shows that he had been a pupil of the philosophers. His grandfather was a Raja of the same name, Phraotes. His father being left an orphan at any early age and not used to official life, the kingdom was governed according to law by two of his relatives as regents. They were so despotic that they were murdered by the chiefs of the country, who seized the kingdom. The young king was sent by his friends to the court of another Raja over the river Hyphasis, who had a large and rich kingdom. This Raja would have adopted the exiled king, but Phraotes's father declined the honor. He requested that he might be allowed to study philosophy with the wise men. When the friendly Raja heard this, he attended the wise men in person and highly recommended the fugitive, Phraotes's father, as a pupil. The physiognomic examination proving satisfactory, as they found something remarkable in his looks, he spent seven years with the sages. Then the Raja, his friend, fell sick and sent for him, making him joint heir of the kingdom with his son, besides promising him his daughter in marriage.
This arrangement was short-lived, for the new Raja loved to associate with flatterers, and was addicted to wine and other vanities. So, asking only the Raja's consent to his marriage with his sister, Phraotes's father left him in sole possession of the kingdom and dwelt in one of the seven villages left by the old Raja as a dowry for his daughter, near the dwelling of the sages. Of this marriage, Phraotes was born, and his father taught him Greek. There was an object in this since it was regarded as a useful accomplishment for a candidate for the life of philosophy. Phraotes was accepted by the sages as a pupil, a chela, at the early age of twelve years, being brought up by them as a son.
After seven years his parents died, and the sages, though he was only nineteen, sent him to his mother's seven villages to attend to his estate. But they had been taken by his uncle the reigning Raja, and Phraotes had to live as best he could with only four domestics, and a small pittance coming from his mother's freedmen.
One day, while he was reading a Greek play -- THE HERACLIDAE of Euripides, concerning the restoration of the sons of Hercules to their country -- a messenger came from his father's friends to say that if he passed the Hydraotes River without delay, there was hope he might regain the kingdom from the usurpers. Accepting the omen, Phraotes returned to his father's kingdom and found one of the usurpers dead, while the other was besieged in the palace, inactive and helpless. Though, as a pupil of the sages, Phraotes begged for the wretched man's life, he was unsuccessful in saving him.
Apollonius heartily congratulates Phraotes on the omen given by the gods, and later declares in a discussion that the use of wine is antagonistic to any true oracles or visions, for which reason one oracle well known in Greece would not give any information except to those who had abstained at least for the day.
Speaking of Alexander's invasion, Phraotes declared that he had not advanced against the mount of the sages, never having passed the Hyphasis. If he had it would have been useless, for ten thousand Achilleses and thirty thousand Ajaxes could not have helped him to master the place. The sages make no war, but if attacked, drive off the enemy with thunders and tempests, while they themselves remain under the protection of the gods. The Egyptian Hercules and Bacchus once attacked them, but they remained absorbed in meditation until the actual advance on the hill was made, as though they were unaware of the attack and danger. Then, in a moment, fiery whirlwinds and thunders from above fell on the heads of the attacking army and they fled, Hercules even leaving his golden shield behind in the fight. This, on account of its design and its origin, the philosophers kept among their sacred treasures. The shield represented Hercules fixing the boundaries of the earth at Cadiz and forming two pillars of the corresponding mountains to shut out the ocean. These are the Apes' hill in Africa and Gibraltar of today. The symbolism is obvious.
A curious case was to be tried before Phraotes. A man sold a field to another. The latter found in it a pot of gold. The first claimed the gold, as he had sold only the field. The second claimed that he had bought all that was in the field. The Raja would not descend to so cheap a solution as dividing the money, but decided to try the case. He asked what Apollonius would do.
"Without a doubt the man who bought the field ought to have the gold," said Apollonius. "If the seller had deserved it of the gods, he would not have lost the field. If the buyer had not been a good man who deserved well of them they would not have given it to him. Examine their conduct and see if this is not correct."
Next day the men came to plead, and it was found that the seller was neglectful of the sacrifices, while the buyer was devout and a worshiper of the gods. He went away satisfied that the gods had favored him when the case was given in his favor. In this way Apollonius taught his principles.
King Phraotes declared that as Apollonius had arrived in the afternoon, that day did not count, and he was invited to stay until the completion of the third complete day. "If on any account a law should be dispensed with, it should be so in your case," said Phraotes when Apollonius expressed his delight. He insisted on supplying new camels in place of the worn-out Babylonian ones, sending the latter back to Babylon. He provided a guide and a letter of introduction to Iarchas, the eldest of the Sages, requesting him to receive Apollonius as a man not inferior to himself, treating his followers as philosophers and his disciples. In addition, he ordered them gold and precious stones and linen garments. Apollonius declined the gold because Bardanes in Babylon had secretly supplied the guide with sufficient; he accepted the linen; and taking one stone in his hand, remarked, "O rare stone, how fortunate have I been in finding you, not without the favor of the Gods!" -- seeing as I suppose some secret virtue in it -- ingenuously adds the recorder Philostratus, as if he did not perceive that Apollonius was really referring to Phraotes himself in that symbolical way. A diamond was ever regarded by the Indian philosophers as the symbol of a true philosopher; some of their pupils have been noted for the "art of making diamonds." After all, is not "the philosopher's stone" the human heart made perfect?
Damis and his companions declined the gold, but took plentifully of the precious stones that they might dedicate them to the gods on their return to Greece.
This is the letter of introduction to Iarchas given by Phraotes:
I offer health to King Phraotes, to Iarchas his master, and to the wise men with him.
Apollonius, a man famed for wisdom, thinks you have more knowledge than him, and goes to be instructed in it. Send him away learned in all you know, and believe that nothing you teach him will be lost. His power of speaking is above that of mortals and his memory good. Let him see the throne on which I sat, when your father Iarchas gave me my kingdom. Moreover his followers are deserving of praise on account of their respect for the man.
Farewell and be happy!
By Steve Stubbs
Consider the subject of God. What can we say, keeping our ideas so elementary that I ask the reader not to feel insulted by their simplicity? Not much. The subject is not simple. At times, I find it too profound for me, even though I like to chew on it.
Nothing can DISPROVE the existence of a Supreme Personality. There are some purely logical arguments that may lead to a wrong conclusion. Nonetheless, these arguments make it clear that we find a supreme impersonal reality at the end of our quest.
You are conscious, prima facie evidence of consciousness in the universe. You are intelligent, prima facie evidence of intelligence in the universe. Your consciousness and intelligence are a manifestation of the principle of consciousness and intelligence in the universe.
The argument is complex, but there is good reason to believe consciousness is an integral component of being. If there is no consciousness, there is no being. Thus, anything that exists does so endowed with consciousness, however elementary it might be.
Empty space represents total unconsciousness. Sensible objects (planets, stars, comets, and the residents thereof) possess some consciousness. Theosophy refers to planetary spirits. Logically, one would expect planetary consciousness to be more elementary than that of man, but Theosophy asserts the opposite. It could be so.
Space and matter exist in the universe. Leucippus described them as Being and Not-Being. They are evidence that consciousness and unconsciousness coexist.
Theosophy tells us that unconsciousness came first and is the supreme reality. (This is the Unconscious, in Eduard von Hartmann's terminology.) Since consciousness is phenomenal and unconsciousness is numinal, this makes perfect sense. One interpretation of Einstein's equations is that what we experience as matter is really a distortion of the space-time continuum, which implies that there had to be a space-time continuum (unconsciousness) before there could be matter (the continuum distorted, resulting in consciousness).
Thus at the beginning of the Manvantara (the end of the Mahapralaya), there was differentiation in space, resulting in the appearance of atoms, which congregated to form planets, etc.
Suppose that there are personalities far superior to a man, ones we would call godlike. This is not just possible, but likely. Behind the superior personality, there must be some numinal reality of unknown nature, just as something must underlie human and animal personalities. Such a personality could exist, but the supreme reality would be beyond it, and not be personal. This is logical, but it could be wrong. Nature is not obliged to follow logic -- not mine, anyway.
Is evolution blind and mechanical? Wallace showed the flaws in that theory a century ago. According to Darwin, an Australian aborigine should have just enough intelligence to function in a pre-technological society. The fact that they have considerably more than needed is a serious problem for classical Darwinian evolution. (This is also true of dolphins and certain other species).
Schopenhauer made an important point. Given that evolving beings are intelligent and have will and aspiration, it makes more sense to assume there is an intelligent component to evolution. He diverged from the Darwinists and the Creationists, suggesting THE INTELLIGENCE GUIDING EVOLUTION IS IN THE EVOLVING BEING ITSELF. One of his examples is of a deer having antlers because its ancestors wanted them.
If some intelligence had evolved mice, that intelligence must function separately from the intelligence that evolved the cats destined to consume them. There are two intelligences operating in parallel, one for the cats and another for mice. This makes more sense than saying that a master intelligence evolved both. It could be that the system is hierarchical, with the Great Cat and the Great Mouse evolved by something higher in the hierarchy. I suspect they evolved separately.
This suggests that evolution may be bottom-up rather than top-down. It is also possible that it is a combination. There is no way to know for sure, but that should give you a worthy puzzle.
If this reasoning is correct, a devout Hindu's Vishnu could exist and be exalted but not supreme. This would not present a problem to a philosopher but could trouble a devotional mystic. In that event, the supreme reality would be forever beyond us, something also taught in Theosophy. The supreme reality, whatever it may be, is beyond our comprehension or experience, whether we are theists or not.
Historically, the idea of the Jewish deity as something Supreme is relatively modern. In the time of Moses, Jehovah was a tribal deity, one among many. Other tribes had their own Gods. For devotional purposes, his status elevated over time as the consciousness of his worshipers evolved.
By Hazel Boyer Braun
[From THE THEOSPHICAL FORUM, August 1947, pages 468-74.]
Humanity finds itself moving rapidly into a new era, strikingly different from the preceding one, and with certainty we may expect marked changes in the forms of art expression. Much confusion arises, however, when artists attempt to create a new art based on supposedly new principles. A truly great art of the future must employ universal ideas, as in all illustrious periods of culture in the past, for the deepest intuitions of a people are expressed in the distinct forms of their art.
In the understanding of this intuition lies the inspiration for the art of the future, and we must reach the heart of these grand ideas before we can grasp the fundamental basis underlying all art principles. These truths, expressed in symbolic language, need not be locked secrets for us today. Certainly there is no more fascinating study than that of comparative symbology, wherein is evidence that all the peoples of the earth once understood the same universal teaching.
Symbolism and myth were not born of fear of nature's forces at all, as has been stated by some researchers, but simply constituted the language of those who had been taught some of the secrets of the universe. Symbols are universal and express reverence and understanding of nature. Today we are in touch with the whole globe in an outer sense, can hear the voices of those in remote lands and learn about their daily lives; but the ancients based their kinship upon the teachings of the Mystery Schools which provided an inner communion of thought.
In former times art and religion evolved side by side, as parallel lines of expression of man's soul life. The classic period of Greece for instance was absolutely responsive to the needs of the spiritual development of the people. Their art presented man in heroic or godlike form, whether the subject was historic or mythological, only its quintessence was embodied in a severe and conventionalized style. The ideal Greek statues were not primarily illustrations of mythological stories, but revelations. We know how the Zeus of Phidias was regarded. Dion Chrysostomus said,
So much light and godhood had the artist wrought into Zeus that at sight of the statue even the most miserable of mortals forgot his suffering.
Democritus struck the keynote when he declared beauty to be perfect measure, free from deficiency or excess: the ethical ideal embodied in this esthetic formula. The Greek idea of the fundamental principle of harmonious proportion and measure was applied to their architecture, their entire art expression and likewise their understanding of the building of worlds. They never thought of themselves as separate from the universe.
As we survey the history of ancient peoples we are often fascinated by their art, which like a flower springs from the soil of esoteric wisdom. Today nearly every outstanding artist has a deep regard for the art of ancient China, and every gallery and studio has its precious treasures from the old masters of the Far East. There is a significant promise in the present enthusiastic interest in Chinese art, from artist to layman.
With the prevalent interest in oriental art, let us note a parallel in the opening of a new epoch in our present cultural life. The trend of art, among our nature loving people, has something of that grand reverence for universal nature which inspired the Chinese. Abstractions, surrealism, and many other more or less short-lived art impulses are searching in the same direction as the mystic who paints out-of-door themes as a hymn of praise to the inner divinity that lies at the heart of all things. The surfeit of sophistication and surface interests is the keynote that emphasizes a growing hunger for spiritual values in art and in life.
It is not difficult to recognize soul quality in art, and to see that the rare simplicity found in the vital living rhythm of the old dragon tiles made for Chinese tombs, or those Chimeras in sculpture which suggest mystic ideas in living forms, is rooted in life-giving truths of the ancient wisdom. We believe the cruelty portrayed in the forms of some of the ancient bronzes was inspired by a realization of the danger of the elemental forces present in the cosmos, also found in the lower aspects of man's nature: forces which may lead him into destruction if not curbed by his higher nature. Another example is the Chinese dragon as an emblem of the higher man released from his body.
We find the same penetrating understanding of cosmic truths in a small stone sculpture of a three-faced deity, the Hindu Trimurti. It is significant first because of its beauty, its innate expressiveness of those qualities that we associate with the thought of divinity: serene but vitally living Splendor, the great Silence, the Sacred Flame, and the Radiant Presence. No student of the ancient teachings would mistake this three-faced figure to be a personalization of deity, but would recognize in it a symbolic reminder of the primal, universal substance manifest in three aspects -- Brahma, from the Sanskrit root, Brih -- meaning to grow, to expand; and Vishnu from the root Vish -- to pervade, being infinite space of which the gods, the Rishis, the Manus, and all in the universe are the simple potencies; and then there is Shiva, the resolver, the regenerator. Modern scientists might find a relationship to the three-faced deity in their expanding and contracting universe.
It is very difficult to attain the fullest possible appreciation of the art of old India and China without making a study of the philosophy which inspired it. But the keys to an understanding of the language of symbols are relatively simple and will carry the student far. The over-ornate decoration often found in the East is sometimes criticized, because the motive and symbolism of the design is not understood by the westerner.
There exists today a highly decorated gateway to a Stupa which must have stood at Stanci, India, in very ancient times. There were four of these gates placed around a circular structure, the whole of which was symbolic of the structure of the universe. At the ends of the cross-pieces of this gateway we noted on each a concentric circle with seven spirals. The gateway itself suggests man's placing his feet upon the mystic pathway, and the three crosspieces imply that only those of the third degree of initiation were taught there.
The concentric circles are identical with those wrought on gold disks which were found in the tombs of ancient Greece, and also inscribed on the boulder blocking the entrance to a cave temple in Ireland. The symbol of the concentric circles tells all who may read it that within this temple were taught the structure of the sevenfold universe, the nature of man, the races of humanity, and the secret teaching concerning the planets.
The Greeks suggested the planes and hierarchies of existence by the various characters in their myths, each character recalling to those wise old students the fact that man may progress step by step to the place where he blends his nature and understanding with that of the cosmos and becomes godlike. The Babylonians hinted of the cosmic planes in the structure of their temples with their seven or ten steps; and sometimes many more.
Ancient Mayan artists carved a series of four faces, one above the other, on the headdresses of their monolithic statues. These heads represent the four monads or souls of man, and link with the fourfold division known in Vedic India.
The Aztec calendar stone now in the National Museum of Mexico City illustrates a tradition and calendar system of great antiquity. In it we may find evidence that the Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs have the roots of their culture, not in cave men and crudity, but in an ancient wisdom and divine knowledge that links their civilization with that of the Orient. They knew astronomy and other sciences by a process of initiation into their Mystery Schools. One noted American archaeologist says of the calendar stone:
It clearly determined, once and for all, the sequence of the days; the relation of all classes of the population to each other and to the whole, and set forth not only the place each group should occupy in the market place, but also the product or industry with which it was associated and the periods when its contribution to the commonwealth should be forthcoming to regular rotation. The stone was therefore not only the tablet but the wheel of the law of the state, and it can be conjectured that its full interpretation was more or less beyond the capacity of all but an initiated minority, consisting of the elders, chiefs and priests.
The grades of social and political life were similar, according to the old records, to the early civilizations of Hindustan in the Vedic period. In both Central America and India the population was divided into four grades: the agriculturist; the commercial man; the administrator, warrior, king or prince -- in short the world of officialdom; and the fourth grade the Brahmana or the philosopher, sage or initiate.
The four grades or castes of humanity are said to have taken their origin from the four paths which have been known in the Orient from time immemorial -- the paths of consciousness by which man works out his salvation through the circling years.
Some scholars consider Mayan art the greatest in America, comparable with those monuments of the Orient which were reared in the golden ages of the past, when entire nations glimpsed something of the inner splendor of life and built magnificent temples, pyramids, and towers. Karnak in Thebes, the sun-temples of Mexico, the monuments of Peru, Java, Cambodia, Athens and down the Nile, were all reared by peoples who paid humble tribute to deity. Each is universal and impersonal in significance, without the slightest trace of sentimentality.
With abounding vitality, the mysterious megalithic structures the world over speak the same mystery language as these ancient temples, yet in tones that often seem to echo from a far greater antiquity. Wherever we find them they are so similar and so amazing; the old Peruvian walls, of which the Sacahuaman fort is typical, the stones often weighing 300 tons, yet so carefully finished and put together that they have better withstood earthquakes by their very irregularity than by a rigid wall.
Cut in intensely hard stone, the amazing statues found at Akapana, Tiahuanaco and Lima are often twenty feet in height. These stone statues of America lead one in thought to the great platforms of Easter Island, the masonry of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the circle of Stonehenge, the Dolmens of Scotland, and the carvings and paintings discovered in the caves of Spain. Many of these belong to an antiquity greater than science is ready to admit, but decade by decade the horizon is pushed back as our knowledge increases.
The following quotation from the writings of the Old Emperor Taitsong challenges us to widen our vision,
By using a mirror of brass, one can see to adjust one's cap; by using antiquity as a mirror, one can learn to foretell the rise and fall of empires.
As we take stock of our present status with a breadth of vision that encompasses prehistory and probes the future, we see in our United States the development of a unique architecture, architecture of the skyscraper erected to the god of commerce. On the other hand, the formation of our state and national parks embodies a tribute to nature that is noteworthy in a young civilization, so buried in material living and thinking that, as yet, it cannot compare in certain ways with older cultures this same land has known.
Many of us love the art of the American Indian because of its simplicity as an expression of children of nature who, having learned from the mountains and trees and sky, love silence and communion with nature above all else. Here is no brain-mind fakery of childlike naivete, but an intuitive sense of balance and rhythm which is characteristic of the repetition, accent, and dignified tempo of their music.
Indian arts are closely allied with the humble necessities of life: pots of clay to cook with, baskets to gather acorns, rugs to protect from cold, arrows to provide food and kill the menacing enemy. The creative imagination is given full vent in the elaboration of gay garments, headdresses, moccasins, deerskin suits, and jewelry. It is in the decoration of these simple necessities of life which they, even more than the white man, love to have beautiful that the Indian outlook on life is symbolized. In rugs, pottery, and baskets may be seen the patterns of clouds, rain and lightning -- all those valued associations with thunder storms that make the corn grow. The colorful cubes built into stepped designs suggest the distant mountains toward which their gaze is directed as they work.
Tassels on the corners of rugs represent the four mystic directions, the four seasons of the year. The familiar squash blossom design is the emblem of maidenly purity, wrought in a silver necklace or in the embroidery of a dress. The Thunderbird design is almost identical in significance with the Chinese Dragon; both represent the spiritual power whose home is the mists and clouds of heaven, both are the life giving power of the rain.
Truly Indian art possesses its tranquil dignity because it is above all intuitive.
Lawrence Binyon further completes our perspective and helps us to understand where we stand in the scheme:
In the East, not the glory of the proud human form, not the proud assertion of human personality, but instead of all these, all thoughts that lead us out from ourselves into universal life, hints of the infinite, whispers from secret sources -- mountains, waters, mists, flowering trees, whatever tells of powers and presences mightier than ourselves.
All this tells us plainly that since the Periclean age, since the beginning of its decline, we, as a western people have, to use the Chinese saying, "Lost the way to Heaven." We turn to the art of the West and search in vain for magnificent monuments comparable to those of antiquity. Cathedrals, yes, built under the shadow of a dark and restricted understanding of life -- art is there indeed, for now and then an artist broke through to a universal point of view. But may we not hope for something greater as we grow and learn?
There is hope in our being an out-of-door-loving people, for this in itself may raise our eyes to a more penetrating understanding of nature so that we may not be altogether submerged in a borrowed sophistication. Nature, art, and civilization must ever go hand in hand if we use the mirror of antiquity to make our prophecy. In the landscape painting of America, we sometimes catch the impersonal subtle mysticism of the great old Chinese landscape painters, who are held by deep students to be the greatest artists of all time, insofar as we can know today.
By Christmas Humphreys
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1949, pages 166-77.]
SEEING INTO ONE'S OWN NATURE
This nature is HSIN, the personal veil that hides from us the Essence of Mind. It is everywhere and everything, and when anything is suddenly seen for what it is, then HSIN is seen, and Zen.
Pointing to a stone in front of his temple, To-shi said, "All the Buddhas of the past, the present, and the future are living therein." This would not have stopped him using the stone as a hammer to crack nuts.
When Tennyson plucked the flower from the crannied wall and held it in hand, he realized, "But if I could understand what you are, root and all, and all in all, I should know what God and man is." As Blyth points out on page 68, a Zen master might take the flower, crush it, and ask, "NOW do you know what God and man is?" For the crushing of the flower is like the burning of the textbook. It destroys the last veil, in this case of sentiment, which hid from the poet the essence of the flower.
Things, in brief, are not symbols, but things, and the whole of Samsara, the manifested Universe, is only the Essence of Mind in reverse. See it "right," and it is One, though nonetheless a rose, or a committee meeting, or a pint of beer. Such is the nature of things.
This Nature is the Mind, and the Mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is the Way, and the Way is Zen. To see directly into one's original Nature, this is Zen.
-- ESSAYS IN ZEN BUDDHISM, I, page 220
What are the symptoms of awakening Zen? They are many, and may be better considered in the chapter relating to Satori. Yet here are three.
There is, first, an increasing serenity, however disturbed at times by the usual gusts of emotion or doubt. There is a sense of certainty, not boastful or aggressive in manifestation, but peaceful, as of a ship which, storm-tossed in a sea still visible, now lies safe-harbored while the storm howls overhead. Interest withdraws from the manifold means of escape from Reality in which we pass our lives. We have an increasing intensity of purpose and awareness that yet has lost largely the quality of tension.
There is a sense of airiness, of the lightness which comes of dropping the burden of self and its desires, of the health and vigor of youth on the uplands of new thought in the dawn-light of the world. There is a sense of returning, a feeling of having recovered the natural simplicity of life which springs from the rediscovery of our Essence of Mind. There is even a sense of inconsequence, from understanding of the relative unimportance of habitual affairs.
Yet at the same time, there is a growing awareness of the significance of things and events, impersonal now, but immediate. The humblest act is a sacrament, the humblest thing, mind-made though it is, is now of absolute value.
There is, in brief, an increasing sense of balance, a refusal to rest the mind in any of the pairs of opposites, a refusal, indeed, to let the mind rest anywhere at all. This firm refusal comes from a newborn sense of flow.
When asked, "What is Zen," a Master replied "Walk on!" For life is like a river, filling each form and bursting its limitations as it moves unceasing on. It is therefore useless to sit down in achievement, or in any concept, even "Zen." HSIN, (in Japanese, SHIN) becomes MU-SHIN, "no mind." Who shall confine the sunset or the morning wind in a labeled box of thought, however splendid its construction and design?
Speaking of Hui-neng, Dr. Suzuki writes,
The Mind or Self-Nature was to be apprehended in the midst of its working or functioning. The object of Dhyana (Zen) was thus not to stop the working of Self-Nature but to make us plunge right into its stream and seize it in the very act. His intuitionalism was dynamic ... [For] the truth of Zen is the truth of life, and life means to live, to move, to act, not merely to reflect. Is it not the most natural thing for Zen, therefore, that its development should be towards acting or rather living its truth instead of demonstrating or illustrating its truth in words, that is to say, with ideas? In the actual living of life there is no logic, for life is superior to logic ... Zen is to be explained, if explained it should be, rather dynamically than statically. When I raise the hand thus, there is Zen. But when I assert that I have raised the hand, Zen is no more there.
-- Suzuki, ESSAYS IN ZEN BUDDHISM, pages 207 and 283-4
"Be prepared," say the Boy Scouts. Hamlet echoes this when he says,
If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come It will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: The readiness is all.
Hence the value of what Geraldine Coster calls "sitting loose to life," a fluid adaptability to unyielding circumstance, attached to nothing, experiencing all.
He who binds to himself a joy Doth the winged life destroy; But he who kisses the Joy as it flies, Lives in eternity's sunrise.
-- William Blake
To many, the principal purpose of life is security. We see it as undesirable as it is impossible of attainment. Emily Dickinson is right.
In insecurity to lie Is Joy's insuring quality.
In brief, without thought of security or achievement, or any purpose, much less an ultimate goal, "Walk on!"
A third of the many symptoms of awakening Zen, the last mentioned here, is a sense of "rightness."
"All that happens happens right," said the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
"I know that the enterprise is worthy. I know that things work well. I have heard no bad news," said Thoreau, and they are brave and splendid words.
From the first experience of Zen is born a willingness to let things happen, a diminishing desire to control the Universe, even though the purpose is to "rebuild it, nearer to the heart's desire." Action becomes increasingly "right action," done without haste or delay, without thought of self, without thought of merit or reward.
He who pursues learning will increase every day. He who pursues Tao will decrease every day. He will decrease and continue to decrease Till he comes to non-action; By non-action everything can be done.
-- TAO TE CHING, Chapter 48
Yet herein we find the paradox of personality. As the self dies out, the true self grows. Of the Tao or Zen, it is later said,
When merits are accomplished, it does not lay claim to them.
Because it does not lay claim to them, therefore it does not lose them.
-- TAO TE CHING, Chapter 51
The secret lies in action in inaction, or inaction in action, as explained at length in the Bhagavad-Gita. Deeds are done because it is "right" to do them, regardless of consequence, and merit. The results of right action that accrue to the doer as long as there is a "doer" to receive them are a byproduct that comes, like happiness, unsought.
The habit of right action is itself presumably the result of previous lives of merit-producing action, by which the mind, increasingly lightened of the weight of personal desire, slowly enlarges by the deliberate expansion, in range and depth, of its activity.
I found in THE WESTMINSTER PROBLEMS BOOK (1908), a delightful quatrain by Philip Castle that puts this admirably.
Merit acquired in incarnations past, And now by the unconscious self held fast; So the hand strikes the right chord, in the dark, And, codeless, runs the right flag to the mast.
For the law of Karma, action and reaction, operates unceasingly as long as a self exists to receive the consequences, "good" or "bad," of action. Hence the advice in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE:
Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. Exhaust the law of karmic retribution.
The law can only be exhausted, as already set out, by exhausting the SELF-ish desires that keep alive the separate, personal self.
People in the East know Buddhism as the Buddha-Dharma (Pali: DHAMMA). The word Dharma has a vast variety of meaning, one of which is "duty." Duty in English has the unpleasant connotation of compulsion. It is something that ought to be done but which we do not wish to do. Yet in the Buddhist sense, it is that which is the next thing to be done, and the emotional labels of dislike or like are not applied. One just does it. In a memorable passage, Chuang Tzu says,
To act by means of inaction is Tao. To speak by means of inaction is exemplification of Tao ... To follow Tao is to be prepared. [Cf. "The readiness is all."] To not run counter to the natural bias of things is perfect.
-- page 137
This "natural bias of things" is the rhythm of nature, the rhythm of the Universe.
It connotes acting in harmony with the swing of the Universe -- whether spiritually, intellectually, or in the least movement of the body -- from the physical movements of the dance of happy youth to the dance of the planets about the sun and the systems about the infinite.
-- Adams Beck, THE STORY OF ORIENTAL PHILOSOPHY, page 413
Alan Watts has much to say of this in THE MEANING OF HAPPINESS. Talking of the Taoist conception of the significance of the moment, he says that this implies that all things happening now have a definite relation to one another just because they have occurred together in time, if for no other reason.
This is another way of saying the harmony called Tao blends all events in each moment of the Universe into a perfect chord. The whole situation in and around you at this instant is a harmony with which you have to find your own union if you are to be in accord with Tao.
The right life, therefore, is the natural life, and he who has found and lives in Zen lives naturally. To what extent his newfound harmony affects his outward life, to bring his outward mode of living into accord with his inner awareness is a matter of time and the individual. Just as the direct drive of an engine is sweet and without discordant tension, so the right use of action, direct action, is sweet and frictionless.
Only self, the desire of self for self intervenes and pulls the machine out of alignment. Alignment becomes the operative word. From the "power-house of the Universe" as Trine calls it, to the individual self the power is direct, and the right means used in the right way at the right time and place make up increasingly the perfect act.
A sense of serenity, a sense of flow, and a sense of rightness in all action are three of the symptoms of awakening Zen. The number of men in whom such a state of awareness flowered in China and Japan between the sixth and nineteenth centuries produced in their outward influence what may be fairly called the visible fruits of Zen, as manifest in Zen Buddhism.
By Steven Levey
We have heard of the phrase, "The Dweller on Threshold." We find it in literature and hear it discussed rarely. It is not widely known in the West. Those allusions to it that we find say little. This is in the vein of the Chinese axiom, "Those who know don't say and those who say don't know." The subject helps us grasp the causes of terrorism, becoming less impotent in our response.
In his article "The Dweller on the Threshold," William Q. Judge explains that the Dweller refers to the combined reservoir of our negative thoughts, acts, and speech. Each of us originated and now owns a fair share of that negativity.
Judge mentions ZANONI, a novel by Sir Bulwar Lytton written late in the Nineteenth century. In it, we find Glyndon left alone in a room with containers of bottled up powerful energies. Incapable of self-restraint, Glyndon begins opening the containers, soon facing a negative presence that overpowers him. This negativity shows itself in overly passive individuals. Ignorant of the power of choice making, they let others move them in an emotional fervor. Under duress, even the thoughtful and restrained may give up, succumbing to negative impulses.
Judge writes for another sort of person, one having discovered the Path on which Glyndon treads. That Path is the ages-old Narrow and Thorny Way. It is one of self-sacrifice for the good of others, whereon one sublimates the lower, earthy desires into enthusiasm for the higher ethical life. In Buddhism, this involves the practice of the Ten Virtues of the Holy Dharma, including the Seven Paramitas.
At first in doing this, we become increasingly confident that our actions involve genuine therapeutics, alleviating personal and universal suffering. Realizing the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, we see suffering as common to all and entirely self-caused. The importance to those following the Path of responsibility to others becomes clear. As we understand the cause of our suffering, it becomes second nature to set new causes in motion tying us to the service of others. We quickly see how different theory is from practice.
The backlash in outer life is proportional to one's strength of aspiration. External life stands in the way. The personality needs transmuting, an act of alchemy like turning lead into gold. Judge says even a good person may encounter mud left uncleaned from parts of one's self forgotten or otherwise hidden.
Distinct from the obstacles that frequently arise from within is the larger and more-powerful negativity latent in collective humanity, called by Judge "The Dweller on the Threshold." Take yourself on, allowing a higher purpose to come through. Doing so, you also take on that repository of "mud" left uncleaned in others.
How can it be otherwise? Our natures interconnect at all levels of being. We live amidst others day and night. We owe them our livelihood and subsistence. This is a positive aspect of the Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Origination. Anything that we do brings about good or ill for the greater whole. There is an irony. Just as we awaken to a greater sense of interconnectedness to humanity, we become aware of the Dweller. Until but a moment before, we were blissfully unaware of it.
A seeker after truth will meet obstacles on the Path. Humanity faces its own problems, including terrorism. Is there a connection between the seeker's states and those of society? Do we terrorize ourselves? Seeing ourselves as humanity, who else could be terrorizing us?
The government finds it difficult to deal with terrorism. At the personal level, we struggle to root out our separative, overly egocentric natures. We perform alchemy, bringing about the peaceful coexistence of the man of the world and his highest inspiration or spiritual parent. Our success dealing with our egocentric natures offers a key to the eradication of terrorism. To this end, the great teachings provide useful tools for one on the Quest, found in books such as H.P. Blavatsky's THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE and in THE BHAGAVAD GITA. One turns that which is separative and frustratingly egocentric in him to a more nearly universal perspective.
In this process, we practice inclusiveness, drawing together individuals involved in separatist elements of society. We do not pushed them away and further exclude them from the whole. They are at odds with peaceful culture and need to make their choice of self-inclusion. Who shall set an example for them to follow freely? Who will take that Wisdom which is his or her birth right, as H.P. Blavatsky says of the Ancient Wisdom, actively putting it to use in our time as a model upon which others, also suffering from its lack, may base their lives?
By James Sterling
He sat in front of the liquor store, Where I buy my Sunday paper; His sad clown face stared out at the world With dusty eyes like a wooden Indian; He sat but did not move. I saw him again last Sunday. He watched me approach without emotion, But did not offer me a greeting. Inside, I went to buy the Sunday paper, And fished out some coins on my way out For my dusty-eyed friend. "Take this," I urged him, handing him the silver. He placed his leathery hands on mine, Not ready to let go. "Your quite welcome," I added hastily, pulling away. I turned to leave but whirled around: Our eyes met, and we seemed to understand one Another, his sad fate and mine. "I can't help you, my dusty-eyed friend. I can barely help myself." His wrinkled face crinkled up in a faded Yellow-toothed smile. "That's all right. Thanks just the same." His body jerked playfully up and down as he waved. "See you next Sunday."
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from second part of the tape recording on "Chapter XII of FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, Part I," made of a private class held on May 19, 1954.]
Look at this tape recorder! This gadget will immortalize our class. Before you know it, a tape might go as far as Holland. Our voices will travel there from lodge to lodge.
In man, there are seven manifest principles and five unmanifest. We might say that Atma seems unmanifest as well. From our human standpoint, even Buddhi and the higher mental principles are remote. Many esoteric Hindu Schools like the Sankhya, Yoga, and Vedanta would agree that Atma is hardly individualized. It is difficult to picture it as manifest. As part of our higher spiritual constitution, it bridges our manifested and wholly unmanifested parts.
We do not have terms for the unmanifested part of the human constitution. We find little written on the subject. Sometimes one draws a triangle above the seven principles. Other times, it is a five-pointed star, indicating five higher principles. In some mysterious way, this relates to the unmanifested principles of the universe of which we are a part. We see this in both our planetary chain and our solar system.
Atma is the ray of cosmic divinity in man. Everything above it is completely unknown to us except by analogy and correspondence. Even so, there exist in one these yet higher principles, linking him with the corresponding realities in the universe.
Look at certain passages in THE MAHATMA LETTERS. It brings out the general idea in guarded language. Even the greatest spiritual seers and adepts know but the vegetative side of the system in which they live and evolve. They have no knowledge of the real, spiritual side of the system, its highest element-principals.
An analogy exists in the human being. His vegetative side is the personal mind and everything below it. It includes his astral-vital-physical structure, emotions, psychological nature, and a certain amount of mind. The lower-brain mentality is included, but the higher mind is not. The highest seers have cognizance of the corresponding vegetative part of the cosmic system, its physical, emotional, psychological, and lower mental element-principles. To the seers, the higher spiritual principles of the system are as unknown as one's Manas, Buddhi, and Atma are unknown to the average human being.
This is true even of the Dhyani-Chohans. So supernal, infinite, and grand are those realities that even the gods of the solar system are not cognizant of them. When telling us this, did the Master mean the gods of the sun? I do not know. They may have that cognizance. He spoke of the highest seers of this planet and perhaps of its inner worlds. We can find that passage. For many years, it remained obscure and incomprehensible. (The Master was writing to Sinnett, a beginner at the time.) Not until the appearance of Dr. de Purucker's works did it acquire meaning.
In Sinnett's time, the Masters just hinted at these profound subjects. Our theme is hardly touched upon in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. There are just hints and allusions. If you have the key, the most outspoken passage in THE MAHATMA LETTERS addresses it. When looked at superficially without the key, it means little.
We have looked forward far into the future. Now go back to the previous globe chains, to and even before the elementals. There are three main kingdoms of these elements. Going backward in time or lower in this hierarchy, you reach them. With them, you are at the bottommost level of this particular hierarchy. The only thing below them is some link whereby this hierarchy is connected with the one below. I could not tell you what that link is.
There is always something above and always something below. The higher realms connect by some super-spiritual link to a greater hierarchy beyond it, to the lowest rung of that next ladder.
Below the elementals is a link connecting our hierarchy with the highest reaches of the hierarchy immediately below it. I do not think our literature describes what it is beyond a general statement. We read that there is a linkage of individual and contiguous hierarchies. These are one below the other, one above the other, and links sidewise with hierarchical systems on the same level.
Everything is interlocked. That applies to the planetary chains, the various planets of the solar system. In the solar system, there are planets belonging to various levels or hierarchical structures. The primary idea we are bring out is that there is infinity in all directions. The other ideas simply reinforce our growing, budding understanding of it. It is not something that we can draw on a blackboard. We cannot express it with ordinary language.
The mind of a great mathematician may contain some sequence of symbols with which we could express such ideas. Mathematics is symbolical. If interpreted along occult lines, there are formulas that might indicate or hint at some of the Teachings.
To approach the subject of interlocking hierarchies and links between them, we picture to ourselves just one thing if nothing else. Picture our here-and-now hierarchy, the human being. We have our Sthula-Sharira, Linga-Sharira, Prana, Kama, Manas, Buddhi, and Atma. This is our individual hierarchy of element-principles. Picking any one of the seven, we could draw a line through it and picture it as a hierarchy in itself. Each principle has its Sthula-Sharira, Linga-Sharira, Prana, Kama, Manas, Buddhi, and Atma. The more you think of these things, the more you realize the endless interlocking of universal hierarchies.
This covers just about enough. It is meaty. We will be on the chapter for another two meetings. Reading it earlier today, I thought we might proceed further, but the meeting has been profound. There is no use overloading our minds. Considering what the rest of the chapter holds, we have plenty for another meeting. As I read it, practically every paragraph has key thoughts that we should not just touched upon lightly.
We might as well record our classes. If we can make the recordings and they sound all right, they might be of use in other parts of the world. I have Holland particularly in mind. They have such wonderful students. They have many young people. They would be interested in knowing more about how we do our work here. They have their own classes. I could not tell you how they conduct them, but they are successful.
In Holland, they have exceedingly active people. They all work. What they do is amazing. When I get their schedule, I see whole pages filled with meeting and group notices. Practically no day passes without some meeting in the evening at different places in town and repeating from one town to another. They have public meetings and conventions. Occasionally they rent a hall and have two or three hundred people, turning away members to accommodate the public.
Many understand English. I will ask friends there what kind of machines they have, whether this sort of reel will be usable. If they have the same sort of machine, we can make them copies. They might be interested in hearing different voices, different approaches, and our questions and answers. It is worth trying. Anything that is in line with the spread of the Teachings, more mutual interconnecting, more friendly ties, and knowing what another part of the world is doing is useful for our work.
Svabhavat is a deep subject. We have gone into it to already. It comes up again for the whole page. We have spent time on it. We will spend more. It is a highly metaphysical concept. The key thought is extremely practical.
Dr. de Purucker teaches using the old method. He touches lightly upon a Teaching, branches out to something else, and in the next chapter comes back again to say something more. Then he expands our understanding in another chapter, coming at it the third time, broadening our further. It is the old method of Teaching.
Every evolving being can unfold from within itself only that which it is within itself and nothing else. That mere idea is sufficient upon which to base a whole concept of ethical Teaching and conduct. We realize that we can unfold from within ourselves only that which is within us already. It is impossible for us to unfold something from the inner nature of another human being. We cannot do so no more than an acorn could bring out a daisy or strawberry. It will invariably bring out an oak. An oak will never change to a birch, or a strawberry to a tulip. Like any entity in a hierarchy, a human being is going forever to unfold from within himself only that which is already within his consciousness in potential.
We will unfold in many ways. Our inner possibilities are practically infinite. At this time, we can only develop what is presently here. For the future, the possibilities are infinite. The other aspect is of self-becoming. We could express one aspect of the Teaching as self-becoming, with an accent on the word "becoming." The other aspect is with the accent on the word "self." This is in the sense that our selves do the becoming or unfolding. Nobody else does it.
At each moment of time, you are becoming yourself further. From within yourself comes this desire for grow and self-unfoldment. You can only become what you are inwardly. You can never become greater nor attain inner knowledge by the efforts of another. In many ways, another can help you, but his effort will not make you grow.
Consider a mother helping her child to walk. No amount of effort on the part of the mother is going to make it happen. Much help, example, kindness, and guidance by the mother will help the child to learn. This is not a contradiction. The child is the only one who will ever learn how to walk by his own internal urge.
The inner self becomes and unfolds itself into manifestation by its own inherent power. There is an abstruse aspect of the Teaching that we can make into a practical power in our lives. It is a metaphysical point. I do not know if I can put it simple-enough language. It says that whatever unfolds or grows will constantly bring out from within itself.
The divinity of a universe unfolds the universe from within. The whole universe is the manifestation of that divinity. Every fiber, atom, and electron therein reflects part of the divinity from which it has unfolded.
That is applicable to a man as well. Everyone sitting in this room is an unfoldment of the powers latent within them. Every particle of us manifests what we are inwardly to a degree. No part of us belongs to another. We evolve within our own sphere forever. That means a lot!
Living in a particular house, a man fills it with his atmosphere. Entering the house, you find you have entered that man literally. Everything therein radiates what he is: his art, genius, and kindness or his hatred, revenge, and criminal tendencies. What kind of a man he is oozes out of everything in his house. He has filled his place. He has built it out of himself. I do not mean the bricks in the wall. It is the subtle forces, fluids, and emanations of the world of consciousness that he has built out of himself and in which he dwells.
What a tremendous power we find in that Teaching! We build a universe of thought. It reflects upon our decency and spiritual nobility. Even more, it brings help, courage, and an elevating power into the lives of others. We contact others with nothing but what we are.
We are the partial manifestation of what we inwardly have become. The greater the degree of our unfoldment, the nobler our universe is. We live in our personal universe. By means of it, we contact and influence other centers of consciousness evolving alongside along their own hierarchical lines.
Our karma relates to cycles. We unfold within the limitations of minor and major cycles. In each cycle, part of our karma manifests or unfolds. The process of self-becoming has its karmic limitations according to the cycle in which we happen to be evolving. We cannot do everything that we might decide to do irrespective of existing limitations.
Perhaps we decide to unfold a far greater type of consciousness from within. We set our minds on our becoming great spiritual seers. There will be many karmic limitations to overcome. Many cycles will militate against us. They are the result of our own making. The seeds of past karma have postponed our excellent purpose. We do not realize its fruition until they have worked themselves out. At all times, the only thing we are completely free to do is decide. That is the first step. To carry out that resolution is an entirely different thing.
We have passed the rounding out of the lowest point in the evolutionary history of our earth, its bottom-most point, dividing the Descending Arc from the Ascending Arc. At this time, it will take Manvantaras for an animal to become a man. A man, though, does not need to go through another Manvantara to evolve further.
Individuals beyond the human stage do not have to use physical bodies. That applies to the elemental kingdoms too. Some kingdoms (the vegetable, animal, and human) are so engrossed in the physical world that their dynamic evolution requires physical forms in which to take place. The elemental kingdoms do not have physical forms, although they might take on some at times. Beyond human, the Dhyani-Chohans are completely devoid of physical form or shape. They are not dependant upon the physical. This shows us how relative and temporary these forms are.
The time will come inevitably when each of us will have the choice to work through a physical body or without one. At that time, we will have become a certain type of Adept that can make that choice. Later we will pass beyond that point. Then it will be impossible for us to work through a physical body because of its limitations. At our current stage, it is necessary to have a physical body in order to evolve. The various kingdoms have not fully developed their physical bodies yet. They will perfect their bodies in succeeding Rounds.
Understand that the Sthula-Sharira or physical Prakriti has various stages of perfectibility. Today we know physical vehicles of the Fifth Root Race of the Fourth Round. We will know physical bodies of the Sixth and Seventh Root Races of this Round eventually.
Our physical part has the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Rounds to evolve in still. There are much higher stages to the development of physical matter. Those higher stages are imperceptible. They are invisible to our present senses.
We can truthfully speak of a human Root Race in the Fifth or Sixth Round inhabiting physical bodies. These bodies will be immensely closer to perfect. Only by courtesy can we call them physical, since they are made of such tenuous substance of such high evolutionary degree. They will be made of light and magnetic energy, which is the Fifth, Sixth, or Seventh Round development of physical matter.
The physical embodiment of elementals is more material than matter of which we know. They are invisible to us. We cannot perceive them with our senses. That is a paradox. We center our conceptions on what our senses perceive. It is difficult to imagine that matter occupies the space before us, matter that is denser and more material than anything of which we know. We could walk through it easily because it is unrelated to our senses. To us, it does not exist.
The same is true of kingdoms that are at other levels of consciousness. A being of such a kingdom may exist here and not cognize the existence of this house we are in, standing in no relation to it. We know definitely that there are interpenetrating worlds that coexists in the same space with what we call matter.
Consider the example of electromagnetic energy. There are radios and television electromagnetic waves filling this room. Although nobody can see them, they fill all the houses of Los Angeles without getting in our way. We do not bump into them. We do not skin our shins on electromagnetic waves. They exist at the same time and place, but are non-existent to us unless we have some gadget with which we can tune into them. Even then, we cannot touch them.
Even with great inner wisdom, it can be hard to motivate the outer person. We have not grown as fast as we could have in past lives. By mistakes committed, we have built around ourselves heavy sheaths of consciousness and substance that prevent the inner energies from manifesting as fully as they would. We have many mistaken creations, many material attractions. Mostly with emotions, our channels clog, hiding from active participation the inner energies of our spiritual self.
We have subjected us to these limitations. Nobody else has. They are a temporary condition. In a way, we step out of them temporarily in the world of sleep. In greater degree, we step out of them temporarily again after we die. We have to win the battle here in waking incarnate existence.
We must thin out, purify, raise, and transform our lower sheaths of consciousness and substance. We do this to such an extent that they become transparent to the inner light. They become unclogged, purified enough to transmit the light, power, guidance, and influence of the inner self. Then these material things of the outer, emotional world cease to attract us. They cease to be important except as means to some noble and lofty end.
That purification takes many lives. We have sunken into matter more deeply than should have happened. We are fallen angels. We have tripped and fallen badly. Many have done so with us. This applies even to spiritually great men who may be in our world temporarily. They are here, having made mistakes in their higher spheres.
We have branched out into many things. Go back to the start. Bear in mind that THE SECRET DOCTRINE is not merely the words in its individual passages. There are many great ideas between the lines. More are contained in separate passages that yield a new idea when put together, an idea not obvious before. There is in HPB's writings more that mere words will imply.
There are things not in individual passages of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. Even so, bring different passages together and ponder the ways certain ideas are set. You will find there are further points there after all. This works if you have the right key to unlocking the inner nature of the passages. That in itself is a life study. In the century to come, many students will uncover in the depths of THE SECRET DOCTRINE and ISIS UNVEILED truths that we have not even suspected were there.
The beauty of this study is in its elevating influence upon students. However abstruse, abstract, and metaphysical the Teachings may be, they have redeeming power. We fill our minds with lofty thought and they begin to soar over petty things in life after awhile. We dwell on these Teachings inwardly and soon raise the vibratory rate of our minds. Many of the fears, anxieties, shortcomings, and peculiarities of our personal selves have become less prominent, loosening their hold upon our consciousnesses. That in itself is a marvelous effect. Anything that can achieve this is of a spiritual nature, be it a printed Teaching or even our contemplation of a sunset.
Essentially, an urge to identify with a greater consciousness within moves us. It draws us to contemplate, concentrate, or even engage in an intellectual study that is not mere dry, brain-mind activity. We are attracted to any method of training intended to raise the human consciousness from the personal to the impersonal, from the well known to the relatively unknown, and from the relatively dark to the relatively light and spiritual. In the study of these things, we open the doors of our consciousness. We open them onto great wide fields of thought that raise the human mind into the contemplation of spiritual realities. It is like opening a window and getting the spring air into the room. It is like opening a portal and walking through into a wide, great, rolling field of flowers in bloom.