"That which is part of our souls is eternal," says Thackeray; and what can be nearer to our souls than that which happens at the dawns of our lives? Those lives are countless, but the soul or spirit that animates us throughout these myriads of existences is the same; and though "the book and volume" of the PHYSICAL brain may forget events within the scope of one terrestrial life, the bulk of collective recollections can never desert the divine soul within us. Its whispers may be too soft, tho sound of its words too far off the plane perceived by our physical senses; yet the shadow of events THAT WERE, just as much as the shadow of the events THAT ARE TO COME, is within its perceptive powers, and is ever present before its mind's eye.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 424
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 311-13.]
Every one therefore must become divine, and of godlike beauty, before he can gaze upon a god, and the Beautiful itself.
Having closed the corporeal eye we must stir up and assume a purer eye within, which all men possess, but which is alone used by a few.
Says the mystic Plotinus:
Our machine-mad and technique-fraught civilization regards his wise recommendation as "impractical." The senses of the mystic function differently, under the influence of his mind, from those of other men, and he is able to hear the language of the Soul. His sensorium is not keener in perception, but is capable of a different kind of perception. His mind understands words differently, and to him words and names present a different order and a subtler rhythm; they have a different connotation. Not logic and reasoning but analogy and correspondence are the mystic's avenues to knowledge and perception.
Thus, to a mystic, Arjuna is not only the strong-armed warrior, the mighty archer, and one of the Pandavas, but is also Nara, who is Man, the Thinker. He is more than Man, for He is a Spirit-Being; and less than Thinker because he is the embodied soul (Dehi) also. Therefore the majestic and martial allegory of the Gita, of which Arjuna and Krishna, Nara and Narayana, are the two chief characters, is interpreted in different ways. The mystic perceives the battlefield of Kurukshetra as the Field of Dharma, and Arjuna as the Learner -- Man, the Warrior who learns to dispel his personal perception and stands "collected once more," "free from doubt and firm." The man of mundane, lower, ordinary perception misjudges the Gita as teaching carnal warfare; to the mystic it sings of the Greatest of All Wars, which the Buddha waged against Mara and the Christ against Satan. Arjuna "is facing the battle of Man, as he grieves there the arrows are already falling." He fought and won. Is there no significance in this message for modern Indians? Or are there no more Kshatriyas left?
Or turn to the New Testament. To St. Paul, Ishmael and Isaac are not only persons; they typify or symbolize bondage and liberty -- the former Judaic, and the latter Christian. Ishmael was the son of the bondswoman and was born after the flesh, and Isaac of the freewoman was born by promise "which things are an allegory." (Gal. 4)
The mystic is practical inasmuch as he endeavors to learn about the universe by a process different from that of the scholar and the savant. He acquires a different sense of values and when he imparts his knowledge to his fellow men he educates their hearts; the scholar and the savant educate only the mind. Mystics offer a moral elevation to the learner whereby intellect itself is purified and understanding becomes insight. This is valuable not only to the individual learner but to the State also.
Our civilization and all national States recognize and honor the scientist and the scholar, and, better still, recognize and honor the poet and the artist; but they have not yet evolved to the point where the mystic is honored as an educator and a reformer of a very superior kind.
The real power which Gandhiji wielded was the mystic power. He did not labor with the mind but with the heart, his own and that of others. Millions of Indians adore him as the "Father of the Nation." We should begin to see in him the Father of a New Order of Being -- a Pioneer and not a Prophet, an Exemplar and not a Preacher, a Preceptor by actions, each action an experiment with Truth felt in the heart.
How many among us recognize this? Again, how many attempt to follow on the Heart Path he walked?
The practical mystic is the need of the hour, especially in India. To become one is a Herculean task, but not an impossible one; but how to recognize the true mystic?
How apt is the poem of Tennyson, "The Mystic!" He writes of the Wakeful Dreamer; and we have space only for the opening and the closing lines:
Angels have talked with him, and showed him thrones:
Ye knew him not: he was not one of ye, Ye scorned him with an undiscerning scorn: Ye could not read the marvel in his eye, The still serene abstraction: he hath felt The vanities of after and before; Albeit, his spirit and his secret heart The stern experiences of converse lives, The linked woes of many a fiery change Had purified, and chastened and made free.
How could ye know him? Ye were yet within The narrower circle; he had well-nigh reached The last, which with a region of white flame, Pure without heat, into a larger air Upburning, and an ether of black blue, Investeth and ingirds all other lives.
By John M. Prentice
[This is a true sketch of a Theosophist written by the President of the Australian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, July 1945, pages 311-13.]
Through the changeful years, his face comes smiling and changeless, forever happy and forever young. Never will those who knew him forget, while memory lasts and the bars of sunset hold.
He was somewhat unusual. In the period of the First World War, he was a soldier newly arrived at Cairo. He had come from overseas for further training. On introducing himself to another Theosophist, his manner was diffident, almost shy. There was a reserve about him that suggested depths never revealed to a superficial glance.
Soldiering had not come easily. His first period of camp life was uncomfortable. Behind his reserve, one sensed an inflexible spirit. He had enlisted because he felt an inner impulse urging him to do so. He was a volunteer. No matter how hard the way before him might be, one knew he would tread it to the end.
A sympathetic Arab in Heliopolis loaned a room for meetings, making possible a weekly gathering of theosophical students. In this friendly circle, he thawed, expressing himself freely. It was evident he had used the time he had devoted to the study of theosophical and philosophical books wisely. As did several others, he found a spiritual home in Egypt. His inner senses unfolded rapidly. He saw an ever-increasing Reality under phenomenal forms.
With his newfound friend, he visited the principal places around Cairo. The great stone Pharaoh, recumbent under the palms that stud the ruins of Memphis, seemed strangely familiar. The flooding silver moonlight chased shadows over the face of the Sphinx. Its mystical face watched and waited for the Dawn. He stood spellbound and speechless, watching this, once again as it had been since the dawn of history. He looked long at the glowing disc of the sun as it set in splendor, far away beyond the Pyramid of Cheops, sitting and sipping his Arabic coffee on a balcony at the Rod-el-Farag, overlooking the Nile. It was all so familiar and dear.
An opportunity arose for him to take up clerical work in the city. Although he could have filled it with distinction as well as have leisure for further excursions into the holy places of the past, he put it by resolutely. It was not for him nor was it that for which he had enlisted. When his training completed, he went on to England, his birthplace, and from there to the conflict ravaging France.
Fighting on the Somme River in the bitter winter of 1917, he steadied the troops with his unfailing cheerfulness. His lightness of heart, almost gaiety, saved many a crisis. His hints on reincarnation, life after death, and kindred subjects produced furious argument or protracted debate in which he more than held his own. Perhaps some considered him eccentric. I would disagree with them. While preserving his inner center of reserve, he was still everybody's friend.
Aware of the approach of death, he prepared. Before going into action for the last time, he wrote two long letters, arranging for others to mail them if he did not return to collect them. In one, he hinted that he had experienced a premonition that the end of this incarnation was due and promised to renew the ties of this life from beyond the grave.
They won the battle, conquering a few yards of ground at a terrific cost. He was missing, with not a trace ever found. A shell had found a target. That was all.
He disappeared into the Silence. The Biblically minded said of him that, like the first prophet Enoch, "He was not, because God took him." Like Elijah, he had risen to Heaven in a chariot of fire. Abraham Lincoln left on record his belief that "to live in the hearts of those we leave behind us is not to die." In this sense, this beloved Theosophist survives for the length of his generation.
His friends proudly mourned him. One friend, the recipient of his last-written letter, had known him best. That friend gained a last hint ere he passed onto the deeper life of the spirit. Almost idly playing with an ouija board in the company of a man whose cartoons are now probably the most famous in the world, the moving stylus spelt out his name with one curious aberration. It had spelled the second of his given names wrong, giving "Walter" as "Walther." They ordered the communicating entity away. They rejected the authenticity of the message unhesitatingly. Afterwards, there was some talk of the unreliability of such communications, the board went dead, and they abandoned further efforts.
Returning home years later after wandering the world, the operator of the ouija board met another friend of the dead boy. This woman was the addressee of the other of the last two letters. She asked for details of his passing. She had known him well, both in the English countryside where he was born and overseas when he had entered the army.
In the course of these reminiscences, they recalled the incident of the ouija board. Dismissing it as another example of psychic fantasy, the narrator saw his listener turn pale and become tense. It was a minute before she spoke. "I suppose he never mentioned his family background," she said. "You did not know that his father was a German. He never referred to it after the war started, although he was in no way ashamed. You could not possibly have guessed that when his birth was registered his second name was spelled Walther!"
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, January 1960, pages 101-103.]
At whatever period of history we look, we find that man has never been without a friend. Even at the darkest moments of the world's history or of our own individual lives help and comfort can always be derived if we know where to look for them.
Of real help and comfort to us is the understanding of the meaning of a circumstance and the way it should be faced. There are few philosophers as helpful in this respect for the ordinary man as Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor of the second century, and Epictetus, the slave philosopher. They are far better teachers on how to live than many of the present writers and psychiatrists.
If, indeed, we are a superior genus of animal, and to die is to cease to be, then let us "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." If we are immortal, divine beings in animal-human forms, having a goal of perfection that must be reached by our own efforts, then we can joyfully shoulder the burdens of life. Life invests itself with a purpose, not a purpose limited to "three-score years and ten," but a purpose that lasts from life to life. There is no death, i.e., cessation, but immortal LIVING.
What is death? Materialistic science says that when we die we are no more; the substance of our bodies goes back to Nature. Religions speak of Heaven and Hell and offer Eternal Bliss or Eternal Hell. Occult Philosophy and the Great Teachers of all ages have given a different teaching, infinitely more reasonable and constructive.
Scientifically, that which exists can never cease to exist; that which does not exist can never exist. Unfoldment takes place and forms change, but Life itself goes on. If our consciousness leaves the body at death, does it cease to be? It leaves the body during sleep, but reenters when we wake. What happens to it at death when it does not reenter the body? Are the Spiritualists correct when they say that the consciousness lives, on in a finer body? The ancient EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD describes the after-death states very graphically, though allegorically. Shall we believe in it? Do we accept what Jesus said to the thief on the cross: "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise?"
Let us go a little deeper and study more fully the ancient teaching on the after-death states.
When a man dies, the immortal part of him leaves the body. As that body has a magnetic counterpart called the astral body, it dwells in that. Immediately, he is pronounced dead. He sees in review his entire past life down to the smallest detail. He sees it in a way he had not seen it during life, for the Divine Parent itself descends at the moment of death and floods the personal consciousness with light so that the whole field of the life just lived is illuminated and the meaning of the experiences gone through shown.
But when this is done, consciousness withdraws entirely and falls into a sleep which may last for a few hours, a few days, weeks, months or years, depending on the grossness of the last life or its "goodness." During this sleep, either dreamless or nightmarish, another death or separation takes place. All the memories that pertain to the higher side of life stay with the consciousness, while all the gross, selfish desires, feelings, and thoughts form an entity which remains in that astral form. The consciousness of this entity is not what we would call consciousness, but unconsciousness, and it drifts like a leaf in the wind while it undergoes the process of disintegration. This second corpse may last for a short while or for a very long while, and if it is left alone the normal process of decomposition will take place. If it be contacted by a medium or attracted to a seance, the memories can be reawakened, as the record on a gramophone can be brought to life by the gramophone needle, the medium representing, in this analogy, the needle. This reawakening of the memories of the past life is good neither for the medium nor for the corpse, for its decomposition is hindered. Therefore, necromancy has always been strongly denounced by all sages.
The consciousness, however, has left the second corpse and, clothed in its highest and purest memories, has risen to what is called the heaven world or Devachan, the place of the Gods. Here it relives the past life, but surrounded only by the memories of the aspirations cherished, the good and loving deeds performed during life, and hence it is in a state of complete bliss. The consciousness, the real man, does not know he is alone, but is surrounded by the images of all his loved ones and is in a state of beatitude, out of touch with the earth and therefore not knowing at all what is happening here. As love and thoughts are not mere ephemera but forces, they affect the living, and at night when the living sleep, their consciousness may touch the consciousness of the departed.
The ancient teaching is adamant on the point that the living cannot communicate with the dead as the latter are in a state of subjective consciousness and cannot be awakened to any objective awareness until the next rebirth. Does this sound heartless? Why should it? We leave one another in sleep every night. Death is only a longer sleep. The living benefit from love poured out by departed friends, refreshing themselves by ascent to their high plane during sleep. What does it matter whether we can or cannot carry on conversations with those who have passed onto the higher spheres? Our selfishness seems to demand it. There is much more comfort in the thought that no one can wake them until they themselves awake after they have assimilated the experiences of the past life. The period required for this process is given on an average as 1,500 years, though it may be much shorter or much longer, depending on that which has to be assimilated.
The question is sometimes asked if consciousnesses on that high plane communicate with one another. The ancient teaching again is adamant: they do not. Magnetically separated from all other entities on that plane, they are left undisturbed until their dream condition is over.
As this dream condition is of each man's own making, those who have believed in the Christian heaven will find themselves in their thought in the typical heaven of pearly gates and harps of gold. The Mohammedan will find himself in the kind of heaven his religion has taught him to expect. The consciousness of those who have been materialists, who have not aspired towards the spiritual world, will be a blank. Man is truly thought-formed. He builds his own environment, both on earth and in the after-death conditions.
Suicides and those cut off from life prematurely by accidents or execution do not go through this full process until the time comes when they would have died a natural death. All that a suicide or the executioner can do is to cut off the physical body; the process of second death, above described, has not taken place, so that the man is alive minus the physical body. If he has led a good and pure life, he sleeps; if his character during life was evil or coarse, he thinks and feels accordingly but has no physical form through which to act. This is a very dreadful state to be in, for without a body, cravings cannot be satisfied. Such entities deprived of bodies haunt the sites of crime, drinking dens, and so on, and gain some degree of satisfaction. Or they "obsess" living men, often causing them to perform actions of which they are not fully aware. This is one reason why crimes are often in greater evidence after wars. Motive is the important factor and the state of one who sacrifices his life for others will differ greatly from that of one who kills himself to avoid punishment for wrongdoing.
The last words of the Buddha should be borne in mind: "Impermanent are all conditioned beings." Quiet acquiescence in what happens at its proper time affords no occasion for grief.
We have had many bodies and have died many times, so why should we fear death now? Indeed natural death is a gateway to a life of bliss, unalloyed bliss, without worry or care of any kind. We do not know we are dead; there is no loneliness, no fear, for we live entirely in our thoughts and surrounded by the memories of loved ones and of the happy times that we have known, as lost in that happy dream as we have been on earth when lost in a daydream.
All things end and so does this dream. Life again wakes us, and once more, the ray of the Spirit goes out to inhabit a body and to gain further experience. We meet again those we have loved (or hated) and work with them. We have our hard corners rubbed off and our good points of character strengthened, and even though "sorrow is," yet life is good. Rebirths take place compulsorily until all has been learnt and then rebirth becomes voluntary.
Does this teaching throw any light on the problem of birth control, or that of population? It does. If souls are waiting to incarnate, what are we doing when we try to stop them? Nature works according to the law of perfect economy. When we thwart it, we reap consequences of which we had not dreamt!
By Wesley Amerman
[The following describes a recent theosophical conference held August 9 and 10, 2003 in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California.]
Theosophists from all Theosophical groups and two continents gathered on a recent weekend in Southern California to hear talks, greet old friends, and make new ones amongst crowds approaching a hundred each day.
On Saturday, we met at the Signal Hill Community Center to listen to several presentations on the theme, "Synthesis as Unity." Hosted by The Long Beach Theosophical Society President Peter Gevorkian, the morning opened with a short introduction by Diane Kaylor of New York. Peter then introduced and thanked Phyllis Ryan of the Long Beach Theosophy Center, whose untiring energy was responsible for much of the behind-the-scenes work to get ready for the event.
David Roef of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Antwerp, Belgium followed. He spoke on how the Theosophical world-view, as described by H.P. Blavatsky, compares to other important assumptions about the world: "Dualism, Objective Materialism, and Subjective Idealism." Blavatsky called Theosophy a form of Objective Idealism, which recognizes the temporary reality of all phenomena as well as of our own consciousness. Like the yin and yang of Eastern philosophies, the worlds of our minds and of our bodies are mutually interdependent, and reflect yet higher levels of essential Unity. Look for David's article on this subject in a future issue of the magazine, THEOSOPHY.
After lunch, courtesy of the many supporting donations received, two speakers gave entirely different but complementary presentations using THE BHAGAVAD-GITA as inspiration. Dr. James Colbert of the United Lodge of Theosophists in San Diego, California talked on "The Psychotherapy of THE BHAGAVAD-GITA." Thirty years of clinical experience has given him a wealth of insights into the healing of human hearts. He has found that the GITA provides a unique, practical model to guide us in understanding others and ourselves.
Dr. Nandini Iyer of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, California, is a retired Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Iyer spoke on the meaning of "dharma" as found in the GITA, linking it to a deeper understanding of ourselves and of the roles that we play in the world.
The last presentation was a slide show and commentary by Garrett Riegg of the United Lodge of Theosophists in San Francisco, California, highlighting his recent trip to Nepal and Tibet. Garrett's complementary interests in Theosophy and Tibetan Buddhism provided a sympathetic depth to his material.
On Sunday morning, the venue changed to Theosophy Hall in Los Angeles, where the English and Spanish study groups hosted a bilingual meeting that began with a five-minute digital video titled, "Spirit in Number," complete with musical soundtrack. The DVD was a stylized interpretation of a portion of The Stanzas of Dzyan upon which HPB based her Secret Doctrine. Lively discussion followed for an hour and a half, in both English and Spanish, ably hosted and translated by Alex Bianchi.
Sunday afternoon was a Fiesta Latina, or Latin Festival, held outdoors on picnic tables and under canopies. We started with wonderful food, including homemade tamales, then moved on to music and dance, featuring a live mariachi band, Flamenco dancers, a girl's dance troupe, guitar and solo vocalists that lasted well into the afternoon. Enough energy remained to end the evening with a thoughtful bilingual discussion of some of the themes from earlier in the weekend.
These "gatherings" have grown over the years, beginning nearly a decade ago in the small coastal Oregon town of Brookings and then moved on to other locations. Every year is different; every year someone else or a small group of people takes responsibility for seeing them through; every year a new theme brings substance and purpose to lend depth to the social interaction.
As Theosophists, we have more in common with other Theosophists than we sometimes realize, and differences in groups take an important backseat to the wider sense of brotherhood and community. Evidence of this was the presence of five book tables on Saturday: Theosophical University Press, The Theosophical Society, Long Beach, Concord Grove Press, Santa Barbara, Point Loma Publications, San Diego, and the San Diego Theosophists' (ULT) bookstore.
A spirit of cooperation, mutual purpose, and brotherhood pervaded the entire weekend and volunteers came forward to plan another event for next year. Forward suggestions and ideas to James and Sally Colbert at email@example.com. Audio recordings of most of each day's presentations were also made, and will hopefully be available this Fall.
By Mabel Collins
[From LUCIFER, September 15, 1888, pages 15-18.]
At every active moment of our lives, in moments of pain or pleasure, even then Death lies doggedly in our future, waiting the moment when we approach near enough for him to grasp and devour us.
With some people, Death is the great terror of their lives. These are not necessarily "nervous" people in the ordinary sense; possibly, they are very brave, and in a moment of excitement would forget their fear of Death entirely. It is indeed surprising how men of this caliber will let the dread of Death haunt them, sit at their feasts, and accompany them into the dark hours of the night.
A man of this sort, honest, straightforward, but entirely a man of the world, once candidly expressed himself in this manner: "I am afraid to die because I have done so many bad deeds that I am sure to go to hell." It appeared on further talk that he owned no religion, had no idea of Heaven or a state of reward, but only one fixed conception of an immortal state -- one in which he would be punished for his sins on earth. This is the one terror of a keenly active nature, with a great deal of good in it, and an intellect overtopping others on the ordinary plane, but with no power of thought on things eternal.
He is, perhaps, an advance on the ordinary man of the world, who says quietly to himself with a little shudder sometimes, "I'll have to die like other people; it is too detestable to think of; but I'll not say a word about it, and die game. Meantime I will enjoy myself."
Keats' phrase of "Easeful Death" reaches the opposite extreme of feeling. Such a glad, soft word is unintelligible to most people when applied to Death. Indeed, it is an instance of the fact in occultism that pleasure and pain become the same after a certain point of feeling. Death is painful; it is unpleasant; it is even horrible in its grimmer aspects. Keats, who, like all great poets, had suffered all things in his short span of life, knew well that by the side of many forms of living, Death is indeed "easeful."
The supreme characteristic of Death is its silence. This is the most vivid horror it brings to those who lose one they love. It is the secret of the tempting power Death holds out to those who suffer keenly, to whom life is full of pain because of the reverberating thought, the echo in the mind, the longing for knowledge that never can be satisfied -- never!
"Master," says the neophyte to the Wise One, "is it true that the hunger for knowledge can never be satisfied?"
The Wise One: "It is not you who ask me that, for you are too sensible to do so. It is Servus who has uttered it as a truism, and you have passed it onto me as a question."
The Neophyte: "Yes."
The Wise One: "Then I will answer you, Servus. The souls of great poets have all their knowledge hidden within them. In their passage through life and through death, it comes to them; or, I should say, in their passage through many lives and many deaths they suddenly blossom and retire from the life of the world, for which they are now too great. But what I have just said opens up another subject; one which to us can never be separated from Death."
Servus: the slave of the world: "You mean rebirth, or rather, reincarnation? But is there not a distinction in your use of these words?"
The Wise One: "Most certainly. Rebirth is a negative word, which, when used by an Occultist, acquires a meaning different from what it ordinarily bears. With us, it means that moment, which comes to some men either in life or in the shades of death, which makes of them new men. Reincarnation is, of course, simply the passage from one earth form to another. Those who are indeed reborn are freed from reincarnation."
Servus: "And do you not hold your place here, as teacher in this temple, as being one who is reborn in this sense?"
The Wise One: "Not so. Those who reach this state cannot approach the world."
Servus: "Then we of the world can never be taught by those who know?"
The Wise One: "I, who endure your scoffs and insults, reached knowledge by my patience. It is given to all to approach knowledge, but some, alas, advance like the tortoise. My son, let us enter the temple."
The Wise One and the Neophyte enter the temple, where is a little crowd of other neophytes waiting for their master. Servus, without, in the temple garden, sits lazily in the strong sun and watches a lizard. Presently he looks up at the temple. He knows that within there is a discussion of thought which chills him, even though its margin attracts him intellectually. A feeling comes over him that the knowledge of which this temple is a symbol is handed on from race to race, until the races themselves fall under a greater law. The thought dwarfs him, makes him of no importance even to himself, and hurriedly he arises and goes down the hillside to the city.
We are such pigmies that, as a rule, great thought dwarfs us and we resent it; or we succeed in dwarfing it by the vulgar "Hobson Newcome" method of refusing to believe in any other possibilities in it save those evident to ourselves.
To the Hobson Newcomes of the world death is a thing to be put off as long as possible, and then to be met with decency. He might pull a wry face sometimes when, in walking to the City of a morning, he got some gentle reminder that man is mortal, and his thoughts of death are simply a picture-like vision of himself in the four-post bed at home, Maria, his wife, crying bitterly over him, and a doctor at his side. He cannot think any further about himself. His mind wanders to Maria, how much she cries over trifles, how wet weather is good for transplanting, and how she will certainly marry again. Then he wonders can he do any more in his will to make the young ones safe -- but there, he is at his office, and with the sight of its pleasant face all unpleasant thoughts vanish.
Death is one of the facts in our lives that stands like a great thought, sublime and mysterious, at the end of our walk. Yet thus can men rob the figure of its majesty and clothe it, in their own minds, with the order of things familiar to them. Blindly they go on, until one day they are tripped up, and the others of his sort say, "Poor old fellow!" and go on just the same without him.
To the sick man, worn out by suffering, death comes as a relief; but this only means physical rest from endurance and weariness too great for thought. Death is always terrible and grim, save to those strange brilliant souls, too great for incarnation, to which it comes as "easeful." Oh, flame of the poet's soul, which escapes from the earth and the grass though feeling them not unfriendly. It escapes to go on learning its fierce, passionate, beautiful lessons of pleasure and pain, until at last it stands purified and powerful.
Death may be transformed and made into a beautiful thing to the minds of the people. Mr. Balfour is simply making martyrs by his imprisonment. Mr. Dillon, languishing in his prison, must know that if he dies every countryman of his, in every country, will raise him to the rank of the martyrs, weep bitter tears to his memory, and doubly hate the Government which does such deeds.
Thus there are many modes of regarding death, but to quote Matthew Arnold's great line, the constant quotation of which shows how bitter and well-known is the truth it contains, "We mortal millions live alone."
These modes of regarding death are only mental, and generally belong to men in groups. Hobson Newcome will forget all about Maria and the children when he finds the fell hand upon his throat. To him it will mean only fear. Others meet it differently. It has all sorts of meanings to the changeful minds of men; rest, without questioning; Heaven, without reproach; Hell, with remorse added; hope of a better and more beautiful existence than any known of in this world.
Among them all, the occultist passes undisturbed, knowing death to be only a gateway and its terrible silence to be only the shutting of the gate. He knows, too, that with him lies the choice of his path when the gate is shut on sensation for the precious brief moment of after-death.
The Wise One (coming from the temple with his pupils): "See -- the sun is setting. What do we know of it until it rises again? What an emblem this is. For the moment, apply it to the subject we have been talking of. Death thus pushes man from consciousness, as the sun leaves us in darkness. The light returns. Resurrection is everywhere -- here at our feet, where last summer's flowers bloom again."
The Neophyte: "Rebirth then must come of itself."
The Wise One: "Yes, in eons. But he who desires it now must make a supreme effort of growth."
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XV, pages 128-36.]
Even where I had certitude that my attribution of element, form, or color to a root was right I have never thought this exhausted the range of its affinities in our manifold being. I went but a little way within myself, but felt that greater powers awaited discovery within us, powers whose shadowy skirts flicker on the surface of consciousness but with motion so impalpable that we leave them nameless.
The root I relate to light may have correspondence also with another power which is to the dark divinity of being what light is to the visible world. I have never thought that the languages spoken by men had all their origin in one intuitional speech. There may have been many beginnings in that undiscoverable antiquity.
But I believe that one, or perhaps several, among the early races, more spiritual than the rest, was prompted by intuition, while others may have developed speech in any of the ways suggested by biologists and scholars. The genius of some races leads them to seek for light within as the genius of others leads them to go outward.
I imagine a group of the ancestors lit up from within, endowed with the primal blessings of youth and ecstasy, the strings of their being not frayed as ours are, nor their God-endowed faculties abused, still exquisitely sensitive, feeling those kinships and affinities with the elements which are revealed in the sacred literature of the Aryan, and naming these affinities from an impulse springing up within.
I can imagine the spirit struggling outwards making of element, color, form, or sound a mirror, on which, outside itself, it would find symbols of all that was pent within it, and so gradually becoming self-conscious in the material nature in which it was embodied, but which was still effigy or shadow of a divine original.
I can imagine them looking up at the fire in the sky, and calling out "El" if it was the light they adored, or if they rejoiced in the heat and light together they would name it "Hel." Or if they saw death, and felt it as the stillness or ending of motion or breath, they would say, "Mor." Or if the fire acting on the water made it boil, they would instinctively combine the sound equivalents of water and fire, and "Wal" would be the symbol. If the fire of life was kindled in the body to generate its kind, the sound symbol would be "Lub." When the axe was used to cut, its hardness would prompt the use of the hard or metallic affinity in sound, and "Ak" would be to cut or pierce.
One extension of meaning after another would rapidly increase the wealth of significance and recombination of roots the power of expression. The root "M" with its sense of finality would suggest "Mi" to diminish, and as to measure a thing is to go to its ends, "Ma" would also mean to measure, and as to think a thing is to measure it, "Ma" would also come to be associated with thinking.
I had nearly all my correspondences vividly in mind before I inquired of friends more learned than myself what were the reputed origins of human speech, and in what books I could find whatever knowledge there was, and then I came upon the Aryan roots; and there I thought and still think are to be found many evidences in corroboration of my intuitions.
There are pitfalls for one who has no pretensions to scholarship in tracking words to their origins, and it is a labor for the future in conjunction with one more learned than myself to elucidate these intuitions in regard to the roots, and to go more fully into the psychology which led to rapid extension of meanings until words were created, which at first sight seem to have no relation to the root values.
I still believe I can see in the Aryan roots an intelligence struggling outward from itself to recognize its own affinities in sound. But I wish here only to give indications and directions of approach to that Divine Mind whose signature is upon us in everything, and whose whole majesty is present in the least thing in nature.
I have written enough to enable those who are curious to exercise their intuitions or analytic faculty in conjunction with their scholarship, to test the worth of my intuitions. Intuition must be used in these correspondences, for the art of using them is not altogether discoverable by the intellect. I hope also that my partial illumination will be completed, corrected, or verified by others.
A second line of investigation I suggest is the study of some harmony of primitive alphabets, such as that compiled by Forster, and, after arranging the letters in their natural order from throat sounds to labials, to see if there is not much to lead us to suppose that there was an original alphabet, where the form equivalents of sound proceeded in an orderly way from the circle through the line, the triangle, and the other forms I have indicated.
Perhaps the true correspondences were retained as an esoteric secret by the wisest, because there may have been in them the key to mysteries only to be entrusted to those many times tested before the secret of the use of power was disclosed.
I would suggest a study of that science of divine correspondences which is embodied in mystical Indian literature. The correspondences of form, color, or force with letters given there are not always in agreement with my own. Sometimes as in THE BHAGAVAD-GITA where Krishna, the Self of the Manifested Universe, says, "I am the 'A' among letters," I find agreement.
In other works like the Shivagama there is partial agreement as where it says, "Meditate upon the fire force with 'R' as its symbol, as being triangular and red." The color and the letter are here in harmony with my own intuitions, but the form is not, and I am more inclined to believe my own intuition to be true because I find in so many of the primitive alphabets the form symbol of "R" is the line coming out of a circle. The water force is given in the same book a semi-lunar form as correspondence, but its sound symbol is given as "V" and not "W." The earth force is given as quadrangular in form as I imagine it, but the color is yellow. I have not investigated the consonants in their attribution to the nervous system given in such books.
I have no doubt that in a more remote antiquity the roots of language were regarded as sacred, and when chanted every letter was supposed to stir into motion or evoke some subtle force in the body. Tone and word combined we know will thrill the nervous system, and this is specially so with lovers of music and persons whose virgin sensitiveness of feeling has never been blunted by excess.
A word chanted or sung will start the wild fires leaping in the body, like hounds which hear their master calling them by name, and to those whose aspiration heavenward has purified their being there comes at last a moment when at the calling of the Ineffable Name the Holy Breath rises as a flame and the shadow man goes forth to become one with the ancestral self.
What is obvious in that ancient literature is the belief in a complete circle of correspondences between every root sound in the human voice and elements, forms, and colors, and that the alphabet was sacred in character. Intuitions which modern psychologists regard as evidence of decadence are found present in the literature of antiquity.
The attributions sometimes are the same as mine; sometimes they differ, but they suggest the same theory of a harmony of microcosm with macrocosm, and it is carried out so that every center in the body is named by the name of a divine power. It is only by a spiritual science we can recover identity, renew, and make conscious these affinities.
Life had other labors for me from which I could not escape, and I had not for long the leisure in which to reknit the ties between myself and the ancestral being. But while I still had leisure I experienced those meltings of the external into intelligible meanings.
The form of a flower long brooded upon would translate itself into energies, and these would resolve themselves finally into states of consciousness, intelligible to me while I experienced them, but too remote from the normal for words to tell their story. I may have strayed for a moment into that Garden of the Divine Mind where, as it is said in Genesis, "He made every flower before it was in the field and every herb before it grew."
My failure to find words to express what I experienced made me concentrate more intensely upon the relation of form and colour to consciousness in the hope that analysis might make intellectual exposition possible.
I do not wish to linger too long on the analysis I made. The message of nature is more important than the symbols used to convey it, and, in detailing these correspondences, I feel rather as one whom reading Shelley's "Hymn of Pan" ignored all that ecstasy and spoke merely of spelling or verse structure.
But why do I say that? The works of the Magician of the Beautiful are not like ours and in the least fragment His artistry is no less present than in the stars. We may enter the infinite through the minute no less than through contemplation of the vast.
I thought in that early ecstasy of mine when I found how near to us was the King in His Beauty that I could learn to read that marvelous writing on the screen of Nature and teach it to others; and, as a child first learns its letters with difficulty, but after a time leaps to the understanding of their combination, and later, without care for letters or words, follows out the thought alone; so I thought the letters of the divine utterance might be taught and the spirit in man would leap by intuition to the thought of the Spirit making that utterance.
For all that vast ambition I have not even a complete alphabet to show, much less one single illustration of how to read the letters of nature in their myriad intricacies of form, color, and sound in the world we live in. But I believe that vision has been attained by the seers, and we shall all at sometime attain it, and, as is said in the Divine Shepherd of Hermes, it shall meet us everywhere, plain and easy, walking or resting, waking or sleeping, " for there is nothing which is not the image of God."
By George Godwin
[From THE ARYAN PATH, February 1953, pages 76-79.]
Having written "The Child's Idea of Death," I ask myself, "Should this not have been ' The Griefs of Childhood?'" For I think it is true to say that, for a child, death -- a going away -- engenders grief through loss, without any conception whatsoever of the nature of death. A child may be moved emotionally by death, but not as an adult is moved by it. For a child's grief arises out of a sense of loss, of deprivation of what is familiar. From observation, I do not think it goes beyond that, real and profound as it may be for the short period of its effect.
No, a child does not mourn as an adult mourns. For in the adult the death of one beloved evokes a grief that is not centered on self, but arises out of the tragic sense of human destiny. This is the sense that all passes, all perishes. Mercifully, it is withheld from the children. For them the only reality is Life, with death merely as a lamented or inconvenient "going away" of some familiar person, animal, or inanimate but well-loved thing.
This, in some part, explains what often appears as callousness, as lack of feeling, in the child confronted by the experience of a death in the family circle. It helps us also to understand, by a process of imaginative sympathy, the curious apparent disparity between cause and effect in the emotional reactions of the child. The death of a white mouse, a goldfish, or a kitten will evoke intense grief. The death of an aunt, a grandmother, or some other adult within the daily-life orbit of the child evokes complete -- and apparent -- callousness.
One or two personal experiences may help to illustrate this.
The first concerns the children of a large family dominated by an invalid grandmother, much feared and little loved. When this old woman lay dying, and seemed to those awaiting her end to be, like King Charles II, an unconscionable time about it, one child was delegated each day to go to the bedroom door and ask of the nurse, "Is Grandma finished yet?"
For these children the hoped-for announcement of the death of their grandmother meant the welcome end of a hated tyranny; and their concern went no further than that. The spectacle of their father's anxiety for his dying mother left them untouched. I think they wondered why he did not share their contrary hopes, since the old woman bullied her son as she did her grandchildren. They had no understanding whatsoever of the emotional distresses of the adults about them.
The other case illustrates well, I think, two points. First, the great love which children can bestow upon their pets; secondly, the brevity of their grief on the death of a loved small creature.
Three children were involved, two little girls, one 10, the other 14, and a boy of 10. Two of the children, the elder girl and the boy, were French. The trio had made a great pet of a black female kitten. It was blue-eyed and adorable, as small kittens usually are. One morning, I came down and found it drowned in a water butt in the cottage garden.
It seemed kindest to bury the victim before the children came down to breakfast. They had left it a ball of black fluff, full of abundant life. It now lay, waterlogged and dank, on the spade with which I had fished it from the water. I buried the kitten but, knowing that the children would want to know where their pet lay, I made a little rough cross of pea-sticks and added a small circlet of lobelias for a wreath.
The little English girl, who dearly loves all small creatures, was in great distress. She gazed at the little grave for a long time and then said, "May I dig her up?" She wished to see her pet once more. She was experiencing the pain of parting, which is the child's limited understanding of the finality of death.
After eating breakfast in silence, this child returned to the little grave. She is accompanied now by her two French companions.
It was decided that the kitten's grave should be made really worthy of her. They sat down and began to make wreaths from the little flowers of a brick-path border. This was done with deep concentration and obvious awareness of the funeral nature of the enterprise.
What is a funeral without a funeral service? This was the French girl's reaction. She liked dressing up. They all agreed upon this. There must be a proper funeral service for the kitten. A little later, this was in full swing. A nightdress served as a priest's vestments. The dinner bell and much perambulating around the grave gave an air of verisimilitude to the proceedings.
Already the first grief was passing away. What had been conceived as a funeral rite had already become a game. As I watched, unobserved, I saw the funeral procession proceed rapidly, with wild hoots of merriment.
Yes, what started as a sad, sad rite became an enchanting game in less than an hour. The little corpse beneath the sod was quite forgotten. Such is childhood's grief!
Because a child's grief is short-lived, it would be, I am sure, a mistake to regard the emotions of children as shallow. While they are aroused, they can be as intense as the emotions of an adult: perhaps more intense. Love and hatred are deeply felt emotions in many children. In one direction, the emotions lead to the point of sublimity. In the other, they lead well within the shadows of abnormal psychology.
A case recorded in the annals of my own family, which I came upon a few years ago in an old correspondence, illustrates the profound depths of feeling that may torment the soul of a child.
The child, a little girl of four, was intensely jealous of the baby sister. The baby died in its first year. It was placed in the small coffin and left thus so that it might be looked at for the last time by those who loved it. The little girl so hated this small sister, even in death, that she crept into the bedroom and cracked the infant's skull with a blow from a stone held in her little hand.
Nor was that early evidence of a later tendency to crime or cruelty. The child sought revenge on the one that had stole from her part of the love that had been exclusively hers. That act of aggression against the dead, perhaps, suggests the child's mental and emotional identity with the primitive savage. Cradled or coffined, the baby was not beyond the range of her hatred.
What, then, does a child feel about its own mortality? Man, the only animal with foreknowledge of death, contrives in the rich feast of life to put away from himself this deep hidden knowledge. I do not think a child possesses it. I believe that for children "death" is something that happens to others, but never to oneself. Children, I am sure, believe that they will never die. Indeed, many adults cling to this belief in secret.
People originate doctrines of immortality from this belief or arrive at them by a process of wishful thought. This is not to dismiss, offhand, the problem of the survival of human personality after death, with which these few general remarks on the child's idea of death are not concerned.
The inability of children to apprehend the real nature of the death of the body is sometimes illustrated by examples a good deal less charming than that which I have given of the funeral rites accorded a pet kitten by three children.
It occurs, now and then, that a child destroys the life of another child and does so under circumstances that suggest, judged by standards applicable to adults, a very real degree of turpitude. Small boys have been known to kill a chosen victim, and the action has brought them before the courts. In one such case, Professor Sioli, the Italian psychiatrist, said of a boy that held another under water until he was drowned, "Nice children sometimes do these things."
I do not pretend to the degree of imaginative sympathy that would be required to see such an act as it might have been experienced by the offending child. One may hazard the guess that curiosity enters into such actions, and that there is in the perpetrator of them no understanding of their true character.
The inability of children to realize the fact of death does not apply, I am sure, to children in or past adolescence, or even those who are past the twelfth year. It is at about that age level that children begin to ponder upon the subject. It may not be presented as a personal problem by some death in the family, and may be merely an intellectual preoccupation. It may be much more where death has come, suddenly and unexpectedly, to either parent or playmate.
If I may, I will cite a personal experience in this connection that has at least the merit of being firsthand knowledge. I was at the time at a preparatory school in Brighton. I was 12 years of age. One day I quarreled with another boy. We fought violently, as boys of that age often do, and I beat my opponent. Three days later the headmaster, with a solemn face, told us that this boy had died in hospital, following an operation.
The effect of this upon me was profound, as is evidenced by the circumstance that after many years I can recall my boyhood emotions. I was plunged into a terrible gloom, in which horror, incredulity, fear, and a sense of guilt entered, along with inability to realize that this boy had vanished forever. I do not think I was more sensitive than other boys were. That sudden confrontation of my childhood mind and imagination by the King of Terrors left a mark that remained, and remained permanently.
It would be pleasant, I suppose, if one could deal with a theme like this so that all comes rounded off and as we would have it; but that cannot be if one would strive after truth.
Looking back across the years, then, I ask myself at this moment whether the grief I felt at the death of a schoolfellow could be compared with that which I experienced at the loss of a wooden toy sailor in my second year. That loss was my first experience of grief. I have known grief many times since, and sometimes with anguish beyond words -- as when half my fellow subalterns failed to return after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Yet the memory of the sorrow that followed on the loss of a wooden toy abides.
How strange, indeed, is the soul of a child!
By Phillip A. Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by Point Loma Publications.]
The philosopher Demetrius, so noted for his independence and outspoken manner for which he afterwards suffered banishment although characterized by Seneca as an example of exalted genius uncorrupted in a world of corruption, came to Rome about this time. He was so devoted to Apollonius that suspicion was aroused. People whispered that even that devotion was the result of selfish magic. They supposed that Apollonius might be behind his acts, of which we quote an example.
Nero was celebrating the anniversary of the completion of his wonderful gymnasium, the admiration of Rome. The senate and the equestrian order assembled. The sacrifices performed with full ceremony. It was a great triumph for Nero. Then Demetrius entered and pronounced an oration stigmatizing all who bathed in it as effeminate; he declared that the expense was an extravagant waste.
Undoubtedly, he would have lost his life, but Nero that day was vastly pleased with the world in general for he had outdone himself in singing, not a very difficult matter, one may suppose, for a man with such an unpleasant discordant voice! This he had done in a tavern, a public house -- a saloon, -- near the gymnasium, naked but for a girdle tied round his waist, which scanty clothing distinguished him from the regulars of the bar, since they had not even a girdle.
Tigellinus, however, who was practically the Chief of Police, banished Demetrius from the city for his daring. This Tigellinus was a type of the average corrupt office-holder. He kept a "vigilant but silent eye" over Apollonius, having every little word and deed however small or innocent reported to him. One fact was held to be very suspicious when a clap of thunder occurred during an eclipse. The great Cappadocian raised his eyes at this unknown prodigy and said, "A great event shall or shall not happen." This was not exactly what one might call a committal statement, but when three days later a thunderbolt fell on the table while Nero sat at supper and smashed the cup he was lifting to his lips to drink from, it was understood.
Tigellinus did not know what to make of it. He supposed Apollonius must be deeply skilled in divine matters and was afraid, but kept it to himself in silence. He still maintained his spy-system, however, so that he was informed if Apollonius said anything, or if, on the other hand, he said nothing.
If the Cappadocian went for a walk, it was immediately reported. If he did not go for a walk, but stayed at home, that was reported too. If he had his dinner by himself, Tigellinus was kept posted by his sleuths, but if Apollonius had a guest, ah, that was something that had to be reported and entered in his dossier. If Apollonius sacrificed, it had to be told. If he did not sacrifice, then there was something suspicious about it, never a doubt.
The secret police of Tigellinus did what secret police have always done when dealing with a man whose life is so absolutely and philosophically straightforward that he differed from the folk around him, from the time of Socrates to the guards of the Bastille with their net around the innocent Cagliostro. In short, whether Apollonius did anything or did not do anything, the spies noted it carefully for their chief. Of course, as always happens in such cases, they condemned him on some utterly futile charge.
This time it was an outbreak of asthma or 'flu.' When the raucous divine voice of their prize fighting Nero was affected, then the matter became serious. The temples were crowded with votaries offering prayers for his recovery. That dreadful fellow Apollonius, however, never said a word; he did not even rebuke these hypocritical devotees of their vaudeville Emperor, the ruler of the entire world that mattered. Menippus was not indifferent. He could hardly contain himself with indignation.
"Restrain yourself," said Apollonius. "The gods may be forgiven if they take pleasure in the company of clowns and jesters."
This was reported to the chief of police, of course. This time they had caught their man. Immediate arrest on a charge of high treason or offence against the sovereign followed, and one of the cleverest of the informers or spies or shyster lawyers in the place was ready with his cunningly contrived accusation that the innocence of a baby could not escape. This man was an artist, a specialist, a detective par excellence. Had he not brought ruin to many and many a man, and was he not full of such Olympian triumphs?
What a scene in that Roman police court! The cards were stacked, the case was forejudged, and yet none could say that it was not a fair trial, since all the forms of law were there, exactly as in the case of the child Joan of Arc centuries later. Apollonius was not a child and Tigellinus was not Bishop Cauchon.
The lawyer was in high spirits. He flourished his scroll of the accusation before Apollonius as though it were a sword. "This weapon has a sharp edge," he boasted. "Your hour has come at last!"
Tigellinus took the scroll and unfolded it. It was a perfect blank. So were the faces of his accusers!
Tigellinus was impressed, as well he might be. He took Apollonius into the private room of the court where the most solemn business was conducted. He cleared the court and interviewed his prisoner alone.
"Who are you," he asked.
Apollonius told him his name, and that of his father and his country. He also told him the use he made of philosophy, which was to know gods and men. "To know oneself," he said, "that is the most difficult of all things!"
"How is it you discover demons, and the apparitions of specters," asked his interlocutor, who was an impious man and one who encouraged and supported Nero in his cruelty, debauchery, and his murders.
"Just as I do homicidal and impious men," said Apollonius, not without a suspicion of sarcasm in his tone.
"Will you prophesy for me if I ask you," went on Tigellinus, quite willing to change the subject.
"How can I? I am not a soothsayer," said Apollonius.
"It is reported that you were the one who said that a great event would or would not take place."
"True enough," said Apollonius, "but that had nothing to do with the art of divination. It is rather that wisdom that Jupiter makes manifest to the wise!"
"How is it," said Tigellinus, "that you have no fear of Nero?" It was certainly a puzzle.
"Because the same Deity that made him formidable made me bold," said the philosopher.
There was one more question to catch this wily reasoner in treason, if he could not be tricked into admission of the use of 'magic arts.' "What do you think of the Emperor?"
"Better than you do! You think he ought to sing, and I think he ought to hold his tongue," was the calm reply.
Tigellinus had no more to say to this wonderful man.
"You can go where you please, only you must give security for your appearance when called upon." It was rather an unusual condescension for Tigellinus.
"Who can go bail for what cannot be bound," asked his prisoner.
"Well, you can go where you please," replied Tigellinus. He gave up the contest. His authority could not cope with what he saw was a divine power. It is no use fighting the gods, he concluded, not without reason.
RAISING THE CONSUL'S DAUGHTER
A girl, of consular family, died at the time she was about to be married. The man who was to have married her followed among the mourners, who were many, because of her social position. "All Rome condoled with him."
Apollonius met the funeral procession. He stopped and desired the bearers to set down the bier.
"I will dry up the tears you are shedding for the girl," he said. "What is her name?"
The spectators were touched. Here was this foreign philosopher, a strange man, truly, but one whom many regarded as a god, and who was welcome in every temple, stopping to deliver a funeral ovation, to soothe the feelings of the relatives and mourners, and to enlist the compassion of the passers by.
He did nothing of the sort. He bent over the girl and merely touched her as he spoke a few words in a low tone of voice over her body; none apparently heard just what he said.
The girl sat up and began to speak. The whole party returned to her father's house, as the tale swiftly passed through every gossip in Rome that Apollonius had raised a high official's daughter to life, adding marvels as the tale grew, until it probably became utterly unrecognizable.
The recorder of the history shows his good sense, however, in his comment:
"It is as difficult for me as it was to all who were present, to ascertain whether Apollonius discovered the vital spark, which had escaped the doctors, for it is said it rained at the time, which caused the vapor to rise from her face, or whether he cherished and brought back the soul to life, which was apparently extinct."
It would be well if all historians of great lives were as judicious in their relations. The fact that Philostratus makes such a remark shows that he himself was a student of the philosophy of Apollonius, which was that of Pythagoras, which was that of Iarchas himself and his school.
MUSONIUS IN PRISON
We see the brave attitude of the philosophers in the face of persecution shown in the correspondence of Apollonius and Musonius, "who excelled most others in philosophy."
During his confinement, he deprecated all intercourse with Apollonius lest it might endanger both of them. The letters that passed were taken by Menippus and Damis, who both had access to the prison. Here are several of those that passed.
From Apollonius To Musonius the Philosopher Greeting
I wish to go to you and enjoy your conversation and roof. I wish to be in some way or other useful to you. If you doubt not that Hercules delivered Theseus from the shades, write your pleasure.
From Apollonius To Musonius the Philosopher
Your proposal is worthy of all praise. The man that is able to clear himself and prove he is guilty of no crime will deliver himself.
From Apollonius To Musonius the Philosopher
Socrates the Athenian refused being delivered by his friends. He was guilty of no crime cognizable by the court that tried him. Yet he died.
Who shall doubt that the diamond spirit of these grand philosophers shone in that corrupt age with such a light that it gave comfort to those who suffered for the sake of truth in still darker ages, and yet suffer, with a joyful heart?
The next time Apollonius heard of his unselfish friend was at the Corinth canal that Nero "did or did not cut." He was digging in a convict gang, but his spirit was unbroken. The fact is a proof that Apollonius was running a very real danger in his visit to Rome and that the eight who followed him needed all their courage. Apollonius was right when he refused to blame the twenty-six who left him on the way.
Now Nero went down into Greece and so great was his fear of magic and of philosophy that he first decreed the banishment of all philosophers from Rome.
Apollonius decided to visit the Western world, said to end at Gibraltar and Cadiz. He would see the ebb and flow of the ocean tides and the city of Cadiz. It was said that its inhabitants possessed a philosophy that approached divine wisdom.
All his company went with him, praising not only his determination in making such a journey, but also the object for which it was made.
This appears to have been about the year 66 A.D., when Apollonius was nearing seventy years of age.
By James Sterling
The white-spinning orb fills the sky tonight; Astral currents running like a fever, Filling my soul with higher thoughts, Pure and simple, As the will of the white knight Grows and glows. Pureness of thought, exactness of mind, And unriveted concentration, moves the Budding chela further inward. Tests, grueling tests, strengthen a sturdy will; Stronger with every act of kindness. Love beams from penetrating eyes, Eyes filled with sorrow for the world Suffering in a black age. Learning the ways of the Magus, Waiting for the teacher to show the way. The Higher Self, the True Self of Humanity, Teaches and pushes him upward. The tests are precise in their lessons, But he never flinches. Almost. Besides perfect love, the pain of others Is the only sensation worth feeling. Once on the stage of magic, The incantations murmur in the tiny room. Commencing to perfect the power of the will, Thought, and understand the astral light, And our unique position in the Kosmos. The war on the black is just beginning; Now a meek chela but becoming the Spiritual Warrior. The will is never extinguished; The soul is determined to see a destiny fulfilled. "Learn your lessons well, young chela," Mutters a full-faced moon. "The world is waiting for you."
By Jasper Niemand
[From THE PATH, June 1888, pages 87-92.]
The opinion of theosophical students divides in respect to reading. There are those who consider the chief source of learning is study, while others deprecate reading and urge us to confine our efforts to "living the life." The truth is that both methods combine. They serve different departments of the same end. By study -- especially of scriptures -- we form more ideas of what "the life" may be and in what way we shall live it. By living it, we correct all mistaken ideas. We shave and prune the excrescence of the mind.
We apply spiritual (impersonal) ideas in daily life. We study how we may hold to them amid the practical routine. We discover them within material conditions and things. We put forth effort to develop them. Doing so through the spiritual will, we broaden our nature and alchemize it into spiritual essences and powers.
Nothing is wholly material. If it were, it could not exist. It could not cohere for an instant. Spirit is that mysterious force which is within all things, enabling them to "live" or advance through successive changes. In THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, we find that Purusha and Prakriti, or Spirit (energy) and Nature, forever conjoining.
As all the powers existing in the macrocosm have their various specific seats in man, it follows plainly that, if we wish to evolve more rapidly by means of these powers, as the universe also evolves by them, we must think and think within ourselves. These forces are under the guidance of will, thought, and knowledge. (In Sanskrit, they are Itchasakti, Kriyasakti, and Gnanasakti. See page 110 of FIVE YEARS OF THEOSOPHY.) Reading will never enable us to reach them. Thinking may put us on track.
Examine this question of reading. What is it that we do when we read? It is not reading to repeat, parrot like, words that we instantly forget like the infant class over its primer. The eye encounters certain words and conveys an idea to the brain. Is this all that happens? For certain persons, it is all. They accept this idea as a form, a crystallization representing a certain state of things. If it attracts them, they retain and quote it. Otherwise, they dismiss it. In either case, it is to them finality.
They have their brains stored with such formulas. They have never lived them out, even in the mind. They do not really know the idea represented by this form of words at all. The fancy or prejudice has been tickled by mere sound. This is so much useless lumber. Show them what some of their favorite ideas really involve if carried out and they will cast them aside in disgust or dismay. Depreciate this sort of reading along with the kind undertaken to "pass time."
They do not see that an idea is a seed that, once planted, should sprout and grow. They do not see that all ideas have a specific, energetic life of their own, proportionate to the idea's vitality or truth. None but occultists know that thought has a power of self-reproduction, bearing a thousand-fold for use or misuse. Occultists know of its insidious and tremendous power. Part of the vital energy and real being of a writer diffuses throughout every page. This is true even of printed works, affecting readers as a psycho-magnetic entity.
Every thought modifies the mind. It energizes according to the nature of those thoughts, diffusing a pernicious, weak, or beneficent force about us. Forcing thoughts upon the mind too rapidly, we gorge it; we give ourselves mental dyspepsia and an unhealthy condition, not only in the internal organ called mind, but also in the physical organs that quickly respond to its condition. A habit of the mind soon forms and like the dyspeptic, it craves abnormal quantities of food, alternated with periods of sluggish inertia.
Moreover, the mind habituates to certain stimuli. If we feed it long upon novels or excitement, it will reject healthier food. Something within us, knowing and striving to make us know, takes advantage of the vibration set up in the mental (and through that to the outer) man to transfuse his understanding with more light. This is a greater reason for a careful choice of reading.
This something, this soul, leaps up within us, touched by the current flowing from those thoughts, and asserts of them, "They are true" or "They are false!" Thus, books may help us to remember or recall what we have lost. No man to whom life is sacred will wish to expend those energies of which life consists in any idle fashion, developing the lower forms of those energies when the higher are equally at his command.
How shall we read? When we have reason to believe that the writer knows somewhat of his subject, we may assume a receptive attitude. Where such is not the case, we cannot usefully read at all. We may not judge our author. He may have found truths unsuited to us now, or teach them in ways that we are unfitted to pursue. This being so, we shall do well to avoid what is at present unhealthy nourishment.
Where we feel attracted and read, we receive the idea into our minds. Submitting ourselves passively to its influence, note what impression stamps upon the sensitized plate within. We feel the true character of the idea rather than intellectually cognize it. By such a study of the interior impression, we receive the verdict of the hidden judge. We need dread no Vehmgericht (secret tribunal of old) but this. By it, all stands or falls. To attain this end, we must hold ourselves still. The outer self must maintain an attitude of suspended judgment. Otherwise, our mere personality comes up with quips, cranks, whims, opinions, and loves, drowning the inner voice with its racket and hubbub.
Another way of utilizing ideas is to assume their merit and to study wherein that merit may possibly consist, what fine ray has escaped our grosser sight. For example, I quote to a comrade:
We must be ready to say at any moment, in whatever circumstances, whether expected or unexpected, "It is just what I in fact desired."
-- THE PATH, February 1888, page 328
My comrade replied that this appeared to him hypocritical. If he lost an arm, for instance, he could cheerfully submit, but he could not in truth say that he desired that accident. This objection has a surface correctness. Had he read with an assumption that the line must have some truth in it and had he examined it in that belief, he would doubtless have found its true bearing. Such personal exertion opens up a mind and nourishes it as no artificial injection can do.
That true bearing is that the reincarnating soul has chosen those circumstances most needed for its evolution. To work out that evolution, we must work through our Karma. There is no other way. Hence, my Higher Self or real self did in fact desire just that body and all its Karmic circumstances and life as a necessary experience for my soul now. The soul has to pass through all experiences, and though the little "I" may not desire them, the big "I" does. We can base no true statements upon the assumption that the personality or even the lower principles of the soul are the real ego at all.
There is again another point we guard against in reading books other than sacred writings, whose inner meaning we strive to assimilate. It is the reverse of the one above stated, cautioning us against too great mental hospitality. It is the danger of basing our faith upon the personality of the writer.
If we do this, were he the Jove of Theosophy himself, we may receive injury rather than benefit. We may have good reason to believe him knowledgeable. Has he has assimilated that knowledge? This is again another question. An initiate will have done so, and the real value of his writings is in his being the truths that he gives out. He is himself the word and the sign of his degree.
Only as far as he has lived out and become his knowledge can he impart it to his readers beneficially. Otherwise, he risks presenting partial Truths through the medium of his own personality, tingeing or slightly coloring them thereby. In this way, with the best will in the world perhaps, he gives to students himself. He does not give the Truth, only his warped edition of it. As an occult fact, we can only gives ourselves and no more; hence, to give Truth we must be it.
Herein lays the value of the writings of initiates, ending with those of our beloved Madame Blavatsky, who alone has dared to speak plainly to her era. The movement she inaugurated and the wellspring of teachings she opened for us to draw upon have been the means of renown for many writers who, without her initial courage, had never won an audience or a name. Even as one of the very least of these, I say, "May we never forget the debt!"
Were all readers forewarned and ready to discount the personality, this danger lessens. Such discrimination in these matters is a spiritual quality not yet generally found among men. It is a power of the soul, a more or less direct perception of Truth. It behooves the writer desirous of serving mankind to look well to his words, to the form in which he imprisons the Truth he has found. It behooves the writer to strive earnestly only to give forth as much of it as he embodies in his life, as much as he has become.
We do great harm by the spread of brain and lip knowledge, to be proven false supports by suffering men. Better that we take the tone of suggestion than that of authority. We may have touched upon our higher powers without having fully raised the nature to them. While we are but man, we only see by glimpses. Then the veil falls again. I would preface all writings with the request that the reader guides himself by his own natural selection largely.
Many writers, too, have come into this life with a special task to perform. They have something to say or to give. When done, their usefulness to humanity is over. They seem then to have outlived themselves long before their bodies pass into the ranks of the unseen and their virility and life-giving power have departed. We often see this fatal high-water mark in the life of the poet, the painter, the leader we followed and loved. We see that he can never surpass it, that he has touched his highest state for this incarnation. To remain there is impossible. Nature decrees that he advances or recedes. There is no standing still.
Who has set this fatal limit? We see clearly that the man alone has done himself this wrong. It is Karma, but a type of Karma of his own making. Some pass beyond that limit to intellectual greatness. In doing so, they pass beyond our ordinary sight, joining the silent workers in the Lodge of Truth. Our only indication of their progress is that they have never fallen lower than the great level where we last saw them standing. They have never followed up their words of power by the impotent babble of senility.
Few indeed are these men, for "Many are called, but few are chosen." They are those who have a Karmic stock of spiritual energy sufficient to flood them over the crisis. They use their highest intellectuality as a steppingstone to that which lies beyond intellect and above thought.
Lesser men suffer. They have done and sacrificed much. They do not understand why people no longer snatch their words from their lips and pass them along to the expectant throng eagerly. It is because their words are vain repetitions. They no longer speak living, winged things.
The speaker has not renewed his thought. He has fallen to worshipping his own methods. He makes an apotheosis of his present knowledge instead of reaching up to the realms of real life for new, vital essences. Thought, however broad, follows a circle at last. In that circle, the speaker runs like a squirrel turning a wheel with puerile activity.
As a man thinks that he has done or sacrificed something, he should see his mistake. Deeds happen through him, not by him. His so-called sacrifice was an opportunity to rise to greatness. Only his half methods limit it to a sacrifice. Some cry out in despair that it was better to do nothing at all. I would not say that. The irresistible waves surge onward, bearing us to a certain point. We may lie there long. Still, we can never lose this progress. Pity that we should not arise and go further, not waiting for the next tide.
These considerations show us that disagreements between theosophical writers are often unavoidable. The writers are but men and women. It is to our advantage to use our discriminative powers, strengthening them by use so we do not injure ourselves by these differences. We harm ourselves more if we stake our faith upon any one or several writers. When our idols crumble, and crumble they must, we often end up in the dust beneath them, stunned and wounded by their fall.
"Let a man learn to bear the disappearance of the things he was wont to reverence without losing his reverence." Emerson never wrote a truer word. We are instruments in mighty hands. If we turn our edge, we must expect them to lay us aside. Refrain from solidifying our thoughts into a system and our reports of Truth into dogmas. We should not dazzle ourselves even by the highest heavens, but must worship Truth alone.
The problem for both writer and reader consists of eschewing mere forms, to look beyond words to the principles they represent faintly. A man represents one or more universals. His thought should do the same. He will never mislead while he gives us these. Looking for nothing less, we will never misunderstand him.
All reading is useless as far as spiritual progress is concerned. We cannot progress upon the above lines. If they limit your reading, they will extend your thinking. So much the better, for thinking is the path toward becoming.
"What a man thinks, that he is. This is the old secret," say the Upanishads. There is a way of taking a thought and brooding over it as a bird broods on the nest. By this method, the true thought hatches out, manifesting itself to us. We must apply these thoughts to the touchstone of our own souls. Reading and thinking are not to be divorced. They should be one act. Then each would correct and equilibrate the other.
My last word upon the subject I say emphatically. Never receive and pass onward a thought that you do not feel and understand. On this point, accept no authority other than your own soul.
It is better that you seem to lose a ray of Truth than to accept and deflect it by a want of understanding, by a want of assimilation of it. If it were yours in the Law, you cannot lose it. It will come to you repeatedly until you receive it. Take then what your nature selects until you reach a point where you can rise above nature. When you reach this, you will not need to read any longer, except from the wonderful book of life and from those blessed Scriptures wherein the Divine has spoken to the ages through men who had attained some share in His being.
By Edward Bellamy
[This story appeared in THEOSOPHY, July 1938, pages 398-403, and August 1938, pages 444-453]
It is now about a year since I took passage at Calcutta in the ship Adelaide for New York. We had baffling weather until New Amsterdam Island was sighted, where we took a new point of departure. Three days later a terrible gale struck us. Four days we flew before it, whither, no one knew, for neither sun, moon, nor stars were at any time visible, and we could take no observation.
Toward midnight of the fourth day, the glare of lightning revealed the Adelaide in a hopeless position -- close in upon a low-lying shore, and driving straight toward it. All around and astern far out to sea was such a maze of rocks and shoals that it was a miracle we had come so far. Presently the ship struck and almost instantly went to pieces, so great was the violence of the sea. I gave myself up for lost, and was indeed already past the worst of drowning when I was recalled to consciousness by being thrown with a tremendous shock upon the beach. I had just strength enough to drag myself above the reach of the waves, and then I fell down and knew no more.
When I awoke, the storm was over. The sun, already half-way up the sky, had dried my clothing and renewed the vigor of my bruised and aching limbs. On sea or shore, I saw no vestige of my ship or my companions of whom I appeared the sole survivor. I was not, however, alone. A group of persons, apparently the inhabitants of the country, stood near, observing me with looks of friendliness that at once freed me from apprehension as to my treatment at their hands. They were a white and handsome people, evidently of a high order of civilization, though I recognized in them the traits of no race with which I was familiar.
Seeing that it was evidently their idea of etiquette to leave it to strangers to open conversation, I addressed them in English, but failed to elicit any response beyond deprecating smiles. I then accosted them successively in the French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese tongues, but with no better results. I puzzled over the nationality of a white and evidently civilized race to which no one of the tongues of the great seafaring nations was intelligible.
Oddest was the unbroken silence with which they contemplated my efforts to open communication with them. It was as if they were agreed not to give me a clue to their language by even a whisper, for while they regarded one another with looks of smiling intelligence, they did not once open their lips. If this behavior suggested that they were amusing themselves at my expense, that presumption was negated by unmistakable friendliness and sympathy that their whole bearing expressed.
A most extraordinary conjecture occurred to me. Could it be that these strange people were dumb? Such a freak of nature as an entire race thus afflicted had never been heard of, but who could say what wonders the unexplored vastness of the Great Southern Ocean might thus far have hid from human ken?
Among the scraps of useless information which lumbered my mind was an acquaintance with the deaf-and-dumb alphabet, and forthwith I began to spell out with my fingers some of the phrases I had already uttered to so little effect. My resort to the sign language overcame the last remnant of gravity in the already profusely smiling group. The small boys now rolled on the ground in convulsions of mirth. The grave and reverend seniors, who had hitherto kept them in check, were fain to avert their faces momentarily. I could see their bodies shaking with laughter.
The greatest clown in the world never received a more flattering tribute to his powers to amuse than had been called forth by mine to make myself understood. Naturally, however, I was not flattered, but, on the contrary, entirely discomfited. Angry I could not well be, for the deprecating manner in which all, excepting of course the boys, yielded to their perception of the ridiculous, and the distress they showed at their failure in self-control, made me seem the aggressor. It was as if they were very sorry for me and ready to put themselves wholly at my service if I would only refrain from reducing them to a state of disability by being so exquisitely absurd. Certainly, this evidently amiable race had a very embarrassing way of receiving strangers.
Just at this moment, when my bewilderment was fast verging on exasperation, relief came. The circle opened, and a little elderly man, who had evidently come in haste, confronted me, and bowing very politely, addressed me in English. His voice was the most pitiable abortion of a voice I had ever heard. While having all the defects in articulation of a child's who is just beginning to talk, it was not even a child's in strength of tone, being in fact a mere alternation of squeaks and whispers inaudible a rod away. With some difficulty I was, however, able to follow him pretty nearly.
"As the official interpreter," he said, "I extend you a cordial welcome to these islands. I was sent for as soon as you were discovered, but being at some distance, I was unable to arrive until this moment. I regret this, as my presence would have saved you embarrassment. My countrymen desire me to intercede with you to pardon the involuntary and uncontrollable mirth provoked by your attempts to communicate with them. You see, they understood you perfectly well, but could not answer you."
"Merciful heavens," I exclaimed, horrified to find my surmise correct. "Can it be that they are all thus afflicted? Is it possible that you are the only man among them who has the power of speech?"
Again, it appeared that, quite unintentionally, I had said something excruciatingly funny. At my speech, there arose a sound of gentle laughter from the group, now augmented to quite an assemblage, which drowned the plashing of the waves on the beach at our feet. Even the interpreter smiled.
"Do they think it so amusing to be dumb," I asked.
"They find it very amusing," replied the interpreter, "that their inability to speak should be regarded by any one as an affliction, for it is by the voluntary disuse of the organs of articulation that they have lost the power of speech, and as a consequence the ability even to understand speech."
"But," said I, somewhat puzzled by this statement, "didn't you just tell me that they understood me though they could not reply. Are they not laughing now at what I just said?"
"It is you that they understood, not your words," answered the interpreter. "Our speech now is gibberish to them, as unintelligible in itself as the growling of animals; but they know what we are saying because they know our thoughts. You must know that these are the islands of the mind readers."
Such were the circumstances of my introduction to this extraordinary people. The official interpreter being charged by virtue of his office with the first entertainment of shipwrecked members of the talking nations, I became his guest and passed a number of days under his roof before going out to any considerable extent among the people.
My first impression had been the somewhat oppressive one that the power to read the thoughts of others could only be possessed by beings of a superior order to man. It was the first effort of the interpreter to disabuse me of this notion. It appeared from his account that the experience of the mind readers was a case simply of a slight acceleration from special causes of the course of universal human evolution, which in time was destined to lead to the disuse of speech and the substitution of direct mental vision on the part of all races. This rapid evolution of these islanders was accounted for by their peculiar origin and circumstances.
Some three centuries before Christ, one of the Parthian Kings of Persia, of the dynasty of the Arsacidae, undertook a persecution of the soothsayers and magicians in his realms. These people were credited with supernatural powers by popular prejudice. In fact, they were merely persons of especial gifts in the way of hypnotizing, mind reading, thought-transference, and such arts, which they exercised for their own gain.
Too much in awe of the soothsayers to do them outright violence, the King resolved to banish them. To this end, he put them, with their families, on ships and sent them to Ceylon. When, however, the fleet was in the neighborhood of that island, a great storm scattered it, and one of the ships, after being driven for many days before the tempest, was wrecked upon one of an archipelago of uninhabited islands far to the south where the survivors settled. Naturally, the posterity of parents possessed of such peculiar gifts had developed extraordinary psychical powers.
Having set before them the end of evolving a new and advanced order of humanity, they had aided the development of these powers by a rigid system of producing a pure race by careful breeding. The result was that after a few centuries mind reading became so general that language fell into disuse as a means of communicating ideas. For many generations, the power of speech remained voluntary. Gradually the vocal organs had become atrophied. For several hundred years, the power of articulation had been wholly lost. For a few month after birth, infants did, indeed, still emit inarticulate cries, but at an age when in less advanced races these cries began to be articulate, the children of the mind readers developed the power of direct mental vision, ceasing to attempt to use the voice.
The fact that the existence of the mind readers had never been found out by the rest of the world was explained by two considerations. In the first place, the group of islands was small and occupied a corner of the Indian Ocean quite out of the ordinary track of ships. In the second place, the approach to the islands was rendered so desperately perilous by terrible currents and the maze of outlying rocks and shoals that it was next to impossible for any ship to touch their shores save as a wreck. No ship at least had ever done so in the two thousand years since the mind readers' own arrival. The Adelaide had made the one hundred and twenty-third such wreck.
Apart from humanitarian motives, the mind readers made strenuous efforts to rescue shipwrecked persons as from them alone through the interpreters could they obtain information of the outside world. Little enough this proved when, as often happened, the sole survivor of a shipwreck was some ignorant sailor, with no news to communicate beyond the latest varieties of forecastle blasphemy. My hosts gratefully assured me that as a person of some little education they considered me a veritable godsend. No less a task was mine than to relate to them the history of the world for the past two centuries, and often did I wish, for their sakes, that I had made a more exact study of it.
It is solely for communicating with shipwrecked strangers of the talking nations that the office of the interpreters exists. When, as from time to time happens, a child is born with some powers of articulation, he is set apart and trained to talk in the interpreters' college. Of course, the partial atrophy of the vocal organs, from which even the best interpreters suffer, renders many of the sounds of language impossible for them. None, for instance, can pronounce "v," "f," or "s." As to the sound represented by "th," it is five generations since the last interpreter lived who could utter it. Except for the occasional intermarriage of shipwrecked strangers with the islanders it is probable that the supply of interpreters would have long ere this quite failed.
I imagine that the unpleasant sensations following the realization that I was among people who, while inscrutable to me, knew my very thought, were very much what any one would have experienced in the same case. They were very comparable to the panic which accidental nudity causes a person among races whose custom it is to conceal the figure with drapery.
I wanted to run away and hide. If I analyzed my feeling, it did not seem to arise so much from the consciousness of any particularly heinous secrets, as from the knowledge of a swarm of fatuous, ill-natured, and unseemly thoughts and half-thoughts concerning those around me and concerning myself, which it was insufferable that any person should peruse in however benevolent a spirit.
While my chagrin and distress on this account were at first intense, they were also very short-lived. Almost immediately, I discovered that the very knowledge that my mind was overlooked by others operated to check thoughts that might be painful to them without more effort than a kindly person might exert to check the utterance of disagreeable remarks. As a few lessons in the elements of courtesy cures a decent person of inconsiderate speaking, so a brief experience among the mind readers went far in my case to check inconsiderate thinking.
It must not be supposed, however, that courtesy among the mind readers prevents them from thinking pointedly and freely concerning one another upon serious occasions, any more than the finest courtesy among the talking races restrains them from speaking to one another with entire plainness when it is desirable to do so. Indeed, among the mind readers, politeness never can extend to the point of insincerity, as among talking nations, seeing that it is always one another's real and inmost thought that they read.
I may fitly mention here, though it was not until later that I fully understood why it must necessarily be so, that one need feel far less chagrin at the complete revelation of his weaknesses to a mind reader than at the slightest betrayal of them to one of another race. For the very reason that the mind reader reads all your thoughts, particular thoughts are judged with reference to the general tenor of thought. Your characteristic and habitual frame of mind is that of which he takes account. No one need fear being misjudged by a mind reader because of the sentiments or emotions that are not representative of the real character or general attitude. Justice may indeed be said to be a necessary consequence of mind reading.
As regards the interpreter himself, the instinct of courtesy was not long needed to check wanton or offensive thoughts. In all my life before I had been very slow to form friendships, but before I had been three days in the company of this stranger of a strange race, I had become enthusiastically devoted to him. It was impossible not to be. The peculiar joy of friendship is the sense of being understood by our friend as we are not by others, and yet of being loved in spite of the understanding. Now here was one whose every word testified to a knowledge of my secret thoughts and motives which the oldest and nearest of my former friends had never, and could never, have approximated. Had such knowledge bred in him contempt of me, I should neither have blamed him nor been at all surprised. Judge, then, whether the cordial friendliness that he showed was likely to leave me indifferent.
Imagine my incredulity when he informed me that our friendship was not based upon more than ordinary mutual suitability of temperaments. The faculty of mind reading, he explained, brought minds close together and so heightened sympathy that the lowest order of friendships between mind readers implied a mutual delight such as only rare friends enjoyed among other races. He assured me that later on when I came to know others of his race that I should find how true this saying was by the far greater intensity of sympathy and affection I should conceive for some of them.
It may be inquired how, on beginning to mingle with the mind readers in general, I managed to communicate with them, seeing that they were like the interpreter. They could read my thoughts but could not respond to them by speech. I must here explain that while these people have no use for a spoken language, a written language is needful for purposes of record. They consequently all know how to write. Do they, then, write Persian? Luckily for me, the answer was no.
For a long period after mind reading was fully developed, not only was spoken language disused but also the written, so that no records whatever were kept during this period. The delight of the people in the newly found power of direct mind-to-mind vision, whereby pictures of the total mental state were communicated, instead of the imperfect descriptions of single thoughts that words at best could give, induced an invincible distaste for the laborious impotence of language.
When after several generations the first intellectual intoxication had somewhat sobered down, it was recognized that records of the past were desirable and that the despised medium of words was needful to preserve it. Persian had meantime been wholly forgotten. In order to avoid the prodigious task of inventing a complete new language, the institution of the interpreters was set up with the idea of acquiring through them knowledge of some languages of the outside world from mariners wrecked on the islands.
Owing to the fact that most of the castaway ships were English, a better knowledge of that tongue was acquired than of any other. It was adopted as the written language of the people. As a rule, my acquaintances wrote slowly and laboriously and yet the fact that they knew exactly what was in my mind rendered their responses so apt that, in my conversations with the slowest speller of them all, the interchange of thought was as rapid and incomparably more accurate and satisfactory than that to which the fastest of talkers attain.