Can we broaden our contacts? Can we widen out to help the world, and many other inquirers and students with what we have learned from Theosophy? I think we have an opportunity at hand like we have never had before. Imagine what HPB would have done if the Internet had been available in her days.
-- Dallas TenBroeck, Email of April 17, 2002
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 314-16.]
Money, which wields such a tremendous influence in mundane affairs, has a moral counterpart in the world of Spirit. Several ancient texts refer to wealth of mind as superior to silver and gold; and again refer to soul wealth as the highest type of riches.
The world recognizes the superiority of the cultured mind compared to an illiterate and an uneducated mind. It does not see that there is something higher than mind. Therefore the wealth of knowledge is used by the educated mind to build up a bank account instead of creating the fund of moral power, intuitive perception, true love, and heart philanthropy.
It is said in SANATSUJATIYA that the real twice-born are not possessors of great material wealth, but rank first and are unrivalled in Knowledge of the Vedas; they are not to be shaken. Such may well be valued as forms of Brahma, for they have creative ability. They have Brahmic wealth, with which they spread moral power and spiritual beneficence, awakening all who aspire to possess that wealth.
Education is considered to be the highest asset for the building up of the prosperous State. Our educators are far from the right perception of true principles. Our youths are not taught the truth that each one has been the maker of his destiny in the past and is so now. Schools and colleges, universities and academies, turn out "educated" young men and women by the thousand. They use their talent mostly for making money and getting on in life, so that they may become prosperous. Such use the motion of knowledge to hook money for a "happy" existence, and there are those -- not a negligible number -- who, failing to gain wealth honestly, use crooked ways and become possessors of filthy lucre.
Everyone knows that most millionaires are not healthy; nor are they truly wealthy, for they are not wise. He who uses his knowledge to gain mundane prosperity for himself lowers himself. Missing out the real meaning and purpose of human evolution, he becomes selfish and makes of himself an egotist.
Use mental education not only to improve personal life but also to rise spiritually and bring to birth the truly moral Man. The educated man who has not learnt the value and the use of moral perception, of higher values of unselfishness and sacrifice, is said to have lived in vain. Our mental wealth should be used to procure spiritual wealth. The mind must seek its own higher aspect. The ordinary educated man who lives to amass money lives by the wandering power of the octopus mind; he does not know that there is within him the controller of the animal mind. The professional man, the man of business, and the civil servant, are very impractical. In running after silver and gold they prostitute the mind; they miss out the securing of the Moral Power of the soul, wherein is real strength, joy, and resourcefulness.
The same text, SANATSUJATIYA, asks, "What sin is not committed by that thief, who steals away his own Self, who regards that Self as one thing, when it is a different thing?"
We drag down the Self of Truth-Beauty-Virtue and exploit it for worldly ends. We need to change our point of vision. A highly practical truth is enshrined in what sounds like a very impractical proposition: the educated man should move his mind to gain knowledge about his own higher mind wherein is the wealth he is looking for. That man should know himself is an old-world maxim, which all of us quote but which only too few care to probe.
Among the people dear to Krishna are those who desire possessions (Gita, VII, 16). Seeking the higher wealth, we gain all that we are looking for -- and more. We unfold Moral Power which is resourceful. Seeking material wealth, fame, and power, we enslave and embitter ourselves. The burdens of material possessions, the shining mark they offer to avarice, pride, envy, and misfortune, weigh down and haunt the rich until suicides are more frequent among them than among the poor. What then is the way out? The aspirant to the Higher Life has his own formula. "Desire possessions above all; but desire only those possessions which can be enjoyed by all pure souls equally." He who seeks real possessions, to have and to hold by the soul's franchise, envies not and is never proud, for he knows well that the things that he prizes are the heritage of humanity.
By Linda Rollison
[From THE TEMPLE ARTISAN, published by The Temple of the People, Halcyon, California, April-June 2003, pages 4-14.]
Theosophy is a body of information that makes a lot of sense to most Temple members and friends. Each one could tell a different story about how he found this philosophy, what it means in his life, and why he continues to study it and try to make it a part of his world. But what would we say to someone who is not familiar with its teachings? How would we explain why we find theosophy to be the most useful way of understanding our lives and the world we live in? And why would we want to try to explain these things?
Most of us would probably agree that events in the world today point to the fact that humanity is in the midst of some sort of crisis. Probably many people, non-theosophists included, would agree that some of the issues that face humanity are bigger and more crucial than any we have faced in our known history. There is environmental degradation, potential nuclear destruction of life and quality of living, political upheaval, war in many parts of the world, economic imbalance, and the eroding of simple human virtue. They would agree that such problems seem to indicate that humanity is at the crux of some process of decision making that promises to affect the future of the race for some time to come.
What can theosophy offer to the individual who feels lost in the magnitude of issues that seem too complex for the individual to sort out, much less affect in any substantial way? How can theosophy affect our personal lives, our understanding of other people and their reality? Does theosophy show us a way in which we can make a difference?
Every individual has his own set of personal problems, but we share the basic essential needs of shelter, nourishment, security, and a sense of meaning for our lives. Theosophy tells us that life unfolds in cyclic patterns, and that each cycle has its purpose to teach the people who live in it certain lessons about themselves and about the universe in general. Humanity is now at the end of the cycle of Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, of materialism. This cycle of some 6000 years comprises all we know of conventional history, and all the evils we experience and struggle with are a part of its focus on material existence to the exclusion of spiritual existence.
As with all conditions, there is a reason for this. Humanity must learn all it can know about the material plane in order to progress further in its evolution. But we need not to forget that the material is only a reflection of the spiritual in order to learn our lessons. Theosophy says that this cycle of Kali Yuga is drawing to a close, and that the end of a cycle, bringing in as it does the beginning of a new cycle, necessarily is a time of disequilibrium, of pressure, analogous to the pressure felt by the baby in the process of being born.
The passage from one world to the next is always filled with chaos and confusion. This confusion preys on humanity today. We have concentrated our attention upon the investigation of all facets of material life for millennia, and the imbalance of such one-sided attention has brought us all the problems that face us today. Focusing our energy on material success leads us into believing that we are different from our brothers and sisters, that what happens to them is not as important as what happens to us. Institutionalized, this belief creates wars between nations and between belief systems. It creates poverty and suffering, and not only do the poor suffer. Even the rich find that they cannot be happy and content.
Theosophical teaching supplies the reason for this. Every human being is a complex entity, composed not only of a physical body and brain, but also of other invisible bodies -- of emotion, higher mind, and soul. This soul, the Higher Self, is the part of us that knows everything and never forgets. It knows the truths of life, including all we have ever learned, even if we seem to have forgotten most of it. It lives again and again, and never dies. And it dwells in our heart. If we are unhappy or confused, it knows and can show us the way to contentment. It is composed of all that is true and beautiful in our existence, and in the existence of every living thing.
Every thing that exists is alive and aware according to its own level of development. Our soul is always reaching out to us, speaking to us in its still small voice, striving to show us the way to peace with ourselves. Failing to accept this, we become torn, wasted, and unhappy. Even in our denial, somewhere in our deepest heart we know that we are a greater being than we appear to be and that there is a purpose for our existence beyond the gratification of our material desires.
Very often, in any situation, the voice of our soul speaks first. Often it is the tiniest impulse, so slight as to be almost impossible to notice, but before the roar of conditioning and habit asserts itself, the soul sends us a ray of light that we can choose to take as our guide, if we will. We can call it conscience, if we like. It doesn't matter what we call it. But it will unerringly show us the way through all the problems that beset us in our personal lives, if we will only honor and trust it.
When we ignore this voice of our soul and blunder on according to the accepted manner of our materialistic culture, we create barriers and obstacles for ourselves, through which we then have to find our way. When we ignore this still small voice, we are choosing to flout the laws of nature -- those laws that govern everything that is, including humanity. When we break these laws, we have to pay the price as surely as we do if we are caught speeding and have to pay a fine. The difference between traffic laws and nature's laws is that we aren't always caught by the traffic cop, but we always are caught by nature's enforcer, karma.
When we choose to ignore the still small voice of our soul, we set up a war within ourselves. We know in our hearts that we have done the wrong thing, and in our heart of hearts, we want to do the right thing, so we create guilt and its partner, despair. And on that battlefield, shrouded in a fog of our own ignorance and egotistical density, the dark forces of suffering and confusion always win, at least for a time. And then, since we have learned in 6000 years of conditioning that more material success is supposed to make us feel better, we turn around and do the same thing over and over again, deepening the gloom until we cannot even remember that there could be another way.
But theosophy shows us another way. If just one time we listen to the voice of our soul urging us to follow the path of ancient wisdom and act according to the laws of nature, the laws of love and altruism, of self-responsibility and acceptance, we find the fog lightened a bit. Just for a moment, when we conduct ourselves as though we cared what happened to our brother more than we care what happens to ourselves, we experience a feeling of contentment, of joy and peace of heart -- knowledge, however fleeting, of harmony with all that is. If we make the choice to listen to that still small voice another time, the light in our heart becomes stronger, and we can see a bit further. We might even start to wonder why we have been striving so hard for so long in the opposite direction.
It takes time and even effort to listen to the voice which does not insist, to make room for the thought that is not blared incessantly from our TV set, to think twice before accepting the current explanation for this or that problem of humanity, to sort out for ourselves the possible reasons for our own problems. But once the light of wisdom, of the ancient eternal teachings, the legacy of all humanity, begins to shine on our personal welter of dilemmas, we find that none of the problems that beset us seems so big after all. We find that we are able to feel good about ourselves. We know that we have made many mistakes, but we can also see that we can choose to do better. We begin to realize that there is no cause for fear and dread. We can handle all that comes to us. And we find contentment and peace in our heart, which readies us to be warriors in the vast struggle with the powers of darkness that strive more and more in this end game of Kali Yuga to force humanity to its knees.
Once a person has attained to a modicum of peace with himself, he can turn his attention to those around him. If we are unhappy, we can be sure that many others also feel lost and confused. Theosophy teaches that it is our mission in life to be of service to our brothers and sisters. "In the last analysis, occultism is altruism," said Madame Blavatsky. It is hard to be useful to anyone when we are lost in our own maze of ego-frustration. But when we learn to see a bit more clearly, we begin to find ways to be of help.
The fundamental principle of Theosophy is the Unity of all Life. Each individual is a fragment of a universal whole, and each contains all the qualities of the multitude within. When we begin to unravel the tortuous tangles of our own inner beings, we begin to see our own problems reflected in those around us. Collectively, humanity has forgotten this great truth. In our mad dash for self-gratification, we have lost sight of the fact that what gratifies one often takes away the means for gratification for another, and often that process robs others of even the basic needs of life. We have gotten to a place where it seems natural to assume that as long as we get ours, what happens to others is not important. If they deserved what we have, we think, they would work as hard as we do to get it. But when we begin to realize that all we thought we wanted, and strove so hard to attain, is as ashes in our mouths compared to being at peace in our hearts, we can begin to see the desperation in others, and also its causes.
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, November 1959, pages 11-14.]
Cooperation between individuals, groups, and nations is the norm. It bears witness to their recognizing, however vaguely -- perhaps "sensing" is a better word -- the fact of interdependence, which, is the other side of the medal of independence. Both are necessary to the harmonious unfoldment of the individual and to peaceful and fruitful relations between individuals and groups.
We are told in "The Synthesis of Occult Science" that physical health depends on the integrity of all parts of the body and especially upon their harmonious association and cooperation. Mr. Judge adds:
A diseased tissue is one in which a group of individual cells refuse to cooperate, and wherein is set up discordant action, using less or claiming more than their due share of food or energy. Disease of the very tissue of man's body is neither more nor less than the "sin of separateness."
-- ULT PAMPHLET NUMBER 3, page 16
It is stated in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, "from Worlds to atoms ... the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected." (SD, I, 604) This being so, and everything in the universe following the law of Analogy, "the first key to the world problem," let us seek in the psychology of warring nations, great collectivities of individuals, a clue to what happens psychologically when hostility arises between man and man.
It may be taken for granted at the outset that the common people in no country desire war, with its risks to life and happiness and to whatever hard-won prosperity, security, and material possessions may be theirs. Every man, moreover, whose conscience is not atrophied, shrinks from killing or wantonly injuring his fellow man. The attitude expressed in the following dialogue imagined by Pascal and published in his PENSEES is not natural to ordinary decent men:
"Why kill me?"
"Why kill me? Nay, do you not dwell across the river? My friend, if your home was on this side I should be a murderer, and it would be wrong to kill you like that; but since you dwell on the other side, I am a hero, and it is quite fair."
No, people are convinced of the righteousness of the national cause by seeing the enemy nation discredited. They are given the idea that the war is not against a mere collectivity of other individuals across the border, but against Evil, on the side of which the enemy is supposed to have shown itself aligned. Hence, the atrocity stories condoned if not circulated against the enemy by the government, many of which are found after peace comes, to have had no basis whatever in fact. FALSEHOOD IN WARTIME, written after World War I by Sir Arthur (later Lord) Ponsonby, is a shocking and revealing book. Consider how a lying caption affixed to a picture of a merry crowd on some celebration before hostilities had even begun might give an impression of heartless, fiendish glee if it was indicated that the merriment was occasioned by some tragic happening!
The immediate effect of going to war with another country is so well known to end internal dissension and pressure for the righting of wrongs, however serious, that a foreign war may well sometimes suggest itself to a harassed government to guarantee its own stability and peace within the country's borders.
No aspect of this comparison between nations and men in mutual conflict is more instructive than an examination of the fruits of victory of the two World Wars. A four-year war was waged "to end all wars" and the seeds of future, more hideous warfare were sown in the humiliating and vindictive terms imposed upon the vanquished, to bear their terrible fruits a generation later. Another war was fought, of nearly six years' duration, in the name of democracy, for which it was to make the world safe. But all can see the tightening of control in the democratic countries since the war ended, showing unmistakable signs of the infiltration of the very Fascist tendencies which the sons of those countries fought and died to extirpate. The words of the wise Lao-tse may be taken in more than one sense. He exclaimed:
Let the victors listen: Those are funeral bells!
Now let us look at this question of the externalization of evil as it applies to the relations between individuals. Theosophy teaches us that the real seat of war is between the higher and the lower natures in each man. Each of us in his true nature is an unfolding God. But in each lower nature lurks the enemy, a devil truly in its potentialities for evil. Krishna answers Arjuna's question as to what it is that propels man to commit offences, "seemingly against his will and as if constrained by some secret force," by saying:
It is lust that instigates him. It is passion sprung from the quality of rajas; insatiable, and full of sin. Know this to be the enemy of man on earth.
-- THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, III, 37
Describing this "constant enemy of the wise man" as "formed from desire which rageth like fire and is never to be appeased," he calls upon Arjuna to restrain his senses at the very outset and to "conquer this sin which is the destroyer of knowledge and of spiritual discernment." (Gita, III, 41)
Knowing what is greater than the discriminating principle and strengthening the lower by the Higher Self, do thou of mighty arms slay this foe which is formed from desire and is difficult to seize.
-- THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, III, 43
The aspirant has to wage an unremitting fight against foe. Many are its cunning disguises, requiring all his skill to pierce through to the sin of separateness and fancied self-interest or self-righteousness that lurks within. "On this plane," Mr. Judge has written, "the dark powers rely upon their ability to create a Maya." He also says,
If we can all accumulate a fund of good for all the others, we will thus dissipate many clouds. The follies and the so-called sins of people are really things that are sure to come to nothing if we treat them right.
-- LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, page 126
How then must the enemies of man's spiritual advance rejoice when, abandoning the struggle against the lower nature, or perhaps fancying he can pick it up again where he dropped it, man turns his gaze outward, upon the evil, real or fancied, in another! By directing the force of his energy outside, the unwise combatant not only makes an occult "break" but also lends aid and comfort to the enemy within. Instead of pressing the attack on the real foe, one who may have fallen back a little, the yielder to the temptation to externalize the conflict against evil in effect declares a truce in the inner war, giving the enemy a breathing space. This it will certainly use to improve its position, which will be further strengthened by allies it will win. This is evident from the following excerpt:
Each human being has his own elementals that partake of his nature and his thoughts. If you fix your thoughts upon a person in anger, or in critical, uncharitable judgment, you attract to yourself a number of those elementals that belong to, generate, and are generated by this particular fault or failing, and they precipitate themselves upon you. Hence, through the injustice of your merely human condemnation, which cannot know the source and causes of the action of another, you at once become a sharer of his fault or failing by your own act, and the spirit expelled returns "with seven devils worse than himself."
-- THE EPITOME OF THEOSOPHY, page 21
The undesirability of externalizing the fight against evil is also made very explicit in "Some Words on Daily Life" written by a Master of Wisdom:
No Theosophist should blame a brother, whether within or outside of the association; neither may he throw a slur upon another's actions or denounce him, lest he himself lose the right to be considered a Theosophist. For, as such, he has to turn away his gaze from the imperfections of his neighbor, and center rather his attention upon his own shortcomings, in order to correct them and become wiser. Let him not show the disparity between claim and action in another, but, whether in the case of a brother, a neighbor, or simply a fellow man, let him rather ever help one weaker than himself on the arduous walk of life ... the truth about the actual state of the inner man can only be known to Karma, and can be dealt with justly by that all-seeing LAW alone.
-- ULT PAMPHLET 22, pages 12-13.
By April Hejka-Ekins
[This article comes from pages 16-17 of the Autumn 2003 issue of THE SERAPEUM. Write "email@example.com" for a complementary issue. Further information on the magazine will appear in a subsequent mailing.]
Let's begin with a story about Mullah Nasr Eddin: Mullah went to a bazaar to buy cloth. Finding all the booths full of customers bidding and driving up the prices, he stationed himself near the opposite end of the bazaar and began shouting at the top of this lungs about the bargains there, hoping to draw away his competitors. He was so successful that people started steaming down to that end of the bazaar, leaving the cloth sellers' booths empty for him, just as he wished. But seeing all the people hurrying by, he thought: Perhaps there really are splendid bargains down there! So he abandoned the cloth dealers and ran after the crowd.
What does this amusing tale tell us? We all play roles that are a natural part of our human existence and when we do so, we take on a mask or a face that we express to the world. Just like Mullah, sometimes we forget who we are and what we are doing; we are taken over by the role we are playing and the mask we put on. In this case, Mullah pretended that he was a customer with the intent to deceive others, but in the end, he fooled himself through his own scheming. In this article, I will explore some of the primary meanings of the mask, discuss the importance of recognizing the masks we wear, and offer some suggestions as to what they have to teach us.
Masks have been used throughout human history to express both mythological and psychological meaning. In primitive societies, the mask served as medium between human beings and the nature. Joseph Campbell suggests that the mask represents an apparition of spirit, and that the wearer of the mask actually becomes a god during a sacred ritual. Reality is built on an "as if" view in which the actor imagines the spirit behind some material or intangible aspect of nature and by taking on the mask becomes that entity. For example, a witch doctor, who wears a lion mask, takes on a psychic identity of the lion, or as Joseph Campbell would say, he IS the lion. Thus, for ancient tribal people, the mask was used to mediate between the spiritual and physical worlds.
Another meaning of the mask for humans is psychological. Carl Jung equated the mask with one's persona or the outward face of the psyche. According to Jung, a mask is worn by an actor, which enables him to portray a specific public role, WHICH IS NOT HIS OWN, in order to gain societal acceptance and recognition. We can wear multiple masks such as parent, child, teacher, partner, spouse, citizen, etc. Masks can be used to reveal or to conceal, depending on the personal motivation and context of the situation. These are all expressions of what Jung calls, archetypes or prototype images that reside in the collective unconscious psyche of all humankind.
We may wish to ask ourselves: Are we aware of the masks we wear? Do we consciously choose which one to adorn? Do we believe we are our masks? Do we play our part or does our part play us? Jung claims that there exists an individual conscious self behind the mask if we recognize it in us. Often however, we mistake the mask for the self as Mullah did in the above story. A good example of the self behind the mask is the idea of the face within a face. One such mask is Kwakiutl, the Wild Man of the Woods from the Pacific Northwest; another is this statue of monk Hoshi from China that reveals three levels--a self within an ego within a mask. Perhaps there is not only a face within a face, but also another deeper level of reality behind the self that we can discover. If so, the mask can be viewed as a metaphor, a symbol, and a tool for the realization of the real self and the reality beyond self.
The mask also symbolizes, what Jung called, an inflated persona that results in psychological fragmentation or a splitting of the psyche or a neurosis. Books, theater, and film have depicted many examples of this: a most familiar one is THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. In Stevenson's classic fable, we see a splitting between a social (Jekyll) and asocial (Hyde) man. Jung described the archetype of the shadow as our basic animal nature, that contains the dual potential for our most impulsive and violent desires but also our creative and instinctual vitality. By repressing our shadow we do not annihilate it, but force it underground where it festers and awaits the opportunity to emerge stronger than ever. The psychological splitting of Jekyll occurs when he identifies with the mask of the kindly physician, and disassociates himself from Hyde, his shadow. As Jekyll repeatedly denies and eventually rejects Hyde as part of his own self, his shadow grows. Finally the only way Jekyll can control Hyde from overtaking him is by suicide.
Death has often been portrayed through the mask. For example, the essential theme in Edgar Allan Poe's short story, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is that we live in death, which is played out in seven chambers, composed of seven colors. People revel within each chamber until they hear the chiming of the clock, which reminds them of their mortality. Eventually the figure of death appears in a red mask with, as Poe would say, "the countenance of a stiffened corpse."
A brilliant example of how the mask has been used to show both our horror towards death and the disassociated self is revealed in Oscar Wilde's, A PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY. Obsessed with preserving his youth, beauty, and immortality, Gray uses his portrait as a siphon for his shadow. In return, he retains his handsome, youthful persona and now is seemingly free to lead the life of a rogue. Ironically, the full horror of his psychological bargaining overwhelms him, and his self-destruction is sealed as he watches his portrait take on the ugliness of his own diabolical actions.
While the mask can be used as a form of psychological concealment or disassociation, it can also act as a medium for healing and self-integration. As a method of transformation for the actor, the mask becomes a catalyst enabling a dialogue among the suppressed archetypes within the psyche. The potential exists to reconcile the inherent tension between them. For example, in the film, ADAPTATION, Nicholas Cage portrays twin brother writers, Charles and Donald, whose personas symbolize a splitting within the psyche. A bizarre twist of events leads them to face one another with the result of an eventual psychological reintegration. Thus, we see that the mask can act as the constant which contains the transformative power to allow the fluid interaction of disintegrated parts of the personality to come together.
What implications do these meanings of the mask have for us as individuals? On a mythological level, perhaps the symbolic imagination needs to spark our modern, rational mind set. Jung believed that the destiny of humanity is bound up in the creation of symbols that reveal the evolution of the psyche. What mythology can we imagine that speaks to our age of conflicts between technology and the human condition, between global control of resources and social inequities? Perhaps our search to create a mythology for our time can help to reconnect us to the cosmos and each other.
Psychologically we may ask ourselves: do we play our roles or do our roles play us? How aware are we of the masks we wear? Do we have inflated personas? Are the masks we wear leading us to disassociation or transformation? Can we learn to face all aspects of who we are and come to a sense of peace about the tension between our internal contradictions? Can the process our self- integration lead to external transformations in our troubled world? If we are left with more questions than answers, maybe the lessons of the mask can provide us with some meaning if we are willing to acknowledge our doubts and bravely face the conflicts within ourselves.
For further reading:
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, August 1945, pages 365-67.]
Within the framework of the Theosophical Society, he was slow to move or speak unless someone impinged upon one of his two great interests. With his love of animals, he came to the forefront of campaigns for Anti-Vivisection and the Prevention of Cruelty. The other interest involved his deeply rooted mistrust of all forms of priestcraft. He was a stalwart of the Lodge and seemed to be a perpetual Vice-President, beyond which he never aspired. Only his financial generosity surpassed his words of wisdom.
He succeeded by inheritance to the post of Managing Director of a large tannery. Circumstances beyond his control made it impossible for him to set this aside. The family patrimony was involved. He was trustee for other family members. He accepted the post as his dharma and carried through faithfully to the end.
He spent practically his entire adult life among the skins of slaughtered animals, not one of which he would have laid a destroying hand upon for the wealth of the Indies. For long, he found the position almost unendurable. When he found in Theosophy the key to this and other enigmas, the expansion of his inner consciousness soothed the torture of his outer life.
A life-long abstainer from alcohol and a strict vegetarian from his early boyhood, he was distressed by the sight of liquor or the presence of any "funeral baked meats." He subsidized efforts to suppress liquor traffic but retained the admiration and affection of many that drew their sustenance from what he regarded as unmitigated evil. He taught by example rather than by precept.
His was the Bhakti Marga, the Path of Devotion. Rebelling against the narrow orthodoxy into which he was born, he passed swiftly through Spiritualism into Theosophy. Then he came to a new evaluation of the teachings of the Master Jesus, an appreciation of the esoteric character of the Gospels, and a perception given to few of the Christian way of living and of the sweetness of the inner life spent in close communion with God.
This does not mean that he did not apprehend the Ancient Wisdom. He understood technical Theosophy more than most. In his slow, deliberate, quiet way, he applied Reincarnation and Karma to the great as well as the little problems of life, to his own life and the lives of others.
In retrospect, pity that he never read the letter of Master K.H. to Mr. Sinnett that dealt with priestcraft and the dangers that beset organized religion. He would have gloried in such a concept. Any suggestion of a priest-mediator between himself and his God was completely alien to his knowledge of Reality. He loathed anything ritualistic except Freemasonry, in which he played a minor role.
It was as though he had reincarnated from one of those old Gnostic sects of early Christian years. Much of his daily living became symbolic of the inner reality taught by those Gnostic Christians. The food he so sparingly consumed became a symbol of the nutriment for which the soul yearned. The water with which he laved his body was a symbol of the living water that cleansed his spirit.
When New Theology appeared in 1907, he welcomed it avidly. Divorced from formal theological exposition and freed from dogma, this new, liberalized expression of Christ's teaching seemed the dawn of a new day to him. It was a bitter blow when its best-known exponent submitted to orthodoxy, accepting reordination into the Catholic Church. Soon the pain passed and he went on serenely expounding what its originator had renounced.
He married twice and had the offspring of both marriages trained in the Lotus Circle. His grandchildren, one of which he lived to see, also follow the same path. In his old age, he always seemed incredibly wise and tender, so that he was greatly beloved. He did not attempt to take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence. The Yoke of the Master was the Yoga of other Avataras. He lived the Beatitudes. Because he was meek, he inherited a good portion of the earth. Because of his purity of heart, he was vouchsafed the Vision. Because he had hungered and thirsted after Righteousness, he had been filled.
His keynote was strength and stability. He had established himself as a pillar in the Lodge. In some far distant incarnation, he will accomplish great things. Having been faithful in the little, he has earned the right to be trusted with much.
His nobility of his character earned respect for Theosophy and the Theosophical Society. His was a small taper, perhaps, on the Altar of the World, but a pure flame that burnt steadily and without flicker. His singularly pure flame gave back many a reflection from the hammered and polished brass. Remembering the years wherein we knew him, we experience a sunset glow falling through a western rose window as evening falls on the generation of those who were his friends.
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, August 1960, pages 372-79.]
Tennyson, the great English bard of the nineteenth century, poet laureate from 1850 until his death in 1892, was also a mystic, a pantheist, and a philosopher of a high order. He was as greatly admired for the nobility of his character as for the wisdom and beauty of his poems. Earnest students of Theosophy can easily perceive that his ideas on God and prayer, religion and law, truth and love, unity and harmony, life and death, revealed here and there in many of his poems, are Theosophical. He was preparing the race-mind, and especially the Western mind, along spiritual lines. Some higher, holier force inspired his creative art.
It is interesting to note that he began to write poetry very early in life -- a talent he must have developed in previous lives. One of his biographers, Hugh I'A Fausset, tells us that at the age of eight he would fill up his whole slate with blank verse in praise of flowers, and that before his twelfth birthday he had written an epic poem of 5,000 octosyllabic lines in the manner of Sir Walter Scott.
He was born on August 6, 1809, at Somersby, a village in Lincolnshire. Having been brought up in a quiet and beautiful country atmosphere, he became a great lover of nature, and the seeds of "The Higher Pantheism" may have been sown from his infancy:
The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains -- Are not these, 0 Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns? ...
Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet -- Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
Many times the gamekeepers around the village came complaining to his mother of their traps being sprung by her compassionate son, much to their loss, of course. Thus early in life he began silently practicing the golden rule: "Kill not, for pity's sake."
As a child, he was also very imaginative; his inner world was peopled with heroes and knights and snowy summits; and, being one of 12 children, he would fascinate his younger brothers and sisters with strange legends. And perhaps it was here that the "Idylls of the King" began to germinate.
In 1827, at the early age of 18, he was able to publish his first volume entitled POEMS BY TWO BROTHERS, as it also contained a few of his brother's poems. How, even from his young days, he was contemplating upon high themes is remarkably brought out in the closing verse of "The Wakeful Dreamer:"
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 Up-burning, and an ether of black blue, Invests and ingirds all other lives.
Tennyson visualizes here a being of a higher order, an elder brother of the human race.
After finishing his education in a country school, he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1828. All were greatly impressed by his striking personality and many distinguished societies were eager to enroll him in their company. He was called by his associates "one of the mighty of the earth." It was here that he met his beloved friend Arthur Hallam, who died in 1833, at the age of 22, and whose death later inspired Tennyson to write his great poem, "In Memoriam."
At Cambridge, he and his close associates formed a group named "The Apostles," holding regular meetings and discussing metaphysical and philosophical subjects. His silence at these meetings had the seal of wisdom. Rarely would he mingle in conversation, except with one short sentence to sum up the arguments.
From Cambridge, he returned to his home in Somersby and spent his time in poetical compositions.
Tennyson did not believe in a Personal God. To him, God was an infinite principle that could not be grasped by the finite mind. He believed in spiritual evolution and looked on man as "the herald of a higher race." Throughout his life, he had a constant feeling of a spiritual harmony existing between man and the outer, visible universe, and of the immanence of God in the infinitesimal atom as in the vastest system. This is well brought out in the following little poem:
Flower in the crannied wall, I pluck you out of the crannies, I hold you here, root and all, in my hand, Little flower -- but if I could understand What you are, root and all, and all in all, I should know what God and man is.
In "Ulysses," the concept of the unity of life is beautifully expressed:
I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move.
My most passionate desire is to have a clearer and fuller vision of God. The Soul seems to me one with God, how I cannot tell ... What such a thing as matter is apart from Spirit I have never been able to conceive. Spirit seems to me to be the reality of the world. Depend upon it; the spiritual is the real.
In a single verse, Tennyson sums up the Three Fundamental Propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE:
That God, which ever lives and loves, One God, one Law, one element, And one far-off divine event, To which the whole creation moves.
"Mankind," according to him, "is as yet on one of the lowest rungs of the ladder, although every man has and has had from everlasting his true and perfect being in the Divine Consciousness ... Forms of Christian religion would alter, but the Spirit of Christ would still grow from more to more. ... Love is the highest we feel, therefore God is Love."
In his philosophical poem, "The Ancient Sage," standing beside a cavern, from where an affluent fountain poured, the Sage says to the young man who had followed him:
This wealth of waters might but seem to draw From yon dark cave, but, son, the source is higher, Yon summit half-a-league in air -- and higher, The cloud that hides it -- higher still, the heavens Whereby the cloud was molded, and whereout The cloud descended. Force is from the heights.
This echoes the Theosophical teaching about emanation, the higher bringing forth the lower and the lower becoming the reflection of the higher. A little later in the same poem, he speaks about the inner communion that takes place in the sanctuary of one's own heart and which is the only form of prayer advocated by Theosophy:
If thou would'st hear the Nameless, and wilt dive Into the Temple-cave of thine own self, There, brooding by the central altar, thou May'st haply learn the Nameless hath a voice, By which thou wilt abide, if thou be wise, And if thou knewest, tho' thou canst not know.
Consider one more quotation from the same poem on meditation. It is a well-known fact that Tennyson, by repeating his own name silently to himself, used to go into a kind of waking trance, the individuality seeming "to dissolve and fade away into boundless being." In the following lines, he describes his own experience:
More than once when I Sat all alone, revolving in myself The word that is the symbol of myself, The mortal limit of the Self was loosed, And past into the Nameless, as a cloud Melts into Heaven. I touch'd my limbs, the limbs Were strange not mine -- and yet no shade of doubt, But utter clearness, and thro' loss of Self The gain of such large life as match'd with ours Were Sun to spark -- unshadowable in words, Themselves but shadows of a shadow world.
Tennyson always used to say, "Prayer on our part is the highest aspiration of the soul." And by prayer, he did not mean lip-prayer but will-prayer and prayer through deeds. We find the following lines in his "In Memoriam":
Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers, Whose loves in higher love endure; What souls possess themselves so pure, Or is there blessedness like theirs?
Yet none could better know than I, How much of act at human hands The sense of human will demands By which we dare to live or die.
The right concept he had of God and prayer naturally led him to believe in the unity of all beings. This is beautifully depicted in "Akbar's Dream":
Shall the rose Cry to the lotus "No flower thou?" the palm Call to the cypress "I alone am fair?" The mango spurn the melon at his foot? "Mine is the one fruit Alla made for man." Look how the living pulse of Alla beats Thro' all His world. If every single star Should shriek its claim "I only am in heaven" Why that were such sphere-music as the Greek Had hardly dream'd of. There is light in all, And light, with more or less of shade, in all Man-modes of worship ...
More than once, he said what he has expressed in "Vastness": "Has Thou made all this for naught? Is all this trouble of life worth undergoing if we only end in our own corpse-coffins at last?" When THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES was published in 1859, he was among the first to realize "the vital and disordering impingement that a physical, as distinct from a philosophical, theory of evolution would make upon religious sentiment." He urged people to cherish what was eternal in religion and progressive in science. He conceived that the further science progressed, "the more the Unity of Nature, and the purpose hidden behind the cosmic process of matter in motion and changing forms of life, would be apparent."
By Steven Levey
[Written January 18, 2003, with the following preface: "The concept of this poem occurred to us because of the recently thriving television programs based in proving the continued existence of the dead to the emotionally over-wrought living."]
Near the field of the heart Is a plain, which is everywhere. Many have buried Their passed loves there, while watering their sorrows, still. The enigma of hoping the past exists Along with its obvious absence.
Perhaps we need hold a truer affinity to the Living than last we looked. The consummation we sought Along with those we held Were like passing moments of thought. Will one give What the other missed? Possibly so, perhaps not. But that for which we long is often a mirage on that plain. They come and they go Fortunately, with our pain.
But the field around the heart is an ever Existing plain. Oh. There are blooms of rich color That are merely like a moment. Some blooms will always remain never to pass on like the mortal frame. What can we give and what can we gain? When the field of the heart is An ever existing plain?
What is the color of love? And does it bloom and pass away? Shall the longing of the soul be Quenched from a pool where only passing needs hold sway? The ever-existing plain of the heart However wide is also fathomless. It is the place of true compassion Love without end or start. Where all hues are present, felt, heard, touched, smelled. The pure white source of all color. It is not a place to be found, but unearthed! Where One is Along with every One else. It is the gold in the ground Of our selves.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XVI, pages 137-42.]
I have spoken of a training of the will, but have not indicated the spring of power in our being, nor dilated on those moments when we feel a Titanic energy lurks within us ready to our summons as the familiar spirit to the call of the enchanter.
If we have not power we are nothing and must remain outcasts of the Heavens. We must be perfect as the Father is perfect. If in the being of the Ancient of Days there is power, as there is wisdom and beauty, we must liken ourselves to that being, partake, as our nature will permit, of its power, or we can never enter it.
The Kingdom is taken by violence. The easier life becomes in our civilizations, the remoter we are from nature, the more does power ebb away from most of us. It ebbs away for all but those who never relax the will but sustain it hour by hour.
We even grow to dread the powerful person because we feel how phantasmal before power are beauty and wisdom, and indeed there is no true beauty or wisdom which is not allied with strength. For one who cultivates will in himself there are thousands who cultivate the intellect or follow after beauty, and that is because the intellect can walk easily on the level places, while at first every exercise of the will is laborious as the lift is to the climber of a precipice.
Few are those who come to that fullness of power where the will becomes a fountain within them perpetually springing up self-fed, and who feel like the mountain lovers who know that it is easier to tread on the hilltops than to walk on the low and level roads.
Because in our ordered life power is continually ebbing away from us, nature, which abhors a vacuum in our being, is perpetually breaking up our civilizations by wars or internal conflicts, so that stripped of our ease, in battle, through struggle and sacrifice, we may grow into power again; and this must continue until we tread the royal road, and cultivate power in our being as we cultivate beauty or intellect.
Those who have in themselves the highest power, who are miracle-workers, the Buddhas and the Christs, are also the teachers of peace, and they may well be so having themselves attained mastery of the Fire.
It is because it is so laborious to cultivate the will we find in literature endless analysis of passion and thought, but rarely do we find someone writing as if he felt the powers leaping up in his body as the thronged thoughts leap up in the brain.
I was never able to recognize that harmony of powers spoken of by the ancients as inhabiting the house of the body, lurking in nerve-center or plexus, or distinguish their functions, but I began to feel, after long efforts at concentration and mastery of the will, the beginning of an awakening of the fires, and at times there came partial perception of the relation of these forces to centers in the psychic body.
I could feel them in myself; and sometimes see them, or the vibration or light of them, about others who were seekers with myself for this knowledge; so that the body of a powerful person would appear to be throwing out light in radiation from head or heart, or plumes of fire would rise above the head jetting from fountains within, apparitions like wings of fire, plumes, or feathers of flame, or dragon-like crests, many-colored.
Once at the apex of most intense meditation I awoke that fire in myself of which the ancients have written, and it ran up like lightning along the spinal cord, and my body rocked with the power of it, and I seemed to myself to be standing in a fountain of flame, and there were fiery pulsations as of wings about my head, and a musical sound not unlike the clashing of cymbals with every pulsation; and if I had remembered the ancient wisdom I might have opened that eye which searches infinitude.
But I remembered only, in a half terror of the power I had awakened, the danger of misdirection of the energy, for such was the sensation of power that I seemed to myself to have opened the seal of a cosmic fountain, so I remained contemplative and was not the resolute guider of the fire. And indeed this rousing of the fire is full of peril; and woe to him who awakens it before he has purified his being into selflessness, for it will turn downward and vitalize his darker passions and awaken strange frenzies and inextinguishable desires.
The turning earthward of that heaven-born power is the sin against the Holy Breath, for that fire which leaps upon us in the ecstasy of contemplation of Deity is the Holy Breath, the power which can carry us from Earth to Heaven. It is normally known to man only in procreation, but its higher and mightier uses are unknown to him.
Even though in our scriptures it is said of it that it gives to this man vision or the discerning of spirits, and to that poetry or eloquence, and to another healing and magical powers, it remains for most a myth of the theologians, and is not mentioned by any of our psychologists though it is the fountain out of which is born all other powers in the body and is the sustainer of all our faculties.
Normally I found this power in myself, not leaping up titanically as if it would storm the heavens, but a steady light in the brain, "the candle upon the forehead," and it was revealed in ecstasy of thought or power in speech, and in a continuous welling up from within me of intellectual energy, vision or imagination.
It is the afflatus of the poet or musician. As an ancient scripture says of it, "The Illuminator is the inspirer of the poet, the jeweler, the chiseller, and all who work in the arts." It is the Promethean fire, and only by mastery of this power will man be able to ascend to the ancestral Paradise.
Again and again I would warn all who read of the danger of awakening it, and again and again I would say that without this power we are as nothing. We shall never scale the Heavens, and religions, be they ever so holy, will never open the gates to us, unless we are able mightily to open them for ourselves and enter as the strong spirit who cannot be denied. This power might cry of itself to us:
My kinsmen are they, beauty, wisdom, love; But without me are none may dare to climb To the Ancestral Light that glows above Its mirrored lights in Time.
King have I been and foe in ages past. None may escape me. I am foe until There shall be for the spirit forged at last The high unshakable will.
Fear, I will rend you. Love, I make you strong. Wed with my might the beautiful and wise. We shall go forth at last, a Titan throng, To storm His Paradise.
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 WESTERN WORLD
The great natural phenomenon to be seen in the neighborhood of Gibraltar was the action of the tides. That a philosopher such as Apollonius was ignorant of the essentials of science seems incredible, though details and artificial technicalities might well be unknown to him, as being only matters of temporary interest. In the same way, physical science would be of little moment to him in comparison with the deeper sciences and aspects of life. It was long thought that the ancients knew nothing of the solar system and the spherical nature of the earth, but plain records of the Indian schools are now available showing that all this was known and great accuracy attained. Therefore, what Apollonius says of science is not to be casually thrust aside, but if examined may show some useful laws of nature.
He is reported as writing to the Indians that the ebb and flow of the tides is caused by the ocean being moved underneath by winds blowing from many caverns that the earth has formed on every side of it. It puts forth its waters and draws them in again as is the case in respiration with the breath. This he says is corroborated by the account he received of the sick at Gades or Cadiz.
"For at the time of the flowing of the tide, the breath never leaves the dying man, which would not happen if the tide did not supply the earth with a portion of air sufficient to produce this effect. All phases of the moon during the increase, fullness, and wane are to be observed in the sea. Hence it comes to pass, that the ocean follows the changes of the moon by increasing and decreasing with it."
Reading 'currents' for winds and allowing for the philosophical phraseology, this has its meaning. Apollonius was quite well acquainted with at least some of the actions of various currents, magnetic, bodily, and the rest. He speaks quite plainly of the circulation of the blood, which was rediscovered by Harvey centuries later, but was well known to the ancients and to Apollonius. It is not at all impossible that our own theory of the tides will give place to a more complete explanation when science has advanced a little more.
In a temple, Apollonius found characters engraved on gold and silver pillars that none of the Gaditanians could read. None knew what language they were written in, not even the very priests of the temple.
He said, "The Egyptian Hercules will no longer suffer me to be silent. These pillars are the chains that bind together the earth and sea; the inscriptions on them were executed by Hercules in the house of the Parcae, the Fates, to prevent discord arising among the elements, and that friendship being interrupted that they have for one another."
Perhaps this was about as much as he could say without going into the secret temple-story of Atlantis, to which it seems to refer.
Comic incidents occurred among the Spaniards at times. There was the royal messenger who came from Rome to order sacrifices to be made in honor of Nero's being thrice a conqueror at the Olympic Games. The Spaniard had never heard of the games and celebrated the conquest of a people called the Olympians by Nero. A tragedian coming among them, they were astonished at the antics he played, especially his manner of imitating Nero's style of singing 'exactly.' This seemed to be done by standing on the stage without saying a word. When he began to declaim, they were astonished beyond measure at his stage-dress and actions. They fled in terror from the theater!
Apollonius, after much solicitation by the governor of Baetica, agreed to receive him, which he did alone. He seems to have encouraged the governor to support Vindex in his protest against the follies of the Emperor, his crimes and debaucheries. The greatest crime of all, the murder of his own mother Agrippina, was not made much of, as it was said that she deserved all that came to her for bearing such a monster of a son.
ON TO SICILY
From Cadiz, the philosophers went to Africa and round to Sicily. Here they heard of the death of Vindex, the flight of Nero, and the invasion of the Empire by Romans and strangers. Apollonius gave a cryptic suggestion that several short reigns would follow, which happened when Galba, Otho, and Vitellius all reigned and passed in a year. The phrase was "Many Thebans," comparing the short reigns of these three to the short reign of the Thebans in the affairs of Greece. The next day he became more explicit when he was told that a prodigy had occurred in the birth of a child in a good family with three heads and three necks on one body. He explained the wonder to mean that none should have the entire sovereignty and some should change their parts as rapidly as an actor on stage. It so happened.
Galba soon perished within the walls of Rome.
Vitellius was lost while dreaming of the supreme power.
Otho within the year ended his career among the western Gauls and had not even the honor of a funeral.
All these things passed within the compass of a single year.
The recorder here takes the opportunity of drawing the inference that those who thought Apollonius was an enchanter must be crazy. He considers enchanters most miserable people who by charms or poisons or sacrifices or 'spirits' claim to be able to change the decrees of fate, many confessing these things. By contrast, Apollonius followed the decrees of destiny and only declared, by the inspiration of the gods, what they would be. When he saw the automatic phenomena of the tripods and cupbearers at the feast among the Indians, he never attempted to ask how philosophy despises wonderment and attachment concerning such things.
AESOP AND HIS FABLES
Apollonius has a good word to say for Aesop's fables, as being even superior in their simplicity to the great myths of the poets, which to the profane have a questionable look, especially as the poets strive to make the stories appear true in their dead-letter sense. Aesop, on the contrary, uses absurd little simple tales to teach true wisdom, as man giving a banquet of common fare well served. The philosopher told his disciple Menippus a story of Aesop he had heard from his mother when a boy. How Mercury had given gifts to all his suppliants -- philosophy, poetry, music, eloquence, astronomy -- forgetting the humble Aesop, who had no great wealth to offer. When he remembered, he recalled a story told by the Hours when they brought him up on Olympus of a talking heifer that had made him fall in love with Apollo's cows. He gave Aesop the gift of making fables.
This digression is given as a hint to read the fables of Mount Etna with some reserve and discretion.
"I say there are giants, and I say their bodies have been seen wherever their tombs have been opened," declared Apollonius, referring to the giant Enceladus said to be bound in chains under Mount Etna, who is fabled to breathe out fire. "Though I make the assertion, I do not, however, say they fought with the gods, but I assert that they behaved with great irreverence in their temples and shrines. As to all that is said of their scaling the heavens and driving the gods into exile, I think it as foolish to conceive as it is to say. There is a less blasphemous story of Vulcan with his workshop in Etna, but there are other burning mountains in various parts of the earth, yet we are not so thoughtless as to ascribe their eruptions to giants and Vulcans."
Apollonius spoke of the causes of eruptions. As usual, he did not fail in his duty of drawing the moral inference that to the pious every land and sea is safe. This was shown by the statues erected to two young men in the Campus Piorum, surrounded by a flow of lava, yet untouched, so that they were able to save their parents by carrying them away on their shoulders. Always consistent, Apollonius never fails to present the higher side of things, even at the risk of ridicule by those who hardly even know such a side exists, or at most, it is a very tiresome application of moral lessons.
Passing from Sicily to Greece in the autumn, Apollonius left the ship at Leucas. "It is not good for us to sail in her to Achaia," he said. His disciple who knew him left the ship at once without cavil or delay. Others paid no attention to the remark. He then embarked with them in a Leucadian vessel for Lechaeum. The Sicilian ship went to the bottom.
At Athens, he was initiated by the very Hierophant he had indicated four years previously, and here he met Demetrius. The latter told him of the fate of Musonius, who yet preferred digging in the canal as a convict to the role of Nero as a harper.
Apollonius passed the winter in the Greek temple and decided to visit Egypt the following spring. The shipmaster with whom he proposed to sail to Ionia was a dealer in little statues of the gods, and disliked taking passengers, so the philosopher went in another, after utilizing the occasion to point out that such traffic was not commendable if merely as a means of making profit.
At Chios, they did not land, but transferred into another ship that the herald was proclaiming as about to sail for Rhodes. He said nothing and all followed him in silence.
Asked by Damis what was greater than the Colossus at Rhodes, Apollonius replied, "A man whose whole mind is devoted to philosophy." Sometimes he had seemed too severe in his censure of musicians, but here he met a flute-player who really was a musician and understood it in its higher application to the mind. Apollonius discoursed on the harmony of the actions needed to produce music and encouraged the musician. It was not music he disliked, evidently, but only bad music.
To a young man who boasted of his recently acquired fortune and possessions, Apollonius declared that he did not possess his fine house, but that it possessed him. The size of his wealth was nothing in comparison with the quality.
EGYPT AND ALEXANDRIA
At Alexandria, the "people loved him without ever having seen him." He was received by the Egyptians as a god and as an old friend, with a procession around him greater than that which a provincial governor would be honored. They met twelve men on their way to execution, condemned for robbery.
Now we know that Apollonius had kept strict silence for five years and except with reason was never prolix. On this occasion, he chattered like a gossip with the officers in charge of the robbers. He told them not to hurry, and then went on with a story about one of the twelve who he said was not really guilty but had made a false confession. "See that he is the last on the list," said Apollonius. "In fact, it would be better to refrain from putting him to death." It was rather a nuisance, this interruption on the part of the aged stranger, and the execution was considerably delayed. After eight of the robbers had been executed by beheading, there was a dramatic turn to the affair.
A horseman rode up to the place of execution with all speed. "Spare Phorion," he cried. "He is no robber, but confessed through fear of the torture. He is innocent! Those who were put to the rack have declared it in their confession."
Apollonius had no more need to delay the men with his chatter. He had saved the innocent. What a scene! The Egyptians were ready to receive him with the utmost enthusiasm for his own sake and for his reputation. Here was a marvelous and joyful manifestation of his wisdom, his foreknowledge. The applause was loud and joyous.
When he went up into the temple, a beauty shone from his face and the words he uttered on all subjects were divine, being framed in wisdom. This temple is said to be the Serspeum, where in the year 415, during Lent, the wise Hypatia, the girl-philosopher of Alexandria, also uttered the words of divine wisdom, before the Christians tore her flesh from her body and scraped the bones with oyster-shells. Alexandria passed through many things between the times of Apollonius and the martyrdom of Hypatia, some 348 years, but rarely had the city seen such great events as the arrival of Apollonius and the mission of that fearless, god-taught maid.
Apollonius, as we know, did not approve of the shedding of blood. When the Patriarch of Alexandria asked why he did not sacrifice, he asked a question in reply. "I would rather ask why you do," said he.
"Who is wise enough to reform the established worship of the Egyptians," queried the Patriarch.
"Every Sage who comes from the Indians," was the answer of Apollonius. "This day I will burn an ox, and I wish that you may attend and partake of its odor, as I think you would like to do it, if the gods show no displeasure."
Whilst a bull, made up of various spices, was being consumed in the fire, Apollonius said, "Behold the sacrifice!"
"What sacrifice," asked the Egyptian. "I see none."
Apollonius pointed out the little model of a bull and in addition gave him much information as to the value of fumigatory sacrifices and their oracles. "Indeed, if you knew the wisdom that is latent in fire, you would be able to discover in the sunrise many prognostics," he asserted.
VESPASIAN CONSULTS APOLLONIUS
When the great Vespasian was besieging Jerusalem, he conceived the idea of becoming Emperor of Rome, as it was said. He sent to ask the advice of Apollonius, who declined to go into a country that its inhabitants had defiled both by what they did and what they had suffered. Vespasian had now decided upon his action, and assuming the imperial power in the countries bordering upon the Province of Egypt, he entered that country as Emperor, but actually to see Apollonius and obtain his approval and advice.
Dion and Euphrates, two philosophers in Alexandria, were to exercise a great influence in the mission of Apollonius, or rather against it, were frankly delighted, and welcomed Vespasian. Apollonius made no demonstration, though he too was pleased.
The sacred order of the priesthood, the civil magistrates, the deputies from the prefectures, and the philosophers and sages all went out in a grand procession to meet Vespasian. The Emperor made as short a speech as was decent and at once asked for the Tyanean, if he was in those parts.
They replied that he was, and was doing all he could to make people better. Damis, being asked, said he was to be found in the temple.
"Let us go there," said Vespasian. "First I may offer prayers to the gods and then I may converse with that excellent man." He went.
The sacrifices were performed, Vespasian ignored the priests and the prefects and the deputies in his intensity of purpose and turning to Apollonius, said in the voice of a supplicant, "MAKE ME EMPEROR!"
Apollonius answered, "It is done already; for in the prayers I have just offered to heaven to send us a prince upright, generous, wise, venerable in years, and a true father, you are the man I asked from the gods."
Would any other than Apollonius have answered so philosophically and modestly?
Asked his opinion of Nero's government, Apollonius granted that Nero knew how to tune his harp, but that he was given to extremes in other manners. As to advising Vespasian in the government, Apollonius said that he had two very good advisers in Dion and Euphrates.
Vespasian prayed aloud, "Oh Jupiter, grant me to govern wise men, and wise men to govern me!" Then turning to the Egyptians, he said, "Draw from me as you would from the Nile." The people rejoiced that for a time they were free from oppression.
Vespasian, who was then a man of about sixty, left the temple hand in hand with Apollonius, discussing the affairs of the Empire. Nero was bad, but the affairs of the Empire appeared likely to become even worse under the luxurious and uxorious Vitellius who used more perfume in his bath than Vespasian did water, and who if wounded would have exuded more eau de Cologne, or the Roman equivalent, than blood.
"On you, Apollonius," said Vespasian, "I chiefly found my hopes of success. I know you are well acquainted with whatever regards the gods. For that reason, I make you my friend and counselor for all concerns that depend on the affairs of sea and land. For if omens, favorable to my wishes, are given from the gods, I will go on: if they are not propitious to me and the Roman people, I will stop where I am and engage no farther in any enterprise unsanctioned by heaven."
Apollonius, as though inspired, said, "Oh, Jupiter Capitolinus, who art supreme judge in the present crisis of affairs, act mutually for each other: keep yourself for Vespasian and keep Vespasian for yourself. The temple that was burnt yesterday by impious hands is decreed by the fates to be rebuilt by you."
Here was a statement given to a man who had faith. He asked no sign, and one was given him without hesitation. Vespasian was amazed.
"These things will be explained hereafter. Fear naught from me. Go on with what you have so wisely begun," added Apollonius. The sentences sound almost Oriental, almost in that manner of Iarchas, with that Damis says he sometimes seemed inspired. Suddenly breaking off in the middle of the conversation, Apollonius left the Emperor, saying, "The laws and customs of the Indians permit me to do only that that is by them prescribed." Vespasian had heard enough to fix him in his purpose and career.
News filtered through after a time that Domitian, the son of Vespasian, who was in arms at Rome against Vitellius, in defense of his father's authority, was besieged in the capitol. In making his escape from the besiegers, the temple was burnt and Apollonius knew this before anyone in Egypt had heard of it, in fact, as he said, the next day.
At dawn, Apollonius entered the palace and asked what the Emperor was doing. He was told by the officers that he had been for some time employed in writing letters. Apollonius left, saying to Damis, "This man will certainly be Emperor."
Returning later, at sunrise, Apollonius found Dion and Euphrates waiting to hear the result of the previous day's conference. Being admitted to the Emperor's room, he said, "Dion and Euphrates, your old friends, are at the door. They are attached to your interest and mindful of the present position of affairs. Call them in, I pray you, for they are both wise."
"To wise men," replied Vespasian, "my doors are always open. To you Apollonius, my heart is always open."
Vespasian appointed these two his counselors, having learnt from his predecessors, as Apollonius said, how not to govern, just as a celebrated musician used to send his pupils to hear the most wretched performer, that they might learn not to play likewise.
Already the demon of jealousy began to creep into the mind of Euphrates. He could not stand the intoxication of power given him by Apollonius, and envied the Emperor's devotion to that master of philosophy. Is it necessary to go into the form of reasoning such jealousy was bound to take? Euphrates, like the French ministers, was for arguing and taking counsel, and deliberating and consulting and formality and hesitation and all the rest. Here was Apollonius who certainly recommended him and Dion, but only at the stage of "do this or how is this to be done" instead of asking his advice as to what should be done. In a cloud of words, he shows his piqued ambition. Among them all, there is a sentence worth noting as to the popular opinion of the day of the Jews, but the rest is mostly uninteresting vapor.
"For the Jews, from the beginning, were not only aliens to the Romans, but to all mankind, and lived separate from the rest of the world. They had neither food nor libations, nor prayers nor sacrifices in common with other men, and were greater strangers to us than the people of Babylon or Spain, or the remotest Indians."
Even Dion, invited to speak by Apollonius, approved this, disapproved that, and harangued the Emperor with a mass of words and opinions.
Then Apollonius, a thousand times their master whether they knew it or not, calmly set them right, and the Emperor too. In a careful and statesmanlike analysis of the situation, Apollonius declares that Vespasian having all the necessary conditions, should go on with his enterprise unhesitatingly and without wavering, leaving aside all sophisms.
"As to me, it is of little consequence what form of government is established, since I live under that of the gods. Yet I should be sorry to see mankind perish, like a flock of sheep, for want of a wise and faithful shepherd. Excelling in virtue, one man modifies the popular state of a republic, making it appear as if governed by a single individual. In the same manner, a state under the government of such a man wherein all things are directed to the common good, is what is properly called popular, or that of the people."
Apollonius acknowledges that their sophisms and arguments might well make Vespasian decide to retire into private life. Therefore, history need not hesitate to attribute to Apollonius alone the making of that great Emperor and indirectly his two sons Titus and Domitian. Either son, each the head of a great army, would become his bitterest enemy and perhaps the other if not sure of receiving the empire in his turn. With Vespasian as Emperor on a stable throne, they would support him.
These words of Apollonius gave immense relief to Vespasian, who declared that he had expressed his own feelings exactly. "I will follow your advice, as I think every word you have uttered is divine," he said. "Tell me then, I pray you, what I ought to do?"
This discourse of Apollonius is so characteristic that it stands alone.
By Edward Bellamy
[This story appeared in THEOSOPHY, July 1938, pages 398-403, and August 1938, pages 444-453]
It was but a very short time after I had begun to extend my acquaintance among the mind readers before I discovered how truly the interpreter had told me that I should find others to whom, on account of greater natural congeniality, I should become more strongly attached than I had been to him. This was in no wise, however, because I loved him less, but them more. I would fain write particularly of some of these beloved friends, comrades of my heart, from whom I first learned the undreamed-of possibilities of human friendship, and how ravishing the satisfactions of sympathy may be.
Who among those who read this has not known that sense of a gulf fixed between soul and soul that mocks love! Who has not felt that loneliness which oppresses the heart when strained to the heart that loves it best! Think no longer that this gulf is eternally fixed, or is any necessity of human nature. It has no existence for the race of our fellowmen that I describe and by that fact, we may be assured that eventually it will be bridged for us also. Like the touch of shoulder-to-shoulder, like the clasping of hands, is the contact of their minds and their sensation of sympathy.
I say that I would fain speak more particularly of some of my friends, but waning strength forbids. Moreover, now that I think of it, another consideration would render any comparison of their characters rather confusing than instructive to a reader. This is the fact that, in common with the rest of the mind readers, they had no names. Every one has, indeed, an arbitrary sign for his designation in records, but it has no sound value. A register of these names is kept, so that they can be ascertained at any time, but it is very common to meet persons who have forgotten titles that are used solely for biographical and official purposes.
For social intercourse, names are superfluous. These people accost one another merely by a mental act of attention and refer to third persons by transferring their mental pictures. This is something as dumb persons might by means of photographs. Something so, I say, for in the pictures of one another's personalities which the mind readers conceive, the physical aspect, as might be expected with people who directly contemplate each other's minds and hearts, is a subordinate element.
I have already told how my first qualms of morbid self-consciousness at knowing that my mind was an open book to all around me disappeared. This happened as I learned that the very completeness of the disclosure of my thoughts and motives guaranteed that I be judged with fairness and sympathy. Affected as that is by so many subtle reactions, this was such as even self-judgment cannot pretend to. The assurance of being so judged by every one might well seem an inestimable privilege to one accustomed to a world in which not even the tenderest love is any pledge of comprehension. I soon discovered that open-mindedness had a still greater profit than this.
How shall I describe the delightful exhilaration of moral health and cleanness, the breezy oxygenated mental condition, resulting from the consciousness that I had absolutely nothing concealed! Truly, I may say that I enjoyed myself. I think surely that no one needs to have had my marvelous experience to sympathize with this portion of it. Are we not all ready to agree that this having a curtained chamber where we may to go grovel, out of sight of our fellows, troubled only by a vague apprehension that God may look over the top, is the most demoralizing incident in the human condition? This secure refuge lies within the soul. Its existence has always been the despair of the saint and the exultation of the knave. The foul cellar taints the whole house above, be it ever so fine.
What stronger testimony could there be to the instinctive consciousness that concealment is debauching and openness our only cure than that the world-old conviction of the virtue of confession for the soul and that the uttermost exposing of one's worst and foulest is the first step toward moral health? If he could but somehow attain to writhe himself inside out as to his soul so that its full sickness could be seen, the wickedest man would feel ready for a new life.
Owing to the utter impotence of words to convey mental conditions in their totality or to give other than mere distortions of them, confession is, we must needs admit, but a mockery of that longing for self-revelation to which it testifies. Think what health and soundness there must be for souls among a people who see in every face a conscience that, unlike their own, they cannot sophisticate, who confess one another with a glance, and shrive with a smile!
Ah, friends, let me now predict, though ages may elapse before the slow event shall justify me, that in no way will the mutual vision of minds, when at last perfected, so enhance the blessedness of mankind as by rending the veil of self, and leaving no spot of darkness in the mind for lies to hide in. Then shall the soul no longer be a coal smoking among ashes, but a star set in a crystal sphere.
From what I have said of the delights which friendship among the mind readers derives from the perfection of the mental rapport, it may be imagined how intoxicating must be the experience when one of the friends is a woman and the subtle attractions and correspondences of sex touch with passion the intellectual sympathy.
With my first venturing into society, I had begun, to their extreme amusement, to fall in love with the women right and left. In the perfect frankness which is the condition of all intercourse among this people, these adorable women told me that what I felt was only friendship, which was a very good thing, but wholly different from love, as I should well know if I were beloved.
It was difficult to believe that the melting emotions that I had experienced in their company resulted merely from the friendly and kindly attitude of their minds toward mine. When I found that I was affected in the same way by every gracious woman I met, I made up my mind that they must be right and that I should have to adapt myself to a world in which friendship being a passion, love must needs be nothing less than a rapture.
The homely proverb, "Every Jack has his Jill," may, I suppose, be taken to mean that for all men there are certain women expressly suited by mental and moral as by physical constitution. It is a thought painful, rather than cheering, that this may be the truth. The chances preponderate against the ability of these elect ones to recognize each other even if they meet, seeing that speech so inadequate and misleading a medium of self-revelation.
Among the mind readers, the search for one's ideal mate is a quest reasonably sure of being crowned with success. No one dreams of wedding unless then. To do so, they consider, would be to throw away the choicest blessing of life. This would not just wrong themselves and their unfound mates, but also those whom they and those undiscovered mates might wed. Therefore, passionate pilgrims, they go from isle to isle until they find each other. As the population of the islands is small, the pilgrimage is not often long.
When I met her first, we were in company. I was struck by the sudden stir and the looks of touched and smiling interest with which all around turned and regarded us, the women with moistened eyes. They had read her thought when she saw me, but I did not know this nor what the custom was in these matters until afterward. I knew from the moment she first fixed her eyes on me and I felt her mind brooding upon mine how truly I had been told by those other women that the feeling with which they had inspired me was not love.
With people who become acquainted at a glance and old friends in an hour, wooing is naturally not a long process. Indeed, it may be said that between lovers among the mind readers there is no wooing, only recognition. The day after we met, she became mine.
Perhaps I cannot better illustrate how subordinate the merely physical element is in the impression that mind readers form of their friends than by mentioning an incident that occurred some months after our union. This was my discovery, wholly by accident, that my love, in whose society I had almost constantly been, had not the least idea what was the color of my eyes nor if my hair and complexion were light or dark. Of course, as soon as I asked her the question, she read the answer in my mind, but admitted she had previously no distinct impression on those points. On the other hand, if in the blackest midnight I should come to her, she would not need to ask who the comer was. It is by the mind, not the eye, that these people know one another. It is really only in their relations to soulless and inanimate things that they need eyes at all.
It must not be supposed that their disregard of one another's bodily aspect grows out of any ascetic sentiment. It is merely a necessary consequence of their power of directly apprehending mind. Whenever mind is closely associated with matter, the latter is comparatively neglected. This is because of the greater interest of the former, suffering as lesser things always do when placed in immediate contrast with greater.
Art is with them confined to the inanimate, the human form having, for the reason mentioned, ceased to inspire the artist. Among such a race, physical beauty is not the important factor in human fortune and felicity that it is elsewhere. The absolute openness of their minds and hearts to one another makes their happiness far more dependent on the moral and mental qualities of their companions than upon their physical. A genial temperament, a wide-grasping, godlike intellect, or a poet soul is incomparably more fascinating to them than the most dazzling combination conceivable of mere bodily graces.
A woman of mind and heart has no more need of beauty to win love in these islands than a beauty elsewhere might need mind and heart. I should mention here perhaps that this race, making so little account of physical beauty, is singularly handsome. This is partly due to the absolute compatibility of temperaments in marriage and partly to the reaction upon the body of ideal mental and moral health and placidity.
Not being a mind reader, the fact that my love was rare in beauty of form and face had doubtless no little part in attracting my devotion. This, of course, she knew, as she knew all my thoughts, and knowing my limitations, tolerated and forgave the element of sensuousness in my passion. But if it must have seemed to her so little worthy in comparison with the high spiritual communion which her race know as love, to me it became, by virtue of her almost superhuman relation to me, an ecstasy more ravishing surely than any lover of my race tasted before. The ache at the heart of the most intense love is the impotence of words to make it perfectly understood to its object. My passion was without this pang; my heart was open to her, the one I loved. Lovers may imagine, but I cannot describe, the ecstatic thrill of communion into which this consciousness transformed every tender emotion.
As I considered mutual love between mind readers, I realized the high communion that my sweet companion had sacrificed for me. She might indeed comprehend her lover and his love for her, but the higher satisfaction was from knowing that she was comprehended by him and her love understood what she had foregone. For that, I should ever attain the power of mind reading was out of the question. The faculty was never developed in a single lifetime.
I did not understand why my inability should move my dear companion to such depths of pity at first. Then I learned that mind reading was not desired for the knowledge of others that it gives its possessors. It was chiefly desired for the self-knowledge that is its reflex effect. Of all they see in the minds of others, that which concerns them most is the reflection of themselves, the photographs of their own characters.
The most obvious consequence of the self-knowledge forced upon them is to render them alike incapable of self-conceit or self-depreciation. Everyone must think of himself as he is, being no more able to do otherwise than is a man in a hall of mirrors to cherish delusions as to his personal appearance.
Self-knowledge means to the mind readers much more than this. It is nothing less, indeed, than a shifting of the sense of the identity. When a man sees himself in a mirror, he is compelled to distinguish between the bodily self he sees and his real self, the mental and moral self that is within and unseen. When in turn, the mind reader comes to see the mental and moral self-reflected in other minds as in mirrors, the same thing happens. He is compelled to distinguish between this mental and moral self which has been made objective to him, and can be contemplated by him as impartially as if it were another's from the inner ego which still remains subjective, unseen, and indefinable. In this inner ego, the mind readers recognize the essential identity and being, the noumenal self, the core of the soul, and the true hiding of its eternal life to which the mind as well as the body are but the garment of a day.
The effect of such a philosophy as this -- which indeed with the mind readers is rather an instinctive consciousness than a philosophy -- must obviously be to impart sense of wonderful superiority to the vicissitudes of this earthly state. It gives a singular serenity in the midst of the haps and mishaps that threaten or befall the personality. They did indeed appear to me, as I never dreamed men could attain to be, lords of their own selves.
It was because I MIGHT NOT hope to attain this enfranchisement from the false ego of the apparent self, without which life seemed to her race scarcely worth living, that my love so pitied me.
Leaving a thousand things unsaid, I hasten to relate the lamentable catastrophe. Because of it, I am no longer a resident of those blessed islands, in full enjoyment of that intimate and ravishing companionship which by contrast would forever dim the pleasures of all other human society. Now I recall the bright picture as but a memory under other skies.
Among a people compelled by the very constitution of their minds to put themselves in the places of others, the sympathy that is the inevitable consequence of perfect comprehension renders envy, hatred, and uncharitability impossible. Of course, there are people less genially constituted than others. These are necessarily the objects of distaste on the part of associates. Owing to the unhindered impact of minds upon one another, the anguish of persons so regarded, despite the tenderest consideration of those about them, is so great that they beg the grace of exile. Being out of the way, people may think less frequently upon them.
There are numerous small islets, scarcely more than rocks, lying to the North of the Archipelago. On these, the unfortunates are permitted to live. Only one of them lives on each islet, as they cannot endure each other no more than the more happily constituted can endure them. From time to time, supplies of food are taken to them and, of course, at any time they wish to take the risk they are permitted to return to society.
Together with the innumerable rocks and shoals, some peculiar configuration of the ocean bed brings the great Antarctic current to flow violently through and about the Archipelago. Even more than their out-of-the-way location, this flow makes the island of the mind readers unapproachable.
Ships making the island from the southward are caught by this current and drawn among the rocks to their almost certain destruction. Owing to the violence with which the current sets to the North, it is impossible to approach from that direction. At least, it has never been accomplished. Indeed, so powerful are the currents that even a boat to carry supplies between a main island and some islet of the unfortunate will cross the narrow straits ferried by cables, not trusting to oar or sail.
The brother of my love had charge of one of the boats engaged in this transportation. Being desirous of visiting the islets, I accepted an invitation to accompany him on a trip. I know nothing of how the accident happened but in the fiercest of currents of the straits, we parted from the cable. We were swept out to sea. There was no question of stemming the boiling current. Our utmost endeavors barely sufficed to avoid our being dashed to pieces on the rocks. From the first, there was no hope of our winning back to land. So swiftly did we drift that by noon -- the accident having befallen in the morning -- the islands, which are low-lying, had sunk beneath the southeastern horizon.
Among these mind readers, the transfer of thought does not find distance to be insuperable. My companion was in communication with our friends. From time to time, he conveyed to me messages of anguish from my dear love. Being well aware of the nature of the currents, of how unapproachable the islands were, those we had left behind as well as we ourselves knew well we should see each other's faces no more.
For five days, we continued to drift to the northwest. We were in no danger of starvation, owing to our lading of provisions, but constrained to continuous watch and ward by the roughness of the weather. On the fifth day, my companion died from exposure and exhaustion. He died quietly and indeed with great apparent relief. While yet in body, the life of mind readers is so largely spiritual that the idea of a bodiless existence, seeming vague and chill to us, suggests to them a state only slightly more refined than what they already know on earth.
After that, I fell into an unconscious state from which I roused finding myself on an American ship bound for New York. I was surrounded by people whose only means of communicating with one another is to keep up while together a constant clatter of hissing, guttural, and explosive noises eked out by all manner of facial contortions and bodily gestures. I found myself frequently staring open-mouthed at those who address me, too much struck by their grotesque appearance to bethink myself of replying.
I find that I shall not live out the voyage and do not care. From my experience of the people on the ship, I can judge how I should fare on land amid the stunning Babel of a nation of talkers. My friends -- God bless them! How lonely I should feel in their very presence! Nay, what satisfaction or consolation, what but bitter mockery, could I ever more find in such human sympathy and companionship as suffice others and once sufficed me -- I who have seen and known what I have seen and known!
Ah, yes, doubtless it is far better I should die; but the knowledge of the things that I have seen I feel should not perish with me. For hope's sake, men should not miss this glimpse of the higher, sun-bathed reaches of the upward path they plod. So thinking, I have written out some account of my wonderful experience, though briefer far, by reason of my weakness, than fits the greatness of the matter. The captain seems an honest, well-meaning man, and to him I shall confide the narrative, charging him, on touching shore, to see it safely in the hands of someone who will bring it to the world's ear.