Not ever from the wisest and noblest of these HPB Somebodies did I ever get the least encouragement to either regard them as infallible, omniscient, or omnipotent. There was never the least show of a wish on their part that I should worship them, mention them with bated breath, or regard as inspired what they either wrote with HPB's body, or dictated to her as their amanuensis. I was made simply to look upon them as men, my fellow-mortals; wiser, truly, infinitely more advanced than I, but only because of their having preceded me in the normal path of human evolution. Slavishness and indiscriminate adulation they loathed, telling me that they were usually but the cloaks to selfishness, conceit, and moral limpness.
-- Henry S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, I, pages 249-50.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 403-05.]
The killing of a human being by the authority of the state is morally wrong and an injury to all the people; no criminal should be executed no matter what the offence.
William Q. Judge penned these words in 1895. He was a great Theosophist, a practical Occultist whose knowledge of the invisible and of the human constitution was deep.
Every Sage, Seer, and Religious Reformer has asserted the truth of the sacredness of all life -- human and animal -- and has given the same command as Jesus did, "Thou shalt not kill." Six hundred years before Jesus, in our India, the great Buddha named Pity as the first of the five virtues to be practiced by monk and layman alike.
Kill not -- for Pity's sake -- and lest ye slay The meanest thing upon its upward way.
To this day along with the Three Refuges, the Pancha-Shila is accepted by one about to become a Buddhist. Even the murderer is careening on the upward way.
It is satisfying to read the words of Sri B.R. Ambedkar, the Law Member of Pandit Nehru's Cabinet, from the June 3 Indian Constituent Assembly. Referring to legislation regarding the death penalty, Dr. Ambedkar uttered words that were acclaimed with cheers:
The other view, rather than the provision of power for the Supreme Court to hear criminal appeal in cases of death sentences, is the abolition of the death sentence itself ... This country by and large believes in the principle of non-violence. It has been her ancient tradition. Some people may not be following in actual practice, but all certainly adhere to the principle of non-violence. The proper thing for our country therefore is to abolish the death sentence altogether.
This is as it should be. We are glad our Constituent Assembly is showing courage and foresight in this matter, and we trust it will set an example to the British House of Lords and the present Labor Government, which has been lacking in courage and strength of mind in the matter.
Lest this reform be considered merely a matter of sentiment, it will be well to reflect upon capital punishment. Everywhere, vast masses of people innately believe in the immortality of the human Soul and its survival of bodily death. This innate idea is a divine intuition that cannot be destroyed; let materialism do what it may. It has done plenty!
The doctrine of the Immortality of the soul is neither illogical nor unscientific. More than ample evidence is available for anyone who is unprejudiced and not fettered by the bigotry of modern science. Similarly, the states of the surviving consciousness have been described -- allegorically and otherwise -- down the ages. THE GARUDA PURANA and Dante's DIVINE COMEDY are instances. No less a scripture than THE GITA refers to them directly. The most cogent reference to the subject of capital punishment is implicit. (VIII, 5-6) "Last thoughts strong in death" affect each one of us.
What about the thoughts of the executed, surcharged with the fierce emotions of hatred, revenge, and the like? The nature, the passions, the state of mind, and the bitterness of the criminal have to be taken into account. The condition in which the criminal is when cut off from mundane life has much to do with this subject of Capital Punishment.
Violent death is different from natural death, hence the religious supplication, "From sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us." There is truth underlying this. Explains Mr. Judge:
A natural death is like the falling of a leaf near the wintertime. The time is fully ripe, all the powers of the leaf having separated; those acting no longer, its stem has but a slight hold on the branch and the slightest wind takes it away. So with us; we begin to separate our different inner powers and parts one from the other because their full term has ended, and when the final tremor comes, the various inner component parts of the man fall away from each other and let the soul go free. The poor criminal has not come to the natural end of his life.
What about the executed?
Floating as he does in the very realm in which our mind and senses operate, he is forever coming in contact with the mind and senses of the living.
It is good therefore if India is determined to abolish Capital Punishment, not only cruel for the executed but dangerous to the executioner -- the State and its citizens.
By Claude Houghton
[From THE ARYAN PATH, September 1952, pages 391-97.]
I'm going to tell you how I came to this place. A man told me that he wrote an account of what happened to him before he found himself here and that it made a difference. So I'll do the same and see what happens.
It's a strange place. There's no doubt whatever about that. For the first few weeks, I thought I must have died and turned up in the next world. I like it here. I don't want to go back.
This place was once a famous country house, which had belonged to the same family for generations. A fine drive with monumental gates: a superb terraced garden: a broad walk with rising meadows beyond. There are several wings to the house. I can tell you about only one and not much about that.
Extraordinary people here! Most exhilarating! Such a CHANGE. No small talk! And everything is orderly. It's amazing. And at night, there's sylvan silence made musical by the sound of distant waves.
The efficiency of the staff is unbelievable. Not the efficiency you find in a first-class hotel. Quite different! EVERYTHING is so different that I can't even remember what my name was before I came here. I don't want to remember it. And I don't want to go back.
There's this, too, and it's important. Since coming here, I haven't any personal affairs. Don't even handle my own money. Never draw a check! No visitors and no letters. It's heavenly.
Now, before I tell you about the event that caused me to come to this place, I must give you an idea of the kind of people who are here.
There's an immense lounge on the ground floor, one side of which is practically all windows, with a rapturous view over the terraced garden to the rising meadows beyond. Well, one morning, I noticed a most remarkable-looking man. Never seen such a lit face. There he was, standing by the window, in his own unique world. (Everyone here is in his own unique world and knows it.) I went to him and asked the time.
He looked at his watch, then said, "It's a quarter past Eternity."
See what I mean? No small talk!
I've always been a solitary person. I can't speak to anyone unless I'm sure there's affinity between us. So it was pretty near hell for me in the army. But after I was taken prisoner, it wasn't so bad in a prison camp. All it really involved for me was a total withdrawal into the mysterious and unique inner world that all of us possess, but that most of us deny because it terrifies us.
Of course, we had to work in the prison camp, and most of us worked in a nearby mine. That scared me at first, but I got used to it.
Now, I'm going to tell you something rather odd. (You'll see why later.)
There was a prisoner in this camp that interested me. We'd never spoken. He was rather like me, but that's not why I was interested in him. Not then. It was his eyes. A man with those eyes must have had experiences unknown to the average man. He was in a different part of the camp. Sometimes I saw him on our way to or from the pit-shaft.
Then the event happened that altered the whole of my life, bringing me here.
It was a raw foggy morning. None of us spoke as we walked to the pit-shaft. I felt strange in a way difficult to define. D'you ever get the feeling that things aren't going on as they are? I felt rather like that.
When we got to the bottom of the shaft, we found the Chief Inspector with several of his subordinates. Every few weeks, they broke up the working gangs. That's what they did now. They weren't going to let men get too intimate with each other lest they plan an escape. (They made us change huts every few weeks for the same reason.) We were sorted into different groups. I found myself in a group with the man who interested me.
From the bottom of the shaft, we had some way to go to reach the coalface. It seemed to me, on this particular morning, that there was a new smell in the damp air, but no one mentioned it. We groped along, bent double, until we reached the place where we had to work.
I suppose it was about two hours later when I heard a distant sound like an explosion. Then there was a rending roar. I was flung off my feet. Everything round me collapsed.
I must have been stunned, because it was some time before I became aware of surroundings.
I was in a kind of cave, one lit by a miner's lamp. A pick was leaning against a protruding rock. There wasn't a sound. Near me was the man with the remarkable eyes, the man who had interested me.
I stared at him. "What happened?"
"There was an explosion. We're walled in."
"Will they find us?"
"Possibly, if they trouble to try, but they may not. Plenty of other prisoners."
He wasn't afraid! He wasn't pretending not to be afraid. He just WASN'T. Then he said, "Have a cigarette."
"It's stupid to smoke, isn't it? The air won't last, if they don't come soon."
"Yes, it's stupid, but let's have one."
We lit cigarettes. Then I looked round the "cave," part of which was luridly lit, part in deep shadow. Then I looked at my companion.
I was going to die here, with this man to whom I'd just spoken for the first time. I could not believe it. There are situations in which nothing is so astounding as a fact.
He stood motionless, with eyes closed, and I realized with a shock how closely he resembled me. With his eyes shut, he might have been my twin brother.
At last I said, "I can't hear anything."
"We'll see what happens." Again, a long silence.
I hadn't a guess what he was thinking about. How could I? And he couldn't guess what I was thinking about.
Eventually, he said, "I tell you what. We're probably in for it. So let's tell each other everything about ourselves. All the things we've never told anyone. Know what I mean? "
"A kind of secular confession."
"Let's toss for it. You call. If you're wrong, you go first. That all right?"
"That's all right."
He spun a coin. I lost.
"You go first," he said.
Then he added, "Biggest illusion is to believe one is an isolated self- contained being. Someone said, 'All things think through me, and I through them.' We're linked with everyone and everything that is alive. You are everyone and everyone is you."
Then I began to tell him things I'd told no one. I said nothing about the external facts of my life -- nothing about my parents, my education, where I'd been, or the jobs I'd done. I told him everything about my secret interior life, that endless drama played on a private stage to an empty house.
I revealed all the antagonistic aspects of myself. I explained how, suddenly, one aspect would strive for supreme ascendancy over my whole being and how once ascendancy was achieved, my will became paralyzed and only the monstrous had reality.
I told him my fantasies about women, and my actual relations with them, which were parodies of those fantasies.
I revealed the world of my loneliness, the wanderings in tentacular streets and congealed silence of countless rooms, all the physical loneliness that reflects spiritual isolation.
I repeated the ceaseless arguments that go on, day and night, in my mind. Arguments, probings, and speculation that are an amalgam of my own thoughts and the thoughts I have found in books. I told him about books that had transfixed me like a sword.
I told him how, endlessly, the different aspects of myself returned. There were my Rapturous Self, which has glimpsed the Promised Land; my Despairing Self, which is convinced that life is meaningless suffering; my Ambitious Self, which craves success as an addict craves drugs; my Perverted Self, with its host of images; my Resigned Self, which haunts the wings like a ghost and stares at the spectacle on the stage; my Masked Self, which goes daily to a job and presents what others expect to see; and my Child Self, which gazes with wonder at the world. And there were many other Selves, endlessly returning like steps on a treadmill.
To others, I had shown only masks. To this stranger in the "cave," I showed my faces.
I gave him my spiritual autobiography. Revealed all my aspirations, perplexities, and temptations. I told all my victories, defeats, regrets, and imaginings, all the miser-hoards of memory. Each Self has its own miser-hoard. I revealed my sense of Guilt, which lies heavier than a tombstone on the heart. I revealed the Rebellion that incites; the Hatred that brands; Lust that consumes; Beauty that bewilders; Wonder that wakes; and Peace that spreads benediction. I revealed my inner conflict with principalities and powers -- inevitable to one for whom the invisible world exists.
I imagine that what I said was punctuated by silences. Often, during my long soliloquy, I forgot his presence. When I finished, I felt as hollow as a ghost.
He didn't say anything. I'm certain nothing I'd said had surprised him. He merely repeated, "You are everyone and everyone is you."
Then he gave me a cigarette.
So there we stood, in that grotesquely lit "cave," smoking.
I felt immense impatience for him to begin HIS confession. I felt that, until he had revealed himself to me as wholly as I had revealed myself to him, I was infinitely his inferior. For some obscure reason, his resemblance to me became progressively disturbing.
He finished his cigarette, turned to me, and was about to begin his confession when I heard a faint sound.
Then I heard another sound.
I seized the pick and hammered on the wall with it.
Then I distinctly heard three distant raps.
I struck the wall again three times.
A few minutes later, we heard the sound of a drill.
Before very long, rescuers reached us.
We were separated. The next day, I heard he had been moved to another camp.
A few months later, the war ended.
I never saw him again.
Eventually, I returned to England, found a rather squalid room in a mean street, and got a job.
This involved movement and action. I'd returned to a world from which war had exiled me for over four years. I had adjustments to make, complicated adjustments at many levels. Above all, I had to present my Public Face to the world. I had to appear normal.
One night, I woke at about two o'clock. I can't tell you the horror I felt that somewhere was a man about whom I knew nothing yet whom knew everything about me. Absolute HORROR! He knew EVERYTHING about me! He might have told others. They might recognize me in the street. It was terrifying if only HE knew. Now, there was a spectator at the drama endlessly played on what had once been a private stage.
Can you understand my terror? Don't you know that everything becomes different when it ceases to be secret and is SHARED? Remember, I'd hidden nothing from him. Nothing! It was hell to know that he knew! Naked hell!
Then, one of his sentences began to repeat itself in my mind with the monotony of a metronome.
"You are everyone and everyone is you ... You are everyone and everyone is you ... And everyone is you."
My nights became waking nightmares. And, don't forget, every day I had to go to a job. I tell you, it became impossible, simply impossible!
Then something happened, something that still makes me tremble.
I was in the tube at midday, going somewhere or other. The only other person in the long carriage was a man opposite me. He was a florid-faced person with a paunch and a floral tie, the kind of man you usually see only on Bank Holidays. He was studying the racing edition of a midday paper with blear-eyed immobility.
I watched him. He was not only opposite me physically. He was my opposite in every way. It was impossible to imagine any link between us.
Suddenly, I noticed a change in his expression. It was almost imperceptible, but it became more marked. SLOWLY, HIS FEATURES TURNED INTO MINE! I felt I was gazing into a mirror!
The train stopped, I stumbled out and stood on the platform. I don't know how long I stayed there. Train after train appeared, then rattled into obscurity.
Eventually, I went to my room.
Later, lying awake in the darkness, that sentence again revolved in my mind, "You are everyone and everyone is you."
Nevertheless, the next morning, I went to my job, almost convinced that what had happened in the tube had been a dream. I must have dozed for a moment and dreamed the whole thing.
When I reached the office, I was told that the managing director wanted to see me. That was unusual. Far more remarkable was his geniality. He gave me a letter, addressed to me, from a firm of lawyers, Clayton and Hilder.
"I know what's in that," he said, because Clayton telephoned yesterday to ask if you were still working here. An uncle of yours -- quite a hermit, I gathered -- has left you a considerable sum of money. I tried to tell you yesterday, but no one knew where you were."
"I'm sorry. I was taken queer in the tube."
"Too bad! Well, you won't have to go on working if you don't want to."
He made me sit down and gave me a cigarette. Everything in his manner implied that he regarded me as a recruit to his world. As I studied his confident features and his emphatic movements, as I listened to the resonant incisive voice and noted the instinctive assurance that enclosed him like armor, I knew I could never enter his world. We were not two men, we were two worlds that were light-years apart.
Then -- IT happened again.
His features became mine!
I got up unsteadily, leaned against the table, then heard his voice coming from an immense distance. "Knocked you out a bit, this good news ... Better go for a stroll ... Or, better still, have a couple of doubles."
Somehow, I got out of the room and into the street.
Then, IT happened more and more often -- every day! I looked at a man and he became me. I had to give up my job. I was afraid to go out, but I HAD to go out for meals. Every man's face became mine. Every woman's face became mine, subtly changed, but MINE. Then, one afternoon, in the park, a CHILD'S face became mine. I couldn't stand that! No, by the living God, I couldn't stand that!
Then, strange things happened. I found I was no longer in my squalid room in the mean street. I was in a very different room. There was a nurse there for some reason. Can't think why. Mr. Clayton, the lawyer, often came to see me. He didn't understand what I said to him. That seemed queer, because he's clever. Then there was a Mr. Fortesque of Harley Street. He came quite often. Eventually, I signed some paper or other. At least, I think so.
Then, on a marvelous May morning, a car appeared and I was driven to this strange place, which was once a country house. How well I remember driving past the monumental gates and my first view of the terraced garden and the broad walk and the meadows beyond! AND the extraordinary people! Amazing, really. No personal affairs of any kind. Didn't even have to draw checks. It was heavenly!
I wrote all this in the lounge here. Wrote it in no time. When I paused to light a cigarette, the man who had told me that the time was "A quarter past Eternity" came over and asked if I were a poet. I said that, most unfortunately, I was not.
He said he was. He told me one of his poems. This is it: --
All the blinds of the universe are drawn. God is dead. (No prayers, by request).
You see what I mean? No small talk!
I've only one more thing to tell you. It's this. All the people I've spoken to here have only one fear. They're afraid that a day will come when they'll have to go back. They're all afraid of that, especially the poet that has a face from another world.
"Go back," he exclaimed! "Go BACK? Back to chaos, back to pitiless streets, back to the Babel of meaningless words! Back to the mentally inert and emotionally dead! Back to the perpetual barrage of hate, fear, and envy! Go back? Back to lying newspapers and poisoned news! Back to lovers of death! Back to Beauty's sepulcher, from which the stone will never be rolled! Back to the dictatorship of the machines and to the demented yells of those who claim to control the monstrous machines! Go BACK? Join the universal suicide-pact! Have one's whole being obliterated by the demoniac din of their damned jets! To read, hear, dream, and live horror! Back to crucifying isolation! Go BACK? To rot slowly from the roots? I must stay here, I tell you! I must! I MUST! I'm afraid to go back!"
I, too, am afraid.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 153-54.]
Theosophy works a magic upon us that is grander by far than merely telling us of the undoubted and beautiful truth of our essential divinity. It transmutes our weak and often evil manhood into godhood. It teaches us to forget ourselves for others -- for the world. It so washes our natures and our hearts and our minds of the personal and limited that in time we are led on even to forget ourselves and live in the universal.
To me this is the lost keynote of modern civilization, whirling as it does around the egoisms born in us. It seems to me that if we Theosophists can instill into the thought-life of the world, of our fellowmen, ideas, principles of thought, and consequent conduct, teachings of religious and philosophical and of scientific character and value, which will teach men, enable men to learn, to forget themselves and live for others, then I think we shall have done more than teaching men the undoubtedly sublime verity of their oneness with divinity -- one of my own favorite thoughts and teachings! For even that can have an atmosphere of egoism about it, of spiritual selfishness.
You know, I really believe that if our sad and suffering world today, hovering on the brink of disaster as it is, this world taken distributively as individual men and women, could learn the one simple lesson of self-forgetfulness, and the beauty, the immense satisfaction of heart and mind, that comes from such self-forgetfulness, living for others, for the world, I honestly believe with all my heart that ninety-nine percent of the world's troubles would be solved.
Politics would then become an engine of human achievement and not of selfishness and often destruction. Works of philanthropy would be considered the noblest in the world, because they would be guided by the wisdom of an awakened heart. For no man's eye sees clearly when it whirls around the pivot of the personal self; but it will see clearly when its vision becomes universal, because then all in the field comes within the compass, within the reach, of its sight.
Am I not right, therefore, in believing that, beautiful as are the teachings that, as individual men, we can study in Theosophy, and great as will be the advantage that individually we shall draw from them, from these teachings, there is indeed something still higher in Theosophy that it alone, perhaps, in the world today teaches: that we reach our highest, our most sublime peaks of achievement when we forget ourselves? May we not find the same sublime verity at the heart of, as the essence of, the burthen of, every one of the great religions of the past, provided we strip away the dogmatic excrescences born of the brains of smaller men?
Remember that true Theosophy is a matter of the heart-life, and of the heart-light, as well as of deep intellectual understanding; but so many people do not realize this, and look upon Theosophy as merely a kind of intellectual philosophy, which is only a part of it.
Here is another thought: While the selfless life as taught in Theosophy is considered by us to be the most beautiful because universal and all-inclusive, yet can we properly be living such a selfless life if we ignore those duties lying nearest at hand? In other words, if a man so yearns to help the world that he goes out into it and neglects duties that he already has assumed, is he doing the thing that is manly? Is he living the selfless life; or is he following a secret, selfish yearning for personal advancement? Is he even logical? Selflessness means never to neglect a duty, because if you do that, upon examination you will discover that you are following a desire, a selfish thought. It is in doing every duty fully and to the end, thereby gaining peace and wisdom, that you live the life that is the most unselfish.
By Said Naficy
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1950, pages 265-68.]
Sufism had existed a long time before it was codified and recorded in writing. For more than ten centuries, the tradition was passed orally, from mouth to ear. Circumstances were unfavorable later on when an attempt was made to record it. The Sufis were surrounded by so many hostile and malevolent sects that they preferred to express themselves through symbol and metaphor. Often interpreted in different ways, these have always brought about great confusion and innumerable misunderstandings.
The chief reason that ever stood in the way of the Sufis' declaring boldly their conviction was that Sufism is essentially individualistic and therefore incompatible with established religions. Every religion tries to subdue the individuality of the believer, to dissolve it through slavish obedience that allows of no protest, thereby making of its follower an object rather than a being. All practices are dictated, and there is no room for free choice. All prescriptions must be followed without reflection, or, when refection is allowed, it cannot go beyond the text established by the divine legislator.
Sufism, on the contrary, invites and prepares its votaries to attain the highest degree of purification. One who reaches that highest stage no longer needs any guide. The greatest degree of purification being the image of God, one who attains it has himself become divine in the fullest meaning of that word and, as such, has become his own divinity. Thus, it is that one of the great martyrs of Sufism was executed because he had dared to say, "I am God," another was brave enough to say, "There is only God within this garment."
The Sufis were compelled to express themselves by hints, to preach under cover, and even to hold secret gatherings; they lived far away from urban centers. Yet they needed votaries. They had to be initiated; they had to be prepared and directed so that they might realize divinity. The method employed by the Sufis to reach this end is subtle and ingenious. They created a sort of moral hierarchy that we find already in Manichaeism and that took a more rudimentary form in certain Christian churches and especially in Roman Catholicism. Among the Christians, one can begin by becoming a simple priest and then ascend, grade by grade, until one may reach ultimately the dignity of the Pope.
Among the Manichees, this privilege was not reserved to the elect or to those who entered the clerical profession; any one was qualified to enter the community as a Listener -- this was the designation among them. The Listener then had but to follow the necessary prescriptions to ascend step by step. Each stage in an inferior rank allowed him to pass into the next grade, exactly as in an army, until he arrived at the last or seventh stage when he was liberated from all obligations, becoming his own shepherd and flock. Manichaeism differed from other religions in that this was possible without distinctions of birth, caste, or even of canonical teaching.
The Sufis adopted the same method but presented it in a much more poetical form. This form of Sufism inspired Dante in his DIVINE COMEDY, Milton in his PARADISE LOST, and Swift in his SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY. The poetical explanation of the Iranian Sufis is even more refined. I shall mention some of the prototypes.
The great poet Sanai presents the ascent of the soul in the following manner. The soul wishes to ascend to heaven in order to reach perfection. Like any traveler, it takes provisions for this long ascent of seven stages. Please note that the number seven is classical among the Manichees and has been faithfully retained by the Sufis. The soul thus commences its voyage and, as it gradually ascends, it realizes more and more the futility of its provisions that are cumbersome and useless to one who is becoming more and more ethereal, less and less corporeal, and who can therefore do with less and less luggage. At each stage, the soul discards some blemish, some defect, some passion, some sensual pleasure, exactly as the crew of a boat may jettison its cargo when in danger or as a man in a balloon may have to get rid of his load in order to be able to reach his destination.
In the same manner, the soul reaches perfection. It has detached itself from not only the equivalent of the seven capital sins of European authors, but also from every corporeal and material tie with the earth. The Sufis designate this as the degree of complete destitution, leading to unification.
Another great Iranian poet, Attar, gives an even more symbolic explanation of a remarkable subtlety. A group of birds, having heard of a fabulous bird, formed themselves into a caravan to go to visit the object of their envy and to try to follow its example. In this caravan, each bird is the symbol of a blemish; thus, the parrot symbolizes gossip, the hoopoe (a bird with a crest) stands for fatuity, the cock for voluptuousness, the crow for theft, the owl for malevolence, and so on. The poet first gives us the portrait of all these and makes them speak to reveal their own nature. Then the birds begin their ascent towards the perfect being, whose example they aspire to follow.
Here again we have sever regions that must be traversed. The journey is hard; each stage sees some of the birds, exhausted with fatigue, finding themselves unable to continue the trip and remaining behind. All blemishes, since they cannot ascend, must be discarded until only one being reaches the goal.
There he finds only a tiny fairy corner, full of flowers, of fruits, and of all the beauty that one can imagine. At the center of this veritable paradise, the traveler sees only a surface of water -- he has been told that it is here that the fabulous bird resides, but when he approaches, he sees only his own image reflected in the water! Then he realizes that perfection was all along within himself. To go through the seven difficult stages which had to be traversed, it was only necessary to get rid of all that was an encumbrance and superfluous. When he had thus completely purified himself, he had become the perfect being whom he had sought and whose example he had wished to follow.
The Iranian Sufis have explained their doctrine in this manner. The most ingenious manner, as also the safest, that they adopted to convert the people was that of symbolic poetry. That is why poetry was cultivated to such an extent and attained such richness among the Iranian Sufis. In fact, one can say that nearly all great Iranian Sufis have been poets, as also that all poets have been Sufis, the latter sometimes unconsciously to themselves.
In the poetry of the Iranian Sufis, symbolism attains an incomparable wealth; it achieves a remarkable variety. Not only has carnal love been sung in flattering terms but also, while Islam reigned supreme, the poets praised Hindu pagodas as also the tabernacles of the Christians, the synagogue of the Jews and, still more remarkable, they praised even the cabaret of the Zoroastrian Magi. A few, among them the great Hafiz, even sing the praises of the Fire of Zoroaster. Thus, it is that poetry, whether lyrical, bacchanal, or even erotic, reached the highest degree of perfection among the Iranian Sufis.
In spite of all the anathemas directed against them by Mohammedan priestcraft, which looks upon them even today as heretics, the Sufis had great eras in all Mohammedan countries, in North Africa, Syria, Arabia, Turkey, and in Central Asia. This was especially true in India and Iran, where they are still most numerous. The Sufis have always been the refuge of superior spirits and freethinkers.
The most picturesque aspect of Sufism, as also the most significant, is its striking liberalism, which evinced itself at a period when the whole of humanity was poisoned by divisions of class, caste, race, and religion. Among Sufis, all individuals, irrespective of religion or sect, are regarded as absolutely equal. The great Sufi leaders accepted among their disciples, and even into their intimate circle, Jews, Christians, idolaters, Zoroastrians, and Mohammedans -- the last with no distinction among the sects of Islam. The Sufis of India have had among their votaries Hindus as well as Mohammedans. The Islam of the Sufis is an Islam absolutely spiritual, that is, a philosophical principle and not a ritual. That is why the Sufis have never preached any specific religious observance or recommended any special worship or prayer.
One can therefore say that Sufism has always been something beyond and above religion -- a superior ideal, a philosophical teaching, which looks upon the whole of humanity as equal, without distinctions of race, of faith, of sect, of clan, of caste, or of class. The great Sufi leaders always made the beggar sit next to the prince, a child next to a venerable old man. Respect was accorded only based on the length of time since one had joined the circle of Sufis and on that of the number of personal mortifications and sacrifices undertaken and practiced under the patronage and the spiritual guidance of the head of the fraternity.
The Sufi sects, although very numerous, never had any divergence of views among themselves; this because the basic principles were identical for all and the question of spiritual exercises was considered of secondary importance. Successorship was hereditary; that is, the chief himself, while still alive, chose among his disciples the one most worthy to succeed him upon his death. The only prerogative of the chief consisted in a robe and in an asanna or carpet for prayer, and these were handed down from one to the other. The robe was not replaced, or it would have lost its sacred character; as it became worn, it was mended, and in fact, a very old and very much mended robe brought out even better the characteristic teaching of Sufism that forbids attachment to material goods.
Thus, one can consider Sufism as one of the most wholesome philosophies of humanity. Sufism existed, at least in Iran, long before Islam.
In spite of the wealth of Sufi literature in Persian, in Arabic, in Urdu, and even in Turkish, it is still difficult to define Sufi philosophy. This is because of its inexplicable subtlety and because the Sufis, having been surrounded by hostile and malevolent people, had to explain their teaching through symbols. These brought into existence later on an impressionist type of poetry of considerable value that has to its credit four centuries of existence.
I hope that I have succeeded in giving you an elementary outline of Sufism -- I say elementary, because I have had to avoid the use of all technical terminology that would have remained incomprehensible to all who are not specialists in the subject.
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 time approached when the gods had decided to deprive Domitian of the Empire. He had put to death Clemens, a man of consular rank, to whom he had given his sister in marriage. He proposed, three or four days later, that she should follow her husband.
Now there had been of late a strange phenomenon in the heavens. A corona, or circle, like a rainbow, had surrounded the sun and cut off its rays. Many talked of this corona ("Stephanos" in Greek) and some feared that the world was coming to an end. Apollonius resisted all attempts to get him to declare the omen. All he said was, "Keep up your spirits, for some light will arise out of this night."
Now Stephanos, a freedman of Domitian's sister, the wife of Clemens, brooded on the coincidence of the character of the phenomenon and of his own name. Now that his mistress was marked for death, he took a horrible determination. In the manner of the ancient Athenians, he fastened a dagger under his left arm and then tied the arm in a sling, as if broken.
As Domitian was coming from the tribunal, he approached and said, "Oh Emperor, I have matters of great importance to communicate."
Domitian lived by his spies and informers, who each mistrusted the other. What more natural then that he should welcome the disclosure of some new plot by a man who evidently feared a less direct method of communication. Besides, he was the freedman of his own sister. He took Stephanos into his private room alone.
"Your mortal enemy Clemens is not dead as you think," was the startling message. "He is living in a place I know of and is preparing to attack you."
Domitian, superstitious as he ever was, even in the smallest things, uttered a shriek of surprise and fear.
Then Stephanos struck him with the dagger in the thigh. The wound was mortal but it did not kill him instantly. Domitian was physically robust and not more than forty years old. Wounded as he was, threw Stephanos to the floor, where he stood over him and tried to tear out his eyes while striking him in the face with a golden chalice as he shrieked out to Pallas for help. This was in a room where sacrifices were made and the chalice stood by the altar.
The bodyguards rushed in. Seeing that the tyrant was losing strength, they put an end to his life.
This happened at Rome while Apollonius was at Ephesus in the year 96 A.D., or about the year 99 of Apollonius.
The aged centenarian was walking in the groves of Ephesus about noon discussing philosophical problems with inquirers or disciples. Something seemed to interrupt his train of thought and his voice fell. He appeared to be in a peculiar mood. He talked still, but mechanically and in a low voice. It was as though he were preoccupied with some other matter than that of which he spoke. Then he became quite silent, losing the thread of his discourse. In this mood, he often used to fix his eyes on the earth as at other times he used to raise them with a meaning gesture. Suddenly he advanced three or four steps and shouted. He did this not as one who saw a vision but as though he were present at the scene.
This was no midnight imagining, but a noonday scene in the most popular resort of Ephesus. All Ephesus was there to catch if possible some grain of the wisdom that fell from the lips of the wonderful old seer who was reaching his hundredth year of the perfect purity of life.
The vast crowd fell silent. Apollonius now was still, every sense alert as though watching some contest of which the issue was yet in doubt. Suddenly he moved with a gesture.
"Men of Ephesus," he cried. "This day the tyrant is killed! This day, do I say? Nay, this very moment, while the words are on my lips. I swear it by Minerva!" He said no more. It was a serious matter, for had he not sworn by Minerva?
Many thought him mad, yet they would have liked to think that what he said was true.
"I am not surprised you hesitate to believe a thing that is not even yet known in Rome itself, at least not everywhere. Ah! Now, now they know. It has run through the whole city. Thousands believe it and leap with joy. Now twice as many know it, now four times as many, and now all Rome knows it! Soon the news will be here in Ephesus. You will not do wrong if you suspend all sacrifices until the messenger comes. As for me, I will go and pay my vows to the gods for what I have seen with my own eyes!"
Was ever a more extraordinary noonday wonder witnessed in Ephesus! Messengers came and confirmed to a second every detail. Thirty days later, Nerva sent a letter saying he was Emperor by the counsels of the gods and of Apollonius, and he could better maintain the imperial dignity if only Apollonius would come to Rome and assist him to govern the world -- that is what the request amounted to! Apollonius was a vigorous old man of ninety-nine! The answer sounded a little strange when Nerva read, "We shall both live together a very long time, in which we shall not govern others nor shall others govern us."
So it was. Nerva reigned but sixteen months "in which time he established a character of the greatest moderation," before he passed to his long life beyond the gates of death.
Before that, Apollonius, wishing not to seem unmindful of so excellent a friend and so good a sovereign, wrote him another letter in no long time, giving him wise advice as to the governance of the Empire. When the letter was finished, he gave it to Damis and said, "The critical state of my affairs needs your assistance, Damis. The secrets in this letter are for the Emperor and are such as only I can communicate in person or by you as a messenger."
Damis grieved to part with the old man, his dear Teacher and Master, even for so short a time as was needed to take a letter to Rome and return to Ephesus. Had he not learned to do as told without cavil or delay? He took the letter, and Apollonius, seeing Damis sorrowful, remarked, "Whenever you are alone, and give up your whole mind to philosophy, think of me!"
In after years, Damis often recalled the maxim of his old Teacher, "Conceal your life, and if you cannot do that, conceal your death."
He had done that. For the mission of Damis to the Emperor Nerva was of double purpose, and the second concerned Damis the most. It was that Apollonius might enter into his rest unseen and unwept by mortal eyes. Damis never saw him more.
Philostratus says that concerning the manner of his death, if he did die, various are the accounts. His wrinkles had something pleasing in them which added a brilliancy to his looks, which is "still to be seen in his effigy in the temple built to him at Tyana (at 210 A.D.), and what literary monuments still survive speak more highly of his old age than they do of the youth of Alcibiades."
Philostratus traveled over most of the known world, and he never saw any tomb or cenotaph raised to Apollonius. In all countries, he met men who told wonderful things of him. He adds, "Tyana is held sacred, not being under the jurisdiction of governors sent from Rome. Emperors have not refused him the same honors paid to them."
When Aurelian took the town, a natural reverence induced him to treat the countrymen of Apollonius the philosopher with lenience. The Emperor Hadrian made a collection of his letters, and Caracalla built a temple to him as a hero. Alexander Severus, who reigned after the book of Philostratus was published, had his statue in his private room.
Such was the life and passing of the Tyanean, best and greatest of philosophers.
Optimo Maximo, "To the best and greatest."
By Margaret Smith
Dionysius the so-called Areopagite was a writer whose influence on the development of mysticism, in both East and West, was far-reaching, although practically nothing is known of his life and personality. He claimed to be St. Paul's convert, the Athenian Dionysius, and gives historical references in support of his claim; but his work plainly belongs to a later period. His writings were obviously influenced by Neo-Platonism, and especially by Proclus (410-485), and he mentions Hierotheos, who is most probably to be identified with Stephen bar Sudayli, a monk living in Jerusalem at the end of the fifth century.
Dionysius himself was probably a monk or priest residing in Syria, possibly a pupil of Stephen bar Sudayli, and almost certainly a student Neo-Platonism, whose writings belong to the end of the fifth century. He seems to have made a thorough study of Greek Philosophy, of Christian dogma, of the Jewish Kabala, and of the Neo-Platonic theosophy, influenced as it was by the ancient philosophies of India, for all these were studied in the Alexandrian schools. He may well have studied under Proclus, the greatest thinker among the Neo-Platonists after Plotinus. Proclus made it his business to collate, arrange, and elaborate the whole body of transmitted philosophy, while he added to it his own conceptions.
The work of Dionysius is full of the terminology of Proclus and Plotinus, and shows the influence of Iamblichus, though Dionysius himself had exchanged the old philosophy for Christianity, and adapted Neo-Platonist and Jewish conceptions to form a highly developed system of Christian mysticism. His extant works include THE DIVINE NAMES, THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, and a few letters, but he refers to a number of writings, which appear to have been lost, including THE OUTLINES OF DIVINITY, THE SYMBOLIC DIVINITY, SACRED HYMNS, THE JUST JUDGMENT OF GOD, THE OBJECTS OF SENSE AND INTELLECT, and CONCERNING THE SOUL.
Dionysius bases his teaching throughout on the pantheistic doctrine of emanationtion, as taught by the Neo-Platonic school, the evolution of the universe from the Supreme Essence, the One Ineffable and Unknowable, and the tendency of all beings to return to that original One, and to be reunited once again with the Divine.
He also taught an esoteric doctrine. What he is writing, he says, is not for the "uninitiated." He bids those who have become inspired through instruction in sacred things and who have received what is Divine into the secret recesses of their minds, to guard them closely from the profane multitude. (See THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, II.)
Again, he writes:
It is necessary that those who are being initiated should be separated from the profane and become recipients of that knowledge which makes perfect those holy ones who are initiated into the highest mysteries.
-- THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, III
There is a re-echo of Plotinus in his exhortation.
I pray, let no uninitiated person approach the sight; for neither is it without danger to gaze upon the glorious rays of the sun with weak eyes, nor is it without peril to put our hand to things above us.
-- THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, II
His conception of Ultimate Reality is that of the Neo-Platonic Monad, the Super-Essential Godhead.
The One, the Unknowable, the Super-Essential, the Absolute Good, cannot be described in its ultimate Nature. It is both the central Force of all things and their final Purpose, and is Itself before them all and they all subsist in it.
-- THE DIVINE NAMES, I, 5
The Universal Cause cannot be described by either affirmation or negation.
It transcends all affirmation by being the Perfect and Unique Cause of all things, and transcends all negation by the preeminence of its simple and absolute nature -- free from every limitation and beyond them all.
-- THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, V
Yet from what men see of the manifestation of the One, they conceive of It as Eternal Life, as Ineffable Truth, as the Fount of all Wisdom, as Overflowing Radiance, illuminating unto contemplation, as the Beloved in whom all Beauty and all Goodness meet, as Inexhaustible Power, as the Sun and Morning Star, and as the Wind, the Fire, and Living Water, as Spirit and Dew and Cloud, as All Creation, who yet is no created thing. (See THE DIVINE NAMES, I, 6; IV, 1, 4, 6, 7.)
The One is Perfect, Transcendent, and Undifferentiated in its Unity, but in order to be manifested, the One becomes the Cause and Origin of Multiplicity.
The yearning which createth all the goodness of the world, being preexistent abundantly in the Good Creator, allowed Him not to remain unfruitful in Himself, but moved Him to exert the abundance of His powers in the production of the universe.
-- THE DIVINE NAMES, IV, 10
The One issues from Itself, in order to return to Itself. Considered from the standpoint of the Absolute, the whole process of emanation is self-movement. Viewed from beneath, it appears as a process of unfolding, differentiation, and descent, and again of ascent, unification, and return to the One.
The Pre-Existent is the Beginning and the end of all things: The Beginning as their Cause, the end as their Final Purpose. That which bounds all things is yet their boundless Infinitude, containing beforehand and creating all things in One Act, being present unto all and everywhere, both in the particular individual and in the Universal Whole and going out into all things and yet remaining in Itself.
-- THE DIVINE NAMES, V, 10
So Dionysius teaches that there is nothing in the world without a share in the One; as all number participates in unity, so everything and each part of everything participates in the One, and on the existence of the One, all other existences are based. The transcendent is also Immanent, and if all things are conceived as being ultimately unified with each other, then all things taken as a whole are One. (See THE DIVINE NAMES, XIII, 2.)
The Absolute Godhead therefore exists as both Ultimate Reality and Manifested Appearance. The interpenetration of all things by the Divine, Dionysius compares to the action of Fire.
For this sensible fire is, so to speak, in everything and passes through everything, unmingled, separating, unchangeable, elevating, penetrating, lofty, ever-moving, self-moving, comprehending, incomprehended, needing no other, energetic, powerful, present in all, when unobserved, seeming not to be, but manifesting itself suddenly, according to its own proper nature, when we seek to find it: and again flying away uncontrollably, it remains undiminished, in all the joyful distributions of itself.
-- THE CELSTIAL HIERARCHY, XV
Such are the characteristics of the Divine Energy displayed in sensible images. It is at work everywhere, purifying, enlightening, making perfect, and forever drawing back all things to Itself, their Source. By Prayer, Dionysius observes, men think they bring God near to themselves, but Prayer is like the cable of a ship, fastened to a rock. As the mariner pulls upon the cable, he seems to draw the rock nearer to the boat, but is really drawing himself and the vessel closer to the rock. Or it is to he compared to a chain of light, a resplendent cord let down from heaven. As men climb up it, hand over hand, they appear to pull it down, but in truth, they themselves are being drawn upwards to the higher Radiance of the Divine Light. While men draw near to God, He does not draw near to them, being everywhere and changeless. (See THE DIVINE NAMES, III, 1.)
The soul of man, therefore, participates in the One but, like all existent things, while in the material world, it has two sides to its existence, one outside its created being, in the Super-Essence, wherein all things are One, and the other within its own created being, on this lower plane, where all things are separate from each other. Each grade of being, ascending from mere Existence, through Life and Sensation to Reason and Spirit, has its laws and proper virtues, and failure to observe these is the origin of evil.
Nothing is inherently bad. Evil consists in being separated from God. It is a pure negation. It is the unnatural, that which does not correspond to the nature of beings and things, each taken in its distinctive character. A man sins when he acts in defiance of his own highest nature, defiling the image of God within him, but when man realizes his own spiritual nature, he seeks by purification to restore the Divine image to its original brightness, and he seeks to make that ascent by which his personality can be transformed.
The Path of the soul back to God, Dionysius teaches, is a practice of self-discipline by which the spiritual powers can be concentrated and unified:
If we would be united to a uniform and Divine agreement, we must not permit ourselves to descend to divided lusts, from which are formed earthly enmities, envious and passionate, against that which is according to nature.
-- THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, III, 3
The advance is to be made away from outward things and towards the hidden depths of the soul, and all that hinders must be cast away. It is a VIA NEGATIVA, involving the purification first of the external senses and then of the inner faculties, from which the soul passes to a state beyond either.
In the practice of mystic contemplation, leave the senses and the activities of the intellect and all things sensible and intelligible and things that are and things that are not, so that thine understanding being at rest, thou mayst rise, as far as thou art able, towards union with Him, who is above all knowledge and all being. By the unceasing and absolute renunciation of thyself and of all things, thou shalt in pureness cast all things aside and be borne upwards into the supernatural Radiance of the divine Darkness.
-- THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, I
The stages of the upward path are three. The first is that of Purgation, when the soul cleanses itself from the hindrances that come from the sensual, irrational self. The second is that of Illumination, when the reasoning intellect is purified and concentrated on the One.
Every procession of illuminating light proceeding from the Divine, whilst visiting us as a gift of goodness, restores us again as a unifying power to a higher spiritual condition, and turns us to the oneness of the Divine and to a deifying simplicity.
Having unified its own powers, the human soul is enabled to contemplate the Simple Unity of the Uncreated Light, but it must seek to go beyond contemplation, in which there is still subject to contemplate and object to be contemplated, and pass altogether out of self into That which it contemplates, and so to be utterly merged. Dionysius calls this transcendent unification of the human spirit with the Divine "Unknowing," as in that state the soul passes beyond the senses and no longer has need of the reasoning faculty.
When we have received, with an unearthly and unflinching mental vision, the gift of Light, primal and superprimal, from the Supremely Divine, let us then, from this gift of Light, be restored again to its unique splendor.
-- THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, I
This is the stage that is the goal of the mystic, the end of the Path, for this Divine light elevates those who aspire to Itself and makes them One, after the example of its own unifying Oneness. Those who have followed the Path to its end are thus perfected:
As Divine images, as mirrors luminous and without flaw, receptive of the Primal Light and the Divine Ray, devoutly filled with that Radiance committed to them, but, on the other hand, spreading this Radiance ungrudgingly to those that come after.
-- THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, III
Only those who have freed themselves from the fetters of the flesh, and the more subtle fetters of the mind, can attain to union with Pure Spirit.
They who are free and untrammeled enter into the true Mystical Darkness of Unknowing, whence all perception of understanding is excluded, and abide in that which is intangible and invisible, being wholly absorbed in Him who is beyond all, and are united in their higher part to Him who is wholly unknowable and whom, by understanding nothing, they understand above all intelligence.
-- THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, I
The Divine Darkness, Dionysius states, is in truth that Unapproachable Light in which God is said to dwell.
And since He is invisible by reason of the abundant outpouring of supernatural light, it follows that he who is counted worthy to know and see God, by the very fact that he neither sees nor knows Him, attains to that which is above sight and knowledge, and at the same time realizes that the Godhead is beyond all things both sensible and intelligible.
-- LETTER, V
Those who in spirit are thus united with the Divine Spirit, are "deified," for salvation and true blessedness is deification, which is assimilation and union with God. This is the true end of the human soul, a love divinely sanctified into oneness with Him and, for the sake of this, complete and unswerving removal of things contrary. It is the vision and clear knowledge of sacred truth, the participation in the Supreme Perfection of the One. (See THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, I.) In finding its true self, the human soul finds and comes into possession of the Divine Self. (See THE DIVINE NAMES, VIII, IX.) Yet this attainment of the goal does not mean annihilation. "In the Super-Essence, all things are fused yet distinct."
Dionysius, therefore, teaches a mystic theosophy, based on Neo-Platonism. As the soul came forth from God, so it must return to Him, after being purified, illuminated, and perfected, ascending from multiplicity to unity, from finitude and disunion into the ocean of Divine Being. His doctrine is definitely pantheistic and its widespread influence led to the acceptance of pantheistic doctrines in the West.
The first mention of Dionysius and his writings was in 533, when Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch, appealed to them at a Council held in Constantinople, and it is obvious that they already possessed some authority. A Syrian version was made of them in the sixth century by the Aristotelian physician Sergius, and several commentaries on them were produced in the sixth and seventh centuries by Syrian scholars. They were widely read in the Eastern Church and their authority was strengthened by an edition prepared by Maximus the Confessor (580-662). Pope Gregory the Great (?-601) appealed to the authority of these writings, and they were cited at the Lateran Council in 619.
John of Damascus, living at the beginning of the eighth century, who had a considerable influence upon the theological doctrine of the Scholastics of Western Europe and whose influence is still great in the East, made a special study of the works of the "Areopagite." There is little doubt that in the Near and Middle East the teachings of Dionysius had their effect on the mysticism of Islam and, later, on the Muslim mystics of Spain.
In the year 827, the Byzantine Emperor Michael sent as a gift to Louis I of France a copy of the Dionysian writings. They were deposited in the Abbey of St. Denis, who was identified with Dionysius the Areopagite, and the gift, in consequence, aroused great interest. The Abbot Hilduin attempted to edit and translate the books into Latin, but the task was beyond him, and it was left to Erigena, the Irish scholar, who arrived at the court of Charles the Bald in the latter half of the ninth century, to produce an adequate Latin version. This version made the writings available to mediaeval Christendom and their authority was accepted without question by the great scholars of the West. Commentaries on the Dionysian writings were written by the mystic, Hugh of St. Victor (?-1173), by Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), and by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Of Aquinas, it has been said that he is "but a hive in whose varied cells he duly stored the honey" which he gathered from the writings of Dionysius, to such a degree that, had the works of Dionysius been lost, it would have been possible to reconstruct them, to a considerable extent, from the works of his great successor.
Scarcely a medieval European mystic but shows the influence of the Areopagite's writings, among them Eckhart (1260-1327), the German mystic, who wrote:
All that is in the Godhead is One -- above all names, above all nature. The end of all things is the hidden Darkness of the eternal Godhead, unknown and never to be known.
Eckhart was reckoned a Plotinist and a Pantheist. Another was Tauler, who writes that when "the outward man has been converted into the inward, reasonable man and the powers of the senses and the power of the reason are gathered up into the very center of the man's being," the human spirit can ascend towards the Divine Darkness and multiplicity is effaced in unity, "for the sole Unity, which is God, answers truly to the oneness of the soul, for then is there nothing in the soul but God." The great Flemish mystic John of Ruysbroeck (1293-1381) was another who followed in the steps of Dionysius, writing that the soul that has passed through the stages of purgation and illumination must ascend to that region where reason has to be put aside.
The soul there is simple, pure, and spotless, empty of all things, and it is in this state of absolute emptiness that the Divine Radiance is revealed. To that Radiance, neither reason nor sense nor remark nor distinction may serve. All that must remain below, for the Infinite Light blinds the eyes of the Reason and makes them yield to that Incomprehensible Radiance.
And then the mystic is "one life and one spirit with God."
To this period belongs the first English translation of THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, called THE DIONISE HID DIVINITIE by the anonymous author of THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, who teaches that the Godhead is beyond the reach of human understanding, but union may be attained by the soul that has passed beyond knowing and entered the "Cloud of Unknowing."
The same influence is to be noted in the great mystics of Italy, Spain, and France so that Dionysius, himself deriving his teaching from the school of Ammonius Saccas, proved to be the chief influence in molding the mystical theology of the West. In Christian mysticism, both medieval and modern, is to be found the same ideal of union with the Godhead, based on the belief that the soul itself was Divine in origin, and that when it should come to itself by the threefold Path of purification, illumination, and perfection, it would return once again to the Divine, whence it came forth. As a modern writer has stated:
The mystics are like a chain of stars, each separated from the other by a gulf. We think we can trace resemblances, even connections: but they themselves tell us that the light comes direct from the sun and is not passed on at all.
Yet we cannot doubt that the beacon of such a one as Dionysius wakes the kindred soul, even though it is across the seas and across the centuries.
[From LUCIFER, November 15, 1890, pages 231-35.]
Before we enter into the subject of the occult art as practiced on the West Coast of Africa, it will be well to clear the ground by first considering for a moment what we mean by the much-abused term "Magic."
There are many definitions of this word; and, in bygone ages, it was simply used to designate anything and everything that was "not understood of the vulgar." It will be sufficient for our purpose to define it as the knowledge of certain natural laws that are not merely unknown but unsuspected by the scientists of Europe and America.
It is a recognized fact that no law of Nature can be -- even for a single moment -- abrogated. When, therefore, this appears to us to be the case -- when, for instance, such a universally known law as that of the attraction of gravitation seems to be annihilated, we must recognize the fact that there may be other laws at present unknown to Western science that have the power of overriding and suspending for the time being the action of the known law.
The knowledge of these hidden laws is what we understand by the term occult science, or magic. There is no other magic than this. There never has been at any period of the world's history. All the so-called "miracles" of ancient times can be and are reproduced at the present day by magists when occasion requires. An act of magic is a pure scientific feat, and must not be confounded with legerdemain or trickery of any kind.
There are several schools of magism, all proceeding and operating on entirely different lines. The principal of these, and on whose philosophy all others are founded, are the Hindu, the Tibetan, the Egyptian (including the Arab), and the Obeeyah. The last named is entirely and fundamentally opposed to the other three: it having its root and foundation in necromancy or " black magic," while the others all operate either by means of what is known to experts as "white magic," or in other cases by "psychologizing" the spectator.
A whole crowd of spectators can be psychologized and made at the will of the operator to see and feel whatever things he chooses, all the time being in full possession of their ordinary faculties. Thus, perhaps a couple of traveling fakirs give their performance in your own compound or in the garden of your bungalow. They erect a small tent and tell you to choose any animal that you wish to see emerge wherefrom. Many different animals are named in rotation by the bystanders, and in every case the desired quadruped, be he tiger or terrier dog, comes out of the opening in the canvas and slowly marches off until he disappears round some adjacent corner. This done simply by "psychologizing," as are all the other great Indian feats, such as "the basket trick," "the mango tree," throwing a rope in the air and climbing up it, pulling it up and disappearing in space, and the thousand and one other similar performances which are "familiar as household words" to almost every Anglo-Indian.
The difference between these schools and that of the Obeeyah is very great, because in them there is a deception or want of reality in the performance. The spectator does not really see what he fancies he sees: his mind is simply impressed by the operator and the effect is produced. In African magic, on the contrary, there is no will impression: the observer does really and actually see what is taking place. The force employed by the African necromancers is not psychological action but demonosophy.
White magists have frequently dominated and employed inferior spirits to do their bidding, as well as invoked the aid of powerful and beneficent ones to carry out their purposes. This is an entirely different thing: The naturally maleficent spirits become the slaves of the magist, and he controls them and compels them to carry out his beneficent plans. The necromancer, or votary of black magic, is, on the contrary, the slave of the evil spirit to whom he has given himself up.
While the philosophy of the magist demands a life of the greatest purity and the practice of every virtue, while he must utterly subdue and have in perfect control all his desires and appetites, mental and physical, and must become simply an embodied intellect, absolutely purged from all human weakness and pusillanimity, the necromancer must outrage and degrade human nature in every way conceivable. The very least of the crimes necessary for him (or her) to commit to attain the power sought is actual murder, by which the human victim essential to the sacrifice is provided. The human mind can scarcely realize or even imagine one tithe of the horrors and atrocities actually performed by the Obeeyah women.
Yet, though the price is awful, horrible, unutterable, the power is real. There is no possibility of mistake about that. Every petty king on the West Coast has his "rainmaker." It is the fashion among travelers, and the business of the missionaries, to ridicule and deny the powers of these people. They do possess and do actually use the power of causing storms of rain, wind, and lightning.
When one considers that however ignorant and brutal a savage may be, yet that he has an immense amount of natural cunning, and his very ignorance makes him believe nothing that cannot be proved to him, no "rainmaker" could live for one year unless he gave repeated instances of his powers when required by the king. Failure would simply mean death.
The hypothesis that they only work their conjurations when the weather is on the point of change is only an invention of the missionaries. The native chiefs are, like all savages, able to detect an approaching change of weather many hours before it takes place. Is it at all likely that they would send for the rainmaker and give him sufficient cattle to last him for twelve months, besides wives and other luxuries, if there were the slightest appearance of approaching rain?
I remember well my first experience of these wizards. For weeks and weeks, there had been no rain, although it was the rainy season. The maize was dying for want of water; the cattle were being slaughtered in all directions; women and children had died by scores, and the fighting men were beginning to do the same, being themselves scarcely more than skeletons. Day after day, the sun glared down on the parched earth, without one intervening cloud, like a globe of glowing copper, and all Nature languished in that awful furnace. Suddenly the king ordered the great war-drum to be beaten, and the warriors all gathered hurriedly. He announced the arrival of two celebrated rainmakers, who would forthwith proceed to relieve the prevailing distress.
The elder of the two was a stunted, bow-legged little man, with wool that would have been white had it not been messed up with grease, filth, and feathers. The second was rather a fine specimen of the Soosoo race, but with a very sinister expression. A large ring being formed by the squatting Negroes, who came -- for some unknown reason -- all armed to the teeth, the king being in the center, and the rainmakers in front of him, they commenced their incantations. The zenith and the horizon were eagerly examined from time to time, but not a vestige of a cloud appeared. Presently the elder man rolled on the ground in convulsions, apparently epileptic, and his comrade started to his feet pointing with both hands to the copper-colored sky. All eyes followed his gesture, and looked at the spot to which his hands pointed, but nothing was visible. Motionless as a stone statue, he stood with gaze riveted on the sky. In about the space of a minute a darker shade was observable in the copper tint, in another minute it grew darker and darker, and, in a few more seconds developed into a black cloud, which soon overspread the heavens. In a moment, a vivid flash was seen, and the deluge that fell from that cloud, which had now spread completely overheard, was something to be remembered. For two days and nights, that torrent poured down, and seemed as if it would wash everything out of the ground.
After the king had dismissed the rainmakers, and they had deposited the cattle and presents under guard, I entered the hut in which they were lodged, and spent the night with them, discussing the magical art. The hut was about fourteen feet in diameter, strongly built of posts driven firmly into the ground, and having a strong thatched conical roof. I eventually persuaded them to give me one or two examples of their skill. They began singing, or rather crooning, a long invocation, after a few minutes of which the younger man appeared to rise in the air about three feet from the ground and remain there unsuspended, and floating about. There was a brilliant light in the hut from a large fire in the center, so that the smallest detail could be distinctly observed. I got up and went to feel the man in the air, and there was no doubt about his levitation. He then floated close to the wall and passed through it to the outside. I made a dash for the doorway, which was on the opposite side of the hut, and looked round for him. I saw a luminous figure that appeared like a man rubbed with phosphorised oil; but I was glad to take rapidly shelter from the torrents of rain. When I reentered the hut, there was only the old man present. I examined the logs carefully, but there was no aperture whatever. The old man continued his chant, and in another moment, his comrade reappeared floating in the air. He sat down on the ground. I saw his black skin glistening with rain, and the few rags he wore were as wet as if he had been dipped in a river.
The next feat was performed by the old man, and consisted in several instantaneous disappearances and reappearances. The curious point about this was that the old man also was dripping wet.
Following this was a very interesting exhibition. By the old man's directions, we arranged ourselves round the fire at the three points of an imaginary triangle. The men waved their hands over the fire in rhythm with their chant when dozens of tic-polongas, the most deadly serpent in Africa, slowly crawled out from the burning embers, and interlacing themselves together whirled in a mad dance on their tails round the fire, making all the while a continuous hissing. At the word of command, they all sprang into the fire and disappeared. The young man then came round to me, and, kneeling down, opened his mouth, out of which the head of a tic-polonga was quickly protruded. He snatched it out, pulling a serpent nearly three feet long out of his throat, and threw it into the fire. In rapid succession, he drew seven serpents from his throat, and consigned them all to the same fiery end.
I wanted to know what they could do in the way of evocation of spirits. The incantation this time lasted nearly twenty minutes, when, rising slowly from the fire, appeared a human figure, a man of great age, a white man too, but absolutely nude. I put several questions to him, but obtained no reply. I arose and walked round the fire, and particularly noticed a livid scar on his back. I could get no satisfactory explanation of whom he was, but they seemed rather afraid of him, and had evidently -- from the remarks that they interchanged -- expected to see a black man.
After the appearance of this white man, I could not persuade them that night to attempt anything more, although the next night I had no difficulty with them. A most impressive feat, which they on a subsequent occasion performed, was the old custom of the priests of Baal. Commencing a lugubrious chant, they slowly began circling around the fire (which said fire always is an essential part of the proceedings), keeping a certain amount of rhythm in both their movements and cadences. Presently, the movement grew faster and faster until they whirled round like dancing dervishes. There were two distinct movements; while they gyrated round the circle, they rapidly spun on their own axes. With the rapidity of their evolutions, their voices were raised higher and higher until the din was terrific. Then, by a simultaneous movement, each began slashing his naked body on arms, chest, and thighs, until they were streaming with blood and covered with deep gashes. Then the old man stopped his erratic course, and sitting down on the ground narrowly watched the younger one with apparent solicitude. The young man continued his frantic exertions until exhausted Nature could bear no more, and he fell panting and helpless on the ground. The old man took both the knives and anointed the blades with some evil smelling grease from a calabash, and then stroked the young man's body all over with the blade that had done the injuries, and finished the operation by rubbing him vigorously with the palms of the hands smeared with the unguent.
In a few minutes time, the young man arose, and there was not even a slight trace of wound or scar in his ebony skin. He then performed the same good offices on the old man with the same effect. Within ten minutes afterwards, they were both laid on their mats in a sweet and quiet sleep. In this performance, there were many invocations, gestures, the circular fire, and other things that satisfied me that some portion, at all events, of the magical processes of West Africa had been handed down from the days when Baal was an actual God, and mighty in the land.
By James Sterling
The gentle words of the poet bring joy and uplift The people; but only for a spontaneous moment -- Then my words of love are forgotten And tossed into the wind like dead, forgotten Leaves in cold, frozen night. My words fall on deaf ears; nobody listens; Who cares ... ? My poetry is finished -- I am now preparing For the trial of that dreaded Winter Solstice. I am like a knight entering the dark, evil forest With no weapons, no defense, as helpless As the tiny infant while all eyes of the Spiritual World watch like the Roman Emperors At the Coliseum. Now my poetry is nothing; my pain And suffering are nothing; I am given no compassion or love As I walk like an acrobat on a wire With hungry alligators waiting for me To fall and eat me alive. It's sink or swim, entering deeper waters Secretly outsmarting the sharks that Surround me ... Or if I lose my concentration Or focus, I'm the deadest man that ever lived. No pity is shown for my naked, helpless Soul -- nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. All I have is a little intuition that is Not fully developed -- and in total Honesty, as the Solstice comes, a little Fear enters my too soft heart -- because this Powerful Writer with a Will of Iron Is really just a kid playing with matches; He doesn't have the slightest idea of what To expect. My wife and child are comfortably hidden Away; I stand alone. No one understands, but I have beaten all My enemies, spoken my mind, passed all these Tests ... but they were only silly, little tests -- They are as nothing. I care nothing for money; I have no ambition; Even this body that carries my soul is nothing But a bitter burden to carry; Food, endless washing, and clothing are nothing But a painful nuisance. I am as nothing, because I kill all desires ... Or at least I try. All I have is my Will and Determination: They say "Many are called but few are chosen." I have to be Perfect; no more mistakes, Yet in reality, I have not truly conquered myself, The Magi, both good and evil know my Weaknesses; I have no tricks of disguise. Into the forest I go while the rest of the World will be celebrating Christmas, On vacation, having fun ... Fun? That's something I abandoned Long ago ... The Path winds upward To the very top of the jagged mountain. My time is approaching and there ain't A damn thing I can do about it, Except prepare for the torture chamber In solitude, intense pain, and endless endurance In a storm that will surround me like a Hurricane with no mercy. I'm gonna roll myself up in a circle Like a cat, and hang and hang and hang, Until January 4 -- Then we'll see If this lay Chela can play with the Big Boys; And in the meantime, I sit and wait Like the eager virgin on her wedding night; Except, in this case, there will be nothing But the agony of pain so intense, That everything in this Universe Will hear me scream ... But these screams will fall on very, very Deaf and indifferent ears. And the purification goes on day after day After day ...
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the second part of the tape recording on "Chapter XIII of FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY," made of a private class held on July 7, 1954.]
Several people may offer teachings on evolution, using similar terms but meaning different things. By analogy, if all had meant that two atoms of hydrogen, an atom of oxygen, and an electric spark is water, they would have much in common, but they differ. By analogy, one says one thing, a second differs, and a third says something else. They do not agree, with all saying it is water. This is an analogy, since they are not talking about chemistry. These men talk about the constitution of man, the after-death states, the origin of man, and the structure of the universe.
How do we know what truth is? How do we decide which source is most profound? Each tells a different story. Often they do not say the same thing in different words, but rather say something different.
To know truth, you start with a basic knowledge, which you use with a strong feeling, intuition, and reasoning to test these differing sources. How do you arrive at that basic knowledge? Study with the best of your ability. See if it makes sense, if there is logic to it, if it has no absurdities. Apply the best of your abilities and use your intuition at your best. Use what you know to compare and measure other theories, seeing which are sound and genuine. Take nothing on faith.
Thousands of Catholics, Protestants, and Buddhists are as sincere as we are. They apply logic to their way of thinking, only to find out they do not understand. Their basic platform of reasoning is what they know. What they work from is what they know now. Can they just apply pure logic? Using it, one follows and develops his thread of thought. Can things be easy to prove when our minds play tricks on us all the time? One thinks he is logical whereas another sees him illogical. Their ideas of hell, of a single lifetime, and of no retribution do not stand a serious test of logic. They crumble.
Is logic sufficient in the investigation? No, but it is one weapon. Suppose our logic is not sharp enough. There is intuition, the a priori knowledge, direct perception of truth, something you know within your heart. Is there anything in us that can supply intuition? Plato says that knowledge comes from inside. Through meditation, we go within to contact the original source. That is where it is.
With intuition backed by knowledge and reason, we can partially cognize certain truths directly. This implies there are such truths. They could not be cognized by any faculty -- logic, intellect, heart, or intuition -- if they did not exist. Truth is so superior to the various human theories about nature that we can call it Absolute Truth, for lack of a better term. We cannot grasp the whole of it, but only gain insight into its reflections.
Out of 25 books, each with some truth and not entirely wrong, is there one or two that approach the facts of nature closer than the others do? If we have the intuitive perception developed enough, we can see which presentations are closer to the truth. We might look at the explanations in a book and see how well they hang together throughout without contradiction, but that cannot help if the book starts with the wrong premise. We would start with those books that we have determined follow our belief in basic laws.
Consider the following by G. de Purucker:
We have tests by which we may prove to ourselves whether such-and-such a doctrine of any religion, ancient or modern, or such-and-such a teaching of any thinker, ancient or modern, is in accord ... [What could or should it be in accord with? Perhaps it is Reality.] ... with that primeval, spiritual, and natural revelation granted to the first members of the first human and truly thinking race by the spiritual beings from who we likewise derived our inner essence and life, and who are, really, our own present spiritual selves.
-- FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, page 128
I could write a long dissertation on that sentence.
There are many fine people. They are inquirers and even theosophical students that have not studied or thought deeply enough. They ask us the origin of the theosophical teachings. We say the teachings are not man-made. In any genuine theosophical textbook, the author invariably states that he only passes on his understanding of certain teachings. He is not their creator; they are not his ideas; he passes them on just as he has heard them. See, for instance, H.P. Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE. She makes no claim except that she is passing on a partial installment of certain truths from ancient days.
What is the source of these teachings? Is there any particular man that evolved these ideas in the distant past? No. Have they been built up, like you build up a theory? Have men throughout the ages taken good ideas from everywhere and put them together into a system? No. I can only answer from THE SECRET DOCTRINE. It says that tens of millions of years ago -- not long in the history of the earth -- the human race had undeveloped minds and a state of consciousness similar to present day childhood. At that time, superior beings from higher spiritual spheres gave the general blueprint, a general outline of the facts in nature, to the highest of us. Interested in our welfare and unfoldment, they continue to guide us.
These evolved beings from another sphere are our guides and spiritual parents. They have a specific, mysterious connection with our inner selves. In those distant days, they impressed upon the noblest minds the general pattern or blueprint of nature. These were not theories about nature, but were its facts. They gave infant humanity the basic ideas of the sciences and arts, as well as of occupations like agriculture, the things by which the human race has lived and evolved since then. They are not the Manasaputras. Although connected with the Manasaputras, they came far earlier.
Consider our present era. It could be a thousand years ago or a thousand years from now. There are all sorts of theories about the structure of nature and man along religious and philosophical lines. Never mind the scientific angle. It deals with facts much more than religions and philosophies do, so we will not talk about it for a moment. Note that I speak as far as I see things, to be modified by those knowing more than we do.
From time immemorial, a basic teaching has existed in the midst of the human race. We find it expressed throughout history in thousands of languages. It has been clothed in symbols universally accepted throughout the ages. Symbols do not necessarily talk. You have to have a key to them. You do not always understand them, even if you read of them and see geometrical shapes.
Beings from higher spheres gave these fundamental teachings to infant humanity. They were not theories of men about nature, but rather were positive, matter-of-fact scientific statements about the laws that operate in nature. Nature builds itself upon these basic facts, unalterable no matter how many theories anyone invents about them.
Presented throughout the ages by spiritually great men, these teachings are practically one hundred percent genuine. Presented by lesser men whose spiritual knowledge was not as supreme, there was a slight degree of error in the presentation, but the presentation was superb and true. Presented by people not so great, less enlightened, but who had heard a portion of these teachings here and there at one time or another, the presentation was partly truth, wishful thinking, and unconscious error and confusion. Given by selfish and ignorant people, possibly having a monetary end in view (something that has happened thousands of times throughout the ages), the presentation was largely in error, with but few jewels of truth here and there.
This is so today, was so a thousand years ago, and will be so a thousand years from now. There will always be the genuine coin presented by the noblest men on earth, far higher in knowledge and insight than any one of us can hope to become in this lifetime. There will always be partial, distorted presentations. They multiply like mushrooms after the rain, hollering and pushing themselves upon us from all the corners of the earth. There are all kinds of motives, good, evil, and in between. Some men seek money or power. Even so, since those immemorial days to the end of evolution, there will always be some men presenting an installment of the original facts of nature staying as close to truth as human language can make it.
Apart from that knowledge, is there Absolute Truth? Yes, but it is relative. It is absolute since it is the highest of which we can conceive in our present state of evolution. It is final since we have no way to go beyond it to something greater. That makes it relatively absolute. From a cosmic standpoint, it is an aspect of something still greater. Therefore, we answer "yes" and "no" at the same time, depending upon how we use "absolute" and "relative."
Consider what a growing child learns at school. At his stage of understanding, he can consider that knowledge as absolute truth. It is sufficient. If he can grasp it, his teachers are doing well. The time will inevitably come when he will know as much or more than they do. What to him at that time will be absolute truth is far beyond what it used to be in childhood. The truth of the teachers that was absolute to him in a relative sense will become irrelevant, insufficient, and unsatisfying because he seen a greater vision, as perhaps have his teachers seen something greater themselves.
This study gives us a good wringing! Having expressed some worthwhile ideas and aimed in the right direction, I remain unsatisfied. It is possible to talk about this subject much more intelligently. It requires further pondering. I know that I could express what I had to say much better.
There are basic rules that pertain to our studies, our metaphysical beliefs, and the philosophy and art of living. Different groups like Christian Science and Science of Mind claim certain results if their rules are applied. Many such groups are partially or completely false. Here or there, a school of thought will strike bedrock, encounter the facts of the operation of nature, and be infallible.
Only one system has the method of action and behavior for one to be in harmony with nature. How do you find it? Keep trying, searching, and experiencing life even when faced with failure after failure. Leibniz defined a genius as one unafraid of making mistakes. Unafraid in your search, you will find. Fearful of mistakes, you will not find, but the only way you never make mistakes is if you do nothing. That is a mistake!
There is most certainly a set of rules, but they are innumerable and not an even dozen. If you apply them, they work. We find some of these rules in the psychological application of the theosophical teachings or Wisdom Religion.
Consider the welter of human emotions. What chaos! What an uncoordinated mass of action and reaction in which people flounder or swim! Although there is a science of emotion, even the majority of so-called Theosophists have not a remote idea as to how their emotions work.
Theosophy partly explains it. Try plowing through THE SCIENCE OF EMOTIONS by Bhaghavan Das, one of the greatest scholars of our day. He wrote it in a rather difficult way since his mind works that way. No one has condensed and made it pleasant, which requires a writer that thinks differently. The science is there. This is no different from two books on the same facts of chemistry, one simple and clear and another involved. It depends upon the presentation of the man. There is a science of emotions. We can work with our own emotions in a practically infallible way if we know their fundamental principles as well as the architect knows the fundamental principles in the erection of his building. Although far from its mastery, anyone can know this science. The big question is will of us try it long enough and apply it when needed.
Suppose someone is sad and dejected, having had much sorrow. Things are tough. His energy is down and courage has departed. He has surrounded himself with difficult and somber thoughtforms. A good man, he has made an effort, but cannot get out of it. He is suffering. Can we deliver the right thought at the scientifically correct time with an appropriate current of sympathy, expressing it with the appropriate intonation and pitch? Five minutes later, the other's mood has changed and the effect is lost, one cannot then produce a leap of flame from inside that lifts him. How does one know when and what to do? Go find out how.
Just today, someone knocked her brains out trying to help such a person. She sat by the girl and said to herself, "Please, show me what one little thing I can say to her or one emotion I can express that would help her get out of this horrible thing she is in. I do not know what to do!" This was on her mind all day. She pondered why she failed to find something to pull her friend out. We assume the girl wanted help. Even with a great desire to help, it may not work. We may not have the science of it. We may not have developed the ability. It is a combination of certain books and a change of heart within us.
Please do not think that because I talk on the subject that I claim I can do it. I am a dead failure 99 times out of 100, but once in awhile I succeed. The point is that there is such a science. Can someone else make it plain to us? That science is immensely more difficult than architecture, chemistry, physics, or electronics because it deals with spiritual potentialities about which present humanity is an infant.
The highest of humanity says that when you meet a troubled person, say someone wallowing in self-pity, you do not sympathize with what he or she is doing. You also do not encourage it. If someone is ready to commit suicide, you do not say "Well, you big jerk, here is the gun, go ahead." How do we learn to help? Although intangible, the science has tangible applications. Sometimes, it is not with words. You just sit quietly with an individual, produce the desired effect, and say nothing. If you take that individual into the fathomless reaches of your compassion, you lift his vibratory rate to yours. You have not said a word. Can you or I do it?
In Russia, I knew great healer named John of Constadt. He was poor. He was a hermit. Nobody saw him eat. Hundreds knew that when he had finished his day of work among the poor and went to the island of Constadt, about 20 miles offshore, he used no conveyance of any kind. He just walked on the water, as easily as you would walk the earth. Thousands knew him.
John was a peasant, illiterate in intellectual ways, uneducated. When he walked into a room where there were people, he lifted everybody into a whirlwind of spirituality. All your life's problems vanished completely. There was no sense of their existence. As long as he remained, you were completely out of it, floating in a rosy glow of impersonal love. If you had any disease, illness, or trouble, psychological or physical, it was enough for him to touch you and you were well. He would look into your eyes and you thought this was heaven. Naturally, we all came down after awhile. None of us could naturally sustain the level of that man's spiritual vibratory rate.
He got where he was by many lives of loving. His intellect may have been far greater than it appeared, but in this particular lifetime, perhaps it karmically clouded because another side wanted to express itself. Was he an adept? It is probable that he was, at least partially so.
When a man comes to you in wild anger, you may be afraid and not know what to do. Remember there are basic rules. If directed in a certain way in that man, simple thoughts and certain currents neutralize his anger completely. There is science. It is a more difficult science to learn than to know how to combine two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen and a spark of electricity.
There is a school to learn this. It is a school with no building, a school with no staff. There is a school. The school has existed for millions of years upon the earth, and will exist as long as humanity exists on it. There is a school where we can learn. How are you going to apply for admission? You will have to find it. That school has no commercial interest in increasing its pupils. The pupils come when ready and they are accepted.
There is a place you can go to learn these things. It has neither buildings nor staff. It does not advertise, but it exists. It is equally true that you constitute yourself a pupil of this school by a certain attitude of mind. You discover your source of inspiration, of teachership, by that attitude of mind and do not have to go anywhere. That is also true.
Do you learn and eventually earn the right to go to this school? No, you take that right. You take it. You take it with your own strong hands. Remember the statement in the Gospels that you take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence. Violence does not mean bloodshed. That is a mistranslation. You take it by your going and taking it. Then your strength is recognized and help must be given, because it is earned. If you beg on your knees, "Let me get knowledge," nothing happens at all. The old Hermetic precept says:
To Dare, To Will, To Know, and to be Silent.
I repeat that:
To Dare, To Will, To Know, and to be Silent.