If we treat Blavatsky, or even the Mahatmas, as infallible and without fault, we risk destroying everything they did.
Since World War II, the concept of the "hero" has changed, especially in the United States. It used to be that a hero was one who had flaws, but was able to transcend those flaws to do great things. Somehow, this has been transmuted to a hero being someone without flaws. This attitude has the problem that, as soon as one finds flaws, then the person ceases to be a hero, and all the great things that he or she did somehow become negated by this. The result is that, in order for our heroes to remain heroes, we blind ourselves to their faults, and attack anybody who points them out.
Blavatsky was a great teacher, who introduced many important concepts. She was not perfect, and to treat her as such is to dishonor her memory more than any revelation of her faults could ever possibly do, unless you think that the religion of Blavatsky worship is, somehow, higher than the truth.
-- Bart Lidofsky, April 19, 2004 posting to theos-talk
By B.P. Wadia
Devotees especially remember Gandhiji for he died a martyr. In one form or another, Martyrdom has been the price for many seeking to restore humanity to the knowledge it had in the Golden Age of Truth, but was subsequently lost. They struggle to achieve freedom of thought and moral emancipation for the masses.
They promulgated spiritual ideas as opposed to forms, ritualism, and dogmatism. In their efforts to act upon the higher thoughts and nobler aspirations of the people towards the living of a higher and nobler life, they burst through the limitations of the established religious and social order of conventionalism and conservatism.
Ignorance and fanaticism have done to death not a few of mankind's great benefactors, from Socrates and Jesus to Lincoln and Gandhiji. These were great Protestants and wise Reformers. They were fearless and compassionate with understanding and forgiveness.
The word "martyr" literally means "witness," but during the early days of the Christian era, when many Christians testified to the truth of their convictions by sacrificing their lives, the word assumed its modern sense.
The Protestant Reformation began as a revolutionary challenge to sacerdotal authority. We may regard it as a notable achievement in human liberation. At its time, there was a long roll of martyrs who died for their faith. Each century, the struggle for freedom continued on all fronts. With changing circumstances, emphasis transferred from one front to another.
Proverbially, "It is the cause and not the death that makes the martyr." Fanatics and foolish men and women rush into needless danger and sought death too often. In their enthusiasm for martyrdom, they became egocentric. They overlooked and forgot their moral duty.
The breaking of convention is wrong when it drags all down to a lower plane of thought. It is true when it raises others to a higher plane of understanding and of action. "Folly loves the martyrdom of fame," said Byron, but such foolish persons are soon forgotten.
This month, our thoughts turn to Giordano Bruno. On February 17, 1600, he was burnt alive for teaching a spiritual philosophy of life. His execution branded the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church with an infamy that lasts even to this day.
Bruno died a martyr for repeating the doctrines taught by Pythagoras and the Eastern Sages. They had taught when a bigoted religious organization did not exist and narrow creedalism did not flourish. The ideas of Bruno are recognized today as having been "of epochal importance in the history of the human mind" in the fields of science, philosophy, and religion. To quote from his profession of faith before the Inquisition:
I hold, in brief, to an infinite universe, that is, an effect of infinite divine power ... There are infinite particular worlds similar to this of the earth ... All those bodies are worlds, and without number, which thus constitute the infinite universality in an infinite space, and this is called the infinite universe.
Moreover, I place in this universe a universal Providence, by virtue of which everything lives, vegetates, moves, and stands in its perfection. I understand it in two ways; one, in the mode in which the whole soul is present in the whole and every part of the body, and this I call nature, the shadow and footprint of divinity; the other, the ineffable mode in which God, by essence, presence, and power is in all and above all, not as part, not as soul, but in mode inexplicable.
Moreover, I understand all the attributes in divinity to be the same thing. Together with the theologians and great philosophers, I apprehend three attributes -- power, wisdom, and goodness -- or rather -- mind, intellect, and love -- with which things have first, being through the mind; next, ordered and distinct being through the intellect; and third, concord and symmetry through love.
Giordano Bruno and others like him, who could not be persuaded to deny what their souls told them to be right, defeated death in dying. The utmost that the axe of the executioner or the fire of the Inquisition could do was to pluck away its garment from the soul.
Let us recognize these noble martyrs. Had it not been for their death-defying devotion to Truth, we would not have that freedom of thought, opinion, and expression. That freedom is ours to enjoy. We use or abuse it depending upon how well we have absorbed "the mind, intellect, and love" for which Bruno lived and for which he passed through the fire of death to become a Flame of Life.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 29-34.]
I hope that the time will come when we Theosophists shall weigh more strongly than we have been doing on the teachings of what happens after death in the kamaloka and the devachan. The average man seems to be today not so much immoral as amoral, i.e., seems to have largely lost the sense of moral responsibility. If men could realize what is going to happen to them after death, it would awaken a certain sense of needed behavior or conduct.
Now let us try to restore to mankind the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom: As you live so will you be after you die. It is a simple teaching and it is so logical, it appeals. Men may resent it at first, men may not like it; but there is a thought there that because of its logic, because of its justice, will finally throw forth sprouts of thought in the mind.
If you want to understand the kamaloka and the devachan, just study yourself now, and you will know what you are going to get. Just that. You are going to get a continuation of precisely what now you are. If a man indulges in vice, what is going to happen to him? He reaps the consequences of his evil doing. He learns by it the lessons that come out of the suffering. If a man fills his mind with gross thoughts and evil dreams, he learns by it in the end through suffering, but the effects and consequences on his mind and character will ensue. He suffers, he is in torture, he pays the penalty, he has poisoned his inner system, and he will not have peace until the poison has worked itself out, until he has become what is called re-formed, i.e., re-shaped. Then he will have peace again, and then he will be able to sleep in peace again.
It seems to me that the answer lies in just these thoughts. Study yourself in your daily consciousness; and study what kind of dreams you have. Why are these two conjoined? Because your dreams are from your own mind, and therefore are a part of your own consciousness. A man during his waking hours has evil dreams, evil thoughts; when he sleeps he has nightmares; he learns by them, but he certainly is not going, when he sleeps, to have a heaven of dreams because he has filled his mind with horrid, hateful, mean, degrading thoughts. He has not built the substances of heaven.
There you have the answer: and the kamaloka is simply a state of consciousness that the man's consciousness itself is in after death because he has made himself during his lifetime to have that consciousness. It works itself out, and then he rises or sinks into whatever is his destiny: a weak devachan, no devachan at all, according to the individual. In other words, if he has made for himself a character that is X, he will have that character X, whatever it is, after death. He will not have character Y, or Z, or A, or B. Contrariwise, a man who during life has kept himself in hand, has controlled himself, has lived manly, experiences the same law precisely. His after-death state will be unconscious in the kamaloka, or very nearly so, because he has no kamaloka biases in himself; and probably there will be a blissful devachan.
Suppose a man has no marked character at all, is neither particularly good, nor particularly bad. What kind of an after-death state is he going to have? He will have a colorless kamaloka, nothing particularly bad; and he will have a colorless devachan, nothing particularly beautiful or blissful. It will all be like a somewhat vague, intangible dream. It does not amount to much and consequently he will not amount to much after he dies.
Take the case of a young man of evil ways who reforms, let us say, at about middle age, and spends the rest of his life in deeds of virtue, of self-improvement. What will be his fate in the worlds to come? As I told you before, the kamaloka and the devachan are simply a continuation of what the man is when he dies. Consequently, an evil young man becoming a good old man has practically no kamaloka of an unpleasant kind at all. He will have to pay to the uttermost farthing for any evil he did as a youth -- but in his future life. His evil deeds are thought-deposits there. But as he reformed at about middle age, and had lived a clean decent life as a decent man, his kamaloka will be very slight, because it will be simply a continuation of what he was when he died, and the devachan will be in accordance likewise.
One can be in the kamaloka, as well as in the devachan, before death comes; indeed, it is possible to be in the avichi-condition even while embodied. And here is a very important deduction we should draw from this fact: if we have kamaloka while embodied men and women, we shall have it after death; and precisely according to the same law, because we have spiritual yearnings, dreams of a spiritual kind and type or character while embodied, we shall have the devachan after death. Do you see the point? The kamaloka is a prolongation or a continuation, until it is worked out, of what you have been through in your life. If you set your thought and mind and heart on things that bring you pain, which make you suffer because you are selfish, and stiff-necked in pride and egoism, you will assuredly continue the same bending of your consciousness after death. It cannot be otherwise. It is simply you. Therefore, the devachan and the kamaloka are prolongations or continuations of the same states of consciousness respectively that you have gone through on earth -- with this difference: that being out of the body, which is at once a blind and a shield of protection, you are, as it were, thought, naked thought. Do you see what I am trying to say? If your thought has been during life on things of horror, or if you have allowed your thought to bend in those directions while embodied, you will not be washed free of stain merely because you have cast off the body. Your thought, which is yourself, will continue and you will have to pass through the kamaloka and exhaust that phase of thought. It will have to die out as a fire will burn itself out.
Similarly, indeed exactly: if you have had beautiful thoughts, grand thoughts, sublime thoughts, in life, you will assuredly have the same thing, but a thousandfold stronger because no longer smothered by the body, when you have cast it off; and if you want to know what your destiny will be after death, just study yourself now and take warning. There is a very important and pertinent lesson that we can learn from this fact, just in that. You can make your postmortem condition what you will it to be now, before it is too late. Nothing in the universe can prevent the bliss of devachan coming to you, or rather your making it for yourself.
Deduction: Take yourself in hand. There you have the teaching of the kamaloka. There you have the teaching of the devachan. It is very simple. All the intricate, abstract questions I think arise largely in failing to understand the elementary principles of the teachings. When you lie down you dream, or you are unconscious. When you die you dream, or you are unconscious. You have, when you lie down at night, evil dreams or good dreams, or you are unconscious. When you die, you will have evil dreams or beautiful dreams or you will be unconscious -- all depending upon the individual and the life he has led.
So the kamaloka and the devachan and indeed the Avichi, are not things that are going suddenly to happen to you when you die; but because your consciousness has been that way while embodied, they, one or the other, will continue after you die. You see now the importance of ethics, and why all the great Sages and Seers throughout time have tried to teach men to spiritualize their thoughts, to refine their thoughts, to live in the heart-life as some people have said, to cast out the things that are wrong and evil. There is the whole thing, simple as A-B-C. The devachan is not waiting for you. The kamaloka is not waiting for you -- I mean as absolute conditions now separate from you. If you had them in life, you will have them after death. The man who has had no thought of hatred or horror or detestation or venom toward another, in other words whose heart and mind have never been nests of evil, will have neither an Avichi in life nor after death, nor an unhappy kamaloka in life or after death; he will have an exquisite devachan, and will come back refreshed and vigorous and strong and renewed to begin a new life and with everything in his favor.
After death, you continue to be precisely what you are when you die. There is the whole thing. There is the secret of the kamaloka, of the devachan, and of all the intermediate states of the Bardo, as the Tibetans call it. All the rest is detail, and that is why I keep emphasizing in my public lectures and in my writings, that death is but a sleep. Death is a perfect sleep and sleep an imperfect death. It is literally so. When you sleep, you are partly dead. When you die, you are absolutely asleep. If you grasp these simple ideas, you will have the whole teaching on your thumbnail, a thumbnail picture.
Now this is another point. I have heard people say that they do not want to remain in devachan; it is a waste of time. This is a misunderstanding. You might as well say, I do not want to have sleep tonight; it is a waste of time. In fact, you need the rest, recuperation, and assimilation of the experiences of the past life. You are strengthened by it, you grow by it. So that while the devachan is not a time for evolution, it is a time for building, for recuperation, for assimilation, for inner digestion, for strengthening, and is just as much needed as a man's night's rest in bed is for his body.
There will come a time in human evolution when even the devachan is no longer required, because the man has learned to live in the higher part of his being. Devachan, however beautiful, is an illusion. The time will come in the future when men will no longer have to sleep at night; they will not require it. They will have different kinds of bodies and thus learn to do without the devachan, and thus reincarnate almost immediately in order to help mankind -- that is the thing they love most of all -- and all other beings. These men are what we now call Masters, in all their grades. For us ordinary human beings, the devachan is a necessary episode.
The devachan, however, while a beautiful experience of the consciousness, is an experience of the higher personal consciousness, the higher part of us human egos, the higher part of the personal man, its aroma so to speak. In this fact lies the training bringing about the shortening of the devachan. If you learn to live outside of the personality, and as the Christians say, in the Eternal, while you are embodied, if it becomes habitual with you, your devachan will be correspondingly shortened because you will not want it. You will not need it. The bent of your mind is not in selfish beatific satisfactions of the soul. That is what the devachan is, a fool's paradise. When compared with Reality, it is an illusion. Just because men and women strain for those things and suffer to attain them, the devachan in Nature's infinite pity becomes the time when they have it, the resting, relaxing time, the time of recuperation, digestion, and assimilation. As we grow, as the ages pass, in future ages, we will not long so desperately to have these beatific satisfactions of the soul. We shall find our happiness in impersonal attachments to things of beauty, things that belong to the higher spiritual man, and not to the hungry human soul. Do you catch the thought?
That is where the training lies that all chelas are taught, that same truth, that and nothing more. Rise out of the personality so that you learn to use it as a willing, acquiescent instrument. Live in the spiritual part of you, which means impersonally; live universally so that you are not swayed by your own hunger for the things that please and help and rest you; but live in the spiritual, in the universal, and all these other things will be added unto you.
I do feel that we should talk more about the kamaloka and the devachan, and especially the kamaloka, in our public lectures. Let people know how logical our teachings are, how simple, how natural -- that you get precisely what you have sown in yourself as character, i.e., what is coming to you. It gives man a powerful reason for living decently. It appeals to his reason, it appeals to his instincts of justice. While Theosophy has removed the fear of death, we must instill the sense of ethical responsibility lying upon me, upon you, upon every human being.
By Margaret Smith
[From THE ARYAN PATH.]
John the Scot (Johannes Scotus), known as Erigena, was a Celt, who was born, most probably in Ireland, between 800 and 815, and he was still living in 877. The details of his biography are very scanty and little is known of his early life. It is said that he traveled widely, in Greece, Italy, and Gaul, and that he studied not only Greek, but also Arabic and Chaldean. His appreciation of Greek thought and his knowledge of the philosophy of the Alexandrian school lend some support to the view that he may have traveled in Greece. He appears to have been neither priest nor monk, but a layman, though he was the most eminent doctor of his time. The story that he was invited to France by Charlemagne and was one of the founders of the University of Paris is not supported by trustworthy evidence.
Charles the Bald, the youngest son of Louis the Pious of France, who was made King of Aquitaine in A. D. 832, aimed at being considered a great patron of learning. To this end, he invited to his court some of the most distinguished scholars of the time, so that it was popularly asserted that Greece was deserted of her learned men and Ireland denuded of her philosophers, through their attraction to the Frankish Court.
Among those drawn to this center of intellectual life was John Scotus, later called Erigena, who settled there about 843, probably at the invitation of Charles the Bald, who gave the Irish scholar a warm welcome. Scotus came to be on terms of intimate friendship with his enlightened patron, by whom he was appointed to the Mastership of the Court school (Schola Palatina) at Paris, which though not yet the ordinary seat of government, was a favorite residence of the king. At the Court of Charles, he lived and wrote.
There was a story current in later years, but not well authenticated, that in 882, Alfred the Great invited him to Oxford. William of Malmesbury, writing in the first half of the twelfth century, tells of the coming of John Scotus to Malmesbury Abbey as master of the monastic school, and of his being murdered by his pupils there. The historicity of this is also somewhat doubtful.
Not long after his arrival at Charles's Court, the Irish scholar, who was recognized as a man of wide learning for his times, was given opportunity to prove the value of his scholarship to his adopted country. In 827, the Byzantine Emperor Michael had sent to Louis the Pious a copy of the works of the Syrian monk Dionysius, the so-called Areopagite, whose mystical theosophy, though Christian in form was based mainly on Neo-Platonist sources. The gift was deposited in the Abbey of St. Denys (near Paris), who was identified with Dionysius the Areopagite, and search was made for a translator who could make known to the Western world the contents of the books. Erigena, with his reputation for Greek scholarship, seemed marked out for the task, and he was therefore commanded to translate the Dionysian writings into Latin. He was responsible for the translation of THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, THE DIVINE NAMES, THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, and the LETTERS of Dionysius.
The introduction of these books to the West was momentous in its ultimate consequences, but it was no less so in its immediate effect upon their translator. It was after this that he appears to have made a study of the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, and Porphyry, as well as the writings of Maximus, Gregory of Nazianus, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and Boethius.
Erigena, in addition to translating the writings of the pseudo-Dionysius, wrote commentaries on them and treatises on THE SOUL'S COMING FORTH FROM GOD AND ITS RETURN TO HIM and on THE VISION OF GOD, but his most famous works were those on Nature (DE DIVISIONE NATURAE) and Predestination (DE DIVINA PRAEDESTINATIONE).
Erigena's system is a combination of Neo-Platonic mysticism, emanationism, and pantheism linked up with Christian doctrine in a metaphysical scheme that he has succeeded in making very complete. In his methods of thought, in his opinions, and in his style of setting them forth, he stands alone in his age, in which, says one writer, "he appears as a meteor, none knew whence." In his originality and his uniqueness, he is to be compared to that earlier Neo-Platonic mystic, Iamblichus (around 284-330).
In his treatise on Predestination, Erigena states his view that true religion and true philosophy are identical, and that the solution of religious problems can only be effected by the study of philosophy -- a re-echo of Iamblichus. True philosophy, he holds, rests based on the Unity of God. In his teaching on the nature of the Godhead, the Ultimate Reality, Erigena insists on this truth from first to last. "Nature," by which he means all that has existence, of which the mind can take cognizance.
Erigena divides Nature into four classes. First is that which is Creative but not created, the First Principle, the Absolute Godhead, Ultimate Reality. Second is that which is both Creative and created, the prototypes or primordial causes, which are identical with God, the Divine attributes of goodness, wisdom, power, majesty, which are united in the Godhead and diffused in the world of phenomena. Third is that which is created but not creative, reality, emanating from God, the Absolute Reality, passing through the ideas into the region of the sensible world and becoming subject to multiplicity, change, imperfection, and decay. Fourth is that which is neither creative nor created, the Ultimate Reality under the aspect of rest, when all things have returned into the primal Unity, and God shall be All in all.
The fundamental thought in Erigena's doctrine is that Nature, the Universe, the Totality of existence, is God the Only Reality manifested in plurality in the world of individual existence, which is in truth but a theophany, a showing forth of the Divine Essence in the things created. He writes:
All things are from God, and God is in all things and nothing has been made apart from Him, since from Him and by Him and in Him are all things [made].
-- DE DIVISIONE NATURAE, III, 22
His pantheistic trend is made even plainer in his statement that "God is everything that truly is, since He makes all things and is made in all things." (DE DIVISIONE NATURAE, III, 4)
Real being and absolute perfection belong to God alone -- all else has only derived and imperfect being. "The being of all things is the Over-being of God." But the Absolute Reality is above all categories and therefore it is safer, Erigena holds, to use regarding that Reality the negative mode of predication, and say what God is not, rather than what He is; and it is not improper to call Him Nothing (Nihil), being Incomprehensible Essence. Only in this sense can creation be considered as a making of something out of Nothing, for actually all proceeds from God, who is predicateless Being. "Creation" is the manifestation of the Divine Thought, the unfolding of the Divine Nature, and as the Ideas that emanate from the Infinite Essence are eternal, manifesting themselves in the world of creatures, so creation is eternal, timeless.
Erigena deals very fully with the problem of evil, in his consideration of the Nature of God. What is good, he declares, cannot be the cause of evil, nor can the Totality of Being be the cause of what destroys being -- misery, sin, and death. Therefore, things have reality only if they are good: "being without well-being is naught." Evil possesses no substantial existence; it does not come within the knowledge of God. Since there is no necessity above God, what is true of the Divine will is true of predestination, and there can be no movement of the Divine will towards evil.
Predestination, which Erigena distinguishes from foreknowledge, is in one direction only, not towards sin and punishment, but towards grace and eternal happiness. The only sense in which Determinism can be accepted is that of God's permission of what happens to the creature through His gift of free will, but God cannot know of evil, for if He did, He would be its cause: the Divine knowledge cannot be separated from the Divine will, which is the cause of all things: evil, then, in relation to God, is simply the negation of good. --
The evil is null, is naught, is silence implying sound; What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more; On the earth, the broken arcs, in the heaven, a perfect round.
-- R. Browing
Erigena conceives that God's Nature is a Trinity in Unity, representing Being, Wisdom, and Energy, but these are only nominal distinctions, not representing distinction of essence in the Godhead.
Man is the culmination of the process of being from God, for he is the summing up of Nature, being possessed of reason, understanding, and sense, combining the highest and the lowest elements, the "meeting point" between creation and the Creator.
He understands and reasons as an angel: he has senses and administers the body as an animal.
Man is made in the image of God, the soul partakes of celestial being, but the union of Divine and human can only be adequately contemplated in the Heavenly Man, the Word Incarnate, and the supreme theophany.
(The doctrine of the Heavenly Man or the Primal Idea of man was found in Proclus and later, as the Perfect Man, the copy of God and the archetype of Nature, uniting the Creative and the creaturely aspects of the Divine Essence, manifesting the oneness of Thought with things, in the teaching of the Sufi al-Jili (1365-1406).)
Man, then, in his inmost essence, is one with God.
In so far as, man participates in the Divine and heavenly life, he is not [an] animal, but by means of his reason and intellect and his thoughts of what is eternal, he partakes of celestial being. In that part of him, then, is he made in the image of God, whereby alone God holds converse in men who are fitted for it.
-- DE DIVISIONE NATURAE, IV, 5
Erigena regards man also as representing a trinity in unity, for he says that there is a threefold motion or rotation of man about the Divine Center. The first and innermost circle is that described by the Intellect, that power of intuition that recognizes God as the Principle of its attraction, and the Source of its enlightenment, but recognizes Him as the Absolute and Incomprehensible Reality. The second circle is that of Reason (the Logos or discursive faculty) which recognizes and acknowledges God as the primary Cause of all that exists, and realizes His action through the primordial ideas. The third motion is that of the "senses," which is the perception of the working out of those ideas in individual action.
Man has free will as part of his nature, whereby he is made in the image of God, and this leads him to sin when it is attracted to what is outward and lower rather than to the inward and the higher. Erigena quotes the case of two men looking at a golden vase, in one of whom it arouses feelings of admiration and in the other of envy, but there is no evil in the vase that is the object of these feelings.
The evil, therefore, is not implanted in human nature, but it is caused by the perverse and irrational action of his reasonable and free will.
-- DE DIVISIONE NATURE, IV, 5
The senses are attracted to what appears to be good, and so the inner man "wherein naturally dwelleth truth and all good" becomes corrupt and sins. Evil, then, exists only in the perverted tendency of the human will, which is in itself good. But as it cannot be said that God knows of evil, so also man, when he assumes the Divine point of view and considers the All in its entirety, sees nothing evil, and the Divine part of man must in the end reassert its power. Evil, therefore, will end and will not remain, since in all the Divine nature will manifest itself.
Our nature, then, does not remain fixed in evil: it is ever moving forward and seeks naught else but the highest good, from which as from a beginning its motion takes its source and to which it is hastened as to an end.
-- DE DIVISIONE NATURAE, V, 25
The soul, therefore, seeks to return whence it came; and it begins the ascent when it discovers the illusion of the evil at which it has been aiming, and so is delivered from sin. Since the whole realm of created nature is a theophany, the soul can attain thereby to knowledge of God, recognizing His Being through the being of created things, His Wisdom through their order and harmony, His life-giving Energy through their activity and movement. So, to Erigena, all Nature is instinct with God, all is sacramental, the material pointing to the spiritual.
What is the glorious sun in heaven but a type of the Divine glory? This whole universe, in its beauty and its harmonious order, is but the sign and symbol of the beauty and harmony that lie beyond all the reach of sensual perception.
The human soul itself is the chief manifestation of the Divine, wherein His Presence may be known and felt.
As many as are the souls of the faithful, so many are the theophanies.
-- DE DIVISIONE NATURAE, I, 8, 9, 10
So the soul realizes that its chief end is to become one with God through becoming like Him, an end to be attained by purification, enlightenment, and completion. The stages of the return to final unity, corresponding to the stages in the creative process, are numerous and are reached and passed by degrees. Sin is selfishness and selfishness is the destructive influence that keeps man from realizing his great capacities, so that he must first be cleansed from self-centered sin, and then, by the contemplation of virtue, the soul can be changed into that which it contemplates. (See DE DIVISIONE NATURAE, I, 9.)
The growth and establishment of the virtues means the gradual deification of the soul. By the help of the Divine grace, man can rise superior to the needs of the animal body, and learn to place the demands of reason above those of the bodily desires. From the stage where reason is uppermost, he can ascend through contemplation to the sphere of the primordial ideas, and thence by intuition -- that gnosis which is insight into the Divine mysteries -- to God Himself.
Reason, contemplation, and intuition are the three degrees by which perfection is attained, and man must pass through these if he is to free himself finally and completely from that bondage into which he has been cast by sin, and attain to that union with the Divine in which salvation consists. That ultimate goal is deification; theosis, resumption into the Divine Being, when the individual soul is raised to a full knowledge of God and there is no more opposition of thought and being, for knowledge and being have become one. In the contemplation of the Absolute Nothing, the pure and perfected soul at last loses itself, yet this is not annihilation, for its individuality is preserved.
This therefore is the end of all things visible and invisible, when all visible things pass into the intellectual and the intellectual into God, by a marvelous and indescribable union, but not, as we have said before now, by any destruction of essences or substances.
-- DE DIVISIONE NATURAE, V, 20
The soul has now attained to that full knowledge of God in which the knowing and known are become one.
Precious is the passage of purified souls into the intimate contemplation of Truth, which is the true blessedness and eternal life.
And this deification is to be not only of the individual soul, but also of the universe, for all things are to return unto God, and in this restoration and redemption of the universe, evil vanishes away.
True reason teacheth that nothing contrary to the Divine goodness and life and blessedness can be coeternal with them. For the Divine goodness will consume evil, Eternal life will absorb death and misery.
As all things were originally contained in God and proceeded from Him into the various classes and forms in which they now exist, so they shall finally return to Him and be gathered up and reabsorbed into their original Source and all things thus become deified. After all things have been restored to the Divine unity, there is no further creation. The ultimate unity is called the end of all things. This is the fourth class of those into which Erigena divided Nature. It is that "which neither is created nor creates," for after all things have returned into it, nothing further will proceed from it by generation in place and time, in kinds or form, since all will be at rest within it and will remain an unchanged and undivided One, for God has become All in all.
Erigena's teaching, therefore, rests on a pantheistic basis, a philosophical system derived from Neo-Platonism, the result of the profound influence exercised upon him by his study of the pseudo-Dionysius. Like Origen before him, he endeavored to lay a philosophical foundation for his theology, and he was, in fact, a Christian theosophist.
Though the doctrines of John the Scot appeared sufficiently unorthodox to draw upon him ecclesiastical censure, they were so far in advance of the ideas of his time that they were not generally understood in his own age. He left some few disciples, but it was not until much later that the value of his writings came to he realized. It was through him that the influence of the so-called Dionysius was transmitted to the West and it was in the speculative spirit of John the Scot that both the scholasticism and the mysticism of the Middle Ages had their rise.
By Radha Kumud Mookerji
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1936, pages 275-80.]
The makers of modern India have been many, but among the sons of Aryavarta who have given a moral and a spiritual direction to its development, three men, whose overlapping lifespans bridged the hundred years from the last quarter of the eighteenth century to the last quarter of the nineteenth, stand out preeminent. Much of the credit for the continuity of culture that obtains between present-day India and the nation's glorious past must go to Raja Ram Mohan Rai (1774-1833), to Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-83), and to Sri Rama Krishna (1836-1886).
The movements that these men founded are vivid and potent influences still. With personalities differing markedly in many respects, all three were characterized by purity of life and devotion to truth. Each struck a definitely spiritual note. The influence also of their respective movements, complementary in fact though not by deliberate intent, is preeminently a religious, moral, and spiritual one.
RAM MOHAN RAI
Based on an unexampled width of knowledge, secular and spiritual, a study of the different religious systems and scriptures, Hindu, Moslem, Christian, Jain, and Buddhist, and of the Western literature of Freedom, Democracy, and Rationalism, Ram Mohan Rai emerged as the first modern Messenger of Universal Religion and of Modernism in India. Of him, Madame H.P. Blavatsky wrote, "No country can boast a purer or holier son than was this Indian reformer."
He was not merely the father of modern India but also a prophet of the coming Humanity. The Great Men of olden times achieved unequalled heights of excellence of particular types, like a Buddha or a Christ in the unfolding of God-in-Man, or a Homer, a Dante, or a Valmiki in poetic creation. But the modern age calls for a slightly different type of great men, as Robert Browning pointed out, men who should be great not so much by height as by breadth, by synthesis, by a harmonious combination of many excellences found to be conflicting or contradictory in previous history. The modern world more and more requires heroes of Peace, of Synthesis, and of Conciliation, who can reconcile the conflicts of different cults and cultures, of divergent national values and ideals. The India of Ram Mohun was already showing the conflict of different cultures and civilizations, Hindu, Moslem, Christian, Oriental, and Occidental, and in the solution of these conflicts lay the real origin of modern India.
Thus, Ram Mohan began his appointed work for India. He detached himself from different religions and took his stand as far as possible upon their common elements and central truths, viz., the recognition of one Deity and of some Principle of Creation, the need of meditation on that Principle as the Supreme Good, and the love and service of Man as the guiding principle of conduct in life. Thus, he held that there was only one Universal Theism that expressed itself only in certain varieties growing up under different local conditions, e.g., a Hindu, Islamic, or Christian Theism.
Each such variety had its own scripture, rituals, and symbols, which were determined by geographical, climatic, and ethnic factors. Each also should not be regarded as only a part of the Truth; each in its pristine purity was the Truth, specially and ethnically expressed or embodied. Each also should preserve its historic or traditional continuity, evolving along its own lines, though the different religions should have mutual contacts by which they should approximate a common ideal.
This philosophy led Ram Mohun to the curious position that he had to engage in a double religious task: first to defend Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity in their original pristine forms against the orthodox and bigoted votaries of each, and second to defend each against the attacks of the other two.
Thus Ram Mohun's religion was not a mere abstract eclecticism but rather a living faith in the common truths underlying different religions, to be understood as historic expressions and specific embodiments of a Universal Religion, just as different nationalities are so many embodiments of Universal Humanity.
His work in the spheres of social and political reform was important and far-reaching. He was instrumental in the abolition of suttee (where a good Hindu wife would cremate herself on her husband's funeral pyre). He also was prominent among the first patrons of modern education in India. His historic journey to England won many distinguished friends for the Raja himself and for the country whose unofficial spiritual ambassador he was. The breadth of his interests and sympathies reflected itself in a letter he wrote to the Foreign Minister of France. "All mankind are one great family of which the different nations are only branches."
One of the purest, most philanthropic, and most enlightened men India has ever produced, Ram Mohun Rai's dauntless moral courage and fervent religious feeling were joined to perfect modesty. He made no claims to spiritual leadership, but his most lasting monument in India is his Brahmo Samaj, which he founded in August 1828 on the lines of a pure Theism. The Brahmo Samaj was not announced as a sect, though for its devotees it takes the place of a formal religion. Many today look to it for their religious inspiration and spiritual guidance. Its viability is comprehensible in the light of the abundant spiritual vitality of its founder.
Swami Dayanand fought to rebuild and renew India on its religious side by strengthening its spiritual foundations. He has himself stated his Mission thus:
The chain forged by superstition and ignorance fetters the world. I have come to snap asunder that chain and to set slaves at liberty. It is contrary to my mission to have people deprived of their freedom.
Though I was born in Aryavarta and live in it, yet just as I do not defend the falsehoods of the faiths and religions of this country but expose them fully. In like manner, I deal with the religions of other countries. I treat the foreigners in the same way as my own countrymen, so far as the elevation of the human race is concerned.
Here Dayanand speaks as a world-teacher, as the votary of Truth Universal, and not of any particular creed or sect.
Dayanand trod the way that the Saints and Seers of India have trodden in their quest of Truth in all ages. That way is the way of asceticism pure and simple, a concentrated pursuit of Truth for which, as the BRIHADARANYAKA UPANISHAD states, "the desire for sons, wealth, and new worlds [is renounced in a dedicated life of mendicancy.]" This renunciation in the conditions of the modern world has often no meaning, because most people have nothing and have to renounce nothing. It was not so with Dayanand, born and bred in affluence that he heroically gave up for the life of an ascetic.
His Guru made him promise that he would consecrate his life to the purging of the original and true religion of India, the religion of the Vedas, of the abuses and impurities that had grown round it through the ages.
Dayanand's religious originality lay in his slogan, "Back to the Veda." Dayanand took upon himself the task of interpreting the Veda. No doubt, his powerful and original commentary on the Veda is not acceptable to all, and perhaps some more delicate work is called for to bring out many subtle aspects of that profound Revelation.
The worth of his intellectual work is not quite relevant to a consideration of his moral greatness. The man is greater than his work, his definite achievements, for he lives as an influence that is indefinite, formless, and pervasive.
Dayanand took his firm stand upon the Veda to condemn the various institutions and practices then current in the country and passing for Hinduism, such as Idol-worship, Caste by Birth, Child Marriage, Untouchability, and the like, and challenged all Sanskritists to prove the contrary. The challenge could not be answered in the face of his invincible knowledge of Sanskrit and his eloquence.
Never since Sankara had such a champion of the Veda appeared for a Digvijaya. Dayanand challenged orthodoxy in its stronghold at Benares where a battle royal was fought by him alone against three hundred Pandits constituting the whole front line and the reserve of Hindu orthodoxy.
He carried the message of the Vedas from the Pandits and narrow schoolmen to the masses by lectures, discourses, debates, discussions, conversations, pamphleteering, and writing books. He carried this message to the masses in the language of the masses, namely, Hindi. He thus literally brought down the Vedas from the grandiose sky of Sanskrit to the marketplace.
The Veda was no longer a sealed book for the elect. Like Vedavyasa of old, who made Vedic wisdom accessible to the masses by composing a popular edition of the Veda, known as the fifth Veda, the Mahabharata, Swami Dayanand brought to the masses his gift of the popular Hindi Veda. He carried the message of the Veda in this popular garb to the chief centers of population and pilgrimage, everywhere preaching, writing, and discussing in tireless social service.
As he was advancing in age, he, as a practical idealist, began to think how he could make the Mission survive the man and work after him. This meant the foundation of institutions that would perpetuate his teachings, just as tanks hold the rainwater for human use against the caprice of the clouds. In 1879, at Udaipur, under the auspices of the Maharana, he first created a Trust under the Trust Laws and founded the Paropa Karini Sabha for propagating the knowledge of the Vedas with Vedangas, to establish missions and depute missionaries to all countries for the purpose, and to educate the masses and orphans.
His greatest achievement was the foundation of the Arya Samaj. The first Arya Samaj was established in 1875 in Bombay and in 1877 in Lahore. This is not the place to give an account of the great and manifold contributions that the Arya Samaj with its network of various institutions for education and social service has made, and is making, to the building up of modern India.
The daring originality of its founder, which is apt to be forgotten, lay in his conception of building up that modern India on the basis of its most ancient and pristine foundation, the Veda and its religion. Every member of the Arya Samaj, a society of Aryas, devoid of all distinctions of caste and birth, class, and sex, is required by its founder to observe Svadhyaya, the daily study of the Vedas as the book of Universal Knowledge in which he profoundly believed, for he deliberately refrained from learning even English.
He put before modern India the five elements of Vedic Religion, (1) Tapas (asceticism and Brahmacharya), (2) Satya (reason and truth), (3) Brahma (study of the Veda), (4) Diksha (dedicated life), and (5) Yajna (self-sacrifice) forming the nucleus of India's moral and spiritual growth. Thus, a man innocent of any Western learning has been one of the great makers of modern India by the strength of the eternal verities of the Veda.
The astounding greatness of Rama Krishna lies in that he has flowered into perfection out of the commonest conditions of modern life in this materialistic age, like a lotus out of its seedbed of slough and slime. His life is the perennial hope of his race. It has shown how a mortal can achieve and attain the Immortal by only asserting the innate and irresistible supremacy of Spirit over Matter, of Soul over Sense. It has left for the modern world, so hopelessly held in the grip of materialism, the supreme consolation that man is capable of infinite development, in spite of the ills to which flesh is heir, even in and through the body with all its limitations, and can become a god even under the cramping conditions of mortal existence.
The message of Hinduism delivered to humanity by its chosen exponent, Sri Rama Krishna, is that every mortal, a spark of the divine, is a potential god, and it should be the supreme purpose in life of each to develop only his divine potentialities until the Individual merges in the Absolute out of which it arose. The outgoing process of creation, of the individuation of the Absolute, is always accompanied by the undercurrent process of incoming, by which the individual makes his inevitable approach towards the Absolute. It is these deeper undercurrents of the soul that which every individual human being must carefully seize for his salvation, so that he may not be swept away by the stronger currents at the surface of life throwing him into the vortex of endless objectivity. The path trod by Rama Krishna is the most ordinary path of mortals, but to what an extraordinary destination it led him!
In this progress towards the Universal and pursuit of the Absolute, he became more and more convinced of the ultimate unity of all religions, and could not remain confined to a particular creed. He believed the only religion for a human being to be his self-fulfillment, though there might be different paths towards that end. To realize this Truth of a Universal Religion and not to rest content with its mere intellectual or theoretical apprehension, as was his wont, he began to seek the teachers of other religions, those who were realized souls. He found a Moslem saint and lived with him to study his inward methods and disciplines of the life spiritual, which showed how they led to the same goal. Similarly, he acquainted himself with the doctrines and disciplines of Christianity and those of all sects he could find.
Out of this universality of religious outlook sprang an uttermost toleration and humility. This humility and self-effacement were not merely verbal or theoretical. Putting himself to the most severe practical tests, he practiced these virtues.
Five points sum up the elements of Sri Rama Krishna's greatness.
1. He has shown that man can achieve perfection even in this body and in any condition of life. He has only himself to thank if he does not achieve it. He should not depend upon any intermediary to do it for him or upon vicarious salvation. A man's self-realization must be his own work and concern. Of course, the first step towards that is the finding of the true Teacher who alone can direct this difficult process towards fulfillment.
2. Rama Krishna has shown that the religion for a realized soul can only be the religion that is eternal and universal -- for Truth is one. The differences of religion belong to its lower planes, to its texts and tenets. They cease on its higher planes, fading before the light of Realization.
3. His life is an example in Renunciation.
4. What he had acquired in solitude by his personal exertions he now was busy giving to society. Thenceforth he saw no rest from crowds flocking to him for his words. He would talk and teach for twenty out of the twenty-four hours, and this for days and years. This strain his body could not bear, but he would not desist.
5. We may note that while he was always ready and anxious to teach, he was not at all anxious to have a following or found a sect. He firmly stood for the supreme truth that one could not secure spiritual growth by any external machinery, apparatus, or organization.
One cannot achieve it solely by schools, temples, or congregational worship. It is exclusively a matter of one's personal relations with the Divinity within. Each must work out his own approach in his own individual way under the guidance of his teacher.
Hope that the vast organization built up by the Rama Krishna Mission in its network of institutions for social service, covering the whole country, will carefully cherish at its heart those principles of inner spiritual growth for which Sri Rama Krishna was so much concerned. The organization must always be able to derive its nourishment from an inner circle of devotees and teachers who are living the life spiritual in yoga and meditation in utter renunciation of all that is external.
By James Sterling
The power of the white magician Is centered in the concentration Of his powerful will, And an imagination to create Images and glamour, But only with the noble idea Of helping others -- never for himself. The power of the white magician Is selfless; he has no longer any Longings or desires for anything other Than the will to assist in the Struggle with the war Against the black. The white magician knows no bounds To his endless task; He hunts not to hurt or blame The emotionally weak; They are not to be blamed. His love and compassion are as strong As his indomitable and diamond-souled will. He comes spirit to spirit with the dark powers Who corrupt the minds of the children of the earth: The mighty war with the mighty. These dark powers are not an entity Called Satan -- but they are worse For they lure and destroy the innocent Souls of mankind, creating Illusions of doubt and despair. While the whole world cries out for help And the agony of desperation, The white magician wars with the universal Mind of superstition and ignorance -- The minds of men spin around, But travels no distance, Making little progress, Like the hummingbird wings through Space, but move not. Our minds and souls exist but Deny true spiritual growth and progress, Consuming life without meaningful significance, And the centuries roll by in darkness. But when the new cycle opens, The great white lodge will have An opportunity to go into battle With this sad ignorance that The dark powers control; And I, myself will be waiting, To join the Buddhas of Compassion In the fight for man's liberation. But for now, I work with that "still, small voice" For patience, purification, and perfection, Eliminating petty desires To strengthen concentration and will: The power of the white magician grows within me; And finally after years of turmoil and sweat, I will complete my uphill journey of silent Suffering and conquer myself: Once and for all.
By Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki
[From THE ARYAN PATH, January 1936, pages 10-14.]
The history of Zen Buddhism starts with Bodhidharma, popularly known as Daruma in Japan and Tamo in China, who came to China late in the fifth century. The significance of Daruma was not fully recognized until the time of Yeno (Hui-Neng in Chinese) when a dispute arose between him and his opponent, Jinshu (Shen-Hsiu). They were both disciples of Gunin (Hung-Jen, died 675), and each claimed to transmit the orthodox line of the Zen teaching traceable to the First Patriarch, Bodhidharma. This being the case, we can say that the value and signification of Zen Buddhism as distinct from all the other schools of Buddhism so far developed in China was not manifestly appreciated by its followers until late in the seventh century.
What is then the teaching of Daruma? Three characteristic features of it may be pointed out as distinguishable from other Buddhist schools. As Daruma's teaching, which later came to be known as Zen Buddhism, belongs to the practical wing of the Mahayana, it does not attempt to offer any novel method of philosophizing on the truth of Buddhism. Daruma was no logician. He simply wanted to live the truth. Whatever he taught, therefore, consisted in presenting a method considered by him to be most effective in the attainment of the final goal of the Buddhist life. The characteristic features of his teaching inevitably all relate to the Buddhist discipline.
1. The first thing needed for the discipline then was to know definitely what the objective of the Buddhist life was. Without full knowledge of this, the Yogin would be like a blind man running wild. Daruma pointed out that the objective was to see into the nature of one's own being, and this he designated shin or kokoro (or hsin in Chinese). Shin or hsin corresponds to the Sanskrit citta but frequently to hridaya. Translated as "mind," it is too intellectual; "heart" is too emotional; while "soul" suggests something concrete, it is so strongly associated with an ego-substance. Provisionally I shall make Mind with a capital "M" to perform the office of shin or hsin. Now Daruma wants us to see into this Mind. It is only when this is perceived or grasped that we attain the end that is the "peaceful settling of the mind," called anjin (an-hsin).
Daruma's interview with Eka (Hui-k'e) is significant in this respect. He did not talk about realizing Nirvana, or attaining emancipation; nor did he discourse on the doctrine of non-ego, that is, anatta. When Eka told his master how troubled he was in his mind, the latter at once demanded that he produce this troubled mind before him so that he could calm it for its owner. For this was Daruma's patented method, which had not yet been resorted to by any of his predecessors.
When Eka complained about his mind being in trouble, he used the term "mind" in its conventional meaning, which, however, indicated also that his thought followed the conventional line of reasoning. That is to say, he cherished an unconscious belief in the reality of an entity known as mind or shin, and this belief further involved a dualistic interpretation of existence leading to the conceptual reconstruction of experience. As long as such a belief was entertained, one could never realize the end of the Buddhist discipline. Daruma, therefore, wished to liberate Eka from the bondage of the idea of a mind. Liberation was a "pacific settlement" of it, which was at the same time the seeing into the inner nature of one's own being, the Mind.
Eka must have spent many years in this search for a mind, with which he was supposed to be endowed, philosophically or logically as well as conventionally. Finally, it must have dawned upon him that there was after all no such entity as to be known as mind. But this recognition failed to ease his mind, because it still lacked a final "stamping." It did not break out in his consciousness as a final experience. He appeared again before Daruma and gave an answer to the master's former demand for a mind: "I seek for the mind but it is not attainable." Daruma now exclaimed, "I have your mind peacefully settled!"
Eka now had a real experience, this authoritative "stamping" on the part of the master broke the intellectual barrier and made Eka go beyond the mere formulation of his insight as the unattainability of a mind. Without Daruma's absolute confirmation, Eka did not know yet where to have his "mind" fixed. A fixing was no-fixing, and therefore the fixing, to use the Prajna dialectic. In other words, Eka found his "mind" where it was not to be found, and thus his "mind" came to be finally peacefully settled. This is Daruma's doctrine of Mind.
2. Did Daruma teach us any definite form of meditation? Zen means Dhyana, i.e., meditation. Being the First Patriarch of Zen in China, Daruma naturally advocates meditation. His is the one specifically known as Hekkwan (pi-kuan), literally "wall-gazing." He has never defined the term and it is difficult to know exactly what kind of meditation it was. This much we can say, that as long as it was differentiated from the traditional method and claimed to be Mahayanistic, it was not mere tranquillization, nor was it a form of contemplation. It was to follow the idea referred to in the Vimalakirti: "When a mind is controlled so as to be steadily fixed on one subject, such a one will accomplish anything." This means, "to keep mind as self-concentrated as a rigidly standing cliff, with nothing harassing its imperturbability." Thereby, one can enter the Path (tau).
Daruma's Hekkwan, therefore, means "concentration," fixing attention steadily on one subject. There must have been something more in it. The Hekkwan was the method of finding out the "abode of all thoughts," in other words, of having an insight into the nature of Mind. The method is always defined and controlled by the object. When the object is to experience what is immovable in the movable without stopping its movement, the self-concentration means a state of utmost activity, and not at all mere quietude or passivity. The Hekkwan then in connection with its object begins to have a definite signification of its own.
In fact, "wall-gazing" is not at all appropriate to explain the Hekkwan. "To stand rigidly like a cliff" does not mean the bodily posture assumed by the Zen practitioner when he sits cross-legged with his backbone straight. "Being like a cliff or wall" refers to an inner state of mind in which all disturbing and entangling chains of ideas are cut asunder. The mind has no hankerings now; there is in it no looking around, no reaching out, no turning aside, no picturing of anything , it is like a solid rock or a block of wood; there is neither life nor death in it, neither memory nor intellection. Although a mind is spoken of according to the conventional parlance, here there is really no "mind," the mind is no-mind, shin is mushin, hsin is wu-hsin, citta is acitta. This is the Hekkwan meditation.
If we imagine this to be the final state of the exercise, we are greatly in the wrong, for we have not yet entered into the Path (tau). The necessary orientation has been achieved, but the thing itself is far beyond. When we stop here, Zen loses its life. There must be a turning here, a waking-up, a new state of awareness reached, the breaking of the deadlock, so to speak. All the intellectual attempts hitherto made to seek out the abode of all thoughts and desires could not come to this; all forms of contemplation, all the exercises of tranquillization hitherto advocated by the Indian and the Chinese predecessors of Daruma could not achieve this. Why? Because the objects they erected severally for their discipline were altogether amiss and had no inherent power of creation in them.
3. What may be called the ethical teaching of Daruma's Zen Buddhism is the doctrine of Mukudoku (wu-kung-te in Chinese) which means "no merit." This is the answer given by Daruma to his Imperial inquirer as to the amount of merit to be accumulated by building temples, making offerings to the Buddha, providing shelters for monks and nuns, etc. According to the First Patriarch, deeds performed with any idea of merit accruing from them have no moral value whatever. Unless you act in accord with the "Dharma," which is by nature pure, beyond good and had, you cannot be said to be a Zen follower.
According to Daruma, there is no antithesis in the Dharma of good and evil, of detachment and attachment, of "self" and "other." In Daruma's discourse on "the Twofold Entrance," he describes the life of a wise man in the following terms:
As there is in the essence of the Dharma no desire to possess, a wise man is ever ready to practice charity with his body, life, and property, and he never begrudges, he never knows what an ill grace means. As he has a perfect understanding of the threefold nature of Emptiness (Shunyata), he is above partiality and attachment. Only because of his will to cleanse all beings of their stains, he comes among them as one of them, but he is not attached to form. This is the self-benefiting phase of his life. He, however, knows also how to benefit others, and again how to glorify the truth of enlightenment. As with the virtue of Charity, so with the other five virtues: Morality, Humility, Indefatigability, Meditation, and Intuition. That a wise man practices the six virtues of perfection is to get rid of confused thoughts, and yet there is no consciousness on his part that he is engaged in any meritorious deeds -- which means to be in accord with the Dharma.
This concept of meritless deeds is one of the most difficult to understand -- much more to practice. When this is thoroughly mastered, the Zen discipline is said to have been matured. The first intellectual approach to it is to realize that things of this world are characterized by polarity as they are always to be interpreted in reference to a subject that perceives and values them. We can never escape this polar opposition between subject and object. There is no absolute objective world from which a subject is excluded, nor is there any self-existing subject that has no objective world in any sense standing against it. Unless we escape this fundamental dualism, we can never be at ease with ourselves. For dualism means finitude and limitation. This state of things is described by Mahayanists as "attainable." An attainable mind is a finite one, and all the worries, fears, and tribulations we go through are the machination of a finite mind. When this is transcended, we plunge into the Unattainable, and thereby peace of mind is gained. The Unattainable is Mind.
This approach being intellectual it is no more than a conceptual reconstruction of reality. To make it a living fact with blood and nerves, the Unattainable must become attainable, that is, must be experienced, for anjin (that is, peaceful settling of the mind) will then for the first time become possible.
In a recently recovered Tung-Huang manuscript, which for various reasons I take to be discourses given by Daruma, the author is strongly against mere understanding according to words. The Dharma, according to him, is not a topic for discourse; the Dharma whose other name is Mind is not a subject of memory or of knowledge. When pressed for a positive statement, Daruma gave no reply, remaining silent. Is this not also a kind of meritless deed?
According to a Buddhist historian of the T'ang dynasty (618-907 A.D.), the coming of Daruma in China caused a great stir among the Buddhist scholars as well as among ordinary Buddhists, because of his most emphatically antagonistic attitude towards the latter. The scholars prior to him encouraged the study of the Buddhist literature in the form Sutras and Shastras; and as the result, there was a great deal of philosophical systematization of the dogmas and creeds. On the practical disciplinary side, the Buddhists were seriously engaged in meditation exercises, the main object of which was a kind of training in tranquillization. Daruma opposed this, too; for his Dhyana practice had the very high object of attaining to the nature of the Mind itself, and this not by means of learning and scholarship, nor by means of moral deeds, but by means of Prajna, transcendental wisdom. To open up a new field in the Buddhist life was the mission of Daruma.
When Zen came to be firmly established after Yeno (Hui-Neng), there grew among his followers a question regarding the coming of Daruma to China. The question was asked not for information, but for self-illumination. By this, I mean that the question concerns one's own inner life, not necessarily anybody else's coming and going. While apparently Daruma is the subject, in reality he has nothing to do with it, and therefore in all the answers gathered below we notice no personal references whatever to Daruma himself.
In order to see what development characteristic of Zen Buddhism the teaching of Daruma made after the sixth patriarch, Yeno (Hui-Neng), in China, I quote some of the responses made to the question cited above, in which the reader may recognize the working of the Mind variously given expression to:
Ummon Yen: "Do you wish to know the Patriarch (Daruma)?" So saying, he took up his staff, and pointing at the congregation continued, "The Patriarch is seen jumping over your heads. Do you wish to know where his eyes are? Look ahead and do not stumble!"
Kisu Sen: "How did people fare before the coming of Daruma to China? Clean poverty was fully enjoyed. How after his coming? Filthy wealth is the cause of many worries."
Keitoku Sei: "How were things before Daruma's coming to China? Six times six are thirty-six. How after his coming? Nine times nine are eighty-one."
Gyoku-sen Ren: "How were things before Daruma's coming to China? Clouds envelop the mountain peaks. How after his coming? Rains fall on the Hsiao and the Hsiang."
Houn Hon: "How was the world before Daruma's coming to China? The clouds dispersing, the three islets loom out clear. How after his coming? The rain passing, the flowers in hundreds are freshened up. What difference is there between before and after his coming? The boatman cleaving the light morning fog goes up the stream, while in the evening he comes down with the sail unfurled over the vapory waves."
To the question, "What is the meaning of Daruma's coming from the West," the following answers are given by various masters:
Ryuge: "This is the question hardest to crack."
Ryozan Kwan: "Don't make a random talk."
Fusui Gan: "Each time one thinks of it one's heart breaks."
Shoshu: "A happy event does not go out of the gate while a bad rumor travels a thousand miles."
Dosan: "I will tell you when the river Do begins to flow upward."
In Zen, there is no uniform answer, as far as its apparent meaning is concerned, even to the same question. The spirit is free in the choice of material when it wants to express itself.
By Annie Besant
[From LUCIFER, January 15, 1891, pages 362-67.]
No more difficult work could be proposed, perhaps, to any body of people, than the understanding of Theosophy and the effectual carrying on of its propaganda. Its philosophy is more abstruse than that of Hegel, while it is also far more subtle. Many of its evidences require so much study and self-denial ere they can be estimated, that they will certainly remain hidden from the majority; not because they are in themselves incomprehensible, but because average, easy-going people have not the capacity of working them out.
The ethical teachings rest finally on the philosophy, and those who cannot, or will not, study the philosophy are reduced to accepting the ethics by themselves. These can, indeed, be shown to be useful, by that most potent of all arguments, the argument from experience; for they are most effective in promoting morality, i.e., in inducing social happiness. On this utilitarian ground, they can be taught, and can there hold their ground against any rivals in the same field. There they can use the conditional, but not the categorical, Imperative: the categorical remains veiled; the ultimate authority can be found only on the metaphysical heights, and those heights can be scaled but by the strenuous efforts of the patient and undaunted student.
Each such student can bear his testimony to what he has seen and known, but to all, save himself, his evidence remains second-hand. Personally won, it remains a personal possession, priceless to him, but of varying value to those who hear it from him.
Not on such evidence can Theosophy base itself in its appeal to the cultivated intelligence of the West, intelligence trained in the skeptical habit, and cautiously guarding itself against unproven assumptions. Nor let it be forgotten that the West has, in its own eyes, this justification: that it has freed itself from the bondage of superstition, and has won its intellectual victories, by the wise use of skepticism and the prudent suspension of judgment until assertion has been demonstrated to be truth.
It is then necessary, if Theosophy is to make its way in the West, and to give to it the much-needed basis of the scientifically spiritual, that Theosophists should present to the indifferent, as to the enquirer, sufficient prima facie evidence that it has something valuable to impart, evidence that shall arouse the attention of the one class and attract the other into the investigation of its claims.
The evidence must be such as can be examined at first hand by any person of ordinary intelligence, and it need not seek to establish anything more than that Theosophy is worth studying. If the study be fairly begun and the student capable of mastering its initial difficulties, its acceptance is certain, though the period of that full acceptance will depend on the student's mental characteristics and the type of his intelligence. As Madame Blavatsky says:
Once that the reader has gained a clear comprehension of them [the basic conceptions on which the Secret Doctrine rests] and realized the light that they throw on every problem of life, they will need no further justification in his eyes, because their truth will be to him as evident as the sun in heaven.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 20
In order, however, to begin this study, this prima facie evidence must be given, and these basic conceptions of Theosophy must be roughly outlined. Only when this is done can anyone decide whether it is worthwhile to enter on the study and the deeper evidences of Theosophy.
The value of this evidence is a point to be decided ere serious study is commenced. Often, in our Lodges, when the members are engaged in a consecutive course of study, a casual visitor, admitted by courtesy, will get up and suddenly ask, "What is the evidence on which Theosophy is based, and of what use is it." This is as though a passerby, dropping in and listening to a teacher instructing a mathematical class on the theory of equations, should suddenly challenge him to prove the use of numbers and the rationale of the algebraic signs.
In any science, save that of Theosophy, a person who expected a class of students to stop, while the reasons for their study were explained to a stranger who knew nothing of their subject, would be recognized as taking up a foolish and irrational position. In Theosophy, we are always expected to break off our work in order to prove that we are not fools for doing it. If we show any unwillingness to do this, it is at once taken for granted that our position is unsound, and that we are afraid of investigation.
We do not have time to justify ourselves to each successive visitor who may be led by curiosity to obtain from a member an introduction to our Lodge meetings. This paper is to present finally some of the evidences that have determined us to seek in Theosophy the light that we have failed to find elsewhere.
The word "Theosophy" sometimes leads people wrong at the outset. It gives the idea that the Wisdom-Religion as it is sometimes called postulates a personal, and therefore a limited deity. This is not the case.
Divine Wisdom, Theosophia, or wisdom of the Gods, as Theogonia, genealogy of the Gods. The word Theos means a God in the Greek, one of the divine beings, certainly not "God" in the sense attached in our day to the term. Therefore, it is not "Wisdom of God," as translated by some, BUT DIVINE WISDOM, such as that possessed by the Gods.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 1
The name is not ancient, dating only from the third century, used first by Ammonius Saccas and his school. But the teaching itself dates back many a thousand years, unchanged in its main features; taught today in England to truth-seeking students as it was taught when Buddha wandered over Indian plains, or earlier still, when ancient Rishis guided their chelas along the path that leads to Wisdom.
Theosophy regards the Universe as a transitory manifestation of Eternal Existence, the summer-day flower of an eternal unknown Root. That Root is the One Reality, the only Permanent among the myriad and fleeting phenomena that surround us on every hand, and among which we ourselves are numbered. From that, Unity proceeds all diversity; into that Unity all diversity again returns. It is manifested in the atom as in the man, in what is spoken of as the non-living as well as in the living.
[It], the infinite and eternal Cause -- dimly formulated in the "Unconscious" and "Unknowable" of current European philosophy -- is the rootless root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be."
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 14
Periodically the aspect of the Eternal Existence that we call Life radiates as source of the manifested Universe, the Universe being but "the variously differentiated aspects" of the One Life. Thus, to the Theosophist, the most differentiated forms are essentially one: "matter" and "spirit" are but the two poles of the one magnet, inseparable, not thinkable as existing apart from each other. To use clumsy phraseology, spirit is the One Life in its early manifestations, matter is the One Life solidified: the objective Universe "is, so to say, held in solution in space, to differentiate again and crystallize out anew" during a period of manifestation.
The "spirit" or "divine soul" in man is a spark of the One Life, undifferentiated from its parent Fire, and therefore alike for every human being. It is the fate of this "spark" to win self-consciousness by passing round the cycle of forms, and in man reaching and finally perfecting self-consciousness; the fully human stage once reached, all further progress is a matter of personal endeavor, of conscious cooperation with the spiritual forces in Nature.
The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric Philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations.
--THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 17
This "pilgrimage of the Ego" is the central idea, so to speak, of Theosophy: this gaining of self-consciousness is the very object and outcome of the Universe: for this it was manifested, for this it exists, groaning and travailing in pain to perfect and bring forth the self-conscious spirit.
This bald statement must suffice as to the teachings of Theosophy. This paper is not to expound Theosophical ideas, but rather to set forth some prima facie evidence that Theosophy is worthy attention. Let us then turn to the evidence, and ere dealing with it in detail, let us consider the general nature of the proof that may be fairly demanded of anyone who is willing to study Theosophy, if it can be shown to him that the study is likely to be fruitful.
Evidence must, speaking generally, be congruous with the position that it seeks to demonstrate. The aspect of the subject under consideration must govern the nature of the evidence to submit. Physical evidences must demonstrate problems of physical life. Intellectual evidences must demonstrate problems of intellectual life. If there is the spiritual life that Theosophy posits, spiritual evidences must demonstrate it.
Granted that the proof must be suited to the subject, save where the spiritual is concerned. To seek to prove to a blind man the existence of color by holding up colored objects before his unseeing eyes would be considered absurd. Any suggestion that there may be spiritual eyes that are blinded in some, and that the use of those spiritual eyes may be needed for the discernment of certain classes of verities, is scouted as superstitious or fraudulent.
Every psychologist recognizes the difference between the Objective and the Subjective World, and in studying the subjective, he knows that it is idle to demand objective proof. The methods suited to the extended world are not suitable to the unextended. A proof addressed wholly to the reason is nonetheless cogent because it has neither form nor color. In verity, to the trained intellect the purely intellectual proof, has a certainty higher than that of any which appeals to the senses because the senses are more easily to be deluded than the intellect, where the latter has been strictly trained and disciplined. Where the spiritual intelligence has been duly evolved and trained, it speaks with a certainty as much above that of the intellect, as the intellect speaks with a certainty above that of the senses. It judges the conclusions of the intellect as the intellect judges those of the senses, and utters the final word on every question presented for adjudication.
The "average man" is apt to regard a physical demonstration as the most convincing that can be given. It appeals to the senses. "I must believe the evidence of my senses" is a phrase that often drops from the lips of the slightly instructed person. One of the early lessons learn by the student of physiology is that the senses are very easily deceived and are subject to various illusions and hallucinations.
Some ingenious Americans gave an instructive illustration of this fact. They saw the famous "basket-trick" performed by a wandering Indian. One of American drew what he "saw," while the second photographed the various stages of the scene. The artist's drawing showed the well-known succession of startling events, the camera showed nothing. The senses had been led astray by "glamour," and their testimony was unreliable. Still, for demonstrating physical facts, physical experiments are the most satisfactory, and, with certain precautions, may be taken as trustworthy proofs.
Physical phenomena are not relevant as proofs of intellectual and spiritual truths. No physical "miracle" can demonstrate a moral maxim. The doctrine, "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you," is neither more nor less true because Buddha and Jesus could, or could not, cure certain diseases by means not understood by their followers.
The demonstration of a problem in Euclid is in no way assisted by the teacher being able to levitate himself, or to draw across the table to his hand without contact a box of mathematical instruments. He might be able to perform these feats and yet make a blunder in the working out of his demonstration. He might be incapable of such performances, and yet be a competent mathematical teacher.
Mathematical and logical proofs need no physical phenomena to accredit them. They stand on their own ground, are tried by their appropriate tests. Many people cannot follow a mathematical proof. It is impertinent to dazzle them into acquiescence by the display of some irrelevant physical ability. If they cannot appreciate the force of the demonstration, they must either suspend their judgment on the conclusion, or accept it at second-hand, i.e., on authority. They will be foolish if they deny the conclusion because the evidence for it is beyond their grasp; but they are perfectly justified in withholding their belief where they cannot understand.
If some important line of action depends on their acceptance or rejection of the conclusion, then they must make their own choice between acting on authority and suspending action until able to understand. The responsibility is theirs, and the loss of non-action, if loss follows, is theirs. The propounder of the proposition may fairly say:
This is true. I cannot make the proof any easier for you than I have done. If you cannot see it, you only can decide whether you will act on my assurance of its truth. Such and such consequences will follow your rejection of the conclusion. I have neither the right nor the power to enforce on you action founded on that which I personally know to be true but that you do not understand.
In Theosophy, the student will often find himself in such a dilemma. He will be left free either to proceed, accepting the authoritative conclusion provisionally or fully as a guide to action, or to decline to proceed, until the steps as well as the conclusion lie plainly before him. He will never find himself driven; but if he always stops until he has personally demonstrated a conclusion, he will often find himself losing what he might have gained by fearless confidence in teachers often proven.
For after all, the student of Theosophy is only advised to follow the methods adopted by pupils in every other science. It is not the blind faith of the religionist in propositions that cannot be verified that is asked from the Theosophical student. It is the reasonable trust of a pupil in his master, the temporary acceptance of conclusions every one of which is to be demonstrated the moment the pupil's progress makes the demonstration intelligible.
The study carries the pupil into the physical, the intellectual, the spiritual worlds, and in each the appropriate tests and proofs will be forthcoming: as physical proofs are out of court in the intellectual world, so physical and intellectual proofs are not available in the spiritual. Here again, Theosophy demands nothing differing in kind from that which is freely granted to our logicians and mathematicians by the physicists. As the former are unable to grant to the latter experimental physical evidences, so the spiritual adept is unable to grant to the logician and the mathematician proofs couched in their special intellectual forms.
Not therefore is his science superstition, nor his knowledge folly. He stands in the realm of the Spiritual, as secure, nay even more secure, than they stand in the realms of the Reason and of the Material. He can justify himself to them in their own worlds, by showing in the Material that he knows more than the physicist of the powers latent in matter, and in the Rational by showing that he knows more than the intellectual giants as to the workings and capacities of the Reason. In his own sphere, he is judged of none. He answers but to his Conscience and his Destiny.
The words "Teachers," "Masters," and "Adepts" imply that Theosophy, like all other philosophies and sciences, has its authoritative exponents. These form a Brotherhood, consisting of men and women of various nations, who by patient study and purity of life have acquired exceptional, but wholly natural, powers and knowledge. The Hindus speak of them as Mahatmas, literally "Great Souls" -- great in their wisdom, great in their powers, and great in their self-sacrifice. They are the custodians of a body of doctrine, handed down from generation to generation, increased by the work of each.
Into this body of doctrine, this vast collection of cosmological and historical facts, no new statement is allowed entrance until verified by repeated investigations, reiterated experiments by different hands. This forms the "Secret Doctrine," the "Wisdom-Religion," and of this, from time to time, portions have been given out, and have been made the basis of the great philosophies, the great religions, of the world.
By these, we may essay to track our road through history, gaining, as we go, the evidence for the existence of this body of doctrine from ancient down to modern times. We will seek (a) evidence from history; (b) evidence from world-religions; then we will glance at (c) the evidence from experiment; and (d) the evidence from analogy. Thus may we hope to show that Theosophy is worthy the attention of the thoughtful, and so perform the duty placed in our hands.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the first part of the tape recording entitled "The Study of Inner Worlds," made of a private class on FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY held on September 15, 1954.]
In our study of the Esoteric Philosophy, we have arrived at Chapter 14, which treats primarily of the inner worlds. Many questions suggest themselves when students of Theosophy touch upon the subject. These questions pertain to the nature and structure of the universe and to the whereabouts of people, forces, substances, and energies.
Anyone who is not even a student of the Ancient Wisdom wonders about this. When he becomes a student of Theosophy and perhaps knows a little, his questions are the same, but a little more systematic. Where are the dead? Surely, there must be locations where they are today. Can anything be in no place at all, in no place in particular? No. Those who have died are in various conditions of consciousness. That is perfectly true. Even so, they cannot experience a state of consciousness except in some locality. There is no state of consciousness hanging nowhere. Between his last breath on earth and his devachanic sleep, an individual passes through many states. Where does he experience them? Where are the inner worlds, planes, or spheres that he passes through?
There are energies and subtler substances known to science, which deals successfully with their effects. We do not see electricity, only its effects. Where is it? You cannot move a piece of electricity from one place to another physically. You have a flow of the electric current. Is that current the same as electricity? No. Where is electricity? On what particular plane or sub-plane can we find it? Where is magnetism? We do not see light. Where is it? We see illumination, an effect of light. Where are chemical energies? Where are atomic energies? You cannot move a glob of it around.
A wide field of energies, forces, and substances are not physical in the sense that we cannot weigh or touches them. They are subtler substances, more ethereal than ordinary matter. Where are they? While we do not perceive them with our physical senses, they are so close to being here that we can successfully deal with their effects.
In nature is a complete, perfect, unalterable record of everything that has ever taken place, is taking place, or is to take place in a foreshadowing of the so-called future. There is a record of every event in the universe, be it great or small, physical or non-physical, ancient or modern. This record is the astral light, a subdivision of akasha. These levels are accessible.
Despite many frauds, there have been genuine clairvoyants since time immemorial. They see differently among themselves. One penetrates a little into inner worlds; another penetrates much more. One is on medical, another on historic, and a third on scientific lines. Some unusually sensitive and artistic individual has musical clairvoyance. They penetrate to different levels, seeing and cognizing in different places. Chapter 14 establishes the foundation for our understanding this. The answer is that the interpenetrating worlds and spheres are practically infinite in the universe, an idea that has become scientific.
A scientist can devise a dial he can tune to a multiplicity of vibratory rates, excluding one another. Although not every scientist will agree, this proves the occult idea of interpenetrating worlds. The inner worlds do not know of each other just as two broadcasting stations operating on different frequencies do not know of each other's existence on that dial. They do not interfere.
The student of the Ancient Wisdom broadens the simile of dials and vibratory rates pertaining to each frequency. Every so-called physical or semi-physical vibratory rate has corresponding psychic, mental, intellectual, spiritual, and divine counterparts. It has resonances, correspondences, and analogies at all levels.
Consider the whole picture. Everything balances in nature so delicately that the various interpenetrating spheres and planes interfere with one another but rarely. On rare occasions, two radio stations might interfere with each other. Science knows the causes and has remedies to correct it. By analogy, it sometimes happens that certain sub-planes of the astral world close to the physical interfere with the physical plane. There is a momentary confusion of the physical with those sub-planes as they interfere with it.
Precisely at such times in history, we find an outbreak of psychic phenomena of all kinds, with even careful observers sometimes unable to distinguish events definitely as astral or physical. Such a time took place in Europe at the downfall of the Roman Empire around the fifth or sixth century. Another has been increasing since the middle of the nineteenth century and has yet to finish.
The physical and astral currents cross. There is an overlap with an inrush of strong psychic forces invading the physical plane. The resulting interference is like two broadcasting stations with wires crossed. Many physical individuals investigate the astral world, becoming at times intoxicated with too much astral energy lodging itself in their constitutions.
Intoxication can be physical, like from liquor, or astral. It is from overloading the system with what is foreign, though not necessarily out-and-out poisonous in itself. The western student knows little of the astral version. Not knowing its laws, he sees it as outlandish, strange, and peculiar. Its results are far more dangerous than physical intoxication.
There is little interference between various worlds. They mesh like wheels of a spiritual mechanism. Even so, there are overlaps and temporary interference at times when unusual things happen.
An advanced Occultist -- whether he is a high Chela or already an Initiate -- can pass from one plane to another with great ease. That is not interference between worlds. Intending to go somewhere, he undertakes a journey knowing the appropriate spiritual mechanism to get there. It is as scientific as buying a ticket, boarding a ship, crossing the ocean, and finding oneself in different surroundings to which one intended to go. Not knowing where we go, we can drift physically. We can also drift psychically. We can travel knowingly in the outer or inner worlds. Traveling in the latter requires knowledge and skills far greater than what we control yet.
The inner worlds interpenetrate. They exist within the auric envelope of various celestial bodies, such as the earth, moons, planets, and sun, the invisible moons, planets, and suns, and other solar systems on inner planes.
We are used to abstractions, but they mean nothing when analyzed. We must not deal in them. Many love them. Nature, the sum total of all that evolves, does not base itself on them. Think in positive but realistic terms.
The inner worlds interpenetrate. They do not float somewhere unattached to one another. They intermesh in astronomical and astrological systems of planets or suns. They are within the internal structure of celestial bodies of some magnitude.
Where are the inner worlds of the solar system? They are within its auric envelope or sheath. Like everything else, it is sevenfold. It has auric emanations that are physical, astral, mental, intellectual, spiritual, and super-spiritual or divine. Science is beginning to discover its physical aura, which it calls fields of energy.
The fields of energy exist on all planes within the auric structure of whatever system we consider. The Orientals call it the Egg of Brahma. Within this auric envelope are inner worlds that interpenetrate. Myriads of entities journey through these spheres, dwelling and evolving on them. Some beings are human, others are sub-human, and yet others are far ahead of humanity, being spiritual or divine. At any time, some embody on a particular plane and others disembody, taking a rest and journey between lives. Note that all entities enjoy a period of rest and journey between their embodiments. This does not just apply to human beings.
There are ten planes to a hierarchy. The physical is but one-tenth of its structure. Every plane is chock full of interpenetrating worlds. Myriads of living entities of all grades journey and evolve through them in innumerable visible and invisible combinations. Each entity belongs to a particular sphere until it transcends it evolutionally. Each is adapted to that sphere, a denizen thereon, finding therein the full field for its present evolutionary needs.
As we think more on this, our conception becomes grander and we come to a point where words fail to give justice to it. Dwelling on it, we begin to grasp the complexity of life and the endless inner structure of things. As we conceive of infinity in physical distance, we cannot establish a limit to extension. Likewise, we can establish no limit to inner distance. It is as infinite inwards as in physical extension. One is the counterpart of the other, equally infinite, and equally inconceivable.
Whichever way you turn, whether physically or with your mind directing your imagination and thought into the inner structure of things, you always feel in the middle. There is infinity in all directions. You can never be at the beginning or end of any particular thing. There is infinity behind you. There is infinity in front of you. There is infinite depth to inner structure, about which there may be mathematical symbols but there are no adequate words in any language.
Thinking of infinity, you may picture a direction to it, but even physical infinity does not have a definite direction. Obviously, if you draw a line, it goes off into space endlessly, but it goes off in myriad other directions according to whichever way you point it. It is hard to grasp infinity of size, picturing things smaller than an atomic particle.
It is more difficult to grasp an infinity extending inwards. Unable to experience it, the mind can only apprehend it intellectually. One enters an inner world using higher senses, not merely the mind. From physical experiences, the finite mind imagines what the experience might be like. One needs higher senses, yet undeveloped in man, to penetrate and experience the inner worlds.
Science talks about a fourth and possibly fifth dimension. It refers to time as the fourth dimension, but that is a misnomer. It has a tendency to misuse terms. The idea to increase the number of dimensions is correct, but the terms are the worst possible that science could have chosen. They are confusing and will have to be undone. As long as the physical world is what it is, it can have nothing more than three dimensions: length, width, and height. It cannot have a fourth dimension.
Scientists have an intuition that there are other dimensions than the physical, that there are extensions of substance and energy into other directions than length, width, and height. Their ideas are all right, but terms are wrong. We should not call these extensions dimensions. They are simply other sets of values, worlds, or planes.
Dimension means an extension of the physical world. There is length, width, and height to the astral plane, but they have nothing to do with the physical. There can be only three physical dimensions. When science postulates other possibilities of extension, it lamely approaches the idea of interpenetrating planes.
Paradoxically, the inner worlds are both within and without the physical. The outer world has its physical extension and limit. From its surface, it extends a certain distance inwards. It does not matter whether the surface is a mile thick and completely empty inside or is full to the core. It is a physical object. Where is the next more ethereal substance? This is part of its astral structure and extends both within and out away from its physical surface. Increasingly deeper levels of the spiritual or ethereal structure of a globe extend further into the within of things as well as further into the without. This reaches its higher astral, lower and higher mental, Buddhic, and Atmic structure.
The pattern is the same for man as for a globe. Where, for instance, is one's manasic principle? What is its sphere of influence? In its Buddhic counterpart, it is as wide as the solar system. Where is the sphere of influence of Buddhi or Atma-Buddhi? It is coextensive with the galaxy.
Consider the nice, simple question, "What is man?" Strictly speaking, some occultists have taught that Man is a pillar of light extending from the highest divine realms down to the physical and back again. We think of man as a physical body walking on the street. Scientifically, we now admit that he has an aura. In his higher principles, he extends over the entire solar system and beyond. Therein, he touches and connects with every part of the solar system. Except for students of the occult, does anyone pause to consider this?
Where is man? The answer depends upon your point of view. Physical man sits on this chair. That is the end of it. By no means does he stretch across this room. He is on this chair, limited by his surface. Bringing your hand up to him, you do not feel him unless you touch it. Using your inner senses, you might be ten feet away and already bump into him, into a higher portion of that man.
Thereby hangs a long but important tale as to exactly what man is. It applies to our globe too. Where is Earth? Physically, we know where. Where are its inner counterparts, the auras of its inner structure? They are coextensive with the solar system to which it belongs. Where is the sun? You might point to the quasi-physical globe in the sky and say that the sun is there. An occultist says that it extends millions of miles beyond the outermost planets Neptune and Pluto. Both are correct because within the auric envelope of the inner structure of the sun, the planets float, exist, and evolve.
This differs little from physical concerns. A well-built business, say a factory or manufacturing facility, is overshadowed by and lives within the mental aura of its creator, the one who organized and built it up. Every atom in it floats within the mental, overshadowing care and attention of that man. That is a physical analogy of the law. How much more important are the spiritual analogies!