To act with a deliberate intent to sway the will of another is always wrong. To set out consciously to interfere with the karma of anyone else would be simply practicing what it has become popular to call 'black magic,' and this is so even if the motive be originally good. Every man should indeed do all in his power, by means of reason and persuasion, precept and example, to prevent another man from consciously doing evil, and likewise to try to make him do better: not by imposing one's will upon this other, but by precept by example, by kindliness, by suggestive thoughts, by pointing out the new and the better way.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, I, page 513.
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 23-26]
In work or play, in business as in sport, men prepare themselves by constant practice. The student-server of Theosophy also realizes that he has to prepare for growth, and perceives the fact that growth is through service. In gaining this perception and in practicing, he makes mistakes. The ways of the higher life are so different, the mode of inner unfoldment at such variance with the methods of what some call modern progress, that invariably there ensues waste of time -- the most costly of all commodities in any market.
It is necessary to seize certain ideas that facilitate our endeavors at preparation. The first of these is like a mirror in which we can measure the stature of our growing inner nature. The spiritual life is not one of subtle rest but of increasing creative activity begetting real joy. Do we feel the zest of life, and contentment in work? In all things and at all times, do we feel uplifted naturally, that is, without any effort? This is the test.
We are apt to judge ourselves from the praise or blame that others bestow. We often value our work entirely in the light of the reputation that it evokes. This is not the test. Spirit-unfoldment registers its strength in light to the mind and repose to the ever-active consciousness. If our thoughts and deeds enlighten our own minds and bring peace and joy to our own hearts, they are the natural expressions of the inner light. Discontent proceeds from absence of bliss, Ananda, which is the nature of Buddhi.
The affinity subsisting between our inner and outer natures provides the second of the rules for our consideration. Reliance on Atma grows with the denial of ahankara. In "denial" lies one of the main practices of the life of the warrior-soul. The life of the senses gives birth to Egotism. The powers and forces of mind are prostituted for the gratification of desire in all relations of life. The marital tie, sacred and beneficent, subsists between mind-powers and the human Spirit, divine in nature.
What happens in modern society is symptomatic of what takes place in the life of many a student of Wisdom. The debasing of the marriage life so rampant in our civilization flows from the same archetype whence emerge the divisions in individual life whereby we live in turns the lower animal and the higher divine lives. Between the two, however hidden or obscure, a sure relationship is expressed in the second rule we are examining.
In preparing ourselves for the Path of Holiness, we have to practice denial of ahankara-egotism by a constant appeal to Atma, the God within. Thus, Self-reliance grows. Atma is altruistic, in the small man as in the large universe. It is everywhere because of its altruistic nature. To rely on It is to see in true proportion the multitudinous effusions of ahankara-soul, the lower self. The light of Atma enables us to determine the real values of the different component parts of the lower self.
Hence, contemplation on Atma becomes necessary. The pure Heart pervades not only heaven but also hell. The descent of Jesus into the nether regions is a dramatized version of the psychological experiences every neophyte goes through. In the conquest of flesh, in the holy crusade, the jihad of the Muslim, pure Atmic altruism pervading the field of battle subdues both good and evil, heaven and hell, rising superior to both. One of the pairs of opposites, pleasure is often mistaken for Bliss for the same reason that the lower self and ahankara are mistaken for the higher self and Atma. In getting ready, the light of Atma that is Bliss, the love of Atma that is Wisdom, and the Labor of Atma that is Sacrifice have to be seen as superior to the pleasure, the knowledge, and the activity of the lower self. With this perception comes the strength to "slay," that is, to regenerate the animal-man.
The alchemical power to transform the baser metal of the lower self into the gold of the higher abides in the Heart of man. This mighty Shakti-Power lies dormant and asleep. It is a coiled Dragon of Wisdom. Elsewhere in the human constitution is the venomous snake of self, that eternal foe of every aspirant to Wisdom and Altruism. Snake and Dragon are of the same species and so the injunction -- "be merciful to the foe; against its treacheries be on guard." To subdue the lower but avoid irritation to it is skilful action. The two characteristics necessary for this enterprise are a sense of humor for the foibles of the lower self and a never-failing watchfulness over its insidious ways.
In this holy war of regeneration, the purifying power of knowledge has to be used. This is where Theosophy, as a body of knowledge, sure and infallible, founded and reared on the accumulated experience of the sages, proves useful. Every decent-minded individual wants to better his life. Many an enthusiast is willing to practice rules of conduct that will bring success to him. Few indeed study the science of the soul, even theoretically, for the law of reliance on Atma by the denial of ahankara frightens or discourages them.
Those who mentally understand the teaching often lapse into old ways and modes of denial of Atma and reliance on ahankara. Time is not allowed, such is the rushing nature of our race, for the assimilation of what is studied. The spontaneous generation of the Dragon of Wisdom in the cave of the Heart can take place only in the passage of time. If in that period we are disturbed by events or are wearied to disgust with things, we identify ourselves with those events and things. "Time (Kala) alone survives death (Yama) -- Self (Atma) is made of time (Kala)."
To be the better able to help and teach others, we should use time to study. Let time use us for the process of assimilation. Thus, we achieve yoga with Time.
Knowledge in the passage of time will purify the lower self of its dross and give birth to compassion by the aid of which others can be truly helped. Compassion replaces Knowledge with Wisdom, makes all actions sacrificial, all existence blissful. Thus, we attain yoga with Space.
By a study of Theosophy, we acquire Wisdom. By the practice of Theosophy, we acquire Compassion. These two lead to the attainment and realization of the Bliss of the inner Life. To be blissful, to be compassionate, and to be discerning -- these constitute the eternal triad of preparation for the life of Spiritual service. In this attempt, speaks the Teaching, "Beware of settled security. It leads to sloth, or to presumption."
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, May 17, 1954, pages 171-74.]
HPB has declared in more than one place "no mythological story, no traditional event in the folklore of a people has ever been, at any time, pure fiction, but that every one of such narratives has an actual, historical lining to it." (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 303) The history of the early races of humanity, the former continents and their civilizations; long-lost but important secrets of nature; as well as deeply occult truths as to man's place and goal here on earth are all contained in these myths, legends, and folk tales that have come down to us. They are not fiction, evidence of the superstitious mind of the ancients, or products of the imagination. All over the world, storytellers recount the same old, old tales, and the mere imagination of the masses of different nations could never have conceived and fabricated such a wealth of extraordinary tales -- different in name and locale, of course, but identical in essence.
Such tales are the means by which simple people and children can communicate to each other simple virtues and simple facts regarding life; yet they contain truths profound enough to puzzle the greatest intellects. For, unless and until we know more about the laws of nature and the process of evolution, these tales must remain lovely but sealed mysteries. Many of them are difficult to understand because they are recorded in the language of symbolism.
Says HPB,The religious and esoteric history of every nation was embedded in symbols; it was never expressed in so many words. All the thoughts and emotions, all the learning and knowledge, revealed and acquired, of the early races, found their pictorial expression in allegory and parable.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 307
This mode of expression by sign language is no longer understood today. Theosophy, however, being the ancient and consistent record of eternal truth, furnishes the clue to the understanding of ancient legends and fairytales. HPB has further said that each of these ancient myth-tales can be examined from as many as seven aspects. To unravel all the seven meanings may not be possible for us today, but at least one of the seven keys could be used by us: the application by the individual to his own life experiences. This is an exercise of imagination, intuition, and discernment, and the working of individual insight is far superior to any mechanical extraction of a cut-and-dried "moral." The difference between the two processes is the difference between the esoteric and the exoteric reading of the truth.
Certain spiritual ideas are imprinted on the inner, immortal man. Thus, certain folk tales that embody these ideas have a universal and perennial appeal. The following, for example, is found in many variants. Best known in the myth of Eros and Psyche from THE GOLDEN ASS of Apuleius, it portrays the dark, unconscious link between the divine and the human soul of man (Eros and Psyche) and the struggle of the latter in the face of obstacles raised by Nature (Venus) to make this link self-conscious and enduring. "The Snake Prince," "Jack-My-Hedgehog," "The Great Pig," and many others tell the same story. This one is from Scandinavian folklore.
EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON
Once upon a time, there was a poor husbandman with many children, but the youngest was the prettiest. One wild, wet Thursday night in autumn, there came three taps at their window, and there outside stood a great White Bear.
"Good evening to you."
"The same to you."
"Pray give me your youngest daughter and I will make you as rich as you now are poor," said the Bear.
At first, the girl said "No," but her father talked her round and the Thursday next off she went on the Bear's back.
"Are you afraid?" asked the Bear.
"Indeed, no," she replied.
So on they went, a long, long way, to a steep hill at which the White Bear knocked. A door opened into a grand castle inside, and the Bear gave the girl a silver bell to ring for whatever she needed. After a wonderful meal, she slept in a fine white bed. When the light was out, the White Bear, who had thrown off his beast shape, came as a man and lay down beside her. But he always went away before dawn, and she could never get a sight of him.
Things went happily until she began to feel lonely in the daytime and begged to be allowed to visit her family.
"Very well," said the Bear, "but promise never to talk with your mother alone, for that will bring misfortune."
And she promised. So the Sunday next, he took her to the family's new, grand house, where they were overjoyed to see her. She told them nothing about herself, and when her mother begged her to come upstairs for a talk, the girl tried hard to put her off, but somehow or other was persuaded to tell her the whole story.
"Goodness," said the mother, "he may be a Troll! Hide this bit of candle and when he is asleep, just light it and look. But don't drop the tallow on him."
The girl took the candle to the castle, and that night, as the White Bear slept, she got up softly and lit it. There was the loveliest Prince you could ever imagine, and she fell so deeply in love with him that she leaned over and kissed him on the lips. But as she did so, three hot drops of tallow fell on his shirt and he awoke.
"What have you done?" he cried out. "I had been free if you had held out just for one year. My stepmother bewitched me into a White Bear by day and a Man by night. Now I must leave you for where she lives in a castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. There too is a Troll Princess with a nose three ells long, and she is now the wife I must wed."
The girl wept and wept, but depart he must, and she, all alone, would have to seek out the way to that castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon if she would save him. Weeping bitterly, she set out and, having walked for many days, came to a tall rock. Under it sat an old woman who played with a golden apple.
"Which is the way to the Prince in the castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon, who is to marry a Troll Princess with a nose three ells long?" the girl asked.
"Maybe you are the one who should have had him," said the old woman. "The castle I do not know, but I will lend you my horse to ride to my sister. She may know more. Take this apple with you, and when you reach her, give the horse a switch under the left ear, and bid him go home."
So the girl rode on, a long, long way, to another tall rock, and there sat an old woman with a carding-comb of gold. She also knew nothing, but sent the girl on to the third sister, bidding her drive the horse home as before, and gave her the carding-comb. Again, the girl rode on, a long, weary way, until she came to another great rock, and there was a third old woman, spinning with a spinning wheel of gold. She knew no more than the others knew, but gave the girl the spinning wheel, bidding her ride to the East Wind and send the horse home as before.
On rode the girl, a long, weary path, to the house of the East Wind and asked him the way. Yes, he had heard of the castle, but had never blown so far. But he would carry her to the West Wind, who was stronger than himself. So away they went till they came to the house of the West Wind and asked him the way.
"I've never blown so far," said the West Wind, "but I'll take you to the South Wind."
So away they went to the South Wind and the West Wind asked him the way.
"I've breezed around," said the South Wind, "but never gone so far. We will ask our eldest brother, the North Wind, for he is the strongest."
So away they went to the North Wind, who was huffing and puffing, all wild and fierce. But the South Wind called out, "Here's the girl who should have had the Prince in the castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. Can you show her the way?"
"I once blew an aspen leaf there," said the North Wind, "but was so worn out I hadn't a puff left in me for days. Still, if you wish it, my girl, and are not afraid, I'll see if I can blow you thither."
"With all my heart," said the girl, "for I must and will get there. I am not afraid."
So early next morning, the North Wind puffed himself out -- terrifying, huge, and strong -- and off they went. Down below it caused havoc -- woods and buildings torn up and ships foundered by the hundreds. On and on they flew over the never-ending sea, until the North Wind was so weary he could hardly blow a puff. His wings drooped and the waves splashed over his heels.
"Are you afraid?" asked the North Wind.
"No," said the girl.
Just then there was land sighted ahead and the North Wind just managed to throw her on the shore before the castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. But he was so faint he had to rest for many days before he got home.
Next morning the girl sat down before the castle and began to play with the golden apple, and who should see her but the Troll Princess who was to wed the Prince!
"What do you want for your apple?" she asked.
"It's not for sale, neither for gold nor money," the girl replied.
"Name your price," said Long-Nose.
"That I may spend one night with the Prince who lives here," said the girl.
The Troll Princess was willing, but when the girl came to the Prince's room, he was fast asleep. Nothing would waken him, and she was chased out of the room in the morning.
Once more, she sat down and began to card with the golden carding-comb. Again, Long-Nose wanted it and again the girl refused, except for a night with the Prince. The Troll agreed, but when the girl went up, for all that she wept and called and shook him, she could not rouse the Prince. Again, Long-Nose chased her out in the morning.
A third time the girl sat down and began to spin with the golden spinning wheel, and that too Long-Nose wanted.
"No, it is not for sale," she said, "except for a night in the Prince's room, as before."
Now fortunately some good folk slept next door and had heard the girl weeping and calling the past two nights, and so they told the Prince. That evening, when Long-Nose came in with her sleepy-drink, the Prince threw it away unnoticed. So when his true love came in, she found him awake and told him all her tale.
This has something to teach at all levels. From it, the youngest child can learn the simple virtues, e.g., of courtesy even to those whose appearance is queer (who knows what opportunities they bring?) ; of courage, for the emphasis on it is unmistakable; of perseverance that keeps steadily on, despite weariness and disappointment. One cannot miss the dangers of breaking a promise, or curiosity, or fail to see the justice of the fact that those who dirty a garment are the ones to clean it.
But it is when we look at the symbolism of the tale that we begin to sense its profounder lessons. For the constellation, the Great Bear, is the symbol of the primordial cosmic powers (the Seven Rishis) that exist in time and space, the forces "from which and into which the divine breath, MOTION, works incessantly during the Manvantara" or life-term. In the individual, it is the primordial septenary ray of his septenary life-cycle, the nucleus of his being, the Monadic Heavenly Man. Just as the Monad is the inherent, immortal part of man that compels his growth towards perfection, so does the bewitched White Bear (white including all the colors) call for the human-soul-to-be, the youngest upon the material scene of evolution. But the personal soul only knows its divine lord by night, in sleep; by day, it is only aware of it in its animal nature and form. Touched by the divine contact, the unsatisfied soul aspires, desires, but does not know yet what it desires. To satisfy its longing, it turns back to the familiar things of matter.
Here we find a link with the Promethean myth. By the light of mind, the human soul becomes aware of divinity and enamored of its beauty. Yet, in some mysterious way, that light, in its tempting material aspect, is premature, and it plunges both the human and the divine soul into an intensification of difficulties and tribulations. For the human soul's view of its divine partner is conditioned by the material, personal outlook (the bit of candle given by the mother) and so its attitude mars the Spirit's garment with the three spots of tallow, ambition for progress and success, desire for life, and desire for comfort and happiness -- for self. The soul desires to hold the Spirit for itself and then finds itself bereft.
With self-conscious perception still rooted in the personal, the human soul is seemingly further from its lord than when it felt its presence instinctively. It has to find it again with self-conscious pain and effort, or else the monadic spark is doomed to union with the most gross, material element, the psychic, personified by the Troll Princess with a nose three ells long. For each of the senses correlates with an element. Spiritual teachers are represented with long ears to denote that their consciousness is centered on the pure akasic plane whose characteristic is "sound." The sense of smell is equated with the earth, or matter; so the lengthening of the nose clearly indicates the gross, material character of the lower psychic principles that claim the monad, the sleeping Prince, unless the human Manas can find and call it awake.
The castle East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon surely lies, then, in the mid-region of our being, neither sun-immortal nor moon-mortal -- the bridge of Antaskarana, where the final choice has to be made. But before that moment, the human soul, one-pointed in its aim, must make its own destiny. The three old women are unmistakably blood-sisters to the Greek Parcae, the Fates, as also to the Scandinavian Norns -- Past, Present, and Future. The golden apple must have grown on the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for the actions we do with full human awareness are those that bring the experiences by which we approach our goal. The carding-comb is the judgment with which we must comb out the dross of that experience from that which we keep, in order to spin from it the thread of our true destiny, the line of our life's meditation. Later, what time has given us -- experience, judgment, and will -- must all be traded, offered up for the possibility of awakening the Spirit.
The Four Winds are universal characters in legendary lore, for they stand for the Regents of, the intelligent powers behind, the four great cosmic forces and elements, said to preside over the cardinal points, each with a distinct occult property. They are the material agents by means of which Karma restores equilibrium. Mankind sets up causes, both individual and collective, which awaken corresponding powers in the cosmos, and these are magnetically attracted to, and react upon, the makers of those causes. The thoughts, feelings, and deeds of the searching soul produce reactions in the cosmos that bear it onwards, as do the Winds in the story. These Winds, the principles of Cosmic Space, intimately connect with the Pole Star, which is itself linked with the Bear constellation and therefore the North Wind finally carries the soul across the ocean of samsara to the castle where the last struggle between the principles takes place.
There the soul must surrender one by one the results of all its individual experience, its judgment, and its will, for a higher purpose. It has at length to wash away the three blots of individual desire -- ambition, separate life, and happiness. The more the psychic nature -- personal thoughts, feelings, and sense impressions, as personified by the Trolls -- concerns itself with these faults, the greater and darker they grow. We do not overcome our vices by thinking and worrying about them. The touch of the beggar-soul, with nothing left to call its own, removes all stains of former selfishness from the heavenly garment. The evil embodiments burst, the imprisoned "lives" are set free, and soul and Spirit, reunited, gather into the great storehouse of eternal memory the treasures of wisdom gained through the vicissitudes of the life pilgrimage.
By Grace F. Knoche
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, October 1941, pages 263-69.]
This question, if it keeps on cropping up, will divide students into not two but several camps. There is the plain person who has little faith in his capacity for judging and perhaps little time for study. There is the devotee (a trifle inert very often) who thinks that ethical teachings are enough, the brilliant mind that is too impatient to be profound, and the congenital reformer who knows that he ought to learn but would rather teach. Finally, as a nucleus for the future, there are those quiet and genuine students who see that the hurdle of a handful of technical terms is very little indeed to consider in view of the tremendous speeding-up -- spiritual and intellectual -- which he sees also is the sure reward of taking it. In addition, there is the puzzled inquirer who does not know what he is, or where, but who, come wind come weather, is going to find out about Theosophy somehow, yet is confused by this wordy fog.
One is amazed at the persistence of this question, for the answer is simplicity itself. Theosophy will be written in English when we who speak this language have English words to express, understandably and succinctly, its clear direct teachings and ideas. Unfortunately, when Theosophy was brought to the West, we had no such words. How could we have names for teachings and ideas of which our dictionaries were chemically pure and even Western scholars had never heard? Alice in Wonderland might uncover an answer, but we are speaking from Globe D.
In fact, the question as stated is purely rhetorical. What it means is, "When will Theosophy be written in English without the inclusion of Sanskrit words and terms?" However, let us take it as it stands, and the first step is to settle upon what we mean by "English." Just what is English? A dictionary might know something about it and one happens to be before us -- the Funk and Wagnall's Collegiate. A less than ten-minute perusal of its pages discovers the following Sanskrit words: Atman, amrita, Buddha, guru, dharma, prakriti, shakti, sati (suttee) maya, sutra, Indra, Vishnu, Shiva, trimurti, nirvana, Mahabharata, vina, yoga, and yogi.
Whatever these words were once, they are English now, as English as Chicago or Des Moines, regime, bouquet, piano, molasses, or some thousands of others once immigrant and suspect, now citizens. Return to the dictionary. It doubtless contains other Sanskrit words, perhaps many, but here we have twenty, a larger number than one can find in any but the most exceptional, even a technical, article. Note that an Editorial Board composed of scholars includes these words, without benefit of apology, in an English dictionary known to probably every college in America, thus posting them as belonging to the English language. Incidentally, before passing on, we check this list against the PRACTICAL STANDARD DICTIONARY on the shelves across the hall. We find every word there, too -- and this in a dictionary described on the title page as "practical."
So what is this English in which Theosophy cannot be written, and yet can be? For we cannot repudiate these Sanskrit words without repudiating equally the almost numberless technical words today found not only in dictionaries but in dozens of glossaries on law, medicine, anatomy, botany, and chemistry. (Sanskrit, a language of compounds, has nothing to compare with the 40-letter unpronounceable terms of the chemist!) There are yet more technical words found in yet other subjects that are technical but like Sanskrit belong in the now rising cycle of human knowledge and thus are worthy the steel of the worthwhile mind. Or glance down the columns of a competent Index in a technical book -- say on botany that is well past its youth and harmless -- and note the multitudes of words and terms at one time as strange to us as Sanskrit, but now by rite of adoption full citizens of the fatherland we call English. A bit of history must be inserted here, for the question, "What is English?" requires something more than a categorical answer.
What in due course came to be known as English had its roots in a spoken speech brought over to the island now called England, from the continent -- from the forests of the North Sea and the Baltic, the low terrain of the Elbe, the Weser, and the Rhine, by migrating groups sifted from populous clans. First came the Angles, then the Saxons, then the Frisians, the Norsemen, and the Danes. They brought their wives and children and their strong will to stay; they brought their household goods and gods; they brought their speech, their dialects, whose words were as exotic, as wholly strange, as Sanskrit is to most of us today. They fought their way to and into this island-country, and they settled down to stay.
It does not make the politest picture, but history paints it so, and after a century of the spadework that was to make Anglo-Saxon the speech of this new land, its inner terrain of thought and communication was plowed, furrowed, and seeded with these new, strange words. The native Celtic, hardly more than spattered with Latin, mingled with the dialects of the invaders, for Rome had moved out, bag and baggage, and had taken its language along. The day of books and scholarship was to come. Fat books and many have been written around these proceedings and migrations, but a bare summary will suffice. So much however is indispensable, for we must define that word "English" and definitions have to rest on a foundation or they cannot define.
There were law-courts, and there was of course a church, but these alone concerned themselves with Latin. The vernacular was simply Old English, familiar in the college Manual, and comprised roughly of three main dialects. There were the Northumbrian, brought in by the Angles and so named because spoken north of the Humber; the Mercian of the Frisian clans, spoken south of this river to the Thames; and the Wessex or Saxon, still further south, the mother tongue of Alfred the Great. Certainly, there were minor dialects, and no doubt overlapping, but this will do. The dialect of Wessex became the Anglo-Saxon of English history, its very name compounded of foreign words.
Now for the superstructure that is to furnish forth our definition. Not only were these outland dialects taken into the Celtic fold as they came to be needed, or pushed their way in, but also the native dialects borrowed words from foreign tongues, as well as from each other. So that by the time we arrive at Middle English, with its greater solidity and exactness, some hundreds of French words had filtered in, derived from the usages of the aristocracy, the clergy, and the courts of this now Norman England.
These paved the way inevitably for more and more of Latin, the beloved of the scholar and the church, while inflexions were changed and exchanged, added and lopped away; prefixes and suffixes were born and reborn; and participles and prepositions, adverbs, infinitives, and gerunds had their own growing pains to modify forms here and there. It all seems curiously fluid. Yet it was natural, since language is essentially a fluid thing. One is reminded here of Blackstone's quite unforgettable definition of water (in COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, Book 2, Chapter 2) that
Water is a movable, wandering thing ... but the land, which that water covers, is permanent, fixed, and immovable.
So is a language a "moveable and wandering thing," but the inner, the deeper forces that shape and in fact create it -- these are permanent. While all the time more words come filtering in, raining in, dancing in, and muscling in, some to be adopted intact and unchanged, some to melt and fuse together with words they found, like candles left in the sun. By the fourteenth century, for instance, we find French words flowing like a tide, to rock merrily along with the rest in the cradle of a grammatical frame thoroughly Teutonic. Until at last, out of the crumble and break-up of the dialects there we find emerging a language. They called it "English," and it too went on borrowing, clasping strange, foreign words in its motherly embrace like so many breathless young children. But unlike the Old Woman who lived in the Shoe, English did know what to do. It adopted them -- an irrevocable step, but by no means unique. For this is a language-habit, sprung from the essential nature of free utterance in its youth -- and the Occident, bear in mind, is very young compared with the Mystic East.
What, then, is English? Is it aA melting pot? Not that exactly, for mostly the new words fit unchanged into the niches suddenly ready to receive them. They are adopted, and this because English finds suddenly that it needs them. By the mysterious, because trackless, procedures of the past they come in because they belong. The English language is a hierarchy, therefore, with many hierarchies folded in it, but most of these left to remain just themselves to the degree that they cooperate with the rest. They become, thus, integral with that rest, tissue of its tissue now, life of its life.
And just as English has welcomed the stranger-words that knocked for admission in the past, so will it in the future, because it is a hierarchy, in other words, a family, before all. It is the One cherishing within it the Many. Here is our definition, then, and should English ever cease to justify it, it would cease, in the deeper sense, to be English. But it will not cease. It will live its life, and normally, reach its prime, grow old, decline, and pass away as all composite things do, to give place to another language and a nobler -- Sanskrit perhaps! (Very wise Teachers have said so, not today only, but in ancient days -- but that is another story).
The point is, so English came to be, for with every new adventure, discovery, importation, gadget, horizon, or idea, in would come a new word or two, often a flock of them. This did not have to happen, to be sure. We might have refused the discovery, shut our eyes to the new horizon, our mind to the idea, and declined all that looked like adventure. But as it chanced, we did not want to. We chose adventure and the new frontier, and English therefore took the path of growth and power and enchantment, and kept on inviting foreign words in, and is doing it still as the dictionaries attest -- with each new edition we find the family enlarged -- and never in all the history of English has anyone ever thought it queer.
Here are a few words, for instance, imported through the centuries from Holland -- sturdy Dutch words, every one: botch, brake, spool, ruffle, tuck, cough, muddle, nag, luck, trick, sloop, mop, and so forth for the better part of a page, not to mention easel and landscape, and (quickly seized upon by writers) Boer-African trek and veldt. Once alien and exotic, they are English now because adopted, and have all the rights, hereditaments, and smoky flavor of a good old Anglo-Saxon word. We would not, because we positively could not, dispense with even one, and incidentally, did it cost us hours of painful application to learn them? Is the use of them confined to the scholar, the bookworm, or those who have time to study? Such an argument does not stand up.
Nation after nation, foreign language after language past and present, has stamped its soul-impress upon English in just this way, some more indelibly, and some more spiritually, than others; but here these once-strange words are, all of them, without benefit of protest, English words now. And it will continue, the hoary process, because we who speak English are that way. When the first Giant Panda, for instance, was brought to our shores or the little Koala-bear from Australia (with apologies, since it is not a bear), did we accept them, and adopt the unknown words that they brought along as names? Or did we ship them back with the message that "if the donors (or discoverers) will give them English names we shall be pleased to look them over?" Of course not. We did the sensible, simple, and perfectly obvious thing -- we adopted these hitherto unknown Chinese and Blackfellow words, and hurried to the dictionary-makers with them.
But Sanskrit is different, you say, and you are right: it is very different. It is not bringing us curious animals, or insect-pests, or dangerous weeds with strange names, as the scientists do; not even nourishing foods and fruits like the mango, anone, cherimoya, and avocado pear; like the orange and lemon, apricot, sago, cinnamon and chocolate, molasses and marmalade, coffee and tea -- words as foreign once as Sanskrit ever was. Nor does it vie with the native dialects of North America that have given us so lavishly of their words for names of lakes, rivers, cities, counties and states, that whole pages in a competent atlas make you wonder if geography is but another name for some verbal melange or potpourri.
Sanskrit is different, for the burden of its strange new words is no material thing. What it does bring is best described, perhaps, in the familiar words of our Leader: "Light for the mind, love for the heart, understanding for the intellect." What it has to offer is a nosegay of forgotten truths and teachings -- truths, by the way, upon which the great spiritual civilizations of the distant past were founded, and by which they lived out their cycle to reach a point of (relative) spiritual perfection.
What Sanskrit has to bring us, in a word, is Light -- but some, because it is offered in lamps whose name and pattern are strange, must hesitate. (English does not hesitate: English adopts them. Question: "Does a language have more courage than a man?" That is an aside.) To imagine that any protest of ours can make a language stop dead in its tracks is to imagine something that simply does not happen. Languages do not evolve that way, and certainly English did not. That is why it is not ready-made and static; that is why it is spiritually alive. It is learning and growing as we are. What do we want to be polarized to, anyway -- Spirit or Matter? What do we really want for our spiritual Polar Star?
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 250-54.]
It is very interesting to me to see how many people are interested in what some branches of religio-philosophy have named the "Adversary." I believe that this is caused largely by the fact that outside of dogma from which the life has fled, there abides a residuum of reality even in these exoteric teachings of the outer instead of the inner time. The human heart realizes that at the bottom of all these various theological doctrines there is a fact of deep meaning, and this accounts, I believe, for the reason why the Christian Church and Christians struggled so long to overthrow the gross anthropomorphic and ridiculous ideas that had centered on this central core of pure reality.
What is this central core? There is in the universe opposition. There is the keynote of the meaning of the Hebrew word "'Satan," the Adversary, an opponent; or of the Greek and Latin word "diabolos," from which we have the German "Teufel," the French "Diable," the Italian "Diavolo," and the English "Devil." These variations of spelling and pronunciation on the original term were the products of different peoples, the original term from which they all derived, undoubtedly having been the Greek word "diabolos" -- meaning "the Accuser," and hence "the Adversary."
As just stated, the thought behind the word embodies the idea of an accuser, an opponent, an adversary. How grossly this wonderful philosophic and religious idea has been distorted to become a mere anthropomorphic or human-like personification of opposition in nature, opposition that in truth may be and indeed is most beneficial and helpful, or opposition that may be, on the other hand, malign and evil.
That is the keynote of the doctrine; and hence, using words to explain a great cosmic reality, the Hebrew said the "opponent," the "adversary," and the nimble-minded Greek spoke of the "accuser." A Theosophical teaching explains that there is no such actual cosmic individual acting as an opponent or adversary of men or of the Gods. The "accuser," the "adversary," the "opponent," is in actual fact, so far as men are concerned, our own weaknesses, evil doings, evil thoughts, evil emotions that some day sooner or later karmically spring up in our path to face us, and facing us, accuse us, as it were, point us out as the evil-doer. They, our own former selves, have now become the adversaries and accusers of the present self.
In nature and in human nature, the early Christians personified this and spoke of the diabolos or Satan, for to them it was a very real thing.
But mark how amazingly and marvelously every truth becomes capable of teaching us wondrous things, for the adversary, as should appear clearly enough from the foregoing remarks, becomes in reality a most valuable teacher; we learn by the faults of the past, not only to avoid them in the future, but to become stronger than they in the future. The karmic adversary therefore becomes the instructor; the faults learned, overcome, and surmounted thus prove themselves to be our guides and teachers -- in other words former stumbling-blocks when surmounted become stepping-stones to higher things.
Following this idea in one more but parallel significant meaning, was it always stated by the ancient mystics and occultists, by Theosophists of ancient lore, that the name of the teacher, of the guru, of the instructor, of the Savior, is the Adversary. He will not allow the neophyte to pass upwards until that neophyte has proved his worth, until he has learned the keywords, the passwords that mean primarily self-conquest and future safety. See how wondrously this thought or key-doctrine shifts from one explanation to a parallel one, and yet seems so difficult. Thus were the ancient teachers always called Nagas or serpents of wisdom. Thus was likewise the opposing power in nature, whether divine or malign, spoken of as a Naga, a serpent in the Garden of Eden or a Serpent of Wisdom.
A Christian teaching in the New Testament coming from supposedly inspired intelligences, tells us to worship the serpent. Look how graphic is the injunction: "Be ye wise as the serpent, and as harmless as the dove." For such are all the grand Adepts, all the Buddhas and Christs, the pitiful, sorrowing ones, sorrowing for mankind's ignorance.
We learn from our weaknesses to mount to higher things. Our weaknesses themselves become our teachers; and once we have learned their lessons, it is then no longer needful to turn to them for instruction. So we say then that they become evil instructors, for we have already learned much and mounted higher through their help. We are not only wasting time, but we are doing wrong to be affected by the thoughts, feelings, and counter-emotions of the past. It is our duty to pass to higher things, to challenge the new opponents, the new accusers.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Do you catch the thought? The door opens. The adversary, the opponent for the nonce says, "Who are you?" If you give the right answer, you pass; the wrong answer, the door closes against you, because it is so in reality. You cannot take a step onwards and upwards until you know the passwords that are parts of yourself, in other words until you have the will and the intelligence to do right. You yourself then, in such instance, become yourself the adversary, the so-called Satan.
You must conquer yourself, this part of yourself, in order to go higher. Therefore, we learn on the stepping-stones of our former selves to become new selves. Our best selves are an ideal before us, to mount upon and to build with. Our present selves in their turn some day will pass and we shall meet the Spirit, the divine Self of the future. It too will ask us, "Who art thou? Give the password." The password is knowledge, is wisdom, is altruism, the great treasury of long-past spiritual experience. Be ye wise as the serpent, but innocent and harmless as the dove. This is a most beautiful and profound allegory. No wonder it has been adopted by race after race of humankind, in different parts of the world. Climb on our dead selves to higher things.
One aspect of the adversary is our present self, marvelous thought. Shall we overcome the present self, the adversary that prevents our going higher because it is not higher, it is simply a self? If we do, then we have given the password and we ascend, we pass the portals of wisdom. The adversary is no longer a tyrant. No longer is the initiator examining our spiritual, intellectual, and moral credentials, our own self, and our own inspiration. The adversary becomes the divine friend, the Savior of all men, the serpent of wisdom.
It is a beautiful allegory pregnant with meaning. Even the poets of modern times, relatively modern times, have caught the idea. Although not Theosophists perhaps, they caught it from recollections of previous lives on earth when they were taught it. Milton, the English poet for instance, describes the fall of Satan or Lucifer, according to Christian theory, one of the highest of the angels who "fell." This is the same idea with a new angle of vision to it, a new twist of thought. The angel climbs upward within the celestial spheres, self-redeemed. The self, the main adversary, whether it be of god or of man or one of the innumerable hierarchies of living beings in human nature, for each one there is an adversary, itself or himself. Yet, marvelous wonder, so compassionately is nature constructed, that out of our faults we learn better things. From ugliness, we learn beauty. From weakness surmounted is born our new strength. From the unholy, we advance to holiness. What was once the opposition, the opposer or adversary, when we challenge it with courage and take the kingdom of heaven with strength, becomes the Savior, the Initiator.
So with our own selves. Have you ever thought that a fault overcome becomes a new strength in your character; that a temptation surmounted has given you more power, for you have done it through exercise of your will? Your will has become stronger. The pity for others within you has become keener. Your vision becomes more luminous, a far-seeing clairvoyance. It is experience that makes us think. It is experience that gives us growth. It is this experience that is the adversary, the accuser.
All peoples have taught of opposition in the universe, and they taught beautifully of it. But as far as I know it is only the very savage tribes and later Christianity that have ever personified or humanized this cosmic principle into an angelic entity, in Christianity of demoniac type. The essential idea is the same over the earth. So when we look upon this Opposer, under whatever multitude of myriads of guises, in which we meet it, whether of divine character or of malign, the principle behind all is the same. To us humans it becomes demoniac and malign if we weakly succumb. We have forgotten the challenge of our own soul. On the other hand, when we use our will to achieve and take our selves in hand for training, we become strong because we become more universal. Our vision is no longer restricted to ourselves, and therefore raises itself proportionately towards the divine.
That is why the divine is always spoken of as always being divine, and the immensely restricted and constricted and therefore selfish as always being evil. The small thinks but for itself and opposes the world to gain a tiny kingdom of the lower self, setting its power against the universe and thereby becoming so much evil, like the seeds of a disease in the human body. When that seed of disturbance is cast out, as happily it may be, health, universal peace, in the body, returns. There is the idea. The more we become universal, the higher we are.
Phrase it otherwise. The closer we approach to the divine, which is universal, the higher we are. To quote again a Christian thought of great depth and to me of wondrous beauty: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" There you have the companionship of the divine, if you will take it by your inner strength, for here within us is its tabernacle, its temple, in the human heart.
There is a whole cosmic philosophy in just the simple thoughts we have studied together this afternoon, parts of a whole cosmic philosophy; and I would very earnestly suggest to those of you who may have come here for the first time today, that you study the books that treat of our god-wisdom. In them you will find illumination that is life, comfort, immense intellectual activity of the highest type, and last but not least, peace, that inner peace that passeth all understanding, but that can be known.
By Annie Besant
[A lecture that appeared in LUCIFER, August 15, 1890, pages 450-60.]
Remember what I said to you about the seven planes of existence. Go to the fifth plane where the mind is working. Pass from the third, which is matter as you know it, to the fifth where the mind is in its own environment and living in its own life. There what to you is immaterial becomes material to it, for matter there is not identical with matter here, and that is visible and audible to the mind that is invisible and inaudible to the coarser senses of the body.
We learn from this dry science of the lecture hall, from our Western thought. We learn from this how the Occult Thought is justified by modern science, how that which has been taught for centuries in the Eastern schools is now becoming a matter of experience in the Western hospitals. If from that and from many another scientific proof of this real existence of thought and of mind, an existence other than we have known on our own earth, and within our own normal and daily life, if we once realize what that means, we learn that Man's destiny will indeed unfold itself before us as something loftier than poets have chanted, something mightier than ever prophets have dreamed.
That which is abnormal today shall be general tomorrow. That which is only beginning to bud here and there amongst us shall blossom in a future, which is not far off as the time in Eternity is counted. That which now only gained by careful study and by careful living shall after a while become the inheritance of every child who is born into our world and to a higher life.
Do you desire to prove the reality of something more than hypnotism can give you to yourselves? Do you desire to follow out your own evolution and try to climb upward beyond mind into spirit, into a plane of consciousness higher yet? Then seek the constant conquest and subordination of the lower nature, until that which is done by the hypnotized person in trance and unconsciously is done by yourself with full consciousness of your doing, and without losing hold of yourself from the beginning to the ending.
You can only do this by rising for yourself and climbing upwards by your own endeavor. If there were intelligences on those higher planes, you cannot drag them down to you; you must climb up to them. The consciousness that you would share with them must be the consciousness that is theirs, and not the endeavor to degrade them to your lower life. You can only do this by uttermost effort, by perfect self-devotion, and by nobility of heroic life.
If the athlete to climb a mountain-top must train himself for many a week and many a month, and then as he climbs must strain every muscle, must use every power of body, if he would reach the mountain-top that he covets to scale. Do you think that if physical mountains can only he climbed by effort, it is without effort that these mountains of the mind and of the spirit can be scaled? For, mind you, as you climb upwards, fresh powers pass into your hands, and with wider knowledge comes greater power over Nature.
The student of physical science gains fresh power to control Nature as he learns more of her secrets and the student of psychical science also gains the natural powers that lie hidden from the majority today, but are open to those who know how to study and how to attain.
Some say, "There is too much mystery in your Theosophy. These powers that you are hinting at, these powers over Nature -- why not throw them open to the world and let men everywhere know how to learn and how to win?" Do you give your children dynamite to play with? Do you let your schoolchild play with poisons in the Laboratory? Do you not say that only with manhood's knowledge comes manhood's power, and that that which is potent for use and for service may be potent for mischief and for destruction of life? It is so in the past as in the present.
These higher natural powers can only be gained by those who are willing to work for many a year constantly at patient study. They come as an appendage of the development of the higher life. They come as the natural growth of the human being as he evolves upwards in this long climb; not followed for themselves, not gained for themselves, but only as the natural blossoming of the higher humanity, which gradually grows within the men and the women who study and who live for others.
Such powers bring with them vast responsibility. Such powers bring with them ability for service, but also ability for mischief. I ask you, would it be wise that they should be thrown everywhere amongst a people, men and women of the world, men and women of today, women who would lose their temper if their dress did not fit, or men who would swear if their coachman made them late for a dinner party. Are those people to be entrusted with powers that with a thought are able to cure, but are also able to slay? Are those people to be trusted with ability that gives mighty power for salvation but power also for destruction, at the mere will of the evil desire?
So that side of Theosophy is not thrown open to the multitude, and when you hear talk of phenomena, and when you see foolish excitement from the people who desire to see something wonderful, like a conjuring trick, then the answer is: Those powers are only interesting as signs of the growing spirituality, and they are not to he used for the amusement of a moment, nor as mere platform tricks to spend an hour in some fresh excitement.
You will read of them, and they exist; but they exist only for those who are worthy to wield them; aye, for any one of YOU, who is willing to go through the discipline, who is willing to give the time and have the patience for study. They are not supernatural. They are wholly natural. They can only be won, as Nature's powers are won, by those who have patience to study, who have courage to investigate and to act.
From that side, I point you to the light that there is in man's destiny; reminding you how it shows the time when man shall indeed be royal over Nature, because he is first royal over himself; that Nature shall be his servant because he is his own master; having conquered himself, he conquers everything; and when that victory has been won, man's destiny will be perfect and complete.
You may well say, "How can life give time for such attainment, how can one brief life find space for the evolution of which you speak?" No one life would be enough for such growth or in one brief human life is such attainment possible. Theosophy teaches that it is not one life but many lives through which you pass. You who are here today are not here for the first time. Far behind you stretches a vast human experience. The abilities that you have, the faculties that you enjoy, and the powers that you exercise are the trophies of your past victories. They are the signs of the fashion in which you have used the lives of the past.
Not one, but many lives, come to every human spirit in its pilgrimage through Time and Space. Not once, but often, does man renew his experience, gathering more of knowledge with every life, adding fresh pages of experience to the book of his existence, and so writing line after line of that human story that at last he will be able to read. So, we are taught, man is reborn according to the past that he has made by his own effort.
What you are, Theosophy tells you, you have made yourself. The life that you have and the powers that you exercise, that life has been molded by your own past, those powers have been won by your own endeavors. For the ethics of Theosophy grow out of this view of man; the ethics of Theosophy tell you of a law that none can escape, of a destiny that none can avoid. That law of moral causation is universal, molding for each the life that his previous existence has deserved. According to that law of Karma, that law of ethical causation today is the result and the fruit of the past. Your past molds your present. Your future shall be the outcome of your present.
Shadows thrown upon a wall, Professor Draper tells us, leave an impress there, so that if you use the rightful means, you can evolve once more the shadow from the wall over which it has passed. If that were true of matter, shall it not also be true of spirit? If the suitable means could evolve from the wall the shadow that your passing figure has cast upon it, shall not the shadow of your acts cast upon your character be evolved by the mighty alchemy of Nature and change it, and leave an impress that nothing can take away? So we believe that men are born as they have prepared for themselves the life into which they come.
If you say to that, "Well, but look at the rich and the poor, look at the varieties of human circumstance, the varieties of human happiness. Would you tell us that all who suffer poverty have ill-used their previous existence, that the prosperous and wealthy are only reaping the reward of some past life?" Then we answer you, in dealing with human life, you must look not only on the surface but also below it. Lives of yours are but moments in the great life through which you pass; each life but as an hour out of the many years of your pilgrimage through the ages.
When you judge of wealth or of poverty, you must measure them in the scales of the eternal life, and not only in those of the transitory present. It may be that those who are most miserable and most poor, whose fate has flung them into some slum of this vast city, may there be expiating only some trifling error, and by the self-denying of their living, by the glory of their charity to their fellows, by that nobility and unselfishness that you find more among the slum-dwellers than the palace-dwellers, it may be that they are molding for themselves the most glorious future, and making progress more rapidly than they could dream of in their darkness now.
It may be that some wealthy man or woman, thrown into that position by some event of a previous life, it may be that in the selfishness that grows out of comfort, in the isolation that grows out of wealth, in the indifference to other lives that comes out of ease to one's self, it may be that they are losing, spiritually and mentally, far more than they are winning with their mere bodily ease, and they are further back in their pilgrimage by reason of the very ease of their daily life.
Mind you, the worst crime in man is selfishness; that which isolates him from his brothers, that which separates him from the common lot, that which puts him apart and separate, is oft-times the worst curse that can fall upon a human life. For if it be true, as we teach, that all men are brothers; if it be true that in this vast human family there is one great tie of brotherhood, that goes from life to life and from heart to heart; then I ask you, what can do more to degrade the whole life of man than to live in selfish and easeful isolation while others are in misery and wretchedness at your very doors?
Think not that the poor suffer alone; think not that the brutality and the misery, the degradation and the crime of one part of London leave unpoisoned the atmosphere of the rest. I spoke of the bearing of Theosophy on human conduct; the one message Theosophy brings to the Western World, is the message of brotherhood, a brotherhood that is blasphemed every day in this metropolis, and that is merely a word and an empty phrase in the mouth of most.
We who believe in this Universal Brotherhood, we recognize and understand that no progress in the spirit can be made unless there be self-devotion to the general good of humankind. That any idea of progress by the intellect, that any hope of attainment by means of the mind, that those are but as dreams beside the progress that can be won by self-devotion to humanity, and the service that is done to our brothers when we sacrifice our own happiness to their good.
The final message of Theosophy is one of ethics rather than even of philosophy or of science. It has its philosophy of which I have suggested to you some outline; it has its science of man to some points of which I have alluded; and I have suggested the line of study along which we may go. More vital than its philosophy, more essential than its science, is that ethical duty of brotherhood between all members of the human race, which sees misery only to relieve it, and suffering only to lighten the pang that it inflicts.
It teaches us that none can rise alone. The degradation of one is the degradation of all. While some are miserable, none can be truly happy. While there are poor to succor, there ought to be no rich to waste. While there is starvation on one side, there ought to be no idle luxury on the other. That message of brotherhood is most wanted in our selfish Western Civilization. Here luxury has reached its highest point. Here the purely material rules over men's minds more than ever before.
In this nineteenth century, in its race for wealth, in its triumphs of material science, in its pride of material advancement, here more than ever before in the world's history, has been wanted this message of brotherhood from man to man.
Sometimes I have thought, in their far-off Eastern home, those whom we call Masters and Teachers, in that they are wiser by their study than we are, that they have broken what one of them has called the silence of centuries, because of the sore need of our Western World. We may progress in science and in wealth, we may progress in knowledge and in intellectual attainment, but useless is this, nay, worse than useless, mischievous, if it widens the gulf between rich and poor and makes more impossible the Brotherhood of Man.
Together we must climb or together we must fall. No one of us can save himself by his own efforts unless his brother rises side by side with him. Our work is the work of a common salvation; our work here is the work of a common duty to common human need; and in doing that, in devoting ourselves to that, we shall be true Theosophists, working out the spirit of the Philosophy, and climbing upwards towards the Higher Life.
To you, who, for one brief hour this evening, have come from gayer scenes and brighter lives to listen to this message from the East, my last word to you, which is the central word, shall be this word of "Brotherhood." To be rid of selfishness, to win but to serve, to use your education to help the ignorant, to use your training to help the untrained, to use your voices to make articulate the sufferings of the voiceless; that is the command that Theosophy gives to the rich of the Western World.
If you would learn its Philosophy, you must bear its moral yoke. If you would learn its Science, you must accept its ethical teaching. Ethics come before Science, and Duty comes before attainment. Accepting the one, the other likewise shall be yours. Then all together, not apart and individually, all as one vast family bound in bonds of love, we shall climb together that ladder of Humanity whose foot is set in the slime of animal life, but whose summit is lost in the eternal light -- the ladder on whose rungs our feet are set today, but up which we cannot climb, save as we bear our brethren with us, and use our strength to help their weakness, and our powers to make their helplessness strong.
By G.N. Chakravarti
[From "The Report of Proceedings of The Theosophical Congress, World's Fair of 1893," pages 180-85.]
In the rush and stir of your daily life, in the ceaseless turmoil of activity of physical life, it is only natural that people should be perfectly unconscious that there is any self besides the self that is created by the sensation given rise to by the five senses of the body.
Yet sometimes when you retire from the rough rubbing of the world, sometimes when you are listening to the sweet melodies of a babbling stream, sometimes when you are looking with admiration upon the silvery blue of the starry firmament, you seem to forget the life of the world; the daily marketable life recedes in the background.
All consciousness of the struggle with the various temptations and trials of this world leave the plane of your consciousness, and you seem to sink into the vast profundity of some power, of some world behind you. You realize then that you are not the ignoble, mean, and groveling creature, fighting and elbowing your way in the keen struggle of life against life; you realize in the presence of that spirit that your capacities are infinite, that your future is limitless, and that you are the very angel of paradise thrust out from your birthright.
It is not, however, always that people in the West have opportunities to realize such a state of being. There is such a high-pressure life in the West, such feverish struggle for that which I cannot understand, you can almost never retire into a sanctuary that is behind the external consciousness.
Everyone in the West seems preoccupied with the physical relations of man to the world, or at best, merely works the lower aspects of one's intellect. Seldom therefore can he realize what lies beyond the mind in the Western nations. His life is like the remorseless giant, the Rakshasha, the giant in the deep ocean who extorted the promise from the person who raised him that he must always give him work -- the moment he was unable longer to find him some work, "that moment," said the giant, "I will swallow up your whole being into my stomach."
The mind that you have been given has been pursued on this physical plane, and is now that hydra-headed monster that demands from you work, work, ceaseless and constant; and the moment you do not give him work he threatens you with annihilation. You stand aghast at what lies beyond. There is a gap indeed between the mental plane and the plane of the soul, and you look at that chasm and your head reels, for you cannot look beyond.
But allow me to tell you that if you look deep enough into that chasm you can find the living immortal waters of life that can make you happier, nobler, more sublime beings than you can ever be if you are occupied as you are on the plane of the mind. You are familiar, ladies and gentlemen, with that phenomenon in objects that is called total reflection. As long as the proper angle is not reached, a ray of light passing through a medium becomes distorted, and you have an inaccurate picture of the object; but only give the perfect angle to the ray of light, let it come to the point of the critical angle, and -- lo and behold! -- the distortion and refraction give place to the most beautiful reflection -- perfect and total reflection, as it is technically called.
So is it with the mind. At first when you withdraw from the mental plane, you feel depression, desolation, despair, and longing for something upon which you can stand. Only go a step further and try to extort from nature the wealth that it holds in store for you, and that feeling of depression will be driven away. The giant that once threatened to swallow you up will fall at your feet, and you will rise triumphant with the knowledge of having conquered, the knowledge of having acquired the birthright of the spiritual possession.
In the East, however, where there is not such a keen struggle for life, men can oftener retire from the plane of mental consciousness. In fact, it is ordained in the daily religious duties of the Hindus that they should spend at least half an hour twice a day in reflection on the Divine; and the conditions under which this has to be done are laid down.
It is recommended that he should sit, if possible, on the banks of a silent stream at a time when day joins hands with night, when the stars are just disappearing or just appearing, and then there will flow into him an ineffable calm. He puts his soul en rapport with the soul of the great nature that is the true source of all happiness. He instills into his mind the real poetry of existence, the real romance of the universe.
Hence, in all the great religious systems, poetry and prophecy have meant the same thing. I need hardly remind you that the Latin word "vates" means both a prophet and a poet, and in the majestic language of the Sanskrit philosophies, one of the names of the highest Divine Being himself is Kavin Paranim, the ancient poet. Yes, by withdrawing himself from the outer consciousness in which man has crystallized his will being, and by throwing himself on the bosom of Mother Nature, he realizes a deeper part of him that is the true essence of his being and in whose light alone he can find peace and comfort.
This is the higher self of which I am to talk to you tonight. This is the real self of the man, which decayeth not. It is the primitive portion of his being, not that which but appears and disappears in forms clothed in incarnation and reincarnation, but rather that higher self that is not touched by external changes, which has on it today a fresh garment and tomorrow casts it off in order to have a better and more suitable one. So it is this higher self that tomorrow passes on to a more suitable habitation. This immortal self of yourself is not burned by fire, is not drowned by water, is not slain by the slayer's knife, but defies all effects that can be produced by things physical. It is the aim of every human being, therefore, to bring his lower self into consonance with the higher.
We know so little about the higher self because the lower self is not prepared to receive any vibrations evoked in the higher. You are aware of the law of acoustics, which states that a string must be tuned if it is to catch the vibration of a sound. Similarly, it is with the brain consciousness. Your brain is so materialized, so ossified, and so deadened to all that is subtle, ethereal, and noble that it no longer vibrates in response to the waves that emanate from the higher self. It is the duty of every man, therefore, if he is to learn anything of this higher life, to so train his brain or lower consciousness that he may be able to catch these vibrations of the higher self.
This is what is meant by self-control. The very word "self-control" shows that there is a higher self that has to control the lower. This is the great moral principle of which Kant speaks as one of the two things that fill him with awe. This reunion of the lower self with the higher is the great truth, the mystical verity that is represented in all the great religious systems of the world by beautiful allegories and fables. This is the meaning of the fall of Adam from his paradise and the regaining of the paradise through Christ, who represents the higher self. This is the meaning of Proserpine gathering flowers, being carried away by Pluto who represents the lower self, and of being regained almost by her husband.
This great truth is also represented by many, I think hundreds, of beautiful allegories in the great Sanskrit literature of the East. I shall take the liberty, with the permission of the chairman, to narrate to you one that appears to me to be one of the most beautiful that can be found in any literature existing on the face of the earth.
My object is to show how in the East they make a harmonious blending of higher spiritual truths with instruction for the common people who cannot follow the real esoteric side of things.
In the story, you will find ordinary duties of life, ordinary virtues that every man has to observe and possess, brought out in resplendent beauty, and at the same time below the surface, it conceals one of the deepest and grandest spiritual mystical truths that you can learn.
Another object is to show by illustration that our books teem with literature that has an esoteric aspect to it. Max Muller, as my brother Dharmapala has told you, denies that in the East there is an esotericism. No greater mistake, no more preposterous, no more disgraceful injustice to the sacred literature of the East can be perpetrated than by the assertion that there is no esoteric side to the teachings of the East. I shall go on now to narrate the story that I have in mind, and I shall leave it to you to judge whether the esoteric side that I shall present to you of that story is forced or is natural.
In olden days, there lived a princess, the daughter of a great king. Her beauty was well known throughout the world, and she was endowed with all the virtues recounted in the Shastras that should adorn the female sex. In the neighborhood was another king. He had lost his entire kingdom and had retired with his wife and son into a dreary dense jungle, living a life of misery, of desolation, and of discomfort -- and he was blind. Nature could afford to him not one moment of delight or of beatific vision.
This princess when she attained the age of marriage was consulted by her father as to whom she was going to marry, for in ancient India the girl was allowed to make her own choice quite as much as now in the West. The girl replied that she had set her heart upon the son of the blind and exiled king living in the wilderness. The son's name was Satya Ram.
In the ancient times, the princes did nothing without consulting the great Rishis of old. The king therefore invoked Narada and asked him if the choice of his daughter was well and was likely to bring happiness to her.
The sage with his vision prophetic looked into the future and said that no person wandered the earth who was nobler or more virtuous than the son of the exiled king, but that there was one great objection to the choice: he would die within three months after the marriage.
The king, the father of the princess, at once made up his mind and said, "This one defect is quite enough to outweigh all the virtues that you have recounted," and asked his daughter what she thought of the position. (In India, you must remember that a person can marry once alone.)
The daughter said, "I have mentally made my choice. I have given my heart to my intended. Not more than once can a woman marry. I shall stick to my resolution. I shall be loyal to my thought, I shall be devoted to my future husband; come what might, I shall marry the man whom I have fixed upon."
Knowing the virtuous character of his daughter, the father allowed her to have her choice. She was duly married and brought to the exiled home of her husband. There with her many virtues of charity, loving kindness, and devotion, she soon won the affections of her husband and of her father-in-law.
Time went on happily enough until near came the prophesied day of the husband's death. Three days before the appointed day, the wife, whose name was Savitree, began to fast. She made a rigid vow for the welfare of her husband. The father-in-law knew her to be delicate and said that she was not capable of making such a long fast -- a fast of three days and performing such a rigid vow of abstinence. But she was determined; she asked permission to go on, and she was allowed to undertake the vow.
On the third day, the day appointed for the death of her husband, she prayed that she might be allowed to go with her husband into the wilderness where he went daily to fell wood for the use of the family.
This startled both the father-in-law and the mother-in-law. They said, "Child, thou art too delicate to wander thy way through the thorny paths of this jungle, thou must stay home. No such proposition can be entertained." But she insisted upon following him. She said, "This day I must go with him, I cannot stay back," and she who never made any request was allowed to have her way in this particular.
Away both of them went into the jungle, the husband and wife, till they reached the appointed spot where the wood was to be felled, and immediately after the husband got a throbbing pain in the head and very soon fell senseless in the lap of his wife. The wife nursed him in her bosom until the last wave of life seemed to be ebbing away from the frame of the husband. After the life was gone, Yama, King of Death, appeared, ready to take away the life of the husband.
Seeing Yama, Savitree, the wife, said, "Why, the Lord of Death, why come you yourself from your mighty throne to take this man away, and did not send one of your ministers?"
The reply was, "The magnetic purity of the devoted wife is too strong to allow any of my subordinates to approach within miles of its presence. It therefore required the King of Death himself to come down from his throne to perform this work."
When Death began to take the life away, this devoted wife followed Death as he carried her husband through the wilderness, and she was asked, "Why followest thou now? Thy duties to thy husband are over, wend back thy way home." She persisted, said such words of wisdom, saying that no duties to her were greater than serving her lord. Nothing that the home could give her back by returning would make up for the loss of her husband. She persisted in following Yama.
Attacked by her sweet words and her unflinching devotion, Yama said, "You may ask, save the life of your husband, any boon, and I will give it to you."
She said, "My father is deprived of his kingdom. The first boon that I ask of you is that he shall return to his kingdom and regain his wealth."
"Granted," said Yama. "Now you shall go back."
Still she pursued Yama, still she refused to go back, again she used such sweet words of wisdom, poured forth such expressions of unflinching devotion to her husband into the ears of Yama that he was induced to grant her a second boon, and she said, "My father-in-law has lost the power of sight. My prayer is that sight be given back to him."
"It shall be so," again said Yama. "Now go thou back."
Yet she pursued. She was not to be sent away without having accomplished her end. She prayed that she might have a hundred beautiful and strong children from her womb.
Forgetting his task for the moment in the sweetness of her voice, Death said, "Granted is thy prayer."
Immediately the next moment, she turns around this ideal of chastity and says to Yama, "Lord of Death, knowest thou what thou hast just now granted? Knowest thou that a Hindu wife can never go to a second husband? Knowest thou that my prayer cannot be granted unless my husband comes back to life? Thou art the minister of justice. Thou canst not speak untruth, therefore my last boon is the life of my husband."
Startled, confused beyond all comprehension, the mighty Death shook down his head and said, "Take thy husband back. Thy chastity has taken back from the very home of death the life that has already become its own. Thy chastity will remain the ideal for generations and generations for women to follow."
She returned home with the life of her husband. They all regained their lost kingdom, the father-in-law regained his lost sight, and once more, they reigned peacefully.
This is the exoteric story; this outside aspect of it is enough to offer an ideal of devotion, of purity, and of chastity to any civilized community that has existed on the face of the earth. But there is an esoteric aspect that is even more sublime than this.
Savitri in the Sanskrit language means the daughter of Savarta, which means the spiritual sun. Savitri therefore means the spiritual soul of man that emanates from the great spiritual sun of which I spoke to you last night. Marriage of this spiritual daughter to Sakravan represents the marriage of a spirit to the lower self, to the personality of the man.
Sakravan was the son of the king who had lost country and sight. What does it represent? That the personality of man is the creation of the human mind that has lost all its kingdom of paradise that has flown from it. It has also lost all its sight that allows it to look into that heaven from which it has fallen.
The marriage of the spiritual soul with this lower self then brings about the happiness of life. At the very moment when the destruction of the lower self might have been achieved by its devotion to matter, there comes the help of the higher self, the spiritual self, the daughter of the spiritual sun, to save the personal man. She has come not only to save him but also to regain for the human mind the wealth and kingdom it has lost and the spiritual insight that it had been deprived of.
This, then, is the real meaning of this grand allegory, and this the meaning of all the various other allegories that the different systems of religion are found teeming with. The great object therefore of your life must be to direct your gaze inward, bend down your ears to the voice of the divine mother that ever crieth in mellifluous strains to be heard by you, but whose sweet voice you hear not.
If you but catch those sweet strains once, if you kneel at her feet and say, "Mother, save me," she will take you in her lap, wash all the thousand wounds that your self has been penetrated by, and lull you into gentle sleep in her bosom. Then you can go on through the trials and turmoil of life with a peace abiding in your breast that can be found nowhere save in the bosom of that Great Mother.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the first part of the tape recording entitled "Winter Solstice 1/2" made of a private class on FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY held on December 21, 1955.]
It is wonderful that in spite of anything going on in the world we still have Christmas. No matter the outer karmic stage setting in the world or outer manifestation of human selfishness and ignorance, there still is Christmas with all that means in the deeper, more esoteric sense. It is wonderful because of the deep significance of what this sacred season means.
No matter what changes take place around us, the season of the Winter Solstice remains with its spiritual message, its vision of beauty, and its serenity. In spite of changing conditions, there remains the same cosmic significance to this season.
From time immemorial, in all races of the earth and their civilizations, the four sacred seasons of the year have had deep spiritual significance. Of the four, the two solstices and two equinoxes, the Winter Solstice has greater appeal to the heart and mind. It touched those who knew the inner meaning of these things and even those who did not understand. Even in popular beliefs and festivities, the Winter Solstice, later known as the Christmas Season, has always had a greater significance than Easter. The Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox have gradually retired into the background as Easter and Christmas grew into prominence.
As far back as we can go into history, there are tales clustered around the time of the Winter Solstice. We hear of the coming into birth of great initiates, sages, and seers, the saviors of the human race. The great teachers do not appear by chance. They come guided by universal law. They are part of the occult life of our planet, itself a living entity. There is nothing haphazard about the appearance of those who have guided the spiritual unfoldment of humanity from time immemorial.
Much is written on the symbols, customs, and habits that cluster around the time of the Winter Solstice in both Christian and previous civilizations. Why are we uplifted at that time, especially those who can attune to a certain condition of consciousness? The season is sacred because certain events happen then. Where do they take place? They happen in many geographical localities of the earth, more in some than in others.
Keep aware of the significance of the sacred seasons. We do more than come together to commemorate something that has taken place. We come to partake of something that still goes on. The rites of genuine initiation take place today as they have in all the ages of the past.
We are not commemorating past events. We attune our consciousness, our mind, and our heart to a vibratory rate pertaining to the spiritual events taking place. Even now, neophytes ready for initiation undergo their final tests in sacred places of the earth. As they have their spiritual experiences, we hope they triumph in their trials.
For every one of us, there can be a change of consciousness if we can attune ourselves to those wavelengths. It is minor compared with what we consider here, but major in our lives. We align our consciousness with the events taking place.
From immemorial antiquity, two of the main initiations have always taken place at the Winter Solstice. One is the first true initiation that a neophyte can undergo. He has reached the pinnacle of ordinary human consciousness and stands at the border between humanity and mahatmaship. That first initiation makes the ready neophyte a master of life, a beginner in the next stage of experience.
The Winter Solstice is also when one of the greatest initiations takes place, giving birth to a Buddha such as Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. "Buddha" is a generic term meaning a stage of consciousness rather than any particular individual. Although many have attained that stage, these initiations are exceedingly rare. A Buddha appears but twice within the history of a Root Race, and that means several million years. Whenever one appears, his mission begins at the Winter Solstice of that particular year.
The initiatory rites of the four Sacred Seasons intimately connect with astronomical events. The Sun and planets are living entities, inhabited by various hierarchies of living beings. Their relative positions indicate the spiritual dynamics of the solar system of which we are an integral part.
A disciple can go through an initiation whenever he is ready, at any time of the year. Even so, the initiant performs the rites with greater spiritual skill and success when certain planetary bodies are in a specific position in the sky relative to the Earth and Sun.
The Moon's position is critical to initiatory events. The great initiations take place when the Moon is new (conjunct the Sun). As you may see in today's sky, it is not new. It is in its first quarter, at a right angle to the position it occupies when new. When new, the Moon is lost in the Sun's glare. We do not see it except when it is at the same declination as the Sun and there is an eclipse. Otherwise, in a couple of days, we see the crescent Moon to the left of the Sun, having left the Sun's blinding glare.
For the greater initiations, it is ideal when the Moon is new, with the Earth, Moon, and Sun in direct line. You may have to wait a few years before it happens at the Winter Solstice, around the 21st or 22nd of December. Most years, the Moon may be full, waxing, or waning. A new Moon rarely occurs at that time.
Next is the conjunction of Venus with the Sun, giving the Earth, Moon, Venus, and Sun in direct line, which happens less frequently. Finally, the supreme initiations involve the conjunction of Mercury as well. Then Earth, Moon, Venus, Mercury, and Sun are in an approximately straight line. If you try to calculate how often this occurs at the Winter Solstice, you will find it extremely rare, perhaps happening in hundreds of thousands if not millions of years.
The great Buddhas appear at the supreme cycles when all five bodies are conjunct at the Winter Solstice. Lesser initiates, from great ones through beginners, pass their rites when four or three of these bodies are conjunct.
Why is the alignment of the Moon, Venus, and Mercury significant? When they come into approximately a straight line and conjunct the Sun, they are suffused with the Sun's radiance. Then the supreme spiritual power emanating from the Sun on various planes blends with their auric emanations. The auric emanations from the hierarchies of beings of these planetary bodies directly relate to the principles, substances, and forces of our constitution. Such an alignment is like an open door through which the neophyte may go.
Behind the curtain of esoteric secrecy, ancient teachings have come down, some released in later times. One tells us that when the Moon and planets align, the neophyte's soul-spirit or spiritual individuality can start its motion towards the Sun by magnetic attraction.
From training, the neophyte knows how to release his inner consciousness from the shackles of lower selfhood. In the initiatory rites, his body and personal mind are entranced. As the planets align, his spiritual individuality escapes earthly attractions, moving by magnetic attraction through the planets sunward, and then enters the Sun. That is why we call these rites the Solar Initiations.
The Moon is tremendously important in both the initiations and in growth, conception, gestation, and death. It rules these functions on this globe. It receives human souls after death and they pass through its sphere before reincarnating. Hence, in initiation, which is conscious death, the first passage of the neophyte is through the moon, outwards into other spheres.
Does the neophyte enter the Sun or only come up to it? Does he return in three days or in a fortnight? It depends upon the degree of the initiation and the degree of his internal unfoldment. Assume he returns in a fortnight. Fourteen days after the Winter Solstice's new Moon, the Moon is full. It is now on the opposite side of the Earth. The Moon, Earth, and Sun are in a straight line. If Venus and Mercury were in between, they will not have moved too much. The soul-spirit of the neophyte comes through the full Moon back to Earth. He reconnects with his entranced body, which his teachers had kept safe.
The soul-spirit reconnects with its vehicle, entering it. The body awakens from a spiritual trance, which has nothing to do with any condition found in psychism. Having triumphed over the dread trials of the journey through inner spheres, the neophyte awakens a full-fledged master of life. He is equal to those who first taught him.
He has contacted the titanic energies of the Sun and become permanently at one with his inner God, the solar divinity in us all. He awakens carrying part of the solar splendor within his consciousness. Buddhists called it the "Buddhic Splendor." Greeks call the "Light of Apollo." Early Christian mystics call it the "Christ Light" or "Light of the Christos." He actually shines, even physically, because of his inner nature's heightened spiritual tension. That is why we call him clothed with the Sun. We find examples of this throughout the world, with sages and seers pictured with an aureole of light surrounding the head and rays coming from the back of the head. This shows the esoteric fact that he shines awhile, until his consciousness adjusts to this sphere again.
He took a journey in consciousness into the inner worlds. In the case of advanced Chelas, the consciousness is the Chela himself, the whole of the man. We speak of our consciousness abstractly. Not having fully identified ourselves with our higher consciousness, we cannot say we are consciousness per se, since so much of us remain attached to the physical body and psychic apparatus. In the Chela's case, the consciousness of the man is the man himself, so that during that entranced condition, he is fully awake, except for a minor link to the body and astral apparatus left behind.
The mystic symbol of the cross comes, in part, from this initiatory entrancement. In many parts of the world, the neophyte lies on a cruciform couch with outstretched arms, a symbol of the spirit involving itself into matter and evolving out of it again. In other places, he might lie entranced in some receptacle protecting his body from harm, while going through the trials and peregrinations of the initiatory journey through the inner worlds. We know of one such container. Many have seen it, but do not realize what it is. It is the so-called coffer in the King's Chamber in the Cheops pyramid, one of the receptacles in which neophytes of ancient Egypt went into their initiatory sleep.
We find many recondite teachings connected with this subject. These sublime challenges to the human soul have never died out. They take place today. Some laugh or are completely ignorant. People believe when ready, attuned to these truths. Although the Solstice is tomorrow morning, even this hour, neophytes throughout the world may be undergoing some variety of these experiences.
The rites exclude no geographic location. Initiates hide in secluded places throughout the world. The occult life of the Earth remains shrouded in great secrecy from those not qualified to know. This is not because of silly exclusiveness, but because many are not ready and it would do them no good.
When students attune with these thoughts, they evoke a response from those quarters where knowledge of these things exists. Students like us have to take the initiative and move spirit-ward before we can evoke a response from the guardians of that knowledge.
It takes lifetimes to prepare for the trials of initiation. We have studied together for several years, which is a form of preparation. We have had our difficulties, yet move on in our understanding. Chances are great that none in this room is studying these teachings for the first time. Some in the Movement are far ahead. They have many lifetimes of careful preparation for these supreme events. Finally, an incarnation comes in which one makes the final grade for this stage.
Those who have become the Masters of Life are only beginners in a greater stage. As far as the human stage of evolution is concerned, such an initiation is the beginning of a new school of life. It ends the one in which we find ourselves at present, mere men and women striving after higher knowledge.
A genuine initiation is absolutely a matter of fitness. If you are what it takes, you succeed; if not, your weakness prevents you. There is no favoritism. It has nothing to do with human concerns. If ready, you find the road to it. At each step along the way, you will be magnetically attracted to those centers and people that will open the next door for you. This continues until some incarnation when you make the final grade, undergoing firsthand the experiences that we have just been considering.
In these experiences, the neophyte investigates the structure of the inner worlds, experimentally and individually. For the time being, he becomes that which he investigates. He enters the inner worlds and their conditions of consciousness. He knows and becomes those states, so that he comes back fully illumined.
When I say "fully," I do not mean he is omniscient -- obviously not. There is no omniscience except in the abstract. He knows fully that which is contained within the circle of consciousness that he has reached. There are many new peaks of spiritual knowledge for him to scale, as there are new peaks before us now. There is always something more. Within the condition, the circle of knowledge, and the range of consciousness that he has reached, he may become everything that he had studied, bringing it back in full self-consciousness.
We have studied the globes of the planetary chain, the evolution on them of root races, and the nature of the sacred planets of the solar system and their hierarchies. Obviously, we realize that our studies are mainly intellectual. We have also drawn various ethical conclusions from our studies. Our studies were not only intellectual, because then they would have been dry and sterile. We have brought in the spiritual and the practical application of the teachings. You have also done so in your own studies and daily life. Even so, none of us can say that we actually know the conditions of inner worlds. None of us has actually seen the globes of the planetary chain or the hierarchies that dwell on other planetary bodies.
Unlike us, the neophyte who is ready for these initiations actually experiences their conditions. He penetrates in full self-consciousness into the spheres that we study intellectually, cognizes their inhabitants, penetrates into their structural setup, and learns firsthand in the laboratory of the solar system the workings of its laws. When he returns, he can write a book or teach advanced disciples from his direct observation and knowledge. He speaks of things to people who have not yet experienced them but whom, like us, hope someday to go through similar experiences under the guidance of greater teachers.
Picture someone whom has studied a book on chemistry diligently and can explain that science. Compare that student to the man who actually works in a laboratory. The technician has handled and produced many combinations of elements. Although the book is a good explanation of what actually takes place, the student knows the book whereas the chemist knows chemistry. The same applies to spiritual knowledge, the difference between our book learning and the initiants' knowledge.
Our book learning of chemistry is necessary before we become chemists. Likewise, our intellectual study and ethical application of the Teachings is necessary before we learn the mysteries of nature firsthand. From the initiation centers of the Earth, we hear that discipline precedes the Mysteries. With practice, we strive to attain some discipline. "The Mysteries" is a term for the totality of greater knowledge from firsthand experience held by those who embody that spiritual discipline.