If the future and the past do exist I want to know where they are. I may not yet be capable of such knowledge, but at least I know that, wherever they are, they are not there as future or past, but as present. For if, wherever they are, they are future, they do not yet exist; if past, they no longer exist. So wherever they are and whatever they are, it is only by being present that they ARE.
-- St. Augustine, CONFESSIONS, Bk 11, Ch. 14, No. 18
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 52-54.]
Our fitness or otherwise to enter the Occult World and maintain our position therein is tested definitely at an early stage of our Inner Life. The test comes from the Great Law, Sifter of man's Dharma, on the Path of Woe. The significance of this process can be understood by a correct reading of a few verses in the Gospel of St. Luke (Chapter 9). To different types of aspirants, Jesus gives different answers. He rejects one eager to "follow thee whithersoever thou goest" by a diplomatic answer that "the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." To a second, he advises, "Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." To the third he says, "No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Here are three definite situations and all of us should enquire if we belong to any of them. Are we only lip-professors, and is our earnestness rooted in selfishness or egotism, and our devotion energized by personal ends and personal motives? For us, then, there is no place in the Occult World. Or are we half-hearted, yet desirous of trafficking in the shades of the shadow world of the dead? Have we very definitely come out from among them? Or do we belong to the third type -- having abandoned earthly possessions we regret our step and yet are attracted by the Ideal, possess a desire to be like Them, so that we might help Them?
This test has to be passed.
Occultism speaks of the neophyte passing the tests of the elementals of earth, water, air, and fire when he enters the world of the Spirit. The correct understanding of this mystery emblem is naturally beyond most of us. But let us try to understand as best we can what it implies.
In the composition of our being are the four elemental forces that, on their material side, are spoken of by the Ancients as Elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. The four temperaments, phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, and melancholic; the four types of Nature-spirits, gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders; and several other quartets are related to and correspond with each other. For the purposes of our study, it will suffice for us to honestly ask and find answers in full and stern justice to these questions: Are we of the earth earthy, so full of worldly belongings that we are thrown out by ourselves from the Occult World?
Are we like unto that young man who "went away sorrowful" (note, he was not sent away) "for he had great possessions?" Or are we watery people, sentimental, goody-goody, wishy-washy, desirous of observing customs and manners of the world of the dead? Or are we self-opinionated folk who must air our views in season and out of season and tell the world what we are doing or going to do, what we think and feel and who, like unto the third aspirant of Jesus, "first go to bid them farewell, which are at home, at my house," and incidentally tell them what we are going to do, righteously and virtuously follow the Lord, and air our views on the subject, and other matters besides? Or are we the fiery type -- who can burn up earth and dry up water, and whose only enemy is the gale of fury which sometimes overpowers the weak flame and the young fire?
There are fires which cannot be extinguished and there is the Spiritual Fire, which so subdues the breeze and gale of Ahamkara, that it burns steady and bright. This Fire is the controller; it too is the manifester and expresser of its nature.
Young aspirants sometimes forget that self-control and self-expression are not two processes but two phases of but one process. The coordination of these two has to be achieved. To eliminate the earthy-rigidity of the senses, the watery-mobility of the emotions, the airy-velocity of the thoughts by proper, adequate and all-round control, and to use them as channels of the Fiery Soul which is our real Self, so that it can express itself in its true grandeur and glory, is the double work of every aspirant. To make our body of senses and limbs the stately mansion which puts forth the majesty and tenderness of Mother Earth; to make our emotions start from the spring of Love, glide forth in the river of gentleness, and empty themselves in the Ocean of Compassion; to make our thoughts harbingers of goodwill and like birds rise in the Aether of Space, singing their songs -- joyous and clear and fresh; to transform ourselves into the steady-burning Flame of Nachiketas's Fire -- symbol of the Disciple; that is the task that lies before us.
Self-made is the Path; Self-determined is the effort to tread it. Treading the Path, we realize the Self. In Self-realization, we become the Path. Thus, the Truth, the Way, and the Life are one.
An announcement has been received of a theosophical gathering to be held August 12 to 14 in Santa Barbara. The theme is "Renewing Ancient Wisdom in a Global Community." The following information comes from that announcement.
The format will contain a mixture of talks, workshops, and dialogues. The program is not yet finalized, but the confirmed presentations are:
Other possible presentations include a workshop on responding to bestsellers and courses in "miracles." On Saturday night, the program will include a musical performance. By popular demand, the Theosophy School players will return with this year's play, "Sinbara das Mahout."
Send names, addresses and e-mails or any questions to:
A copy of the flyer and registration form is available at the conference website:
There will be time for adjustments of number's of meals and nights up until the first week of August, but it will be helpful to receive everyone's basic reservation soon. If anyone needs transportation from the airport to the retreat center, please ask us.
The retreat center, Casa de Maria is located in a lovely location, and the facilities are comfortable, clean, regenerative, and inexpensive. Unfortunately, the center has been sold. This will be one of the last conferences held there.
Anyone wishing to make an additional donation to help cover expenses, please send it to:
UTF Attn: Carolyn Dorrance Post Office Box 91105 Santa Barbara, CA 93190
By G. de Purucker
[From a July 14, 1936 supplement to THE DIALOGUES OF G. DE P., II, pages 261-67.]
The matter of the TRAINED human ego's having to go through initiation unaided and unprotected by its higher parts is one of great importance, and in the atmosphere of the thought that has been aroused by the various observations made, I want to add something of my own. It is perfectly true that we can receive help from others, for love is always permissible, and it is the sustaining power because it is like health and like fresh air.
When the test comes, we have to take it alone. The initiate is in the universe, a part of it, the pulses of the universe are pulsing through him. He has the help of the universe precisely because it is a part of him. But no one helps him by holding him up, or wiping the sweat or dew from his forehead, or giving him injections, etc.
The soul must stand naked before the test, and conquer by its own inner powers. If it succeeds, it succeeds, and we have an adept. If it fails, there are other chances, BUT HE GETS NO HELP IN A DIRECT WAY WHATSOEVER. If he did, it would be no test. He must learn to fit himself to be one of the stones in the Guardian Wall. The position is one of such heavy responsibility, one involving so much, that there can be no weak links.
There is not only no favoritism, there is absolutely no pity shown for the naked soul. If pity were shown, and the soul were helped over and allowed to succeed by supporting hands, the result would be a weak vessel, incapable of holding its own against the terrific impact of cosmic forces outside. The Guardian Wall is composed of human and spiritual 'Stones' that are strong in every fiber and have proved themselves such before they can be built into the wall.
Several weighty and momentous matters are involved here, and I want to drive it home into your minds that it is the unprotected, unshielded, trained ego, the human ego, which must 'make good' or fail. Now if it is helped, if it is shielded, what is the use of undergoing the test? The test becomes a mere play, a farce, a cheating. In a school, who is it that learns? The divine entity living in the heart, in the soul, of each child? Obviously not. It is the child that must learn or fail. If the child learns, it graduates. In an honest school, if it does not learn, it does not graduate, though out of compassion it may be allowed to slip out with some degree of honor, especially if the child is earnest.
Just so is it with initiation, which is an intensification and hastening of the evolutionary process. It is THAT part of the human being that is tried, not a part superior to the trial, but that part that is tried and tested that must succeed or fail. And if somebody helps it, or suffers for it, or answers its questions, or casts a shield of protection around it, wherein lies the virtue in the trial out of which it comes successfully? It is no trial, it is a weakening process. It is like a man in the water. He either must swim or drown.
Suppose we take the man in the water as a test to learn whether he can swim. If someone stands in the water and holds him up, that is no test of the question: can the man swim? Precisely with initiation, because upon that man's success lies the soul's weal, the soul's safety, the safety of the souls of human beings. He must be tested to be pure gold throughout, without a streak of weakness, not a single point, not an atom can fail under stress. That is why initiation is fearful. And only those are allowed to attempt it whom the teachers believe to be capable of passing through the fire of trial and coming out purified.
What is it that undergoes initiation, insofar as we humans are concerned? It is not the divine part of us. It is not the spiritual part of us. It is not the manasaputric part of us. All these are beyond the initiations that we humans go through. It is we, failing, fallible, weak, struggling, aspiring, and sometimes succeeding human egos who have the chance when the time comes in initiation to rise from the initiatory trance, a spiritual being -- or to fail. It is a testing and a searching out and purification in the fire of suffering. The poppycock that is talked about initiation by the quasi-mystics and would-be occultists today is awful, and it is right and needful that you should know these things.
I have told you a million times, it seems to me, that the human constitution is composite. There is a world of occultism in that one statement. "Oh yes, composite. We know. It has a divine soul, a spiritual soul, a human soul, an astral body, a linga-sharira, and a physical body. Composite, yes. Oh, we understand." I have not yet, my beloved Companions, found an adequate understanding among you of that simple statement that the human being is a composite being.
I have attempted by both direct and devious ways and roundabout manners to awaken the intuition in your minds as to the meaning of this statement. I have called to your attention the fact that in addition to our usual exoteric enumeration of the seven principles, there are different monads in man, and that not only is every principle septenary or duodenary, but likewise that these different monads in man, while they form his constitution as we are now constituted, are nevertheless not all of them what I call 'I,' and each one of you calls 'I.' That is the human monad. That human monad is as septenary as our present constitution is, which means that the human monad alone, singling it out of the other monads in our present constitution, has a divine part, a spiritual part, a mental or intellectual part, a psychical, an astral, and a physical.
Now it is this human monad, the human ego part of that monad, which is 'I,' which is 'you'; and it is this portion of the constitution that must be so to say temporarily wrenched apart from all the other elements in the human constitution, and must stand alone. It has its own inner god, its own human monad's god -- not the atman of the usually understood septenary, but its own atman or inner god. And all initiation, which means all testing, all trial, all purification, of any monad or ego is for the purpose of bringing out the particular divinity of that ego that is being tested.
Along this same line of thought you now perhaps will see the reason of H.P. Blavatsky's statement that has intrigued so many of you, that the Manasaputra, the manasaputric influence within us and above us, is like a plank of salvation thrown down to us. When the Manasaputras incarnated within the early human protoplasts, they awakened the manasic portions in the human egos -- they themselves were manasic devas -- and they still hover over us inspiring, aiding, helping, guiding. But it is not the Manasaputra of me and of you, because this "I" and this "you" belong to the one we call the HUMAN monad.
Picture the situation after the manner of a cross. Marvelous symbol again! The upright of the cross we can say is the line of the ordinary human constitution as given in our exoteric books: atman, buddhi, manas, kama, and so forth. The transverse or horizontal where it joins the upright on its line of junction we may call the human ego. We put it there because we are but humans. Now that line of juncture, where the general, the upright, traverses and crosses and therefore aids and lifts the horizontal, or the individual I or you, is, as HPB says, our plank of salvation, our contact with the universe in the upright sense.
But we must learn to find that universe through the divinity of our own monadic ego, within and above our own HUMAN monad, in other words to find the atman belonging to our HUMAN ego, that is the 'horizontal,' as well as the general atman of the human constitution in and of the 'vertical.' To use this figure of speech again, we must learn to find the divinity of the horizontal as well as of the vertical. Now the perfect god, and in a smaller degree the perfect man, is he who has learned to make the upright and the horizontal coalesce in his constitution and to blend in unity. Do you catch the mystical thought that I am trying to give -- to see the divinity within his own essence and essay to be it? And at the same time to see and essay to be the cosmic divinity that is likewise in him and of him -- the 'vertical.'
Thus in initiation it is not the divine monad that is tested. That would be folly. It is not the father or the mother who learns the alphabet for their little child of four. It is the little child. It is not the spiritual monad that is tested and tried and purified in these human initiations; nor is it the Manasaputra inspiring us, but it is the HUMAN ego, which during initiation must become, essay to become, and finally become, the human monad, the divinity WITHIN THE HEART OR CENTER of the 'human' ego.
You see the reason for the statement that the soul that cannot stand the burning fire returns either a madman or returns but to die -- that or success. It is infinitely just. The whole initiatory scheme would be a preposterous fake and farce, a cheating of the human soul, if the initiant went into the trials so protected and shielded that no trial could touch him, that no test could reach him, that no fire could burn out the evil within him. Each new initiation -- and fasten this thought in your minds -- means coming a step nearer to that inner divinity that is not the ordinary atman of us, of the upright of the cosmic cross, but that divinity that is the very heart of the heart of the core of the core of the human monad, as yet a feebly manifesting evolutionary pilgrim.
That is why the mystic teaching was given in the Christian scriptures: My divinity, my divinity, how thou dost glorify me. No longer am I dependent upon the Manasaputra above me. From within my own cosmic essence, from within the god of my own HUMAN monad, I have BECOME, and THROUGH MYSELF, my own godhood. How thou dost glorify me, thou divine part of me! Notice the peculiarly apt and aphoristic Greek: "Ho theos mou, ho theos mou" -- the god of me; the Greek is emphatic in its grammatical construction. Not merely my god, but the god of me.
And mark you, this can only come in initiation after the other cry comes: Oh god of me, why hast thou forsaken me? Yes. The god of the upright, because now the child must learn to walk, to find himself. The god, his god, himself, his divine self, not his 'outer' god of the ordinary human constitution commonly called atma-buddhi-manas, but he finds the atma-buddhi-manas of the horizontal so to speak, of the individual, of the HUMAN monadic essence.
Every monad within the human constitution is septenary or duodenary, according to the way of counting, and every initiation that takes place, as far as I know, as far as I have been taught, in cosmic time or cosmic space, whether of man or of god or of being of the Underworld, is just the same thing in principle. Details may change; places, individuals, may vary. But the fundamental idea and rule are the same.
This is why it is that death and initiation are identical. So is sleep. I have said these things a score of times. Sleep, initiation, and death are all one. Sleep is the same thing, but happily veiled from our unwitting vision, from our ignorance and stupidity because we are too sunk in desires of this world to see, to realize. Initiation is a conscious awakening to the verities. And death is exactly the same thing in even greater degree than initiation, but because it is not undertaken with one's own will for the specific purpose of quickening our evolution, it is an automatic function of the portions of our constitution. Perhaps I am wandering a little too far afield, but these are hints for you. Your intuition may work upon them. I repeat that sleep, death, and initiation are all essentially the same thing.
I hope all the dear Companions will forgive me if I have spoken with too great emphasis tonight. I thought the opportunity was too good to miss.
By Ken Small
[Ken Small is the President of Point Loma Publications, which keeps in print many key books on the theosophical philosophy. See its website at
for more information.]
TRUTH is the Voice of Nature and of Time -- TRUTH is the startling monitor WITHIN US -- Naught is without it, it comes from the stars, The golden sun, and every breeze that blows ...
-- W. Thompson Bacon, as quoted by H.P. Blavatsky in "What is Truth."
In 1912, Robert Crosbie founded THEOSOPHY. Over the past five years, this quarterly publication of Theosophy Company has transformed remarkably. With its current issue (volume 93, number 1), it fully mirrors the qualities our foundation journals embodied and mirrors the paradigms they reflected. Its subheading "The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy" reflects this inner change, encompassing a simultaneously broader and deeper scope and perhaps heralding revitalized new cycle. I will elaborate with some thoughts on these points in what follows.
With a creative circle of contributing editors and writers under the guidance and steadfast perseverance of its editor, Phyllis Ryan, the magazine has entered a new cycle of Theosophic vitality. The special issue on INTELLIGENT DESIGN embodies this principle with elegant design combined with content that bridges the timeless principles of Theosophy and the present cycle.
The images and photos add a compassionate human touch, truly countering and beginning a healing of what many critics of the United Lodge of Theosophy [ULT] describe as a tendency to "cold intellectualism" and "bibliolatry." At times in the past, this narrow, fundamentalist worship of the letter has pervaded the ULT. This has sidetracked it from its original mission as stated by Robert Crosbie, which we read in the ULT Declaration of Principles. These fragile beginnings that we now see in THEOSOPHY need great care with support and perseverance to take root and grow. With these changes, we hopefully see old, narrow molds of the past broken and the initiation of a renaissance of Theosophy into the future.
In these brief comments, it is not possible to go into depth regarding the following questions. However, it is necessary to raise some basic, simple points that may lead to a deeper enquiry if taken the right way.
What is the nature of a truly theosophical journal? How does the journal relate to the current era? What is its spiritual and transformational purpose? Who is its audience? Ah, of course, you say the Theosophists. Yes, and Blavatsky brings this "who" -- the principles of what guide the genuine Theosophist -- to life.
All original thinkers and investigators of the hidden side of nature whether materialists -- those who find in matter "the promise and potency of all terrestrial life," or spiritualists -- that is, those who discover in spirit the source of all energy and of matter as well, were and are, properly, Theosophists ... Be what he may, once that a student abandons the old and trodden highway of routine, and enters upon the solitary path of independent thought -- Godward -- he is a Theosophist; an original thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth with "an inspiration of his own" to solve the universal problems.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, "What Are the Theosophists"
Referring to her own journal, she states:
For LUCIFER tries to satisfy its readers of whatever "school of thought," and shows itself equally impartial to Theist and Atheist, Mystic and Agnostic, Christian and Gentile.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, "What Is Truth"
She is not describing the ability to repeat and adhere to a formal doctrine, text, or creed nor the signing of a particular membership card. She is very clear about "an original thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth with 'an inspiration of his own.'" Her tall order and challenge is to "solve the universal problems."
It is gratifying to read this new incarnation of THEOSOPHY. In its special issue on INTELLIGENT DESIGN, the balance of spirit, thought, and form engages and reaches the genuine THEOSOPHIST that Blavatsky described.
Go back in time for a moment. To place the present into perspective, taste the roots of our theosophical past. Go back to the journals of the initial cycle of Theosophy in the late 1870's to late 1890's. They include Blavatsky's LUCIFER, Blavatsky and Olcott's THE THEOSOPHIST, and Judge's THE PATH. (Also, consider Blavatsky's articles "Who are the Theosophists," "What is Theosophy," and "What is Truth?") In this material, we find the foundational paradigms on which to study and reflect.
It is a wonder that some still feel a holier than thou compulsion to criticize these seemingly new endeavors. They say the work is out of line with the Masters intent and the principles of the founders. How can they do so, when they rarely read the original journals? We must see what the founders really considered the breadth and depth of Theosophy before we can bring it to life in our time and cycle.
In every case, the initial journals were not only for members of the Theosophical Society, but also brought the ideas, principles, and practices of ancient times and worldwide cultures within the unified view of Theosophy. Speaking to the genuine theosophical audience that HPB described, these three original journals embodied a vibrant living philosophy. They were fresh and new. They included such topics as Sanskrit texts and Indian herbal medicine (THE THEOSOPHIST), an editorial challenge to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Gnostic texts, insights into the nature of mind and the universe, and occult fiction (LUCIFER), and Indian philosophy, theosophic ethics, and short stories (THE PATH).
Without the weight of organizational history, this creative force carried the early years of the Theosophical Movement with radical success. During the past century, the tendency has sometimes arisen in theosophical groups blindly to imitate the past or to diverge into fantasy, resulting in crystallization and cultish self-delusion. The current issue of THEOSOPHY is remarkable, showing vitality in the new cycle, cutting through these extremes with its new form and new life!
Read the magazine for yourself. Recent issues are online in PDF format at:
The issue on INTELLIGENT DESIGN can be accessed by clicking on the "Winter 2004-05 Publication Zip" link on that page. It can also be accessed on the Wisdom Traditions website at
in the newsletter section after July 8.]
Following are the contents of a sample of each of the initial theosophical periodicals.
THE THEOSOPHIST: A MONTHLY JOURNAL DEVOTED TO ORIENTAL PHILOSOPHY, ART, LITERATURE, AND OCCULTISM: EMBRACING MESMERISM, SPIRITUALISM, AND OTHER SECRET SCIENCES.
Volume I. No. 5, Bombay, February 1880
This issue includes seven small news items and comments of note, an editorial in response to a review of the January issue of THE THEOSOPHIST in "a respectable Anglo-Indian journal, ad advice from the Theosophical Society on the best way of disposing of the dead to an influential burial reform society of an Australian city. There are sonnets "To the Author of ISIS UNVEILED" and "To Pandit Dayanand Saraswati Swami" and there is "An Indian Patriot's Prayer."
Political commentary includes "Our Duty to India." Fiction includes "English Ghost Stories," by John Yarker, and "Lo! The 'Poor Missionary,'" by Melmoth, the Wanderer. There is a medical piece, "East Indian Materia Medica," by Pandurang Gopal, which includes a table with Sanskrit terms in the Devanagari script, transliterated, and with corresponding English botanical names.
Religious studies include "Zoroastrianism and Theosophy," by Kharsedji N. Seervain, "Indra," by Bajendro Nauth Dutta, "Buddhism Authoritatively Defined," "The Nature and Office of Buddha's Religion," by H. Samangala with a postscript in Devanagari.
Occult materials include "A Case of Genuine Hindu Mediumship," by Babu Nobin K Bannerjee, "Magnetic Prescience," by R. Bates, and "The Brethren of the Rosy Cross," by Alexander Wilder.
Other articles were "The Baron du Potet," by H.S. Olcott; "Hassan Khan 'Djinni,'" an juggler or some say sorcerer; "An Indian Aetherobat," by Babu Krishna Indra Sandyal; "A Great Light Under a Bushel," by Alexandre Akskaof; "A Musalman Abdal," by Svyed Mahmood; and "The Mystic Syllable Onkara: Its Meaning, Antiquity, and Universal Application," by Rao Bhandur Dadoba Pandurang.
Volume I, No. 4, July 1886
Religious studies include "Notes on the Cabbalah of the Old Testament," by J. Ralston Skinner; "Sufism, Or Theosophy from the Standpoint of Mohammedanism," by C.H.A. Bjerregaard; "Studies in the Upanishads," by A Student
Occult materials include "A Hindu Chela's Diary," "Living the Higher Life," by Murdhna Joti.
Other articles were "Portrait of Plato in Carnelian Stone," by Fulvius Ursinus; and "Some Hermetic Philosophy, by B.
Under "Correspondence" was a letter from Mohini M. Chatterji. In the "Reviews and Notes" Section were "The Biogen Series" by J.D. Buck; "The Sanskrit Language;" Book Review of "Thoughts," by Ivan Panin; and Book Review of "The Spirit of the New Testament," by a Woman. There were also eight news items under "Theosophical Activities."
Volume II, No. 9, May 15, 1888
The issue included some poetry: "At Sunset," by Evelyn Pyne, and "Sound Waves," by Roger Hall; and "Mary Merivale's First Words to Her Disciples," by Evelyn Pyne.
Political commentary includes "Theosophy and Modern Socialism," by J. Brailsford Bright
Religious studies includes "Missionary Fables," from the Ceylon Sarasavisandaresa; "The Crucifixion of Man" (followed by "Editors Notes" on it)
Occult materials include "Occultism Versus the Occult Arts," by H.P. Blavatsky; "The Blossom and the Fruit: The True Story of a Magician," by Mable Collins; "Acquired Habits," by A.I.R.
Other articles were "Bird and Butterfly: A Scrap of Theosophical Folklore of the Extreme Orient, Rendered from the Sinico-Nihonese Vernacular Original," translated by C. Pfoundes; "The Sraddha," by Andrew T. Sibbald; "Previsions of Later Life," by E.C.H.C.; "Detachment," by Pilgrim; "Finger-Posts in the Middle Ages"; and "From a Lamrim Compendium," by Tzon-Kha-Pa.
Under "Reviews" were "The Battle of Belief," by T.G. Headley; "The Mystery of a Turkish Bath," by Rita; and "Roses and Thorns," by Charles W. Heckethorn.
A number of items were listed under "Correspondence." After each was an "Editor's Note" or "Editor's Reply." These items were "A Puzzle in 'Esoteric Buddhism,'" by An Agnostic Student of Theosophy; "Practical Occultism," by S.E.; "Logical Deductions," by Alfred Wilson; "Is There No Hope?" by David Crichton; and "Who are the Eurasians?" by G. Ouseley. There was also one question and answer item. The question was "Why Do Animals Suffer?"
By Alexander Fullerton
[From THE PATH, September 1891, pages 175-78.]
"I wish to become an Adept," said Mr. Wilkinson Blynn as he seated himself in the law office of the President of the Occidental Theosophical Society, Mr. Henry Peters.
"At once?" asked Mr. Peters.
"As soon as the rules permit," replied Mr. Blynn.
"It is a matter rather of fitness than of rules, I should suppose," said Mr. Peters. "But what has led you to desire it?"
"I am quite sure that I could serve humanity more efficiently as an Adept, and I do not wish to waste any time. Besides, the books say that many persons are quietly receiving the training, and why should not I?"
Pressed with further questions, Mr. Blynn avowed certain experiences that seemed to point to fitness for the Occult. He had heard strange sounds during the watches of the night, a curious blue light seemed at times to burn behind his eyes, and he perceived a diminution of interest in business and in the pursuits habitual for many years. Moreover, he was conscious of a deep-seated desire to go about in his astral body.
Mr. Peters gazed for a moment at the visitor. He was short and stout, with a somewhat weak forehead and mouth, but not without a complacent expression indicative of self-satisfaction. He was certainly not the type of Mahatmic grace, nor did the thought of him on astral excursions conduce to sobriety. But Mr. Peters comported himself with much decorum. He briefly sketched the training understood to be preliminary to Adeptship, stated the motives and work of the Tibetan Brotherhood, and hinted at the many incarnations prior to initiation. "You are a member of the Theosophical Society, I presume, Mr. Blynn?"
"No, sir, I am not. I do not consider it necessary. A man can become an Adept without putting F.T.S. (Fellow of the Theosophical Society) after his name. I serve humanity better otherwise than by paying a dollar a year to a Society. Besides, I understand that Madame Blavatsky smoked."
"Very possibly," rejoined Mr. Peters. "I have even heard that she ate. But what steps did you purpose taking in respect to Adeptship?"
"That is in part what I have come for," Mr. Blynn replied. "I suppose I should first join the Esoteric Section, and then advance as an Accepted Chela. The way seems quite plain."
"But you can hardly be a member of a Section without first becoming a member of the body of which that may be a Section. And, indeed, I do not see how you can expect the guidance of Masters if you hold aloof from the Society They cherish. If we want Their help we must give Them ours, I should say."
"Just like the Church," exclaimed Mr. Blynn. "If you don't come in and pay your dollar, you can't have any spiritual enlightenment." And warming with his theme, Mr. Blynn explained how independent was internal development of material props, and that he had not in vain read THE LIGHT OF EGYPT and THE OCCULT WORLD. "Then you won't introduce me to a Mahatma unless I join your Society?" he asked at his close.
Mr. Peters gasped. "I have no acquaintance with a Mahatma, and no power to introduce anybody," he at last said.
"Then, Sir, you don't amount to much," sternly rejoined Mr. Blynn. "Better read your own books and exercise Universal Brotherhood. I wish you good morning, Mr. -- ah -- President." After that subtle sarcasm, he closed the door with an asperity that would have seemed like a slam in anybody not an incipient Adept.
As Mr. Blynn went his way, he was conscious of a mixture of feelings. It was something to have exposed and rebuked a hollow pretense like the Occidental T. S. and its Chief, and so far elation was proper. But otherwise, the visit was less successful. No appointment had been made to present him to a Tibetan Brother, and he had not even been taken into the Esoteric Section. As for joining the T. S. -- not he! Never would he countenance a system of fees and dues in an organization for spiritual culture, nor would he part with his own cash for any such. The water of life was without money and without price.
As for Masters, he was in no way bound to follow Their policy or obey Their orders. No vows of obedience could be exacted until Initiation, and as Initiation conferred "powers," he would find in those "powers" ample safeguard against oppression. Meantime he should seek development of the Occult germs within him, and serve humanity in such wise as opportunity -- here he gave an angry flip with his cane at an obtrusive newsboy and heard with satisfaction a responsive wail.
The day was warm and his home was distant. After some hesitation over the outlay, he found refreshment in two glasses of beer, and then repose in a car. As he unwillingly paid his fare, the thought of astral travel recurred, and then the memory of that blatherskite Peters who had sought to obstruct his Occult career. "Won't I blast him when I am initiated and know how," said the candidate to himself. But this, he had been told, was incarnations off. Surely, there must be some way to expedite progress and to release him from the various encumbrances of fat, ignorance, and impotence.
As the car crept slowly along, Mr. Blynn felt additional surging of what he considered his "higher being." He was abundantly well off, but was tired of business, there was a good deal of monotony in the matters of food and routine life, and planes of loftier consciousness allured him. Certainly, Adeptship was the solution of his discontent. But for that damned Peters, he might be now on the way to it.
It was just at that moment that an idea sprang into his brain. Its suddenness and completeness were so emphatic that there could be no doubt of its origin. It was a gift vouchsafed from an unseen Mahatma, one of the Brotherhood doubtless ready to welcome him. As he recalled what he had read of clairvoyance, astral journeys, and hypnotic experiments, Mr. Blynn discerned the whole process of Adept training. It was simply self-hypnosis. This explained, moreover, why Theosophical books insisted on illumination from within, and on the futility of seeking it from without.
How simple was the whole matter when thus regarded. Paralyze the outer senses and leave the inner free! Dissolve away the physical encasement, so to speak, and the Ego was emancipated from its bonds. And the means were no less facile. A coin, a bright spot, a little globe a few inches from the eyes, and soon the rebellious flesh would be subdued, the astral being liberated, and the aerial voyage begun. Peters be hanged!
The few preparations were readily made. Mr. Blynn fortified himself with an ample repast from which pork chops and sherry were not absent, cemented a gold dollar to the end of a stick, and adjusted it and his easy chair to a fitting distance. Then gazing intently at the shining disk, the proper degree of strabismus secured, he lay easily hack in his chair and awaited the coming emancipation. There was some discomfort in the strain on the eyes, and he had to resist an impulse to wink, but he knew that the path to Adeptship is not only over roses.
Gradually as his head began to swim and nervous twitches to multiply through his brain, he felt more and more the incipience of Occult process. Queer lights flashed before him; dull sounds, mighty in significance, if as yet uninterpretable, rolled through his ears; time and space seemed gradually to vanish; the whole import and secret of being was on the point of disclosure. Then came a gliding away from existence, a suspension of consciousness when he neither knew nor felt. But not for long. Suddenly he rose into the translucent air of perennial gladness, he soared through regions of light indescribable, visions glorious and thrilling passed before his enraptured gaze, he saw bands of the Brotherhood in mystic converse, he joined them, he communed with them, he was one of them! Into that transcendent experience, no thought of Peters intruded. He was free, free from his earthly tedium, every aspiration met, every hope fulfilled.
But alas! It is not given to mortals long to partake of unearthly bliss. In the midst of this supernal scene came a cry, a harsh and loud ejaculation, a start, a splutter, a rude recall to earth.
"Heavens, Blynn, what is the meaning of this," had exclaimed the coarse Maginnis, a frequent visitor, suddenly entering the room of the sleeper and finding him snoring before a gold dollar on a stick. "Are you crazy, man," and Maginnis shook him until the sherry and the hypnotism and the beer had subsided.
No, Mr. Blynn was at last able to explain, he was not crazy, but he had dozed off while thinking out a problem that had perplexed him.
"I never suspected you of being an adept at problems," said Maginnis.
"I don't know that I shall ever be an Adept at all," replied Mr. Blynn as he pocketed his dollar.
By United Lodge of Theosophists
[Following is a letter to friends and associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists. This voluntary association of students of Theosophy exists "to spread broadcast the Teachings of Theosophy as recorded in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge." The ULT issued the letter June 21-25, 2005 under the letterhead of the Los Angeles Lodge (245 West 33rd Street, Los Angeles CA 90007). The letter is signed, "With fraternal greetings, The United Lodge of Theosophists."]
The small nucleus of students who joined together in 1909 as The United Lodge of Theosophists communicated almost daily as they created ways to further the Theosophical Movement. As these efforts took root and expanded worldwide, the growing need for "intercommunication and intercommunion" on a broader basis led to the suggestion in 1931 that workers everywhere come together annually to "refresh their memories, renew their mutual ties, reaffirm their solidarity, (and) commemorate by renewed activity all that is contained in the ULT Declaration."
Of note is the fact that while the 1931 letter to all Associates -- the first "ULT Day Letter" -- included the program to be used in Los Angeles, it was sent "either for use as it is, or as suggestive of a similar Program." For:
From the beginning ULT has eschewed all semblance of authority, all forms of organization, placing its whole reliance on the Declaration of the Lodge, on the self-induced and self-devised efforts of the Associates to make that Declaration a living bond of union among them, wherever and however situated.
These annual Letters, conveying 74 years of extraordinary interplay between the challenge of world history in Kali Yuga and the self-correcting organism that is ULT, contain multiple examples of the fleeting nature of "persons, places, and things." Yet, the deep commitment to the work of H.P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge remains at the heart's core. Through war, upheaval, and unimaginable social change, the tone of the 1940 Letter, written at the beginning of World War II, still rings true: "The message of 'ULT Day' to Lodges and Members is one of sympathy for all who suffer, of courage to all those who carry on, of spiritual support to those who, under whatever condition, hold first the Cause of Universal Brotherhood."
How then, do we create and maintain "a living bond of union" and effective methods of study and promulgation, given the challenges of history and the demands of daily life? Each individual student at some point "surveys the scene" and hears the moral call to act for the welfare of humanity -- a "humanity" that becomes not a faceless abstraction, but "each and every one." Consideration of the "self-induced and self-devised efforts" called for in each circumstance develops discernment. The mandate of universal brotherhood supports action. As the physical, psychic, kamic, and lower manasic karmic cycles run their course, concentration on the noetic path provides both "fertilizer and seed" for the living organism known as ULT. A sampling of activities from various Lodges and Associates this year shows that the needs of humanity and the dharma of the current era still nurture this noetic principle.
The Paris ULT reports that an important part of their time and effort is devoted to support of their website, which has the wide potential of reaching French speakers in Europe, Africa, and Canada. An average of 350 daily contacts on the Internet results in a flow of activities such as e-mail inquiries about the Movement and the teachings, book sales, and registration for the Correspondence Course. In addition, posting of the current program brings newcomers to the Paris meetings: "Had there been some initial reluctance on the part of some Theosophists to use the Internet, this means has now clearly proven to be an effective way of linking with inquirers, 'wherever and however situated.' And in an effort to stay tuned with "the mind and heart of mankind," topics for the lecture program from time to time feature subjects "that specifically deal with social or ethical issues currently debated, to bring the Theosophic light to bear on such subjects."
The use of technology to serve is repeated in the Phoenix ULT, where students not able to attend may concurrently engage in the regular class in UNIVERSAL THEOSOPHY and THE SECRET DOCTRINE through the computer. As the meeting is seen and heard directly, ideas and questions can be inserted via text messaging, the latter then being read to the class and responded to immediately. The scope provided by this is great: one online participant lives nearby but cannot be at the Lodge "because of her responsibility as caregiver for three adults who are mentally and physically challenged." Others participate from afar, including India. ("Our 7:00 PM meeting on Sunday is 8:00 AM Monday in India.") In addition, the Phoenix website:
offers Theosophic texts, with a CD of the material also available by request.
The development of new programs and methods invigorates in several ways. In Philadelphia, the Lodge is "in the second year of having a Friday night study class once a month, from October through June, using the theme of the study of comparative religions and philosophies." Just as the audience is eager to have the fruit of the efforts of the two students who present the material; the students who do the work feel richer for the efforts made as they look into areas "they would perhaps not have studied otherwise." The monthly newsletter THEOSOPHICAL INDEPENDENCE, in its fourth year of publication, benefits "both the team of students who produce it, and other Lodges." Similarly, THE AQUARIAN THEOSOPHIST, published individually, energizes with printing lesser-known HPB and WQJ articles, as well as drawing attention to cutting-edge scientific discoveries and issues in the Movement worldwide.
Innovative use of texts also is effective. A new class at Los Angeles involves both newcomers and older students by blending THE OCEAN, ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS, and POINT OUT THE WAY. A study class in Antwerp on THE MEDITATIONS OF MARCUS AURELIUS, as well as one at the New York City ULT on "The Grand Inquisitor" portion of THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, give new perspectives.
A reminder of how the organic growth of efforts for Theosophy takes place -- and some of the struggles -- comes from the Study Group in Tarentaise, France. "Wishing to offer free and open public meetings in order to make Theosophy known -- a priceless treasure we wanted to share -- after many difficulties we met a generous person who lent us his little coffee shop every Monday afternoon." Three years later, an active study class and lending library are in operation. "So far, the audience is limited, but we keep hoping, as our posters -- offered by the Paris ULT -- are no longer systematically torn, showing a sign of initial and gradual change of mindset."
These students note that their comments are "an occasion for us first to thank the Paris ULT and the essential support they provide us, with its Correspondence Course which got us to know Theosophy, and the invaluable help also in the possibility of borrowing cassettes on lectures and study classes; we would also like to thank all the Theosophists worldwide and of all epochs, as it is thanks to the work of everyone, at all levels, that new groups will be able to come to light here and there and become true living and active centers of force."
The foundation provided by earlier work, gratitude for the "generous efforts" of past students, and the chance to meet current needs also is seen in the Dijon, France ULT. An earlier Study Group developed an on-going program of weekly talks on Theosophy, with other activities aimed at a wider audience, such as radio interviews and seminars. Now, a study class is held once a week at the Lodge, after 2 hours of 'open doors' for inquiry, with a larger audience reached at a monthly talk given elsewhere. Afterwards, all are invited to stay for another half-hour when more personal queries and questions on the Movement and ULT may be raised. "This informal meeting has proved by its success over the few years of its existence to meet a need of the general audience."
The London, Ontario, Canada ULT reflects on the fact that weekly meetings around the world are a conscious effort to do the work of impacting "every atom in this solar system ... so that matter itself will have been refined." Just as political revolutions can be nonviolent, each student can "with the power of renunciation impress the cycle with intention and awareness." While noting that "the Declaration continues to amaze us at what it is capable of bringing to the mind and heart of the meetings," a further note deepens the view: "In our work at the Lodge we reach a point where the ideas become our own through checking and verifying through the application in our life ... It is from our own effort and work that the mind and heart are so prepared to express the great ideas that are contained in each one of us." This can only be done if the "SELF of All is not suppressed by external rules and regulations, but is felt from within each and all."
And, from Mumbai, India, the positive view that "our work goes on with renewed energy, sincerity, and devotion" reminds that while externals may change with the cycles, the effort "to be a part of the nucleus of Universal Brotherhood, to which the ULT is dedicated," continues.
By Jerry Hejka-Ekins
[Based upon a May 29, 2005 posting to the theos-talk mailing list.]
I understand the frustration some have in reading Blavatsky. Over the years, I have seen a significant number of complaints about her writings being unreadable, particularly THE SECRET DOCTRINE. Because rhetoric, composition, and literature were my major areas in graduate school and were the areas I taught, I am keenly interested in these complaints.
The problem is not with the author, but with the reader. In her formal philosophical writings, such as THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Blavatsky wrote in the scholarly style of the nineteenth century. However, it is no more difficult to read than other scholarly writings of her time, or even those of today. Indeed, even in the nineteenth century, THE SECRET DOCTRINE would not have been light reading.
Nevertheless, Blavatsky's writings were not all written at that level of difficulty. ISIS UNVEILED, for instance, was written to be easily readable by a general audience of that time. She wrote the article "A Reply to Our Critics" (BCW III:221-26) to be easily accessible to the average newspaper reader.
The sad truth is that, in the nineteenth century, people were more skilled at reading than we are. The time people used spend reading (and thus exercise their literary skills) is now given over to other entertainments such as watching television. The last time I looked at the statistics, the average reading skill of an adult in the United States was at the eighth grade level: that of a fifteen year old. Nowadays, even an article such as "A Reply to Our Critics" would challenge the average reader.
I have also read complaints that Blavatsky should have written in a simple style like C.W. Leadbeater's, so that anyone with the most basic reading skills would be able to understand. I answer that HPB wrote to accommodate the average reading skills of her time, which is beyond the average reading skills of this generation. We cannot blame Blavatsky for this decline in Western society.
HPB's discourse is of a different nature than CWL's. Her style is "philosophical." That is, she comments upon, elaborates, analyzes, compares, praises, and criticizes the discourse of some of the greatest Oriental scholars, philosophers, and scientists of her time. Consequently, to understand much of her writings requires a certain amount of familiarity with the writers and issues upon which she comments.
Leadbeater's style, on the other hand, is narrative. Typically, his writings describe things he has seen clairvoyantly or accounts of conversations he has had with others such as the Masters. His narrative is easy to read because it completely focuses on his experiences. Even the typical 15-year-old American would not find it difficult(I was about 16 years old when I first read his works). One does not need to have any particular knowledge about philosophy, science, nor religion in order to understand what he is communicating. For me, he was especially easy to read because I had already seen many of the things about which he wrote.
Is one writer superior to another because of the writing style used? No. Rather, each style accomplishes something different.
Leadbeater's narrative style informs the reader what he had observed on this or that plane or planet, or what this or that Master had told him. It is up to the reader to accept or reject the claims he made.
Blavatsky's philosophical style engages the philosophers, scientists, and cultural scholars of her time in major metaphysical questions. These scholarly communities deal with the same questions today. Systematically, she invites the reader to consider the information and think through the problems for themselves.
It is not so much an issue of understanding what she means. After a careful reading, students in our classes understand that very well. Rather, our discussions concern the deeper implications of her meanings within our personal experiences. We do not reach final answers, because our studies continually bring those ideas to deeper and deeper spiritual insights about ourselves, others, and the metaphysical nature of the universe.
Over the years, I have seen students of Blavatsky become skilled readers and thinkers. I have seen them become more intuitive and more keenly human. One member of our current study group is a professional journalist. She writes reviews of the various cultural events in the area and San Francisco. She attends and then writes about cultural events such as theater productions and special museum exhibits as they come up. She has remarked to me on numerous occasions that her studies in our group have vastly widened her understanding about literature and the arts, and that her reviews have become increasingly insightful as she has become increasingly familiar with the numerous references to mythology, literature, symbolism, culture etc. that she discovers within Blavatsky's writings.
There was a Theosophical writer in the Point Loma Tradition who once remarked that, "the study of Theosophy is more broadening than a university education." I think he is correct, and I would further add that the study of Theosophy also broadens one's educational experiences in a university, and in the university of life.
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 336-42, based upon a talk given in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 17, 1937.]
This is the first time I have had the pleasure of addressing a Danish audience. I have heard that you already know something about Theosophy, and that is exceedingly good, but I venture to say that when minds come into an approach of the study of the god-wisdom that we call Theosophy, there is always something new to learn, something to get that will give comfort to the heart, more light to the mind.
If I were to ask you as individuals "What is Theosophy," do you think that anyone in this auditorium could give me a comprehensive answer? Could you tell me where it comes from, what it is, and what its objectives are? Could you tell me what we Theosophists are trying to do? I do not think so. And it is along these lines of thought that I will make my brief address to you tonight.
Now then, in the first place, Theosophy is a word that of course comes from the Greek, "he Theosophia," to which we Theosophists love to add the adjective "ourania," the divine god-wisdom of the universe. This is no revelation granted unto men by an extra-cosmic power that men in reverence call God. It is wisdom concerning the Universe, its structure, nature, characteristics, laws, origin, and destiny. It was originally given unto the first human beings on this earth by divine entities coming unto infant humanity from other spheres in order to instruct these human children of the universe in the laws of right doing, right thinking, and therefore right and beautiful destiny.
Theosophy is not so much the wisdom of God, as it has been translated sometimes, as it is divine wisdom, god-wisdom, invented by no man, given to us by spiritual beings, and of which god-wisdom every great seer and sage in ancient times has been the voice to his age. These great men -- Buddhas or Avatars or Christs, call them by what name we will or may -- have been some of these sages and seers who have spoken to the children of men in language that they could easily understand, giving to them a divine philosophy of life, telling them what life is, explaining it, pointing out what the Universe is, pointing out likewise that we men and women are children of this wondrous universe that surrounds us, and therefore that there is no separation between all that is and us human beings.
You see what this means? It means that we are given ethics, morals, an ethical system based on the very divine heart of the universe, which as I have said in the West men with reverence call "God," but of which all the ancient sages and seers spoke, not in terms of names, but as the ancient sages of Hindustan described it, simply THAT -- TAT. So high a reverence had they for this divine heart of things, this divine heart of harmony, of infinite love and compassion, of cosmic intelligence, that they gave it no descriptive name such as men give to things, but simply said THAT. From THAT we come, back to THAT we go. We come out from IT again and are reborn as men to learn new lessons in life; to undo the mistakes of the past, to strengthen our characters; and thus as the ages go by, and we reincarnate time after time, we grow in wisdom and strength and character, our hearts expanding with love for all that is, and for our fellow-men, and our minds enlarging with what we learn -- the knowledge that is stored within what men in the West call the Soul, but that we Theosophists prefer to call the Reincarnating Ego -- two names for the same thing if you will.
When a man feels and knows, because of a philosophy of life that satisfies his intellect and purifies his heart, that he and his brother men and the Universe around us are all parts of one cosmic organic entity, an organism, a living being, which we call the Universe, then he has a basis for ethics that is scientific, philosophic, purely religious, that is, religion per se, not any one religion changed by men, modified by men, however good, but the Religion of the human spirit that seeks its home with divinity -- therefore, the religion of intuition, of the human divine spark, which makes us all that is best in us. You see also that this gives us a firm basis for philosophy, for we start from a unity that the mind can understand, and the heart with its tender instincts can grasp.
The truth that man and all Being are one, one in essence, apparently separated only in bodies: this is ethics; for instantly we see that when a man injures his brother, he injures himself likewise, for he injures the cosmic harmony, the cosmic unity. We see likewise in this wonderful verity, the fundamental unity of all beings and things, and that men are but inseparable portions of the infinite universe: a true basis for scientific thinking, for here we start from a fundamental postulate that all sane men must accept; for if man is different from the universe, then will someone please explain how it is that he is subject to its laws, and formed of the stuff of the universe?
Any other postulate is impossible. Whatever is in the universe is in the man, in me, in you. Conversely, whatever is in the man is in the Universe. I have thought, I have conscience, I have intuition, I have feeling. Because they are here in the part, shall the whole have them not? The fact that the part has these, proves that the universe has them; for show me something that does not contain what a part of it contains? That is foolishness.
Deduction from this wondrous teaching of Theosophy: It means that the Universe is conscious, conscious, of course, in infinite and varying degrees, but conscious; for from that consciousness of the universe we draw our consciousness. The whole gives to the parts. Because the man has consciousness, the ethical sense, therefore the universe is ethical, has what we men call consciousness. Is it possible that the part should have something that the All, the Whole, has not? Of course not.
These are some of the simplest teachings of Theosophy, given to us as I have already stated by spiritual beings ages and ages agone, given to the first human thinkers on our globe by spiritual beings from other spheres. Out of this primeval revelation of truth to men, were born as the ages passed, out of the Schools of the Mysteries, the different great philosophies and religions of the world -- each one founded by some great sage and seer, like Jesus the Christ, Gautama the Buddha, Lao-tse in China, Krishna the Avatar, Shankaracharya the Avatar, and similar great ones in other lands, in other times. Each one spoke from the wisdom of the esoteric sanctuary, that great School of Wisdom of the Mysteries that exists today and has its branches in certain of the countries of the world.
The greatest one of these Schools is at present in a little known district of Asia, and we Theosophists in reverence refer to it as Shambhala, which is a Sanskrit name. There still beats the sacred heart of all mankind, so to speak, for there still live (and they teach their chosen pupils or chelas) the noblest spiritual intellects that the human race has ever known. We call them Masters of Wisdom, men of Christ-like life, of Buddha-like life, of Buddha- and Christ-like wisdom. They have their pupils, and from time to time one of these pupils is sent forth into the world as an envoy to teach men once again the age-old doctrine of the god-wisdom, of the "theosophia ourania," the divine, the starry wisdom of the gods.
Such an envoy was H.P. Blavatsky, and the teaching that she brought came directly from that Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, the Sanctum Sanctorum of the human race that we Theosophists call Shambala; and the message that she brought she called Theosophy. It is not new. It is as old as man is. As I have told you, it was given to the earliest men by these spiritual beings from other spheres. In different ages, it is called by different names. But the names are simply tickets placed over the Reality. The Wisdom is one; merely the terms by which it is given to men in different ages change.
Furthermore, and this I think is a very important point, dear friends, if you care to study, if you are really interested in finding out that the statements that I have made to you tonight are true statements, then investigate for yourselves. Study, study the ancient religious and philosophical books of the world, from all countries; and beneath and behind the words and the terms, look for the body of ideas, the essential teachings. You will find them identical everywhere. This is Theosophy as taught today, as taught a million years agone in the past, as will be taught a million years in the future, as it is taught on planets other than our own circling around our own sun, as it is taught on the planets whirling in their orbits around other suns in cosmic space in the galaxy. Why? Because truth is truth, and what is true on our planet Terra is true on Jupiter and Venus, on Stella Polaris, on Canopus and Sirius, anywhere. That is Theosophy.
Now, in the Theosophical Society, dear friends, we have no dogmas, we have no creeds. We have a marvelous system of wisdom teaching, the wisdom of the gods, Theosophy. But at this fountain of wisdom, from these doctrines, every Theosophical student takes what he or she can assimilate, can understand, is capable of receiving. Some men can receive some; other men can receive more. Other men can receive still more.
We have no dogmas. We have no creeds. We have no set forms of belief. Yet, I do think -- and I speak with reverence for the good people in the West who call themselves Christians -- that there is no more religious man on earth than the true Theosophist. I think there is no more truly scientific thinker on earth than the Theosophist. I think there is no more philosophical mind on earth than that of the Theosophist. And you see the reason why. We have no creeds, we have no dogmas, and our consciences are free as the winds of heaven. We are searchers for truth, hungering for it, and we have found where we may find it. And we have learned this wonderful truth: that before a man can take the wisdom of the gods, he has to train his life to be ethical, moral.
It is one of the saddest things in the world that the West has largely lost its ethical sense largely. The reason is obvious. Science has destroyed the religion of former days, so that today the Christian religionist must believe almost against the convictions of his mind, and therefore his nature is rent in twain, and that must mean suffering. And on the other hand, our science, wonderful as it is, is expanding and growing greater and grander every day, so that today scientific men are actually becoming Theosophists.
Does science offer us anything upon which we can lean, rest, and feel assured that upon this ground we stand in permanence? No, for it changes from day to day, from year to year, and this is its basis. The scientists say that the greatest thing about scientific research is that it is growing; and it is so, and that is very fine. But can you find the truths of the Universe in something that is not even a system of thought, but is merely a growing and expanding understanding of the physical world around us? Obviously not. It does not teach us ethics. It does not satisfy that strong, tender religious instinct of the human heart, that man is the same as the cosmic spirit. It does not fully satisfy the inquiries of a man's mind; because as soon as we begin to study scientific doctrine, the first thing we find is that it is continually changing, so that what was scientific dogma to our fathers, today is discarded.
What is scientific truth today, five years from now will be past scientific history, old scientific books no longer studied. We shall have advanced beyond that! Do you see? And the consequence: religion today teaches an ethic of words, but gives you no proof that ethics are based on the universe itself. Science gives us no foundation for morals, for it does not understand them. Morals, the scientists say, are not within their sphere.
Philosophy? Philosophy in the West is but an infant, striving and struggling to attain a greater light, but an infant; and all the philosophical speculations of Western philosophy are but groping, blind groping after light. Pathetic!
So, with our god-wisdom, having no creeds and no dogmas, in addition to being searchers for truth, philalethians, we are likewise philanthropists in the Greek sense of this word. We are lovers of our fellowmen, lovers of the universe around us, seeing a wondrous mystery in a flower, sensing a religious doctrine in a star, looking into the eye of a fellow human being, seeing heaven there, or, it may be, a hell.
What are the objectives of the Theosophical Society? First of all, I should think to give unto men these wondrous doctrines of our god-wisdom. Next, to keep alive in men their spiritual intuitions. Note these words: their spiritual intuitions -- something that the West has forgotten the existence of, just as it has forgotten the sanctions of ethics; and just as the West thinks that ethics are mere conventions keeping us out of the police courts and out of jails, so the West today thinks that the intuitions of the human soul are too dangerous, too vague, to trust to.
Theosophy tells you on the contrary that there is a way of cultivating the intuition of the human soul, so that it becomes a powerful factor in our lives, so that by cultivating this intuition, this intuitive perception of truth, this inner vision, we gain wisdom ourselves.
We do not have to go to the books of other men, we do not have to go and learn from others. We sense our oneness with divinity. Although we have Masters and Teachers and revere these, no Theosophist accepts any doctrine that is contrary to his conscience, and yet withal our god-wisdom likewise teaches us to revere the lives and teachings of the greatest spiritual intellects that the world has known, for we recognize as well as are taught that these have derived from wisdom, from divinity. Hence, the teachings and the great books of these wise men of the past -- as will be the case in the future -- are wonderful torches of light to guide us on our pathway. Thus, we revere the wisdom of the past, but realize that the understanding of it must come from the development of our own powers and faculties within.
By J.D. Beresford
[From THE ARYAN PATH, October 1934, pages 629-33.]
Anyone who continually turns his attention to seeking the manifestations of the spirit through matter will inevitably meet with indications that may be made the basis of a broad generalization. Ultimately such generalizations will fail, giving place before a deeper understanding of the mysteries. But on this temporal, spatial plane of being the recognition of these relative truths as embracing symbols, serves a practical and instructive purpose.
That this should be so is an inevitable deduction from the simple premise that spirit is the only reality, an immanent, transcendent unity that cannot be directly apprehended by the intellect, but whose existence may be inferred as the single cause of all material phenomena. From that premise we must draw the inevitable inference that however diverse may be the phenomena, they must exhibit some points of likeness since all of them are representations of the same molding force proceeding from spirit through life and consciousness. Our search for unity must be prosecuted by way of tortuous and perplexing paths, and in the earlier stages of the ardent ascent, we are warranted in accepting indications that serve to point a direction, even if they must finally be left behind us. And one such indication has recently forced itself upon my attention in the guise of a differentiation between will and wish.
Now like all abstract terms carrying a significance of which we grasp only the more superficial aspects, these two words are very loosely used in ordinary speech. They are, indeed, sometimes accepted as practically synonymous. Wherefore I propose in the first place to indicate as clearly as possible the definition I must impose upon them in what follows, beginning with "will" as being the more intellectual concept.
It is obvious, in the first place, that "will" is only a derivative of "wish." Will is a function of the mind consciously exercised for a definite and clearly visualized purpose. It may be creative or merely resistant, the former being the more productive, the latter the more circumscribing form. But in either aspect, its general effect is produced by the deliberate inhibition of those sides of the personality that are recognized as offering obstruction to the achievement of the desired purpose. To take an extreme case, a man greatly ambitious of worldly success will inhibit all those tendencies the expression of which would handicap him in the achievement of his career, no matter whether those tendencies are representative of natural affection, conformation to an accepted code of ethics, or such bodily desires as those for the common satisfaction of the senses by eating, drinking, sexual indulgence, or even relaxation of effort. The direction of all such inhibitions is towards a kind of asceticism attained by the dominating power of the reason. Whatever part wish may have played in the conception of the original purpose, it is not the chief instrument by which such purpose will be attained. The mind is in supreme control; and of the many wishes that will necessarily come into consciousness, only one is accepted and the remainder rejected. Wherefore "will" as here defined is a function of the conscious mind, the agent of reason.
"Wish" is a far more subtle essence, and assumes a multitude of disguises. It is closely allied with consciousness, not only that of which we are aware, but also of that consciousness that derive from other bodily centers, of which we have little or no personal realization. And this generative impulse may either use the reason or subdue it, since it represents not a function of the mind but of the personality. Thus it may support the will's control, as in the example cited above, or may undermine it. In any case, "wish" is always primary and "will" secondary. We do not will that for which we have no desire. As the old Hermetists say, "Behind will stands desire."
The difference in action of these two forces has been very clearly illuminated for me, recently, in the study I have been making of mental healing. It is a commonplace that mind has control of the body, but that is a very misleading statement. Mind in its relation with will has, in fact, exceedingly limited powers over the functions and almost none over the organs of the body. As a subject for faith or mental healing, the man of considerable intellect and determination is an almost hopeless case. Reason is necessarily a fallible guide in almost any connection, and when we are dealing with matters of the spirit, which has been assumed as inhabiting every cell of the body, the highest intelligence is hopelessly inefficient. Indeed, it may be laid down almost as an axiom, founded not only upon inner knowledge but upon observed and recorded fact, that a faith held only by the conscious mind can never work any of those "miracles" of healing, which are being so frequently performed in the West at the present time.
Perhaps the chief reason for this is that such a faith, whether religious or not, involves an element of contradiction, since it is not shared by the other components of the personality. Consequently, these unincluded elements must be sternly inhibited by an act of will, an act that stimulates opposition in the repressed desires and produces a separation of the personality. And as it is only by winning the cooperation of the subconscious that any remarkable cure can be obtained, the purely intellectual faith that cannot admit such cooperation offers an almost insuperable bar to the healer.
On the other hand, "wish," if it were pure in origin, works not by opposing other elements of the personality but by absorbing them, and thus, reinforced and single, it will find expression. Reason and will cannot stand for a moment before this alliance. We see aspects of the working of this principle in obsession and religious conversion. In the former case, the wish is not "pure in origin," and does not represent the whole personality, achieving manifestation because the intelligence and will are comparatively feeble. In the second case, the subliminal uprush is often due to earlier repressions by the will, and rarely flows from the true fount of wisdom.
To define that source would take me beyond the scope of Western psychology, but I have, personally, no shadow of doubt that it is to be found in the true ego, the experienced individual spirit that becomes all-powerful by development, although it finds so weak an expression in the average European of today. Nevertheless, we can make an application of the principle involved, in relation to an object so impure in origin as success in business. This can never be an expression of the whole personality, even as it is known to the psychologist. The "unconscious," (I use the word as commonly understood in psychoanalysis), cannot be interested in success of this kind. That strange, suggestible entity, Maeterlinck's "Unknown Guest," can be induced to collaborate for some purposes but not for others; and it knows nothing of, and cannot be educated in, the technique of moneymaking. (See in this connection Jung's masterly analysis of the Chinese Tao in THE SECRET OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER.) This is not to say that this assumed "unconscious mind" exhibits a general ethical tendency. We find in it the sexual, unsocial, and feral desires that spring from the lower centers. It is sometimes regarded as a wild beast that must be tamed by cage and whip. But it does not, and cannot be made to, understand the language of worldly ambition.
Now the wider application I have been seeking from these comparatively simple deductions is to the two most easily recognizable ways of Yoga. I speak of them as two only, because although the methods employed may subdivide them so that they follow recognizably different paths, fundamentally they fall into those two categories that I have here headed -- Will and Wish.
The first works by way of the mind. The impulse to development, as I have assumed above, necessarily lies deeper than the intelligence, but the expression of that impulse is sought by the mastery of the mind over the body. This is the common way of the Fakir, as it was, also, of the medieval ascetic. By the steady development of the power of thought, through meditation and intense concentration, every desire of the body is subdued and ultimately killed. Usually this is done by way of self-torture of a purely physical order, and the whole training is rigidly anti-social. There need be no hate for humanity as a whole, there may be a relative tolerance, but the Yogi of this order seeks his development within the microcosm of his own being, and makes no contact with the crowd. His purpose is self-development and he may attain it in a very high degree.
This form of Yoga is utterly beyond the powers of the contemporary European. A variation of it, known as "The Fourth Way," has found a few disciples, but its methods are handicapped on the one hand by the need for ordinary contacts with the world, and on the other by the indifference to that world, which the disciple is taught to practice. Within my experience, no follower of this "Fourth Way" has attained any such abilities as the power to separate his consciousness from his living body. On a more primitive, less effective plane, the businessman of my earlier instance may be said to practice this form of Yoga, when he sets his mind to the achievement of worldly success by denying the lure of the senses.
Self-development by wish is of an entirely different order and leads to a different goal. The soul-wish in this case is generated by love and compassion, and if it is to be kept pure, these qualities must be spent on the antithetic desires arising from the lower centers not less than on humanity at large. A man cannot love God unless he first loves his neighbor, and how shall he love his neighbor if he despise himself? The means to the purification of the desires, therefore, must not in this case be by the cage and the whip. The single aim of him who practices this form of Yoga is the unification of the self. And since unification can never be attained in this or other connections by tyranny, he must win it by the realization, education, and conversion (sublimation) of the various consciousnesses arising from the lower centers. In this task, the disciple has but one steady hold-fast, the power of the generative wish. If it were urgent enough, it will gradually take complete control, influencing the antithetic desires until they assume the same direction as the dominant wish and are ultimately absorbed by it.
Lastly, in this connection, it should be clearly realized that the ideals of these two forms of Yoga are completely opposed. In the former case, the ideal is that of the development and magnification of the self by separation. In the latter case, the ideal is selflessness, and just as we desire that the lower selves should become merged in the higher, so also the ultimate aim is the mergence of that higher self into the universal.
I have not attempted so far to indicate that of these alternatives should be preferred by the followers of the way, but the final implication of the last paragraph should be sufficient. Very great powers may be attained by those who follow the direction of will, but at the last these separated souls will be those who come to the "feast without the wedding garment" of love, and through a further immense cycle, they will have to re-tread the path that leads to the Great Sacrifice.
In conclusion, it must be said that the way of "wish" is more consonant with the ethical and humanitarian tendencies of the European than that of "will." The latter very seldom derives in contemporary civilization from a purely religious desire, but rather from the wish for a far more personal gratification; and even so, its exercise is crude and uninformed. But although the second path is more acceptable to the average civilized man and woman, since it is essentially social in its practice, the winning of unity within the self by this means, involving as it does the sacrifice of wealth and of all personal ambitions save this ideal of integrity, involves a discipline no easier to follow than that of self-mastery by the exercise of the will.
By John Algeo
[Reprinted with permission from IN ANGELS AND MORTALS: THEIR CO-CREATIVE POWER, comp. Maria Parisen, 145-54, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 1900.]
An old kabbalistic motto holds that DEMON EST DEUS INVERSUS, "The devil is God upside down," or "The devil is God's complement." The Irish poet William Butler Yeats took, as his mystical name in the kabbalistic Order of the Golden Dawn, the initials of that Latin motto, D.E.D.I. Those letters, however, also spell the Latin verb DEDI, which means "I have given" and thus punningly suggests that the diabolic is a divine gift.
Yeats probably learned the motto from Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who had been his teacher and had used it as the subject of one section in her great book, THE SECRET DOCTRINE. So what is the secret doctrine about this motto and the dark angel of whom it speaks? Blavatsky says of it:
This symbolical sentence, in its many-sided forms, is certainly most dangerous and iconoclastic in the face of all the dualistic later religions or rather theologies -- and especially so in the light of Christianity.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 411.
She adds that Christianity certainly did not invent the figure of Satan, for such a concept has always existed. The name Satan in Hebrew means "adversary"; he is consequently a personification of the inevitable balancing forces that must exist in nature: the shadow by which we recognize light, the night that separates the days, the cold without which we have no sense of heat.
To say that the Devil is the inverse, the complement, of God is dangerous, however, because it invites misunderstanding, especially by those whose thinking is molded by dualism, who see spirit and matter, soul and body, the righteous and the reprobate, the saved and the damned as eternal opposites. Those who think in simple dichotomies have great difficulty seeing the underlying unity beneath all diversities. They find it hard to conceive that Demon and Deus, the dark and bright angels, are equally messengers of the Absolute One. They find it hard to give the devil his due.
Yet in our relative world of mayavic reality, all things have their opposites. To know anything is to know it by contrast with something that it is not. Knowledge implies opposition. Without low, there is no high. Without far, there is no near. Without pain, there is no pleasure. Without death, there is no life. Without the dark angels, there are no bright ones. Without Demon, there is no Deus. In eternity, none of those exist. In time, none can exist without its complement. So for the Elohim to be, Satan must also be.
"Homogeneity," says Blavatsky, "is one and indivisible," and "heterogeneity in its dualistic aspect, is its offspring -- its bifurcous shadow or reflection," so "that divine Homogeneity must contain in itself the essence of both good and evil" (SD 1:411-12). There are two aspects of this doctrine that are equally important and indeed are complementary, without either of which the doctrine "is certainly most dangerous" because subject to misunderstanding and perversion.
The first aspect is that what we call evil and good are both derived from the divine absolute:
One cannot claim God as the synthesis of the whole Universe, as Omnipresent and Omniscient and Infinite, and then divorce him from evil. As there is far more evil than good in the world, it follows on logical grounds that either God must include evil, or stand as the direct cause of it, or else surrender his claims to absoluteness Everywhere the speculations of the Kabalists treat of Evil as a FORCE, which is antagonistic, but at the same time essential, to Good, as giving it vitality and existence, which it could never have otherwise.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 413.
This first aspect of the Wisdom teaching about good and evil holds that both of those qualities are equally present in the divine source of all things. That teaching is also found in the great religious documents of all ages and cultures. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna identifies himself with everything in the universe, bad and good: "I am the gambling of the cheat, and the splendor of splendid things" And in the prophesy of Isaiah (45:7), the Almighty is quoted as saying: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." The God of our good is likewise the God of our evil.
The second aspect of the doctrine is that evil is not an independent reality but merely the complement, the shadow, of good:
There is no MALUM IN SE [self-existent evil, anything inherently evil of its own nature]: only the shadow of light, without which light could have no existence, even in our perceptions. If evil disappeared, good would disappear along with it from Earth.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 413.
So evil is a reality, derived from the source of all reality, but also evil has no independent existence, being simply the complement by which we recognize good. Those who accept the first aspect but deny the second are dualists or atheists or cursers of God. Those who deny the first aspect but accept the second reject the evidence of their own senses and maintain against all reason that pain and sorrow do not exist.
But the Occultists ... who recognize in every pain and suffering but the necessary pangs of incessant procreation: a series of stages toward an ever-growing perfectibility ... view the great Mother [Nature] otherwise. Woe to those who live without suffering. Stagnation and death is the future of all that vegetates without a change. And how can there be any change for the better without proportionate suffering during the preceding stage?
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 475.
To solve "the great problems of life, pain, and death," we must experience them. To use the idiom of those today who pump iron: "No pain, no gain."
The doctrine of the wisdom tradition thus holds that there is but one inexhaustible source of reality from which all things come and apart from which nothing is. And it further holds that intelligent forces derived from that source bring into existence the universe we know, and in so doing they necessarily operate with dualities of many kinds, including those we call good and evil. The process of achieving good involves the strain of suffering evil.
The Dark Creative Forces
Some of the intelligent forces or angels, as we also call the creative agents in the cosmos, work to make the substance of the universe dense, to immerse consciousness in matter, and to isolate separate individual existences. These forces devoted to density, unconsciousness, and separateness are the dark angels whose goal is the emergence of the many from the One, the involution of matter, life, and spirit. They are the centrifugal, creative forces that bring forth the many from the One.
Other forces work to refine substance into subtler states of existence, to increase consciousness, and to connect separate selves into a network of cooperation and sympathy. The forces dedicated to subtlety, consciousness, and reunion are the bright angels whose goal is the conscious, voluntary reintegration of the many into the One, the evolution of the universe to its omega point. They are the centripetal, regenerative forces that return the many to the One.
Blavatsky describes the world process as proceeding on three parallel lines: physical, intellectual, and monadic or spiritual. Those three lines lead respectively to the development of substance, consciousness, and unitary awareness.
On the physical or substantial line of development, matter at first becomes increasingly dense until it reaches some nadir of density, some singular state of inconceivable compaction, as in one of the black holes of the universe where physical law, as we know it, does not hold. From that point of maximum density, matter evolves into complex but also more rarefied states -- the matter we know being more empty space than substance and therefore already very subtle. The future of matter is an increasing etherealization.
On the intellectual or conscious line of development, awareness is progressively restricted as it moves through the elemental kingdoms, until it reaches its nadir in the mineral state, where its responses are limited to those restricted ones we call chemical reactions and the like. Thereafter it evolves through the vegetable and animal kingdoms, in which responsiveness to the environment and to other beings becomes increasingly acute, as plants respond quickly to the physical conditions around them and animals to other beings. When awareness reaches the human kingdom, interior reflection and self-consciousness flourish. Humanity is well along the road to increased awareness of the universe, but before us still lie vistas of perception and knowledge that we can yet scarcely imagine.
On the monadic or spiritual line of development, the Oneness of the source is progressively divided into smaller and smaller, more and more restricted and limited units. Ultimately, to be sure, there is only one Monad (from the Greek, meaning "unity"). But as that Monad is reflected in evolved matter and the developed kingdoms of life, it is continually refracted, so that it seems to itself to become increasingly limited and fragmented. Thus the One apparently divides into the many.
This process has also been described as one of "group souls" that individualize. In the mineral kingdom, vast areas and types of substance are ensouled by one aspect of the Monad. In the vegetable kingdom, the domain of each ray of the Monad is much restricted but still encompasses whole species of plants. In the animal kingdom, the Monad is even more restricted, expressing itself through an ever- decreasing range of physical forms. Among the higher animals, a single group soul (which is one separate ray of the Monad) may express itself through only a few separate bodies at a time. Finally, in the human kingdom, the monadic line of development reaches its nadir, for each human being is a distinct individuality, a persisting bit of separateness from the primal unity of existence.
In this sense, we humans, far from being the crown of evolution, as we are vaingloriously wont to imagine ourselves, are actually the nadir of spiritual development. As the most individual of all beings, we are the most separate from the divine Unity and thus the farthest of all beings from our common source. In us the monadic development reaches its lowest point. Our future is to reestablish connections, to forge the links that will bind us back to the Unity, to become One -- consciously, deliberately, of our own free will. At the omega point of evolution, we are to merge without losing our identities, to recreate the Unity, but then a Unity that knows itself and has chosen its state. Through the outgoing phases of these three lines of development -- the densification of matter, the limitation of consciousness, and the individualization of spirit -- the dark angels are the governing forces. They guide the involution of the universe. They make it solid, unresponsive, and fragmented. They bring the world into being. They are the creators.
But once the nadir on each line of development has been reached and the forces turn backward to evolve out of those limitations, the bright angels become the guides of evolution, and the work of the dark angels becomes evil in the sight of those who are evolving. The work of the dark angels continues, however: Black holes are still compacting matter throughout the cosmos; consciousness still flows into the mineral forms and so is restricted; living creatures still move toward the spiritual separation of individuality. The impulse of the dark angels -- the involution of matter, consciousness, and spirit -- is all around us. But the human path now lies in a different direction, and so for us their work has become evil -- not evil in itself, not MALUM IN SE, but evil relative to our direction.
As human beings, we value the work of the bright angels, because we are well along the paths of refined substance and increased consciousness, and we have turned the bend on the path of spiritual unity -- although we have just made the turn, so the old forces of separateness are still strong within us. But however much we sympathize with the upward path of evolution and the work of the bright angels, we should not scorn the other. The work of the dark angels -- to solidify matter, to funnel consciousness into it, and to make separate, distinct centers of identity -- must come first. The work of the dark angels is necessary to the total ecology of the universe. Without them there would be nothing to evolve, and the bright angels would have no role to play.
The Dark Angel Within
However, while we respect the work of the dark angels, we must take care not to become a part of it. Our destiny, our dharma, is elsewhere. Yet there is still a temptation within us to follow the dark path. That temptation does not concern the densification of matter, for black holes are far from our condition in time and space. Neither does it much concern the limitation of consciousness, for we evolved from mineral unresponsiveness eons ago. Only exceptionally and pathologically do human beings sink back to animal or vegetative states of unconsciousness, and then it is no more than a temporary regression, not lasting beyond the bounds of a lifetime, and seldom as long as that.
Spiritual regression, however, is another matter. We have only just made the upward turn in monadic evolution; we are newly emerged from the nadir of spiritual isolation and separateness. Before our individualization, the dark angels were our friends and guides. We have old ties with them that are not easily unknotted. We sympathize still with their forces; we resonate still with their discordant melodies. They are still within us.
One of the teachings of the wisdom tradition is that we are composite beings -- not simply souls with bodies but compounds of principles evolved separately over the eons and brought together to make up our natures. The elements that compose us are like distinct rays of light of various colors and intensities that are focused together to illuminate a scene in a play. The lights become one illumination, but they are projected from several lamps and reflect the nature of those lamps.
The creation myth of Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE has an episode in which the progenitors of humanity are discussing our making and what must go into us to produce a complete humanity (Anthropogenesis stanza 17; SD 2:105). The Earth gives our gross physical body, the Solar Spirits give our life energy, the Lunar Ancestors give the model of our personality, the Heat of the Sun gives our desires; but humanity needs also "a mind to embrace the Universe," and none can give humanity that intellect, until the Sons of Wisdom add their light to the others. This creation myth has various interpretations, but one of its significant meanings is that we are composites of evolutionary impulses that are historically independent of each other, though they have combined in us.
Our prehuman development was directed toward making us spiritually independent, to bring us to the unique isolation which is the human state -- the condition of individualization. The dark angels made us human by building up the individual ego. We are the creatures who are alone. As we evolve from the human to the superhuman kingdoms, we will move from spiritual isolation to spiritual connectedness, integration, interdependence. However, our natures have been molded by the dark angels of spiritual isolation and separateness. And the effects of their labors remain strong within us.
The biblical myth of the Fall can be seen as alluding to this human individualization and its consequences. In that myth, Adam and Eve, who are proto-humanity, are led by the serpent (the dark angel) to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The knowledge that the fruit imparts is of their own separate identities. In their disobedience to the divine prohibition against eating, they assert their separate wills -- they become choosing individuals. That is the Original Sin, whose punishment is expulsion from the unity of the Garden of Eden into the diversity of the fallen world. And the first man and woman retain and pass on to their descendants the consequences of their separation -- a fallen nature and a susceptibility to the wiles and temptations of Satan, the adversary, the personification of spiritual separateness.
Within the stark simplicity of the myth of the Fall and original sin lies a great truth. We inherit the effects of our past, and an action that may have been necessary -- a quest for knowledge, a coming of age, an attainment of independence -- can have consequences that, if unchecked, are inappropriate for our further development. Good things of the past may become bad things of the future.
The dark angels guided us to human independence and still have a place in our lives, for they are the impulse to self-survival. They are ego exalting. They are self-assertive. Human society has not yet reached a stage at which we can do without such motives to action. And indeed, although in mature humans those motives must become transformed into something less violent and more considerate of others than they have been in the adolescence of our species, we will never be able to do without them altogether. For the world can progress only when all of us in it are pulled between the twin poles of good and evil -- of unity and separateness. As Blavatsky put it:
In human nature, evil denotes only the polarity of matter and Spirit, a struggle for life between the two manifested Principles in Space and Time, which principles are one PER SE, inasmuch as they are rooted in the Absolute. In Kosmos, the equilibrium must be preserved. The operations of the two contraries produce harmony, like the centripetal and centrifugal forces, which are necessary to each other -- mutually interdependent -- "in order that both should live."
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 416.
To preserve the equilibrium and produce the harmony within the human constitution, all forces need to be balanced -- including those of the dark angels. Their forces have been called collectively the Dweller on the Threshold, and Jungian psychology personifies them as the Shadow. In Christianity they are spoken of as one's personal devil.
The devil within may not, like C.S. Lewis's Wormwood, get letters from his uncle Screwtape, or have quite as distinctly human a personality, or be as fully committed to the Christian variety of dualism; but the personal devil is more than a literary convention. Each of us has impulses, habits, and proclivities that cluster and can be imbued with a personality something like Wormwood's. The dark angels are cosmic powers that guide the involution of the universe, but they are also psychological forces from our past that shape our responses to the present.
The dark angel is a part of ourselves with which we must come to terms. As the impulse to separate ourselves from others, it is the mirror image of the bright impulse to unite with all life. Our omega point is to realize both impulses harmoniously -- as separate individuals, to unite with all other separate individuals in a single pattern of compassion and benevolence. Thus the bright angels and the dark angels are both necessary to us. And what is most necessary is that we learn how to deal with both in their proper times and places and according to their proper powers.
At the end of her discussion of the kabbalistic motto, Blavatsky describes an image of:
The "Magic Head" in the ZOHAR, the double Face on the double Pyramid: the black pyramid rising against a pure white ground, with A WHITE HEAD AND FACE WITHIN ITS BLACK TRIANGLE; the white pyramid, inverted -- the reflection of the first in the dark waters, showing the BLACK REFLECTION OF THE WHITE FACE ... Demon est Deus Inversus.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 424