I wish that everybody in the Society could realize how certain it is that those Great Brothers who are behind our work keep a vigilant eye upon all of us who with a pure heart and unselfish mind throw our energies into it. What more comforting than to know that our labors are not in vain nor our aspirations unheeded?
-- H.S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, III, page 95
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 90-92.]
Look to the future; see to it that the continual performance of duty under the guidance of a well-developed Intuition shall keep the balance well poised. Ah! if your eyes were opened, you might see such a vista of potential blessings to YOURSELVES and mankind lying in the germ of the present hour's effort, as would fire with joy and zeal your souls! Strive towards the Light, all of you brave warriors for the Truth, but do not let selfishness penetrate into your ranks, for it is unselfishness alone that throws open all the doors and windows of the inner Tabernacle and leaves them unshut.
-- MAHATMA K.H.
Every tyro in Theosophy knows that present actions mold our future character as well as our environment. The performance of duty, day by day, has also its immediate recompense. The Master implies, in the words quoted above, that such performance would tend towards sustaining our balance and equanimity. The small, plain duties of life hourly call upon us to acquire skill in action as well as concentration of mind. Many have a discontented attitude to mundane tasks; others are bored at peeling potatoes or writing accounts. To be of good cheer during such occupations at home or at office is very necessary.
But the Mahatma points out that "the continual performance of duty" should be "under the guidance of a well-developed Intuition." This may well he called "a tall order." People are swayed by desires in small as in important affairs; most of the time they fail to make proper use of their rational faculty. To expect them to be guided by "a well-developed Intuition" is, so to speak, asking for the impossible.
People often inquire: How can Theosophy help the common man to live a noble life? Here is one answer. What is going to help is not the doing of works forced upon him by his destiny, with a long face, a wandering mind, and a heavy heart, but a cheerful acquiescence in the accurate and punctual doing of what has to be done. The Law of Necessity provides the first help; for, it requires that that which is not necessary to be done is not a duty. The mundane ways, customs, and conventions involved in the performance of duties take their toll from the earnest student, and he is compelled to seek guidance from the doctrines of the Esoteric Philosophy. Our perception and evaluation of the routine duties of life undergo a fundamental change when we examine them in the light of Theosophy. But the Mahatma advocates not a well-developed rationality but a well-developed Intuition. Intuitive knowledge depends not on logic and reason; the faculty related to Buddhi, the abode of intuitions, is the faculty of coordinating the mundane and the material to the celestial and the spiritual. This means learning the science of the laws of analogy and correspondence. The study of logic is considered necessary for the correct use of the mind. The development of intuition demands a study of the law of analogy and correspondence, so that we perceive the "world in a grain of sand" and comprehend the profound and mysterious knowledge enshrined in such a formula: "Oh! the Jewel in the Lotus."
In the present hour are hidden great potentialities. Can it be that the right, hourly performance of duties would bring us the vision which would prove a blessing to ourselves and to mankind? Can it be that in the "germ of the present hour's effort" there are possibilities of progress undreamt of by us? The words of the Mahatma quoted above certainly point to such an idea. Are our souls fired with joy and zeal during the doing of the small, plain duties of life? One such duty for the Theosophical student is regular attendance at all ULT meetings, once again not with discontent and bored feelings but with a cheerful mind charged with zeal and enthusiasm. Among our numerous small, plain duties there are those that might be compared to the body; others, to the principle of Prana; others, to the mind; and then there are duties that form the soul aspect of them all. Regular, punctual attendance at ULT meetings is the soul of mundane duties, most helpful in revealing to us the celestial aspect of all events and happenings. But intelligent preparation for such attendance at ULT meetings has to be made. Especially it seems that the Mahatma refers to this Theosophical duty when He speaks of the "vista of potential blessings to YOURSELVES [italics His] and mankind lying in the germ of the present hour's effort."
In and through the small, plain duties, intuitively performed, we must strive to catch the vision of the Light. But we must heed the warning, "do not let selfishness penetrate into your ranks," we must note the pregnant words about what unselfishness can and will accomplish.
The "inner Tabernacle" is mentioned by the Mahatma. Its doors and windows are thrown open, not while we eat, walk, or are engaged in mundane works, but, to begin with, when we attend the ULT meetings with a prepared heart.
The real value of ULT classes and meetings is often not comprehended. The student-aspirant's devotion elevates him at such gatherings, which make it easier for him to pursue the principles of Unity, Study, and Work.
By G. de Purucker
[A talk given August 7, 1932 at the Theosophical Headquarters, published in WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 311-17.]
Friends and Brothers: You doubtless know that today 'Occultism' is a word to swear by -- that it is a word which is on the lips of men and women who are hunting for truth, and who, in most cases, have not found truth, but who yet in some few cases think that they have found it. Nevertheless, they are hungry because the truth that they think they have found, they have not found. There is indeed truth in the Universe, for truth is Reality. Truth is the fundamental being and course of the Universe. Whatever essentially is, whatever is fundamentally, that verily is Truth; and that verily is occult, for Occultism means the science of things that are hidden, that are not superficial and open so that all who run may read.
Occultism, I repeat, is the science of things AS THEY ARE IN THEMSELVES -- reality. There are Teachers of this Reality, who are men who have evolved so far that they are able to send the percipient spirit-soul of themselves behind the veils of the outward seeming, deep into the womb of Kosmic being, and thus 'see' with the consciousness that is essentially themselves. They can see, and seeing, they understand, and in understanding, they can bring occult facts back to their fellowmen and teach them in the forms of human language. However, it is by no means everyone who can say truthfully, "Come unto me, I have the real," for besides genuine Teachers of Occultism, there are likewise those who claim to be teachers but who are not. You doubtless remember what the Christian New Testament has to say of such claimants, in its warning against 'false Christs.'
How may the average man judge, how may he discern, the true Teacher from the false, the real and the genuine from the merely pretentious? I can show you how to do this. Nevertheless, it is you yourselves who must see for yourselves. I can show you not because I myself have attained the sublime summit, the peaks of wisdom, but because I am simply the student and mouthpiece of others incomparably greater than I am, and can therefore pass on to you what I myself have been taught.
Truth, as I have told you, can be found, because Truth is in the Universe, and Truth is always hid. As the old saying had it, it lies at the bottom of a 'well.' What is that 'well'? It is an expression for the deep abysms of the Universal Being, and it is the well of consciousness within each human entity. That deep conscious root of us is of the very fabric and substance of the Universe. We and the Universe are one. Thou, Brother, and the Universe -- the vast, infinite spaces of the Kosmic SPACE -- are in essence one. This 'one' is the 'well' of reality, the well of wisdom, the well of truth. Just because each human being, and indeed every other animate or so-called inanimate thing, is an inseparable portion of boundless infinitude, just for this reason can such an entity drink of the well-springs of consciousness and wisdom within himself or itself -- the well-springs of reality, of truth. Therefore, he drinks of the vast Kosmic fountain, for he and it are essentially one.
Try to understand this sublime truth. It lies at the very basis of an adequate comprehension, not only of Occultism and Theosophy, but also of any truth of the Universe, such even as those that the scientific researchers today are investigating, thinking about, and making their most interesting deductions from.
What, then, is the pathway leading to this fountain of wisdom, to this well? It is what I have so often told you from this platform -- a favorite theme of mine, because it is a master key to truth. THOU AND THE UNIVERSE ARE ONE. Know thyself, 0 man! Go deep into the wellsprings of thine own being, and thou shalt know the Universe. Thou shalt know all truth, for thou and it are inseparably one. 'Gnothi seauton,' said the ancient Greek: "Man, know thyself!"
What do our Occidental searchers for truth do? Are they seeking to know themselves? No, bless their hungry souls. They are searching without. Like drowning men struggling for straws, they run after anything that offers something they can mentally grasp at. They ignore the great portal of the spiritual self within them opening inwards to infinite reality. Truth is within us, for each one of us, and not without; and yet that 'within' and that 'without' are one after all. But to find truth in the outwards, you must nevertheless go inwards, into your own consciousness, into your own understanding, for thereby you enter into the very fabric and essence of the Universe, which is also yourself. "Tat twam asi," said the Vedic Sage, "Thou art It" -- the Universe.
In the Occident, we hear the plaintive cry from every side: We want practical teaching. We don't want any more theories. We are tired of theories and speculations. We want reality. We want practical things that we can live by, act by, and help other men by and with. Very good indeed. That is exactly what the genuine Occultist or Occult Teacher also says. You must have the real things, the things of reality, the only things that are practical in this Universe.
Therefore, cease running after the fleeting shades that beguile the eyesight and deceive the heart. We Theosophists insist upon the practical; but the practical is the real, and the real is found and understood only within ourselves. You cannot become a genuine occultist nor can you understand the A-B-C of the occult teaching until you, my brothers, become occult, until you yourselves learn to look within, learn to seek impersonally for the everlasting truth, until you attain, at least in some minor degree, the Vision Sublime, which is the vision of real things, Reality.
When you have attained that, then you have something genuinely practical to live by, something that never will fail you and that you carry with you from birth to birth, from life to life, and by the use of which your character grows ever grander and stronger.
Please don't think, friends, that by these words I am attacking anybody or anything. I have studied these sublime teachings all my life long; I know them so well! They are the truths I personally live by. I am here to teach them, but also because I know something, however small it may be. I have gained some few fragments of the very bread of life; therefore do I know what is the real, and what is the false -- that is, as far as I have gone, I know how to distinguish. It becomes my duty therefore to tell those who will listen what truth I myself have found.
The genuine Theosophist never attacks the honest convictions or religious or philosophical beliefs of any other living being; but he reserves his right to declare from public platform, or in published book, what he himself has found to be true. He does not declare it as dogma, but if he is a genuine Theosophist, he says:
"This, my Brothers, is what I have found to be true and good: doing something that I can live by, something that will remain with me and comfort me in times when comfort is needed, for such times come to us all: in the hours of grief and sorrow and pain. This I have myself proved, and what I have to give, I am ready to give. It is yours if you will, but you yourselves must take it. I alone cannot give it to you. All I can do is to point to the Path. THERE is the Path. Now what is that 'there'? It is within!"
Teach a man to think nobly. Teach a man to think nobly and live highly and grandly, and you thereby better the whole world, because individual men are bettered and made stronger. Is there anything more practical than that? The cry is for practical teaching, and yet they follow not even that which they have. If the men of the Occidental world were to live even by the ethical and spiritual teachings that they have, the Occident would be a paradise, relatively speaking. Instead, it is a quasi-hell, with nation arming against nation, with every parliament or congress suspicious of every other similar gathering of fellow human beings. Brotherhood is a name, a mere word to talk about and preach. But to PRACTICE it?
Yes, Occultism is the most practical thing in the world, for it teaches, as I have so often told you, how to think grandly, and because it teaches men how to think grandly, they learn to feel and to act grandly. Show me something more practical than this. Show me something that will more quickly develop the intellectual and psychical character, powers, and faculties of men than being taught to live grandly, because one feels and thinks grandly. What is the root of all the sorrow and pain in the world today? It is false thinking and insincere feeling, and consequently false and insincere living.
It is very good to have soup kitchens for the poor. It is doubtless a good work. But the main thing is to teach men the philosophy of life. This philosophy will raise them out of poverty, both spiritual and intellectual on the one side, and even physical on the other, into the inner reaches of the spirit; and then they will be able so to control their lives that even poverty and its accompanying deprivations will become unholy recollections of an evil past. As it is today, so terrible are the conditions in the West that men have to face, that even those who are striving to help their fellows have, as it were, the spiritual and intellectual inertia of two or three continents against which to struggle.
Undaunted by the conditions, we Theosophists keep on hammering and hammering and hammering these truths home, by book, by precept, by example, and by teaching from the lecture-platform. In every way possible, we try to show our fellow human beings the way to peace, the way to happiness, yea, even the way to success, by changing the hearts of men -- which means changing their minds and therefore the conditions in which they live. Show me now something more practical than this. "Tired of theories and speculations?" Poor hungry hearts, yes! That is just what you are, and just what I am -- tired, weary, heart-weary of mere preaching. But I have found the truth -- for me, and it passeth all understanding of men, except for him who has won it at least in some minor degree. How precious it is! What inestimable peace and what ineffable comfort it gives!
Prove it. There is our challenge! Don't take anything that I say or that any other Theosophical speaker says; but study, examine, test for yourselves, and retain what is good and discard what you find to not be good. This too is practical. This is what every genuine Theosophist urges you to do. This is what every genuine Occult Teacher tells to his disciples. He says to him or to her:
"Chela, child, look within thyself. There lie the secrets of thy bygone mistakes and of thy present sorrows. There lie the causes of thy past grief, and of thy present. In thyself lies glory unspeakable for thee, which thou shalt realize when some day thou shalt have found it, and have brought it out. Within thee lies the only peace thou shalt ever know. Within thee lies the only happiness thou canst ever cognize.
"Within thee lies the only wisdom thou shalt ever obtain. Within thee is the Path, and that Path, 0 Child, is thyself -- thy spiritual Self, thy divine Self, that starry celestial power which is thy root of being. It, IT, is also the heart of the Universe, for thou and the All are one.
"Canst thou, 0 Child, separate thyself from the Universe that encompasses thee around? Canst thou ever leave it? Art thou not a child of it, flesh of its flesh, bone of its bone, blood of its blood, life of its life, thought of its thought, being of its being? Thou art verily It.
"So when thou hast found thyself, thy greater Self, thy spiritual Self, the inner god, the divinity within, then hast thou found not only the Path that leads to the heart of the Universe, but thou hast found THYSELF AND IT TO BE ONE."
Oh, do you understand? Once a man has attained this wisdom, once the feeling, the sense, the idea, and the consciousness of all this has entered into and become a very part of his own soul, then he has attained and he is free. He is then at utter peace. He is at rest, but almost infinitely active. He has found himself, and nothing thereafter can ever tempt him to wander from the Path. Nothing thereafter can ever cause his feet to stumble on the way.
Were I offered today ten billions of dollars to organize soup kitchens and to provide men with physical work, I would say, "May the gods bless the one who did this," but I would answer, "No. Let those who understand these rather impractical ways attend to them. My message is to the hearts of men, for when you change men's characters, when you change their hearts and remake their minds, then soup-kitchens and such things will be like a horror of the past."
It is a shame, Brothers, that in our Occident men should look upon such things as those as being even virtuous deeds. The Theosophist aims to change the fabric of the character of men, so that such things as these will no longer be needed. I prefer to do my Master's work in doing what little I can to change men's hearts. Thus, I give them a new hope, a new vision, new insight. I help them, showing Path what I have found so that in treading it themselves, they will become men, MEN. That is like a god's work on earth.
Every son of man, every human being, is an incarnate divinity; and we must learn some day -- indeed we shall some day learn -- to live within, towards and in the god within us, which is our own spiritual Divine Self. Meanwhile, let us try to bring out from within us its transcendent powers. Let us try to cultivate these transcendent powers and faculties now lying latent within us. This is true Occultism, and learning to do this is a beginning in practical Occultism.
I tell you, my Brothers, with all the earnestness of my being, that anyone who tells you: "Come here, I will show you how to gain powers," is one to avoid. But, if he says to you:
"Sir, or my Brother, you yourself within yourself hold the keys to wisdom beyond human description, and I will show you how you may cultivate and develop these inner faculties and powers, not by my own act, but through following the teachings of the titan intellects, the spiritual Seers and Sages, of the human race, the god-men of the past."
Then if he says this to you, hearken carefully to what he says, for in thus much he tells you truth, and it will be your labor to find out if his invitation is to be accepted or rejected, and if he be a genuine occult teacher or not.
By John Hassler Dietrich
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1936, pages 117-21.]
In discussing the relation between Humanism and mysticism, it is necessary to understand what we mean by these terms; and yet they are difficult to define in a few words. Humanism is a term used in a number of different ways. In America, there is a religious movement by that name, and it aims at the enrichment of human life on earth through intelligent human effort, working in conformity with natural processes.
It rejects a belief in God or any kind of purpose in the universe (except in man), and relies upon intelligent cooperative human effort to transform both the individual and common life of man into something joyous and worthy. In other words, it declares that men and women have nowhere to turn for help except to themselves and to one another, and believes that within themselves and in their natural and social environment they may find powers sufficient to achieve the good and happy life, or at least to greatly improve the present situation.
To this end, it seeks to preserve all the human values thus far attained and to develop man to the highest point possible within the margin of human capacities and environing conditions. In short, it is man-centered rather than God-centered, and aims at the enrichment of human life rather than at the glorification of God. It depends therefore upon purely natural methods, which of course repudiates every form of divine revelation or power.
On the other hand, mysticism believes in God or some Universal Spirit, with which during some unusual experience, called ecstasy or illumination, individual souls may merge or become identified, resulting in a conscious oneness with God or reality and thereby gaining knowledge of cosmic laws and truths above and independent of sense perception.
This definition may not be satisfactory to every one, but if we examine the writings of the great mystics, we are forced to accept it. They all believed, with varying degrees of intensity, of course, that they had direct contact with reality. They all had certain periods of ecstasy or illumination when they felt not only in harmony with God or reality, but actually identified with and part of Him, and through this identification were able to absorb knowledge. So I think we can conclude that pure mysticism means the consciousness of identification with God or reality, and through this experience access to truths beyond sense experience.
On the face of it, there would seem to be no possible relation between Humanism and mysticism, and yet a modified form of mystic experience is an essential part of and can make a valuable contribution to Humanism. The Humanist does not doubt the reality of these experiences, and as they are human experiences, they should be of Humanist concern. He does question the cause ascribed to them; that is, the experiences may be real, but they may have nothing to do with God or reality. He would rather accept the conclusion of the psychologists who, insofar as they have been able to analyze the mystical experience, have decided that it is an intense emotional state induced in a purely natural way.
But even though the experience has a natural foundation, it does not mean that any knowledge gained at the time is useless. The state of relaxation induced by the experience is favorable to the production of valuable ideas. It is commonly recognized that sometimes an idea that could not be induced by persistent and intense effort appears suddenly and unexpectedly during mental relaxation. So even though the Humanist rejects the belief of the mystics that they have been in direct communication with God, he accepts the possibility of knowledge gained in this way.
While he would reject also the mystic's attempt to soar beyond reason in his frenzied effort to reach the absolute and transcend sense experience, he recognizes that the mystical experience offers valuable hints for the accomplishment of purely Humanist objectives. It may be possible to achieve within the actual limits of the mind by similar methods a richer experience than enjoyed by the average person, and therefore he would recognize this mystical method as a way of extracting from life greater satisfactions than we usually attain.
In this effort, he dismisses the more exaggerated forms that he considers more or less pathological. He thinks of those mystics who have not tried to soar beyond the bounds of their natural being, but who, within the limits of the human mind, have sought an intensity of experience that would give them a deeper sense of life and reality in times when religion was decadent because of corrupt institutionalism or cold intellectualism. For them religion was an inner experience, a personal inspiration, an aliveness to the real issues of life. While even this kind of mysticism is subject to dangerous perversions and exaggerations, nevertheless religion is almost a useless appendage unless it possesses our inner life of feeling and imagination, and thus gives direction to our volitional nature.
The greatest weakness of Humanism is that it frequently lacks this inner conviction. It is essentially an intellectual movement without any real motivating power. It does not penetrate to the inner part of our natures from which conduct springs. After all, the purpose of the mystic was to identify himself with and lose himself in the object of his religion. In his case, this object was God. Now the Humanist does not desire identification with God, but he should desire to identify himself with and lose himself in the object of his religion -- the enhancement of human life. In other words, his religion would be a more vital thing if he could adopt the mystic's attitude toward it and possess it inwardly as a part of his psychic structure, in short, assimilate it until its expression becomes the motivating power of his emotional and volitional natures.
What I am trying to say is that Humanism is over-intellectualized. It possesses much knowledge, but the knowledge does not possess it; that is, it has not become a part of its mental and emotional structure sufficiently to mould personality and generate action. Mere knowledge no doubt adorns life to a certain extent, but it does not become a powerful motive for conduct until it strikes deep into our emotional life, and becomes a very part of our innermost being.
I believe, therefore, that we Humanists might learn something from the mystics who aspired within the limits of the mind to identify themselves so completely with the objects of their religion. A little more of the mystic aspiration and fervor would add tremendously to the significance of Humanist religion, which is in great danger of degenerating into a cold formula of intellectual concepts.
There is no doubt that Humanism in adopting the scientific method has come into possession of an increasing body of sound knowledge. It has been successful in diagnosing our more serious ills. It has a well-defined vision of the goal toward which man should travel. It is fully aware of the necessity of mankind itself transforming the life of society. Even so, it somehow lacks the emotional drive to generate the concrete enthusiasms that are essential to making these things effectual in our individual and social lives.
I believe this can be done only by achieving something of the passionate desire of the mystic to identify himself with the objects of his religion, to lose himself in the contemplation of these objects until they become a vital part of his psychic structure, affecting his emotional and volitional natures. When we strip mysticism of all its extravagances, its real meaning is the inward possession of great ideals and the transformation of character and purpose by the influence of those ideals; and in this sense, we should all be mystics, for it is only by this method that religion and morals have any transforming power.
Again, Humanism is in sympathy with what is frequently called the mystical attitude toward life. This may not fall within the category of real mystical experiences, although it is closely related. It usually means nothing more than the use of the imagination and emotion in our interpretation of the world and of human life. It is the opposite of drab realism and matter-of-factness. It is a consciousness of the mystery and wonder of existence. It is that from which music, art, poetry, and imaginative literature spring. It was the lack of such wonder that Wordsworth had in mind when he wrote of Peter Bell:
A primrose by the river's brim A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more,
And the presence of it that he expressed in his poem, ending with these lines:
And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
This means living imaginatively and emotionally as well as intellectually and rationally, and it is a vital part of a well-rounded personality. By imaginative feeling, we reach out to the world and seek to become conscious of our oneness with the whole of nature and of life. This is greatly needed in our materialized and mechanized world that is dominated by science and commercialism. Science represents the external approach to life, and mysticism represents an internal approach, which is also important.
There are things in the world that cannot be understood only through the senses or by means of logical thought. They are "sensed" by the imagination and feelings, but they are just as real as the things we can see and handle. The danger here, of course, lies in the exaggerated importance of these faculties or in their abnormal functioning, whereby they may encumber one with a whole freight of ideas and interpretations that the circumstances do not justify. Poets and artists are frequently dominated by their imagination and feelings, but businessmen and scientists whose lives are absorbed in facts need to cultivate their feelings in an intelligent way. The ideal, of course, is a sane and well-balanced personality, capable of imagination and emotion as well as of clear thinking.
Humanism should try to retain some of the qualities of the mystic, especially in this sense of imbuing life with imagination and poetry. There is grave danger that we resolve life into a series of logical propositions, based only on factual observation. We are too prone to ignore the inner life of man in our eagerness to create a new social order, and thus smother the urge toward individual psychical needs.
The Humanist should be aware of the presence of this urge and seek to cultivate it and thus recognize, as do other religions, that there is in the universe, including human life, something mysterious, something greater than the individual. He should cultivate a consciousness of his identity with the entire cosmic process, a feeling of oneness with the unending procession of living forms, especially a conscious unity with the whole mass of his kind.
It is the business of religion, as John Dewey pointed out, to make us conscious of our identification with humanity at large, and to recognize our knowledge, faith, and ideals as the product of the cooperative operations of human beings living together. It gives us an understanding of our relations to one another and the values contained in those relations. We are not only individuals, we are corporate parts of a humanity that extends into the remote past and will continue into a remote future.
The things that we prize most in our civilization are not of ourselves. They exist by grace of the doings and sufferings of the continuous human community in which we are a link, and in which we must play our part. In short, we should recognize ourselves as component parts of the great body of humanity, in which we live, move, and have our being; we should seek to attain that mystical experience of identification with the human race, to the adventure of which our individual lives are but fragmentary contributions.
More than anything else, the world needs this spirit today. No legislation, no new economic system, no changed industrial order, in and of themselves, will create this needed unity. The transfer of power from a self-seeking few to a self-seeking many will not help much, unless this new spirit fuses and inspires men with a new consciousness of the mystic unity that underlies all our social life.
As individuals, we may be wrapped up in our own concerns, our private plans, and personal ambitions. We may be content to be merely our private, separate, exclusive selves, blind to our essential unity with all other members of society, oblivious to our vital place and function in the living body of humanity. Then we miss the greatest of all experiences: achieving the consciousness of our true oneness with the common life about us. To this extent, much will be gained through the combination of Humanism and mysticism.
So while Humanism may not admit the claims of the mystics, it may at least recognize the methods of the mystics as the way to discover some of the favorable conditions of the abundant life. In the struggle for more and better life, man needs, among other things, moments of quiet to be free of the distractions and confusions of modern life and to reap the fruits of experience and deep contemplation.
While in these moments, he may not experience the ineffable and unutterable illumination of the mystical trance. He may achieve a sense of harmony with the whole of life, which inspires the normal person to an ethical and practical religious attitude, which brings peace and trust and humility to the individual, and reflects itself in a more wholesome and generous attitude toward his fellow men.
By Sadath Ali Khan
[From THE ARYAN PATH, September 1947, pages 392-96.]
It is a strange reflection that man should describe with sadistic delight and cruel satisfaction the sorrows and sufferings rather than the felicities of life hereafter. Perhaps the knottiest problem since the day when Cain slew Abel has been the problem of death and of life after death. Some of the most acute brains and most imaginative minds have in the past tried to paint the existence beyond the grave in a language that can hardly be called temperate.
Dante knew the topography of hell as well as if not better than the streets and byways of his native Florence. But what amazes one is why the sorrows of the Inferno have been described so vividly at such painful length rather than the luxuries and spiritual happiness of the soul in heaven. The reason is perhaps that there lurks in the human mind a deep-rooted desire to inflict pain not only upon others, but also upon one's self, thus "making fear longer than life" as Plutarch so succinctly puts it.
In the story of Circe's enchanted palace, Homer tells us how Odysseus visited the world of the dead and saw there his dead mother who had been alive when he sailed from Ithaca. He inquires about her fate and wonders what lingering disease has brought her there. She answers giving him news of his homeland and father. She says,
[His aged father] has given up sleeping in laundered sheets and blankets on a proper bed. Instead, he lies down with the laborers at the farm in the dust by the fire and goes about in rags. But when the mellow autumn days come round, he makes himself a humble couch of fallen leaves anywhere on the high ground of his vineyard plot. There he lies in his misery nursing his grief and yearning for you to come back, while to make things worse old age is pressing hard upon him. That was my undoing too; it was that that brought me to the grave.
On hearing this sad news of his parents, filial love wells up within Odysseus and he stretches his hands to embrace his mother. "Thrice like a shadow or a dream she slipped through my arms and left me harrowed by an even sharper pain."
Now Odysseus was known in Ithaca for his wisdom and cunning and he had in his time tricked many a monster successfully but, alas, here he is made to play the fool and to chase vainly the shadow of his dead mother. How deeply the wise Odysseus must have felt the humiliation! Later, having interviewed a host of spirits, he meets Achilles "who in stature and in manly grace was second to none of the Danaans." Odysseus comforting him speaks of the glory and fame of former days, but the hero who had fought with such distinction on "the windy fields of Troy" finds little consolation in the memory of old times.
Speak not soft words concerning death to me, Glorious Odysseus: rather had I be A thrall upon the acres to a man, Portionless and sunk low in poverty, Than over all the perished day below, Hold lordship.
From this, it would seem that Achilles was not having a very enjoyable time in Hades after all! Indeed how could he find comfort in a place where "the dead live on without their wits?"
The tortures and sufferings are inflicted upon Orion, the great Hunter, upon Tityous, son of the earth, and upon Tantalus, who suffers the pangs of eternal thirst seem commonplace and mild when compared with the sorrows of Dante's Inferno. The fate of the classical dead seems rather sad than horrible. Hades is a dull place like a reformatory where spirited children pass their days uneventfully. Imagine Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn in a reformatory, living a life of eternal boredom! The humanism in Homer and the poetic rhythm and grandeur of his story capture the heart and the imagination of the reader. The dead in Hades are not so very dead. Even after departing from the world of affairs and the hurry and bustle of life, they take an intelligent interest in those whom they have left behind.
The mourning ghosts of all the other dead and departed passed round me now, each with some question for me on matters that were near his heart.
The catalogue of horrors in Dante's hell is too long to be quoted here. The feverish imagination of Gustave Dore has left for posterity the illustrations of Dante's poem. The Inferno abounds in references to the political squabbles of the day and Alighieri, whose malice has a very sharp edge to it, has thrown in blackest hell not only those of his contemporaries who opposed his political and religious inclinations but also, it seems, some of his friends and acquaintances.
We come across, among the blackest souls in hell: Farinata, Teggheario, Arigo, not to speak of Framcesca de Remini, Cardinal Ubaldini, and Dante's own tutor Brunetto Latini. They are treated with scant consideration. Besides, Dante's Inferno is of considerable zoological interest. It is teeming with a large population of animal-monsters of all varieties who mechanically perform their unsavory duties. There is Cerberus with triple gullet, "his beard" greasy and black, and red his eyes, and belly big and fingers clawed. He is called the fierce and monstrous animal -- a very noisy, clamorous monster placed there to punish the gluttons.
The administration of hell is well planned. The classes of sins and the distribution of the damned are defined with great care. In Canto XI, we are told that because God loathes fraud more than any other sin, therefore the fraudulent are placed beneath and assailed with greater pain. Thus, Dante has punished all the importunate tradesmen and crafty moneylenders of Florence at whose hands he certainly did suffer.
In the matter of sheer torture, Dante has not much to learn from the Nazis. The Inferno is, as someone has suggested, a vast medieval kitchen where devils practice their culinary art with grim determination. The Tuscan poet has even invented a place, neither hell nor no-hell that is infested by hornets and wasps. Here he has placed those whom he despised:
Wretches who never were alive and who were slowly stung upon their bodies nude by hornets and wasps that thither flew.
In the last analysis it seems quite clear, regardless of the beauties of Dante's poem, the width of the canvas upon which he painted his great picture and the force of his imagination, that two basic but very human emotions were the main factors in the conception and execution of his work, namely, personal animosity and intolerance. It is the lot of the mute and the unimaginative to hate in silence but hate becomes a great creative force in men of genius. The idea that God is love and that the act of forgiveness is "divine" seems a huge jest to the reader of the Inferno. There is no reprieve, no respite from eternal punishment; the devils presumably are never in need of a holiday and no one can persuade them to take a day off from their grim occupation if they do not wish to do so!
Milton's hell has been made familiar to generations of schoolchildren by the indefatigable toil of editors and commentators such as Verity, Browne, and Wright. Such is the malignity of Milton, says the good Dr. Johnson rather severely, that hell grows darker at his frown. In spite of what the genial Doctor has said, Milton's PARADISE LOST with all its "ever burning sulphur," "doleful shades," and "fiery deluge" is in a sense less physical and the spirits of evil are less corporeal than in the Inferno. There is real, convincing sorrow -- not purely physical -- in the speech of Belial during the great debate --
Thus repulsed, our final hope Is flat despair; we must exasperate The Almighty Victor to spend all his rage; And that must end us, that must be our cure -- To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose, Though full of pain, this intellectual being, Those thoughts that wander through eternity, To perish rather, swallowed up and lost In the wide womb of uncreated Night, Devoid of sense and motion?
This seems like an echo from Shakespeare.
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where; To lie in cold obstruction and to rot; This sensible warm motion to become A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice; To be imprison'd in the viewless winds, And blown with restless violence round about The pendant world; or to be worse than worst Of those that lawless and in certain thoughts Imagine howling: -- 'tis too horrible! The weariest and most loathed worldly life That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment Can lay on nature is a paradise To what we fear of death.
Claudio, that windy rogue, expresses in picturesque language the fear of death. The references to classical and medieval aspects of hell in this passage are worth noticing.
But not all descriptions of hell are either so terrifying or so melancholy. The terrors and tribulations of an after life have been wholly lost on some eminent writers and poets; others have found consolation in the fact that as only children between the ages of seven and twelve and idiots of all descriptions will go to heaven, there will at least be good society in hell. This notion cannot entirely be discredited. The names of some of the most distinguished personages in the history of the world appear in the list of the damned, which are made to suffer eternal pain or only ennui in the Inferno.
Rabelais gives a very jovial account of hell in PANTAGRUEL. It is, indeed, extremely refreshing to come across this piece of healthy vulgarity after the sad and somber descriptions of hell. The account of Inferno given by Epistemon is too interesting to be left out. He said, "that he had seen the devil, had spoken with Lucifer familiarly and had been very merry in hell and in the Elysian fields affirming very seriously before them all that the devils were boon companions and merry fellows."
The punishment meted out to the damned is as interesting as it is novel. For once, they are put to work and are not allowed to pass the slow hours of eternity either in boredom or in ludicrous suffering. Alexander the Great spends his time mending and patching old breeches and stockings; Xerxes is a crier of mustard; Cicero a fire kindler; Pope Alexander a rat-catcher, Cleopatra a crier of onions. So, it seems, great Lords and Ladies and Princes of the blood eke out "a poor, scurvy, wretched living there below," but on the contrary, the niggardly philosophers who walked in rags on earth appear attired in shining raiment. Diogenes (perhaps the reader will recall this excellent philosopher who passed his days lying in a tub) wearing a rich purple gown and with a golden scepter in his right hand; Epictetus gaily dressed in the French style sits in the company of handsome ladies frolicking, drinking, dancing, and making good cheer. The only pain that is inflicted on a large number of the inmates of the Inferno, says Epistemon, is "a certain disease" that those who did not get it in this world would get in the other.
Shelley, in his poem "Peter Bell," has also made irreverent fun of the tortures and stench of hell, offering thereby a contrast to other hells of literature.
Hell is a City much like London -- A populous and a smoky city; There are all sorts of people un-done And there is little or no fun done; Small justice shown and still less pity.
Here, in the end, is the incomparable Wordsworth in a half-serious, half-jesting mood:
It is a party in a parlor, Crammed just as they on earth were crammed, Some sipping punch -- some sipping tea; But, as you by their faces see, All silent, and all -- damned!
By Leoline L. Wright
[From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages 21-26.]
The fact is that we do remember them. The question is here put in this form because that is how it is generally asked by inquirers. But it is not thus correctly phrased. It should rather be, "Why are we not able to recall the circumstances of our past lives?" Character itself is memory. In a certain family are born two children. One is candid and honorable, the other thieving and sly, and the second has to be painfully disciplined into a sense of honor. We all know of these puzzling cases of differing character in one family. The first has learned by experience in past incarnations that dishonesty is base, and so it is born with that innate knowledge as part of its character. The other child has this victory yet to achieve, and will the better achieve it because of its family environment -- a favorable condition earned by the beginning of effort toward learning this lesson in a previous incarnation. It is in this way in which we can say that character is memory.
Genius too is memory. All inborn faculties, whether good or evil, are the consequences of past self-training or of past weakness in other lives on earth. Mercifully, it is rare that anyone can remember the particular events through which these victories or failures as to character and faculty have been built into the inner nature. Since we learn usually through suffering and many initial failures, such memories would mainly be of a painful kind.
We might also include hereditary traits as a phase of memory, developing a little more fully the subject above alluded to. Why is it for example that of three children born into the same family, one is a genius, another has a shrewd business head, while the third is entirely commonplace? Theosophy teaches that an Ego coming to birth must automatically, by the natural attraction of psycho-magnetic energy, embody those hereditary qualities and traits appropriate to the expression of its own nature brought over from its experience and actions in the past life. We thus see that in every way character is memory. And without these stored-up, accumulated memories, carried over from life to life -- as before emphasized -- no evolution of organism either physical, mental, or moral would be possible. Evolution depends upon continuity. Moreover, everything repeats itself. It is the method of Nature that characteristics are fixed through repetition and the type developed. Likewise is it by repetition through life after life that lessons of human character are realized, absorbed, and become a permanent part of man's nature.
What is true of brain-memory is also true of the personality. As indicated in Chapter I, the Ego has a different personality with each life. This must be so because in each life, we learn something new, develop mentally and morally, unfold emotionally or spiritually, so that the old personality becomes inadequate -- the Ego outgrows its possibilities as an instrument. The Ego, therefore, when it is reborn, makes for itself a fresh personality fashioned from the lessons incorporated into itself in the last life. For the personality is not the real I, it is only the mask, or vehicle, or garment, or temporary character through which the real I expresses an aspect of itself. Then consider the structure of the brain. Though the same atoms that made up the brain in a former life are now used again by the reincarnating entity, the brain of the new personality is a fresh combination entirely. For these life-atoms themselves have undergone changes so that while the instinctive trend is the same the total effect is a fresh outlook in the character.
So here is another and deeper reason why memories inhere and persist but details are forgotten, when the Ego returns to incarnation. Characteristics, faculties, which were built into the inner nature are brought back as unconscious memories; but the newborn personality, through the working of nature's compassionate laws, has no recollection of the actual happenings of a former life.
Another reason, and a basic one, why men do not remember the circumstances of past lives is that the Universe to which we belong is an expression of intelligence, wisdom, and compassion. It is an organism, an immense, interblended series of infinitely graded living entities, having at its center or heart a Divine Intelligence, one of the Cosmic Gods. The 'laws' of the Universe are the life-rhythms -- spiritual, intellectual, and vital -- of that Cosmic Divinity, flowing out along the Circulations of the Cosmos, guiding and controlling all things from the mighty Sun to the electrons of the atom.
These beneficent laws protect man, as far as his free will does not prevent, against those things that hinder his evolution. Evolution always looks forward, is constructive, and builds afresh and on developing patterns. Foremost among hindrances to evolution would be a constant preoccupation with the past. Man is supplied by the laws of the Cosmos with an adequate memory of his own past and that of the race, with all that he needs to use. He is protected in the very nature of things from a memory of details that would burden, distract, and bring suffering to his upward struggling nature. To leave behind the low-vaulted past is one of the conditions of growth. Does the oak bother about the acorn that produced it, or the butterfly take thought for its abandoned chrysalis? We are children of a Universe of Life, and we are forever and healthily abandoning the worn-out and developing the new out of the old.
All of us undoubtedly, as Spiritual Egos, have played many parts on this wonderful stage of the human drama, our planet Earth. It is through these manifold roles that we have developed the highly complex psychological apparatus called human nature, which in the great majority is able to adjust itself to almost any condition of human existence, under all climes and in any environment. So true is this that there is a great restlessness upon men today, a feeling that life as we know it has been lived out, exhausted of its possibilities. Mankind inarticulately feels itself upon the threshold of some new discovery. Theosophy proclaims that this is a genuine intuition, a prevision of the New Era that is just about to dawn upon the world.
We must not forget, however, that a time will eventually come when each of us will be able clearly to recollect all the events of our past lives. The register of everything that has ever happened to an individual is imprinted imperishably upon the deathless, divine side of his nature. But we have not yet developed the spiritual faculties that would enable us to read that mystic record. Nor shall we develop them so long as we constantly identify ourselves only with the life of the brain and the personality. For now self-interest shuts us in, passions hold us in selfish blindness. Prejudice weaves its dense web over intuition and creative power. And so we languish in our narrow prisons of personality. Only occasionally, when the sunshine of divine love or the spirit of self-sacrifice inspires us, do we catch a gleam of the mountains of dawn without our prison walls. Man must use his spiritual will to realize his essential godhood and break through the bonds of selfishness and ignorance into the glorious kingdom lying just beyond the threshold of his everyday consciousness.
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1931, pages 224-29.]
This is a question that none can escape; it must often suggest itself even to the most thoughtless. It cannot be indefinitely evaded, for man cannot indefinitely remain in an irresponsible state, refusing to face facts, or trying to live superficially and in the moment. Yet why should it be evaded? Man has the power to answer any question that he has the power to propound. Those who reject religion and authority, from a motive of self-reliance, should surely have self-reliance enough to tackle this question. We cannot consistently stand on a pinnacle of pride and self-sufficiency in order to proclaim therefrom our own incompetence and inability to know.
It is within our own intelligence, therefore, that an answer must be sought; man's own judgment is always the final court of appeal. Yet that man would be foolish who should attempt to start on the career of knowledge all by himself, without availing himself of the help that may be afforded him by the efforts of predecessors.
It is not dogmas or the say-so of anybody that we here offer, but suggestions for due consideration. It was from the teachings of others, tested by our own judgment, that we received the hints that we now try to pass on.
You are a conscious intelligent being. Here is a fact to start with. Or if you do not regard this as a fact, if you doubt or deny your own existence, then turn the leaf, for we can have no more to tell you. The next fact is that you are not the only intelligent being in the Universe. Or if this is not a fact, then the Universe is a product of your imagination, and I do not exist outside of your imagination; a point on which we should at once take issue. The world then contains a multitude of intelligent beings like you.
Next, it contains beings also regarded as alive and conscious, possessed of a different kind and degree of intelligence, not showing signs of being self-conscious (or not as we are). These are the animals. Then we come to the plants. They are alive; they know enough to select their food, build their tissues, and care for their welfare. Are the plants conscious? If not, how are we to explain their behavior? We must invent some other theory. When we get down to what has been called the mineral or inorganic kingdom, the same question arises in even greater degree.
The so-called inorganic kingdom exhibits organization, system, adaptation, growth, change, and other phenomena of conscious mind. But for some reason we have chosen to regard this kingdom as being dead and inert. Therefore, we have been driven to try to explain its behavior in some other way; and science has invented a whole pantheon of mysterious gods, such as force, affinity, attraction, chance, etc., to explain the properties of the 'inorganic' world. In short, a dualistic system has been imagined, in which there is a vast universe of dead inert matter, acted on (a) by mysterious forces, (b) by a lonely isolated deity. The lonely deity, who has existed from eternity, built a universe, either out of nothing or out of an equally eternal matter. The physics of last century gave us a universe of two eternal things, matter and energy. Both are eternal, indestructible, and uncreate.
In place of all this metaphysics, religious or scientific, consider the idea that there is nothing dead in the whole universe: that the universe is composed exclusively of living conscious intelligent beings. Get this into your mind, and difficulties begin thenceforth to drop off.
The consciousness of these many beings is not all of the same kind or degree. As man differs from the animals and the animals from the plants, so there are other orders of life, other kinds of mind. What we call 'character' in man, and 'instinct' in animals, we have chosen to call 'properties' in the mineral kingdom. But the distinction is artificial. All such qualities are manifestations of intelligence. When the intelligence is small, it may suffice for little more than a continued repetition of the same acts. This we see in men, where we call it habit; still more in the animals, and there we call it instinct.
When we come to the 'inorganic' world, we see so much invariability that we speak of the properties of matter as 'laws of nature.' But in truth, they are merely habits. Science itself now begins to doubt whether these habits are invariable. Science has traced the chain of cause and effect down to a point where it finds particles moving without any detectible cause in obedience to any known law. Science is in doubt whether to attribute to these particles purpose or to fall back on the lame explanation that they are actuated by Mr. Chance.
The answer to the question "Who am I?" begins to shape itself: you are one conscious being in a vast society of conscious beings, of which the greatest and most inclusive is the universe itself. Further, you are a self-conscious being, endowed with the power of introspection and of being aware of your own mental activities. You have the power to consider a course of action and to act upon it or refuse to do so. You stand on a higher level than do those orders of life that have not these powers. Around you are many other beings of the same rank as yourself.
You are endowed with a mysterious sense of separate personality; you must infer that other men have also this sense. But your reason abhors the idea of this separateness. Often, even in childhood, has your brain reeled and your heart sickened over this problem of the difference between You and Me. You may since have learned to crowd it out of your mind, but the specter is still there. This means that the present state of existence, wherein this sense of separateness and isolation from others exists, is not the real and final state for you. You have roots in some higher stratum, and of those roots, you are even now dimly conscious. You have an intellect, but you cannot seem to stretch it to fit your intuitions. This brings us to another valuable hint.
Whenever you find yourself brought to the point where most people give up in despair and say that this is beyond the limits of possible knowledge -- then you stand at the very place where, if you have the courage, knowledge begins. Yet this is the very point where so many people stop. They either take the agnostic position and regard knowledge as unattainable, or leave everything to Providence. In either case, they deny their own power. But, though you may live through incarnation after incarnation in such a state of mind, you will at last be driven back upon your own resources and compelled by necessity to face the problem by the strength of your own resources.
When you die, you will shed your body and some other belongings. You will continue to exist -- not as your present personality, for the conditions of its existence are now broken up -- but rather as a comparatively disencumbered spiritual entity. But you also existed before you were born into this present life. There is no sense in the theory that your existence is limited, at either end, by the confines of this earth-life of seventy years. Such a theory mocks the reason and is not to be reconciled with the facts of life.
You enter this life endowed with the seeds of character and destiny, which you yourself have generated by your past exercise of will and imagination. You spend your present life in creating new seeds for a future harvest. Sometimes you are able to trace the cause of your present experiences, and then you blame yourself or take credit, as the case may be. But oftener you are unable to trace the causes of your present experiences, and then you say it is chance, fate, or Providence. So you have divided experience into two classes, distinguished from each other merely by the limits of your present knowledge. This distinction is absurd; all experiences follow the same law; they are due to the causes that you yourself have set up.
But -- to keep to the point -- who is this you or I of which we speak? He is the master of your destiny, your real Self, the real liver of the lives.
You do not realize this yet, for you are in a kind of dream; you are not fully awake. But there is one point in which you are better than some -- you have at least a suspicion that you are dreaming. What you have to do, then, is to wake up, not all at once, perhaps, but at any rate bit by bit. And does it not seem certain that, in this awakening, the mystery of separate personalities will be solved, or at least greatly elucidated? For in this higher, more awake, state of consciousness, we cannot be as we are now; we must stand at a higher level. If the delusion of separate personality persisted, wherein would that state be an improvement on this?
The Universe is at the same time One and Many: innumerable distinct beings, yet with one life running through all. This grand truth of the oneness of all that lives -- it is your destiny to realize it. One day you will wake up to the fact; and then it will no longer be a beautiful saying but an obvious thing. Here then is the foundation stone of all ethics; ethics is not an enforced code to live by reluctantly; it is a statement of the scientific truth about life. If you make your personal interest (or what you may foolishly think to be your personal interest) paramount over your social obligations, you are acting contrary to the real law of your nature and will run into trouble.
Much of the mystery of pain lies herein. Why does the Supreme Power permit us to suffer? Well, if the Supreme Power were to shield us from suffering, he would be coddling us; instead of which he may have endowed us with free will and left us to exercise it. And so we experiment and burn our fingers. But how much better this, than to be the mere marionettes of some all-powerful deity or the sport of ruthless laws of Nature!
No, we must solve the riddle of life for ourselves -- find out Who am I? This means polishing up the mirror of the mind and cleaning up a good many other matters as well. Science and ethics are the same -- different aspects of the same path of knowledge. Conduct is all-important; conduct means knowledge, and knowledge means conduct. But, when it is said that we must solve the riddle for ourselves, this does not mean that we are to tear up our books, listen to no one, and sit in solitary meditation. It means that we must seek knowledge wherever we can find it, relying on our own judgment as to whether it is what we need or not.
Let me express for you this devout good wish: that you may be fortunate enough to find a Teacher. For this will save you a deal of trouble and futile wandering. What has just been said about the Universe implies that there must be men who have preceded you and me on the path of knowledge, and must therefore be in a position to perform the usual functions of a teacher to a pupil. If you are afraid of being imposed upon, take my advice and do not risk anything until you have gained more confidence in your own power of discrimination.
We are actors, playing a part, playing many parts, as the mystic bard has said. But there must be an actor, an actor who is none of the parts, and yet is (in one sense) each and all of them. You have become so used to the part you are enacting now that you have lost your real identity, yet are dimly conscious of it. The path of human evolution leads straight on to the place where you will wake up and become aware of your identity. It is the voice of the true Self -- the impersonal Self -- that speaks in such words as these: "I am the Self, seated in the hearts of men"; "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
You cannot even read these words, if they are new to you, without taking a step in your evolution. For they will put into your mind ideas that were not there before; or rather revive in your consciousness ideas that were latent. And thereby your outlook cannot fail to be changed, your conduct colored, in however slight a degree. The old truths that Theosophy revives are a leaven working in the mind.
One token of the truth is UNITY -- a thing we cannot help longing for and striving after. Conflict is our bane, as we pitifully realize the two natures, the many natures that struggle within us. We continually thwart ourselves. If only we could find that of all these selves is the real I! This conflict vanishes in the light of self-realization; our several desires unite to a single end. No more contrast between the desire for knowledge and the sense of duty; or between selfish lust and impersonal love. Knowledge and duty are found to be one; lust fades like a rush light in the glow of love. The answer to our question "Who am I?" is to be given by our own experience; let us not seek to express the ineffable, to measure the immeasurable.
By Countess Constance Wachtmeister
[From LUCIFER, December 15, 1887, pages 274-81.]
(Here is a simple story told to the writer by an old naval officer, about the most "memorable Christmas Eve" that came within his own experience.)
It was a dark and solitary path, a narrow, hardly perceptible footway in a dense forest, hemmed in by two walls of impenetrable thorns and wild creepers covering as with a network the trunks of the tall, bare, moss-covered trees. The path led through the woods down to a deep valley in which a few country-houses were nestled. Night was fast approaching, and the hurricane that blew across the country boded evil to many a traveler by land and sea. The wind, hitherto moaning through the trees in low sad tones reminding one of a funereal dirge, was now beginning to roar with fury, filling the forest as with the howling of a hundred hungry wolves. A drizzling, ice-cold rain soon veiled the whole forest in a damp shroud of fog.
One solitary traveler was wearily wending his way along this deserted path. The hour was late, and the darkening shadows were creeping on steadily, making the gloom in the thicket still more depressing. The young man looked worn and tired, as he repeatedly brushed aside the entangled briars that impeded his progress. He was well dressed and wore a marine officer's cap. But his coat was now in rags, torn by the hard, frozen, cruel thorns, and his hands were bleeding from the struggle he had had with the briars for a whole long night and a day since he had lost his way in the huge forest.
Panting, he stopped at last. As he heaved a deep sigh, he fell down half-insensible at the foot of an old shaggy oak. Then, half-opening his weary eyes, he murmured in despair, as he placed his hand on his heart, "I wonder how long THIS will yet beat. I feel as if it were gradually stopping."
He closed his eyes once more, and soon the feeble palpitations he was watching within himself turned his half-paralyzed thought into a new groove of ideas. Now the hardly audible beatings of his heart seemed to transform themselves into the ticking of an old clock quite near to him. He imagined the old Nuremberg timepiece in his mother's room. He was dripping wet, chilled to the marrow of his bones, and was fast losing consciousness. Forgetting his situation momentarily, he caught himself soliloquizing, as was his custom when alone.
"This clock," he thought, "has to be wound up else it will stop. So shall this heart. A man has to eat and drink to renew the fuel that feeds life, the clock too -- no! The clock is different to man. Let it rest for a week, for two, three months, even for a year. Still, if wound up again, it will tick on as merrily as ever. But once the supply of the body is stopped -- well, what then? Shall the working power cease forever, or the ticking of the heart be resumed as that of the clock? No, no! You may feed the dead body of man as much as you please! It shall awaken to life no more. There is a queer problem to solve. What becomes of that something that made the body move? The food is not the cause, is it? No, the food is only the fuel. There must be some inward fire ever burning, as long as it is supplied. But what happens when the supply of the fuel ceases? Ah! That is it. Where does it go? Does anything really die? What form shall MY inner fire take? Shall it return to ITS primordial light and be no more? Oh, how I suffer! No, no, I must not allow this, MY fire, to go out. No, not before I see once more my loved ones: my mother and Alice."
Arising with great effort, he pursued his way with tottering steps, feeling his way in the darkness. But instantly a wild gust of wind, tearing along the narrow pathway, caused the great trees to sway and rock as if in agony. Catching in its icy clasp the weakened form of the young man, the hurricane nearly upset him. Being already wet through and through with rain and cold, he shivered and groaned aloud, as he felt a sharp pain penetrating his limbs from the brain downwards. Another short struggle and he heavily fell on the cold hard ground. Clasping his hands over his brow, he could only whisper again, "Mother, I can do no more. Farewell, mother, forever! Alice, fare thee well!"
His strength was gone. For over thirty hours, he had tasted no food. He had traveled night and day in the hope of being with his family on Christmas Eve -- that blessed day of joy and peace. Never yet had he spent a Christmas Eve away from home; but that year had been an unusually unfortunate one for him. His vessel had been wrecked and he had lost all. Only by chance had he been enabled to find his way back to his country in time to take the train that brought him from a large seaport to the small town some twenty miles' distance from his home. Once there, he had to travel that distance by coach.
Just as he was preparing to start on his last journey, he met a poor sailor, a companion of his shipwreck. With tears in his eyes, the man told him that having lost all, he had no more money left to take him to his wife and children, who were yet two days' journey by rail from where he was; and that thus, he could not be with them to make merry Christmas together. So the good-hearted young officer, thinking he could easily walk the short distance that separated him from home, had emptied his purse into the sailor's hands and started on his way on foot, hoping to arrive on that same evening.
He set out early in the morning and bethought himself of a shortcut through the vast forests of his native place. That afternoon, he hurt his foot badly. Now only able to move slowly, he was overtaken in the forest by night and lost his way. Since morning, he had wandered the entire day, until pain, exhaustion, and the hurricane had overpowered him. Now, he was lying helpless on the bare frozen ground and would surely die before the dawn.
How long he laid there, he never remembered; but when he came back to himself, he thought he could move, and resolved to make a last supreme effort after the short rest. The wind had suddenly fallen. He felt warmer and calmer as he sat leaning against a tree. Old habit brought him back to his previous train of thought.
"Never, mother dear, never," he addressed her in thought, "have I spent a Christmas away from your dear selves. Never, have I missed one since my boyhood, when father died twelve years ago! I made a vow then that, come what would, I should spend each Christmas Eve at home; and now, though life seems slowly ebbing out of my body, I want to keep my promise. They must be waiting for me even now, including Alice, my sweet fair cousin, who tells me she never loved but me, Reginald and Lionel, my brothers, who are earnestly waiting for me, my shy pretty May, and little Fanny. They are all longing to see me, my dear ones, all expecting their old brother Hugo to return and decorate their Christmas tree. Oh, mother, mother, see you I must! I will be with you on this Christmas Eve, come what may!"
This passionate longing appeal seemed to give him a ten-fold strength. He made a desperate effort to rise from his place, and found he could do so quite easily. Then, overcome with joy, he flew rather than walked through the dense black forest. He must have surely mistaken the distance, as a minute later, he found himself in the brushwood, saw the well-known valley so familiar to him, and even discerned in the bright moonlight the home that contained all his dear ones.
He ran still faster, forgetting in his excitement to wonder whence he had found the power of using his lame foot so easily. At last, he reached the lawn and approached the cozy old house, all wrapped in its snowy winter garments and sparkling in moonlight like a palace of King Frost. From a large bay window poured out torrents of light, and as he drew still nearer, trying to see through it, he caught a glimpse of the loved faces, which he stopped to look at before knocking at the door.
"Oh, my mother! I see her there," he exclaimed. "There she is, seated in her armchair with her knitting by her side and her beautiful silvery hair as soft and glossy as ever under her snow-white cap. I see her kind eyes and placid features still unmarked by the furrows of age. She looks troubled. She listens to the fierce gusts of wind that cause the windows to shake and rattle. How that wind DOES try to get into the house, and finding itself no welcome guest, hark, how it rolls away. How strange! I HEAR, but I do NOT FEEL the wind. Oh! Kneeling at my mother's feet, there is Alice. Her arms are clasped around mother's knees. Her golden curls fall on her back. But -- but, why are her large violet eyes filled with tears as she looks with upturned face into mother's sad eyes? Hush! What is she saying? I hear it, even through that wall."
"Don't be uneasy, mother, dear," Alice said. "Hugo will come back. You know he told us so in his last letter. He said that after their shipwreck, he was kindly cared for by those who saved the crew. He wrote also that he had borrowed money for the journey and that he would be with us at the latest on Christmas Eve! Bad roads and the stormy night will have detained him. The coach, you say? Well, and though the coach has long since passed by, he may have taken a carriage. He will soon be here, mother."
"Ah, dear Alice," Mother said, "I see. She looks at her finger, with its little ruby ring I placed on it. She puts it to her lips, and I hear her murmuring my name."
I rushed into the house at that appeal, and as I now remember, without knocking at the door as if I had passed through the stone walls. I tried to speak, but no sound appeared to reach their ears. Nor did anyone seem to see or greet me. I drew Alice by the arm, but she never turned round, only continuing to murmur sweet words of consolation into my mother's ear. Good God, what agony! Why do they not hear, or even see me? Am I really here?
I look round the room. The old home is just as I had left it nine months since. There is my father's picture hanging over the mantelpiece, looking at me with his kind smile. The old piano is open with my favorite song on it. The cat is sleeping as usual on the hearthrug and purring as she stretches out her lazy paws. Albums are on the table alongside my photograph with its bright and happy look! How different to my present self! Here am I, standing in an agony of doubt, before my loved ones, seeing them, feeling them, and touching them, and yet I am unseen by them, unnoticed as one who is not there. Not even my shadow is on the wall over theirs. But who then, am I?
Why have they grown so blind to my presence? Why do their hearts and senses remain so dense? I try again and again. I call them piteously by their names, but they heed me not. My heart, my love, all is here, but my physical body seems far away. Yes, it is far, far away, and now I see it, as it lies cold and lifeless in that forest where I must have left it. It is surely for ME and not for that body that they care! And is it because I am no longer clothed with flesh that I must be as only a breath, an empty naught to them?
Full of despair, I turned away, and passed through the folding doors. I arrived in the adjoining room where my young brothers and sisters were busily occupied decorating the Christmas tree. There it stands, the old friend of my youth. I see it, and even discern its resinous perfume. Towering up towards the ceiling, its lower branches are bending to the ground, laden with golden fruits, toys, and wax tapers. My brothers and sisters are gathered around it.
Reginald looks grave. I see him turning to May, and hear him say, "Are you not anxious about Hugo? I wonder what can have become of him!"
"I did not like to tell mother," May replies with a little shiver, "but I had a dreadful dream last night. I saw Hugo white and cold. He looked sorrowfully at me, but when he tried to speak, he could not. His look haunts me still," she softly sobbed with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Now little Fanny gives a scream of delight. The child has discovered among the Christmas presents a real pipe, a pipe with silver bells.
"Oh, THIS shall be for Hugo, and then he will have music whenever he smokes," exclaims the little one, merrily laughing and holding out the toy in the direction where I am standing.
For a moment, I hope she sees me. I try to take the pipe, but my hand cannot clasp it, and the toy seems to slip away from me as if it were a shadow. I try to speak again, but it is of no use. They see me not, nor do they hear me!
Grieved beyond words, I left them. Returning into the next room, I went up straight to Alice, who was still at mother's side murmuring to her loving words. I spoke again, I entreated, I besought them to look at me, and my suffering was so great that I felt that death would be preferable to this!
Then I made a last and supreme effort. Concentrating all my will, I bent over Alice and gasped out with my whole soul, "If ever you loved me, Alice, please know and hear me now," I exclaimed as I pressed my lips to hers.
She gave a shudder, a start, and opening her eyes wider, she shrieked in terror, "Hugo! Hugo! Mother, do you see? Hugo is here!"
She tried to clasp me in her arms, but her hands met together, and only joined as if in prayer. "Hugo, Hugo, stay, why can I not touch you? Mother, look! Look! Here is Hugo!" She was growing wilder and more excited with every moment.
My mother looked faint and frightened as she said, "Alice, what is the matter, child? What do you see? Hugo is not here!"
The children, hearing Alice's cry, flew into the room, eager with expectation. "Where is Hugo? Where is he?" they prattled.
I felt that I was invisible to all but Alice. She was the only one to see me. Realizing that my body had to be saved from its danger in the woods without loss of time, I drew her after myself with all my will. I slowly moved towards the door, never taking my look off her eyes. She followed me, as one in a state of somnambulism.
My mother looked stunned and bewildered. Rising with difficulty from her place, she would have made for the door also. Instead, she sank back into her armchair powerless, covering her face with her hands.
"Boys, follow Alice," said May. "Wait! The carriage is there ready to go after the doctor's children. Take it. Call the gardener and John to go with you. I will stay with mother." And whispering to Reginald, she added, "Tell John to take rugs and blankets, but I am afraid poor Hugo is dead!" She then turned to mother, who had fainted.
I would see no more. WILLING Alice to follow me, I left the house.
She came slowly after me, her face all white, her large eyes full of terror, but also of resolution in them. On she would have gone on foot, in the drizzling rain, her golden hair all flying about her head, had she been allowed to do so by my brothers and servants. The strange cortege was ushered into the open carriage, the coachman being ordered to follow her directions. On it went as speedily as the horse could go. I found myself floating now before them, and to my own amazement, I was sliding backwards with my face turned towards Alice, strongly willing that she should not lose sight of me. Two hours afterwards, the carriage entered the brushwood, and they were obliged to alight.
The night was now dark and stormy. Notwithstanding the lanterns, the group made way with great difficulty into the thicket. The wind had begun to blow and howl with the same fury as when I had left the wood, and it seemed to have caught them all in its chilly embrace. The boys and servants panted and shivered, but Alice heeded nothing. What cared SHE for that! The only thought of my beloved was I, Hugo. On, on we went, her tender feet wounded with the brambles, and the wet sprays of branches brushing against her white face. On, on she ran, until with a sudden and loud cry of joy and terror mixed, she fell.
At the same instant, I collapsed, and FELL ON THE GROUND, AS IT SEEMED TO ME. Then all became a blank. As I learned later, at that moment, the boys drew near. Lowering their lanterns, they found Alice with her arms clasped around a form, and when the lanterns were placed close to it, they saw before them the body of their brother Hugo -- a corpse!
"Sure enough he is dead, the poor young master," cried John, our old servant, who was close behind.
"No, no," Alice answered. "No, he is not dead. His body is cold, but his heart still beats. Let us carry him home. Quick, quick!"
Lifting up the body gently and placing it in the carriage, they covered it with rugs and shawls, and drove at a furious speed back to our home. It was near midnight when the carriage stopped at the gate.
"Reginald, run on quickly and give the good news to mother," cried Alice. "Tell May to have hot bottles and blankets ready on the sofa in the drawing room. It is warm there near the fire. Tell them all that Hugo lives, for I KNOW he does," she went on repeating.
More lights were brought out, and the servants carried carefully their burden into the house, where they placed it on the sofa, hot flannels and restoratives being immediately applied. Noiselessly and breathlessly went on the work of love around the apparently dead body, which was at last rewarded. A sigh was heard, a deeper BREATH was drawn, and then the eyes slowly opened and I looked round in vague surprise at all those loved and anxious faces crowding eagerly around me.
"Don't speak yet, Hugo," whispered Alice anxiously. "Don't, till you feel stronger."
I could not control my impatience. "How am I here," I asked. "Ah, I remember. I lost my way in the old forest. Ah, yes, I recollect now all. The cold biting wind, my lame foot after I stumbled and fell, knocking my head against a stone, and then all became a blank to me!"
"Hush, Hugo, hush my boy," said my mother wiping tears of joy from her still pale and suffering face. "You will tell us all that presently. Now rest."
But I could not refrain from speaking, as thoughts crowded into my head and recollections came vividly back. "No, no, I am better," I went on. "I am strong again, and I must let you know all that I dreamed. I was here, and I saw you all. Oh, the torture I suffered when you knew me not! Mother, darling, did you not see me, your son? But she, my Alice, saw and followed me, and she saved me from death! Ah, yes! I remember now, you found my body, and then all was darkness again. Kiss me, mother! Kiss me all! Let me feel that I am really with you in body and no longer an invisible shadow. Mother, I kept my promise. I am here on Christmas Eve. Light the tree my little Fan, and give me the pipe with the bells I saw you holding and heard you say it was for old brother Hugo."
The child ran into the other room and returned with the pipe with which I had seen her playing a few hours before. This was the greatest and final proof for me as for my family. The event was no vision then, no hallucination, but true to its smallest details! As my mother often said afterwards, referring to that wonderful night, it was a weird and strange experience, but one that had happened to others before and will go on happening from time to time.
Of late years, when I had been happily married to my Alice (who will not let me travel far without her any longer), I have dived a good deal into such psychic mysteries, and I think I can explain my experience. I think that by privation, cold, and mental agony, I had been thrown into abnormal conditions. In my astral body, as it is now generally called, my "conscious self" was able to escape from the physical tenement and take itself to the home I so passionately desired to reach. All my thoughts and longings being intensely directed towards it, I found myself there where I wished to be in spirit.
The agony of mind from the consciousness that I was invisible to all added to the fear of death, unless I could impress them with my presence, became finally productive of the supreme effort of will, the success of which alone could save me. Joined to Alice's sensitiveness and her love for me, it enabled her to sense my presence and even to see my form, whereas others saw nothing. Man is a wonderful and marvelous enigma that WILL be completely unriddled some day, the skepticism of the age notwithstanding.
By Rose Winkler
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1932, pages 265-69.]
The stars and the suns and the planets, the meteors and nebulae, and all the other celestial bodies, are ruled and governed by a soul whose fiery life courses through them as it courses through us. They are all on different stages of evolutionary progress or growth, cosmic growth, for they have their cycles even as we human beings have them.
-- G. De Purucker, QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, Series I, page 64
How was it that aspiration and desire for a nobler and wider outlook on life led me to a study of the Sun? It happened thus. One night in early August, while contemplating the brightness, the majesty, mystery, and hidden powers inherent in the sparkling constellations, my gaze was attracted by twinkling signals of several stars as if broadcasting their messages to each other. Reflection on the nature of their communications evoked a second thought, which led me to wonder whether they were not also pouring forth to each other and all the universe, their living, pulsating streams of life-atoms and of influence, interpreted by modern science as radiant energy.
To whatever point of the vast heavenly fields I directed my gaze, I realized that the high-vaulted dome stretched away and away through immeasurable reaches of Space, unrolling in endless splendor mysterious sidereal bodies, the outer manifestations of THAT which men call God. And all that flashing splendor above, as seen by unaided human sight, with the exception of the nebula of Andromeda, is our Home Universe encircled by the Milky Way. In that Milky Way are immense groups of stars, great suns, many of them with possible families of planets. And thought is challenged anew by the mysterious Power that keeps the sun and all the stars and planets in their courses. Uplifted, in reverent awe, and reflecting in wonderment, I recalled the words of Paracelsus:
The stars attract from us to themselves and we again from them to us. Everything pertaining to the Spiritual world must come to us through the stars.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, X, xxvi
As the spiritual essence of the divinities ruling the sidereal orbs, and the monadic essence -- the inner god, in the core of man's being -- are the same, we of necessity must be linked spiritually, mentally, and psychically to the stars, as they are linked to us and to each other. The spirit of Cosmic Divinity, throbbing with impersonal love, pervades everything, from atom to super-gods, from our gross earth to our glorious Sun and beyond.
Surely, if spiritual intelligences or gods did not ensoul and guide the destined courses of all that overarching celestial splendor, those scintillating heavenly mansions of the gods who once were men, would be in deep darkness. How analogous to the carnal body of man! If the ensouling divinity at the core of man's being did not energize, enlighten, and set aflame his intellectual and spiritual powers, he would have remained mindless, and his dwelling of flesh as gloomy as darkening twilight.
The grand eternal truths and the majestic illuminating wisdom passed on through the ages by a Golden Chain of Seers and Sages, have again been transmitted to humanity during the past fifty years. The Pythagoreans believed that all the globes were rational intelligences, in each of which resided A PURE SPIRIT OF FIRE -- the very cause of their re-incorporation in starry substance, and the source of the general harmony. Kepler, the great astronomer, entertained the idea that each planet or celestial body had its guardian angel, intelligence, or genius.
According to the ancients, the stars and planets are not merely spheres, twinkling in space and made to shine for no purpose. They are the domains of various beings that have a mysterious, unbroken, and powerful connection with men and globes. Thus we learn that there is a sublime purpose in evolution, for at the root of everything is the self-impelling Monad -- a ray of the Absolute that, as life, law, intelligence, and harmony becomes involved in matter to its utmost limitation, to be evolved out of matter into the highest god.
How came all these celestial bodies into manifestation? Are we not familiar with the fact that everything springs forth from a life-atom, seed, egg, or ovum? Likewise do comets, planets, stars, suns, galaxies, and universes evolve from either larger or small nebulae. These glimmering, nebulous wisps of light-substance in the heavens are scattered like cosmic seeds through the depths and heights of Space. And as these cosmic seeds or world-germs contain all the inherent forces, powers, energies, and substances that have been transmitted from previous constellations on other spheres and in a preceding Manvantara or age of manifestation, so did the Sun come forth, through eonic periods, from a life-atom. In fact, just as man has his cyclic periods of birth and death, of waking and sleeping, so in future cosmic cycles each sidereal body will be reborn, to continue on higher levels its evolutionary progress.
As for the birth of our glorious Sun: in a far distant cosmic cycle, when disintegration was in progress, it split up into millions of fragments, and after its long age of repose, or Pralaya, each fragment with its inherent forces became incorporated in a nebula. After incredible periods of time, it came forth as a comet, then blossomed into a planet, and through long cosmic cycles evolved into a sun.
Thus are there myriads of systems of worlds beyond this. And for each to retain its magnetically attained position, it must conquer the titanic elements that seek to oppose it on its evolutionary path. Likewise is it man's problem to conquer the elements in his lower nature through his inner god -- his spiritual sun. Obeying the irresistible urge of its being, our present Sun is the fruitage of what it was in a remote past age or Manvantara, having risen phoenix-like out of its cosmic dust.
Our Sun, like everything else, came forth at first as a god-spark from the Central Cosmic Fire, the Heart of the Universe. As Nature repeats herself on all planes, the key of Analogy will open many doors connected with the mysteries of the Sun. For example, just as the human seed is carried in transit from an ethereal world, there pour through it, as the laya-center, streams of life-atoms that, proceeding to gather material and unfolding into different varieties of cells, are cemented together in the process of bodily construction.
Inasmuch as man's body and inner constitution evolved forth from a nucleus or germ plasm and from its more concreted substance called protoplasm, so do heavenly bodies unfold out of the cosmic germ plasm and protoplasm comprising their cosmic seeds or nebulae. Anyone who longs to know more of the spiritual or concealed Sun may find a key in the following excerpt, quoted from a private Commentary, hitherto secret:
The real substance of the concealed (Sun) is a nucleus of Mother substance. It is the heart and matrix of all the living and existing Forces in our solar universe. It is the Kernel from which proceed to spread on their cyclic journeys all the Powers that set in action the atoms in their functional duties, and the focus within which they again meet in their SEVENTH ESSENCE every eleventh year.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 290
Of the seven-globe suns of the Chain of the Sun, it is our spiritual parent, Father Sun, who as its supreme Chief rules and governs the destiny of the visible solar system. Father Sun, the divinity at the heart of the Sun, is the storehouse of the self-generated solar energy or vital fluid that circulates through the planets and their hierarchies, vitalizing all their innumerable hosts of entities and life-atoms. This solar fluid, like the blood stream, is propelled by means of the Sun's rhythmical contractions, carrying the solar vitality through its auricles and ventricles and then through the sunspots to the entire solar system. Like the blood stream, this returns to the lungs of the Sun for purification and a renewal of its vitality. The Sun is drawn upon but never exhausted. Although the human blood stream completes its round in some seconds, the circulation of the solar fluid requires ten years to be conveyed through the planets and one year through the auricles and ventricles.
Inasmuch as the number of solar spots increases with the contractions of the solar heart, astronomers now say that the eleven-year cycle of the sunspots affects terrestrial conditions in various ways, including the weather. Some say that the maximum sunspot periods bring 'dry' conditions, while the minimum periods bring a heavier precipitation. The Ancient Wisdom, supported by modern science, teaches that a maximum of numbers and intensity of the sunspots recurs on the average every eleven years, and is attended by magnetic disturbances on earth.
Another of its very interesting teachings is that the Sun, having lungs, breathes just as our globe breathes every twenty-four hours, just as man and every living creature, plant, and even mineral breathes. Its brain, hidden behind the outer visible Sun, radiates sensation into every nerve center, while the streams of its life-essence flow into each artery and vein, and that, like man's extremities, the planets are its limbs and pulses. The Sun's vitalizing energy impels all motion and awakens all into life in the solar system.
As Father Sun, our spiritual parent in remote eons of the past was a human being, just as you and I are now, so verily is man at heart an embryo-sun. The Sun having passed through all the intermediate kingdoms up to super-godhood, this fact may help us to unfold the mystery of the evolution of its heart, lungs, brain, nervous system, and its limbs. Of course, these organs of the Sun are not flesh-enveloped like those of the human body, but as centers of force, they function through organs of ethereal light-substance.
Like the human body, the Sun is one vast organism. Having passed through the human stage in eons and eons gone, his body and inner constitution gradually etherealized and the substance of density, weight, and texture became more rarefied. One is led to conclude that the septenary encasement eventually spiritualized was resurrected into the blindingly effulgent vesture comprising his graded septenary garbs or vehicles. May not the intercommunicating arteries and veins be the channels or bypaths coursing between planet and planet, and between planets and Sun? We learn that his outer transmitting envelop or body of radiant light corresponds to our dense physical form. The almighty power of Father Sun, permeating his dazzling sheaths, communes with more divine beings of higher solar systems. Life-streams of energy flow from them through him and then throughout the solar system. Although the Sun is our spiritual parent, he is in truth the Elder Brother of the planets, including our earth. This is borne out in the following quotation:
The Occult Doctrine rejects the hypothesis born out of the Nebular Theory, that the (seven) great planets have evolved from the Sun's central mass, not of this our visible Sun, at any rate. The first condensation of Cosmic matter of course took place about a central nucleus, its parent Sun; but our sun, it is taught, merely detached itself earlier than all the others, as the rotating mass contracted, and is their elder, bigger brother therefore, not their father.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 101