For my part, as one of the cofounders of the Society, I had persistently adhered to that policy of personal freedom and personal responsibility of the member from the beginning, and have stood for it and fought for it down to the present day. When I can no longer have such freedom within it, I shall leave the Society, and grieve over it as a lost cause. If I needed a Pope I should go to Rome, where a so-called Viceregent of God is enthroned, and a brazen toe of a statue is always waiting to be kissed. Docile obedience to a TEACHER, who has mastered the secrets of life and death, of man and nature, is natural and proper; but servile obedience to a bald creed, or to a person no better nor spiritually wiser than oneself, is the worst of serfdoms -- undignified, unmanly, a spiritual suicide.
-- Henry S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, III, pages 241-42
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 102-107.]
The life of a Chela is made up of tests and trials. The prosaic and ordinary acts one has to perform every hour offer opportunities for the practice of the right discipline; otherwise, they become future hindrances. We allow ourselves to be robbed by our ambition.
"Ambition is the first curse; the great tempter of the man who is rising above his fellows," says LIGHT ON THE PATH.
The illusory nature of ambition should be perceived. Shakespeare calls it "a shadow's shadow."
One ambition leads to another; the ways and methods of achieving success in the fulfillment of ambitions differ not only with different people but also within one's own consciousness. There are persons who try to achieve what they desire by hook or by crook; there are others who conscientiously labor with honest motives and clean methods. Within one's own consciousness, alterations and adaptations of both motives and methods take place. All such changes point to the illusory nature of ambition.
The ambition for money is very general, but the reasons for the ambition differ with different people. The sordid motive of the miser, the motive to achieve comforts in life for one's self and for near and dear ones, the motive to amass wealth to do good works, etc., make people ambitious for material possessions and wealth.
There is the ambition for fame that very often follows the ambition for wealth. Some become famous by honest, worthy, and righteous means. Others elbow out other men and women to get to the front rank.
Power is another goal for the ambitious -- power to be a political leader, to be a great social celebrity, to be acclaimed a mighty hero. This power needs, for its real fulfillment, the power to love and to be loved. This ambition calls for subtle ways and means for its realization. Soldiers must love their general, whose influence on the mind and character of his soldiers pronounces the general great or mediocre or unworthy. So in political life a party leader must have the respect and love of his followers, or he is a failure. The grande dame of social life must be loved and respected by all men and women, or she is not the great lady she professes to be.
The curse of ambition to which LIGHT ON THE PATH refers is no doubt engendered by the longing for wealth and for fame. The aspirant to the Higher Life must "kill out" those ambitions. But he faces the most difficult of all his trials when it comes to conquering the ambition for power. The other two ambitions are easily detectable, however difficult their overcoming may prove to be. They have their own masks; but the subtlety of the ambition for power is as great as it is insidious.
The ambitions for wealth and fame make a pair; they affect each other as they live in the hearts and minds of men. Similarly, the ambition to wield power and the ambition to love and be loved are related.
Though ambition is "the great tempter of the man who is rising above his fellows," yet "it is a necessary teacher." For the man of the world, this tempter and teacher functions in the worldly way. But for one who aspires to bask in the warmth and the light of the Divine, the temptations and teachings are of a high and very different order. It is recorded:
These vices of the ordinary man pass through a subtle transformation and reappear with changed aspect in the heart of the disciple. It is easy to say, I will not be ambitious; it is not easy to say, When the Master reads my heart, he will find it clean utterly.
Ambition must be transmuted into altruism. The ambition for wealth and possessions must be used for the service of all; but we must learn to regard ourselves as trustees; in our trustworthy and altruistic hands, all wealth is placed.
The ambition for fame must be transmuted into the loving and altruistic, i.e., impersonal, service of all who gave us fame, who fulfilled our ambition for fame. Fame is a mental possession for universal use; not for self-aggrandizement.
Ambition for power requires a special knowledge of higher alchemy, of the transmutation of the personal self into an impersonal power. "That power which the disciple shall covet is that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men."
This is spoken of as a crucial stage in the life of the disciple. The intuitive poet, Browning, has spoken of it:
There are flashes struck from midnights, There are fire-flames noondays kindle, Whereby piled-up honours perish, Whereby swollen ambitions dwindle.
Unless his good Karma, from some far-off past, comes to his aid, so that the disciple is spurred to proceed from unselfishness to selflessness, the ambition and love for power will become lust for power, and make him first a fault-finding and wrathful man of egotism, and if he does not check himself, he will enter the declivity that leads to the " loss of all."
The ambition to be loved and respected can never be transmuted into love for others until the lust for power is destroyed. The instruction given to the disciple will never be accepted or approved by the worldly, even though they possess much goodness of heart. Says LIGHT ON THE PATH:
The ordinary man expects, not to take equal fortunes with the rest of the world, but in some points, about which he cares, to fare better than the others.
This is because the Law of Human Brotherhood is not understood and accepted. But the disciple has understood and accepted it, and therefore he "does not expect this."
The king rises and falls, the poet is FETED and forgotten, the slave is happy and afterwards discarded. Each in his turn is crushed as the wheel turns on.
The disciple learns that to rearrange the circumstances that arise out of the forces of human nature itself will not avail.
When the disciple has fully recognized that the very thought of individual rights is only the outcome of the venomous quality in himself, that it is the hiss of the snake of self that poisons with its sting his own life and the lives of those about him, then he is ready to take part in a yearly ceremony that is open to all neophytes who are prepared for it. All weapons of defense and offence are given up; all weapons of mind and heart, and brain, and spirit. Never again can another man be regarded as a person who can be criticized or condemned; never again can the neophyte raise his voice in self-defense or excuse. From that ceremony, he returns into the world as helpless, as unprotected, as a newborn child. That, indeed, is what he is. He has begun to be born again on to the higher plane of life, that breezy and well-lit plateau from whence the eyes see intelligently and regard the world with a new insight.
The desire and the ambition to be loved can be transmuted when the disciple acquires the Power to Love born of Dispassion, Viraga, which, rising above fame and ignominy, pleasure and pain, also rises above heat and cold. To love when one is beloved is comparatively easy; to love, whether or not one's love is requited, and even when it is not returned, is not so easy.
As Shakespeare's sonnet points out:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
His lines speak of conditions that none can fulfill save one who is practicing the discipline of the disciple:
Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove; O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests, and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Evil and evils are understood and valued differently by the good man of the world and by the struggling disciple, determined to gain victory over not only his personal evils but also the corporate Evil that is engulfing the entire human kingdom.
[Satan] is simply the personification of the abstract evil, which is the weapon of Karmic law and KARMA. It is our human nature and man himself, as it is said that "Satan is always near and inextricably interwoven with man." It is only a question of that Power being latent or active in us.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II 478
To overcome Evil, the disciple has to give up weapons not only of offence but also of defense. This is felt to be a great hardship, almost an injustice, by the progressing disciple. More, if we allow the rascal, the robber, the exploiter, a free rein and do not oppose him and overcome him, his rascality and hatred will overcome all of us. THE SECRET DOCTRINE (I, 643) says that with "right knowledge" and "a confident conviction that our neighbors will no more work to hurt us than we would think of harming them," the disciple should proceed to practice the Law of Human Brotherhood. The consummation devoutly to be wished is thus described:
The disciple who has the power of entrance, and is strong enough to pass each barrier, will, when the divine message comes to his spirit, forget himself utterly in the new consciousness that falls on him. If this lofty contact can really rouse him, he becomes as one of the Divine in his desire to give rather than to take, in his wish to help rather than be helped, in his resolution to feed the hungry rather than take manna from Heaven himself. His nature is transformed, and the selfishness that prompts men's actions in ordinary life suddenly deserts him.
By Gertrude W. van Pelt
[From THE DOCTRINE OF KARMA: CHANCE OR JUSTICE, pages 48-54.]
Such is the law which moves righteousness, Which none at last can turn aside or stay; The heart of it is love, the end of it Is peace and consummation sweet. Obey!
-- THE LIGHT OF ASIA
We have said that all life is one; that it has a common origin: in other words, the Universe is a great organism. But within this are contained uncountable lesser organisms in an infinitely descending scale, all rooted in the Unknown Source, and springing into life from it as children from their parents. Thus, we have, as said in Chapter II, Rulers of the Cosmos; of Solar Systems; of Planets; Gods; Demigods; great Seers and Sages. When we come down to humanity, we find its units assembled together in countries, cities, families, etc. It follows that Karma must act collectively as well as individually. Great cycles will affect races as a whole; smaller ones, the various sub-divisions. In this, some have seen fatalism or inescapable destiny, but it is no more present than in the individual cycles. These groupings are no more arbitrary than are those that the chemist finds among the elements. All are where they are, because they belong there. And everyone has built up his own attractions.
The choosing of environment begins with the individual. The Reincarnating Egos, as has been said, on returning to Earth, bring their characters with them -- an axiom that, it would seem, could go without saying. Having then well-defined tendencies, they are of necessity drawn to those parents who can give them a body most akin to their characteristics. This teaching casts an entirely new light on the problem of heredity, one in accord with essential justice, as has been shown. When life is viewed from this standpoint, children cannot throw upon their parents the responsibility for the bad tendencies they bring with them, and blame fate and luck for their birth and environment. Parents, of course, may fail to meet the problems they find in their offspring -- problems that they, perhaps, helped to create in past lives, and that must, in such event, recoil heavily upon themselves. But that is another story.
Thus, just as the individual chooses his family, so does the family choose its nation and race; that is to say, it is reborn where by its inherent nature it belongs. Therefore, individuals are involved in national karma because they have helped to make it. A narrow and intense nationalism might attach one to a particular nation in one way; while in quite another would a strong feeling of duty toward that nation or a desire to help it.
The old Aztec and other ancient American peoples died out because their own karma -- the result of their own life as nations in the far past -- fell upon and destroyed them. With nations, this heavy operation of karma is always through famine, war, convulsion of nature, and the sterility of the women of the nation. The latter cause comes near the end and sweeps the whole remnant away. And the individual in race or nation is warned by this great doctrine that if he falls into indifference of thought and act, thus molding himself into the general average karma of his race or nation, that national and race karma will at last carry him off in the general destiny. This is why teachers of old cried, "Come ye out and be ye separate."
With reincarnation, the doctrine of karma explains the misery and suffering of the world, and no room is left to accuse Nature of injustice.
The misery of any nation or race is the direct result of the thoughts and acts of the Egos who make up the race or nation. In the dim past, they did wickedly and now suffer. They violated the laws of harmony. The immutable rule is that harmony must be restored if violated. So these Egos suffer in making compensation and establishing the equilibrium of the occult cosmos. The whole mass of Egos must go on incarnating in the nation or race until they have all worked out to the end the causes set up. Though the nation may for a time disappear as a physical thing, the Egos that made it do not leave the world, but come out as the makers of some new nation in which they must go on with the task and take either punishment or reward as accords with their karma. Of this law, the old Egyptians are an illustration. They certainly rose to a high point of development, and as certainly they were extinguished as a nation. But the souls -- the old Egos -- live on and are now fulfilling their self-made destiny as some other nation now in our period. They may be the new American nation, or the Jews fated to wander up and down in the world and suffer much at the hands of others. This process is perfectly just. Take, for instance, the United States and the Red Indians. The latter have been most shamefully treated by the nation. The Indian Egos will be reborn in the new and conquering people, and as members of that great family will be the means themselves of bringing on the due results for such as were done against them when they had red bodies. Thus it has happened before, and so it will come about again.
-- W.Q. Judge, THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, 96-7
But history shows that often in national disasters, all are not involved. We query why the cyclone, in its seemingly mad rush, chose its victims so curiously; why the earthquake destroyed certain areas and not others; why, when the tidal-wave destroyed the city, some had accidentally (?) been elsewhere than at home. Even in the sweeping racial cataclysms the same curious fact is on record. This is strikingly illustrated in the story given in THE SECRET DOCTRINE of the sinking of the main continent of Atlantis. Before the close of the highly intellectual and brilliant Atlantean civilization, many of the spiritual and higher psychic powers unfolded in the race. A large portion used these selfishly and became wicked Sorcerers or Black Magicians. On the other hand, many of the nations and tribes turned into what is called esoterically the Right-hand Path, and became White Magicians, using their powers impersonally. These latter were warned of the coming general disaster by those Great Ones who eternally watch over the races of men.
A striking and graphic description of this period in our Ancient History is given in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 427-9, in which H.P. Blavatsky hints that the story of the Exodus in the Old Testament was built up on legends of this distant event. She tells how the "great King of the dazzling Face" sent his air-vehicles to his chiefs all over the land, and how the great Adepts and their followers escaped to safe quarters of the Earth in Vimanas or air-ships far superior to anything we have today, and became the founders of the Fifth, our Aryan Race. The description closes with this:
THE NATIONS THAT WERE LED AWAY, WERE AS THICK AS THE STARS OF THE MILKY WAY ? LIKE AS A DRAGON SNAKE UNCOILS SLOWLY ITS BODY, SO THE SONS OF MEN, LED ON BY THE SONS OF WISDOM, OPENED THEIR FOLDS, AND SPREADING OUT, EXPANDED LIKE A RUNNING STREAM OF SWEET WATERS ? MANY OF THE FAINT-HEARTED AMONG THEM PERISHED ON THEIR WAY. BUT MOST WERE SAVED.
One can see the beneficent working of Nature here. Although the evil Atlanteans were destined, of course, to reincarnate later in the Fifth Race, they came into fresh, clean lands, where the followers of the Law had already gained the upper hand, and where opportunities for improvement were greater. They are, nevertheless, a part of ourselves, and it has been stated that we are still suffering from Atlantean karma. Knowing the close ties that bind together the members of our human family, we must infer that responsibility for the disturbing elements will not end until all are redeemed. Should this fail to be recognized, then the suffering they are certain to cause to the nobler, more advanced, will become a reminder of our unfortunate Atlantean inheritance, and compel action.
Karma, as has been said, is universal. It moves from world to world. Planets are born out of their parent-planets; Solar Systems and Universes, the same. Everything is the result of a previous cause. Nothing comes by chance. The peoples of our Earth make its history in very truth, generate the forces that are so certain to focus at a given time that the Great Seers can foresee the Future to which the Past and Present so surely point. They can tell why and when a race is to run its course, when cataclysms are due, when the high and low points of a civilization will appear; and thus know just how and when to use their energies to lighten so far as possible the heavy karma of the world.
Why does this (Karmic) sterility attack and root out certain races at their "appointed hour?" The answer that it is due to a "mental disproportion" between the colonizing and aboriginal races is obviously evasive, since it does not explain the sudden "CHECKS TO FERTILITY" that so frequently supervene. The dying out of the Hawaiians, for instance, is one of the most mysterious problems of the day. Ethnology will sooner or later have to recognize with Occultists that the true solution has to be sought for in a comprehension of the workings of Karma. As Lefevre remarks, "the time is drawing near when there will remain nothing but three great human types" (before the Sixth Root-Race dawns [several millions of years hence]), the white (Aryan, Fifth Root-Race), the yellow, and the African negro -- with their crossings (Atlanto-European divisions). Redskins, Eskimos, Papuans, Australians, Polynesians, etc., etc. -- all are dying out. Those who realize that every Root-Race runs through a gamut of seven sub-races with seven branchlets, etc. will understand the "why." The tidewave of incarnating Egos has rolled past them to harvest experience in more developed and less senile stocks; and their extinction is hence a Karmic necessity.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 780
Yet in the prognostication of SUCH future events, at any rate, all foretold on the authority of cyclic occurrences, there is no psychic phenomenon involved. It is neither PREVISION, NOR PROPHECY; no more than is the signaling of a comet or star, several years before its appearance. It is simply knowledge and mathematically correct computations that enable the WISE MEN OF THE EAST to foretell, for instance, that England is on the eve of such or another catastrophe; France, nearing such a point of her cycle, and Europe in general threatened with, or rather, on the eve of, a cataclysm, which her own cycle of racial KARMA HAS LED HER TO. The reliability of the information depends, of course, on the acceptation or rejection of the claim for a tremendous period of historical observation. Eastern Initiates maintain that they have preserved records of the racial development and of events of universal import ever since the beginning of the Fourth Race -- that which preceded being traditional.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 646
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 155-58.]
There is no escaping ever Nature's law that an effect follows upon a cause. There is no escape. No prayers, no petitions, nothing will change the sweep of the divine mandate: As you are and as your works are, so will be the fruits that you will produce. And they will be your children. Do good and good will come unto you. Do evil and nature will bring the very same inharmonious vibrations and reactions upon the evildoer.
This is the meaning of the old Jewish Christian statement: "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. I will repay" -- words that men have talked about and preached about in the Occident for 2000 years, and have not believed in sufficiently to trust in their power. In other words, they have added evil unto evil by trying to check evil with evil, which is making the thing worse.
Figure it out in the ordinary affairs of human existence. Revenge is no way to reform the evildoer. You are but convincing him that he is right after all: he is going to get his revenge and you are attempting to revenge yourself upon him. Restraint at times, yes, certainly. But you cannot check evil with evil, you cannot fight fear with fear, you cannot fight hatred with hatred. Foolish men have been trying it for heaven knows how many millennia, and have they ever succeeded yet? The world itself is the answer.
Even our ordinary human laws in civilized society will not allow a man to take the law into his own hands and retaliate. For they recognize the idiocy of it, and that it produces more evil than good. The ordinary principles governing human society contain more good sensible wisdom than nations apply to themselves, or than humans as individuals apply amongst themselves. The law will not allow you to take the law into your own hands and seek revenge upon one who hurts you; and wisely, because the principle is based upon a profound teaching of wisdom. Nature will not tolerate it.
Men have forgotten that what ye sow ye shall reap -- not something else. Now, think what this means; and no matter how dark may be the day, no matter how desperate may be the situation, the worker of evil and the worker of good receive recompense in time exactly in proportion to the good they have wrought or the evil they have wrought. People forget that you cannot think thoughts of hatred without distorting your own character, which means weakening it, which means rendering it less strong, less brilliant, less intuitive, and less penetrating. It takes strength to be a good man, and to follow the Law, and strength grows mightily by exercise.
Look what human society does. Human society protects itself. In accordance as human society is more civilized, the restraining of the evil is more humane. In proportion as human society is less civilized, the restraints imposed by human society upon the doers of evil are cruel, harsh, and unjust. And they do not last. Why? Because men and women intrinsically are decent. I have found decency even in the heart and mind of a criminal -- one with a desperate character. Even such a man knew what decency was, but he had become psychologized by the idea that it was utterly useless for him to try any more because no matter how much he tried there was his record against him; his life would be just one long hell.
What you sow you are going to reap, and what you are reaping now is what you have sown in the past; and that is just what the world is experiencing now: the reaping of what it has sown. It will not last, it is not eternal, and it is only temporary. What we call the iron age of trial and sorrow are succeeded by a gentler and kindlier age, until men grow tired of beauty and harmony, and invent the evil contributions and machinations of veritable genius; and then comes in a new dark age, a new age of horror, when men want to get all they can, and think they can get it without paying for it. They cannot.
That is a fine old saying of the Jewish Christian New Testament: Vengeance -- no, it is not revenge; we can translate that as the bringing back of equilibrium, of justice, of harmony in the universe -- Vengeance is mine. No sane man doubts it. We all know that if we mistrust ourselves, nature will demand retribution. If we abuse our bodies, one part of ourselves, even by such small indulgences as ordinary evildoing, it will not be long before nature will demand retribution, and we have pain, maybe disease. And all other disturbances of natural law and harmony have to be paid for.
That is the grandest doctrine that human genius ever brought forth from the womb of cosmic truth. THERE IS NO ESCAPE. And see what a wonderful rule of conduct this brings into a man's life. You can never get away with it, even if you try. There is no escape. You pay to the uttermost farthing, and then your new chance begins. You have paid your debt. That is our doctrine of karma, and some people who do not understand it may think it is cruel and unkind that nature should have her laws and exact retribution for disturbance of those laws, for the protecting of cosmic harmony. But think what would make you obey if it were not so. Why, men would have no protection, the gods would have no protection. There would be no law and order. The reestablishment of harmony is nature's greatest and most wonderful procedure. It is the great thought of refuge of the good, the great principle of conduct of the good, and the warning to the evildoer.
Take courage. Meet what is coming to you like a man, and if you have been at fault in the past, you will pay your debt, and then you will be free with a clean sheet to write upon it your new destiny. No longer will it be the warning of the Babylonian writing on the wall. But Nature says, Yes, child, it is finished. A new path now opens before you, a new chance. You are now free. You have paid your debt. You are out of the prison of fell circumstance.
It seems to me that there is nothing so comforting and so beautiful as to reflect that Nature around us, by which I do not mean only physical nature, but the divine womb of being out of which we came in the dawn of time, is still our Mother, Father-Mother, that we are children of the cosmic harmony, and that in that harmony lie infinite peace and happiness in our own daily lives, and a code of conduct that will fail us never.
Do good and good will come back to you. Sow peace and peace will come to you. Give others a little of the joy that is in your own heart; then joy will come back to your heart, and in times of trouble, the joy will bring peace. Sow evil in the world, and that evil, like the widening circles of destiny, will enclose you some day, and then it will be useless for you to groan out to the gods or say: Why did this come upon me? You are paying your debt. It is painful, but once the debt is paid, you are free. Now isn't that a doctrine of comfort, sane, sensible, and comforting in every way?
By Alexander Fullerton
[From THE PATH, April 1894, pages 5-10.]
Much is said in Theosophical literature of the evil of illusion, and so many are the warnings against its influence, that most Theosophists are sensitive to the very word. Particularly is there felt a hardship at the apparent unreality of Devachan. After thirty, fifty, or seventy years of subjection to all the mistakes, misconceptions, and beguilements of illusionary existence, it seems grievous that centuries of Devachanic life continue them, succeeded by another period of deceptive earth-experience, with an indefinite series of alternate illusions. Yet the anomaly may be explained and even justified.
But before such attempt, one should observe our arbitrary reversal of the terms "real" and "unreal." So accustomed are we to attribute reality to physical objects that may be seen, handled, and examined and to consider as visionary the contents of the super-physical world that that only has become veritable to us that is material. And yet this it is that changes hourly, which is in perpetual state of flux, which cannot have fixedness or continuity; while the truly enduring, that which passes on through time without decay, is the Mind, Soul, and Spiritual Being. "The things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal."
But in this discussion, one must use the terms in their ordinary sense, and, so doing, the subject divides itself into two propositions: first, that illusion is inevitable in Devachan, a requirement to its functions, inseparable from its nature; second, that illusion is a necessity to the progress of the Soul therein.
Three considerations go to prove the former of these propositions. First is that the soul is yet unfit for the sphere of pure reality. As Atma-Buddhi-Manas, it has freed itself from the lower quaternary and passed the Devachanic portal. But it is fresh from earth-life; its interests and conceptions, however purged from lower quality and now the rarefied extract of highest experiences, are still colored from its late career. Manas is saturated with recent thought and habit. How impossible to translate the yet unfinished being to a region for which it is not fitted and the contents of which it is yet unable to appropriate!
There is a homely proverb of "a fish out of water." The fish dwells in a dense medium, extracting from it by its gills the finer element -- air -- that pervades the water, thus maintaining its life. But place it entirely in that finer element and life becomes impossible because of that fineness; the fish gasps, struggles, and dies. Long accustomed to extract its nutriment of thought from the surrounding matter of terrestrial life, the soul could not maintain itself yet in a world of pure reality, but would succumb from the very perfection of its environment.
In the second place, an element of illusion must persist so long as any trace of matter inheres in an organism. Imagine the spiritual realm and the material realm as at opposite ends of a prolonged line. As a spiritual being leaves its home and follows down that line, it reaches a point where the first faint aroma of matter is perceived. At once begins a slight illusionary tendency. As the being nears the material realm, matter grows denser and illusion stronger. At the extremity of the line, reality is farthest from perception and mistake rules.
Reverse the process. The being leaves the material for the spiritual. As it does so and as the atmosphere rarefies, little by little illusionary proclivities drop away, the vision clears, the actual comes steadily into view. Yet not until the last trace of material association has passed by does illusion sink wholly to the rear. But in Devachan, this has not been gained. Higher Manas has still the aroma, the memory, the interests of its late embodiment in flesh, and with them must retain that illusion that pertains to the material sphere.
In the third place, we must remember the function of Devachan. It is two-fold, and one part is Happiness. But happiness is an individual thing, and consists to each man in the realization of his own ideal. There must be as many varieties of Devachan as there are varieties of Devachanis, each finding there the highest of his aspirations and hopes. Yet to all there is this common element. They are subjective conditions of the soul, with no corresponding objective reality, yet nonetheless actual, nonetheless certain.
A man is a philosopher, a student, a scientist. The attainment of truth is his delight, and the means to which alone he is accustomed and of which he can conceive are books and scientific treatises and philosophical apparatus. His dream is of a future world where research is facilitated vastly, the newest discoveries are spread broadcast, and apparatus exists so delicate and fine that ours appears but the clumsiest of contrivance.
Is it possible in the super-sensuous world that libraries, printing presses, and experimental tools are to be as here? Is a disembodied soul, removed from the gross and the tangible, to continue handling, reading, and testing? Impossible! But in the mind within, those processes may go on, and with all the reality of an actual experience may continue their educative function until their need has been passed by. Take the artist, he whose soul is instinct with visions of beauty in form, color, and suggestiveness. He looks for a land where transcendent glories flush the spirit, where light never seen on earthly seas and shores fills with measureless delight. Yet in Devachan, there can be no Alpine sunrise, picture gallery, nor canvas or marble whereon he can work out his inspiration. Is he to be disappointed, or is the fullest of all possible satiations to expand his inner nature in a subjective but real experience?
Take the musician. Harmony, melody, and perfect expression make his very life. Yet he knows their inadequacy to portray all that the soul can sense, and so he anticipates in heaven a feast unattained, unattainable here. There are to be the richest orchestrations, the noblest symphonies, the most glorious operas, and the most entrancing voices and instruments with every elevated taste finding its amplest gratification. But are there opera houses, orchestras, and trained singers in Devachan? Or are those supernal joys in the soul within, in some strange way provided by beneficent Nature -- an illusion, if you please, because without a counterpart in fact, yet the reality of reality to him who is their subject.
The profoundest of all human emotions is Affection. Broken, disappointed, and severed often here, it gazes onward to a land where sorrow is unknown and partings never to be feared. The mother leaves her child, the wife her husband, the friend his friend, calmed with the assurance that it is but for a time, and then will be the joy of an endless reunion. More than anything else is this conception of heaven; and you might fill the future world with every possible joy to intellect and soul, enrich it with the lavishness of a Divine treasury, yet all would be vain if the one desire was absent, all a desolation if the heart was chilled, unfed.
If the beloved were away, heaven would be no heaven to the inmate. And yet see how impossible such presence is in any literal sense. If to the happiness of a Devachani the actual existence there of the loved one is essential, then the child must accompany the departing mother, the husband the wife, the friend the friend. Would it be just that these should be cut off before their time, that they should be unwillingly deprived of their right to life merely that another might be made happy? But more than this. Every beloved has his beloveds, each has others dear and cherished; so that if they too are to be happy their loved ones must go with them; and thus the circle widens, widens without the possibility of stop. What follows? The death of a single individual would depopulate the world.
And so we see that illusion is a necessity to Devachan, that it cannot but exist, that the bliss of the soul is interior, not a reflection from objective surroundings.
Turn now to the second proposition. Illusion is a necessity to the progress of the soul in Devachan. Here again there are three considerations. The first is as to that progress itself, progress being the twin of happiness in the two-fold function. It would be a grievous mistake to suppose that the long centuries of Devachanic rest are but an idle dream, the soul making no advance, learning no new truth, a stationary thing in a universe of evolution, emerging from Devachan precisely as it entered it. HPB distinctly states the contrary. And, indeed, it would be but reasonable to expect that in a world from which gross matter and its influences are excluded, a world finer than this, closer to reality, more in touch with eternal truth, there must be avenues to learning, facilities for progress that we cannot now divine. Clogs from flesh and blood are removed. Prejudices, antipathies, limitations have vanished with the relinquished personality. New and larger methods, regions, pursuits open to the unfolding nature.
There is a condition to this finer state. It is that all obstruction though pain shall be effaced. How often in this present world has indigestion made impossible thought, fever paralyzed aspiration, and headache conquered prayer! True, all physical evils are absent from Devachan because the body is; yet internal grief is as fatal to progress as are external, and so from that progressing state must be banished every sorrow, memory, foreboding, and regret that could arrest the Ego's march. But this, as we have seen, is not consistent with fact; it is an illusion, however indispensable to our needs.
Another consideration is that man is to round in his career the whole circle of experience, and so no segment of it can be omitted. At eras in his earth pilgrimage, he has tasted unqualified misery. He must now taste its antithesis, unqualified happiness. Yet this, as has been shown, is impossible through literal presence of conditions. They must be supplied by an illusionary belief.
And a third consideration is that "Nature does nothing by leaps." As a human soul evolves slowly up to that stature that lifts it above all deception or mistake and fits it for the realm of absolute reality, it parts from its illusions but gradually and by degrees. The great Law that pervades the rest of the Universe is not absent from Devachan. The Ego enters it as a pilgrim on his pilgrimage, not as a victor on his goal. And yet we may well believe that as centuries pass on and the changed existence modifies the character and its modes, a truer view of all its inner life may come, a closer touch with real things. Illusion may steadily be mitigated. As it is outgrown, direct percipience of fact steadily takes the place of imagination for a guide. And so when the Devachanic interlude is over, the Ego may return for its new incarnation with clearer views of truth, a less clouded sense of spiritual verities, and a firmer hold on ultimate reality.
Thus, we see not only that Devachan cannot be without illusion, but also that the very progress in Devachan is conditioned upon that illusion, and that the illusion must continue until its function has been fulfilled. When a man has become a Master, when he perceives not as through a glass darkly but face to face, illusion has no longer power over him, Devachan has become impossible; he is done with it forevermore.
I think that these truths should correct our attitude to Devachan. We should not look upon it as a deceptive state continuing the evils against which we vainly struggle here, but as a needful, an unavoidable experience wherein are found compensation for all the bitterness encountered outside of it, a happiness adapted to the weary pilgrim, a gradual emancipation from the evils of illusion itself. There need not be suspicion of it, protest against its wisdom, and saddened resignation to the inevitable. May there not be even THANKFULNESS for it? In the many hours of sorrow here, when hopes dearest to the heart are prostrated in the dust and the very life-blood of the spirit seems to ebb despairingly away, it is something to remember that these sacred desires are only postponed, not blasted, and that not a worthy wish, thought, or purpose shall be permanently vain. All will revive in that sun-lit realm, and there in copious fullness delight the soul once desolated and forlorn. Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Love have framed a scene where each best hope of heart and mind shall bloom into a glorious fruitage.
It is said of the poet Burns that there was one passage in the Bible that he could never read without emotion: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Well, in a sense this is true of Devachan. The pathway of humanity as it goes onward to its heights is over many a broken heart, many a desolated life, many an extinguished hope, and it passes through many a starless night. And yet there are breaks, long breaks whereon not a shadow throws its chill, but where life, light, and cheer are without a drawback. Those portals are open to every noble thought, desire, and aspiration. All accompany the pilgrim as he steps into the sunbeams, but they are rigorously barred to every pain, grief, or disappointment. There sorrow finds its end; the very causes of sorrow are obliterated; and not a tear shall ever be wiped away, for none shall ever form.
By Per Fernholm
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1912, pages 277-80.]
We all know how our conceptions undergo a change as we grow and the mind becomes capable of comprehending a wider sphere of life. A child looks up to his father and mother as his highest court of appeal when there is doubt of what is right or wrong, and when there is need of guidance. Slowly it dawns upon him that the family outlook has to be subordinated to something greater, say to that of the tribe, whose notions of right conduct have usually a local color. When the child finally leaves the family circle to take up his own position, he finds himself a citizen of the state or nation, and many an idiosyncrasy may have to be given up in the light of the higher duties that now make themselves felt. At this point, most people stop, if they even have come so far.
A little reflection on this fact shows us that each circle is a living reality with a life of its own, a kind of entity, so to say, and that there are interrelations in a thousand ways between them all. Each sphere, small as well as great, has therefore a growth of its own that cannot be set aside by the individual belonging to it. At the same time, these limitations form the materials put into our hands for our work in this life.
It is possible to rise above and master them, just as we have to master all other tools and materials we wish to use for some purpose. It is possible to acquire a higher consciousness that must be our real self -- the consciousness of a far grander entity, the higher element that ensouls humanity as a whole and to let that govern our actions in the lesser spheres of life in which we have been placed. Such an effort will affect all who belong to the same spheres as we; it will open a way for them out of many a close chamber to places where the sun shines and refreshing breezes are blowing.
The present age is truly a turning point in Man's history, such as has never before been encountered. The nearest task before individuals and nations seems to be that mentioned above: to rise into the greater consciousness of humanity as one living reality and to sense, as it were, the source from which all the different races and nations have sprung. This accomplished, even to a slight degree, the thousand secret bonds uniting all will lie revealed to all who have eyes to see. They will feel themselves members of God's great family, and find new courage and strength to follow the impulse to make this earth the heaven it should be, instead of the hell it now is in most instances.
That this can be done and is really the meaning of all that has been said of heaven will suddenly flash upon their minds; once seen; it will become an axiomatic truth. It can be done just as well as the home and state can be purified and beautified by the application of higher rules of conduct, and by letting in the true sunshine of life. The great work is, in fact, already begun, and the present universal unrest is only one of the signs thereof, for it shows that the present order of things is rapidly breaking up to give place to the new, higher order.
Mostly it is left to individuals, to make the great effort of rising in the strength of the inner soul-life; to break a path through the barriers; and to silence the whispers of the lower nature. At great epochs, we find individuals -- men and women -- standing out as those around who gather the new waves of higher effort. The greatest of the pioneers remain unknown and, as a rule, unheard of, because ordinary humanity would be unable to endure the strong light that ceaselessly radiates from them. Some of their conscious or unconscious co-workers are the pivotal historical characters we know of. These fulfilled their part in the effort and stand now, as it were, on a high rock with an outlook in both directions. Often they have not gone very far, lest they lose sight of those behind; and because of their compassion may not have seen much of the land of promise. How often have they not been crucified even then!
But there are other epochs of recurring cycles when a whole nation, a race, even all humankind, is borne upon the top of an immense tidal wave and when it is possible to pass right on into a new condition altogether. We are told that at present we are carried to the very portals of a higher existence by such a mighty cyclic wave. Never have there been such opportunities of undoing past mistakes and finding a way out of the misery and pain that we ourselves have brought into life on this earth by those mistakes. Never has there been such a need of real men and women who dare to face themselves and the conditions around them, resolved to do their utmost in a noble endeavor.
Great as this step is -- the realization of humanity as ONE family, one body with many members, which opens up so many latent possibilities -- it is, however, not the final one. Humanity is part of this earth, and our earth is a living entity and a member in the Sun's family of planets. The members of this planetary family are on different stages of evolution like everything else. Some are old and wise; some are youthful and just starting out to realize their proper duty; and some are slumbering. It would seems as if our earth were in the second of these categories, for how could it be a conscious member of the Solar family before its self-conscious element, humanity, had risen to consciousness of the fact?
There was knowledge of such a kind in ancient times, for it was part of the Mysteries, and the relations between Man and the guiding Intelligences of those great entities were shown in the Mysteries of Antiquity to those who had been purified and initiated. The time has come for the return of such knowledge. Its custodians will be those with minds so imbued with brotherhood as a fact in Nature that it has become a living power in their lives -- not as a secondary element, but as the very foremost. Then beneficent influences that have been shut out for ages will begin to flow in again like life-giving blood from a spiritual heart, imparting blessing to all that lives and breathes.
The guiding star is always there if we but look for it. The secret is never to let it out of sight, for if we try to steer our course from what we see behind and hear whispered around, our minds will certainly reel and our ship find itself stranded on some subtle reef. The star is unattainable, but it leads us toward the safe harbor. Every man can seek and find that guiding star within himself; it has always been there. Only he who has not looked for it remains unaware of its presence.
It is but natural that the lower forces of life should arise as never before at such a crucial time. That is what we find in every field of human activity. While the essential quality of the greater Life pulsating throughout the universe from its spiritual Heart is to radiate, illumine, warm, and give abundantly, that of the lower life is to use the beneficent forces for selfish purposes, without regard to their source. Thus diverted, such forces resemble beasts seeking their prey, and this frequently in ways that are so subtle as to elude observation. This is the only great sin in human life, the abuse of beneficent power; and when, as now, Man's nature begins to respond to higher and nobler impulses vibrating in the inner chambers of soul and heart, such abuse assumes new forms and is more difficult to guard against.
Those in the shadows, those immured in prisons and hospitals, are by no means the only ones who have misused the nobler forces of life. In many cases, they are but the victims of greater criminals who consciously and freely walk around among weaker fellowmen in their pursuit of prey. Such prey they find even among those who in one or more respects have felt the urge of the time and cast loose from old moorings to steer out on the new course, too unmindful of all the leaks in their own nature, and who thus easily become wrecked.
In ordinary life, we are wise enough to put as the first requisite of a vessel to be used for liquids or gases that it shall be tight; we should not think of pouring water into a leaking cup. Yet that is just what we daily do or urge to be done in our own life; we wish to be filled by the quickening heart-forces of real life before we know how to use them wisely; and when we succeed in some slight degree, their stimulating effect takes some unexpected expression in a selfish or unworthy deed. We may not consciously use them thus, but if our nature is not in full control, it may give way under the pressure, and the precious force leak out to feed and strengthen a human beast.
There is but one way of protecting the sanctuary of Life in ourselves, and that is by rising in the strength of our Spiritual Will with a firm and indomitable resolution to take our nature in conscious control, and ally ourselves with the nobler forces of Life. The brotherly attitude, the readiness to give, is in itself a shield that protects us from subtle attacks, and prevents us from being taken by surprise in moments of unwatchfulness, or of passive mood.
Even the one farthest down in the shadows, yea he more than anyone else, may do this, and at once find a firm foothold that will never, never waver. He, just he, can become the best teacher and helper of other weak fellowmen who are constantly thrown into despair and darkness, for he has sounded the depths of human life, knows the real dangers, and has obtained an experience that is worth the cost if he takes it rightly, however terrible it may have been. Jesus came to the outcast; and the glory of the dawn of the new era humanity has entered upon, is that many a note of hope will resound from the very depths. Sleep reigns too often along the easier paths of life, with a deplorable lack of understanding of the real situation, the battle that is raging between the antagonistic forces of Light and Darkness.
By Sramanera Sangharakshita
[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1950, pages 339-43.]
The theoretical consideration of spiritual truths, without the actual practice of them in daily life, generally results in intellectual confusion. What was crystal-clear to the heart of the devotee becomes an insoluble problem in the eyes of the mere philosopher. Such has been the case with the great principle of ahimsa. It is torn out of the living context of actual practice; and after being applied to all sorts of imaginary situations and to impossible exigencies of conduct, it is treated as a problem that calls for merely intellectual solution.
One is asked whether he would use violence to protect the chastity of his mother or his sister, or whether he would feel himself justified in taking the life of one man in order to preserve the lives of a hundred men. It is furthermore pointed out that since life is able to exist at all only by crowding the weaker forms of life out of existence, a completely non-violent life is a contradiction in terms. The doctrine of ahimsa consequently an impossible ideal, a mere counsel of perfection, which cannot be realized at all in this violent world, and the logical consequence of which is or would be if life followed logic, simply suicide.
Having thus thoroughly confused his mind and the minds of those who were foolish enough to listen to him, the armchair-philosopher triumphantly concludes that it is useless even to try to practice ahimsa. One had better let the world go on in the same bad old way that it did before one was born and will go on, presumably, after one is dead.
The first thing that we shall have to do before we can clean up this intellectual mess is to decide in what himsa and ahimsa really consist. The Buddha has made it clear that the criterion by which the ethical status of an action is to be determined is the purity or impurity of the state of mind by which it was inspired. The mind is said to be pure when it is free from desire (lobha), hatred (dosa), and ignorance (moha) and impure when it is not free from these three defiling tendencies.
An action is ethical or unethical not because it conforms to or does not conform to a predetermined scheme of dos and don'ts, but rather because it is rooted in states of mind that make for liberation or that make for bondage. Himsa and ahimsa are therefore primarily states of consciousness in which love (adosa) and hatred (dosa) respectively predominate. We shall see later on, however, that although they are essentially attitudes of mind rather than specific actions, they nevertheless tend to express themselves outwardly in the field of life and action in a determinate manner.
Since ahimsa is fundamentally a condition of heart or a state of consciousness, the practice of ahimsa must consist primarily in the cultivation of that condition or state. It does not consist in the observance of any number however large, of rules, nor in the observance of any system of precautions, however elaborate, against even the accidental taking of life.
What we may designate as the legalistic view of ahimsa is an attempt to solve the "problem" of non-violent action purely on the intellectual plane; it does not succeed in rising to the level of spiritual perception. It tends to make the practice of ahimsa a mechanical observance rather than a flaming passion. In the sphere of ethics, to try to determine what one should do before one has found out what to think and how to feel is a case of "putting the cart before the horse."
The particular defiling tendency of mind to which violence (himsa) is affiliated is, as we have already seen, hatred (dosa). The practice of ahimsa therefore consists in the eradication of hatred (dosa) and the cultivation of love (adosa). But since hatred (dosa) is, like desire (lobha), in turn affiliated to ignorance (moha), the practice of ahimsa consists, in the last analysis, in the eradication of ignorance (moha) and the cultivation of wisdom (prajna, bodhi). Ahimsa resolves itself into love, and love in turn resolves itself into knowledge, for action depends upon feeling, and feeling in turn depends upon understanding. Ahimsa is "the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace," the external expression of an internal realization. We should try to find out what that understanding, grace, or realization is, for without it, the practice of ahimsa is impossible.
To begin with, it is necessary to understand correctly in what ignorance essentially consists, for knowledge is in its negative aspect nothing but the absence or privation of ignorance. The Buddha has repeatedly affirmed that there is one root-illusion proliferating into the miseries and misconceptions to which our mortal flesh is heir. Lying at the back of every greedy, cruel, or deluded thought, word, or deed, it is the tightly clung to belief that we are individual selves or separate ego-entities that are divided by an impassable gulf of difference from all other similarly constituted selves or ego-entities whatsoever.
To this view, in its most refined no less than in its grossest formulations, the Buddha gave the name of Atmavada or philosophical Egotism. He made it perfectly plain that wheresoever lurked even the subtlest sense of separative selfhood there lurked also incipient the germs of greed, cruelty, and delusion, and therefore of birth, disease, old age, death, and every other form of suffering too.
Because men think and feel themselves to be little hard cores of separative selfhood, with interests and ambitions that differ from, or at times even directly clash with, the interests and ambitions of all the other millions of similarly constituted "selves," they naturally behave and act as such. Their behavior and actions are naturally either centrifugal movements of attraction to the "pleasant" that we call desire (lobha) or centripetal movements of repulsion from the "painful" that we call hatred (dosa). It is not difficult for a child, even, to understand that Atmavada, egotism, or, in plain Anglo-Saxon, selfishness, in one or another of its innumerable forms, is the root cause of all the wickedness, and therefore of all the misery, which has ever been or which ever will be in this or in any other world.
When selfish interests and ambitions are thwarted, they turn into hatreds that are violent in proportion to the strength of the frustrated desire; and violence is but another name for himsa. Only by thoroughly uprooting the minutest fibers no less than the thickest and toughest stems of the ego-sense shall we be able to check the wild growth of hatred and arrest the exuberance of the swelling buds from which runs down the world-intoxicating wine of violence. It is for this reason that the Buddha stressed the indispensable necessity of the eradication of the ego-sense in the spiritual life and laid down the doctrine of Anatta or Sunyata as the ultimate philosophical foundation of His religion.
Since ignorance (moha) consists primarily in the belief that one is, has, or contains some kind of permanent and peculiar element called "soul" or "self." On the contrary, wisdom (prajna, bodhi) consists of the knowledge that one's own and all other "personalities" or "things" whatsoever are altogether empty of any such entity, and that one's mind is a stream of psychic events even as one's body is a stream of physical events. For the foolishness of the conception of a static being is thus substituted the wisdom of the realization of a dynamic Becoming. Into the genesis of the illusion of permanence, it is not our intention now to enquire. Even so, indisputably true and certain it is that until this most pernicious of all illusions is destroyed root and branch, the full and perfect practice of ahimsa is impossible.
To try to practice non-violence while clinging desperately to the conception of a permanent individual soul or self is like trying to row a boat that is still fastened by its hawser to the shore. The cultivation of what we may term the sense of universal emptiness is the one fundamental spiritual practice that all others must subserve. Any practice that heightens one's ego-sense, howsoever holy in popular estimation it may be, is unspiritual, and any practice that attenuates it, howsoever mean and despicable outwardly it may seem, is spiritual in the truest and best sense of the term. Growth in holiness is essentially growth in emptiness.
It should not be supposed that emptiness is equivalent to the absolute death of a blank annihilation or nothingness. Certain ignorant and malicious critics of Buddhism have indeed persistently tried to misrepresent it as such, despite the unanimous emphatic declaration to the contrary of all schools of Buddhist thought. Emptiness or egolessness is equivalent to blank annihilation only to those for whom the conception of a life of egolessness is consequently unthinkable. But those who do not thus fondly cling to the illusion of selfhood, who have learned, in the terse words of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, to see "the voidness of the seeming full," to understand the egolessness of all this ego-seeming existence, are able to see also "the fullness of the seeming void." They realize that emptiness, instead of being a mere negation, pulsates with spiritual life -- with that pure and perfect life that, although appearing to our dualistic consciousness as the Life of Compassion, thinks not "I am compassionate."
It would be a mistake, however, to think of emptiness and egoless compassionate activity as two distinct principles, or even as two merely accidentally related states. They are to each other as the obverse and reverse sides of a single coin, or indeed even more intimately related than that. They are so intimately related that in the end it becomes impossible to speak of a relation at all, since to do so implies that they are in a sense external to each other, like the distinguishable although inseparable sides or angles of a triangle, whereas in truth, emptiness IS active and activity IS empty. The realization of one is therefore necessarily the realization of the other also. If one wishes to achieve the condition of compassionate activity, which is the positive expression of the rather negative and content-less term ahimsa, one must first attain to the state of emptiness or egolessness.
The "problem" of ahimsa, or in fact any other difficulty experienced in applying ethical principles to concrete situations in daily life and exigencies of personal conduct, arises only when it is sought to attach non-violent actions in a purely external manner to an egotistic and therefore fundamentally violent consciousness. The ego can act only egotistically. It is impossible for it to act egolessly. Only emptiness can act egolessly, compassionately, and therefore nonviolently also. The ego-dominated intellect is unable to penetrate the mystery of egoless activity. Its artificial attempts to create patterns of non-violent behavior without first removing the root-cause of violence are doomed to failure from the very beginning. The realization of emptiness is the only way to achieve egoless, compassionate, and non-violent activity for the benefit of all sentient beings.
When the ego-sense is removed compassionate activities, or in negative terminology non-violent behavior, will stream forth spontaneously from the purified inner consciousness, just as, when the boulders that blocked its passage are removed, the mighty mountain torrent rushes downward to the plain below. Problems of conduct will no more arise. "His mind becomes peaceful, so also his speech and deeds," sings the DHAMMAPADA. Conduct will automatically be non-violent when the consciousness behind it is non-egotistic. Situations that seemed to present insoluble theoretical difficulties will be entered into and solved spontaneously by enlightened practice in a manner baffling the comprehension of the ego-ridden intellect. But although these subtler activities of emptiness in its more refined phases and more delicate shades of manifestation may elude the clumsy grasp of the dualistic understanding, the general pattern of its activity is nevertheless distinctly recognizable.
The Buddha has stated clearly and categorically that someone who has realized the perfection of emptiness, and therefore the plenitude of compassionate activity, is incapable of transgressing the fundamental rules of ethical behavior. For such a one, obedience to the moral law indeed consists not so much in the acceptance of a code imposed from without as, on the contrary, in expression of a realization flowering spontaneously from within.
Although the Arahant is "beyond good and evil," he nevertheless manifests in the field of life and action in a determinate manner as an ethical, not as an unethical, being. Buddhism thus bangs the door in the face of those opposed to the moral law and sternly rejects the pseudo-liberation that claims that one who has transcended all such relative terms as good and evil is capable of acting indifferently in a manner that is moral or in a manner that is immoral according to the canons of conventional ethics.
The purely transcendental activity of ineffable emptiness manifests in the world of relativity as compassion, or rather is apprehended by it as such, and ahimsa or non-violence is simply the negative expression of a particular phase of that manifestation.
Ahimsa resolves itself into compassion, and compassion in turn resolves itself into egolessness, for action depends upon feeling, and feeling in turn depends upon understanding. Only the empty and egoless people, the loving and compassionate, can practice ahimsa. For them only, the "problem" of ahimsa does not arise. They alone are blest. They alone are the true Bodhisattvas, the true Shravaks.
By G. de Purucker
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1923, pages 419-29.]
THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF WAR
Men shall believe that every human entity is fundamentally a spiritual being, even though men may be, most of them, still too weak in moral fiber to follow that path all the time. All things that are, high and low, and especially self-conscious human beings, are children of the Divine part of Nature in their essence. All of us possess one common and identical source therein, and even physically (allowing for manifold degrees of evolutionary development) of one common natural origin. Men shall realize in consequence that what injures one injures all, preeminently the evildoer. Men shall realize that under the law of Karma (roughly defined as Cause and Effect) and under its complementary law of Reincarnation that they reincarnate from age to age now in this nation and now in that. They descend into such fleshly bodies and in such countries as one's Karma has prepared for him because of his own actions and by no fortuitous so-called law of chance.
When they know all this, understanding and sympathy of man for man and of nation for nation will come. Men shall feel then keenest interest and understanding for ancient times and for the races that then lived, their own very progenitors, as well as for all peoples whatever which live on our common Earth today. Then the spirit of Universal Brotherhood will descend into and quicken human hearts as naturally as the soft sweet rain falls into and quickens the parched bosom of the thirsty earth. With this quickening steadily growing in the hearts of men, we shall see the beginning of the end of War, of international hatreds and suspicions, and above all of Greed and Fear, the real basis and the real causes of international discord.
Such is the teaching, as I understand it, of Katherine Tingley, who at this present day directs the destiny of the Theosophical Movement. Such likewise is the teaching of the two great souls who preceded her in the leadership of the Theosophical Movement and its various activities. These two were H.P. Blavatsky, first, and William Q. Judge, her successor, even as Katherine Tingley is now the third in the line of succession.
WAR AN ABOMINABLE EXPERIMENT
War is universally acknowledged an abominable and devastating EXPERIMENT, of which the ends may never be known until the iron car of destiny has passed by. War also is everywhere acknowledged an irreplaceable waste and destroying of sacred human life, and of treasure, often wrecking the civilization so-called that gave it birth and fostered it for its own undoing. Warfare is acknowledged by all profound thinkers to be a lapsing into the manners of savagery and barbarism. Reasonable and sanely thinking men know perfectly well that a truly honest WILL to compose international differences has remedies that are always at hand. These remedies are easy, sure, peaceful, economical, certain, and definite, leaving no heritage of rancor, hate, revenge, and a future war when the conquered shall by inevitable turn of the Wheel of Destiny come again to the top, then conquering the conqueror of the day. No wonder Theosophists feel as strongly as they do about it!
KATHERINE TINGLEY'S FIRST REMEDY
The best of all such remedies, except one, mentioned later, is that urged by Katherine Tingley in the March 1923, issue of THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, as before mentioned, as a measure preparatory for the still greater one to be mentioned in a moment. The former is the referring of subjects likely to cause bitterness or lead to conflict between nations, to the adjudication of neutral referees: to be selected in such easy and proper manner as is daily done in the private affairs of individual men. As the Theosophical Leader remarked in that editorial, this method has already often been tried in international disputes, and with perfect success. Nothing prevents it except Fear and Greed -- one or both. The day is surely coming when the difficulties now thrown by one or the other side in the way of such magnanimous settlement of disputes will be considered as an actual proof that the case of the objector to such peaceful solutions of international difficulties is downright rotten: corrupt at the core with either Fear, or Greed, or both.
TRUTH VERSUS EVASIONS
Not an atom of the national sovereignty is ever, or ever can be, abandoned by any nation that magnanimously follows justice and righteousness in its international relations, even though its material interests may suffer temporarily. In such case, its situation is exactly similar to that of a businessman who meets his obligations at whatever cost to himself and to that of a man of honor who acts in a similar manner at whatever cost to himself. Indeed, such a nation acquires reputation for honest dealing that rebounds to its immense advantage in all future situations, while the much talk about questions that are dubbed in or out of its jurisdiction are intelligent men have every right to believe, only too often pure evasions, a pitiful attempt to hold the advancing train of human progress towards a nobler and finer unity among the nations, to the medieval and even ancient notions of States as entities apart, whose interests must of necessity conflict forever, and whose best hope for peace lies in an armed and watchful antagonism.
All this is wrong, unnatural, and therefore stupid and dangerous because it will inevitably lead to the settlement of disputes between the peoples of Earth by the savage method of shedding human blood and destroying the enemy's property, if not, indeed, of seizing his territories or parts of them.
We may suppose that in this more enlightened age, no man would dare openly to acknowledge the bald facts in so many words; clever brains are worked overtime in order to discover some apparently reasonable and convincing cloak for the real mischief-working powers and schemers behind the scenes. Mark ye well, however, that these remarks are in no sense meant as an attack on anybody who is honest, nor on sincere men who have not awakened to the real issues in the situation and who honestly and of sincerity repeat the brazen war-cries of obscurantism. Even so, the facts are indisputable, proven by the many guarded, or perchance unguarded, admissions of eminent men of State and of affairs in many countries.
KATHERINE TINGLEY'S CURE FOR WAR
There is the sane and reasonable method of composing international disputes with regard to neutral referees. As Katherine Tingley has often pointed out and urged, far better even than that method is one of OUTLAWING WAR ITSELF in much the same manner as all nations today have outlawed piracy and privateering on the seas or the operations of semi-independent or so-called Free Companies on the land. We have laws many and various for the palliation of the evils arising out of war, and for a more humane conduct of it. Not yet have the peoples of the Earth passed, by international convention, one single law placing in the same category of outlawry the method of coercion by physical violence, devastation, and bloodshed. Yet, as all know full well, war is worse than any other kind of violence, lawful or unlawful, because it is conducted on such a large scale, and worst of all under the guise of civilized procedures. The truth is, however, that there is no such thing as civilized warfare. The most that can be said is that some methods of warfare are somewhat less savage, brutalizing, and barbarous than some other methods.
A FEARFUL IDEA
Certain thinkers claim with unanswerable logic FROM THEIR VIEWPOINT, that IF men appeal to warfare instead of sane and civilized methods of composing international disputes, it is more humane to use every manner of violence and engine of destruction that science places in our hands. They reason that the horrible agony is ended sooner with probably less loss of precious human life and less destruction of treasure and industry. The fearful idea is the actual policy followed by humanity for ages past. Every invention that can be applied to destructive purposes is seized and perfected in application for warfare.
Nevertheless, no healthy intelligence, possessing unbiased vision, can or ever will admit the distorted ethic, the morals athwart, of this truly diabolic method of conducting a settlement of international troubles; and we may assert positively of conviction that even the protagonists of this theory would never admit it were they not mistakenly convinced -- alas! -- that warfare must of necessity come through the weakness and imperfections of the human species.
Their viewpoint is pathetic to the last degree, and verily a striking proof of the psychology induced by the war-spirit. Such writers are self-psychologized, in fact, from much brooding on the dark problems of human weakness and passion; and their conclusions are therefore utterly biased because they see but one side of the problem: the side of passional human mentality. They open not their eyes to the other side, to the wisdom and glory of man's spiritual and intellectual nature where alone abides truth and fundamental principles.
Psychologized much the same way are many of our legislators, and in consequence the psychosis is of necessity sensed even in our law-courts. But these theorists are in the immense minority, and their voices in consequence have, relatively, but small weight. However, here we see the result of the miserable and untenable conviction that war is as sure to come someday as the sun is to rise over the eastern horizon. Every war grows worse than the last from precisely this fatal and untenable conviction. The tragedy of it all lies in the fact that it needs not to be!
Let us apply the teachings contained in that wonder-book, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, to the problems; the difficulties then begin to dissolve; and it needs but the WILL TO PEACE and to DO RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE, in order to solve the apparently most knotty problems not merely of individual human conduct but also those of international relations.
WHERE DO WE STAND?
So, then, where do we stand? Are we with the shining gods above, whose children we all are, and whose divine spark of selfhood burns in our own souls? Or are we turning our faces to the Pit, to the swirls of passional matter and the iron chain of materialistic dogma -- to the gloom, the murk, the flaming-red passions of the nether realms?
Mark ye well this fact: the strife that ultimately makes war, originates in OUR OWN PASSIONS and in OUR OWN MINDS: it then enters into our blood. Here is the remedy, here the cure: Sweep out the Augean Stables that we have lazily allowed to fill to overflowing in our own natures, and war, human strife of all kinds, will be no more. Refashion our minds to see aright, cleanse our hearts, and then we shall march forwards in the strength of our common humanity along the path of the common and intrinsic brotherhood of all beings as a fact in nature, and with increasing certainty, towards that Sun of Peace that riseth with healing in its glorious wings.
THE KEY TO PEACE
The key to Peace is simply an honest belief in Universal Brotherhood as a law of life, as a fact of Universal Nature; and this is no sentimentalism but the recognition in action of one of the fundamental laws of universal being, a profound scientific and religio-philosophic truth.
THE METHOD OF CURE
I repeat: it is propaganda, clever, subtle, shrewd, and broadcast that wins most and probably all modern wars, in the last analysis. Let us then adopt the same means (plus an intensive education) of changing human minds and hearts towards Peace and Righteousness: changing minds we change human hearts; changing human hearts we may direct the energy of human action, and that means molding human destiny. We may do it by education through propaganda and by propaganda through education.
Any illiterate barbarian, any savage, can fight, can make war; but it calls for the noblest qualities of a self-restrained and virile manhood, to pursue the ends of life in the exacting yet smiling avocations of peace. No devastation, no wanton destruction, no desolation, is there; but a building up of all that man holds dearest. As Katherine Tingley has declared: war creates not at all the heroism that occasionally shines forth in war; it is the self-denials and the fruitful lessons of Peace, which do it; heroism shines forth in war IN SPITE OF WAR, because it was in our hearts, placed there by the discipline and the training of Peace-times.
For ages, men have raised monuments of iron, brass, and stone to their war-heroes, largely because for ages children have played with toys suggesting and inculcating warfare. The workers for Peace, the lovers of Peace, those impassioned for Peace, have a higher, a finer, a grander, and a far more enduring monument, in the soft and pulsating fabric of the hearts of men. Let us have Peace!
So mote it be! So MUST it be!
By Clare Goldsberry
It should not have gone unnoticed to the Theosophical community that Lyman Frank Baum was born 150 years ago this May 15. Baum, of course, was the author of THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, whose original title was THE EMERALD CITY. While there has been much speculation over the years about this so-called children's classic and its many underlying meanings (including an editorial by John J. Miller in the May 11, 2006 edition of the Wall Street Journal), few have noted its esoteric or "occult" messages.
Miller notes the "long history of digging deeper into Baum's books and searching for hidden meanings" with the most popular interpretation being "a parable of the Populist movement of the 1890s: Dorothy represents the American people, the Scarecrow symbolizes farmers, the Tin Woodman stands in for factory workers, and the Cowardly Lion is William Jennings Bryan" and one of the leading concerns of the day, "to get off the gold standard (the Yellow Brick Road) and replace it with the silver standard (the color of Dorothy's slippers in the book)."
While the Miller editorial brings up the supposed "political" undertones of the tale of Dorothy and Toto's trip to Oz following a head trauma during a tornado in Kansas, we of the Theosophical mind set cannot help but look in a different direction, seeking the esoteric. Given the fact that Baum was a Theosophist and had great interest in the esoteric, it is not difficult to find "occult" meanings in this beautiful story.
Just 11 years before Baum wrote THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, HPB published THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE; she also had written ISIS UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE, both seminal esoteric and occult works dealing with the Ageless Wisdom. It is fitting that Dorothy's journey was a journey of the mind.
One of the questions that face us in Baum's novel is if the unconscious dream state is just another level of conscious reality. Today's quantum physicist would answer in the affirmative. It took a good ol' Midwestern tornado to take Dorothy to a level of consciousness that typically we call the unconscious state of mind. Where would we be in that state? The mind, we are told, is everywhere and nowhere; the mind is ubiquitous. Did Dorothy travel to a parallel universe? Was she experiencing, as Stuart Hameroff (founder of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson) says, a "superposition of consciousness?"
In THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE [Voice], we read, "The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real." The mind creates what we perceive as the real. As we are reminded in the movie, "What the Bleep Do We Know," our mind creates its own reality. The Voice continues, "Let the Disciple slay the Slayer." Let us (the disciples) destroy that which fools us into believing this level of consciousness is real. That this entire story takes place in Dorothy's mind shows us that reality truly exists in our minds.
The Emerald City is a fitting name for a tale of transformation. It could be that Baum selected this name based on the Emerald Tablet, an ancient artifact said to have advanced spiritual technology giving carefully described steps towards personal transformation and accelerated species evolution. This spiritual "alchemical" transformation encompasses all levels of mind, body, and spirit, bringing readers of the Emerald Tablet to a higher state of consciousness.
The Tablet is a single piece of green emerald. Seen over the centuries as the original source of Hermetic Wisdom and alchemical philosophy, it caught the attention of many scholars, writers, and scientists including Alexander the Great, Isaac Newton, and Carl Jung. It was said to have been on display in Egypt from about 330 BCE until 400 CE when it had to be hidden from religious zealots. Many believe it will eventually be found somewhere near the Great Pyramid.
Finding the Emerald City, home of the Wizard of Oz, was not easy; it required quite a journey. Dorothy only wanted to go home, to Kansas. She awoke in a place called Oz, which she knew immediately was not her true home, much as when awakened, we know that this earthly level of consciousness is not our true home. Our senses trap us in this illusion, fooling us into thinking that this material realm is real, and then we develop attachments, binding ourselves to it.
As Dorothy begins her journey to find her way home, she meets three characters who travel with her. They seek the Wizard of Oz wishing that he would grant them what each believes they most need. The Scarecrow needs a brain; the Tin Woodman needs a heart; and the Cowardly Lion needs courage. Dorothy, of course, needs to find her way home to Kansas.
The Voice is also about a journey to find one's true self and home. There are two paths, three Halls, and seven Portals that one must pass through. The three Halls might be synonymous with the three companions that take up with our heroine Dorothy. The First Hall is Ignorance, the existence in this life "in which thou livest and shalt die." In the time the WIZARD OF OZ was written, it was believed that the mind resided in the brain. It might seem that the Scarecrow was ignorant because he had no brain. Yet, we now know from science that the Mind exists outside the brain. The brain is the hardware, and the Mind is the software. Mind is the activator of the brain, but exists outside the brain as well. "For the Mind is like a mirror, it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul." (Voice, page 26) This is the lesson that the Scarecrow needed to learn.
The Second Hall is the Hall of Learning, in which one's "Soul will find the blossoms of life, but under every flower a serpent coiled." It is also the Hall of Probationary Learning. There are several different types of learning; there is head learning, and there is heart learning or "emotional intelligence" in today's sociological language. Perhaps it is heart learning that the Tin Woodman needed and not just a heart. Heart learning leads to self-knowledge as the heart is the seat of the soul. Self-knowledge is key because to know "All Self" (the Divine), says the Voice, one must "be the knower." To know the self, one has to "give up Self to Non-Self." We must practice non-attachment to this thing we call "self," to that which we believe ourselves to be. Self-knowledge leads us from Ignorance to Learning. "To reach Nirvana, one must reach self-knowledge, and Self-knowledge is of loving deeds the child."
The Voice tells us that while the Dharma (teaching) "of the Eye is the embodiment of the external and the non-existing" (i.e. causes us to mistake as real and permanent all that is unreal and impermanent), "The Dharma of the Heart is the embodiment of Bodhi (the reincarnating ego), the Permanent and Everlasting." While the Tin Woodman had no heart, he actually would come to discover that he had "Heart."
The Third Hall is the Hall of Wisdom. Soul-Wisdom does not come easily. It takes entire journeys of lifetimes to gain the Wisdom we need. The Voice says of this Hall, "Thou must divest thyself of the dark garments of illusion" if we are to have Wisdom, for we can never find it if we allow ourselves to be fooled by this material world. But that takes tremendous courage to look through these "dark garments" (our bodies) and see all of this for what it is -- illusion. The Cowardly Lion needed, as we all do, the courage to believe that something beyond this material world exists and move toward that, unattached to what our senses tell us is real.
When we know the real from the unreal, when through Soul-Wisdom the true nature of the Mind is revealed, we understand these Halls. The Voice tells us, "Beware of fear that spreadeth like the black and soundless wings of midnight bat, between the moonlight and thy great goal that loometh in the distance far away." Furthermore, "Fear, O disciple, kills the will and stays all action." (Voice, page 53) Fear paralyzes and causes inaction.
The only advice Dorothy gets from the white or Good Witch from the North -- perhaps her Guru -- on finding her way home is to "follow the Yellow Brick Road." It is interesting that the subtitle of the Voice is "Book of the Golden Precepts." Perhaps that is the reason that Baum made it a yellow road -- to denote the "Golden Precepts" that one must learn to find one's way home.
Dorothy is the "Lanoo," the Spiritual Seeker or Disciple. She suddenly set upon a path she found confusing and out of place, much as we must feel when we land on this level of consciousness as infants. "You're not in Kansas, anymore," the Witch tells her.
It is interesting that the wicked witches are from the East and West. The Wicked Witch of the East died when Dorothy's house falls on her, leaving only her feet and the silver slippers exposed. Yet, the East was also the direction of Oz, the direction of the rising Sun, of light and perhaps enlightenment.
Dorothy, hoping to find her way home, journeys with Toto and her companions. In search of the Wizard, they encounter distractions along the way. That is the way of this journey of life. There are always distractions brought about by our attachment to the senses. The field of poppies is an excellent example of how we allow distractions to put us to sleep. The beautiful, fragrant field of blossoms put the group to sleep.
John Algeo tells us of the second Hall:
[The] pilgrim soul finds "the blossoms of life, but under every flower a serpent coiled." In a note on that passage, HPB identifies the second Hall as "the astral region, the psychic world of super-sensuous perceptions and of deceptive sights ... No blossom plucked in those regions has ever yet been brought down on earth without its serpent coiled around the stem. It is the world of the Great Illusion." ... The danger of the lower iddhis is that their attractiveness can entice us from our journey and preoccupy us with spiritually irrelevant phenomena and with ego-gratifying distractions.
-- THE QUEST, March-April 2004, "The Blossom and the Serpent: The Yellow Brick Road and the Field of Poppies," page 61
Many of us are pulled off the path, distracted and left stupefied by what we see, hear, taste, and smell. Our senses entrap us into believing this is Real, and we fall into a narcotic sleep. Perhaps that is why the Voice tells us to "mistrust thy senses, they are false." Our senses keep us trapped in illusion, keeping us desiring and attached to that which we believe real.
The group finds the Emerald City surrounded by a high green wall with a gate studded with Emeralds. There is always a gate; or in the Voice, there is a Portal. Actually, there are seven Portals to pass through to obtain enlightenment. The Guardian of the Gate, who is also green, provides spectacles for the travelers to put on, telling them "Because if you did not wear spectacles, then the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you."
As Dorothy and her companions approach the castle where the Wizard of Oz resides, they become apprehensive. The Cowardly Lion wants to retreat altogether. It is only because Dorothy wants to go home so badly and the Wizard is the only person who can help her that she convinces the rest to enter with her.
The Voice tells us, "Before thou canst approach the foremost gate thou has to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal." If indeed our mind creates our own reality, then our fears and our belief systems take place in the mind. To separate the body (the material) from the mind (the mental) means to create a state in which our fears diminish and our mind creates for us a state of knowing our true nature. After all, if none of this is Real and if it is all illusion, of what do we have to fear?
As it turns out, before the Wizard of Oz grants the group their wishes, they must perform a task -- a common motif in many tales of initiation. They must find and destroy the Wicked Witch of the West. To gain their wishes, the group complies. They set out toward the setting sun where the witch lived. She saw them with her "one eye" that was powerful like a telescope, and decided to destroy them immediately. First, she sent her wolves -- forty of them (an auspicious number) -- but the Tin Woodman cut off their heads with his sharpened ax. Then the Witch sent wild crows to destroy them, but the Scarecrow grabbed them and wrung their necks. Finally, she sent hoards of black bees to sting them all to death, but this time the Tin Woodman protected them, and the bees broke their stingers and die trying to sting the Tin Woodman.
Still, she had one more plan. She would use the last of the three wishes from the golden cap, studded with diamonds and rubies, to summon the Winged Monkeys. She had used the first wish to make the Winkies, the people of the region, her slaves. She used the second wish trying to destroy Oz. Now she summoned the Winged Monkeys, ordering them to bring her the Lion so she could use him for work, and kill the others.
The Winged Monkeys did as they were told, under the power of the one who held the golden cap, and dropped the Tin Woodman onto rocks, badly denting him. They pulled all the straw out of the Scarecrow, put his clothes into a sack, and put them in a tree. They tied the Lion with a rope to carry him to the castle.
When they saw Dorothy, they noticed the mark on her forehead left by the Good Witch of the North when she kissed Dorothy. "We dare not harm this little girl," the lead monkey said to the others, "for she is protected by the Power of Good, and that is greater than the Power of Evil. All we can do is to carry her to the castle of the Wicked Witch and leave her there." So they carried the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, and Toto to the castle.
As the Wicked Witch of the West attempts to put a stop to the journey of Dorothy and her companions, she tells them in her "mocking" voice (in the movie version) that they will never get to where they want to go. The Voice tells us, however, "The unwary Soul that fails to grapple with the mocking demon of illusion" (represented here by the Wicked Witch of the West) "will return to earth the slave of Mara." Dorothy learns that she will have to deal with this Wicked Witch somehow.
We must deal with this world of illusion and see it for what it is, else our fate is to return time after time and continue to be a slave of this material existence. Dorothy eventually and quite accidentally finds a way to destroy the Wicked Witch, which we might call illusion. It is interesting that the one thing that destroys the Wicked Witch of the West is water. As Dorothy douses the Witch with a bucket full of water, the Wicked Witch begins to melt. The water is a "baptism" of sorts, a baptism that melts the illusion of the material world and reveals the truth.
Now, Dorothy, keeping the golden cap, frees the Cowardly Lion, who had refused to do the Wicked Witch's bidding. They find the Tin Woodman (which the tin workers of the Winkies repair) and the Scarecrow (which they repair by finding his clothes and restuffing them with straw). Grateful that Dorothy freed them from being slaves to the Wicked Witch of the West, the Winkies were more than glad to help her.
Again, Dorothy and her companions set off to return to Oz, but it was more difficult this time because there was no path. Once one has started on the path, one must keep to the path, even if there appears to be no path to follow. This may have been something Dorothy discovered when they got lost after killing the Wicked Witch of the West, and were trying to find the East and Oz. "If we walk far enough, we shall sometime come to someplace." That could be said in response to J. Krishnamurti's statement "truth is a pathless land." For truly in a pathless land, if one walks far enough, at some point one comes to some place -- and it is generally the place that one is destined to be.
Dorothy called the Queen of the Mice, who had helped them previously, and ask her how they might find the yellow brick road to the East. The Queen told Dorothy that the golden cap had special powers and she could summon the Winged Monkeys to help. So, Dorothy summoned the Winged Monkeys -- perhaps spirit guides -- and they most graciously flew them all to the Emerald City.
Once again, they all have to have the green spectacles locked into place before being allowed into the throne room of the Wizard. A Voice they assumed to be the Wizard's spoke to them but they could not see him. "Where are you?" Dorothy asked.
"I am everywhere," answered the Voice, "but to the eyes of common mortals, I am invisible."
The Wizard spoke to Dorothy in a thunderous voice, with smoke and fire billowing to add to his threatening posture. Dorothy begged the Wizard to help them -- to give the Cowardly Lion courage, the Scarecrow a brain, the Tin Woodsman a heart, and most importantly to tell her how she and Toto can get back home to Kansas.
In the movie version, as the Wizard became more threatening and angry, the Cowardly Lion stepped forward and demanded that he quit treating Dorothy badly. The Tin Woodman began comforting her, and the Scarecrow said not to worry, as they would figure out a way to get Dorothy and Toto back home.
Unseen to the rest, Toto wanders back behind a large curtain hanging behind the Wizard's throne. Toto began pulling on the curtain, and suddenly the curtain fell away to reveal a man -- a tiny old man -- with a megaphone and smoke machine. To the surprise of all, they discovered that the Wizard was not a powerful, threatening entity. He was just an ordinary human like all the rest of them.
That is the way it often is. Things are not always as they seem to be. The way we perceive things and the way things really are, many times are two different things. Our perception can fool us. Even the most powerful, threatening people are not who they appear to be, and we can see that if we remove the veil. This world is full of veils that keep us from seeing things as they are.
The Voice tells us that when reach the sixth gate -- Dhayana or Bodhi Portal -- we are almost ready to realize our true nature. "Thou hast estranged thyself from objects of the senses, traveled on the 'Path of seeing,' on the 'Path of hearing,' and standest in the light of Knowledge."
The Wizard explained to the group that he accidentally fell into Oz from the sky many years ago, after a balloon he was riding in came loose from its tethers and floated away. The reason he made everyone wear green glasses was so that his subjects would always see green. "But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City ..." he said.
Again, the illusion fools us into believing that things are something they are not. We see the world around us as being permanent and Real, when it is quite impermanent and Unreal. One key to enlightenment is learning to see the world differently so that our "green glasses" will not fool us.
When the Wizard heard their wishes, he told the Scarecrow that he did not need brains. "Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth, the more experience you are sure to get," he said.
To the Cowardly Lion, he said, "The True Courage is in facing danger when you are afraid," noting that the Lion had done that many times along his journey. "The more one dares, the more he shall obtain," says the Voice. "The more he fears, the more than light shall pale -- and that alone can guide."
The Wizard told the Tin Woodman that having a heart was not all that great -- that it often causes pain and sorrow. But the Tin Woodman wanted one anyway. And Dorothy begged the Wizard to help her get back to Kansas. That one, he said, might take a bit longer.
The next day they all returned to have their wishes granted by the Wizard, but by now we all know that in reality, all that we want lies within our own power to achieve. But, by pretending to give each of them what they want the Wizard knows that each will believe they have it. Reality exists in the mind.
The Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Woodman have all been slaves to their thoughts, believing that they did not have what they thought they needed. Since we are all "the children of [our] thoughts," as the Voice says, then if we would not be destroyed by our thoughts, we must render these creations of our minds harmless. When the Wizard went through the motions of giving the Scarecrow a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion courage, the belief that they were different made them different.
Dorothy found her way back to her true home, just by clicking the heels of her silver magic slippers together and repeating, "There's no place like home." Truly, there is no place like home, but our true home is not here in the material world. Like Dorothy and her companions, we learn that this is all illusion, and that each one of us possesses the power within to cut through the illusion to see all of this for what it really is: Oz.
Ultimately, the goal of L. Frank Baum, student -- Lanoo -- of Theosophy, may have been to show others the way out of illusion, to show them the Real versus the Unreal and to help them find the way back to their true home. Though THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ came to be known as a children's classic, the message is there for all of us. Perhaps Blavatsky said it best in the last line of her two-volume treatise ISIS UNVEILED. "Our fervent wish has been to show true souls how they may lift aside the curtain, and, in the brightness of that Night made Day, look with undazzled gaze upon the Unveiled Truth." (II, page 640)