What a pity it is that members of our Society, pretending to familiarity with our literature, and accepting the theory of reincarnation, cannot apparently show the least proof of their sincerity! They cling to and try to exalt their pigmy personalities, and to the end of their days live within the impassable ring of their nationalities and social or caste prejudices. Orthodoxy they spell AUTODOXY.
Henry S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, IV, page 333
By William Q. Judge
From ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, I, pages 287-90, taken from THE PATH, December 1892, pages 289-93.]
The faculty of imagination has been reduced to a very low level by modern western theorists upon mental philosophy. It is "only the making of pictures, day-dreaming, fancy, and the like:" thus they have said about one of the noblest faculties in man. In Occultism it is well known to be of the highest importance that one should have the imagination under such control as to be able to make a picture of anything at any time, and if this power has not been so trained the possession of other sorts of knowledge will not enable one to perform certain classes of occult phenomena.
Those who have read Mr. Sinnett's THE OCCULT WORLD will have noticed two or three classes of phenomena performed by H.P. Blavatsky and her unseen friends, and those who have investigated spiritualism will know that in the latter have been many cases of similar phenomena done by so-called "controls." Others who made no such investigation have, however, on their own account seen many things done by forces not mechanical but of a nature that must be called occult or psychical. In spiritualism, and by the Adepts like H.P. Blavatsky and others, one thing has excited great interest; it is the precipitating on to paper or other substances of messages out of the air, as it were, and without any visible contact between the sender of the message and the precipitated letters themselves.
This has often occurred in seances with certain good mediums, and the late Stainton Moses wrote in a letter that I saw many years ago that there had come under his hand certain messages precipitated out of the air. But in these cases, the medium never knows what is to be precipitated, cannot control it at will, and is in fact wholly ignorant of the whole matter and the forces operating and how they operate. The elemental forces make the pictures through which the messages are precipitated, and as the inner nature of the medium is abnormally developed, acting subconsciously to the outer man, the whole process is involved in darkness so far as spiritualism is concerned. But not so with trained minds or wills such as possessed by Madame Blavatsky and all like her in the history of the past, including the still living Adepts.
The Adepts who consciously send messages from a distance or who impress thoughts or sentences on the mind of another at a distance are able to do so because their imagination has been fully trained.
The wonder-worker of the East who makes you see a snake where there is none, or who causes you to see a number of things done in your presence that were not done in fact, is able to so impress you with his trained imagination, which, indeed, is also often in his case an inheritance, and when inherited it is all the stronger when trained and the easier to put into training. In the same way but to a much smaller degree the modern western hypnotizer influences his subject by the picture he makes with his imagination in those cases where he causes the patient to see or not to see at will, and if that power were stronger in the West than it is, the experiments of the hypnotizing schools would be more wonderful than they are.
Take the case of precipitation. In the first place, all the minerals, metals, and colored substances anyone could wish for use are in the air about us held in suspension. This has long been proved so as to need no argument now. If there be any chemical process known that will act on these substances, they can be taken from the air and thrown down before us into visibility. This visibility only results from the closer packing together of the atoms of matter composing the mass. Modern science has only a few processes for thus precipitating, but while they do not go to the length of precipitating in letters or figures, they do show that such precipitation is possible. Occultism has knowledge of the secret chemistry of nature whereby those carbons and other substances in the air may be drawn out at will either separately or mixed. The next step is to find for those substances so to be packed together a mold or matrix through which they may be poured, as it were, and, being thus closely packed, become visible. Is there such a mold or matrix?
The matrix is made by means of the trained imagination. It must have been trained either now or in some other life before this, or no picture can be precipitated nor message impressed on the brain to which it is directed. The imagination makes a picture of each word of each letter of every line and part of line in every letter and word, and having made that picture, it is held there by the will and the imagination acting together for such a length of time as is needed to permit the carbons or other substances to be strained down through this matrix and appear upon the paper. This is exactly the way in which the Masters of HPB sent those messages that they did not write with their hands, for while they precipitated some, they wrote some others and sent them by way of the ordinary mail.
The explanation is the same for the sending of a message by words that the receiver is to hear. The image of the person who is to be the recipient has to be made and held in place; that is, in each of these cases, you have to become as it were a magic lantern or a camera obscura, and if the image of the letters or if the image of the person be let go or blurred, all the other forces will shoot wide of the mark and naught be accomplished. If a picture were made of the ineffectual thoughts of the generality of people, it would show little lines of force flying out from their brains and instead of reaching their destination falling to the earth just a few feet away from the person who is thus throwing them out.
But, of course, in the case of sending and precipitating onto paper a message from a distance, a good many other matters have to be well known to the operator. For instance, the inner as well as the outer resistance of all substances have to be known, for if not calculated, they will throw the aim out, just as the billiard ball may be deflected if the resistance of the cushion is variable and not known to be so by the player. And again, if a living human being has to be used as the other battery at this end of the line, all the resistances and also all the play of that person's thought have to be known or a complete failure may result. This will show those who inquire about phenomena, or who at a jump wish to be adepts or to do as the adepts can do, what a task it is they would undertake. But there is still another consideration, and that is that inasmuch as all these phenomena have to do with the very subtle and powerful planes of matter, it must follow that each time a phenomenon is done, the forces of those planes are roused to action, and reaction will be equal to action in these things just as on the ordinary plane.
An illustration will go to make clear what has been said of the imagination. One day, H.P. Blavatsky said she would show me precipitation in the very act. She looked fixedly at a certain smooth piece of wood and slowly on it came out letters that at last made a long sentence. It formed before my eyes, and I could see the matter condense and pack itself on the surface. All the letters were like such as she would make with her hand, just because she was making the image in her brain and of course followed her own peculiarities. But in the middle, one of the letters was blurred and as it were all split into a mass of mere color as to part of the letter.
"Now here," she said, "I purposely wandered in the image, so that you could see the effect. As I let my attention go, the falling substance had no matrix and naturally fell on the wood in any way and without shape."
A friend on whom I could rely told me that he once asked a wonderworker in the East what he did when he made a snake come and go before the audience, and he replied that he had been taught from very early youth to see a snake before him and that it was so strong an image everyone there had to see it.
"But," said my friend, "how do you tell it from a real snake?" The man replied that he was able to see through it, so that for him it looked like the shadow of a snake, but that if he had not done it so often he might be frightened by it himself. The process he would not give, as he claimed it was a secret in his family. But anyone who has made the trial knows that it is possible to train the imagination so as to at will bring up before the mind the outlines of any object whatsoever, and that after a time, the mind seems to construct the image as if it were a tangible thing.
But there is a wide difference between this and the kind of imagination that is solely connected with some desire or fancy. In the latter case, the desire and the image and the mind with all its powers are mixed together, and the result, instead of being a training of the image-making power, is to bring on a decay of that power and only a continual flying to the image of the thing desired. This is the sort of use of the power of the imagination that has lowered it in the eyes of the modern scholar, but even that result would not have come about if the scholars had knowledge of the real inner nature of man.
By United Lodge of Theosophists
[Following is a letter to friends and associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists. This voluntary association of students of Theosophy exists "to spread broadcast the Teachings of Theosophy as recorded in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge." The ULT issued the letter June 21-25, 2007 under the letterhead of the Los Angeles Lodge (245 West 33rd Street, Los Angeles CA 90007). The letter is signed, "In deep appreciation of all that is being done to establish this extraordinary end, with fraternal greetings, The United Lodge of Theosophists.]
The United Lodge of Theosophists exists to support all who sense that "I have something to do with my own evolution, and that of all beings." Its mission is based on the view that each human can, and will, learn about the divine nature of the universe and its units, including themselves. The process of spiritual, mental, and physical evolution by which this wisdom is reached -- the heart of the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge -- is both revolutionary and profound. It introduces the idea that we are complex beings who rise to self-consciousness along with a mighty tide of other souls over vast cycles of time. Having reached this point, individual action and choice creates human destiny. Consistent study and application of the teachings of Theosophy brings the conviction that we consciously can become co-workers with Great Nature and fulfill the promise of human wisdom and service.
In times of turmoil in the physical world, however, outer conflicts bring inner confusion, fear, and doubt. Students wonder about the meaning of great events and their impact on the personal nature. These currents temporarily may deflect us from our journey, yet they also encourage a closer look at the fundamental ideas of Theosophy. Such effort -- if we dare to approach these great teachings without fear -- opens our vision to the truth that the laws that govern the world are moral and spiritual. Seen through this mighty lens, personal, national, and international strife become necessary steps in evolution, as experience is gained and balance is restored:
There is one eternal law in nature, one that always ends to adjust contraries and to produce final harmony. It is owing to this law of spiritual development superseding the physical and purely intellectual, that mankind will become freed of its false gods, and find itself finally -- SELF-REDEEMED.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 420.
How does ULT "adjust contraries" and maintain its balance in the face of these same external forces? To maintain the "original impulses" noted by HPB in the closing pages of THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, Robert Crosbie considered clarity of text, tools, and method, without imposing undue structure. Today, in a world-wide effort, while each Lodge, Study Class, and unaffiliated student reflects their own skhandic make-up, certain basic approaches are of use:
For the beginning, the middle, and the end, we should hold to the Three Fundamental Propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE in all our public work -- for upon these the whole philosophy hinges, and unless well grounded in them, no real progress can be had. ... It will be well at every study class to state what the purpose of the meeting is; to have volunteers state in their own words their understanding of the Three Fundamentals. Questions should be freely invited and asked, the object being that students, even beginners, should formulate for themselves. Only so can they make their understanding good, and get themselves in the position where they can best help others even as they have been helped.
-- Robert Crosbie, THE FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, pages 391-92.
While the method of "No dogmatism, no personal followings, no spiritual authority" is rarely popular, as all who would increase interest in Theosophy know, the underlying reason for this platform remains. Students who have experienced all that the personal nature has to offer begin to search for ways of study and work that encourage the impersonal and spiritual within. As presented in the Declaration of ULT -- a statement in itself of how the soul operates -- this method of work hints at the next evolutionary stage for humanity. Regular study of the Declaration provides an almost mantramic understanding of the self-balancing nature of ULT.
Students continue to question how best to reach any and all who search for these teachings and this unconventional approach. Efforts of the past year include workshops, conferences, correspondence courses, "conversations" and participation in Internet activities, as well as new and on-going classes, lectures, and study groups. As the evolutionary ebb and flow of change seemingly brings many into, out of, and again into the direct Theosophic current, it becomes clear that "The Path of Brotherhood and the Path of Occultism are One Path." (FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, page 375)
In our age it is well to consider what the Great Ones have done and do. Age after age, year after year, They conserve the knowledge AND WAIT, doing what They can, and how They can, in accordance with cyclic law. Knowing this, and doing thus, there can be no room for doubt and discouragement. We are holding, waiting, and working for those few earnest souls who will grasp the plan and further the work.
-- Robert Crosbie, THE FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, page 68.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 72-74.]
The beautiful message that Theosophy has to give to those who mourn, those who sorrow, applies not only to death and those left behind by the passing ones, but just as much to those who are not yet touched by death, to all those who have to live on this earth where there is more of sorrow and trouble and weariness of spirit than of happiness and real peace. For I wonder if any tender-hearted man or woman can really be happy in a world like ours, when we see surrounding us on all sides the most awful proofs of man's inhumanity to his fellowmen. How can we retire into our water-tight or spirit-tight or heart-tight compartments of life when we know what is going on around us, not only among men, but also among the helpless beasts: suffering and pain and sorrow, and on every side the cry of these martyrs raised to heaven?
We talk about those who mourn and restrict it, each one of us, to our individual selves. How then? Do we not love the hand of kindliness extended in sympathy and understanding to others, who suffer lonely, who sorrow in loneliness? Death itself is nothing to grieve at. We have been through death a thousand times and more on this earth. We know it well. It is an old experience, and here we are back again. But we feel for those who mourn while they live: mourn for the loss of beloved ones; mourn for the loss of fortune, so that they are in difficulties to give even the physical bread to the bodies of those they love; mourn over the difficulties to find work so that they may work like men and women and feed the mouths of their hungry children; mourn because they have lost friendship, lost love, lost hope, and perhaps most awful of all, lost trust in their fellowmen.
Every son and daughter of man mourns, or he or she is heartless. The man who cannot mourn and who does not mourn to my mind is inhuman; and so great and wonderfully is nature built that it is precisely this divine capacity for mourning that gives us sympathy for others, and to the mourners the hearts of understanding; and strange magic of the human spirit, mourning, sorrow, suffering is our wisest friend. How these enrich our hearts! What priceless treasury is the expansion of consciousness that comes when mourning sets its often burning but always healing hand on our hearts! We sacrifice; but in this sacrifice is purification, is the awakening to the greater life. It is in sorrow, it is in mourning, it is in the evocation by these of pity, of compassion, that we learn truly to live. Even little children know what sorrow is, and how blessed it is for them that they may learn life's greatest thing: to learn and become enlarged by it, made grander by it. How pitiful is the man who cannot feel for others and is enwrapped solely in the small prison of his minuscule self. Where in him is grandeur? You seek for it and find it not. But the man who has suffered feels for all the world. On his heart, each cry of mourning falls like a scalding tear, and he is made grand by it. Nature here works a magic, for in this process is born rosy hope, a star-lighted inspiration that comes from the enlarged consciousness.
Blessed peace, the most exquisite joy and happiness that human hearts and minds can bear, is the appanage or spiritual heritage of those whose hearts have been softened by suffering. They who never suffer are the hard-hearted ones, unripe in their own restricted consciousness. The man who has never suffered knows not what peace is. He has never entered into it. The man who has never experienced sorrow knows not the surcease nor knows the blessedness that comes when quiet comes.
It is to those who mourn -- which comprise really all the human race -- that Theosophy brings its own, its ineffable doctrine of hope and peace, and this because it teaches us to understand. The French have a proverb: "Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner," the meaning of which is that if you FULLY understand, you forgive all.
Isn't it clear to us that inner grandeur comes from enlargement, and that enlargement of our consciousness as we say, of our understanding and of our heart, comes from suffering? Joy too can bring the smile to our lips and the light of happiness to our eyes; but isn't it a mere truism that all of life's ordinary joys turn to ashes in the mouth? Isn't it also true that the joys of life all too often make us selfish? We grab the joys to us, afraid lest we lose them. These commonplace joys often narrow us. But fellow-feeling, sympathy brought about by suffering, make the whole world akin.
The man who has known naught but joy in life perhaps does not mind inflicting sorrow upon a fellow. He is not awakened. He does not understand. He is misled. He is ignorant. But the man who has suffered, the woman who has suffered, who has mourned, these are they who are great in their gentleness, who are great in their understanding because they comprehend, take in. They are enlarged; they are magnified. And the extreme of this is glorification in its true original sense. They become glorified, the next thing to god-men on earth.
Such simple thoughts! I dare say that every child knows them and understands.
So our blessed message to those who mourn is this: Fear not the bright and holy flame. It will make you men and women, not mere males and females. What is the great and outstanding characteristic mark of the god-men who have come among us from time to time? It has been the understanding heart: so that they could speak to the woman in trouble and help; to the man in ignorance and bring him succor and peace; to the little children and bring understanding. For the great man's own simple heart speaks to the simple direct heart of the child before it has been sophisticated, spoiled by the falsities that it all too often learns as it grows up and has to unlearn in order to be truly a man, truly a woman.
To those who mourn comes the blessed Gospel: let the holy flame enter into your hearts as a visiting god. Treat it very friendly. Welcome it. Receive it as a guest; and that guest, sorrow-clad, will cast off the habiliments of mourning, and you will realize that you have been entertaining unawares a god. And that god is you. Then you have entered into your own.
The thirteenth annual Southern California Theosophical Conference will be held August 10 to 12 this year at the Institute of Noetic Sciences Retreat Center in Petaluma, California. The conference has previously been held in various cities in California like Brookings, Cambria, Long Beach, and San Diego. Starting next year, it will be held in different places worldwide, with the 2008 conference in Pennsylvania and the 2009 one possibly in Europe.
Volunteer conference organizers are seeking to form an independent organization to facilitate future conferences so that no single individual need take financial and planning responsibility for a conference in the future. The organization will:
(a) Act as a non-profit entity to accept donations and make possible tax deductions for those paying for and attending conferences,
(b) Provide scholarships to those needing funds in order to attend a conference,
(c) Assist in the organization of each conference including accommodations, site selection, insurance, and other needs, and
(d) Assist in conference themes and possibly lead to a wider base for dissemination of Theosophy.
Anyone interested in more information or wanting to help in some way should write email@example.com.
This conference is entitled "Theosophy and New Frontiers of Science." We read that it honors "the birth and genius of H.P. Blavatsky, An experience that will forever change your vision of reality. Join us for an inspiring journey of enlightenment into the practical wisdom of ancient theosophical masters, and new frontiers of science and spirituality."
Held at the Institute of Noetic Sciences on their 200 acre campus with fully equipped conference rooms, a dining facility, and a retreat center. It offers many outdoor activities for children and adults. More information on the conference can be found on the Institute's website at www.ions.org. The following program information is taken from that website. The website has further information on details and pricing.
Christopher Holmes, PhD Forensic Psychologist Ontario, Canada
Divine Mysteries: H. P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine
Dr. Holmes is a clinical and forensic psychologist, and mystic scientist. His work explores the enigmas of human consciousness, the mysteries of the Heart, psychology as a science of the soul, the physics and metaphysics of creation and Zero Point dynamics. His presentation includes a wider focus on ancient wisdom and modern science, which considers comparative analysis of science with The Secret Doctrine. Intelligent design versus chaos then falls under a larger umbrella that include materials on new physics, consciousness studies, modern parapsychology studies, cosmology-investigating Blavatsky's predictions and teachings.
STEVEN LEVY, MD Psychiatry Philadelphia, PA
Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century
Dr. Levy reviews mainstream scientific opinion which holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are generated by physical processes occurring in the brain. That new science demonstrates with empirical evidence that this reductive materialism is not only incomplete but false. Dr. Levy presents the case for an enlarged scientific theosophy that addresses psychology's great central problems; includes out of body experiences, reincarnation, karma, man's sevenfold nature and the Higher Self.
DAVID ROEF, PhD Belgium, NE
The Struggle for the Soul of Science
Recently, in an unprecedented feat of quantum mechanics, Harvard physicists were able to use a cloud of Bose-Einstein condensate to stop a pulse of light and then resuscitate the light at a different location. Dr. Roef reveals the Theosophical implications and reviews the development and impact of Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in the light of Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine and occult teachings. He examines the critical juncture at which classical scientific methods become obsolete and theories of the occult enter the realm of proof.
HELENA E. KEREKHAZI, MS, ED, Ph.D Candidate in Neuropsychology New York City
Neurofeedback and Brain Mapping: A New Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing
The "Problem of Evil" often appearing in the media today has much more to do with our lack of understanding and creativity in addressing how we can all better connect to the healing energies of the Spiritual Mind. Breakthroughs in electrical and magnetic imaging are opening new doorways into our understanding and treatment of the brain which is much more plastic than previously thought. Unfortunately, mainstream neurology and psychology have been far too slow in adapting and implementing this new paradigm.
DONNA BYCZKIEWICZ, BA San Diego, CA
Director of Multimedia, Dept. of Anthropology, Archaeology San Diego State University
21st Century Theosophical Messengers and Society
How 21st-century humanity, social movements and ideologies can be embraced by society to increase the awareness and influence of Theosophical teachings. New modalities and attitudes are increasingly evident as we approach the end of the cycle that H. P. Blavatsky predicted would usher in a new age for humankind; a topic of obvious import to all those who have determined assist in the evolution of spiritual consciousness.
EVA MOBERG, MA Healer/Practitioner Malmo, Sweden
The Science and Art of Spiritual and Physical Healing
Demonstration of the Bach Flower Remedies, Homeopathy and other Healing Specialties (watch for details to follow on this special event)
JUDY SALTZMAN, PhD Professor of Philosophy, California Polytechnic University and Fulbright Scholar, Germany Santa Barbara, CA
God vs. Science: Struggle for The Soul of Truth
"God Vs. Science" is today's leading topic of debate between many of the world's leading atheists and the believers in God and sacred scripture. Dr. Saltzman explores this powerful struggle through the words of the "Mother of the New Age", Helena Blavatsky:
REED CARSON President-Founder of blavatsky.net
Theosophy and Atlantis: Recent Discoveries in Anthropology, Geology and Biology.
Anthropology is mystified by the unknown origins of Cro-Magnon Man. The presentation explores how recent discoveries in mitochondrial DNA analysis support Blavatsky's statements on Cro-Magnon's Atlantis origins. Many puzzles are explored, including the strange alphabet on the Glozzel tablet. The cause, location and year of the sinking of Atlantis is revealed, and a view of the floor of the Atlantic Ocean matches Plato's description and supports the claims of Blavatsky. Her Atlantis is completely vindicated. A drawing of a "cave woman" discovered in a Cro-Magnon cave wall painting, has sewn clothes, shoes, and fancy hat!
------------- PETER BERNIN
H.P. Blavatsky's Influences on Art and Culture
By all accounts, Af Klint was a sober, well-balanced woman. Her art and beliefs, however, were extreme. Regarded as a clairvoyant from childhood, she was a medium and one of Sweden's first followers of the theosophical teachings of Madame Blavatsky. Before she died, at the age of 81 in 1944, the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint stipulated that her paintings were not to be shown in public for 20 years after her death. Perhaps she felt that the world was not yet ready for them.
What is unnerving is that in 1932, Af Klint produced a number of watercolors predicting the second world war. One, titled A Map/The Blitz, shows a fiery wind, coming from Europe, curling from Southampton round the coast to Liverpool and London. Another map depicts "the fights in the Mediterranean", with a brown cloud spreading over North Africa, southern Italy, Gibraltar and Bordeaux.
OPENING CEREMONY -- SPECIAL GUEST PERFORMERS
WORKSHOPS & BREAKOUT SESSIONS WITH PRESENTERS
SPECIAL FILM AND VIDEO PRESENTATIONS
BOOK & MAGAZINE TABLES
FREE SPRING WATER THE ENTIRE CONFERENCE
MEALS IN THE RETREAT DINING ROOM
Light California-style cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh vegetables and the healthy tasty meals for which the San Francisco area is known. Special menus can be arranged in advance.
By C.C. Massey
[From THE ARYAN PATH, July 1966, pages 293-97, taken from FIVE YEARS OF THEOSOPHY.]
The title prefixed to the following observations may well have suggested a more metaphysical treatment of the subject than can be attempted on the present occasion. The doctrine of the trinity, or trichotomy of man, which distinguishes soul from spirit, comes to us with such weighty, venerable, and even sacred authority that we may well be content, for the moment, with confirmations that should be intelligible to all, putting aside for now the more abstruse questions that have divided minds of the highest philosophical capacity. We will not now inquire whether the difference is one of states or of entities; whether the phenomenal or mind consciousness is merely the external condition of one indivisible Ego, or has its origin and nature in an altogether different principle; the Spirit, or immortal part of us, being of Divine birth, while the senses and understanding, with the consciousness -- Ahankara -- thereto appertaining, are from an Anima Mundi, or what in the Shankya philosophy is called Prakriti. My utmost expectations will have been exceeded if it should happen that any considerations here offered should throw even a faint suggestive light upon the bearings of this great problem.
It may be that the mere irreconcilability of all that is characteristic of the temporal Ego with the conditions of the superior life -- if that can be made apparent -- will incline you to regard the latter rather as the Redeemer, that has indeed to be born within us for our salvation and our immortality, than as the inmost, central, and inseparable principle of our phenomenal life. It may be that by the light of such reflections, the sense of identity will present no insuperable difficulty to the conception of its contingency, or to the recognition that the mere consciousness that fails to attach itself to a higher principle is no guarantee of an eternal individuality.
It is only by a survey of individuality, regarded as the source of all our affections, thoughts, and actions that we can realize its intrinsic worthlessness; and only when we have brought ourselves to a real and felt acknowledgement of that fact can we accept with full understanding those "hard sayings" of sacred authority that bid us "die to ourselves" and that proclaim the necessity of a veritable new birth. This mystic death and birth is the keynote of all profound religious teaching; and that which distinguishes the ordinary religious mind from spiritual insight is just the tendency to interpret these expressions as merely figurative, or to overlook them altogether.
To estimate the value of individuality, we cannot do better than regard man in his several mundane relations, supposing that either of these might become the central, actuating focus of his being -- his "ruling love," as Swedenborg would call it -- displacing his mere egoism, or self-love, thrusting that more to the circumference, and identifying him, so to speak, with that circle of interests to which all his energies and affections relate. Outside the substituted Ego, we are to suppose that he has no conscience, no desire, and no will. Just as the entirely selfish man views the whole of life, so far as it can really interest him solely in relation to his individual well-being, so our supposed man of a family, of a society, of a Church, or a State has no eye for any truth or any interest more abstract or more individual than that of which he may be rightly termed the incarnation.
History shows approximations to this ideal man. Such a one, for instance, I conceive to have been Loyola; such another, possibly, is Bismarck. Now these men have ceased to be individuals in their own eyes, so far as concerns any value attaching to their own special individualities. They are devotees. A certain "conversion" has been effected, by which from mere individuals they have become "representative" men. And we -- the individuals -- esteem them precisely in proportion to the remoteness from individualism of the spirit that actuates them.
As the circle of interests to which they are "devoted" enlarges -- that is to say, as the dross of individualism is purged away -- we accord them indulgence, respect, admiration, and love. From self to the family, from the family to the sect or society, from the sect or society to the Church (in no denominational sense) and State, there is the ascending scale and widening circle, the successive transitions that make the worth of an individual depend on the more or less complete subversion of his individuality by a more comprehensive soul or spirit.
The very modesty that suppresses, as far as possible, the personal pronoun in our addresses to others, testifies to our sense that we are hiding away some utterly insignificant and unworthy thing; a thing that has no business even to be, except in that utter privacy that is rather a sleep and a rest than living. Well, but in the above instances, even those most remote from sordid individuality, we have fallen far short of that ideal in which the very conception of the partial, the atomic, is lost in the abstraction of universal being, transfigured in the glory of a Divine personality.
You are familiar with Swedenborg's distinction between discrete and continuous degrees. Hitherto we have seen how man -- the individual -- may rise continuously by throwing himself heart and soul into the living interests of the world, and lose his own limitations by adoption of a larger mundane spirit. But still he has but ascended nearer to his own mundane source, that soul of the world, or Prakriti, to which, if I must not too literally insist on it, I may still resort as a convenient figure.
To transcend it, he must advance by the discrete degree. No simple "bettering" of the ordinary self, which leaves it alive, as the focus -- the French word "foyer" is the more expressive -- of his thoughts and actions; not even that identification with higher interests in the world's plane just spoken of, is or can progressively become in the least adequate to the realization of his Divine ideal. This "bettering" of our present nature, it alone being recognized as essential, albeit capable of "improvement," is a commonplace, and to use a now familiar term a "Philistine" conception. It is the substitution of the continuous for the discrete degree. It is a compromise with our dear old familiar selves. "And Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly."
We know how little acceptable that compromise was to the God of Israel; and no illustration can be more apt than this narrative, which we may well as we would fain believe to be rather typical than historical. This is typical of that indiscriminate and radical sacrifice, or "vastation," of our lower nature, which is insisted upon as the one thing needful by all or nearly all the great religions of the world. No language could seem more purposely chosen to indicate that it is the individual nature itself -- and not merely its accidental evils -- that has to be abandoned and annihilated.
It is not denied that what was spared was good; there is no suggestion of a universal infection of physical or moral evil; it is simply that what is good and useful relatively to a lower state of being must perish with it if the latter is to make way for something better. And the illustration is the more suitable in that the purpose of this paper is not ethical, but points to a metaphysical conclusion though without any attempt at metaphysical exposition.
There is no question here of moral distinctions; they are neither denied nor affirmed. According to the highest moral standard, A may be a most virtuous and estimable person. According to the lowest, B may be exactly the reverse. The moral interval between the two is within what I have called, following Swedenborg, the "continuous degree." And perhaps the distinction can be still better expressed by another reference to that Book that we theosophical students do not less regard, because we are disposed to protest against all exclusive pretensions of religious systems. The good man who has, however, not yet attained his "sonship of God" is "under the law" -- that moral law that is educational and preparatory, "the schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ," our own Divine spirit, or higher personality.
To conceive the difference between these two states is to apprehend exactly what is here meant by the false, temporal, and the true, eternal personality, and the sense in which the word "personality" is here intended to be understood. Now, being "under the law" implies that we do not act directly from our own will, but indirectly, that is, in willing obedience to another will. The will from which we should naturally act -- our own will -- is of course to be understood not as mere volition, but rather as our nature -- our "ruling love," which makes such and such things agreeable to us, and others the reverse.
As "under the law," this nature is kept in suspension, and because it is suspended only as to its activity and manifestation, and by no means abrogated, is the law -- the substitution of a foreign will -- necessary for us. Our own will or nature is still central; that which we obey by effort and resistance to ourselves is more circumferential or hypostatic. Constancy in this obedience and resistance tends to draw the circumferential will more and more to the center, until there ensues that "explosion," as St. Martin called it, by which our natural will is forever dispersed and annihilated by contact with the divine, and the latter henceforth becomes our very own.
Thus has "the schoolmaster" brought us unto "Christ," and if by "Christ" we understand no historically divine individual, but the logos, word, or manifestation of God IN US -- then we have, I believe, the essential truth that was taught in the Vedanta, by Kapila, by Buddha, by Confucius, by Plato, and by Jesus.
It is not a mere preference of nothingness or unconscious absorption to limitation that inspires the intense yearning of the Hindu mind for Nirvana. Even in the Upanishads, there are many evidences of a contrary belief; while in the Sankhya, the aphorisms of Kapila unmistakably vindicate the individuality of soul (spirit). Individual consciousness is maintained, perhaps infinitely intensified, but its "matter" is no longer personal. Only try to realize what "freedom from desire," the favorite phrase in which individualism is negated in these systems, implies! Even in that form of devotion that consists in action, the soul is warned in THE BHAGAVAD-GITA that it must be indifferent to results.
And just as in true sympathy, the partial suppression of individualism and of what is distinctive, we experience a superior delight and intensity of being, so it may be that in parting with all that shuts us up in the spiritual penthouse of an Ego -- ALL, without exception or reserve -- we may for the first time know what true life is, and what are its ineffable privileges.
Only let us not talk of this ideal of impersonal, universal being in individual consciousness as an unverified dream. Our sense and impatience of limitations are the guarantees that they are not final and insuperable. Whence is this power of standing outside myself, of recognizing the worthlessness of the pseudo-judgments, of the prejudices with their lurid coloring of passion, of the temporal interests, of the ephemeral appetites, of all the sensibilities of egoism to which I nevertheless surrender myself so that they indeed seem myself?
Through and above this troubled atmosphere, I see a being, pure, passionless, rightly measuring the proportions and relations of things, for whom there is, properly speaking, no present, with its phantasms, falsities, and half-truths: who has nothing personal in the sense of being opposed to the whole of related personalities: who sees the truth rather than struggles logically towards it, and truth of which I can at present form no conception; whose activities are unimpeded by intellectual doubt, not perverted by moral depravity, and who is indifferent to results because he has not to guide his conduct by calculation of them or by any estimate of their value.
I look up to him with awe, because in being passionless, he sometimes seems to me to be without love. Yet I know that this is not so; only that his love is diffused by its range, and elevated in abstraction beyond my gaze and comprehension. I see in this being my ideal, my higher, my only true, in a word, my immortal self.
By Eldon B. Tucker
Over the years, major innovations on the Internet have provided us with new ways to explore Theosophy and interact with each other.
The first innovation was online documents that people could access and download using tools such as "ftp". We were able to scan theosophical texts and put articles and books online that anyone worldwide could download, look at on their computer, or print out for offline reading. This was later improved as word processing, html, and PDF files could be used to make the materials more readable and include pictures and graphics. Now we can read books online on web pages or download them in PDF format and print them out in their entirety. An additional enhancement included audio files, generally in MP3 format and video files; these became available as storage space, bandwidth to the Internet, and more powerful home computers become available.
The second innovation was online bulletin boards (BBS), which allowed people to post messages for others to read. First there were simple messages, then the ability to post replies to messages that stayed with them, then more complex messaging sites and the ability to post one's own thoughts in an online diary (blogs). The first theosophical use was with posted discussion threads on Peacenet.
The third innovation was the prevalent use of email. Personal correspondence online expanded into email discussion lists and online magazines sent via email or put up on websites. John Mead hosted the first theosophical mailing list (theos-l) on vnet.net (which later moved to yahoogroups.com) Within a few years, other mailing lists arose including firstname.lastname@example.org (associated with THEOSOPHY WORLD, this online magazine). The mailing lists provided an excellent opportunity for people to practice their writing skills and they put their ideas into words and got immediate feedback from other students throughout the world. That feedback, thought, often included misunderstanding, disagreement, and hostility. There was a mix of responses that a writer would get, so the mailing lists provided an opportunity to practice both clarity of mind as one tried to be clearer in expression and patience as one dealt with the sometimes extreme reactions of others. Email's other innovation, the online theosophical periodical, is illustrated by THEOSOPHY WORLD, now is its 133rd monthly issue.
The fourth innovation was online communities. This first started when websites started letting users create accounts and put viewable profiles online. Blavatsky.net was one of the first to do this in a big way, and for people signed up, it shows contact information for thousands of people interested in the philosophy. The list is not pruned enough, but it is a good place to look for possible contacts. This was expanded with sites like myspace.com and facebook.com, where anyone can set up a personal profile and share their personal information and photos with others. These sites let you stay in touch with friends since you have a link to their personal information which they would keep up to date.
Before the Internet, recent theosophical work included building archives of rare materials, like at Point Loma Publications in San Diego, CA, computerizing older books (putting them into word processor format), and seeing that some of the more important out-of-print books became available. This work was supplemented by companies like Kessinger Publications, which made inexpensive photographic reprints of older literature. Other work included communities supported by published directories that were sent worldwide, like the one by the Theosophical Network, which was put out for several years in the mid 1980's.
At this time, where does one go to explore Theosophy online? Many books are available at amazon.com or directly from theosophical publishers. There are many sites with large numbers of computerized books including http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/tup-onl.htm. There are online publications like THEOSOPHY WORLD. There are email discussion lists including email@example.com (see theos-talk.com or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theos-talk/). There are online directories like at http://www.blavatsky.net. And now there are online sites where theosophical students can share personal information like at Facebook.com.
A group called "Theosophical Network" was created at http://www.facebook.com. If you sign up at Facebook and create a profile, you can join that group wherein you can browse the profiles of other group members and make a "friend request" of any. (When you request that someone be your friend on Facebook, they see your profile and comment and approve or reject the request. If the request is approved, your profiles are linked and each of you can see future changes to the other's profile including any pictures posted or other status notes.) Anyone reading this is invited to join Facebook and join the Theosophical Network group. (You find me there as group admin.)
The group is listed under "common interests" then "philosophy," and its description is:
A place to connect with others interested in the ideas found in the many schools of Theosophy, with an emphasis on the original theosophical philosophy as presented by H.P. Blavatsky, W.Q. Judge, and those that followed them. (Some may be T.S. members, others subscribers of THEOSOPHY WORLD or other 'ezines, and yet others from mailing lists like theos-talk and theos-l.
Facebook is different than earlier sites since email addresses must be validated and people can only join those groups that they qualify to join. You can join a regional group for where you live. You can join a group for where you work if you have a work email address that can confirm the request to join the group. You can also join a school or university group if you can confirm using an email address for that school or university that you get mail there. Finally, you can join any public group, like "Theosophical Network," which is created to provide a way for the millions of people on Facebook to meet, share information with, and optionally link to others as friends. Consider joining Facebook and meeting other readers of THEOSOPHY WORLD on a personal level and as possible future contacts and friends.
By Talbot Mundy
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1924, page 357.]
O ye who look to enter in through Discipline to Bliss, Ye shall not stray from out the way, if ye remember this: Ye shall not waste a weary hour, nor hope for Hope in vain, If ye persist with will until self-righteousness is slain. If through the mist of mortal eyes, deluded, ye discern That ye are holier than these, ye have the whole to learn! If ye are tied with tangled pride because ye learn the Law, Know then, your purest thoughts deny the Truth ye never saw! If ye resent in discontent the searchlight of reproof, In hooded pride ye stand aside, at sin's not Soul's behoof! Each gain for self denies the Self that knows the self is vain. Who crowns accomplishment with pride must build the whole again! But if, at each ascending step, more clearly ye perceive That he must kill the lower will who would the world relieve And they are last who would be first, their effort thrown away; Be patient then, and persevere. Ye tread the Middle Way!
By G. de Purucker
[From DEATH AND THE CIRCULATIONS OF THE COSMOS, I, pages 27-79.]
The panoramic review of the life last past usually begins when all the bodily activities and functions have ceased, sometimes indeed before the last heartbeat, sometimes when the last heartbeat has taken place; but this panorama, as a rule, continues even after the heart has stopped beating and the last breath has been expired. It is impossible to state for all cases how long this panorama takes in human time, because the length of the panoramic vision varies so tremendously with the individual. One could only make guesses at the average length of time taken by the panoramic vision. In some cases, as with individuals of high spirituality, the whole process is begun and completed within a few hours, two or three perhaps; in other cases, it may be seven or eight or even ten or twelve hours, possibly longer. Probably six hours in the average case is required for this last visioning of the Maya of the life just lived. But in all cases, this panoramic vision occurs because the brain is suffused with the fleeting coruscations and flashing scintillations still reaching it from the feathery tendrils of the cord of life, which cord, as above stated, grows progressively thinner and thinner as the hours pass.
I have been asked how it is possible for such a panorama to take place in those cases where a man dies suddenly as the result of some terrible accident to the brain, as for instance when the brain is blown to pieces or when the body is burned alive. In such cases as these last, the panorama nevertheless takes place and continues in normal course, and does so in and through the higher parts of the astral brain of the Linga-Sharira, which although it is seriously affected, especially in its more material parts, by the accident that destroys the physical brain, nevertheless in all cases endures somewhat longer as a cohering organ than does the physical brain.
In cases of extreme old age, the panorama begins in a vague and, as it were, tentative manner for some days or even possibly weeks before physical death occurs, and this is really the cause of the stupor that very old people frequently fall into shortly before they die.
The Esotericist should always remember that every incident, fact, event, thought, and emotion of a man's life are recorded in the different parts of his constitution, the mental incidents in the mental parts of his constitution, the emotional events of his life in the kama-manasic part of his inner being, and the spiritual parts in the buddhi-manasic, while the Linga-Sharira and the physical body are themselves permanently marked and often noticeably changed, even during life, by the experiences undergone throughout the incarnation.
The panorama spoken of occurs in all its wondrous and wonderful detail -- no thought or point of action omitted -- because it is the result of instinctive or automatic action on the part of the human monad, which almost unconsciously to itself, as it were, dislodges from every secret recess of its inner records, imprinted as these are on its own vital substance, all the details of the life just past; and due to the spiritual forces at work, which are strictly harmonic and rigidly karmic, consciousness functions, again automatically, in opening up the panorama by beginning with the first incident that memory has recorded in the life last past, and thereafter proceeds in stately pageantry of imagery until the last thought is reached, the last emotion felt, the last intuition had -- and then comes unconsciousness, complete, sudden, and infinitely merciful. This is true death.
Now such a panorama cannot possibly take place in its fullness during the normal lifetime of the man, because the man's consciousness, or self-consciousness, during life is so distracted and caught hither and yon by his attention being drawn to the manifold events in which he is living, that there is no opportunity for the sequence in regular series of the previous events since birth; and what we call memory during lifetime is merely the ability to read more or less accurately the impressions stamped upon our Auric Egg, which impressions carried by the auric flow to the physical body, as above described, enter the texture of the physical brain and nervous system, and by reaction often make themselves felt as mental or physiological impressions that are thus truly recognized as 'memories of the past.'
It is a most marvelous thing to ponder over, that the human consciousness through its body and its various organs registers with amazing accuracy, indeed infallibly, not only every mental and emotional event that occurs from day to day during embodied life, but even photographs on the registers of the inner being, so to speak, a perfectly incomprehensibly immense number of sense-impressions and brain-impressions and nervous impressions that the day-to-day consciousness of the living man is scarcely conscious of, or perhaps not conscious of at all. It is extremely wonderful, indeed; and yet during the Vision or Panorama of the dying man, every single one of these events, every incident, whether previously recognized and registered in memory or not, passes swiftly and with infallible accuracy before the watching eye of the inner man, just preceding his passing from this plane.
Thus it is that those around the dying so often hear them whispering or muttering faintly of the events of early childhood. Those who have not understood this have supposed that it is a vision of so-called 'heaven,' or something of the kind. It is merely the mouth repeating what the brain sees -- memories passing in review; and back, behind, stands the seeing Self and judges the past life for what it truly was. It is the judge, and its judgment is infallibly true. It sees the record of things done or undone, the thoughts had, the emotions followed, the temptations conquered or succumbed to; and when the end of the panorama is reached, it sees the justice of it all. In view of its vision of past karma, it knows what is coming in the next life, and it says: "It is just."
There is a similar panoramic visioning of the past life, but in less vivid and in less complete degree, at what is called the Second Death in the Kamaloka; but this is not all, for there is a third recurrence of such a panorama, i.e., just before the human monad or ego leaves its Devachanic dreaming and becomes again unconscious -- i.e., un-self-conscious -- preceding reimbodiment or reincarnation in the human womb. The completeness or fullness and accuracy in detail in each case depend upon the type of the respective egos. The student must remember that in all these things, there is no hard and fast or iron-clad rule that never varies for anybody, for the converse is the fact. There are variations or differences of quality and intensity in all these panoramic visions, these differences depending in all cases upon the degree of evolution attained by the human ego.
I was once asked the question as to the influence that the habit of reviewing before one falls asleep at night the events of the day just closed, has, or might have, upon the death-panorama and the after-death states in general. Such habit of reviewing the incidents of the day just closed, when one is preparing oneself for the night's sleep, is an exceedingly important and very, very useful thing to do, and I recommend it most earnestly to every Esotericist.
Its influence or rather effect is that of accustoming the mind to consider one's life as a field of action involving responsibility in conduct, giving us the opportunity to draw lessons there from to do better in the future. It likewise has the very important effect on the mind of inducing a habit of panoramic visioning, thus making the panorama or vision at the moment of death far easier, more quick, and more complete as regards self-conscious realization of the events passing before the mind's eye. For the reasons here mentioned, and especially because of the reason last mentioned, this habit of reviewing the events of the day just ended has likewise the highly beneficial result of shortening the second panoramic vision preceding the Second Death, which is a matter of no small importance indeed!
Such habit of reviewing the day's events is one of the best possible aids in the building up in one's character of the habit of ethical or moral examination, as above stated, thus inducing wisdom in meeting life's problems, and bringing about through reflection and meditation, even if more or less unconsciously performed, a spirit of kindliness or love and unceasing sympathy for others.
A great deal of unnecessary friction and trouble in the world arises out of the mechanical way in which we live in our minds, without adequate reflection, without adequate self-examination, and with little or no analysis of our daily actions and of the thoughts and emotions bringing these actions to be. Of course I am not here referring to any unwholesome or morbid introspection; to this I do not refer at all, for such morbidity should always be avoided. I refer to the careful, honest, and regular habit of examining one's thoughts and deeds impartially and critically as an observer, before one falls asleep. It is a great help in strengthening our moral intuitions.
By James Sterling
There is a never-ending battle between the effort to expand and grow and the effort of substance to resist expansion. We have present in Nature a continual expansion from within, which is offset by a continual pressure from without. Thus the physical nature of every organism is adapted to the pressure of its environment. The less material the environment is, the greater the opportunity there is for the spiritual nature to expand. When all external pressure has been removed, consciousness is now freed from limitation. As the scope of consciousness is enlarged, the power of expansion increases, and the walls of substance are pushed farther back.
Spiritual growth is the struggle of life to control its environment -- to include more and more of its environment within the area of its own self-knowing. Perfect freedom of expression is the goal of all life. All beings are evolving and striving for that freedom which lies in perfect expression. There is but one ultimate freedom -- perfection. Every individual is a slave to his own material constitution; he is a prisoner held in by walls of unresponsive substance. Thus, the natural expression of the inner life is to refine and improve the qualities of its outer vehicles that it may control them. The more refined the substance, the more easily it is influenced by subtle forces magnetically surrounding it.
By increasing the acuteness of his nervous organism, man gains superior consciousness over a certain area of otherwise unresponsive substance. But as a result of this increasing sensitiveness, nervous disorders are increasing, because the more refine the mechanism, the greater the possibility of derangement.
The nerves in the form of etheric streamers extend outward into the aura as impulse carriers. These etheric nerve endings are continually contacting forces and forms both visible and invisible, and convey certain electrical impulses back to the brain. Many of our "hunches and intuitions," and unaccountable antipathies or affinities are the result of the reactions by these etheric nerve threads, which bind every part of the lower organism of man into one solid body. The phenomena of growth represent the gradual effort of life, which is innately perfect, to solidify its perfection and blend itself with the perfection of all.
The foundation of life is triangular, a threefold creation; the triangle of man consists of his spirit, his body, and the link connecting them together.
Divine nature is essentially a part of the divine creation; physical nature is a part of the material creation. The spirit is an atom of divine substance, the body an atom of material substance.
In alchemy, mercury or quicksilver is this blending element between absolute consciousness and absolute unconsciousness; mercury accepts into its own nature other metals. In mythology, Mercury was the mediator serving as the messenger between the Gods and mortals.
A pair of opposites: divine truth and human ignorance. Man can only achieve salvation through the attainment of Reality. Truth is that mysterious, infinite, boundless Reality; man a mere mortal existing temporarily, spending most of his time foolishly.
As man attempts to elevate himself spiritually he gradually separates himself from his material environment. To have a stature great enough to raise his head to heaven and still keep its feet upon the earth is the proof of true enlightenment.
He who has not knowledge of common things is a brute among men. He who has an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone, is a man among brutes. But he who knows all that can be known by intellectual energy is a God among men.
The demigods can never become men or descend to the level of mortality because they are of a different and higher order of creation. In spite of its power and divine abundance of wisdom and understanding, the demigod is unable to build a physical body and, hence must borrow one. Such a body then becomes its oracle or shrine, and through it the demigod reaches the dwellers in the dark sphere of matter. Thus when a demigod or Deva desires to communicate himself to this exalted state, and through the higher vehicles of such a mortal communicates to humanity.
Demigods must not be considered as personalities, but individualities, in they function in substances too rarefied (free of gross, material, and physical elements) to permit the existence of personal organisms.
Pythagoras was overshadowed always by the spirit of the Pythian Apollo. Man's own spirit is a demigod hovering over his lower organisms, which are as disciples receiving instruction for proper and virtuous living from the god within.
Man painfully climbs the many steps leading to the summit of the pyramid of material attainment, and upon reaching the apex, he finds himself at the foot of an incalculable flight of steps leading upward to the very source of Being.
Man has two souls, or rather two phases of one soul consciousness. The first and superior is the rational soul, which is that part of man which is of the divine spirit. The irrational soul is that part, which, being incapable of retiring into the mysteries of self, and assume the material, objective man to be the real.
The qualities of the rational soul are apperception, self-realization, comprehension, and the higher mental capabilities. The qualities of the irrational soul are external perception, ignorance, selfishness, lust, greed, and other similar vices. Sin and death are the masters of the irrational soul. Realizing the kinship of being one with the All, the rational soul will eventually attain immortality. Socrates defines man as a self-knowing being immersed in a not-knowing body.
Man is two-fold: a rational nature rising out of an irrational nature. The rational soul is the eternal martyr who is waiting for his day of liberation, which can only be accomplished when man elevates himself above his material impulses and lower desires.
When our consciousness is perfected, we extend from the heights of height to the depths of depth; we then can penetrate the whole nature of existence; we are in everything -- we are the whole nature of everything. In short, we become one with the All.
Consciousness is not the result of the mind convincing the Self; consciousness is the result of the Self convincing the mind. If man would grasp the Infinite, it is necessary for him to raise himself to the level of the Infinite, and as he ascends the mystery becomes clearer. The Universal Mind is the seven-rayed Savior God through which man must ascend from darkened mindlessness to the perfect state of all-knowing mindlessness. Thus the mind is the Savior-God who leads the soul to the comprehension of Self.
Good is symmetry or the harmonious coordination of parts. The symmetry of parts is harmonious and the harmony of parts produces a concord which is termed Beautiful.
Form has ever been regarded as the emblem of death. Form is the confusing, resisting, limiting, inhibiting, and imprisoning part of existence, the graveyard of consciousness. It is termed the Eternal Adversary, the destroyer. Out of the ever-changing substances of form all mortal creatures build their bodies, which are destined to return to the elemental spheres from which they were derived. Inertia is the characteristic attribute of form. Life in the mortal sphere without a realization of the Divine Plan is the true death. Resurrection from this state is the most desired of attainments.
Beauty, declared the ancient philosophers, results from the harmonious correlation of parts. To the ancients, the arts and sciences were all sacred to the Gods, and upon being admitted to apprenticeship of knowledge and wisdom, the disciple dedicated himself to the expression of eternal truths. When aesthetics die, the very structure of society deteriorates and begins its march toward inevitable oblivion. The codes and morals by which he lives, being the product of his own internal disquietude, thus create national and international friction with their result in crime, war, and disease. Competition is merely a bloodless war in which the soul and not the body is slain.
The beauty and harmony of the inner nature greatly transcends the beauty of the outer, for the spiritual essences constitute the true inner being. The quest of the truly beautiful is therefore identical with the quest of Self, for Self in its perfect and universal sense is the all-pervading consciousness practiced by the sage. As the pure internal nature dwells in perfect order, it thus rejoices in order and symmetry and is repulsed from disorder. The reason civilization must crumble is because it is not beautiful; and lacking the order, harmony, and grace which collectively constitute beauty; it will be disintegrated by the friction of its own inharmonious individual parts. Materialism and Wall Street are the most appropriate symbols of the path of glory that leads to the grave.
Because of their belief in reincarnation, the ancient Greeks taught that rational souls incarnated in harmonious environments, whereas discordant areas were populated with irrational creatures whose own internal discord attracted them to a discordant sphere. A home in which dissension reigns attracts to itself a soul equally discordant.
Time is the true test of nature, and only that which can survive its ravages is worthy to be termed permanent. One by one, the fallacies of life fall beneath the reaping scythe of Time. In time all forms must die; in time all worlds must cease; in time are contained all beginnings and all endings. In the midst of this ever-changing scene is the all-pervading permanence -- the divine Reality, the Self, the perfection of wholeness. Unborn and undying, the Self is neither young nor old. Its condition never changes; for as though all things pass away, it alone endures.
The law of spirit is permanence, and the law of matter is change. Extremes are basically irrational, and only the point of equilibrium may be said to be established upon an enduring foundation.
Man can only liberate himself from corporeal conditions by first freeing his rational nature from mundane entanglements. The rationalizing of the individual must take place in the causal (spiritual) nature, which flowing downward into the corporeal constitution of man, will mold the inferior into the image of the superior.
Spiritual growth inspires the contemplation of wholeness, or unities, and this contemplation of wholeness inspires growth. Immortality is the merging of a mortal nature with an immortal nature; the nature of the immortal is caused to extend and include the nature of the mortal. By elevating themselves to the perfection of wholeness, human beings are able to partake of the immortality of their archetype.
The air is the ancient and secret symbol of rationality and represents the illumined mind. The free air of the spirit comes to relieve man when he is willing to renounce the oppressed prison atmosphere of the body.
Divinity representing wholeness and unity forever mingles with itself; humanity representing fragmentation and disunity may be brought together, yet certain separateness remains as long as human weakness remains. To the degree that he overcomes the sense of separateness, man outgrows his humanity and rises to the state of Godhood of immortality.
By Alun Llewellyn
[From THE ARYAN PATH, July 1966, pages 349-53.]
Law is an idea on which man's social, religious, and moral principles converge. At one extreme, however, it may be interpreted as nothing more than the effective decrees of a government irresponsible to every principle except that of maintaining itself in power. This is an aspect of thought with which twentieth-century industrial society has become familiar in practice. At another extreme, Law can be held to be so great a thing that Deity itself owes its existence to it. This is the principle of Dharma accepted by Hindu philosophy. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that all history is an account of the human dilemma in making the choice between these alternatives; for the philosophy of Anarchism, sometimes invoked as a repudiation of both interpretations, appears in fact either in the negative form of mere escapism from authoritative tyranny, or where it operates as a positive principle, it becomes an extension of the idea of Law as a supreme divinity that must express itself through the individual.
Without Law, there can be no society, not even one of anarchist philosophers; for they, by definition, must govern themselves by a moral code implicit in the idea of self-control. And anarchists, without philosophy, naturally destroy both society and the individual anarchist. Recognition of this unfortunate fact impressed men's minds sufficiently to make them attribute Law to some authority greater than themselves, a god or what is understood by a god, a principle of balance, of order, not only in the material circumstances of the present but also one that could design a past beyond man's memory towards a future beyond his knowledge.
This definition, which is basic to the origin of the idea of Law in all societies, does in fact assume a constant principle superior not only to the accidents of Time but also to the embodiments of social order that men have produced in the shape of personalized local deities, and also to the distinctive aspects of nature that they similarly symbolized. If Hellenic political scientists thought of the ideal City as shaped by the idea of Law, Hellenic religion was similarly aware that Justice (Dike) was the highest expression of Olympus. But this in itself enhances the problem of definitions that lies at the root of most human disorders.
For Law and Justice are not necessarily the same things in every social context. Law is often nothing more than what men submit to because they have no choice; Justice is what they accept because they prefer it. It is even more than that; probably the best definition of Justice was given by Solon, the Athenian legislator, who pointed out that Justice was never fully established until each man felt that a wrong done to another was a wrong done to himself. This in turn implies that there is a system of ethics above both what it suits a government to impose by way of decree and what it suits a citizen to think of as self-interest, however enlightened. How such an ethical concept could have arisen in the circumstances of ordinary human association is a question that has perplexed inquiry through all time.
Modern thought on the subject turns on the phrase first evolved for the concept -- Natural Justice. But like much else in current thought, it has become confused by eighteenth-century interpretation.
Charles Louis de Secondat is better known by his title, Baron de Montesquieu, and is famous for a work, THE SPIRIT OF LAWS, which introduced, at least for his generation, a new way of thinking. It was a way of thought affecting the deepest problem men face, the relation of the individual to the society in which he lives, the relation that Tom Paine summarized as the Rights of Man and Mazzini as the Duties of Man. Each of them, Paine as expounder of the doctrines of American independence and Mazzini as prophet of Italian nationalism in particular and ideal socialism in general, reacted in his own way to what Montesquieu introduced. But it was Rousseau, who fathered the French Revolution by way of THE SOCIAL CONTRACT, whom it is most instructive to compare with Montesquieu (whose THE SPIRIT OF LAWS was published fourteen years before THE SOCIAL CONTRACT).
When Montesquieu wrote, the idea of a principle of Justice inherent in Creation had passed through several stages; notably, in Roman practice, it had inclined to look strictly to the customs of international commerce and communication (Jus Gentium), with only a tenuous relationship to any moral principle. It had then alternated between the scholastic definitions of revelation through men's inherent reason or through a divinely inspired ecclesiastical institution. What distinguished Montesquieu's writing in the long succession of philosophic discussion of the theory is that he rejected altogether the idea of Law as containing any moral principle governing all things in all times and places in favor of a more relativist view. What men's institutions embodied, he argued, was as much a product of variant local conditions of climate and geography as were the beasts and crops on which they fed.
His view of Nature was, therefore, limited to the physical character of Earth itself, the desert, jungle, or prairie, the shores or snows, which men chose or were forced to live among but that in any case imposed themselves on mankind. It departed altogether from the original idea of Nature as something eternal and universal and with a principle of Justice in it, of which human laws were at best an imperfect expression and that must, if they departed from it, override them with a moral force. He is therefore accepted as the initiator of the scientific process of factual analysis with which the twentieth century has so far preferred to explain man in terms of economic or biological processes, which are "natural" enough but leave no room for mental or moral action to master them. The "Nature" he examined was altogether different from the "Nature" assumed by the first philosophy.
Rousseau's translation of the idea of Nature was in some ways more in the traditional line of descent. In reaction against the social conditions of his day, he imagined men, before society as such existed at all, as living in a state of "nature" that was wholly human, ideally free, generous, and upright, as represented in later Romantic thinking by the ideal of the Noble Savage; a condition from which men had departed only by means of a Social Contract for their good government, which all governments had thereafter betrayed. For him, the moral laws were something man arrived at by natural instinct, the sense of community with his fellows, THE COMMON SELF, so strongly argued by his theory that, logically, no need for a Social Contract should ever have arisen.
It is the combination of these two particular adaptations of the idea of Natural Justice that established the nineteenth-century philosophy of Marx that similarly relied on the natural instinct of the Noble Savage (Proletarian or Peasant) to evolve a communal sense of what was right and wrong and derived it from the direct inspiration of economic determinism. And what divides the world at present can, to a great extent, be epitomized as a debate between the successors of Rousseau (Economic Determinism) and those of Montesquieu (Regional Pragmatism).
For the tendency of recent commentary on jurisprudence and political theory is to dismiss the Law of Nature, in any sense other than economic or biological, as something too remote to be defined as Law at all. Even the form it took in matters of religious speculation is now widely called in question. But as a dominant factor in the moral maturity of mankind, the importance of the Law of Nature is beyond question. Without the realization of such a spiritual force exceeding the material power of individual states or the self-interest of individuals, Grotius could never have conceived the idea of international justice, Equity in Britain could never have emerged to correct the imperfections of legal administration, nor could Augustine of Hippo have invoked the City of God as something preferable to the imperial reign of the Roman world or Thucydides presented in the greatest of all historical records the theme of retribution visited upon Athens when it had denied Justice.
Historically, the Law of Nature was conceived by Stoic philosophy and passed into Roman provincial government particularly through the work of the Stoic lawyer Marcianus, whose concepts of corporate personality and the equitable distinction between the use and the ownership of property curiously anticipate British practice. That Stoic philosophy based itself directly on the idea of the ordered Universe, a system of thought that as we now know preceded what we recognize as the Classic civilization of the West and founded cultures in areas it never or only tentatively reached. It was an order of Law of which the entire Earth itself was only a minor and imperfectly adjusted part and Man the last and most experimental unit in its work of creation. He was the only piece in that construction that was conscious and free to move, and he had, therefore, not a predestined path to follow, subject to Montesquieu's geography or Rousseau's infallible instinct, but rather a choice of ways for good or evil.
The Law was the unimaginable purpose that conceived the immense sphere of Outer Space, the Night, and from that established the perfect mathematics of Time that controlled the yearly, monthly, daily, hourly assonance of the shifting constellations and from that again had freed the banded rhythm of the seven planets; and from the sphere of Fire and Air so shaped, then fashioned the frame of Earth, the waters of the ring of Ocean, and the shores of Land within it. The progress was from Thought to Form, to Soul, and then to Body, from an eternal Mind to the brief life of Man. And since men, like all the work of Creation, were by the deduction that the mathematics of the stars imposed required to return into the eternal Mind, the Law of Nature was read as a more than super-human principle, and Man, as a creature burdened with knowledge, with the ultimate responsibility of choice; his destiny was not pre-conditioned; neither good by mere instinct nor evil by mere ignorance. His purpose was to complete the purpose of the immortal Mind of the universe.
Unless the origin of the Law of Nature is fully realized, discussion of its meaning is unprofitable. That origin was in precise and factual observation of the mechanics of the Heavens and in realization of the harmony existing in computation of them. It was their balanced geometry that directly inspired the technical discoveries that made architecture, the calendar, navigation, and writing possible. The fact is confirmed by the language of the early Accadians, whose word for performing an act of religious ritual is the same as that for working out a sum. The most tremendous intellectual effort of men was born from the logic of astronomical research, the concept that Earth itself was not limited to the visible horizon but rather that a lower horizon or hemisphere, the "hinder part" of its structure, also existed. Nothing more differentiates Man from the insect communities or the intelligence of other animals than that effort of imaginative deduction and its sequel concept that Earth hangs suspended in a void by the balanced tensions of an ordered Law.
The Stoics and Pythagoreans, the schools of thought that take the name of Brahma or Manu, sprang from that early and widely diffused science from which the idea of deity -- unnameable, unpersonifiable -- was received. The Law of Nature was the discernible law that moved among the galaxies, not the incidental accidents of climate or human appetite, and Natural Justice was the purpose manifest in that law.
The twentieth century has to discover something more than what it terms (very relatively) the reaches of Outer Space; it has to re-discover what touched Man's mind into humanism when he first looked at the stars to know how they moved.
By Reginald W. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1924, pages 358-62]
This surely is a topic of general interest. There are many people who undertake to teach newcomers to this world how to make the most of it, how to beat it at its own game, how to get a larger share of its favors than falls to the lot of ordinary mortals, how to make a good show in the world, or how to accommodate themselves to its peculiarities. And this preparation for the 'battle of life' is called education. These 'educators' take it for granted that life is a battle, and all their teaching concerns the art of getting the best of every bargain or of every opponent. Life is, to them, entirely composed of transactions in which opponents try to beat one another, either in business, play, or war. Thus, according to their philosophy of life, all men being potential antagonists must at all times be ready for a fight. And yet the world is shocked when war breaks out and civilization crumbles.
In spite of the popularity of this 'struggle for existence' theory, and the inevitability of war theory, for which all men should prepare; and even in spite of the education that teaches men to look upon their fellows as potential, if not certain, enemies, yet there is a large body of people who want peace or who would be glad to see war abolished, even while they would still continue to carry on their business along lines of cut-throat competition.
There are people who presume to think that life is not necessarily a struggle for existence, even if man has made it seem so. And therein we may see the recognition of another theory of life: the theory that this world in which we live is what we choose to make it, insofar as our own share in its life is concerned. And there are some who think that man's share in the life of the world is a big one, if not a determining factor in its character. They think that most of the wars of the world are heirlooms bequeathed to us by our ancestors, who, if not actually fighting themselves, were busy preparing those ambitions, rivalries, and hates from which wars spring eventually. Also they looked ahead and saw the necessary harvest that should come, and so to make it sure, they bound their nation to some other by alliances for mutual defense or mutual assistance in predatory enterprises, so making future war a certainty.
Part of the education above alluded to attempts to root the 'struggle for existence' theory in the young minds that are being prepared to carry on the old tradition of rights that are based on power to gratify desire; so creating the necessary condition from which wars spring. For after all, war is inevitable only when those in power, be they few or many, are imbued with a conviction that war is a necessary condition of the world we live in.
Heredity is powerful no doubt; but hereditary tendencies may all be modified, or even overcome, and the acceptance of a legacy is not obligatory.
The legacy of national ambitions, national claims, national alliances for mutual aid in war, national hates, or national revenge, is bad enough; but it rests with the present generation to ratify the obligations so imposed, or to dissolve them by concession or by compromise. War is not necessary: "there is always another way" of settling a difference. One way is with understanding. To see the disputed question from your opponent's point of view is a great help to understanding. To be tolerant of other people's misunderstanding is to destroy one of the causes of war. To love humanity is to paralyze the fighting-instinct: it is to recognize a higher law than the 'struggle for existence.'
To make that higher law operative in this world is to change its character. And this is what man exists for; to put right the wrongs done and reestablish right ideals in the world so that evolution may proceed and the 'struggle for existence' shall no longer block the upward path of human progress. There should be no struggle for existence.
It is not difficult to see that war means retrogression. Its immediate aim is general destruction and repression. Even a war of liberation, which seems so noble, is but the first step in the establishment by force of a new power that shall conquer and destroy some other power and acquire its territory or reduce it to subservience. A conquered nation rises, conquers its oppressor, reestablishes its lost power, and perhaps would like to rest on its conquest and enjoy in peace the fruits of victory. But that cannot be. War will breed war. "Hatred does not cease by hatred, but by love."
It is for us to change the world we live in. That may seem a big mouthful; but think of it in this way: ask yourself, what is the world I live in? Is it so vast? What is it other than my own thought-sphere, the sphere of my ideals and my aspirations, my loves and hates, my sympathies and antipathies, my claims, my rights, my passions and desires? The world I live in is made up of these. How often do I step outside of it and breathe the open air of the great world in which the million millions of individual lives appear as living atoms in the body of a universe, a godlike being suffering from all the discord raging in his blood? Am I indeed a citizen of this greater world? Or am I imprisoned in my little world, my personal self, concerned with personal wants and personal desires, at war with others like myself with similar desires and similar imaginary rights, rights that we all hope to justify by wrongs, whose consequences we all hope will somehow be miraculously transmuted into benedictions?
But the law of life is not miraculous. "That which ye sow that also shall ye reap." The world we live in is just as we have made it, we or our predecessors, who were perhaps ourselves, if the truth were known. If the world has to be miraculously altered, it is we ourselves that must work the miracle, we or our successors, who also may be ourselves. And how can it be done? Reformers have been busy in all ages and are so still, endeavoring to persuade someone else to do their job, instead of putting the reform immediately into practice. And this continual attempt to induce others to change the world we live in springs from a misunderstanding of the peculiar nature of that world and our relation to it.
The world we live in is our own thought-sphere, which is not separated from the thought-sphere of the world. All that we know about the world is just our own ideas, impressions, and experiences. In those we live. Our words and acts, yes even our thoughts, are the expression of our moods, our aspirations, our desires. They are the material with which we build or the seeds that we plant; they are the soil; they are the creatures that inhabit this world of which we are creators. And if our gardens only produce a mass of poison-weeds, whose fault is it? And if wild animals abound, may it not be that they are born from thoughts of men?
And, if we would reform the world, where had we best begin? Surely it is no use to preach reforms we have not learned to practice, for preaching is not teaching. To teach effectively, we must prepare an atmosphere in which the child may grow, and the most effective teaching is example.
Reformers who try to get other people to adopt reforms that they themselves have not yet made effective in their own lives are setting an example of talking while not doing; and that is the lesson that will be learned, 'how not to do it.' And this is not a moral platitude, it is a distressing fact. It also has its lesson, which is simply that the way to change the world is just to change the only part of it within our reach, the world we live in. This brings us back to where we started with the question of education.
What are the fundamental teachings that best fit a child for life? Obviously the first requisite must be a right philosophy of life: a correct theory of life, a basis for a moral code, an understanding of the purposes for which we live. Taking the last problem first, I suppose it might be said that its solution is the object of existence, entailing as it does the achievement of self-knowledge.
Assuming that self-knowledge is attainable, and seeing as we must that all nature is evolving towards that goal, and seeing that the range of human intelligence and understanding extends in both directions beyond the limits of our ordinary mentality, as from the fact that the lowest specimens of humanity seem less than human in their ignorance and degradation, while the highest pass easily beyond the reach of even the most highly educated intellects and have to be classified as geniuses whose inspired utterances seem to place them in a category that is almost superhuman; it does not seem more than reasonable to suppose that there exist men as superior to our men of genius as they are to the most degraded savages.
Assuming further that the universe is a manifestation of universal consciousness, we must feel sure that from the lowest form of matter to the highest breath of spirit is an unbroken graduation of consciousness, appropriate to each of the innumerable interpenetrating grades of spiritual intelligence, on which is modeled the external universe with all its countless lives, in one of which grades we find ourselves.
Observing what takes place in nature and in the history of human civilization, we notice that the rudiments of science and civilization come to man from above; that is to say from the men of genius, whose 'prophetic vision' points the way that science must follow, establishing a road for the masses who come after. The theory of the caveman evolving for himself civilization and science is not supported by observation. Nor is it reasonable. Whereas the theory that knowledge is given to man by those who know, insofar as we can speak of knowledge being given at all, is eminently reasonable and is going on all the time. True, that which is given by one to another is no more than a suggestion, an indication, or a little push in the right direction, which must be taken up and worked out and converted into knowledge by experiment and experience before it can be applied to practical problems.
So the Theosophist accepts the teachings of the ancient Wisdom-Religion or Theosophy as indications, not as dogmas. One of these teachings is the perfectibility of man; not an unreasonable theory if the whole universe is in a state of evolution.
On this assumption it would be reasonable to accept the perfectibility of man as an indication of his path in life, to seek self-knowledge, to attain. And the first need of the newcomer to this world in which we live is right education, to set him securely on the path of self-knowledge. This education will warn him of the duality of his own nature, and enable him to discriminate between the impulses that, coming from below, might if unrecognized deceive him, and those spiritual impulses that enlighten the mind with flashes of inspiration, that will reveal to him the true path of evolution. He will be taught the power of his will and of his creative imagination, which will enable him to make of his life a beneficent influence changing the world he lives in to a potential paradise in comparison with the hell in which so many millions drag out their existence.
And the aim of this high living must be to realize a great and greater sympathy with all that lives, expanding the world by raising the idea of Self until it loses its earthly selfishness and sees itself as a pure ray of spiritual consciousness flashed from the central Spiritual Self.
Unless this impersonality is made a living power in the mind, there will creep in the shadow of the lower self with all its pride and its ambition. Then under such evil auspices, the pursuit of self-development will merely isolate the soul and raise it to a pinnacle of self-delusion, which must eventually crumble and leave the pilgrim to begin anew.
The comparison of life to a pilgrimage is not a happy one, because the general idea of pilgrimage includes the acceptance of unnecessary hardships that are to be repaid a thousand fold with spiritual bliss -- a most unreasonable transaction. The path of true evolution should be one of joy, whatever the hardships of the road may be. As indications of progress they may be valuable, but as mere suffering, they are irrelevant, for pain and pleasure are but the two poles of sensation and are peculiar to the personality. One who is living for mankind will have but little time to suffer on his own account.
When the personal point of view is abandoned, and a broader sympathy expands the thought of Self, the world we live in will become more beautiful and our lives richer in the true joy of life.
Whether the world we live in shall be great or small, whether it shall be miserable or full of joy, whether it shall include the universe or close us in a prison of self-pity that is for each one to decide. We make the world we live in; if it is not satisfactory, we can remake it, if we will.