The Dhyani-Chohans are spoken of as 'Lords of Meditation' because that is the manner in which the human brain-mind mystically conceives them to be. Actually, they enjoy a state of high spiritual activity and are, during every instant of time, collaborators in the great Cosmic Work with the higher gods with whom the Universe is infilled ...
To us inferior beings, their children nevertheless, they seem to be plunged in the deep depths of meditative spiritual consciousness.
-- G. de Purucker, THE HIERARCHY OF COMPASSION, page 23.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 85-86.]
All initiation is really a test or trial, but the preparation for that test or trial is daily life, from January 1, to January 2, to January 3, and throughout the days to December 31. What we call Initiation is simply the showing by the neophyte in the tests then and there laid upon him, whether his daily life's training has been sufficiently strong to make him fit to hitch his chariot to the stars.
That is why the Masters have told us that no especial tests whatsoever are put upon chelas, only when initiation comes and they are given a chance to face the trial. The tests come in daily living. Do you see the lesson to be drawn from this? Fit yourselves while the day is yet with us and before the night comes. Do you know what some of these tests are? There have been all kinds of romantic stories written by people about them. These have been mostly guess-work, but the fundamental idea is often true. The tests are these: Can you face the denizens of other planes and prevail with them in peace? Do you know what that means? Are you absolutely sure of yourself? The man who cannot even face himself and conquer himself when required on this familiar plane where he lives, how can he expect to face with safety the habitants of other planes, not only the elementals -- they are not by any means the worst -- but the intelligent creatures, beings, living on other planes?
Now then, anyone who has mastered himself, perhaps not completely, but who knows that if he sets his will to it he can control anything in his own character, and knows it by proving it, is ready to go through initiation. When this knowledge comes to him, then he is given the chance.
So many people seem to think that Initiations are privileges granted to people who pretend to live the holy life and that kind of thing, but I will tell you something more that I myself know because I have seen it in my fellow human beings: there is more chance for the man or the woman who has striven honestly and has fallen and risen again, in other words for one who has eaten the bread of bitterness, who has become softened and strengthened by it, than there is for one who has never passed through the fire. So compassionate and pitiful is universal nature that it is precisely those who stumble on the path who are often in the end the richer. Holiness comes from the struggles with self fought and lost, and fought and lost, and fought and WON. And then compassion enters the heart, and pity, and understanding. We become gentle with others.
You see now why it is that the quick one to judge the faults of others is precisely he who himself has never stumbled on the path and therefore is not fit and ready. Compassion and pity are marks of character, of strength gained through suffering. "Except the feet be washed in the blood of the heart" -- there you have it! Look how compassionate the Christ was and the Buddha. Let us learn and do likewise.
I have often been asked or written to as to what my opinion would be concerning one who has been unhappy on life's pathway, has wandered from the straight and narrow path: and I have wondered how any Theosophist could ask me a question like that. Is it not obvious that it is precisely those who have learned through suffering who are stronger than those who have not? -- and I here mean those who have suffered and conquered self. "Judge not lest ye be judged." The one who has been through the fire never judges one who is passing through it. He knows what it means. It is the immature, the spiritually undeveloped, those who have never been through the fire of pain, who are quick to criticize and judge others. Judge not, lest ye be judged someday.
By Merton S Yewdale
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1939, pages 279-82.]
Throughout history there have appeared ever so often among the peoples of Earth, certain individuals who bear all the signs of having been born for a kind of work which is not only inevitable but destined. Yet while these individuals have been something of a confraternity through the ages, their lives and characters have greatly varied. Some of them have been shy of life and so solitary that hardly anyone knew of their existence. Some have lived in little groups, working in the poverty of their surroundings, but in the wealth of their dreams. Some have lived in conventional comfort; and not only have they continued to do their destined work, but they have had the time and the energy to take part in the practical life of the world.
But however they all may have differed in the details of their personal life, they have always been of one accord in dedicating their powers to bringing into existence works of aesthetic beauty that have enriched the lives of men and women through the ages. These gifted individuals are the world's men of genius, and their works are those of the four fine arts -- music, poetry, painting, and sculpture.
At first view, man lives primarily in the material world and is closely attached to it, with the feeling that the spiritual world is outside of himself and beyond him. Actually, he lives between the two worlds, and their forces flow into him from either side. The material world brings its energies so that he may develop his physical powers as well as the resources of Earth. The spiritual world brings its ethical riches so that his life on Earth may be spiritualized and he may thus be kept from falling to the level of sheer materialism. The ideal man is he in whom the spiritual and material worlds unite in a perfect equilibrium. But man in general falls short of that balance; he inclines too much to one side or the other. Thus, failing to achieve it himself or achieving it for a time and then losing it, he yearns to see it achieved in some form in which it is permanent. It is in works of art that he recognizes his ideal of the permanent equilibrium.
So far as the human mind is able to determine, the spiritual and material worlds are the only ones which came forth in the Great Beginning. Yet there is a third world -- the aesthetic, which comes into existence through the man of genius as medium. It is in him that the spiritual and material worlds not only meet, but periodically issue forth united in works of art, which he alone has the power to beget, and which in turn contribute to the embodiment of the aesthetic world. Without the man of genius, there would be no aesthetic world, and consequently no works of art.
Where the man of genius differs from ordinary men is that he lives largely in the world of himself. Into him the spiritual and material worlds also flow, but as into a sanctuary where they offer their resources for his works. From the spiritual world he receives his visions of the Eternal Ideas, the intuitive understanding of the essential harmony and equilibrium of the universe, the gift of hearing with his inner ear, as in music and poetry, and of seeing with his inner eye, as in painting and sculpture. From the material world he receives the substance for his works, the cosmic energy necessary for their formation and the technique to give them the universal form that will insure their continuance throughout time.
The purpose of the man of genius is to give aesthetic form to his visions by representing the universal in the particular. His ultimate achievement is that in his works he effects a union of the spiritual and material worlds by imposing upon the amorphous substance of the material world the order of the spiritual world.
It is the man of talent who CREATES works of art; the man of genius GIVES BIRTH to them. The first is the conscious act of a man who elects to construct from material outside of himself; the second is the instinctive act of a man who yields to the command of the Divine Energy to submit to the birth of substance within himself. The man of talent is like a builder who constructs a building; the man of genius is like a woman who brings a child into the world. For the word genius comes from the Latin "gigno," meaning, "I beget."
But there is a further and profounder difference between the two kinds of men, which is revealed in their origins. The man of talent is of the male species and a member of the race which for millions of years has been divided into two sexes. But while the man of genius is also male outwardly and a member of the present race, he is inwardly male and female; that is, his ethereal or astral body is bisexual or androgynous, and thus a representation of the inner physical formation of the race of androgynes, who lived many, many millions of years before our race, and who self-reproduced their own kind.
That such a race of primordial beings once lived on this Earth and that our race evolved from it, is clear, not only from vestigial evidence in the race of today, but from references in the writings of Plato and Lucretius; in the Puranas, the Zohar, the Kabala, and Genesis; and principally in "The Book of Dzyan," portions of which Madame Blavatsky translated and interpreted in her chief work, THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
It is in the man of genius that the androgyne continues its function; but instead of reproducing himself, the man of genius brings forth works of art -- first the conception of the idea, then the gestation of the substance, lastly the birth of the work itself in the form of music, poetry, painting, or sculpture.
Works of art are symbols of the great drama of the universe, when in the Beginning it first emerged as chaos and then took form, and when the mighty celestial bodies rolled into their appointed places and in silent majesty began their heavenly movement. For the primary elements which go to make up a work of art -- subject-matter, form, balance, and rhythm -- are from the world of the universal.
The subject-matter comes from the Eternal Ideas; the form from the essential unity of the universe, in which all its parts are related in a harmonious whole; the balance from the cosmic force which maintains the heavenly bodies in their relative positions; the rhythm from the measured movement of the heavenly bodies within the universe. Only the particular characteristics of works of art indicate when and where they first appeared in Earth life. Works of art have their roots in the past; they grow in the present and come finally to maturity in the future where they are understood and prized.
Just as art works when they appear are primarily for a future generation whose emotional and intellectual consciousness is different from that of the contemporary generation, so the man of genius possesses within himself a corresponding consciousness, which is transmitted to his works.
Within him also are the feminine intuition and the masculine reason, by which he feels and thinks his works before they have emerged into the world. Likewise, there are reflected in him the universal elements -- subject-matter, form, balance, and rhythm, by which all works acquire their universality, for it is the man of genius who is truly the microcosm of the universe.
As soon as the art works are completed, they take on a meaning in the particular, which brings them closer to the understanding of people in general. The subject-matter becomes an idea or an object which is related to life and recognizable in it. The form becomes a symbol of man's inborn desire to bring order out of disorder. The balance corresponds to the symmetrical construction of the human body and to man's love of proportion in all things. The rhythm corresponds to the ordered movement of the days, months, and years, the seasons and the tides, as well as to the human love of measured sound and movement. Thus works of art completely satisfy, in a universal and a particular sense, our innate desire to see the Eternal Ideas presented in perfect form, balance, and rhythm, and to observe them aesthetically interpreted in compositions of universal and permanent harmony.
In past centuries, when the multitudes were largely uneducated, art was only for the cultured few. In modern times, it is for all people, not only because they are much more enlightened and because it develops their sense of aesthetic beauty, but principally because it opens up a new world of vision and provides a new outlet for their energies which are frequently restricted and sometimes frustrated amid the confines of regimented life in the modern world.
Art is not the means of an escape from life, but instead a master collection of works in which every feeling and thought in the whole human gamut may find instantaneous and sympathetic response. A work in a bright major key symbolizes in general the idea of evolution or coming into life in the visible world. In a somber minor key, it symbolizes the idea of involution or returning to the invisible world whence everything came. Also, the stricter its form, the nearer the work approaches the spiritual world and breathes the spiritual life. With freer form, it approaches the everyday life of the practical world.
Works of art are for the young and the old, and for both sexes; for men of genius, like the universe, are ever young and ever old, and their works are therefore ageless and timeless. Also, because of their androgyny, men of genius are able to represent in their works, with equal skill and understanding, both male and female characters and forms. The direction of a civilization may be determined by the spirituality or materiality of its art works. Likewise, as a civilization inclines, so do its men of genius, who reflect in their works something of that to which the civilization aspires. Yet the greatest works of art are more than records of the aspirations of individual civilizations: they are the immortal record of man's hopes and ideals which he has ever held aloft on his journey through the ages.
Nothing is stranger than that, while astronomers can predict the unusual movements of the heavenly bodies, and seers the coming of great events, no one ever seems to have predicted the coming of a man of genius. He is like a new star which is born in the universe, but which does not become visible until its light has come among men on Earth. Apparently, no one ever suspected that a little boy in Ancient Greece would become Homer; or a boy in India, the poet Kalidasa; or a boy in Germany, the composer Bach; or a boy in Italy, the painter Da Vinci. Nor have men of genius generally been born of illustrious parents. On the contrary, practically all of them came from humble parents; and the history of genius shows that the humbler the mother and therefore the nearer to Nature, the greater the man -- which is perfectly logical, since the energy of Nature is one of the physical elements which are highly necessary to the man of genius in bringing forth his works.
Linked to this force of Nature is the clairvoyant power of the Spirit, by which he perceives the eternal beauty of things that he imparts to his works and leaves as a legacy to all men and for all time. The man of genius is but an instrument of Destiny, and his masterpieces belong not to him, but to the ages forever.
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, May 1954, pages 151-53.]
As a student studies, earnestly and sincerely, the ancient and immemorial record of Truth which we call Theosophy, as our teachings reach his heart, as he attains to greater heights of wisdom and of understanding, one supreme fact is revealed to him -- the imperative need for the service of Theosophy. Having himself benefited by the teachings, he feels an urge to pass them on to others.
Students of Theosophy are asked to prepare themselves, by study and otherwise, to serve the Cause of Theosophy -- to serve humanity, in other words. They should seriously endeavor to fit themselves to be the better able to elevate men and women, to enlighten human souls and lead them on to peace and wisdom. They do not confer any benefit on the philosophy or on the Movement by their voluntary service but by helping the Cause they are helping themselves. That helping is imperative for the student-aspirant's own growth and progress, for without sacrifice, wisdom cannot be obtained, and life loses its meaning.
Students and Associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists, when they are asked to spread broadcast the fundamental principles of Theosophy, often mention the difficulty that there is not a sufficiently great public demand for the teachings of the Wisdom-Religion. While this is true to some extent, that is not the whole trouble. There is a growing body of men and women all over the world who have begun to question life, who are dissatisfied with the explanations given by their religion, or by modern science, or by contemporary philosophy, and who seek a rational answer to their queries, a correct solution to their problems. Among these, there are many who are ready for Theosophy.
It is the task of all those who are in sympathy with the purposes of the ULT to introduce them to Theosophy, not only physically, by bringing them into the hall of the ULT, though this has its great and peculiar importance, but also metaphysically, by attuning them to the current of the Great Theosophical Movement. This has to be done, not in the spirit of proselytism -- Theosophy discourages that, advocating instead the inner conversion of each one by himself -- but by sowing the seeds of great ideas in whatever soil is ready and letting them fructify of their own accord. And if the soil is not ready, we need not despair. By patient effort it is possible to till the most difficult of soils and to prepare it for receiving future seeds.
But where are the tillers and the sowers? The work is growing, but the workers are deficient, not only in numbers but also in quality. It has been said that with a handful of sincere, devoted, unselfish Theosophists, who are Theosophists by nature and not only in name, one could move the world. There is such a power in Theosophy that its wider promulgation can change the face of the entire earth. HPB was making no idle boast when she called Theosophy the most serious movement of the age, for it is a philosophy so grand, so consistent, so logical, and so all-embracing that it can succeed where other systems of thought have failed and can accomplish what may be thought most difficult of accomplishment. Such is the firm conviction of those who have taken the trouble to study and apply it.
Why, then, have we not succeeded in this mighty task? What we lack is enthusiasm and "without it," as Bulwer Lytton puts it, "truth accomplishes no victories"; while Emerson most truly remarks that "every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is the triumph of enthusiasm." The trouble with many of the friends and students of the ULT is that they are somewhat lethargic and apathetic. At one time in their Theosophical career they may have had high ambitions and the desire to do big things. But settling down practically to Theosophical effort, they encountered innumerable difficulties, and these damped their spirits and made them say to themselves: "Let it all go; leading my own life is of primary importance to me; I shall take from Theosophy what I can and give occasionally of time, money, and work to prove my desire for service. More than this I cannot do."
The cause of the failure, then, lies within ourselves. Individual students need to energize themselves, and giving up their lethargy, to come together to form a united body. Having as their common aim the Spiritual Service of Humanity, their brotherly feeling and constant exertion will become a power that in course of time will make its influence felt in every sphere of life.
An oft-heard question is: "What can I do? I have the necessary desire to serve the Cause and help the ULT; but what actual work can I undertake, limited as my capacity is?" So vast is the Theosophical Movement that the lines of work it presents are innumerable. W.Q. Judge once wrote in answer to a question (THE VAHAN, August 1891):
Service is rendered in many different ways: ... by spreading literature, by explaining the doctrines and doing away with misconceptions, by contributing money to be used in the work, by constituting oneself a loyal unit if ability and time be lacking; and chiefly always by acquiring a knowledge of Theosophical doctrines so as to be able to give a clear answer to inquiry. One could also procure some inquiring correspondent and by means of letters answer questions as to Theosophical literature and doctrines. These are all general answers, while the question requires almost a personal examination. Any work that is sincerely done ... with good motive and to the best of one's ability is good Theosophical work.
In the service of Theosophy, the triple sacrifice of time, money, and work can be performed. All three are necessary, for pod and beneficial results require the power of this trinity. If someone desires to know what Theosophy really means to him, he has only to ask himself how much of his time is given to the study and promulgation of Theosophy, how much of his money he spends on himself, and how much he devotes to Theosophy; what he actually DOES for the cause of Theosophy -- does he give part of what he possesses; and, if so, what part?
Students often plead lack of time, or lack of means, or lack of knowledge and capacity as an excuse for not doing anything. But it is more often the will or desire to help and to serve that is absent. If the will is there and the spirit of sacrifice energizes the student, then he will always find new avenues of service opening before him. There is none so poor that he cannot give even a humble coin, and it is not the amount that really matters but the feeling and the thought back of it. There is none so ignorant that he cannot seek out one who knows still less than himself and promulgate even one simple wise word. There is none so busy that he cannot find time to attend at least one meeting, or to study Theosophy even for a little while.
And there are other ways of helping which are within the capacity of anyone: by listening attentively and intelligently to what is being said from the platform, thereby helping those who volunteer for platform work and raising the general tone of the meeting to a higher plane; by following the proceedings at the study class by preparing the lesson beforehand; by speaking of the Lodge and its work to our friends and acquaintances; by sending them programs and leaflets; by distributing Theosophical literature; by thinking of the Lodge as our spiritual home and throughout our life carrying its influence, energy, and inspiration wherever we go; and above all, in Mr. Judge's words, by "our own work, in and on ourselves, each one," which "has for its object the enlightenment of oneself for the good of others." In these and similar ways, we realize the truth of Mr. Judge's mantric phrase, "Each Member a Center," "from which, in our measure, may flow out the potentialities for good that from the adept come in large and affluent streams."
All students and associates of the ULT will do well to keep in mind what HPB has said in her KEY TO THEOSOPHY about the future of the present Theosophical Movement (page 302):
Its future will depend almost entirely upon the degree of selflessness, earnestness, devotion, and last, but not least, on the amount of knowledge and wisdom possessed by those members, on whom it will fall to carry on the work.
Each Associate should examine himself and find out to what extent he possesses these qualifications, and then determine for himself what will be HIS contribution to the Cause of Theosophy and to the work that the is doing. In all our work, the emphasis is always on self-energization and self-determination. But we need to remind ourselves that we exist to serve the Cause and are responsible for keeping it going as the visible incarnation of the Invisible Movement.
By Lay Chela
[From FIVE YEARS OF THEOSOPHY, pages 221-29.]
The practical bearing of occult teaching on ordinary life is very variously interpreted by different students of the subject. For many Western readers of recent books on the esoteric doctrine, it even seems doubtful whether the teaching has any bearing on practical life at all. The proposal which it is supposed sometimes to convey, that all earnest inquirers should put themselves under the severe ascetic regimen followed by its regular Oriental disciples, is felt to embody a strain on the habits of modern civilization which only a few enthusiasts will be prepared to encounter. The mere intellectual charm of an intricate philosophy may indeed be enough to recommend the study to some minds, but a scheme of teaching that offers itself as a substitute for religious faith of the usual kind will be expected to yield some tangible results in regard to the future spiritual well-being of those who adopt it.
Has occult philosophy nothing to give except to those who are in a position and willing to make a sacrifice in its behalf of all other objects in life? In that case it would indeed be useless to bring it out into the world. In reality the esoteric doctrine affords an almost infinite variety of opportunities for spiritual development, and no greater mistake could be made in connection with the present movement than to suppose the teaching of the Adepts merely addressed to persons capable of heroic self-devotion. Assuredly it does not discourage efforts in the direction of the highest achievement of occult progress, if any Western occultists may feel disposed to make them; but it is important for us all to keep clearly in view the lower range of possibilities connected with humbler aspirations.
I believe it to be absolutely true that even the slightest attention seriously paid to the instructions now emanating from the Indian Adepts will generate results within the spiritual principles of those who render it -- causes capable of producing appreciable consequences in a future state of existence. Anyone who has sufficiently examined the doctrine of Devachan will readily follow the idea, for the nature of the spiritual existence which in the ordinary course of things must succeed each physical life, provides for the very considerable expansion of any aspirations towards real knowledge that may be set going on earth. I will recur to this point directly, when I have made clearer the general drift of the argument I am trying to unfold.
At the one end of the scale of possibilities connected with occult study lies the supreme development of Adeptship; an achievement which means that the person reaching it has so violently stimulated his spiritual growth within a short period, as to have anticipated processes on which Nature, in her own deliberate way, would have spent a great procession of ages. At the other end of the scale lies the small result to which I have just alluded -- a result which may rather be said to establish a tendency in the direction of spiritual achievement than to embody such achievement.
Between these two widely different results there is no hard and fast line that can be drawn at any place to make a distinct separation in the character of the consequences ensuing from devotion to occult pursuits. As the darkness of blackest night gives way by imperceptible degrees to the illumination of the brightest sunrise, so the spiritual consequences of emerging from the apathy either of pure materialism or of dull acquiescence in unreasonable dogmas, brighten by imperceptible degrees from the faintest traces of Devachanic improvement into the full blaze of the highest perfection human nature can attain.
Without assuming that the course of Nature which prescribes for each human Ego successive physical lives and successive periods of spiritual refreshment -- without supposing that this course is altered by such moderate devotion to occult study as is compatible with the ordinary conditions of European life, it will nevertheless be seen how vast the consequences may ultimately be of impressing on that career of evolution a distinct tendency in the direction of supreme enlightenment, of that result which is described as the union of the individual soul with universal spirit.
The explanations of the esoteric doctrine which have been publicly given, have shown that humanity in the mass has now attained a stage in the great evolutionary cycle from which it has the opportunity of growing upward towards final perfection. In the mass it is, of course, unlikely that it will travel that road: final perfection is not a gift to be bestowed upon all, but to be worked for by those who desire it. It may be put within the theoretical reach of all; there may be no human creature living at this moment, of whom it can be said that the highest possibilities of Nature are impossible of attainment, but it does not follow by any means that every individual will attain the highest possibilities.
Regarding each individual as one of the seeds of a great flower which throws out thousands of seeds, it is manifest that only a few, relatively to the great number, will become fully developed flowers in their turn. No unjust neglect awaits the majority. For each and every one the consequences of the remote future will be precisely proportioned to the aptitudes he develops, but only those can reach the goal who, with persistent effort carried out through a long series of lives, differentiate themselves in a marked degree from the general multitude.
That persistent effort must have a beginning, and granted the beginning, the persistence is not improbable. Within our own observation of ordinary life, good habits, even though they may not be so readily formed as bad ones, are not difficult to maintain in proportion to the difficulty of their commencement. For a moment it may be asked how this may be applied to a succession of lives separate from each other by a total oblivion of their details; but it really applies as directly to the succession of lives as to the succession of days within one life, which are separated from each other by as many nights. The certain operation of those affinities in the individual Ego which are collectively described in the esoteric doctrine by the word Karma, must operate to pick up the old habits of character and thought, as life after life comes round, with the same certainty that the thread of memory in a living brain recovers, day after day, the impressions of those that have gone before.
Whether a moral habit is thus deliberately engendered by an occult student in order that it may propagate itself through future ages, or whether it merely arises from unintelligent aspirations towards good, which happily for mankind are more widely spread than occult study as yet, the way it works in each case is the same. The unintelligent aspiration towards goodness propagates itself and leads to good lives in the future; the intelligent aspiration propagates itself in the same way plus the propagation of intelligence; and this distinction shows the gulf of difference which may exist between the growth of a human soul which merely drifts along the stream of time, and that of one which is consciously steered by an intelligent purpose throughout.
The human Ego which acquires the habit of seeking for knowledge becomes invested, life after life, with the qualifications which ensure the success of such a search, until the final success, achieved at some critical period of its existence, carries it right up into the company of those perfected Egos which are the fully developed flowers only expected, according to our first metaphor, from a few of the thousand seeds.
It is clear that a slight impulse in a given direction, even on the physical plane does not produce the same effect as a stronger one; so, exactly in this matter of engendering habits required to persist in their operation through a succession of lives, it is quite obvious that the strong impulse of a very ardent aspiration towards knowledge will be more likely than a weaker one to triumph over the so called accidents of Nature.
This consideration brings us to the question of those habits in life which are more immediately associated in the popular views of the matter with the pursuit of occult science. It will be quite plain that the generation within his own nature by an occult student of affinities in the direction of spiritual progress, is a matter which has little if anything to do with the outer circumstances of his daily life. It cannot be dissociated from what may be called the outer circumstances of his moral life, for an occult student, whose moral nature is consciously ignoble, and who combines the pursuit of knowledge with the practice of wrong, becomes by that condition of things a student of sorcery rather than of true occultism -- a candidate for satanic evolution instead of perfection. But at the same time the physical habits of life may be quite the reverse of ascetic, while all the while the thinking processes of the intellectual life are developing affinities which cannot fail in the results just seen to produce large ulterior consequences.
Some misconception is very apt to arise here from the way in which frequent reference is made to the ascetic habits of those who purpose to become the regular chelas of Oriental Adepts. It is supposed that what is practiced by the Master is necessarily recommended for all his pupils. Now this is far from being the case as regards the miscellaneous pupils who are gathering round the occult teachers lately become known to public report. Certainly even in reference to their miscellaneous pupils the Adepts would not discountenance asceticism.
As we saw just now, there is no hard line drawn across the scale on which are defined the varying consequences of occult study in all its varying degrees of intensity -- so with ascetic practice, from the slightest habits of self-denial, which may engender a preference for spiritual over material gratification, up to the very largest developments of asceticism required as a passport to chelaship, no such practices can be quite without their consequences in the all-embracing records of Karma. But, broadly speaking, asceticism belongs to that species of effort which aims at personal chelaship, and that which contemplates the patient development of spiritual growth along the slow track of natural evolution claims no more, broadly speaking, than intellectual application.
All that is asserted in regard to the opening now offered to those who have taken notice of the present opportunity, is, that they may now give their own evolution an impulse which they may not again have an opportunity of giving it with the same advantage to themselves if the present opportunity is thrown aside. True, it is most unlikely that any one advancing through Nature, life after life, under the direction of a fairly creditable Karma, will go on always without meeting sooner or later with the ideas that occult study implants. So that the occultist does not threaten those who turn aside from his teachings with any consequences that must necessarily be disastrous.
He only says that those who listen to them must necessarily derive advantage from so doing in exact proportion to the zeal with which they undertake the study and the purity of motive with which they promote it in others.
Nor must it be supposed that those which have here been described as the lower range of possibilities in connection with occult study, are a mere fringe upon the higher possibilities, to be regarded as a relatively poor compensation accorded to those who do not feel equal to offering themselves for probation as regular chelas. It would be a grave misconception of the purpose with which the present stream of occult teaching has been poured into the world, if we were to think it a universal incitement to that course of action.
It may be hazardous for any of us who are not initiates to speak with entire confidence of the intention of the Adepts, but all the external facts concerned with the growth and development of the Theosophical Society, show its purpose to be more directly related to the cultivation of spiritual aspirations over a wide area, than to the excitement of these with supreme intensity in individuals. There are considerations, indeed, which may almost be said to debar the Adepts from ever doing anything to encourage persons in whom this supreme intensity of excitement is possible, to take the very serious step of offering themselves as chelas.
Directly that by doing this a man renders himself a candidate for something more than the maximum advantages that can flow to him through the operation of natural laws -- directly that in this way he claims to anticipate the most favorable course of Nature and to approach high perfection by violent and artificial processes, he at once puts himself in presence of many dangers which would never beset him if he contented himself with a favorable natural growth. It appears to be always a matter of grave consideration with the Adepts whether they will take the responsibility of encouraging any person who may not have it in him to succeed, to expose himself to these dangers.
For anyone who is determined to face them and is permitted to do so, the considerations put forward above in regard to the optional character of personal physical training fall to the ground. Those ascetic practices which a candidate for nothing more than the best natural evolution may undertake if he chooses, with the view of emphasizing his spiritual Karma to the utmost, become a sine qua non in regard to the very first step of his progress.
With such progress the present explanation is not especially concerned. Its purpose has been to show the beneficial effects which may flow to ordinary people living ordinary lives, from even that moderate devotion to occult philosophy which is compatible with such ordinary lives, and to guard against the very erroneous belief that occult science is a pursuit in which it is not worthwhile to engage, unless Adeptship is held out to the student as its ultimate result.
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, June 1926, pages 520-21.]
White wings lap and white waves leap O'er the Lowland Hundred's sleep; And green and dim the flood flows where Were hawk and hound and pride and prayer; Yet the bells at evening ring From 'neath wave and sea-gull wing, And Gwyddno's minstrels' grief and glee Sing forever through the sea.
Reeds and rushes whisper and sigh Where unknown the Mighty lie: Hero-hearts that broke of old And bloom now broom- or sunset-gold; Prophets murdered long ago Who gave the hills their purple glow: We forget -- but not the Sea Nor the Mountains' majesty.
Shineth, fired to west, the sky? -- Day hath learned from them to die. Hath iris, rose, or peony shone? -- Summer puts their dreamings on. Ne'er was hue nor splendor yet But what human hearts beget; Or, if wrought by Gods behind, Focused through some human mind.
Ne'er I lifted up my sight Toward the Mountains crowned with light, But in mine own spirit there I saw the Goal of all men's prayer, And glassed where bodily eyes might win To view them, cliffs and crags within -- Love and will or rock and sod. The Himalayas of the Heart of God.
And evil thoughts in secret born Add to every rose a thorn; But what heart would help or save Turns some threatening wind or wave; And Cantre'r Gwaelod lies asleep Green unmotioned fathoms deep, But Gwyddno's minstrels' grief and glee Chime still through the Celtic Sea ...
By William Q. Judge
[From THE PATH, July 1894, Pages 119-22, reprinted in ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, I, pages 422-25.]
Some confusion has at times arisen in the minds of Branch officers and members on the point of admitting persons to the T.S. It has been asked, Why, if we hold to Universal Brotherhood, should we refuse to admit those to whom there is objection? The answer seems to be the same as one would give if the question related to admitting all persons to one's family or house. Indeed, the relation of Branches to the T.S. is much like that of the family to the State.
Every individual not positively criminal has the right to citizenship, and may, subject to the statutes, take part in civic affairs, express his convictions as to public policy, join in meetings of citizens for discussion of new movements, and everywhere be regarded as on a par with his fellows. But this gives him no right to entrance into any family, and claim that his citizenship entitled him to cross whatever threshold he liked and establish himself as a member of the domestic circle would be laughed at. Everyone would say that families had a right to their privacy and to select their associates, and that if they saw fit to exclude any person from their home, there was no canon of justice or proper feeling which should constrain them to do otherwise. It was wholly for them to say who was congenial, acceptable, and welcome.
Just so in Branches of the T.S. Every sincere and reputable person is free to join the Society and as a member of it to enjoy all the privileges belonging to membership. He can attend all meetings of Theosophists as such, join in petition to the constitutional authorities, use his diploma for purpose of identification, claim the documents due to F.T.S., and in general, have full possession of every right conferred by our rules. But this does not empower him to demand admission to private meetings of a Branch, much less to election to its membership; nor can there be any ground of complaint if its existing members decline to elect him.
This will be clearer if we consider the nature and purpose of a Branch. It is a union of a group of members having a common ground of interest in Theosophic study or work, a certain general conception of desired methods, and a more or less intellectual or social or personal sympathy. The basis must of course be Theosophy, but the local superstructure takes shape and color from the quality of those who plan its erection.
Now it is the continued harmony of the constituents which is to determine both its endurance and its activity. If an applicant for Branch membership is known to have views as to its policy in marked contrast to those prevalent within it, or to be offensive in manner, of ill-repute in the community, quarrelsome, heady, flighty, certain to excite discord inside or to compromise the Society outside, there is no possible reason why he should be accepted. To admit him would do him no good, for he is not in harmony with the rest of the organization, and would simply be introducing an element of discord certain to eventuate in ill feeling, contention, a check to work, and possible disintegration.
One factious or indiscreet Branch member may paralyze a Branch. Nor is his exclusion an injury. He has no claim to entrance and consequently no grievance at denial, and he is altogether at liberty to join the Society as member-at-large, to assist its operations, and to study its literature. He can be a citizen of the commonwealth without being a member of a particular household in it.
More than this, where a Branch is aware that a person is sure to cause trouble or to act as a stumbling-block to other and worthy men and women, it is its DUTY to prevent that catastrophe. Sentiment should not be a bar to justice. To protect the Society and to secure peace to existing workers is of more importance than the self-love of a single individual. Indeed, if he resents the expression of the Branch's preference in the case, he shows that he has not that respect for others' rights, judgments, and feelings which is essential to any true Theosophist, and is destitute of the elementary qualifications for close union in Branch life. His very pique justifies the Branch action and affirms it.
Of course it cannot be said that no sacrifice of personal desires or preference is ever to be made by Branch members in elections. That would be queer Theosophy. It may very well happen that a person somewhat distasteful in ways may yet give promise of a valuable future, and a sincere member may, and should, concede personal considerations to a larger good. But this is a different case from that radical unfitness which cannot be smoothed over by tolerance or by phrases, and which demands the blackball for protection.
To recapitulate, we believe in unity, but at the same time we know that it is not possible for all to live intimately with each other because of various differences existing among individuals as to race, manners, and style of mind as well as of nature. Brotherhood does not require that we shall take into our home the vicious, even though we are working for their reformation; nor that we should bring into our own circle those whose manners and development are vastly different from our own. And just as it is in our private life as human beings, so it is in the Theosophical Society.
We have no right to deny to anyone the right to be alive and one of the human family, and neither have we the right to deny to anyone the right to belong to the Society so long as the applicant is not a criminal unreformed. But in the Society the Branch represents the family, and it has a right to draw a line or make a limit, and to say who shall and who shall not belong to that family. Hence each Branch has to decide upon whom it will admit. If some apply who are sure to bring trouble to the Branch or who are of a nature that will not permit free and harmonious work with the others, the Branch has the right from all points of view not to admit to the Branch roll. This very question was once raised very needlessly in a place where there were many colored people and where a sentiment existed against their associating intimately with whites. It was settled by deciding that if colored people desired a Branch of their own they could have it and would be helped by the other. Brotherhood does not demand that elements wholly dissimilar must be violently mixed. Neither party would be comfortable in such circumstances. They can work apart for the common aim.
But the rules provide for cases where applicants wish to enter the T.S., as any Branch President may admit the applicant as a member-at-large if willing to endorse his character in general. In such an event, the transaction is between the president, the applicant, and the office of the General Secretary. It does not concern the Branch at all.
And so the union of right feeling and sound reason will usually solve duty when uncertainty occurs, and the Branches be secured the largest proportion of good material, with a minimum of risk to harmony, effectiveness, and continuing life.
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, June 1926, pages 556-61.]
The true road for Humanity lies in the principle of BROTHERHOOD -- properly understood. But that word, "Brotherhood," needs careful consideration, if we are to gain an adequate idea of what it really means, and not be misled by the numerous false conceptions which are attached to it. Brotherhood, as the term is usually understood, represents a conception which is much too small and slight to stand as the salvation of Humanity. Too often it means nothing more than a vague sentiment of mutual toleration, or a system of communal life based on such mutual toleration. When people speak of Brotherhood, they often have in their minds something that is difficult and goes against the grain. They imagine that to practice Brotherhood means to act against one's inclinations and maintain towards other people an attitude of forced benevolence and toleration.
This is because we are trying to practice Brotherhood without having the real thing in our hearts; and so, instead of being an instinct, whose gratification is a pleasure, it becomes an irksome duty. Our motive is wrong. We act from religious fear or philosophic belief, or some other motive that does not deeply stir the nature. Brotherhood cannot rest upon sermons nor upon philosophical treatises. You cannot preach people into brotherhood, nor argue them into it.
But Theosophy sheds quite a new light on the question. According to Theosophy, Brotherhood rests on certain great truths which have long been forgotten by the human race, and which must be brought back to recollection. The first of these truths is that of the ESSENTIAL DIVINITY OF MAN. This makes all the difference in the meaning of the word "Brotherhood," because the belief in the essential divinity of man is not taught either by religion or science, or if it is, then only in a vague and ineffectual way.
According to Theosophy, the ordinary life of man is but a poor shadow of the real Life that should be his. The greater, better, part of human nature lies still latent and undeveloped OUTWARDLY. There are possibilities in life which we do not dream of. We go on theorizing about questions as if the present stage of human development were the best possible. But it is evident that, if so many of our powers and faculties are still latent and undeveloped, we have quite a large and new field of conjecture left open to us.
The powers of the Soul can only be evoked by a true Brotherhood. Just as the sublime harmonies of music require the consonance of many tones tuned in accord, so many hearts beating together in perfect mutual understanding and love evoke the sublime harmonies of the Soul-life.
To most believers in religious creeds, the Soul-life is a thing of the hereafter, not to be enjoyed on earth. And even thus, there is never any idea of a blending of hearts, but rather one of selfish bliss -- if such a thing were possible. But in the light of Theosophy, the Soul is ever present with us, overshadowing us each and all, and waiting for our recognition. This is surely no strange doctrine, but only the one that Christ taught. But we have perverted his kindly teaching into a cold and barren dogma.
It is open to everyone to enter upon the Path which leads to eternal peace and knowledge. The one essential is that he should give up those personal prejudices and delusions which hide from him the light. But to be willing to do this, he must become convinced that there IS such a Path, and that it is worth striving for. This is where the need for Theosophical teachings comes in. There are many, many sad hearts and puzzled brains in the world that are ready to come to the light, but are kept from it by the almost impassable barriers of false knowledge and mistaken ideals that exist in the world. Many hear of Theosophy and pass it by without further inquiry, when it is the very thing they are in search of; and all because of the number of times they have been deceived. They think Theosophy is one more sham and delusive hope.
Since humanity has no creed or faith on which it can base a doctrine of true Brotherhood, it needs more than all else a proper understanding of the laws of life and of the constitution of human nature. HUMANITY NEEDS A NEW HOPE. Without hope and the faith of knowledge, the heart is cold. How are we to restore the lost hope and faith of humanity? By restoring the knowledge of man's essential divinity.
The Theosophical teachings as to the history of humanity are more scientific than those which are current today. Theosophy teaches that Man has had an immense antiquity on the earth, as our archaeologists are now beginning to discover. Science admits that the rocks and plants and animals are millions of years old, but with strange inconsistency will not accord a corresponding antiquity to Man; but instead makes him the creature of a few paltry centuries, while its ideas as to the status of the ancients are often childish and silly. The Wisdom-Religion, more consistent, gives Man an antiquity commensurate with that of the geological ages.
The life-history of humanity comprises a cycle of fall and descent, and a cycle of reascent and rise. It is what is meant by Paradise lost and regained. There have been times in the far past when humanity was more glorious and happy than it is now -- times dimly spoken of in legend as the "Golden Age." All nations have traditions of these times, when Gods and Heroes walked the earth. Also we have legends of the Fall of man, when led away by the misuse of his divine prerogative of free will, he forsook the Light and turned to sensual pleasures and worldly power. The purpose of life is the experience of the Soul, which being essentially divine descends into fleshly bodies for the purpose of adding to itself the knowledge and dominion of all the lower kingdoms of nature.
It is the destiny of man, by virtue of his free will, to stray far from the light in his quest of experience and happiness. It is also his destiny to return to the light after his long pilgrimage and to become master of all the forces of his lower nature. But the path of humanity is always forward, though sometimes leading along a descending slope. Viewed in this light, the present age, and indeed all the period covered by history as we know it, is a cycle of materialism and spiritual darkness. Man has been engaged in bloody wars of conquest, in religious quarrels, in the struggle for material wealth, and all things earthly. But we have now passed the lowest point of the cycle and a return to more spiritual ways of life is impending. This explains the universal hunger for reality and faith which is heard everywhere today.
It is a sad thing to have to confess, in a so-called scientific and cultured age, that people are in a state of absolute doubt and ignorance as to how to deal with the most vital problems of human life: how bring up children, how to stop vice and crime, how to prevent disease and secure health, what is the right form of government, how to prevent industrial strife and financial corruption, what constitutes truth in religion, what is the nature of the human mind and heart, and innumerable other questions. It is not very flattering to have to confess that we cannot prevent international wars, bloody massacres, political dishonesty, and the ravages of selfishness, cruelty, and lust. In short, the outfit of knowledge which we can claim in this age is confessedly altogether inadequate to solve the simplest problems of human life.
Is there not need to bring back to humanity its lost faith and knowledge?
The secret of happiness is SELF-CONTROL. But what is to be the controlling agency? The only self-control we know is where some greater passion controls the lesser ones, as when ambition rules a man's life, or love of ease. Or perhaps religious fear may keep us in order. Fortunately, the greater part of humanity is governed, not by the contradictory voices of religion nor by the wild guesses of scientific opinion, but by the sane and healthy instincts of human nature which make themselves felt and which impel men to observe the laws of self-sacrifice and mutual helpfulness which alone can render society stable. But these are only instincts, and people do not understand their reason.
What we have to learn is that the law of Brotherhood is founded on eternal truth, that it is the very fundamental LAW of all life. The higher life is not a kind of supplement added to the ordinary life. It is the only real life, and what we know as life is only a counterfeit. Theosophy teaches that, while the lower mind of man is personal and separate, the Soul is one for all and knows no self-interest.
If we should rise above the delusions created by our selfish passions, we should become illuminated by the light of the Soul shining into our minds and making us see things as they really are. We should then be inspired with the universal Love which would impel us to act in the common interest and would dominate and supersede all self-interested motives. Instead of having a lot of ordinary people actuated by ethical and religious principles in which they only half believe, we should have people who were illuminated and to whom the teachings of true Religion were natural instincts instead of difficult tasks.
Modern opinion fluctuates to every point of the compass; all the departments of inquiry are at cross purposes; there is no unity or agreement in modern thought and it is a perfect Babel. How can we find in the midst of this confusion, any authority, any certainty, anything that can serve as a sure guide in life? We have lost the unifying factor of knowledge, the keystone of the arch. Instead of knowledge, we have multitudinous opinion, and if it were not for the natural healthy instincts, society could not exist at all.
The unifying factor which we have lost is the ancient Wisdom-Religion -- Theosophy -- that knowledge which in antiquity was widely diffused and generally recognized, but which was obscured by false doctrine and gradually lost from public knowledge during the dark cycles. In this Knowledge, there is no contrariety between science and religion, and the whole fabric of knowledge coheres and is perfectly consistent and harmonious. It replaces the everlasting doubt and fear about the future life and the Soul by a certain conviction of the immortality and essential divinity of man's nature, and thus gives a new hope and strength and dignity to life.
No longer need we live without a purpose, drifting along we know not whither. The assurance that there is a larger knowledge and a fuller, richer life that is open to each and all who are willing to enter the path of wisdom gives man a sure goal to aim at.
The True Road to truth must be sought within oneself. In the Soul is the ultimate criterion of truth. The religious bodies of the Occident are to some extent beginning to realize this; that is to say, they are getting back to the original teachings of their Master, who taught that we must look within ourselves for our divine nature. But it needs Theosophy to put this teaching into a form that will make it real and practical; for without the knowledge regarding the nature of man, there is no rational basis for the doctrine to rest on, and it will not satisfy the reason. Theosophy indicates how we may so direct and fashion the course of our lives as to approach that fount of divine strength and wisdom which is in each one of us. That way is by the practice of Brotherhood.
We must realize that the selfish propensities are fetters on the Soul, chaining it down to a narrow and sordid life, when it might be free and soaring like a bird. By recognizing the unworthiness of our personal desires and ambitions, and forcing them to give way to the unselfish aspirations which we are cultivating, we can gradually rise to a calmer, happier life.
This is no idle dreaming. The Theosophical or Brotherhood-life is being actually lived before the eyes of the world in Lomaland, and is rapidly becoming the source of wonderment and admiration. The world hungers for and can appreciate a practical working example.
Theosophy does not divide life into compartments, but regards it as a whole. Hence the whole nature is developed harmoniously, as the ancient Greeks sought to develop it. Body, Mind, and Soul are all cultivated. Theosophy contains the laws of right living on every plane; so that it includes the laws of bodily health.
The most striking instance of the effects of practical Theosophy now before the world is the Raja-Yoga school-system. The quality of the children which that system of education brings forth is astonishing to the eyes of the people. In the Raja-Yoga Schools true self-command is taught, for the children are taught from their earliest years to rely on the indomitable strength and purity of their own Soul, and by it to control all their faculties of mind and of body and to drive out all the intrusive passions and ailments which afflict and mar the life of less fortunate people. The Raja-Yoga system, as applied to children and to grown people, may truly be described as the hope of humanity.
By G. de Purucker
[From STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, pages 481-83.]
Why do Theosophists not believe in prayer, and that prayer will be answered by our Father in Heaven?
Just exactly what do you mean by prayer? Does it mean petitioning "the Father of men and the Creator of the universe" to send us rain or to give us success in our material enterprises, or to send us a baby boy instead of a baby girl, or to make the crops grow green or to give us comfort and solace when perhaps death has taken a loved one from us? What kind of prayer is this? It is wholly selfish. It is a confession that we are seeking to get something for ourselves; it is a confession also that our view of and opinions about and convictions concerning that unnameable Mystery, whose very heart is compassion and wisdom, are purely human. It also signifies that we believe that the Divine does not know as well as we do what is good for the world and for us. Petitionary prayer, to us Theosophists, is not only wrong, but, if we may use ordinary human terms, is a spiritual impertinence.
On the other hand, those who suffer, whose hearts grieve, who are in doubt about some deep ethical problem, who are uncertain after which manner a certain act should be done -- should remember the words of all the great Teachers: Go into thine own inner chamber and there commune with the god within thyself; for, as Jesus is reported to have said, "I and my Father are one" -- that is, each man is one with his own inner god, the essential divinity within him, his link with the Boundless Infinitude.
There is a fountain of wisdom within us all, a fountain of love inexhaustible; and the pity of it is that men do not realize this -- one of the sublimest truths of human life. They do not know what they have within, and all the teaching of the Sages and Seers of the ages has been: Look within, search within, find truth within, become one with thine own inner god, and be at peace! THERE is the source of wisdom and love and peace and happiness; and the way to reach this source is beginning with a boundless sympathy for the souls of men.
The one true and only genuine prayer is loving; give love boundless to everything both great and small; feel your essential unity with the stars in their courses; feel at home in the Universe; have a kindly thought and a compassionate feeling for everything that suffers or is in pain or that grieves or that yearns for light and truth. This is the path of discipleship; this is the ideal of the chela-life. Theosophy makes an appeal to the spirit within man himself, and if this idea is understood and developed within one, then in a little while light comes, peace comes, happiness comes, and great quiet. No longer do pain and sorrow exist in such a man or woman.
The key is self-forgetfulness! Remember that the very heart of Nature is harmony, which means love; for love and harmony are one, being two sides of the same thing. Wisdom is but another name for the same thing, for love is wise: it is wisdom and clairvoyance; and wisdom is always harmonious. Actually, love and wisdom and peace and harmony are really words for the same inexpressible Mystery which men in their ignorance call God. When we begin to delineate it and define it, we endow the Divine with our merely human figments of thought, imperfect, limited, because we are imperfect; and therefore it is that we Theosophists always speak of this wondrous, ineffable Mystery by the one word THAT. This is infinitely more reverential than to begin to label the Divine or to ticket it or to qualify it with the imperfect attributes of our human existence.
All petitionary prayer is, in the last analysis, selfish. Take two armies on a battle-field, for instance. Each one prays that it may be victorious and the enemy be vanquished. Whose prayer is your God going to grant? I repeat again: all petitionary prayer is selfish. A man may ask for guidance; but even this is for himself alone. It is a nobler prayer, I admit, than if he were to ask for an increase in his wealth, or something of that sort; but nevertheless he is asking for something which in his imperfect judgment he thinks to be the best thing for him. But you can yourselves change the course of your own lives, because you are a part of Nature, you are an integral part of the Universe, and therefore a part of that very heart of compassion, although as yet very imperfect and feeble expressions of It.
Even if you pray for another's good fortune -- how about the moral aspect of this? Don't you realize that you have no right deliberately to influence, or to try to influence, the evolutionary growth or development of a brother or of an entity inferior to you, unless it be strictly in accordance with Nature's inner laws, which are non-interference with others, except in loving and in compassion and in impersonal helping? Do you think you could have a right to influence a rose, for instance, to change its color from red to blue?
If so, then, following along the same line, you would have a right to influence some human being's destiny, and to try to change him from a bad man to a good man or from a good man to a bad man. No, we Theosophists say No, because, suppose that you were successful in changing a bad man into a good one, and did so by your own power, you would leave him still weak and imperfect and you would thus deprive him of the opportunity of gaining strength for himself, which is the only genuine strength and the only way by which he can grow. It is in Nature's law for him to learn his own lessons, to evolve himself, to strive himself for strength, for light, for growth. Interference in the affairs of another is unwarrantable, and the very gods in their majestic courses cannot and will not interfere with the evolutionary growth of men by listening to their feeble petitionary prayer.
By Theosophical Students
[The materials that follow come from theosophical symposiums given at the Point Loma Theosophical Community in the early 1930's. It was read aloud by various participants. It was taken from various theosophical writings including those of Kenneth Morris and from THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE by H.P. Blavatsky. It was later reprinted in IN THE TEMPLE, pages 44-54.]
We are playing with fire if we come here in any other attitude of mind than that of a hungerer for truth, with a desire to love and to help our fellow-men. A love for all beings, and things, both great and small, will form a rampart, a protecting wall, about us, so strong and impenetrable that nothing will reach our hearts beneath that wall of love. And if we have the will to carry on, the will, which is the mystical sword by which we carve our way, and thus forge ahead, we have been promised that we shall pass the portals of the Sun. Once we have set our feet upon this path we can never go back; the doors have shut behind us. We can fail and either fall asleep or die, but henceforward, hereafter, forward we must go. We cannot play with occultism. It means divinity for us, or companionship with the Brothers of the Shadow.
Be crystal-clear in your mind, as impersonal as the spirit, which is the root of you, then your mind will reflect the golden splendor from the sun of light within yourself. The truth is, the disciple must prevail, or fail. He must kill these things in himself, or they will kill him. This is literally true.
Thoughts are so much things, that a trend of thought, in other words a bias of character, held throughout a lifetime becomes an actual entity in the astral world, an aggregated entity. The Chela in the schools of initiation has to meet and face these, his own astral children, and slay them, kill them, which means dissipate them ? If men and women only knew what they are surrounded by, their own children, their own thoughts, their own offspring, from very horror and fear they would refrain from doing and thinking what men do and think.
Man cannot breathe, man cannot think, without setting in motion energies, forces, which ultimately will reach to the very uttermost limits of our Home-Universe, and pass beyond those limits to the frontiers of other Universes. Therefore, even a thought about a star touches that star in due course of time, with infinitesimal effect, to be sure; but nevertheless this fact instances a wonderful truth.
In the higher degrees the Chela is tested by Life, by the forces of Nature, which test and wring every fiber of his being. That is the way in which the real tests come: heart and mind, soul and spirit, will and consciousness all are tried. It is like the gold which is cast into the flaming furnace: and like it he must come out purified. That purification washes out all personality. Only karmic weaknesses remain, and those karmic weaknesses belong to the fabric of the cleansed material.
Severe also was the discipline and training of those who were to become Bards among the Cymry. Before they could sing in poetic form the heroic thoughts and high truths passed on to them to teach and guard, they must be initiated into the higher mysteries. And initiation into the higher degrees is learning by individual experience; by becoming the thing, temporarily at least, which you are learning about. You cannot truly experience a thing until you become it, until you are it. Many fail because they are not strong enough to go through the tests. The aspirant must go, not only through the gates of the sun and confabulate with the Gods, but he must also take the adventure of the downward path, and supreme and strong and pure and high, conquer all, meet, face, overcome, and help the beings in Hades, in the lower realms of the cosmic life ? Hades is the underworld, meaning the spheres of cosmic life beneath the human cross-section of the Universe. It refers more particularly to those invisible realms or kingdoms of Nature which are more material than our humanity.
The Druids called the Underworld -- Annun, of that part of the Circle of Abred or Necessity which contains all the kingdoms of nature below the human kingdom. In initiation there is immediate cognition of all these different states of consciousness, of all these worlds and of all these different things you have been taught about. Such initiations are going on in sacred places at this Spring Equinox, for the Initiant at this time of the year becomes for a while, a denizen of the Underworld -- but as a God, therein retaining his solar splendor. Thereafter he soars in the spaces of Space, into the regions of the Divine, conversing with pure and holy beings, thus being instructed in the wisdom of the Gods.
One thinks of the Avataras at this time of the year; for are they not divinities undergoing initiation of a similar kind, by passing through our world, which is verily an Underworld to the Divine Spheres? The writings of the Druids also tell of Divinities coming down from the divine Circle of Gwynfyd to the Little World in the condition of man, in order to teach, warn, direct, and inform those who seek to be divine. They do this by virtue of their own great love cooperating with the love of the highest God, Hu Gadarn.
We call these messengers from the Gods, Avataras. The doctrine of the Avatara is a deeply mystical teaching. An Avatara is a spiritual transitory event. It comes like a blinding light from heaven into the world of men, passes athwart the sky of human affairs, and disappears. It is a composition, a magical fabrication, a putting together of spiritual, psychical, astral and physical elements. Just as an ordinary man is composed of three bases: spirit, soul, body; so is the Avatara; but instead of being a Reincarnating Ego with a long karmic past stretching back into the infinitude of bygone duration, and with a long karmic future ahead of it, the Avatara is a temporary union of these three elements, in order to produce a more or less permanent effect, spiritual and intellectual, on earth among men.
At certain cyclical periods in human history, when evil is running strong in the world and virtue is fading from men's hearts, then there occurs a descent of a Divinity, which in the spiritual realms is then ready and waiting; but in order to make contact with this sphere of human life, an unusually evolved and holy intermediate vehicle is necessary to carry, or step down, the divine current; and this intermediate principle is furnished by a Buddha of Compassion. Thus this divinity -- not the Buddha's own inner god, but this other divinity -- may shine through this loaned intermediary and thus illumine still more strongly this glorious nature of the Buddha. This Buddhic Soul incarnates in a human seed, and brings about the growth of a human marvel-child. The natural soul of that seed it overshadows is set aside by this act of white magic. The Buddha soul is so strong, so tremendous in its power, that it assumes full and complete control of the growing embryo and thus sets aside what you would call the natural reincarnating soul that otherwise would have become a man.
When the body is thus borrowed, it actually amounts in a certain sense to a reincarnation of the Buddha. The reincarnating entity which has been set aside is very carefully guarded and taken care of until it is again led to enter another incarnation fully as appropriate as the one which Nature's unaided forces were in the way of bringing about. There is thus no injury done to the ego set aside. And in fact, the life-atoms that have been thus borrowed for the purpose of the Avatara and belonging to the dispossessed ego, receive such a tremendous spiritual and intellectual impress from the soul of the Buddha that their karmic benefits are very great ? Thus, the embryo grows and develops and finally is born as a little child.
However, there comes a time in the growth of the physical body which enshrines the Avatara when the life-atoms of that body belonging to the natural ego which was set aside, are practically replaced by the life-atoms which belonged to former incarnations of the Buddha himself. So during the main part of the Avatara's existence, practically all the life-atoms of the body are those that the Buddha had in former lives.
The soul of the Buddha enlivens and invigorates and watches over the borrowed body until the child approaches adulthood. It prepares it, quickens the best part of its vital energies, until the time comes when the young man has reached a point in development when the brain can begin to receive the fuller incarnation of the spiritual and intellectual energies of the soul of the Buddha. Then later, during initiation, the soul of the Buddha, by a tremendous effort of spiritual energy rises, as it were, through the ether and links itself with the waiting divinity; and from that instant the Avatara exists -- and is thenceforward a complete entity, a perfect combination of a manifesting divinity, a Buddha-soul, and a pure and trained physical vehicle. The full glory and final conscious connecting link is made at this sacred season of the year, the Spring Equinox. Then the holy Seer gives himself up utterly to the divine influence.
An Avatara is a sublime feat of the highest White Magic deliberately done on the part of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion, in order to introduce into our human atmosphere the direct influence and energy of a god. It is a spiritual splendor passing across the horizon of human history for spiritual work, and then it is gone. An Avatara is the very incarnation of Wisdom and Love, of Spiritual Grandeur, and of Divine Beauty.
Such an Avatara is an illusion, a pure Maya, and obviously it is impossible for an illusion to reembody itself, to reincarnate: a wonderful paradox. But it is still stranger when you realize that it is this Maya which does a wonderful work in the world. The Divinity is no Maya, the Buddhic element is no Maya, the body is no Maya, but it is the combining of these three into a temporary union which is the Maya. Thus it is said that the Avatara has no physical or human karma, because it has no past and will have no future. Of course there is the spiritual karma which brings about this act of white magic.
This type of Avatara is known as the Upapadaka, and such beings are quite rare in the history of mankind. Jesus and Shankaracharya and Lao-Tse were examples of Upapadaka Avataras. The divine being or ray which descends follows along or according to the nature of the human soul of another, not its own, through which it works. The Avataric Divinity is more or less modified in its manifestation by the strong individuality of the Buddha's soul through which it manifests.
The other type of Avatara is the Anupapadaka. The cases of the Anupapadaka are more numerous and are of many kinds. These come about when the Divine Ray within a human being expresses or manifests itself through the man's own psychological apparatus, not through that of another. The Anupapadaka Avataras or self-born ones, include all the different individuals who send radiance from within themselves through their own lower constitution. These latter range all the way from the Dhyani-Buddha and Logoi at the summit of evolution down to those great men and women who are inspired each one by his or her inner god. Gautama the Buddha, Krishna, and Tsong-Kha-pa are examples of Anupapadaka Avataras.
Every time a human being unites himself with and is glorified by his inner god, even if it be for a short period, he becomes an Anupapadaka Avatara. He is self-made, self-born, and parentless for that period of time. Every Chela has the power within him to become such a self-born one. It would be a manifestation resembling an Avatara if a man's own inner god, the heart of his Reincarnating Ego, were to express itself through the man's physical brain and thus infill it with glory for a time. Spiritual power and aspiration undaunted by the winds of destiny are needed. Readiness for such inspiration and for initiation comes stealing through the silence. When we are ready the Teacher will know and we shall also know. All initiation is a bringing forth to the cognizing consciousness a higher and grander view of a man's own inner stream of consciousness.
Among the Druids the symbol of Initiation was the mythical cauldron, for it represented the cosmic life-forces, latent and brewing. When stirred around by Ceridwen, the Deity of Inspiration, all the elements awake and the one tasting of the three precious drops of this magic liquid is endowed with the secret light of pure wisdom's virtue which enables him to understand on listening to the Law.
This mythical cauldron of Ceridwen which bestowed knowledge and wisdom and spiritual life has been described thus: Round it was a ridge of pearls; it would not boil a coward's food; divine voices issued from it; it was warmed by the breath of nine fairy maidens; and it contained some of the spoils from the regions of the bright palaces of the gods obtained by King Arthur and other Initiates on their "old journeying twixt the stars and the earth." All recognized it as the property of the Gods' land and therefore was it a danger, death or madness to those who deserved it not.
Let us review the chief and pearl of all Celtic stories, fullest flower of all the scent and honey of mysticism, the story of Initiation, as told by Taliessin of the Radiant Brow, for our hearts tonight are with those who are passing through these very same experiences as symbolically told in this tale.
Ceridwen had a son, Afagddu, who was of great ugliness. To compensate for this defect, she desired to make him the wisest of men; so she brewed her cauldron of magic among the mountains, setting nine fairy maidens to kindle with their breath the fire beneath it; and a dwarf called Gwion the Little to watch and stir it, while she roamed the hills in search of herbs to add to the concoction. These were gathered according to the Book of Astronomers and according to planetary hours and the moons. Thus the three drops of wisdom would at last be brewed into it; the rest would be deadly poison.
It boiled and boiled over; and three drops in the form of the name of Divinity fell on little Gwion's finger; who promptly, to ease the pain, put it into his mouth. Instantly the cauldron broke, and the liquor flowed away seaward, poisoning in its course all it passed; and instantly Gwion, because of the divine knowledge he had attained was aware that he had to fear Ceridwen. He fled and she followed. To escape her he transformed himself into a hare, when she became a greyhound and chased him toward the river. There he became a fish, and she an otter; when she was about to catch him he leaped into the air as a bird; and she, as a sparrow-hawk pursued him. As she stooped to pounce upon him, he saw a heap of clean wheat on the floor, and dropped into it as a single grain. She took the form of a black, high-crested hen, scratched him out of the heap, and swallowed him; then bore him for nine months.
At his birth from the womb of Ceridwen, he was so beautiful a babe that she had not the heart to kill him: so the legend says she then placed the new-born infant in a coracle covered with skin and committed it to the mercy of the wind and waves. The candidate thus was actually set adrift in the open sea, mystically speaking, at this sacred time of the year -- the spring festival -- and was obliged to depend upon his own presence of mind to reach the opposite shore in safety. This dangerous expedition was the closing act of initiation, and sometimes proved the closing scene of life; but if he possessed a well-fortified heart, he would succeed in gaining a safe landing-place on Gwyddno's Weir.
Then the fearless aspirant who surmounted all these dangers was triumphantly received from the water by the Archdruid, Gwyddno. When the coracle was opened, Gwyddno exclaimed: "Here is a radiant brow!" And by reason of the brightness of his forehead, which shone like the front of dawn, like the morning star in its beauty, the child was named Taliessin, meaning "he of the radiant brow." And he was nurtured by Elfin and became one of the greatest bards, having been taught by those versed in starry lore.
Thus did Taliessin sing:
My original country is the region of the summer stars; I am a wonder whose origins are not known; I have been fostered in the land of Deity; I have been a teacher to all intelligences; I am able to instruct the whole universe. Thus was I thrice born; I was originally little Gwion. And at length I am Taliessin.
So through the ages will many souls seek the cauldron of Ceridwen and become dead only to be born again after having received a new name, even as little Gwion became Taliessin of the Radiant Brow. For the cauldron is either the symbol of reincarnation or of initiation; two only of its many significations ? It is time with its endless cycles that keeps the cauldron boiling. For the universe exists for the purposes of the Self, in order to lead us to our home in the Sun.
At these sacred times of the year can you not picture these great ones gathered in Shambhala, the land of spiritual works? Each season with its special spiritual attainment stirs the depths of their beings: the Winter Solstice, the time of the mystic birth, the great awakening; the Spring Equinox, adolescence, youthful initiation, preparation, the time of trials and of conquest, the rising out of the lower selfhood and the becoming one with the divinity within; the Summer Solstice, the period of mystical adultship, Masterhood, the time of the Great Renunciation; the Autumnal Equinox, the most secret and mystical of all, the Great Passing. When the sacred moment comes with united hearts filled with love and compassion they sense interiorly the presence of the Maha-Chohan, and communication of a divine order takes place, and mighty initiations are undergone. Let us follow the steps of this Eastertide initiation with a spiritual understanding.
(One stroke of the Gong)
Oh, thou candidate for Nature's hidden lore, beware lest in forgetting thy Diamond-Self thy soul lose o'er its trembling mind control and forfeit thus the due fruition of its conquests. Remember, thou sun-illumined one, thou that fightest for man's liberation, each failure is success, and each sincere attempt wins its reward in time. The holy germs that sprout and grow unseen in the disciple's soul, their stalks wax strong at each new trial, they bend like reeds, but never break, nor can they e'er be lost. But when the hour has struck, they blossom forth ? But if thou cam'st prepared, then have no fear, henceforth thy way is clear ? Oh candidate for trials passing speech, the new moon of the spring-time has come, and in order to make thy resurrection from matter, thou must descend into Hell, and for three days become a denizen therein, but as a god retaining thy Solar Splendor. Descend and conquer.
O thou glorious combatant, thy dreary task is now done, thy labor well-nigh o'er. Thou hast now crossed the moat that circles round the gate of human passions. Now, O daring pilgrim to the other shore, use thy golden key, and for eleven days become a sky-walker and behold the things beyond the seas and stars and listen to the language of the Devas. Soar forth and become cosmic wise.
0 thou golden one, the full moon approaches, the hour has come for thy return to thine entranced body. Arise! O thou Mystic Youth, and take thy stand as a fully developed Master, a leader of men.
O Naljor, thou art safe! All Nature thrills with joyous awe and feels subdued. The Silver star now twinkles out the news to the night-blossoms, the streamlet to the pebbles ripples out the tale, dark ocean-waves roar it to the rocks surf-bound; scent-laden breezes whisper it to the vales and stately pines mysteriously murmur:
A Master has arisen, a Master of the day.
He standeth now like a white pillar to the West upon whose face the rising sun of thought eternal poureth forth its first most glorious waves. His mind like a becalmed and boundless ocean spreadeth out in shoreless space. He holdeth life and death in his strong hand. The living power made free in him, that power which is himself, can raise the tabernacle of illusion high above the gods. Yea, he is mighty!
(Three strokes of the Gong)