Though the Masters will be found wherever their duties call them: in the crowded marts of men, in the desert places, at sea, on land, indeed anywhere, yet it is a fact that for much the same reason that astronomers go to higher parts of mountains in order to obtain a pure atmosphere and an air freer than usual from the heat-waves of the earth's surface, or as religious communities from the earliest times and in all countries choose quiet places in the mountains for their centers: so, are we told, do these our Elder Brothers select for their mystic seats certain parts of the Globe which are most untouched by the miasmic influences emanating from great cities, as a rule choosing them far from the thickly inhabited lands where are the soul-stupefying astral and physical influences which work against training in spiritual development.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, I, page 1026.
By G. de Purucker
[From STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, pages 302-5.]
For countless generations hath the adept builded a fane of imperishable rocks, a giant's Tower of INFINITE THOUGHT, wherein the Titan dwelt, and will yet, if need be, dwell alone, emerging from it but at the end of every cycle, to invite the elect of mankind to cooperate with him and help in his turn enlighten superstitious man. And we will go on in that periodical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice guided by the Brethren of the Shadow will be found to prevail.
-- THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, Letter IX
These are the words of a Master of Wisdom, and I want you to hearken to them and try to get the inner meaning of them, for they are really godlike. A great intellect composed them.
What is this Tower of Infinite Thought? It is the general Cosmic Intelligence, here particularized as the hierarchies of the Dhyani-Chohans, the Cosmic Spirits, the Lords of Meditation and Cosmic Wisdom. We call them the hierarchies of the Sons of Light, representing the consciousness-side of the universe. They are innumerable, extending from even below man up through countless hierarchies, stretching indeed to Infinity.
This is the Tower of Infinite Thought, in which the cosmic Titans dwell and think and live and plan. These cosmic Titans are the aggregate of the cosmic Logoi, the cosmic spirits, an army of the suns of light and life. And from this inexhaustible fount of all perfect wisdom and perfect love, from time to time there issue forth great souls who take embodiment among men, and guide and lead and help and aid and inspire, and raise not only us superstitious and fallible men, but all beings less than they, for Nature is one organic unity. What is above in the highest is shadowed in the lowest, for there is but one cosmic law, because there is but one cosmic intelligence and one cosmic life; and therefore that law, that life, that intelligence, prevails throughout. So that, as you see, what is here below, is but a shadow or a copy from a pattern of what is above; and the whole secret of life, and the whole secret of living, is to become at one in consciousness and in feeling, in spirit and in soul, with that pattern of Infinite Thought.
No grander words I should think have ever issued from human lips. No more sublime conceptions have ever been penned than those contained in the extracts from the Master's communication that have been read to you. They are a new gospel of thought and of love, a new dispensation of human effort; and a man must be blind who fails to sense and to feel the immense import, the grand content, enwrapped in these human words.
When the times are not propitious, or the times are not right, then the adepts -- never indeed abandon mankind to its hopeless fate; there remain on earth at least the Brotherhood of the Mahatmas or Masters of Wisdom and Compassion. They inspire and instill intimations of wonder and of grandeur in sensitive and receptive human souls. But if the times are not right for a larger spreading of the Wisdom of the Gods, then for the time being, they retire upwards and inwards into this Tower of Infinite Thought, and await there until the time is ripening once more so that they may once again work publicly, or semi-publicly, among us.
We too, even now in our smallness and weakness, inhabit this Tower of Infinite Thought. And precisely as the Masters do when the times are not propitious or not ripe for a new installment of the God-Wisdom of Infinitude, we too, although our hand is always outstretched ready to impart what little we ourselves have taken by strength of the Kingdom of Heaven, when the times are not ripe, precisely like our own Teachers, we retire into the higher consciousness, and to outward appearance may seem to have retired into silence and quiet. But that is only seemingly so to the outer.
The Masters of Wisdom, the Adepts, simply retire when the times are not ripe for them to do their greatest work among men. They do what they can, and what human karma or destiny will allow them to do; but to a certain extent, they ascend, vanish from the outer seeming, to become only the more active and the grander in works of beneficence on the inner planes.
When the times become ripe, when men through suffering and sorrow, pain and racking care, once more find their hearts yearning for a greater light, and for the comfort which is never gained by egoisms, but given only by the spirit -- when men then make the inner call, soundless yet ringing unto the very spheres of light, then Those, hitherto silent but watching and waiting in the Tower of Infinite Thought, from their azure thrones, so to speak, bend a listening ear; and if the call is strong enough, if it be pure enough, impersonal enough, they leave the portals of the inner invisible realms to enter these portals of our universe, and appear amongst us and guide and teach and comfort and solace and bring peace.
How great is the inspiration to be derived from this teaching of the God-Wisdom that we today call Theosophy: that the universe is not chaotic nor insane, but is an organism guided and controlled from within outwards, not only by infinite and omniscient cosmic intelligence -- intelligences rather -- but by cosmic love. For love is the cement of the universe and accounts for the orderliness of the universe, and its harmony and unity that everyone who has the Seeing Eye may discern in all around him. Scientists speak of these orderliness as the laws of nature, as manifested in the cosmic bodies and their inhabitants, as manifested in their times and places and regularities.
How wonderful likewise is the feeling that the man who trains himself for it may enter into touch, into communication, with these grander ones in evolution above him, above him only now, because some day he shall evolve to become like unto them, divine as they are; and they themselves shall have passed upwards and onwards to divinities still more remote to us. There is a path which is steep, which is thorny, but it leads to the very heart of the universe. Anyone, any child of nature, may climb this path. Anyone who ventures to try to find it may take the first steps upon it; and these first steps may be followed by others. What a blessing to know this! What an inspiration for the future that our destiny lies in our hands! Naught shall stay, naught can prevent, and no outer god or inner can stem the inspiration welling up from the deepest recesses of the human spirit, because that human spirit is but a spark of the cosmic divine.
How beautiful, how inspiring, how simply pregnant with as yet undisclosed significance, is this phrase: the Tower of Infinite Thought! It is a god-like phrase, and only a semi-god-man or a god-man could have so worded his sublime conceiving. What magic vistas of inner realms of fairy, true fairy, do these wonderful words suggest to reverent minds? This Tower of Infinite Thought is likewise the Tower of Infinite Love, for it is filled with love, and its inhabitants are the exponents of love. From time to time its portals open and Teachers from these inner realms come amongst us.
Such was the Lord Gautama, the Buddha; such was the Avatara Jesus; such was Krishna; such were a multitude of others whose names are known even in the Occident to every educated man. No wonder a grateful humanity has called them Sons of God, or children of the gods -- a phrase which I prefer; for such indeed they are, just as we humans likewise are offspring of the gods, our forebears and forerunners on the evolutionary path, leading upwards and inwards forever to divinity.
These Teachers of men have themselves been worshiped as gods by men who forgot the injunctions to take the message and worship it, but not to worship the bringer. Therein is grandeur; for it is, after all, the thought of a man which is powerful, not the mouth through which the thought pours forth. It is the love in a man's heart which makes him sublime, not the mouth which declares it. I think that one of the proofs that these Great Ones who have lived amongst us and who will come again and again and again -- I think one of the proofs of their divinity is precisely the fact that they accepted naught for themselves, but called attention to their teachings only.
How beautiful to the hearts of men are they who bring tidings of great joy. Their faces are suffused with the dawn of a newer, a grander, and a more beautiful age. For they are its prophets and its heralds, harbingers of a new time to come, when instead of enlarging quarrel and war, men shall learn that the ways of peace are the ways of strength and of power and of wisdom and of plenty and of riches.
By William Q. Judge
[From THE PATH, May 1893, pages 43-46, under the pen name of William Brehon, as reprinted in ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, I, pages 337-40.]
The word "glamour" was long ago defined in old dictionaries as "witchery or a charm on the eyes, making them see things differently from what they really are." This is still the meaning of the word. Not long ago, before the strange things possible in hypnotic experiments became known to the Western world, it seemed as if everything would be reduced to mere matter and motion by the fiat of science. Witchery was to fade away, be forgotten, be laughed out of sight, and what could not be ascribed to defective training of the senses was to have its explanation in the state of the liver, a most prosaic organ. But before science with its speculation and ever-altering canons could enlighten the unlearned multitude, hypnotism crept slowly and surely forward and at last began to buttress the positions of Theosophy. Glamour stands once more a fair chance for recognition. Indeed, HPB uttered prophetic words when she said that in America more than anywhere else this art would be practiced by selfish men for selfish purposes, for money-getting and gratification of desire.
Hurriedly glancing over some fields of folklore, see what a mass of tales bearing on glamour produced by men, gods, or elementals. In India the gods every now and then, often the sages, appear before certain persons in various guises by means of a glamour which causes the eye to see what is not really there. In Ireland volumes of tales in which the person sees houses, men, and animals where they are not; he is suddenly given the power to see under the skin of natural things, and then perceives the field or the marketplace full of fairies, men, and women gliding in and out among the people.
Anon a man or woman is changed into the appearance of animal or bird, and only regains the old semblance when touched with the magic rod. This change of appearance is not a change in fact, but always a glamour affecting the eyes of the other person. Such a mass of similar stories found during all time and among every people cannot be due to folly nor be without a basis. The basis is a fact and a law in man's nature. It is glamour, the reason for glamour, and the power to bring it about. Just because there have always been those who, either by natural ability or training, had the power to bring on a "witchery over the eyes," these stories have arisen.
A writer well-known in England and America once thought he had found a mare's nest when he reported that Mme. Blavatsky had confessed to him that certain phenomena he enquired of had been caused by glamour.
"Ah, glamour" he said. "Thus falls this Theosophical house of cards," and he went away satisfied, for in truth he had been himself thoroughly glamoured. But Theosophists should not stumble and fall violently as this gentleman did over a word which, when enquired into, carries with it a good deal of science relating to an important branch of occultism. When I read in an issue of THE ARENA all about this confession on glamour, I was quite ready to believe that HPB did say to the learned enquirer what he reported, but at the same time, of course, knew that she never intended to apply her enchantment explanation to every phenomenon. She only intended to include certain classes, although in every occult phenomenon there is some glamour upon some of the observers according to their individual physical idiosyncrasies.
The classes of phenomena covered by this word are referred to in part by Patanjali in his YOGA APHORISMS, where he says that if the luminousness natural to object and eye is interfered with the object will disappear, whether it be man or thing and whether it be day or night. This little aphorism covers a good deal of ground, and confutes, if accepted, some theories of the day. It declares, in fact, that not only is it necessary for rays of light to proceed from the object to the eye, but also light must also proceed from the eye towards the object. Cut off the latter and the object disappears; alter the character of the luminousness coming from the eye, and the object is altered in shape or color for the perceiver.
Carrying this on further and connecting it with the well-known fact that we see no objects whatever, but only their ideal form as presented to the mind, and we arrive at an explanation in part of how glamour may be possible. For if in any way you can interfere with the vibrations proceeding to the eye on the way to affect the brain and then the percipient within, then you have the possibility of sensibly altering the ideal form which the mind is to cognize within before it declares the object to be without which produced the vibration.
Take up now imagination in its aspects of a power to make a clear and definite image. This is done in hypnotism and in Spiritualism. If the image be definite enough and the perceiver or subject sensitive enough, a glamour will be produced. The person will see that which is not the normal shape or form or corporature of the other. But this new shape is as real as the normal, for the normal form is but that which is to last during a certain stage of human evolution and will certainly alter as new senses and organs develop in us.
Thus far having gone, is it not easy to see that if a person can make the definite and vivid mind-pictures spoken of, and if the minor organs can affect and be affected, it is quite probable and possible that trained persons may have glamoured the eyes of others so to make them see an elephant, snake, man, tree, pot, or any other object where only is empty space, or as an alteration of a thing or person actually there? This is exactly what is done in experiments by the hypnotists, with this difference, that they have to put the subject into an abnormal state, while the other operators need no such adventitious aids. Glamour, then, has a very important place in magic. That it was frequently used by HPB there is not the smallest doubt, just as there is no doubt that the yogi in India puts the same power into operation.
In many cases she could have used it by making the persons present think they saw her when she had gone into the next room, or that another person was also present who was not in fact. The same power of glamour would permit her to hide from sight any object in the room or in her hands. This is one of the difficult feats of magic, and not in the slightest degree dependent on legerdemain. Persons sometimes say this is folly even if true, but looked at in another light, it is no folly, nor are those cases in which anyone was entitled to know all that was going on. She exhibited these feats -- seldom as it was -- for the purpose of showing those who were learning from her that the human subject is a complicated and powerful being, not to be classed, as science so loves to do, with mere matter and motion.
All these phenomena accomplished two objects: first, to help those who learned from her; and second, to spread abroad again in the West the belief in man's real power and nature. The last was a most necessary thing to do because in the West materialism was beginning to have too much sway and threatened to destroy spirituality. And it was done also in pursuance of the plans of the Great Lodge for the human race. As one of her Masters said, her phenomena puzzled skeptics for many years. Even now we see the effects, for when such men as Stead, the Editor of THE REVIEW OF REVIEWS, and Du Prel, Schiaparelli, and others take up the facts of Spiritualism scientifically, one can perceive that another day for psychology is dawning.
This power of glamour is used more often than people think, and not excluding members of the Theosophical Society by the Adepts. They are often among us from day to day appearing in a guise we do not recognize, and are dropping ideas into men's minds about the spiritual world and the true life of the soul, as well as also inciting men and women to good acts. By this means they pass unrecognized and are able to accomplish more in this doubting and transition age than they could in any other way. Sometimes as they pass they are recognized by those who have the right faculty; but a subtle and powerful bond and agreement prevents their secret from being divulged. This is something for members of the Society to think of, for they may be entertaining now and then angels unawares. They may now and then be tried by their leaders when they least expect it, and the verdict is not given out but has its effect all the same.
But glamour covers only a small part of the field of occultism. The use of the astral body enters into nearly all of the phenomena, and in other directions, the subject of occult chemistry, absolutely unknown to the man of the day, is of the utmost importance; if it is ever given out, it will be a surprise to science, but certainly that divulgation will not soon be to such a selfish age.
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1915, pages 229-36.]
In THE PROGRESSIVE THINKER, Chicago, July 3, is an article on "Reincarnation and Spiritual Evolution," which is part of a controversy between an advocate of a doctrine on this subject and an inquirer. This particular article is a reply of the latter to the former; and in the absence of the other parts of the controversy, we can make but little out of this part. The writer, however, ends by propounding a set of questions and by declaring that he seeks answers to them, not in a spirit of contention but in the sincere desire for information; and he says he would like them answered by "any Theosophist."
In attempting to answer these questions, we find ourselves in a difficulty, because we do not understand them. It is clear that they refer to some theory combining spiritism with some form of belief in reincarnation and with something that has been called Theosophy; but being quite unfamiliar with this theory, we find the terminology used in the questions has no meaning for us; and it will be admitted that no one can answer a question until he knows what the question means. For example, we are asked: "What is the difference between a spirit and a spirit body?" These two terms are obviously expressions used by the advocate of this theory to denote certain views which he advocates; but to us, who have not heard those views, they convey no meaning, and we are unable to answer the question. Again, when the question concerns the alleged reunion of families in the spirit-world, we have to confess ourselves equally in the dark.
The best we can do, therefore, is to give a brief outline of the only doctrine of Reincarnation with which we are familiar -- that taught by H.P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, the Founder of the Theosophical Society and her immediate successor in the Leadership of that Society, and accepted by Theosophists as an essential part of the Theosophical teachings as originally given and as still promulgated. And, as far as possible, we may base our remarks on the questions which the inquirer propounds.
To the question: "Is there on record a scientific demonstrated case of reincarnation of a human spirit," we reply that such matters do not come within the scope of modern science, but that this circumstance is no reason for rejecting the doctrine of Reincarnation. One has to take the world as one finds it and to endeavor to understand the problems of life to the best of one's ability by the use of one's intuition, reason, and other faculties. There is no scientific proof for any doctrine concerning the destiny of the soul and the state of man after death. The proof of such mysteries must be sought in a cultivation of our inner faculties; and until our eyes are opened to the truth, we have to rest content with an intellectual acceptance of the most reasonable belief -- which is undoubtedly that of Reincarnation as taught by H.P. Blavatsky.
Theosophists cannot be held responsible for the state of ignorance in which present-day humanity finds itself with regard to the mysteries of life and death, nor for the inadequacy of science to furnish anything which it regards as proof relating to these mysteries. On the contrary, Theosophists should be commended for their endeavors to give a satisfactory explanation of the problems of life and to relieve that ignorance; and we owe a great debt of gratitude to H.P. Blavatsky for bringing us the teaching of Reincarnation and for striving so hard to set our feet on the path of knowledge.
As these questions contain continual references to "spirits" and their supposed status between and during incarnations, it will be well to define the Theosophical teaching as to the reincarnating entity. That which incarnates is not the (so-called) personal man; the personality is built up during one period of earth-life, from infancy onwards, being composed of the experiences and memories accumulated during that period. Similarly, the personality decomposes after the decease of the body. That part of man which is permanent and which eventually acquires a new body and develops a new personality in its next earth-life is the Individuality, the true Self or Ego. In our present USUAL state of ignorance, we find ourselves unable to form any adequate conception of the nature of the true Self or Ego when stripped of all its earthly and personal belongings.
The next thing to say is that the doctrine of Reincarnation, as taught by H.P. Blavatsky, has naturally been utilized by various people as a basis for speculations and teachings of their own. This was what any man of the world would expect; for in this world every new and valuable thing is always thus exploited. Hence we find of course several different forms of Reincarnation, mingled with several different kinds of spiritism, often labeled with the name of Theosophy; and in short, there are but few of the many systems of "occultism," "spiritism," "psychism," and new cosmic religions in general, which do not contain as part of their makeup a few fragments borrowed from the teachings of H.P. Blavatsky. For such, of course, Theosophists cannot be held responsible; on the contrary, it will be understood that Theosophists and Theosophy suffer a wrong, just as American commerce and reputation suffers a wrong when worthless goods are sold in Europe under the label of "American."
We find ourselves under the necessity of rejecting the fallacies put forward under the name of Theosophy, while at the same time defending Theosophy itself. Reverting now to the topic of Reincarnation, we must point out that some people have sought to introduce a doctrine more conformable to human weaknesses and longings -- a more "comforting" doctrine -- a modified form of Reincarnation, adapted to the views of some spiritists; and naturally the principal feature of such doctrines is that it is possible for living people to communicate with the disembodied spirits of their departed relatives and friends. This particular idea is specially and strenuously combated by H.P. Blavatsky in her exposition of the doctrine of Reincarnation (see THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, and many other writings). Such a belief is likely to lead to spiritistic practices of a very deleterious kind; and this remark leads directly on to our next point, as follows.
Man does not die all at once, but after the death of the body, there is a second death. For, although the fact of his death must result in the separation of his principles, and the return of the Ego to its state of Spiritual consciousness, that process is somewhat retarded by the slow disintegrative forces of nature. In other words there is a brief survival of the personality in a disembodied form, the lower principles of the man being held in coherence by the astral body, which has not yet disintegrated.
The ancients were aware of this fact of the temporary survival of the "shade" or "spook," and always performed rites of purification for the purpose of protecting both the living and the dead from the dangers incident to this condition. Certain forms of black magic (necromancy) were concerned with the evocation of shades and spooks from the astral realms in order to communicate as oracles with the living; but such practices were condemned as dangerous and even unclean. Modern spiritism has innocently revived some of these practices, and hence the danger of mediumship and seances, to which H.P. Blavatsky so frequently called attention. Such entities, being devoid of the higher parts of human nature, are conscienceless and have only an automatic intelligence -- sufficient, however, to produce, in conjunction with the subconscious memory of the sitters, certain phenomena which scientific investigators, and even ordinary people, mistake for communications from the deceased.
We repeat -- that the PERSONALITY of man does not live on in the SPIRIT-world and cannot be summoned thence to communicate with the living; and that any attempted evocation can but result in an opening of the door to undesirable and vampirizing entities from those regions where the astral remnants of man's lower nature are undergoing their natural decay -- a danger to which eminent physicians have recently directed our serious attention. This leads us to say something about the nature of PERSONALITY, INDIVIDUALITY, and MEMORY.
It has often been asked why we do not remember our past incarnations. To answer this, we must first distinguish between MEMORY and RECOLLECTION. Memory is the stored-up record of experiences, and recollection is the bringing back of memories into our present consciousness. Hence the memory of our past lives may be all stored up in some part of our nature, and yet we may be incapable of bringing it back to recollection. This incapacity, however, is not to be wondered at.
The experiences of our last life took place in an entirely different BODY, with a different BRAIN. They were not carried over as CONSCIOUS recollections into this life at all; and upon the page of our infantile brain-mind were speedily written the gathered experiences pertaining to our present life. From that time on, we spent every day in adding fresh force and intensity to those present experiences, and in obliterating every impression that might have any chance of surviving from the past. It may truly be said that the reason we fail to recollect is that we have not tried; and how hard and long would it not be necessary to try NOW, should we now desire to recollect those distant experiences of the Soul! We cannot carry our recollection back to the beginnings of this life, and much of our experience in this incarnation is obliterated.
The recollecting of past lives constitutes an advanced stage in the initiation of a candidate to Knowledge, and presumes a degree of self-mastery that can only be the culmination of long and arduous endeavor. Presumptuous, assuredly, is he who cavils because this supreme revelation does not reward his first impatient questionings; while, should he advance his incapacity to recollect -- should he make it a ground for rejecting the doctrine of Reincarnation -- he alone is the sufferer and merits our pity for allowing his impatience to stand in the way of his learning.
But what we have said about memory is introductory to a definition of the words "personality" and "individuality" as used by Theosophy in this connection. The PERSONALITY of a man is the sense of self which he DEVELOPS during each period of earth-life, and it is made up of the experiences and impressions of that period. In it there is just a spark of the true Self-hood; and the state of affairs may be compared to a transparent picture illuminated by a hidden light. The picture is the personality, and the light is a ray from the true Self. When the man dies, the picture disappears, but the light remains.
This illustration is intended to indicate that, though the identity of man is preserved beyond death, the form in which it persists is not that of the familiar personality. We have here to do with a distinction -- between individuality and personality -- which requires much study and thought for its elucidation; but it is sufficient at present merely to state it, with a view to stressing the point that the PERSONALITY does not survive, and that the INDIVIDUALITY, which does survive, cannot be brought back to communicate by spiritism.
It is evident that any statement of the doctrine of Reincarnation will at once arouse in the mind of the inquirer many questions which seem to him difficult and to require an immediate answer; and it is equally evident that no such answers can be given without further study on the part of the inquirer. It is quite pertinent for us to refer to the analogy of any other advanced study, such as musical composition, or the infinitesimal calculus; in which subjects, any hasty question by an inquirer would be answered by the presentation of a textbook accompanied by a monition to careful study. And so of Reincarnation; Theosophists have studied the doctrine for decades, in connection with their daily experiences, both in the outer life of men and in the inner life of the mind; and they know more about it now than they did at first, while there is still much to be learned in the future.
The same path can be recommended to the earnest inquirer, who is hereby asked, when an answer is given him, to carry it in his mind and reflect on it, with a view to searching out its significance and verifying it by his own judgment; instead of petulantly refusing it because it does not square with his previous notions.
The doctrine of Reincarnation was not invented by H.P. Blavatsky, nor designed to satisfy anyone's notions of how things should be; but it was proclaimed by her as a fragment of truth calculated to solve many of the actual problems of life. Those who do not desire to investigate it or to profit by it, are thereby left to their own resources; and they must seek their own way of reconciling any quarrel which they have with the facts of life.
It is evident that a single earth life of man is a mere fragment of a career, not begun at birth, and unfinished at death. The fact that our human nature compels us to seek knowledge, and yet hides the knowledge from us, shows us that this human nature is a compound of two sets of faculties, the ordinary reason and something higher and better. Self-study gives us abundant evidence that we are compact of both mortal and immortal elements. We find in ourselves powerful tendencies and proclivities which we did not generate in this life, and which go back of anything our parents have transmitted to us; for, however much may be due to physical heredity and to environment, the fact of personal originality must also be allowed for, or the human race would go on repeating itself in a monotonous uniformity, like the animals or some decaying race of men.
Whence this originality and these stored-up tendencies? They are in fact the memories of past lives, transmitted, not as pictured recollections, but as intuitions and instincts. Again, we are sowing seeds whose harvest we shall never see in this life, yet which can only be reaped on earth, since it is with earth that they are concerned. All this demands the doctrine of Reincarnation for its adequate explanation; and those who can explain it in any better way are welcome.
For a solution of the mystery of suffering, we must seek in Reincarnation. The Soul evidently undergoes suffering of its own volition and for its own purposes. The only alternative explanation one can see is that suffering is decreed by the Almighty or by the indiscriminate hand of Nature or Chance. It is surely much better to believe that the Soul within knows and understands the why and wherefore of our experiences, and that it is possible for us to attain a riper knowledge, when the mind shall know and understand and the wayward will shall consent.
The doctrine of Reincarnation is for those who believe that man contains an indestructible essence, for it is hardly possible to argue with one who professes to believe that the entire human being is forever extinguished when the body dies, or that it had its origin when the body was born in the womb. Shall we then be content with pious vagaries and dogmas that were made by and for simple people in bygone ages; or shall we seek to use the faculties we have in order to find out more of the truth?
The doctrine of Reincarnation, as taught by H.P. Blavatsky, is by a very long way the best explanation yet afforded of the mysteries of our existence; and its inherent truth gives it a force that compels attention even from the reluctant. There are many details to be filled in, comprising profound points upon which we should all like information; but we should be grateful that we have the teaching at all. If we desire more, we had better show ourselves worthy of the little we have.
Teachers cannot help the race by pouring our information into us without stint; they can only give a little at a time, in proportion to our ability to absorb and utilize it. Already the little given out about Reincarnation has been perverted, as we have just seen. As regards the wish to know where one's departed relatives and friends are, and how they are doing, a reverent mind will realize that Souls cannot be dragged from their place of rest in order to satisfy the minds of people here, but that we must endeavor to REFINE OUR OWN NATURES TO THE POINT OF KNOWLEDGE. In the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge will be found many particulars as to the constitution of man, the after-death states, etc. -- into which we have not time to go here; they should be studied.
When a child is born, the parents should understand that they are thereby constituted the guardians of a Soul at a critical stage of its career, and that this Soul has a character and a destiny of its own. They should protect it and aid it to unfold its powers and realize its destiny; not regard it as a pet and try to mold it into their own impossible notions of what they would like it to be. This is just one instance of the use of the teaching of Reincarnation. The whole aspect of human life would be changed if all men realized that the present life they are leading is part of an ETERNAL career, and that the fancies of the brain and the temporal ambitions are as dust in the balance compared with what the Soul is achieving. Fear of death, love of riches, selfishness, and many other evils, would at once begin to decline from lack of sustenance; and new vistas of knowledge would open out if men would only cooperate in studying these deeper problems of their life.
Perhaps we have now said as much as can be expected, though we could go on indefinitely. It is only the shallow-minded who will think that, because on a first slight acquaintance with Reincarnation they can ask a multitude of questions (who could not?), therefore these questions cannot be answered. Those who are engaged in the study and promulgation of Theosophy are intelligent people who have thought and studied for long years; and the difficulties which occur to the inquirer are but a tithe of the puzzles encountered by the student in the course of his studies.
All these things are provided for, and the teaching has been found to be deep enough and vast enough to meet all possible requirements. The seven principles of man; what it is that incarnates; the states of the various principles after death; the condition of the Ego between incarnations; the relation of physical heredity to Reincarnation; the possibility of recognition between former friends; the workings of the law of Karma; the interval between incarnations -- there is not space even to enumerate the branches of our subject; and the inquirer who asks questions, whether for the sake of information or in order that he may quickly dispose of the doctrine, will find that he has challenged a very capable champion. So here we will leave the matter to the earnest and intelligent student.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 264-66.]
The Vicarious Atonement Doctrine, as it is today understood by Christians, has indeed stood in the way of the Christians' accepting the doctrine of Reimbodiment. But it was not so in the beginning. The earliest Christians accepted Reincarnation. What took place then? We find evidence that the doctrine of the Vicarious Atonement prevailed in the very origins of Christianity. This is what took place: a slow changing of the understanding of this doctrine to one of words instead of spiritual occult meaning; so that when it became a mere theological dogma, it was a great stumbling-block, a closed door rather, preventing the true follower of this Master Christ, today and in past centuries, from accepting this doctrine of hope, of great hope, i.e., human reincarnation. What took place?
In the earliest days of Christianity, the primitive Christians, being the Theosophical Society of that time FOR THAT PORTION OF THE EARTH, knew, were taught, that every man born into this life is a son of the Divine, in his highest part -- not as a physical man; but, so to say, his spirit, his soul, was a spark of the Cosmic All, a breathing, living flame of fire from the heart of Being. He called this the Christos Spirit in the man, even as some Christians today have intuitively begun to grasp this holy teaching of the Immanent Christ in man. That was the primitive Christian thought, and it is taught today in Theosophy as it has always been taught by Theosophy in the different ages.
So it is the spiritual part of us, this flame from the Divine, which is the deathless essence of our being. It is the anchor of our life, and of our growth, and of our progress, from embodiment to embodiment, carrying from each life on earth all the spiritual aroma of the good deeds, beautiful thoughts, noble ideals, fostered in the heart and mind, carrying these over from life to life. We call this inner spiritual part the Monad. It is the inner Buddha in us, the inner Christ in us.
Thus it is that this Monad is enchained by us, by our weakness and feebleness and mistakes -- aye, and by our good thoughts and deeds, to carry us from life to life as a spiritual 'plank of salvation,' as HPB says, meaning the inner Christ chained on to the cross of matter -- our light, our hope, our origin, our destiny. And because it suffers for us enchained into these spheres, according to the ancient doctrine, and carries our burden for us -- our own being, mind you, our own inmost spiritual essence, the Christ within us -- we can say, not in the theological sense but in the Theosophical sense, it atones for us and endures through all, JUST BECAUSE IT IS our Spiritual Self. The process is 'vicarious' only in the sense that the divine part of us carries the weight, the burden, of what we, the lower parts, have thought and felt and done: dealing us perfect justice in life after life, making us what we are and what we shall become. In this sense was the doctrine of Vicarious Atonement first understood: that the mere man of flesh is naught; but that the lower, unevolved, imperfect side of man had this plank of salvation in his own spark of divinity, in his own immanent Buddha, his immanent Christ, the god within him.
This ancient doctrine likewise tells us that as a man grows and evolves from age to age and learns in life after life, more and more does this truly spiritual part of his being come to manifestation, and express itself through the mind, the lower mind, the ordinary human being; and when this is done with relative perfection, we have one of the great Seers and Sages, one of the embodied divinities, one of the embodied Buddhas, one of the embodied Christs, call them by what name you will: in other words a man who expresses through himself as a human being the godhead, the godhood, WHICH IS HIS OWN LINK OF SELFHOOD WITH THE DIVINE, an embodied Christ, an embodied Buddha.
Nevertheless, it is perfectly true that when this INNER MEANING of the immanent Christ was lost sight of in Christianity, the words of the teaching took the place of its occult meaning; men lost the teaching that they themselves were the Christs within, sons of the Divine, and that by thinking and feeling and living in the Christ-like way, it was their most glorious privilege and duty from life to life to express this inner godhood ever more and more, growing from humanity to Mahatmahood as we say, to Masterhood, until finally the goal is achieved, and we can cry: "0 god of me, how thou dost glorify me!" This is the true rendering of the Hebrew words alleged to have been uttered by Jesus on the Cross: 'ELI, 'ELI, LAMAH SHABAHHTANI. As the words stand translated in the Christian Gospels, they are wrong, for 'to forsake,' or 'to abandon,' is in Hebrew AZAB; and 'to glorify' or 'to make perfect' is SHABAHH; and the word as found in the Gospels is SHABAHHTANI, i.e., 'thou dost glorify me,' 'thou dost make me perfect.'
The Christ within the man spoke; nor is this an exterior Christ, except in the sense that the Christ within the man is a spark of the Cosmic Christ. The Buddha within the man is the representative in him as an individual spark or ray of the Cosmic Buddha, i.e. the Adi-Buddha -- use what terms you will.
Thus it came about that one of the most beautiful, helpful, and consoling doctrines of primitive Christianity became an illogical theological dogma -- a shell of words from which the spirit of their meaning had fled.
By Eliphas Levi
[From TRACENDENTIAL MAGIC, pages 229-34.]
Two things, as we have already said, are necessary for the acquisition of magical power -- the emancipation of the will from all servitude, and its instruction in the art of domination. The sovereign will is represented in our symbols by the woman who crushes the serpent's head, and by the radiant angel who restrains and constrains the dragon with lance and heel. In this place let us affirm without evasions that the great magical agent -- the dual current of light, the living and astral fire of the earth -- was represented by the serpent with the head of an ox, goat, or dog in ancient theogonies.
It is the double serpent of the caduceus, the old serpent of Genesis, but it is also the brazen serpent of Moses, twisted round the tau, that is, the generating lingam. It is, further, the goat of the Sabbath and the Baphomet of the Templars; it is the Hyle of the Gnostics; it is the double tail of the serpent which forms the legs of the solar cock of Abraxas. In fine, it is the devil of M. Eudes de Mirville, and is really the blind force which souls must overcome if they would be free from the chains of earth; for, unless their will can detach them from this fatal attraction, they will be absorbed in the current by the force which produced them, and will return to the central and eternal fire.
The whole magical work consists, therefore, in our liberation from the folds of the ancient serpent, then in setting a foot upon its head, and leading it where we will. "I will give thee all the kingdoms of the earth, if thou wilt fall down and adore me," said this serpent in the evangelical mythos. The initiate should make answer: "I will not fall down, and thou shalt crouch at my feet; nothing shalt thou give me, but I will make use of thee, and will take what I require, for I am thy lord and master" a reply which, in a veiled manner, is contained in that of the Savior.
We have already said that the devil is not a person. It is a misdirected force, as its name indicates. An odic or magnetic current, formed by a chain of perverse wills, constitutes this evil spirit, which the Gospel calls LEGION, and this it is which precipitated the swine into the sea -- another allegory of the attraction exercised on beings of inferior instincts by the blind forces that can be put in operation by error and evil will. This symbol may be compared with that of the comrades of Ulysses transformed into swine by the sorceress Circe. Remark what was done by Ulysses to preserve himself and deliver his associates: lie refused the cup of the enchantress, and commanded her with the sword. Circe is nature, with all her delights and allurements -- to enjoy her we must overcome her. Such is the significance of the Homeric fable, for the poems of Homer, the true sacred books of ancient Hellas, contain all the mysteries of high oriental initiation.
The natural medium is, therefore, the serpent, ever active and ever seducing, of idle wills, which we must continually withstand by their subjugation. Amorous, gluttonous, passionate, or idle magicians are impossible monstrosities. The magus thinks and wills; he loves nothing with desire; he rejects nothing in rage. The word PASSION signifies a passive state, and the magus is invariably active, invariably victorious. The attainment of this realization is the crucial difficulty of the transcendent sciences; so when the magus accomplishes his own creation, the great work is fulfilled, at least as concerns cause and instrument. The great agent or natural mediator of human omnipotence cannot be overcome or directed save by an EXTRA-NATURAL mediator, which is an emancipated will. Archimedes postulated a fulcrum outside the world in order to raise the world. The fulcrum of the magus is the intellectual cubic stone, the philosophical stone off AZOTH -- that is, the doctrine of absolute reason and universal harmonies by the sympathy of contraries.
One of our most fertile writers, and one of those who are the least fixed in their ideas, M. Eugene Sue, has founded a vast romance-epic upon an individuality whom he strives to render odious, who becomes interesting against the will of the novelist, so abundantly does he gift him with patience, audacity, intelligence, and genius. We are in the presence of a kind of Sixtus V. -- poor, temperate, passionless, holding the entire world entangled in the web of his skillful combinations. This man excites at will the passions of his enemies, destroys them by means of one another, invariably reaches the point he has kept in view, and this without noise, without ostentation, and without imposture.
His object is to free the world of a society which the author of the book believes to be dangerous and malignant, and to attain it no cost is too great; he is ill lodged, ill clothed, nourished like the refuse of humanity, but ever fixed upon his work. Consistently with his intention, the author depicts him as wretched, filthy, hideous, repulsive to the touch, and horrible to the sight. But supposing this very exterior is a means of disguising the enterprise, and so of more surely attaining it, is it not proof positive of sublime courage? When Rodin becomes pope, do you think that he will still be ill clothed and dirty? Hence M. Eugene Sue has missed his point; his object was to deride superstition and fanaticism, but what he attacks is intelligence, strength, genius, the most signal human virtues. Were there many Rodins among the Jesuits, were there one even, I would not give much for the success of the opposite party, in spite of the brilliant and maladroit special pleadings of its illustrious advocates.
To will well, to will long, to will always, but never to lust after anything, such is the secret of power, and this is the magical Arcanum which Tasso brings forward in the persons of the two knights who come to deliver Rinaldo and to destroy the enchantments of Armida. They withstand equally the most charming nymphs and the most terrible wild beasts. They remain without desires and without fear, and hence they attain their end. Does it follow from this that a true magician inspires more fear than love? I do not deny it, and while abundantly recognizing how sweet are the allurements of life, while doing full justice to the gracious genius of Anacreon, and to all the youthful efflorescence of the poetry of love, I seriously invite the estimable votaries of pleasure to regard the transcendental sciences merely as a matter of curiosity, and never to approach the magical tripod; the great works of science are deadly for pleasure.
The man who has escaped from the chain of instincts will first of all realize his omnipotence by the submissiveness of animals. The history of Daniel in the lions' den is no fable, and more than once, during the persecutions of infant Christianity this phenomenon recurred in the presence of the whole Roman people. A man seldom has anything to fear from an animal of which he is not afraid. The bullets of Jules Gerard, the lion-killer, are magical and intelligent. Once only did he run a real danger; he allowed a timid companion to accompany him, and, looking upon this imprudent person as lost beforehand, he also was afraid, not for himself but for his comrade.
Many persons will say that it is difficult and even impossible to attain such resolution, that strength in volition and energy in character are natural gifts. I do not dispute it, but I would point out also that habit can reform nature; volition can be perfected by education, and, as I have before said, all magical, like all religious, ceremonial has no other end but thus to test, exercise, and habituate the will by perseverance and by force. The more difficult and laborious the exercises, the greater their effect, as we have now advanced far enough to see.
If it has been hitherto impossible to direct the phenomena of magnetism, it is because an initiated and truly emancipated operator has not yet appeared. Who can boast that he is such? Have we not ever new self-conquests to make? At the same time, it is certain that nature will obey the sign and the word of one who feels himself strong enough to be convinced of it. I say that nature will obey; I do not say that she will belie herself or disturb the order of her possibilities. The healing of nervous diseases by word, breath, or contact; resurrection in certain cases; resistance of evil wills sufficient to disarm and confound murderers; even the faculty of making one's self invisible by troubling the sight of those whom it is important to elude; all this is a natural effect of projecting or withdrawing the astral light.
Thus was Valentius dazzled and terror-struck on entering the temple of Cesarea, even as Heliodorus of old, overcome by a sudden madness in the temple of Jerusalem, believed himself scourged and trampled by angels. Thus also the Admiral de Coligny imposed respect on his assassins, and could only be dispatched by a madman who fell upon him with averted head. What rendered Joan of Arc invariably victorious were the fascination of her faith and the miracle of her audacity; she paralyzed the arms of those who would have assailed her, and the English may have very well been sincere in regarding her as a witch or a sorceress. As a fact, she was a sorceress unconsciously, herself believing that she acted supernaturally, while she was really disposing of an occult force which is universal and invariably governed by the same laws.
The magus-magnetizer should have command of the natural medium, and, consequently, of the astral body by which our soul communicates with our organs. He can say to the material body, "Sleep!" and to the sidereal body, "Dream!" Thereupon, the aspect of visible things changes, as in hashish-visions. Cagliostro is said to have possessed this power, and he increased its action by means of fumigations and perfumes; but true magnetic ability should transcend these auxiliaries, all more or less inimical to reason and destructive of health M. Ragon, in his learned work on Occult Masonry, gives the recipe for a series of medicaments suitable for the exaltation of somnambulism. It is by no means knowledge to be despised, but prudent magists should avoid its practice.
The astral light is projected by glance, by voice, and by the thumb and palm of the hand. Music is a potent auxiliary of the voice, and hence comes the word ENCHANTMENT. No musical instrument has more enchantment than the human voice, but the far away notes of a violin or harmonica may augment its power. The subject whom it is proposed to overcome is in this way prepared; then, when he is half-deadened and, as it were, enveloped by the charm, the hands should be extended towards him, he should be ordered to sleep or to see, and he will obey despite himself. Should he resist, a fixed glance must be directed towards him, one thumb must be placed between his eyes and the other on his breast, touching him lightly with a single and swift contact; the breath must be slowly drawn in and again breathed gently and warmly forth, repeating in a low voice, "Sleep!" or "See!"
By Sri J.M. Ganguli
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1954, pages 256-60.]
Between my reasoning and my realizations, there is no silver bridge, no harmony, and no reconciliation.
Before I had not learnt to reason, I was more intent on looking for light and inspiration than later when I sat brooding, sifting, analyzing, and threading some fanciful thinking and reasoning through events, occurrences and my own experiences. Neither the past nor the present had then made me halt and look backward and forward, and so my intuitions throbbed spontaneously, and my nature functioned in smooth harmony with my actions and with the effects which my environment brought to me. The ripples and waves of the present gave me inspiration and brought realizations which kept me absorbed and instead of scattering my thoughts in search of a cause, sent me deep within myself in quest of the answers which I sought for my satisfaction.
Then there came a change; and, as I drifted along with the ebb and flow of events, I made tendrils out of my passing reactions and wove them round what I saw and felt. In so doing how much I have lost! How many eventful moments have passed; how many colors have shone and disappeared; how many thrilling inspirations must have come and gone ignored!
Nature's mysteries now reveal themselves and again withdraw from sight in their own majestic way without a break to give us time to fling our thoughts back, to catch our thread of reasoning and to tie with it what we now see, feel, and marvel at. Where are the skill and wisdom in us to arrange and connect the different traces of events, flashes of our sentimental reactions and subtle, provocative inspirations, which lead away our thoughts and overwhelm us? What folly for me, a grown man, to go back to playing with blocks, building a structure of what we call cause and effect out of my environmental reactions! Where is the line of cause and effect in the chaotic contents of my realizations? Yet my vanity is pricked by my having to admit that I cannot reason out and map out mentally the minutest and the vastest doings of the Omniscient; that I cannot bring within the compass of my comprehension all my impressions and observations, ordered in the manner I have chosen for my satisfaction. Am I to spin out reasoning and extend the limits of my comprehension without attempting to judge the soundness of either?
I came into the world a crying baby, shy and nervous in a strange environment; I was rocked into quietness in the nursery cradle, which was then all that interested me and which understood as much or as little of why it moved as I understood why I moved my limbs. When out of the nursery, I ran and fell and jumped and played through boyhood till youth arrived, then impulsive forces swung my senses to and fro as the cradle had once swung my little body. They shattered my tranquility of mind. I reflected not; I noticed not the tremendous significances that Nature and the Subtleness within it were unfolding before me. I was absorbed only in magnifying and glorifying a misguided Self within, which accepted or rejected things as it pleased and ever pointed the way to mere impulsive and crude pleasure which intoxicated it. Thus my sight was dimmed, and my thoughts ever kept revolving round my personality, within the limits of which only was my consciousness receptive and within the framework of which I arranged and connected my experiences and recollections.
Thus I forged my chain of reasoning with links of the assorted presumptions which my vanity and egotism made me make out of mere sense reactions. Thus weakly, uncertainly and even arbitrarily, my reasoning started working and getting me and my thoughts into its grip. Then, before I would take a step forward, I would weigh doing so on the scales of reason. Something within me, however, makes me rebel against thus stopping at every turn to tie whatever I see and feel with what I have known before, so that a logical sequence may be maintained. I want to spread my gaze over a wider landscape, where the trace of cause and effect is imperceptible, even irrevocably lost.
I gaze upon that vaster landscape and receive inspirations which thrill me. They bring realizations which ever remain beyond all reasoning. What reasoning can encompass my feelings, which make me reverently put my hands together and stand still, forgetful of myself and unworried by the weight of my past or the ceaseless demands of the present when a glow, rising from unknown depths, dispels the chilly gloom? What is it that makes me close my eyes, restrain my outer senses, and listen inwardly to a mysterious call when tumultuous waves of dark mystery beat upon my vanity and overthrow my logic and my calculations? What argument can keep my tears flowing in the midst of overwhelming grief when I suddenly experience a tender touch within, which turns me toward a new light, a new and stupendous realization?
Then I awake and my eyes open, and I see the great folly of my having sought to bind my thoughts and my emotions with the cord of what I had fancifully presumed to be good logic and reason, cause and its inevitable effect. "What cause brought me here," I now ask myself. "What had made me argue and assert, relying on the ridiculous imperfections of my physical senses and on the scantiness of my sense-collected materials?" Into the depths of the past I gaze as far as I can look back, but I fail to find any cause that I can grasp and understand, that I can coordinate with another in the gigantic whirl and sweep which make the world. Two or three steps I take on the line of cause and effect but, those taken, I fall into the chaos of the Indeterminate and the Unknown.
The more I reflect, the more I feel and observe, inwardly or outwardly, the more deeply I lose myself in thoughts in which any impulse to correlate things and impressions so as to bring them within the operation of my reasoning, is totally absent. I gaze on them and marvel and toss upon the crest of feelings and sentiments, whose origin, whose sequence, I do not understand and whose heights and depths my poor reasoning can never scale or plumb. My feelings and emotions remain divorced from reason because they come and go, how often, unrestrained and unlimited by what has happened before, whereas reasoning is only a labored effort to heap the rolling present over the debris of the past, so as to get a whole perspective that might satisfy me.
"This cannot be disjointed from what I have known; this must follow that in a sequence which I can understand." So I say to myself; but when I compare my understanding with that of others, I find that each has traced the same thing or event back to a different cause of his own supposition. Each asserts the correctness of his own logic, but each, having reacted differently from others, has constructed a different line of cause and effect.
Our reasoning, our linking of cause and effect, are thus based, not on any truth or reality, but on how things impressed us and how we reacted to them. Reasoning is the projection of our egoistic conceptions on to our environment and our experiences, and as our conceptions change and develop, our logic and our line of reasoning loses its meaning and significance. The sense and inspiration of the Real and the Absolute can come only through mental doors flung open wide, not through the lattice of prejudiced reasoning. The depths of the Infinite can be reached only when, unmooring ourselves from finiteness, we plunge into them without stopping to reason, without a look or a thought behind. Is it not when we forget ourselves that we see and feel and realize as we had not done before? Is it not when overwhelming grief has made our interest in the present fade and the environment disappear from before our unseeing eyes, that we get a realization that dries our tears and brings a new realm into view?
It is self-intoxication, the vainglory of the "I" which thinks that it rules but which is really the creature of the physical senses, which dictates the line of my thinking, interprets my impressions. The Great Reason, the Great Cause, which supports and holds together all things, is beyond this "I" and will enter into my realization only when that "I" is curbed and my true Self awakens. For that true Self is an integral part of the Great Cause that unfolds itself in the Manifestation surrounding and absorbing me. That Self has to be liberated from the dominion of the cruder senses; it has to be washed clean of the blinding dust that has settled on it in my headlong pursuit of the tempting and illusive impulses of the body and the mind.
It is only in that liberation and that cleansing that the Self can see the Light and catch a glimpse in true perspective of That of which it forms a part. It is then that the Great Cause which underlies All is sensed, and then, that the Reason that threads through the Whole is comprehended. The Cause and the Reason thus seen then merge into a supreme Realization, the Realization of the Self. From time to time, in dreams and in wakeful hours at times of self-forgetfulness, at moments when wild grief or mad ecstasy have shaken me out of my intoxication with the physical, there have arisen realizations which were fragmentary but which have led to and formed part of that supreme Realization.
Even these fragmentary realizations are not containable within the small orbit of my childish, presumptuous reasoning. The proud attempt to submit them to the reasoning process dwarfs my outlook and makes me miserable. It can give no peace, no harmony. I must step out of reasoning's orbit to inhale the thrilling inspirations and be receptive to the subtle, unthought-of and inexplicable impulses and realizations, which come to me so often in moments of unawareness, and in strange circumstances, when I am free from the drawing power of memories and of calculations for the future. Then alone can I undertake in the right way the Quest for the Supreme Cause, and then alone will there be peace, solace, and harmony in my thoughts and between my reasoning and my realizations.
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, May 17, 1956, pages 160-62.]
There are many fairy tales throughout the world relating to the Initiation of a Disciple. The story of the little cobbler given below originates from the district of Cracow in Poland, where it used to be told by Polish peasants. It was taken down literally by Oskar Kolberg, the well-known Polish ethnologist, and published in the eighth volume of his colossal work, which, under the title LUD (People), appeared in Poland in a series between 1858 and 1895. Here is a translation of the tale, the lesson of which can be summarized in the following words: Help Nature and Nature will respond.
Once upon a time there lived a poor, aged shoemaker. His only son was a very handsome youth. One day his father called him and sent him into the world to find a better future for himself. He gave him two rucksacks for his journey: one containing loaves of bread; the other, a shoemaker's tools. And so the young fellow began his journey through various lands in search of work.
One sunny morning he found himself following a path through a forest. Suddenly he noticed an anthill which had been destroyed by a mischievous hand. His heart was filled with pity for the tiny creatures. He knelt on the ground, rebuilt the anthill and replaced the scattered eggs.
A little further along the path through the forest, he noticed a beehive hidden in the trunk of an old tree. But some mischievous hand had plundered the hive and swarms of bees were buzzing unhappily round the tree. The shoemaker's heart was overwhelmed with pity for the little creatures. He repaired the broken hive and put a wax frame into it. He smiled happily as the golden bees settled down joyfully.
The young shoemaker continued on his way until he arrived at the bank of a beautiful river filled with shoals of goldfish. A small wooden bridge spanned the river and silver swans glided on the surface of the water. The shoemaker was enchanted by the picturesque scene. He took out the remaining piece of bread from his rucksack and threw the crumbs into the water for the goldfish and the silver swans.
Long and weary was the shoemaker's journey; he was often hungry and various dangers threatened his life. But he finally reached the gates of a large city.
He settled down in the city and began his work. Soon he made a reputation for his skill as a shoemaker. One day he was called to the royal castle and received an order for a pair of slippers for the young princess. As soon as he saw the face of the beautiful princess, he immediately fell in love with her. But alas! The queen mother was a powerful enchantress, and nobody had so far dared to ask her for the hand of the young princess. But the shoemaker was a daring fellow and decided to ask the wicked queen for the hand of her beautiful daughter.
When the queen heard his request she said: "Whoever wants to marry my daughter must be prepared for three tests." The shoemaker did not lose courage and asked for the first test. The queen ordered a sack of poppy seeds and a sack of sand to be mixed together and said to the shoemaker: "If you do not separate the seeds from the sand before daybreak tomorrow, you will never see the princess again!"
So the unhappy young man sat in the closed room provided for him. He thought of his task, and tears of despair began to roll down his cheeks. Suddenly a strange noise was heard in the room. The shoemaker looked up and could hardly believe his eyes. Through the barred window, thousands upon thousands of ants entered the room. They started carefully to clean the poppy seeds, putting aside every grain of sand. Soon the work was completed. The shoemaker thanked the tiny creatures with all his heart.
How great was the surprise of the queen when next morning she saw all the poppy seeds separated from the sand! She then gave him the next task to perform, this time a more difficult one. She locked the princess in her room with a golden key and threw it into the deep waters of the river, leaving the shoemaker to find it.
The shoemaker's heart was full of despair as he stood on the bank of the river. It seemed quite impossible to find the key in the deep waters. Suddenly he heard a splash on the silent surface. It was a silver swan swimming towards him with the golden key in its beak. The swan came as a messenger from the goldfish who had found the key at the bottom of the deep river.
Next morning the queen was very surprised to see the golden key in the shoemaker's hand. But immediately she gave him the last and the most difficult task. She led him to a room where three aged, ugly spinsters were spinning. "Now,'' said the queen, "you must guess which one is the princess. But, if you guess incorrectly, you will marry the oldest and ugliest as a punishment!"
The shoemaker looked at one, glanced at another. He was baffled by the task and was unable to utter a sound. He looked hopelessly around when suddenly a swarm of bees flew in through the open window. Humming and buzzing, they circled over the head of the ugliest of the spinsters. The shoemaker immediately perceived the meaning of their action. "That one is my princess," he shouted, and ran towards the spinster pointed out by the bees. And lo! In her place appeared the lovely princess, freed from the enchantment of the queen.
The little shoemaker married his beloved princess, and a great feast was joyfully held in the royal castle.
The theme of this, and indeed many of the details, strongly resembles that of "The Queen Bee," one of the Grimms' Tales.
The youth who goes out into the world in quest of a better future for himself is the human soul. In one rucksack he has the "bread of wisdom," since he is himself Spirit in essence. In the other rucksack he has the tools for making "shoes" (or sheaths of skin), in which the incarnating Higher Soul may "tread on earth." The Kabalists speak of the Heavenly Man whose head is in Spirit and whose feet walk in hell (in incarnated life). The human soul is fed by Spirit, but has also the power to create a complex body of matter.
The young princess for whom he has to furnish slippers is his own potential godhood, for which he has to provide embodiment. But first as always happens he has to pass through certain probationary trials and tests that come from great Nature herself. Nature, the enchantress, has to be overcome before man can be more than man. The first test is to "learn to discern the real from the false," the living seed from the sterile sand. The poppy is a flower that, astrologically, is under the moon, the goddess of childbirth, and truth is the living seed of the "second birth."
Now it is not ordinary logic and reason that sift out unerringly the real from the unreal. When man "instinctively," so to say (without having to weigh the pros and cons), picks out the essential truth, and then he KNOWS.
Reason, the outgrowth of the physical brain, develops at the expense of instinct -- the flickering reminiscence of a once divine omniscience -- spirit ... In losing instinct, man loses his intuitional powers, which are the crown and ultimatum of instinct.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, page 433
The ant can be considered the epitome of instinct, and when man's conscious mind restores that instinctive knowledge (as the youth repairs the anthill) then the thousandfold experiences of his life become absorbed and assimilated into the discerning faculty of intuition.
In the second test, it is the goldfish and the silver swan (both symbols of the Logos, or the Christos principle) that, being fed by the mind with the Bread of Wisdom, bring the golden key up from the depths of the water. Here water represents the pure, spiritual element out of whose depths immortality is won. In many religions the fish is connected symbolically with man's Saviors, who appear when the Sun is reborn in the zodiacal sign of Pisces (the Fishes), while the Hansa (the Swan or Goose) stands in Indian and Egyptian symbolism for the secret Divine Wisdom, and for Eternity. It symbolizes too "the identity of man's essence with god-essence" and thus it carries the golden key that opens the door behind which man's divinity is imprisoned.
And in the third test, the three daughters of Nature who spin man's fate may be considered as the three aspects of Death -- the end of all life. The "oldest and ugliest" is the violent death that comes from a willful course of sins of commission; the second is the death of inanition, the slow decay that follows the sins of omission; while the third "death," apparently as fearful as the others, is in reality Divine Life itself. The extinction of the personal life is the bliss of Nirvana, but, as the aspiring soul gets its first glimpse of that Life Universal, it is terrified and overwhelmed by it. SPACE is too vast; TIME is unendurable in Eternity; the ceaseless MOTION presses on without respite. The fragile form will surely break with the strain. Nothing of what it has thought of as itself can survive. This must be Death! Yet what appears in this terrible, awful guise is in reality the goddess of LIFE. The symbol of Shiva, the Destroyer-Regenerator, dancing, skull-decorated, in the burial ground, gives the same idea.
And here the fairy tale offers the clue to our power to choose the right goal. Our capacity to do so depends, not on our intellect, but on our ability to act as Spirit, universally. If the ants represent our perceptions (the whole scale of instinct-intuition), the bees, the honey-gatherers, represent our powers of soul-action; for the assimilated memory of our "good works," the soul-energized thoughts and deeds, are often called the honey gathered by the Ego from each incarnation.
Thus, even at the beginning of the Path, "sympathy, charity, and all other forms of goodness" open up opportunities for gaining the necessary knowledge to tread the Path. So the accumulated merit of our selfless and spiritual actions develops the powers (the bees) that enable us to meet the test of the final "moment of choice," and, in spite of the terrifying vision before us, to make the right choice because everything in us irresistibly hovers round it.
It should be noted also that even beginners on the Path are confronted, before taking a step forward, with something that seems dreadful and hard to face, whether a circumstance, a relationship, or a task. Upon the way they react to it will depend which "ugly spinster" they will choose -- either of the two who represent the positive and negative aspects of Karma-Nemesis, or the one which is Soul-achievement in disguise, so that seeming poison becomes life-giving, and obstacle proves to be opportunity. The only thing that gives us the stamina to face the terrors that confront us is the result of putting our spiritual intentions, our ideals, into practice.
There is a daily as well as a final initiation, and the fairy story refers to both.
By Gertrude W. van Pelt
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, July 1934, pages 23-30.]
In this so-called practical age, Theosophy is quite frequently pushed aside by more than one class of minds. From the point of view of the rushing man of affairs, it may answer, perhaps, for the drones, the dreamers, or those whose day of activity has closed, but in the real concerns, in the battle of conflicting interests, in the arena of our throbbing life, it has no place. The philanthropist likewise often passes it by as something too remote from the crying needs he yearns to fill, or the acute suffering he seeks to alleviate. And many would-be reformers of the thousand and one wrong systems, if they think of it at all, forget it the next moment. But to the Theosophist it is the quintessence of practicability. It is pragmatism in its perfection -- the easy road to accomplishment. It is the purifying leaven, which, if it permeated and saturated all human consciousness, would transform this black age into a golden age.
These observations are not intended to underestimate the noble efforts of philanthropists directed toward the correction of human ills in any and every direction. Indeed it is impossible to overestimate them. Without the modifying influence of these corrective agents in our human fabric, it is difficult to see how it could have held together. The debt we owe to the large-hearted souls who have stemmed the tide of disintegration is immeasurable. We see them everywhere sprinkled over the human soil. Through self-denial, through devotion, even through martyrdom, we find those in all walks of life who have dedicated all their faculties, great or small, to the service of their fellow-beings. And yet, great as is their number and service, we find them outnumbered and outdone by those who tear down their work or neutralize it, and the result is our present civilization which we are now striving to save.
We must, for long years to come, perhaps, have those who will feed the hungry, fight crime, care for the mentally disabled, and struggle to keep harmony and peace, but some must, at the same time, be working at the roots of these evils, if our race is to progress. It is as much a folly to be forever cleaning up the results of mental and moral disease, without removing the disease itself, as it is to be content with mending leaks in river embankments instead of finding a way to direct the waters into safe channels. The Theosophical Movement exists for the purpose of working upon the CAUSES which produce human suffering, and therefore claims to be not only the most serious, but the most practical, movement of the age.
Permeating the thought-life of western civilization is the belief, even though not always realized, that every man is separate from his fellows; that he has to struggle for his place on the planet, even if he has to outwit his neighbor to obtain it. I will quote from an article by H.P. Blavatsky, the Messenger of the ancient Wisdom-Religion in this era, in which she, in turn, was quoting M. Emile Burnouf, the French Orientalist:
If the T. S. [Theosophical Society] succeeds in refuting this pretended law of the 'struggle for life' and in extirpating it from men's minds, it will have done in our day a miracle greater than those of Shakyamuni and of Jesus.
And this miracle the Theosophical Society WILL perform. It will do this, not by disproving the relative existence of the law in question, but by assigning to it its due place in the harmonious order of the universe; by unveiling its true meaning and nature and by showing that this PSEUDO law is a 'pretended' law indeed, as far as the human family is concerned, and a fiction of the most dangerous kind. 'Self-preservation,' on these lines, is indeed and in truth a sure, if a slow, suicide, for it is a policy of mutual homicide ... This is what the 'struggle for life' is in reality, even on the purely materialistic lines of political economy. Once that this axiomatic truth is proved to all men; the same instinct of self-preservation only directed into its true channel will make them turn to ALTRUISM -- as their surest policy of salvation ...
The 'struggle for existence' applies only to the physical, never to the moral plane of being ...
It is not violence that can ever insure bread and comfort for all; nor is the kingdom of peace and love, of mutual help and charity and 'food for all,' to be conquered by a cold, reasoning, diplomatic policy. It is only by the close brotherly union of men's inner SELVES, of soul-solidarity, of the growth and development of that feeling which makes one suffer when one thinks of the suffering of others, that the reign of Justice and equality for all can ever be inaugurated ...
When men will begin to realize that it is precisely that ferocious personal selfishness, the chief motor in the 'struggle for life,' that lies at the very bottom and is the one sole cause of human starvation ... they will try to remedy this universal evil by a healthy change of policy. And this salutary revolution can be PEACEFULLY accomplished only by the Theosophical Society and its teachings.
-- Lucifer, II, 427-9
Further, in alluding to the social "hurricane" to come, H.P. Blavatsky states that the weakening of the feeling of separateness can be achieved only by a process of INNER ENLIGHTENMENT. This is the gist of the whole matter. The world has never lacked the teaching of the purest ethics. Certainly enough children have learned the Golden Rule through all the centuries of this era to have assured its practice, were this alone needed; but there has not been inner enlightenment.
Through the Dark Ages, people could be frightened into obeying the laws made by those in authority. Their minds were under subjection. But as the race moved out of this clouded cycle and began to feel its power, doubt arose in the minds of many as to whether they had been told the truth about life; whether they really would be eternally burned if they did not believe thus and so.
Gradually, as the doubts grew, their basis for ethics, which at best had been but an unsubstantial dream, dissolved like a cloud, and left them standing on the cold, dreary platform of materialism -- that platform upon which, really, the whole structure of dogmatic religion and 'salvation by faith' rested, because its fiber was selfishness. Only those who through their intuition sensed Truth more or less clearly, prevented a general moral collapse. But it was a terrible period of awakening through which we passed. H.P. Blavatsky wrote in 1889:
Such is our century, so noisily, but happily for all preparing for its final leap into eternity. Of all past centuries, it is the most smilingly cruel, wicked, immoral, boastful and incongruous. It is the hybrid and unnatural production, the monstrous child of its parents -- an honest mother called 'medieval superstition' and a dishonest, humbugging father, a profligate imposter, universally known as 'modern civilization.' This unpaired, odd team which now drags the car of progress through the triumphal arches of our civilization suggests strange thoughts.
-- Lucifer, IV, 186-7
This "struggle for existence" policy has run its course. It has been tried to the limit, and has reached its climax in the agony of the last few years. Probably all but the criminals, who are its harvest, and those who do not think, realize that a new start from the bottom up, with basically new methods, is essential unless we propose to end in extinction. Gradually the nebulous race-consciousness is shaping the thought that we must carve out our destiny on a new plan. It may at first take form under the perception that selfishness does not pay. The more people we serve, the more will serve us. That is something, indeed much, to learn, and if the idea pervades the social system, it may lead to something greater -- or, since it is only selfishness disguised, it MAY, after a certain success is achieved, drop its mask, and revert to the policy which in truth it never abandoned.
Really, what we must have is an entirely changed mental front. We have to see that the Golden Rule is no mere convention. We must perceive the logic, the reason in it. We must realize not only the folly but the IMPOSSIBILITY of disregarding it, and we must be fired with an enthusiasm to live it. The time has passed for unsupported platitudes: people want to do their own thinking. They are asking WHY they suffer, and see neither justice nor sense in the answer that it is the will of God. In fact, it is because so many have repudiated this image of God held up by dogmatic religion that, in the reaction, they have allowed themselves to be stranded in the insanity of materialism. On the other hand, an increasing number are waiting for the true answer. These will hail Theosophy -- the ancient Wisdom-Religion, man's heritage -- which has been restated at certain important cycles from the beginning of time.
No reflecting individual will deny that every center of human life will take on the color, or will be the expression, of the thoughts of the human beings who make up that center. In other words, the conditions on all planes of activity; the direction of all human energies; the whole social framework, will be determined by the thought-life of the humanity of any section or period. Physical life is but externalized thought. No legislation, no armed force, can run counter to it for any length of time, and never, even though it may produce temporary results, can it effect real reform. The reforming must be made in the mind first, and then, practically, the whole thing is done.
H.P. Blavatsky said in the early eighties of last century, that she came to break the molds of the minds of men, and at the same time she restated the old philosophy which this race had forgotten, so that there might be a possibility of directing man's thought into normal and healthy channels. She came to establish in the minds of men the conviction that Brotherhood is a FACT in Nature, and she claimed that the philosophy upon which this fact rested was not compiled by her from the various exoteric philosophies, but that it was delivered to her in toto by men millions of years in advance of our civilization, who, in turn, had received it from yet more lofty Beings -- the Guardians of the human race.
Now, it will no doubt be admitted that if the philosophy so presented COULD establish in the minds of men a belief in the fact of Brotherhood, it would result in more PRACTICAL benefit than any surface removal of suffering, however necessary this latter may be. If further, it could bring about a general recognition of the law of consequences, and throw vitality into the old teaching, 'as ye sow, so shall ye reap,' its value would be as evident to everyone as it is to those who have been watching its effects.
The question is have results, so far, sustained this claim? We must all realize that the soil into which the seeds were planted by H.P. Blavatsky in the closing years of the last century, had more diseased than healthy elements, and that the seeds had to come to the surface under tremendous odds. Yet even so, they have borne rich fruit already by virtue of their virility. The conception of the unity of all life, which was not only contrary to the trend of thought before H.P. Blavatsky's day, but was a new and unpopular idea, now crops up in unexpected places, modifying old sects and creating new ones in which old prejudices mix with new ideas floating in the air.
Then reincarnation was rarely heard of in the West, but now it is now a household word and accepted by thousands who find it a rational explanation of life. Materialism, which was a clog in the wheels of progress in the last century, is rapidly dying out. It is true that many bizarre manifestations of the belief in other planes of consciousness beyond the physical -- strange, uncanny developments of psychism -- have come to the surface, whose direful influence Theosophy is now here to combat, and against which it utters intelligent, grave, and emphatic warnings.
It was, perhaps, to be expected in the general shaking up, that all sense-perceptions beyond the physical should be mistaken for something spiritual. Egoism and separateness had, as has been noted, fastened themselves in the race-mind with such gripping power that they had well-nigh strangled the faculty of discernment. Under such conditions in this transition-cycle, it is not surprising that at first we should see these well entrenched beliefs shifting from one plane to another; that we should show them up in ourselves in their infinite transformations, some hideous, some superficially attractive, before they could be transmuted into impersonal love. But admitting all this, it is yet evident that, though vice may be as rampant as ever, there has also been a growing awakening of the sense of responsibility toward one's fellow beings. The ideas with which H.P. Blavatsky charged the thought-atmosphere have taken root wherever the soil was fertile. Old ideals have been shattered, and rapidly, though painfully, we are creating new ideals.
That which may be said to be the foundation of the thought-structure which is destined to remodel and purify our social system is the conception that the Universe is actually one organism. Anthropomorphism and an impossible extra-cosmic God are thus wiped out and man is shown his place as a part of the Whole. There is abundant literature now published by the Theosophical Society explaining the interdependence of all forms of life; showing that everything lives in everything else; that separation is logically impossible. The numerous teachings which support this basic fact, or rather, which are its different aspects, reach into every corner of the mind in an orderly sequence; deal with all the problems of life; and make clear that the Law of Laws is self-forgetfulness. Thus, the Golden Rule is shown to be not simply a beautiful sentiment -- the platitude it had almost become -- but a statement in spiritual science. If man uses his free will persistently to disregard it, and does not learn from bitter experience, he must realize that eventually he will be crushed by the overwhelming reaction against him of the whole Universe.
The Universe, which is compact of intelligences of infinite grades of development, is the absolute, supreme expression of cooperation. It could no more exist without mutual helpfulness than a complicated machine could function if all its parts were not perfectly coordinated, and the fate of men who attempt to disregard this FACT, would be the fate of some loose screw in the wheel of destiny. Being a part of this organism, man must fall in place and work with Nature or be crushed; but once this is done, all is changed. Then the old injunction, "give up thy life if thou wouldst live" hints to him of the bliss of harmony; of the joy of freedom and expansion; of the ease of moving without friction amidst life's conflicting currents.
All of our evils are due to selfishness -- individual, national, racial selfishness. The mad race to grasp things for ourselves -- as if each were a unit separate from his fellows -- has all but brought us to the verge of destruction. Is not, then, a sane, logical effort to wipe out this delusion of separateness, the most practical of practical things? Unless this can be accomplished, all else is futile. And the only way it can be effectively, permanently, and radically done must be by telling men the truth about life. Men must know the truth about themselves. The veils which have cut off all knowledge between birth and so-called death must be torn away so that men may walk with surer step and greater dignity, so that indeed "the truth shall make them free." They must learn that they themselves create their conditions, and that only they can improve them. They must get a glimpse of the vistas of greatness and glory before them and be fired with the divine desire to lose themselves in this greatness.
But how, it is asked, is one to know that Theosophy is really the statement in human language, for these times and conditions, of the Wisdom of the Gods? Often is this question asked with an implied suggestion that it is unanswerable; but in reality the answer is simple. Naturally, those only who are searching for truth will find it, and it is they who will test what is presented to them by their experience and general knowledge. Truth must satisfy their minds, their hearts, their sense of logic, and must certainly not conflict with common sense. Having tested, each one must pronounce the verdict for himself. Dogmatic assertions from another can never help or lead to real growth.
Every man must do his own thinking, just as he must do his own eating, and as to Theosophy, even after it is accepted as a guide to truth, the earnest searcher will find, ever and ever, a larger, broader conception in the words which embody the ideas. There is no finality for thought, nor can man rest content with thought alone. Unless it expresses itself in action, real growth and understanding cannot follow. In the words of a Master of Wisdom:
Theosophy can only find objective expression in all-embracing code of life, thoroughly impregnated with the spirit of mutual tolerance, charity, and brotherly love.
-- LUCIFER, September 1891, page 6
We are passing through a critical transition-period, with the scales perhaps not yet finally weighted and the outcome not yet clear. Who knows what tremendous issues may be trembling in the balance? The Theosophical teachings reveal that we are emerging from a cycle which has brought much sorrow into one of great length, whose character will be determined by the currents now being charged by the humanity which sends them forth. The Masters of Compassion, it is said, though unable under the Law to interfere with man's free will, are doing their utmost to help men to free themselves. It is for this that they have sent again the ancient Wisdom-Religion through their Messenger, H.P. Blavatsky, who wrote in 1889:
If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility, find a home in the lives of the new generations, then, indeed, will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy is ALTRUISM, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual help, and unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but realize that in these alone can true happiness be found -- ad never through wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification. Then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth. Then, the GOLDEN AGE will be there, indeed.
But if not, then the storm will burst, and our boasted western civilization and enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror that a parallel History has never yet recorded.
-- LUCIFER, May 1889, page 188