A beautiful, helpful rule is the following: Whatever comes to you, meet it manfully. Look upon it as the very thing that you would have willed -- and therefrom reap peace. It will pass, it will work itself out. It is a good practical rule of the moral law: repine not, keep your face to the Mystic East of the future, fill your heart with courage, and remember that you are a descendent of and kin to the immortal gods who control and guide the Universe.
-- G. de Purucker, GOLDEN PRECEPTS, 38.
By Katherine Hunt
WHAT FOG MEANS TO ME
What is the nature of this thing called mist? Is it a veil that leaves us cold and blind? Or does it of us focus great insist, bringing forth the true power of the mind?
On Earth secrets both great and small abound; mysteries hidden from unconscious eyes. If focus is brought to the world around we might see wonders, no matter what size!
Fog reminds us to focus beyond self To bring thoughts to the moment bright and clear. Perhaps we'll see the treasure of an elf, or muted songs of magic we may hear.
Just stop and open up your eyes to see, the wonder in the mist surrounding thee.
-- Katherine Hunt, September 29, 2009
In TUNNEL IN THE SKY, Robert Heinlein remarks that, "We live in a very romantic age." What he means is that the world we live in is full of wonders: We have doors that open without us touching them, faucets that turn on without knobs, and vehicles that carry us in half an hour what would be a day's journey afoot.
Despite all of these wonders, our world seems to have lost a direct connection to the divine. Technology, and the wealth of information available at our fingertips have divorced us from experiencing the natural world and our connection to it. We are a very mind-oriented culture. Even people who look at the world from a "bigger picture" (read: spiritual perspective) seem to be doing so from a theoretical, rather than experiential perspective.
It seems that, today, the majority of spiritual growth-work comes from books, lectures, or discussions. There is nothing wrong with these intellectual pursuits. To the contrary, like a mantra or affirmation, philosophical discussions can lead to direct experience of the divine. But there is a certain divinity inherent in everyday life which is oft overlooked.
How might we find these small experiences of the divine that are ours for the taking?
The primary consideration when seeking everyday experiences of the divine is that we have to be open to them. For the over-stimulated modern mind, this may mean making a conscious effort to slow down. This could be as simple as driving five miles an hour slower on the freeway, or taking a 20-minute walk outside once a day to realign ourselves with the natural world. Slowing down and narrowing our focus to the present moment can help us free up enough attention that we open to sudden experiences of divinity. A ray of sunshine may hit a leaf just so or we may be able to take in the beauty of the sunset or sunrise.
Slowing down in and of itself may not help much with experiencing the divine in everyday life, but it will help us to pay attention. Paying attention to the world around can help to rekindle the flame of wonder that is often extinguished as people grow from children into adults. Look around: what does that flower smell like? Are there beautiful patterns in the autumn leaves that have fallen? Why not choose one and admire it? Is there a rock that is calling out to be picked up? If an impulse hits, give into it. Part of what causes us to ignore the divine in everyday life is suppressing these impulses to enjoy beauty in its raw form. Although negative experiences can cause spiritual growth, the natural state of being appears to be one of happiness; not pain. By experiencing small joys, we can be brought back to this natural state, and in turn, experience a moment (or a lifetime!) of divinity.
A final method for connecting to the divine in the everyday is to take a moment to sense the energy around us. This doesn't necessarily have to take on deeply esoteric connotations. It can be as simple as asking, "What is the temperature of this room? How does that make me feel?" Other questions can be, "What is the overall emotional tone of the people in this room?" or "How do changing radio songs affect the mood of the people listening?" Paying attention to these mood changes, and sensing how your body reacts to them, can bring us into the present moment. In turn, that can lead to a feeling of peace and the sense of being connected to something greater than self. A connection which is often associated with the divine.
Taking the time to notice the world can be difficult in this modern age. However, it is not impossible, and can take just a few minutes of the day to do. By reconnecting to what's outside, one can re-establish a connection with the divine. This, in turn, can bring greater peace, serenity, and joy to one's life. The price is small and the gains to be had are large. So why not take a few minutes right now to get up, go outside, and smell the roses? You just might find something wonderful if you do!
By Dara Eklund
[From THEOSOPHIA, Summer 1974, 16-17]
Spirituality is the power of apprehending formless, spiritual essences, of seeing the eternal in the transitory, and in the things which are seen the unseen things of which they are a shadow.
To the philosopher TRUTH is the most desirable thing in the Universe. It gives geometrical freedom in the realm of ideas, foreign to all personal limited concerns. It abstracts one from the realm of forms, thus defining their true proportions. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell felt so overwhelmed by the infinitesimal size of the Earth in the whole system, that he is now compelled, he says, to live more by principle than by rules. In the last century Dr. Franz Hartmann, noted Theosophist and biographer of Paracelsus, asserted that the soul in man admires beautiful forms, but the human spirit loves principles. (See his Essay on Chastity in FIVE YEARS OF THEOSOPHY, London, 1885.)
To the Ego belong all the ties that draw us periodically out of the vast Unknown into expression in form. We would not be here, attached to "birth and old age," as the Buddhists combine it, if the longing for expression in form did not stir the Ego. Nevertheless at this moment in the history of Consciousness we are on the IN-swing curve of evolution, i.e., towards Non-Egotism. We are struggling to return to the One Consciousness at rest in the Heart of the Universe. We cannot harmonize with that motion in the Universal Soul, if we refuse to transcend the personality we have dealt ourselves with.
If a flower holds the soil by the roots, shedding only its bloom with the seasons, it will return. If the stem withers, unless the roots are very strong, it will die. In man the stem is the middle principles linking him with his roots in the spiritual realm. If that link is severed, he might as well be mortal, for his blooms will be washed away by all the worldly currents he is subject to. Knowing that we have an attachment to be freed of, or we couldn't have borne ourselves here initially, we, the actor within, must establish a new relation with LIFE. That relation must be to PRINCIPLE.
It is love of principle which makes a man a God. Our love of truth and duty is its practical nourishment here. In our personal dealings with our fellows it does not mean heartlessness, but harmlessness (true chastity if you will). It does mean JUSTNESS towards all, an impartiality towards each one (though some are accused of coldness when they attempt its practice); actually meaning no one unit in our Karmic heritage should feel favoritism on our part. At the same time the heart becomes more sympathetic. For instance, when we know that a personal grief we have entertained is inspired by a longing for that which we should not have, is it not easier to conquer? Can it not be seen that longing is separate from our true Self, which is stillness and completeness and needs nothing?
To express the Whole, to Enlighten the world surrounding us with the One Life is to give birth to Inspiration. Freeing our hold on "things," there is nowhere we cannot go, nothing we cannot do within the compass points of Principle. How else can we navigate surfaces that seem geodesic in order to reflect the whole? We need SEERSHIP to reveal the sum total of our manifested Being. THOUGHT itself is the only unlimited aspect that can transcend the splintered diamond of the brain consciousness. In personalities, even the greatest, we can see only splinters of the Divine. When we visualize choices that sometimes throw these splinters into disarray, there is no more reason to hesitate than if we should fear covering a wound to prevent a person from bleeding to death. Let us take the splintered diamond of our brain-mind in the palm of our hands and cast it into the starry emptiness without. Let us replace our scattered vision with a clear-cut and serene gaze upon the star, "whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the Unknown." (THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, p. 31.)
By Eldon B. Tucker
Since the late 1800's when pioneering books on Theosophy were written, ideas such as reincarnation and karma have gone from strange and exotic to commonplace. Now movies, television, and novels regularly broach topics once forbidden or unknown in the west. With the advent of the Internet, we have the free exchange of ideas worldwide, despite the attempts of some governments to control the thought of their subjects. Given the free flow of ideas, what is there to Theosophy that still has value and purpose in today's world?
There is more to Theosophy than an early attempt to spread Eastern ideas in Western society. It contains a wealth of ideas, not just in breadth, but also in depth. The philosophy can be learned as a subject, and one can become proficient in its doctrines, but there's more to it than that.
The deepest ideas are like living things. A student doesn't memorize a definition, learn to repeat the words, and then say, "got it!" The deepest ideas are primordial, archetypal, living, ever changing. A student contemplates one, has a relationship with it, interacts, and is continually learning new things. A simple definition is like taking a picture of a friend. It may be the way that he or she looked at that moment in time, but the actual person hasn't been captured by the camera.
Part of the process of learning Theosophy is to acquire this sense of living relationship with archetypal ideas and sentiments, learning to freshly think things through each time, taking the risk of coming up with a different conclusion than one had previously thought each time. It is the building of a healthy relationship with the inner forces behind life, almost as though one were hanging out with inner friends.
Acquiring this skill and practicing it, one changes from within and becomes wise. This wisdom is in addition to the actual things one does in life, things such as writing, reading, visiting friends, feeding one's family, caring for sick loved ones, working to make money, and enjoying art and music. The insight gives one a sense of peace and loving that adds depth to everyday life.
This inner relationship with knowing and feeling is one thing that a good study of Theosophy can help one develop. Another skill is an enhanced intuition, a perceptive mind that takes unrelated facts or seemingly contradictory statements and in a brilliant flash gets a "ah hah!" moment where one has realized something deeper, more comprehensive, nearer to the underlying truth. Puzzling over theosophical literature, one is forced to make such connections. It's like studying a Koan with a Zen Master. One puzzles, contemplates, then realizes. Some authors are better at presenting the philosophy in a way that encourages students to achieve this, including G. de Purucker.
Consider the doctrine of karma. There are many analogies to describe it, but each is limited in scope and misleading if taken too literally. One is a crime and punishment model where karma is described in terms of justice: you do bad things and you'll be punished; you do good and you'll be rewarded. Another is an educational model: you keep having certain experiences until you learn the lesson and then you move on to more advanced experiences. A thing model draws an analogy to physics: for every action is a reaction, and karma is simply the law of cause and effect.
All these models are intellectual, attempts to describe in analytic terms an aspect of life. Karma is organic, and is as subtle in its operations as the give and take of a good friendship. And that is where it can be found: in the interaction of oneself with others. Our karma with a particular friend is found not inside us, in the friend, or in some cosmic bank account that tracks merit points. No, it's really the life, love, thoughts, and feelings between us and the friend, those actively stirred up at the moment, and those accumulated in the friendship over perhaps many lifetimes.
There is a bond between us and every other thing that exists. We aren't really a separate entity, cut off from the rest of life. Rather, our identity is the sum total of all that we have built up in the in-betweens, in the relationships we have with others, be they people, lowly creatures, or beings of high spiritual worlds. The saying is that we are our karma.
We are creatures of this earth because this is where our friendships, loves, interests, and other bonds of companionship have been forged. Every effort that we make to improve ourselves can make the world a better place, since it directly affects those close to us, and in a broader sense, the rest of the world. We have put good energy into our karmic connections with those about us. Every effort to improve others about us also brightens the world. And we can't help but be affected, since we forge noble bonds with those we help, and our connections with them also make up who we are.
A modern approach to Theosophy would involve, then, moving beyond the dead letter of theosophical texts. It would take students through learning experiences and provoke inner growth that transforms their lives into treasures that enrich the world.
If you're reading a theosophical book by a good author, and if you've come to some difficult passage that simply just doesn't make sense, keep puzzling, turn the page, then go on. Don't be discouraged. Something is happening inside you and a time will come when the changes happing inside will show fruit in your life.
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, June 1917, 564.]
Now that your dumb soul flames forth into singing, Now that your dim star glows sunbright and strong, Take you the silence that's bardic and ringing, Bathe you in God's lonely fountain of song! Lay by the clay that o'ershrouded your splendor; Song-rich and gay, take the dawn-light at last, As flame leaping forth, or as swan-wings to wend o'er The seas that no keel but the Spirit's hath passed.
Lay by Earth's sadness; forgo without scorning Earth's sights that grow now too gross for your eyes; Go you, and dwell where the tulips of morning, Carmine and golden, bloom forth o'er the skies. Have you your part in the blue bloom of noon days; Merge you your heart in the Heart of the Sun; We shall feel you aglow in the glow of the June days; Beauty and glory and you shall be one.
All that we lose of you -- all that -- we need not; Not from our souls is your dearness withdrawn; Though that that dies in you, grieves in us, heed not! We shall get news of you, Bright One, at dawn. Dawn of your laughter-lit courage shall fashion Mirth on the mountains and pomp in the sky; Twilight shall brood on your heart-deep compassion, Night shall go trailing your heart's peace on high.
By John Algeo
The term "Theosophy" is generally defined in terms of ideas. Thus MERRIAM-WEBSTER'S 11TH COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY defines it that way, both generally and specifically:
1 : teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight
2 often capitalized: the teachings of a modern movement originating in the United States in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation
So does the SHORTER OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY:
Any of various systems of belief which maintain that a knowledge of God may be achieved by spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual revelations; spec. (a) such a system proposed by Jacob Boehme (1575-1624); (b) a modern system following some Hindu and Buddhist teachings, seeking universal brotherhood, and denying a personal god.
Such, however, was not the view of Madam Blavatsky, who famously wrote (in THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, p. 20): "Theosophist is, who Theosophy does." A Theosophist is not someone who holds any particular ideas, but rather is someone who "does" Theosophy.
HPB's statement certainly does not deny that there are Theosophical ideas. Theosophical ideas abound. Their essence was summarized by HPB herself in the three fundamental propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE (1:14-20), which can be even more concisely (albeit, inadequately) summarized as the ideas of universal monism, order, and purpose. But to be a Theosophist or even a member of the Theosophical Society, one need not subscribe to these or any other ideas, such as "pantheistic evolution and reincarnation" or other "Hindu and Buddhist teachings," including a nontheistic view of the divine. Instead one must "do" Theosophy.
What does "doing" Theosophy involve? When one joins the Theosophical Society, one is not asked to confess belief in any ideas whatever. Instead one is asked only to subscribe to the Society's three Objects:
1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
2. To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy, and science.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man.
Note that the operative verbs of the three Objects ("to form ... to encourage ... to investigate") specify actions, not beliefs or ideas. Membership in the Society requires a commitment to do some things, not to believe anything or adopt any particular ideas. To be sure, doing those actions assumes a belief in certain things: specifically, the reality of human brotherhood; the value of studying religion, philosophy, and science; and the existence of unexplained laws and latent powers.
In fact, every action rests upon some belief, just as every idea entails certain actions. Theory and practice are not divorced from each other, but are mutually implicative. Thus the three Objects of the Society correlate with the three fundamental propositions, as follows:
1. Monism, the view that there is only one ultimate reality in the universe, implies that you and I -- indeed, all existing beings -- are ultimately one with that reality and therefore with one another. Human brotherhood is a fact of existence. In the Society, we merely try to form a nucleus of it.
2. Order, manifesting through the cyclical patterns of life and the cosmos, is the subject of religion, philosophy, and science. Each of those disciplines focuses on some aspect of order: Science tries to discover the laws that govern the physical world; philosophy, the principles by which intellect operates; and religion, the connections between the secular and the sacred. Those three disciplines are the main ways humans have formulated ideas about the order of the universe. To encourage their comparative study is thus to increase our understanding of that order.
3. Purpose, in the universe and in human life, is the recognition that existence has meaning and that all beings are on a pilgrimage, a journey towards a goal of ever-increasing refinement, understanding, and connectedness. Fulfilling that purpose entails an investigation into the unexplained and a development of our latent powers. The unexplained is within us as well as around us, and those latent abilities are not primarily psychic, but rather such spiritual powers as love and wisdom.
Ideas and actions properly go together like a horse and carriage, or love and marriage (as an old Frank Sinatra song has it). But the emphasis, in both Theosophy and the Theosophical Society, is on "doing" Theosophy, not professing a belief in any ideas or doctrines.
"Doing" Theosophy involves three things, as the Society's Objects indicate. First, "doers" form a nucleus by participating in the Theosophical Society and its branches, without prejudice based on the merely external characteristics of other Fellows, and by helping to forward the Society's work in whatever ways are possible for them. Second, they encourage the study of religion, philosophy, and science by recognizing the importance of humanity's multicultural efforts to respond to the principles of order in the universe, society, and human life and by respecting the diverse forms those efforts have taken, without attempting to impose their own cultural values on everyone else. Third, they investigate unexplained natural laws and humanity's latent powers by being open to new possibilities for dealing with the world and by striving to realize their own inner potentials.
To be sure, no one "does" Theosophy perfectly. We each need only try to do our best, according to our nature and opportunities. As the Master KH wrote to A.P. Sinnett: "We have one word for all aspirants: TRY" (MAHATMA LETTERS, no. 54). Theosophical ideas are inspiring and energizing. They are great guideposts in life. But ultimately karma does not respond to what we think or believe, but rather to what we choose to do.
By William Ewart Walker
[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1965, 361-64.]
To what extent is Theosophy a matter of intellectual assent and to what extent one of total experience? This is a question which may be asked of all religion, philosophy, and art, but is relevant to Theosophy in a heightened degree. This is because of the presuppositions inherent in it; on the one hand, of immensity and, on the other, of insight: there is no spatial limit to its concepts, and nothing short of an absolute determinant to its spirit of penetration. (Even so, in all humility, one takes particular note of the words of Goethe: "Man is born, not to solve the problems of the universe, but to find out where the problem applies, and then to restrain himself within the limits of the comprehensible.")
The paraphrase of the term "Theosophy" -- "divine wisdom" -- is luminous with self-expression and, as with philosophy for the great and good Boethius, may be full of consolation for the ardent Theosophist. Boethius, it will be recalled, while unjustly and cruelly imprisoned, had conversations with an imaginary female visitant, who re-expounded to him his own life-meditated philosophy. Thus was he consoled, i.e., reassured, strengthened, comforted, and fortified. The Theosophist, though not in prison, is in a world of confining sensibility, and condition, but with a perceptive power, as already mentioned, which, when fully developed, reaches the farthest possible both beyond and within these. Both intellectually and spiritually, therefore, he has resources through which he, too, should constantly derive reassurance, and also joy.
What, then, are the strengths on which the Theosophist can draw empirically? First, maybe, the idea of immensity itself. Not improbably, our present-day physicists, biologists, and chemists have been appalled at the vast new regions they have opened up, while for the Theosophist this development cannot have been unexpected. For he is persuaded that within the domain of law are endless cosmic possibilities; and that such new discoveries as are made are sequential with all that has gone before. While, therefore, he may stand amazed, as well as bear his rightful share of loneliness, in the expanding universe, he will never be without confidence in the unfolding plan. In the second century of our era Marcus Aurelius could write: "The universe is transformation: life is opinion."
The universe, the Theosophist is assured, runs to scale, has within it a plenary organization; and on any given plane he sees himself (and his fellow beings, like him) working out his destiny. Complexities there are, problems galore, difficulties innumerable, but, according to the degree of enlightenment, there is always at hand the key to open the closed door. Herein, doubtless, is a hint of science and history in amplitude: for the individual there is the clear indication of a path; a sense, indeed, that he himself is the pathfinder.
The treader of the path works, of course, from a given center -- within the finitude of flesh and blood, of matter, and of progressive time. He is a self, continually striving for consciousness of, and communion with, the Self, always aware that his real enemies are "they of his own household" -- ignorance, fear, pride, hate, greed, envy, lust. It is true, as Blake declares, that "all deities reside within the human breast"; yet not all one's visitants are infallibly divine! And though there be a hierarchy of teachers, both discarnate and incarnate, to guide one, they in turn must be evaluated and judged by the growing mind. Discrimination through enlightenment, or meditation, is the major strength of the Theosophist, and from this proceed ripe mental qualities and unfailing solace for the spirit.
In the outer world of social experience, while the operations of Reincarnation and Karma occupy a kind of backstage position, they are nevertheless of more or less lively concern to the Theosophist. He cannot exclude from view any of the features of this present world: many of them pleasurable; some laudable; all too many the opposite of this. He observes the gaping inequalities in men's abilities, conditions, opportunities; the strange incidences of justice -- as, also, of course, the criminal acts of some, the righteous aims of others; the frustration of lives encompassed by suffering and death. He observes these things -- and ponders. What conceivable principle (he asks) can explain and unify them all? And for answer he reaffirms his acceptance of the twin laws of Reincarnation and Karma. Surrounded with mystery, harsh at times to human feeling, they may be, but they offer to reason and compassion alike a guiding light clearer than any other:
Beacons there are that shine a little way; these shed wide radiance with o'erarching ray.
How to evaluate experience is a problem every Theosophist must work out for himself; just as there may be wider aspects giving a distinctive character to his aim. To some the controlling insight will be of order, and to these the seeming disintegration of our times will be of the deepest concern. For some there will be an almost hypnotic fascination in the Nietzschean precept, "beyond good and evil." Embracing this, however, they may encounter the danger of an inner insecurity, or anarchy, and come to transfer their loyalty from Zarathustra to Krishna, whose teaching of non-attachment gives the needed substance to any idea of "beyond good and evil." Some will see with Spinoza that what we call reality is in essence perfection, and vice versa; and consequently have as their conscious aim what Browning refers to as "perfection, no less": a daring ambition of the soul, subject to continual disillusionment. Those there are who will find meditation with the Buddha the all-engrossing life: and others who in Jesus find inspiration for a dynamic purpose as the fulfillment of their being. But residually, so to speak, the seeker will fall back upon himself as pathfinder. And in so doing he can be sure of two truths which remain constant. Both are contained and expressed again and again in THE BHAGAVAD-GITA. The one is that the paths men take from every side lead to the Supreme; and the other, that one's duty (more comprehensively, dharma) is invincibly right: "Better one's own duty, though destitute of merit, than the duty of another well discharged. Better death in the discharge of one's own duty; the duty of another is full of danger."
While some may read into these words a doctrine of fatalism, it is equally tenable to find in them a more intensive meaning, one which conveys a sense of freedom; involving, in turn, a due measure of responsibility. One may discern in them the golden thread of both experience and destiny, and man, the individual, is seen to be the eye of the needle which knits all together. Should that eye ever become the "divine eye" granted to Arjuna, the individual will perceive all possibilities of living and will have the corresponding responsibility of discriminating among them, and so determining conduct to the utmost of human power. In such wise is the Kingdom of Love reached, with the seeker becoming one of its adopted or elect. He may then concur in the view of Spinoza that "he who loves God cannot endeavor (or expect) that God should love him in return," but such reconciliation to mystery will be of the essence of his commanding insight and understanding.
The Theosophist, it is probably true to say, is always aware within himself of "immortal longings," though there cannot, he feels, be finality in anything. Therefore it is that the Eternal Now is to him of the first importance, with each moment of existence a crucible of experience. In each moment co-exist, or meet, all worlds, all ages, all memories, all actualities of the present, and all potentialities of the future. Each moment may be a mount of vision or, alas! a slough of despondency, but, either way, it is a man's "heart" or consciousness -- as he reacts to the totality of things. It is the keeper of the twofold secret; of the individual's relationship to Reality, and of his adaptation to existence in his present time and place. So, neck-to-neck with his immortal longings is his sense of the transitory, including his own mortality. Though today there may be vitality, vigor, robust confidence, radiant hope, he knows that tomorrow these may be in eclipse; that some day they will be overcast in the Valley of the Shadow through which he will be called upon to tread. All forms of religion offer their consolation against this "far-off" but certain event, and in the Jewish and Christian traditions one only needs to be reminded of such passages as the Twenty-third Psalm and the fourteenth chapter of St. John. But doubtless for the Theosophist, with his all-embracing outlook, the words of the Gita are of more universal import:
The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead ... for certain is death for the born and certain is birth for the dead.
In these words, maybe, is the culminating expression of that consolation which all Theosophists assuredly long for. The pathfinder lives on.
By G. de Purucker
[From THE ESOTERIC PATH, pages 94-95.]
Every one of you has placed his feet on the path of chelaship. This path, if you follow it faithfully, will lead you to the very Heart of the Universe; and as you advance along this path, you will gain an accession in inner power, an increase of inner faculty, and a growth of the spiritual and intellectual portions of your constitution, which will be the opening to you of doors -- open doors through which you may look with each new recurrence ever farther inwards towards that Heart of the Universe.
Every initiation is but the opening of a new door of experience in the realms of the inner life. Each new door closes behind you for evermore. You never can pass backwards; but while you find yourself in a new world for the time being, with added faculty, with increase of power, with new powers within you to exercise, such as intuition, nevertheless you will always see another door ahead of you. These 'doors' have sometimes been called 'veils,' and as you pass one veil, there is always another veil beyond. Each new temple-chamber, veiled the one from the other, contains a greater light than the last one entered into.
THIS PATH OF CHELASHIP IS YOURSELF. You are individually, each one of you, that pathway. I cannot tread it for you. You cannot tread it for me. Each one treads his own pathway. That pathway is the chela himself, as he goes ever more inwards towards union with his own inner god -- and that is the heart of the Universe. Literally so. "I am the Path and the Life," said the Syrian Avatara Jesus; and every initiated man can say the same thing, for then his spiritual being is awakened.
Everyone who comes into our Order, Companions, must have had some relation with it before in some former life. He must have undergone some mystical, some mystical-spiritual training in other lives, to be here today. Do not mistake the circumstances. It is saying a great deal for you that you are in this School, willing to undertake the responsibility of membership, glad, eager for it -- unless, indeed, we have imbeciles, idiots, simple-minded, among us; and of these I know of none. Of course you were in touch in other lives with esoteric matters before you joined this Order in your present life. Otherwise you would have had no attraction hither now, had it not been so.
Some have intimations of the Light before they join the Oriental School, and they are attracted hither, they really cannot keep away, they are born for this, they are evolved to it. Others, after they enter the portals of our holy School, or Lodge, or Temple -- call it what you will -- have their eyes opened, and then they eat of the fruit of the tree of wisdom. It all depends upon the individual. Some -- due to what is popularly called 'good karma' -- make rapid progress almost from the beginning; others move more slowly. But you are all moving; and those who are the sincerest and most devoted among you, I can tell you truly, will move towards the sublime Light and Goal ahead of you the most rapidly.
This is very earnest; it is very real. And I urge anyone who feels that he or she is not capable of living the life, which is the Rule, just quietly and honorably to leave the Oriental School.
If you have an intuitive heart, and a heart which at the same time beats with impersonal love for the one who is trying to give you Light, that is all the instruction along that line that you need. Devotion to the Teacher is a beautiful and a holy thing; and the higher we go, the deeper, the more deeply felt, does our devotion to Those who lead us and guide us and teach us, become. Never be ashamed of a beautiful thing. Foster it in your hearts.
Be true to yourself; then you will be true to your Leader and to his work. Avoid the tricky sophistry of your brain-mind; for it will mislead you and you then will not be true to yourself. Be true to yourself and you will be true in everything.
The divinity within each one of you is a glory, a glory which is indescribable, shining, splendid, emanating spiritual energy and power all the time. As the sun is continually pouring forth from within its own heart, unceasingly through the aeons, floods of splendor: spiritual, intellectual, psychical, vital, and astral, as well as floods of physical, energy: so also does the resplendent divinity within each human being, for that divinity or god lives in splendor and radiates it always. Each one of you is an embryo-sun, in the core of his being, and in future cosmic manvantaras every one of you is destined to be one of the stellar host, shining in resplendent glory, each in his own place, in the spaces of Space.
By Grace F. Knoche
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, December 1916, 579-84.]
Opening, after the lapse of fifteen or twenty years, Mr. Cross' interesting collection of letters written by his wife, and re-reading familiar passages in the light of Theosophy, one is surprised to find what changes "Time, the great devourer," will work in one's interest and point of view. In this light, three convictions force themselves upon the mind of the reader: (a) that George Eliot nobly searched for truth and longed with all the intensity of an intense nature for some real knowledge of life's Diviner Laws; (b) that her quest, by her own admission, failed of achievement; and (c) that there was in the life of this unusual woman a concatenation of cause and effect so strangely clear as to indicate that she had passed through certain doorways in other lives more consciously than in this. She brought, it is true, many shadows into this life with her; she had not always the light to choose the pathway of renunciation; but in some of its aspects her Karma expressed itself with such unblurred directness, such clarity and such swift recoil that in contemplating it we are carried, even against our will, into the atmosphere of ancient tragic conceptions. One seems to be dealing with no PERSON'S life, in the ordinary sense, but with great elemental energies and principles.
To assert that George Eliot failed to find a rational solution of life's deeper problems is of course to challenge the criticism of the critics. They will find you passages in her books galore, and prove you wrong in a trice. However, the test of philosophy is not what it does to one's consciousness at times of intense concentration, but whether it succeeds in keeping the everyday temper and insight above moodiness, fear and complaints. For light to pour into the open windows of a mansard is one thing; to flood and fill with the same glory ALL the rooms of one's life-structure, down to the least and the remotest, is another. George Eliot never succeeded in building her a house to make possible the latter. Owing partly to the ecclesiastical environment in which she was born, and partly to her lack of self-knowledge, she carried in her heart a pathetic weight of pessimism and discouragement to the end.
Life itself was always hard to this winged creature. "Pleasure seems so slight a thing and sorrow and duty and endurance so great," she once wrote to a friend. She was never physically well, and the pages of the "Letters" are blue with references to indigestion, headache, neuralgia, mental depression and "paralyzing despondency." She tells us that she is "companioned by dyspepsia," and "a miserable wretch with aching limbs and sinking spirit;" yet she says, also: my troubles are purely psychical --self-dissatisfaction, and despair of achieving anything worth doing."
Unfortunately she appears to have missed sight of the intimate connection between self-dissatisfaction and despair -- poison-creating emotions if any ever were -- and her almost constant bodily fatigue and pain. Although blessed with a rugged and untainted physical heredity, the mental and psychic traits inherited so peculiarly from oneself and which Theosophy alone can throw light upon, played in her upon an emotional and sensitive temperament in a way that kept her in a state of chronic MALAISE, of continual emotional fatigue. Had she understood her own nature and some, even, of Nature's strenuous laws, she would have been able to shake off the handicaps that so weighed her in her search for the Truth of things. The soul that has a "sure spot of its own" will not permit itself to be dragged down to complaints over the experiences of daily life, however crucifying, nor into continual struggles to fight off mental depression. At least, such poisons will not be passed out to others through the medium of letters -- for poisons they are, affecting others cruelly. The psychological nightmare of the age had this splendid woman in its grip more or less of the time, and she did not know what was the matter.
As a young girl at school, Mary Ann Evans became intensely absorbed in religion, so much so that at one period she was in the habit of gathering her classmates together for sessions of prayer. At nineteen she wrote:
For my part, when I hear of the marrying and giving in marriage that is constantly being transacted, I can only sigh for those who are multiplying earthly ties which, powerful enough to detach their hearts and thoughts from heaven, are so brittle as to be liable to be snapped asunder at every breeze ... Oh, that we could live only for eternity! that we could only realize its nearness! I know you do not love quotations, so I will not give you one; but if you do not distinctly remember it, do turn to the passage in Young's "Infidel Reclaimed" beginning, "O vain, vain, vain, all else eternity," and do love the lines for my sake.
Quite a space is here to be traversed before we see that mind grown to the measure of SCENES FROM CLERICAL LIFE; quite a space to the time when heart-ties came to rule the woman whom we see slaving at her desk day after day that her stepsons might be kept in school, or writing tender missives to her "darling little granddaughters," some of which letters, sunshiny and true as a May morning, have fortunately been preserved.
Unobjectionable as seem the SCENES FROM CLERICAL LIFE now, even to the orthodox defender of the faith -- for liberalism in religion has become the fashion and the heart is coming into its own -- they created almost a scandal when published, and the first one, AMOS BARTON, was quickly followed by a protest to George Eliot from her publisher against anything in future stories that might suggest irreverence towards the Church! Yet all the guilt lay in this: that the courageous author had portrayed the clergy not as spiritual automata or pedestaled demigods, but as simple human creatures, with human weaknesses, foibles and loves.
To her publisher's letter of protest, the author (then generally believed to be a clergyman) characteristically replied:
I am keenly alive at once to the scruples and alarms an editor may feel, and to my own utter inability to write under cramping influence, and on this double ground I should like you to consider whether it will not be better to close the series for the "Magazine" NOW ... My irony, so far as I understand myself, IS not directed against opinions -- against any class of religious views -- but against the vices and weaknesses that belong to human nature in every sort of clothing ... I can hardly believe that the public will regard my pictures as exceptionally coarse. But in any case there are too many prolific writers who devote themselves to the production of pleasing pictures, to the exclusion of all disagreeable truths, for me to desire to add to their number.
-- Letter to John Blackwood, Editor of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, June 11, 1857
Which was sufficient. These stories from clerical life were creating too much of a sensation among eminently respectable people to be lightly considered as an asset by the publisher of them. Letters from many of Britain's finest minds still exist to indicate why Mr. Blackwood reconsidered his protest, among them opinions from Herbert Spencer, the Reverend Archer Gurney, Thackeray, Dickens, Faraday, Jane Welsh Carlyle (whose husband characteristically made her read the book FOR him), Owen Jones, Froude, and others.
Had George Eliot's publisher known of the opinions expressed privately by his untamable Pegasus, anent what H.P. Blavatsky used to call "Churchianity," he would have been shocked indeed. In a letter to Mr. Bray she wrote:
Last night I saw the first fine specimen of a man in the shape of a clergyman THAT I EVER MET WITH -- Dawes, the Dean of Hereford.
In a letter to a literary co-worker she describes --
a respectable old Unitarian gentleman preaching about the dangers of ignorance and the satisfaction of a good conscience, in a tone of amiable propriety which seemed to belong to a period when brains were untroubled by any difficulties ...
Her diary of date a week earlier records the pleasure of a walk over Primrose Hills, where "we talked of Plato and Aristotle." Accustomed to such pabulum, it is not strange that she recorded her impression of the good man's sermon in rather undiluted words: "a borrowed, washy lingo, extempore in more senses than one."
These things from one whose writings of clerical life were so astounding in their truthfulness as to convince nearly all who read them that their author was a member of the cloth! A few, however, detected the woman's touch; but this only added to the mystery, for a woman cleric in the England of George Eliot's day was unthinkable as well as unknown. Charles Dickens wrote:
If they (the CLERICAL SCENES) originated with no woman I believe that no man ever made himself so much like a woman since the world began,
and Mrs. Carlyle pictured the author of them as:
a man of middle age, with a wife, from whom he has got those beautiful FEMININE touches in his book -- a good many children, and a dog that he has as much fondness for as I have for my little Nero.
That some of the criticism wearied George Eliot -- the last person in the world to be suspected of real irreverence -- is shown in several letters, one of them to Madame Bodichon (1862):
Pray don't ever ask me again not to rob a man of his religious belief ... I have too profound a conviction of the efficacy that lives in all sincere faith, and the spiritual blight that comes with no faith, to have any negative propagandism in me. ... I care only to know, if possible, the lasting meaning that lies in all religious doctrine from the beginning till now.
Much later she wrote, in a letter to Mr. Cross himself:
All the great religions of the world, historically considered, are rightly the objects of deep reverence and sympathy -- they are the records of spiritual struggles which are the types of our own .... But with the utmost largeness of allowance for the difficulty of deciding in special cases, it must remain true that the highest lot is to have definite beliefs about which you feel that "necessity is laid upon you" to declare them ...
Upon another occasion she wrote:
It is really hideous to find that those who sit in the scribes' seats have got no further than the appeal to selfishness which they call GOD. The old Talmudists were better teachers. They make Rachel remonstrate with God for his hardness and remind Him that she was kinder to her sister Leah than He to his people.
In spite of the limitations which made it impossible for George Eliot to believe that a positive and fundamental KNOWLEDGE of things spiritual could be gained by the mind of man in this world -- a mistaken conviction that shadowed her whole quest with discouragement and fear -- she certainly found an answer to one prayer which she committed to writing when a young girl:
May the Lord give me such an insight into what is truly good that I may not rest contented with making Christianity a mere ADDENDUM to my pursuits or with tacking it as a fringe to my garments.
It never ceased to be a surprise to this sincere and thoughtful mind that "educated people, calling themselves Christians," still seemed to see nothing improper in conversations that were "often frivolous, sometimes ill-natured." She expressed herself to Mrs. Cash as positively shocked by the --
apparent union of religious feeling with a low sense of morality among the people in the district she visited, and who were mostly Methodists.
Yet she knew her Bible and loved it. One old Baptist exhorter told her father in the early days that Mary Ann --
must have had the devil at her elbow to suggest her doubts, for there was not a book that I recommended to her in support of Christian evidences that she had not read.
(A dubious compliment to the Christian books of her day, we might add.) And in her old age her most sympathetic biographer, whose wife she became not long before death claimed her, wrote:
We generally began our reading at Witley with some chapters from the Bible, a very precious and sacred book to her.
But in the possibility of finding WITHIN HER OWN HEART the answer to life's riddle, George Eliot never really believed. To quote from one of her letters to Charles Bray:
The fact that in the scheme of things we see a constant and tremendous sacrifice of individuals is, it seems to me, only one of the many proofs that urge upon us our total inability to find in our own natures a key to the Divine mystery. I could more readily turn Christian, and worship Jesus again, than embrace a Theism which professes to explain the proceedings of God. But I don't feel at all wise in these matters ...
Yet the overtones of soul-knowledge sing through, here and there, in spite of the opinions of the mind. She wrote later, in a letter to Mrs. Stowe:
Will you not agree with me that there is one comprehensive Church whose fellowship consists in the desire to purify and ennoble human life, AND WHERE THE BEST MEMBERS OF THE NARROWER CHURCHES MAY CALL THEMSELVES BROTHER AND SISTER IN SPITE OF DIFFERENCES?
George Eliot's books, of which she published twenty in the course of her life, all of them masterpieces, were written, as there is evidence to show, with an intense concentration which in itself would be sufficient to open many otherwise closed chambers of consciousness -- those chambers in which the deeper knowledge of human nature and of life's great laws are stored. Yet in spite of that they have serious limitations. Olympic flights they are the record of, truly, but flights made in spite of handicap and strain. They stir the soul with their marvelous knowledge of many a psychological mystery, but they seek to stir it by a too close holding to pity and terror, the old Greek tragic ideal. We would have more joy in George Eliot's painting of sacrifice, more real happiness in the renunciations of her heroines, more of life's golden sheen of love and inspiration over the shadows. Glorious they are in their bigness, and one often leaves them feeling as though he had been dealing not with just men and women but with something more impersonal and larger. Tragic and true -- yes; only in the light of a comprehensive philosophy of life they are not wholly true. The progress does not complete its cycle. The soul never quite comes into its own, which is JOY -- the joy of that "Divine Silence which is the rest of all the senses."
George Eliot passed away six years after the historic meeting between H.P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, which has had such momentous consequences for the race. Intuitionally she wrote, "there is" instead of "there might be -- one comprehensive Church whose fellowship consists in the desire to purify and ennoble human life." It is not impossible that she had some inner assurance, in spite of the pessimism that so bound her, of the fact that a day of ideal living was nigh to dawn. "That human beings should love one another better," was to her the end of human effort; and "I am in the anomalous condition of hating war and loving its discipline" -- she wrote at one time, showing both the weak points of her philosophy and the strong intuitions of her soul; for such a condition is far from anomalous: it is supremely native to the real Self.
By A Student
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, January 1917, 76-77.]
The place was very chilly and I felt the chill settling "into my bones." I did not want a bad cold or an attack of fever of some sort, so I made that kind of internal effort of positivizing the body which one does make in trying to resist an invading chill. I was sleepy, too, and knew that if I withdrew into sleep and left the body to itself I should wake with the cold well in residence. So, sustaining myself awake and positive, all went well.
From which I understand how the self is really the sustainer of the bodily vital currents, putting forth his sustaining guidance by a steady effort of which he is not conscious because of its continuousness, and that what I had done was only a conscious intensification of this permanent under-conscious work. And also that death is merely the ceasing of the self to make this under-conscious effort any more, and his departure into freedom from this labor. Death is freedom, and freedom from this arduous task of bodily life must be a great joy.
But there is a freedom along another line which we ought to be able to get during bodily life and which, if got, would do much to offset the continued drain upon under-conscious attention which the guidance of the bodily life demands.
I was hungry and found my body hurrying of itself, of its own will, towards the restaurant. I of course was also willing; but I could see that the body's will was quite an addition to mine. For the sensation would have been very different if I had been going, say, to my daily work -- an errand in which no bodily appetite would be interested. So my body led me -- and I let it -- to the restaurant. How many a man's body leads him -- even AGAINST his will, sometimes -- to the beer saloon! This much more, then, can be understood of freedom -- that it would mean perfect rulership of bodily appetite, indeed unconsciousness of these appetites if there was any important and urgent work filling the mind.
One can understand an extension of this freedom. For one's MIND drags one wherever it will, into thoughts and memories that are painful as well as into thoughts and memories and anticipations that one is willing or glad to have. The mind never ceases, in all the hours from waking to sleep, never ceases to drag us, sometimes willing, often not, along with it in its current of changeful thought. This is so incessant that it appears to us quite the natural thing and mostly we raise no complaint nor think of raising any. We call it our own thinking, not considering that it goes on of itself when we have not set it in any particular direction. But at times the thoughts or memories are objectionable or painful and then we may groan about our slavery.
Freedom would therefore consist in perfect control of the mind-flow as to where it shall go or whether it shall go anywhere. That would be freedom for the Self, which, turning back from the mind, could then realize who and what he was, and his immortality, and why he is in this life, and what is the nature of the upper life, the deeper life that the mind-flow left to itself can never understand.
But the getting of this freedom takes time and practice. In deep dreamless sleep, the old Teachers said, we have this true freedom. But because the brain is not then conscious, and registers practically nothing, we cannot bring back into it, or reflect down into it, the knowledge of ourselves and of life that for the time we have or are in.
But in the times of practice of deep mind-silence we keep the brain conscious, though without letting it work on its own account. And then the knowledge of all realities and of our immortality that is latent in us, that has not come forth so that we can see it in the mind and know it in that way, CAN come forth and shape itself into thought and become fully present before us. With mind thus trained we can draw out from ourselves and make known to ourselves our hidden knowledge of that world and state of which ordinary mind-action keeps us ignorant. Having it we know it not. To know it is the reward of the practice of mind-silence, which is freedom.
By K. Paul Johnson
The subtitle of the documentary MADAME BLAVATSKY: SPIRITUAL TRAVELLER was taken from my remarks, quoted at the end to the effect that HPB "created the model" of the spiritual traveler, whose search for truth was global in scope. After seeing it, I realized that she was just the first person to use a global search for spiritual truth from many sources as the basis of a new movement. But one of her early acquaintances is more deserving of accolades for creating the model that she exemplified, which later inspired such explorers as Alexandra David-Neel. Sir Richard Francis Burton was the most celebrated British explorer of the mid-19th century, and first met Blavatsky in Cairo in 1853 as he was preparing for his great trip to Mecca. In 1878 he joined the London lodge of the Theosophical Society, but he had been introduced to occult studies in England in the 1840s as a member of the so-called Orphic Brotherhood led by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richard James Morrison (Zadkiel), and Philip Henry Stanhope.
Albert Rawson, who introduced Burton to Blavatsky, made four extensive journeys to the Middle East, in one of which he became acquainted with John Varley II, a painter whose family was very prominent in British astrological and occult circles from the beginning of the 19th century. Varley and his wife Isabella (aunt of William Butler Yeats) were members of Blavatsky's Inner Group and lifelong Theosophists. Varley traveled extensively as a landscape painter, best known for his depictions of Egypt. James Peebles, who introduced Olcott and Blavatsky to leaders of Sinhalese Buddhism and the Arya Samaj, was another American globetrotter with connections in the Free Thought movement as well as Spiritualism. Another important link between Theosophy and Buddhism was the Bengali explorer of Tibet, Sarat Chandra Das.
The age of great explorers ended long ago, but the Theosophical movement still is indebted to the spirit of discovery of figures like Burton, Peebles, Rawson, Das, and most of all Blavatsky. I would like to see it recapture some of the enthusiasm of that era. Although the exploration needed in the 21st century is more intellectual and emotional than physical, this passage from HPB extolling physical journeys to the East still rings true in my life experience:
"One single journey to the Orient, made in the proper spirit, and the possible emergencies arising from the meeting of what may seem no more than the chance acquaintances and adventures of the traveler, may quite as likely as not through wide open to the zealous student, the heretofore closed doors of the final mysteries. I will go farther and say that such a journey, performed with the omnipresent idea of the one object, and with the help of a fervent will, is sure to produce more rapid, better, and far more practical results, than the most diligent study of Occultism in books -- even though one were to devote to it dozens of years."
Blavatsky was a great travel writer, for which a prerequisite was to be a great traveler. The lifelong global quest for spiritual discovery that brought Burton, Blavatsky, and Rawson together in Egypt later comes through in different ways in the writings of all three. Whether or not we can physically travel around the world, we can share the sense of adventure in great travel writing of all times. The Theosophical literature is a rich source of vivid travel narratives, in which spiritual quests are often crucial to the plot. The search for new adventures and discoveries was a constant in the lives of the Theosophical Society founders, and the movement they created can learn much from their example.
By Katinka Hesselink
and written September 1, 2009.]
The relationship between karma and disease is controversial. There is the commonsense view that since disease is unwelcome, it 'must be' bad karma. On the other hand, there is a long tradition of theosophical thought saying that bad karma doesn't exist. I was reading up on a related topic this summer and found Geoffrey Hodson said that disease is an expression of inner conflict. In the introduction to the same booklet, Oscar Kollerstrom was less nuanced. He went ahead and concluded that illness is an expression of disharmony. Nature does not mean us to be ill, and spiritual growth and physical health go hand in hand.
It's disconcerting to read when the first theosophical teacher of note, in fact one whose fame has only been surpassed by Jiddu Krishnamurti, H.P. Blavatsky, was ill most of her productive life. She wrote all of her books while suffering from some disease or other. In fact, she faced death several times in that period in her life. It's therefore not surprising to find her writing in her Esoteric Instructions that:
Rude physical health is a drawback to seership ... It is an excess of prana [life energy] setting up powerful molecular vibrations, and so drowning the atomic. [Atomic is here used for the spiritual in us. In ordinary theosophical terminology, it is Atma.]
While I'm at it, it's well known that Jiddu Krishnamurti also suffered from lifelong health problems. The cancer he succumbed to at the age of 90 had been in his system for quite a few years. He only became convinced of his readiness to be a spiritual teacher (though he would never put it in those words) when 'the process' made him ill and gave him spiritual experiences at the same time.
So how does this square with the old idea that physical health is necessary for spiritual growth? It is after all an old idea. People were only allowed to become Buddhist monks when they had excellent health. I tend to think that this has something to do with changes in lifespan for people, including the sick. For the last two centuries or so, people with health problems have managed to survive fairly long. Health care has after all improved considerably, even if universal access is still a pipedream for most of humanity (including US citizens).
Geoffrey Hodson has a point, doesn't he? Inner conflict brings on ill health. Whether we call it psychosomatic or otherwise, it's still an experiential fact. Where I disagree is in how this inner conflict relates to real spiritual growth. While everybody would like to have inner peace and lack of conflict, the fact of life is that it exists. Balancing that out may take a lifetime, and the very attempt is an example of spiritual growth in my book.
So, what does karma have to do with all this?
According to theosophy and Buddhism, there are two kinds of people: ordinary people and people on the path towards enlightenment. Ordinary people keep creating new karma. Any good they experience is likely to be temporary, because they are likely to spoil it with bad actions in a future life. This keeps the cycle of reincarnation going. The mixed bag of good and bad in both their present and past lives makes for a very complicated karmic story.
People on the path (stream enterers in Buddhist terminology) towards enlightenment however have come to a fundamental realization about the nature of reality and the uselessness of fighting only for your own good. This realization has been combined with the Bodhisattva Vow: the vow to benefit all sentient beings and help them realize the same truths. For them, so theosophical tradition has it, there are only seven lives on earth left. In those seven lives, all the karma they have gathered in their previous lives has to be worked out.
This makes for rather difficult lives in general. Disease, money problems, and inner conflict: all the mistakes made in previous lives have to be faced in their essence and conquered. Inner conflict is to be expected in such people, because to become wise one has to face up to all that is not wise in oneself. How else can wisdom be combined with compassion for all that lives?
It would of course be nice and neat if health and good karma went hand in hand. That would mean we could look at the state of a person's health and determine their spiritual worth. It's always nice to be able to label people. But nice and wise are two very different things. It's never by observing a person superficially that the inner truth about their nature can become clear.
SOURCE FOR GEOFFREY HODSON AND OSCAR KOLLERSTROM
I found their opinions in an undated Dutch theosophical booklet called "Een occulte beschouwing van gezondheid en ziekte," published in Amsterdam by Gnosis publishing. It is probably a translation into Dutch of some booklet in English.
By Evan Gregson Mortimer
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, May 1917, 516-522.]
Fiery princes of the Empyrean rode daily to the palace of King Nuivray to woo the Lady Daffodil, fairest of all the princesses of Heaven. On splendid steeds they came -- the Chieftains of the Twelve Houses, with beautiful banners borne before them, flaming along the Milky Way. Came the Knight of the Dawn, golden-armored and cloaked in scarlet; the Prince of Noon, panoplied in shining sapphire, and the pennon of his lance a blue meteor trailing; Evening, an enchanter out of the west of heaven, wrapped about in flame robes of shell-pink and shell-blue; Night, a dark emperor of mysterious sovereignty and power. Many sultans came also, and paynim princes and sublimities; Aldebaran with the topaz-hilted scimitar, who is leader of all the armies of the firmament; white-turbaned Fomalhaut; Alpheratz and Achernar, Algol and Algenib and Alderamin. Came the great poets of the sky: the Pleiades, ever beautiful and young; and the knightly-hearted brothers of Orion, who guard the Marches of Space. Came our Lord Marttanda himself, gloriously singing and flaming in his car of flame.
No language could tell the sweetness and beauty of the Lady Daffodil. The Pleiades knew well that with all their gift of song they could not declare it, nor the thousandth part of it: how, then, try to describe the aura of light about her head, citron-hued and saffron-hued, that shone more tenderly and beneficently yellow than the breastplate of the Knight of Dawn, or the golden crown of Aldebaran? How describe the gentle, magical wisdom of her, versed in exquisite wizardry, understanding the antique transformations and transmigrations of things; or her profound unquenchable gaiety, that kept merriment alive among the stars, even on the day of the rebellion of hell? Not that you must think of her as meekly girlish, nor suppose her occupations merely such as spinning and embroidery, or playing upon zither or citole. She too had led armies through the mountains beyond Orion; and if she bore no sword herself, nor charged in scythed car, it was still her druid incantations upon the peak, they said, that cleared the passes of invading hell. I will say that her presence was a light to heal sorrow, to shame away and exorcise evil; that an atmosphere breathed about her, quickening, spiritual and delicate, but very robust too, and with power to awaken souls. In the sapphire halls and galleries of the king's palace: in the gardens where gentian and larkspur and forget-me-not bloom: when she passed a rumor of delight ran trembling after and before her; the little asterisms that nested in the trees broke into trilling and warbling of joy. BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL! they sang; and DELIGHT, DELIGHT, DELIGHT, DELIGHT!
Now it befell that King Nuivray held court in Heaven at Easter time, and all the suitors were present; it was thought that whoever should win most glory now, whether in the jousts of arms or in the contests of song, would have the hand of the Lady Daffodil for his prize. Splendidly they were enthroned on thrones most splendid; not one of them but belonged to the great winged and flaming hierarchies; not one but was embodied in essential flame; and there was mirth there, and high emulation; and even though rivalry, pleasant companionship and comradely love.
In the midst of the feasting one came into the hall, at whose coming all turned to look at him; and they shuddered, and there was a moment's silence beneath the turquoise towers. He was one that should have been young, but was decrepit; that should have been handsome, but for the marks of vice on his face; that should have been noble of form and limb, but for evil living. From his eyes two haunting demons looked forth: the one, fear or horror; the other, shameless boldness. Because his words were so insolent as he called for a high throne among the gods, Rigel and Mintaka and Alnilam and Betelgueux, the archers of Orion, reached for their bows; our Lord Marttanda grasped his sword of flame; Aldebaran arose drawing his scimitar: such rudeness was not to be tolerated there, in the very presence of the yellow-haired Lady of Heaven. They waited but a sign of permission from her --
But she, rising from the throne at her father's side, came down the hall, and stood before the stranger, all graciously shining. He framed, I think, some ribaldry in his mind; looked up at her, and faltered; then, bowing low, took her hand and kissed it very humbly, after the manner of a loyal knight of Heaven.
"Please you, Sir, to declare to us your name and rank?" said she.
"I am the Spirit of the Earth," he answered.
The Lords of the Firmament looked down at him very pitifully; then hung their heads in sorrow; for he was the outcast, the scapegrace, the traitor of Heaven; he alone had broken the Infinite Law; he alone hobnobbed with and gave shelter to the hellions whom they, obeying the Eternal Will, fought eternally and drove back and back over the brink of the universe.
"A place and a royal robe for the Lord Spirit of the Earth!" cried the Lady Daffodil.
Then they strove to forget him, and the feasting went forward.
This one told of his imperial state; this of his high adventures; this of conquests won afar; this of the prowess of his bow, this of the daring and keen edge of his sword. Not boastingly they spoke, nor with any mood of self-exaltation; their words, like their deeds were all a ceremonial of sacrifice, and worship paid to the Lonely Unknown. At the end King Nuivray turned to his daughter: "Wilt thou not make thy choice now?" he said.
"Not yet," she answered; "there is still one knight that has neither spoken nor sung. Lord Spirit of the Earth," she said, turning to that unlovely one, "tell you now your story."
Again the Princes of the Empyrean hung their heads, guessing they were to hear shame and sorrow. But the Spirit of the Earth rose and spoke. "Braggart knights," he said, "I am greater than all of you! I alone do what I please; worship myself, sin, and enjoy a million pleasures. You -- who shall compare you with me? You go on your courses obedient, and are the slaves of Law; my law is my own will; my pleasures I choose for myself; in my realm was planted the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and I ate of the fruit of the tree, and am wise -- I am wise.
"Which of you is equal to me? Is it you, Lord Marttanda? All your splendor is squandered abroad; and as much as I desire of it, falls upon me, and is mine to enjoy soft hours of it, and to turn away from it when I will; -- but who are ministers unto you, or who bath given you a gift at any time? Is it ye, Knights of the Dawn and the Noon and the Evening? All your beauty is for me, for me! Is it ye, 0 Poets of the Pleiades, who sing the songs it was ordained you should sing? Are ye not wearied yet of your singing? For me only is your music pleasant; because I listen when I will, and when I will, heed it no more, but turn to softer and more thrilling pleasures of my own."
Here he laughed, and his laughter was a bitter wind fleeting through Heaven.
"Ye wage your wars in space, as it was predestined ye should wage them: ye obey the Law in your warfare, going forth and returning according to a will that is not your own. Ye are light, and know not darkness: in a shadowless monotony of splendor ye go forward to a destiny wherein there is no prospect of change. What to you, 0 Lord Marttanda, is your splendid effulgence, that may not wax nor wane? What to you are your songs, 0 Pleiades? -- they contain no grandeur of tragedy, no sweet savor of sadness, no fire of passion -- neither hate nor love -- to give them life and power. Your glory and your music are a weariness to you; and a weariness, 0 Orion, is your watchful charge. That which ye are, ye shall be forever, 0 ye that know not the sweetness of sin!
"But I -- what care I for the glory of your wars, since I have power to raise up wars within myself? Since my children come, millions against millions, and burn and ravish and slaughter; since my lands grow fruitful soaked with blood, and my seas are the abode of sudden treacherous slaughter, and even in my skies rides Death!
"What are your tame delights, that I should envy them, since I go out after strange loves, and riot in strange sins, and take my fill of gorgeous pleasures of my own devising, and --"
He faltered, dropped his head, and covered his eyes with his hands, and groaned.
"O Lords of the Firmament, help me!" he cried. "You that have given me the light I pollute; you that of old endowed me with fire and soul; you that are unfallen; that are not haunted by demons; that are not torn, as I am torn; nor degraded, as I am degraded! You whose souls are unsullied and unstained, a boon from you! Help from you! Come down into my house, some great warrior of you, that I be not destroyed by mine own misdoings! One of you, beautiful Pleiades, come down and sing my miserable children into peace! You, Lord Marttanda, come down, and drive away with your brightness the hellions that scourge and devour me! Sovereign Aldebaran, let the terrible edge of your scimetar cleave away the loathsome hosts of my sins!
"For behold, I am of your race, and am fallen; my soul, that once was divine and knightly, is passing away from me and ebbing into oblivion; sin and death and sorrow are my companions; I am Hell; I am Hell!"
He fell on his knees suppliant, and with bent head and arms outstretched, implored them, weeping.
"What can I do for thee, brother?" said our Lord Marttanda. "I send thee my beautiful beams, and they come back to me an offense; they breed carrion and pestilence in thee, of the millions that are slain in thy wars. If I came nearer to thee, thou wouldst perish."
"Alas, what can we do for thee, poor brother?" said the Pleiades. "We have sung for thee, and of our singing thy poets have learned to sing; and with this sacred knowledge they have made war-songs and lust-songs and terrible songs of hate. What can we do for thee?"
"We keep watch upon the Marches against monstrous invasion from the deep," said Rigel and Betelgueux. "But thou -- bast thou not brought in demons, and made vain our watching? We can do nothing for thee; would that we could!"
"I can do nothing for thee" -- said the Grand Seigneur Aldebaran -- "I that am Lord of War, and Leader of the Hosts of the Gods. For it was ordained of old that Light should break battle on Darkness, and that this my War in Heaven should be. But thou hast stolen the secret of conflict from me, that was made thus to be a lovely thing; and hast made it base, abhorrent and bloody; thou hast not followed me to the eternal field in the ranks of thy brethren, but thou hast used the engine of God for thine own delight and destruction. Because of this, if I came nearer to thee, thy wars would destroy thee utterly. Thy children would riot down into madness and mutual slaughter, until none was left of them."
So one by one the princes spoke. They could do nothing for the Spirit of the Earth. He had eaten the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; his fate had been in his own hands, and he had elected to make it damnation.
Then King Nuivray, being their host, rose from his throne to pronounce their judgment on him. "Thou camest here with insolence on thy lips," said he, "and made boast in Heaven of thy foulness, polluting the beauty of the empyrean fields. Go forth: thy sins have damned thee; there is no hope for thee. There is none in Heaven that will go with thee, nor one that might save thee if he went."
"Yes, there is one!" cried the Lady Daffodil. As she spoke, the turquoise towers were filled with sudden light and loveliness, such as none had beheld in them until then. "Yes, there is one," she said. "Poor spirit of the Earth, thou art to hope; I will go with thee."
The Lord Marttanda veiled his face in sorrow. The Pleiades wept in silence, and thenceforth for seven ages there was sadness in their song. "Not so!" cried Sultan Aldebaran; "thou art to shine and flame upon our ensigns; for thy sake we are to sweep triumphant over the ramparts of hell --"
But the Spirit of the Earth raised his head and looked at her, and a wild hope rose in his eyes; and then forlorn but altogether noble despair.
"No," he said, "come not thou! Where hideous sin is, is no place for thee. Thou couldst not live in my dwelling place; envious Death, that stalks there day and night, would shoot at thee at once desiring thy beauty for himself. I have no power against Death; I could not shield thee from his arrows. 0 Beautiful beyond all the beauty of Heaven, come not thou! Rather will I go forth alone, and perish utterly."
"My father," she said, very calmly; "I invoke the truth from thee. I will hear destiny speak through thy lips. Can I, going with him, save the Spirit of the Earth?"
They all rose in their places, to hear destiny speak through the king.
"Thou canst not save him," said he. "There is no god in Heaven that can save him. He hath eaten of the fruit of the Tree, and none can save him but himself. Yet, if you wert to go, there would be hope for him; and possessing hope, at the last he might come to save himself. But in the kingdom of Death, thou too wouldst die."
"Speak," she said; "what means this TO DIE?"
"To lose thyself, thy being," said the king. "To become a very little and powerless thing. To be without thought, or knowledge, or foresight, or memory."
"I will go with the Spirit of the Earth," she said.
In the morning they rode forth together, and she talked to him by the way, uttering gentle and druid wisdom very potent in its magic; so that he remembered all the hopes he had in his young time, and all the beauty of his youthful dreams. Visions of beautiful victories rose before him; inspired and strengthened by her shining companionship, he would purge his house of evil utterly; then ride out under the banners of Aldebaran, and worship God in high deeds along the borders of space. And he loved her without thought of self: not as a man loves a woman, but as a poet may love a dream or a star; he vowed to himself that he would worship her forever, and shield her from Death's arrows with his own body. So once more, as she rode with him through the blue empyrean, he was the Knight of Heaven going forth: he knew himself for a god.
They came into the kingdom of the Knight of Evening, and looked down, and she beheld the mountains of the Earth empurpled far below, with lakes golden and roseate under the sunset, and valleys that seemed the abodes of quiet peace. "But thy realm is altogether lovely!' said she.
"Thou hast not seen the dwellings of men," he answered.
They rode on and down, and passed beneath the borders of the empire of Night.
"What ails thee, Lady?" said he, trembling.
"I grow a little faint," she said. "There is one here --"
"Ha, Earth, my gossip, what new light o' love hast thou brought with thee?"
"Back, thou Death!" cried the Spirit of the Earth, leaping forward to take the arrow, if he might, in his own breast. But Death laughed at him as he shot, and went on his way jeering.
"Never heed thou this, to be cast down by it," she whispered. "Bury me in the loveliest of thy valleys; find thou a grassy mound whereon there are stones of the Druids, and bury me beneath the grass there; tomorrow I shall put forth a sign that I am with thee always, and that thou art always to hope. So I bid thee no farewell ..."
He bore her body down into the loveliest of his valleys, and dug her a grave upon the mound, and watched beside the grave until morning. And at dawn he found a flower blooming above the grave, lovelier than all the blossoms of his native Heaven. He bent down, and reverently kissed the yellow delight and glory of its bloom; and lo, it had language for him, and whispered: "While I bloom thou shalt not perish; when thou seest me, thou art to think that beauty and hope still remain to thee; I am thy sign and assurance, that thou shalt yet be among the greatest of the Princes of Heaven."
And that morning the Druids found daffodils blooming about the sacred circle. "Heaven hath won some sweeping victory over hell," they said.
By Bruce F. MacDonald
I had already completed a PhD from the University of Leeds in England and was an English professor at the University of Regina in Canada when I first read THERE IS A RIVER, the biography of Edgar Cayce. Along with other books about Cayce, it added a whole new dimension to my understanding and teaching of creativity and literature. It also helped in my exploration of the implications of a profound Near Death Experience I had in 1966 as well as other psycho-spiritual gifts and experiences.
However, I must admit that one of the things that I have found a bit unclear in the Cayce readings is talk of the "Sons of Belial." That has seemed far away, only part of the drama of Atlantis and akin to the talk of devils in fundamentalist churches -- until a few weeks ago.
I was surprised when a psychology professor colleague and friend of mine, Dr. William Wynn (known to everyone as Buddy) phoned me just after breakfast and asked if he could come over at about 10:00 a.m. Yes, it was urgent, he said.
I had spoken to a number of Dr. Wynn's classes about spiritual experience and had used meditative and intuitive methods of doing personal counselling for years. I was scheduled to speak at another of his classes in two days. I thought maybe it was about these matters he had come to speak.
We talked over a cup of tea and then he said that he had to talk to me because he could think of no one else who might be able to help. What was happening to him was intensely spiritual and intensely troubling.
Buddy was raised in a very judgemental fundamentalist Christian home in Texas. After university, he had rejected all of that and had become an atheist. Then after some profound experiences in India, he had become interested in spirituality and for many years had taught immensely popular classes in parapsychology.
Recently an inner voice which he referred to as the "score keeper" began telling him that he was a failure in life and then in the last couple of days the voice had been going so far as to tell him that he was wasting everyone's time and he should die. He could not get rid of the voice and that is why he came to me.
I got him to do one of the meditative counselling exercises that Carl Jung and others have done with great success. I asked him to close his eyes, relax, and imagine that the voice was speaking to him. Then I got him to repeat aloud what the voice said.
The voice spoke with an almost hypnotic insistence: "You have always done the same thing: you get interested in something, get going with it, and then you drop it and start on something else. You haven't been of service to anyone. You have wasted your life and don't have anything to show for all your efforts. You might as well die. In fact, that is what you should do -- die."
As we discussed what the voice said, Buddy could recognize some of the patterns of his childhood family values in the voice. He had been taught that you should serve others or your life would be a waste. He could sense echoes of his church teachings in the sense of judgement and condemnation, but the part about dying was new in the last few days and really bothered him. The voice seemed to be drawing on some of his earlier training but was twisting its implications.
Actually, Buddy hadn't wasted his life. He had devoted a good part of his life to helping people understand many of the psychic and spiritual experiences that have been documented in parapsychology research, and is presently giving classes to the general public to bring about a greater understanding of these phenomena. Many people speak with great appreciation about what he has been doing. But the voice had picked up on a negative aspect of his childhood and was insidiously undermining his self confidence.
I thought perhaps these echoes of his childhood had originated with one particular person -- a minister or uncle perhaps -- so I got him to ask the voice what its name was.
"We don't really have a name," it replied, "because we are more like a tribe."
The reply reminded me of when Jesus spoke to the man possessed by demons who said his name was "Legion." But I also intuitively thought of Edgar Cayce, so I got Buddy to ask the voice if Cayce had ever spoken of them.
"He might have," was the hesitant reply.
"Ask him if he is related to the Sons of Belial," I told Buddy (Buddy had to ask me for clarification, since he did not know who these people were).
"We prefer not to have that known," replied the voice.
Suddenly, intuitively, I realized that one of the Sons of Belial, of whom Cayce had spoken so many times, was speaking with the voice of my friend in my living room.
Buddy brightened up with sudden realization. He said to the voice, "You really don't want to help me. You want to destroy me."
"That's right," replied the voice. "People do our work for us. They just need to have hatred and fear and then they will destroy each other. We don't have to do much at all."
I got Buddy to ask this Son of Belial why he was telling us all of this, since he would lose his effectiveness if we knew.
"We've already won," he said. "There's nothing you two can do about it even if you know."
Again I had an insight. "Ask him if he knows about the Children of the Law of One," I instructed.
Again Buddy didn't know who I was talking about but when he focused his mind on the Law of One he said, "Wow. That's really powerful."
The voice of the Son of Belial replied without concern, "We have defeated them."
"Do you know me?" I asked.
"We have already defeated you. Just look at the world. There is nothing you can do to change what is happening. It will end in chaos." Again I thought of Cayce's readings about how Atlantis had ended and thought of all the violence and discord in the present world.
Just then, Buddy said he sensed a monument that somehow represented the voice. He moved his hands in front of him, making something that looked like a huge pyramid with very steep sides. Then he said that the voice had showed the monument to him and said, "It represents our success."
Buddy thought it was something like the Tower of Babel. I thought it must be a pyramid of some sort, from his hand movements, and intuitively received the image of human sacrifice, so I asked if the monument was Teotihuacan, the pyramid discovered by the Aztecs in Mexico in which the remains of human sacrifice had been found.
"No," the voice replied. "But that is also a manifestation of our power." I realized that there are a number of monuments to the discord and destruction of these Sons of Belial in the world.
I asked about the violence in the world today.
"We are always there whenever hatred and violence and greed are preached as virtues," he replied. "Many of the religious people are doing our work for us. They will kill each other as they worship their gods of violence."
After some more conversation, Buddy left. With self-knowledge, he realized that he was free of the effects of the voice and was now free of this son of Belial.
However, I was very intrigued by what had happened in my living room. I have for many years been able to do channelling and to contact spiritual "entities" in meditation, so after Buddy left, I was able to get in touch with the same person who had spoken through him.
In communicating with him, I had the sense of being in touch with not one soul but a huge group of souls, all of them connected. When I communicated with them through my mind they seemed to respond all together.
They were full of smug confidence about having defeated the forces of Light and Love in the world. My first reaction was to fear what they could do in the world, and then I realized they were inducing fear in me as well and my fear could defeat me if I let it grow.
Then a vision arose in my mind of how the Sons of Belial were actually not powerful at all: in fact, they are a means by which "human" souls are able to evolve. The Sons of Belial provide the difficulties. In overcoming the challenges put before them, the other souls grow in knowledge and insight. The result of this spiritual evolution is that when all the human souls have evolved sufficiently and need no longer remain on earth, then the Sons of Belial will be the only ones left, trapped in their own negativity.
I had the sense that they had been on earth before the rest of us came here thousands of years ago. That is why we had been warned not to come here. They were the spirits who were behind the stories of "fallen angels." They are also part of the reason we are trapped here, because they keep us from loving, positive, freeing thoughts.
When I communicated this observation to the group soul of Belial there was a collective shudder as if they suddenly realized that their supposed victory would be nothing but emptiness. There was a feeling like fear running through the whole mass of negative spirits: they collectively sensed their ultimate failure.
I also communicated to them that their error is based on the idea that when people die, the Sons of Belial have triumphed. "When human beings die," I told them, "They go on to other opportunities to learn and are reborn so they can evolve further." Again there was a shudder.
Then I offered the ultimate forgiveness. I said that if they gave up their negative ways they too might be able to start evolving into the Light. God did not condemn them. At that, there was a great sense of bewilderment and a feeling of discord and division of purpose in the whole mass of souls. When I thanked them for the service they provided for soul growth, they were very disturbed indeed.
I wanted to check if my insights were at all similar to Cayce's so I consulted my DVD collection of the Cayce readings and was amazed to find the close match between my perceptions and the conclusions of the readings.
Reading 877-2 gives a good summary of the difference between the Sons of Belial and the Children of the Law of One:
8. The Sons of Belial were of one group, or those that sought more the gratifying, the satisfying, the use of material things for self, WITHOUT thought or consideration as to the sources of such nor the hardships in the experiences of others. Or, in other words, as we would term it today, they were those without a standard of morality.
9. The other group -- those who followed the Law of One -- had a standard. The Sons of Belial had no standard, save of self, self-aggrandizement.
The Sons of Belial were "those that worshipped the satisfying of physical desire, those that worshipped ease and pleasure in the material world" (640-1). Under their influence "the Creative Energies were being used for destructive purposes -- or as cloaks behind which their activities might be carried on" (1007-3).
"The divine and spiritual laws become destructive in the hands and the activities of the sons of Belial" (1297-1). In fact, the whole process of being trapped in what John Van Aucken calls "the beetle body," the hard shell of material embodiment, was accelerated by the Sons of Belial: souls "became more and more materialized as the powers were applied for self-aggrandizement" (2850-1).
(This reading implies that as we follow the Law of One we become more spiritualized.)
In the Cayce readings the Sons of Belial are active mainly in the Atlantean times but there is mention of them being active in the Roman times as well as in biblical times. The effects of the experiences of former lives are felt in the present by many of those who sought Cayce's help. One writer asked about the doubts he felt at times:
34. (Q) Can you explain the periods of extreme doubt that come, though innately I must believe? (A) These are from those experiences when there were the associations and activities of Nehemiah, that made for the settlings in the land; and when the children of Belial roundabout made for fear and doubt in the hearts of those that had set about to do and to establish there the service of those peoples to their Creator.
In one case, the influence of the Sons of Belial led to feelings of discouragement and the attempt to commit suicide (876-1). I immediately thought of Buddy. The voice had been telling him he was a failure and should die. Is it the same voice that drives many people to depression and suicide? Is the increasing inner doubt and self loathing, the increase in suicide and violence in the world due to the insidious influence of the Sons of Belial working in the background of our global society?
Cayce outlines a solution for one respondent: "First," the reading says:
"analyze thyself, thy purposes, thy aims, thy desires. Have ye an IDEAL that is of a spiritual nature? Or is thy IDEAL only one that passeth away, being only in the material? 31. Know that only that which is good and sincere, and purposeful for Creative Force, lives on. Not that which is beautiful only for the gratifying of an emotion of self, or of those influences in thy activity that passeth away, -- for the ashes and the husks thereof are indeed bitter.
The core lesson I learned from my session with Dr. Wynn was that the Sons of Belial have very little power in themselves. They depend on human beings to do negative and destructive things. The way to overcome them is to choose the right. Over and over, Cayce says that in the past people have "chosen" the wrong path in Atlantis or Rome or elsewhere and that now they need to choose the right path.
As we look around the world, it may seem that the Sons of Belial have won the battle for the hearts of humanity. They wear many disguises. They wear the mask of religion and teach violence, hatred and death in the name of God. They wear the mask of greed and idolize the ruthless quest for money at all costs (which is part of the cause of the present economic crisis.)
However, once enough people are involved in the positive aspects of life, in working as the Children of the Law of One, then the power of the "dark side" vanishes.
We obviously need to take Edgar Cayce's advice to identify a positive ideal in accord with "the Creative Forces or God." We will then be able to follow the path of service, of goodness and of the evolution of spiritual consciousness through love, kindness, generosity and cooperation. This is the Law of One.