And this weary round of birth upon birth must be ever and ever run through, until the being reaches the end of the seventh round, or -- attains in the interim the wisdom of an Arhat, then that of a Buddha and thus gets releived for a round or two, -- having learned how to burst through the vicious circles -- and to pass periodically into the Paranirvana.
-- Mahatma K.H., Letter No. 25 in THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT.
By Eldon B. Tucker
A time comes in every life when you're tempted to think, "I'm getting old." How this happens and what this means in your life depends upon how well you've prepared yourself.
Your health may start to decline, more so if you haven't been keeping physically fit, if you've eaten the wrong foods, smoke, had a fondness for alcohol, and perhaps relied a bit too much on medications. Or problems could arise just due to the genetic makeup of your body. That's a form of karma that you certainly didn't do anything to deserve in this lifetime, yet it still sucks.
Your memory may start to fail you, a little at first, then more as time progresses. It could be tragic if you experience a decline of mental function, forcing you to take a simpler appreciation of life. Such a decline is like an early slipping into the dreamlike after-death state of devachan.
Even if you maintain your full faculties, it may become harder to learn new things as you age. But it's still worth the effort, since your interests and passion in live will follow you into the next lifetime.
Getting older, it becomes harder to find younger friends. You're reminded of the mortality of life. The older people you know become aged and die. Eventually, you first lose your grandparents, then you parents, and you are the oldest living person in your family tree. Those who remember the older days are gone; it's just you that's left to tell the family stories to the young ones.
When you were young, you may have looked on old people as strange creatures that talked as though they were as young as you or your parents. You may have had trouble picturing them that way. If you were of kindly nature, you would offer them friendship and companionship. If not, you shun them as reminders of the awful thing that could never happen to you -- old age.
As you got old yourself, you still remember all the things that you did with friends when a child, a teenager, a young adult, and think of yourself as the same person. You may find it hard to accept the fact that you're walking around in an old, almost-worn out body. In your dreams, you can be any age, but awake in the world, you're stuck in a form that won't let you be yourself any longer.
Some things you can no longer have. The excitement of youthful romance, for instance, is beyond your grasp. You might look upon it as a cripple in a wheelchair watches skiers on the slope, wishing to ski but physically unable to do so. You might love skiing, but the body, no matter the degree of discipline, fails to respond with the strength, suppleness, and grace required of the art.
What, then, can you do as you face old age?
It can be the peak of your creative output if you have developed the craft and technique in earlier years, building a skill in some art that is based upon your mind and heart but doesn't rely on the youth and vigor of your body. Doing so, your final years will be a joy, a blessing to the world, a time that you're fight to hang onto, holding back the grim reaper as long as you possibly can. Failing to do so, life will be a depressing slide into monotony, emptiness, and a deadness of the soul.
Learn while you find it easy, for the day may come when you need those skills for your continued happiness. Don't put off the cultivation of creative talents of mind and heart.
There are phases of life as your interests turn from sex and dating, raising a family, and making money to giving, sharing, letting go, and a simple form of enjoying life. The physical passions die off in time. That comes as the natural process of aging, and barring ill health, it can be a pleasant life.
Advances in medicine, health care, and technology make old age less of a handicap than before. At least, it's so for those of us fortunate enough to live in a developed country. Still, old age fills an important phase of life. It's a time to retire, do things you enjoy with loved ones, and start letting go of life. Why then, as Theosophists, would we want anything different?
Regardless of our age, we can forge new bonds of friendship and love with other people, establishing connections that will carry over into future lifetimes. We can also know and love friends from previous lives who may have been born a generation or two later than we were in this lifetime.
We may have a deep creative urge that cannot be put aside. We may be stuck in a type of existence that cycle through childhood, adulthood, then old age, but we still have great things that we have to try. These aren't things given us as "orders" by some higher being; they're deep things in life that we know, love, respect, and want to share in the world. The world is a wonderful place when we express ourselves, using the art and craft that we've perfected over the years. We seek to express ourselves because we love what we're doing and what we're expression and share in the world's joy as we bring new beauty and wisdom into the world.
There are two directions in life. One is the happy but simple cycle of getting old, letting go, and peacefully slipping into the wondrous postmortem dream life that awaits all but the most heartless of people. The other is less happy in the conventional sense, but has a deep joy to it. It is the path of brightening the world. In this path, you deeply feel, contemplate the profound, and truly understand life. And you don't keep it to yourself; you share it, bringing it into the world in your own unique way. It is such a joyous occupation that it consumes you, filling the days of your life to the very end with its light. When your final day comes, it's not with a faint "goodbye" to a world that you've forgotten. No. It's in a blaze as you're still filled with the glories of the spirit, pass on, and follow that light.
By A Teacher
[By a teacher in the Raja Yoga School, from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1916, pages 79-82.]
THE ANCIENT ATHENIAN IDEAL
The sphere of music in our day has been too much narrowed, and from it have been excluded certain essential elements. To this fact is due the limited success achieved; and if the sphere of music were duly widened, much greater things might be accomplished.
In the ancient Athenian education, the word "music" included much more than it does today. The curriculum was divided into three chief parts, one of which, the musical art, or that branch of learning presided over by the Muses, embraced what might be called the education of the soul; while the other two branches, the grammatic and the gymnastic, provided for the needs of the mind and the body respectively.
Music included lyric poetry set to music; choric dancing; the ability to recite with grace and propriety, and in fact the harmonious development of the whole nature; in all of which it was ably supplemented by the other two branches of education.
Hence its accomplishments were grace, harmony, propriety, soulfulness, rhythm, order, balance, proportion, and whatever contributes to a rich and beautiful nature. In our modern musical education we do not find these things attended to. In our rather mechanical way of thinking, we have regarded music as a thing apart, and have directed our efforts too exclusively towards the exact aim.
It seems evident that the Athenians regarded music as a part of the art of life, and its pursuit as being auxiliary to a larger aim. With our present-day resources we could surely achieve great results if we abandoned our haphazard methods in favor of something more like this ancient ideal.
It is not too much to say that the many problems that confront composers, performers, and musical teachers may find their complete solution in this one idea -- that true music is an essential part of the art of life -- and its corollary -- that the student should attend to his own nature with a view to rendering it harmonious.
MUSIC AS AN IDEAL IN LIFE
The ultimate ideal of life is vast; and though the eye of the Soul constantly views it, we must rest content with various lesser ideals, all of which, however, are contributory to the general purpose.
The achievement of harmony, the realization of true music, may be regarded as such an ideal. To entertain such a view may come as a relief to people who are tired of regarding the problem of life from other angles.
Harmony is often defined as the reconciliation of contraries or the balancing of opposites. There is a contrariety between personal and social interests, and this is harmonized by the music of the true life.
If music is the art of combining many diverse and even contrary elements into a sublime harmony, then its lesson when applied to life is that we may reconcile the clashing elements in our character and in our destiny by analogous means.
It takes rare moments of inspiration to enable us to see that what appears so discordant in the narrower view, in the wider view is in reality a sublime harmony; but such moments may become more frequent if invited, until perchance we may learn to live permanently on those heights.
Anyone cultivating the art of music in the above spirit, regarding his art as contributory to a larger purpose -- the great art of right-living -- will find success and joy in his pursuit. And how much more will this be the case if many people, acting together, cherish the same ideal and act from the same motive!
One can scarcely imagine anything which brings out the personal quality of the artist more than singing. What technique can make up for the want of a pure and refined nature in the singer? Technique, in such a case, even serves to accentuate the deficiency.
The passage from the unselfconsciousness, freshness, and spontaneity of childhood to the troubled self-consciousness of a more mature age comes out in the singing voice; as do those defects in the health which ensue on the loss of the child's wonderful balance and purity of constitution. Could the advantages be preserved instead of lost, what results would be achieved! The ripening powers would then build upon a stable foundation. This example alone is enough to show that the general upbringing of the child is an indispensable part of a true musical education.
INSPIRATION AND TECHNIQUE
Form and freedom is a pair of opposites. But harmony is defined as the equilibrium of contraries, and it ought to be able to reconcile the conflicting claims of form and freedom, of inspiration and technique.
The trouble is that, in our mechanical way, we first imagine that the two things are separate, and then try to add them together so as to make a compound; whereas the truth is that they were never separate, but have only become apparently so because we have failed to discern the unity of which they are parts.
A true musical education would endow the student or pupil with the spontaneity and power of inspiration and also with the consummate technical ability. The two endowments would be phases of one thing.
Under present arrangements, no man may touch the work of another, so the work has to be left as it is. Yet, unless the composer was a rare genius, it is bound to contain defects which another man could remedy.
A house is not built all by one craftsman. Why the same rule of collaboration should not be applied to musical composition is a question, especially in view of the fact that the principle is recognized in performance.
Only one man is allowed to compose the piece, yet it takes a score or two to perform it. Of course the explanation is -- personality. The remedy, then, is the elimination of personality as a restrictive factor in creative art -- a remedy that could be usefully applied to literature and many other things.
There is a large class of people who possess little or no originating power, but great ability to work up materials supplied them. There are others with more originality than adaptive power. Obviously collaboration is indicated. Thus true music is the work of many, not of one; and a genius is really a man who stands on the shoulders of his generation and absorbs everything about him, so that his work is to that extent the work of many.
Theft cannot exist where property is held in common, and similarly plagiarism would vanish if nobody cared. If the object were to produce the masterpiece, rather than that "I" shall be the one to achieve it, these questions of proprietorship and plagiarism would not creep in to mar achievement.
MUSIC IN LOMALAND
Doubtless the indefinable charm in the singing and playing of the younger students in Lomaland, as recognized by the visitors to the International Headquarters of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, is due to the fact that here music is made part of the whole mode of life.
The mode of life and all the education are conducive to harmony, and the musical studies are conducted with a view to the same end. The result, as evinced in the influence exercised on the auditors, is undoubted, but the means by which the effect is produced are not so easy to analyze. Yet we can see the happy healthy faces and easy graceful movements, and can understand how greatly this harmonious condition must facilitate the performance, if only by the absence of the usual obstacles.
There are unseen channels of influence by which the harmonious lives of these little performers can speak to the inner sense of the auditors. And if the auditors are responsive, they will carry away with them this message in their hearts, and interpret it to themselves afterwards. If they are not thus responsive, perhaps only their outer sense will be gratified and they will fail of the deeper message.
Surely the real meaning of artistic impressionability is that the inspiration received should result in noble action and not stop short at a mere exhilaration of the senses. Only thus can the true ideal be attained; otherwise it forever eludes our grasp. To realize music, we must make it in our lives.
PURPOSES OP THE PURSUIT OP MUSIC
We can pursue an art in satisfaction of our innate aspiration to accomplish beautiful creative work. That is one side of the question. But, though we may not desire auditors, there may be auditors who are not creative geniuses and are therefore dependent on what they hear. So the other side of the question concerns the effects we can produce on those who hear us.
Music is a teacher; but, as just said, its appeal should go deeper than the outer senses. It should be capable of inspiring to noble action; it should be able to make people better for the hearing of it.
Probably few people go away from music inspired with the desire to live up to what they have heard and felt. But we have seen that music consists of more than mere audible sounds, and that its wider meaning includes a harmony and nobility of life. Hence its influence is felt through other channels than the ear, and appeals to the eye of the spectator who witnesses the results attainable by education on right lines.
May we not sum up the purpose of music by describing it as being the realization of harmony in one's own life, in order that one may inspire harmony in the lives of others?
By Pedro Oliveira
When one of the producers of Mel Gibson's film, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, was asked why was there so much violence depicted in the film, his answer was "Because violence is the language of our time." His statement may be controversial and provocative but it is also painfully true. Whoever today watches prime time television news programmes cannot but be overwhelmed by the amount of gore, cruelty and unceasing suffering generated by violence in its many forms. It is also true that modern media exploits the present climate of violence to its own advantage, but the media has not invented the human darkness that descended, for example, upon Srebrenica, Darfur and Iraq.
In a recent report, Amnesty International announces that countries use the mass rape of women as a weapon of war. Those who survived the Japanese invasion of Singapore during World War II can testify to that. The same pattern unfolds in the region of Darfur, Sudan, as this is written. On the other hand, millions of people have been displaced, forcefully removed from their homes and villages by armed conflicts in different areas of the world. There is growing urban violence in many cities in the world and the not so visible domestic violence, the scale of which has compelled many governments to create hostels for women and children who bear the scars of brutality perpetrated by their "loved ones". The real dimension of the problem of violence is difficult to measure but its urgency has a voice that cannot be suppressed any longer.
Is it possible to understand violence? What are its origins? How does it maintain its grip over the human mind? Can it end?
Law enforcement agencies deal with the consequences of violence, they act within the framework of existing laws. Necessary though this is, it leaves the causes of the problem untouched. It has been said repeatedly that one of the causes of violence is poverty and social alienation, but the fact that millions of poor people all over the world are law-abiding individuals seems to indicate that the cause of violence lies deeper than any attempt at explaining it through social topography. The first step to understand violence is perhaps to enquire into the nature of emotion.
Emotions are DESIRES either to perpetuate a situation if pleasurable, or to escape out of it if painful.
-- Bhagavan Das, THE SCIENCE OF THE EMOTIONS, 26.
The Emotion thus begin in, and looks back to, a feeling of positive Pleasure and Pain, and looks forward to, and ends in, a possible Pleasure and Pain.
-- EMOTIONS, 26.
Emotion is thus a reaction dictated by what is felt to be pleasurable or otherwise in our contacts with the world around us. Because emotions are also associated with deeply rooted desires and their accompanying energy, they play such a vital role in the way we see the world and tend to perpetuate a reactive attitude that prevent a clear understanding of people, circumstances and situations. A mind dominated by reactions cannot see things as they are.
In-built in the nature of emotions is a feeling of expectation, of anticipation, which seeks pleasure and avoids pain. It is not difficult to see how this mechanism invites frustration and disappointment as it leads the personal self into believing that the whole of existence is organized to suit its illusory programme. As THE BHAGAVAD GITA teaches, the contacts of matter -- pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, honour and dishonour -- are inevitable and have to be endured bravely. Perhaps one of the very purposes for such a polarity is that consciousness can learn that, in its essential nature, it is utterly free from identification with anything external to itself.
Emotions are Desires, and ... the two elementary Desires are: (i) the Desire to unite with an object that causes Pleasure; and (ii) the Desire to separate from an object which causes Pain; in other words, Attraction and Repulsion, Like and Dislike, Love and Hate, or any other pair of names that may seem best.
-- EMOTIONS, 28
The above definition throws light on the pair of opposites that are at the very nature of our emotional life, and shows that Attraction and Repulsion are indeed two sides of the same coin. Because they have the same origin, they display an almost chameleonic behaviour, for example, when a strong attraction turns almost instantly into a vengeful repulsion. Many of the so-called crimes of passion convey this almost bizarre transformation of "love" into hate and are evidence that the inherent duality present in human emotions is not only volatile -- it can be also lethal.
Bhagavan Das goes on to attempt defining the most basic and fundamental human emotions: love and hate.
Love, the desire to unite with something else, implies the consciousness of the possibility of such union, and ... its full significance is this: an instinctive, ingrained, inherent perception by each individual self, each Jivatma, of its essential underlying unity, oneness ... with all other Jivatma's, all other selves.
-- EMOTIONS, 29.
Hate is the instinctive perception by each self ... of the non-identity, the inherent separateness, the many-ness ... of each not-self, each atom of Mulaprakrti, from every other atom, every other not-self, and its endeavour to maintain such separate existence at all costs and by all means.
-- EMOTIONS, 29-30.
A number of emotions emanate from the abiding feeling of love: trust, sympathy, courage, compassion, forgiveness, helpfulness, sacrifice. They may be natural expressions of this perception alluded to above that there is an essential underlying unity at the heart of existence that makes us all profoundly one with each another and with every other form of life. This may be the reason why the ancients affirmed that "love conquers all", for love is anchored in the mighty truth that all life is one and truly endures all things.
On the other hand, hate is based on and rooted in this notion, this perception, of the personal self of an inherent separateness between itself and the rest of existence PLUS an endeavour to maintain such separateness "at all costs and by all means. " In other words, within the personal self lurks a deep-seated resistance, conscious or unconscious, to the truth of unity as the ground of all being. This resistance or reaction may be one of the wellsprings of violence in the human consciousness as it is an affirmation of division, separateness as well as a denial of the universal principle that life is relationship.
The Sanskrit word DVESHA means hatred, dislike, repugnance, enmity to. It is derived from DVISH, "to hate, show hatred against, be hostile or unfriendly". A relevant word in this context is DVI, meaning "two." The origin of feelings of hostility, aggression and violence lies in the dualistic perception that our individual existence is forever separate from the totality of life. The psychological and environmental consequences of this can be widely seen in our contemporary world in which cruelty, war and widespread devastation of Nature have come to be accepted as almost inevitable. Dr Taimni comments on the nature of DVESA or repulsion:
DVESA is the natural repulsion felt towards any person or object that is a source of pain or unhappiness to us. The essential nature of the Self is blissful and therefore anything which brings pain or unhappiness in the outer world makes the outer vehicles recoil from that thing.
-- I.K. Taimni, THE SCIENCE OF YOGA, 148.
We are tied to the person we hate perhaps more firmly than the person we love, because the personal love can be transformed into impersonal love easily and the loses its binding power. But it is not so easy to transmute the force of hatred and the poison generated by it is removed from one's nature with great difficulty.
-- YOGA, 149.
Enmity and animosity can indeed last for a long time, in some cases for centuries as many ethnic wars have shown for, as declared by a Mahatma, "LOVE and HATRED are the only IMMORTAL feelings, the only survivors from the wreck of YE-DHAMMA, or the phenomenal world." (MAHATMA LETTERS, 70c, chronological) Once harbored in the mind and nourished by continuous thoughts and images, enmity and animosity become even stronger as they make the sense of a personal self more solid, with its divisiveness, its isolation from the glory of life, and its stubborn insistence in asserting its own self-interest against and above the common good. Unless we can begin to look at these patterns within ourselves earnestly and constantly, violence and its dark progeny of pain, suffering and destruction are bound to continue to make of the earth a veritable valley of shadows and death.
Why do emotions have such a grip over our minds? Annie Besant comments:
Emotion is not a simple or primary state of consciousness, but it is a compound made up by the interaction of two aspects of the Self -- Desire and Intellect. The play of Intellect on Desire gives birth to Emotion; it is the child of both, and shows some of the characteristics of its father, Intellect, as well as of its mother, Desire.
-- Annie Besant, A STUDY IN CONSCIOUSNESS, 253.
The complexity of emotions lies in the interplay between desire and intellect. When the energy of desire vivifies and enhances the many images that are moving within the mind we have the birth of emotions. The simple but clear definition given by Bhagavan Das is eloquent in its conciseness: "Emotion is only a form of motion; motion TOWARDS an object, or AWAY FROM it, in the mind, is Emotion." It is thought galvanized by desire and it retains its intrinsic nature of attraction or repulsion. Any attempt to suppress emotions necessarily lead to tension and fragmentation. But a mind that is nothing more than a playground to ceaseless emotions and desires can never find real peace and contentment in life. What is the path to equanimity?
He abused me, he injured me, he overcame me, he deprived me: for them who entertain such thoughts, enmity does not abate.
He abused me, he injured me, he overcame me, he deprived me: for them who do not entertain such thoughts, enmity abates completely.
Enmities do not abate here at any time through enmity; and they abate through friendliness. This is the eternal DHARMA (Law).
-- DHAMMAPADA, I:3-5
Note the emphasis on the expression "entertain such thoughts." Is this a clue to ending violence in the human mind? As long as there is lack of self-awareness, an honest examination of oneself from day to day, mental patterns are not going to change miraculously. As it was wisely said, "an unexamined life is not worth living." But self-observation is just one aspect of the solution; the other is cultivating a positive attitude of loving-kindness, friendliness, helpfulness, service. In other words, an attitude of giving of oneself unreservedly to every contact, every relationship and every circumstance. One can thus become a self-effacing centre through which beneficent influences radiate into the world. This way of life is possible for every self-responsible human being and it would naturally lead to the diminishing of the patterns of aggressiveness and violence that seem so predominant today. Every individual that steps out of the stream of mechanical living, which is the personal self, the "me," helps to enlighten the consciousness of humanity for:
The "me" is the root of all this; the "me" is identified with a particular nation, with a particular community, with a particular ideology or religious fancy. The "me" identifies itself with a certain prejudice, the "me" says, "I must fulfill"; and when it feels frustrated, there is anger and bitterness. It is the "me" that says, "I must reach my goal, I must be successful," that wants and doesn't want, that says "I must live peacefully," and it is the "me" that gets violent.
-- J. Krishnamurti, THE AWAKENING OF INTELLIGENCE, 468.
By W. Emmett Small
[From the WINTER 1976-77 THEOSOPHIA, pages 15-16.]
Yes, it's the adjective THEOSOPHICAL (or THEOSOPHIC), and we want to say a few words about it. The word already is in some dictionaries, evidence that it has already begun to be accepted into the language of the day as useful and needed because reflecting the "feeling" of the time.
Fundamentally its introduction reflects a significant change in today's values. It points to a shift away, at least in some areas, from stark materialism to a realization of finer and more subtle forces at work in the universe. In this general sense, and looking back over the past century and choosing a few poetic voices as example, we may rightly speak of Emerson's theosophic ideas based on the Over-Soul; of Traherne's theosophic view of nature reflecting a spiritual background as a mirror of infinite beauty; of Shelley's pantheistic theosophic portrayal of the divine in everything; of Browning's theosophic concept of truth imprisoned within each of us, needing only to be released, let out. All these are right uses of the word.
And in this sense it would not be difficult also to quite correctly trace theosophic influence in certain areas of the philosophy of Paul Tillich, in the Catholic scientist de Nouy, and in the Jesuit anthropologist-priest de Chardin, to name only a few. The word THEOSOPHIC will be found more and more to be a useful word-tool designating certain distinct attitudes of today. There will be seen to be a natural crossover of the old orthodox rigid divisions between religion, philosophy, and science. Forerunners of this were the views expressed by Eddington and Jeans and Schrodinger and Stromberg in the 1920's, as basically religious as scientific or philosophical -- in other words thoroughly theosophical.
There will be growing evidence of this as the present cycle matures, and ready minds and hearts will recognize that theosophic thinkers encircle the globe and give expression in their own individual ways to thoughts seen as fundamentally universal. And this brings us this philosophical reflection. These thinkers, these awake ones -- and they must now number in the tens of thousands -- are tapping that great Ideative Plane, that storehouse of ideas living in the mental atmosphere, which H. P. Blavatsky declares is much more than plausible conjecture but esoteric fact. ("The Religion of the Future", in THE THEOSOPHIST, IV, May 1883, pp. 205-06; also Blavatsky: COLLECTED WRITINGS, IV, pp. 451-53.) Her words have vital interest for us all. She says:
Occultism teaches us that ideas based upon fundamental truths move in the eternity in a circle, revolving around and filling the space within the circuit of the limits allotted to our globe and the planetary or solar system; that, not unlike Plato's eternal, immutable essences, they pervade the sensible world, permeating the world of thought; and, that contrary to chemical affinities, they are attracted to, and assimilated by, homogeneous universals in certain brains -- exclusively the product of human mind, its thoughts and intuition; that in their perpetual flow they have their periods of intensity and activity, as their durations of morbid inactivity. During the former, and whenever a strong impulse is imparted on some given point of the globe to one of such fundamental truths, and a communion between kindred eternal essences is strongly established between a philosopher's interior world of reflection and the exterior plane of ideas, then, cognate brains are affected on several other points, and identical ideas will be generated and expression given to them often in almost identical terms.
FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS. There in two words you have the whole basis of theosophical philosophy. Is it speaking too rashly to suggest that what amelioration in world-thought has come about in the last hundred years is because "cognate brains" have been able to reach to and to seize from that Ideative Plane, those theosophic universals, those "identical ideas"? What we owe to H.P. Blavatsky we shall never fully know, nor to those who were her Teachers, for whom she acted as Messenger.
But as Theosophists we can ask ourselves some questions and perhaps reflect on responsibilities we either shoulder or shrug off. Are Theosophists, in their effort to placate or please a still largely unbelieving world, watering down or even misinterpreting their own doctrines? Is there fear of stating just what Theosophy is? Is there need to study deeper to come to really know the teachings? Is, for instance, the real meaning of Brotherhood recognized, not merely as a kindly and to-be-desired feeling, but as a BONA FIDE FACT inherent in the very structure of the universe? Do we realize that ethics has a scientific basis and that Theosophy demonstrates this? Do we know, and put into practice what we know, of the composite nature of man and all things? The constitution of our Earth-globe and the invisible globes forming the Earth chain? And what of the after-death states of consciousness, about which there is much fuzzy thinking?
Our duty seems plain enough and two-fold: (1) to study and to know Theosophy, to study the doctrines as presented by HPB and her own Teachers and by those who have faithfully followed and promulgated those same teachings. AND TO LET THE REST GO. And (2) to raise high the flag of Theosophy, speaking out clearly and boldly, and to point to Theosophy as the Source of all great religions, philosophies and sciences, supporting our statements with evidence that is sensible, logical, and factually appealing. The religion of the future -- if you wish to call it religion -- is Theosophy. We have a duty to keep it untarnished. In that way we encourage what is truly THEOSOPHICAL "revolving around and filling the space within the circuit of the limits allotted to our globe."
By Joe Fulton
I was approached recently with a question regarding a rethinking of Theosophy. After some thought about the movement and about the philosophy, some issues emerged as being primary and important.
It is pretty easy on the surface to say that something should change and we should do blah, blah, blah. It's harder to get down to why behind the changes, especially when dealing with issues of faith. The causes are not simple and certainly not few.
THE ISSUE OF PHILOSOPHY
Faith versus Reason
In the world of Theosophy faith is a very important thing. Faith is central to the concept of the masters, the "Path" and virtually every element within. Much like Catholicism and Thomas Aquinas and Judaism with Maimodedes, Theosophy exhibits a rational face (through Buddhism) and a medieval face through alchemical and Hermetic practice. In all of these cases, faith, and not reason is primary. It is safe to say that reason exists to support faith, but alas, like time, the arrow points one way, prohibiting faith from supporting reason.
In a philosophical sense, the Theosophical literature has not addressed recent developments in the world of philosophy, especially those relating to formal logic and issues involving AI and genetic engineering and enhancement. In addition, environmental concerns, not an issue in the Victorian age, are now at the front of many theoretical and practical debates. They are nowhere to be found in our literature, aside from a passing article in Adyar's Theosophical Order of Service.
ORGANIZATIONAL AND STRUCTURAL ISSUES
As in many organizations / movements, atrophy takes place when the organization forgets or otherwise loses touch with its audience and when its message fails to resonate. Typically what is left over is a small core of diehard (some would say even fanatical) believers who either want a return to some "golden age" or feel that somehow everyone else got it wrong either because they're evil or misguided.
WHAT NEEDS REFORM, WHY, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
A Member and Service Focus
In many organizations / movements there are benefits which are available to members/participants. Everyone has various needs, wishes and aspirations, which are quite normal. Everyone wants to be happy.
Where is Theosophy in fulfilling these needs? In the literature it is all about giving, becoming a disciple, a chela or something else. These are all worthy aspirations in their right place, but they can also be the cause of feelings of superiority and the source of suffering for others.
Where is the help for the average person who just wants to get through the day? The body of Theosophical literature, quite frankly was never written with the average person or their lives in mind. It was written for rich folk with nothing better to do than follow gurus and masters. Where is Theosophy for unwed mothers, drug addicts and those in the middle of starvation and war zones? A new corpus of literature of greater relevance to daily living and the various moral challenges and dilemmas that we face in any number of areas would be of great use.
Some will immediately rail against this. This isn't us!!! Proselytizing is evil! We're too good for that type of thing. We have to maintain our standards. More sophisticated types will urge caution as we must not come across as too forward or aggressive. And finally, really, it's just too much work.
Marketing is several things. First, it is in understanding ourselves as participants in this movement. Yes, that sounds like a strange place to start, but really, it's quite fundamental. We need to think of ourselves as hosts/hostesses in a house and we're inviting others in. If the house is dirty and piled to the ceiling with newspapers or we have creepy items hanging around, most visitors won't come back and MORE IMPORTANTLY, they will tell their friends to stay away. So that's the first thing. Make sure we understand what we have to offer.
Secondly, we have to understand our audience. It is in understanding their needs, wants and wishes and how those align with what we have. It makes no sense to set up a auto parts stand at the local swimming pool. People are there to swim, not fix their cars. Our audience is not everybody but it's a lot more than the 25,000 or so who carry a membership card.
It is only when we understand ourselves and our audience that we begin to do what we need to attract them. Most of that is not anything magical. Mostly it is word of mouth, viral marketing, which is always the best kind. It is not difficult to make happen; all it takes is self-knowledge, understanding of our audience and the right message.
The other part is the message. The actual message is related closely to understanding ourselves, and to this point our little corner of the movement has done quite well.
There is one additional note, and it is bound to set off some controversy. The modern Theosophical movement is one, which at the same time despises and clings to leaders. Whether it's HPB, Besant, Judge, Tingley, Purucker or Crosbie, most tend allegiance towards one school of thought or another, while at the same time remaining fiercely independent. In the long term this is about as effective as herding cats. Nobody can agree on anything except HPB, and even then, what parts of what she said are actually relevant. The problem with that is that the old lady died in 1891 and nearly 120 years has lapsed since then and the world has changed. Not to propose a Nicene conference or anything that restrictive, but it seems that there are a core set of principles that everyone can agree on that can be called Theosophy. Perhaps in the framing of these principles, we can update their explanation in modern terms and generate a body of literature which supports these claims. It's much like the JJ Abrams framing of Star Trek. The challenge is one of taking the best of the original ideas and re-framing them in a way that makes sense today.
One thing is for sure, however. We have to figure out collectively what works and what doesn't and not be afraid for one second to challenge ourselves. The major thing that separates modern from medieval thought is the willingness to challenge long-held beliefs and examine them in the light of facts. Let's challenge our beliefs and see whether or not the various ideas and theories presented in Theosophy stand up. Those that do, wonderful, let's make the most of those. As for those that don't, in that case we need to have to have the intellectual honesty to say "it is wrong".
The Theosophical Network has managed to attract some of the most literate and thoughtful commentators in this movement, folk who are very good at putting their thoughts into positive statements and who are not afraid to reinterpret long-held ideas in new ways. This is good for everyone. Whether it's Leon Mauer with his ABC Theory or Richard Ihle's Theosophical psychology, or many other fine ideas presented for our perusal there are definite seeds planted which may result in completely new re-framings of Theosophy in the not too distant future.
Let the facts be our guide. That is what will bring us back to relevancy and be able to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Let us understand ourselves and understand those who we deal with so that our messages come across clearly and command the attention that they deserve.
By Nicole C. Scott
[Reprinted with permission from
and written on October 27, 2009.]
The origination of all spiritual traditions comes from that which is Divine. From beyond the life form of "human" lies the seed of all thought, all consciousness: the Omniscient Absolute. The roots of any and all traditions have found their ground in the fertile soil of human consciousness by being seeded by great beings. Such beings resonate to levels of understanding which rend the veil of separation and are capable of communicating about that which exist in realms beyond the material plane.
Communication occurs through the faculty of intuition and is allowed to flourish through soul receptivity. Soul receptivity readies the human instrument for unification with Spirit. With emboldened thought forms and heartfelt purity, many have sung keys that make up a harmonic aspect of the one divine song. Those with similar vibrations in their respective bodies are able to hear the hidden language of the planes beyond and are drawn in to that field of harmonic structures. That which governs the cosmic order of vibration calls forth each to find self in the journey toward unification.
A myriad of conscious ones, emanations of the Great One, have incarnated in the human form to give voice to the ineffable. To enable aspects of truth to be presented to the populace, messengers from all generations and from all ages and epochs come forth to speak the living tongue. Those who offer the provision of wisdom do so by divine decree, and this is brought forth through the ages in relation to the cycles of evolution. There is no ownership of such wisdom. Any who lay claim to the truth as their property defile dharma. This is how organizations falter and fail.
That which has been archived over time must remain freely available to all seekers on their respective paths. And those whom offer new dispensations within the annals of the dimension of time ought to allow for their provisions to remain freely available as well.
In order to "belong" to any respective tradition, one must be able to do so without the burden of identification. One qualifies oneself based upon one's own blooming heart and its emanations. To be a part of the true order requires no money, no accolades from humanly contrived systems of merit, i.e., status by scholastic achievements, number of books authored, number or awards received, roles played within political fields, etc.
Arriving at Gnosis can take one an entire lifetime, aye even multiple lifetimes although some may reach such a consciousness within a few years. The level of adeptship is determined by an entirely different set of qualifications than that which those of organized religious institutions would lead their followers to believe. Fortunately, when the human structures of rule circumscribe the truth and bury the original meaning under distortions of tradition, new currents of provision spring forth from the eternal fount.
There are many who have yet to learn the True Self, yet these one's claim the role of teacher in each respective faith and lead many astray. We must not ascribe any respective faith to a human originator, but rather, see the divine reflecting its emanation through the human form or vehicle. There must be a special cognizance of what it means to be en-light-ened, or anointed. There is no separation between Deity and the dwelling places of divinity in the manifest domain. Despite the ever encroaching desire of the illusory maya to cover up the entity of Truth, truth shall always prevail. Every attempt to belie the truth and circumscribe the teachings which are provisions of the Great One in whom we have our being, creates a new avenue for truth to be born.
It is an ever unfolding process, an eternal lotus blooming with the sweet fragrance of sacred truth.
Though a movement may appear dead, it acts as the compost for new blooms to sprout forth and bear new fruits in the field of intelligent infinity. There is no limit to the ways that the life-stream of humanity reflects the hues and rays of the Great One light. The task of the Theosophist is to see the grand palette and re-cognize the painter.
By A Student
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1916, pages 316-20.]
"Noah as Eater of Forbidden Fruit: a Sumerian Epic of the Fall" is the caption to some pictures in a recent issue of THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, showing the clay tablets with the inscription, and a view of mound tombs in Bahrein, the largest of a group of islands of the same name in the Persian Gulf.
The reason for the latter picture is that the place has been identified by an Oxford professor with the Sumerian "Paradise." The Sumerian version of Creation places the Flood before the Fall, and makes Noah (called by another name) eat the forbidden fruit. The NEWS quotes the following from THE SUMERIAN EPIC OF PARADISE, THE FLOOD AND THE FALL OF MAN, by Dr. Stephen Langdon of Oxford University.
Enki, the water god, and his consort Ninella or Damkina ruled over mankind in Paradise, which the epic places in Dilmun. In that land there was no infirmity, no sin, and man grew not old. No beasts of prey disturbed the flocks, and storms raged not ... But ... Enki, the god of wisdom, became dissatisfied with man and decided to overwhelm him with his waters. This plan he revealed to Nintud, the earth-mother goddess, who with the help of Enlil the earth-god had created man ... Nintud, under the title Ninharsag, assisted in the destruction of humanity.
For nine months the flood endured and man dissolved in the waters like tallow and fat. But Nintud had planned to save the king and certain pious ones. These she summoned to a river's bank, where they embarked in a boat.
After the flood Nintud is represented in conversation with the hero who had escaped. He is here called Tagtug and dignified by the title of a god. He becomes a gardener, for whom Nintud intercedes with Enki and explains to this god how Tagtug escaped his plan of universal destruction ... Enki became reconciled with the gardener, called him to his temple and revealed to him secrets.
After a break we find Tagtug instructed in regard to plants and trees whose fruit the gods permitted him to eat. But it seems that Nintud had forbidden him to eat of the cassia. Of this he took and ate, whereupon Ninharsag afflicted him with bodily weakness. Life -- that is, good health, in the Babylonian idiom -- he should no longer see. He loses the longevity of the prediluvian age.
According to Dr. Langdon, who is Reader of Assyriology and Comparative Semitic Philology, this version is older by 1000 years than the Hebrew version in Genesis.
It must have come as a shock to many people when it was found that the Creation and Deluge stories were to be met with in a Chaldean account older than the Hebrew one; and perhaps the discovery now of this Sumerian version may awaken similar feelings.
These facts are of little moment beside the greater fact that these or similar stories are to be found in every land of the globe. Ancient India has them; they are in the Norse Edda and the Finnish Kalevala; primitive African tribes know them, and they form part of the traditional sacred lore of Polynesian peoples. Crossing the ocean, we find that the families of Red Men in both North and South America have stories of the Creation, of an Eden and the Fall, of a Flood and an "Ark," and of a confusion of tongues.
The Masai, of East Africa, tell the story as follows: In the beginning the earth was a barren desert in which there lived a dragon. Then God came down from heaven and fought against the dragon and vanquished it.
Where God slew the beast there arose a Paradise, luxuriant with the richest vegetation. Then God created by his word sun, moon, stars, plants and animals, and lastly the first human couple. He commanded the couple not to eat of the fruit of a certain tree; but they ate it, the woman being tempted by the serpent, which had three heads and was thereafter condemned to live in holes in the ground.
The pair were driven out of Paradise by the Morning Star, who thereafter stood guardian at the gate. After this the human race multiplied and genealogies are recorded, until the first murder was committed, when there came a flood. Tumbainot was bidden to build a wooden chest and betake himself into it with his belongings and animals of every kind.
The Popol Vuh, or ancient scripture of the Quiches, describes how Hurakan called forth the earth from a universe wrapped in gloom; how animals were created; how man was created from wood; how the gods, irritated by his irreverence, resolved to destroy him, and how a great flood came. In another part the incidents of the forbidden fruit occur, and the confounding of speech, and the parting of the sea for a passage.
This is the first word and the first speech. There were neither men nor brutes; neither birds, fish, nor crabs, stick nor stone, valley nor mountain, stubble nor forest, nothing but the sky ... Nothing was but stillness and rest and darkness and the night; nothing but the Maker and the Moulder, the Hurler, the Bird-Serpent. In the waters, in a limpid twilight, covered with green feathers, slept the mothers and the fathers. Over this passed Hurakan, the mighty wind, and called out: Earth! and straightway the solid land was there.
-- David C. Brinton, MYTHS OF THE NEW WORLD
Before the creation, said the Muskokis, a great body of water was alone visible. Two pigeons flew to and fro over its waves and at last spied a blade of grass rising above the surface. Dry land gradually followed, and the islands and continents took their present shapes.
-- Brinton, MYTHS OF THE NEW WORLD
These last are merely creation stories, but we could quote many legends of an Eden and the Flood, of which some are given in the work above cited. These stories are all alike in essentia, and differ but slightly even in details.
How is the coincidence to be explained? Prescott, in his CONQUEST OF MEXICO, describes the astonishment of the Spanish missionaries on finding that the natives already had the Bible stories, and gives the theories they devised to explain the matter. But how can it be explained? No theory about traveling missionaries will suffice, because the coincidences are too many and the story is too ancient.
There is but one possible explanation. All the races which have this story -- that is, practically all the races now on earth -- must have diverged at some remote period from a great and homogeneous civilization whose teachings were diffused over the globe. Afterwards some cataclysm caused a breaking up of the civilization and a dispersal of races -- the very dispersal spoken of in the legends about the confusion of tongues. Then each separate colony handed down the mystic lore in its symbolical garb for long generations, until probably its real meaning was forgotten by most of the people.
The story is evidently in part historical and in part allegorical. It tells of the evolution of Man, how he was first created as a perfect animal and subsequently endowed with a divine mind; how he met his first probation and fell, thereby entailing upon himself long ages of toil ere he can regain the lost Paradise.
The Paradise symbolizes the state in which Man lived before he abused his powers. It also symbolizes the early sub-races of the present Root-Race, before the period of materialism had set in. The Flood was the last of those periodic cataclysms of which geologists tell us, and all over the earth the memory of this catastrophe lingers.
Science studies only the physiographical aspect of the question, and perhaps also its astronomical side; whereas the history of man is closely interwoven with that of the globe whereon he dwells. The ancient teachings say that the present (Fifth) Root-Race of humanity has been in existence as an INDEPENDENT race for about 800,000 years, which is a comparatively short period geologically speaking; also that each Root-Race has seven sub-races, of which we form part of the fifth. Geological cataclysms coincide with the death and birth of races, and both of these again correspond with certain cyclic motions of the heavenly bodies.
All this knowledge formed a part of the arcane lore of antiquity, and was embalmed in symbolism and allegory, as this is the only way in which such knowledge can be preserved intact and handed down to posterity. Now we have all the ancient records awaiting our study and interpretation; but this can only be accomplished by taking a comprehensive view of the whole field and dismissing from our mind all prejudices in favor of any set theory.
In the Creation myths is preserved the teaching as to Man's origin and evolution; and it will be remembered that there are two distinct creations of Man in the Genesis narrative. Chapter II describes the creation of Man as a perfected animal; while Chapter I tells us that the Gods (the 'elohim or divine spirits, as the Hebrew says) inspired man with the divine breath and the heavenly image. Subsequently the animals are created.
The story of Eden and the Fall is one that is enacted not only in humanity as a whole but in every individual man. The Serpent in this story is not the serpent which stands as a symbol for evil, but it is the symbol of knowledge, and as such the serpent is generally regarded as a sacred animal by various races of men.
This Serpent was the initiator of man into knowledge; but the sequel shows that man at first abuses his gift and loses Paradise, which he can regain only by much tribulation. Such is human destiny and the destiny of human souls in their passage through the many halls of experience.
Every mystery has SEVEN keys, it is said; so that the Jewish Bible stories cannot be fully interpreted by any short explanation. We have seen that the Deluge has a geological meaning and also an anthropological one; it signifies in general the ending of an old cycle and the beginning of a new, when the stubble and chaff are destroyed and the grain garnered, the "Ark" being a sacred vessel wherein the seed is carried over to the new cycle. Such is the history of the succession of human races and of the handing down of knowledge.
We may define these Genesis stories as an epitome of sacred lore, combining cosmogenesis or the birth of worlds with anthropogenesis or the evolution of man.
They begin with a summary of the teachings respecting the birth of worlds out of undifferentiated matter or Chaos; or, in other words, with the dawn of a Manvantara or cycle of manifestation, after a Pralaya or cycle of latency.
Next there is a brief account of the creations of man and other beings, and then a resumption of the history of the early sub-races of the present Root-Race, with an account of the cataclysm that ushered in the dawn of the New Race.
And withal there is much symbolical teaching, such as that of the Tree with its fruit at its top and the serpent below. "Eden" is at once allegorical and geographical; for it means the habitation of the early sub-races, and the Old-World "Eden" must have been somewhere in southeastern Asia.
It is the destiny of our studies in ancient history to prove gradually the nature of these traditions and to trace back civilization to its earliest great source in those lands, through one mighty race after another whose records the archaeologists will discover.
By Montague A. Machell
[From THEOSOPHIA, Fall 1974, pages 10-12]
Our souls are as it were a music of which our bodies are the instruments. The music exists without the instruments, but it cannot make itself heard without a material intermediary.
-- Eliphas Levi.
The title of HPB's Book of Devotion, THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, might repay deeper meditation. Thinking one's way deeply into the five words of the title, one is brought up short by the paradox of the terms "Voice" and "Silence" -- two opposites, brought together to reveal a spiritual identity.
If accepted understandingly, they take on significance immediately evident. Is not that significance a reminder of the duality of this manifested universe, wherein the noise of an audible (when not deafening) material development easily drowns out a rarely-heard undertone of spiritual unfoldment?
If this be true, is not the disciple required to ask himself again and again: "to which of these 'voices' must I heed?" He who is confirmed in spiritual knowledge will reply unhesitatingly: "To the second." If, in some doubt and confusion, he is tempted to reply: "To the first," the Voice of the Silence is, for the moment, at least, lost to him. And is not this the case with most of us, most of the time? I ask myself, how many times in my life has its Silence found a recognizable Voice? How many times have I experienced a sense of actually vibrating in consonance with the (physically) unheard vibration of my universe? My most nearly honest reply will have to be, "once or twice, POSSIBLY."
I question whether the gift of "hearing voices," psychically, can be positively regarded as a spiritual achievement, inasmuch as any "voice," heard by the physical ear, would have to be of physical origin. But the Voice of the Silence, as HPB uses those words, is not a physical voice. She herself reminds us: "When the disciple has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE -- the inner sound WHICH KILLS THE OUTER"; and, further on: "Before the soul can comprehend and may remember, she must unto the Silent Speaker be united." Both of these statements remind us that this entire universe, the instrument of THE ONE, is releasing the physically inaudible music of unearthly spiritual vibrations. Hearing this music is a matter of tuning in the companion instrument -- the Soul -- to that heavenly frequency. Man does not listen to the Voice of the Silence PHYSICALLY; he tunes in to it, on the plane of purely spiritual vibration. That spiritual frequency, achieved in his own spiritual self, enhances a music perennially singing, that may be pertinently related to what is sometimes referred to as "the Music of the Spheres."
In the words of Eliphas Levi, "our souls are, as it were, music." This is because the soul, alone, is capable of "tuning in" to the never silent "Music of the Spheres." Only under conditions of physical silence is spiritual "tuning in" made possible, by means of which man's "inner ear" may possibly achieve awareness of the undertone of his universe. It is a matter of a spiritual instrument attuning itself to a Spiritual Source -- a condition deserving, and usually requiring, a lifetime of dedication.
It is important that we clear our minds of any notion that we, as incarnated personalities, are endued with immortal melodies. It is man's heavenly prerogative so to purge his physical mortality of its grossness that it may be made susceptible to a divine vibration-frequency that is the heartbeat of his universe. To the extent that he does this, he, as an instrument, becomes fit to amplify this unheard Music of the Spheres to a degree that "his singing is but living aloud, his life a singing with his hands." This is more than a praiseworthy ideal; it is a RESPONSIBILITY of any spiritually conscious entity: Sing thy Song, O Minstrel! The world is in dire need of its benediction!
Though Eliphas Levi reminds us that "the music exists without the instruments," nevertheless, you and I, with full awareness of its eternal and changeless nature, must offer ourselves as transmitters of that music to the hard of hearing. As to its changeless constancy, the very existence of a universe governed by immutable laws is our assurance. Mankind has most effectively developed a world of strife and ugliness, in spite of its divine origin, wherefore an increased awareness of underlying law and order must rescue it from ultimate chaos. And the first step in that rescue is in the hands of a few, here and there, whose calm awareness of underlying harmony makes of their silence a centre of spiritual vibration attuned to the unheard Music of the Spheres. Not claims, not slogans, not creeds, can achieve the needed healing calm, but the quiet iteration of that Song of the Soul that is universal harmony echoing in a life of selfless service. Insofar as we eschew meaningless personal chatter and yield our very being up to the harmony of THE ONE, we become Minstrels of the New Age -- Voices of human redemption.
A supreme attribute in one's quest of the unheard Music of the Spheres is Susceptibility. Daily and hourly, one must surrender himself to that celestial symphony which, though so largely unheard, "sings" this universe into symmetry and harmony unceasingly. Susceptibility to harmony, to beauty, to compassion, to oneness with all that lives -- these are the keys to self-transmutation. Beneath the deceptive glaze of life's glossy materialism flow those living streams of that many-hued, many-titled Reality that is THE ONE in manifestation.
Worship -- everlasting worship of that Divine Reality is what is demanded of each of us. A spontaneous worship born of a spontaneous love of life's hidden splendor, begets a child-like exultation in beauty, harmony and symmetry: "The pupil must regain the child state he has lost, ere the first sound can fall upon his ear." He must become susceptible to song, unresponsive to discord. "Living" is, in so many instances, "letting go" of life's deafening noise-makers -- the noise-makers of greed, of jealously, of ambition, of destruction. Against all these the doors of the heart must be closed while within the temple a youthful, untainted Spirit touches the lyre of THE ONE, awakening sublimely ancient music from strings tuned to Truth's eternal anthem. The world is filled with hungry harpists in search of lost themes; each one listens humbly for that music that has never died. Deep in the heart of you and me are tuneful strings waiting our wakening touch, whose music shall recall to this earth the mantra of a holier day.
Sing thy Song, O Minstrel!
By K. Paul Johnson
THE MASONIC MYTH: UNLOCKING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SYMBOLS, THE SECRET RITES, AND THE HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY Jay Kinney New York: HarperOne $15.99
THE MASONIC MYTH succeeds equally on several different levels, addressing readers new to Freemasonry as well as those who have studied it for years. Kinney combines an insider's mastery of the subject with an outsider's skeptical irreverence, making him a very trustworthy guide through this hall of mirrors. He addresses the concerns of readers with little knowledge of Masonry, Masons with much insider knowledge but little grasp of its historical meaning, and those who think they know a fair amount about Masonry but are confused by unreliable sources where misinformation is rife. Kinney devotes considerable attention to some of the most widely diffused misconceptions that have flourished for centuries. "Things you thought you knew about Masonry that are wrong" are scattered throughout the book and debunked persuasively. As Dan Brown's latest novel brings a new round of speculation about Freemasons' role in American history, the time is ripe for a serious explanation of Masonic myth and reality.
The first four chapters are a engagingly written, solidly researched account of the origins of the Craft. This makes the book the best place to start for anyone seeking a reliable and accessible guide to Freemasonry. The middle four chapters provide an informed account of Masonic rites, symbols, and hierarchies. As Kinney leads readers through a labyrinth of degrees and orders, his personal involvement with Masonry brings meaning to what is otherwise a bewildering landscape. Without proselytizing, Kinney conveys an appreciation for the value contemporary Masons find in the brotherhood and its not-so-secret-after-all practices. In the final three chapters Kinney explores the vast realm of misinformation about Masonry conveyed in a variety of conspiracy theories, and considers the likely future of the Craft. He confronts paranoid notions about Illuminati and Masonic occultists that have appeared in a fascinating variety of sources. We learn that the Craft's influence on the Founding Fathers has been greatly exaggerated, and that international Masonry is far too fragmented and diverse to be the basis of any global domination schemes as envisioned by conspiracy theorists.
Based on scholarly research that will be cited for decades to come, written in an engaging first person narrative by an author long recognized as a reliable guide to the entire realm of Western esoteric traditions, THE MASONIC MYTH is the first book to read for anyone intrigued by the mysteries of the Craft.
By Reginald W. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1916, pages 221-23.]
All this talk of peace seems to me ridiculous. What chance is there of establishing peace in a world where the people that are loudest in their denunciation of war are the most quarrelsome of all? It seems to me men are born fighters and they only talk peace when they think they are going to get the worst of the fight. And then there is this cry for disarmament: why it is just the old story of the wolves persuading the sheep to get rid of the sheepdogs and then devouring the flock."
Some of the rest of the party added arguments in favor of war. One said it brought out all the best qualities in men, made them strong, active, intelligent and brave, besides teaching them to stand by one another, and to work together, and so on; in fact, it was a small anti-peace meeting, which, as it grew more unanimous also became more pugnacious, until it seemed that it would take some courage for a man to stand up in that group and say a word for peace. But there was one man, who seemed thoughtful and not much inclined to join the general chorus in their contempt for the peace idea; he said nothing until his silence became the strongest voice in the noisy group, if one may say so.
Anyway, his silence attracted attention, and he was called on to join the debate, as they called it. When he did speak they all thought he was fooling, and began to protest; but he was one of those slow men that are not easily moved, and he just looked round and made a sort of half-conscious movement, that somehow seemed to have a soothing influence on the noisy ones, for he was as strong as he was slow and quiet.
"The Fourth of July used to be a noisy time. I've heard thousands of people each making all the noise he could; there were bands too, each playing its own music and trying to drown the sound of the others, and then there were a lot of people killed and injured one way and another, and all to celebrate the glory of the nation. But of late the people have begun to think that a foolish game.
"You know all the papers were full of talk of a 'safe and quiet Fourth of July,' and now we are getting it. Everybody seemed to see that the time for the old noisy business was past. Well, boys, it looks to me as if it was about the same way with war. There's a lot of good sense in what you say, but then it seems the time for war is past and we may as well try to see what the next move is to be."
"Oh! Peace, holy Peace!" one mocked.
The slow man began again.
"I remember when I was younger some of the boys wanted to get up a brass band, and we got enough instruments to go round, and distributed them. Each one went home and set to work to learn to play his instrument, and before long we all got together and started in.
"If you had been there, you would have thought the old Fourth of July was as peaceful as a spring morning on a mountain side in comparison with the noise we made.
"Each one played his own part in his own way and tried to drown the rest. Some got mad because the others made so much noise they could not hear their own instrument, and then they stopped playing and abused one another; there were a few fights, and the rehearsal ended in everyone talking at once to explain what was wrong and how to put it right."
Here the speaker stopped, and seemed inclined to settle down to his usual dreamy silence; but the rest had begun to take interest.
"Well, after a lot of talk, one in the band said, 'We want a leader,' and that set them on a new tack. They all agreed at once that a leader was what they wanted, and they all agreed as to who the leader ought to be. That is, they all thought they knew the right man to lead; and of course when it came to a vote, each man got one vote, and that was his own.
"They were so much of one mind that there was no agreement possible. Then one of us suggested asking Dan Matthews the old bandmaster to take the job; and that was the beginning of the band."
"What has all that got to do with peace and war?" One said. "Of course a band must have a leader, everyone knows that, but when you have peace you can do without leaders.
"Just so!" He replied. "That's what we thought when we got our instruments, but we soon learned that without a leader there was no way of keeping the players in time; and when each went his own way there was discord, confusion, noise, but no music.
"Now it seems to me peace is like music. It needs all the musicians to play together, and each one has to attend to his own part, and to his own instrument, and to leave the management of the whole band to the bandmaster.
"I think some of the people that talk so much about all the world being at peace, and who think that all the different nations have got to be mixed up into one, might learn something from playing in a band. Because you see if all the players played the same instrument there would be no harmony.
"The more instruments there are, the richer the tone. And each instrument has to be played in its own particular way, and to have music written for it, that is no good for most of the others.
"That's just like the different nations with their different manners and customs and languages. You see they are just doing what we lads did when we tried to start our band.
"It takes a man a lot of study to understand all the instruments, and to be able to arrange the different parts for each to play, so as to get music out of the whole bunch when they come together.
"Men like old Dan are needed to teach a lot of untrained beginners how to play together so as to make music: and I think that there is likely to be very little peace in the world till the nations learn that lesson. But they are beginning to see that so long as each is playing his part to suit his own taste there can be no music.
"They are tired of discord, and want to hear a little music. That is something; the rest will come later."
By John Algeo
[Revised slightly from CIRCLES, Autumn 1994, pages 19-23.]
The three spatial dimensions of our physical world yield six directions, since each dimension has two directions. If our spatial dimensions are height, breadth, and depth, then our six directions are up and down, right and left, and front and back. When to those six we add the center position, the "here" from which the directions range, we have another septenary to augment the others we are familiar with from Theosophical teachings.
The existence of six spatial directions is obvious. We look above and below ourselves, to our right and left, and forward and backward. Here we are in the center with these six directions radiating out from us, like the six points of a star with living light at its core.
Because analogy exists between all aspects of reality, it should not be surprising that we can think of our personality, the physical part of us, as also having six directions along three dimensions. We can think of the six directions of the personality as defining it on our obligatory pilgrimage through the Cycle of Necessity. The three dimensions of personality are heredity, environment, and transpersonality. And each of those has two directions, making six in all, with the personality itself in the center.
Our heredity is of two sorts. First is our genetic inheritance. That is what we normally mean by heredity. We inherit certain physical characteristics from our biological ancestors. And because the physical is not isolated but in fact is linked with the subtle realities of feeling and thought, we also inherit certain emotional and mental characteristics from our progenitors. Western Science has made much of genetic inheritance, and it is important, but it is not all-important.
Another sort of heredity is our cultural inheritance. We are born into a society, a culture, with certain values and ways of regarding the world around us and responding to it. Sociologists have called them MORES and FOLKWAYS. Mores are the customs that have deep value for the culture, because they are powerful shapers of our behavior. When we violate them, trouble follows, for society regards them as having the force of law. Folkways are just the ways we happen to do things. If we do not observe them, we will be thought peculiar, but not wicked. Our language is also part of our cultural inheritance, and so is our habitual world-view (unless we have thought about it for ourselves, which few people do).
We inherit our culture from our cultural ancestors, just as we inherit our genes from our biological ancestors. Americans, whose biological ancestors came from all over the world, are nevertheless the inheritors of a common culture, which is basically British (English, Scots, Irish, and Welsh) with a strong admixture added in the New World from many other cultures around the globe. If Americans visit the land of their biological ancestors' origin, they quickly discover that culturally they are not African, English, or Polish. They are, whether they like it or not, American in culture.
Genetic and cultural inheritances are often contrasted as NATURE and NURTURE. It is true that we learn our culture, though in an unconscious way, but we (as personalities) don't pick it out, at least not our first and most formative culture. We inherit it. We don't say, I think I'll be a Louisiana Cajun or a Scots Highlander. Our cultural inheritance is imprinted on us in our formative years. Like Popeye, we must say, "I am what I am, I'm Popeye the sailorman." Or as the adage has it, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy.
Another dimension of personality is environment. It also has two directions. On the one hand, there is our topographical environment, the world around us -- not just the physical topography, but the psychic and spiritual topography as well. It is obvious that our personality is influenced by our physical topographical environment. If we live on the sea shore, or in the mountains, or on a great plain or in the canyons of a vast city, we respond to that environment. It moulds us.
However, we also live in the midst of a psychic and spiritual landscape that likewise moulds us. The Anglo-Saxons came to the British Isles, probably in the early fifth century. They had a vast stock of legends and myths about Germanic heroes and gods, some of which are reflected in the great Anglo-Saxon epic BEOWULF. But that Germanic ethos belonged to the Continent, not to Britain. So on the island, the Anglo-Saxons adopted the legends and ethos of the native Britons, and the great English hero came to be King Arthur.
Arthur and the Arthurian material are basically Celtic. When the English moved into Celtic lands, they conquered the native Celts politically, but were themselves conquered by the psychic and spiritual landscape of Celtic myths. It is a great irony. But it often happens that way. When the Vedic Aryans migrated into India, they absorbed (and were absorbed into) the native pre-Indo-European Indic culture. When Europeans came to the New World, they moved into the landscape of the Amerindian peoples, and even today the various Amerindian traditions exert a powerful influence on Americans.
We live amid a landscape of psychic and spiritual energies and forces that were generated by peoples long ago but that provide our environment. The psychic and spiritual landscapes are just as real as the physical one. And they are even more powerful than physical geography in shaping us. The ancients knew about this inner, psychic landscape. The Romans personified it and called it the GENIUS LOCI, the guardian spirit of a place.
In addition to our topographical or terrestrial environment, there is also a celestial one, our astrological environment. Everything in the cosmos is interconnected. Every event at any point in the entire universe resounds, echoes, and reverberates throughout the whole vast cosmic stretch of space. And so our environment is not limited to this terrestrial globe. Our neighborhood includes the nearest planets and the farthest stars. The fall of a rose petal in Paducah has consequences for the lost star of the Pleiades.
Astrology maps out the celestial environment at the moment of our birth by a natal horoscope and at all subsequent times by progressed horoscopes. It is a mistake to regard a horoscope as a prediction of events. It is rather a description of an environment. We are not astrological patients suffering the effects of a horoscope. We are actors on the field of the earth and the heavens, which is mapped out by a horoscope. Astrology does not tell us what is going to happen to us. It tells us what the territory is like where the action takes place. We, not the stars, make things happen.
Western thinking has largely stopped with two factors molding our personalities: heredity and environment. And even for those, it has usually thought of environment as what is here called cultural inheritance. The influence of the topographical and celestial environments has been generally ignored in our time, except by a comparative few. But in addition to heredity and environment there is yet another dimension with two directions: our transpersonal dimension, whose directions are our SKANDHAS and our DHARMA.
Our skandhas are the effects of our past lives. They were made by prior personalities and come to us as past-life karma. Each of our personalities contributes collectively to every succeeding personality, which is formed by them. The skandhas are the "bundles" or "aggregates" from our former personalities that come together to form the seed from which our present personality develops, out of its heredity and within its environment.
In Buddhist teachings, there are five skandhas: our form, sensations, ideas, mental tendencies, and mental powers. We might think of them as the predispositions we have acquired from the experiences of our past lives that affect our perceiving, feeling, thinking, responding, and conceiving. They come to us in our present personality across earlier personalities and so are transpersonal.
There is, however, still another transpersonal direction in us. For we are not just a succession of personalities. Our personalities are like beads that come one after another in a necklace, but there is also a string or thread that joins all the beads. So there is also a "thread-self" or individuality that unites all of our successive personalities. It is the "real" us. It generates all our separate personalities and joins them into a whole.
The influence of our individuality on a particular personal life is what we call DHARMA. That word is often translated as "duty," but that is a weak rendering of the inner sense of the word. Our dharma is our innermost nature, the reality at the core of our being that makes us what we truly are. All of our personalities are efforts of our individuality to express itself, to realize our dharma in our personal lives.
If we tune into the individuality within ourselves, if we let our dharma be expressed in our lives, the result is marvelous. It is transforming and overpowering. That does not happen very often. But most of us have moments in life when the influence of dharma breaks through. If we open ourselves to those moments, the effect can last a lifetime.
IMMUTABLE AND MUTABLE DIRECTIONS
So what are we now in this life? We are a personality sitting in the centre of six great influences, the six psychological directions of our being. Along the dimension of heredity, we are formed by our genetic inheritance and by our cultural inheritance. Along the dimension of environment, we are formed by our topographical surroundings (physical, psychic, and spiritual) and by our celestial surroundings, our place in the cosmos. Along the transpersonal dimension, we are formed by the seeds of tendencies from our past lives and by the call of our higher nature, our individuality, our dharma to become what we truly are.
Even in our personalities, we are sevenfold beings. For the personality is at the centre of these six directions of influence, and is produced by them. Three of the directions are immutable: our genetic inheritance, our astrological environment, and the skandhas from our past lives. They are all GIVENS that we work with but cannot change. Three of the directions, however, are mutable and indeed are ever changing: our cultural inheritance, topographical environment, and individual dharma.
Although we do not choose our culture, it is not fixed but constantly changes. The culture around us today is not the culture of our birth; it has changed with the years. Indeed, in our time certain aspects of culture are changing more rapidly than they have for eons in the past. That is easy to see in communication, transportation, technology, living patterns, and social values all around us.
Similarly, though less dramatically today, our topographical environment changes. Even if we stay put, the topography changes. Village life becomes urban or deserted. The coast wears away. The forests disappear. But the inner environment is also changing. The psychic and spiritual landscapes are shifting around us. And of course we ourselves can move into a new environment -- physical, psychic, and spiritual.
Finally, and most important, our transpersonal dharma changes. Or rather, the aspect of it that shines into our personal life changes. Our individuality, or higher self, is constantly trying to break through into personal consciousness. Its full power can seldom do so. (In the rare cases when it does so fully, the result is the saint, the enlightened one, the sage, the initiate.) So the influences that continually come from it change in order to take best advantage of the opportunities it has to express itself.
We human beings tend to dislike change, to fear it, and to try to stop it. But change is opportunity. Only where there is change can there be transformation. Most change is lateral, and lateral change produces nothing but just one thing after another. However, in the midst of lateral change, there is the opportunity for change of another sort: transformative change, by which we become not just different, but new.
Being aware of the directions of our personality along the psychological dimensions gives us an opportunity to be open to such transformation when its possibility comes. The possibility comes unexpectedly, unannounced, and must be seized, or it is lost. It is up to us to recognize it when it comes and to act. As HPB said in "There Is a Road": "I can tell you how to find those who will show you the secret gateway that opens inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte for evermore."
The first necessity for obtaining self-knowledge is to become profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fiber of our heart that we have been self-deceived: we are responsible for our own ignorance. The second requisite is the still deeper conviction that knowledge -- intuitive and certain knowledge -- can be obtained by effort. The third and most important is an indomitable determination to obtain and accept that knowledge. Self- knowledge of this kind is unobtainable by what is usually called "self-analysis." It is not reached by reasoning or any brain process; for it is the awakening to consciousness of the Divine Nature within us. To obtain this knowledge is a greater achievement than to command the elements or to know the future. It is to understand the unexplained laws of our nature and to develop our latent powers. It is the purpose of human evolution.
By Theosophical Students
[Readings from symposiums held at the Winter Solstice at the Point Loma Theosophical Community, reprinted in IN THE TEMPLE, by G. de Purucker, pages 3-9.]
On this holiest of nights in the regions of Shambhala, the land of spiritual works, the home of the battlers for the Sun, mystical Initiations are being undergone, initiations which bring forth the inner, latent, stellar energy, and which vivify the spiritual electricity within the Auric Egg, that out-flowing essence of the divine spark enabling these Holy Ones to vision the glittering splendor of the Midnight Sun -- their own Inner Divinity. These great souls, their bodies kept alive at this time by White Magic, pass the portals of Death for the time being, and return CLOTHED WITH THE SUN.
While these mighty things transpire behind the veils it seems right and auspicious for those on Earth who have opened their hearts to the spiritual forces coming from that sacred region to meet and commune on things divine that the great truths they utter may echo through the world and steal silently into the hearts of men. So, companions, let us discourse on the inner mysteries, and each of you in turn, enrich our conversation when moved to speak.
ITI MAYA SHRUTAM: THUS HAVE I HEARD.
The Winter Solstice is the time of the mystic birth of the individuality -- great and wonderful. Thereafter in the same or likely in a future year, at the time of the Spring Equinox, the aspirant enters into individual spiritual activity in the world of cosmic spirits belonging to our Solar System and undergoes the Mystic Descent into the Underworld. At the time of the Summer Solstice, the initiation is one which pertains to him as an individual worker in the ranks of the Guardians: and if he passes that Trial successfully, he is assigned his duty in the world of men. At the time of the Autumnal Equinox the aspirant breaks the link with material existence entirely and is withdrawn to his Parent-Star, withdrawn into Nirvana.
The holiest of these four periods of initiation, so far as Chelas are concerned, is that of the Winter Solstice; for on that occasion the aspirant becomes the awakened Buddha. This is the Mystical Birth. Thus it was at this sacred season some twenty-five hundred years ago that Gautama the Buddha, like many great ones before him and after him, attained that inner enlightenment. The divine glory of Buddha Siddhartha was thenceforth manifest in the consciousness of his outer-human being. He became a pure unveiled Manasaputra, a bringer of wisdom to men.
Let us recount the life of the Buddha and what befell him on earth, and of the peace he brought to men, and while we thus discourse let us all silently in our hearts reverence the esoteric meaning that lies hidden in this mystical story.
It was the eighth day of the fourth moon of the year 2459 of the Kali Yuga, when springtime dawned full of strange portents, as of some great joy that was to come to men, in which the Buddha incarnated in the body of a boy-child, in a town at the foot of the Himalayas. He was born, says the legend, surrounded with a light like unto the sun that first rises from the east. Upright and firm and unconfused in mind, so says the legend, he deliberately took seven steps, his footmarks remaining bright as seven stars.
Moving like the lion, king of beasts, and looking earnestly towards the four quarters, penetrating to the core the principles of truth, he spake thus with fullest assurance:
This birth is in the condition of a Buddha; after this I have done with renewed birth; now only am I born this once, for the purpose of saving all the world.
His father's name was Shuddhodana, a word meaning PURE WATER or pure flow. His mother's name was Maya -- illusion. His wife's name Yashodhara meant the "holder of glory or of splendor." All these names immediately suggest that the entire exoteric story of the Buddha was a symbolic one, showing him to have been born of a mother called ILLUSION, and of a male parent called PURE WAVE, in other words, PURE INSPIRATION which is the food of the mind. His wife's name being BEARER OF SPLENDOR would signify some great spiritual quality that he possessed and which surrounded him. Every part of the legendary accounts of his life has a basis of esoteric fact.
At his birth the parents, alarmed at the two-and-thirty signs of divine birth that were upon him, and at the amazing wisdom and intellectual power that he manifested, and warned by the wise men of the time, who lived more or less in the spiritual life and light and hence could foresee, tried to hold him to family-life, tried to prevent his inner nature being aroused by the sorrow and sadness of the world,
When the child was somewhat grown, the Raja summoned the saintly Vishvasmitra to instruct him in all learning; but the Sage, finding the boy already deeply learned in all the knowledge found in books, and all the traditional lore of planets and of stars, gathered up his books and departed, marveling.
But the day came when Prince Siddhartha must see the four Awakening Sights -- namely, an old, bent man; second, a leper, outcast from his kind; and third, a corpse being borne to the funeral pyre; and then again, a Bhikshu of equal mind seeking for that reality which is not transient. Seeing which sights he saddened, and could not rest for brooding on the ills of life, and how mankind could be delivered from old age, sickness, decay, and death, and be led to the final liberation.
So the time finally came when the Buddha within the youth began to show itself clearly; and when that happened, then the awakening came to him even as a young man, after his son Rahula was born. He left his home, went into the Himalayas, tried this discipline and tried that, investigated all things, seeking wisdom, seeking the greater light, withdrawing more and more into his own inner being, becoming more and more irradiated by the splendor of the divinity within; until one day he sat himself down under the Bodhi-tree, the tree of wisdom, so called because there beneath its branches, final illumination infilled him; and he became a full-blown Buddha.
And as this happened, the earth shook with awe, and as it shook the great Initiate of Heaven was roused, his eyes filled with joy as they opened to the light. Forthwith he exclaimed:
When formerly I saw the Buddhas of old, there was the sign of an earthquake as now. The virtues of a Muni are so great in majesty that the great earth cannot endure them; as step by step his foot treads upon the ground, so is there heard the sound of the rumbling earth-shaking; a brilliant light now illumes the world, as the shining of the rising sun; five hundred bluish-tinted birds I see, wheeling round to the right, flying through space. All these auspicious signs are the same as those of former Buddhas; wherefore I know that this Bodhisattva will certainly arrive at perfect wisdom.
But Mara Devaraja, enemy of religion, the Great Deluder, alone was grieved, and rejoiced not. Lord of the five desires, skilled in all the arts of warfare, the foe of those who seek deliverance, he was afflicted, and addressing his daughters thus, said:
The world has now a great Muni; he has taken a strong oath as a helmet; he holds a mighty bow in his hand; wisdom is the diamond shaft he uses. His object is to gain the mastery in the world, to ruin and destroy my territory; I am myself unequal to him, for all men will believe in him, and all find refuge in the way of his salvation. Then will my land be desert and unoccupied. But as when a man transgresses the laws of morality, his body is then empty, so now, the eye of wisdom being not yet opened in this man, whilst my empire still has peace, I will go and overturn his purpose, and break down and divide the ridge-pole of his house.
Then all the Hosts of Darkness, the Ten Sins, rose like a sea and threatened to engulf him. The demon host waxed fierce and angry, and added force to force, in further conflict; but grasping at stones they could not lift them, or lifting them they could not let them go. Their flying spears, lances and javelins, stuck fast in space, refusing to descend; the angry thunder drops, and mighty hail, with these were changed into five-colored lotus flowers; whilst the foul poison of the dragon snakes was turned to spicy-breathing air. Thus all these countless sorts of creatures, wishing to destroy the Bodhisattva, unable to remove him from the spot, were with their own weapons wounded, and Mara's host was filled with sorrow.
Then in the air the crowd of divine ones, their forms invisible, raised their voices, saying:
Behold the Great One, his mind unmoved by any feeling of resentment, while all that wicked Mara race is vainly bent on his destruction. Let go your foul and murderous thoughts against that silent Sage, calmly seated! Ye cannot with a breath move the Sumeru Mountain. Ye cannot hurt the Bodhisattva, through ages past disciplined by suffering. He shall now certainly attain his end, sitting on this right-established throne as all the previous Buddhas, firm and compact like a diamond.
Mara, hearing these sounds in space, and seeing the Bodhisattva still unmoved, was filled with fear, and again took up his way to heaven above. The mind of the Bodhisattva now reposed, peaceful and quiet. The morning sunbeams brightened with the dawn; the dust-like mist dispersing, disappeared; the moon and stars paled their faint light; the barriers of the night were all removed, whilst from above a fall of heavenly flowers paid their sweet tribute to the Bodhisattva.
Then in that sacred hush, behold! A marvel ? for consciousness withdrawn into the Infinite became perception, and the Bodhisattva beheld the vision of past lives, the building and unbuilding of worlds and systems -- the long-linked chain of cause and effect stretching from Infinite to Infinite; until he reached at last the unfathomable Source of Truth. As he entered the great Rishi's house (dreamless sleep), darkness disappeared; light dawned. Perfectly silent, all at rest, he reached at last the heart of the Sun, and so illumined with all Wisdom, and bathed in the light of the spiritual Sun, he sat, the twice born Buddha, whilst one convulsive throe shook the wide earth. The eyes of the Buddha then considered ALL THAT LIVES, and forthwith there rose within him deep compassion.
Thereafter he set forth on his pilgrimage over India, teaching, gathering disciples, but always teaching, teaching, teaching. He taught the esoteric Wisdom, then held closely secret by the few Brahmans of his time who knew it. He explained it, developed it, set it forth, and those who were great enough to receive it, and who surrounded the Teacher became the depositaries of his great and sublime system, in so far as he was permitted to communicate it to them.
So the years passed. The stir that he made in the land was great. Pupils flocked to him from every quarter. His name spread far and wide. He performed works of wonder, of human kindliness. He taught the gospel of love and compassion and pity, of love without bounds, infinite, taking the Universe within the compass of its reach. He taught the essential, spiritual-divine oneness of all things, the spiritual-divine oneness of the human being with the spiritual universe. He sent his disciples two by two all over Aryavarta and told them to go farther afield, which they did in time.
When the Buddha was eighty years old and the autumn was turning the leaves, the legend states that he laid himself down one day, and his last words, according to the Buddhist Scriptures, were:
My Brethren, all things are composite. Work out your own salvation with diligence. Walk as I have commanded you; get rid of all the tangled net of sorrow, walk in the way with steadfast aim; 'tis not from seeing me this comes. He who does not do what I command sees me in vain, whilst he who lives far off from where I am, and yet walks righteously, is ever near me. A man may dwell beside me, and yet being disobedient, be far away from me. Keep your heart carefully -- give not place to listlessness, earnestly practice every good work.
And further he said:
Do not believe my work will die with me. It is not one alone who keeps alive a host. Look within. The light enkindled there by the truths and rules of Our Order will lead you on. Be lamps unto yourselves. Proceed with meditation, concentration, and devotion; weigh carefully all teaching that you meet. If it rings true to the fundamental doctrines laid down for the Brotherhood, the teaching good. If it rings not true, reject it.
Then he passed into Nirvana.