Consider the great advances that we all have made since those early times when this group was first started, cast a look backwards over those past years, and see how you have grown inwardly, not only in understanding but in a richer, deeper feeling for you fellowmen. In my judgment there is nothing nobler in human life, nothing that can give you greater happiness and peace than this feeling.
-- G. de Purucker, THE DIALOGUES OF G. DE PURUCKER, I, pages 174-75.
By Ken Small
[This paper was written for the International Theosophical Conference in the Hague, the Netherlands, August 14, 2010.]
MUSIC: THE HARMONY WITHIN
Music is one of the cornerstones of the Raja Yoga system of education. The world has not yet awakened to its value as a factor in refining and purifying the character, especially during the early and more plastic years of life. It is a part of the daily life under the Raja Yoga system, not merely as an exercise which occupies its stated times and seasons, but as a principle which animates all the activities. The soul-power which is called forth by a harmony well delivered and well received does not die away with the conclusion of the piece. It has elicited a response from within the nature, the whole being has been keyed to a higher pitch of activity, and even the smallest of the daily duties, those which are usually called menial, will be performed in a different way.
There is a science of consciousness, and into that science music can enter more largely than is usually supposed. A knowledge of the laws of life can be neither profound nor wide which thus neglects one of the most effective of all forces. Let us bring our children, therefore, close, to the refining influences of the best in art and music. In doing so ... let us realize that the power of beautiful expression in these things in not an affair of the intellect alone, nor of custom or convention. Nor can it be learned from books. It comes from the awakening of the inner powers of the soul, those qualities of the nature which are in sympathy with whatever is high and pure.
-- WISDOM OF THE HEART, pages 96-97.
Do we realize that even now we witness the small beginnings of the great and lofty future era? Do we notice the marvelous music, the wonderful harmony in it? Open your inner ear and listen to it! Every being creating constantly his own melody, which is in absolute harmony with those of all his fellow men! Do we realize what tremendous forces would originate from such a unity?
A foretaste of such spiritual delights can be enjoyed even now when seeing and hearing the children at Point Loma. Listen to their voices and watch the expression of their faces in 'the Little Philosophers' they say:
Let us as warriors stand.
It is the same when we hear the steps of their little feet, marching in unison. Together with all the other great lessons in their young lives, and with all that tends to draw their attention to the divine in man, they are learning music. And if it is asked what all this means, the answer is that man is divine in essence, and that he can only be developed by self-directed evolution; and, applying this to music, we find that it is only in creating his own music that man can learn to understand himself, and afterwards his fellow-men and their music.
-- Daniel Delange, "Thoughts on Music," THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, 1915.
DRAMA, ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE
The drama, like music, is regarded by the world as one of the relaxations of life because it is supposed to deal with unrealities. True drama points away from unrealities to the real life of the soul. As such it should lead and guide the public taste, providing it with ideals towards which it can aspire. It is made to enter largely into the instruction of the students under the Raja Yoga system, and nowhere are the advantages of this system more strikingly illustrated than in the dramatic power which can be called forth wherever there is an absence of self-consciousness and vanity.
-- WISDOM OF THE HEART, page 97.
Men cannot be preached into compassion, nor sermonized into brotherly love, nor talked into love of justice. The virtues will not grow in the nature until the heart is touched, and the mystery drama is the teacher's magic wand. For all dramas which give us a true picture of the soul's experiences and a true interpretation of the Higher Law and of life's diviner aspects are mystery-dramas, whether written by Aeschylus, or Shakespeare, or some unknown dramatist past or to come. Life is the great mystery, and in unveiling it, in the light of knowledge, the true drama has ever been and will ever be man's great instructor.
-- WISDOM OF THE HEART, page 99.
A 'RAJA YOGA' SPELLING AND MATH LESSON
In the spelling lesson a boy and girl, each two years old, spelled the word 'attention' and identified the letters on the blackboard The object of the demonstration, it was explained, was not to show superiority, but to give evidence that under a system of education which harmoniously developed all the faculties -- body, mind and soul -- the intellect became quickened naturally and without strain. The children did only a limited amount of brain studying ... Mme. Tingley said that one object of establishing the Raja-Yoga system of education was to bridge the gap between the home-life and the school. It was not a system that could be laid down in writing. It was a system for evolving each child as an individual, teaching him from the start that to realize the duality of his nature. They were taught the difference between instinct and intuition ... It required teachers who believed in the divinity of man, who lived the Theosophical life, who understood the duality, and who loved their work. Anyone but a specially trained teacher and one living the life would not be able to make a success of attempting to teach the Raja-Yoga system.
-- THE SCREEN OF TIME, September 1915, page 225, and 'The San Diego Union,' August 16, 1915.
RAJA YOGA EDUCATIONAL CENTERS: CUBA, SWEDEN, GERMANY, ENGLAND AND JAPAN
There were several efforts to establish Raja Yoga Schools in Europe, including England, German, Holland and the largest being the summer school at Visingso in Sweden. Tingley's vision was to carry 'Raja Yoga' education across the globe, but financial and human resources were insufficient. The effort to establish Raja Yoga schools in Cuba was the most successful, though it too, fell short of the envisioned outcome, due to financial constraints.
THE CUBAN RAJA YOGA SCHOOL
Katherine Tingley's educational work in Cuba began in 1902. The initial establishment of the school was supported by Walter Hanson who was executive of a large Georgia cotton concern. Nan Herbert from England, the only sister of Britain's Lord Lucas, and thus had her own income, became the director of the school.
The Raja Yoga School opened in the city of Santiago and by the end of summer had more than 200 students. Mayor Bacardi donated 20 acres with a large house nearby. Later in 1908 she would purchase the historic battlefield site of San Juan Hill where she envisioned a Raja Yoga school for all of Latin America.
With Catholic Church officials not participating, Masonic officials from Bacardi's Lodge supported the project and attended the ceremonial event and Bacardi's support had been crucial.
She had relied on Bacardi's help and insight, nearly a decade earlier when beginning Point Loma. Then, in 1899, upon returning from India by boat, she had made a special point to stop and see him, saying she had been directed to seek him out for help, during her mysterious encounter with Blavatsky's Teacher in Darjeeling. (THE GODS AWAIT, page 155 and Point Loma Archives)
The popularity of the Raja Yoga school in Santiago, followed with the opening of another school in Santa Clara in the center of the island by January 1909. However, while the schools were very successful on the educational side, they were entirely supported by funds from the Point Loma community to the sum of about fifty thousand dollars per year, and more than three hundred thousand in total, which could not be sustained. (The equivalent today would be approximately six million dollars.)
This was draining the support needed to maintain Point Loma. Another school had been opened in Pinar del Rio but was also closed by 1912. Cuban children were still being educated at Point Loma for a few more years, with more than one hundred seventy five attending at various times. Mayor Bacardi sent his children to be educated at Point Loma as well.
JAPAN: RAJA YOGA INFLUENCE IN THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
Professor Edward S. Stephenson was born in England, came to the Theosophical community and then went on to Japan to teach in the Imperial University following Lafcadio Hearn's teaching position there when he had retired. Stephenson's wife was Japanese and their two adopted children were sent to be educated at the Raja Yoga School at Point Loma.
Prof. S. Yoshida, chair of ethics at Tokyo University visited Point Loma in 1921. Yoshida was the 'successor' to Prof. Nakajima who had visited Point Loma earlier around 1906-7.
In the development of the educational system in Japan, Nakajima was very influential and compared by some to John Dewey's influence in the United States. Stephenson writes about Nakajima visiting the Raja Yoga school that he "had been particularly impressed by their poise and self control, shown in the way they sat and conducted themselves."
Speaking of his own early education in Japan:
He told me he was taught by ... a Japanese deeply versed in the Tao philosophy and the works of the Chinese sages ... who always insisted on self discipline as a basis for education ... Dr. Nakajima told me he found nothing resembling this discipline in any western school he visited except at Point Loma. Dr Yoshida also said that the Raja Yoga School was nearest to the ideal school.
-- THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1921, page 492
RAJA YOGA EDUCATION CONTINUES
THE BARTON SCHOOL -- TOPANGA 1932 -- 1948, HILDOR BARTON AND MARGUERITE LEMKE BARTON
Hildor Barton and Marguerite Lemke Barton had grown up through the 'Raja Yoga' educational system at Point Loma. In 1932 the Barton School opened in Topanga, California near Los Angeles. This school was the direct outgrowth of their experience at Point Loma, where Marguerite had also contributed to the children's magazine, 'The Raja Yoga Messenger.' Hildor had been one of the printers there and participated in many of the earlier dramatic productions.
From 1932 to 1948 they created a progressive, 'Raja Yoga' inspired rural environment with a curriculum that included the multi leveled spectrum of subjects and activities of the Point Loma period. Among the teachers there was during the alter 1940's Gordon Plummer who also had grown up in the Raja Yoga school at Point Loma. Earlier in the 1930's Tetsuo Stephenson who grew up at Point Loma also worked at the Barton school in Topanga.
Their school activities would also inspire Hildor later in supporting and teaching at 'SCICON' beginning in the late 1950's, near Porterville, in Tulare County, California, a 'science-conservation' school teaching the ecological balance of the environment, which still continues today. The Barton Memorial Amphitheatre was built in 1984 honoring him and his wife's work there.
Other examples include the 'East West Cultural Center' founded by Judith Tyberg in the mid 1950's. Judith had grown up at Point Loma and had taught and lived there until its move in 1942. She taught a small group of students at her Los Angeles center, instructing them in all subjects: language, mathematics, English, literature, science, and all grades from elementary through high school, where the students then continued on successfully to area universities.
RELATED EDUCATIONAL VIEWS: RUDOLF STEINER, MARIA MONTESSORI, AND J. KRISHNAMURTI
It is beyond the scope of this lecture to go into any detail of the similarities and differences between the educational ideas between the various educational systems and schools that have their roots in theosophy.
The most notable include Maria Montessori, who wrote one of her most important books during her time at the Adyar Theosophical Center in India during world war two, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy and the Waldorf method of education, and J. Krishnamurti, who authored 'Education and the Significance of Life'
A few quotations will illustrate some of the similarities of broad view and purpose with Katherine Tingley's 'Raja Yoga' education, from these authors:
Freedom comes with self-knowledge, when the mind goes above and beyond the hindrances it has created for itself ... It is the function of education to help each individual to discover all these psychological hindrances, and not merely impose upon him new patterns of conduct, new modes of thought ... It is only when we begin to understand the deep significance of human life that there can be true education; but to understand, the mind must intelligently free itself from the desire for reward which breeds fear and conformity.
-- J. Krishnamurti, EDUCATION AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LIFE, page 83.
It is only by understanding the ways of our own thought and feeling that we can truly help the child to be a free human being; and if the educator is vitally concerned with this, he will be keenly aware, not only of the child, but also of himself.
-- EDUCATION, page 104.
We must feel when we observe child life how necessary it is to have a spiritual insight, a spiritual vision if we are adequately to follow what takes place in the child day by day, what takes place in his soul, in his spirit. We should consider how child life in its very earliest days and weeks differs totally from later childhood, let alone adulthood ... The spiritual view which we are here representing does not say: Here are limits of human knowledge, of human cognition. It says: We must bring forth from the depths of human nature powers of cognition equal to observing man's complete nature, body, soul and spirit ... just as we can observe the arrangement of the human eye or the human ear in physiology ... We look at a child. If our view is merely external we cannot actually find any definite points of development from birth on to about the twentieth year. We look upon everything as a continuous development ... How does the soul and spirit work upon the child when we have to educate and teach him in the elementary or primary school? How must we ourselves co-operate here with the soul and spirit?
-- Rudolf Steiner, "Spiritual Ground of Education," Lecture at Oxford, August 16-25, 1922.
An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.
-- Maria Montessori, EDUCATION AND PEACE, page 34-35.
Here is a quote from Katherine Tingley on 'children' followed by one from Maria Montessori. The truth in each, echoes the other:
I have looked into the eyes of a little innocent child, and at such times I have felt that if I could have been entirely true to myself in other lives, and if I had had even the knowledge that I have now, that child could, without a word, without a sermon, but just by its presence and in its eyes or its manners, reveal to me many of the secrets of life. I believe many of these children come prepared to give us our life's message, but we do not hear them. Instead, we commence to train them just as grandfather or great-grandfather did, according to a certain system. We do not give them any chance at all.
-- Katherine Tingley, THE TRAVAIL OF THE SOUL, page 19
If we wish to discover a pure being, a being who has neither philosophical ideas nor a political ideology and is equally moved by both, we will find this neutral being in the child. And if we think that men are different because they speak different languages, we will recognize in the child a being who speaks no language and who is ready to learn to speak any language at all. This child must therefore be our central focus when we seek ways to peace ... If we truly yearn of the source of the knowledge that interests us most of all. If we truly yearn for brotherhood and understanding among men, there must also be brotherhood and understanding between the adult and the child!
-- Maria Montessori, EDUCATION AND PEACE, page 142.
In 'The Dawn of the New Cycle: Point Loma Theosophists and American Culture', Michael Ashcraft, gives an overview showing the similarity 'Katherine Tingley's 'Raja Yoga' Education with the major educational trends of the time. Ashcraft states:
Point Loma Theosophist reflected these major trends in educational thought in their own Raja Yoga plans. They did not reflect as obviously or thoroughly new developments in education occurring in Progressive circles near the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth.
-- pages 87-90.
This may be so, but from the vantage point of today in 2010, it is clearer that the 'Raja Yoga' educational system reflects more clearly the most progressive forms of education offered today. However, Prof. Ashcrafts's considered conclusion gives us pause for some careful reflection on the nature the whole of the Point Loma Theosophical experience.
If one considers the Point Loma Theosophical community and educational system only from the point of view of external and historical forces and influences of the time, then only conclusions dependent on that time are possible.
It is in both our experience and study that there is another factor at work, in what one could call, using a concept borrowed from Carl Jung, the deeper or hidden 'archetype' underlying the Point Loma 'Raja Yoga' School and Theosophical community.
From this internal viewpoint, it could be looked at that 'Point Loma' embodied, in a sense, the multilayered principles of a greater archetype hidden from view and transcending history. Yes, it developed in 'time and space', had its beginning, peak and conclusion, ups and downs, even discord and also creative bursts.
From the deeper view, its innate center could be considered to have been a kind of modern day 'mystery school', the heart of which was the school for children.
Clothed in the garments and layers of life, from the deepest hidden mystery of delving into the nature of the spirit, consciousness and the universe itself to the architecture of the buildings embodying the principles of sacred geometry, the vital realm of growing of organic vegetables and fruits, Point Loma was a full spectrum of qualities and energies. It integrated the tenants of Theosophy's deep inner spiritual forces, combining with the currents of the time, the core driving energy-center of which was 'Raja Yoga Education.'
This 'experiment' of Katherine Tingley's, to embody her vision to make Theosophy 'intensely practical' had significant transforming influence in the people who participated and lived there as well as in the surrounding world. It was an example of how the perennial wisdom tradition continues on from century to century seeking new form and place for its growth and activity. This deeper center is reflected in Katherine Tingley's words of aspiration for humanity:
Each one of us, with all our difficulties, our trials and heartaches and disappointments, even the injustices we suffer, can fashion ourselves to such an ideal of living, that there can be no fear, no timidity, no real restlessness, and no doubt.
The whole mass of humanity must be brought to a point where they can conceive of a vision of life so broad, so far-reaching, so forceful, that they cannot move away from it. Then they will awaken and rally being to live. Then shall we be responding to the cry, 'Let there be light!'
For, according to the teachings of Theosophy, man himself holds the key of his divinity, of his soul-life, of his progress, of his self-directed evolution, and of the superb possibilities of stepping out, moving on, and climbing ever upwards into higher realms of thought.
Let us use our minds as it was intended we should use them: to look upon the grandeur of human life, and the beauty of its duties and its responsibilities, and then to find that love our souls have longed for within ourselves. When we find this, then we shall realize that others have the same; we shall realize our universal kinship, and our separateness will cease.
What I am saying to you did not originate with me; nor is it original with the Theosophical Society or H.P. Blavatsky, its foundress; but it is the teaching of the ancient Wisdom Religion
-- TRAVAIL, pages 141-42. "Blavatsky Net Goes Online" by Scribe
By R. Wysong
[Free newsletter avaliable at AsIfThinkingMatters.com.]
Although science, insofar as it obeys reason and facts--as opposed to speculation and ideology--has done much to help us understand our world, it has its limits. It can only explore and help explain the material four dimensions, and, by means of quantum physics, tell us that there remain unknowables underneath our perceived reality such as other dimensions, timelessness, infinity, and irrationality. It most certainly does not, and cannot, explain ultimate origins or purpose.
Unable to grasp these great unknowns, hearing an inner ethical voice, and sensing that eternity is at stake, we look for help. Holy books and religions are the first (and often the last) stop in this quest.
But is this our only and best option? Why must we assume that someone else must answer these questions for us? Let's explore the possibility that we might be able to figure these things out on our own.
To begin, we can conclude that there is a truth underlying our reality. Maybe it cannot be fully comprehended, due to the constraints of our material brains and the four dimensions it is designed to navigate, but we know it is there. This great unknown truth that explains everything is perhaps the best definition of God.
Truth (God) is not contradictory, is consistent with fact, and is of the highest ethical order. By contrast, humans and their works always fall short of truth. Humans may come to know some truths to a degree (math, chemistry, physics, astronomy, ethics, etc.), but we are never responsible for their existence. All we do is discover morsels of the truths that are already here. We are mere explorers and manipulators of the reality that has been given to us. So, in our quest for truth (God), we must be careful to discern that which comes from humans as opposed to that which is an actual reflection of reality and truth (God).
The way to know the difference between truth and mere human is how the thing, the idea, stacks up in terms of being consistent with itself, in accordance with fact, and ethical. The only honest and reliable tool we have for checking consistency with these criteria is open-minded reason.
Fear not if this means putting cherished beliefs you are absolutely sure about to the test. Could God possibly incriminate us for seeking truth? Is not seeking truth the same thing as seeking God? Furthermore, since we cannot possibly know "the truth" regarding anything, since at any given time our knowledge is incomplete and imperfect, constantly seeking truth is the only honest thing we can do. To settle on a given belief, as if we have determined an end point in knowledge on any given matter, is nothing short of a bald-faced lie.
If there is a religion that truly represents God, how do we find out which one? There are currently about 4,300. Each of them will argue they have the truth. But what if they are all actually just human creations, are we then left stranded with no hope of finding answers to the big questions of our existence and purpose? Can the road to peace and happiness be one with 4,300 forks in it where people veer off in every direction obeying the words of their holy books and leaders? Could it be that the only straight and narrow path is for each of us to reach within to hear the voice of inner conscience and duty? Let's fearlessly explore these questions.
The world's experience with belief in religions and their holy books has not been commendable. Reading the Koran for what it says is the basis for terrorism. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent worldwide and countless lives are being lost to fight those who are trying to follow this holy book. But Jews and Christians should not be too smug. The Bible commands that Jews slaughter their neighbors. Christians used the Bible to justify Crusades and Inquisitions. Holy books and their religions have always pitted one set of people against the heresies of another and soaked the pages of history in blood and human misery. Read for what they say, holy books obscenely celebrate violence. One could make the case that the barbarity celebrated in holy books is not befitting humans, let alone God.
You might say that's all due to "extremism" and misunderstanding "context," and that a proper rendering of holy books will cause the incandescent message of peace and love to emerge from their pages. But we must differentiate what we want such books to say with what they actually do say to actual people, and the actual results they produce in the world. Every time you go through an airport and get patted down, every time we hear of young men being killed on the battlefield, every time there is a Jones Town-type mass suicide, when we watch beheadings, women being flogged until they admit adultery so they can then be stoned to death, and when people fly airplanes into buildings while chanting holy book verses we should be reminded that following holy books is not benign.
You might say such acts are not your religion. If that is the case, you have secular society to thank. Holy book barbarity has not been tamed by a better rendering of texts, but by society imposing rational and ethical restrictions. Only when society tells religions they cannot stone people who violate the Sabbath or date someone of another religion, do believers seek a "new and better understanding" of their holy books. The common position that the books are never in error or unethical, just our understanding of them is flawed; it is dishonest since it insulates them from disproof. Something that can never be disproved, is really not saying anything at all.
Is our confusion in holy book understanding just the price we imperfect book readers must pay for the necessity of having a book written by God? That's the common assumption. But we need to back up a bit and ask the prerequisite question of whether the only way we can know if there is a creator and have ethical direction is by means of a holy book? Do we really need an unquestioned book and some great unquestioned philosophy to understand our place and dwell on the inner and greater life?
On its face, the claim that the creator of the universe wrote a book is breathtaking. If it's true, then every person on Earth should have such a book and be studying and obeying its every letter. If it's not, then a lot of people are wasting a lot of time and committing a false accusation by attributing something to the creator that does not belong.
Many people, wanting the simplicity of written instructions about salvation, or simply acceding to religious ambiance, credentials, tradition, or what they were taught as a child are predisposed to believing in the Bible (or other holy books), and will take any kernel of proof as sufficient. For these who have permitted faith to stop the critical thinking process, reason is perverted to chase belief.
Others are more skeptical and feel a sense of duty to truth (God) -- wherever that may lead. For example, Bible critics argue that it is impossible and hubristic to parse holy book writers who existed thousands of years ago in their own parlance. For example, since the Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew that had no punctuation, interpretation is particularly difficult. In the sentence, "Woman without her man is nothing." placing commas after woman, and her, results in an exactly opposite meaning than using no commas at all. In the first instance man is preeminent, in the second, woman is. A four line poem can be the subject of endless interpretations. How then can the 80,000 verses and 180,000 translated words in the Bible not be? Varying interpretations are not the same as one axiomatic truth (God).
Further, there was no "Bible" deposited into the hands of Adam and Eve. The Bible is really not a cohesive "book," but rather an assemblage of song stories passed down by humans for generations. This creates the problem of oral transmission and memory prior to inditement. A sentence whispered through a class room will end up entirely unlike its beginning. As for memory, people have a hard enough time remembering what was said a week ago, much less hundreds or thousands of years ago. If you say that any problem with transmission and translation has been caused by religions and not the Bible itself, and that God carefully guided the integrity of the book, then you are left trying to explain the hundreds of different translations and the thousands of different religions that attempt to follow the same book. Each of these religions is atheistic with respect to all the others, i.e., they don't believe in the God of other religions.
The point I wish to make here is that all this religious debate is so unnecessary. If one is brave enough to set aside the stock premise that a book is necessary to prove God and learn ethics, a whole new way to look at truth is opened up. And isn't truth-reality-God, what we all should be looking for?
Although people commonly think that the only way to deal with the big questions is to become intellectually anesthetized with faith, in fact, no faith is required at all. Our existence and the physical world provide unequivocal evidence of a higher intelligence. Reality/truth (the clear fingerprint of a creator) is not ambiguous, needs no translation, never contradicts itself, provides perfect prophesy (e.g., two plus two always equals four, if I release something it will fall, etc.), is ethical, and is there for anyone on Earth to plainly see. It needs no printing presses, clergy, scribes, polyglots, or interpreters. Nothing can provide a more clear, precise, provable, and incontrovertible definition of God than reality.
Neither materialism nor evolution can explain the origin of matter, energy, natural laws, life, anything at all other than what humans fabricate using the stolen parts and laws from creation. We are clearly not our own cause, nor can the origin of the world we find ourselves in be explained by spontaneous processes. We need no person or book to explain this to us. It is obvious to anyone with a pulse. (For those who have faith in evolutionary, materialistic, or religious propaganda, my book, SOLVING THE BIG QUESTIONS AS IF THINKING MATTERS [BQ], proves such faith is unwarranted.)
With regard to ethics, it would seem that conscience, not the tens of thousands of religions at war or at odds with each other, is the best means to living an ethical life. Conscience is like an internal gyroscope we sense, that if obeyed, keeps us in balance. Following a construct of rules laid out by others (morality) shifts responsibility away from where it belongs, squarely on our own shoulders. Memorizing and quoting holy book passages does not equate with spirituality and conscience. In fact, following other humans and their books is a form of idolatry and hero worship.
We should never be content in the discharge of any act as duty to the words of others. Believing that following others' rules is our total obligation to morality (deontology), gets us into more trouble than it solves. After all, don't the terrorists simply follow the words in the Koran? Did not the Jews simply follow the words of the Bible when they practiced genocide, killing every man, woman, child, and beast, keeping the "young virgins for themselves?" (Yes, that is actually in the book.)
There are ethical laws in the universe as sure and true as the natural ones, like gravity and inertia. Cruelty, murder, theft, and dishonesty are just plain wrong. The truth of their wrongness no more comes from a book than the truth of "2 + 2 = 4" comes from a book.
Unfortunately, probing and obeying conscience (adulthood) is much more difficult than leaning on the rules and dogma set by others (permanent adolescence). This is why religions, with bookish men chasing proofs by attempting to ape the behavior and words of ancients (pursuing the dead into death), rather than seeking truth in the living present (what was true in the past is true today), have so easily usurped conscience. No religious claim to knowing what we manifestly do not creates even one ethical principle (as opposed to doctrine about dress, holy days, etc.) that could not be gleaned by conscience alone -- in its true and natural state, not usurped and tainted by culture and dogma. (I have repeatedly asked those who insist that religion and holy books are necessary to teach us ethical behavior to present to me even one ethical principle that cannot be obtained by probing conscience. Never have I gotten even a single example.)
In contrast to looking to creation and conscience, religious dogma and doctrine (things of human origin) require study of ancient human manuscripts, which in turn requires immersion in study of human archeology, ancient human Hebrew, human Aramaic, human Greek, and human Latin and vulgate languages, human modes of transmission of human written words, history of the human Constantine (a pagan) who decided which human manuscripts to include in the Bible, an assessment of the influence of preexisting human religions of the Egyptians, Minoans, Etruscans, Greeks, Romans, etc. and their human holy books. Whether one does this leviathan research first hand or relies upon theological cognoscenti, trust in humans is necessary at every step since all documents are human in origin.
Also keep in mind that relying on those with the most book learning means relying on those with the most second hand information.
In this examination, one must answer why religions that PREDATED the Jews and Christians contained stories of god sons (such as Osiris and Adonis), resurrections, atonement, baptism, virgin births, blood sacrifice, good and evil spirits, the golden rule, etc. (See BQ for a thorough analysis.)
Whole lifetimes can be consumed under the presumption that focusing one's life on such study is somehow more holy, more righteous and ethical, and puts us in better stead with the creator, than simply listening to conscience and trying to be a better person in tending to family, Earth, and fellow humans. In effect, such people trust a human made thing, a book, more than a creator made thing--our mind and conscience. That makes no sense, but neither does it to claim that one has no time for the study to sort all of this out. If a person does not have time for critical analysis, then they should have no time to believe either.
If one engages openly in the examination of religions and holy books -- not simply seeking the affirmation of a cloud nine preexisting belief or hope -- humans, not a perfect creator, appear. Humans are bunglers of the creator's revelation manifest in the creation. After all, it is people who devise imperfect and imprecise interpretative language, letters, and writing. They are the ones who make paper, pens, typewriters, word processors, printing presses, bindings, and books. Humans are the experts to "explain" it all. No book in existence is absent the imperfect finger of humans.
By contrast, the creation, reality (a true reflection and definition of God), and conscience are a perfect and immutable standard that will never fail us in our search for meaning and purpose. If you want to know if there is a God, afterlife, soul, and purpose in life, you need look no further than your own heart and reflection on the reality you experience every day.
One must be extremely cautious about attributing a human made thing, a book (paper, ink, binding, printing press, human invented words, anthropomorphized god), to the creator and letting that substitute for reason and conscience. If that book is found to contradict itself, contradict reality (God), or be unethical, one could be guilty of blasphemy, sacrilege, libel, calumny, and slander.
In the end, if we are to be held accountable, it seems only reasonable that perfect justice (which is what underlies reality) would demand that we take responsibility for ourselves, rather than have only the Nuremberg defense, "I was only following orders -- doing what I read and was told."
By William Q. Judge
[From THE PATH, January 1893, under the penname William Brehon.]
In this I purpose to give but the condensed form of some objections made to the theory of the existence of the Adepts, and of the answers which might be made. The objections are variously founded, applying as well to the names Masters and Mahatmas as to other designations.
"MASTERS" IS OBJECTIONABLE because contrary to Republicanism or Democracy or Individualism.
But MASTER comes from MAGISTER, who is a teacher, an expounder as well as applier of the law; hence MAGISTRATE. Every one, in fact, has a master, whether it is physically, mentally, or morally; and this objection is but the old and foolish exhibition of contempt for regulations of a government from which America escaped long ago.
THE OBJECTOR HAS NEVER SEEN AN ADEPT. This would apply equally to the assertion of the existence of Napoleon or any other character one has not seen, and with more force, for there was but one Napoleon, while there have been and are many Adepts.
The ancients all relate histories of Adepts; the Hindus of today do the same; many of the writers of the middle ages and the traditions of the same period speak of them as accepted facts; the traditions of all countries not so new as this give similar testimony; the Chinese, Tibetans, Burmese, and other Oriental people tell of such personages, while Chinese, Buddhist, and Hindu literature teems with testimony. Hence to support the doctrine there is a mass of human testimony lager than that which declares that Bonaparte once dominated Europe. Lastly, several reputable Europeans and Americans, members of the Theosophical Society, affirm on their own knowledge the existence of these Adepts.
THE MODERN CRITIC SAYS: FIRST, why do not these Adepts come out to satisfy curiosity if they are men? This question is out of the same spirit that creates the sensational, vulgar, and prying newspaper which spreads before the public, because it is called for by the public, the private details of everyone's existence. SECOND, why not appear and destroy evil if they have great powers? The Adepts have replied that there is no power to destroy the evil man has produced but in the efforts he himself makes for purification. THIRDLY, why not come and wipe out abuses? FOURTHLY, why not multiply food in famine time?
Other replies to these may be thus tabulated:
(A) The nature of humanity at present is the product of evolution, and only evolution conducted in an orderly manner can alter by perfecting, refining, and purging.
(B) It is ridiculous for the Western nations to demand that the Adepts shall multiply food when everyone knows there is at all times enough food in hand, either unused or locked up by the men of greed, to feed all the hungry.
(C) If food were multiplied thus in the western world, those who did it would be imprisoned and classed as criminal, for inevitably either the food would be said to be stolen or else the charge of interfering with trade would follow. In Berlin in 1892 the starving people took bread from the shops and were punished for theft. The moral and conclusion are obviously against the objector.
(D) No one can disprove the claim made that Adepts have multiplied food in famine times in Eastern lands where condemnation and persecution do not follow the act.
(E) Admitting that the Adepts have great powers, they have disclaimed the power to alter human nature in any other way than through the processes of evolution and always strictly under a rigid law of justice.
(F) The Adepts do not yet appear publicly and proclaim themselves to the world for reasons found in the above replies, and also because the cycle must run its course, since, if they proclaimed themselves out of time, a wrong result would be produced, just as a note, good in itself, is a producer of discord when sounded out of time, place, or tune. This reason is the reason deduced from the law of cycles.
WHAT, THEN, ARE THE ADEPTS DOING? Not possibly could all their work be stated. But, for a part:
(A) Assisting all good movements by acting on men from behind the scenes through mental influence.
(B) Preparing as many men and women who are fit for it so that they may, in their next incarnation, appear in the world as active devotees to the good of the Human Family.
(C) Spreading now, through impulses given in many places which must not be mentioned, a philosophy of life which will gradually affect the race mind, and in particular the active, conquering Western peoples, thus preparing the whole people to change and evolve yet further and further until evils disappear and better days and people reappear.
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, August 1918, pages 101-5.]
THEOSOPHY is the quintessence of duty.
-- H.P. Blavatsky
We must practice what we preach.
-- W.Q. Judge
The principal work we are doing is to make Theosophy a living power in our lives.
-- Katherine Tingley
These three quotations have been selected, almost at random, from a great many to the same effect, to illustrate the view which sincere Theosophists take of their faith. A study of the writings of the three Leaders of the Theosophical Society will leave no doubt on this point.
The purpose of those Leaders and their followers has not been to add one more to the overwhelming number of theoretical systems in the world, but to do something that shall help forward humanity in its continual search after truth and enlightenment. The lives of those Leaders prove that they can have had no other motive; for ambition and self-aggrandizement in any form will not account for their conduct.
Not only is the mere pursuit of learning a dereliction of those duties which our better nature entails upon us, but it is fraught with failure in its own proposed object; because the pursuit of knowledge without a definite ethical purpose leads into profitless bypaths of learning and the accumulation of a mass of undigested material.
The idea of pursuing knowledge "for its own sake" is a fallacy, because man is driven by some motive or other; and that motive, even though unknown to himself at the start, will ultimately reveal itself.
Man, being a compound being, an incarnate god, is moved both by the urge of his divine nature and by the selfish will of his animal part; and from one or the other of these two sources spring all his motives, and he cannot pursue knowledge except at the behest of some desire, which must be either that of the impersonal Self or that of his personal ego.
The result of trying to make Theosophy anything else but a living power in one's life is shown by the vagaries of those who have created sects under the borrowed name of Theosophy, and who are achieving nothing of value to themselves or to humanity, and adding to the already hopeless confusion of theories and speculations; while in some cases actual harm is being done by the perversion of Theosophical teachings and by encouragement of the detrimental practices of psychism.
Great is the responsibility incurred by those who have turned anxious truth-seekers away from the light by interposing before their eyes a distorted form of the truth, which causes them to shrink in disgust from what they believe to be merely one more superstition.
What humanity really needs is a philosophy which will actually help it to live the life in which it is placed and which will throw a beam of light on the encompassing darkness. And it was this that the Founders of the Theosophical Society came to do.
The world has so long been put off with false and fruitless teachings that men have lost their faith; and so strong has become the spirit of materialism and selfishness that every teaching stands in danger of being perverted or destroyed. Hence the task before the Founders of the Theosophical Society was fraught with great difficulty.
It was necessary first to convince a few people that a great body of knowledge really existed, and that there are in human nature a vast store of latent powers yet undeveloped. And, having done this, it then became all-important to emphasize the ethical motive in Theosophy, in order to counteract the tendency to turn the philosophy into a merely theoretical faith that would do no good to anybody.
Those who took up with Theosophy from the desire for knowledge soon learnt that there is no knowledge worth attaining except that which comes from the performance of duty; and that, without this guiding power, they would lose their way in profitless learning or stumble into some path of self-undoing. In other words, they found that the path of knowledge and the path of duty are one and the same.
To follow duty means that we shall be true to our own divine nature and obey the spiritual law of the divine breath with which man is inspired; instead of yielding to the weaknesses of our mortal frame and permitting the forces of animalism to make laws for our conduct. It means that each man shall be a Man, and each woman a Woman.
Therefore it is that our work is to make Theosophy a power in our lives; for otherwise Theosophy would be a dead thing as far as influence is concerned. And how could Theosophists face the world if they were not, each to the best of his ability, sincerely endeavoring to make their belief real and effective? A body of hypocrites, whether consciously or unconsciously so, or of lukewarm and time-serving preachers, could not stand forth and declare to the world that they have a message.
Thus it will be seen that Theosophy, as understood by its true representatives -- the members of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society -- is eminently practical; and, as 'practical' is a very favorite word nowadays, this can be taken as a recommendation.
If the case were otherwise, then Theosophy would be unpractical, and its representatives mere dreamers. But the practical work does not consist in the effort to reform other people without attempting to reform oneself. Such an effort is doomed to failure, for it only produces an aggressive busybody.
Theosophists have to take their faith seriously, and realize that it is incumbent upon them to exemplify their beliefs, to the best of their ability, by their conduct. If the growth of a man is to be harmonious, he must observe the due proportion between theory and practice, between intellectual conviction and its realization in conduct.
It is this realization in conduct that gives to reform work its vitality; for people take little heed of doctrines whose efficacy cannot be practically demonstrated. They expect a teacher to have the courage of his convictions, and to show that those convictions are real and not merely professed. So it must be the aim of Theosophists to demonstrate that Theosophy is really a guide and an inspiration, and that it can solve the problems of life where other resources have failed.
It is fortunate for the world that Theosophy was not suffered to go the way which so many other teachings have gone -- that of becoming a mere intellectual philosophy, divorced from conduct.
There is a deep-seated hypocrisy or duplicity which makes people keep their religion and their daily life in separate compartments; so that, though they perhaps do not realize the fact, they really have two religions, one professed, the other practiced. However devout in their religious life, they are at bottom worldly, and will evince this fact when put under the stress of trial.
How easy it would have been to make Theosophy into a professed belief of this kind, for Sunday use only! How liable people are at any time to drift into such an attitude! There must always be a certain number of people who are attracted to Theosophy, and afterwards find that their convictions were not strong enough, their motives not sufficiently sincere; and who therefore fall away when they find that they are expected to take their faith seriously and to forego some of their former ways of thought and conduct.
Fortunately, the nucleus established by H.P. Blavatsky and kept up by her successors has been strong enough to retain a body of earnest Theosophists who do take their faith seriously; and thus the world has the example of Theosophy as a living power in life.
Perhaps we do not sufficiently realize to what an extent modern life is built up on the idea of personal self-seeking; to such an extent indeed that, as H.P. Blavatsky says, it has even been exalted into a virtue.
The fact that mankind was never more selfish and vicious than it is now, civilized nations having succeeded in making of the first an ethical characteristic, of the second an art.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 110
This spirit makes us regard everything from the viewpoint of personal advantage, even religion itself being made a question of personal salvation. So people will be prone to ask of Theosophy, "What is there in it for ME?" Owing to this failing, it ensues that the most highly intellectual and cultured individual may be further behind than an unlearned and uncultured person; because all his learning may be grafted upon a stock of personalism, while the unlearned person may be a far more unselfish character.
What is true of individuals is true of society; so that our society may be top-heavy, and burdened with an amount of vague knowledge far ahead of its moral status. If so, the kind of knowledge most needed will be that which tends to eradicate this redundant personalism and to supplant it by more impersonal ideas, and it would be a mistake to try to cumber people with a further accumulation of undigested philosophy or with instructions which they would only pervert to selfish uses. So, vast and unfathomable as is the philosophy of Theosophy, the ethical side must be kept well to the fore. Students have to learn that personal ambition is not the true motive of life, and that there is a something better in prospect.
Those who are not interested in practical ethics, but ask for instructions in occultism, have mistaken the object of Theosophy. They want knowledge on their own conditions; but if help is expected from a teacher or school, the conditions of that teacher or school must be accepted; otherwise the pupil will have to do without the help and rely on his own resources.
In ordinary schools we find boys who at one and the same time demand the aid of a teacher and try to dictate to him. They will have their own way, but will utilize the teacher as far as they think they can. To avoid this inconsistency, the pupil should at least know his own mind; he should have the quality of decision -- be able to reflect fully on a course of conduct, and then, having made his decision, stick to it.
He needs faith -- the power that inspires him to do things of which he does not immediately see the use. And such faith is soon rewarded; for the practice of the simple duties awakens the intuition, and the student finds himself in a new broad world of opportunities both for knowledge and action.
The possession of knowledge is a great responsibility, and sincere students are but too aware of the difficulty of using aright the powers they have; additional powers, prematurely acquired, would greatly increase that difficulty.
The message of Theosophy is not so much to reveal new powers as to direct men's attention to certain powers which they already have but neglect, and to assure them that, if they will but use those powers, they will find their abilities begin to expand in an unexpected way.
Some people have perhaps regarded Theosophy as something to be TACKED ON to life, much in the same way as people have regarded religion as a sort of extra. But Theosophy is rather an interpretation of life, just as religion ought to be an essential part of life and not an attic built on the top of it.
Our attitude should not be one of reaching up, so much as one of looking within. We need to be more fully alive, more keenly observant, more wide-awake, to the life we are actually in; not seek to escape it and get into a new world beyond.
The world means much more for a man than for an animal; and similarly the same world can mean more and more for the man in proportion as his faculties become keener. And the way to render the faculties keener is to rise to a higher ideal of manhood, which will remove the obstructions from our faculties and enable us to accomplish a step in our evolution.
When we act from a personal motive, we exercise the lesser faculties of our nature; but a pure unselfish motive calls into action the higher part of our nature. Hence real self-development implies obedience to the call of duty and conscience; and in this way only can we avoid the illusions which attend the attempt to gain knowledge for selfish uses.
By Herbert Coryn
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1918, pages 203-10.]
It is no wonder that we have no knowledge about death, since we have no knowledge of what SILENCE will give us. For death is the opportunity for life and action of that part of us which is paralyzed by our ceaseless mind-chatter. We know of nothing beyond the mind because the mind occupies the whole of our attention.
The mind is stirred to incessant action by the body and senses, and when not so stirred it goes on reproducing the memories of such stirrings. It always faces outward to the body and senses and often makes up almost the whole panorama of its thoughts from what it gets from body and bodily doings and sensations. It throws everything into TALK, words, outwardly uttered or inwardly thought; and thus fills up the spaces of time and attention that do not happen to be filled with immediate sensations and doings.
So it is clear that whatever center of life and consciousness may be in us that is behind the mind's back (instead of, like the body, in front of its face) gets none of its attention, cannot get a hearing. Learning the art of silence is learning the art of turning the mind's attention inwards or backwards to the presence of this unknown center of life, turning it for the time away from the touch of sensation and bodily activities and stopping its thoughts about them and blocking back its memories of them.
When this is done it begins to become aware of the deeper and diviner center, reflects what is THERE, what is doing there, what is known in THAT part of consciousness; and consequently begins to understand something about immortality and reality and essences. Death is then ceasing to be a mystery. For real silence can give more to him who acquires the power to produce it than death can give to anyone else.
Inducing silence in the mind enables it to look somewhere else altogether than where it is accustomed to look. Because silence is not practiced is why that somewhere else is either denied or doubted, or is unknown, or is held on mere faith or trust. It is out of this region of real knowledge that Theosophy has been handed out to us by those who had acquired the power to stand in there. It is from in there that all humanity's great teachers got their knowledge. We may get it too if we will practice the great art of silence. Silence is retiring in there out of reach of death.
Of course practicing silence does not mean never speaking any more. Practicing the piano does not mean never getting up from the piano stool any more. It is even SOMETHING if we do not practice silence at all but merely see that if we were to, something new would open up in us.
At a school I know, the children begin and end their work with 'silent moments,' about a minute of silence, of hush. They do not quite understand what they are doing; but besides the fact that something does come upon them all in that minute, and besides that it is a little initiatory practice in mind-stilling, they become used to the idea that silence has a place in the day's life just as thinking and music and meals have. They do ultimately recognize that they receive something from it.
The study of genius might show us that a great deal of conscious activity of the highest sort goes on of which the mind knows nothing. Mozart and Beethoven carried about a notebook so that when in the midst of their ordinary occupation and talk some great musical theme dropped into their minds, they could at once register it. Dropped from where? From the place in each of us also which we also can begin to become aware of by the practice of silence, the place of the soul, the place of knowledge and creation that death does not reach to.
The hand of death does not reach up higher in our scale than the body and so much of the mind as is inseparable from body. The rest is the immortal. Death touches only what we turn away from in real silence moments. Then the rest stands out clear to us, to our inner sight and hearing. And this divine creative center seizes a lucky moment, as it were, in the course of the musician's stream of common thought, to drop into his mind between two thoughts, the divine phrase upon which he builds his symphony.
That is just by way of example. But each of us, if we had learned anything of the art of silence, would get ideas, flashes of insight along the course of our common thinking and doing; and among them would come at last, the great one that would give us our final key, the light that would make our life clear to us. And mere unassisted thinking, apart from that, will never do much for us. In that fact we have the secret of the utter confusion of modern thought, its denials, its limitations, its absence of light; and of the failure to solve anything of all the philosophies based on simple intellection.
We fear death only because we have not learned to live, have not learned what real life is. It is only in our moments of silence that we first get the taste of what real life is. From them, little by little, it spreads out and fills at last the whole. It is only from the silence that we learn not to fear death. For when death comes we have already been beyond it and known what is there. It is only in the deep part of consciousness, opened up by silence that we keep divine touch with those that have preceded us through death and may know that they still live. It is only by the power of our silences that we come to be unshakable by anything that may happen.
By mere looking about us and into ourselves we might have known that silence contained the highest expression of life and the real clue to the only understanding of life. "Chatters like a magpie," we say of someone, thereby saying by implication almost the whole thing. Silence and chatter, death and chatter -- it is the same antithesis.
Animal life consists in instant reaction of some sort to everything that is perceived without. In our human life a large part of the reaction consists of TALK. Everything that happens, your talkative person has to meet with a flood of talk. If no one is present, the uttered talk is replaced with thought talk.
The minds of most of us, even those that are not magpies, are occupied with what is happening, has happened, or will happen, and with the sayings of other people about all that. It is a stream which only differs from chatter by not being actually uttered. The whole of attention is occupied with this from the time we wake till we sleep again, and in dreams the stream continues.
The stream differs little from what the animal has save in being more complex and fuller of matter. In saying "The silent man," we are instinctively crediting him with having more in his mind, and with having a deeper mind, than the common; we are instinctively crediting silence with depth and power.
Our last symbol of uttermost wisdom and eternal vision is the silent sphinx in the Egyptian desert whose eyes look out beyond time and space, whose consciousness is beyond THINKING in KNOWLEDGE.
From the magpie person to the sphinx -- we know the truth. We need only apply what we know. We do know that silence is realization. We do know that in listening to music we may suddenly come to ourselves and find that we have lost the realization of ten minutes' length of the symphony because we let our minds run off into self-chatter about something. And the great symphony of divine life, the consciousness of our divine souls, is always going on within us and about us, and we cannot realize any of it, the meaning of any of it, for the same reason as we lost that ten minutes of the audible symphony in the concert room.
If we had learned from childhood to attend inwardly in those 'silent moments' to the divine tones, even if as imperfectly as we attend to our concert music, there would have been no darkness and confusion and despair in modern life. Man would have known his deathlessness and would have lived and died in joy and peace. For in the silence, immortality is unveiled.
All this is saying that there is something in us as much beyond the brain-mind as that is beyond animal sensation; and that as we must stop the body's movements if we want to think profoundly, so we must stop the flow of brain-thought if we would become conscious of what lies beyond it. That is silence as the first is stillness. And that is also real prayer. In that the mind flowers into knowledge as it never can while it is allowed to go on producing at its will the mere leafage of common brain-thought.
It is for want of knowledge of silence, and of what silence can teach, that the word soul has now so little meaning. Unless you can feel or realize music, music is only a name to you. And your realization of it has nothing to do with your thinking. It is complete or not according as you can for the time STOP thinking. Then, if you can do that, you may enter the soul state in which music can be realized. "I should like to die to that music," says someone occasionally when deeply moved by some composition.
It is no unreasonable remark, for that part of us which can enter the state produced by high music is that part which death cannot touch. It is a part or degree of the mind, bathed for the time in soul light. When it returns from that level or presence and comes again face to face with common life, it is the fitter for noble and courageous action.
Just as the soul takes some sudden opportunity to drop a shaft of light or inspiration into the midst of the musician's ordinary thinking, so it can often (and in some men constantly) drop the inspiration to noble and self-sacrificing action into the current of ordinary thinking. Consciously made moments of silence are really the intentional widening and holding open wide of those rifts in the thought-stream which in most of us are so narrow, so crack-like, so momentary.
Silence, then, is a uniting of the mind, or part of it, to the soul. When the union is complete and final the united duality is a thinking light, and the man is one of humanity's teachers and guides from then on.
We say PART of the mind, for of course there are two parts, one wholly in and of the body, the animal part, that cannot and is not meant to get any higher -- and another from above, an emanation of the soul into the body and brain, more or less blending with the animal mind, the blend beginning soon after birth.
It is this higher part that gives us powers of will and judgment and imagination that no animal possesses, that makes us HUMAN. The blend is very close until we loosen and undo it, so close that though we are human we feel the bodily animal impulses and passions as our very own. In silence we can collect ourselves to ourselves and begin again to draw near the soul whence we emanated, begin in a sense to desert the animal.
Theosophy teaches that the consciousness we get after death, during the rest-time before the next birth, largely depends on what we have done during life with that upper part of our minds.
If, against the ceaseless claims of the bodily nature, we have freed in some degree this higher part of our minds, if we have compelled ourselves to recognize that we are other than the body, to recognize ourselves and the soul, then the consciousness of the after-death time is clear and brilliant and brings us to our next birth not only refreshed but with much progress gained.
We bring back some of the light, come truly "trailing clouds of glory." But if we have lived nowise beyond the common life, made little or no effort -- by reason of having had no real teaching about human nature -- then this intervening rest-time is but one of rest and dream, a re-living of the better and happier moments and scenes of the closed life, happy and cloudless; refreshment, not progress. And so at rebirth the way is taken up again about where it was left before.
So if we regard death as severance between the animal and the real human, the cleavage running between the two minds or the two parts of the mind, we can understand how much we gain by doing some of this very work for ourselves now in full brain-thinking consciousness. For then we get the strength for ACTION, for deeds, of such quality as correspond with our dignity and humanity.
In noble action and in self-discipline, we refine our outward and baser nature and so diminish the resistance. "A man's enemies shall be they of his own household," and we can transform them so that they are enemies no more.
That which a man conquers within himself in this life will be conquered for his next. So in the teaching of reincarnation, we have every encouragement for effort now of every sort. Death is no shock and no interruption in the consciousness of the man who has fully learned to live.
Now, how shall we understand, and how and when can we get this kind of silence that is the mother of real knowledge?
There is of course the silence of lip, the mere not talking. The power of even that alone is worth something. Some people simply have not got it. If there is someone with them they have no more power to stop talking out what may happen to be in their minds than they have the power to stop breathing. They must get the power they lack, for till they do they have no chance whatever of reaching any deeper silence, even for a moment.
It would be worthwhile to consider the extraordinary amount of mental and bodily and creative energy that even the emptiest talking requires. People go about absolutely and permanently bankrupt in mental-creative energy and constructive imagination from this cause only.
Speech is a magic power in the real sense and may easily damage and paralyze its user. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that if you have determined to do something AND TELL SOMEBODY OF YOUR DETERMINATION, you will probably never do that thing? Your speech took the life out of your decision or plan.
We need not stay any longer over that. It will suffice us to see that without any loss of our geniality and companionableness we can cultivate the power of preventing our mind-stream from incessantly slopping over our lips.
There are several real silences which we meet with from time to time as the days go by. The whole of a company round a table or in the drawing-room sometimes inexplicably falls silent all at once. It is said that when this happens anyone who will note the time will always find it to be twenty minutes past the hour.
That may or may not be so; but it is a real silence, and if the company upon whom it falls would accept it, not find it awkward, let it last a minute or so, and not be hoping and yearning that one of them would quickly think of some remark to break it with, they might get something out of it. But it is never given its chance to harmonize and raise their minds and bring them to a unity one with the other.
The last words of the preacher, just as he dismisses the congregation: "And now may the Peace of God which passeth all understanding."
For a moment there is actual silence, the real thing, a hush of mind and thought. If the people would take notice, the 'Peace' of which the preacher speaks, spiritual peace and light, is actually in some degree upon them, at work uplifting them. How many do notice? And how much time do they give it for its work? They rise; mind-chatter begins in each; the spell is almost broken; they go out of the building and lip-chatter begins; the spell is gone. But it was the real silence as far as it went, the descent of the Holy Ghost, the pneuma, the 'breath.'
Some great musician comes to the end of his piece and the sound ceases. For a moment the real silence may be upon the rapt audience. Their minds are still; they are yet in the STATE to which the music raised them. The real silence for that moment, till they fracture it to atoms with their applause.
Stand watching the sun go down over the horizon in the west. There is a great and, as it were, audible hush over all nature. She waits in silence till the sun is gone before drawing the first deep breath of evening. That three or four minutes will give us who watch, the real silence if we will. And there is silence an hour before dawn when the night is gone and the first birds of day have hardly begun to stir.
These are some of the examples of silence that we can all find and study and so learn from. It is easy to see that true silence is not vacancy of mind and not relaxation of mind. Rather it is fullness and tension.
The tiger and the cat are quite motionless before they spring, but it is the stillness of tension, not of relaxation. Real silence is a listening inward. If we took notice we should find that now and then in the day it comes upon us of itself and brings something with it that just then we can assimilate.
It has been the subject of death that has brought us to the subject of silence. It has been pointed out by Katherine Tingley that the moment of death is peculiarly a moment for real silence among those about the bedside. The soul disengaging itself into freedom is more than ever in inner touch with those who were bound to it in the life just closed.
It is more than ever sensitive to their feeling; it is more than ever able to give something back to their inner natures. It could rejoice if they would. It could give them from its joy and its knowledge if they would hold the sacred moments of silence. They could help and sustain it with their love and get a benediction in response. Verily, the death chamber might be full of even joy and the memory of it remain forever haloed and hallowed.
And it is not the teaching of Theosophy that death breaks the link of communion between the one who goes and them who stay. Deeper than where thought plays, deeper than the levels of mind that words can deal with, it remains unbroken, this communion between heart and heart.
If the one who goes and the one who stays were united in some great work and lofty purpose, the strength of the one to go on with that work and in that purpose is now more than ever reinforced with the strength of the other. And this same purpose and union may even draw back the one departed so quickly from rest into new birth that the two may recognize and find each other once more side by side.
Theosophy shows, then, that death is a liberation of the soul and of the best and highest part of the mind therewith; that it gives the mind rest, where rest is needed, and healing, where life has wounded; and that because the animal nature and the incessant play of sensations have been removed with the body, there is a mental and spiritual clearness and freedom of which we can hardly form any conception.
The beyond of death is so conditioned by life here that if we will we can make it a state of knowledge from which we can bring back much for our succeeding birth.
We can begin to lift the veil and know. The veil is our mental preoccupation with what is passing, temporary, personal. We begin to lift the veil by feeling after and recognizing the touch and presence of the soul in our moments of silence and withdrawal, and by trying to hold ever in the mind a strong, shining, unselfish purpose. For in that purpose we bring the mind into union with the soul which is the very essence and radiating place of all such purposes.
If we purpose as the soul purposes, we can ultimately get close enough to it to know as it knows. In such a life we slowly get beyond that preoccupation with personality which is the cause of all our pain and all our ignorance.
To quote from Katherine Tingley:
A pure, strong, unselfish thought, beaming in the mind, lifts the whole being to the heights of light. From this point can be discerned, to a degree, the sacredness of the moment and the day. In this life the petty follies of everyday friction disappear, In place of lack of faith in oneself, there is self-respect. The higher consciousness is aroused, and the heart acts in unison with the mind, and man walks as a living power among his fellows.
And a final paragraph from H.P. Blavatsky:
True Knowledge is of Spirit and in Spirit alone, and cannot be acquired in any other way than through the region of the higher mind.
And, after speaking of the life ordinarily lived by men, she goes on:
How much happier that man who, while strictly performing the duties of daily life, leads in reality a spiritual and permanent existence, a life with no breaks of continuity, no gaps, no interludes. All the phenomena of the lower human mind disappear like the curtain of a proscenium, allowing him to live in the region beyond it, the plane of reality. If man by suppressing, if not destroying, his selfishness and personality, only succeeds in knowing himself as he is behind the veil, he will soon stand beyond all pain, all misery, and beyond all the wear and tear of change, which is the chief originator of pain. Such a man will be physically of matter, he will move surrounded by matter, yet he will live beyond and outside it. His body will be subject to change, but he himself will be entirely without it, and will experience everlasting life even while in temporary bodies of short duration. All this may be achieved by the development of unselfish universal love of Humanity, and the suppression of personality, or SELFISHNESS, which is the cause of all sin, and consequently, of all human sorrow.
By Reginald W. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1918, pages 214-17.]
The pursuit of knowledge, which seems at first sight to be so hopeful a sign of progress, may not always be inspired by the desire for truth: curiosity also is a powerful motive, and there is a wide difference between this common vice and the more rare virtue of search for wisdom. The one is inspired by desire for amusement or sensation and the other by an internal recognition of man's inherent divinity and consequent perfectibility.
Such high ideals have no charm for the restless seeker for novelty. Curiosity would seem to be the attempt to gratify a craving for the sensation of surprise. This is the demand that has called forth the greater part of our modern periodical publications, notably the daily papers, with their head-lines vying with each other in their appeal to the masses, who hunger for surprise and demand it at the cost of truth.
Evidently gossip is a product of this same desire for mental sensation; and there are numberless books bearing titles suggestive of a scientific purpose, which are written and published with no higher purpose than to satisfy this gossiping tendency of the mind.
To the old teachers of true Science, as well as to the true students of Esoteric Philosophy, the gossiping tendency of the mind, the merely inquiring mind, was something to be got rid of before the student could approach the outer portals of the temple of Truth. But in our day the possession of an inquiring mind would seem to be all that is necessary to qualify a student for the investigation of the deepest mysteries of life, as well as of its more superficial phenomena.
Among these latter may be classed all kinds of coincidences, a term that unthinking people look upon as some sort of explanation of the parallelism of events, which excites their surprise and affords them constant amusement.
To the scientific mind of the intuitive student, these things are but the inevitable outcome of Universal Law acting on nature, which in all its phenomena manifests the reign of Law, and nowhere more clearly than in these coincidences and correspondences.
The inquiring mind is not intuitive, it is curious, inquisitive, and speculative; but is not illuminated by a ray of sympathetic perception, or by that direct recognition of truth, which by some is called intuition.
Such distinctions may appear meaningless to one who is not imbued with the Theosophical philosophy, and who recognizes in man no other mode of consciousness than that of the brain-mind, which reasons and argues, makes observations, comparisons, and analyses, with theories deduced therefrom as conclusions.
To minds of this order, that is to say, to minds unilluminated by the light of the Soul, intuition is but another name for fancy; and its revelations are but fictions that may be interesting or amusing, but which cannot be regarded as of any scientific value.
To one whose intuition is at all awake, the discovery of a coincidence is like the finding of a clue, a trace, a footprint that is in itself evidence of the existence of some series of natural phenomena of which it is a part.
To such a mind a discovery of this kind will produce a sense of wonder that this particular series of phenomena had been so far overlooked, rather than a sensation of surprise at its presence. One who looks upon the universe as existing by virtue of its own inherent nature, will expect to find correspondences and coincidences as common as divergences.
But to the unilluminated mind, these coincidences seem merely to prove by contrast the rule of chance in a world of chaos, in which irresponsible Gods disport themselves occasionally subject to the influence of the prayers of their devotees.
The thought of Universal Law must be repugnant to the merely inquiring mind that seeks sensation in surprises, while to those whose intuition is more or less alive and alert, it comes as the key to all true science and as the clue to the riddle of life. It will be equally unwelcome to the non-inquiring mind of the bigoted religionist, clashing, as it must do, with his professed belief that God, the ruler of the Universe, can be influenced by prayer.
But to the Theosophist, there is no incongruity in the acceptance of the concept of Deity and that of Universal Law. It is evident that there must be as many manifestations of Deity as there are forces in the universe, and that man may by his own will put himself into sympathetic relation with one or more of these according to his own choice, which is the expression of his own nature. It has been said that man creates his Gods in his own image: but it would perhaps be nearer to the truth to say that man selects the objects of his worship in obedience to the needs of his own state of evolution.
Evolution implies continual change of conditions, and thus accounts for the short duration of the religions of the world. Religion itself endures, and the name of any particular religion may last a long time, but the form of religion will change continually, as the evolution of the people progresses.
The recurrence of historical events is a coincidence that seems so natural to a Theosophist as to have no element of surprise in it, and the passage of a great religion may be noted with interest as an indication of the close of some historic cycle, to be followed by a series of events that may be divined to some extent by reference to past history.
But such predictions are difficult to make without the aid of true intuition. Reason alone would tend to produce an anticipation of events exactly similar to those that marked preceding cycles of history: and, as evolution is continuous, it must be evident that new elements must enter into operation in a new cycle, modifying the course of events to a greater or less degree according to the nature of the curve to be traced by the evolving world.
We speak of cycles of history and are apt to think of them as circles, instead of as spirals or curves of considerable complexity. So too we may look for recurrence of events in history, which when they come about may at first be unrecognizable by reason of the new conditions in which they appear. In fact, the recurring events of nature, the return of the seasons, the leafage and fruitage of the trees, and the rest, show us how enormous the variation may be in the regular rotation of natural history from year to year.
So too in the history of nations or of individuals, there must be a constant recurrence of events and of characters that at first sight may seem to suggest repetition rather than evolution, but which on closer study may reveal the gradual appearance of some new factor in human history that is destined in time to modify completely the series of developments that go to make up what we call history.
Rigidity of mind is the disease that makes man blind to the light of his own soul, and that would make him repeat his own experiences indefinitely, like the squirrel in its revolving cage, until dissolution of the mind sets him free to try again. This disease seems to afflict a large number of students of modern science, for they appear to spend their time in formulating theories which are enunciated as laws, but which in reality are just guesses uttered dogmatically, and which die almost as soon as they are born, but whose dead bodies are enshrined in scientific textbooks for the confusion of later generations.
Speculative philosophy is in the same predicament, having largely decided to ignore intuition, and to rely entirely on a narrow form of reason. It predicts events, and bases rules of life on the predictions, as if these guesses at the future were statements of ascertained facts.
This attitude of mind is, no doubt, one of the most potent factors in the retardation of evolution, as it makes man oblivious of the importance of the Unknown: the mysterious element that enters into all events, and is the power that guides the progress of humanity through the recurrent cycles of history, opening unexpected doorways of opportunity along the road.
The old French proverb expresses it well:
Nothing is certain but the unforeseen.
The recognition of the unforeseen demands intuition, the light of the soul without which the mind is pessimistic and conservative, recurrent rather than progressive. The mind, as generally understood, is indeed but one mode of the intelligence and the most rigid and mechanical of all its modes.
But the illuminated mind, which acts intuitively, is, to some degree, aware of its own essential identity with the Universal Mind, and feels within itself a living spring of true life welling up continually as a fountain of hope and rejuvenescence, renewing and restoring old forms of thought and outworn beliefs, adapting them to the ever-growing needs of the evolving human soul, and preparing the way for the New Age that dawns eternally beyond the mountains of doubt and prejudice but whose realization man seems determined to postpone indefinitely, even though he cannot eventually bar the progress of his own Soul.
It has been said that Man is the only enemy of Man, and also that Man is his own redeemer. This duality is to be found in all his modes of mind, and history is made up of the recurring swing of the pendulum from one extreme to the other; but beyond the duality lies a sympathetic unity; beyond the extremes of blind faith and blind negation there is this intuition, spoken of above, which is both faith and knowledge; or, rather, which has in it the essence of them both, while being neither.
This is the mystic light of the divine Wisdom, Theosophia. This is the sacred fire of true Genius. This is the lamp of the alchemist that burns eternally. It has been recognized in all ages under different names, but it is to be found in the heart of man himself now, as in ages past, and when found it will be hailed as the light of the true Sun whose dawning is the herald of the New Golden Age and of the coming back of Wisdom.
By Vonda Urban
[From THEOSOPHIA, Winter 1976-77, pages 11-14]
Just stop for a minute and think of it! A word once spoken can never be recalled from echoing eternity; an unleashed emotion troubles the waters of infinitude with turbulent waves that reach no shore; a deed of action or inaction is recorded forever in the imperishable records of time immemorial; an opportunity lost passes by never to smile again though other chances may abound.
This is more than something merely to think about! It is something to do about; for everything that we think, feel and consequently say or do is determined and executed in our mind; and only if we are able to control the DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE lurking there can we direct the course of our actions with intelligence, reason and purpose.
Thought, will and feeling are inherent qualities of consciousness which flow from the monadic core of our Divinity, streaming from it as a "Pillar of Light" throughout our sevenfold constitution. This is the SUTRATMAN, the Thread-Self linking the Divine, the Spiritual and the Intellectual centers into an unbroken chain of consciousness which is Universal in our Divine Self, Spiritual in our Higher Self, and has reached to Individualized Self-consciousness in our intermediate, human self.
But we are not yet fully self-conscious in the present stage of human unfoldment. Our imperfectly evolved intermediate nature is divided against itself, meeting, as it does, between heaven and earth, in the animal man; and we are only vaguely beginning to sense the oneness of all life; only dimly aware that our dual nature is an inseparable part of the Universal All in which our mind soars upward on the wings of spirit, or remains the slave of earth, chained to the appetites of our senses; we are only barely responsive to the responsibility of duty, justice, compassion, self-abnegation, and therefore are not yet able to see that Brotherhood is a fact in nature based upon the interaction and interdependence of everything with all that is.
The human ego, centered in the brain-mind, perceives through the lower Self-consciousness of the personality in which the self reflects upon self through the "I am I" egoism that is self-seeking and selfish. We see ourselves to be different from every other self, out of which arises a feeling of separateness that is called the "Great Heresy." This is but an illusion of our mind when purblind vision through the senses cannot see the oneness in all that lives, and so we cut ourselves off from our fellows.
The brain-mind is the only link with our Higher Self, and through it we must raise our personal consciousness to ever higher reaches of our SUTRATMAN, eventually merging our human selfhood with its higher counterpart, Spiritual consciousness.
It is in living in the material world that we rise out of it, which can only be done by lifting our mind above its attachment to the senses. When personality begins to vanish into individuality, when "I am I" begins to cognize "I am," when egotism surrenders to altruism, when self-seeking gives way to self-forgetfulness, then our humanhood is beginning to reach outward to the Universe; then our mind is becoming pervious to the Spiritual Light.
Consciousness continues eternally in an unbroken sequence throughout the active and recessive periods of life and death. It is continually changing -- growing or diminishing as our thoughts, will and feelings set the course. Thus we become whatever our mind dwells on, the thoughts growing into habits, the habits becoming our character and our character shaping the pattern of our Karmic necessity and conditioning the after death states of consciousness. When we finally and fully realize that the only enduring results from all our strivings throughout life are garnered solely from the spiritual efforts made, it must make a difference in how we live!
The following passage selected from H. P. Blavatsky's E.S. INSTRUCTION NO. III discusses the alternatives:
The 'harvest of life' consists of the finest spiritual ideations, of the memory of the noblest and most unselfish deeds of the personality, and the constant presence during its bliss after death of all those it loved with divine, spiritual devotion. Remember the teaching: the human soul, lower Manas, is the ONLY and direct mediator between the personality and the divine Ego. That which goes to make up on this earth the PERSONALITY (miscalled by us INDIVIDUALITY) is the sum of all its mental, physical and spiritual characteristic traits, which, being impressed on tile human soul, produces the man. Now, of all these characteristics it is the purified ideations alone which can be impressed on the higher, immortal Ego. This is done by the 'human soul' merging again, in its essence, into its parent source, commingling with its divine Ego during life, and reuniting itself entirely with it after the death of the physical man. Therefore unless Kama-Manas transmits to Buddhi-Manas such personal ideations, and such consciousness of its 'I' as can be assimilated by the divine EGO, nothing of that 'I' or personality can survive in the Eternal. Only that which is worthy of the immortal God within us, and identical in its nature with the divine quintessence, can survive; for in this case it is its own, the divine Ego's, 'shadows' or emanations which ascend to it and are indrawn by it into itself again, to become once more part of its own Essence. No noble thought, no grand aspiration, desire, or divine immortal love, can come into the brain of the man of clay and settle there, except as a direct emanation from the higher to, and through, the lower Ego; all the rest, intellectual as it may seem, proceeds from the SHADOW, the LOWER MIND, in its association and commingling with Kama, and passes away and disappears forever. But the mental and spiritual ideations of the personal 'I' return to it, as parts of the Ego's essence, and can never fade out ... There is no distinct or separate immortality for the men of earth outside of the Ego which informed them ...
Nor can anything endure of that which lives and breathes and has its being in the seething waves of the world, or plane of differentiation. Thus, Buddhi and Manas being both primordial rays of the One Flame -- the former the vehicle (Uradhi or Vahana), of the one eternal Essence, the latter the vehicle of Mahat or Divine ideation (Maha-Buddhi in the PURANAS), the Universal Intelligent Soul -- neither of them, as such, can become extinct or be annihilated, either in essence or consciousness. But the physical personality with its Linga-Sharira, and the animal soul with its Kama, can and do become so. They are born in the realm of illusion, and must vanish like a fleecy cloud from the blue and eternal sky.
... We (I.E., our personalities) become immortal by the mere fact of our thinking moral nature being grafted on our divine triune monad (Atma-Buddhi-Manas), the three in one and one in three (aspects). For the Monad manifested on earth by the incarnating Ego is that which is called the Tree of Life Eternal, that can only be approached by eating the fruit of Knowledge, the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or of the GNOSIS, Divine Wisdom.
Just think of it! Every day of our life our Higher Self and our animal-self confront each other on the battleground of our mind and one of them wins the balance of choices made. We stand at the threshold of the Hierarchy of Compassion, the critical step from which we reach upward to the flowering of our humanhood -- or fall downward, lost in the alluring illusion of Terra; and in those struggling moments of the balance up or down, we can hear the sacred VOICE OF THE SILENCE warning us: "THOU SHALT NOT LET THY SENSES MAKE A PLAYGROUND OF THY MIND!"