I think it a dangerous matter ... to stress the idea that the Teachers of Wisdom and of Compassion and of Peace sent forth their Messengers to meddle in the political turmoil of any age, or to be involved in directing fevered human passions of disagreement into channels even possibly leading to human bloodshed, ... The Teachers guide humanity spiritually and intellectually ... the Masters are not instigators of strife or of human trouble ... it is their sublime duty to restore peace and harmony and brotherly love. Should such Exalted Individuals ever concern themselves with the political turmoil of any age, they do so only as Peace-makers.
G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, 29
by Paul Johnson
[based upon firstname.lastname@example.org postings from November 1 to 9, 1994.]
The Book of the Golden Precepts is the alleged source of The Voice of the Silence. No one has identified this with any Asian text. Yet the internal evidence in the Voice is sufficient to persuade knowledgeable readers that it is derived from genuine Eastern sources.
The first fragment of the Voice is much more Hindu in content than the other two, and parallels the Sant Mat literature which is continued by the contemporary Radhasoami movement. The gist of the Radhasoami message is that our true home is Sachchand, a spiritual realm beyond the physical, astral, and mental worlds. We can only return to this home through spiritual practices involving three stages. Nam is repetition of divine names while centered in the third eye. Bhajan is hearing the Sound Current which we can follow through all the realms back to Sachchand. Dhyan is envisioning the form of the guru, whom we can meet in the inner planes and who will guide us back.
All this has interesting corollaries to the Voice; the spiritual sounds H.P.B. says one can hear are identical to those taught by Radhasoami gurus. The Mahatma letters discuss one in the lineage, Rai Saligram, and encourage Sinnett to join his group: "no harm and much instruction" can come of it according to KH. Ultimately, however, the Voice has a much more balanced and life-affirming message than the Radhasoami movement. In Radhasoami, soul travel is concerned with escaping the physical, astral and mental planes because they are seen as contemptible in comparison to the spiritual realms. The practices promise to enable us to get out of the cycle of incarnation immediately, without concern for everyone else.
The first fragment in The Voice of the Silence has very much the same attitude toward the physical, astral, emotional, mental aspects of ourselves outright rejection. "Let the disciple slay the slayer." But this is only the first act in a three-act play. In the next two fragments the tone changes entirely, even reverses itself, and by the end we have an endorsement of full engagement with life and service to others. Perhaps it would be helpful to look at the first fragment as thesis, the second as antithesis, and the third as synthesis.
Parallels to the Radhasoami [RS] literature in the first fragment are many. The spiritual sounds heard on the inner planes according to the Voice are identical to those taught in RS initiation, and the RS practice of concentration at the brow chakra to reach the inner Master and details like blocking the ears and closing the eyes during meditation are also parallel. This doesn't necessarily imply direct influence; as historian Mark Juergensmeyer notes, the parallels may derive from common sources in earlier Sant Mat teachings and practices. But while the first fragment is all about the need to become free from worldly attachments to reach the inner Master and hear the spiritual sounds, the second fragment is all about how this is a means and not an end. The goal is bringing whatever we gain from the meditation back down into the "real" world. I would say that the Voice is at a higher moral point of view than what I have seen in RS lit because of this emphasis.
One thing that is especially striking is the distinction between the "eye" and "heart" doctrines according to the Voice. This is not merely symbolic, but has a literal aspect. The RS practices focus exclusively on the Tilsa Til, or Third Eye, or Brow Chakra. The Voice prescribes concentrating at both this center and in the heart center. Thus the "eye doctrine" is implicit in any path that restricts its meditative focus to that one center, which inevitably draws us inward and upward to spiritual realms. But only by bringing energy back down into the heart center can we benefit others practically from our meditative experience. And thus the "heart doctrine" is about bridging the spiritual and material worlds through the middle principle, kama, or love.
Reviewing of the Voice in light of the intuition that the three fragments present a thesis, antithesis and synthesis:
Fragment 1 is emphatic about the need for detachment and withdrawal from everything worldly the world of people, places and things in order to be united with a reality that transcends and subsists appearances.
Fragment 2 is even more emphatic in endorsing the Bodhisattva vow to reject nirvana in order to spend vast eons helping all sentient beings attain enlightenment. It is all about engagement as opposed to withdrawal. This is a marked shift of emphasis from world-denial to world-affirmation. (Substitute "life" for "world" for a perhaps better rendition of the meaning.)
Fragment 3 really does, it seems to me, reconcile these two emphases through a third the practice of the paramitas.
The first three paramitas, dana, shila, and kshanti, are collectively a summation of our responsibilities to others. To love unconditionally, to act honorably, to be eternally patient (and nonjudgmental?).
But the final four paramitas, viraga, virya, dhyana and prajna, are all individual virtues oriented away from "life" and towards nirvana. (Detachment, vigor in truth seeking, contemplation and wisdom are rough translations for those unfamiliar with the book.)
Rather than being rungs on a ladder (despite H.P.B.'s imagery) I
think a cyclical view is more appropriate, since the essence of
prajna clearsightedness, freedom from personal motive, leading
to right action without any "static" from the lower self will
lead us right back to dana. That is, s/he who attains the higher
paramitas is even more responsible than the rest of us for
manifesting the lower ones as well.
by Annette Rivington
[based upon a June 28, 1998 posting to email@example.com.]
There are three "worlds": Under, Middle, and Upper, in total, Otherworlds. I probably have a subconscious problem with the term Underworld resulting from childhood education in Greek mythology and from experiencing childhood "trips" to such and being "disciplined" for doing so. (From a parent: "Where the hell have you been again, do you realize what the time is?")
Perhaps you know of the hundreds of Otherworlds. I stated them in the three main realms, and I am borrowing my terminology from Celtic Shamanism. However, one could use the more recent and more complex Theosophical terminology to express:
Underworld: A state/plane/place in which beings connected with the Earth Mother exist. Power animals, Fairies, dragons and such "mythological creatures", who represent and provide knowledge concerning birth, rebirth, awakening, life-understanding. May be entered through a door in the tree of life (if you're a Kelti) or counterclockwise movement (if you're a whirling dervish-type) or simply connecting with the axis mundi. Often path trod with a feeling of descending into the bowels of the earth. Place to go to bring back a lost soul or to identify a dis-ease or to fight a possession, or simply to travel and receive understanding on physical life in the scheme of things.
Middleworld: The plane(s) closest to physical life in which spirits of those passed over and the spirit of our current selves may be met. The "training ground" for humans. Normally entered by what most call "meditation" and expressed in earth terms as "time travel". Place to go to gain direct knowledge of earth events in other times, experience consciousness raising, get messages from Guides, and dead humans not passed on to the higher levels.
Upperworld: Reached by taking the climb up the tree of life or the sacred mountain (Mount Meru for instance) or the silver spiral, to the infiniteness of the cosmos. Place to meet immortal beings, deities, Masters. Normally envisioned by clockwise rotation upwards, or leaving the body, or transforming into pure energy. Usually have to be "invited" in/out further here and could be invited to "drink of the sacred chalice of life". The "end of the line" either temporarily before reincarnation (rebirth) or forever. The crossroads of all worlds, the place where creation waits to create.
Important for traveling: the straight, strong, true staff symbolizing the axis mundi. I find this staff thing interesting as when Merlin whirls, my staff can be different lengths depending on my state of mind/emotions, but never taller than myself and is gnarled half way down in clockwise turns! This shows my self-imposed limitations!
In the Underworld, I usually find myself walking the path back surrounded by many animals and glimpsing lots of faerie-like beings hiding in the flora, with my hand resting on the back of a powerful lion/panther being, chatting about stuff and feeling slightly sad.
In the Upperworld which I have to reach by breathing very little, I am either crystal or plasma, and I simply don't want to come back at all.
In the Middleworld, which I used to be only able to reach by
physically being at a strong energy center (like Stonehenge), I
have never gone forward, always back, which was my reason for
that comment to you about having coffee some tens of thousands of
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a December 31, 1994 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
There are a number of books published by the Adyar Theosophical Society on Devas, angels, fairies, nature spirits, and similar beings. Some books contain detailed color paintings, depicting them. How do they fit in the theosophical scheme of things?
The term "deva" is Sanskrit, and means god. The script that Sanskrit is written in, for instance, is devanagri, the language of the gods. Devas are associated with the powers inherent in nature.
In Theosophy, there is no such thing as inert matter, or as blind force. Everything is alive, all action is the result of living beings. Even the forces of mother nature, that shape and fashion the sea, land, and sky, are the product of lives. We see about us the results of both visible and invisible beings, all playing their part in the drama of life.
Living beings are grouped into major classes called the Kingdoms. We give the Kingdoms names based upon what we know of them here, on our physical earth. On other planes (on the other globes of our planetary chain) they may appear quite different.
The Kingdoms with visible bodies on our earth are the Mineral, the Plant, the Animal, and the Human. Higher than the Human, but no longer visible, are the three Kingdoms of the Dhyani-Chohans. At the other end of the evolutionary scale, lower than the Mineral, are the three Kingdoms of the Elementals, also invisible on our world except for their effects.
(It should be noted that the Kingdoms contain Monads, eternal Spirits, in a certain stage of spiritual evolution. The Kingdoms are not the forms or bodies that their members inhabit. A Mineral Monad, for instance, is a Monad undergoing a certain stage of growth, and is not limited or defined by a crystal, a pocket of limestone, or some other collection of material substance. Mineral Monads are at the first stage of physical representation, and may have difficulty maintaining a well-defined physical form.)
Some theosophical writers have suggested, mistakenly, that there is a dual track to evolution. They describe an alternate evolutionary path that bypasses physical existence and where Monads go through a Deva Kingdom instead of the Human Kingdom. Every Monad needs to evolve through the Human Kingdom. The progression through the Kingdoms represents a progressive unfolding of self-conscious faculties, and there is not a single step that can be bypassed, missed, or taken out of order.
What, then, are the Devas? While a few references to Devas in Eastern literature may mean the Dhyani-Chohans, most often we mean the Elementals, we mean Monads in the Elemental Kingdoms.
The Devas are pre-physical. They look down upon the world from a higher vantage point. They act as guardians. Their action of conscious observation creates the physical, material basis of our world. The Devas or Elementals create the substance side of nature. They have no shape or form of their own, but copy and borrow forms; they are apprentices to having forms to represent themselves. Even the Mineral Kingdom needs their will to exist, their desire or drive towards physicality, in order to take on forms and lead an embodied existence.
Each Kingdom draws upon the lower ones for its upadhi or basis of existence. Consider the Human Kingdom. The thing that distinguishes us from the animals is the human Ego or consciousness. Both we and the animals have an animal nature and consciousness. The animals are lacking a human Ego; they are Animal Monads in the Animal Kingdom. To get into the Human Kingdom they need an association with a Human Monad. With such an association, they are Animal Monads in the Human Kingdom, and at the end of the current cycle of evolution (Planetary Manvantara) they will graduate into Human Monads. Each of us has an animal nature, which is really an Animal Monad which we use as the vehicle for our human consciousness; were we not in association with them, our animal natures would be Animal Monads in the Animal Kingdom.
At some distant time in the future, we will be enfilled with gods. Each of us with be in relationship with his inner divinity. At that time, we will be Human Monads in a Dhyani-Chohanic Kingdom.
Looking back in time, materiality arose out of the Elemental Kingdoms. The matter or substance of our world arose as Elementals in the Mineral Kingdom. And there are Elementals in the Plant, Animal, and Human Kingdoms as well. For us, as humans, how do we relate to the Elementals?
They are involved with the basis for material existence. The Elementals create the dynamic tension that allows for the separation of spirit and matter. They give expression to the contents of our consciousness.
The highest Elementals or Devas are grandly wise, being of the nature of pure spirit. The intermediary are of a nature that we can understand and relate to. The lowest are hostile and an evil influence on us, being of the nature of the most gross of matter, the dregs of material existence.
Devas are not created at some point of time. They are Monads that happen to be in the Elemental Kingdoms. As Monads, they are eternal, which means not only endless, but also beginningless as well. Consider an Elemental of thought. When we create a new thought, and fashion it out of the generic "thought substance", we have created a thought-form. That form provides the "body" for a manasic Elemental, for an Elemental associated with Manas. The Elemental was not created out of nothing at that point; it was reembodied.
The Devas populate all the elements of nature, on all the different planes. They help provide the basis for the physical world. And they animate, they give life and motion to images in the astral light as well. When we speak of an occultist as gaining power over the forces of nature, we refer to his invoking and controlling great Elementals, Elementals of tremendous power.
It's important to mention that when we consider the big picture of life, the grand sweep of evolution, we are not necessarily "higher" than the Elementals. So when we speak of the Devas as being the same as the Elementals, we have not necessarily demoted them to a lower place in the scheme of things.
Spiritual evolution is cyclic. There are big cycles, and yet bigger ones. The entire evolution of the Monad into matter and back to spirit, through the Kingdoms from the lowest Elemental to the highest Dhyani-Chohan, is a cycle of evolution. Each step along the way is measured by a Planetary Manvantara. Each such step fills a time period of one Day of Brahma. The entire sweep of evolution depicted, then, is a week, or ten days in Brahma's life. But there are 36,000 days in the Life of Brahma. There certainly are not 36,000 Kingdoms to evolve through! It is clear that we cycle through the Kingdoms, again and again, and learn something more with each such dip into matter.
From the standpoint of our repeated evolution into matter, it is arrogant to feel superior to the Elementals or Devas. Certain Elemental Monads may be far older, far wiser, far more evolved than we are, having had many more evolutions into matter than we have had! Picture a young boy, a recent rebirth of a old, wise soul, someone of high spiritual evolution. Compare him to an old but foolish man, someone not so evolved. The boy is physically younger, but in his inner nature he is far wiser, far older, far more evolved. The same may be true of some Monads in lower Kingdoms of Nature. They may be far wiser, far older, far more evolved than most. Who is to say?
All our fellow Monads, of whatever Kingdom, deserve our respect
and appreciation. We are coplayers in the eternal game of
existence. Let's appreciate all our fellow players.
from Theosophy World
All students of Theosophy are invited to a gathering on August 7, 8, and 9, 1998 in Brookings, and nearby at Smith River. (The location is or the border of California and Oregon on the Pacific coast.)
The gathering is hosted by the:
Brookings Study Group [ULT] 16209 W. Hoeffeldt #C Brookings OR 97415 541-469-1825 or 707-487-3063
Friday August 7, a potluck buffet will be held at 14390 Ocean View Drive, Smith River, California. Then from 7:30 to 9:30 PM, at the Brookings Beachfront Inn's Conference Room, a panel discussion will be held, with all invited to participate. The topic is "The Three Objects of the Theosophical Movement set forth by Mme. Blavatsky in The Key to Theosophy."
On Saturday, there will be a brunch at the same address, to be followed by an informal discussion and exchange of ideas on theosophical topics with special emphasis on the present and future work for Theosophy.
Reservations should be made early. There are many local hotels
and inns. There's also RV accommodations at Harris Beach State
by Alan Bain
Way back in 1957-59, I began a small group (about 30 people max) with a view to studying, investigating, and practicing the occult virtues, mainly by way of Kabbalah, or Qabalah as we called it then, this being by that time my specialist area (which it still is). We called it simply, "The Group." I am sure some of you have been there!
Students had two mandatory books to purchase and study. This was to ensure that only serious students came in, as no fees were charged. The two books were, The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune, and First Principles of Theosophy by C. Jinarajadasa. They all dreaded the latter owing to its complexity (!) but did as they were asked. The reason was simply that without an understanding of the standard theosophical ideas of the time, students would never properly grasp the later intricacies of Kabbalah, nor would they be able to use it to the full, especially in its ability to act as a means of comparing different "occult" systems. Comparative theosophy if you like.
Above all things, however, we held what theosophy calls the first object as the most important. Having a Christian bias at that time, this was expressed as "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" also, of course, an antecedent law of Judaism. On the practical level of group working, we all tried to apply this to the best of our ability in our daily lives, for without doing this, the entire study was pointless.
One day one of the group members discharged herself from hospital very shortly after having given birth to her second child she still had stitches in. Her husband had been arrested and charged with defrauding the Post Office (which he had done and went to jail for). She wanted to do her utmost to help him by raising bail from her family (which she did, but he didn't accept).
We would often congregate in an inexpensive London restaurant, and so this was her first port of call. One member was in there, a young man we were all so young! and she, having nowhere to stay for the night, and no money to speak of, asked him for help. Without hesitation, having heard her tale, he have her the key to his one-room apartment and six shillings for a taxi and food.
Unbeknown to her, it was his last six shillings, and he had nowhere else to stay for the night. Later, some of the other members found him sitting in the restaurant, and made sure he had enough to eat, and money to keep himself going. Sadly, no one available at the time was in a position to put him up, and he slept on the streets for three nights, by which time the young woman in question had been able to make arrangements.
As he saw it, her needs were greater than his, so he applied the rule, and those who found him later did the same.
Now, in 1998, she is dead, but her two daughters are still alive with children of their own, and I speak to them often. Sometimes they come to stay, and there is a great bond between us.
That, theosophists of all colors, is what we called "brotherhood"
and still do. Quite a few of the members of that long-ago group
are now either dead, or have moved on without trace. The few of
us that are still in touch would, if called, respond at the drop
of a hat, as they say, and over the years, this has happened more
by Laura Leschiner
[The following letter was written four months ago by a Russian woman, Laura, a recent emigrant to America. The letter was written to a friend back in Russia, regarding a mutual friend that had recently died. The letter was provided by Dallas TenBroeck, with the author's permission.]
I received your greeting card for my birthday. Thank you for the memory and for sharing with me you view on problems of life in Russia, and for asking questions. I'm going to answer them at the best of my ability.
You ask me how I can cope with the death of your (and my) best friend. Three years ago I was not able to console you with anything valuable. It seems to me that today I have something valuable to say.
Two and a half years ago my American friend asked me to attend a meeting of one of many small groups of people getting together to study Theosophy. Theosophy gives its students a clear exposition on ethics, science and philosophy.
At first it was hard for me to follow the discussions and understand them, because of my English. And the subject was itself too lofty, but I knew on the spot that it would be a part of my life from now on. I knew that I'll get the answers on many questions, which I wanted to be answered since the days of my youth: Who am I? What am I doing in this world? Why it happens to me, to my friends? What is death? What is intuition? What is freedom?
The following is an attempt to share with you my understanding of some theosophical ideas.
I always wanted to know why Americans say that they are free people.
I understand what is freedom of religious beliefs, political freedom, social freedom. But personal freedom is something completely different because nobody gives it to you but yourself. We are all slaves of ourselves because we live in fear to loose what we have, or, not to get what we want. This is true for people who are rich and who are poor, for a prince and for a beggar, for Americans and for Russians. Freedom is a light at the end of the tunnel we all follow through with a speed programmed by evolution.
Where are we coming from? From the Beginning, where once we were together and we would be together again, when, finally we finish our journey. How can we describe something which is The Beginning and the End of Everything at the same time? It is an "Absolute" principle which has no attributes, because It is beyond duality, beyond human comprehension. But Everything emanates from It. How? I have to use metaphors in order to bring this subject to the level of human consciousness.
How does our day start? We are waking up. Where are we? We don't know. Our brain wasn't functioning during the night sleep, our consciousness was in the other reality. We remember nothing, it seems we were nowhere, particularly during our dreamless sleep. what happens then? An unconscious desire to be awake grows within us. The desire expresses itself in a first "conscious" breath. A first thought and a first movement comes with it. It is very conventional to use these images to substitute what we call primordial matter in Theosophy.
Our planet as well as a million of other planets and stars began from It. By millions and millions of years of evolution human "monads" have developed as a gaseous substance first, then as the mineral kingdom, then as the vegetable kingdom, and finally became the animal kingdom. The animal has consciousness which express itself in the form of instincts. The evolution has continued its work, and the history of Humanity did begin only when the humanlike body was enlightened with self-conscious mind.
As a train goes smoothly and fast on the rails of very well maintained track, so do we follow our way because Karma takes care of everything. Karma is The Law of Nature, the Law of action and reaction, the law of absolute justice and balance, the law which most of us know as "what you sow you will reap." There is personal Karma, family Karma, community Karma, and so on.
There are no doubts that in this world everyone and everything follows the same cycle: birth, growth, bloom, fruit-bearing, aging, death. Our Earth also goes through the same process. What happens when matter dissolves? It turns into different elements. We know that nothing appears or disappears without leaving a trace. So what happen with our individuality? It is in our genes say materialists. We get it from the previous generations and it goes to the next ones. Suppose there is no next generation, then what?
We commit the crimes or sow love and good. As a result, religious believers say, we go to hell or heaven. No, contradict the materialists, we die gaining nothing and losing nothing. A coat is worn, we throw it away. Where is the one who wore it?
Theosophy states that our body dissolves, but our wandering soul is eternal. Our soul reincarnates in another body and experiences next life, as it did million and million times before and will do after.
Talking about Karma and Reincarnation, H. P. Blavatsky, famous Russian theosophist, wrote in The Key to Theosophy:
We can only perceive that if with us things ought to have been different, they would have been different; that we are what we have made ourselves, and have only what we have earned for ourselves ... Belief in Karma is the highest reason for reconcilement to one's lot in life, and the very strongest incentive towards effort to better the succeeding re-birth. Both of these, indeed, would be destroyed if we supposed that our lot was the result of anything but strict Law, or that destiny was in any other hands than our own.
Yes, Karma takes into account all our deeds and thoughts, but only spiritual experience help us to progress, to make one more step towards freedom. We have to live spiritual life while we are here, on Earth. And spiritual life is the "life of compassion."
I want to share with you how studying Theosophy affected my life.
The first: One day I discovered that the surrounding world and myself have changed in proportions and in meaning. My self became smaller and less significant. The Nature which previously existed only as a background, providing pleasures or inconvenience es of life, turned into a dear, lifetime companion, a friend.
The second: I know theoretically what the "Great Master" [ the Buddha] has said:
"Let a man overcome wrath by absence of anger, let him overcome evil by good. Let him overcome the miser by generosity and the liar by truth." So I stopped retaliating and justifying my self this is the first small step in this direction.
The third: At the end of the day when I get in bed I have no trouble falling asleep any more, because I know now how to span a gentle bridge between two states of my consciousness.
Be well and best regards to everybody.
by ELdon Tucker
[based upon a December 31, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
We are told, as beginners on the Path, to shut down the psychic and instead develop "the mind's eye." What does this mean? How do we practice this in our lives?
First we need to define the term "psychic." Like many terms, it can mean different things to different people. "Psychic" refers to extensions of the physical senses, to extra-sensory perception, to seeing and interacting with physical things from afar, or with things in the astral light or other planes of existence. In terms of our seven principles or basic ingredients of consciousness, it refers to an extension of the sixth principle, of the astral or Linga-Sharira. It does not refer to the power to make things happen (Prana), to fashion things (Kama), to understand (Manas), to relate to (Buddhi), or to exist (Atma). This basic ingredient of consciousness, that of sense perception, is essential to participating in the activities of life on any plane of existence; it is essential to being a fully-manifest being on a particular plane.
Consider Zen Buddhism. In Zazen, we practice alertness, mindfulness, a dynamic type of consciousness. This is the opposite of the passivity necessary for psychic development. Meditation is done with the eyes open, where the outer world is taken into the practice. We are aware of what is happening about us, but do not pay it lasting, persistent attention; someone shouts, we hear it, then we let go and it is forgotten.
Psychic impressions are not cultivated, they are ignored. If they intrude upon meditation, they are ignored like an unwelcome guest at the door. No special attention is given them; nothing is done to exercise, develop, or encourage their appearance in our lives. We are at a far deeper, a far more serious task, but not something somber, serious, and heavy-hearted. The approach to the spiritual is dynamic, inspired, with a sense of wonder and magic that we once felt as little children, and profoundly enriching.
The training is to focus our full consciousness upon our experience of life here on this world, on physical plane Globe-D existence. We practice the awakening of our higher faculties of consciousness through our existing personal self. The goal is to unify our spiritual natures with the outer selves, to bring to consciousness and give self-expression to the deeper aspects of ourselves. This is the opposite of seeking the ability to disconnect from outer life, practicing tuning out the world, deadening reaction to others, going into trances, and trying to astral project or get out of the Globe-D self.
We learn to shut down the senses, or rather to quiet them, but not totally shut them off. They are intrinsically mayavic, delusive, misleading, and we must disassociate from them, but at the same time put them under our control. This control comes from being seated in our spiritual-intellectual nature, with it connected to and expressive through the senses. The lack of a controlling connection between the inner and outer man is what we try to overcome. We work to unify the higher faculties with the waking consciousness, rather than escape the outer world to 'vacation' elsewhere.
Say we have some psychic faculties, some paranormal senses or experiences. What should we do about them? The general rule, which is what the theosophical answer to the question would be is: downgrade the importance of them in our lives, come to feel them as unimportant and remove any sense of ego-gratification from having and using them, and even do things to grossen our physical nature if they play too dominate a role in our lives.
To downplay the role of psychic abilities in our lives, we can avoid activities or practices that cultivate them. Passivity of mind should be avoided. If we have extremely intrusive psychic experiences, we might need to do things like eat meat, if we're vegetarians, to grossen our physical natures, and to intentionally not remember dreams.
Granted, there are special karmic circumstances where a few individuals may have psychic abilities that need to be put to use in their lives, but these are exceptions to the general rule and not what is good for people in general.
The senses that we have are different that in the distant past. And they will change in the future. What senses we have is a part of the evolutionary setup of life in the Human Kingdom, and what we have now is what is appropriate to our human experience at this time. Other senses, or extensions of the existing senses are dormant at this time.
The search for the spiritual is really in a different direction than the psychic. There is an entirely different set of experiences awaiting us in life, completely independent of things like reading auras, seeing thought-forms, or astral projection. The barriers we naturally find in our personality to psychic senses are part of the Guardian Wall, a protective barrier put up for us to foster our spiritual evolution. Like an infant in a playpen, wanting to get out, we may not always understand that it's for our own good!
Our senses are basically reined in to the physical world so that we won't be preoccupied with them, but devote our energies to developing wisdom, compassion, insight, and even higher aspects of our natures. Extension of our senses beyond the physical world do not bring us higher consciousness.
A dog, if able to see things in the astral light, is no closer to understanding calculus, to having a developed Manas. We are after the development of higher faculties of experiencing life. There is an element of escapism in the desire to go to other planes. It is the same as in the science fiction literature. In science fiction, we want to go to other worlds with bigger and more powerful spaceships. Somehow, the going to these other places make us more "evolved". In the metaphysical realm, the same escapism is found in the desire to go to other planes, with bigger and stronger magical powers. But this does not make us any more evolved; we are still the same people, with the same limited ability to experience life, just doing different things than before. What we need is an inner transformation to make us different!
Sense perceptions are different than the higher faculties; they are different than wisdom or knowing things. We seek to really learn from our Inner Teachers, to awaken the "mind's eye." What is it? It is a poetic metaphor for the ability to know that corresponds to the sense of sight, as opposed to the normal learning by what would correspond to a sense of touch. We can have a different kind of "personal experience," wherein we learn by experience things by gazing upon them from afar, rather than by going to them and "touching" them in some outward situation.
Just as there are faculties of consciousness that sets us apart from the animals, there are yet others that set the gods apart from us. These faculties have nothing to do with what you can see, touch, taste, hear, or smell; they are entirely different ways of experiencing things. Just as an animal might not appreciate the complex, subtle distinctions in an intellectual debate, we might not appreciate the complex, subtle distinctions in terms of some yet unawakened faculties within us.
The whole approach to the spiritual, then, is to look for
something different within. It is not bigger or better of what
we already are, although that too is important. It is rather the
discovery of the truly unknown and the making it a living part of
by Grace F. Knoche
[from The Theosophical Forum, October, 1947, reprinted December 22, 1994 on firstname.lastname@example.org by Alan E. Donant.]
A Study of the Evolution of the "Objects of the T.S." From 1875 To 1891
Inspired by the conviction that the Theosophical Society was the inevitable outgrowth of the spiritual demands of the century, its Founders valiantly strove, without concealment or equivocation, to "arrest the attention of the highest minds" in all fields of thought: science, philosophy, religion, literature, psychical and spiritualistic research, as well as Oriental philosophy. Starting with one broadly inclusive purpose, the infant society declared:
The objects of the society are, to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the universe.
[Chapter II of the By-laws of the Theosophical Society, published with the "Preamble," October 30, 1875. See September 1947 issue of The Theosophical Forum for text of Preamble.]
Within two years, H. P. Blavatsky had published Isis Unveiled, startling the Western world with its "striking peculiarities, its audacity, its versatility, and the prodigious variety of subjects which it notices and handles," as the New York Herald aptly commented in 1877, further describing it as "one of the remarkable productions of the century."
By the winter of 1878 a sufficiently wide crack in the moldy materialism of religious and scientific thought had been rent by the Theosophical Society (not least of which was due to the widespread acclaim of Isis) to enable the work in America to be left under the protective care of William Q. Judge, then Counsel to the Society, and soon to be elected Secretary of the Western Division, with General Abner W. Doubleday being appointed "President ad interim."
En route to India, H. P. B. and Colonel Olcott stopped in London to visit the British Theosophical Society (later the London Lodge), which included C. C. Massey, Rev. Stainton Moses, and the eminent biologist Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, arriving in Bombay on February 16, 1879. Despite unprecedented opposition from both governmental and missionary fronts, President Olcott delivered a public address on March 23, at the Frarnji Cowasji Hall, Bombay, "before a large and enthusiastic audience which thronged the spacious Hall," the occasion marking also a reorganization of the Society's officers with new By-laws (or Constitution), the original one-inclusive objective being amplified under Section viii into seven "plans" as follows:
(a) To keep alive in man his belief that he has a soul, and the Universe a God.
(b) To oppose and counteract bigotry in every form, whether as an intolerant religious sectarianism or belief in miracles or anything super-natural.
(c) To gather for the Society's library and put into written form correct information upon the various ancient philosophies, traditions, and legends, and, as the Council shall decide it permissible, disseminate the same in such practicable ways as the translation and publication of original works of value, and extracts from and commentaries upon the same, or the oral instructions of persons learned in their respective departments.
(d) To seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of Nature, and aid in diffusing it, thus to encourage the study of those laws least understood by modern people, and so termed the Occult Sciences. Popular superstition and folk-lore, however fantastical, when sifted may lead to the discovery of long lost but important secrets of Nature. The Society, therefore, aims to pursue this line of inquiry in the hope to widen the field of scientific and philosophical observation.
(e) To promote a feeling of brotherhood among nations; and assist in the international exchange of useful arts and products, by advice, information, and co-operation with all worthy individuals and associations; provided, however, that no benefit or percentage shall be taken by the Society for its corporate services.
(f) To promote in every practicable way, in countries where needed, the spread of non-sectarian Western education.
(g) Finally, and chiefly, to encourage and assist individual Fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral and spiritual.
["Principles, Rules, and By-Laws," pages ii-iii, of "The Theosophical Society or Universal Brotherhood," issued at Bombay, 1879.]
The official title of the Society was here, apparently for the first time, announced as "The Theosophical Society or Universal Brotherhood" (italics ours), the fourth Rule or By-law itself opening with the words: "The Society being a Universal Brotherhood . . ." eloquent testimony that at last the original plan as conceived by Masters (vide Mahatma Letters, pp. 9, 17, 23-4, 252) could be publicly set forth as our basic spiritual directive for the next hundred-year cycle.
On December 17, 1879, at the palace of H. H. the Maharajah of Vizianagram, Benares, the General Council of the Society met to revise again its By-laws, which after ratification at Bombay on February 26 and 28, 1880, were circulated among the now rapidly spreading T. S., whose centers ranged from Paris to Egypt, Budapest to Ceylon, Odessa, Corfu and Manila to London and the U. S. A. to say nothing of active branches in several parts of India. Here again we note the pointing up of the Brotherhood idea, Rule I now setting the keynote: "The Theosophical Society is formed upon the basis of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity." The alterations adopted in the seven "plans" were slight, but not unimportant: (a) and (b) changes or additions indicated by italics
(a) "To keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions." (b) "To oppose and counteract after due investigation and proof of its irrational nature bigotry in every form," (continue as before).
Though unaltered in wording, the reversal in order of plans (c) and (e) placing (e) third, gives a subtle but persistent emphasis on the directive of promoting "a feeling of brotherhood among nations." (d) and (f) remain; while (g) receives stress by enlargement:
(g) Finally, and chiefly, to encourage and assist individual Fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral, and spiritual. But no Fellow shall put to his selfish use any knowledge communicated to him by any member of the First Section; violation of this rule being punished by expulsion. And, before any such knowledge can be imparted, the person shall bind himself by a solemn oath not to use it to selfish purposes, nor to reveal it, except with the permission of the teacher.
["Revised Rules of the Society," 1880, Bombay, page 9.]
At this period Active Fellows of the T. S. were considered as falling into three natural divisions, though no formalized classification was publicly set forth until the opening meeting at Bombay, or March 23, 1879.
[The following appears on page v of the "Rules of the Society," issued March 23, 1879, and is quoted here for historic purposes:]
Of these, the highest is the First Section composed exclusively of initiates in Esoteric Science and Philosophy, who take a deep interest in the Society's affairs and instruct the President-Founder how best to regulate them, but whom none but such as they voluntarily communicate with have the right to know.
The Second Section embraces such Theosophists as have proved by their fidelity, zeal, and courage, their devotion to the Society, who have become able to regard all men as equally their brothers irrespective of caste, color, race, or creed; and who are ready to defend the life or honor of a brother Theosophist even at the risk of their own lives.
The Third is the Section of probationers. All new Fellows are on probation until their purpose to remain in the Society has become fixed, their usefulness shown, and their ability to conquer evil habits and unwarrantable prejudices demonstrated.
The General Council met again in February, 1881, and again revamped the Rules of the Society, this time the seven "plans" being condensed into four:
First To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, the obvious philanthropic value of which must be beyond dispute, while the esoteric significance of a union formed on that plan, is conceived by the Founders, for reasons derived from a study of Oriental Philosophy, to be of great importance.
Second To study Aryan literature, religion and science, which the Founders believe to contain certain valuable truths and philosophical views, of which the Western world knows nothing.
Third To vindicate the importance of this inquiry and correct misrepresentations with which it has been clouded.
Fourth To explore the hidden mysteries of Nature, and the latent powers of Man, on which the Founders believe that Oriental Philosophy is in a position to throw light.
["Rules of the Theosophical Society together with an explanation of its Objects and Principles," as revised at Bombay, February 17, 1881, p. 3, issued by Damodar K. Mavalankar, as Joint Recording Secretary (for the Eastern Division, William Q. Judge being Recording Secretary for the Western Division, of the General Council).]
It is of significant interest to note that the Three Sections into which Active Fellows of the T. S. are divided is mentioned here again in the Rules, but this time casually, Rule X stating that the "administration of the two superior Sections need not be dealt with at present in a code of rules laid before the public" this withdrawal from public notice presaging the establishment seven years later of a formal Esoteric Section in October, 1888. In succeeding By-laws reference to the higher Sections is entirely omitted. The final streamlining into the three objects used subsequently by the T. S. (with minor alterations) took place at the sixth anniversary nominally scheduled for November 17, 1881, but due to the extensive travels in India of the Founders not celebrated until January 12,1882, when the General Council announced its "Primary Objects" as follows:
First To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed or color.
Second To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literature, religions and sciences and vindicate its importance.
[In 1885 the phrase "and vindicate its importance" was dropped; the following words being added in the statement of the Objects, Dec. 27, 1890: and to demonstrate their importance to Humanity."]
Third To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature and the Psychical powers latent in man.
["Report of the Proceedings of a Public Meeting . . . of the Theosophical Society," Bombay, 12th January, 1882, page 5.]
No further change was made in subsequent annual meetings until December, 1886, when the Third Object was slightly modified, including an interesting insert, making it read:
A third object, pursued by a portion of the members of the Society, is to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers of man.
The form of the Objects continued without change until the General Council meeting of December, 1888,
[In The Key to Theosophy, ch. iii, published in 1889, H.P.B. significantly slants this third object by adding the word "spiritual," making it read: "To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature under every aspect possible, and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man especially (italics ours)]
when minor but suggestive alterations appear in the 1st and 3rd Objects as follows:
First: the inclusion of "sex, caste," so that the last phrase reads: "without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color" a far-sighted addition in view of the later Suffragette activities in the Western hemisphere, and the abolition of 'untouchability' in the Eastern; Third: while remaining textually identic since 1886, has the following paragraph added in brackets:
[The Fellows interested in this third object now form a distinct private division of the Society under the direction of the Corresponding Secretary]
[The Theosophist, Supplement, January 1889, p. 54.]
H. P. B., sole head of the E. S. then one year old. Organizationally separate from the T. S., the Esoteric Section, nevertheless, was its vital heart, its raison d'etre. This extra paragraph, however, did not appear more than this once, being canceled in session of the General Council at Adyar, Madras, on December 27, 1890, the last annual meeting of the T. S. before the passing of H. P. B.
The succeeding fifty odd years has seen a number of verbal
changes in the Objects; but the spirit of the original directives
has remained: the dissemination of Truth, strengthened by
insistence upon the formation of at least a nucleus of a
Universal Fraternity described by K.H. (M.L., p. 17) as the
"only secure foundation for universal morality . . . the
aspiration of the true adept."
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a November 5, 1994 posting to email@example.com.]
The treasures of spiritual evolution are open to all. There is a universality of access to them. We are all inter-related, and have the potential of tapping into all the higher faculties of consciousness that await the future evolution of humanity. No one has a special privilege, special access, to the Higher. We are all free, at our own choice, to open ourselves up, over many lifetimes, or to turn our backs on the Higher and live solely in the material world.
As people, as personalities, none of us is any better than any other. This applies to other kingdoms of nature as well. We are not intrinsically better than the trees in the forest, the fish in the ocean, or the birds in the sky. All come forth from the same Mystery, the same Root, and all are inseparably interdependent on each other for continued existence.
There are differences, though, in evolution, in developed faculties of consciousness. There are more types of awakened consciousness in us as humans than in animals or plants. We are able to self-consciously participate in life in a much-more complete manner that Monads in earlier kingdoms of nature.
While we can say that we are of equal worth with the creatures of nature about us, we are not being arrogant or denying the universality of life when talking about what we know and can do that the rest of nature cannot. It is a simple statement of fact, not an arrogant claim to superiority.
These differences in development do not only exist between higher and lower kingdoms of nature, but within the kingdoms as well. Within humanity, there are obvious differences in spiritual, intellectual, and personal development. Noting these differences, the result of countless lifetimes of hard work and development, there need be no sense of judgment or superiority.
Consider a research scientist, with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. It is perfectly reasonable to say that he knows more of engineering than a high school dropout whom ended up working as a bartender. This statement does not place a higher value on the scientist, as a person, but merely states the obvious fact that he really knows something more, and it is not merely a matter of one opinion versus another.
We learn in Theosophy of a natural progression, through evolution, over vast periods of time, wherein we progress through the kingdoms of nature. We have come as far as humanity. There is much more left for us to go as humans, after which even higher kingdoms await us, the kingdoms of the Dhyani-Chohans.
Within humanity, there are a number of stages of development, following the lines of evolution, wherein new faculties are awakened. Over vast ages, humanity will undergo changes and these developments will become commonplace. Some have raced ahead and already acquired these faculties. That process of hastened development is called the Path, and there are people at the various stages along it. We have good people, pre-Chelas, Chelas, Mahatmas, Bodhisattvas, then Buddhas. There are stages in the human kingdom even beyond Buddhahood, but there are physical limitations that prevent even further progress at this time of the development of the world.
Beyond the human kingdom are the Dhyani-Chohans. They took care of humanity in its infancy, and at the point when humanity became self-responsible, when men acquired the fire of mind, they imparted to the elect of humanity what could accurately be called a divine revelation. This knowledge is preserved to this day, as an oral tradition based upon learning and personal experience, by the Mahatmas.
What we have in the theosophical literature is a rudimentary presentation of fragments of that knowledge. There are bits of cosmology, occult history, information on the nature of other planes, and descriptions of the inner workings of consciousness. This knowledge, though, is seriously limited due to a lack of adequate terminology in the English language, and to the fact that it attempts to express in writing things that go beyond our ability to articulate them in words.
As we study Theosophy, we find ourselves coming up to a stepping-off point. There is a rich offering of ideas to study. Under serious consideration, though, we find that the same terms are used in more than one way. This is sometimes to veil the deeper truths from all but those whom have eyes to see, from those whom are ready for the hidden or esoteric truths.
Our first study of Theosophy is intellectual, based upon reading books, discussing our initial ideas, underlining passages and keeping track of quotations. And although this is the first stage, we never leave it behind; it remains an important part of the process even as we move on to higher stages. The initial introduction to the intellectual study of the Teachings could be considered the first Initiation or awakening, the awakening of the personality to the fount of learning.
Eventually, though, we reach a plateau, a period of barrenness, a stage where we seem unable to make further progress. This may lead us to disillusionment and abandonment of Theosophy. It may persist for the remainder of our life, with us become embittered to the Teachings, becoming an open critic of the apparent emptiness of the "odd and meaningless metaphysical system holding no practical value for anyone or anything in life." But this perception of Theosophy as lifeless, as a well-gone-dry, is due to our personal loss, not due to its lack of Treasures.
Instead of giving up, we can treat the situation as a Zen Koan of monumental proportion. We can face it and find ourselves an answer. We can know more; we can go beyond the words; we can find an Inner Teacher or source of renewed learning, and this might be called the second Initiation.
Going back to the Teachings with renewed interest, with a new perspective on them, with a new key to unlock deeper meanings in them, we find that we now use them as "diving boards" which we use as jumping off points. We go beyond what is found on the written page and learn more. There is a Treasury of Wisdom behind the written words, and we have only to take what is there.
When we consider this process as an internal event, we would call it the awakening of our Inner Teacher. When considered as external, we could describe it as coming in touch with the theosophic thought-current and tapping into external sources of Knowledge about us, tapping into Mahat and learning directly.
This type of learning represents the initial awakening of a new faculty of knowing. It corresponds to the ordinary manner of thought as the sense of sight corresponds to the sense of touch. Animals may unconsciously tap into it, and use it as instinct, knowing what to do independent of personal experience. We too can tap into learning that is not based upon personal experience (based upon experiences in our personalities).
It should be noted, though, that nothing in the universe is infallible. This faculty of learning is as subject to mistakes as our ordinary intellectual processes. Just as we can make mistakes of logic, or remember what we have read incorrectly, so we can make mistakes based upon this second form of learning.
In our theosophical literature, it is wrong to demand a conformity of expression, to require that the doctrines be entombed in fixed words. This is not because we have a confusion of opinions, and don't want to arbitrarily impose one opinion over the others. Rather it is because we are dealing with Truths that go beyond the ability of words to express them. These Truths are real, true, and as much a living, vital part of the makeup of life and nature and the sun, moon, and sky, but we are lacking in easy ways to communicate them.
There is the additional problem of sorting out opinion from knowledge in the theosophical books. Some books are written by students with simply an intellectual understanding of the philosophy. If written with accuracy, and properly cited, they can provide assistance in study. If written carelessly, they may contain a confused mix of opinions interblended with some of the fundamental Teachings. What you get depends upon the author.
A second class of books are written by those whom have "gone beyond the words" in their studies. They may present some of the basic Teachings in an equally intellectual manner, but also include some personal insights, from their "going beyond", that cannot be backed up by citations to an authoritative text. These ideas can only be verified by the personal experience of the individual reader. How many of these ideas are true Gems and how many are silly confusions, depends upon the clarity of insight, and upon the success in avoiding the adding of personal opinion, of the author. This is analogous to psychical sight: the bias of the personality can distort what is perceived.
The third class of books, but by far the most important, are those that could be considered authoritative. These are written by people, too, and people are fallible. The difference in them is that they are written by Teachers, individuals specifically assigned the work of communicating some of the wisdom of the Mahatmas to humanity. The Teachers are assisted or overseen by the Mahatmas, and openly act as their representatives in the world. Other books could be considered as the sharing of what has been learned by one student to another. These books could be considered as authorized presentation of a portion of some of what the Mahatmas know. An example of this kind of book is "The Secret Doctrine" by H.P. Blavatsky. These books would be the ones that form the basis of a study of Theosophy; they are the ones that need be learned and cited in an intellectual study of the Philosophy.
There are inner realities in the universe. We can tap into them.
They exist and are real regardless of what theory we may choose to
describe them by. One such reality is that there is a higher faculty
of knowing, one that can be awakened by a concerted study of Theosophy
and put to use in understanding life. It is as real as the shoes on
our feet, and not denied to anyone. We need only undertake the process
to develop and awaken it, and it is there. Our only barrier to
attainment is the false belief that it does not exist, or that it is
impossible to attain, or reserved for but the Buddhas and Christs of
the world. That is simply untrue. It is an easy, gentle process to
open up this faculty of Knowing. Step through the apparent barrenness
of intellectual metaphysics. Engage a way of seeing things that is not
elite, not privileged, but freely open to all to acquire. See the
Truth in a deeper, newer, fresher way!
by Reed Carson
1. The item we are most pleased about this month is the addition of a home study course to the site. Long-time students in New York, associated with the United Lodge of Theosophists, have prepared a home study course consisting of 10 topics. This has been mailed to over 1,500 individuals over a number of years. The course is free and available on the homepage under "home study course". It cannot be accessed all at once and downloaded. Rather the visitor signs up for it and receives it in email with one topic per week. This course is only available to members (but then membership is also free). To encourage visitors to sign up, the first topic, reincarnation, is available for immediate inspection on the site by everyone.
2. The beginnings have been set for a members only section. Currently to access that section you can type into the browser window
Hopefully soon we will have in place the software that will require you to enter your email, with which you became a member, in order to access that area.
3. Speaking of the members only area, the second half of the Secret Doctrine course that was suggested for a study class syllabus, is now onsite in the members only section.
4. And speaking of study classes, we would like to point out that the home study course, we think, would make an excellent syllabus for study classes. If anyone would like to start a study class using this material, we will be glad to mention them here and to put them on the "meetings" page.
5. This month another study class was added to the "meetings" page in Michigan. We have received some material from that class and we think it is an opportunity for anyone in that area to visit there. That class may possibly be able to give presentations of Theosophy to others see them.
6. A "research" click is now available on the homepage. There is an enormous amount of research that needs to be done on the basic material provided to us by Madame Blavatsky. Some bits and pieces of that research have been done and lie in scattered places, generally not known to the community at large. We hope to make an effort over extended time, to do and collect such research and to make it commonly available here. As a start, the Michigan material we received, just happened to contain some research material, to which we have long wanted to know the answer. So we started the research page with that. And what was it? Theosophy observes that St. Augustine said Christianity existed before Christ! This research item notes the origin of that quote and traces down where it can be found in print today. We would like to request your help with this page if you have some research to contribute.
7. Last month we announced an article on the Pope seeming to prepare an encyclical on the new age and appearing possibly ready to condemn Blavatsky. We have researched that item and located the original longer article in Italian that was the source of the story. We then translated the Italian into English and made it available, with a few comments, on the Weathervane. It has generated a little attention.
8. In the book store we have added a "Jesus Aisle". Currently it contains 2 books. The first is on the Shroud of Turin and relates to the same subject appearing on the weathervane page. We have been asked if it is consistent with Theosophical teachings that the Shroud could actually be that of the crucified Jesus. Actually, we have been concerned with the Theosophical teachings on Jesus for years. Finally in this book on the Shroud we discovered some obscure details that finally made it possible for the answer to be "yes". So we think this is an important book. The second book is superb. Briefly, a bishop explains why the church must adopt the Absolute as its "God". He does so very eloquently. The Pope ought to condemn Blavatsky if he doesn't like this.
9. A "Free book policy" has been introduced in the book store. See the bookstore for the official version but briefly, for purchases of $50-99 the purchaser receives a free copy of the best seller "Many Lives, Many Masters". For purchases of $100 and over the purchaser receives a free copy of Isis Unveiled and a 10% discount thereafter. All of these advantages are only available to members.
10. Twelve more websites were added to the Roadmap page.
11. The home page was rearranged to have a "topics" and a "features" section near the top of the homepage. In the topics section is a "study aids" click. This is where the "search engine" has gone. There is now also a "common truth" click in the topics section. This information, consisting of 99 quotes showing common ideas in world religions, had been somewhat buried before. If you haven't seen it, we recommend it.
12. Daniel Caldwell has prepared on "The Blavatsky Study Center" (not Blavatsky Net) a chronological listing of the articles of Blavatsky as they exist on this site. You may find it useful in your research. You can find the pointer to this list on the BN home page.
13. To make the non-English "home-pages" of Blavatsky Net more accessible, they can now be bookmarked as
14. In the second month of membership availability, new members
have continued to join at a rate of a little more than one per
day. No one has resigned.
by Murray Stentiford
[based upon a March 17, 1998 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
The subject of Siddhis is important for several reasons, not least because there seems to be a rising number of people who have the beginnings of inner or psychic powers and may be striving to put together a world view that relates the fact of these powers' existence to the person's deepest goals and values. When these people encounter modern Theosophy, they often want to know what it has to say on the subject.
In the original meaning of the Sanskrit word, a Siddhi is a power understood to accompany the heights of spiritual attainment but today, the mention of a Siddhi is likely to evoke a mixture of positive and negative reactions, ranging from fascination to disbelief.
In my experience, when a person well acquainted with modern Theosophy is pressed on the subject, they are likely to say that trying to develop Siddhis before you are ready is dangerous, and that they are a distraction from higher goals. That these things are best left until we are much more evolved when they will arise naturally. Sometimes there's a hint of an assumption that great power must corrupt greatly.
There is no doubt that these and similar concerns have a valid basis, but I believe that wariness is sometimes taken a little too far.
Siddhis need to be taken on their individual merits, to weigh up their effects and uses, and the motives for acquiring or using them. Intention, as always, underpins and shapes the nature of any action, and the use of a Siddhi is no exception.
Take, for example, the Siddhi of being able to immerse one's awareness in another being or object to experience what it is like to be that thing, whether it is a flower, a rock or another human being. This Siddhi could be very valuable or very dangerous, depending on how and why it is being used.
If it were used to pry into other people's lives and use that information to write magazine articles for large sums of money to be spent selfishly, then that would clearly be unwise and potentially harmful. If on the other hand it were used by a counselor or healer to understand more deeply why someone is suffering, then wisely help them or maybe just offer some truly healing words and the sense that they are not alone, that is a transaction of a very different order.
We sometimes hear about weird and silly Siddhis, like being able to see through our ears, that some people spend huge amounts of time trying to develop. There might be something admirable about the perseverance that this takes, and the demonstration that we can develop in all sorts of ways, but the needs of this world cry out far more pressingly for assistance by methods that offer a greater return for the time and energy invested, in my opinion.
I think it helps to remember that Consciousness and Energy inevitably go together. Where there is a movement of consciousness, there is inevitably a release or flow of energy at some level or another. Consciousness and energy have been interlocked from the time of the very emergence of the universe.
In this light, then, the classical Siddhis are simply examples of powers that are at present beyond most people, that have caught our attention because they seem so dramatic. But there are countless numbers of ways that we mobilize and direct energy in everyday life, all of them coming under the category of consciousness interacting with energy, all being ways that intention leads to action on the different planes. Is this not the prime generator of karma? And isn't it true that one of the great lessons we are learning in the whole field of evolution is how to wield power wisely and lovingly?
This brings us back to the question of intention. How and why are we going to use the powers within our reach? Some people are born with relatively usual abilities, but to be really useful as tools of service and ways of furthering humanity's situation, they still seem to need hard work to make them effective and reliable. There's no easy ride, here.
Finally, I believe that seeking to be of service is the best way
for spiritual growth to occur, provided any desire to acquire
additional power is wholly enveloped within and aligned towards
that goal. That total polarization of the being is both the
ultimate motive and the ultimate safeguard in the quest for
abilities beyond the normal. I suspect, by the way, that seeking
to be of service is a great pathway on which to approach the
inner Teacher, but that's another topic.
by Walt Whitman
[A copy of a poem by Walt Whitman submitted by a Theosophy World reader, from American Bard, Preface to "Leaves of Grass," arranged in verse by Wm. Everson.]
There will soon be no more priests, their work is done. They may wait awhile, perhaps, a generation or two, dropping off by degrees. A superior breed shall take their place; The gangs of kosmos and prophets will take their place. A new order shall arise and they shall be the priests of man, And every man shall be his own priest. The churches built under their umbrage shall be the churches of men and women Through the divinity of themselves shall the kosmos, and the new breed of poets, Be interpreters of men and women, and all event and things, They shall find their inspiration in real objects today, symptoms of the past and the future. They shall not deign to defend immortality or God, or the perfection of things, Or liberty, or the exquisite beauty and reality of the Soul. They shall arise in America, and be responded to from the remainder of the Earth.
by United Lodge of Theosophists
[A letter dated June 21-25, 1998, send out to members of the ULT.]
The present centennial cycle is rapidly coming to a close. The new cycle will represent for many a promise, a hope that the errors of the past will not repeat themselves. Our technology has created "One World"; we no longer can escape from each other. Our sciences, our educational systems and our economic communities are learning that exploitation of resources and manpower, prejudices and intolerance no longer are acceptable, at least in principle. New approaches need to be discovered in our treatment of the earth, and greater understanding and acceptance of the diversity within the human family is essential. This endeavor is being moved by an inner awakening, a need to understand the spiritual aspirations within ourselves. An indication of this inner searching is the sale of books dealing with man's spiritual capacities which surpasses the sale of books in all other categories. The human spirit is proclaiming itself. It is a time of extraordinary promise and an opportunity in the cause of Theosophy.
The character of the present and coming cycle is twofold: the striving of the spiritual aspirations of the age and the Karmic inevitability of repeating our habitual patterns of thought. History indicates that we are inclined to repeat our destructive tendencies. In an effort to counter these mental patterns, students of Theosophy attempt to apply the direction given by H.P.B. in The Key to Theosophy:
...the main, fundamental object ... is to sow germs in the hearts of men, which may in time sprout, and under more propitious circumstances lead to a healthy reform, conducive of more happiness to the masses than they have hitherto enjoyed.
We do not know when the propitious circumstances may arrive, but we know that spreading the ideas of Theosophy is the process for sowing seeds seed ideas concerning the nature of man that will give a practical philosophical basis by which to apply the already accepted ideas of karma and reincarnation in an intelligent and fruitful manner.
Students of ULT owe the simplicity and clarity of the transmitted teachings of Theosophy to the example and practice of Robert Crosbie. The first objective of theosophical work is "to form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood without any distinctions whatever." A nucleus forms a vital center, however small and unpretentious, from which benefits may flow in affluent streams. Simplicity of approach gives the inquirer confidence that the ideas lie within his grasp. The appeal to the heart of the idea of brotherhood protects against the lure of psychism and the extravagance of high-sounding claims.
This past year students have continued to work with a number of programs to spread Theosophical ideas. The New York lodge has conducted seminars in towns outside the city, and at a street fair held near the lodge, students set up a booth and give away free literature to inquirers. Los Angeles lodge members are again planning to have workshop/seminars on Theosophy in various urban centers of the Los Angeles area and to assist the San Francisco and Santa Barbara lodges with such workshops. Members from other lodges have benefitted from these seminars and enjoyed the support gained from the get-together. There is a sympathy based on the strong bond of unity formed by all professing the principles of Theosophy, while each individual is free to pursue his or her particular course of action. Such is the genius of the Declaration of ULT that contains the spirit of H.P.B.'s fourth message to the American Theosophists:
Theosophy first, and Theosophy last: for its practical realization alone can save the Western world ... from sinking entirely into that mere luxurious materialism in which it will decay and putrefy as civilizations have done. In yours hands, brothers, is placed in trust the welfare of the coming century ...
There are further evidences of this commitment. A new study class has been started at the lodge in Torino, Italy. The study group in Brookings, Oregon is actively inviting the public to participate in their discussions during their annual regional gatherings. An outreach continues to be very successful in the correspondence courses created and managed by a student at the New York lodge. These courses on Theosophy and on The Bhagavad-Gita have been sent to students, including correspondents in prison, for many years; the responses from those who have taken the courses indicate the universal appeal of Theosophical ideas.
The pursuit of the second and third objects of the Theosophical
Movement becomes a willing servant to the ideal of brotherhood.
The second object serves through philosophical instruction. The
third object, concerned with the laws of psycho-physical
evolution, contributes to Self-understanding. The three objects
follow the needs of humankind, and the lines of work undertaken
by ULT are an embodiment of these objects as a means of
promulgating this wisdom. Students all over the world work to
give the philosophy wide currency. Last year, a new ULT study
group was started in Lisbon, Portugal. A Spanish translation of
Mr. Judge's Letters That Have Helped Me, just published by The
Theosophy Company, is a welcome addition to the considerable body
of Theosophical literature available in Spanish. For all who
make it so, ULT becomes a school of integrity, assumed
responsibility, and an enduring fellowship in the brotherhood of
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a December 21, 1998 posting to email@example.com.]
When we look upon the Masters, we find ordinary men, not non-physical, supernatural beings. They are real people, not merely a myth symbolic of the potential of our inner spiritual potential. They generally travel by ordinary means, and do not use occult powers except as a last resort. The Masters may have a longer lifespan than we do, but not dramatically so. Normally, they are not exceptional in consciousness and power; it is only when they paralyze their ordinary human ego and step aside from it that they temporarily become something more than normal, Fourth Round men.
How can we know about such men? Through a combination of common sense and a certain theosophic insight. We don't necessarily have to meet one in person and take down notes as he explains what they are about. (How this theosophic insight works is entirely another subject!)
They travel and work among us, mostly undetected. When functioning in their higher aspect, and the ordinary human ego is put aside, they can function as their true selves, Fifth Rounders. In this mode, they are able to function on the other Globes of our Planetary Chain.
The Masters are not like Christian angels, Greek gods, Spiritualist guides, or Hindu Devas. They are embodied men, not non-physical entities.
These special people are called Masters because they are proficient, skillful, experienced in spiritual and spiritual- intellectual living. They are accomplished in higher things. This is as contrasted to what we are or could be: Initiates, people whom are newcomers, unskilled, beginners in the higher life. The Masters are skilled in a penetrating insight into life, both visible and invisible, and into a spontaneous holiness that is fresh, original, and individualized.
A Master could have any outward profession of faith, or outwardly claim to be an agnostic or atheist the outward beliefs subscribed to make little difference to his inner life. The esoteric truths that he studies are common to those studied throughout the world; there is a Wisdom Tradition that is ageless, as old as mankind, and that is what he studies.
In some eras, there is knowledge of the existence of the Masters. Other times they are unknown to the public. They do not want their existence to ever be proved beyond question. Their knowledge is always concealed not to keep it secret, but rather because it is just not possible to communicate it until the student reaches a certain stage of readiness, a certain ripeness of mind and heart, and makes him receptive to the Teachings. If told plainly, their studies would seem "insane gibberish" to the uninitiated.
The Masters sometimes have Messengers or Teachers, public representatives that work openly in the world. Among the existing theosophical organizations, there are various claims to direct contract or inspiration from the Masters, including by the Pasadena T.S. and other Point Loma offshoots, the ULT E.S., and the Adyar E.S.
There is, though, no exclusive franchise to any organization or group of Theosophists to do their work in any territory in the world. They work in and through any group that is true to the theosophical spirit and working unselfishly for humanity. There may have been various purposes to the theosophical groups over the years. The basic purpose of the T.S. was to disseminate some fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, and counteract the materialism of the 1800's. It was not to be a training ground for future Chelas. But we can't simply say that the T.S. was founded for a certain purpose and let that be the final word on the matter. At any point of time there is always the question: Given the various theosophical groups and their current memberships, what good work can be done through them?
There is no use for the Masters to run organizations that sell "initiations," offer public training programs, teach special occult or meditative techniques, or offer correspondence courses for a fee. They do not run groups that claim esoteric credit for solving the world's problems. They do not have public membership organizations that we can join by filling out applications and paying dues.
There are a number of misconceptions (from the Point Loma point of view) regarding the Masters, some taught in theosophical textbooks in some of the theosophical societies!
The Mahatmas protect and overlook things in the world. They safeguard things. They are spiritual and occult environmentalists. Part of the work is to insure safe settings for the various cultures and subraces to flourish. And they preserve the Wisdom Tradition, a Treasure of Knowledge that the Dhyani-Chohans gave to mankind in the distance past. Their protective and safeguarding role is sometimes described as the Guardian Wall.
They are not part of any "world government". They don't give orders or command subordinates. It is incorrect to have an organization chart, showing Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Maha-Chohans, Mahatmas, et al, holding various offices in some spiritual government. Rather, they participate in their own niche in an overall spiritual ecology, with each live at its own level functioning and contributing to the whole in its own unique way. Each step along the Path brings us up a level, and each level is occupied by a class of individuals. There are Pre-Chelas, Chelas, Masters, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. While it is true that there are fewer individuals as we go to the higher steps on the ladder, we never reach a position where there is a position that can only be filled by a single individual. Each class interacts with, but does not rule the lower classes.
The Mahatmas are real men. They have ordinary limitations and possible shortcomings. After them come the Bodhisattvas, then the Buddhas. Even as Buddhas, we are still in the Human Kingdom. It is not physically possible to graduate from the Human Kingdom at this time, in the Fourth Round. The Mahatmas are Fifth Rounders. The Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are Sixth Rounders. And conditions simply do not exist at this time for us to complete our Seventh-Round evolution and graduate.
While it is true that the Mahatmas are flesh-and-blood men, they are somewhat free of the requirement of continual rebirth. And at a later stage as Sixth Rounders it is possible to function with full sense perception, minus the organic physical body; it is possible to function as Nirmanakayas and to exist in mind-created (yet not concretely physical) forms called Mayavi-Rupas.
The Masters that we read about, including K.H. and M., are all probably dead, and reincarnated by now. To think of them by name, to meditate on their pictures, to wish to be in touch with them is both a waste of time and probably won't attract their attention wherever and whomever they are now. They don't want to be worshiped. There is no value to the goal to yearn to become a student of a Master, to have a personal Master, as a end in itself. When the student is ready the Teacher appears. It is by inner readiness that we get a Teacher, and that Teacher most often is the karmic situations awakened in our outer lives, and not a person we come into contact with.
Should we want to be in touch with them? No. Why? To brag to others about it? To ask them what to do with our lives? To seek solace in signs and wonders? To provide learning experiences that our own karma can't bring us in outer life? Certainly not! All this is exactly the stuff that will guarantee we'll never see or hear from one! The Masters don't want to make pets of would-be Chelas.
The Masters have different schools or methods of training. Each suits a certain temperament. We are told to not mix schools or methods. The study of Theosophy is related to one such school. It is not exclusive for that school nor its only approach. But as a School of the Mysteries, it requires a deep "buy in" where it becomes a rock-solid part of our lives, if it is to really work for us. It should be as intense as the desire to breathe: Picture how much we miss air when our heads are under water!
Individual initiative is a key element of their training. They do not tell their students what to do, because it would deny the students the experience of self-initiative, and deny the students the karma and merit of the good deeds. They consider 2/3 of the world's evil as coming from organized religions, and the other 1/3 from selfishness. And they have stated that false but sincere beliefs are a bigger barrier to coming to them (in thought, learning, development) than drinking or other physical failings.
In temperament, the Mahatmas are cool, and not emotionally passionate. They are more spiritual and saintly than we are, but not pious in the traditional religious sense. Most are highly developed intellectually; most have a highly-developed manasic principle. They are mind-centered and thoughtful in ways that we simply cannot appreciate. As Fourth Rounders, we simply function differently, with desire or Kama being the seat of our consciousness.
What do we do with the idea of the Masters? Just accept them for
their place in the scheme of things. They are just our fellow
men who co-exist with us in the drama of life, with their own
karmic ties and personal responsibilities. Like elder brothers,
they are both our kin, yet older, more experienced, and wiser.
We can appreciate them and learn from what they have done.
by Greg Westlake
Being brought up in the heartland of the American Midwest, I understand the inclination to depict Evil as a force. We are taught early on that Self interest is a form of Evil and yet we know that we are inherently filled with thoughts of Self interest. Am I to believe that these thoughts are part of some Evil force that is plotting to drag our Souls into oblivion? And only after we learn to sacrifice our Self interest for the good of the community do we find our spirituality and overcome Evil. I don't think so!
Many Christians believe that a Devil or an Evil force exerts an influence on us. Taken to the extreme, some idealistic individuals deny Self interest to the point that they exhibit a behavioral problem known as "toxic religion". They do not trust there own ability to evaluate the truth and feel guilty about having any desires for personal gain. Fortunately, most Christians only act that way on Sunday and have the common sense to act on their desires the rest of the week. Something is still wrong with this picture.
From my perspective, I think they are giving the Devil a lot of credit for their own problems or bad choices. I do not think that there is an evil force, only choices and consequences. Lets examine real life examples of natural forces in nature, heat and light. To a scientist the term "heat" represents a relative excess of thermal energy and "cold" is a relative lack of thermal energy. Similarly, "light" is the presence of radiant energy and "darkness" is the absence of radiant energy. If we take this concept further, then we may conclude that God represents the presence of virtue and Evil is the absence of virtue. Not a force at all!
There is still the appearance of Evil, but perhaps we are just witnessing individuals who are out of balance. Perhaps the perpetrators and the victims of Evil are just caught up in the drama of Karma. Lest we judge it to be Evil, then we fall prey to its influence for instability.
Most people recognize the inherent benefits of creating a balance
between Self interest and the desires of others. According to
Adam Smith, Self interest is the grease that keeps this country
running. Our forefathers understood the need for balance and
they put a symbol of the pyramid on our dollar bill to remind us
of it. There is a four-sided psychological model which describes
how we interact with other people. However, I like the timeless
model of the four creatures: the Lion represents the desire for
Power for Self; the Eagle, desire for Knowledge for Self; the
Angel, desire for Union with others; and the Bull, desire to
Serve others. By balancing the four basic desires and resisting any
inclination to judge others, we can avoid the wheels of Karma as
we pursue happiness without guilt.