Theosophy World — December 1998


December, 1998 Issue

Contents

[Other Issues]


Everything is regulated in all things once for all with as much order and agreement as possible, since supreme wisdom and goodness cannot act without perfect harmony: the present is big with the future, what is to come could be read in the past, what is distant expressed in what is near. The beauty of the Universe could be learnt in each soul, could one unravel all its folds which develop perceptibly only with time.

— Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Principles of Nature and Grace, 201


Devotion

by Mrs. Isabel Cooper-Oakley

[From Report of Proceedings and Documents of the 1893 Parliament of Religions, pages 174 to 176.]

It is sometimes said, and said untruly, that in Theosophy there is no devotional life. This comes only from the lips of those who have made no deep study of the subject. There is in Theosophy a devotional life, as deep, as true, and as fervent as was ever taught in any religious system that has been known throughout the world. Now, I will divide my subject into two portions, the first, the general aspect, and then the particular application of it to us as Theosophists.

You have all of you heard of occultism, and occultism is the very center of Theosophy. Now, the word "occultism" in itself wants definition. There is good occultism, and there is what is called black magic; the first is white; it is that which is good, wise, unselfish, pure, true. Black magic or occultism is that which is selfishness, in which persons try to gain for themselves only and try to develop themselves for their own personal benefit. Now, when I am speaking of occultism I am not talking of black occultism. H. P. Blavatsky in a very fine article draws a very strong distinction between true occultism and what she calls occult frauds. I am not speaking of a little clairvoyance, or a little clairaudience, or a little thought-transference, or a great many other dabbing in what people call occultism. I am speaking of the real development of the soul life which belongs to that school of occultism that lies at the very center of Theosophy. In India there are many schools of occultism. At the back of the Theosophical Society there is one school of occultism which is based on the highest, most unselfish, and most devoted line of teaching. It is one of the inner schools which is taught by those Masters whom we know to be at the back of the Theosophical Society, and therefore, when I am speaking of occultism, I am not referring to any other school, any Western school, or any Eastern school except this one form of development of the divine light within man.

Now Theosophy, as you know, is philosophy and a science and religion, and therefore when it comes to deal with the deepest part of the soul's life, it has not only the fervent aspirations of the religious systems which you know, it has not only the devotion which you see in so many other religions, but it has absolutely the scientific method by which the soul of man may be developed, by which the soul of man may come into touch with the divine soul, which, is the very life-principle of the whole universe. What is termed Yoga in India means the method by which the soul of man, the divine spirit and mind of man, may link itself with that divine spirit and life from which man comes, from which he is only divided by his material senses, of which spirit he is only a little shadow for the time being during his short earthly career. Now, in speaking of the teaching that we have in the Theosophical Society there is one book, one priceless little book, which has been left to us by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, which was written for those whom she termed "The few." Why? Because she knew that it was only the few in the hurry and the press of the everyday life, it was only the few who would really stand aside from the stream of life and try to give some thought and some time to the soul within. She translated this book from one of those priceless treasures then in the possession of the Eastern teachers of Theosophy. It is called The Book of Golden Precepts, and from it she has gathered some few of the precepts which those who really desire to develop their spiritual life will take up and study. Dedicated as it is to the few, it is only the few who really find benefit in it. It is called The Voice of the Silence. The name is in itself paradoxical, but the name in itself is a volume of teaching. It is the Voice of the Silence because it is only when the Silence and the hush come over the material part of man's life that the real Voice of the Silence can speak. It is only when man will take a little time to still his worldly life, to still his worldly thoughts, that the true small Voice which really lives in the heart of every man may make itself heard. And therefore Helena Petrovna Blavatsky gave us this book, leaving it to the few who would listen in the Silence to the Voice that would speak, and she gave it to us as the guide, the prayer book, and the very basis of our daily life.

The book itself is divided into three portions; it is divided into The Two Paths, the two paths which are spoken of, and preached of, and talked of in every religious system in the world. Jesus Christ in speaking of the life of the soul spoke of the broad path, and said that: broad was the way that led to destruction and narrow the gate that leads to life eternal. Narrow is the gate also that leads to this life eternal. The gate is the narrowing down and crushing out of all the lower principles of man. It is, if we may so call it, the toning down of all the lower principles and making them one with that vibrating chord which is the keynote of that inner life. And when a man starts upon that narrow way, then there lies before him another work to be done. Putting our foot forward only, and making our choice of the narrow way, does not clear up for us all the work we have to do. Then comes the taking of ourselves in hand, then comes all the struggling with our selfish natures, the putting away of the selfish desire for life, the putting aside of all material wishes of this world; and then we come face to face with what is termed in this book The Seven Portals. The Seven Portals are seven gateways which should be opened by every man and woman as they pass onward and upward into the devotional life in Theosophy. You have all of you heard of the Seven Deadly Sins in the Roman Catholic church. Now the seven deadly sins are exactly those sins that stand in our way; those are the very seven deadly sins which bar our pathway; they are analogous to the seven principles of man; and those portals have to be opened one by one, just as the principles have to be crushed out, the lower principles, one by one; and it is only as we open those portals in front of us that the development of the true divine life within really takes place. When the six portals are opened and we stand in front of the seventh portal, when the lower principles of man are all under control and we stand in the light within and it is trying to make its vibrating impulse heard within our hearts, then are we getting some little way upon that path which every great teacher of the world has talked about.

Now, when the seven portals are open, when all these lower principles are stilled, then comes what H. P. Blavatsky speaks of as the Voice of the Silence. She speaks here, making the same division always made in Theosophical teachings, the distinction between the higher and the lower self: "The self of matter and the self of spirit can never meet; one of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both." There is no place, friends, for the self of our lower natures if we want to live according to the highest and the purest of Theosophical teachings. "Kill out desire, but if thou killest it take heed lest from the dead it should again arise." That means, even when getting onwards in this path, even when by means of daily crushing out our most besetting faults, even when by daily meditation and daily aspiration we are trying to get some little way upon that pathway, we have to keep a watch over this hydra-headed monster of our lower natures, trying ever hard to crop up again into life, trying ever to crush down this gentle Voice which is trying to make itself heard. "Kill out the love of life; but if thou slayest tanha, let this not be for thirst of life eternal, to replace the fleeting by the everlasting."

The fundamental teaching in Theosophy is this: All this work is not to be done for ourselves alone; the fundamental teaching of the devotional life is not to seek our own salvation, is not to get a place in that heaven for ourselves, but to perfect ourselves in this work, to purge ourselves of this lower nature, so that when the Voice of the Silence can be heard in our hearts we are then better instruments for those teachers to work through, we are better helpers for those who are teachers, to make the Voice of the Silence heard in the heart of every man and every woman around us. Why not, friends, take some time in your daily life, every one of you, give up some little, some little time in which you may try to listen to the Voice of the Silence. Down through the ages those reproachful words of Christ, when coming out of his agony in the garden, when coming out of the agony he was going through for all humanity, he turned around to Peter and said: "What! Could ye not watch with me one hour?" And in the heart of every man there is that note of reproach ringing from the Voice of the Silence within: What! In this material civilization, can ye not watch one hour, can ye not give up a few moments of your daily life and think of that life we are crushing out here? Can ye not put out for a few moments all earthly desires, acts, and wishes, and give some few moments for The Voice of the Silence to be heard in your hearts?" Look at it from what point you will, look at it how you can, that is the thing you will have to arrive at sooner or later. If you will not make it willingly now, you will have to make it sometime in this life, or if not in this life, at some future time. If you are going to live your life for yourself only, if you are going to live to help the material civilization to go on in the way it is now going, then you should give up your life to the material world and crush out that Voice if you will, but you yourself in your next lives will pay the penalty, according to the Theosophical teaching. We can lay no burden on humanity by selfishness which we shall not come back and bear ourselves. For the sake of humanity what is the reason you cannot give up some time of your daily life? Every moment of your daily life that you put aside to think, even ten minutes, about this Voice of conscience within, even if you take but ten minutes to let the spiritual side of your nature speak, you are helping all humanity, you are helping the whole world in a way that no material work you can do can help; because just so far as we develop our spiritual nature, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky taught us that just so far as we develop this spiritual side, we are helping the whole world upward, we are helping the spiritual cycle upward. That it is only when the Voice of the Silence speaks in our hearts that we add to the Voice of the Silence that is speaking in the hearts of every man and woman that that work can harmonize with the divine life in the material world in which we live. And these are the messages she left to us, this was the book and teaching she put into our hands for all those who really want to listen and to learn the devotional side of Theosophy. It gives you step by step the way in which your devotional life should be led, it gives you step by step the thoughts, the work, the methods by which the Voice of the Silence can be arrived at. And with this message given to us by her to hand down to humanity, I say that it is not true when people say to us that there is no devotional life in Theosophy. It is there, it is there for every man and woman to learn if they choose to find it. For the Voice of the Silence lives in the heart of every man and every woman, and it is our fault, and it is a fault for which we shall have to pay if we do not let it teach us at some time or another.

Contents


Audio Recording of G. de Purucker

by Eldon Tucker

A partially restored lecture of G. de Purucker, 18 minutes in length, is available on the Internet in RealAudio format. It can be listened to at:

Page (http://www.theosophy.net/tw-html/gdep.rm)

(This link will cause your web browser to download and start playing the file. Before the file finishes playing, you can use RealAudio to save the file to disk, for future replay. The file is 2256 KB in size, and it represents an 18 minute, 18 second recording.)

The lecture, given on a radio station in Holland in 1937, was originally recorded on a cylinder recording device. It was later copied to magnetic tape, and an attempt to professionally restore it was made. There is still quite a bit of static, but it's still possible to make out and listen to Purucker's voice.

The tape, provided by Rick Nurrie-Stearns, is entitled "Theosophy and the Invisible and Visible Universe."

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The Theosophical Movement: 1875 — 1998

by Dallas TenBroeck

[Offered in commemoration of the inauguration of the modern Theosophical Movement. November 17th 1998]

Theosophy is the "Wisdom-religion," or "Divine Wisdom." The substratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies, taught and practiced by a few elect ever since man became a thinking being. In its practical bearing, Theosophy is purely divine ethics ...

Theosophical Glossary, 328

[Theosophy is ] Intellectually, an attitude; practically, a method; ethically a spirit; and religiously, a life ... Its creed is loyalty to Truth, and its ritual "to honor every Truth by use.

Theosophical Movement, Vol. 2, 86

Theosophist is "a name by which mystics at various periods of history have called themselves. The Neo-Platonists of Alexandria were Theosophists; the Alchemists and Kabalists during the medieval ages were likewise so called ... All real lovers of divine Wisdom and Truth had, and have a right to the name."

Theosophical Glossary, 328

The principles of a group called Theosophical would be: First: "(1) Brotherhood of man, without distinction of race, color, religion, or social position; (2) the serious study of the ancient world-religions for purposes of comparison and the selection therefrom of universal ethics; [and] (3) the study and development of the latent divine powers in man ... "

Theosophical Glossary, 328

There is a universal Divine Revelation called the Perennial Philosophy, or the "Wisdom Religion" and its traces can be found in the teachings, however fragmentary and incomplete, that are partially contained in ancient texts belonging to the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, the Egyptian religion, to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and to Christianity, but to none exclusively. "The Secret Doctrine is the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialized.

The Secret Doctrine, I, VIII

What is the history of the "Wisdom Religion?" It has its origins with thinking man. It is the one religion which underlies all the now-existing creeds. That "faith" which being primordial, and revealed directly to human kind by their progenitors and informing Egos required no "grace," nor blind faith to believe, for it was knowledge ... It is on this Wisdom Religion that Theosophy is based.

Theosophical Glossary, 343

It is an "unveiling" of old, very old, truths to minds hitherto ignorant of them, ignorant even of the existence and preservation of any such archaic knowledge.

The Key to Theosophy, 30

The Wisdom-Religion was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was, therefore, carefully preserved. It preceded by long ages the Alexandrian Theosophists, reached the modern, and will survive every other religion and philosophy. It was preserved among the Initiates of every country; among profound seekers after truth — their disciples; and in those parts of the world where such topics have always been most valued and pursued: In India, Central Asia, and Persia.

The Key to Theosophy, 7

We can assert, with entire plausibility, that there is not one of the many sects — Kabalism, Judaism, and our present Christianity included — but sprang from the two main branches of that one mother-trunk, the one universal religion, which antedated the Vedic ages — we speak of that prehistoric Buddhism which merged later into Brahmanism." (Isis, 123) "By Buddhism ... we mean that religion signifying literally the doctrine of wisdom, and which, by many ages, antedates the metaphysical philosophy of Siddhartha Sakyamuni.

Isis Unveiled, II, 143

Hinting at the future, HPB says that none of the opponents of Theosophy and its Truth-bearing mission will be able to "uproot Theosophy, nor even upset her Society, if only its members hold together."

If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy strikes deep roots in the minds and hearts of men, ... then indeed will dawn a new day of joy and gladness for all who suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy is altruism, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to truth. If men do but realize that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in wealth, possessions or any selfish gratification, then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity be born upon earth. Then the golden age will be there, indeed.

WQJ Articles, I, 381

Striving thus in unison with your Higher Self, your efforts must and will be fruitful of good to the Society, to yourselves, to Humanity. Coming years will show a steady, healthy growth, a strong, united organization, a durable, reliable, and efficient instrument ready to the Masters' hands. Once united in real solidarity, in the true spirit of Universal Brotherhood, no power can overthrow you, no obstacle bar your progress, no barrier check the advance of Theosophy in the coming century ... there is a power behind the society which will give us the strength we need, which will enable us to move the world, if we will but Unite and Work as one mind, one heart. The Masters require only that each shall do his best, and, above all, that each shall strive in reality to feel himself one with his fellow workers ... a true, hearty, earnest devotion to our cause which will lead each to help his brother to the utmost of his power to work for that cause, whether or not we agree as to the exact method of carrying on that work. The only man who is absolutely wrong in his method is the one who does nothing; each can and should cooperate with all and all with each in a large-hearted spirit of comradeship to forward the work of bringing Theosophy home to every man and woman in the country.

HPB: Five Messages, 24

The problem of true Theosophy and its great mission are, first, the working out of clear unequivocal conceptions of ethic ideas and duties such as shall best and most fully satisfy the right and altruistic feelings in men; and, second, the molding of these conceptions for their adaptation into such forms of daily life, as shall offer a field where they may be applied with most equitableness.

Such is the common work placed before all who are willing to act on these principles ... Do not indulge personally in unbrotherly comparison between the task accomplished by yourself and the work left undone by your neighbor or brothers. In the fields of Theosophy none is held to weed out a larger plot of ground than his strength and capacity will permit him. Do not be too severe on the merits or demerits of one who seeks admission among your ranks, as the truth about the actual state of the inner man can only be known to Karma, and can be dealt with justly by that all-seeing law alone.

Theosophy Magazine, Vol. 70, 242

It is the Master's work to preserve the true philosophy, but the help of the companions is needed to rediscover and promulgate it. Once more the elder brothers have indicated where the truth — Theosophy — could be found, and the companions all over the world are engaged in bringing it forth for wider currency and propagation.

The Ocean of Theosophy, 6

We have offered to exhume the primeval strata of man's being, his basic nature, and lay bare the wonderful complications of his inner Self ... and demonstrate it scientifically ... It is our mission to plunge and bring the pearls of Truth to the surface; theirs [men of science] to clean and set them into scientific jewels ... For countless generations hath the adept built a fane of imperishable rocks ... to invite the elite of mankind to cooperate with him and help in his turn enlighten superstitious man ... until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are ... firmly built ...

The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 51

The main and underlying effort of the work ... should be to furnish a real and philosophical basis for ethics ... Opposition to dogma is not opposition to truth, and hence the Society is a builder up and not a mere destroyer of old beliefs ... The philosophy put forward ... gives reasonable explanations of life, of man, and of nature: tends to remove superstition by showing what psychical phenomena are, and why they occur ... meets all the facts and solves them, and shows how man may, if he will, reach to the power hinted at by all the great teachers of the world.

WQJ: Theosophical Movement, Vol. 28, 85-86

... learn that you may teach, acquire spiritual knowledge and strength that the weak may lean on you ... make your home one of the most important centers of spiritualizing influence in all the world ... encouraging the visits of your fellow members and of enquirers and by holding meetings of the more congenial for study and instruction ... constantly advise with your associates in the Council how to make the general meetings of the Lodge interesting. New members should be taken in hand from the first ... and instructed thoroughly in what you have already learnt, so that they may be capable of participating intelligently in the proceedings ... keep in correspondence with all others [who] need your help ... your Branch can, and should help ... to circulate [the Mother Society's] publications and to have them translated into other languages when worthy of it ... Deeds are what we want and demand ... Think you the truth has been shown to you for your sole advantage? That we have broken the silence of centuries for the profit of a handful of dreamers only? The converging lines of your Karma have drawn each and all of you into this Society as to a common focus that you may each help to work out the results of your interrupted beginnings in the last birth.

Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, 20-24

... the plan is to keep [the Movement] alive as an active, free, unsectarian body during the time of waiting for the next great messenger, who will be herself beyond question ... And in this time of waiting the Master, that great Initiate, whose single will upholds the entire movement, "will have his mighty hand spread wide behind the Society.

WQJ articles, II, 153

..the ethics of Theosophy are more important than any divulgement of psychic laws and facts ... the Ethics sink into and take hold of the real man — the reincarnating Ego ... Learn well, then, the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, and teach, practice and promulgate that system of life and through which alone can save the coming races.

HPB: Five Messages, 26

Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements ... for the amelioration of the conditions of mankind ... [to] seek to lift a little of the tremendous weight of misery that is crushing down the poor ... The function of Theosophists is to open men's hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to become a human-man.

HPB: Five Messages, 8-9
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Innovative Theosophy

by Eldon Tucker

A workshop was recently held at the Los Angeles branch of the United Lodge of Theosophists. Around 25 people attended the event, running for the full day, Saturday, November 14. Both local members and members from the Upland study group attended.

Entitled "Workshop on Effective Collaboration in Working Together for the Cause of Universal Brotherhood," the meeting was called together by some interested students from the United Lodge of Theosophists.

Three theosophical students with both a solid backgroud in the philosophy and substantial academic and psychological skills put on the program: April and Jerry Hejka-Ekins, and Lee Renner, all of California State University, Stanislaus.

The program was greatly appreciated by all who attended, myself included. Were such a program put on as a college extension course, it could have easily cost $120 to $160 per person. The three out-of-town students put it on for free, and travelled to Los Angeles at their own expense too! The program was additionally beneficial because of their knowledge of Theosophy and theosophical group dynamics.

Some of the areas covered included recognizing communication problems, overcoming behavioral barriers to shared meaning, active listening feedback, steps in giving feedback, and developing group guidelines.

Although the ULT Lodge is located in a bad part of town, a security guard had been hired to watch cars and activities outside the building while the meeting was being held.

The building itself is two-stories, and has several rooms, meeting halls, including a large auditorium that can seat hundreds, and several libraries. It is of older construction, but has been kept up well. Our group met in a small, cozy room on the second floor, with sofas and nicer chairs — and most importantly a coffee machine!

We were somewhat uncomfortable, but after only a few minutes, after having participated in an "ice breaker," there was a warm, relaxed, friendly atmosphere, and we all felt a peaceful sense of brotherhood.

There was too much gone over to discuss in a short article. Taking but one area of discussion, I'll list the group guidelines that were arrived at. This is something that each group needs to freshly originate in a meeting, or at the start of a series of meetings, rather that something that can effectively be externally imposed by others who have thought these things through. This is because the members of the current group need to go through the process of formulating the guidelines, so that they both clearly understand and strongly believe in the guidelines they come up with.

The guidelines:

Everyone gets a chance to speak. No one talks too long; keep one's comments to a maximum of two minutes. Try to keep focused on the topic at hand. Hands are raised when you want to speak so that the group is aware of everyone wanting to speak. Defer the floor to someone who hasn't spoken in a long time, if you see their hand up. Jot down a note or two on the idea you want to say, so you don't have to rehearse your comments in your mind, crowding out what the person currently speaking is saying.

In talking, avoid putdowns. Don't attack people. Say what you think, but respect others. Try to start talking with your main point, and save the less important supporting arguments to later in your comments, so that if someone cuts in with another comment, you don't have to say "I need to keep talking, I haven't gotten to my main point yet."

When answering questions, keep the answer brief and responsive, keep focused, don't go off on tangents or lecture on unrelated points. Clarify the question, repeat what you understand was said, both so the person asking the question knows you understand it and so others in the room who may not hear the question can hear it from you. Be truthful in saying "I don't know," or "I'm not sure," if that's the case; don't pretend to know what you don't. After answering the question, ask the person "Did I answer you?"

The group could summarize ideas as the meeting progressed, perhaps noting them on large sheets of paper on the wall. The leadership of the meeting should be shared. Someone might run the *content* of the meeting, putting on or coordinating the study program, while someone else might monitor the *process* of the group, making sure everyone gets to speak, the group stays on topic, and other related tasks of hosting a healthy discussion or study class. There might be several people acting as process monitor during the meeting, perhaps taking 20 or 30 minute shifts.

The meeting brought to our attention how there are things that can be done in different and creative ways, things that allow for the creation of a strong sense of community and universal brotherhood, things that both bring a "spiritual sparkle" to a meeting as well as enhance the intellectual enthusiasm and rigor of the participants. We were left with the hope that there are things we can try that might help turn theosophical meetings into centers of heart-life that people might be attracted to, and benefit from, rather than what many groups have become, akin to a well gone dry, with rope and bucket, but no fresh waters to be found.

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Incorrodible Bronze

by Henry T. Edge

[from The Theosophical Path, August, 1911]

It has frequently been maintained that ancient nations, some of whose art-works remain to us, knew secrets in metallurgy which have been lost and not yet recovered by us; and that in this way they were able to make bronze tools as hard as steel, or harder, to make metals which would not corrode, etc. Where one has a wish to prove that ancient races did not possess such knowledge, there is a conflict between theories and facts, resulting in attempts to find an explanation which will solve the dilemma. But where one has no reason for desiring to represent the ancients as not being so endowed, the facts present no difficulty. On the one hand we have monuments of the hardest stone, elaborately engraved with deep and accurate intaglio. On the other hand we know that many ancient civilizations were of extremely long duration, and that surviving offshoots of these great civilizations show a remarkable skill in many arts and industries. There is an a priori probability that many processes were known which have not yet been rediscovered; and the fact that these architectural and sculptural remains exist merely increases that probability.

With regard to incorruptible bronze, the following, which is condensed from the Journal of the Royal Society of Arts (Britain), is interesting.

Figures of the Buddha are found in the north of Siam in great numbers, on the sites of ancient temples which have been crumbling for centuries, leaving the figures standing amid the forest trees. The interesting thing about these figures is the perfect condition of the bronze after centuries of exposure to tropical suns and rains.

The bronze is called by the natives "samrit" — the perfect or auspicious alloy — and its composition for a long time remained a secret, until, according to the American Consul at Bangkok, a few years ago the formula was discovered in an old Siamese manuscript belonging to the late King of Siam. The following is a translation:

Take twelve ticals (one tical is equal to one half-ounce avoirdupois) weight of pure tin, melt it at a slow fire, avoiding bringing it to red heat. Pour two ticals weight of quicksilver, stir until the latter has become thoroughly absorbed and amalgamated, then cast the mixture in a mold, forming it into a bar. Take one catty in weight (eighty ticals) of refined copper and melt it; then gradually incorporate with it the amalgam, keeping in the meantime the fused mass well stirred. When this has been done, throw into the crucible a sufficient quantity of ashes obtained from the stems of the bua-bok (lotus) creeper so as to cover the molten metal. Remove the dross with an iron ladle. The metal remaining is samrit bronze.

It is surely easy to understand that many such formulas might have been known and never hit upon since. The possibilities in the way of making alloys are endless, especially when it comes to using ingredients or reagents other than metals. It would be strange indeed if an industrious, highly intelligent, and very patient people, working for ages, inspired by enthusiastic motives, should not have discovered many things which are unknown to us whose history is so recent and whose records have been so largely concerned with less peaceful arts.

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Myth of the Masters

by Sy Ginsburg

[based upon an February 20, 1995 posting to theos-l@vnet.net.]

In November 1992, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Miami, the Miami Branch of the Theosophical Society sponsored Expo-92, a metaphysical fair. There were many talks and workshops.

I happened to be giving one on Gurdjieff's teaching, and afterward a young woman came up to me and said that she was visiting Miami but lived in New York City. I asked her how she became interested in these kinds of ideas.

She told me that about 5 years earlier, she was in Doubleday's Book Store (an interesting name) in Manhattan, and that while she was browsing, a book fell off a high shelf and hit her on the head. She bent down and picked it up off the floor. The book was P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous. (For those unfamiliar, this is the text most often used to present Gurdjieff's teaching). She began to read that book and couldn't put it down. She was hooked and has been on her quest ever since. She was ready to be open to ideas of this kind.

Most of you who read this will know the feeling. How many of us have had similar experiences! And how many like stories have we heard! Your own story is probably no less extraordinary.

Of course there are Masters. I don't see them as embarrassing deadweight at all. Jesus was one but he still had to be born and live in a mundane body to accomplish something here. And I'll bet he was subject to many weaknesses of the flesh. That doesn't make him any less a Master. There are often good reasons for advanced beings to take up physical body.

K. Paul deserves much credit for his important research, but if Morya was the Maharajah of Kashmir that doesn't make him any less a Master. And what of those incarnated as Blavatsky, Gurdjieff, others! Who of us is high enough to sit in judgment of the level of attainment of any of these extraordinary beings? And if they smoked, drank, cursed or otherwise behaved badly in terms of our contemporary morality so what. That makes them no less Masters. They are Masters because they have mastered what we seek, and maybe even mastered our hearts. They are further "ahead" on the infinitely long path of return. They leave tracks on the path for us to follow, but we each still need to tread that path ourselves.

If we simply pay attention to the synchronicity all around us, we easily find proof of discrete intelligence guiding us in our quest. The more open we are to this guidance and the more willing we are to serve others in their quest, the more obvious this help is to us.

There is a tradition that esoteric ideas, ideas about consciousness, are intentionally sewn into the fabric of ordinary life by the advanced intelligence that guide us. These ideas are embedded in monuments, in structures, in certain paintings, in certain music, in certain dance, of course in literature. They become mixed with the things of ordinary life. But when we, each of us, begin to sift through and discover them, then further help is given.

I like to collect stories about how people find their way onto the spiritual path. One story is more extraordinary than the next. Mine began when, as a tourist, I visited the Borobudur, the vast Buddhist monument on the island of Java. I didn't know anything about it at the time, didn't know anything about theosophy, didn't know that it symbolized the seven interpenetrating bodies, the lower quaternary and the upper triad. But there was something about it that was unforgettable and it left me with a lasting impression.

Only some years later when I was already a member of the Theosophical Society and saw Geoffrey Hodson's book in which he showed a painting of the permanently stationed angel that he was able to see residing over the Borobudur, did I begin to understand a little about this. There's more to the story, but I'll stop here.

Contents


Theosophical Directions

by Nancy B. Conley

[based an October 29, 1998 posting to act-l@vnet.net.]

In my most humble opinion, without a public events program which in some way, consistently includes Theosophical Forums/Issues, and a local organization which is structured so as to accommodate (to a degree), new members, we will not be successful bringing in new members. New Age programs bring in new age enthusiasts as opposed to theosophical enthusiasts.

In the dozen years I've spent with the Theosophical Society in Oakland, I have yet to see a member join because of public programming reflective of theosophical perspectives.

It seems to always be peripheral issues, which may be the result of presenting ourselves as an umbrella group which embraces many philosophies as opposed to a group which has their own philosophy and also respects the paths of others.

It appears to me that the current plan for theosophical groups in the absence of good leadership and/or momentum towards a grass-roots revival, is to find "cutsy" academic ways of playing with words so as to make the teachings sound as though they are coming from this era, but as it is done by folks who tend to be academically oriented as opposed to metaphysically oriented, I believe the real value of the teachings is being lost.

Further, these would be metaphysicians rely on their academic experience to rewrite these teachings and seem almost deliberately to word things in such a round about verbose manner as to ensure that everyone reading their restatement of the issues remains in a fog so that they likewise may remain in charge.

The whole problem of relying on a charismatic leader as opposed to finding a way to continue more "circularly" as a less hierarchical group is that one person makes or breaks a group, all the while their guts are sucked out.

If Christianity in general relied upon a second coming of their "Christ" to unify, solidify, and streamline all the Christian factions, what would become of the poor avatar attempting such a task?

The underlying issue being that if we can't find a way of working as a more cohesive group in this day of electronic advantages, and begin to build on our own internal abilities instead of relying on external efforts, we will always be "crippled" in our efforts. Remove all the alleged administrative "bullies" and ask who and how will it be done differently? After all, if the kingdom is within, so are the answers.

Contents


Different Models of Globes, Planes, and Principles

by Eldon Tucker

[based upon a January 3, 1995 posting to theos-l@vnet.net.]

In this note I will discuss some of the differences, as I understand it, between the Besant/Leadbeater [BL] model of the globes, planes, and principles, the Gupta Vidya model as presented by Jerry Schueler [GS] (as I understand it), and the model as I have presented it [ET].

Our physical earth has six invisible companions, each a world in its own right. Including the earth, these seven worlds are called Globes. They are in physical proximity to each other, but being on differing planes, we cannot see the seven at once. The seven together are called the Earth Chain.

Do the Globes have their own higher planes? When we speak of going to the higher planes, are we going to the higher planes of our Globe D earth?

[BL] Each Globe has its own higher planes. [ET/GS] When we go to a higher plane, we are really on another of the Globes; the Globes are the places on the different planes where life can manifest itself.

... each one of these globes comprises or has seven lokas, or 'places', or worlds, or conditions, or states, or kinds, of matter — sub-worlds, if you like; and also seven talas ... these seven lokas on each globe are the fields of action of the ascending sub-waves in the racial cycles ... the various kinds of bodies ... that the race uses ... correspond in texture and senses with the various lokas passed through, and the loka which the evolving entity senses is that particular loka or world correspondent to its bodies.

— Purucker, Fundamentals, 394-5

In addition to the planes of existence, and the Globes of our Earth Chain, there are various principles of consciousness, including thought, desire, and sense perception. How do these principles of consciousness fit in?

[BL/GS] They are bodies on higher planes. Thought, for instance, comes from having a mental body, a body on the mental plane. That body is our mind. [ET] They are the basic ingredients of consciousness, of fully manifesting our lives in a world. We take on all seven principles when coming into existence on any one of the Globes, like the earth.

The seven principles are not vehicles. They are not sheaths. ... They are principles when looked at from one point of view and elements when looked at from some other point of view. The vehicles, on the other hand, are aggregated centers or focuses or vortices in which the respective egos live, but these vortices, focuses, are in each case themselves all composed of the seven principles or elements.

— Purucker, Dialogues, II, 337

When do we visit the different Globes? How to we come into existence on them and experience life on these different earth worlds?

[BL/ET] We come into birth on any of the Globes through the natural process of taking on a body and existence; except for the Masters and exceptional individuals, we are not embodied on the other Globes. [GS] We have already-existing bodies on the Globes, and experience different kinds of consciousness through their activities, including dream consciousness through our Globe C & E bodies, etc.

[BL] In dreams, deep sleep, and in our typical visits to higher planes, we are still on Globe D, on its higher planes. [GS] Dreams are through visiting certain higher Globes, deep sleep through still higher Globes, and so on. [ET] In sleep, death, and Initiation, we pass through the higher Globes, but don't come into full existence on them; we only take on the higher principles on these globes, but not all the principles through sense perception and a physical body.

... after the death on Earth the Monad passes to Globe E and there is a reimbodiment short or long as the case may be there. Then it passes to Globe F where the same thing takes place, governed by generally identic laws. Then it passes to Globe G ...

— Purucker, Dialogues, III, 248

We also read of different Egos or centers of consciousness within us that we have developed. What are they?

[BL] They are the bodies that we have developed on the different planes. [GS] They are associated with the bodies that we have developed on the different planes, with each Ego associated with a different Globe of the Earth Chain. [ET] They are different persistent centers of consciousness that we have developed, with our having a different human Ego evolved from within for each of the Globes that we visit, all different expressions of the spiritual Ego, which expresses itself through them.

Contents


Women in the Theosophical Movement, Part 1

by James Santucci

[Originally published in Explorations: Journal for Adventurous Thought, vol. 9, no. 1, (Fall, 1990)]

Introduction

It goes without saying that Mary Farrell Bednarowski, in her article, "Outside the Mainstream: Women's Religion and Women Religious Leaders in Nineteenth-Century America,"[1] deserves credit for drawing scholars' attention to the high status of women in nineteenth century non-mainstream religious movements. Four of those are the subject of her research: Shakerism, Spiritualism, Christian Science, and Theosophy. In her attempt to answer the question of why women were and are more successful in such groups, four possibilities were suggested:

  1. a reinterpretation of the Christian theological positions by de-emphasizing the Divine Being's masculine traits and gender and
  2. by de-emphasizing or denying the Doctrine of the Fall;
  3. a rejection of the role of an ordained clergy;
  4. an expansion of the role of women in society beyond marriage and motherhood.

There is a problem, however, in ascertaining just what the proper role these characteristics play in the movements in question. Do they explain both the cause and effect of the status of women or just the effect? If only the effect, then what is the cause? The author is correct in seeing this as a "chicken-and-egg" problem, but what is apparently evident regarding the Theosophical Movement is the fact that there is no overwhelming evidence that the position of women was somehow defined by the first three characteristics given by Dr. Bednarowski.

The fourth characteristic — women's expanding roles in society — is another story however: their expanded roles in the United States began to evolve and develop many decades prior to these religious movements.[2] Consequently, such a development will help to explain the activism of one prominent woman theosophical leader at the inception of the twentieth century. In general, however, these four are not particularly well-suited in explaining the role of women in Theosophy due to its international flavor; the position of women therefore requires further inquiry and clarification.

A number of questions arise when comparing 'Theosophy' with Dr. Bednarowski's thesis. First, what does she mean by Theosophy? Second, if she is concerned with American women leaders, why does she mention two women who are not products of American culture: a Russian-born, albeit naturalized American citizen in her later years (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky) and a British-born woman who spent most of her later years in India (Annie Besant)? Thirdly, just what are the historical facts concerning the role of women leaders in the Theosophical Movement?

Regarding the first question, the term Theosophy is often used in a rather nebulous manner. Many commentators, including Dr. Bednarowski, connote the term with a specific organization: the Theosophical Society, headquartered in Adyar, India. This is all well and good, but it fails to take into account the many dimensions of the Theosophical Movement. As I understand the term, Theosophical Movement carries with it two connotations: those theosophical societies that view Helena Blavatsky as the main inspiration and genetrix of 'modern' Theosophy as defined and formulated in her enormous literary output, especially those books that stand out as masterpieces of occult lore, Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine[3]; secondly, what may be termed Pre-Blavatskian Theosophy or Pre-Modern Theosophy.

Modern Theosophy not only includes the Theosophical Society, the parent society founded in New York in the year 1875 (the international headquarters established at Adyar in 1882) by Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others; it also includes other organizations that ultimately derive from this Society. In 1895, William Q. Judge, the vice-president of the Adyar Society, withdrew his American Section from the Society and established the Theosophical Society in America. After Judge's death in 1896, Katherine Tingley assumed leadership that same year and renamed the Society the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society. Shortly thereafter, in 1898, a break away group from the Syracuse (N.Y.) Lodge of Judge's, now Tingley's, Society under the leadership of William H. Dower and Mrs. Francia A. LaDue formed the Temple of the People, which is now located in Halcyon, not far from Pismo Beach, California.[4]

Two other groups developed from Mrs. Tingley's Society in that same year: the Theosophical Society founded by Ernest T. Hargrove, the former President of the Theosophical Society in America who disputed Mrs. Tingley's claim to leadership, and the Theosophical Society (Independent, New York), founded by Dr. J.H. Salisbury and Donald Nicholson.[5] In 1909, still another group established in Los Angeles as a reaction to Mrs. Tingley's version of Theosophy was founded by a former member of her Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, Robert Crosbie.[6] At present, The United Lodge, the Theosophical Society (Adyar), and the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) [formerly, The Theosophical Society in America and later the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society] are the three main organizations that follow and disseminate Blavatsky's teachings.[7]

In many of the major articles and books by H.P. Blavatsky, we find innumerable references to a Theosophy that existed prior to her own version of the teaching. This Pre-Modern Theosophy is described by her as the "wisdom of the Ages" taught, preserved and transmitted by such initiates in the ancient world as the Buddha, Jesus, Pythagoras, Patanjali, Plato, Porphyry and Proclus, sustained centuries later by such late Renaissance and early modern philosophers as Giordano Bruno, Jacob Boehme, Paracelsus, Agrippa, abiding in such diverse schools of philosophy as the Greek Mystery Schools, the Vedanta, Neo-Platonism, Taoism, and Cabalism, and embedded in the sacred writings of the great historical religions of the world.[8] Blavatsky's own theosophical ancestry, she claimed, was derived from these sources and disclosed to the modern world with the help of two spiritually advanced 'Masters' or 'Mahatmas' who made her their special disciple or 'chela'.

To answer the first question, 'Theosophy' or 'Theosophical Movement' will carry the restricted connotation that Dr. Bednarowski gives it, except that I will include not only the Theosophical Society (Adyar) but also the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). Since the United Lodge of Theosophists follows a policy of complete anonymity for both its members and leaders, there is insufficient information concerning its organization.

Turning now to the second question, that of including women who were neither raised in nor representative of American culture, Dr. Bednarowski ignored the fact that although the Theosophical Society was founded on American soil, it soon became international in scope. Aside from its founding President, Henry Steel Olcott, none of its subsequent leaders were American. This was not the case of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). Because it is descended from the American Section of the Adyar T.S., its membership is more American and its leadership has been and remains exclusively American. Mindful of the fact that any discussion on Modern Theosophy cannot ignore the largest Theosophical Society, the Adyar T.S., this article therefore cannot limit its discussion solely to American women leaders but rather those leaders, American or not, who helped define a modern Movement that has had considerable impact on the religious life of the United States and abroad: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and Katherine Tingley.

Lastly, the third question that was raised, the historical circumstances surrounding the role of women leaders in the Theosophical Movement, will be discussed in the remainder of this essay: first, by reviewing the origins of the Theosophical Society and its objects prior to the schism in 1895; second, by reviewing the role and contributions of the three leaders of both Societies.

The Theosophical Society

The impetus surrounding the Theosophical Society's formation serves as a telling comment on the reason for its origin. On the evening of September 8, 1875, a Civil War veteran and mechanical and civil engineer[9] by the name of George Henry Felt delivered a lecture on "The Lost Canon of Proportion of the Egyptians." According to accounts of the lecture from those present as well as a Prospectus of the manuscript on which the lecture was based, he claimed to have "discovered the true geometrical system of the Egyptians, the long-lost and eagerly sought for key wherewith Egypt unlocked the mysteries of Nature and Art." [10] Somehow connected to the geometrical system of the Egyptians was the accompanying discovery of elemental or original spirits that could be conjured and even controlled by the Egyptian initiate priests.[11]

These claims, especially the theurgic claim of Felt's, induced Olcott [12] to suggest the establishment of a society devoted to the "study and elucidation" [13] of occultism, the Kaballa (Cabala), and related topics. The by-laws that were composed shortly thereafter [l4] reflect this interest in its statement on the objects of the newly formed Theosophical Society: "to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the universe." These events suggest two conclusions:

  1. Olcott appears to have been more interested in the subordinate issue of the theurgic claims of Felt rather than his more substantial philosophical and mathematical presentation of the "Law of Proportions";
  2. the society was founded on the premise that it be an investigative society, not a religious body.

The first observation is important because it suggests one of the two overriding approaches to the 'hidden laws of nature', the occult, that drew individuals into the Theosophical Movement in general. The first and perhaps historically the more popular of the two may be termed the 'technological', 'phenomenal', manipulative' employment of the occult: that is, the attempt to demonstrate the reality of the occult in much the same way that Felt promised to do so in his initial presentation.[15] The second, which might be termed 'theoretical' or 'philosophical' Theosophy, sought to decipher, decode, and unravel the hidden laws of the cosmos as well as its underlying essence. To a considerable degree, Madame Blavatsky herself reflected both attitudes, especially in her early writings, before becoming preponderantly theoretical in her later work. The Adyar Society during the years of Mrs. Besant's Presidency, however, moved in the opposite direction by emphasizing 'technological' Theosophy. This explains in large part the Neo-Theosophy of C.W. Leadbeater and Mrs. Besant and the inclusion of the Liberal Catholic Church and the Krishnamurti messianic movement into the Society.

The second observation given above is strikingly reminiscent of a body of like-minded individuals intent on investigating a particular object, in this case the occult. Thus it took on the semblance, at least at the time of its inception, of an organization not unlike that of the subsequent Society of Psychical Research.[16] Furthermore, the structure of the by-laws were in all probability modeled after those of a private male social club not unlike the one in which Olcott himself was a member, the Lotus Club of New York. This early phase of the Society, however, was short-lived. The Society took on more of a philosophical, or better, an ideological rather than a scientific stance reflecting another institution that was male dominated, Freemasonry. A review of the origins of the Theosophical Society does not warrant the assumption that women were attracted to the Society at its inception because of the doctrine of Brotherhood. This teaching was obviously non-existent; furthermore, a stated above, the Society reflected the organization and attitude of an exclusively male institution. The question remains, then, as to what induced women to join prior to the introduction of the notion of Brotherhood as an object of the Society.

Women in the Theosophical Society

The object of the Society that was quoted by Dr. Bednarowski as a principal factor in attracting women to the Adyar Society received its final revision in 1896, twenty-one years after the Society's inauguration. It reads as follows:

To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.

Although introduced a few years after the Society was founded, it has since developed into the single most important object of the Society. Its origins, however, are not as clear as one would expect. It appears that the first mention of 'Brotherhood' appears in an information sheet entitled "The Theosophical Society: Its Origin, Plan and Aims". Composed in early 1878 and ready for distribution on May 3rd of that year, the principal author of the circular, Henry Steel Olcott, wrote that one of the objects of the Society, indeed its main object, was

to aid in the institution of a Brotherhood of Humanity wherein all good and pure men, of every race, shall recognize each other as the equal effects (upon this planet) of one Uncreated, Universal, Infinite, and Everlasting Cause. [17]

By early 1879, the title of the Society was known as "The Theosophical Society or Universal Brotherhood" with one of its objects being "to promote a feeling of brotherhood among nations."[18] Such an interest arose, at least partially, with the establishment of an alliance with the Arya Samaj, a Neo-Hindu organization established in 1875 by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati that considered the Veda the fount of Truth.[19] The alliance of a Western religio-philosophical organization with an Indian non-Christian and even anti-Christian society would be regarded with acrimony at the time.[20] Consequently, it is little wonder that a related object listed in the 1879 Rules was "to oppose and counteract bigotry in every form, whether as an intolerant religious sectarianism or belief in miracles or anything supernatural." Three revisions of the rules took place over the next three years [21] with the last, in early 1882, serving as the direct antecedent to the final 1896 revision: "to form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, or colour." [22] The penultimate revision took place in 1888 adding to the above "without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour." [23] What the immediate cause was to induce the authors to expand the list is not clear, but there can be no doubt that with the internationalization of the Society in terms of general membership came a growing awareness of the importance of universal applicability of the idea of equality. This growing awareness is further reflected in the revision of this object. Furthermore, there seems to have occurred a cross-fertilization of the general theme of equality in the works of Edward Bellamy, especially his best-selling utopian novel, Looking Backward. The publication of this book in 1887, advocating a cooperative rather than a competitive society, in other words a version of Socialism, induced many theosophists to consider him a true theosophist. Although not a member of the Society[24], his works, including "The Blindman's World" and "To Whom This May Come", not only caused considerable excitement In the theosophical arena[25] but also induced two theosophists to consider him a true theosophist. Although not a member of the Society [24], his works, including "The Blindman's World" and "To Whom This May Come", not only caused considerable excitement in the theosophical arena [25] but also induced two theosophists, Cyrus Field Willard and Sylvester Baxter, to establish the first Nationalistic Club, with the Nationalist movement subsequently becoming a popular phenomenon in the late 1880's and 90's.[26] Theosophists also dominated the journal of the movement, The Nationalist; in fact, no less a figure than Abner Doubleday, a vice-president and for a short time the President of the T.S., joined a Nationalist Club.[27] The connection of the two organizations was made explicit in the declaration of the Principles of the Nationalist Clubs: "The principle of the Brotherhood of Humanity is one of the eternal truths that govern the world's progress on lines which distinguish human nature from brute nature."[28]

It would be clear that the continued revisions and clarification to the statement on Brotherhood as an object of the T.S. and its emphasis in the Nationalist movement bear out Dr. Bednarowski's contention that it was an important factor in attracting many women to the Society, at least from the mid 1880's on.[29] It is important, however, to keep in mind that Brotherhood was not only a social or egalitarian ideal; it also referred to a fundamental philosophical principle that embodied one very important characteristic of the pre-modern Theosophical Movement, namely, that an interconnectedness existed between the micro- and macro-cosm. This was first expressed in its modern version in the New York Circular of 1978 and was given its classical expression in the third of The Secret Doctrine[30]:

The fundamental identity of all souls with the universal Over-Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul — a spark of the former -through the Cycle of Incarnation (or "Necessity") in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law. . .

The relationship of the divine and the human, therefore, was expressed not through metaphysical terminology but through a term that was made popular by the French Revolution: 'fraternity'. What is of importance is that the metaphysical definition of Brotherhood served as the basis for its sociological expression. Furthermore, the latter cannot be associated with any form of socialism or egalitarianism. As attractive as Bellamy's version of this form of Brotherhood was, Blavatsky made it clear that it was not perfect because of the continued presence of selfishness. Rather, it is in the Christian and Buddhist writings that one witnesses perfect, altruistic equality or socialism.[31] The attraction to Theosophy, therefore, was and is associated with metaphysical and social Brotherhood, not simply the latter as suggested by Bednarowski.

If Brotherhood was an important factor in the recruitment of women members from the mid-1880's on, the motivating factor prior to this period appears to have been Spiritualism, a movement primarily initiated by women and in which they played a very influential role.[32] Modern Spiritualism dates back to 1848 when 'proof' of survival after death was first demonstrated at the Hydesville home of John and Margaret Fox, where their daughters Catherine and Margaretta, devised a means of communicating with a purported spirit. Over the years, Spiritualism had its ups and downs in popularity, but it is clear that during the 1870's it was extremely popular. No less a figure than Alfred R. Wallace, the naturalist who developed a theory of evolution based on natural selection and himself a Spiritualist, estimated that as of 1874 there were from eight to eleven million Spiritualists in the U.S. alone.[33] He also reported that the number of practicing American mediums at the time to be about 200, many of whom were women[34] and most, if not all, of these women to be advocates of women's rights.[35]

Spiritualism afforded women a means of escape from the confines of the home by allowing them to develop their powers of mediumship, a profession that was considered to be decidedly feminine.[36] Keeping in mind that the Theosophical Society arose at least partially out of the Spiritualist Movement, it is little wonder that women were involved from the very beginning. The "formers" of the Society included a number of prominent Spiritualists: Henry J. Newton, the President of the First Society of Spiritualists in New York; Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten and Charles Carleton Massey, both prominent English Spiritualists; and the principal founders, Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott. Furthermore, the number of women in the Theosophical Society from 1875 to the end of 1876, at a time when it was fairly elitist in makeup, is significant. Of the 85 members admitted, 17 were women, a significant representation at the time.

[Concluded]

Notes

  1. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, XLVIII/2 (June, 1980): 207-231.

  2. Degler, Carl N. At Odds: Women and the Family in America From the Revolution to the Present, (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980).

  3. I am mindful that the letters of the Masters of Wisdom (the Mahatmas) to A.P. Sinnett, an early theosophical writer and leader, and the writings of William Q. Judge have an important place in Modern Theosophy, but the writings of Blavatsky are universally accepted and studied, which is not necessarily the case for the above. The publications in question are The Mahatma Letters[21], transcribed, compiled, and within an introduction by A.T. Barker (London: Rider and Company, 1926) and W.Q. Judge's The Ocean of Theosophy (Pasadena, CA.: Theosophical University Press, 1964).

  4. Hine, Robert V., California's Utopian Colonies, (Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press, 1983): 53. [Originally published in 1953.] Anonymous, The Theosophical Movement: 1875-1950 (Los Angeles: The Cunningham Press, 1951): 302; Bruce Campbell, Ancient Wisdom Revived: A History of the Theosophical Movement (Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press, 1980): 158.

  5. The Theosophical Movement: 270f., 279-280, 302; Ancient Wisdom Revived: 135-36; Emmett A. Greenwalt, California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897-1942, Second edition (San Diego, CA.: Point Loma Publications, Inc., 1978):

  6. Crosbie was a Boston Theosophist who left the headquarters of the Universal Brotherhood at Point Loma in 1904. See The Theosophical Movement: 316f.

  7. Other societies that are or were directly related to Modern Theosophy include The Independent Theosophical Society of America (Chicago), founded by Celestia Root Lang in 1914 and the Blavatsky Association (London), which boasted several prominent former members of the Adyar T.S., including Alice Leighton Cleather and William Kingsland. See the O.E. Library Critic (Washington, D.C.), vol. 14, no. 18: 4. There are also a number of organizations that have expanded or built upon Blavatsky's Theosophy and so deserve to be placed in the Theosophical Movement: the Quest Society (London) founded in 1913 by G.R.S. Mead, the Arcane School of Alice Bailey, and Carl Louis van Grasshopf's (aka Max Heindel) Rosicrucian Fellowship, which is presently located in Oceanside, California.

  8. For sources see James A. Santucci, Theosophy and the Theosophical Society (London: The Theosophical History Center, 1987): 2 and accompanying notes.

  9. According to his death certificate, Felt was a mechanical engineer; in the 1895-6 Manhattan city telephone directory, he is listed as a civil engineer.

  10. The manuscript containing the result of this research was supposed to have been published in the form of a rather large tome by the publisher J.W. Bouton under the title The Kaballah of the Egyptians and the Greek Canon of Proportion. Judging from some of the comments contained in the Prospectus, it was eagerly awaited because of the rather exciting discoveries thought to have been contained therein. For some reason, the manuscript was never published and is nowhere to be found.

    Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves, volume I (New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1895): 126-131. Therein is reproduced a letter of George Felt to the London Spiritualist dated June 19, 1878 that details his version of the lecture and circumstances surrounding it.

  11. This is the accepted version of the foundation of the Society. Twenty years after its formation, another member of the original group who was present at the meeting where it was proposed, Henry J. Newton, suggested that he, Newton, was the individual responsible for proposing its formation. This is detailed in "The Real Origin of the Theosophical Society" by Questor Vitae in Light (November 23, 1895: 569 and continued in the November 30, 1895 issue: 577). Still another version was related by Mrs. Besant in her "Speeding the Message", Lucifer (London), vol. 12, no. 68 (April 15, 1893): 105 "She [H.P.B.] told me herself how her Master bade her found it [the T.S.], and how at His bidding she wrote the suggestion of starting it on a slip of paper and gave it to W.Q. Judge to pass to Colonel Olcott. . .'

  12. Minutes of the September 8, 1875 meeting.

  13. "Preamble and By-Laws of the Theosophical Society" (October 30, 1875).

  14. In the Preamble of the "Preamble and By-Laws of the Theosophical Society", this is emphasized: The title of the Theosophical Society explains the objects and desires of its founders: they seek "to obtain knowledge of the nature and attributes of the Supreme Power and of the higher spirits by the aid of physical processes." In other words, they hope, that by going deeper than modern science has hitherto done, into the esoteric philosophies of ancient times, they may be enabled to obtain, for themselves and other investigators, proof of the existence of an "unseen Universe," the nature of its inhabitants, if such there be, and laws which govern them and their relations with mankind. (5)

  15. This is reflected in Olcott's early fascination with Spiritualist phenomena. In 1874, he investigated one such case at the Eddy homestead in Chittenden, Vermont and printed his observations in the New York Daily Graphic in a series of articles that first appeared in the September 29, 1874 edition. A subsequent publication originated from these articles, entitled People from the Other World (Rutlan, Vermont Charles E. Tuttle, 1972.

  16. The circular is printed in H.P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings: 1874-1878, volume one, edited by Boris de Zirkoff (Wheaton, IL.: The Theosophical Press, 1966): 375.

  17. "The Theosophical Society: Address delivered by Col. H.S Olcott, President Theosophical Society, At the Framji Cowasji Hall, Bombay on March 23rd, 1879 Together with the Rules of the Society (Bombay: Printed at the Industrial Press, 1879). The object quoted appears in Section VIII.e (p. iii).

  18. On the association of the T.S. with the Arya Samaj, see Michael Gomes, The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement (Wheaton, IL.: The Theosophical Printing House [Quest Book], 1987): 13, 162-169. See also Mary Neff, Personal Memoirs of H.P. Blavatsky (Wheaton, 111. The Theosophical Publishing House, 1967 [a Quest Book; first published in 1937]: 260.

  19. See "The Arya Samaj" by Helena P. Blavatsky, in H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, 1: 379-384 [originally published in the June 2, 1878 issue of the New York Echo].

  20. In 1880, the third object of the T.S. was "to gradually form the nucleus of a Brotherhood of Humanity, or Universal Brotherhood, of which each member joining might in time of need and according to his deserts, be helped by all and help in his turn, as a brother would another brother" ("The Theosophical Society: The Revised Rules of the Society" [Bombay, 1880]). On February 17, 1881, the first object was "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." ("The Rules of the Theosophical Society" [Allahabad: Pioneer Press, 1881].

  21. "A Report of the Proceedings of a Public Meeting Held at the Framji Cowasji Institute, Bombay, on the 12th of January, 1882 to celebrate the Sixth Anniversary of the Theosophical Society" (Bombay, 1882).

  22. Underline mine. Supplement to the Theosophist: General Report of the Thirteenth Convention and Anniversary of the Theosophical Society.

  23. Arthur E. Morgan, The Philosophy of Edward Bellamy (New York: King's Crown Press, 1945). The author does mention that Bellamy's brother, Charles, was a member (p. 33).

  24. Ibid., 29-33.

  25. Jackson, Carl T. The Oriental Religion and American Thought: Nineteenth-Century Explorations (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981 [Contributions in American Studies, Number 55]: 172.

  26. Ibid.; Walter La Feber and Richard Polenberg, The American Century (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1975): 14. Compare too H.P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (Pasadena, CA.: Theosophical University Press, 1972) [reprint of the original edition of 1889]: 44-5.

  27. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy: 45. Blavatsky stressed the similarities of the T.S. and the Nationalists in very explicit terms. Reference is also made in The Theosophical Movement: 76.

  28. It may not have been an important factor in Katherine Tingley's decision in joining the T.S. as will be shown below. It certainly was for Annie Besant, however.

  29. H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy. Two volumes in one (Los Angeles: The Theosophy Company, 1974 [originally published in 1888]): 17.

  30. H.P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy: 44, 79.

  31. R. Laurence Moore, "The Spiritualist Medium: A Study of Female Professionalism in Victorian America", American Quarterly, XXVII/2 (May, 1975): 200-221. My thanks to Karen Lystra for bringing this article to my attention. One recent publication on the subject is Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in the Nineteenth-Century America by Anne Braude (New York: Beacon Press, 1989).

  32. "A Defense of Modern Spiritualism", Religio-Philosophical Journal (July 18, 1874): 1 (reprinted from the London Fortnightly Review, May, 1874). This figure was based on the opinion of Judge John Edmonds, a former Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court. Wallace also added that most Spiritualists were not members of Spiritualist organizations; they were, rather, mainline Christians. Of the Spiritualist organizations, Wallace reported that as of 1870, there were 20 State Associations, and 105 Societies of Spiritualists.

  33. Bednarowski (215) mentions the Banner of Light (April 15, 1876) printing a list of about 300 mediums, 127 of which were women.

  34. Braude, Anne. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989).

  35. Moore, "The Spiritualist Medium": 202f. Many Spiritualists were even antagonistic to marriage and the family (Bednarowski: 215-6), most likely contributing to the increased number of divorces in the 1870's and 1880's (Dealer, At Odds: 166). The Decline and Fall of Feminism in America (Chicago, 1969) and quoted in Degler: 326f.
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Cycles in the Universe and the Harmonics Theory

by Ray Tomes

Coming from a scientific background and working in computers it was not surprising that I became involved in making computer models to try and predict future economic trends for businesses so that they might better plans things. However it was not at all obvious where this would eventually lead and that it would bring together interests in cosmology and the theory of music as well and eventually re-awaken an interest in things more esoteric.

My computer models used mathematical techniques to try and use the present state of the economy, seen as a dynamic system, to predict the momentum of its movement forward. What was clear in my analysis was that there where definitely cycles present and that seeing things in this physical way could help to explain that. Because cycles kept jumping out of my data at me I began to look for them in ernest and found that cycles of 4.45, 5.9, 7.15 and about 8.9 years were present in many economic variables. I used these successfully for a while before noticing that all of these periods were almost exactly fractions of a period of 35.6 years. That was interesting because other cycles that were subsequently found also tended to fit the pattern.

Then I realized that these four periods were related as frequencies in the proportions 4:5:6:8 and that this was exactly the proportion of frequencies in a major chord in music! Also, some shorter period cycles that were found in commodity prices had the same frequency relationship to each other as all the white notes on the piano plus a couple of black notes.

At the time I thought this was too weird to tell people about in case they thought I was a crazy. Then I learned of the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and made a visit to their offices in the US. There in print were the discoveries of Edward Dewey who had reported cycles based on multiples and fractions of 17.75 years and including 35.5, 8.88, 5.92 and 4.44 years. His ratios were mainly 2 and 3, exactly as found in music as discovered by Pythagoras thousands of years ago.

Dewey had used different data, from different times and different countries but found the same cycles present. Like me, but before me, he had also suspected a connection to cosmic cycles. I had long noticed that Jupiter's period around the Sun of 11.86 years was accurately 1/3 of my 35.6 year period.

Over the following years I gradually found out about longer cycles and realized that the pattern went on to longer and longer periods and was a universal law. After several false starts I found the means by which to calculate, from a very simple axiom, the whole pattern of cycles that were found. That axiom is:

The universe began as a single wave which, because of a non-linearity in the wave equation, produces harmonics, and each of these produced harmonics does the same.

A harmonic simply means a cycle that has a frequency that is a multiple of the original, or a period that is an exact fraction.

When the maths of this axiom are fully developed it produces not only the major chord of music, but also the whole scale including the extra subtle notes found in Indian music and indicates the importance of numbers such as 12 and 24 and other proportions found in ancient ideas including astrology and many religions.

More than that, it predicted that very strong harmonics should occur at ratios near powers of 34560 from the size of the universe. When we take the size of the universe and divide repeatedly by 34560 then the resulting values turn out to be good estimates for the distances between galaxies, stars, planets, moons, ... cells, atoms, nucleons and maybe quarks. The predicted sizes of atoms and nucleons are within a few percent of the observed sizes.

The predicted pattern fitted accurately with many things, from geological cycles of many millions of years and the quantisation of galaxy redshifts to the commonness of isotopes and even the correct predicion of a new atomic particle in 1994.

What this shows is that everything that exists in the universe is a harmonic of a single universal wave and that there is only one law that governs the entire cosmos.

Because harmonics divide both space and time in the same proportions it is not surprising that they also divide other derivatives of these. Velocity is just distance/time and it is also the case that the velocity of various waves follows the same pattern. The speed of light in different substances tend to be musical proportions from the speed of light in vacuum, e.g. in water it is almost exactly 3/4 of in vacuum. Also, the speed of sound makes a similar pattern but at about 1/34560 of the speed of light and the speed of heat is correspondingly slower again.

The density of different states of matter follows 34560^3 ratios because volume is the cube of linear dimension. We find that neutron stars are about 34560^3 or 10^13 more dense than ordinary matter and that the universe as a whole is about (34560^3)^2 less dense.

The three sets of speeds of waves and the various densities began to make me think that perhaps mind and spirit are the more rarified waves that the theory predicts. There would also be many sublevels, because the 34560 ratio is only the strongest ratio but many others of 2, 3, 4, 12 and the musical ratios 3/2, 4/3, 9/8 etc occur. This seems like it might well fit to the theosophical ideas concerning the planes of existence and the divisions of these into matter-mind-spirit and further subdivisions to subtle body and sublevels of mind and so on.

It was clear to me that a single medium, or ether, could be understood to underlie all phenomena. Although the idea of the ether was abandoned in science during this century I began to understand that the reasons for this were based on very subtle logical mistakes. Correction of these mistakes could allow gravity and electromagnetism to be understood as aspects of the same thing and to begin to unify physics and even indicate how physics and spirituality might coexist.

Having got connected to internet in 1994 I found that there existed other people who were thinking along similar lines concerning an ether and physics ideas. The only other material that I have found relating to the harmonics theory are ancient ones, such as Hindu, Buddhist and some other cultures. Internet is a wonderful tool for tiny percentages of the population to find each other and carry on a dialog.

In 1997, with a friend in the US, we organized a conference to discuss various ideas in fundamental physics and cosmology that were outside the main stream and revisiting the ideas that we considered where abandoned through errors that were made earlier this century. I manage several discussion groups and web rings concerning these matters and have lots of material on the web relating to cycles.

This year I learned vipassana meditation (the technique discovered by the Buddha) and experienced at first hand the existence of the subtle body and eventually the waves that pass through us all the time. I also joined the local Theosophical Society and have begun to read the material available and to see that my ideas make many connections with theosophical knowledge.

My personal home page and has material relating to cycles and physics is at:

Page (http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/users/rtomes/rt-home.htm)

The story of the harmonics theory in greater detail is at:

Page (http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/users/rtomes/st201.htm)

The home page for the cycles email list for matters relating to cycles in anything and everything:

Page (http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/users/af/cyc.htm)

The home page for the Alexandria eGroup list which discusses ancient and modern ideas combining science, music, history and spirituality.

Page (http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/users/af/alex.htm)

The Boundaries of Science web ring which is a set of sites concerned with expanding the base of science into new areas, including some with an understanding of the spiritual is:

Page (http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/users/af/scienceb.htm)

The Alexandria Foundation which co-ordinates a number of these activities including the above mentioned conference.

Page (http://www.kcbbs.gen.nz/users/af/alexand.htm)

And information about Vipassana meditation and its rapid growth in recent years around the world including sites where courses are available is contained at:

Page (http://www.dhamma.org/)

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How to Spend a Fun Day

by John R. Crocker

[based upon a October 3, 1998 posting to theos-l@vnet.net.]

When an old Indian first agreed to show me a few things about weather, about wind and plants and animals, he told me I needed to learn how to listen. He told me that people had such continually noisy minds that almost no one was able to actually hear anything in the world. He didn't think people actually paid attention to each other, let alone anything else in the world around them. That they were even unable to spend many minutes alone in their own minds ... preferring to have continual noise, TV, radio, stereo, anything in the background rather than be stuck in silence with themselves. That even when they were wide-awake people existed in something resembling a dream state.

So the actual way I was supposed to learn how to listen (and the idea appealed to me because it just sounded so damn creative) was to do what he called "hearing a day" — to go into the mountains, sit under a tree somewhere, and remain wide awake, and motionless, for 24 hours. He bet me I couldn't do it. He also told me not to bother trying to BS him — cause he'd know if I managed to do it. I didn't know what he was talking about — how hard could such a thing be?

I started around noon one day ... after little more than three hours I was almost going nuts. My mind was racing and I came up with a hundred excuses why what I was doing was stupid, and almost just got up and blew the whole thing off. After four or five hours though, things kinda settled down, and I started getting really — well, quiet inside. Started to get a little about what he was talking about. And once I was no longer blurred by my own thoughts, a sort of veil lifted — and I started really noticing the world, to notice the immense number of subtle changes that were happening during the course of the day.

The way the plants changed their mood as evening approached. I watched a hawk hunting field mice. After a while I noticed that the place where I was sitting had accepted my presence ... and things that generally scatter and hide at the approach of humans started accepting me as no more important than part of the tree. Little animals scurried around.

A small herd of deer crossed a path less than 50 feet away — noticing me, but not as a threat. And then I hit the Zone — total silence inside — watched night descend with its own rhythm. I heard the huge transition between day-life and nightlife. In this transition, many animals quieted down at night, and many others awoke. I started feeling a whole global range of sensation — perception became three-dimensional ... the sun didn't "rise and set" ... the earch revolved, and I swear I felt myself sitting on a round globe, and felt its rotation in almost a visceral way.

I heard wind, but not as it affects the sound of rustling leaves, but rather felt it as masses of air moving through the thick atmosphere, like bubbles in a stream.

Almost fell asleep a few times, but managed to stay awake even in the dead of night. Noticed this one place, just before dawn's first approach, when even the night sounds had ceased — and it was totally silent, time seemed to stop. I could not tell where I stopped and the world started. But there was almost a palpable feeling of — well, of a new day gathering itself. And then, before the sky had even begun to lighten, I heard what had to be one of the most remarkable and beautiful sounds in the world: The first chirp of a morning bird. Just one single note in the center of a vast silence. And then all hell broke loose — the next hour felt like someone had turned a computer on, and an immeasurably large operating system was initializing its systems and booting its kernal.

Species after species woke up, started making noises, started interacting with others. The plants changed. The air changed, and when the first ray of sunlight finally hit the side of my face I felt it as a physical object. By the time noon came around, as tired and hungry as I was, it was very difficult to leave. There was so much that was still revealing itself to me — so much about the world, and the life living on it, that I had been so totally unaware of. It felt like I could just sit there for days and still only be understanding but the barest bit of what I had always just taken for granted. That day permanently changed not only my relationship with the natural world — but, as I went about my life, changed how I heard people too.

In fact, the next day, going to work, going out with friends afterwards, I was almost stunned at how very much I had been oblivious to. Noticed that with just a little center of silence inside — the equivalent of an inner "ear" ... that people could not help but expose their entire selves, their true intentions, with every word they spoke — even if the words (as words so often are) were spoken to deliberately mask those very things — from others as well as from themselves. Like there is some wholly different level of life and experience, hidden but very real, that is continually going on underneath modern civilization — indeed, that civilization floats on as a small boat on a large ocean.

My entire judgement of people changed. Some people that I had never noticed I suddenly discovered were aware of this layer. Some that looked wholly unremarkable, upon hearing their voices, I understood to be exceedingly rare and magnificent at heart. Some that seemed weak were suddenly understood to be powerful — others that had great apparent power ... in business, in society ... exposed themselves for being almost hollow inside, like but a few simple words could collapse their entire foundations. Few understood themselves in either direction. There were many brilliant souls who had no idea they were brilliant, and many who were empty and undeveloped inside who thought themselves the greatest thing on earth.

But a few ... a rare few ... were really remarkable. They understood. They knew and acknowledged where their stars shone, and knew and acknowledged where their gems still needed polishing. No one could convince them that they were more than they were — but no one could convince them they were less. And this seemed to have nothing to do with age, class, race, social status or wealth. These few seem to be scattered through the entire vast fabric of humanity, like gemstones sewn randomly into a large quilt.

The other thing that day gave me was an appreciation for religion and philosophy. At the root of all of it, I think, is a person or persons that entered the Silence, and heard the world — heard its enormity, its vastness, its diversity — and tried to put it into words, tried to name it, tried to express it to those who had not heard it in a way that would allow them an entrance into it.

Having heard but the barest fraction of it, I at least won the gift of being able to appreciate those whose listening had extended over years, who had entered it deeply and passed through portal after portal on that interior path, an appreciation for those centuries old traditions that had accumulated the work and insights of countless nameless adventurers in that amazing interiority — as someone who has tried to paint with oils . . . even if they are not particularly good ... can understand the paintings of masters, the skill, the nuances, in an entirely different way.

While followers of traditions, students of those writings, will focus heavily on the knowledge aspect of things ... the founders themselves would never say that the writings — the concepts — have any importance at all in and of themselves. They would never claim that they had done anything other than faintly hint at the actuality of that immensity. They would never try to claim that what they wound up writing and saying was not minuscule in relation to what they did not, and could not say. And were you to ask them how they would want their writings used, I think that most of them would say the following ...

What the Founders Would Say

Do not bother yourselves about understanding the letter of my words, for that is only my own small self, rather try, try with all your heart and soul, to catch the spirit behind them, for that is much bigger than I.

Do not tell me you've memorized countless passages, do not think, with pride, that I care, or would take sides in, some mindless battles over the "real" meaning of my words — my words have no meaning, they are solely intended to suggest an entrance to a world that is the essence of meaning.

Do not tell me you've fully grasped my concepts, tell me you've entered the world in which they were born.

Do not put on a mask of humility in front of me — your humility is nothing but a cross-dressing arrogance.

Do not look at me as a "Master" — I loathe such concepts — they are untrue ... I have seen but a small piece of the truth and immensity of this universe, and understand that I am nothing — but if you crystallize a concept of me as "master" in your mind, that idea — and the entire context it is but a small part of — effectively bars the door to ranges of your own inner awareness required to access the infinite layers of the Real. I am not a Master, and my writings are not the truth. I am someone standing on the side of a road, pointing. Do not look at me. Look at the direction to which I point.

Do not waste time examining the clothes I'm dressed in, or the intricacies of the hand doing the pointing, rather, examine your backpack — make sure you have gathered what you need for the journey, and gotten rid of everything superfluous to it.

Do not get down on your knees in front of me — understanding and honoring me is not the point. Get up on your feet, and walk.

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Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application