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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- October, 1996
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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"Great Theosophists: The Count de St. Germain"
"Second Annual Conference of the Brookings Theosophical Study
Group [ULT]" by A Student
"News from the Australian Theosophical Society" by Darrin Potaka
"Theosophy for Beginners is True Too" by Eldon Tucker
"Forty Years of Occultism" by Alan Bain
"The Source Teachings of Theosophy" by Richard Taylor
"Moving at the Speed of Light" by Eldon Tucker
"Some Comments on Publication of THE MAHATMA LETTERS and the
Esoteric Writings" by Daniel H. Caldwell
"Striking Unfamiliar Ground" by Katherine Tingley
"My First Memory of Joy Mills" by Richard Ihle
"Let Every Man Prove His Own Work" by Mrs. Harry Benjamin
"A Hike in the Woods" by Paul Johnson
They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its
stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the
Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humility;
but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or
that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their
pilgrimage towards its fountainhead.
-- Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL
GREAT THEOSOPHISTS: THE COUNT DE ST. GERMAIN
[reprinted with permission from THEOSOPHY MAGAZINE, November 1938]
One of the most mysterious characters in modern history is the
famous Count de St. Germain, described by his friend Prince Karl
von Hesse as
> one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived, the friend of
> humanity, whose heart was concerned only with the happiness of
Intimate and counselor of Kings and Princes, nemesis of deceptive
ministers, Rosicrucian, Mason, accredited Messenger of the
Masters of Wisdom-the Count de St. Germain worked in Europe for
more than a century, faithfully performing the difficult task
which had been entrusted to him.
The amazing and inscrutable personality in which the Adept known
as St. Germain clothed himself was the outstanding topic of
conversation among the nobility of the eighteenth century.
During the 112 years that he is said to have lived in Europe, he
always presented the appearance of a man about forty-five years
of age. He was of medium height, with a slender, graceful
figure, a captivating smile, and eyes of peculiar beauty. "Oh,
what eyes!" signed the Countess d'Adhemar. "I have never seen
their equal!" He was an extraordinary linguist, speaking French,
German, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and
Swedish without the slightest trace of an accent, and his
knowledge of Sanscrit, Chinese and Arabic showed that he was well
acquainted with the East. His proficiency in music was equally
remarkable. As a violinist he is said to have rivalled Paganini,
while his performances on the harpsichord called forth
enthusiastic applause from Frederick the Great. His ability to
improvise made a great impression on Rameau, who met him in
Venice in 1710. St. Germain was also a composer. One of his
musical compositions was given to Tchaikowsi, Prince Ferdinand
von Lobkowitz inherited a second, while two others, bearing the
dates 1745 and 1760, are the property of the British Museum.
The Count de St. Germain was also a painter of rare ability,
famed for his power to reproduce the original brilliance of
precious stones on canvas. Although he refused to betray his
secret, it was commonly supposed that he produced the effect by
mixing powdered mother-of-pearl with his pigments. He was highly
esteemed as an art critic and was frequently consulted in regard
to the authenticity of paintings.
The prodigious memory of the Count de St. Germain was a constant
source of amazement to his friends. He would merely glance as a
paper, and days afterward repeat its contents without missing a
word. He was ambidextrous, and could write a poem with one hand
while he framed a diplomatic paper with the other. He frequently
read sealed letters without touching them and was known to answer
questions before they had been put into words.
Many of St. Germain's friends had practical proof of his
alchemical knowledge. Casanova relates that one day while
visiting St. Germain in his laboratory, the latter asked for a
silver coin. In a few moments it was returned to Casanova as
pure gold. St. Germain also possessed the secret of melting
several small diamonds into one large stone, an art he learned in
India, he said. While visiting the French Ambassador to The
Hague, he broke up a superb diamond of his own manufacture, the
duplicate of which he had recently sold for 5500 louis d'or. On
another occasion he removed a flaw from a diamond belonging to
Louis XV, increasing the value of the stone by 4000 livres. On
gala occasions he appeared with a diamond ring on every finger
and with shoe-buckles estimated to be worth at least 200,000
The charming personality of the Count de St. Germain made him a
welcome guest in the homes of the nobility of every land. But
while he often sat at table with his friends, his own food was
specially prepared for him in his own apartments. He ate no meat
and drank no wine, his favorite beverage being a tea which he
prepared for certain herbs, and which he frequently presented to
his friends. His extraordinary popularity was due to his prowess
as a raconteur, to his well known intimacy with the greatest men
and women of the day, to his familiarity with occult subjects,
and especially to the mystery of his birth and nationality, which
he consistently refused to reveal. He spoke with feeling of
things which had happened hundreds of years in the past, giving
the impression that he himself had been present. One evening,
while he was recounting an event which had happened many
centuries before, he turned to his butler and asked if any
important details had been omitted. "Monsieur le Comte forgets,"
his butler replied, "that I have been with him only five hundred
years. I could not, therefore, have been present at that
occurrence. It must have been my predecessor." If, as many
claimed, St. Germain affirmed that he had lived in Chaldea and
possessed the secrets of the Egyptian sages, he may have spoken
the truth without making an miraculous claim. There are
Initiates, and not necessarily of the highest, who are able to
recall many of their past lives. This may have been St.
Germain's way of calling attention of his friends to the doctrine
of reincarnation. Or perhaps he knew the secret of "the Elixir
Although no one knew when the Count de St. Germain was born, his
life from 1710 to 1822 is a matter of history. Both Rameau and
the Countess de Georgy met him in Venice in 1710. Fifty years
later the aged Countess met him in Madame Pompadour's house and
asked him if his father had been in Venice that year. "No,
Madame," the Count replied, "but I myself was living in Venice at
the end of the last and the beginning of this century. I had the
honor to pay you court then, and you were kind enough to admire a
little Barcarolle of my composing." The Countess could not
believe her ears. "But if that is true," she gasped, "you must
be at least a hundred years old!" The Count smiled. "That,
Madame, is not impossible!"
In 1723 the Count showed his mother's portrait, which he always
wore on his arm, to the mother of the future Countess de Genlis.
It was a miniature of an exceptionally beautiful woman, dressed
in a costume unfamiliar to the Countess. "To what period does
this costume belong?" the Countess inquired. The Count merely
smiled and changed the subject.
From 1737 to 1742 the Count de St. Germain was living in the
Court of the Shah of Persia, occupied with alchemical research.
On his return from Persia he settled in Versailles and became an
intimate friend of Louis XV and Madame Pompadour. In the
following year he was caught in the Jacobite Revolution in
England. From there he went to Vienna, and afterward visited
Frederick the Great in his castle of Sans-Souci in Potsdam, where
Voltaire was also an honored guest. Although Voltaire was
opposed to St. Germain's fellow-Theosophist Saint-Martin, his
admiration for St. Germain was unbounded. In a letter to
Frederick, Voltaire expressed his opinion that "the Count de St.
Germain is a man who was never born, who will never die, and who
In 1755 the Count de St. Germain accompanied General Clive to
India. On his return to France Louis XV gave him a suite of
apartments in the Royal Chateau of Chambord, in Touraine. Here
he often entertained the King and members of the Court in the
alchemical laboratory with the King had provided for him.
In 1760 Louis sent the Count de St. Germain on a delicate
diplomatic mission to The Hague and London. At that time he
discovered the Duc de Choiseul, who up to that time had been
implicitly trusted by the King, was playing a double game.
Although St. Germain confided this fact to the King, the former
was determined that the Peace Treaty between England and France
should be signed, no matter who received the credit. So one
evening in May, 1761, St. Germain called upon the Duc de
Choiseul and remained closeted with him the whole night. This
conference resulted in the celebrated alliance known as the
Family Compact. This in its turn was the forerunner of the
Treaty of Paris, which brought the colonial war between England
and France to a close.
In the following year St. Germain was called to St. Petersburg,
where he played an important part in the revolution which placed
Catherine the Great upon the throne of Russia. he left the
country in the uniform of a Russian general, with full
credentials to which the imperial seal of Russia was affixed.
Shortly afterward he appeared in Tunis and Leghorn while the
Russian fleet was there, again in Russian uniform, and known
under the name of Graf Saltikoff.
After the death of Louis XV in 1774, St. Germain spent several
years travelling in Germany and Austria. Among the Kings,
Princes, Ambassadors and scholars who met him during those years,
how many suspected that the soul of a great Adept looked out
through the eyes of the Count de St. Germain? How many realized
that they were conversing with an emissary of that Great
Fraternity of Perfected Men who stand behind the scenes of all
the great world-dramas, one who was directly not only the minor
currents of European history, but some of the major currents as
well? How many were aware of St. Germain's real mission, part of
which was the introduction of Theosophical principles into the
various occult fraternities of the day?
The Rosicrucian organizations were certainly helped by him.
While Christian Rosencreuz, the founder of the Order, transmitted
his teachings orally, St. Germain recorded the doctrines in
figures, and one of his exciphered manuscripts became the
property of his staunch friend, Prince Karl von Hesse. H.P.B.
mentions this manuscript in The Secret Doctrine (II, 202) and
quotes at length from another (II, 582). While St. Germain was
living in Vienna he spent much of his time in the Rosicrucian
laboratory on the Landstrasse, and at one time lived in the room
which Leibniz occupied in 1713. St. Germain also worked with
the Fratres Lucis, and with the "Knights and Brothers of Asia"
who studied Rosicrucian and Hermetic science and made the
"philosopher's stone" one of the objects of their research.
Although an effort has been made to eliminate St. Germain's name
from modern Masonic literature, careful research into Masonic
archives will prove that he occupied a prominent position in
eighteenth century Masonry. He acted as a delegate to the
Wilhelmsbad Convention in 1782 and to the great Paris Convention
of 1785. Cadet de Gassicourt described him as a travelling
member of the Knights Templar, and Deschamps says that Cagliostro
was initiated into that Order by St. Germain.
The Count de St. Germain is said to have died on February 27,
1784, and the Church Register of Eckernforde in Danish Holstein
contains the record of his death and burial. But as it happens,
some of St. Germain's most important work was done after that
date. This fact is brought out in the Souvenirs de
Marie-Antoinette, written by one of her ladies-in-waiting, the
Countess d'Adhemar. This diary was started in 1760 and ended in
1821, one year before the death of the Countess, and a large part
of it is concerned with St. Germain's efforts to avert the
horrors of the French Revolution.
Early one Sunday morning in 1788 the Countess was surprised to
receive a visit from the Count de St. Germain, whom she had not
seen in several years. He warned her that a giant conspiracy was
under foot, in which the Encyclopaedists would use the Duc de
Chartres in an effort to overthrow the monarchy, and asked her to
take him to the Queen. When Madame d'Adhemar reported the
conversation to Marie-Antoinette, the Queen confessed that she
also had received another communication from this mysterious
stranger who had protected her with warnings from the day of her
arrival in France. On the following day St. Germain was
admitted into the private quarters of the Queen. "Madame," he
said to her, "for twenty years I was on intimate terms with the
late King, who deigned to listen to me with kindness. He made
use of my poor abilities on several occasions, and I so not think
he regretted giving me his confidence." After warning her of the
serious condition of France, he asked her to communicate his
message to the King and to request the King not to consult with
Maurepas. But the King ignored the warning, and went directly to
Maurepas, who immediately called upon Madame d'Adhemar. In the
midst of the conversation St. Germain appeared. He confronted
Maurepas with his treachery and said to him: "In opposing
yourself to my seeing the monarch, you are losing the monarchy,
for I have but a limited time to give to France. This time over,
I shall not be seen here again, until after three successive
generations have gone down to the grave."
The second warning from St. Germain came on July 14, 1789, when
the Queen was saying farewell to the Duchesse de Polgnac. She
opened the letter and read: "My words have fallen on your ears in
vain, and you have reached the period of which I informed you.
All the Polignacs and their friends are doomed to death. The
Comte d'Artois will perish."
His farewell letter, addressed to Madame d'Adhemar, arrived on
October 5, 1789. "All is lost, Countess!" he wrote. "This sun
is the last which will set on the monarchy. Tomorrow it will
exist no more. My advice has been scorned. Now it is too
late.x" In that letter he asked the Countess to meet with him
early the next morning. In that conversation the Count de St.
Germain informed her that the time when he could have helped
France was past. "I can do nothing now. My hands are tied by
one stronger than myself. The hour of repose is past, and the
decrees of Providence must be fulfilled." He foretold the death
of the Queen, the complete ruin of the Bourbons, the rise of
Napoleon. "And you yourself?" the Countess asked. "I must go to
Sweden," he answered. "A great crime is brewing there, and I am
going to try and prevent it. His Majesty Gustavus III interests
me. He is worth more than his renown." The Countess inquired if
she would see him again. "Five times more," he answered. "Do
not wish for the sixth."
True to his word, the Count de St. Germain appeared to the
Countess d'Adhemar on five different occasions: at the beheading
of the Queen; on the 18th Brumaire; the day following the death
of the Duc d'Enghien in 1804; in January, 1813; on the ever of
the assassination of the Duc de Berri in 1820. Presumably the
sixth time was on the day of her death, in 1822.
What happened to the Count de St. Germain after that date? Did
he, as Andrew Lang asks, "die in the palace of Prince Karl von
Hesse about 1780-85? Did he, on the other hand, escape from the
French prison where Gorsley thought he saw him, during the French
Revolution? Was he known to Lord Lytton about 1860? Who knows?"
Who indeed. One of the Masters spoke of the "benevolent German
Prince from whose house, and in whose presence he (St. Germain)
made his last exit-home."
In the last decade of the eighteenth century St. Germain
confided his future plans to his Austrian friend, Franz Graeffer,
"Tomorrow night I am off. I am much needed in Constantinople,
then in England, there to prepare to new inventions which you
have in the next century-trains and steamboats. Toward the end
of this century I shall disappear out of Europe, and betake
myself to the region of the Himalayas. I will rest; I must rest.
Exactly in 85 years will people again set eyes on me. Farewell.
" (Kleine Wiener Memorien.)
These words were spoken in 1790. Eighty-five years from that
date brings us to 1875. What part did St. Germain play in the
Theosophical Movement of last century? What part is he going to
play in the present century? H.P.B. gave a cryptic suggestion of
the time when he would again appear:
> The Count de St. Germain was certainly the greatest Oriental
> Adept Europe has seen during the last centuries. But Europe knew
> him not. Perchance some may recognize him at the next Terreur,
> which will affect all Europe when it comes, and not one country
Was the event of which she spoke the last great War, or does the
real Terreur still lie before us?
SECOND ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE BROOKINGS THEOSOPHICAL STUDY
By A Student
The Brookings Theosophy Study Group held its second annual
conference during the weekend of August 9-11, 1996. Participants
began to arrive on Wednesday and there was a Television talk show
presentation done on Thursday morning. The station had
originally planned this presentation and call-in session for
about fifteen minutes, but it was extended to almost double that.
The program received a second showing at 10 PM on Thursday.
The primary meeting for the annual get-together was held at 7:30
PM in the Conference Room of the Brookings Best Western
Beachfront Inn. In attendance were students of Theosophy from
Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and
Paradise. In addition, the audience of fifty-five included
numerous enquirers who had heard of the meeting through
newspapers, posters, radio, and television.
Gratitude was expressed for the life and work of William Q.
Judge -- a Great Theosophist -- who passed away 100 years ago,
and an informative biographical sketch of his life and work was
The meeting then went on to acquaint newcomers with the
Fundamental Principles of Theosophy, their value, inspiration and
practicality in the everyday life of Humanity and nature.
The idea of Universal Brotherhood was uppermost in the discussion
of the Fundamentals. We are all ONE -- divine in our innermost
nature -- was the underlying thought followed by questions
related to Karma and Reincarnation. The questions included:
> Why do we seem to experience injustice in the world?
> Is there no accident?
> We reap what we sow; but why don't we remember our past lives?
> Is regression a good practice? Would not feelings of guilt
> overwhelm us?
Ideas were expressed concerning the vision of the soul just after
death and preceding birth. It was said that these visions burn
into the nature a wider view of karmic law so that the involved
soul sees the innate justice and intelligence at work in the
The ancient Pythagorean practice was recommended to the audience:
that we assess our defects, motives and values before going to
sleep at night so that correction can be made.
Suicide was pointed out as a desperate act which has grave karmic
Ecology and over-population were discussed in the light of
Theosophy. Our myopic vision of cycles combined with our lack of
due regard for the creative function, combine to present a
foundation for pessimism, which from a larger perspective has no
foundation. Man's lack of regard for the kingdoms or sheaths in
his immediate control make him likewise irresponsible to
everything surrounding him, whether it be a tree, a dolphin, or a
A Bible-based inquiry regarding our status was expressed. In
answer to this it was mentioned that we are ethereal (spiritual)
beings who take on human form for purposes of raising all nature
to a higher stature of godhood, and that this is what is implied
in the expression, "the fall of the Angels."
There is a progressive development of form and mind in our
evolution, and if we awaken to our divine potential, we will also
awaken to our responsibility to all of life. That is, we will
awaken in the sense of seeing avenues of alleviating work of
which we are capable, avenues which were ignored or simply not
Thus "awakening to one's divinity" is no so much PERSONAL growth
as it is a process of reuniting oneself to the human family and
Mother Earth herself. Thus Occultism or Theosophy is the
renunciation of the fallacious egotism that strangles us from the
cradle to the grave. Give up the soot on the window-pane, and we
will see the light that was always there.
All in attendance came away with renewed trust and determination
to make the future better. The reading of the United Lodge of
Theosophist's Declaration closed the meeting. As the meeting
closed, all present were invited to a 10:30 Brunch on Saturday
followed by a more informal meeting at 12:30.
A follow up meeting was held Saturday, as 12:30 PM. Its purpose
was to find ways and means to further the Three Objects of the
Theosophical Movement in a practical way and to define Peace
The Chair presented the three Fundamental Propositions briefly:
1. One universal Reality -- the core of all being -- the divine in
2. Universal Life, Periodicity and Cycles; the Law of Cause and
Effect, Life is a whole not a part.
3. We are all in it together, the purpose of Life is to learn.
Students were asked to volunteer in giving the Three Objects of
the Theosophical Movement, which are:
1. To form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood of Humanity
without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color;
2. The study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies and
sciences, and the demonstration of the importance of such study;
3. The investigation of the unexplained laws of Nature and the
psychical powers latent in man.
In regard to the First Object and its implementation, the
following thoughts were expressed:
> Recognize that we need to consider others first.
> Practice the Heart Doctrine, feel gratitude for All Life and its
> Examine motive.
> Define ego and EGO and appreciate the distinction.
> Control the lower nature.
> Unconditional giving and helping.
> One of the lessons to learned is that we are not perfect.
> Act from the heart.
> Reference was made to THE BHAGAVAD GITA in regard to giving gifts
> out of season.
> The focus of the group should be on the quality and understanding
> of the nucleus, not on numbers.
Then the question was asked, "What is Perfection?"
We are not complete. We're never perfect, but always perfecting!
Spiritual growth unifies and makes broad and deep one's sense of
the ONE SELF. Matter diversifies, and while needed as a vehicle
of expression, presents the danger of intensified isolation and
selfishness. We have mixed motives. We are a microcosm.
Putting what we know into practice makes it practical.
Some more questions considered:
* If mind is everything why not let mind control us?
It was pointed out that strong line is drawn between man's ego
and EGO -- one being external, the other internal to Mahat; the
one being like a rock with sun shining on it, the other being the
* How do theosophists arrive at the idea that Masters of Wisdom
As to the Masters of Wisdom, the simple logic of evolution, even
from a scholastic standpoint, points in that direction.
The following thoughts and questions were expressed and discussed
in regard to the second object:
The study brings us to a better understanding of Karma. In
understanding the ancients we are understanding the history of
ourselves. Within each of us is a receiver. We have a dual mind
and spiritual body. What is the difference between natural decay
The intention is important. We can pollute with the thinking
principle. Motive is to be examined. All things work under Law,
not by chance or luck.
In regard to the Third Object there were just two ideas
expressed: There is an inter-connection between all natures.
* How do we define peace theosophically?
Various comments were offered in reply to this question:
> Sense of comfort; some level of satisfaction.
> Peace is harmony. Harmony implies diversity.
> Peace has to do with attitude.
> Peace is justice -- justice to ALL.
> Work for Peace wherever we are.
> Peace springs up in the Natural order of things.
> Focus, go within, seek silence.
> Realize there are differences and maintain balance.
> Peace is founded on Eternal Love.
> Recognition of Karma.
> Ideas change the world. Thoughts coalesce with elemental lives.
> The importance of setting up Right Causes.
The meeting was closed with a strong bond of unity among us and a
determination to meet again.
NEWS FROM THE AUSTRALIAN THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
by Darrin Potaka
The Australian Section of the TS now has an email address
(firstname.lastname@example.org) but Blavatsky Lodge still has not moved
much closer to getting a machine installed that can run the
software etc. They have got a couple of old machines there
(XT's) but they really need to do better than that. Maybe early
next year they will. The section is in the process of building a
Web site (which I am involved with, preparing graphics only) but
this, like so many things associated with the Lodge and Section
seem to move painfully slow. Many good ideas seem to get bogged
with committees, or halted for one reason or another.
THEOSOPHY IS FOR BEGINNERS IS TRUE TOO
by Eldon Tucker
After having studied the literature for a number of years, a
theosophical student may come to be dissatisfied with the
exoteric material found therein. The student may hunger for
something more. But what about new students, people only first
coming across the grand ideas of the Esoteric Philosophy?
As an more advanced student, one may forget one's own feeling of
opening vistas that the basic ideas gave one, when as a beginner
one first came to study them. Certainly one knows more now that
one did then, and has passed on to deeper understandings, but
that's *one's personal experience*, not the experience of
For every person that may have studied the basic, most simple
view of the esoteric doctrines, there are perhaps thousands that
are starving for those simple, soul-healing ideas.
For those with the good fortune to have studied the teachings and
benefited from them, they may have moved yet deeper in their
understanding of life. But that "moving yet deeper" is in
stages, and someone new to the philosophy will get nowhere if
they're offered the basic teachings with one hand and hear them
denounced, discredited, and despised with the other. That would
be giving a new student a mixed message that would simply turn
But shouldn't we define Theosophy as a collection of core
teachings, and then present its categories? We could give out
HPB's version, and acknowledge it as exoteric, giving students a
warning that there's much more to it than what we teach?
There's a problem when we say "Here's something to study, but
it's only *exoteric*, for beginners, watered-down stuff, things I
know to be untrue and to have personally risen above, etc."
That's certainly not respectful of the Wisdom Tradition, and
misses the point that the teachings *are true*, but simply
understood in simpler and more basic models at first, and later
understood with growing sophistication and insight.
But isn't HPB's version of Theosophy an exoteric husk? Isn't it
wrong to limit Theosophy to her version? If we did so, wouldn't
that limit the truth seeker to an exoteric shell?
That's not really a problem. From one's personal standpoint, one
may feel HPB's writings to be an exoteric crust over the living
Truth. To a new student, the opposite may be experienced.
There are a few flavors of the basic doctrines, and HPB's is not
the only one. But not all that passes as esoteric wisdom is a
genuine flavor of the Mysteries. There's more fools gold than
the real thing out in the world.
But when teaching Theosophy, what do we do when we want to
discuss things that HPB never mentioned? If she doesn't mention
something, doesn't it suggest it is untrue?
No. The problem is not whether the idea is true or not, but upon
what basis do we present our ideas. We're all entitled to
present our views, whatever they are, if we label them as such.
If we want to suggest that a particular idea we have is found in
Theosophy, we can use direct citations and a scholar approach to
show the connection. Or we can argue the idea from a
philosophical standpoint as being consistent, in accord with, and
integral to what is presented in Theosophy. Or yet again, we can
simply say "this is what I think".
The best approach may be to be moderate in our statements
regarding how "exoteric" the theosophical Teachings might be. We
don't want to seem to be rejecting them out-of-hand and telling
others how clever we are in seeing how untrue they all are!
Especially when we accepted them and valued them highly, as new
students, and can look back in life now and see how they helped
us find our way towards a lifelong path of self-discovery and
service in the world.
FORTY YEARS OF OCCULTISM
by Alan Bain
On April 4th, 1996, I had been involved in matters theosophical
for 40 years.
During that month, while reading a book by Ernest Wood, I was
reminded by his experiences of many of my own, including the
occasion that has enabled me through the years to recall the
precise date and even the approximate hour of my own entry into
the mysterious world of occult philosophy (as Cornelius Agrippa
called it) or theosophy (as we call it).
On the night of 3rd/4th April 1956 I had reached a point in my
life whereby it seemed that I had been given no choice but to
stand firm on matters of spiritual principle -- as it seemed at
the time -- and was in consequence quite alone in the world, with
hardly a single friend, living in a small bedsitter in London.
I was exhausted in the same way as one can be after a "psychic
battle" and more than ready simply to lie down on the bed in my
clothes and fall asleep. But I was afraid. For no reason I
could fathom, hard as I tried to rationalise the matter, I was
filled with a conviction that if I went to sleep I would die.
And I mean die - finished, dead, kaput - no more. The obvious -
the only - means of avoiding this was to remain awake, presumably
forever, though my thoughts did not follow through that far, and
so I tried, tired as I was, not to stay awake, but to prevent
myself falling asleep.
Eventually - about three in the morning - I realised I was not
going to make it, and quite literally resigned myself, reconciled
myself to the fact - yes, fact - of my impending demise. By the
morning would I would have died. I lay on the bed, no longer
fearful, just exhausted and ready as I could be to face the
And so it was that I awoke - rather late on the 4th April - dead.
That is to say that the Alan Bain who lay down on the bed at
three in the morning was gone, complete with phobias,
inadequacies and inhibitions, and a new Alan Bain had emerged,
chrysalis-like, from the shell of the old. Reborn.
Within six months I had worked my way through the rudiments of
Astrology, Theosophy (via Jinarajadasa) and Qabalah (as in Dion
Fortune's "Mystical Qabalah"). Within a year I was heading a
small group of students, mostly around my own age - by then 23 -
which was unusual for those days, as most people seemed to become
interested in such matters in their early forties.
Qabalah, later spelt "Kabbalah" to avoid being confused with the
"magical" variety, became my personal working and teaching
method, and the first draft of my "The Keys to Kabbalah" was
completed in 1970-71. It received its latest redefinition and
extensions last year, 1995.
Like many theosophists since the time of Besant and Leadbeater, I
have been involved with all three of the later manifestations of
the movement: the Liberal Catholic Church (which I find to be
neither liberal nor catholic); Co-Masonry (of limited but some
value, once you have finished playing "Knock knock, who's
there?") and the Adyar-based Theosophical Society.
Like many theosophists I have met, mostly electronically, during
the past year or two, I have come to realise that the real
strength of the occult or theosophical ideal was that, however
imperfectly expressed, by Madame Blavatsky and friends back in
120 years later, some of us, returning (I suspect) to both our
source and our roots, are wondering about starting over, about
ridding ourselves of hierarchical and power structures which seem
to have done as much harm as they have good. Without their
having existed, it is fair to say I would have nothing to write
about today, but I think it is also fair to say that *their* day
is passing, and we truly are moving into a "New Dimension" if not
a "New Age" - no doubt we shall see.
THE SOURCE TEACHINGS OF THEOSOPHY
by Richard Taylor
[Following is a discussion of the source teachings of Theosophy by
Richard Taylor on email@example.com, found in five messages over
September 4 to 9, 1995. The materials have been merged then
reviewed by the author.]
HPB herself gives the idea of "source teachings" and warns
against false prophets within Theosophy giving out their own
warped ideas AS Theosophy itself. No ideas are left out, they
are simply pointed out as LATER than the original stuff. It
doesn't "include certain writers in a select group and leave
No one can deny that HPB and William Q. Judge were among the
Founders of Theosophy in 1875, and THE MAHATMA LETTERS were from
1880-1884. Everything after this is later, and spins off from
the original teachings.
Even as a ULT student, I recognize that my hero Robert Crosbie
(the founder of ULT) is a STUDENT and giving his OWN
understanding of what he learned from HPB and WQJ. His writings
are not SOURCE Theosophy, neither are de Purucker's, neither are
Leadbeater's. We are not playing favorites here, you see, we all
trace our roots to the same place.
With no source teachings, there is no Source, no direction by
which we may approach the Masters and their School except our own
personal wanderings. In fact, we Westerners first learned about
Masters and Theosophy from HPB, and if we ignore her direction
most of us will be really directionless in Theosophy, and leap
from thing to thing, learning very slowly.
Some may say that this is divisive, that it doesn't seem in
keeping with the spirit of theosophy to "find the source within."
But is not divisive, it is unifying. Many of us think some
second-generation writers were real poops and weirdos. But I
recognize that most of what they knew, they learned from HPB and
the Masters. Their ideas can be traced back to the "source
Have you ever come across William Q. Judge and his work? He is
rather practical, but he has one glaring defect in the eyes of
many: he held to the lines laid down by HPB after her death,
while most everyone else went about "developing" the ideas
according to their own likes and dislikes and psychism. Mr.
Judge is extremely practical and humble and readable, but most
T.S. people ignore him because he was declared anathema.
The idea of Source Teachings is not about arrogance or humility.
Source Teachings is an IDEA, and people are the ones who are
arrogant or humble about it. Many people who recognize the TRUTH
of source teachings are very humble.
The philosophy of Theosophy is beautiful when it is understood as
a whole, and not adulterated by later, corrupt teachings which
destroy the laws of analogy, correspondences and the sevenfold
constitution of Man.
With regard to the Masters, and their direct representatives, HPB
and WQJ, there are NO INTERMEDIARIES. No one deserves our
respect because they have written books or have ideas or lived a
century ago. They deserve our respect when they are MORAL,
ACCURATE, and HOLD TO THE LINES LAID DOWN by the Masters.
Failing this, they are poor guides, and certainly not people to
set up as "closer and more familiar to the teachers and the
teaching." We will all come ot know the Masters by following
THEIR teachings and THEIR lines, not any intermediaries.
In my mind, whatever the Masters were silent on, on that we don't
know Their opinion. We can have our OWN opinions, and of course
we do, but we can't in good conscience teach our OWN ideas as the
Masters ideas, and it is important to distinguish that "we see
through a glass darkly" but They see clearly and certainly. I
too have many ideas how Theosophy and Buddhism overlap, but those
are MY ideas, inspired by the teachings, but I can't run around
saying my ideas ARE the original teachings.
I don't see us living today as "third" or "fourth" generation
writers and students, we too are secondary. Nothing stands
between us and the Masters as long as we still have their
original teachings and program. We thinkers and students today
are every bit as important as Mr. Crosbie (ULT), Mr. de Purucker
(Pt. Loma), Besant (Adyar), etc. We too can comment on the
original teachings and come up with our own ideas. We can read
whoever -- primary or secondary -- we want to, but we are not
subordinate to them, we are thinkers in our own right.
A common suggestion is that the Teachings be presented in a form
that can be understood and worked with by the current generation
and culture. Some even ask if the Teachings themselves should
I partially agree and partially disagree. I agree that the
presentation of the teaching need to be in the language of the
people, accessible and understandable. And I agree that that's
our job, to keep the teaching available in that way.
But I don't agree that the Teaching evolves. If Theosophy is
truly "truth" based on facts in nature, then it simply IS and
does not change. However the PRESENTATION of those truths may
vary from culture to culture, time to time.
I don't ever think we will outgrow the original stuff taught by
HPB and William Q. Judge, but I do think their written English
will differ more and more from the spoken and written vernacular
as the decades, and centuries go by.
The question is: how do we keep ourselves based firmly on the
tradition handed down to us -- that tradition of eternal truths
-- while keeping it current, at the same time avoiding the
pitfall of "pandering" to popular prejudices, like and dislikes,
thus altering or losing the essential truths.
It seems to me the only way to prevent this decay is to really
KNOW and MASTER the original stuff, and be able to rephrase it in
our OWN WORDS at any time, differently for every audience
(scientists, scholars, Christians, Buddhists, housewives,
business people, farmers, kids, etc.) Learning the original stuff
well also allows one to spot other people's interpretations and
see of they are on track or not.
Theosophy has material that can be found here and there,
scattered throughout the world's religions, all being tied
together with some new materials. Doesn't that make it a
hodgepodge? HPB quotes Montaigne:
> I have here made only a nosegay of culled flowers, and have
> brought nothing of my own but the string that ties them.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, xivi
From this it might be said that a "nosegay of culled flowers" is,
in a sense, a hodge-podge, and that the "string" that links them
is the real key offered by theosophy.
Some might say this. But as for me: No, no, and again I say no.
Theosophy is a distinct path, it is the practice and study of the
Great lodge through all time, at least if we are correctly
understanding HPB. Theosophy does not teach Buddhism or
Christianity PER SE, but mentions certain aspects of them as
helpful comparisons to what the Masters intended to teach.
The REASON that HPB and her teachers bothered to bring in stuff
from all other religions and cultures was that no one would
bother to study Theosophy in such a skeptical age if it couldn't
be shown to have some objective legitimacy. IF HPB were to say
"just follow this path I show, in 25 years you will be a chela
and understand everything" in 19th century Europe, would a single
person have signed up?
Rather, traces of past Theosophical thinkers and workers needed
to be shown, in every culture, in every epoch. This is the
single greatest mistake newcomers make with Theosophy as well.
They think "synthesis" means "eclectic." It doesn't. (Try a
dictionary if you doubt it.)
A synthesis is harmonizing what truly is from a homogeneous
source. And that is the thesis of the Masters -- all religions
are sprung from a common trunk ("Pre-Vedic Buddhism and
Brahmanism") and must now be made to merge back into their parent
source. The Masters preserve and practice that esoteric parent
source which has existed unchanged through the millenia -- or so
Theosophy is not constructed A POSTERIORI (after the fact) from
bits and pieces that HPB happened to run across. It is a LIVING
tradition among the Adepts, and not a theoretical jargon and
mishmash thrown together just to make the Secret Doctrine
Theosophy is A PRIORI the philosophical study of Nature, its laws
and processes, and it forms the VEHICLE of attaining our highest
natural state. Wherever the Buddhists, Muslims, Christians,
Neo-platonists, Brahmins etc. have been successful in this, HPB
quotes with approval. She also criticizes all these traditions
harshly for their blatant and not-so-blatant failures.
What is her yardstick to judge? If Theosophy is truly a
hodgepodge, how then can all organized religions be criticized?
This is a nonsensical idea. The Masters do not live and teach
some vague consortium of religious practices, doing puja one day,
Catholic Mass the next, and attending a bar-mitzvah the third.
Their path is what lies behind all exoteric paths, that white
light out of which all colored light comes.
Insofar as Theosophy is the truth, of course it can be found here
and there -- IN PART. But it is much, much more than a
compilation and comparison of world tradition -- this was merely
an exercise to show us little moles that there is a pursuit here
and a discipline worth studying. But beyond exoteric Theosophy,
there is Occultism, that single, certain knowledge of nature's
mysteries, which again, are not a hodgepodge but a single,
MOVING AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT
by Eldon Tucker
In the May, 1993 issue of DISCOVER MAGAZINE, there is discussion
of the progress of the photon in escaping the sun. (A photon is a
"particle" of light.)
The article tells us that a photon created at the center of the
sun doesn't simply come flying out, but may take as long as
170,000 years to reach the surface. It suggests that a photon's
average forward speed is about 5/1000 inch per second (1.5 feet
per hour). Once the photon reaches the surface, it achieves the
full speed of light, which is 186,282 miles per second.
If the photon wasn't slowed by the sun, it would reach the surface
in 2.6 seconds rather than 170,000 years.
Although physical existence inside the surface of the sun is not
possible, in bodies as we currently have, it would be interesting
to observe what life is like there astrally.
There was a time when our physical bodies were quasi-astral, up
until the Third Rood Race, so that physical conditions, including
a hostile climate or perhaps the threat of the dinosaurs, did not
pose a risk.
Since such existence was possible then, perhaps it might be
possible for some individuals now, and for humanity as a whole in
future times? Would it be possible to visit the sun in such a
form, or would the energies still be too intense?
What would things be like in a locality where the speed of light
was 1/3 inch per minute, where space was filled in a sea of
energy, where physical forms as we know them simply could not
This place, below the surface of the sun, is a world, a locality,
a solar globe belonging to a solar chain. What begins inhabit it
and how would we see and experience them?
We know that this world is a higher one than our earth, a globe of
a planetary chain. The solar globe is a place that the highest of
humanity may visit in high initiation, and is the heart of the
life energies of our solar system as we know it.
Were we to enter this globe as we know ourselves today, as human
personalities, we'd be blinded by a sea of light and energy. We'd
face destruction, which would be likely even were we to approach
it in astral rather than physical forms.
In Initiation, though, the Initiant leaves behind his human self
on the earth, and approaches the sun in his higher-human or
glorified self. This self is not the "higher self" we know of in
our everyday life, which is really more like a guardian angel or
parent to us as human beings. It is rather our own innate higher
nature, starting to awaken on its own.
To us as human personalities, the sun appears as a formless world,
as a world where there are no apparent forms, shapes, images to
represent its living creatures. This is just an appearance from
our point of view. On a higher subplane, the sun would appear as a
world of forms to its own inhabitants. And we'd seem like
insubstantial ghosts, lifeless and without energy, unable to
affect things, if it were possible for them to sense us.
If we could generalize this situation, of what a world looks like
from its own point of view and the point of view from "down
below", we could say that the "underside" of a world of forms
appears, on a lower plane, to be a blazing fount of light and
Whenever a life enters the world, including the sun itself, it
takes on a form. A byproduct of having this form is the outpouring
of lifeatoms and pranic life energies, which support and nourish
lower life forms. The solar globe nourishes the planetary globes
about it. And perhaps, on yet lower subplanes, there are lower
orders of existence, receiving light and nourishment from our
physical earth itself?
There is much to think about regarding the sun and its
relationship to the earth. The sun is both an important symbol, a
useful analogy for understanding life, and an key component in the
workings of the inner worlds. Scientific information about the sun
provides us clues with which we can deeper our metaphysical
understanding. Let's explore!
SOME COMMENTS ON PUBLICATION OF THE MAHATMA LETTERS AND THE
by Daniel H. Caldwell
[These comments formed one message in a discussion held on
"theos-l" regarding the value of the Mahatma Letters, and of how
appropriate it may be for their publication and public
One of the Masters (K.H.) wrote the following concerning the
publication of his own letters and notes to Sinnett:
> The letters, in short, were not written for publication or public
> comment upon them, but for private use, and neither M. nor I
> would ever give our consent to see them thus handled.
> -- Mahatma Letter No. 63
(One should read the whole letter from which I have quoted in
order to see the context in which those words were made.)
But there is another letter from the Mahatma K.H. which throws
additional light on the issue of publishing the letters from the
Masters. In the summer of 1884, Mohini Chatterji and Laura C.
Holloway were writing a book on Theosophy entitled MAN:
FRAGMENTS OF FORGOTTEN HISTORY. Both Mohini and Laura were
chelas of K.H. In a letter addressed to Mohini, Master K.H.
> You may, if you choose so, or find necessity for it, use in MAN
> [the above titled book] or in any other book you may chance to be
> collaborating for, anything I may have said in relation to our
> secret doctrines in any of my letters to Messrs. Hume or
> Sinnett. Those portions that were private have never been
> allowed by them to be copied by anyone; and those which are so
> copied have by the very fact become theosophical property.
> Besides, copies of my letters -- at any rate those that contained
> my TEACHINGS -- have always been sent by my order to Damodar and
> Upasika [HPB], and some of the portions even used in the
> THEOSOPHIST. You are at liberty to even copy them VERBATIM
> and without quotation marks. ... Thus not only you, a chela of
> mine, but anyone else is at liberty to take anything, whole
> pages, if thought proper, from any of my "copied" letters and
> convert their "dross" into pure ore of gold, provided they have
> well grasped the thought. Show this to L.C.H. who was already
> told the same.
> -- Letter 39 in LETTERS FROM THE MASTERS OF THE WISDOM, FIRST
It should also be noted that a great deal of the TEACHING letters
from K.H. and M. were quoted in the following books published
in the 1880s:
* THE OCCULT WORLD by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published
* ESOTERIC BUDDHISM by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published
* THE OCCULT WORLD by A.P.S. See 4th English edition, 1884,
Appendix, pp. 145-149 for an additional KH letter.
* MAN: FRAGMENTS OF FORGOTTEN HISTORY by Two Chelas [Chatterji
and Holloway) (First edition, published 1885)
* THE SECRET DOCTRINE by H.P. Blavatsky. (First published
1888). See especially Vol. I where HPB quotes from several of
KH"s letters to Sinnett.
* In additional to the above books, excerpts from the Masters
letters were published in various articles in THE THEOSOPHIST
* Also W.J. Judge published lengthy extracts from K.H.'s letters
to Sinnett dealing with Kamaloka and Devachan. See THE PATH,
August, 1889, Nov., 1889, May, 1890 and June, 1890. These
articles have been reprinted by The Theosophy Company, LA, in
their compilation THEOSOPHICAL ARTICLES AND NOTES, 1985, pp.
* HPB also quoted extracts from KH"s Letters to Sinnett in the
pages of LUCIFER.
* Judge published the Prayag Letter [also contained in THE
MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT. in THE PATH in the early
And there are many more ...
It would be an interesting exercise to take a copy of THE MAHATMA
LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT and underline in red all the passages
that have been published in the above sources.
Directing attention back to KH's letter to Mohini in which
mention is made of the "copied letters" which have "become
theosophical property", Francesca Arundale, an early Theosophist,
had "three manuscript books" of "these early teachings" from the
Masters. Evidence indicates that Sinnett copied these
"teachings" from the letters of the Masters and sent them to
London for the benefit of Arundale and other students of
Theosophy. These "teaching letters" as found in Arundale"s
manuscript books were eventually published by C. Jinarajadasa in
1923 under the title THE EARLY TEACHINGS OF THE MASTERS 1881
-- 1883. This book by Jinarajadasa was published some months
before A. Trevor Barker published the complete collection of
letters from the Masters K.H. and M. in London in Dec. 1923.
In the light of the above historical facts, would the ULT
Associates be willing to study THE EARLY TEACHINGS OF THE
MASTERS? Would they be willing to publicly circulate this volume
by Jinarajadasa or a similarly compiled work?
Now another issue. ULT Associates privately read and study
THE MAHATMA LETTERS. BUT if we are to take literally and at face
value the Master K.H.'s prohibition on the publishing of the
letters in their entirety, then once any ULT Associate reads
this prohibition, would not reason and logic dictate that they
should close the book and never pick THE MAHATMA LETTERS up
again? As H.N. Stokes once wrote about this very subject,
> If THE MAHATMA LETTERS are private documents today, no one
> without a diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the
> Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than any others.
Speaking of H.N. Stokes, the editor of the O.E. LIBRARY CRITIC
(Washington, D.C.), Dr. Stokes wrote at least two articles on
the ULT"s attitude toward THE MAHATMA LETTERS. The articles
"Is the ULT Boycotting The Mahatma Letters?" (O.E. LIBRARTY
CRITIC, April, 1934.)
"Magazine Theosophy Places The Mahatma Letters on ULT Index
Expurgatorius." (O.E. LIBRARY CRITIC, May-June, 1935.
Stokes notes that soon after THE MAHATMA LETTERS were first
published in London in Dec., 1923, THEOSOPHY MAGAZINE (the
L.A.-based ULT periodical) "hailed" the publication of these
Letters as follows:
> These LETTERS are, beyond all question the one great and final
> contribution to Theosophical literature and history since the
> SECTET DOCTRINE. They solve the hitherto baffling and
> inscrutable mysteries in connection with the public course of the
> Movement, by bringing to light the missing links of its
> degradation through theosophists, theosophical societies, and the
> world at large. ... Let all true Theosophists rejoice at the
> light that is now shed on the dark places of the past and
> -- THEOSOPHY, March, 1924
But Stokes points out that four ULT magazines (including
THEOSOPHY) had the practice of quoting from THE MAHATMA LETTERS
but never telling their readers that they were quoting from the
book entitled THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT. Stokes found
that in the years 1928-1933, these four ULT magazines had
quoted 87 times from the Letters. Stokes writes:
> Of the 87 quotations from THE MAHATMA LETTERS only one gives
> reference; the others afford not the slightest clue to the
> source, not the slightest possibility of the student locating it
> without laborious search. He is not even permitted to know the
> existence of such a book as THE MAHATMA LETTERS.
> -- O.E. LIBRARY CRITIC, April, 1934
In the other article cited above, Stokes discusses an article
published in THEOSOPHY MAGAZINE for February, 1935. The
anonymous ULT Associate writes for two or three pages on THE
MAHATMA LETTERS but then concludes:
> All that is taught in the Letters is contained in THE SECRET
> DOCTRINE ... and is there presented in proper form for students
> under the direct instruction and sponsoring of the Mahatmas
> themselves. The publication of the Mahatma Letters in violation
> of Their own injunction, and recourse to these Letters [by
> Theosophical students] instead of to THE SECRET DOCTRINE for
> instruction in Occultism, shows the difference between true and
> false psychology. Mr. Sinnett"s use of the Letters was such as
> to close to him the door opened via H.P.B. with the Mahatmas:
> What will be the effect of the unlawful publication and use of
> them thus made possible to so many hopeless Incurables in the
Stokes points out that several of the assertions made in this
quotation are not true. Stokes goes on to say:
> But when the THEOSOPHY writer speaks of "false psychology" and of
> "hopeless Incurables in the Mysteries" one is prompted to ask
> whether these rather strong terms do not apply to himself. He is
> constantly referring in these articles to THE MAHATMA LETTERS.
> Consequently he must have read them. If so, why does he do that
> which he thinks it improper for others to do because of their
> private nature? And why did the magazine THEOSOPHY in its series
> [of articles] later published as THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT [in
> 1925 as a book] constantly quote from documents [written by HPB
> and] marked private and issued to E.S.T. members under pledge of
> secrecy? Are we to suppose that this anonymous writer, or the
> editors of THEOSOPHY, are above all rules applying to lesser
> mortals? No, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
> If THE MAHATMA LETTERS are private documents today, no one
> without a diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the
> Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than any others, or to
> discourage others from doing what he does himself when it suits
> his purpose....Sensible students will not be deterred by talk
> from those who do not practise what they preach.
> -- O.E. LIBRARY CRITIC, May-June, 1935.
In the above quote from Stokes, he refers to the book THE
THEOSOHPICAL MOVEMENT issued by the top officials of the ULT,
Los Angeles, CA.
In Chapter XI ("Work of the Esoteric Section", pp. 163-177) of
this book, the anonymous author(s) quote(s) from two of HPB's
E.S. documents which were marked: "strictly private and
confidential". The author of this chapter writes:
> Permissible extracts from the PRELIMINARY MEMORANDUM to the E.S.
> applicants show her esoteric treatment.
Then long extracts are given from this E.S. document.
Permissible extracts? Who gave the writer of this chapter
permission to quote from HPB"s "strictly private and
confidential" paper? This is not discussed in the pages of THE
STRIKING UNFAMILIAR GROUND
by Katherine Tingley
[The following article was written as part of the preface to a
series of Theosophical Manuals issued by the Point Loma
Theosophical Society in 1907.]
Theosophy strikes unfamiliar ground in modern civilization,
because it does not come under any particular one of the familiar
heads of Religion, Science, Philosophy, etc., into which our age
has divided its speculative activities. It date back to a period
in the history of mankind when such distinctions did not exist,
but there was one Gnosis or Knowledge embracing all. Religion
and Science, as we have them today, are but imperfect growths
springing from the remnants of that great ancient system, the
Wisdom-Religion, which included all that we all know as religion
and science, and much more. Hence Theosophy will not appeal to
the same motives as religion and science. It will not offer any
cheap and easy salvation or put a premium upon mental inactivity
and spiritual selfishness. Neither can it accommodate itself to
the rules laid down by various schools of modern thought as to
what constitutes proof and what does not. But it can and does
appeal to the Reason. The truth of doctrines such as Theosophy
maintains, can only be estimated by their ability to solve
problems and by their harmony with other truths which we know to
be true. But in addition to this we have the testimony of the
ages, which has been too long neglected by modern scholarship,
but which is now being revealed ...
It may perhaps be as well also to remind those who would
criticize, that the state of modern opinion is scarcely such as
to warrant anybody in assuming the attitude of a judge. It would
be quite proper for a Theosophist, instead of answering questions
or attempting to give proofs, to demand that his questioners
should first state their own case, and to be himself the
questioner. The result would certainly show that Theosophy, to
say the very least, stands on an equal footing with any other
view, since there is no certain knowledge, no satisfying
explanation, to be found anywhere ...
Until, therefore, religious teachers have something definite,
consistent, and satisfactory to offer, and until science can give
us something better than mere confessions of nescience or
impudent denials with regard to everything beyond its own domain,
Theosophy can afford to assume the role of questioner rather than
that of questioned, and does not *owe* anybody any explanations
whatever. It is sufficient to state its tenets and let them
vindicate themselves by their greater reasonableness; and any
further explanation that may be offered is offered from goodwill
than from any obligation ...
An earnest student of Theosophy will be wise enough to hold many
of his difficulties in reserve, until, by further investigation,
he has gained better acquaintance with his subject. In the case
of those who are not willing to adopt these wise and patient
methods of study, it may be reasonably questioned whether they
are the more anxious to learn or to disprove ...
MY FIRST MEMORY OF JOY MILLS
by Richard Ihle
My first real memory of Joy was perhaps twenty-five or more years
ago, now. She was passing through Madison and gave my wife and I
a call because she had noticed our names as new members. Could
she stop by for a minute? OK.
We were somewhat poor and peculiar in those days. Sandra was
finishing her Ph.D. at U.W., and I had the word UBERMENSH on
the bumper of my V.W. van for some reason. Joy and someone else
showed up at our door. We moved aside some of the squalor, let
them have the two chairs we owned, and sat more-or-less at their
feet in hillbilly embarrassment.
The president of the American Section was right in our living
room, and the signs of our sins and sloth--from overflowing
ashtrays to candy wrappers to cheap sex novels--occupied 100% of
every available horizontal surface. Youth was our only possible
excuse; Joy accepted with enthusiasm.
We served our visitors Lipton tea in cups which were clean but
not above suspicion, and the four of us talked gloriously for a
couple hours of many things--high and low. Joy tried to interest
us in something she called THE THEOSOPHICAL PHILOSOPHY
(THEOSOPHY was not yet the synonym for "Core Teachings" in
those days), but she seemed genuinely interested in hearing our
perspectives on theosophy as well.
After she had left, Sandra turned to me and said, "You know, it
was like Joy Mills was treating US like the honored guests
rather than vice versa."
Yes, that is how she had treated us, all right. In fact, that is
how she treated me in all the years which followed. This is
significant, I feel, because later it became obvious that I was
not her "cup of tea" as far as (T)theosophy was concerned.
Still, throughout all of her presidency, she encouraged me and
gave me many speaking and writing opportunities. Not only did
Joy seem to have a gracious finesse in carrying out her
responsibilities, but she also had a highly developed sense of
fair play as well.
All in all, I am almost tempted to describe Joy in the same way I
once heard her describe Clara Codd: "one of Theosophy's saints."
Naturally, though, I am inclined toward hyperbole. Maybe Joy is
a saint; maybe not. Nonetheless, I notice that she is scheduled
to speak at the convention, and for some not fully definable
reason something seems to be prompting me once again to drive
down to Wheaton to hear what she has to say--especially in what
must be the late-afternoon of her life.
I mention this up-coming appearance of Joy's just in case anyone
wants to take advantage of one of the perhaps few remaining
opportunities to meet the refined, loving, and indefatigable old
crusader for Theosophy.
LET EVERY MAN PROVE HIS OWN WORK
by Mrs. Harry Benjamin
[This article comes from the September, 1972 CORRESPONDING FELLOWS
LODGE OF THEOSOPHISTS BULLETIN.]
We have received this interesting letter from W.A. Magee of
> Many thanks again for the latest BULLETIN, long may it reign. But,
> I have wondered many time lately if we Theosophists spend too
> long sat on our backsides studying the tenets of our beliefs in
> order to discover ever more secrets locked up in THE SECRET
> DOCTRINE, worrying ourselves about rounds and races, and arguing
> about this and that, when we should be out in the world giving
> full vent to the compassion which we preach.
> It's all very well to hit upon some abstruse interpretation of
> this or that, while millions starve. Let the theologians interpret
> or misinterpret, abstruse phraseology, and let us get on with the
> job of LOVING everything good and beautiful. Many of us have
> individual gifts which should be, and MUST be used for the benefit
> of mankind if we are to get the ultimate perfection so long
> preached about (and listened to) and forgotten so quickly.
> Of course it is not given to all of us to be great orators, poets,
> or musicians, and I have no doubt that many are working quietly,
> and unobtrusively for the good of mankind, and perhaps the
> BULLETIN is not the place to discuss it, (or is it?); but I do
> think that sometimes we should take stock of ourselves in order to
> discover our real value to humanity which, after all, is our true
> purpose in the scheme of things.
> In conclusion, may I quote a few lines attributed to Oscar
> Hammerstein, which illustrate very gently in verse his philosophy
> of life:
> A bell is no bell 'till it's rung.
> A song is no song, 'till it's sung.
> And the love in your heart,
> Isn't put there to stay,
> For love isn't love,
> TILL YOU GIVE IT AWAY.
We quote Mr. Magee's letter because he strikes a note that needs
emphasizing and clarifying these days. Perhaps he had this
purpose in mind when he wrote, giving us a change to use his
letter as a peg on which to hang our discussion! ON THE FACE OF
IT, we think his letter is based on several misconceptions. But
that is his point of view. Here is ours, discussed under several
1. Is there a dichotomy between studying 'abstruse' subjects, and
'being out in the world giving full vent to the compassion
which we preach'?
Why not both? Personally we know of several students who are
deeply interested in such 'abstruse' subjects as the BULLETIN
discusses and as Theosophy teaches, who are constantly and
generously embodying compassion and service to others in their
daily lives. Their studies do not seem to handicap them for this
work. But they don't publicize their activities, nor
'demonstrate', nor boast of what they are doing. In fact, we would
say that the deepest aspects of Theosophy enable us to put into
practice its precepts much more effectively and wisely, than if we
were going on the precept merely: "We should be good (or do good)
because it is good to be good."
2. The assumption seems to be that the 'abstruse' side of
Theosophy has no relation to our daily living.
Again we take exception to this, having found exactly the opposite
in the various crises, puzzles, etc. of our life. But we might
advise those who do not find this close relationship in Theosophy,
to seek it elsewhere in some other form of study and endeavor: in
Christianity, in Buddhism, in social work, per se, in Humanism,
etc. Especially if the theosophical teachings appear to them ONLY
3. What is the chief purpose of our Lodge?
That is the question we must ask ourselves. What is our Dharma as a
Lodge? It is to study and disseminate Theosophy to those who want
it. There is little use in our calling ourselves theosophists, or
students of theosophy preferably, if we do not have at least some
measure of understanding of what Theosophy teaches? But -- and
this is an important point -- Theosophy, and those who work in
consonance with the 'rules' laid down when the Society was formed,
do not dictate to its members how they should live their lives and
apply their theosophical precepts, WHAT they should do or not do
to help others and how; nor do they dictate to us what we should
believe. It is literally true that "we have no creeds nor dogmas
in our philosophy."
But Theosophy supplies us, IF we know what it is all about, with
the KEYS which we individually can use (or discard) in adjusting
our lives compassionately to Humanity at large and to individuals
with whom we come in touch. Merely to stop studying is not going
to 'feed the starving millions,' nor does such study prevent us --
maybe not feeding the starving millions if we lack the means --
but from carrying on humanitarian work simultaneously.
4. "Helping others" CAN have its snares.
We must combine wisdom with our helping. We must use our minds
too. How often have we found in making our own efforts to help
another, that sometimes 'he also serves who only stands and
waits', to quote Milton's Essay on (his own) Blindness; that by
our unwise efforts we have sometimes done more harm than good.
This does not imply a negative and selfish attitude, but a
positive recognition that sometimes unwise interference does not
accomplish our purpose, maybe is not even wanted by the
We found this passage in Agatha Christie's TOWARDS ZERO:
> There are so many kind friends about in the world -- always
> anxious to arrange other people's lives for them -- to suggest
> courses of action that are not in harmony ...
-- and there the speaker in her book breaks off, but he might have
concluded: "with their dharma!"
5. The Importance of using our minds.
We mentioned Wisdom. How can we attain wisdom to guide our
actions? HPB has a wonderfully clarifying passage where she is
discussing the importance of ALL the Seven Principles of Man, from
the lowest to the highest, that all are needed if we are to gain
the necessary illumination from above; that if even one is
by-passed or neglected, there is distortion, like a telegram, she
instances, that is handed in to the starting office correctly
worded, but becomes mangled en route, before it reaches its
destination. She describes how our impulses start form below, must
travel the route through ALL the principles (and that includes
MIND), until they reach the Spiritual plane, and are then returned
along the same route illuminated by the wisdom the Spirit can give
us. That is on illustration showing the help that technical
theosophy can render.
6. The value of the recognition of the Reality of this Higher Part
This recognition which Theosophy gives us can be illustrated by a
homely analogy: A house built without any windows might contain
WITHIN it what we need for comfortably living, in isolation. But
no man 'is an island unto himself'. We need the light and the sun
Nature provides, we being an integral part of universal nature. We
need windows in our house, we need the wider expansion of
consciousness that theosophy gives, opening as it does the windows
of our minds, in order to ally ourselves with others whom we seek
to help. After all, as Paracelsus says: "A man is not his physical
body, he is his consciousness" -- and the wider his
Consciousness, the more greatly does compassion enter our lives.
7. Spectacular actions are not always the wisest.
We read once of a demonstration against air pollution by motor
cars, conducted by some enthusiastic teenagers in Los Angeles.
They bought a new motor car, coming to the scene of their
demonstration each in his own car, and set fire to the new car --
air pollution? -- then happily having 'done their duty,' each got
into his own car and sped homeward leaving a trail of polluted
air and fumes behind.
8. It would seem that the more we study the causes, by the use of
our minds, of what we wish to ameliorate, the better equipped
Another analogy: A burst water main, and friends rushing to help
mop up the cascade of water which is streaming down. An Engineer
comes who has been trained to think in terms of causes. He goes to
the source of the flood and turns off the tap or whatever is
involved. Trying to deal with effects as we do so much these days,
without either knowing the causes or changing them, is illustrated
partially by the wonderful remedial work down to help children
born with serious handicaps; but there are precedent CAUSES which
lie in the prenatal period which need to be studied, and which are
largely ignored, to bring full Compassion into play.
9. DHARMA comes into the question here.
Some of us may not be equipped either with money, time, influence,
to 'help feed the starving millions,' but if we seek to find along
what path our dharma lies, we might find, nearer at hand, one
elderly neighbor in need of help, one lonely sorrowing person, or
one mentally disturbed. Not specular, of course.
10. To sum up the dominant thought that came to us when we started
writing this: What's wrong with using our minds by giving
Our minds are an inherent part of us, they too must be fed and
exercised. They were, literally, god-given to mindless man (if one
does not object to the term 'god'.) Let's not denigrate our minds.
Let's use them. And thus, not by-passing them but rising above
them, tap that source of Compassion which lies in the Buddhi, the
spiritual part of ourselves.
And the other dominant thought was -- well, it is implicit in the
title of this article.
We had reached this point, and then turned to Volume VIII of HPB's
COLLECTED WRITINGS, in order to quote her on ALTRUISM, which is
the final paragraph in the article: "LET EVERY MAN PROVE HIS OWN
WORK," in which she is answering a criticism leveled at
Theosophists and others, epitomized as follows:
> Surely one of the purest and least self-incrusted duties of man
> is to alleviate the sufferings of his fellow men?
-- which he implies few theosophists do. HPB's answer, much more
forceful than our own comments, is largely concerned with what IS
the primary purpose of the Theosophical Society: the need to work
intelligently, but also that each must find what is his dharma and
follow it; and this is something each individual, each Society,
must find out for himself or itself. While we seek to know our OWN
dharma, equally we must realize that it is NOT our dharma to point
to the dharma of another. One strong point HPB makes is that
'charity' is often NOT what is wanted by the recipient of such.
Which reminds us of a passage in C.S. Lewis' brilliant THE
> She's the sort of woman who lives for others -- you can always
> tell the others by their hunted expression.
HPB's words could be applied to our Lodge: as follows, in part of
> It must not be forgotten that practical charity is not one of the
> DECLARED objects of the Society. It goes without saying, and needs
> no 'declaration' that every member of the Society must be
> practically philanthropic if he be a theosophist at all; and our
> declared work is, in reality, more important and more efficacious
> than the work in the everyday plane which bear more evident and
> immediate fruit, for the direct effect of an appreciation of
> theosophy is to make those charitable who were not so before.
> Theosophy creates the charity which afterwards, and in its own
> accord, makes itself manifest in works. ... Theosophy teaches the
> spirit of 'non-separateness,' the evanescence and illusion of
> human creeds and dogmas, hence, inculcates UNIVERSAL LOVE AND
> CHARITY FOR ALL mankind 'WITHOUT DISTINCTION of race, color, caste,
> or creed,' is it not therefore the fittest to alleviate the
> sufferings of mankind?
And she ends her article:
> It is well known that the first rule of the society is to carry
> out the object of forming the nucleus of a universal brotherhood.
> The practical working of this rule was explained by those who laid
> it down, to the following effect:-
> > He who does not practice altruism, he who is not prepared to share
> > his last morsel with a weaker or poorer than himself, he who
> > neglects to help his brother man, of whatever race, nation, or
> > creed, whenever and wherever he meets suffering, and who turns a
> > deaf ear to the cry of human misery: he who hears an innocent
> > person slandered, whether a brother Theosophist or not, and does
> > not undertake his defense as he would undertake his own -- is no
> > Theosophist.
A HIKE IN THE WOODS
by Paul Johnson
This morning I had my first chance to hike in the woods behind
the acre on which I live. My neighbor has 21 acres of sloping
woodlands, which contain two springs that create streams. The
two streams feed a pond that is just beyond the woods on the next
There's no point in boring everyone with details of how beautiful
the hike was, or how peaceful it was down at the pond, or how
wonderful I felt hiking through these woods that start near my
But there are two thoughts that struck me coming back from the
pond. First, there's something wholly new about living where one
can directly walk into wilderness. Living in the city and
driving to nice rural spots created a sense of distance and
deprivation. Nature was not continuous with the reality in which
I lived; it was something you had to escape to. Moving to the
edge of the woods feels like opening a direct link to Nature
itself. Seeing the Milky Way at night adds to that sensation.
Something about moving to the country is powerfully evocative of
a new level of nature- mysticism. And feeling enveloped and
inspired by Life itself out in the woods is a deeply healing and
encouraging experience. It does wonders in terms of making one
see that all one's worries about who thinks and feels what -- are
nothing but flapdoodle.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application