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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- January, 1997
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Root-Races and Geologic Periods" by William A. Savage
"The Neoplatonic Revival" by A Student
"Language for Theosophy" by Murray Stentiford
"Bliss and Evil" by Eldon Tucker
"New Site from the Theosophical Society (Pasadena)"
by Sarah Belle Dougherty
"Senzar: The Mystery of the Mystery Language", Part I
by John Algeo
"Towards a Theosophy of Art" by Keith Price
"One Can Only Smile" by Eldon Tucker
"HPB: A Woman Generations Ahead of Her Time"
by Judy D. Saltzman, Ph.D.
"Theosophy Northwest" by Sarah Belle Dougherty
I think that modern physics has definitely decided in favor of
Plato. In fact the smallest units of matter are not physical
objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be
expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.
-- Werner Heisenberg [quoted March 8, 1992 in NYTB REVIEW, p. 4]
ROOT-RACES AND GEOLOGIC PERIODS
by William A. Savage
[Reproduced from the THEOSOPHIC LINK, Fall 1996, 8:3. Reprinted
Whether Cambrian, Jurassic, or other geologic layers of the
earth, science and The Secret Doctrine (SD) are in general
agreement on sequences and many events in the fossil record.
They differ, however, in the lengths of time for these periods
and the age of man. What is the source of that divergence, and
how can we explain it? How do the root-races of humanity relate
to current scientific thinking on geologic ages? These are the
questions we'll explore.
Geologic classification of ages is derived from thicknesses of
strata and deposits. The accuracy of times given to them
depended upon a knowledge of the duration and/or rate at which
materials were deposited. The SD's geologic timeline was derived
from (1) thicknesses of sedimentation layers, given in Andre
Lefevre's 1879 book LA PHILOSOPHIE, and (2) the science of the
wisdom tradition which states in part that sedimentation in this
4th round began 320 M (million years ago).
In THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 709-10, HPB takes Lefevre's
thicknesses and utilizes each as a percentage of the whole. She
then applies these percentages to the overall period of 320
million years, deriving an estimate of time for each geologic
era. "Such estimates," she says, "harmonise with the statements
of Esoteric Ethnology in almost every particular".
An example of agreement on events and difference in timelines is
the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammals. The SD
and science place that extinction at the end of the Cretaceous
period, and the rise of the mammals in the following Tertiary.
However, the SD's timeline places the extinction of the dinosaurs
some 9 or 10 M, while science has stretched its estimates of
dinosaur extinction to 65 M.
HPB's timeline was not in agreement with the science of her day
either, although the divergence wasn't nearly as pronounced as it
is today. The reason for the current discrepancy has to do with
the radiometric methods of science: dating geologic layers based
on rates of radioactive decay. One method is carbon-14 (limited
to archaeological periods less than 50,000 years ago); another is
potassium-argon (used geologically for periods covering millions
Radioactivity is a process of releasing matter (particles or
gamma rays) from atoms. As particles or gamma rays are ejected
and radiated from the substance, it naturally loses mass and
materiality. G. de Purucker in THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, I,
325-7, suggests that radioactivity is a process of the physical
It occurs on the "ascending arc" or progression away from
materiality. From a theosophic perspective, this began slowly
about the middle of the 4th root-race of the 4th round (8 or 9 M,
suggested from HPB's timeline). At its inception, the rate of
radioactive decay would have been small. In the ensuing millions
of years, radioactivity would have increased progressively until
we have the decay rates observed today.
Consider the analogy of a clock. Regardless of timekeeping,
sunrise and sunset are the same -- just as the geologic layers
(Jurassic, etc.) are the same. If our clock ran more slowly in
the morning, it would measure a shorter time period than a clock
that ran at a constant rate the whole day. So it is when we use
radioactive decay rates as our clocks. Since science assumes
constant and uniform rates of decay, older periods would be
lengthened and the timeline would naturally exceed that of the
Should figures in the SD be updated to reflect current scientific
conclusions? HPB's timeline was not borrowed from the judgments
of the science of her day, but came from geologic data and the
science of the wisdom tradition. It is also from that tradition
that came the idea of varying decay rates.
As medicine, biology, physics, and other sciences approach more
and more the thinking of the wisdom tradition (as in holistic
medicine, morphogenetic fields, and quantum consciousness
studies), perhaps the day will come when non-constant
radioactivity will be recognized, and science will adjust its
timeline to be more in tune with THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
Now, to significant events in the geologic eras and the
root-races. HPB estimated that human minds began to awaken 18
million years ago. Her timeline places this event in the early
Cretaceous period (the time of the dinosaurs). But according to
current scientific estimates, 18 M was the middle of the Miocene
epoch (the time of development of larger mammals). Which is
correct? When it comes to esoteric timelines and scientific
timelines, we have to be "bilingual" and convert from one system
to the other. I contend that 18 M (SD) is early Cretaceous,
which science today would call 130 M.
With this in mind, let's examine the sequence of root-races. The
1st root-race reached full swing in the Carboniferous (or coal)
period about 75-110 M (SD).
The use of "SD" with dates indicates interpolations from figures
in The Secret Doctrine. Science gives the figure as 280-350 M.
Not all scientists agree on dating of geologic layers.
At this point the human life-wave had developed unique
characteristics of its own. Naturally, all time periods are
approximate -- not only because of the immense time elapsed, and
because there is a long overlap and blending between any two
races, but also, as HPB noted:
> The parallelism of Races and geological periods here adopted, is,
> so far as the origin of 1st and 2nd are concerned, purely
> tentative, no direct information being available.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 713 fn
Humanity of the 1st root-race of the 4th round was ethereal.
Physical bodies of people had such low densities that they might
seem like clouds rolling over the landscape. Meanwhile, the
animal and lower kingdoms were slowly physicalizing ahead of
The 2nd root-race (Hyperborean) came into its own at some time in
the Permian period, about 45-75 M (SD). Science gives the figure
for that period as 230-280 M.
The 3rd root-race (Lemurian) appeared some time in the Triassic
period and extended through the Cretaceous: from about 9-45 M
(SD). Science would give the figure as 65-230 M. Over millions
of years this root-race is said to have become more physical,
reaching an important juncture near its midpoint, 18 M (SD).
This date places it near the boundary of the Jurassic and
Cretaceous periods, which science would date as 130 M. At that
point humanity began to separate into two sexes, and the human
mind began to awaken. The 3rd root-race is said to have
gradually disappeared as a result of the cataclysms that wiped
out the dinosaurs and brought the Cretaceous period to a close.
A difficulty is that while dinosaur remains have been found,
fossils of coexisting humans have not.
(Some controversial discoveries include the coexistence of large
numbers of human footprints and dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy
River area in central Texas. Also, prehistoric pictographs of
dinosaur figures were found in the Grand Canyon area (E. L.
Doheny, THE DOHENY SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION TO THE HAVA SUPAI
CANYON, NORTHERN ARIZONA, 1924). Unlike science, which tends to
ignore such controversy, the SD's timeline offers reasonable
One explanation is that the animal kingdom became dense and
physical long before the human kingdom. Although physical, the
human kingdom could have been cartilaginous or "soft," -- the
bones of modern babies are not preserved in the same way as those
The 4th root-race (Atlantean) arose at some time in the later
Cretaceous and extended through the Miocene epoch: roughly 3-12 M
(SD). Science would give the figure as 7-90 M. The word
"Atlantean" also refers to the entire configuration of the
world's continents as they changed over a vast time period from
about 12 M (SD) to 3 or even 1 million years ago.
Cataclysms began to disrupt Atlantean lands in various parts of
the world in the mid-Miocene epoch: around 4 M (SD), which
science would date as 10-15 M. Tertiary cataclysms include the
raising of the Himalayas and Alps, the North American inland sea,
and inversions of the earth's magnetic pole.
The present 5th root-race came into its own in the Pleistocene
epoch of the Quaternary period: approximately 1 M. The 5th
root-race overlapped the 4th, and is said to have had its
incipience a couple of million years before 1 M.
What do these incomprehensibly long time periods mean? From a
broader perspective, the rounds and races have to do with
evolution -- where we've been and where we're going. It's the
destiny of all beings -- the center of consciousness at the core
of all beings -- to express themselves in matter, experience, and
refine themselves. Hence, these subjects concern not only the
evolution of physical form, but the inner unfolding of spirit on
its cosmic journey.
The Neoplatonic Revival
[Taken from GREAT THEOSOPHISTS, a collection of articles from
THEOSOPHY MAGAZINE than ran from 1923 through 1938. Reprinted with
permission by THEOSOPHY MAGAZINE.]
In the year 527, when the Emperor Justinian closed the
Neoplatonic School in Athens and banished the last seven great
Neoplatonists, the teachings of Plato and the Neoplatonists
disappeared from Christian Europe for almost a thousand years.
In the fifteenth century a revival of Neoplatonism arose through
the efforts of Nicolas de Cusa, a Catholic Cardinal of German
birth. Directly opposing the personal God of the Church, Cusa
defined Deity as "the absolute Maximum and also the absolute
minimum, who comprehends all that is or can be." This laid him
open to the charge of pantheism, which he did not deny. He also
declared that Deity can be apprehended only through INTUITION, an
exalted state of consciousness in which all limitations
disappear. Cusa's efforts to revive Neoplatonism were continued
in Germany by Reuchlin, Trithemius and Cornelius Agrippa, and in
France by Bovillus. The chief stronghold of the Neoplatonic
revival, however, was the city of Florence, where Theosophical
principles reappeared under the protection of the powerful house
In 1438 Cosmo de Medici made the acquaintance of Gemisthus
Pletho, an ardent Platonist, who inspired him with the idea of
founding a Platonic Academy in Florence. With this end in view,
Cosmo selected Marsilio Ficino, the son of his chief physician,
and provided for his education in Greek philosophy. Ficino's
natural aptitude was so great that he was able to complete his
first work on the Platonic Institutions when he was only
twenty-three years old. At the age of thirty, after translating
the Theogony of Hesiod, the Hymns of Proclus, Orpheus and Homer,
and all of the works of Hermes Trismegistus that could be found,
Ficino began his translations of Plato. When that was finished,
he turned to the Neoplatonic writers, and left behind him
excellent translations of Plotinus, Iamblicus, Proclus and
Synesius as his contribution to the work of the Theosophical
When Cosmo de Medici's grandson Lorenzo was eight years old,
Ficino became his tutor, and imbued him with a deep reverence for
the Greeks. After Lorenzo became the head of the house of Medici
he brought his grandfather's plans to completion. He founded a
great University in Pisa, established public libraries for his
people, and made many valuable additions to the Lorentian Library
which by this time contained a collection of ancient manuscripts
second to none in Europe. He raised the Platonic Academy to a
high standard of excellence and founded an Academy in the gardens
of San Marco where the finest examples of ancient art were
displayed for the benefit of students. Here Lorenzo spent many
happy afternoons, watching the work of Botticelli and Michael
Angelo, and listening to the words of Leonardo da Vinci, whose
ideas about flying machines interested him as much as his
discussions on art.
On the hills of Fiesole, just outside of Florence, Lorenzo had a
beautiful villa which was surrounded by a colony of writers and
scholars. One day a visitor arrived, a handsome young man of
twenty-one who was already a prominent figure in the world of
thought. He was Giovanni Pico, a younger son of the Prince of
Mirandola. Although, to quote his nephew, Pico was "still a
child and beardless," he had already acquired proficiency in
twenty-two languages, had been initiated into the Chaldean,
Hebrew and Arabian Mysteries, and had come under the notice of
the "Brothers of the Snowy Range" in far-off Tibet. On the day
of his arrival in Fiesole, the whole colony gathered around him
to hear why he had left Rome so precipitously. He told them that
he had become thoroughly disgusted with the ignorance displayed
by the heads of the Church. He had published a series of 900
questions addressed to the Church and had invited scholars from
all over Europe to be present at the debate. The intellectual
leaders of the Church, after carefully examining these questions,
decided that thirteen of them contained heretical statements.
These were sent to the Pope, who immediately issued a bull
against the young nobleman. Pico left for the more congenial
atmosphere of Florence.
Lorenzo and Ficino decided that Pico would be a valuable addition
to their Academy. Through the united efforts of these three the
revival of Neoplatonism made rapid headway. Mirandola, who was a
devoted student of Plotinus, persuaded Ficino to translate the
ENNEADS, the influence of which appears in Mirandola's own
description of God:
> God is not Being; rather is He the CAUSE of Being. As the one
> primal Fountain of Being, He is properly described as the ONE.
> God is all things, the abstract Universal Unity of all things in
> their perfection. To even think or speak of God is profanity.
> -- DE AURO, Sir Thomas More's Translation
Pico della Mirandola died in his thirty-first year, and Marsilio
Ficino followed him six years later. After the death of Lorenzo
the Magnificent the Platonic Academy went out of existence. In
its place arose a mystical Fraternity, the FRATRES LUCIS, or
BROTHERS OF LIGHT, which was founded in Florence in 1498. In
spite of the persecution of the Inquisition, this Order was still
alive in the eighteenth century, numbering among its members such
men as Paschalis, Cagliostro, Swedenborg and St. Germain.
One afternoon in the latter part of the fifteenth century the
monk Savonarola sat in his gloomy cell in the monastery of San
Marco, grieving over the corruption of the world. He thought of
the unspeakable moral crimes of Pope Alexandria VI and his son
Caesar Borgia and shuddered. He thought of the "pagan heresies"
which Lorenzo had introduced to Florence. He thought of the
godless painters who tempted holy monks with their vivid
portrayals of human flesh. Savonarola arose from his meditation
and swore to rid Florence of these abominations. His fervidly
ascetic genius soon gained him a large following, and when the
French invaders departed from the city he attempted to turn the
newly formed republic into a Christian commonwealth. But when
Savonarola attacked the corruption of the Holy City, sparing not
even the pope himself, he was cited as a heretic. Indignantly
refusing the bribe of a cardinal's hat to change his style of
preaching, he continued his denunciations, which led to his
excommunication and execution at the stake in 1498. This was
merely the prelude to another conflagration which was started by
Torquemada, the pitiless Inquisitor-General and confessor to
Queen Isabella of Spain. The Spanish bonfire was fed with the
bodies of 10,000 Jews, with all the Hebrew Bibles that could be
found, and with 6,000 volumes of Oriental literature. Thus, by
the end of the fifteenth century, Italy and Spain were once more
While these events were taking place in Italy and Spain, another
fire of revolt smoldered in Germany. Groups of Theosophists were
now scattered throughout the country, studying and assisting one
another in their common struggle for esoteric knowledge. Germany
was destined to be the scene of a great moral struggle during the
sixteenth century, and the opposing forces were assembling. On
the side of freedom were numerous agents of the Theosophical
Movement, some of whom must have worked with knowledge of the
great Plan, while others served an ideal arising from an unknown
source in their hearts.
In 1414 a young monk named Basil Valentinus was acting as the
Prior of the Benedictine Monastery in Erfurt. According to his
own story, Basil determined to devote himself to the occult
sciences at an early age. "I resolved to make wings for myself,"
he wrote, "so that I might ascend on high." His first flights
into the ether must have been unsuccessful, as he relates that
"my feathers were consumed and I fell headlong into the sea."
But just at the moment when all hope had disappeared,
> one hastened to my assistance who commanded the waters to be
> still; and instantly a HIGH MOUNTAIN appeared upon which I
> ascended, that I might examine whether there could be any
> friendship between inferiors and SUPERIORS, and whether indeed
> these Superiors had produced Themselves upon earth.
Now thoroughly convinced that Masters DID exist, Basil determined
> whatever the ancient Masters had so many ages ago committed to
> writing and delivered to Their disciples was as true as truth
> -- THE STONE OF FIRE
The first truth he discovered was that man's knowledge must
commence within himself.
> Only those who have obtained this passport can attain to the
> Magistery of Life; since they only can enter into the narrow gate
> [of initiation] as in the Mysteries we have just described.
> -- CHARIOT OF ANTIMONY
The work of Bail Valentinus was continued by Trithemius, Abbot of
the Benedictine Monastery of Spanheim, who was an Adept in the
Secret Sciences and is said to have been initiated into the
mysteries of the Kabala by a pupil of Pico della Mirandola. He
taught the seven stages of evolution, mentioned several secret
cycles and made some important prophecies. His definition of
Magic was purely Theosophical:
> The art of Magic consists in the ability to perceive the essence
> of things in the light of Nature, and by using the soul-powers to
> produce things from the unseen Universe. In such operations the
> Microcosm and Macrocosm must be brought together and made to act
> -- Written in 1506
His pupils inquired what he meant by Nature. "Nature,"
> is a Unity, creating and forming everything. Such processes take
> place according to LAW. You will learn this Law if YOU FIRST
> LEARN TO KNOW YOURSELVES.
The fame of Trithemius was perpetuated by his two distinguished
pupils, Paraceleus and Cornelius Agrippa. Agrippa was a
statesman and linguist, physician and chemist, philosopher,
Kabalist and Neoplatonist. He passed through life alternately
patronized and persecuted, courted by the nobility and hunted
down as a heretic by the Church. Although knighted by Margaret,
Regent of the Netherlands, and honored by the Queen of France, he
spent much of his life in dire poverty. Agrippa formed a secret
association for the study of the occult sciences and wrote an
esoteric interpretation of the New Testament. He taught the
three-fold nature of the Universe, the identity of the Macrocosm
and the Microcosm, and traced out the lines of correspondence
between them. Space, he said, is threaded with invisible lines
of magnetic force which unite men's principles with the occult
forces of Nature. Hence:
> The human being possesses, from the fact of its being of the same
> essence as all creation, a wonderful power. Truth can be made
> ever present to the eye of the soul. Time and space vanish
> before the eagle eye of the immortal soul. Her power is
> -- DE OCCULTO PHILOSOPHIA
All of these ideas, so contrary to the teachings of the Church,
were gradually preparing the minds of the people for the coming
battle. In the middle of the fifteenth century John Reuchlin
appeared, the Imperial Counselor of Emperor Frederick III. In
spite of his diplomatic duties, Reuchlin found time to study
Neoplatonism, to perfect himself in several Oriental languages,
and to write an interpretation of the Kabala in which he
described the sevenfold constitution of the universe in detail.
When he denounced the burning of the Hebrew Bibles he was
expelled from Germany and his works were burned. But later, when
Melacthon, Erasmus and Martin Luther came to him for instruction,
Reuchlin lit the torch which set fire to the Christian world and
became in fact the "Father of the Reformation."
The immediate cause of the Reformation was the revolt in Germany
against the enforced sale of indulgences, which promised the
shortening of the time spent in purgatory upon the payment of a
certain sum to a priest. In the year 1517 Pope Leo X, desiring
to rebuild St. Peter's Cathedral, ordered a special sale of
indulgences in Germany in order to collect the needed money.
When the Augustinian monk Martin Luther heard the news his soul
rose in rebellion. "Why," he indignantly demanded,
> if the Pope releases souls from purgatory for money, does he not
> do it for charity? Since the Pope is as rich as Croesus, why does
> he not rebuild St. Peter's with his own money, instead of
> extorting it from poor men?
Walking boldly to the Church of Wittenberg, Luther nailed his
ninety-seven THESES to the door. The people gasped at his
audacity. Some trembled with fear, others rallied to Luther's
support. Erasmus of Rotterdam, then considered to be the most
brilliant man in Europe, refused to take sides in the
controversy. Although he had already openly declared that "the
monarchy of the Roman high priest was the pest of Christendom,"
he did not believe that a DIRECT and aggressive attack upon the
Church would accomplish the desired result. Erasmus had already
voiced his own protest against the sale of indulgences, had
already declared that there was no difference between Jesus'
teachings and those of the pagan creeds, and had already tried to
unite the world in a league of brotherhood. What, then, could
this raw, uncouth monk hope to accomplish? Erasmus expressed his
admiration of Luther's courage, but disapproved of his extreme
methods of reform.
Luther raged when Erasmus' views were brought to him. Origen,
Synesius, and Clement of Alexandria had all used moderation, and
were simply excommunicated from the Church as a result. And the
Albigenses, Waldenses and Knights Templar -- they had used
moderation and were burned at the stake. Luther felt that
something more drastic than moderation was needed in this crisis.
> We punish thieves with the gallows, bandits with the sword,
> heretics with fire. Why should not we, with far greater
> propriety, attack with every kind of weapon these very masters of
> perdition, the Cardinals and Popes?
The reply to this outburst was a papal bull condemning Martin
Luther as a heretic. As soon as the paper arrived, Luther called
all his friends together, made a bonfire outside the city walls
and cast into it the document itself, a copy of the Church Canon
and a volume of scholastic theology which he particularly
Up to that time the Church had not taken Martin Luther seriously.
She thought of him only as a vulgar, quarrelsome monk who could
be quickly silenced by the Inquisition. But one morning Pope Leo
received a most disturbing communication from his German
> These mad dogs are now well-equipped with KNOWLEDGE AND POWER.
> They boast that they are no longer ignorant brutes like their
> predecessors. Nine-tenths of the Germans are shouting "Luther!"
> and the other tenth goes as far at least as "Death to the Roman
The pontiff was badly upset by this news. The matter was not as
trivial as he had thought. This stupid monk must be given a
lesson which he would not forget. The Edict of Worms was
published, in which Luther was condemned as an outlaw and every
one warned against giving him food or shelter. It also decreed
> no one shall dare to buy, sell, read or cause to be read any
> books of the aforesaid Martin Luther, since they are foul,
> noxious and written by a notorious and stiff-necked heretic.
As Luther neared Eisenach on his way home from Worms, he was
kidnapped by his friends and taken to the Castle of Wartburg,
where he spent his time making a German translation of the New
Testament. During his retirement, his friends and students tore
down the images of the Saints in the Churches and openly opposed
the celebration of the Mass. Many celibate monks and nuns,
remembering Luther's story of the 6,000 infant skulls which had
been found under a convent in Rome, left their cloisters and went
out into the world. When Luther married an ex-nun, they followed
his example and started their household lives. Finally the whole
of Germany was split up into two opposing factions, southern
Germany remaining loyal to the Pope, northern Germany becoming
Protestant. In 1555 the Peace of Augsburg was ratified, after
which time every ruling Prince was given the opportunity to
choose his own brand of Christianity.
It cannot be denied that the Reformation led to conflicts as
bloody as the "Holy Wars" of the Catholic Church. Luther was
extremely intolerant of anyone who disagreed with his own
interpretation of the scripture; Calvin did not scruple to betray
Servetus to the Inquisition, which burned him as a heretic. Even
the mild Melancthon regarded the latter event with "gratitude."
Why, then, should the Reformation be described as part of the
Whatever may be said of Martin Luther, of his colleagues and
successors in reform, the fact remains that these men were
animated by the fervor of sincerity, by a hatred of corruption
and a longing for freedom from the selfish rule and brazen
hypocrisy of Rome. Whatever were Luther's faults, he THOUGHT FOR
HIMSELF, elected his own beliefs. This was an example to the
world. What he had done, other men could do -- and did. Since
his day religious thought has grown increasingly free, and in the
present, no man need answer to an external authority for his
beliefs unless he so choose.
LANGUAGE FOR THEOSOPHY
by Murray Stentiford
[Adopted from a October 26, 1996 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Can we be creative in presenting theosophy? Do we want to be? My
personal answer is "Absolutely, yes." *How* is where the next
Perhaps we need to be creative about ways of being creative
first, e.g. brainstorm *processes* for people to interact and
develop ways to convey theosophy. The Internet itself is a forum
where just such things can happen.
Then there is language itself. Whenever I give a theosophical
talk, I always try to put what I consider to be the meaning and
essence of each idea in ordinary, original language that relates
as directly as possible to the audience. I believe this is
really important to the successful communication of theosophy and
can be worked-on and developed.
On the other hand, if there's a need to make an exact quote from
say THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I will do it and say so. The language
of the "peak" ideas in the S.D. is to my mind extremely
expressive and surprisingly durable as the decades roll by, but
the innate vastness and freshness of spiritual experience needs
to ever seek new and less limiting ways to express itself. Why
stop where we are when we're only half way?
I believe another factor in successfully imparting theosophy is
intellectual integrity, ie keeping clear in your mind and making
it clear to your audience as well, the source and level of
"authority" for what you're saying, ie whether it's something
you've read and understand well, something you've read and don't
really understand, or something principally from your own insight
and experience. Mere book-learning is not a very good basis for
expressing theosophy and I've seen it put people off.
On the other hand, people respond very much to enthusiasm and
conviction when they're embedded in language.
The collective weight of thought of a tradition, which modern
theosophy has built up to some degree, and more so with its
ancient roots, seems to often stifle flexibility of expression,
but I don't think this *has* to be so. No matter how tried and
I think we can set our focus more on the insights behind and
beyond any of the verbal expressions - in fact, it's critical to
do so when it comes to trying to convey the ideas to others.
There's usually a cultural overlay as well, in older language,
sometimes quite a negative one, eg a repressive attitude to
women, that needs to be discerned for what it is and filtered
out, when speaking to people.
Getting stuck in a way of expression is counter to the spirit of
theosophy, but I don't think it's just a matter of those "in
charge" not listening to requests for change. I think that
when/if they appear to act like this, they are caught in a quite
complex network of things to consider; on the positive side
consciously trying to express their idealism and protectiveness,
but perhaps also unconsciously expressing a part of the
collective shadow side of the theosophical groups in the world,
the part where inertia in the tradition, fear of change and
locked-in vision lurk. So the challenge here is to find ways to
break the choking hold of collective negativity while nurturing
collective positivity, so to speak.
On top of this is the simple fact that most of us don't have the
inner stature or perceptiveness of a Blavatsky, or the ability to
check it out with a spiritual teacher, and so simply can't tell
whether any new language really means the same as the old. This
is where the intellectual integrity and honesty are essential, in
what we say or write.
Better to be clear and enthusiastic about one percent of the
theosophical offering than to sound derivative and fail to
connect with ten percent of it, I reckon.
I think that the service is best achieved in meeting people where
they are, as close to their way of thinking and language as
possible, then giving them what's relevant to their lives and
spiritual pathways. In our humble opinion!
BLISS AND EVIL
by Eldon Tucker
[Based upon a November 27, 1993 posting to email@example.com.]
Bliss is one of the most sought-after experiences in life, an
experience that is both one of the most common, yet one of the
most rare to be found.
With bliss, one is filled with something greater. He is swept
out of the world and forgets himself. He is engulfed in beauty,
ecstacy, something vast and grand.
There is a sense of a remembered reality. Something elsewhere,
long forgotten, dearly wanted, is seen again. One experiences a
combination of an emotional intensity and extreme quiet at the
We could be in the arms of a dearly loved family member, long
lost, but now reunited with us. We could be saying a sad
farewell to a beloved friend, at his death bed. As a teenager,
we could be having our first experience of sex, with a strong
sense of deja vu, of knowing that this is something that we've
known before, something beyond the personality of the day. We
could be swept into a deep reverie through a poignant passage of
music. We could be diving into writing or painting, lost in the
wonder of the creative process. Or perhaps we're shaken by a
brilliant idea, one that opens up wondrous vista of though in our
We are seized, taken captive, filled with the sweep of a higher
power. There is a momentary sensation of perfection, completion,
where we've obtained a glimpse of a higher reality.
At a lower level, bliss comes from the achievement of the object
of desire. We are fulfilled for an instance. We have cast out a
desire, and drawn it back in. It has been fulfilled. Something
has been created and achieved its purpose in life. In this
momentary sensation of completion, we have become bigger, better,
more complete. A part of ourselves, which we lost when casting
it forth as a desire in the world, has returned, and become
united with us again. Now if we could only not cast it out
To fully understand something, now, requires us to know the
opposite as well. We must understand anger, rage, and evil as
the polar opposite to bliss, which comes from perfection and
The opposite to bliss is horror, regret, shame, emptiness, a
total lack of value and meaning. We have gone down, become
abandoned by the higher nature, and corrupted in some new way.
This corruption is to lose an essential quality, to have the
effects of the higher nature diffused, weakened, dispersed,
disassociated with our lives.
The evil side to nature would tear apart ourselves, the
destructive forces would rip us apart. We would be left, in our
hearts, with but regret, shame. With the uplifting of bliss, of
the holy side of our spiritual natures, our lower natures are
changed, transformed, and also destroyed. But in this case the
destruction leaves the seeds of growth, green shoots of future
grander selves. Evil, though, leaves us with future shoots of
evil, a bud, a sapling of corruption.
At the level of the personality, the evil side to life is
experienced as a burning rage, fierce in its lower aspect,
burning hot, fiery, destructive. It's emphasis is
self-destruction, as opposed to self-sacrifice. We die to
achieve our revenge, our vengeance, in honor of teaching others
Slights against us, small harms that others have done us, are
magnified in our hearts to matters deserving of killing ranges.
Like the enraged motorist who slams his car into yours, he is
consumed with the fulfillment of universal evil. The opposite
tendency, to contrast it with this, is where a small act of
kindness of another is magnified in our hearts to a wave of love
and kindness and appreciation in our hearts.
In either case, for good or evil, we are embraced by something
higher than our personal selves. And it comes at many different
levels. For the personality, bliss is pleasure, joy in doing
activities. And in a still higher part of our natures, it is joy
in being, in pure selfhood, in pure relation, unqualified
relation, with others. Likewise, evil, at its highest, is joy in
pure selfishness, pure destructive relation, unqualified by any
sense of one's personal self, in pure relation to the others.
Bliss is, in one aspect, a cyclic experience. At the end of a
cycle, the goal or reward for the experience of life is bliss.
Bliss is also a background consciousness, something that stands
behind and colors our every moment of manifest life. And a third
aspect to bliss is that it represents the joy of reaching
something higher, to breaking through to a higher stage of life,
to achieving manifestation on a higher plane of nature than
before. There is a sense of beauty and rightness to it.
As a periodic experience, bliss comes to us, we are filled with
it, and experience it in a passionate sense. It can be very
emotional, but the fiery energy exhausts itself, and we are left
drained, feeling better, cleansed, uplifted, but at the same time
it has departed. It will return, when our energy has picked up
again, but it has for the moment left us again. We are back to
our ordinary lives and it is gone.
The higher bliss, though, is cool, quiet, a background to the
experience of life. It does not exhaust our vital energies but
like the gentle radiance of the sun, it shines on us through the
myriad experiences of the day.
The same is true, unfortunately, with spiritual evil, as well.
The coolness is an attribute of the spiritual, be it good or
evil, and the higher levels of spiritual evil come with an icy
coldness that is awful to experience.
With spiritual evil, there is an enjoyment of the sense of doing
cruelty, of doing harm, of hurting others, and feeling nothing!
The more violent the pain, the injury inflicted on another, and
still feeling nothing but the icy sweet coldness of not caring,
the greater the experience of spiritual evil. It is really
anti-Buddhi, the shadow side of the buddhic principle.
Instead of acting as co-creator of the world, one is acting as
co- destructor, manifesting isolation and more separateness
beyond the material world, raising those qualities, those
elements of evil, into the higher principles, making them
self-conscious at spiritual levels.
Individuals on the path of evil, the Left Hand Path, are really
on the track of separation from our world, and not just
separation from the other people of the world. The ultimate
result is a Avichi Nirvana, an annihilation of unspeakable
horror, and a following manvantara of abject misery as a Mamo
Chohan. One has left the school of life and suffers an existence
in nature's reform school.
The path of evil is not a natural thing. It is not a mere
symmetry, an equally-valid opposition direction that we could
take. It is not the second of two valid choices in life. It
rather represents a temporary failure, a malfunction, a lack of
success in life.
On the bright side of life, on the side of bliss, we find a
perfection where a much grander scale of being has been obtained.
The ray of consciousness has been withdrawn into the Monad, and
one's existence has been grandly fulfilled! A personal self was
fashioned out of the substances of nature, filled with life, and
given consciousness, then returned home in glory, with the
treasure of self-consciousness! It is a beautiful thing to
This perfection, which is experienced as bliss, is the natural
course, the natural order to things. Nature is moving in this
direction. We are on the Upward Arc, ascending into the
spiritual, and it is the natural course of things to raise
ourselves, to ennoble ourselves, to experience the bliss of the
achieving of perfection. Let us follow it. Let us deeply
experience it. And let us lead our fellows about us to find it
NEW SITE FROM THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY (PASADENA)
by Sarah Belle Dougherty
[based upon a new web page with the author's permission.]
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
A new web site has been opened at :
with links to its existing site at
The new site features Theosophical University Press Online, which
contains full-text versions of over a dozen books from
Theosophical University Press; and the online site of
Sunrisemagazine, with the current issue and articles from back
THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE
This is a publishing arm of The Theosophical Society with
International Headquarters in Pasadena, California. It includes
full-text online editions of Theosophical University Press
Current titles include THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, SECRET DOCTRINE
COMMENTARY (TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE), THE VOICE OF
THE SILENCE, and H. P. BLAVATSKY TO THE AMERICAN CONVENTIONS by
H. P. Blavatsky; LIGHT ON THE PATH and THROUGH THE GATES OF
GOLD by Mabel Collins; THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY by William Q.
Judge; THE MYSTERY SCHOOLS by Grace F. Knoche; EXPANDING
HORIZONS by James A. Long; THE FOUR SACRED SEASONS, GOLDEN
PRECEPTS OF ESOTERICISM, MAN IN EVOLUTION, FUNDAMENTALS OF
THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY (2nd ed., in html format), and OCCULT
GLOSSARY by G. de Purucker; and Katherine Tingley's THEOSOPHY:
THE PATH OF THE MYSTIC, THE WINE OF LIFE, and THE SPLENDOR OF
The majority of these titles are available in print editions, but
several are currently available only online. Questions or
comments about this portion of the site may be addressed to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Further titles will be added periodically.
SUNRISE: THEOSOPHIC PERSPECTIVES
This is an online version of the bimonthly magazine edited by
Grace F. Knoche and published by Theosophical University Press.
It includes the current issue, and over 250 articles selected
from back issues, accessible by author, date, and subject.
SUNRISE presents a wide range of philosophic and scientific
themes in the light of ancient and modern theosophy and its
application to daily experience; reviews of significant books and
trends; commentary on the spiritual principles at the core of the
world's sacred traditions; and insights into the nature of man
and the universe. Issued since 1951, it is nonsectarian and
nonpolitical and is produced by a volunteer staff.
Copyrighted material on the www.theosociety.org/pasadena site may
be downloaded for off-line viewing without charge, but may not be
reproduced or transmitted in whole or in part for commercial or
other use in any form without prior permission from Theosophical
Because of limitations of the ASCII character fonts, and for easy
in searching files, all diacritical marks have been removed from
material appearing on this site. You may contact The
Theosophical Society by email at email@example.com, by mail at PO Box
C, Pasadena, CA 91109-7107, or by fax at (818) 791-0319.
SENZAR: THE MYSTERY OF THE MYSTERY LANGUAGE
by John Algeo
[Part One of Two Parts, reprinted with author's permission.]
Among the curious lore of H. P. Blavatsky's SECRET DOCTRINE are
her references to a language called Senzar. Senzar is a mystery.
According to Blavatsky, it is the original language of the
stanzas of Dzyan, which are the core of her great book, and of
certain commentaries and glosses upon the Book of Dzyan, others
being in Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit. The version of the
stanzas that she presents in THE SECRET DOCTRINE is an abridgment
of the originals and blends together the text of the stanzas with
various glosses (I, 23). ---
[References to volume and page number only are to THE SECRET
DOCTRINE (the original pagination); other references are
identified by abbreviations.]
--- Some texts of the stanzas themselves are in other languages;
for example, stanza 6 is said to be translated from a Chinese
text (I, 36n).
The impression we get, then, is that the wording of the stanzas
in the SD is not simply a translation of some set text in a
language called Senzar, but is rather a restatement for modern
students of such parts of the stanzas as Blavatsky herself
understood, drawing upon such sources as she had available to
make the ideas more comprehensible. That is, the stanzas of
Dzyan, as we have them, are not a fixed sacred text, but an
approximation. The version we have is less a translation than a
paraphrase. That difference is important for our understanding
of what kind of language Senzar is.
Blavatsky calls Senzar "a tongue absent from the nomenclature of
languages and dialects with which philology is acquainted"
(I, xxxvii), and so it is. The name of Senzar appears in none of
the lists of the world's languages that linguists have compiled,
nor is it ever likely to. We know about Senzar only what HPB
has told us, although in fact she has told us a good deal.
SENZAR AND OTHER LANGUAGES
Much of what Blavatsky says about Senzar makes it seem to be an
ordinary language like other languages, especially if we read her
comments uncritically or with an excessively literal
interpretation. Indeed, the question of what Senzar is, is
significant precisely because it is a typical case of the
temptation to interpret Blavatsky (and other theosophical
authorities) in a literal, materialistic way, when what they are
talking about is often something more symbolic and abstract.
The temptation to literalize is ever present and is fostered by
Blavatsky herself. For example, she describes a dream in which
she was studying Senzar in the Master K.H.'s house at the same
time that she was improving her English with his aid (ML 471).
We might leap to the conclusion that Senzar and English are
similar things. This was, however, a dream only, and even so,
her description does not tell us what sort of thing Senzar is.
In THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Blavatsky quotes a "Senzar Catechism"
(I, 9), which is elsewhere referred to as the "Esoteric [or
Occult] Catechism." This catechism is not necessarily written in
Senzar; it may instead be about Senzar, as its alternative titles
suggest that it is about esoteric or occult subjects.
The straightforward definition of Senzar in THE THEOSOPHICAL
GLOSSARY (295) makes it sound like an ordinary language put to
> SENZAR. The mystic name for the secret sacerdotal language or
> the "Mystery-speech" of the initiated Adepts, all over the
Because of statements like this, we can also assume that when
Blavatsky uses expressions like "secret sacerdotal language" or
"mystery speech," she is probably referring to Senzar.
Yet Blavatsky sometimes uses terms in broad and overlapping
senses. Consequently we cannot be sure that all her statements
about a "primordial," "sacred," "secret," "sacerdotal," or
"mystery" language refer to Senzar, though it seems likely that
many of them do. Some apparent contradictions, however, may be
due to her using such terms of both Senzar and other languages.
We cannot be sure. Even her use of the terms LANGUAGE and SPEECH
is by no means so conclusive as it might appear in identifying
what Senzar is -- a matter considered in detail below.
Blavatsky does explicitly compare Senzar and other ordinary
languages. For example, she speaks of the "Senzar and Sanskrit
alphabets" (CW XII, 642), as though they were parallel things. She
contrasts Sanskrit as an ancient vernacular language with
> the sacred or Mystery-language, that which, even in our own age,
> is used by the Hindu fakirs and initiated Brahmans in their
> magical evocations" (ISIS II, 46).
She calls the "sacerdotal language or "mystery-tongue" the
"direct progenitor" or "root" of Sanskrit (II, 200, CW V, 298)
and identifies Senzar as being "ancient Sanskrit" (ISIS I, 440).
Blavatsky also seems to relate Senzar to Avestan, the language of
the most ancient Persian scriptures, but her comments in that
regard are susceptible of more than one interpretation.
The book containing the ancient Persian hymns is often called the
Zend-Avesta; hence the name ZEND was formerly used for the
language in which the book was written. However, the word ZEND
means a 'commentary,' ZEND-AVESTA denoting something like
'Interpreted Avesta' or 'Avesta with Comments.'
Blavatsky is well aware of the proper meaning of ZEND when she
makes a punning identification of it with Senzar, in the kind of
"occult etymology" that she was fond of, but that no philologist
would accept as having historical validity. We might call such
wordplay "synchronic etymology." ---
[By contrast with the usual sort of diachronic (or historical)
etymology that philologists practice and with allusion to C.G.
Jung's principle of synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence.]
--- There is no historical, causal connection between the words
in question, but their similarity of sound is a meaningful
coincidence. What HPB says about Zend and Senzar bears
> ... the word "Zend" does not apply to any language, whether
> dead or living, and never belonged to any of the languages or
> dialects of ancient Persia ... It means, as in one sense
> correctly stated, "a commentary or explanation," but it also
> means that which the Orientalists do not seem to have any idea
> about, viz., the "rendering of the esoteric into exoteric
> sentences," the veil used to conceal the correct meaning of the
> ZEN-(D)-ZAR texts, the sacerdotal language in use among the
> initiates of archaic India. Found now in several undecipherable
> inscriptions, it is still used and studied unto this day in the
> secret communities of the Eastern adepts, and called by
> them -- according to the locality -- ZEND-ZAR and BRAHMA or
> DEVA-BHASHYA. (CW IV, 517-18n)
BHASHYA is Sanskrit for 'speaking, talking'; thus BRAHMA-BHASHYA
or DEVA-BHASHYA means 'divine language.' Elsewhere, HPB cites
a letter in which the "secret sacerdotal language" is called
SENZAR BRAHMA-BHASHYA (CW V, 62). HPB's remarks on Zend cited
above are echoed in the GLOSSARY (386):
> ZEND means "a commentary or explanation" ... As the
> translator of the VENDIDAD remarks ...: "what it is
> customary to call 'the Zend language', ought to be named 'the
> Avesta language', the Zend being no language at all ...
> Why should not the Zend be of the same family, if not identical
> with the ZEN-SAR, meaning also the speech EXPLAINING THE
> ABSTRACT SYMBOL, or the "mystery language," used by Initiates?
However, if Zend and Senzar are "of the same family, if not
identical," and if Zend is "no language at all," what shall we
conclude about the nature of Senzar? Apparently that it too is no
language at all. Moreover, in both the above passages, HPB
indicates that Senzar (under the punning names ZEND-ZAR and
ZEN-SAR) has something to do with interpreting esoteric
communications into exoteric forms and with explaining abstract
symbols. This connection with abstract symbols is significant,
as we shall see.
Despite these comparisons of Senzar with ordinary language, and
other such comparisons noted below, Senzar is no ordinary form of
speech. It is secret. It is distributed over the whole globe. It
is used by initiated adepts. It involves the explanation (ZEND) of
abstract symbols. And it has other peculiarities that set it off
from ordinary lanaguage.
SOME PUZZLES ABOUT SENZAR
Another of HPB's language comparisons creates a puzzle for
interpretation, if we assume that by Senzar she is talking about
an ordinary language:
> The Neter Khari (hieratic alphabet) and secret (sacerdotal)
> speech of the Egyptians is closely related to the oldest "Secret
> Doctrine Speech." It is a Devanagari with mystical combinations
> and additions, into which the Senzar largely enters. (CW XIV,
Hieratic is a cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. Its
comparison to Devanagari probably refers only to the sacred use
of both scripts; they are quite different in appearance and
principles. If "the oldest 'Secret Doctrine Speech'" is Senzar,
as seems likely, HPB twice states a relationship between
Senzar and hieroglyphics -- a difficult statement to understand in
view of her earlier linkage of Senzar and Sanskrit, since it and
Egyptian have no known affinity.
[Some Russian linguists have proposed a linkage between
Hamito-Semitic (which includes Egyptian) and Indo-European
(which includes Sanskrit) in a hypothetical Nostratic
language family; however, this theory is generally regarded
as speculative. In any case, Blavatsky seems to be talking
more about writing systems than about language proper in the
passage cited above. Her conflation of writing and speech is
There are other puzzles in HPB's statements about Senzar. One
comes during a discussion of the identity of Amida Buddha, in
which she states, "'Amida' is the Senzar form of 'Adi'" (CW
XIV, 425). AMIDA is in fact the Japanese form of the Sanskrit word
AMITABHA, the name of one of the five (or seven) Dhyani Buddhas
that symbolize the creative power of the Adi or Primordial
Buddha. If we take HPB's statement as an etymology, she is
wrong on two counts. AMIDA is Japanese, not Senzar (unless
Senzar is also Japanese, as well as Sanskrit and Egyptian); and
AMIDA does not mean the same as ADI.
Moreover, HPB must have known those simple facts. It is
difficult to imagine that she did not, and therefore she must
have meant something other than a simple etymology by her
statement. In fact, HPB was not much interested in or concerned
about the philologist's form of etymology; she was far more
interested in a symbolic connection between things. This
peculiar statement must be a symbolic one, a possibility to which
we shall return.
As a final instance of the puzzles surrounding Senzar, we can
note the legend of the marvelous Kumbum tree. It is a tree that
is supposed to grow only in Tibet and to have sprung originally
from one of the hairs of the Lama Tsong-Kha-pa, an avatar of the
Buddha. Blavatsky quotes an account by the Abbe Huc, who says
that the leaves and bark of this tree have impressed upon them
letters and characters and that, if the bark is peeled off,
different characters appear on the inner layers.
The tale is a familiar sort of traveler's marvelous narrative,
but to it HPB adds several details. She says that the writing on
the Kumbum tree is
> in the Sansar (or language of the Sun) characters (ancient
> Sanskrit); and that the sacred tree, in its various parts,
> contains IN EXTENSO the whole history of the creation, and in
> substance the sacred books of Buddhism. In this respect, it
> bears the same relation to Buddhism as the pictures in the Temple
> of Dendera, in Egypt, do to the ancient faith of the Pharaohs.
> (ISIS I, 440)
The association of Senzar with Sanskrit has already been noted,
and the comparison of Senzar with pictures will be noted below.
Blavatsky adds that the Egyptian pictures allegorically represent
a cosmogony (ISIS I, 441), a significant point since Senzar is
also used in the Stanzas of Dzyan to express a cosmogony.
Elsewhere, she repeats the main points about the Kumbum tree and
> The letter-tree of Tibet is a fact; and moreover, the
> inscriptions in its leaf-cells and fibres are in the SENZAR, or
> sacred language used by the Adepts, and in their totality
> comprise the whole Dharma of Buddhism and the history of the
> world. (CW IV, 350-51)
The Kumbum tree is as much a mystery as the Senzar writing that
appears upon it.
Some of what Blavatsky says about Senzar raises it from the realm
of the ordinary to that of the extraordinary -- indeed, of the
fantastic, if her comments are taken literally. She links Senzar
with such different writing systems as hieroglyphics and
devanagari. She identifies a Japanese word as a Senzar form of
Sanskrit. She says that the legendary Kumbum tree's leaves and
bark are impressed with Senzar symbols spelling out the whole of
Buddhist teaching and world history. What kind of language can be
and do all those things?
THE ANCIENT MYSTERY LANGUAGE
When Blavatsky talks about Senzar itself, she provides a very
ancient genealogy for the language. She says that "there was a
time when the whole world was 'of one lip and of one knowledge,'"
(I, 229), which is to say that "there was, during the youth of
mankind, one language, one knowledge, one universal religion"
(I, 341). In this idea, HPB is echoing Ralston Skinner, who
in a passage quoted in THE SECRET DOCTRINE postulates "an ancient
language which modernly and up to this time appears to have been
lost, the vestiges of which, however, abundantly exist" (I, 308).
She frequently repeats this idea, mentioning "the one sacerdotal
universal tongue" (CW XIV, 96), "one universal esoteric, or
'Mystery'-Language ... the language of the Hierophants,
which has seven 'dialects,' so to speak, each referring, and
being specially appropriate, to one of the seven mysteries of
Nature" (I, 310), and she says that this "secret language, common
to all schools of occult science[,] once prevailed throughout the
world" (CW V, 306).
This "secret sacerdotal tongue" is Senzar, the language in which
was written "an old book," the original work from which the books
of Kiu-ti were compiled. The "old book" was taken down in Senzar
"from the words of the Divine Beings, who dictated it to the sons
of Light, in Central Asia, at the very beginning of the 5th (our)
Race." But Senzar itself is much older than that,
> for there was a time when its language (the SEN-ZAR) was known to
> the Initiates of every nation, when the forefathers of the Toltec
> understood it as easily as the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis,
> who inherited it, in their turn, from the sages of the 3rd Race,
> the MANUSHIS, who learnt it direct from the DEVAS of the 2nd and
> 1st Races. (I, xliii)
The foregoing passage is of considerable interest, since, in
providing such antiquity for the history of Senzar, it has
effectively indicated that Senzar is not properly a language at
all. In commenting on sloka 36 of stanza 9, "The Fourth Race
developed Speech," Blavatsky says:
> The Commentaries explain that the first Race -- the etherial or
> astral Sons of Yoga, also called "Self-born" -- was, in our sense,
> speechless, as it was devoid of mind on our plane ... The
> Third Race developed in the beginning a kind of language which
> was only a slight improvement on the various sounds in Nature, on
> the cry of gigantic insects and of the first animals ...
> The whole human race was at that time of "one language and of one
> lip." (II, 198)
Obviously, it could not have been much of a language or of a lip.
Indeed, this primeval sort of communication is not what we would
call language at all. Since language, in our ordinary sense of
the term, was not developed until the Fourth Race period, that
which was learnt from the Devas of the First and Second Races and
inherited from the sages of the Third must be something other
than ordinary language.
Whatever Senzar was, HPB tells how it came to be a secret,
sacerdotal "language" (CW XIV, 180-81). After reiterating the
claim that "there was in antiquity one knowledge and one
language," she says that the knowledge together with the language
in which it is expressed became esoteric after the submersion of
Atlantis, "and, from being universal, it became limited to the
few." The memory of the esotericizing of "the 'one-lip' -- or the
Mystery-language -- " knowledge of which was "gradually denied to
subsequent generations," was preserved in the Biblical myth of
the Tower of Babel, concerning a time when human beings were
prevented from understanding each other's speech because of their
sin of presumption.
As a result of the esotericizing of Senzar, two languages came
into use in every nation: "(a) the profane or popular language of
the masses; (b) the sacerdotal or secret language of the
Initiates of the temples and mysteries -- the LATTER BEING ONE AND
UNIVERSAL" (CW V, 297). This divided state of affairs is not,
however, to continue indefinitely. When Blavatsky remarks "that
the entire cycle of the universal mystery-language will not be
mastered for whole centuries to come" (I, 318), she implies that
the once generally known and now esoteric language will again one
day be fully mastered by humanity.
The existence of sacred languages is well-known throughout the
world. Latin was, and to a limited extent still is, such a
sacred language for Western Christendom. Hebrew is such a
language for Judaism. Sanskrit is for Hinduism, and Pali for
Southern Buddhism. Sacred languages are used in scriptures, for
rituals, and often for scholarly writings on religious subjects.
Such sacred languages may be intended by THE THEOSOPHICAL
GLOSSARY's entry for MYSTERY LANGUAGE (220):
> The sacerdotal secret jargon employed by the initiated priests,
> and used only when discussing sacred things. Every nation had
> its own "mystery" tongue, unknown save to those admitted to the
HPB puts such great emphasis on the unity of the one mystery
language of Senzar that, if we are to understand literally the
statement here that every nation had its own (by implication,
distinct) language, then what is intended must be something like
the sacred languages of various religions rather than the
primordial mystery language called Senzar. Generally when HPB
talks about the one universal mystery language, she means
something considerably more basic and mysterious than
run-of-the-mill sacred languages. HPB does sometimes use one
term for several referents, so we should probably distinguish
between the one primordial mystery language of all humanity,
which is Senzar, and the various mystery languages of individual
cultures, which are sacred languages like Latin, Hebrew, and
Blavatsky's history of Senzar traces it back to the primordial
times of our world cycle, before humanity had a physical tongue to
speak with or a mind to think with. It was the common possession
of nascent humanity before language proper had developed at all.
Then a point came in the evolution of our species when a great
disruption occurred, symbolized by such myths as the Tower of
Babel, the Flood, and the destruction of Atlantis. Primitive
communion was broken, a disjunction separated what is consciously
known from what is subconsciously remembered, and a portion of the
human mind sank into the waters of the unconscious as another
portion become consciously active.
The myths of Babel, the Flood, and Atlantis seem to speak of such
a separation within the human soul by which the conscious and
unconscious aspects of our mind came into being as separate modes,
replacing the undivided and undifferentiated mind of
proto-humanity. Senzar was the common language of humanity before
that division. After the differentiation of conscious from
unconscious mind, Senzar become the "esoteric" language, that is,
the lagnuage of the unconscious, which the initiated adept
translates into the public exoteric languages of the conscious
LANGUAGE, LANGUAGES, AND WRITING
To make sense out of the mysteries surrounding Senzar, we need to
consider the meanings of the word LANGUAGE. Like most other
words, it has more than one use. If we understand a word in one
of its meanings, while it was intended by its producer in a
different meaning, the result is confusion and misinterpretation.
WEBSTER'S THIRD NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY has six main,
including fourteen subsidiary, meanings for the word LANGUAGE,
two of which are of especial relevance here. The first meaning
> the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them
> used and understood by a considerable community and established
> by long usage.
Examples cited for this meaning are "French language," "Bantu group
of languages," and "classical Latin is a dead language." Another
meaning, however, is
> a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use
> of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having
> understood meanings.
Examples cited for this meaning are "finger language," "language of
flowers," "language of painting," and "mathematics is a universally
understood language." Restricting our consideration to these two
meanings out of fourteen, we can construct a language "tree" to
show some sorts of things that have been called "language".
. Human Languages
. (1) Literal Language (English, French, Bantu, Tamil, Latin)
. (2) Figurative Language .......... (Allegory, Parable, Myth)
. (3) Phonograms ........... (Alphabets, Syllabaries, Rebuses)
. (4) Ideographs ............ (Hieroglyphs, Kanji, &, @, 5, +)
. Other Communication
. (5) Pictographs ... (Drawings by Amerinds and Cave-dwellers)
. (6) Other Artifacts ................ (Traffic lights, Music)
. (7) Natural Objects ..................... (Gesture, Flowers)
FIGURE I: Types of "Language"
Language in the first sense, ordinary human languages, can be
either speech or writing, the first being language proper and the
latter a visual representation of spoken language.
Speech can be either (1) literal, so that by it we mean exactly
what we say (and a spade is a spade); or it can be (2)
figurative, symbolic, so that by it we mean something other than
what we say (and a spade -- as in the suit of cards -- may then stand
for a sword, which is a symbol for the intellect). Ordinary
literal languages include our ordinary, everyday uses of English,
French, Bantu, Tamil, ancient Latin, and a great many others.
The figurative uses of language include allegories, like Bunyan's
PILGRIM'S PROGRESS; parables, like those in the gospels; and
myths, like those about the ancient Greek gods.
Writing consists of either characters that represent the sounds
of a language, called (3) phonograms, or characters that
represent the words of the language, called (4) ideographs. Each
phonogram may stand for an individual sound, as the letters of
our own alphabet do, or it may stand for a whole syllable, as the
characters in a Japanese form of writing called hiragana do. A
rebus is a punning form of writing in which signs representing
things are used to stand instead for the sound of the thing's
name; for example, a picture of a bee followed by a picture of a
leaf might stand for belief (bee-leaf).
An ideograph, on the other hand, stands for a whole word and
represents its meaning rather than its sound. Egyptian
hieroglyphics used ideographs, as does another form of Japanese
writing called kanji, which is derived from the Chinese
ideographs. We use a few ideographs in English: "&" and "@", the
signs for 'and' and 'at'; numerals like "5"; and the signs of
mathematical operations like "+" for 'plus.' Some of these signs
are used in all European languages, though pronounced differently
in each language; thus "5" is "five" in English, "funf" in German,
"cinco" in Spanish, but always means the same thing.
Language in the second sense, a nonlinguistic sort of symbolic
system, includes (5) pictographs -- pictures that are intended to
convey particular meanings, such as those drawn by the American
Indians or the cavemen in Europe. It also includes the symbolic
use of things we make -- (6) artifacts such as red and green
traffic lights, or music that conveys ideas and feelings. In
addition, it includes the symbolic use of (7) natural objects: we
can read meanings in facial gestures, or we talk about the
language of flowers, in which pansies represent thought; lilies,
purity; and forget-me-nots, remembrance.
The fact that so many different things can be called language is
not a recent discovery. Ralston Skinner, in a passage quoted by
HPB (I, 308), points to this very fact:
> To clear up an ambiguity as to the term language: Primarily the
> word means the expression of ideas by human speech; but,
> secondarily, it may mean the expression of ideas by any other
It is, however, easy to confuse the many senses of language, and
any of us may do so when we talk about ways of conveying meaning.
We often confuse speech with writing in a careless manner of
talking about one or the other, and so did Blavatsky. Thus she
remarks, "The DEVANAGARI -- the Sanskrit characters -- is the 'Speech
of the Gods' and Sanskrit the divine language" (CW VII, 264). On
the one hand, she correctly distinguishes between devanagari, the
characters for writing Sanskrit, and the Sanskrit language or
speech itself; but at the same time, she refers to the written
characters as "speech," an obvious inconsistency. Blavatsky may
have been thinking of the Sanskrit word as meaning 'speech of the
gods,' but its etymological sense is rather 'divine city
Devanagari is a cross between an alphabet and a syllabary. It
has some letters that represent vowels (when the vowels form
syllables without any consonant) and other letters that represent
consonants plus the vowel "A". Diacritic marks (signs like
accents) are added above or below a consonant letter to show that
it is followed by some vowel other than "a" or that it is followed
by no vowel at all. Although an unusual form of writing,
devanagari is clearly one in which the characters stand for
sounds. Therefore it is puzzling to see HPB remark,
> Real Devanagari -- non-phonetic characters -- meant formerly the
> outward signals, so to say, THE SIGNS USED IN THE
> INTERCOMMUNICATION BETWEEN GODS AND INITIATED MORTALS. (CW
> V, 306)
The writing system we know as devanagari has clearly phonetic
characters. So either HPB means that originally the
characters had some additional, nonphonetic value, or she means
that the historical devanagari developed out of or was influenced
by or replaced some earlier nonphonetic system of writing. The
importance of this remark about devanagari is that it shows one
must be careful in interpreting what HPB means. A facile
interpretation is likely to be wrong.
It is even possible that the "real devanagari" HPB refers to
may not be a writing system at all -- at least, in the strict sense
of a system of visible marks that represent the sounds or words
of a language. In the GLOSSARY (316), the term SYMBOLISM is
> The pictorial expression of an idea or a thought. Primordial
> WRITING had at first no characters, but a symbol generally stood
> for a whole phrase or sentence. A symbol is thus a recorded
> parable, and a parable a spoken symbol. The Chinese written
> language is nothing more than symbolical writing, each of its
> several thousand letters being a symbol.
Several different things are combined in that statement. Chinese
writing is properly speaking ideographic; that is, its characters
stand basically for word meanings rather than word sounds. When,
however, a pictorial symbol stands for a whole group of ideas or
thoughts that might be variously expressed by a sentence or group
of sentences, it is a pictograph and is not properly writing at
all, but rather a form of communication out of which primordial
writing may indeed have developed. An example of a pictograph is
an Amerindian drawing that depicts a treaty of friendship between
Indian tribes and the American government.
An American Indian Pictograph
[based on Henry R. Schoolcraft, INFORMATION RESPECTING THE
HISTORY, CONDITION, AND PROSPECTS OF THE INDIAN TRIBES OF THE
UNITED STATES (1853), reprinted from John Algeo, PROBLEMS IN THE
ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, 3rd ed. (New
York: Harcourt, 1982), 54-55.]
Symbols can be pictures, like the Amerindian pictograph, or more
abstract drawings, like the yantras of some forms of Hinduism.
They can be other objects, either natural ones like the Himalayas
or artifactual ones like Stonehenge. They can be words, either
spoken or written. Words are especially likely to be symbolic
when they are used figuratively, in parables or allegories.
Moreover the same idea can be expressed symbolically through a
variety of alternative forms, in which case the alternative forms
are equivalents (as HPB says, a "symbol is thus a recorded
parable, and a parable a spoken symbol"). So Skinner, as quoted
by HPB (I, 308), remarks about the ancient mystery language:
> The peculiarity of this language was that it could be contained
> in another, concealed and not to be perceived, save through the
> help of special instruction; letters and syllabic signs
> possessing at the same time the powers or meanings of numbers, of
> geometrical shapes, pictures, or ideographs and symbols, the
> designed scope of which would be determinatively helped out by
> parables in the shape of narratives or parts of narratives; while
> also it could be set forth separately, independently, and
> variously, by pictures, in stone work, or in earth constructions.
Skinner says the mystery language that he has hypothesized and
that HPB elsewhere calls Senzar can be expressed in a
concealed fashion in ordinary language through the symbolism of
the letter shapes or correspondences, but can also be expressed
through parabolic stories and visually in constructions of many
kinds. That mystery language is thus not a single form of
expression, but is rather a symbolic use of many different forms.
The word LANGUAGE can be used to refer to many different things:
to human speech or written representations of it, to symbolic
drawings and the symbolic use of objects of all types. All of
those are varieties of communication systems. Cutting across the
many senses of the word LANGUAGE as a communication system are two
main modes of meaning: literal and symbolic.
Literal meaning is that by which things are themselves (as a spade
is a spade) or represent other things simply and straightforwardly
(as the word BOOK represents printed sheets of paper bound
together). Symbolic meaning is that by which things -- words,
stories, events, objects -- represent other things in a complex
and allusive way, by analogies and correspondences (as a cross
represents matter, suffering, the world, and so on). Senzar does
not seem to be a language in the sense of a simple communication
system. Instead it looks more like a mode of meaning -- the
symbolic mode -- applied to any sort of language system.
TOWARD A THEOSOPHY OF ART
by Keith Price
It's possible to become obsessed with many things, including sex
and art. How are the two related? How are they spiritual or
capable of being SPIRITUALIZED or theosophical in the sense of
echoing in a NEW way the Ancient Wisdom?
I would like to suggest that it doesn't take a lot of effort to
be influenced indirectly, unconsciously by art of the Ancient
Wisdom tradition. It is really all around us, not just in coded
hidden esoteric form, but out in the open as the CODE itself.
Our alphabets and number systems, Egyptian, Hebrew, Roman,
Phoenician, have allowed the creation of our dynamic, one might
even say monstrous technologies like the Internet which we are
now sharing and which is nothing more than the dew jewels in
Indra's net of consciousness crystallized, mechanized and
electrified to create a new kind of old linking of our very
consciousness which CANNOT be separated from our SPIRIT.
Try as we might, we are all hapless dupes and victims most of the
time and active Masterful co- creators some of the time of the
same basic elements of communication as art whether the elements
are sound, light, color, electromagnetism, number, letters,
biological DNA markers etc.
I picked up Giovanni Gentile's book THE PHILOSOPHY OF ART
synchonistically. I had no idea that his life was his ART, that
his philosophy was ultimately his DESTINY, tragic and beautiful
like art itself. I only skimmed in an accelerated learning style
his translated work. The translator apologized that Gentile's
style was too prolix, diffuse and ITALIEN-atedly romantic for our
dry scholarly plane fair English tastes. He was verbose but not
logical. He accentuated, some would say over accentuated the
possibilities that were inherent almost immanent in the operatic
style of Italian.
I would like to go on to echo some problems he uncovered and
lived out. They haunt our world today like an uneasy Zeitgeist
that is in no way paltry or polter. I am talking about his
collusion with Mussolini's regime of fascism. Like Ezra Pound,
he did the Unforgivable. His suggestions even deified a style of
art, a style of life that we can no longer even CONSIDER in this
age of political CORRECTNESS. How could he have betrayed us, the
future artists, the future citizens that were, are, and will be
starving for MEANING?
Fasten your seat belt fellow theosophists. His life and thought
weren't pretty, warm, fuzzy or new age at all. Shirley McClaine
and Jane Fonda wouldn't go near and I fear I shouldn't go near
either. But I am definitely not in their league, so I have a
certain freedom, to dare, to know, to will and FLAP my FACE.
What was his fearful message? He dared to suggest that the artist
cannot will to be silent. That art is not so much thought in the
Aristotelean Appollonian formalistic logical mode, but IS a
priori, de facto FEELING before it is anything. That feeling,
not form or matter or thought arises ex nihlo. Who can look at
this? Who would consider the fearful consequences of acting from
FEELING, not neurolinguistic programming of the political correct
and righteously spiritual in a theosophical mode? What is the
brotherhood of humanity?
Whoa! No, I am not apologizing for the jack-booted -- a term that
has amazingly reappeared in the STRANGEST mouths and other
orifices -- a juggernaut of genocidal madness. Yet fate moves us
from within. Then the moving finger cannot help but trace a line
that is not fully under conscious control, but is under the
control of FEELING before form.
Before we judge and think and talk, we feel. We are doomed to
art more than sin. It is original and drives the market at
Southeby's daily. Jackie O's sheets are not my sheets and for
valuable reasons. President Kennedy, not to mention Aristotle,
never slept in MY bed even as platonic ideals, believe me!
The very people that kill and maim and feed and fuel the world
economy and death mills are the first to send troops to Africa on
HuMANi-samaritan (sic-sick) missions of mercy.
Mercy, is right and amazing grace to boot! Society always puts it
best face forward, but it always sends someone else sons' to the
war zones and gas chambers. Can we worry about issues of ART and
FEELING before we FEED the starving minions of the juicy jungles
of tribal jealousies of Hatfield and McCoy rivalries that would
make the Irish blush with Republican terrorist shame?
Art is commerce, is politics, is economics, is spirit, is
theosophy. Gentile's look at Leopardi's poetry among other
things lead to a very uneasy truce with Mussolini that ultimately
lead to his assassination for standing up for antifascist
propagandists in the underground in 1944. Like Bernardo
Bertulluci's antihero (if there ever was one) in THE CONFORMIST,
Gentile like Mussolini and perhaps even Hitler helped the WORLD
PROCESS OF ART in a way that is tragicomic in the worst way like
a Borsht belt comedian trying to imitate Stridents and for an Eva
Peron encore? Madonna, the truth is that we never loved you, only
we couldn't take our eyes and ears off you, you PROGRAMMED our
soul! I don't want my MTV anymore, not like that! Was his/her/now
our song and thought worth her salt? The sulfur dioxide fumes of
hell leaps around his soul tormented by the thought: what if I
Didn't have to do it just that way. Could he escape our
condemnation? Could we put him up there with the greats like
Juddu Krishnimurti not to mention Col. Olcott or even HPB? Yet
all are great just because they did what they had to do despite
the judgements of history, but with de-infinite help even from
the likes of the 3rd Reich, Spaghetti fascism (oxymoronic, I'm
sure) and MTV (heard any music there recently?).
Does Gentile's spirit live today? Tyger, typer burning bright, in
the armies of the night, what immortal hand or art could frame
thy fearless symmetry?
What would a theosophy of art (not theosophical art, whatever
that might be) be, look like, feel like? What heartfelt movement
is rumbling just under the surface of the fabric of time ready to
emerge? With a roar or whimper, by fire or ice, it is all the
same and can be no different. Let the Feelings be with you.
Fellow artists unite!
ONE CAN ONLY SMILE
by Eldon Tucker
Hearing of Bakti Yoga, of union with a diety, of estatic bliss,
we may think that this would be the ultimate form of
consciousness, the most perfect, the most wonderful, the most
fullfilling. But it is not.
There is a state that is higher than estatic bliss. And it is
not a sense of perfect peace, however wonderful that may be. It
might come to us in a quiet moment of emotional exhaustion after
a devotion, perhaps to beautiful music, or after a streneous
mental probing of the High Philosophy.
This experience has to do with healing the ultimate split, the
ultimate separation in life. It is not a duality in the usual
sense, not a split that arises, not the pair of opposites that
come into being when a qualitity manifests itself. Take Ethics,
for instance. When it comes into manifestation, it splits into
the opposites of Good and Evil, it has split.
The ultimate split is not a pair of opposites, but rather the
duality of the manifest and the unmanifest, of being and
non-being, of existence and non-existence. We experience this
split throughout all of eternity, and go through cyclic
existences without end. But it is possible to rise above it, to
rise above the sense of being in existence or not in existence.
We are not talking about a sense of wholeness, since it is
neither complete nor incomplete. It is not perfection, since it
is not dependent upon our state of evolution. And it is not
bliss, since it is neither fulfilled nor lacking in any manner.
There is not brillance of understanding in it, since it is not
known or knowable. It can neither be grasped nor let go of and
ignored. This experience is both a part of our nature, an aspect
of our consciousness, a view of ours in the experience of life,
and also nothing at all to do with us!
It has a name, and yet is nameless. It is clearly defined in our
Teachings, yet hidden behind the words. Beautiful and engaging,
a source of rapture, it is yet so common and unnoticable a part
of our existence that we go through life unaware.
We do not reach this experience by going to higher planes, by
magic or personal self-cultivation; we never reach it regardless
of our place in life or closeness to perfection. Yet we are
already there; we already have it.
If we look for this experience, we don't see it, because it is
lost behind the mask of words, the mental image we create when we
search. Yet it also does not come by waiting for it.
This thing is unmanifest, for no imperfect creature in the world
could represent nor give expression to it. It is unconditioned,
since no event in the world, at any time, can change it. It is
beyond attribute, since no virtue nor eternal ideal can qualify
it. And yet, it is behind and throughout everything.
We achieve this experience, this insight, this appreciation of
life by not reaching out to it. We become aware by not giving
our attention to WHAT WE THINK IT MIGHT BE. It always exists in
the periphery of our awareness. And we just KNOW IT and can
only smile. There is no other way to express it.
HPB: A WOMAN GENERATIONS AHEAD OF HER TIME
by Judy D. Saltzman, Ph.D.
[Reprinted with permission from a web page of Sylvia Cranston's.]
A hundred years ago, a leading New York newspaper, THE SUN,
commenced a biographical account of the life of Helena Blavatsky
with these words:
> A woman who, for one reason or another, has kept the world
> talking of her, disputing about her, defending or assailing her
> character and motives, joining her enterprise or opposing its
> might and main, and in her death being as much telegraphed about
> between two continents as an emperor, must have been a remarkable
In 1986, the centenary year of THE HODGSON REPORT, the Society
for Psychical Research (SPR) itself issued a three page press
release to the newspapers and leading magazines in Great Britain,
Canada and the United States. It opened with these words:
> Madame Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society was
> unjustly condemned, new study concludes." Dr. Vernon Harrison
> reexamined the case and presented a twenty-five page report
> entitled: J'ACCUSE: AN EXAMINATION OF THE HODGSON REPORT OF 1885,
> published in total by the SPR the very same year. Harrison
> included this comment in his report: "I apologize to her [HPB]
> that it has taken us one hundred years to demonstrate that she
> wrote truly.
Cranston's biography is the best recent publication on the life
and influence of Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. It is
characterized by a fairness and balance in describing her life
and work. This current book has the advantage of being written
near the end of the twentieth century when interest in her works
such as ISUS UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE and others has been
reawakened and has greatly intensified.
The enormous value of this particular volume is that instead of
stressing Blavatsky's paranormal abilities, such as clairvoyance
and telekinesis, as do some biographies, it focuses directly on
the heart of her work and her mission: compassion and help for
suffering humanity. Furthermore, the book does not characterize
the Theosophical Movement as a "New Age" fad, but views it
comprehensively as an attempt to bring forth and to synthesize
the Divine Wisdom of the ages which is at the core of all world
religions and mature philosophies.
The chapters on Theosophy and modern science are particularly
fascinating, because they do show how Theosophy is, in essence, a
scientific attempt to understand religions, and also a religious
attempt to spiritualize science.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the conclusion
in which Blavatsky's influence on the "Reincarnation Renaissance"
and "New Age" is discussed. Regarding science, for example, the
book cites the ideas of the infinite divisibility of the atom,
and the convertibility of matter to energy, which were predicted
in the first volume of THE SECRET DOCTRINE (pp. 519-20).
Blavatsky never claimed to be the inventor or discoverer of these
ideas, but declares they have long been a part of esoteric
The last section of the book also discusses H.P. Blavatsky's
great influence on the arts and humanities. Great poets and
writers such as W.B.Yeats, George William Russell, Jack London,
E. M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce,
Thornton Wilder and others are mentioned as being profoundly
influenced by Theosophy, and whose writings admit to a belief in
reincarnation, an idea first introduced to the West by Blavatsky.
The occult dynamics of Theosophy are also evident in the
paintings of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, the Bauhaus mystics,
as well as Piet Mondrian, the liberated Calvinist, and Nicholas
Roerich. Moreover, the music of Scriabin, Sibelius and Mahler
would not have been written without the inspiration of Theosophy.
The book traces the influence of Blavatsky and Theosophy on such
diverse figures as the profound student and popularizer of
mythology, Joseph Campbell, the scientific luminary, Thomas A.
Edison and many others. Also revealed is the formation of an
alchemical society made up of mostly retired MIT professors,
meeting periodically at the Harvard Club in New York to discuss
Blavatsky's SECRET DOCTRINE.
In Cranston's book, witnesses to various events are given the
opportunity to tell their tale in their own words wherever
possible, lest in retelling the freshness and flavor of the
original be lost. This policy, of course, was held for the chief
witness herself, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. It is fair to say
that all claims made in the book are carefully documented and
presented in such a way that readers may judge the truth for
by Sarah Belle Dougherty
[based upon a new web page with the author's permission.]
The Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) has opened
an Internet site, "Theosophy Northwest," at
which focuses on providing significant content on core theosophical
subjects. Its main portion, "Topics in Depth," contains over 300
"reprints" organized by topic. Subjects include theosophy, Blavatsky,
Judge, Purucker, brotherhood, reincarnation, karma, evolution, the
spiritual path, occultism, cycles, what a human being is, death,
teachers and the hierarchy of compassion, truth and ethics; also
science, the arts, and the world's spiritual traditions considered from
a theosophical perspective. The material comes largely from
Theosophical University Press publications (used with permission),
including the last 30 years of SUNRISE magazine. Additional material
is added regularly. Branch members hope this will prove a valuable
research tool for students of theosophy, and make material of real
substance available to inquirers into theosophy and to researchers
looking for something beyond the orthodox academic viewpoint.
A second section of the site is an online version of THE CHILDREN'S
BOOKLIST compiled by the Children's Committee of the Theosophical
Society. The BOOKLIST now contains over 650 annotated titles (expanded
from the 1992 print version's 380) for ages up to 15 years, under such
categories as picture books, fiction for older children, myths and
religions, science and nature, poetry, nonfiction, biography, and
resources for adults. Children's Committee members update the list
periodically as they continually review additional books. All
suggestions on books to consider for inclusion are welcome (include
title, author, and any additional information, and send to the
A third feature is electronic versions of several of the
theosophical manuals published under the direction of Katherine
Tingley in the first two decades of this century. Current
manuals include ELEMENTARY THEOSOPHY, THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF
MAN, KARMA, MAN AFTER DEATH, THE DOCTRINE OF CYCLES, and FROM
CRYPT TO PRONAOS: AN ESSAY ON THE RISE AND FALL OF DOGMA. The
PREFACE ends with a list of theosophical books, and several
titles are linked to full-text online versions. More manuals
will be added periodically.
Lastly, there are announcements of the Branch's monthly public
discussion group (the Northwest Branch is located in King County,
Washington, with meetings at the Bellevue Regional Library); local,
national, and international addresses and contact information; and
links to selected sites. Of particular interest are links to the
portions of the new
site featuring Theosophical University Press Online, which contains
full-text versions of over a dozen books from Theosophical University
Press; and the site of Sunrise magazine, with the current online issue
and many articles from back issues organized by date and author (the
majority of the articles from back issues appear, organized by subject,
on the Theosophy Northwest site).
To contact the Northwest Branch, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or
mail to PO Box 461, Woodinville, WA 98072-0461.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application