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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------- March, 1997
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"Winter Solstice 1974" by Boris de Zirkoff
"Telling Good From Evil" by Eldon Tucker
"The First Cloning of an Adult Mammal" by Eldon Tucker
"New Ebooks on TUP Online Site" by Sarah Bell Dougherty
"Today's Trends in Science and How it Affects the Future of
Mankind" by Brenda Tucker
"Our Ability to Tell Right From Wrong" by Eldon Tucker
Dogmatic theological statements are neither logical propositions
nor poetic utterances. They are "shaggy dog" stories; they have a
point, but he who tried too hard to get it will miss it.
-- W.H. Auden (1907-73), Anglo-American poet.
WINTER SOLSTICE 1974
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This was a private talk given December 22, 1974, to a gathering
of about twenty Theosophists in the home of Lina Psaltis, Ojai,
Lina, and friends, we are glad to be here -- all of us -- and to
partake of the hospitality of Lina's house. It is a beautiful
day outside, a little windy, brisk. Look at the sky and you
wonder what we can do to have our own minds as clear as that sky
We will consider tonight, friends, some Teachings and ideas
connected with the Winter Solstice. All over the world, as far
back as we know in the night of time, there have been these
celebrations, festivities, rites, connected with the Winter
Solstice. All over the world, and among all the races of people,
both the Winter and the Summer Solstice and the two Equinoxes of
Spring and Autumn have been revered, greatly revered, as sacred
points in the compass of the year, and have been connected with
profound symbolism in many rites and ceremonies. And they are
all based on very ancient traditions. Particularly the Winter
Solstice, which has been from time immemorial considered to be
the period of the birth of divine beings, the birth of gods, the
appearance of Initiates, the Masters of Life. Actually the
appearance of divine beings. Traditions and symbolism connected
with it have always been centered around the Winter Solstice.
And throughout the length and breadth of mankind, we have had
these rites celebrated in the dead of winter, in connection with
spiritual events, which traditions have told us about, and which
are based on the actual facts of nature.
Now the Winter Solstice as such is only a part of a larger
picture. In order to get the more complete picture you have to
think of the four Sacred Seasons of the year: the Winter
Solstice, the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, and the
Autumnal or Fall Equinox. This is a yearly cycle, each part with
its own specific meaning. Each one different from the others and
yet deeply correlated with each other. The symbolism of the four
Sacred Seasons of the year is based primarily on astronomical
facts. Astronomical and astrological in a way; but do not read
into the term ASTROLOGICAL anything that goes by that name today.
It is something much more deeper. Now the simple astronomical
fact is -- of course -- that the motion of the earth in its orbit
around the sun encounters these four positions, these four main
positions, at which time the days are of a certain length, and
the nights -- or they are of equal length, the passage from the
Winter Solstice to the Spring Equinox, and so on through the
Summer Solstice to the Fall Equinox is familiar to most of us.
Now this astronomical symbol which might be called a Cross, a
Cosmic Cross, the intersecting line of the Solstices and the
Equinoxes. That symbolism is reflected in our daily life, and
the life of the twenty-four hours if you like, and in the life of
the individual throughout his incarnation. Anyone of us is
passing through four primary or essential stages of development.
The first is our birth, our physical birth. The second is
adolescence. The third is complete and full manhood or womanhood
in its full sway. The individual is in full possession of all he
will be in this particular life -- great or small -- he has
achieved the highest point of his personal development, and after
a while will begin gradually to decline into old age and the
fourth stage, and final for this incarnation, his passing.
Followed, of course, as the theosophical philosophy of life is
concerned, by many other lives based on the same general pattern.
And that general pattern applies to other kingdoms below the
human. Now the fact that we go through these four stages and the
fact that these stages are symbolized by the four Sacred Seasons
of the year have to do with another extension of the same
symbolism. And that is connected with what is generally known as
Now there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the meaning
of that term. Not misunderstandings among students of Theosophy,
but generally in the world. The word has been used and misused.
But essentially what is meant by students of Theosophy by the
term INITIATION is something like this, to put it simply: An
individual aspiring to the Spiritual Life gradually discovering,
uncovering within himself great potentials of growth, and
gradually becoming aware of the great distinction there is
between material life and spiritual life, and growing in love for
and devotion to spiritual ideals, may go that way through many
incarnations. And little by little training himself to a greater
knowledge, to the possession of greater knowledge, to the
development of greater spiritual powers, and someday in one or
another of his incarnations will achieve or rather reach the
point where he makes a final and permanent contact between his
personal consciousness and the divinity within himself. Not just
an aspiration towards it, not a vague sense of its presence, but
a personal, strong, and positive, and permanent link forged
between his lessor self, the human self, however far advanced it
may be, and the Inner God. Mystical Christians would have called
it through many a century the Christos Spirit within man. The
Oriental or the Buddhist School would call it the Inner Buddha.
This is what the ancient Greeks knew as Apollo. That is what the
Egyptians meant by Osiris. And many other terms and names. Or,
in a descriptive way, the Inner God, the Higher Self. A
spiritual, divine Entity of which you and I as human beings are
only a ray, an emanation, a manifestation, I would think.
Now through Initiation is a rite -- rite spelled R-I-T-E, of
course -- rite, of a spiritual nature concerned with establishing
in the ready neophyte, establishing that inner connection. And
it is done by, or I should say under the tutelage and the
guidance of very inspired and high Teachers in the spiritual
knowledge. All through antiquity, as far back as we know, such
individuals of high spiritual knowledge have existed among men;
and at all times there have been neophytes, aspiring individuals,
disciples, ready to undergo their first Initiation. That
Initiation is usually taken at the Winter Solstice. So the
Winter Solstice Festivities, Ceremonies, Outer Forms, Symbolism,
which are familiar to us and familiar under other forms in other
nations, are merely an echo, you might say, an aspect of a
spiritual something that is taking place at those seasons. And
that is what I am trying to point put. The symbolism of the
existing religious-philosophical Schools about it have been based
on and have originated from ancient days before some of the ideas
concerning the four Sacred Seasons had been forgotten, forgotten
in the occidental civilization.
Such Initiatory Rites of the Winter Solstice and the other Sacred
Seasons exist today. They take place. Certainly they do not
take place in the busy marts of men. But in secluded places,
both in the Orient and the Occident. And they have to do with
the progressives development of the disciple into higher degrees
of spiritual knowledge. Now if you were to ask the question, or
wonder in your own mind, as to just exactly what a student of
Theosophy means by Initiation, the answer would be something like
this, when stripped of all details: It is the ability which the
trained disciple -- trained for many lives -- the quality or
rather the ability that he develops to withdraw consciously from
his physical body and from the more subtle envelopes of the inner
man -- the pranic, the kamic, lower mental, and astral sheathes,
we might call them -- and issue forth as a spiritual Ego, as a
reincarnating entity that he is and that we are, without loss of
self-consciousness. The Initiation is a self- conscious process.
That my friends is something that sounds simple enough, but would
be utterly impossible without lives of training. You see what
happens to us. We go to sleep; we lose consciousness --
self-consciousness -- for a while. We dream; it is not under our
control. We die; we have lost self-consciousness. We can lose
self-consciousness during the lifetime in various ways. You can
lose it through an anesthetic; you can lose it by being hit. In
all kinds of ways it is very easy for us to sever the link of
self-consciousness, and become temporarily -- shall we say --
entranced; that is what it is. But the individual who can
withdraw from his human instruments or apparatus, in which he is
duly and harmoniously integrated and incarnated, without loss of
self-consciousness, and be able to investigate or learn
experimentally in the inner worlds the structure of nature and
the operations of natural law -- that individual is something
more than just human. You see, he is a human being that has
reached the university stage of spiritual development. He is
about to graduate from the human school of life. Oh, he does not
cease to be human, now, but he is as far ahead in knowledge and
self- control and possibilities as a great professor of some
chemistry or physics or astronomy is when compared with a
newly-born baby, or the individual who comes to the grammar
school. He is human, he remains human; but he has learned by the
transference of his self- consciousness into the inner worlds
what is the actual structure of them apart from anybody's
opinions, theories, hypotheses. He knows it at first hand,
experimentally, as much as a professor of chemistry knows what is
going to happen to his chemicals in a chemical laboratory.
After a while -- it may be a matter of a few days or a few weeks
-- that individual returns back into his physical body. Now his
physical body in the mean time has been entranced. Obviously it
is not functional, but it is very much alive. And it is
protected by the guardianship of some highly-skilled Teacher or
Adept, ready for the incumbent when he returns back from his
journey from the inner worlds. When he returns, successfully we
hope, he is not anymore an ordinary neophyte, he is not anymore
just an aspiring student, a noble- hearted occultist, a disciple;
he is not that anymore. He has become by means of what he has
seen and been through, which includes very severe trials --
tremendous tests and trials in the inner worlds -- he has come
back as a self-conscious Initiate. He is a Master of Life to
that extent. Sure enough, he is a beginner, a beginner in a
higher school of evolution than the ordinary human school. But
nevertheless, however much of a beginner he may be, by comparison
with what he was just a little while ago he is an Initiate
because he has experienced, and he knows, and he can Teach. Not
intellectually, not the way we consider the subjects, but he can
Teach others in a supreme way in which only very advanced human
beings can do.
Such Initiations take place at the four Sacred Seasons of the
year. They are not all the same; they do not concern the same
type of people. I do not know the details of the subject of how
the Initiatory Rites of the Winter Solstice differ from others,
but the general pattern of what we have already spoken of
prevails. The neophyte at the Winter Solstice Experiences his
birth. That is his new birth. It is the birth of the Inner God
into full-fledged manifestation through that individual.
Returning back into his physical body that was guarded for him,
he is as if he were born again. That is why in the Orient such
individuals in symbolism have been called DVIJAS, twice-born.
The first time they were born, they were born from their mother,
physically. The second time is their new birth into the same
body, and in a greater state of consciousness. They are
twice-born, a symbolic way of speaking of it.
Now there may be a long period of time, of work and dedication
and activity that belongs to that category of men -- and some of
them are women -- but eventually, it may be next life, the next
incarnation, it may be several incarnations hence, that
individual is ready to undertake some greater trails, achieve a
still greater knowledge, learn a great deal more that he was not
yet able to master. So he goes through another Initiatory Rite,
and that would be the one corresponding to the Spring Equinox,
because he has reached adolescence, symbolically speaking. He is
an adolescent as an Initiate.
And eventually, perhaps several lives hence, he will take his
rightful place among semi-divine beings, a full-fledged -- not a
full-fledged human being, but a full-fledged Initiate or Master
of Life, an equal to very great beings. That he will achieve at
the Summer Solstice someday by going through the Initiatory Rites
connected with the Summer Solstice, the period of full manhood.
Eventually that individual will reach the highest conditions
possible for the human being on this planet. There is nothing
else for him to learn in this school of experience. In the
natural course of events at an Initiatory Rite of the Autumnal
Equinox will come the end, the permanent end of his association
with mankind. Not because he renounces it, but because his
progress calls for what the ancients called the Great Passing; he
passes out of our sphere into spheres far higher than ours. Now
it is at that time that the Initiate, high as he is -- immensely
high -- can renounce his further progress, and instead of
disappearing from our midst, he pledges to stay with us for
incalculable ages helping mankind on its way upward. That
sacrifice must be something tremendous. We cannot fully
appreciate it; but we can think of it as something that he was
yearning to achieve but renounces it for the sake of remaining
with us. That is what the Buddhists call a Bodhisattva, a being
whose very nature is wisdom. And the Buddhists revere, deeply
revere far more, an individual who has renounced the Nirvana or
Buddhahood to stay with us than they revere the one who has in
the natural course of events gone on.
So here we have that sequence of events based on astronomical
facts, spiritually astrological if you like to put them that way,
based upon immense knowledge that the highest exponents of the
human race have had for ages past. And we who aspire in our
theosophical work, dedication, meditation, thought; we who aspire
towards these noble ideals; we are in some way or other geared to
them together with hundreds of others who aspire as we do whether
they know of Theosophy or not. We are directing the arrow of our
life, you might say, in that general direction.
Now I said that these Initiatory Rites are connected with
astronomical facts. There is a good deal that can be learned on
this general subject from the study of Dr. de Purucker's works.
Many of you are familiar with his name and some of you have read
his works. He has given a great deal of explanation, as much as
was possible, to this general subject. You will find it
partially in his ESOTERIC TRADITION, a two-volume work, partially
in THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, and elsewhere
scattered here and there, various passages and excerpts which
deal with the subject of Initiation.
Now the astronomical connection is something like this, briefly
speaking: The Initiatory Rites are, or rather stand in very close
relation to the Moon, and to the Sun. The ideal condition for
certain Initiations is the time of the New Moon. In other words,
the alignment of the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the new-moon
alignment, which apparently, if my understanding is correct,
helps the neophyte in his journey through the inner worlds.
Because all the exits from here and coming back to here, of
really everything, is connected with the Moon. The Moon has been
called in ancient symbolism the giver and the taker of lives; it
is deeply connected with after-death states, and stages of
reincarnation as well, and therefore it is connected with
Initiations because strictly speaking the Initiation Experiences
are experiences of dying consciously and returning back.
Other Initiatory Rites -- as far as I understand of a much higher
nature -- are also connected with the position of Venus and
Mercury, and their interrelation with the Moon and the Sun. In
other words, conjunctions and oppositions of these bodies are
connected with Initiatory Rites. Or to put it into a different
language, Initiatory Rites and Experiences do not happen by
haphazard, but are geared to certain spiritual mechanics you
might say that have to do with the motions of certain planetary
bodies around the Sun.
A great deal of the symbolism of the Christmas Season that we
have with us today, and which we have had for a long time -- not
just we in the Occident, but the Middle East, and India, and
Egypt, and all kinds of places -- a great deal of that symbolism
was prepared mainly for the general public. Not for mystics, not
for occultists, but for the people who love delicate thoughts,
realities put symbolically -- and there are thousands of them.
And so we see a certain language used by organized religions. A
certain language for spiritual realities -- but the key to the
understanding of that language can only be had through the study
of the Ancient Wisdom. You might pick up THE SECRET DOCTRINE of
Blavatsky, but you can also pick up half a dozen other works.
I mention casually a little booklet which our friend Geoffrey
Barborka sitting here wrote a few years back, THE CHRISTMAS
STORY. It is available for sale, I think you will find it here
in the bookstore I suppose, or at the Krotona Bookstore. It
gives quite a layout, an explanation of the symbolism of the
Christmas Season among other things. It is well worth reading.
There is a great deal of facts there. But casually to mention a
It is obvious from the deeper standpoint that every Initiate of
any nation whatsoever is always born immaculately from a virgin
because this means that the virgin soil of his spiritual nature
produces immaculately, unmaterially, unrelated to the world of
matter, produces the birth of the inner man. It is a symbolic
statement around which is woven a great deal of church symbolism,
but they have lost the key.
It is also obvious that every Initiate is born, is always born in
a manger, in a stable, or in a crypt, and is surrounded by
animals. See, the real you and the real I are living in a
personality which is mainly activated by animal instinct not yet
controlled. The animal nature of man is much stronger in the
present age -- and has been so for a long time -- than the
spiritual nature. We live in a manger. It is out of that manger
or stable surrounded by animals that eventually the individual
arises and brings under complete control the animal -- or shall
we say the animals -- that we are made of on the lessor plane of
personal selfhood. Another symbolic statement, that the Initiate
is born as a little babe, surrounded by animals in a manger.
Now it appears that the Initiate is always heralded by a star.
It is only a symbolic way of saying that the appearance of
Initiates is not at random. Profound students of astrology who
are Initiates -- they are not running the streets, they are not
writing books, no -- would be able to tell by looking at the
position of certain planetary orbs in the solar system what are
the times when some other unusual individual is going to appear
among men as an Initiate with a mandate to perform a certain work
among men. He is always heralded by a star. That is another
An Initiate, as a rule, is obviously greeted by the three wise
men. We will not go into that. But that story has to do with
the positions and the natures and the qualities of the planets
Mercury and Venus, and the Moon. These are the three wise men of
the story. And it can be proved by the analysis of the names
that have been given to them in symbolism.
So you see that story whether it relates to one or another
Initiate, whether that symbolism is Occidental, Oriental, ancient
Egyptian, or Middle East, or anything, is practically the same
with a slight modification of expressions and must not be
interpreted literally. It must be interpreted by means of the
inner meaning of certain terms which have come down to us from
the mystery schools of ancient nations. It is true, but it is
not literally true; it is factual, but it is not material
And then we have the christmas tree, which is merely another form
-- a fairly recent form at that -- of the great reverence that
has been given to trees in general in connection with the
Initiatory Rites. In ancient Scandinavian countries it was
called YGGDRASILL. Among the Druids it was the Druids' Oak. It
was called IARMANZULL among the Anglo-Saxons. And the famous
ISHWATTHA tree in ancient India. Trees that are not necessarily
pines or furs, but trees in the symbolism which calls for the
sturdiness of the trunk that the Initiate is. The immense power
of his spiritual sap of life-force and the idea of his spreading
his knowledge for the benefit of mankind as a tree spreads its
branches. Now the green, the evergreen that we use, is probably
not more than two or three hundred years old and is a European
custom. And the oriental tree -- symbolically, not physically --
the oriental tree of the symbolism connected with this time, the
ISHWATTHA tree for instance, is a tree that is rooted in the
spiritual realms and grows downwards branching out, and its
branches are the worlds, and the planes and the sub-planes of the
universal structure. And it bears on these spreading branches
planets, suns, galaxies, star clusters, which today are
symbolized by our lights on the Christmas tree. All symbolic,
but symbolic of actual facts in nature.
So you see these are some of the reasons why students of
Theosophy revere the four Sacred Seasons of the year. They do
not belong to any particular religion. They have a religious
aspect; they have also a philosophical and mystical aspect; but
essentially they are a scientific fact. They are a simple
scientific fact, a fact which modern science has not yet
discovered. It knows all about solstices and equinoxes,
astronomically speaking, but it does not understand yet and does
not seem to tend to understand the meaning of ancient occult
correlations based on astronomical data. Someday they will
uncover it. It is really an open book; it is not hidden from
them. But they want technical proofs of everything, and only a
very few of them -- even that is good -- a few of them are
mystically inclined, and are beginning to discover certain things
they have been very blind to for a long time.
The four Sacred Seasons of the year are to us a rhythm. It is a
repetitive rhythm which you can find throughout nature. The
growth of plants, the manifestation of life in the spring, the
fuller florescence of it summer, the gathering of the fruit of
the earth and of the harvests, and the withdrawal of everything
in the height or quiescence of the winter is a fact that
everybody knows. But upon these facts, and back of them, there
are other occult facts which are deeply interrelated with them
and are the key to a far deeper story which goes on from age to
age as long as mankind remains as we know it today, and that
means for a long time.
It also means, friends, if it means anything at all, that there
are in our midst -- and when I say OUR MIDST, I mean these
teeming millions everywhere -- there are in our midst in
dividual, one here, one there, one someplace else ...
[The tape recorder mysteriously stops working here for a few
... and we will be there. There are thousands of others behind,
from behind us, that are linked with us by chains of similar
aspiration and eventually will reach some further stage outward
bound. That is really all that matters. The thing is moving.
And no matter how many people may drop things forever by the
wayside, and forget these things and perhaps even turn against
them for a while -- in spite of that -- the pilgrimage moves on.
And we are an integral part of it. And strictly speaking none of
us could say how many thousands of tens of thousands of other
people the world over are moving in the same pilgrimage.
Do not look upon this world, friends, as something that is going
to pieces. It is not. The mere fact that we have so many
horrors in the world today and so much despair and so much
ignorance and stupidity is only due or is mainly due to the fact
that a great light is being introduced in the midst of mankind
from higher spheres. And some of us are agents in this work --
all of us are agents in this work -- and if you introduce a
strong light there will be -- or a strong force -- there will be
an ejection upon the surface of the dross, of the debris, of the
dross. What happens to a boiling kettle: it will throw out dross
on the surface and can be skimmed off. That is what is happening
in most countries today, a tremendous spiritual push is behind
the scenes and as it is coming into manifestation there is that
throwing off of all of that which must be overcome before that
great force from within can manifest itself in a new type of
civilization. Not a paradise, oh no, but a new type, a greater,
and nobler type of civilization. We can be grateful to our own
inner self that we can contribute to that process.
And then I would like to also leave with you this thought.
Obviously we do not compare ourselves with the Great Ones. We
could not possibly be proud enough or self-centered enough to
imagine that we can be in touch with the Great Ones. They are so
far ahead you might say they are out on the horizon beckoning to
us -- yes, if you like to put it that way, symbolically -- but
they are on the verge of so many noble, spiritual things that we
have not even dreamt about, that we cannot identify ourselves
with them. And yet there is no break of continually between them
and us or between us and others coming from behind. Therefore
somehow or other, and very tangibly so, those who are undergoing
these Initiatory Experiences and reach the stage of Initiation
and knowledge, let us say the Winter Solstice, emanate from
within their inner nature enough power, force, strength,
inspiration to touch anyone of us, if we are receptive to it.
They cannot keep it to themselves no more than a floodlight can
keep the light to itself. It has got to spread. Where is it
going to spread as a vibratory rate? All over mankind; all over.
A great achievement in inner consciousness on the part of any
human being belongs to mankind as a whole, and instantaneously
so. But of course only those will be affected who are ready to
receive any of it.
Therefore an attitude on our part of quiet meditation upon these
themes, an attitude upon our part of listening in -- I am
speaking now metaphorically -- a readiness to receive, a feeling
or a desire to become at one with that higher life, makes us that
much more receptive to the reception of emanating forces from the
crypts of Initiation, from the centers of Initiation while they
take place. Obviously what I am saying now is good any time of
the year. But it is especially potent at these four Sacred
Seasons of the year because of the reasons which I have tried to
Therefore in a Christmas Season like this one, our own progress
will depend to a considerable extent upon our own state of mind.
We can vitalize our spiritual natures; we can attune ourselves to
the highest that we know of within our consciousnesses; we can
make a specific effort to grow or rather to rise above some pet
weaknesses which we may have. We can demand of ourselves to
become nobler, greater, more universal, to become an outpouring
strength of genuine brotherhood. Towards who? Towards anyone.
Towards anyone who needs it. Towards anyone who would be helped
by it. When we decide to do so there is always someone who turns
up who needs just that. Just watch it. When there is a desire
on your part to do something for someone else and you do not know
the WHO, somebody is going to turn up with precisely that which
you can give him.
In other words, the Winter Solstice is a period when we can grow
more rapidly, more definitely, more potently, because we have
with us strong spiritual forces at work and we can align
ourselves with them. And anything that aligns itself with a
higher rhythm begins to vibrate in unison with that rhythm. Now
it may not last very long. We may fall down after a while. We
may not be able to keep up this thing too long because of worldly
associations and our own inner weaknesses that will assert
themselves again. But let us try. It can be done. It can be
successfully done. And the results of it can never be fully
estimated. We do not know how much good we may do. It may be
momentous in the life of another. It may be momentous in our own
life where no one else knows anything about it.
And one other thought, friends. Obviously in the light of these
Teachings, we are not alone. We can never be deserted. The only
way to get deserted is to build a wall of human selfishness which
prevents us from being human. Then we are along, because we are
inside a fortress built by our own ignorance and stupidity. And
some people do that and they do not know it. But strictly
speaking, we are not alone. We are part of a pilgrimage. There
are always individuals who are ready to show us the next step in
evolution. Each one of us here might at one time or another --
if we desired to do so -- might at one time or another open a
window to another brother, to someone else. It may mean
troubles, metaphorically speaking, but also very factually -- and
tell that other: @@Come to this window. Have you ever seen this
sight?@@ And you give him a few of the Teachings in some simple
language. And suddenly, and suddenly he is unable to go back
into his troubles anymore. He has seen a greater vision. He
knows there is a greater life.
Anyone of us can do this if we watch out for the opportunity.
And if we watch out for an opportunity, the opportunity
invariably arises. Because this thing is based upon Law, not on
haphazard. And so we can never be alone. The Great Ones are
dedicated to helping mankind. But they can help only those who
are ready to help themselves. They cannot stop the evil in the
world, because karma has to work itself out. But they can help a
great deal -- and do -- in alleviating suffering, in softening
the conditions, and in opening up new doors for those who can
I trust that you will have a very pleasant Christmas Season,
friends one and all. And that you will keep these thoughts in
your mind, dwell with them as often as you can, and watch
yourself expand in consciousness, in understanding, in
universality, and in a genuine spirit of brotherhood for all that
lives. We will now end, friends, with a few moments of silence
... I want to thank Lina for her hospitality. Good night all.
TELLING GOOD FROM EVIL
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon an January 4, 1994 posting to theos-l.]
The subject of good versus evil has multiple levels of meaning,
multiple possible interpretations, each true in a certain sense,
but all of them capable of abuse. Consider the word *evil*. It
is considered, in certain groups, among the followers of certain
philosophies, a bad word to use. Some of us may want to avoid
the word, to say that it is judgemental and narrow-minded to use.
In talking about a particular individual, we may not want to say
"that evil man!", but rather describe him in more neutral terms,
to say that he is just a person like us, with a particular
problem that we do not have. This may be kinder to that man's
feelings, but it is the right thing to do?
When we speak of a holy man, or someone with a special sense of
goodness, we don't describe him by saying that he is just an
ordinary person, with a particular gift or advantage.
We are not being nice to someone that is bad, to describe things
in such a way as to not hurt his feelings, if in doing so, we
allow him to go along in life, hurting himself and others,
perhaps unaware of what he is doing. Certainly we should have
more responsibility to him!
It is not really possible to separate the person from his
actions. It is not possible to say that this is a man that *does
evil*, whereas that is a man that *does good*. That assumes a
uniform, indentical self that is unaffected by what he does. The
description would hold true of the Monad itself, which is above
and apart from anything that the personality may do, apart from
anything in the manifest world, but not true of the personality
itself. We are what we do, and in the processing of doing good
or evil, we are good or evil people.
Now it is possible to change, over time, to be an evil man that
turns for the good and changes himself. It is also possible for
a good man to become corrupted. Change is possible. But the
personality, whatever it is, is the sum total of what it has
done. The personality is the totality of actions taken, and
relationships established, in this lifetime.
We may look at an evil man, and choose not to associate with him.
Looking at his personality, we may not be able to pass absolute
judgement on him, because we do not know the totality of the
person, the person's individuality and karma from previous
lifetimes, karma that did not find its way into expression in the
current life. We may not know the limits of good or evil that he
could aspire to, and become, as a personality, based upon what he
carries within. But we do know his current self, his current
personality, and it is a very real part of him, something that we
have to face and deal with.
We learn to distinguish the real from the unreal, to preceive
through the maya and illusion that surrounds things and perceive
them correctly. We can also learn to distinguish the good from
the evil, the right from the wrong, to perceive through an
ethical and moral maya that surrounds things, and judge the
character and nature of things. We are not judging things in the
sense of the law, we are not evaluating them for purposes of
punishment or reward. But we are judging them in the sense of
perceiving their true nature, a correct discrimination of one
aspect of the truth in people and situations.
The ability to tell right from wrong is considered a sign of
adulthood in our society. It shows that one is responsible for
his own actions. It is one sign that the childhood is over, and
the higher nature is fully incarnate in the personality. And it
is a quality that we need, for in order to know what is good,
virtuous, and moral, we need to know what it is not.
There is a certain type of consciousness that we mostly lack, one
that will grow and evolve in the future. It is a *moral
consciousness*, where we are aware of the full impact and
implications of our every action in the world. We are aware of
how we affect others because of our associations with them. We
are composed, in fact, of those associations, it defines our
being, and it is found in Buddhi, the principle of
inter-relatedness, the priniple of personal oneness with others.
This moral consciousness will become as intricate, as involved,
as complex a part of our consideration of what we do, that it
will rival the activities of the mind, the complexities of
thought. This sense is largely asleep in us at our current point
of evolution, it is instinctual and automatic in operation,
lacking in self-consciousness.
This buddhic consciousness is what distinguishes us from those on
a path of evil. It is that which not only allows us to be
spiritual, but to be good as well. It contains the sense of
compassion and caring for other lives, and it is that which will
one day make of us Buddhas!
THE FIRST CLONING OF AN ADULT MAMMAL
by Eldon Tucker
In the February 27, 1997 issue of THE LOS ANGELES TIMES there is a
report of the first cloning of an adult mammal. It gives the
> Years of failed experiments preceeded the feat of genetic
> engineering that created Dolly, the cloned sheep.
> How Mammals Reproduce
> Normal: An egg and a sperm each have only half a set of DNA. They
> must fuse and join their DNA to get the whole blueprint for an
> Cloning: A full set of DNA is obtained from one parent. That DNA
> is inserted into a sea of embroyonic proteins in an egg from which
> the nucleus has been removd, setting the stage for growth.
> Why Cloning Hasn't Worked Until Now
> As a fertilized egg grows into an adult, unneeded DNA is
> systematically shut off. In an adult skin or brain cell, for
> example, 85 percent to 90 percent of DNA is inactivated. If that
> DNA is placed in an egg cell in an attempt to clone it, the
> proteins thast inactivate the DNA remain in place. Thus an embryo
> cannot grow.
> What the Scientists Did
> Ian Wilmut's team devised a way to unlock DNA blockers from the DNA,
> allowing it to become functional again. When that restored DNA is
> placed in an egg, it forms an embryo.
> How They Did It
> 1. Wilmut's team removed cells from a ewe's udder and starved them
> so they would stop growing -- a process that unblocked the DNA.
> 2. They also removed the nucleus of an unfertilized egg from
> another sheep.
> 3. The udder cell and the egg were fused with an electric current.
> 4. The fused egg was placed into the uterus of a third ewe, the
> surrogate mother, where it grew into an embryo just as if an egg
> had been fertilized in the normal manner.
There are a number of points that could be considered with regard
A close produced from one's DNA would be the equalivent of an
identical twin, except with a much later birthdate. But would
there be the same psychic and karmic links between the clone and
the original person as there is between identical twins?
The clone is produced using an egg cell, where the nucleus has
been removed. Is there still any karmic link betwen the
particular individual that might have been born using that egg
cell and it's original DNA?
Is the individual that is born of the cloning the same one or
Could the ability to clone indicate that the connection between
the incoming reincarnating ego and the physical body is with the
DNA, rather than the particular egg cell that is fertilized?
Since with identical twins there are more-than-one person
incarnated in forms with the same DNA, this would indicate that
the DNA is not "customized" to a particular individual. This might
imply that it's possible at a later time than conception for an
individual to take possession of a form, since it's not customized
for one individual only. (We'd still assume, of course, that there
needs to be at least one individual needed to animate a physical
form.) Similarly, a multiple-personality disorder might result
from more than one individual trying to share the same physical
NEW EBOOKS ON TUP ONLINE SITE
by Sara Bell Dougherty
THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT and BHAGAVAD-GITA with
Judge's "Essays on the Gita" have been added to TUP Online Site.
Theosophical University Press has added electronic versions of
two more of its publications to its online site
(www.theosociety.org/pasadena). First is Judge's BHAGAVAD-GITA
combined with his "Essays on the Gita," and second is THE
MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, both in html format with
helpful links throughtout the texts.
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA is Judge's recension of all eighteen chapters
of the Gita, combined with his insightful and explanatory essays
on the first seven chapters.
THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT contains all the letters
in A. T. Barker's 2nd edition, linked in the order in which he
published and numbered them, as well as chronologically using
Margaret Conger's "Combined Chronology" for the Mahatma and
Blavatsky letters -- links to both the chronologically previous
and following letters are given for each letter. The files
containing the individual letters are named in such a way that it
is easy to go to any particular letter without a link. Also
included are Barker's article "How the Mahatma Letters Were
Written" and his discussion of "Mars and Mercury"; the Foreword,
Preface, Introduction, Biographical Sketches, and Bibliography
from TUP's edition of the "Combined Chronology", which give
useful background information; and two letters not included by
Barker: the first letter of K.H. to A.O. Hume, and the View
of the Chohan on the T.S.
TODAY'S TRENDS IN SCIENCE AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE FUTURE OF
by Brenda Tucker
Reaching into the distant past to discover who we are is familiar
to the theosophist. Using our past to shape our future, however,
may not be possible. Many people are looking at themselves as a
new race of beings, not held by the conventions of yesterday.
Some groups, like the Extropians for example, believe it possible
to live forever. They are working to defeat death. Whether this
is accomplished through the use of cryonics or cloning, they view
any attempt to interfere with their life process as illegal and
By altering our genetic structure to remedy nature's failures, we
are looking at a level of control whereby many new things become
possible. We could raise "ourselves" if we chose to. You
wouldn't require one cell from each of two people, but could
produce an exact copy, genetically, of yourself.
How long before computers are implanted in our brains? Implants
and artificial limbs are accepted as life prolonging medical
advances. What additional devices can be thought of?
Engineered viruses can enter the body and reform it more
perfectly this time. One element can be transmuted into another
by nanotechnology, with the result being that physical objects
can be produced in a new way. Uploading of our mental schemata
from one biological brain to another or to a synthetic brain,
could generate mental processes that would be speedier and more
diverse than is currently possible through the use of one brain.
"Life and intelligence should never stagnate; it can reorder,
transform and transcend its limits in an unlimited progression."
is the view of EXTROPY's editor, Max More. While he feels
religion to be primitive and God an oppressive invention,
theosophy would argue that the fifth race is a necessary step in
this grand cycle of evolution. God really was "hovering" beyond
our reach, whereas now, because the adepts are nearer to us and
able to communicate with some members of the sixth race, we
perceive the new race as the true race of men. An attempt to
speed the process along by criticizing those who are still unable
to make acquaintance with their higher selves or "masters
within," is only creating an inharmonious relationship between
fifth and sixth races.
New science should make us no less religious. It should produce
a greater inkling toward purity of life and noble purpose for the
sake of those beings whose lives we unfold through our own.
Unity within the human family must be pre-emptive of fads and the
growth of counter-cultures. Theosophists, knowing full well the
challenges facing a group who develops ideology, inventions, and
a body of knowledge existing outside the mainstream of thought,
may be sympathetic to the growing pains felt by the Extropians.
A separation of any one segment of socity due to beliefs and
practices cannot endure the overriding pressure of the grand
truth we call unity. We only hope to work within our culture.
Change must be slow. The alienation felt by Extropians,
Transhumans, and Nanotech advocates, can be prevented by proper
thinking through of the productive uses of the new science.
"On Becoming Posthuman" by Max More.
OUR ABILITY TO TELL RIGHT FROM WRONG
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon an January 6, 1994 posting to theos-l.]
In conservative religions, we are told what is good, and what is
bad. We are not permitted to figure it out for ourselves, being
considered a flock of simpler people needing guidance. Depending
upon our religion, we are told different things, and different
ways to treat others. Every exoteric religion has its code of
conduct, and does not assume that its followers have a developed
moral consciousness, with the ability to perceive for themselves
the rightness of things in life.
In the west, we have religions like Christianity teaching us
specific actions are good, and others are bad. We are told whom
are good and bad people, and given a set of standards to judge
them by. In the east, we often have religions teaching us that
an amoral awareness is good, and that passing judgement is bad,
and we are given a set of standards, again, as to how to evaluate
people. The rules are different but the process is the same: we
are told certain ways to believe and act, and given a standard to
We know that is it bad if we do not act according to our true
nature and role in life, if we betray ourselves with making the
wrong choices. We also know that it is not good to be careless,
to be neglectful, to make unnecessary mistakes in going about
things. If one wants to define the bad in these terms, where it
refers to mistakes due to our lack of diligence, then he could
say that evil is relative, since what is a good choice for one
person may not be the right choice for another.
Mistakes due to our own human fallability are forgivable, since
we are all subject to accidents of the mind and heart. But this
assumes that we all approach things with a good nature, always
sincere in how we are living life, and always choosing good over
evil, choosing the good spirituality over the dark side of life.
There are some--fortunately few--who are on an actual path of
evil. There is such a thing as the left hand path, and it is
possible to make progress on it, for a time, before facing
eventual destruction. It is possible to choose harm for its own
sake, to dwell in malice, to identify with cruelty and
harmfulness. This is rarely the case in life, an abnormal
exception to the scheme of things, but it is possible, and it
happens. There are invisible influences for harm in the world,
and they do not go away by denial; they cannot be dismissed as
the figment of someone's imagination, the product of an
overworked mind, the result of psychological projection.
We may prefer not to believe in good and evil, but all of life
does not become good and the evil in life does not go away
through our *denial*. We can turn a blind eye on this side of
life, and are not forced to dwell on it. Evil is not a proper
subject for meditation. But a correct understanding of it is
necessary for a complete picture, in one's mind, a comprehensive
worldview of the panorama of life.
One's understanding of the Teachings is lacking without a proper
place for the darker side of life. We cannot have good without
evil, light without darkness, life without death. They are pairs
of opposites out of which life is composed. To ignore any of
them is to turn one's back on an understanding of life.
The Christians may believe that they have a good handle on the
subject of evil, but they define it in over-simplified
terms--usually in terms of anything going against what they
believe--and that belief has been abused so much that it is no
wonder that many of us reject it out of hand! But the eartern
view of an amoral consciousness is equally incomplete, and
subject to different but equally dangerous abuses of its own!
An argument might be made that since good and evil seem relative,
and since they seem to vary in interpretation from one person to
the next, from one culture to the next, that the distinction is
entirely subjective, and without merit. The argument could be
made, but it would be invalid.
Consider another duality: truth and falsehood. One could say
that there is no truth, that everyone has their own idea of
truth, and it varies widely, so everybody or nobody are correct.
But there certainly is such a thing as telling a lie, and we can
single out a compulsive liar from someone whom takes great pains
at honesty. There are differences in truthfulness, and our
ability to distinguish them is based upon our clarity of
consciousness, and our penetrating insight, which allows us to
perceive what is really happening.
The same is true of character, of the nature of the personality,
as built up in this lifetime. We can judge the character of
another. That character may change over time, but at a
particular moment it *is* a particular way. And the most
insightful of us are good judges of character.
With us, our ability to tell right from wrong is not vague,
because it is an imaginary, unreal thing to do. Rather, there is
such a thing, but it is an undeveloped faculty of consciousness
at our present stage of evolution. It will one day be possible
to see through the moral maya that surrounds things, and perceive
their true nature, their true sense of rightness--or wrongness.
It is possible to tell people, in whom their buddhic splendor is
awakened, from those in whom it is not, and the Mahatmas do so.
We are not all--as human personalites--spiritual, and it is only
in our higher natures, as we learn to dwell in them, that we
spiritualize our consciousness, as we take it from the
corruptible to the incorruptible.
We should not be afraid to question eastern, as well as western
thought, in our studies. Theosophy is not merely Buddhism in
disguise. The teaching of a type of amoral conscious may be
presented us, but we must not take it as unquestingly true. But
when we question such deeply-held beliefs, we are bound to arouse
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application