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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------ August, 1999
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
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"Annual Brookings Conference"
"Free Will and Action," by Leo Tolstoy
"Blavatsky Net Update," by Reed Carson
"The Philosophy of Nature," by Katherine Tingley
"The Wanderings of Odysseus, Part I, An Interpretation," by
Charles J. Ryan
"Being and Responsibility: The Ethics of THE SECRET DOCTRINE,"
by Joy Mills
"Birthdays of the Dhyanis and Other Cyclic Events," by
> How can we ever TEACH or you LEARN if we have to maintain an
> attitude utterly foreign to us and our methods: -- that of two
> Society men? If you really want to be a CHELA, i.e. to become
> the recipient of our mysteries, YOU have to adapt yourself to
> OUR ways, not we to YOURS.
> Mahatma KH, THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, 3rd ed, 232.
ANNUAL BROOKINGS CONFERENCE
Students and friends of Theosophy are invited to attend the fifth
annual gathering of students of Theosophy. Held in Brookings,
Oregon and Smith River, California -- side-by-side costal
communities -- the conference will run from Friday August 13
through Sunday the 15th.
There will be a potluck buffet at 4 PM Friday, at Willie's home,
14390 Ocean View Drive, Smith River, California. This will be
followed by a public meeting, 7:30 to 9:30 pm, in the conference
room of the Brookings Beachfront Inn.
The meeting, entitled "The Ancients and Science -- Today," will
be held in the conference room of the Brookings Beachfront Inn.
The panel discussion will be followed with a lively exchange of
ideas with the audience.
Bruch will be served Saturday morning at the same address (on
Ocean View Drive), followed by an informal discussion related to
the topic "The Path of the Disciple." We expect many helpful
ideas and suggestions will be shared.
There are numerous inns and motel in the area, as well as camping
and R.V. accommodations at Harris Beach State Park. It is wise
to make reservations early. (Call 1-800-452-5687 to make State
For more information, contact:
Brookings Theosophy Study Group
16217 West Hoffeldt
Brookings, Oregon 91415
or call Willie at 707-487-3063.
FREE WILL AND ACTION
by Leo Tolstoy
[From Chapter 9 of Epilogue II to WAR AND PEACE. For the complete
ebook and other writings of Tolstoy, see: http://www.tolstoy.org]
Religion, the common sense of mankind, the science of jurisprudence,
and history itself understand alike this relation between necessity
All cases without exception in which our conception of freedom and
necessity is increased and diminished depend on three considerations:
(1) The relation to the external world of the man who commits the
(2) His relation to time.
(3) His relation to the causes leading to the action.
The first consideration is the clearness of our perception of the
man's relation to the external world and the greater or lesser
clearness of our understanding of the definite position occupied by
the man in relation to everything coexisting with him. This is what
makes it evident that a drowning man is less free and more subject
to necessity than one standing on dry ground, and that makes the
actions of a man closely connected with others in a thickly
populated district, or of one bound by family, official, or business
duties, seem certainly less free and more subject to necessity than
those of a man living in solitude and seclusion.
If we consider a man alone, apart from his relation to everything
around him, each action of his seems to us free. But if we see his
relation to anything around him, if we see his connection with
anything whatever -- with a man who speaks to him, a book he reads,
the work on which he is engaged, even with the air he breathes or
the light that falls on the things about him -- we see that each of
these circumstances has an influence on him and controls at least some
side of his activity. And the more we perceive of these influences the
more our conception of his freedom diminishes and the more our
conception of the necessity that weighs on him increases.
The second consideration is the more or less evident time relation
of the man to the world and the clearness of our perception of the
place the man's action occupies in time. That is the ground which
makes the fall of the first man, resulting in the production of the
human race, appear evidently less free than a man's entry into
marriage today. It is the reason why the life and activity of people
who lived centuries ago and are connected with me in time cannot
seem to me as free as the life of a contemporary, the consequences
of which are still unknown to me.
The degree of our conception of freedom or inevitability depends
in this respect on the greater or lesser lapse of time between the
performance of the action and our judgment of it.
If I examine an act I performed a moment ago in approximately the
same circumstances as those I am in now, my action appears to me
undoubtedly free. But if I examine an act performed a month ago,
then being in different circumstances, I cannot help recognizing
that if that act had not been committed much that resulted from it
good, agreeable, and even essential -- would not have taken place. If
I reflect on an action still more remote, ten years ago or more,
then the consequences of my action are still plainer to me and I
find it hard to imagine what would have happened had that action not
been performed. The farther I go back in memory, or what is the same
thing the farther I go forward in my judgment, the more doubtful
becomes my belief in the freedom of my action.
In history we find a very similar progress of conviction
concerning the part played by free will in the general affairs of
humanity. A contemporary event seems to us to be indubitably the doing
of all the known participants, but with a more remote event we already
see its inevitable results which prevent our considering anything else
possible. And the farther we go back in examining events the less
arbitrary do they appear.
The Austro-Prussian war appears to us undoubtedly the result of
the crafty conduct of Bismarck, and so on. The Napoleonic wars still
seem to us, though already questionably, to be the outcome of their
heroes' will. But in the Crusades we already see an event occupying
its definite place in history and without which we cannot imagine
the modern history of Europe, though to the chroniclers of the
Crusades that event appeared as merely due to the will of certain
people. In regard to the migration of the peoples it does not enter
anyone's head today to suppose that the renovation of the European
world depended on Attila's caprice. The farther back in history the
object of our observation lies, the more doubtful does the free will
of those concerned in the event become and the more manifest the law
The third consideration is the degree to which we apprehend that
endless chain of causation inevitably demanded by reason, in which
each phenomenon comprehended, and therefore man's every action, must
have its definite place as a result of what has gone before and as a
cause of what will follow.
The better we are acquainted with the physiological,
psychological, and historical laws deduced by observation and by which
man is controlled, and the more correctly we perceive the
physiological, psychological, and historical causes of the action, and
the simpler the action we are observing and the less complex the
character and mind of the man in question, the more subject to
inevitability and the less free do our actions and those of others
When we do not at all understand the cause of an action, whether a
crime, a good action, or even one that is simply nonmoral, we
ascribe a greater amount of freedom to it. In the case of a crime we
most urgently demand the punishment for such an act; in the case of
a virtuous act we rate its merit most highly. In an indifferent case
we recognize in it more individuality, originality, and
independence. But if even one of the innumerable causes of the act
is known to us we recognize a certain element of necessity and are
less insistent on punishment for the crime, or the acknowledgment of
the merit of the virtuous act, or the freedom of the apparently
original action. That a criminal was reared among male factors
mitigates his fault in our eyes. The self-sacrifice of a father or
mother, or self-sacrifice with the possibility of a reward, is more
comprehensible than gratuitous self-sacrifice, and therefore seems
less deserving of sympathy and less the result of free will. The
founder of a sect or party, or an inventor, impresses us less when
we know how or by what the way was prepared for his activity. If we
have a large range of examples, if our observation is constantly
directed to seeking the correlation of cause and effect in people's
actions, their actions appear to us more under compulsion and less
free the more correctly we connect the effects with the causes. If
we examined simple actions and had a vast number of such actions under
observation, our conception of their inevitability would be still
greater. The dishonest conduct of the son of a dishonest father, the
misconduct of a woman who had fallen into bad company, a drunkard's
relapse into drunkenness, and so on are actions that seem to us less
free the better we understand their cause. If the man whose actions we
are considering is on a very low stage of mental development, like a
child, a madman, or a simpleton -- then, knowing the causes of the act
and the simplicity of the character and intelligence in question, we
see so large an element of necessity and so little free will that as
soon as we know the cause prompting the action we can foretell the
On these three considerations alone is based the conception of
irresponsibility for crimes and the extenuating circumstances admitted
by all legislative codes. The responsibility appears greater or less
according to our greater or lesser knowledge of the circumstances in
which the man was placed whose action is being judged, and according
to the greater or lesser interval of time between the commission of
the action and its investigation, and according to the greater or
lesser understanding of the causes that led to the action.
Thus our conception of free will and inevitability gradually
diminishes or increases according to the greater or lesser
connection with the external world, the greater or lesser
remoteness of time, and the greater or lesser dependence on the
causes in relation to which we contemplate a man's life.
So that if we examine the case of a man whose connection with the
external world is well known, where the time between the action
and its examination is great, and where the causes of the action
are most accessible, we get the conception of a maximum of
inevitability and a minimum of free will. If we examine a man
little dependent on external conditions, whose action was
performed very recently, and the causes of whose action are
beyond our ken, we get the conception of a minimum of
inevitability and a maximum of freedom.
In neither case -- however we may change our point of view,
however plain we may make to ourselves the connection between the
man and the external world, however inaccessible it may be to us,
however long or short the period of time, however intelligible or
incomprehensible the causes of the action may be -- can we ever
conceive either complete freedom or complete necessity.
(1) To whatever degree we may imagine a man to be exempt from the
influence of the external world, we never get a conception of
freedom in space. Every human action is inevitably conditioned
by what surrounds him and by his own body. I lift my arm and let
it fall. My action seems to me free; but asking myself whether I
could raise my arm in every direction, I see that I raised it in
the direction in which there was least obstruction to that action
either from things around me or from the construction of my own
body. I chose one out of all the possible directions because in
it there were fewest obstacles. For my action to be free it was
necessary that it should encounter no obstacles. To conceive of
a man being free we must imagine him outside space, which is
(2) However much we approximate the time of judgment to the time
of the deed, we never get a conception of freedom in time. For
if I examine an action committed a second ago I must still
recognize it as not being free, for it is irrevocably linked to
the moment at which it was committed. Can I lift my arm? I lift
it, but ask myself: could I have abstained from lifting my arm at
the moment that has already passed? To convince myself of this I
do not lift it the next moment. But I am not now abstaining from
doing so at the first moment when I asked the question. Time has
gone by which I could not detain, the arm I then lifted is no
longer the same as the arm I now refrain from lifting, nor is the
air in which I lifted it the same that now surrounds me. The
moment in which the first movement was made is irrevocable, and
at that moment I could make only one movement, and whatever
movement I made would be the only one. That I did not lift my
arm a moment later does not prove that I could have abstained
from lifting it then. And since I could make only one movement
at that single moment of time, it could not have been any other.
To imagine it as free, it is necessary to imagine it in the
present, on the boundary between the past and the future -- that
is, outside time, which is impossible.
(3) However much the difficulty of understanding the causes may
be increased, we never reach a conception of complete freedom,
that is, an absence of cause. However inaccessible to us may be
the cause of the expression of will in any action, our own or
another's, the first demand of reason is the assumption of and
search for a cause, for without a cause no phenomenon is
conceivable. I raise my arm to perform an action independently
of any cause, but my wish to perform an action without a cause is
the cause of my action.
But even if -- imagining a man quite exempt from all influences,
examining only his momentary action in the present, unevoked by
any cause -- we were to admit so infinitely small a remainder of
inevitability as equaled zero, we should even then not have
arrived at the conception of complete freedom in man, for a being
uninfluenced by the external world, standing outside of time and
independent of cause, is no longer a man.
In the same way we can never imagine the action of a man quite
devoid of freedom and entirely subject to the law of
(1) However we may increase our knowledge of the conditions of
space in which man is situated, that knowledge can never be
complete, for the number of those conditions is as infinite as
the infinity of space. And therefore so long as not all the
conditions influencing men are defined, there is no complete
inevitability but a certain measure of freedom remains.
(2) However we may prolong the period of time between the action
we are examining and the judgment upon it, that period will be
finite, while time is infinite, and so in this respect too there
can never be absolute inevitability.
(3) However accessible may be the chain of causation of any
action, we shall never know the whole chain since it is endless,
and so again we never reach absolute inevitability.
But besides this, even if, admitting the remaining minimum of
freedom to equal zero, we assumed in some given case -- as for
instance in that of a dying man, an unborn babe, or an idiot --
complete absence of freedom, by so doing we should destroy the
very conception of man in the case we are examining, for as soon
as there is no freedom there is also no man. And so the
conception of the action of a man subject solely to the law of
inevitability without any element of freedom is just as
impossible as the conception of a man's completely free action.
And so to imagine the action of a man entirely subject to the law
of inevitability without any freedom, we must assume the
knowledge of an infinite number of space relations, an infinitely
long period of time, and an infinite series of causes.
To imagine a man perfectly free and not subject to the law of
inevitability, we must imagine him all alone, beyond space,
beyond time, and free from dependence on cause.
In the first case, if inevitability were possible without freedom
we should have reached a definition of inevitability by the laws
of inevitability itself, that is, a mere form without content.
In the second case, if freedom were possible without
inevitability we should have arrived at unconditioned freedom
beyond space, time, and cause, which by the fact of its being
unconditioned and unlimited would be nothing, or mere content
We should in fact have reached those two fundamentals of which
man's whole outlook on the universe is constructed -- the
incomprehensible essence of life, and the laws defining that
Reason says: (1) space with all the forms of matter that give it
visibility is infinite, and cannot be imagined otherwise. (2)
Time is infinite motion without a moment of rest and is
unthinkable otherwise. (3) The connection between cause and
effect has no beginning and can have no end.
Consciousness says: (1) I alone am, and all that exists is but
me, consequently I include space. (2) I measure flowing time by
the fixed moment of the present in which alone I am conscious of
myself as living, consequently I am outside time. (3) I am
beyond cause, for I feel myself to be the cause of every
manifestation of my life.
Reason gives expression to the laws of inevitability.
Consciousness gives expression to the essence of freedom.
Freedom not limited by anything is the essence of life, in man's
consciousness. Inevitability without content is man's reason in
its three forms.
Freedom is the thing examined. Inevitability is what examines.
Freedom is the content. Inevitability is the form.
Only by separating the two sources of cognition, related to one
another as form to content, do we get the mutually exclusive and
separately incomprehensible conceptions of freedom and
Only by uniting them do we get a clear conception of man's life.
Apart from these two concepts which in their union mutually
define one another as form and content, no conception of life is
All that we know of the life of man is merely a certain relation
of free will to inevitability, that is, of consciousness to the
laws of reason.
All that we know of the external world of nature is only a
certain relation of the forces of nature to inevitability, or of
the essence of life to the laws of reason.
The great natural forces lie outside us and we are not conscious
of them; we call those forces gravitation, inertia, electricity,
animal force, and so on, but we are conscious of the force of
life in man and we call that freedom.
But just as the force of gravitation, incomprehensible in itself
but felt by every man, is understood by us only to the extent to
which we know the laws of inevitability to which it is subject
(from the first knowledge that all bodies have weight, up to
Newton's law), so too the force of free will, incomprehensible in
itself but of which everyone is conscious, is intelligible to us
only in as far as we know the laws of inevitability to which it
is subject (from the fact that every man dies, up to the
knowledge of the most complex economic and historic laws).
All knowledge is merely a bringing of this essence of life under
the laws of reason.
Man's free will differs from every other force in that man is
directly conscious of it, but in the eyes of reason it in no way
differs from any other force. The forces of gravitation,
electricity, or chemical affinity are only distinguished from one
another in that they are differently defined by reason. Just so
the force of man's free will is distinguished by reason from the
other forces of nature only by the definition reason gives it.
Freedom, apart from necessity, that is, apart from the laws of
reason that define it, differs in no way from gravitation, or
heat, or the force that makes things grow; for reason, it is only
a momentary undefinable sensation of life.
And as the undefinable essence of the force moving the heavenly
bodies, the undefinable essence of the forces of heat and
electricity, or of chemical affinity, or of the vital force,
forms the content of astronomy, physics, chemistry, botany,
zoology, and so on, just in the same way does the force of free
will form the content of history. But just as the subject of
every science is the manifestation of this unknown essence of
life while that essence itself can only be the subject of
metaphysics, even the manifestation of the force of free will in
human beings in space, in time, and in dependence on cause forms
the subject of history, while free will itself is the subject of
In the experimental sciences what we know we call the laws of
inevitability, what is unknown to us we call vital force. Vital
force is only an expression for the unknown remainder over and
above what we know of the essence of life.
So also in history what is known to us we call laws of
inevitability, what is unknown we call free will. Free will is
for history only an expression for the unknown remainder of what
we know about the laws of human life.
BLAVATSKY NET UPDATE
by Reed Carson
This July there is only one item of progress to report, but I
think it is quite important. Now the member "profile report" has
been sorted geographically (instead of being listed apparently
randomly). This makes an enormous difference.
At this point in time a total of 582 memberso from 57 different
countries, have chosen to have some of their information to be
listed, often including their self-description. The information
is sorted first by country, then by state if in the United
States, by city, and finally by name. This makes it very easy to
find those in your geographical area. Of course we expect this
list will continue to grow in size and in consequent usefulness
to everyone. If you recommend this list to your friends who have
interest in this site and in this subject, then it will help
[See http://www.blavatsky.net for more information.]
THE PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE
by Katherine Tingley
[From THE GODS AWAIT, 155-78, Woman's International Theosophical
League, Point Loma, California, 1926.]
It is because we build our hopes, such as they are, not on
knowledge but on faith -- on blind faith, and at that, faith in a
personality, and powers outside of us -- that we have drifted
away so pitiably from the inspiration and beautiful philosophy of
Nature; who with her stars and all her hierarchies of beauty
could reveal to us the wonderful doctrine, if we would turn and
I remember very vividly the morning I met --, H.P. Blavatsky's
Teacher, on the mountainside near Darjiling. He was dressed
plainly in the Tibetan style, and had an English pocket-knife in
his hand, and was whittling a piece of wood with it. In the
field below, not far away, a young Hindu was plowing with a brace
of oxen. The whittling, -- told me, was to make a little plug or
peg which, inserted in the yoke, would make it easier for the
He drew my attention to the plowman, one of his own Chelas. The
> Were a battery of guns to be firing, and the shells falling all
> around him, "he would not stir from his work. Indeed, he would
> hardly be aware of the noise or the peril, so absorbed would he
> be. Those two oxen, with anyone else, are most unmanageable
> creatures; with him they are always, as now, perfectly quiet. He
> does not control them with his will. His mind does not concern
> itself with them at all. But you see there for yourself proof
> that those dumb things can feel the atmosphere of purity of
> And when he goes upon a pilgrimage, he will travel more miles in
> a day than any of the others, and come in far ahead. You know
> how the women here in India lave and anoint the feet of the
> pilgrims? Well -- his feet, after the longest day's journey, have
> never been found hurt or damaged by the road. Why? Because he
> never dreads or even thinks of the distance, but goes on his way
> happily. It never occurs to him to be troubled as to whether or
> not he may have missed the road or taken the wrong turn or the
> like. His mind is so buoyant with the joy of the spiritual life
> that it actually lightens his body for him.
> You know -- the atoms of the human body become weighed down as a
> rule with the burdens of the mind -- the irrelevant ideas, the
> preoccupations and anxieties. They go through series of changes
> moment by moment, affected by the thoughts of the brain-mind.
> The lack of trust, the lack of inspiration that people suffer
> from -- the hopelessness! -- bring these atoms down half way to
> death; but they can be quickened to a kind of immortality by the
> fire of the divine life, and attuned into universal harmony. Men
> anywhere could get rid of all that burden of unnecessities, and
> carry themselves like that young Chela does, if they had the
> mental balance.
> If you had to go from here to America, you would not sit still
> and dream about the place you wanted to go to, and think that was
> enough. The trouble with some Theosophical aspirants is that
> they waste the strength of their lives looking at the goal ahead,
> rather than at the immediate moments and seconds of which the
> Path is composed, and so their better selves become exhausted.
> They should let the Beaming Thought pour itself into each
> arriving moment, and be indifferent to the morrow. One can find
> in every instant of time, if one has the desire, the door into
> worlds of golden opportunity, the gateway to a glorious path
> stretching out into the limitless Eternal ...
> To move away from the material plane of effort and thought and
> personality -- that is what the Soul is urging us to do -- to
> move out into the hidden vast realities of life, and understand
> that within and above and around us, and in the very atmosphere
> in which our thoughts and feelings exist, Universal Life is
> pulsating continuously in response to our yearning and
> questioning. When people say that they are seeking happiness,
> they mean that they are aiming at that stage in their evolution
> where their present problems will be solved. To reach it, one
> must withdraw from the allurements of life and all its outward
> and discouraging aspects, and find himself in the solitude of his
> own being, in a silence unbreakable within his own heart and
> The outer life is transient. He must gain the inner power, and
> live in the Spirit which is eternal. He cannot step free-souled
> into that light without having learned concentration, which many,
> these days, advertise they can teach, and lecture on it, forming
> cults, holding classes, and taking dollars; but all they can do
> at last is to lead their victims away from reality, and farther
> and farther away from the True Self within themselves. For
> concentration is a power inherent in the Self and above and
> beyond the mind, it cannot be found in the objective world, for
> it is not there. The Kingdom of Heaven is on earth, and the
> gates of it are to be sought and discovered in the heart of man.
> So the aspirant should not think about the cultivation of powers,
> but live in the light and strength of his own Higher Nature. The
> Divine Law is in every man and woman, and each must find it there
> for himself, and make it manifest in his life. No one can pour
> pure water into foul so that it will still retain its purity.
> Selflessness attains; selfishness defeats. Men's possibilities
> are in direct proportion to their ability to see beyond
> themselves and to feel for others ...
> To throw the mind, on moving out of sleep into waking, directly
> upon the outward things, is to lose half the life of the day.
> One should awake in the morning with a beautiful thought,
> reminding himself that the battle for the day is before him, and
> that the God Within desires a moment's conference with the mind
> before the arduous duties of the morning begin.
> He should find something in the silence and sunlight of the first
> hours, which should link itself with his own Higher Nature and
> bring forth the blossom and the fruit; he should free himself in
> the morning in the sweetness of the sunlight; beginning the day
> as gently as though he were waking a little child from its
> slumbers; bringing forward the truer and nobler side of himself
> -- I do not mean, working it out in words and language, but in
> thought approaching the richness and fullness of the Spirit, and
> letting the God Within blossom into each moment as it rises.
> Then, reaching out for the most difficult duty that one KNOWS TO
> BE ONE'S DUTY, and overcoming it, he will learn the secret of
> being on guard. In a little while he will have thrown away
> unawares all the burdens that obstructed him.
> Many have been working hard and conscientiously to get rid of
> these burdens. There is no need to spend a moment on them. It
> is but to put aside the doubts and misgivings; to enter the
> chambers of the Soul; to bask in the sunlight and strength that
> are there.
> The first three hours of the day are the great opportunity. He
> who does not rise with the sun loses an immense amount of power.
> He who rises before the sun, and by daybreak has finished with
> the duties of this plane and what may be necessary for the care
> of the body, and is ready to step out with the sunrise and work
> with the sun. He has the cooperation of a force he little knows
> of, the vibrant blue light behind the sun.
> The trouble is with many of our aspirants that too often they
> begin with the letter and go backwards in search of the spirit.
> But let them hold to these things in the silence, and create a
> noble future in their hearts, going alone in the morning into the
> silence of Nature; freeing themselves there from their old trying
> memories and from all anticipations of trouble, let them make
> themselves at one with that Light in Nature. And it will not
> hurt them to look at the stars with wonder occasionally; or to
> listen with delight light to the music of the birds. Now will it
> hurt to spend whole days in silence, brooding on these sacred
> things whilst performing all the duties that come to them to do.
I think he placed a talisman in our hands, and gave us the real
secret of life.
When the conquest of self is made, the whole aspect of the
universe changes, we move with divine affection close to the
Mighty Mother, and realize that all these years the silence and
the stars in heaven have been pleading with us, and that for us
the trees have put forth their leaves and all the flowers their
blossoms, and that every bird that sang, sang for us, and that
for our sake all beauty has been.
I recall how Carlyle after years of doubt came to a place in his
life where the whole world seemed dead to him, and he could find
no answer to his questions in books or in his Calvinistic
religion; and then one morning, as hungering after truth he
looked out over the hilltops, it came to him; and in the glory of
the morning light above the mountains he realized the power and
grandeur within Nature, whose secret beauty was reflected into
his soul; and he found the Divinity within him, and the truth and
message he afterwards wrote so brilliantly for the world. He
wrote a message of perfect trust in the divineness of the
Universe and Man.
And this revelation is awaiting us all, for the Infinite is in
everything, and all things are expressions of the Spirit. The
invisible forces lying behind external Nature are identical with
the invisible forces working through ourselves. In both are many
hidden things we have not discovered and do not understand.
The Spirit that shines through the beauty of dawns and sunset
seeks equally to express its grandeur and dignity through our
human lives; the spiritual will that urges us toward noble and
righteous living is a part of the same great essence that
breathes through all Nature, expressing itself in the hue and
perfume of the flowers, in the whisper or crying of the wind, in
all the music of the wild waters and the rolling billows of the
In the search for freedom, in the quest for sublime perfection,
there is eternal alliance between Man and nature. The waves and
winds can shout for us the battle-cry or sing for us the song of
our peace, or whisper to us their dreams of sunlit ages to be.
Under the blue of heaven in the free air we can always find that
which is akin and most intimate to ourselves, and a friendliness
in every green and growing thing, and the New Life, which is the
God-essence, everywhere. It is in the plan of evolution that we
should enjoy this noble silent companion ship, and that all
Nature should constantly appeal to and invoke that which is
impersonal, and therefore godlike, in us.
Go into the secret chambers of your heart. Go out under the
magnificence of the constellations. Arise to the viewpoint of
the godhead you will find in both, and the stars themselves will
bring forth new manifestations of wonder for you, and you will
know certainly that where life is, in that place is the Divine,
and that the glory of the sky and the sweet silence of the air,
the wonder of music, the richness and vitality of color. All
these things are but manifestations and permutations of
You cannot think of a beautiful line of poetry without awakening
in some degree that divine Inner Glory within yourself. You can
read such a line again and again until after a while you have
lost sight of your surroundings and are out in an ideal world all
beauty and sublimity. The trouble with us is that we never
remain there long enough to find out who we are. We do not catch
the undertones of the silence there. We are in too much hurry to
Seek the upward and ennobling path, and you are no longer alone.
Your own Divinity is on your side with you, and what you can
encompass of what Universal Nature affords is with you to support
you toward final victory.
For music you will have heard of the symphony of life, and the
stars in their courses will sing to you. The trees will chant to
you the hymn of their beautiful being. All Nature will greet you
with the salutation of respect, because of the noble effort you
The glory of Death will be made known to you. You will know the
path you must travel though you may not foresee the goal, for the
Soul will implant in your mind knowledge of its high
But he who chooses the downward path and uses his energies on
behalf of the evil in him, has at his elbow likewise the evil of
I remember how the wonder and power of Theosophy were born in
upon me on my first visit to Egypt. There the footsteps of the
ancient times are visible. The truth that men lived and brooded
of old, endures still and cannot die. In the clear motionless
air, in the mountains and old temples, there is a silence and an
impress of ages gone which awaken the imagination; one feels the
presence and potency of the truths that shone through the
Mysteries of old, and that the great hierophants and Teachers
have left the touch of their inner lives in the atmosphere.
Those silent hills, worn with age -- how they spoke to me! They
were full of the mightiness of ancient times and the spiritual
activities of the great Egyptians. The old Nile talked to me,
and the moon above the Nile; until I knew that the greatest and
most eloquent power in Nature as well as in human life is
It was borne in upon me in the tombs of the Pharaohs. I remember
the day when we rode from Luxor along the bank of the river, and
up over hills and down through ravines, and then walked through a
door in the hillside, and by galleries and galleries underground,
and by flights of stairs carved in the rock, and into a room lit
with electricity, the tomb of Seti I.
The mummy was there; the lid of the sarcophagus had been removed
and the lights were disposed so that one could see the great
king's features. I had never before understood why they
mummified their dead; but as we went in there and looked at the
face of that mighty monarch -- he was one of the greatest of the
Pharaohs -- a silence seemed to descend upon the whole party. It
was an inner and majestic silence, which was in itself a symphony
of symphonies, as if we had been ushered into the presence of
something that still remained, and was imperishable in its
essence, of that long-dead ruler's greatness.
There were many periods, anciently, when the Soul was better
understood than it is now, and when men fashioned their lives
simply and beautifully in accordance with the magnificent
aspirations of Nature; when they listened for and heard, as we do
but very rarely, the melody of life, which is the voice of the
Inner Divinity; when they talked with the stars, and had no fear
written on their faces; when they knew no dogmas at all, nor fear
of death, nor spiritual nor moral terror.
All that was best in the history of those early races is here now
in the very atmosphere in which we live. It is not lost; it is
in Nature; it has made itself a part of the harmony of universal
In such periods, wise Teachers instituted the festival of Easter
in honor of the Mighty Mother. They knew that the depths and
powers hidden in Nature and in Man are infinite, and paying
tribute to the beauty and glory of the universe, invoked at the
same time the infinite Divine Beauty in themselves and in the
general human heart.
For there is that undertone in life. It is in all of us, and we
are bound together by it unescapably, each his brother's keeper,
though it is audible only to him who is great enough to hear it
because he has found his true Self.
Knowing this, and that the Divine Essence is everywhere, those
Wise Ones of old time knew that through our own efforts we may
lift the veil and understand the mysteries of being and the whole
meaning of the conflict within ourselves, and so work out our own
salvation; that he who will crucify his earthly passions will
find strength to roll back the stone from the doorway of his own
inner being wherein the Divinity lies entombed, raising as it
were the Christos from the dead; and that this is the
resurrection and the life. And they instituted and ordained
Easter in commemoration of it.
How joyful, how sublime, our existence in this world becomes when
viewed from this standpoint, and with the key to all its
mysteries -- which is knowledge of the essential divinity of man
-- in one's possession! In the sunshine of that wisdom all the
thoughts that we cling to and love because of their fineness will
blossom. The small aims and prejudices of our minds, and the
conventional opinions we accept without thought as to whether
they bear any relation to truth or not -- how infinitely trivial
they will seem!
We have limited Deity according to the measure of our own minds,
and conceived of the Limitless as personal because we have been
oblivious of all but the personal within ourselves.
Yet that self-knowledge for lack of which we suffer can be
attained, and it is a consciousness of the regal powers of the
No man can make actual his own divine potentialities, until he
has recognized the universality of the Divine, and asserted its
presence within himself, aware that by will and conviction he can
make manifest in his human life every quality and aspect of
One has not to run away from present duty in order to find this
knowledge; but in the inmost spaces of the heart is the throbbing
life of the Divine wherein all wisdom is discoverable, because it
is there that all wisdom inheres.
Let a man work with Nature, understanding the fundamental laws of
her and living by them. Knowing what she demands of him and
building his life on the knowledge, unsatisfied with the personal
god idea, let him know that God is the Divine Life unfolding
itself through the power of its own essence, the one Universal
Law inspiring, flowing through, directing, the infinite
interweaving of laws that express themselves through life and
govern its manifestations.
And in the performance of every smallest duty, in the bearing of
every sorrow, in the conduct of his severest and most
discouraging struggles, that Divine Force, that Knowledge,
seeking its expression in the transformations, will be at his
For it is a power whose secret is in the heart and mind and soul
working together. It is to be evoked only out of the hidden
realms within ourselves where all the splendor at the Heart of
Life is to be found.
He who finds it within himself, and knows it wonderfully to be
himself and the sole reality in himself, lives absolutely for
humanity; because to touch human nature at any point is to touch
the whole of humanity, and to evoke the Godself within ourselves
is to employ the power underlying all things.
And this is the reason why no one now is quite at ease within
himself, or wholly satisfied. The ray of the Divine Nature in
each of us is eager after self-expression in a larger life than
any we have dreamed of.
We are not brought into existence by chance, nor thrown up into
earth-life like wreckage cast along the shore; but we are here
for infinitely noble purposes.
All humanity should know its heritage, constantly and constantly
striving to become and overcome, yet never depending on forces
outside of self.
Rising in the morning, we should be conscious of the Divinity
within; retiring at night, we should be enfolded in the
protection of the Law.
For none of us is overlooked, left out, or forgotten in this
Scheme of Life of whose sweeping beneficence each is a part. In
all situations from the most trivial to the most important, in
all temptations from the smallest to the largest, a man can find
in his own reflections and inner consciousness that which will
convince him that he is more than he seems -- a knowledge that
leads not to egoism or self-importance, but to great simplicity,
impersonality, and balance.
For Man is the Soul, and there is no wisdom so divine that he
cannot attain it. The Soul belongs to the beautiful eternities,
and we are here to make all existence beautiful.
Life would have nothing in it for me. I could not live through a
day of it, were it not for the consciousness within that this
apologetic bit of myself is the temple of the Soul -- the shrine
of a God ever pressing toward grander expressions of life.
The Soul can rest on nothing that is this side of infinity. It
loses its vitality if it seeks to do so. All eternity awaits it;
how should it be satisfied with the half-life we live and the
many imperfections that mar us? The nature of the Soul is to be
winging its flight forever toward the boundless; to be working,
hoping, and conquering; to be going forward forever and ever.
It is therefore no question of our likes and dislikes. Advance
we must, seeking within ourselves the secret of our God-selves,
which sing to us eternally through the silence.
If the meaning and the music of the song are lost before it
reaches our hearing, it is because our thoughts are too full of
the things of death, because we are weighed down by needless
burdens, and grow old in our youth with wrong thinking, filling
our minds with desires that emanate from selfishness, and
allowing them to accumulate until they, and not we, become the
living force behind our actions.
So that it is not only the mind but the whole being that must be
prepared for the search for truth. For this there are no rules
that can be given, no precise directions nor yardstick receipts.
But conceive, if but for a day, that you are greater than ever
you dreamed you were, conceive that in the essence of your nature
you are divine, and cannot suffer perdition.
And remember that you never could have walked if you had not
tried; that you never could have spoken if you had not made the
effort to speak; that you never could have sung if you had not
felt within you the urge of the living God there.
Theosophy is as old as the hills, and all the World Religions are
based on its teachings, although only a minority now is familiar
with them. It is not superstition nor speculation; not dogmatism
nor blind faith; nor the product of the brain-mind of any man;
nor yet miraculous.
It comes to humanity like an old traveler who has trodden all the
highways of experience, and having achieved, after long
journeying, a full understanding of life, returns to the place
from which he started, that he may bring to those who dwell there
the saving knowledge he has acquired. It is knowledge of the God
within Man, and of Man's power to advance and to overcome, which
is what evolution means.
Superficial examination of its teachings will avail nothing. As
none could become a musician by mere study of the theory of
music, so none can come to an understanding of Theosophy by
reading of it in books. In both cases, practice is needed. One
must live the life if one would know the Law. An artist never
attained excellence in his art, nor a musician in his music, who
did not begin with the basic principles.
Where there is satisfaction with self, there look for danger;
because there no growth can take place. A certain conflict
within, of thought and feeling, must be going forward; until we
arrive at some knowledge of our own, at some perception of life's
meaning and purposes, of our origin and destiny, our duties,
obligations, and responsibilities.
No man can really grow until he has trust in himself. The
successful inventor is the one who realizes that there is
something more to know, that new knowledge is always accessible
and waiting for him, that tomorrow will add to what he has today.
He was once a boy, playing with his tools clumsily and with no
knowledge of mechanics; but after a time some inner whispering
told him that he was to achieve something; and he kept on,
because that which bade him keep on was above and beyond his
mind, until he came to be aware that his mentality was but an aid
to him in the working out of his problems; and that there is an
Inside Something that uses it, discovering truth and acquiring
knowledge; and that this is the Real Man, who may be inspired by
illuminating ideas out of the Universal Mind, or may have brought
them with him as memories out of ancient lives.
So he looks always for truth beyond his opinions, and goes out
seeking into the broad spheres of thought. He frees his mind and
advances, hoping and trusting; he visualizes his aims, and
believes there are whole regions in his nature which he has not
yet discovered; and, relying on that undeveloped side of himself,
claims from it by trust the knowledge he seeks, and does not
claim in vain.
So too the real artist, the lover of truth and beauty, is lifted
in his moments of creation above all brain-mind limitations and
carried onto a plane that transcends our normal thought-life, and
feels there, throbbing and thrilling through his being, the
poetry and inspiration of the Great Silence -- that divine light
that is within and a part of us all and forever awaiting our
Such a one, artist or inventor, when he is in the quest of that
which should do good to the world, sounding the deep resources of
his nature, touches the fringe of worlds more wonderful, and
strangely mysterious powers; whereas another man, with equal
latent ability, approaching the same problems with doubt and
hesitation, or again with presumptuous self-sufficiency, would be
very sure not to succeed.
In proportion as a man worships the outer, he misses the inner
THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS, PART I: AN INTERPRETATION
by Charles J. Ryan
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1948, 208-214.]
> Sing, Muse, the song of Odysseus, him of the hardy heart, bravest
> of all the brave who sailed in the hollow ships of the Grecians,
> ODYSSEUS, erstwhile King of Ithaca, now held by crafty Calypso,
> she of the braided tresses, in far Ogygia. Gone indeed is the
> day of his returning! Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, aids him not;
> Poseidon the earth-shaker sends ruinous winds upon him and dire
> engulfings in the wine-dark sea. Only Athena would aid thee --
> grey-eyed Athena of the bronze-shod spear, a daughter of Zeus,
> the thunderer. See! From the azure seats of the gods, even from
> Olympus, comes she now glancing down.
The wise teachers of old knew that not only children but grown
men and women are always ready to listen to an interesting story.
In ancient times, when few people could read, bards and
storytellers would travel about singing or reciting, as they
still do in the East. Serious teachings about life and morals
were put into the form of vivid and absorbing stories. Enshrined
in imperishable forms, great truths were presented by the
effective method of suggestion. Allegory was a recognized method
of instruction, as it now is in the Orient.
The basis of many such legends was the experience and suffering
of man, individually and as a race, in seeking a higher and
nobler life, in the quest for enlightenment. The pilgrimage and
tribulations of the awakening personality when it seriously
commences to seek for purification, or in other words, union with
its own higher nature, have been presented in various forms
according to the varying conditions of the times, but the
underlying principle or motif was always the same. At a certain
stage man is no longer satisfied with the ordinary pleasures and
ambitions of life; he begins to suspect that a greater life
awaits him, and he becomes willing to endure with patience the
experiences in store for him which are necessary for his
purification, even though they take many lifetimes.
The vulgar Western belief of modern times that we live but once
on earth, has deprived us of a right understanding of many of the
greater truths concealed in the ancient allegories. Once
comprehended in the light of reincarnation -- the mechanism of
evolution -- human life no longer appears a meaningless frenzy,
but something worthy and governed by justice.
The epics of the nations which tell the story of man's aspiration
are built upon the trials, temptations, and victories that
precede the union of the purified lower personality with the
Higher Ego, its overshadowing Divinity, the Father that lives in
'heaven.' Remember that 'heaven' is said to be WITHIN man. The
goal of attainment is symbolized in various ways. It may be the
vision of the Holy Grail, or the winning of a treasure such as
the Golden Apples of the Hesperides or the Golden Fleece; it is
sometimes a marriage with a princess after rescuing her from a
monster, as in the story of Perseus and Andromeda, or with a
goddess. Perhaps a wife has to be regained. In India the
subject of the semi-historical THE BHAGAVAD GITA -- included in
the great epic of THE MAHABHARATA -- is Arjuna's battling for his
rightful heritage. The Biblical story of the Israelites breaking
out of bondage and passing through the Red Sea and then wandering
for forty years in the Desert of Sinai on their way to the
Promised Land is a very clear allegory.
In Ireland we find the legend of Bran seeking the mystic country
of joy and peace, and of Art the son of Conn overcoming ordeals
in his search for a princess of the Isle of Wonders, and many
others. In Wales there are the legends of Pwyll and Manawyddan,
and the adventurous journey of King Arthur to the Annwn, the
Welsh Hades, to obtain a magic caldron -- a type of the Cup of
the Holy Grail.
Thanks to Wagner, the Teutonic legends of Siegfried and
Brunhilde, of Tannhauser and Parsifal, and the rest are now
familiar. Greece has a wealth of myths founded on the drama of
the soul; some are quite transparent to interpretation, such as
Perseus and Andromeda, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Jason and the
Golden Fleece; but as a secular and popular story, nothing has
appeared of more enduring fame than the Wanderings of Odysseus as
told in the ODYSSEY of Homer.
Odysseus is representative of the awakened mind of man seeking,
after long years of battling with worldly things -- represented
by the Trojans -- to find, or more accurately, to regain, the
spiritual wisdom deep-buried within his soul, and symbolized by
his faithful wife, Penelope. This spiritual Intuition stands in
the dim background of the whole poem as a permeating influence,
calm, and waiting patiently for him to find her. While Odysseus,
as the active mentality, is fighting against obstacles and
pushing onward in rapid movement, Penelope sits at home and
weaves her patterns, creating and preserving. Odysseus is not
only separated from his wife but is an exile from his hearth and
country; not only has he to keep constantly in action BUT HE HAS
TO FIND FOR HIMSELF the true Path which leads homeward, a very
In tracing the plain Theosophical interpretation of the Odyssey,
we need not follow the order of the poem as arranged by Homer or
by whomever compiled the Homeric legends, but will take the
simple narrative of the wanderings of Odysseus in their natural
sequence of events. This paper is not an analysis of the poem
from a literary standpoint in any way, nor shall we consider the
archaeological problems aroused by sundry references to customs
and the construction of buildings found in the text, interesting
as these may be, particularly in view of the modern discoveries
of early Mediterranean civilizations.
After leaving the battlefields of Troy, Odysseus embarks for his
native isle, "Ithaca the Fair," expecting to arrive there
quickly, but a tempest drives the fleet out of its course, and a
great fight impedes his progress at the very outset. Many
students know how true this is. The destruction of all his ships
but one, and of many of the sailors, follows quickly. One of the
most curious stories of this introductory part is that of
Polyphemus, the Cyclopean giant with a single eye in the midst of
his forehead. Madame Blavatsky, in her great work, THE SECRET
DOCTRINE, gives considerable attention to the partly-hidden
meaning of this grotesque incident. She reveals the clue by
showing that it is based upon historical facts, however little
they may be known in modern times. Urged by curiosity, Odysseus
ventures too near the giant, and with his companions, falls into
his hands. In order to escape, they destroy the single eye of
Polyphemus and deceive him by the stratagem of the flocks of
rams, a well-known esoteric symbol. The legend is based upon the
disappearance from use of the 'third Eye' (the existing vestige
of which is commonly known as the pineal gland in the brain) at a
very early period in human evolution. H.P. Blavatsky says that
> ... adventure with the latter [the pastoral Cyclopes] -- a
> savage gigantic race, the antithesis of cultured civilization in
> the ODYSSEY -- is an allegorical record of the gradual passage
> from the Cyclopean civilization of stone and colossal buildings
> to the more sensual and physical culture of the Atlanteans, which
> finally caused the last of the Third Race to lose their
> all-penetrating SPIRITUAL eye.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 769 (See also ISIS UNVEILED, II, 423)
The story of the tribe of one-eyed Cyclops, which preserves the
memory of the transformation in the human frame far more than a
million years ago, is found in many countries in different forms.
In China, the legends speak of men who had two faces and could
see behind them; in Ireland the hero who blinds the Cyclops-eyed
giant is called Finn. There is one living animal possessing the
third eye in recognizable form today -- the New Zealand lizard
HATTERIA PUNCTATA, a relic of long-vanished conditions on earth.
After their escape and some further perilous adventures, Odysseus
and his companions soon reach the island of the enchantress
Circe, which very clearly represents the fascination of sensual
delights. Odysseus is unaffected by the gross temptations which
overwhelm his companions, who are turned into swine by the
goddess. He retains his human form and is helped by the Olympian
god Hermes to frustrate the designs of Circe. Odysseus' boldness
and "confidence in heaven" finally conquer the enchantress and
compel her to serve him. She becomes transformed into a friend
and counselor. She restores the men to human form and instructs
Odysseus how to find the way to the Underworld. This episode
reminds us of and illustrates the saying of Katherine Tingley
"that after a certain stage of spiritual unfoldment, the action
of Karma changes from penalty to tuition," and also of a striking
passage in a well-known Theosophical book, THROUGH THE GATES OF
Once force the animal into his rightful place, that of an
inferior, and you find yourself in possession of a great force
hitherto unsuspected and unknown. The god as a servant adds a
thousandfold to the pleasures of the animal; the animal as a
servant adds a thousandfold to the powers of the god. . . .
The animal in man, elevated, is a thing unimaginable in its great
powers of service and strength. . . . But this power can only
be attained by giving the god the sovereignty. Make your animal
ruler over yourself, and he will never rule others.
Now comes the ordeal of Terror, an emotion not familiar to
Odysseus. Circe has warned him that, before he goes farther, he
must gain some necessary information about the future from
Tiresias, the ancient prophet who lives with the Shades in Hades,
though he himself is not dead. The approach to this great seer
and the initiation itself is surrounded by fearful dangers;
safely to defy the multitudes of the vengeful shades of the dead
calls forth the highest physical, and moral courage of Odysseus.
Like all the heroes of the epics of the Soul, he has to pass
through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in a very real sense;
to meet and face and remain unappalled by the Shades, the
lingering remains of past sins and errors; then to learn what is
necessary for his further progress; and finally to return
unharmed, though tried to the uttermost. This Descent into Hell,
or the Underworld, or the 'Open Tomb' has more than one meaning,
and it is always introduced in some form in the myths of
initiation. For instance, in the legend of Perseus and
Andromeda, the hero, aided by the gods, must fly to the hideous
regions of cold and darkness and destroy the death-dealing
monster Medusa and take her head, before he can rescue the
princess of Ethiopia.
Not only Christ is said to have descended into the Underworld and
"ministered to the spirits in prison" but Orpheus, Aeneas and
many other Great Ones, and we are told that in the ceremonies
conducted in the profound recesses of the Great Pyramid of Egypt
the candidates had to descend into the subterranean chamber or
symbolic Underworld, for trial, reascending the third day
strengthened and illuminated. The descent into the shadows is an
indispensable part of every complete story of the pilgrimage of
the soul, for it represents a necessary experience. "No cross,
no crown." It is not mere PHYSICAL death and resurrection or
rebirth into a new body; that is but a natural incident,
frequently recurring, in the far-stretching career of the soul,
the close of a day in its life-story. When the true resurrection
has been fully accomplished there then will be little necessity
of reincarnation on earth, except by the deliberate choice of
great souls who descend for the purpose of helping humanity.
The tone of the poem changes at this point; the lightness and
gaiety with which Odysseus has related his adventures is replaced
by a deep solemnity, and the horrid scenes in Hades are described
with intense vividness, and many curious touches of realism, as.
in the account of the blood-evocation -- a necromantic ceremony
the contemporaries of Homer would firmly believe in. In his
description of the Underworld, Homer shows a real knowledge of
certain conditions of the POST MORTEM life, a knowledge more
common then than now. He unveils only a partial glimpse of the
lower states or planes, and, of course, he allegorizes everything
for the popular understanding, but he gives a very striking
picture of the weird and desolate sphere of restless phantoms,
most of them merely "eidolons," i.e., soulless images or dregs of
what once were men whose real higher nature or spirit has passed
onward. Leaving the impure remains to fade out, often painfully,
in the lower astral planes, Odysseus gets a passing view of
"stern Minos," the judge of the Dead, the personification of the
Law of Karma or Justice, rewarding the righteous and dooming the
guilty, and he is privileged to gain a momentary glance into the
heavenly world of Elysium or Devachan in which live in
blessedness during the periods of rest between incarnations on
earth, the higher immortal spirits of those whose fading shadows
wander in Hades below. H.P. Blavatsky says:
> ... the Hades of the ancients [is] . . . a LOCALITY only in a
> relative sense ... Still it exists, and it is there that the
> astral EIDOLONS of all the beings that have lived . . . await
> their SECOND DEATH.
> -- THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, 143
Plato and Plutarch give more complete accounts of the Greek
teachings on this mysterious subject; examined in the light of
Theosophy they are seen to be practically identical with the
Egyptian, Indian, and other ancient teachings on these states of
existence. It is very significant that wherever we go among
so-called 'primitive peoples' we find they are aware of the
danger of intercourse with the lower and irresponsible remains of
the dead, and though devoted to them in life will go to great
pains to avoid the soulless relics of their departed friends.
Odysseus does not ask the shuddering phantoms to help him; he
appeals to the prophet Tiresias, who, though shadowy himself, is
> ... the Theban bard, deprived of sight;
> Within, irradiate with prophetic light;
> To whom Persephone, entire and whole,
> Gave to retain the unseparated soul;
> The rest are forms, of empty ether made;
> Impassive semblance, and a flitting shade.
Tiresias sees what possibilities the future has for Odysseus,
outlines his trials, and warns him against the rashness of his
followers. Odysseus replies to the prophet:
> ... If this the gods prepare,
> What Heaven ordains the wise with courage bear.
Returning to Circe, who outlines in greater detail the dangers of
his coming journey, and gives him good counsel, he once more
collects his men and starts. Then comes the perilous passage of
the Straits between Scylla and Charybdis, and the subtle
temptation of the Sirens. The Sirens, whose outward appearance
is exquisitely fair, offer the hero the satisfaction of the pride
of knowledge. They tell him they know "Whate'er beneath the
sun's bright journey lies," and they sing with all the charm of
> O stay, O pride of Greece! Ulysses stay!
> O cease thy course, and listen to our lay!
> Blest is the man ordain'd our voice to hear,
> The song instructs the soul, and charms the ear.
> Approach! thy soul shall into raptures rise!
> Approach! and learn new wisdom from the wise.
BEING AND RESPONSIBILITY: THE ETHICS OF "THE SECRET DOCTRINE"
by Joy Mills
[Chapter Six in LIVING IN WISDOM: LECTURES ON "THE SECRET
DOCTRINE," copyright 1989, Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland /
Amsterdam. Reprinted with permission. The booklet was
transcribed from a class given at the August 1988 Summer School
of the Dutch Section of the Theosophical Society.]
Our emphasis has been on THE SECRET DOCTRINE, simply because this
year marks the centenary of its publication. But whether one
thinks of one hundred years or one thousand years, these are mere
numbers that have no intrinsic meaning. What is important is
that we have considered together some of the fundamental
principles that characterize that Wisdom Tradition. I have not
intended that this would be a simple intellectual exercise. My
emphasis has been on the central consideration, that what is
called for is a transformation in human consciousness. This is
not just a new way of thinking, although that is involved, but it
is a new way of being in the world. And that means that it is
not simply that we have been talking about abstractions, but
about extremely practical matters.
We must look very deeply into what is the nature of our action.
It sometimes appears to be easier to rearrange the furniture of
the world, to shift things about a bit, than to deal with
ourselves. We would like to reform everyone else and we fail to
recognize that the reformation must take place within.
I think very often of the situation that is so well described in
THE BHAGAVAD GITA. Arjuna represents every man, we are the
modern Arjunas -- the whole universe is a kind of Kurukshetra.
It is a field on which all existence takes place, the field of
the KURUS. And we are engaged, I think, in this battle. Now THE
BHAGAVAD GITA opens with a remarkable statement. And I think it
is something of which we need to be aware. Arjuna is at first at
just one side of the field and this is often where we are, you
see, at one side. We look across the field and see what appears
to be an army arrayed against us, and we have projected unto that
army feelings of hostility. Now Arjuna recognized that in that
army were friends and relatives -- that were elements in himself.
And the armies that we face today are indeed the elements of our
own nature. Arjuna had a charioteer, that is to say he
recognized that there was an inner authority to whom he could
turn. It is time that we recognize that in each one of us there
is a similar interior authority and that if we listen closely, we
will understand what is the nature of right action.
Now at the very opening therefore, Arjuna takes a dramatic step.
He says to the charioteer: "'Take me to the center of the field,
and there stays my chariot." It is only when one moves to the
center that one may see the entire field. And we have to learn
to come to the center. In fact, I would suggest that this is the
fundamental principle enunciated in THE SECRET DOCTRINE -- that
one must come to the center, to truly observe the field of
existence. And then of course, his main question is: "What shall
I do? How shall I handle the situation in which I find myself?"
Isn't this the question all of us ask at some point or other? Of
course the charioteer, which is the interior guide or authority,
introduces him to that field. Now we may become just as
impatient as Arjuna did. Along about the sixth chapter of the
Gita, Arjuna says, in effect -- this is my own Joy Mills
translation -- "Look here Krishna, cut out all this philosophy.
All I want to know is what is it that I am supposed to do!" And
this is the situation in which many of us find us. I think some
of you may have said: "Cut out all this metaphysical business you
have been talking about! The world out there is burning and let's
get out and do something to put out the fire!"
Krishna gives the only answer that the wise can ever give: "'You
must be responsible for your own actions." In my own very rough
translation of the Sanskrit, Krishna says to Arjuna: "My boy, you
are on your own." Because we have created the situation in which
we find ourselves today, we must know how to solve it. We become
self-responsible. All that Krishna could do was to show the
fundamental basic principles which govern all action. How we
apply those principles is for each one of us to determine. The
Gita ends in the eighteenth chapter with a remarkable statement
of Krishna, and it is a statement we should all remember. In
effect he says to Arjuna, "You will act because the very nature
of your being is to act." That is, the very nature of being human
is to act. Even inaction is an act! You cannot say "Stop the
world. I want to get off!" You are the world and you must act.
You must recognize that in a phenomenal universe, this
Kurukshetra, this field, every action is clouded -- and he uses a
marvelous analogy here -- by smoke. So the task before us is the
same task that faced Arjuna, to know how to produce the least
smoke. That is, to act in such a manner as to bring about the
maximum benefit for all. It is neither to withdraw from action,
which is actually impossible, nor to rush blindly, rashly into
action, but to know what we are doing -- to be aware at every
moment what we are doing.
Now we must realize that action is not only physical action.
Action is a movement on whatever level of existence, and action
moves from a certain condition of the mind. When that condition
is obscured and colored by all that is perceived, then the action
is inevitably obscured and colored. When the mind is swayed by
desire and passion, then the action becomes indeed action that is
colored by those desires and passions. Again it is a matter of
the transformation of the mind so that consciousness is a clear
field, so that it is in a condition of its own purity of nature.
And for that alone we are responsible.
Truth is not a possession of the mind. It is not one possession
among others, but a mind that is established in its own essential
nature. A consciousness that is established, stable, in its own
interior center of being, is a mind in which truth reveals
itself. And that truth, that very nature of the truthfulness
that is revealed recognizes that there is a rightness that is
beauty everywhere, that everywhere there exists a natural order
of existence. When one is in harmony with that natural order or
beauty, then one acts to bring about the good. These indeed were
the three characteristics of the stable individual in Plato's
philosophy: the true, the beautiful, the good. So that when one
is established in the truthfulness of existence, one perceives
the beauty or order of existence recognizing that it is always
what one may call a right proportion of things -- never fully
expressing the Ultimate because the phenomenal can never fully
express the noumenal. There is always a kind of cloud, but
perceiving that right proportion, one performs the good.
So we may suggest that the simple story told in the Gita is the
total story of our work. We are all aware of the grave crises
that humanity faces today. These crises have been enumerated so
often. Like Arjuna we may often wonder whether we are simply
pawns in some gigantic cosmic game. But the theosophical
worldview indicates that we can choose to act meaningfully to
bring about a brotherhood of humanity. There are hopeful signs
everywhere around us.
Let me tell you a story that may or may not be apocryphal. It
concerns the writing or establishment of the constitution of my
own country. We have just celebrated in the United States the
bicentennial of the founding of my nation. There were many
problems following the declaration of independence of thirteen
states, and a constitutional conference was called to see if
there could be some way in which unity among these very separate
and diverse states could be achieved. George Washington was
elected the president of that convention, and the meetings
continued in a hot summer in the city of Philadelphia.
Interestingly, that is the city whose very name means "brotherly
love." That is why Philadelphia was so named; it was the city of
brotherly love, you see. During that period of the
constitutional convention there were quarrels and arguments over
many, many matters. But finally out of it emerged the document
that has guided my country during the past two hundred years.
Among the participants was perhaps one of the wisest men that
have ever lived, Benjamin Franklin. He was a member of the
ILLUMINATI of that day, which was the theosophical organization
of that time. And undoubtedly because he had been the ambassador
in France, he had come into contact with certain great beings,
At the conclusion, when the document had finally been signed by
all the participants, Benjamin Franklin pointed to the symbol
that was carved on the back of the chair on which Washington had
been seated throughout the convention. The symbol that had been
carved on the back of the chair was of a half sun, with rays
projecting out. And Franklin said to the assembled delegates of
the convention: "There were times during this week when I looked
at this symbol, and I thought it was a setting sun. But today I
know it is a rising sun."
Now when you consider the matter, there is no difference in how
one would paint a setting or a rising sun. But how you view it
may make all the difference in the world . . . We can face the
burning ruins of an outworn social and economic order and we can
say that our civilization, as we have known it, is a setting sun.
Or we can recognize that out of that may be arising a global
society and see that it is a rising sun. I suggest that our
responsibility is to help to bring to birth such a global
society, and to participate to the best of our ability in
bringing about that new order -- which is brotherhood.
There is the beautiful myth of the Round Table. In one of the
great myths of the Grail legend, it is said that the knights of
King Arthur's Round Table were seated about that table in the
usual order, when into the castle came Galahad, the voice of that
realm of pure being, that would awaken those that were willing to
leave the comfort at that table and proceed out into the forests
of confusion and bewilderment of the world about them to seek for
true wisdom, for that Grail whose very nature is wisdom and
compassion and in which there is that healing presence that leads
to wholeness. And so the call comes to each one of us today, to
leave the established comfort and security of a past way of life
-- to seek in the ways of the world, not by withdrawing in the
mountain vastness of the Himalayas, but to seek among humanity on
the streets and avenues of our modem cities in the midst in all
of the clashing of arms and the misery of human sorrow for that
which will heal all human wounds.
There is indeed I think a genuine call which we should hear, and
again THE SECRET DOCTRINE points to the way in which we can
search -- that we too, like Perceval, one day will reach that
goal. And as one version of the legend, that of Wolfram von
Eschenbach points out, we will then enter into the kingdom of
priester John; that kingdom is the kingdom of adepts, this mighty
brotherhood of "just men made perfect" whose very existence is
the surety of humanity's own achievement.
This is our responsibility. We cannot evade it. We can take it
up and pursue it with happiness and lightness. The knights of
the Round Table are present in us -- like Galahad we can blunder
our way through. Like Lancelot we can fall very frequently, and
wander from the path that leads to the Grail. Like Boros we can
plod steadily onwards; like Galahad we can ultimately achieve.
When Galahad announced the quest to the knights gathered, it is
recorded that each arose and went his own way into the forest, to
that place where he saw the way to be the thickest. What a
wonderful statement of the great truth, that the ways are many,
that each one of us has to find his own way of service, his own
path of the quest where he sees that the need may be the
greatest. But King Arthur, representative of that supreme ATMAN,
cautioned the knights as they departed: "Many will fall in the
quest, and the end may not be achieved so quickly as you may
There are many today who are seeking shortcuts on this path or
who get ensnared in the forest of psychic phenomena and are
caught on the brambles of the thickets in that kind of region.
Indeed there are those who fall -- failure is not to be dismissed
however, for all we need to do is to pick ourselves up and
disentangle ourselves from the briars of psychic glamors that
have ensnared us -- and continue on the quest.
So the task is laid before us; it is a beautiful task. In the
very beginning of THE SECRET DOCTRINE HPB wrote a statement that
is probably as descriptive of the present situation as it was of
her own time. She wrote:
> The world of today, in its mad carrier toward the unknown, which
> it is too ready to confound with the unknowable, is rapidly
> progressing on the material plane of spirituality. It has now
> become a true valley of discord and strife. It is a necropolis,
> wherein lay buried the highest and the most holy aspirations of
> our spirit-soul.
A necropolis is of course a city of the dead. We may say that we
walk in such cities today. The living dead or the sleepwalkers
are all about us, and it is given to us -- we, incidentally, are
the heirs to that great Wisdom Tradition, we who have been
permitted even to glimpse a bit or fragment of this Wisdom
Religion -- not to hold it to ourselves, not to be lost in
arguments over details but rather to help awaken, or rather to
reawaken those "highest and most holy aspirations of the human
That is a task that is far more difficult, and far more urgently
needed, than the simple tasks of rearranging the world's
furniture. It is to sacrifice all that we think we are, to
really sacrifice the personal self on the altar of wisdom and
compassion. This is, I suggest, what we are called upon to do.
To recognize that, as one of the adept-teachers wrote to Mr.
Sinnett, "Since there is hope for man only in man, I would not
let one cry whom I could save." And consequently he wrote further
"It is our responsibility, it is the duty of every man who is
capable of an unselfish impulse, to do something for its
welfare." But what is it we are to do? It is not to eradicate the
effects of wrong action, but to look for the causes, and the
causes are in human consciousness. HPB wrote in THE SECRET
> The only palliative to the evils of life, is union and harmony.
> A brotherhood in actuality, and ALTRUISM not simply in name. The
> suppression of one single bad cause will suppress not one but a
> variety of bad effects. And if a brotherhood, or even a number
> of brotherhoods, will not be able to prevent nations from
> occasionally cutting each others throat, still unity in thought
> and action, and philosophical research into the mystery of being
> will always prevent some from creating additional causes in a
> world already so full of woe and evil.
So to study THE SECRET DOCTRINE -- both the volumes by that name,
and even more that ageless tradition that is the doctrine -- not
simply to read books but to enquire, and to probe, to study in
its genuine sense, is to engage us in that "philosophical
research into the mysteries of being," and therefore to recognize
our profound responsibility to resolve the causes of misery. It
is, as one of the great thinkers of my own country, Henry David
Thoreau, put it:
> ... to place the imprint of our immortality
> upon every passing incident of daily life.
I think that is the true commemoration of the centenary of THE
SECRET DOCTRINE. That is an action that will change our world.
That will make our setting sun into a rising sun . . .
BIRTHDAYS OF THE DHYANIS AND OTHER CYCLIC EVENTS
by Dallas TenBroeck
[The first part of a private paper dated November 16, 1998.]
In THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol II, page 179 Mme. Blavatsky refers
to certain dates which She calls the "birthdays of the Dhyanis."
The reference to the "Birthdays of the Dhyanis" is on page 179 of
SD, II, and on SD, I, 470, we have a reference to the mysterious
"birthday of the World," which later on, in one of her articles
HPB, identifies with the 4th of January, 14 days after the Winter
equinox -- the "birthday" of the Sun. (HPB ARTICLES II 502.)
Midnight between February 17th and 18th is said by HPB to mark
the commencement of the Kali Yuga, in the year 3,102 B.C. (SD,
II, 435), and earlier in the book she identified this date right
down to the second (SD, I, 662).
It is THE ONE DATE which could probably serve as a basis for true
astrological calculations in this the Kali Yuga age. Many of the
dates and astrological observations used and preserved by the
Hindu Brahmins may belong to that earlier era.
HPB states in THE SECRET DOCTRINE that the Sun in its vast orbit
is dragging the whole system, our Earth included, into new and
different spatial conditions, where there are changes in the
properties and nature of the material elements.
One might suppose that only the Mahatmas, who are fully "awake"
know and perceive those differences. Does this foreshadow a
change? Is she warning us that the records of the past may not
always give us the exact conditions PHYSICALLY that we are now
experiencing or are going to experience?
Astrology is very interesting to those who wish to peer, however
dimly, into the future of this incarnation, whether theirs, or
that of others now alive. This does not seem to have as much
value, as the search for meaning and understanding in the
philosophical and the moral tenets offered to us. It is quite
possible that some of the Brahmins are in possession of those
corrections, and use them in their calculations, and of course
make them available annually through their almanacs
Those who are wise, use such references when initiating a new
activity. In 1909 the ULT was started on the 18th of February.
The T S was inaugurated on November 17th in 1875.
One may wonder if under Karma, this is the reason why the ancient
libraries of Babylon, Egypt, etc. have been "destroyed" insofar
as the general public and scholars are concerned, (or the
important MSS withdrawn), so that any confusion of times and
dates would be removed from the prying eyes and the fevered
imagination of those who would profit and mislead people if they
used those figures.
In ISIS UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE HPB has given hints from
history on the antiquity of the records seen by historians in
Egypt (Herodotus, Josephus), and in Babylon and Ur (Aristotle,
Berosus). These go back almost 50-100,000 years or more. Those
dates are still held to be incredible by modern archaeologists
and paleontologists. Herodotus was dubbed (until recently) "The
Father of Lies." Aristotle (Alexander's tutor, who accompanied
him on his march of conquest to the East) held discussions with
Berosus in Babylon and Chaldea -- but, those are not given much
THE DHYANIS -- THE WISE
The Dhyanis, the Wise, the "Great Souls," are the Rishis and the
Mahatmas, of antiquity, and of the present. Being immortals They
cannot have a "birthday" in the ordinary sense, since it is
posited that all beings, in their essence, and we, ourselves, as
immortals, are faced with the same quandary. Do we have a
birthday? The answer is both "yes," and "no." "Yes," for this
period of manifestation on our Earth. "No," for the "Eternal
Pilgrim" that we are essentially. (SD, I, 175, 268, and 570-575;
II, 79-80, 93-4, 103, 109-10, and 167.)
It could be surmised that the "Ray of the One Spirit" which is
the human MONAD (Atma-Buddhi) would have its special "birthday"
in the sequence of Cosmic development in the dim and formative
past of the earlier Rounds.
So, neither They -- who are ALIVE, nor we, can have a "birthday"
in the eternal sense -- only in the temporal sense when a
"personality" is used for expression on this material plane, and,
as a gift of service to those who need that help. Our Karma is
focused in every such event.
In THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, page 131, Mr. Judge defines the use
of the word Dhyanis (also spelled Dzyanis, Gnyanis, Gnanis, etc.)
calling them "creators, guides, Great Spirits." One may surmise
that these special days, "birthdays," "festivals," etc...are used
by the wise at the junction of specific solar and lunar (perhaps
also planetary) cycles for THE EDIFICATION (AND THE REINFORCING)
IN THE MASSES OF THEIR SENSITIVITY TO REVERBERATIONS OF ANCIENT
AND INNATE TRUTHS.
Perhaps as a result of their attending such ceremonies (those
conducted by the MAHATMAS WHO WERE THOSE ACTUAL HISTORICAL
PERSONAGES!) -- the minds and hearts of the masses being touched
by that INFLUENCE, if ready, may then in part, awake from their
lethargy, and started seeking for the "Wisdom.
Mr. Judge's narrated an interesting anecdote to J. Neimand for
the book "In a Borrowed Body" -- It is about the consecration of
the great temple in ancient Conjeevaram (KANCHIPURAM) in South
India, about 50 miles from Madras (THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT [TM],
page 256). [See also THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, Vol. 45, page
121-2, Echoes, page 31-2.]
In TM, Vol. 11, pp 4-5 the names of the Holy Cities for
pilgrimage in India are given; also TM, Vol. 7, pages 98; Vol.
9, pages 69, 110 makes reference to these.
CYCLIC RETURN OF IMPRESSIONS
Several days in each year mark the cyclic return of the
impressions of those early beginnings in this Manvantara. The
17th of November, midnight between the 18th and 19th of February,
and HPB states that these, and the 7th day of March are three of
the "birthdays" of the Dhyanis. In this connection, we may
recall the verse in THE VOICE, page 72, "Know if Amitabha, the
"Boundless Age," thou would'st become co-worker, then must thou
shed the light acquired, like to the Bodhisattvas twain, upon the
span of all three worlds."
Does this statement give a clue as to why the three "birthdays"
are referred to: these may be those of "Amitabha, and the two
"Bodhisattvas." It is said that two of the Masters saw that it
was possible to make an effort to re-establish the Theosophical
Movement in the world. We are indebted to them and to HPB who
agreed to act as their "Messenger."
They also refer to their superior, the Maha-Chohan before whom
they stand in awe and to whose wishes they accede. Before him,
they say in one place, the "book of Karma" stands open.
Perhaps the dates of other "birthdays," which may be scattered
through the rest of the months of the year, relate to those
Dhyanis who are the Regents of, and directors of other great and
It may be useful to consider that in us our three-fold spiritual
nature consists of Mind (manas -- the power to think), Wisdom
(Buddhi -- accumulated experience), and Spirit (Atman -- the
Spiritual Self). These form the Spiritual Man, the
"Three-in-One" the "Monad." It is reasonable to conclude that the
three Dhyanis whose birthdays we are given, represent the
"regents" of those faculties on the spiritual planes of Universal
as well as mundial being.
We may also consider our own birthday: is it only a date of birth
for the body, then, what about another for the birth of the
astral body, the mind, and another for the initiation of the
Lower Manas of the personality into the knowledge and wisdom of
the individuality its symbiotic "Father?" [see TRANSACTIONS pages
The "birthday" usually is a memory date for the cycle that we
(the MONAD) initiated in this present incarnation in this
particular (physical) body when we emerged from our Mother's
womb. The other birthdays (such as the date of conception,
spiritual, mental and physical) are secret ones, and known only
to our Higher Self, the Real MONADIC Ego within.
THE SEVEN "RAYS"
But it is said that all humans belong (in essential
consciousness) to one or another of the seven great "Rays"
(corresponding to the universal and human "principles") which
constitute differentiations within the great Monadic Host. Which
of these seven do we belong to as a Monad, (Higher Self) and is
this not a matter for self-discovery? But, looking back, each
division of this septenary "Host" must have had each their
"birthday" in this sphere of manifestation as a "Host." That is
still another cyclic beginning, most difficult to define.
Since the Dhyanis (see TRANSATIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE, page
23-24) have as their responsibility of guiding under Law, the
forces that shape evolution in this World, their first appearance
at the beginning of a new Manvantara, as a center of Energy and
Force on the spiritual Globes and at a definite time in the
earlier "Rounds," would have a specific time set for each by the
great Cycle of Necessity (KARMA), that has caused the beginning
of the whole period and assembled every one of the many
"aggregates" or "skandhas" -- with which we are involved.
Every one of us, as Monads, belong to the entourage of one or
another, or some combination, of these Great Beings who guide the
World in its progress. And this is not to establish any
exclusivity, since we are also within the area of influence of
all the other Great Beings and of the Seven, whether in or out of
manifestation, but some one pair of these are our "parents"
spiritually. [see SD, I, 325-358]
Symbolically these Seven Great Beings have been represented as
"rays" from the Central Spiritual Sun, [Sri Krishna personifies
This, when he states in the Bhagavad Gita: "I am the EGO seated
in the Heart of all beings."], which gives light and life to the
Universe, as well as to all individual parts of it.
It is reasonable to suppose that the Adepts know these events as
facts, and in their writings we find evidence that certain dates
are respected by them for this reason. This memory is kept alive
by Them for the benefit of the masses, and it seems reasonable,
as They indicate in their letters to Mr. Sinnett, that because
of necessity, they participate in such ceremonies. At such
times, Their presence serves to reinforce the original impulse,
and cause among the "masses" some to awaken when the brain-mind
realizes that a "Path" to perfection exists for it.
POWER OF VIBRATION AND SOUND
THE SECRET DOCTRINE states a specific vibration or resonance is
set up when Manvantara begins, in the world of effects called the
material (HPB ARTICLES II, page 297, 417). This may serve to
pierce through the veil of the materialism of the embodied,
lower, kama-manasic brain-mind, to give access to the thought
realm of analogy and correspondence which alone provides entrance
to the immovable, central field of force which is the MONADIC
core -- Atma-Buddhi -- in ourselves, and which every "Pilgrim,"
as an eternal, but presently "manifested being," whether atom,
man or star shares in. It is the concept of universality on the
Spiritual plane carried to its logical conclusion on our physical
It would be futile for us, without direct reference to Them, to
determine which calendar they use or refer to. No doubt, in the
Senzar these cycles are recorded quite differently, as to base,
from ours. And in the ancient systems of recording: Hindu,
Chinese, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Mayan, etc... we see the
remnants of those ancient systems -- and, whatever the form, the
mathematical base would be a universal one.
"CREATION AND MANVANTARA"
In publishing THE SECRET DOCTRINE, HPB corrects the date used by
the "Arya Magazine," and, she gives on SD, II, 68 the occult date
for the beginning of cosmic evolution up to the year 1887. This
is 1,995,884,687 years. On page 69 she indicates that the
beginning of the human period, the Vaivasvata Manvantara up to
1887 is 18,618,728 years. This is when Manas was "lit up" in
On SD, II, 70, she indicates that a Kalpa (a "day" of Brahma) is
a period of 4 billion, 320 million years (4,320,000,000). This
was also made clear earlier in the pages of THE THEOSOPHIST. The
Maha-Kalpa or "Life of Brahma" is said to be 311 Trillion, 40
billion years (311,040,000,000,000). [All these factors seem to
be based on the 60 x 60 = 3,600 cycle -- see ISIS UNVEILED I,
page 30 fn.]
The events They recorded and the "creations" initiated by the
Great Dhyanis, for which the Adepts hold a veneration, are
apparently those which continue to focus certain occult and
potent forces in the world and on mankind. We are not aware of
these, and we have not developed the means of gauging them yet.
The Dhyanis, the Adepts, the Mahatmas, with their far ranging
wisdom have recognized this, and for those reasons they caused
HPB to record those dates for us, to learn to use, if we can
grasp their significance. Our age of materialism has prevented
us from sensing those subtle influences around us. If we are
wise, we will seek to open our consciousness to the spiritual
afflatus that permeates the world, and which
At the time of HPB's writing, knowledge about the Tibetan
calendars and the records of India and China was limited. More
material has been brought to light since then, but if interpreted
now they need an HPB, a WQJ or a Damodar to secure accuracy
within the framework of the Perennial Philosophy.
On SD, II, 78-80, HPB refers to the spiritual Agnishwatta Pitris
[also named the Solar Pitris] who are devoid of the grosser
creative fire, and are unable to create physical man because they
have no double (astral), and are formless. This function was the
natural duty of another host of beings.
REASON FOR THE SEVEN HUMAN PRINCIPLES
HPB indicates that two central connecting principles of Manas and
Kama are needed to cement the spiritual principles to the
Bharishad Pitris [also called the Lunar Pitris] who had the
creative fire [from the previous Manvantara] but were devoid of
the higher Mahat-mic element, being "on the level" of the
precursors of the personality -- Skandhas? -- and the Kamic
HPB adds, in symbolic language, the explanation that the
"Spiritual Fire" is in the possession of the Triangles and not
the (perfect) Cubes, which symbolize the "Angelic Beings." In THE
VOICE OF THE SILENCE, page 19, there might be a hint: "...the
light from the One Master, the one unfading golden light of
Spirit, shoots its effulgent beams on the disciple from the very
first. Its rays thread through the thick dark clouds of matter."
There is the danger of materializing concepts if one attempts to
compare and make direct connections between symbolic phrases and
anyone's personal guesses as to the 7 principles of man (given,
let us say, in the KEY) [see Commander Bowen's report on his
conversations with HPB, page 7-9, 10-11, pamphlet "MME.
BLAVATSKY ON HOW TO STUDY THEOSOPHY."]
Each Manvantara is the "child" -- or reincarnation of the
previous one. There is no "creation" out of "nothing." Always
reincarnation, rebirth and reformation. When Manvantara, or
manifestation re-begins, the elements that were arrested and
stored, for the future, begin to awaken and take root in the
several planes under development, where the aggregation of
skandhas provided by the past Manvantara, are brought
progressively into activity (over several Rounds) to form the
basis for the present "evolution" using physical matter.
This provides, as a preliminary, the astral, vital, emotional
(Kamic), lower Manasic, and physical basis for the eternal MONAD
to live and develop in those "aggregates" an independent, but
cooperative self-consciousness, wrapped in the life-principle
By analogy, in reincarnation, the assembly of the old skandhas at
the focus for the rebirth of the Ego, which physically would be
in the mother's womb, provides the old material in a new
combination of form for that intelligence to enter and thereafter
to reside in.
If we then look at the development of intelligence in a child
body in its early years, one may see perhaps, a recapitulation of
this series of "incarnations" or, aggregations of various forces
represented poetically by the "ages of man." As the personal
vehicle achieves greater stability, the incarnation of "higher"
principles becomes progressively possible.
HPB says that the "central two principles" represented by Kama
and the Lower Manas are those that "cement" the higher
principles, the cubes to the earthly principles, the triangles;
and the physical body as a fourth -- which is needed for the
reflection of the spiritual element to become active on this
The higher aspects of the astral are able to project such
"privative limits" as to enable the spiritual atoms to inform
their respective molecules and cells, and other structures are
aggregated within limits set by the developing model for the
This complexity benefits the developing intelligence of the
evolving "little-lives." They, are like developing "children" in
terms of consciousness and experience. If, through direct
experience with more advanced Egos they can acquire a progressive
independence of their own, they will take on some of the
attributes, good or bad, of that "parent," (ourselves as the more
advanced Ego), who is entrusted at present with their use and
Then, one may surmise, the "seeds" of the higher principles, may
begin to find a dwelling place, or, possibly a reflecting place
in them. Reflecting, as the "material side" becomes by
purification able to "reflect" something of the spiritual. That
purification is achieved by living a conscious life of harmony
with all other beings and with the Law of Karma.
It is in this sense that "we" sacrifice our condition as
"returning Nirvanees," who are wise, etc., by informing the
aggregations, or "bundles," "skandhas," we call our
personalities. Someone has to serve as the coordinator. The
"returning Nirvanee," plays the part of a tutor, an advisor and
has no enforcement powers over the "pupil." Eventually the
"pupil," as it evolves, takes its self-development into its own
hands and decides the direction and rate of progress it will
The "perfect Cubes" might represent the Tetraktis or the 4-fold
[Atma-Buddhi-2 Manases] "four-square," as Pythagoras might call
it [ISIS UNVEILED II 410], and the "Triangles," the lower
principles, to which should be added the physical body. [The
Diagram on SD, I, 200 shows this.] There is an interesting
reference on SD, II, 592-3 which shows how the interlaced
triangles yield the 4 or perfect square. Such are the wonderful
powers of universal symbology and correspondence.
HPB adds that this produces the independence (or a "rebellious"
condition) in the "saviors" [the Promethean] of man, raising him
out of a state of "inane beatitude" into one of intelligent
mental perception and of emotional demand and response on this
plane, that reflects their nature. These spiritual beings, HPB
says, are those who were destined to incarnate as Egos [Higher
Manas-Antaskarana-Lower Manas-Kama] (see Divine Rebels: SD, I,
418 195, II, 489, 380, 94, 243-6, 103, 247fn.) In Hindu
mythology, the stories that are connected with Narada -- the
Rishi closely connected with karmic change -- who seems to throw
confusion by his unwelcome appearance in some well settled
situations, may resemble this process.
The teachings about the Antaskarana is one of the keys. It
represents, the aspiring aspect of the lower Manas, raised in
understanding towards the virtuous and eternal life of its
"Parent" the Higher Manas. It makes of the embodied, Lower
Manas, a dual principle, since on one side it is closely allied
to kama and on the other, it reaches towards Higher Manas, the
true Human Ego. When the Lower Manas and Kama are entirely
purified (our lives, considered as a Pilgrimage are illustrative
of this process) then the Antaskarana is "destroyed" as no longer
The separation of kama-Manas ceases as it has transmuted itself
into Buddhi-Manas. Those elements of "separation" -- the lower
principles purified, now coincide with the elements of the
"Heavenly Man" -- the perfect Cube consisting of the deathless
memories of its many incarnations and experience therein; and its
deathless principles in close unity with the Higher Self.
In THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, page 21, it is said: "Thyself and
mind, like twins upon a line, the star which is thy goal burns
overhead. The three that dwell in glory and in bliss ineffable,
now in the world of Maya have lost their names. They have become
one star, the fire that burns, but scorches not, that fire which
is the Upadhi of the Flame." That is suggestive of what is said
At the bottom of SD, II, 79, the "returning Nirvanees from
earlier Manvantaras" are spoken of, and it is hinted, that our
Egos may be some of such "returning Nirvanees." Again, in the
VOICE, page 73, the statement: "Know that the stream of
superhuman knowledge and the Deva-Wisdom thou hast won, must,
from thyself, the channel of Alaya, be poured forth into another
bed." And, VOICE, page 36: "To reach Nirvana's bliss, but to
renounce it, is the supreme, the final step -- the highest on
Renunciation's Path." VOICE, page 54, also offers: "Of Teachers
there are many; the Master Soul is one, Alaya, the Universal
Soul. Live in that Master as Its ray in thee. Live in thy
fellows as they live in It." And on page 63:
> All is impermanent in man except the pure bright essence of
> Alaya. Man is its crystal ray; a beam of light immaculate
> within, a form of clay material upon the lower surface. That
> beam is thy life-guide and thy true Self, the Watcher and the
> silent Thinker, the victim of thy lower Self. Thy Soul cannot be
> hurt but through thy erring body; control and master both, and
> thou art safe when crossing to the nearing "Gate of Balance."
Transactions, page 28, top has some suggestive statements, and on
page 23-4 in that book, HPB, gives the line of "descent" of the
Spiritual Beings into matter, and the change in designations that
is used to denote this, as the Manvantara proceeds through
several "Rounds," from tenuous, spiritual planes to more material
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