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THEOSOPHY WORLD --------------------------------- September, 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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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)

==================================================================
CONTENTS

"Brookings Conference Report," by Wesley Amerman
"The Beauty of Reincarnation," by Katherine Tingley
"The Wanderings of Odysseus: An Interpretation," Part II, by
    Charles J. Ryan
"The Psychology of Reincarnation," by Ernest Wood
"The Destruction of Illusion," by A. Trevor Barker
"Blavatsky Net Update," by Reed Carson
"The Struggle Between the Old Views and the New," by Leo Tolstoy
"More on the Birthday of the Dhyanis and Other Cyclic Events,"
    by Dallas TenBroeck

==================================================================

> We simply must keep several ideas in our heads at once in
> essaying an exposition of these intricate subjects.  There is one
> of the secrets of understanding the Ancient Wisdom: to retain in
> the mind more than one conception at the same time; it is our
> safeguard against mental biasses, and it is easy.  Let me
> illustrate: A man is driving an automobile: he may be at the same
> time watching the road, watching for other automobiles, while in
> the back of his mind there may be forming some plan of work; and
> he may also be talking to a friend.  Let us keep these various
> thoughts, all that has been spoken of so far this evening, in our
> mind, as we consider this present matter.
> 
> -- G. de Purucker, FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, 348

------------------------------------------------------------------
BROOKINGS CONFERENCE REPORT, Part I

by Wesley Amerman

[A report on a conference in Brookings, Oregon, held August 13-15,
1999.]

The Fifth Annual Theosophical Gathering in Brookings was held the
weekend of August 13-15 in the small coastal towns of Brookings,
Oregon and Smith River, California. Hosted by the Brookings
Theosophy Study Group, an independent group of theosophists
affiliated with the United Lodge of Theosophists, the conference
attracted not only local interest, but also theosophical students
and inquirers from Washington State, Northern and Southern
California, Arizona, New York and Belgium. This series of annual
Gatherings has provided an inspiration to all that have attended,
as an example of what is possible for individual lovers of
Theosophy to do, despite limitations of a small town and long
distances. It is difficult, if not impossible to convey the
tremendous energy and dedication required to put on these
conferences, but the high level of enthusiasm can be indicated by
the fact that both meetings ran way over time, and no one wanted
to leave either!

"The Ancients and Science -- Today" was the topic of a panel
presentation and discussion held for two hours on Friday night at
the Beachfront Inn. Although the meeting was advertised in the
local papers and attracted well over fifty people, it did not
draw the "Christian opposition" encountered at similar meetings a
couple of years ago.

Everyone at the Friday meeting was invited to the less formal
discussion round table held the following day at the home of Bill
and "Willie" Dade, who also graciously hosted a wonderful buffet
brunch! The discussion topic, "The Path of the Disciple," picked
up where the energetic dialogue of the night before left off.

This report is in two parts: The first gives an outline of the
meetings and a portion of the material presented at the Friday
night panel. The second, which should be available for
publication in next month's Theosophy World, contains the text of
the other two panel presentations, plus highlights of the
discussion held on Saturday.

"The Ancients and Science -- Today" (Friday, August 13, 1999):

An introduction and welcome were given by Steven Mahaffey, who
put everyone at ease with his warmth and friendly wit. Jerome
Wheeler, who served as a sort of moderator for the meeting, broke
from long-standing "tradition" and introduced himself and the
panelists. He explained that at most ULT meetings, the names of
speakers are not announced, since the intent is to focus on
ideas, not persons. However, since every year at these
conferences someone usually asks "who are you?" it seemed
appropriate to begin by answering the inevitable question!

Joyce Tromblee began with a consideration on the three
Fundamental propositions of the Secret Doctrine. The next
speaker was Elmore Giles from San Francisco, followed by Wesley
Amerman of Los Angeles, and David Roef, who came all the way from
Antwerp, Belgium. Transcripts of Elmore's and David's
presentations will be available for publication next month. The
meeting concluded with a lively discussion period, which ran well
past the scheduled hour and resumed the following day.

The basics of Theosophical philosophy were stated thus by Joyce
Tromblee:

> First: Everything came from the One Source: the universe, the
> galaxies, stones, metal, insects, animals and man. In man, the
> Atma is the self-conscious spirit, or soul. The Buddhi is the
> (higher) intellect, and the Manas is the mind, of which there are
> two kinds, an upper (or greater) and lower (lesser). The body is
> the vehicle to house the Atma. The body-mind complex may have
> many forms and names, but the Atma, the witness, has none. The
> conviction that you are not the body has to grow in you. The
> body is only the instrument used to discover the indweller, Atma.
> Brahman, the One substance, is derived from the formless, eternal
> Absolute.
>
> Second, Karma and Reincarnation: Karma is the law which traces
> each effect back to its cause. We are the ones who create the
> cause and karmic law adjusts the effects. Reincarnation is the
> law of rebirth. Each of us has struggled upwards from stone to
> plant to animal to man. Desire is the cause of birth; time is
> the cause of death.
>
> Third, Evolution: The lowest forms each hold a spark of the
> Divine, and as they struggle to secure self consciousness and at
> last come into the highest form of man, depending upon the
> individual's own will and effort. This is all done under the law
> of cycles.

Following are exceprts from my historic overview of the Ancient
World from a Theosophical perspective.

----

The Bruckion library in Alexandria, Egypt, built in the Fourth
Century BC by the Ptolemies and said to have contained nearly a
million books, was destroyed three times -- first by Julius
Caesar in 48 B.C., (possibly by accident), then again by the
Romans in 390 A.D., and finally by the invading armies of Islam.
The library contained books on all the subjects we might discuss
tonight -- astronomy, architecture, history, literature,
medicine, philosophy and much more ... and, the largest
collection of all was on Magic. Magic! What a difference between
our paltry modern definition of the term, and what the Ancient
World knew and taught! Most of the evidence has been destroyed of
course. What remains is fragmentary and tantalizingly suggestive
-- the secrets of astrology, building, longevity, levitation,
Greek fire, etc. Most important was thaumaturgy -- the process
of self-transformation, hidden and described in a thousand and
one forms, which has come down to us through the Middle Ages as
Alchemy.

What is Alchemy? Medieval texts describe it as the process sought
by the Alchemists, or Fire Philosophers, to turn base metals,
such as lead, into gold. But think about it for a minute -- in
the Middle Ages, if you talked about bringing out the God within
you, if you even hinted at our Third Fundamental -- evolution --
discussed earlier, you would have been burned at the stake as a
witch! You literally risked your life to talk about ideas we
speak about openly today. So, it was necessary to disguise the
philosophy behind something not even the Inquisition could object
to -- turning lead into gold! Now, this period in history is
hardly the Ancient World, and the Alchemists probably knew less
about these occult processes than did the ancient scientists in
the Land of Chem (Khem, an ancient name for Egypt!) But it is
indicative of one last glimmer of the Ancient Wisdom that once
burned so brightly in the ancient world, and which only now is
beginning to be recognized.

Alchemy is self-transformation, we have said. What does that
mean? Simply put, it is the transmuting, or changing of the base
metal (lead) of our lower natures (Kama Manas) into the spiritual
gold of our higher (Buddhi Manas). It required heat (the fire of
self-reflective Mind), Oxygen (the vital force), operating in the
foundation of the lower but still essential principles of nature
-- water (liquid fire), air (etheric fire) and earth (solid
fire), etc.

The Ancients did not view Science the way we do today -- as a
separate discipline apart from religion, art or philosophy.
Known as recently as the 17th Century as Natural Philosophy, it
was regarded in the Ancient World as one aspect of an integrated
Whole of Knowledge. It never occurred to the Ancient World to
separate and compartmentalize these world views as we have come
to do almost naturally in the West:

Science -- looking at the external world.

Religion -- looking at the interior world of gods and men.

Philosophy -- looking at the relationships and meanings of the
world.

Art -- the expression of the relationships between these three
views.

Art in the Ancient world was almost always sacred art. The
temple was often a sort of symbolic model of the universe, the
world, an human being or the principles that compose these. It
was also living art, that embodied the religious knowledge of the
time. It was built to evoke meaning, like a symphony in stone,
and illuminate us in its presence to a consciousness of divinity.
For example, a temple in Ancient Egypt was not just a temple to
the neter (god) for which it was built, it was a House for the
god. A statue was not a symbol of the god, it was the god. Art
on the temple wall did not merely depict the activities of the
god in nature or in relation to man, it was, or became, the
function of the "god" and its work in the world. The disciple
entering the temple who knew the symbology of its art and
construction would learn simply by being in the presence of its
"frozen music" and wisdom. It became a part of him, and even
ordinary people were inspired, uplifted and educated by the
presence of an edifice in their community. Even the ordinary
traveler today can sense the spiritual wisdom still evoked even
by remnants of this ancient knowledge.

What of Science today? We think of it as a separate discipline, a
way of looking at the world, and an attempt to view facts and
data dispassionately and objectively. We even believe that such
objectivity is possible -- separate, compartmentalized and often
irrelevant to our daily lives. Even so, there is a growing
movement among the best our scientists to re-evaluate our
epistemology (Epistemology -- ‘what do we know, and how do we
know it?') Since HPB's day, there has been a radical
restructuring of the Western scientific world-view. Often still
materialistic in most of its assumptions, nevertheless it has
many elements that we could consider hopeful from a Theosophic
perspective. Briefly, I would like to outline some of those
ideas:

Radiant Matter -- x-rays and radiation were not discovered until
after HPB's death, yet she predicted all of it, including the end
of the "billiard ball" theory of the atom and its infinite
divisibility.

Quantum Theory -- the study of sub-atomic particles has given
Science a whole new view of matter and energy. While
"consciousness" is not widely considered a part of this equation,
it still has been discovered that the observer influences the
results of the experiments!

Evolution Theory -- While the Specific Theory of evolution
explains changes within species, the General Theory cannot
explain the greater types and divisions, whose origins are still
as much a mystery as they were a hundred years ago.

Systems Thinking -- the living, dynamic interchange of the web of
life. Recognizable patterns of development and creative
self-renewal are key ideas in this blossoming field. Central to
this idea is the ancient concept that the whole is greater than
the sum of its parts.

The Web of Life -- all life is interdependent and interlinked at
multiple levels. A macro view of this is contained in ...

Gaia Hypothesis -- the Earth demonstrates all the characteristics
of a living system -- circulation, input/output, interrelated and
interdependent sub-systems, duplication of system functions, etc.
Some scientists even see an implied sacredness of life.

Fractal Theory -- related to systems theory is the idea that the
whole is represented in each of its parts. This is demonstrated
by the science of holography, in which a portion of a holographic
picture contains all of the data (in fact, a miniature version)
of the whole picture, which can be reproduced from the fragment.
This is a restatement, in a way, of the ancient Hermetic axiom,
"as above, so below."

Morphogenetic fields -- living, electromagnetic "fields" surround
all objects and especially living systems (which includes the
whole planet according to the Gaia Hypothesis!). These are
hardly theoretical any longer, and are used to explain phenomena
as unrelated as the growth of plants and animals and the
migratory patterns of birds and the school and flock behavior of
fish and birds.

This is just an overview of Ancient and Modern Science. Much
more can be said, of course, and we can discuss and expand upon
these outlines later in the meeting. Our next speaker will
discuss a Science for living, and applications of the Ancient
Wisdom to daily life.

------------------------------------------------------------------
THE BEAUTY OF REINCARNATION

by Katherine Tingley

[From THE GODS AWAIT, 178-86, Woman's International Theosophical
League, Point Loma, California, 1926.]
	
Many who have abandoned belief in a personal god and the other
vanities and subtleties of sectarian metaphysics, and are
thinking seriously, in the depression the unrest of the age is
causing in them, of life and its many problems, have found in the
teaching of Reincarnation that which makes clear the meaning of
it all.

For here is explanation of the differences of human fortune, so
that they cease to seem unjust and intolerable. Here Man is
revealed in the splendor of his native godhood, a traveler
through eternity, moving from life to life, gaining by experience
after experience that knowledge which will make of him at last
the Ideal, the Perfect Man.

We are of the family of the Eternal; we are the highest
expressions that we know of, of Universal Deity. Are we to think
that the experience to which we have a right can be gained in the
few score fleeting years of a single lifetime, before these
bodies of ours cease to be useful, and drop away, following the
laws of physical life, and return to the storehouse of Nature?
The material things have their place; but the essential and
everlasting things are in the eternal self. They are the
attributes and faculties of the soul. These are what we are here
to develop, working in harmony with the mighty and compassionate
heart of Nature.

Could a soul filled with the melody and splendid influx of music
fulfil itself even in the longest period that could elapse
between its body's birth and death? A man who has no musical
heredity or inclination that he knows of, may find himself
sometime startled into listening, and stirred; and listening
longer, and stirred more deeply; and still pausing and listening,
overwhelmed by it at last, so that silent and wonderful currents
of vibration and feeling are started within him; and perhaps he
is a mechanic in a shop, or caught in the grind of commercial
life with neither time nor energy to spare for music -- it does
not matter. That divine thing has touched him. It may be that
lying within his nature are the potentialities of a great
musician. Must they not come out in time, and be expressed?

A promise of eternal progress is stamped upon all human hearts;
everything in Nature proclaims it. Why should we not have the
same trust in our essential divinity that the flowers have in the
beneficence of the sun?

To what purpose are the ideals we cherish unspoken; the secret,
noble, and unfulfilled aspirations; the questions we put to life,
and to which life -- our present life -- makes no answer? To what
end are the agonies and despairs; the unrest and intense longing
to be so much more than we can ever attain to being, now, before
death takes us? Were they born in a day, these thoughts of ours
that stir us sometimes almost to the point of revelation? Were
they fashioned of the experience we have gathered in the few
years since our bodies were born?

Their word to us is always that we are greater than we seem; that
there are no limits to the power of the Soul; that though our
understanding of this beautiful universe will go on increasing
forever and ever, we will never attain a dead finality of
understanding, that we have all eternity in which to work out the
magnificence of the Law, and that there is no break in the
everlasting continuity; that one may falter today and fail, but
tomorrow brings another chance; that we live many lives, again
and again the same in essence though different in aspect -- we
Immortal Beings, natives of Eternity made subject here to
mortality and time.

Few, whether religious or not, go out satisfied into the Great
Unknown and into that sleep which is not sleep in the sense of
inertia, BUT A SLEEP IN ACTIVITY and a divine activity in sleep.

No matter how noble a man's life may have been, is it possible to
think of it as having reached that sublimity of perfection in one
single lifetime, that would find its true expression in an
eternity of bliss? How much more reasonable to believe that we
live again and again, traveling the path of the ages with
opportunity after opportunity recurring always, than to imagine
ourselves the poor creatures of a single life, created at our
birth out of nothing, and at death to be relegated to an eternal
heaven or an unending hell, in neither of which progress is
possible, nor opportunities are to be found, nor any goal lies
ahead, nor hope exists for inspiration and incentive!

Could a soul that was really noble accept peace for itself, and
find happiness in heaven, whilst here on earth humanity is still
aching and in chains and sorrow? The Soul holds within itself the
attributes of Deity. It is all made up of compassion, justice,
abnegation; what delight then, what self-expression, could it
find in such selfish bliss? Were a man come into the fullness of
his Soul -- to be, wholly, that Divine Thing -- he could not
endure the thought; his will would be set on returning to earth,
to share in human suffering and point the way for the unfortunate
to that self-knowledge which brings peace. He would work forever
and ever for the glory of the Divine, for the glory of the God
innate in Man, aware that because of the divinity within us, we
have the power to shape all human destiny toward perfection. I
tell you, the god within us awaits!

To the blind beggar by the roadside, what a song in his heart
knowledge of Reincarnation would be! Then first he would
understand that a bright future and high achievements might be
awaiting him; his fate would no longer appear something
mysterious and terrible for which he could never be compensated,
no longer some punishment afflicted upon him by an omnipotent and
vindictive power, but a ministration of the Law that fashions
from suffering godlike destinies for men, apportioned to him that
he might build up his character for a more royal birth.

He would understand that there was hope for him; that all his
darkness would be made clear; that a day would come when his
inner longings would be much more than mere unattainable
aspirations; that he might then and there be preparing noble
fortunes for himself. The Gods await!

Life is not cruel; there is no injustice in it. In the light of
Reincarnation, the sufferings we considered unjust lose the sting
of their supposed injustice and become easy to endure. We come
to look on them as blessings, because means of liberation and our
chief incentives to growth. Experience and pain are our
teachers. We are reminded constantly by the difficulties we have
to overcome of the majestic mercy of the Law.

Life exists only for service. We live in order that we may
serve. Hold to that idea in your hour of trouble, and you will
accept your difficulties graciously, as a gift graciously given.
You will not think of them as pangs and burdens to be endured,
but as beautiful fires to purify and set free.

This is not, though, that one should be humble in the ordinary
sense. We should hold our heads high; there is altogether too
much of the other thing. We are quite too submissive to our own
weaknesses. If you have strived with your whole soul and with a
trust impossible to break; and still the thought is forced upon
you that your position has not changed nor your stumbling block
been removed, if you find yourself compelled to say, "Though I
have lifted myself up toward my ideals, and approached the Divine
within me daily, I am not set free," take courage yet again; it
is the time to do so. The thing you have struggled against in
vain may become a blessing; it may be the very saving power in
your life, holding you back in the place where alone you could
learn the lesson you most need to learn.

Thus, though our minds have been under serious shadows, adversity
should but leave us with the solution of our problems, teaching
us the secret of readjusting our lives, because it is the
aspirations of our own souls that kindle the fires in which we
are tried. We may find a glory in suffering, disappointment, and
heartache, and understand the sublime comfort of the change
called death.

If the errors of the past did not produce their results that we
might learn from them the lessons they are to teach, if life were
without struggle, work, and effort, we should be things on the
face of the earth, and not Souls as we are. Only by means of
these can we draw near to truth and gain a sense of the largeness
of life, of eternity, of the augustness of the laws that hold us
in their keeping. Only so can we find the way to live the real
life, which is altogether cheerful, optimistic, radiant with
generous affection. The life that sees no terminus in the grave,
nor any limit to its vistas in birth or death.

Thus Reincarnation gives us room and time to grow, as Nature
provides soil and season for the flowers, to grow and to learn
what life and the world can teach us, and to acquire use of the
godlike qualities of our inner selves and the light hidden within
the Soul of Man which alone can illumine the path we must tread
and enable us to solve the stern and awful problems, the pathetic
problems, life so unceasingly sets before us, and to know its
unspeakable beauties as well.

We advance from age to age and from heights to greater heights
forever. Understanding this, the old become young again in
spirit, and the young look out on the world with a new joy.

The days are long and the path is wide. Go forward, then, with
farseeing hope and trust, toward the Great Ultimate! "The Gods
await!"

------------------------------------------------------------------
THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS: AN INTERPRETATION, PART II

by Charles J. Ryan

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1948, pages 265-71. Originally
appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, 1917, then revised and amended
by the author.]

> I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
> Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
> Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
> That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
> Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
> Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
> For always roaming with a hungry heart
> Much have I seen and known; ...
> I am a part of all that I have met;
> Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
> Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
> For ever and for ever when I move.
> . . .			
> And this grey spirit yearning in desire
> To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
> Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
> . . .
> Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
> We are not now that strength which in old days
> Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
> One equal temper of heroic hearts,
> Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
> To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
>
> -- ULYSSES by Alfred Tennyson

Having passed through the initiation in the Underworld and having
learned unspeakable things therein, Odysseus is in danger of
being overcome by pride and rash self-confidence and may yield to
the fascination of the temptation. The satisfaction of
intellectual desires alone threatens to lead him from the direct
path into destruction, for the Sirens are man eaters. Knowing
well the overwhelming power of this temptation, and that before
he can be safe he must be willing "to appear as nothing in the
eyes of men" [LIGHT ON THE PATH], the hero takes every
precaution. He has himself firmly bound to the mast so that he
cannot fling himself out of the vessel, and he stops the ears of
his crew with wax so that they cannot hear the Siren voices while
they work the ship. Exposed to the full force of the temptation
Odysseus struggles to be free, but he gets through in safety.
The sailors, whose ears are deaf to the allurements of the
intellectual seductions, seem to represent the remaining traces
of the gross elements in man's nature, particularly in view of
the next incident of importance, when they kill and devour
Apollo's sacred oxen to satisfy their gluttony. This so greatly
arouses the wrath of the god that he sends a great tempest and
destroys the last of Odysseus' followers. The hero is now left
alone with nothing but his own strength and the favor of Pallas
Athene, his Guide, to bring him safely through. But he is not
yet completely free from the chains of personality and in his
desperation and loneliness he meets with a temptation that nearly
proves his undoing, i.e., the dalliance with the lovely nymph
Calypso in her enchanted Atlantean island upon which he is cast
by the waves. Seven long years he lingers with Calypso,
unmindful for the most part of his purpose, and dazzled with the
glories of her magic realm. Now and again something faintly
stirs within him calling him to be up and doing. The poet says
he has never been quite able

> To banish from his breast his country's love.

Calypso even offers him

> Immortal life, exempt from age or woe.

But with the help of Athene, the personification of Divine
Wisdom, he has enough strength to resist this supreme test. This
is one of the passages in the Odyssey that show the profound
wisdom of the poet and the high quality of his teaching, for here
he shows the great difference between the real immortality gained
when the lower elements of the personality are dissolved and
ultimate union with the Higher Self is made, and an artificial
prolongation of the unpurified life of the ordinary personality
with its selfish cravings and desires. Odysseus recognizes that
to drink the elixir of life in any form before he is truly
purified would be a fearful error. A great deal might be said
upon the philosophy of this, for it goes very deeply into the
roots of our being, but it would carry us too far for our present
purpose. We are irresistibly reminded of the words of Christ:

> If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up
> his cross daily, and follow me.
>
> For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever
> will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
>
> -- Luke ix, 23, 24

Paul, the "wise master builder," in common with all the great
teachers of antiquity, refers to the same principle when he
speaks of being changed "in the twinkling of an eye," a very
cryptic saying suggesting the springing into activity of the
inner eye or power of intuition which sees the difference between
the higher life and the delusions of sensual gratification. To
Odysseus, after his luxurious existence in Calypso's magic island
and the promise of eternal youth, the return to ordinary life and
duty offers a great contrast and many trials, but at the bottom
of his heart he languishes "to return and die at home." When he
makes his decision, the irresistible power of the Olympian
deities is exerted in his favor: Calypso abandons her
enchantments and, like Circe, is transformed, from the tempter
she at first appears to be, to become a helper.

Calypso's Isle is said by Homer to be far away, over

> Such length of Ocean and unmeasured deep;
> A world of waters! far from all the ways
> Where men frequent, or sacred altars blaze.

Calypso was the daughter of Atlas, and the island was called
"Ogygia the Atlantic Isle." H. P. Blavatsky points out, in THE
SECRET DOCTRINE, that the poet, in certain passages, distinctly
refers to the lost continent of Atlantis, mentioned later by
Plato, and to certain historical events that took place upon that
former seat of a powerful civilization.

Odysseus builds a new vessel with his own hands and sets forth
joyfully, feeling sure he will soon reach his goal. But,
although he has received the powerful aid of Athene and other
Olympian gods, the opposition of Poseidon, who has been his enemy
from nearly the beginning, is not withdrawn, and he still has
many perils and trials. Poseidon, the god of the sea, was the
father of Polyphemus, whose third eye was destroyed by Odysseus.
This is significant, for the sea often stands in symbolism for
the great Illusion, the ever-shifting unstable elements in life.
Odysseus is no exception to the rule that all who start on the
great adventure for self-knowledge and the higher life must fight
continually against the false ideals and illusions of their
surroundings; they are swimming against the stream of the
ordinary worldly consciousness. The hero in Homer's epic is just
strong enough -- with the divine aid -- to save his life, and
though wrecked and left WITHOUT AN ATOM OF PERSONAL POSSESSIONS,
he reaches the friendly coast of the wise king Alcinous who helps
him to reach his native land, Ithaca.

Odysseus had rashly and without orders trespassed on the
territory of the Cyclops. It was therefore his own act that
aroused Poseidon's wrath, and became the fundamental cause of his
misfortunes. Pallas Athene and the other gods could not avert
the consequences, and the great Zeus himself had to put forth his
power to restore his fortunes after long years of suffering and
sorrow.

Upon his arrival home he discovers the terrible straits to which
his wife and son have been reduced by the outrageous conduct of
her admirers, and he soon perceives that his greatest battle is
yet to come. Though the odds are apparently against him, he
knows that he cannot fail, for his cause is just and has the help
of the gods.

At this point we have another opportunity to admire the profound
insight of the poet, and to realize that he must have been a true
initiate into the mysteries of human life. Penelope, the noble
wife of Odysseus, who stands for the climax of his endeavor, his
goal, his higher self, does not immediately throw herself into
his arms in welcome. Ragged, worn, and disguised as an old man,
he is not recognized by her, though his old nurse and his
faithful dog know him quickly. Is this because they are less
sophisticated? Even when Athene restores him to his prime of life
and to greater dignity and beauty than before, he has to prove
his identity to Penelope without a possibility of doubt before
she can accept him as her long lost husband. This hesitation on
her part is not, as some have thought, a blemish on the story; it
could not be otherwise and remain true to the meaning Homer
wished to convey, if our hypothesis of the general import of the
poem be true. It is the law that the aspirant for recognition by
the higher self should make a clear demand; he must give the
complete password before he can be admitted to the inner chamber.
A mystic writing on this subject warns us:

> Look for the warrior and let him fight in thee ... Look for him,
> else in the fever and hurry of the fight thou mayest pass him;
> and he will not know thee unless thou knowest him. If thy cry
> reach his listening ear then will he fight in thee and fill the
> dull void within. . .
>
> -- LIGHT ON THE PATH

and a greater Teacher said:

> Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,
> and it shall be opened unto you.

Odysseus' final opportunity to prove his quality comes when he
finds his palace invaded and his wife surrounded by a mob of
suitors all trying to persuade her that he is surely dead and
that she should choose a second husband among them. They are
utterly repugnant to the hero; they have no power over him; but
he must destroy them before he can regain his rightful place.
They represent the last lingering traces of the lower desires,
even "the very knowledge of desire" mentioned by H. P.
Blavatsky in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, which must be slain
forever, even though its force has passed away.

The suitors have already received a warning from Zeus in the form
of two eagles fighting in the sky. This is, of course, a direct
reference to the stirring up of the lower nature when the
awakening of the higher aspirations compels it to realize that
the time has come for the last desperate battle in which no
quarter is asked or given. The scene of the struggle which shall
decide is in the very home of Odysseus itself. This seems
strange, yet how could it be otherwise! It is from the heart that
comes the issues of life. The higher powers, symbolized by
Athene in the background, give encouragement, and at last the
battle is won and the evil forces annihilated. The master of the
house, calm, purified, and restored to more than his former
beauty, attired in his royal robes, proves his identity to
Penelope and is joyously recognized by her.

From a practical point of view, the method adopted by Odysseus in
attacking the suitors may seem singular, but there is good
warrant for it in the mystical symbolism familiar to Homer.
Although the struggle takes place in the confined space of the
palace hall, at very close quarters, the hero depends upon his
mighty Bow for success -- the Bow that none other can wield --
instead of trusting to his sword or spear, which only come into
action later. In making the Bow so prominent Homer shows his
knowledge of a profoundly significant symbol in ancient
psychology. The bow is the weapon of Apollo, the god of light,
and the day of Odysseus' victory is sacred to that deity. In
Indian philosophy the bow, or in some cases the arrow, stands for
man himself who must be strong enough in texture to stand the
strain or the spiritual archery will fail. The bow, not the
sword, is the principal weapon of Arjuna, Prince of India, the
hero of THE BHAGAVAD GITA, the Indian allegorical poem, famous as
the vehicle of a profound philosophical teaching. In other
Oriental scriptures the bow is a frequent symbol. One of the
Upanishads says:

> Having taken the bow, the great weapon, let him place on it the
> arrow, sharpened by devotion. Then, having drawn it with a
> thought directed to that which is, hit the mark, 0 friend -- the
> Indestructible. Om is the bow, the Self is the arrow, Brahman is
> called its aim. It is to be bit by a man who is not thoughtless;
> and then as the arrow becomes one with the target, he will become
> one with Brahman ... Hail to you that you may cross beyond the
> sea of darkness.

William Q. Judge wrote a very striking article, "Hit the Mark,"
in THE PATH, September 1890. He gives the practice and theory of
archery as an illustration of concentration, poise, firmness,
high aims, and other valuable qualities. In this article he
says:

> The bow figures in the lives of the Greek heroes, and just now
> the novelist Louis Stevenson is publishing a book in which he
> sings the praises of a bow, the bow of war possessed by Ulysses;
> when war was at hand it sang its own peculiar, shrill, clear
> song, and the arrows shot from it hit the mark.
>
> Archery is a practice that symbolizes concentration. There is
> the archer, the arrow, the bow, and the target to be hit. To
> reach the mark it is necessary to concentrate the mind, the eye,
> and the body upon many points at once, while at the same time the
> string must be let go without disturbing the aim. The draw of
> the string with the arrow must be even and steady on the line of
> sight, and when grasp, draw, aim, and line are perfected, the
> arrow must be loosed smoothly at the moment of full draw, so that
> by the bow's recoil it may be carried straight to the mark. So
> those who truly seek wisdom are archers trying to hit the mark.
> This is spiritual archery. . . .

The Odyssey closes with the hero, now triumphant as the rightful
king and leader, going forth and subduing the few remaining
rebels, after which, the poet says, the "willing nations knew
their lawful lord." His future peaceful and wise reign is left to
the imagination, but it is secure, for he cannot fail after the
final conquest of the enemies who found lodgement in his own
house.

In an editorial in LUCIFER, September 1891, we find these
eloquent words which fittingly close our very brief study of the
esoteric side of the Odyssey:

> There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every
> kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the heart of the Universe
> ... There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer;
> there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there
> is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For
> those who win onwards there is reward past all telling -- the
> power to bless and save humanity; for those who fail, there are
> other lives in which success may come.

------------------------------------------------------------------
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF REINCARNATION

by Ernest Wood

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, June 1948, 337-41.]
	
When the subject of reincarnation is mentioned it is quite usual
for people to think of a series of bodies as the means for
experience by a soul. I use that word soul in a vague and
general sense because that is the way in which people usually
think of the matter. It is seldom that they dwell upon the
subject of reincarnation from a psychological point of view, and
ask themselves just how that soul obtains what it is seeking or
what it is intended to attain through this process.

We shall understand the method if we say that a life-cycle is
really an act of meditation. That is looking at it from the
point of view of the mind of the soul that is going through the
experience. This meditation is a composite of three mental
processes in succession. First, we give our attention to
something, and if we attend to it closely we get a clear and
strong active consciousness with reference to that thing. One
can emphasize this with a little experiment, as follows:

You hold up a pencil and ask a friend to look at it. You then
put it behind your back and ask him what color it was. He says,
"Yellow." You then ask him "How yellow?" He generally replies
that he does not understand you. You then request him to imagine
the pencil or think about it, and ask him if he can think of the
yellow color that he saw. Then, after a moment, you bring out
the pencil again, and you say: "Look at it carefully. Does it
look more yellow than it did before?" "Why, yes," he says, with
some surprise, "It does."

All I have done is to trick my friend into paying more attention
to the color yellow than he did before. What he has really done
is to put out more of himself towards the yellowness of the
yellow. This is what is called concentration, which is the first
step in meditation. In ordinary life, the utility of things is
that they compel our attention and at the same time they restrict
our attention, so that at the point of concentration our
consciousness achieves quality and power which would not
otherwise be obtained.

The first point, then, in understanding the psychological uses of
reincarnation is to see that objects or environment present us
with opportunities. The environment does not do anything to us
but give us the opportunity to gather ourselves together and
control ourselves upon limited things whereby our state of
consciousness is educated. Every such piece of education, though
it be but a passing experience, produces a permanent effect in
consciousness.

Here I like to mention the simile of the camera. A camera is a
dark box with a little hole in front and a chemical plate of film
at the back which can receive and record the effect of the pencil
of light that comes through the little hole in the front. The
simplest form of the camera is that which is usually shown to
students at school in the physics class when they begin to study
the properties of light. In that case we take just a plain box.
We take out the back and put there a piece of ground glass or
glazed paper to form a screen, and in the front we make a little
hole with a pin. We now point this camera at a bright object and
the pupil sees the picture of that object on the screen at the
back of the camera. We then tell him that this is due to the
fact that the same picture appears at both ends of a ray of
light. We next ask him to imagine what will happen if we enlarge
the pin hole, and he says we shall have more things in our
picture. So we push something through that hole to make it
bigger and the student finds to his surprise that the picture
becomes blurred. Then we take out the whole front of the camera
and no picture is to be seen on the screen. We have at this
point to tell our student that he is quite mistaken in thinking
that there is no picture there, for what has happened is that
many pictures are there, that all the pictures brought by all the
light rays are there, that there are so many pencils of light all
falling upon one another that all he can now see is a mass of
light.

With the aid of this simile we can understand that the body is
like the camera box and that the senses are like the little
pinhole. The limiting effect of the body and the senses enables
us to get a clear picture on the screen of our consciousness, but
without that there would just be a blaze of glorious light which
would mean nothing definite to us.

The second point in this psychological process is the expansion
of our pictures. The concentration gives us grip and now we are
to obtain a larger grasp and take in a bigger picture without
losing the quality of consciousness which I have called the grip.
It is just as with a hand we can have a firm grip and also a
large grasp.

Behind every such psychological action there is something that we
must call a soul-hunger. We want to experience something.
Leaving aside for the moment why we want to experience it, we can
see how we do it and what the effect is. A painter has the
hunger to paint a picture because as he does it he gets some
enhancement of his consciousness. He gives all his attention and
faculty to the work, so really he is not merely making a picture
but he is also making a man, himself, and it is the enhancement
of consciousness that in some degree satisfies his soul hunger
and gives him the joy of a richer life. This is only one
illustration; it is the same with every creative act in our
lives.

It is noticeable that when a soul has attained some satisfaction
of that hunger it turns away from the mere object by which it was
obtained. The artist is now tired of that picture; his hunger
shifts a little and he will now try to satisfy a slightly
different phase of the same hunger. This explains why in the
course of incarnations all objects are either destroyed or
dropped aside, but the consciousness goes on with its process of
self realization. We need some external thing, as we call it, to
assist us in our work of concentrating our consciousness so as to
educate it in the special effects of the compartments of its own
being. Here, then, on the whole we see the reason why the
objects should be temporary while the man is eternal, and we
cease to grieve over the temporariness of those things.

There is a third step in this meditation process, which we call
contemplation. It is that part of the process in which we become
so intent upon the object that we forget our idea of ourselves.
In the beginning of these efforts we think of ourselves as
looking and making an effort to see while we examine the object
but in the process at its best we just forget the idea "I,
so-and-so, am looking," and we become engrossed in the object.
We all know how when it is something of beauty, such as a sunset
sky or a lovely piece of music, we become what is called
enraptured. We have not then lost ourselves. We are in fact at
our very best. We are enjoying the highest delights of enhanced
consciousness. But we have forgotten ourselves, if by
"ourselves" we are to mean that picture of ourselves as something
in the world which so commonly accompanies our activities and
thoughts.

In the contemplation we get our best awakening of consciousness,
and in the result of it we find that some deeper part of
ourselves has received what we sometimes call intuition or
inspiration. It is something that makes such a deep and
indelible impression upon us that we can speak of it as now a
part of our character. Before this the thing was simply
something that we knew about or we knew, but now we can say that
the experience has been really digested and the result is new
power in consciousness, which we rightly call character. I am
not the same after that sunset or that music as I was before.

If we give our best attention and our best creativeness to the
business of life and the world, we are attaining our best growth
and moving towards the fulfilment of the purpose of the
incarnation. This is education. At the same time it is
self-education, for the objects which give us the opportunities
are of the nature of karma. Briefly, the world of each one of us
is his own karma, something that he has made by his work in the
past. He has made that according to his character at the time,
so it is an expression of his own imperfection, that is, his own
limitation. I have myself made the things that stand up there
outside me and compel my attention, and profit me to the degree
in which I willingly give the utmost attention to them.

At the end of a life period in the body it can be truly said that
we have acquired quite a lot of experience, we have stored up
thoughts and feelings, but for the most part these are only the
beginnings of thoughts and feelings -- they are not mature and
ripe and they have but rarely attained the quality of
contemplation. What then happens after death? Death is not the
end of the life cycle. The principal thing now to come is what
we theosophists call Devachan, and this is described as a kind of
meditation, rising to the quality of contemplation, in which we
get the full value of all those experiences which are useful to
the soul of a permanent man. In this state we can say that those
experiences are now digested into character. It is just as
though an artist painted a picture. He has brought a variety of
things into his scene and has achieved a certain realization
through that. He is a better artist at the end than he was at
the beginning, and now he sets aside that picture and starts upon
another, which will take him to further attainment.

Let us now think upon the phases of life. We go through
childhood, youth, maturity, elderliness, old age, death, and
Devachan. In each of these phases there is a certain quality of
experience and a certain direction of attention. This is a sort
of rounded out picture, in which experience is seen from
different points of view. It is evident that there is something
more at work here than the karmic presentation of objects and the
psychological experience of these objects. There is something
that moves the man from within to go through these phases. The
hunger of the soul has some plan of its own which causes it to
follow this cyclic form of growth.

It is here that the will comes in and makes its decisions. It is
a section of our psychology that is not mental. It is an
obedience to some central spiritual law, in the intuitive
obedience to which the will gets its own delight and sense of
power; not a sense of power over things or power over others, but
an intuition of an inner freedom. Such happy intuition is our
character in the degree of attainment of unity with that part of
ourselves already beyond the need of the psychological process of
meditation.

There is in us a central urge, and the hunger of which I have
spoken, which expresses the phases of that urge. The will in us
is the future speaking to the present. That is why it is free.

It is not for the mind which deals with external objects to try
to characterize that freedom and harmony of the unity-making will
with any descriptions taken from its field of knowledge. Its
work is in its own sphere, to assist in that psychological
process in which contemplation produces fulfilment.

------------------------------------------------------------------
THE DESTRUCTION OF ILLUSION

by A. Trevor Barker

[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press,
1941, p. 281-89.]

The question of the destruction of illusion is one that naturally
can be treated from very many aspects. What do we mean by
illusion? Because after all, all the philosophers of India --
metaphysicians and what not -- have told us for centuries after
centuries that all the manifested universe is illusion. Now of
course we know that in a sense that is so, but on the other hand,
as HPB pointed out, this universe that we live in, this planet on
which we live, our own bodies that are related to that planet,
are very real to us. They have a very outstanding importance,
relative importance, but none the less necessary for us to take
into consideration. We cannot leave it out of account like the
great school of Deniers, who say that there is no matter, and
that it does not exist. No! Our School is one of what is called
objective idealism, that is to say that the Universe has an
objective existence during certain periods of time, and after the
expiration of that period of time it is withdrawn into the bosom
of That from which all things proceed, and unto which all must
again return. Now that Infinite, Divine Principle is actually
the Light of our being, the source of all our spiritual strength,
and it is this that we rely upon to join ourselves to, to reach
to union with, in order to destroy, to rise above, the erratic
illusion. There is no other means. I speak of illusion of all
sorts -- whether it results in every kind of what is called in
Christian terminology "sinful action," or whether it results in
misguided action based upon ignorant searching for Truth in
regions where it simply does not exist. I refer to those seekers
who investigate into the mayavi (illusory) realms of the Astral
Light, into the dismal regions of spooks and what not: seeking to
tear off the veils that Nature has kindly put upon their inner
sight; seeking to open the pathway of their being into these
astral realms, where indeed they become overpowered by the great
influence of the very serpent of illusion: for everything there
bears a kind of glamourous aspect, and yet, as THE VOICE OF THE
SILENCE says, "under every flower there is a serpent coiled."
There is no wisdom in these psychic regions; there is no
spiritual object, no spiritual reality at all, in the purely
psychic faculties that we share with the beasts. They have these
faculties too, but they are proper in the beasts, because they
are at that stage of evolution where their progress is not
dependent upon their wit, but upon natural impulse. Therefore it
is not their function to overcome illusion in any sense of the
word.

One of the most striking thoughts when we meditate upon this, is
to discover what in our lives is due to the action of maya, of
illusion. We are staggered by the extent to which this illusory
power of nature works upon us: how it hides from us the truth
about ourselves, about the universe, about others; and therefore
it behooves us to enquire a little as to how we may recognize
when our consciousness is being obscured by one or other of the
possible forms of illusion.

Now the great devotional book called THE BHAGAVAD GITA is, I
suppose, one of the greatest scriptures that the world knows of:
a very ancient book giving to us the matchless wisdom and
knowledge about the nature of man, given in the words of a divine
incarnation, who, as you know, was called Krishna. In the
sixteenth Discourse he gives to us a list of the different
qualities that you find in human beings, when the various states
of illusion or their absence are operative. We cannot fail to
profit from the teaching of THE BHAGAVAD GITA:

> Fearlessness, sincerity, assiduity in devotion, generosity,
> self-restraint, piety, and alms-giving, study, mortification, and
> rectitude; harmlessness, veracity, and freedom from anger,
> resignation, equanimity, and not speaking of the faults of
> others, universal compassion, modesty, and mildness; patience,
> power, fortitude, and purity, discretion, dignity,
> unrevergefulness, and freedom from conceit -- these are the marks
> of him whose virtues are of a godlike character, O son of
> Bharata.

A wonderful collection of qualities. It is a marvelous book for
calming the mind, and for removing the veil that hides our vision
from the truth. You pick up the GITA and it causes the lamp of
true knowledge within you to burn more brightly. At one time
these qualities are present in us, and then each one of us will
find certain things of which we can say, "Yes, I have experienced
this at times," and we shall know that in the light of the
teaching of the GITA there is a certain spiritual quality
working; and you will find at other times when the illusion is
there, when the personality is blotting out the light, that you
show qualities of a different kind:

> Those, O son of Pritha, who are born with demoniacal dispositions
> are marked by hypocrisy, pride, anger, presumption, harshness of
> speech, and ignorance. The destiny of those whose attributes are
> godlike is final liberation, while those of demoniacal
> dispositions, born to the Asuras' lot is continued bondage to
> mortal birth; grieve not, O son of Pandu, for thou art born with
> the divine destiny. There are two kinds of natures in beings in
> this world, that which is godlike, and the other which is
> demoniacal; the godlike hath been fully declared, hear now from
> me, O son of Pritha, what the demoniacal is.
>
> Those who are born with the demoniacal disposition -- of the
> nature of the Asuras -- know not the nature of action nor of
> cessation from action, they know not purity nor right behavior,
> they possess no truthfulness. They deny that the universe has
> any truth in it, saying it is not governed by law, declaring that
> it hath no spirit; they say creatures are produced alone through
> the union of the sexes, and that all is for enjoyment only.
> Maintaining this view, their souls being ruined, their minds
> contracted, with natures perverted, enemies of the world, they
> are born to destroy. They indulge insatiable desires, are full
> of hypocrisy, fast-fixed in false beliefs through their
> illusions. They indulge in unlimited reflections which end only
> in annihilation, convinced until death that the enjoyment of the
> objects of their desires is the supreme good. Fastbound by the
> hundred cords of desire, prone to lust and anger, they seek by
> injustice and the accumulation of wealth for the gratification of
> their own lusts and appetites.
>
> > This today hath been acquired by me, and that object of my heart
> > I shall obtain; this wealth I have, and that also shall be mine.
> > This foe have I already slain, and others will I forthwith
> > vanquish; I am the lord, I am powerful, and I am happy. I am
> > rich and with precedence among men; where is there another like
> > unto me? I shall make sacrifices, give alms, and enjoy.
>
> In this manner do those speak who are deluded. Confounded by all
> manner of desires, entangled in the net of illusion, firmly
> attached to the gratification of their desires, they descend into
> hell. Esteeming themselves very highly, self-willed, full of
> pride and ever in pursuit of riches, they perform worship with
> hypocrisy and not even according to ritual, but only for outward
> show. Indulging in pride, selfishness, ostentation, power, lust,
> and anger, they detest me who am in their bodies and in the
> bodies of others. Wherefore I continually hurl these cruel
> haters, the lowest of men, into wombs of an infernal nature in
> this world of rebirth. And they being doomed to those infernal
> wombs, more and more deluded in each succeeding rebirth, never
> come to me, O son of Kunti, but go at length to the lowest
> region.
>
> The gates of hell are three -- desire, anger, covetousness, which
> destroy the soul; wherefore one should abandon them. Being free
> from these three gates of hell, O son of Kunti, a man worketh for
> the salvation of his soul, and thus proceeds to the highest path.
> He who abandoneth the ordinances of the Scriptures to follow the
> dictates of his own desires, attaineth neither perfection nor
> happiness nor the highest path. Therefore, in deciding what is
> fit and what unfit to be done, thou shouldst perform actions on
> earth with a knowledge of what is declared in Holy Writ.

This is a very healthful way -- to me at least -- of finding out
how to destroy illusion. I would like to say just this: that
when we find that any of these lower qualities begin to become
active in our consciousness, there is no other way of dealing
with them except somehow by an effort of will, an endeavor to
rise in consciousness into the higher part of our being; and in
that state of consciousness the illusory aspects of personality
cease, they lose their power, and the man is able to regain
balance, calm, peace. The supreme guide, life itself, is always
providing opportunities to test us. Some concatenation of
circumstances arises, and, as you know, an individual may go
along life's pathway, quietly, serenely, thinking that everything
is lovely in the garden; and then some person comes along who is
so constituted that he touches a certain button, a certain knob
in the psychological constitution, and some personal ego within,
of which there are many by the way, reacts, and plays its tune,
pleasant or unpleasant -- a kind of gramophone record that plays
over and over again the same tune. It will be found, after we
observe ourselves closely, that similar stimuli tend to produce
these similar recurrent phases, good, bad and indifferent, which
proves to us that part of our illusion is caused by the
mechanical nature of our being. In other words that it is not
perfectly under the control of the real part of us. The inner
individual is not master of its vehicles of consciousness that we
call the personality and through which it expresses itself. We
do all sorts of things in a most mechanical way, and it is our
reactions to sudden stimuli through various circumstances in life
that teach us perhaps the greatest lessons, because amongst
spiritually-minded people at least, among all seekers after
truth, there is the sincere desire to live in the light of one's
Higher being, and the great misery and unhappiness of at times
doing quite the opposite. This is the kind of illusion that we
must seek out the means of eradicating, and one of the best ways
of all, I believe, is a constant and daily steady reading of such
a book as THE BHAGAVAD GITA. You have to be very discriminating
in the kind of book or scripture that you rely upon to give you
that spiritual sustenance without which man cannot live --
spiritually speaking, especially in this striving, material,
difficult world that we have to live in.

Day by day we must see to it that we give ourselves five or ten
minutes -- if only that -- for spiritual sustenance. The first
thing in the morning, if possible, before another thought enters
your consciousness, if you spend a few minutes of quiet
reflection, self-examination, aspiration towards the higher part,
of your being, help does come in a very strange way that has to
be experienced in order to realize it.

There at any rate are a few thoughts upon this question of
illusion, so now I will leave it to you to raise other questions
if you wish.

> QUESTION: Among that list of divine qualities that you read in
> the sixteenth Discourse of THE BHAGAVAD GITA, is one that I think
> must be a mistranslation. I do not think that one understands it
> as a divine quality -- and that is mortification.

Many questions like that crop up in the study of THE BHAGAVAD
GITA. What does it mean? The questioner suggests that it is a
mistranslation, but I think it is only a matter of understanding
what is meant by mortification. I think that I cannot do better
than find out what Krishna has to say about this subject of
mortification, because it is really very interesting:

Honoring the gods, the brahmans, the teachers, and the wise,
purity, rectitude, chastity, and harmlessness are called
mortification of the body. Gentle speech which causes no
anxiety, which is truthful and friendly, and diligence in the
reading of the Scriptures, are said to be austerities of speech.
Serenity of mind, mildness of temper, silence, self-restraint,
absolute straightforwardness of conduct, are called mortification
of the mind. This threefold mortification or austerity practised
with supreme faith and by those who long not for a reward is of
the SATTVA quality.

> QUESTION: Is not truth even to this day indefinable?

I think it is probably truly so, because in what terms are you
going to define truth? You may turn round to me and say, "Do you
think that you said anything that is true tonight?" And I say,
"Well, at least I hope that it may be what you might call
relative truth." I do not believe that any attempt to expound
philosophically ideas of Ancient Wisdom, which after all are an
attempt to state some aspects of truth, can be perfectly
performed by any one who is not perfect. How can it be so? So
you must have a Mahatma or Divine Being who can perfectly express
truth in human language, and even then it will not be so much the
words that he utters, but that which his whole being does to your
consciousness -- raising it to that point where it is able to
perceive truth.

Now can we give or have any kind of conception of what a
Theosophist means by truth? I can only tell you the way I reason
about it and it is simply this: that truth is the reality, the
facts of Nature where it operates in the particular sphere that
you are considering. What you call truth has to reflect
perfectly the workings of that department of Nature that you are
studying. So I think the questioner is quite right -- it is
impossible to define truth. It exists perfectly at the level of
Universal Mind. If we want to perceive truth we have to rise
into our spiritual being, where we are not subjected to the
distortion of the brain-mind.

> QUESTION: It is possible to get into a dangerous state when we
> get out of our body and feel that everything is illusion?

I think that the best advice in such a case, assuming that we are
talking to a person who is interested in these matters, is to
hand him a copy of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, underlining the
seven Paramitas -- that is the Buddhistic qualities of
perfection. In other words there are certain rather short
ethical precepts, concentration upon which we are told will have
a very beneficial effect upon the mind. Now that may sound
trite, but nevertheless really something like that is the only
thing to do, because if you get into a state of complete
confusion of that kind then you have lost your moorings, your
anchor, you have not got hold of your rudder, and you have to do
something about it; and the surest thing is to attempt to
concentrate upon and practise the Paramitas, and look for some
healthy, religious or philosophical literature that will be of
benefit.

> QUESTION: In the demoniacal qualities in the sixteenth Discourse
> it stated that the personality, I presume life after life, seemed
> to sink lower and lower each life. Now is that a fact? Does not
> karmic action make it so very unpleasant for the personality that
> automatically this sinking lower and lower is checked?

In the ordinary case of evolution -- Yes. That is to say that
the average human being who does not live marvelously well, but
not too badly -- he has his moments when he jumps off the deep
end, and it is these things that he will be sorry for afterwards.
Well, if the balance of his karmic memory gets below a certain
point, he is going to add and add to these actions of a personal
character, and if that goes on, then he begins to slip down the
scale life after life. But Nature will react against him: he
will have scored karmic penalties which are designed by merciful
Nature to wake him up, and then the natural impulse of evolution
will gradually straighten things out. Nevertheless the slip down
the decline mentioned in the GITA is, we believe, a possibility
in Nature. We do not need to dwell upon it, but there it is.

> QUESTION: If all the people connected with such a one were to
> help him, could not the fall be avoided or checked?

I think that is an important question because we must all have
the experience in life of being associated in our own families
perhaps or elsewhere amongst our human relationships, with
someone who is finding the battle of life too much, one who seems
to be losing in that battle of life. Now when the questioner
asks if those associated with that person can do anything to
help, I venture to suggest, that instead of pointing out to that
individual all day and every day just exactly what one thought of
him, even to the point -- what shall I say? -- of lowering one's
self-respect by the constant criticism -- instead of doing that,
let him keep his own consciousness on as high a level as he knows
how to do, including this individual within his spiritual
meditation. This has a wonderful effect. I have seen it work
over and over and over again, and I have seen the terribly cruel
and destructive effect of criticism. It is a strange fact, you
know, that Brother Judge pointed out in a little book called THE
EPITOME OF THEOSOPHY: that in fixing your thought in condemnation
(and the stronger the hatred that goes with it, the more
important and lasting the effect) you mix yourself with the
quality in the other person that you hate, and you pretty soon
begin to express that quality. It comes back to you. So I
believe that one of the most important things you can do is to
keep your own consciousness up and include the sufferer in your
spiritual meditation.

------------------------------------------------------------------
BLAVATSKY NET UPDATE

by Reed Carson

The readers might like to know that all the awards received by
Blavatsky Net (BN) have been unsolicited. In particular, a few
days ago BN received a prestigious award for "academic
excellence". This site was included as among the best
"education" sites, for being of "research quality". We will be
gratified if such standards can help make a difference. That
award is now on the homepage. (http://www.blavatsky.net).

Now that September has rolled around, Blavatsky Net would like to
launch a new effort for Theosophy.

Last month we made available the new geographically sorted member
profile report. This month we would like to use that report as a
key part in launching a definite effort to start new study
classes in the real world. To encourage the start of such study
classes the homepage now has a click for "How to start a study
class".

BN will do several things to help study classes start. First it
provides the info on the profile report about others in the same
geographical area who might be interested in attending or leading
such study classes.

Secondly we are offering a sample study course syllabus with
accompanying material for those who might find it suggestive and
helpful for starting a study class. David Grossman, Stella Heun,
and Amedeo Nazzaro are working on the final details of this
material. The material will aim to help relate the often
abstract teachings of Theosophy to ourselves and our life. If
you would like to comment on this effort please send email to
david@blavatsky.net.

Thirdly, we have placed on the homepage a click called "How to
start a study class". More info on the sample syllabus will soon
appear under the "How to start a study class".

Fourthly, we would like to place info about any individual study
classes, as appropriate, on the "meetings" page that can be found
on the home page. The meetings page lists the location and other
details of various study classes and how to obtain more info. If
this meetings page grows, then more people will find more classes
suitable for them and everyone will be helped.

Fifthly, BN is launching a new online study class in the form of
a moderated discussion list that will begin operation on Sunday
October 3. This course will follow the same agenda as the sample
study course syllabus mentioned above. So any study classes that
start along with it will also have an online, worldwide study
class going on concurrently and which might provide stimulating
interchange back and forth with the real world. This list will
be called bn-basic.

This new discussion list called bn-basic will be covering the
basic teachings of Theosophy. It is intended to provide a
nurturing environment where these things can be studied without
the "intimidation" or seeming irrelevance of more obscure
discussions. It may also be helpful for those who would like to
return for a "refresher" course. You can sign up for the course
starting now and it will launch with whoever is signed up on Oct
3. Our current discussion list, bn-study, will be continued as
described below.

In addition to this, Blavatsky Net will be starting its own first
real world study class in Manhattan on October 3 and following
the same agenda. For more detail on this class see the
"meetings" click on the homepage.

And Sixthly (if there is such a word), we have added an
additional technical feature that we hope will add a little
influence in this direction. Now the last paragraph of this
letter is computed by the mail delivery software and customized
for the individual recipient. It shows information about the
number of members overall, and if new members have joined in the
recipient's state (or country if not in the U.S.) then the number
of those local new members is shown. This will allow members to
be notified as more members join in their area. (At the moment
there is one reservation in that records with invalid emails
still show up in the count. Eventually we will fix this.)

Of course we can never predict what is going to happen with
internet related activities but we are putting forth this effort.
We hope it blossoms with benefit for all.

Further, I am working on a new technical feature for the
discussion lists that I should mention now. Sometimes discussion
lists are scanned by software to obtain email addresses for
purposes of spam. Since discussion list software requires the
use of email addresses this can be a problem. The new software
at BN allows a person to subscribe to a discussion list and
request for this purpose an email address of
userid@talk.blavatsky.net where "userid" is a member's userid at
Blavatsky Net. This email address will not accept spam and will
thereby offer a new level of protection for participants of BN
discussion lists. This feature is being called "anti-spam email"
and can be found now on the membership record. I expect it to be
fully implemented before Labor Day (September 6 in the U.S.).

Speaking of lists in the plural, as we add bn-basic we will be
continuing the bn-study list. For a topic of study for this list
for the next year we have chosen an old syllabus used at one time
by ULT. It will cover a wide range of cultures and explore
traces of ancient Theosophy and other matters. More on this
later. Current participants of bn-study can also get the fancy
new email feature by going to their membership record (clicking
on "members" on homepage), and making the appropriate choice.

Those who are currently members of BN-study must take an active
step to join the BN-basic list - it is not automatic. (We want
to make the fewest choices for members in general even if it
sometimes requires more work for members.)

The following is mechanically produced and if any members were
added during the last month in your state (or country if outside
the US) that is also indicated:

There are now 1254 members including 111 who joined last month.
Of all those, 655 are visible in the profile report. 64 members
are in CALIFORNIA with 4 added last month.

------------------------------------------------------------------
THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN THE OLD VIEWS AND THE NEW

by Leo Tolstoy

[From Chapters 11 and 12 of Epilogue II to WAR AND PEACE. For
the complete ebook and other writings of Tolstoy, see:
http://www.tolstoy.org]

History examines the manifestations of man's free will in
connection with the external world in time and in dependence on
cause, that is, it defines this freedom by the laws of reason,
and so history is a science only in so far as this free will is
defined by those laws.

The recognition of man's free will as something capable of
influencing historical events, that is, as not subject to laws,
is the same for history as the recognition of a free force moving
the heavenly bodies would be for astronomy.

That assumption would destroy the possibility of the existence of
laws, that is, of any science whatever. If there is even a
single body moving freely, then the laws of Kepler and Newton are
negatived and no conception of the movement of the heavenly
bodies any longer exists. If any single action is due to free
will, then not a single historical law can exist, nor any
conception of historical events.

For history, lines exist of the movement of human wills, one end
of which is hidden in the unknown but at the other end of which a
consciousness of man's will in the present moves in space, time,
and dependence on cause.

The more this field of motion spreads out before our eyes, the
more evident are the laws of that movement. To discover and
define those laws is the problem of history.

From the standpoint from which the science of history now regards
its subject on the path it now follows, seeking the causes of
events in man's freewill, a scientific enunciation of those laws
is impossible, for however man's free will may be restricted, as
soon as we recognize it as a force not subject to law, the
existence of law becomes impossible.

Only by reducing this element of free will to the infinitesimal,
that is, by regarding it as an infinitely small quantity, can we
convince ourselves of the absolute inaccessibility of the causes,
and then instead of seeking causes, history will take the
discovery of laws as its problem.

The search for these laws has long been begun and the new methods
of thought which history must adopt are being worked out
simultaneously with the self-destruction toward which -- ever
dissecting and dissecting the causes of phenomena -- the old
method of history is moving.

All human sciences have traveled along that path. Arriving at
infinitesimals, mathematics, the most exact of sciences, abandons
the process of analysis and enters on the new process of the
integration of unknown, infinitely small, quantities. Abandoning
the conception of cause, mathematics seeks law, that is, the
property common to all unknown, infinitely small, elements.

In another form but along the same path of reflection the other
sciences have proceeded. When Newton enunciated the law of
gravity he did not say that the sun or the earth had a property
of attraction; he said that all bodies from the largest to the
smallest have the property of attracting one another, that is,
leaving aside the question of the cause of the movement of the
bodies, he expressed the property common to all bodies from the
infinitely large to the infinitely small. The same is done by
the natural sciences: leaving aside the question of cause, they
seek for laws. History stands on the same path. And if history
has for its object the study of the movement of the nations and
of humanity and not the narration of episodes in the lives of
individuals, it too, setting aside the conception of cause,
should seek the laws common to all the inseparably interconnected
infinitesimal elements of free will.

From the time the law of Copernicus was discovered and proved,
the mere recognition of the fact that it was not the sun but the
earth that moves sufficed to destroy the whole cosmography of the
ancients. By disproving that law it might have been possible to
retain the old conception of the movements of the bodies, but
without disproving it, it would seem impossible to continue
studying the Ptolemaic worlds. But even after the discovery of
the law of Copernicus the Ptolemaic worlds were still studied for
a long time.

From the time the first person said and proved that the number of
births or of crimes is subject to mathematical laws, and that
this or that mode of government is determined by certain
geographical and economic conditions, and that certain relations
of population to soil produce migrations of peoples, the
foundations on which history had been built were destroyed in
their essence.

By refuting these new laws the former view of history might have
been retained; but without refuting them it would seem impossible
to continue studying historic events as the results of man's free
will. For if a certain mode of government was established or
certain migrations of peoples took place in consequence of such
and such geographic, ethnographic, or economic conditions, then
the free will of those individuals who appear to us to have
established that mode of government or occasioned the migrations
can no longer be regarded as the cause.

And yet the former history continues to be studied side by side
with the laws of statistics, geography, political economy,
comparative philology, and geology, which directly contradict its
assumptions.

The struggle between the old views and the new was long and
stubbornly fought out in physical philosophy. Theology stood on
guard for the old views and accused the new of violating
revelation. But when truth conquered, theology established
itself just as firmly on the new foundation.

Just as prolonged and stubborn is the struggle now proceeding
between the old and the new conception of history, and theology
in the same way stands on guard for the old view, and accuses the
new view of subverting revelation.

In the one case as in the other, on both sides the struggle
provokes passion and stifles truth. On the one hand there is
fear and regret for the loss of the whole edifice constructed
through the ages, on the other is the passion for destruction.

To the men who fought against the rising truths of physical
philosophy, it seemed that if they admitted that truth it would
destroy faith in God, in the creation of the firmament, and in
the miracle of Joshua the son of Nun. To the defenders of the
laws of Copernicus and Newton, to Voltaire for example, it seemed
that the laws of astronomy destroyed religion, and he utilized
the law of gravitation as a weapon against religion.

Just so it now seems as if we have only to admit the law of
inevitability, to destroy the conception of the soul, of good and
evil, and all the institutions of state and church that have been
built up on those conceptions.

So too, like Voltaire in his time, uninvited defenders of the law
of inevitability today use that law as a weapon against religion,
though the law of inevitability in history, like the law of
Copernicus in astronomy, far from destroying, even strengthens
the foundation on which the institutions of state and church are
erected.

As in the question of astronomy then, so in the question of
history now, the whole difference of opinion is based on the
recognition or nonrecognition of something absolute, serving as
the measure of visible phenomena. In astronomy it was the
immovability of the earth, in history it is the independence of
personality -- free will.

As with astronomy the difficulty of recognizing the motion of the
earth lay in abandoning the immediate sensation of the earth's
fixity and of the motion of the planets, so in history the
difficulty of recognizing the subjection of personality to the
laws of space, time, and cause lies in renouncing the direct
feeling of the independence of one's own personality. But as in
astronomy the new view said: "It is true that we do not feel the
movement of the earth, but by admitting its immobility we arrive
at absurdity, while by admitting its motion (which we do not
feel) we arrive at laws," so also in history the new view says:
"It is true that we are not conscious of our dependence, but by
admitting our free will we arrive at absurdity, while by
admitting our dependence on the external world, on time, and on
cause, we arrive at laws."

In the first case it was necessary to renounce the consciousness
of an unreal immobility in space and to recognize a motion we did
not feel; in the present case it is similarly necessary to
renounce a freedom that does not exist, and to recognize a
dependence of which we are not conscious.

------------------------------------------------------------------
MORE ON THE BIRTHDAYS OF THE DHYANIS AND OTHER CYCLIC EVENTS

by Dallas TenBroeck

[The second part of a private paper dates November 16, 1998.]

DIFFICULTIES IN THE TRANSTATIONS OF ORIENTAL TEXTS

Modern translators of Oriental texts rely heavily on new
interpretations by current scholars, some of whom have emigrated
from those remote countries. Why have they not also given
attention to what HPB has to say and teach? We are not going to
find the academics are any more anxious today to consider or
prove the accuracy of the Adept records than they were 100 years
ago. Witness, for instance the controversy currently raging
between Geologists and Egyptologists over the data that deals
with the weathering of the Sphinx by water, not wind-blown dry
sand, but rain water around 13,000 or more years ago.

THE SECRET DOCTRINE is written in English for world use. It
almost seems a waste of time and energy to try, with the
prejudiced opinions of modern orientalists, to review the
statements made in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. It seems also a waste of
our energy to try to adjust some unproven source with what is
placed in plain English for us to use by the Adepts.

Surely the Masters, and HPB were aware of the attempts at
confusion that could arise. The Adept proofs are innate to the
teachings and do not depend on "academic" theories that are now
called "scholarship" by those who are working backwards. The
Theosophical Adepts were living "Witnesses on the Scene," and
Their records are records of observation and not of backward
calculations based on the scanty observations of the present.
Further, many of the dimensions that Theosophy considers to be
more vital than the physical are disregarded by academics. Those
proofs lie in the dimensions of morals, and the eternal process
of ever-becoming. That perception is almost entirely lacking in
the academic attitude towards the records of the Adepts. They
cannot see the need and value of the ethical application of facts
and laws as active Wisdom. This is what Theosophy offers to all
of us. Without Karma and Reincarnation, the concept of the Unity
and the cooperation of life are mental cul-de-sacs. And what is
more, the purpose of our existence, of any goal or of possible
"perfection" is lost.

Why would one become doubtful of the Masters and HPB? Has not
their philosophy been shown to be coherent? Are contemporary
views destroying it? The modern method is to analyze, to try to
devise by theory and hypothesis "Universals" from "very scattered
particulars." Instead of reversing the process, and basing
himself on the Universals, the "modern scholar" uses his own
limited lower manas to try to review, revise and criticize the
observations of living Adepts, who in ancient times saw what
happened. It is only natural that there will be differences when
these partial and experimental hypotheses are compared with the
information provided by the Adepts. Do we have the knowledge and
the ability to make clear distinctions in these matters? Is it
significant in regard to the ethical and moral molding of our
lives?

These questions are not raised so as to refute polemically the
questions asked, but to give a greater depth of perspective to
the problem. The materialists do not consider the total aims and
objectives of evolution nor do they realize the potential of the
perpetual motion and the intelligence resident in every atom.
And the atom is made of force-fields, not substance. (That is,
unless one is willing to equate force-fields with substance, and
qualify it with intelligence and a degree of freedom of choice.)

What kind of a yard-stick are we to use to determine the veracity
and the accuracy of such matters? This is offered to demonstrate
that the overall value of the philosophy as a whole should be
used as the gauge to settle divergence of opinion. This is the
dimension that modern scholarship lacks -- they do not view the
reincarnating Ego, and the goal of refining every last atom of
"matter," and freeing it to become a "god" in its own right with
self-consciousness as its manifest destiny. This is why the
touchstone of HPB's 4 golden links in the chain: Universal Unity
and Causation, Human Solidarity, Karma and Reincarnation, [ KEY,
p. 231 ] are so important in their use as tools for our minds to
grasp individual statements made in our texts and correlate them
elsewhere.

Hitherto comparatively little attention seems to have been paid
to these dates as given relative to these cycles. Individuals
may have tried to determine their significance, and mathematical
use. What is the ethical and moral use?

For instance there is a threefold festival celebrated in the
Buddhist World, when, on the same full-moon day (around May) the
Great Buddha, Gautama Siddartha, called the Sakyamuni, was said
to have been born, to have attained enlightenment, and when, at
the end of 80 years of labor he put off the body. The date is
movable, as we see it occurring, as it is regulated by the Moon.
So is Easter, so is the Muslim Ramadan. It changes from year to
year by our calendar, following the Moon (not the Sun) but it is
fixed by the old calendars used by the Buddhists in their
religious and secular systems. This following of old "moon" has
some great hidden significance. If, as HPB says, the "moon" will
disappear in the future, then what will be the mental and
emotional condition of mankind as a whole by that time?

ERAS AND CALENDARS

The calendar and era of the Jews, which is close to 6,000 years
old, may have originated when one of the waves of their
emigration from India began, some 7,000 B. C. This chronology
whereon they base their calendar is different from the presently
used Samvat of the Hindu Panchangams. [ Annually a Panchangam,
or horological calendar based on ancient Hindu astronomical
calculations, giving many celestial events, is published in India
(see SD II 47 et seq.) ] The South Indian one is considered
particularly valuable and practical. It contains dates and times
for lunar, solar, and planetary events, the return or position of
known comets, the zodiacal relationship of our earth and the sun,
etc... The Samvat, or commencement of the present Hindu era, is
based on the old calculations codified and brought up to date in
Central India during the reign of the Adept King Vikramaditya of
Ujjain. This has been kept up-to-date thereafter by and in those
Brahmin families who are responsible for the preservative
features of this work.

Chinese and Tibetan calendars differ in era from these, and the
Buddhist calendar is one which closely agrees with the Hindu one.
This was adopted by the early Sangha, the Buddhist fellowship of
monks, in making its records.

The Jains, the oldest of the Hindus, [Ujjain was their ancient
capital, destroyed long after Vikramaditya, around the 12th-14th
century by Mogul invasions] maintain the chronology entrusted to
them. Many of the old Jain families retreated West and North
after the fall of Ujjain to the peninsula of Kathiawar, and to
the desert fastnesses north of that in Gujerat, and Rajestan on
the borders of the Thar desert. They harmonize with the Hindu
environment of the present but their roots antedate both the
Vedic and the Aryan Brahmanical lore, said to be close to
1,000,000 years old. They had a still more ancient and very
secret calendar which is said to be several million years old.
It was used in the astronomical calculation in Rajestan, where
they lived undisturbed and where a line of ancient Hindu
Kshatriya Kings (some of the "Raj-Rishis") retained their
independence up till modern times. It was from these that the
era of the present Hindu Calendar beginning in the reign of King
Vikramaditya springs.

In South India, the Dravidians live. They are the remnants of
the ancient pre-Vedic inhabitants of India. They made peace with
the Aryan invaders, and to some extent a mutual assimilation was
affected, and certain Brahmin families are today holders of the
ancient line of records, and are the modern heirs of that ancient
lore. Some of those families have retained their ancient oral
traditions, passing them from father to son, secretly and in
code. These are not entirely lost, but it would take an Indian
brahmin of some great stature to educe from them those ancient
secrets.

ASTRONOMICAL AND ASTROLOGICAL WISDOM

The last well known King Adept of Rajestan (Rajah Sawai Jai Singh
of Jaipur) lived in the age of Akbar, a wise Mogul Emperor
(called by HPB an "Adept") of the 16th-17th century. It was
Akbar's life's endeavor to learn about and reconcile all
religions (see his "Din I Illahee -- "The Day of Illumination").
In this he was opposed by his horrified, orthodox Muslim
ministers, but he was partly assisted by his friend, the
independent Rajestani Raja: Sawai Jai Singh, whose capital,
Jaipur, was a few hundred miles South-East of Mogul Delhi.

Raja Jai Singh was a wise astronomer and a student of the
influences of the "stars." Apparently he was one of the last
historical Rajput kings to bring astrology up to date and to
employ it. The Mogul emperor Akbar, gave him the title "Sawai,"
meaning that he was the man who stood above all the rest in
learning. His observatories in Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer and Delhi
are still usable today. The Delhi observatory was built under
his instructions so that the astronomers of the Mogul Emperor
could use it.

The observatories at Ujjain, are now in ruins, and although some
attempts have been made to have them partly restored, are
virtually unusable, although their original plans are still said
to be kept secretly. In south India, the Brahmins of the
Dravidian communities who are some of the oldest in India, have
their own records and observatories in Kanchipuram, Tanjavur,
Chidambaran, Kumbakonam, Salem, Tirupattur, Tiruvanamalai,
Madurai, Sri Rangam and elsewhere. Astronomical and other data
are constantly being added as the old calculations and
observations are kept up to date by certain brahmin families who
have chosen to serve as the preservers of this ancient lore.

REGARDING THE TRUTH OF DATES GIVEN TO US

Getting back to the dates questioned. Why would HPB give us
dates that may have been true in 1888, and false thereafter? That
would indeed be futile, and very confusing. Also it seem it
would destroy any confidence in the Theosophical texts she was
responsible for.

If one considers the translations of the writings that are
currently attributed to Tson-Ka-Pa one is forced to rely on two
factors: 1. the authenticity and accuracy of the manuscripts
from which the translations are made, and 2. the fairness and
the accuracy of the scholars who have made the translation. All
these factors have to be verified.

It is for this reason that the modern student of Theosophy has to
be firmly based in the metaphysical and philosophical tenets of
the Wisdom Religion. He has to be able to view and understand at
a glance the evidence inherent in any statement, whether original
or translated, of that wisdom. In considering details and
differences, he needs to ask himself constantly whether he is
dealing with actual truth, or the "blinds" that were drawn by the
writers, or their translators, over those facts.

There is another and more important consideration: as time
passes, students engaged in the preservation of the original
teachings of the Masters as recorded by HPB and WQJ, are, and
will be increasingly faced with the suggestion that the records
they are faithful to, are no longer in tune with the advances
that are being made in our world, that they are no longer true or
exact, and that the work of HPB, for instance, has been surpassed
and improved upon.

Does one really believe that allegations and doubts, such as
these are constructive to the continuity of the work of the
Adepts? It was very early after HPB's death that Annie Besant and
G.R.S.Mead decided to "improve" on what HPB had left. In fact,
taking advantage of HPB's last illness, Mead started to apply his
concepts of scholarship to her writings, and began to make
changes, that he thought were an "improvement," on them. As a
consequence after her death, THE SECRET DOCTRINE was reedited
(1893) with over 40,000 major and minor "alterations." Then, in
1897 a spurious "3rd. Volume" was published. Annie Besant took
responsibility for this. And there is now no trace of the MSS
from which it was copied for printing. Changes in later editions
of THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, and in the VOICE OF THE SILENCE, and in
others of her writings have been sanctioned by Adyar TS
"authorities."

Were it not for the work of maintenance by the ULT and its
republishing the original texts (starting in 1912 by reprints in
the monthly magazine THEOSOPHY, and later by the actual facsimile
reprinting of HPB's books we would be in sad shape. Probably the
Theosophical Movement would be rated as a "failure" by now.

If we think over the history of the modern Theosophical Movement,
we can see how vital the will of perhaps a single individual
(Robert Crosbie is a case in point, as is also Mr. Judge) has
been to preserve the message for the benefit of the future. We
can think of the "tests" that those individuals were faced with
and which they were "successful" in passing through. We are the
beneficiaries, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. ULT
will remain, if it continues in its work pure and undeviatingly,
a repository for the original teachings. Its associates should
strive for nothing more than that preservative aspect. And, to
make those teachings readily available to others.

Let us take it for granted that HPB and the Adepts, writing for
us in our age, used that now universal scientific calendar which
we would be using for our calculations, of which they were well
aware, as also of the fact that the English language would become
the widest used language in the future of the next century (ours)
for their writings to be diffused in. If we begin to pay
attention to the external claims of "authorities" and "doubters,"
we will lose our hold on that which we sense is at the core of
the teaching: a sense of our own immortality, of the accuracy of
the Masters' knowledge, of the justice of universal Karma, and
finally of the Unity of all Life. Those are at the core of our
wisdom, the rest is detail.

The sole benefit of history (if accurate and non-partisan) is
that it enables us to avoid repeating errors. The lure of
change, of "excitement" is kamic, it snatches away the reason,
and diverts it by the thrill of "novelty."

Buddhi and Higher Manas alone give stability. So we need to
control the gyrations of our own kamic impulse, and center our
attention on learning the laws of growth which the Adepts have
taught. The most valuable "novelty" is in watching our own
perceptions widen and deepen, and the real thrill is in seeing
that the lore we are assimilating is proved true every day we
live.

In any period of manifestation cycles of finite time exist. The
Dhyanis begin their work in and with Nature at a definite time.
They, we, and all beings, who participate in evolution and
manifestation are divine and immortal in our essential nature.
The personal and physical is illusory and changeable. They stand
as examples to us, of the perfection of experience. They embody
those perfections that for us are still only a goal. Our stage
is marked by self-devised and self-directed efforts in learning
about ourselves, self-consciousness, and the vast program of
cooperation which we call evolution. We need, as a concept, the
example of Those who have achieved, who have reached the goal
that life represents as ideals. And we need to recall always
that we are immortal MONAD at heart. The source of our wisdom in
interior, initiation is from within.

The promulgation of Theosophy by HPB on behalf of the Mahatmas,
gives us outlines of both the rules of self-development, and the
record of facts in Nature. This recent event (the promulgation
of Theosophy) marks a turning point, a change in the way of
thinking and understanding Nature and ourselves. It has been
called by Mr. Judge: "a change in the Manas and the Buddhi of
the Race." (WQJ LETTERS, 72)

Any "birth" is a fresh incarnation. It is characterized by a
curriculum involving the development of individual
responsibility, and the duty to learn and practice the ethics of
brotherhood, based on eternal and essential unity.

When a fresh endeavor in the general education of mankind is to
be attempted, it would be chosen, by those who are wise, to
synchronize with those cycles of spiritual forces which echo from
earlier commencements down the ages. Some of such "echoes" are
annual. Some occur at wider intervals. The last quarter of each
century is said to be such a time.

We could take this to represent in our own reincarnation, the
connection that is reestablished between our three-fold spiritual
consciousness and the skandhas (the life-atoms) that are
simultaneously reassembled to provide the necessary physical
bodies for our, and their, continued evolution. Those living
elements of life were used by us in the past, and under karma it
is justice that we meet with and continue to work with them for
their evolution and ours.

In dealing with the mystery of Man's spiritual nature working in
and through a personality, HPB offers a genealogical clue. She
writes:

> If the reader were told, as in the semi-esoteric allegories, that
> these Beings [the higher Manas] were returning Nirvanees, from
> preceding Maha-Manvantaras -- ages of incalculable duration which
> have rolled away in the Eternity, a still more incalculable time
> ago -- he would hardly understand the text correctly.
>
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 79-80.

Theosophy was diffused a century ago, at a time when it became
possible to bring to the attention of mankind its psychological
make-up.

This was done through the doctrines of universality and eternity
based on the Unity of the one Source, on Karma, on Reincarnation,
and by disclosing the "Key" : the sevenfold nature of man and
Nature. This seven-fold division is represented by the seven
primordial Spiritual Instructors, the Rishis and the Mahatmas who
are the Dhyanis. They are those "Planetary Spirits," that guard
and preserve mankind and our Cosmos.

The present educational program is being conducted over a vast
period of seven great, and a number of seven-fold minor cycles of
time (called Rounds, Globes, Races, Sub-races, etc.) in the
evolutionary sweep. The process develops perfection of each one
of the seven principles present in man and in Nature, and, the
awareness of unity through the patterns of collaboration which
the seven great forces of Nature are seen to manifest in the
various classes of beings. These represent stages of conscious
development in themselves. This sense of unity is reinforced by
an influence, which we could call a "birthday" when it recurs
annually.

H.P.B., as "messenger," presented the doctrines most helpful to
review and which it will be the best for us to use to change our
moral outlook.

THE SECRET DOCTRINE was deliberately written in English -- a
language which the Masters knew would be the one most widely
diffused in the near future of the world. It was filled with
those notations that our culture and science could understand the
reasoning of, so as to open the next vista to us. In giving such
information we find throughout the book that They used the
calendar notation and calculations of our time, rather than one
more ancient, which only a part of the race might know of.
Students of THE SECRET DOCTRINE find that they are consistent in
doing this.

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