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THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------- February, 2001
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"The Eye of the Heart," by B.P. Wadia
"Annual Theosophical Conference," by Wes Amerman
"The Gray Man," by Victor Endersby
"How do Spirit and Matter Relate?" by Katinka Hesselink
"Some Secrets of the Heart," by Madeline Clark
"Theosophy Versus Christianity," by Elsie Benjamin
"The Renewal of Youth," by George William Russell
"Souls and Egos," by Boris de Zirkoff
"The Divine Discontent of Gautama the Buddha," by Inez Davenport
> Sound ... may even RESURRECT a man or an animal whose astral
> "vital body" has not been irreparably separated from the
> physical body by the severance of magnetic or odic chord. AS ONE
> SAVED THRICE FROM DEATH by that power, the writer ought to be
> credited with knowing personally something about it.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 555.
THE EYE OF THE HEART
by B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 222-24.]
> To take the unreal for the real is bondage. Friend, heed this.
Thus, spoke the great Sankaracharya, the Adept-Teacher who was
more than a metaphysician and a philosopher. Like his
illustrious predecessor, Gautama Buddha, he was a religious
reformer, an occultist, and an enlightened man. If his
above-quoted saying is true then most men and women living and
laboring on this globe are in bondage. Many are unconscious of
their bondage; and the "clever" among them would ask: "What is
real? Is the food we like and eat unreal? Are the clothes
dressing our bodies unreal? Is money unreal, and fame and all the
rest of it?"
Shankara's doctrine of glamor, MAYA, has been discussed by
generations of logicians and speculative philosophers. But for
the understanding of the doctrine of MAYA -- Glamor and MOHA --
Infatuation, (more generally spoken of as Illusion and Delusion)
a better approach is the sight of the heart. Although the
practical man aspires to apply the teaching in his life, the cold
intellectual analysis and speculation cannot be easily and
readily accepted. The flights of the mind may satisfy those who
desire merely to comprehend the doctrine but continue to live in
the ocean of MAYA. The man who desires to see the inwardness of
the teaching with a view to improve his life uses his
heart-instinct to unlock the door of the mystery of MAYA and
MOHA. He feels that there is truth in this teaching.
The VIVEKACHUDAMANI, a small book but one very highly valued by
devotees of the spiritual life, from which the above saying is
quoted, contains some verses of practical significance which help
the man of heart to pierce the shell and get at the kernel of
what is the Real lying hidden within the unreal.
> As a cloud wreath, brought into being by the Sun's shining,
> spreads and conceals the Sun, so the personal self, which comes
> into being through the Self, spreads and conceals the true Self.
The simple-minded but honest-hearted man knows that the divine
and the demonic jostle each other in his blood and brain. To him
the above verse offers an image of a psychological truth he has
actually experienced. He is aware that his sensuous cravings
glamor and infatuate his mind; also that the sun of his
soul-nature is there -- often powerless to bring the mind to
listen to the divine voice within. He seeks the next step:
> Cut thy bonds stained with the stains of the world; by strong
> effort make thy manhood fruitful.
A little reflection on this injunction convinces him that his
dual nature is triple -- his sensorium and himself, the Soul, are
joined by his mind. The mind is the ambassador of the King Soul
in the land of the senses; the mind entangled in the social whirl
of the kingdom of the senses forgets his duty to his King. By
strong effort, he should make his manhood fruitful. How?
> The fixing of the heart on sensuous things causes the increase of
> evil mind images, progressively as its fruits; knowing this
> through discernment, and rejecting sensuous things, let him ever
> fix the heart on the true Self.
The control of the wandering heart results in control of mind.
The heart's nobler aspirations free the mind, dispersing dark
images born of the personal self, and then the Light of the Soul
guides the Mind. Having glimpsed the sun let him fix his
attention thereon. Having created the knowledge of the Real let
him preserve its good effects. There are Those who have attained
to this high position permanently and who radiate the Light of
the Spiritual Sun.
> Drawing near to that being whose form is ever stainless,
> illuminated, and blissful, put far from thee this disguise, inert
> and impure. Let it not even be remembered again; for, to
> remember as an object of desire the thing that has been vomited,
> brings contempt.
These steps are simple and what is required is not knowledge so
much as the courage to apply the teaching about glamor and
infatuation to the personal self. Machinations of the mind hide
from us the weakness of our character; the courageous heart sees
his weaknesses and seeks to remove these by the aid of his mind.
The mind is our enemy now; it becomes our friend when the desire
to improve begins to function.
ANNUAL THEOSOPHICAL CONFERENCE
By Wes Amerman
All students of Theosophy and inquirers are cordially invited to
attend the Seventh Annual Gathering in Cambria, CA, on August 11
& 12, 2001.
The topic for the weekend is:
THEOSOPHY -- ANCIENT WISDOM FOR MODERN TIMES
A public meeting will be held on Saturday, August 11, from 2:00
to 4:00 PM at the Joslyn Recreation Center, 950 Main Street,
Cambria. A brunch and informal discussion will follow on Sunday,
August 12 at 10:00 AM at the Hospitality House, 305 Pembrook,
across from Shamel Park. In addition, the Hospitality House will
be open to all visitors during the week of August 6-12.
A Web site for the Cambria event can be found at:
It includes more information on the area, lodging,
transportation, event times, etc.
This is a very popular vacation spot, so plan and make lodging
and travel reservations as early as possible. Cambria is on
Route 1, about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco or
San Jose. The nearest local airport is San Luis Obispo.
We hope to see old friends there and meet new ones, gathering in
the spirit of Unity and Brotherhood, continuing the tradition of
the Annual Gatherings in Brookings.
For further information, contact
The GRAY MAN
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part IV. This 18-part series appeared
in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
Armand the Companion strolled beside the waters to enjoy the
waning autumn sun. There he beheld a man sitting, watching the
boats go in and out. This man was not ancient, not young; he was
graying. His eyes gazed down the sunset slope into the shadows
of the unknown that attend the close of life for those without
Armand sat beside him. Shortly, observing friendship in the eyes
of the Companion, the man spoke.
"Is there an answer to the riddle of life?" he asked.
"So I have heard," said Armand. "What is your thought on the
"So I also have heard," replied the man. "It is possible that I
had my hands on it once."
"They called it 'The Wisdom.' I attended its assembly for a
"And were not satisfied therewith?"
"No. I could grasp nothing tangible and of use to a practical
man. Ever the talk was of brotherhood and the need of the
upright life. Every school child knows those things."
"And there was no more than this?"
"Oh, yes. There was much talk of the karma of past lives, and of
vast origins and destinies of man and his kindred. It may have
been true. It may have been fantasy. What could I do with all
that? I had need of that which would benefit my trade and my
household life. In time I went no more, and sought elsewhere."
"And did you find somewhat?"
"I found one who instructed in observing the color of the soul,
so that one might know the nature of those with whom he dealt in
the market place. He taught much solid detail. A man could put
his teeth into such knowledge. It required much gold, but seemed
"You then saw the colors of many souls?"
"No, I did not see any. The Preceptor said that my evolution was
"And returned your gold?"
"Why should he? He had spent his time and wrought patiently upon
me. The effort did not turn out well for me. Upon occasion, I
used the formula in trying to test my wife's faithfulness. I
discovered nothing, but she, learning of it, was vexed, and a
trouble arose between us that did never end. Women are not
reasonable... I sought some form of knowledge not requiring so
much labor and so much gold."
"What was the nature of your next essay?"
"It was with one who determined the propitious times for love and
business by means of charts of the stars. This, too, took money,
but not so much. It required no great labor on my part. This
also did not do well; tasks undertaken by the stars went badly
more often than not. Long afterward I met another of that
calling, who explained that his competitor, being ignorant, used
a zodiac thirty degrees awry."
"How did the new Zodiac turn out?"
"I did not try. I had become mistrustful of zodiacs. Also I had
no more money."
"Yet, perhaps," said the Companion, "there is knowledge of both
souls and stars that cannot be had for money, only by
selflessness? Perhaps knowledge of great power that is unusable
in the marketplace?"
"You speak precisely as one of those of the Wisdom. This was my
great disappointment in them. Ever they spoke of such powers and
knowledge, ever raising a barricade of such sacrifices as would
render power useless. What good is knowledge to the self when
the self exists no longer? Also it was clear that they themselves
had no such Powers, for they were plain people with no great
"And your man of the souls -- he no doubt exhibited the results
of wisdom in his life?"
"Oh, yes indeed. Fine raiment, and a shrine most elegant."
"And he of the thirty degrees awry -- his ignorance was no doubt
made manifest by poverty?"
"Oh, no! He also was well housed and well decked out. Why, that
was a little strange, was it not? This had not occurred to me
"I would not say that it was strange," murmured the Companion to
himself, "in a world full of such as thou." Aloud -- "What was
the nature of your further seeking?"
"This and that -- nothing much. I had become mistrustful and
naught appealed as worth time and gold, although I looked into
"You said that perhaps you had placed hands on knowledge in the
form of the Wisdom. Did you return to that?"
"No. What could there be in that which was given without price,
where costly teachings had failed me? And yet... and yet... as
my days add to their number and the remainder grows short, that
Wisdom somehow clings to my mind, though I have forgotten most of
"Why not essay it once more?"
"It is too late now. I have no interest in life. My wife is
dead. My children have their own lives. I am aging, sad and
weary, and large thoughts make my head ache. I have been
disappointed so many times. Why risk it again?"
He fell into a sad brooding, becoming oblivious of Armand, who
rose quietly and betook himself to the city. At the end of the
quay he looked back at the man, the gray man gazing upon the gray
waters, and for a time the day was dim to his vision, out of
pity. He reflected that after all there was a "tomorrow" in
which, with the moon of folly setting; the sun of wisdom might
rise. Thereupon he shook the thing from his mind in attention to
HOW DO SPIRIT AND MATTER RELATE?
By Katinka Hesselink
I am intrigued by this question as one of the many questions that
theosophy poses. I have no ready answers, but will share some
thoughts and literature. How does the mind acts on matter? How
do spirit and matter relate? Side issues include how
psychosomatic illnesses work and how they are best treated.
Science could profit by looking more into it. How did mankind
evolve? What is the evolutionary role of language, culture,
schools, knowledge, and art? Why are we strongly affected by
music? Also relevant: What consciousness is there in other beings
beside humans? Is a physical body like ours necessary for
consciousness? Then again: How should we define consciousness?
What are its limits? Consider a computer. It can do what humans
do, but easier and quicker. It can calculate, play chess, see if
one's spelling is correct, and store a seemingly endless amount
of information. This without flaw if programmed correctly, which
is the crux of the problem with a computer. A computer can do
many things, but the impulse, the command, and the programming
all have to be done by a human being. Compared to computers, we
are lousy at calculating, our memory is very limited and subject
to distortion, but we can act on our own impulse. We can decide
that something is necessary and then do it. A computer will do
only what we tell it to do, but we have the capacity to choose.
In my search for the relation between spirit and matter, this
seems like an important step. Spirit has the capacity to make
decisions, a quality called "will" in theosophy. (In my
discussion, I shall avoid theosophical terms like Atma, Buddhi,
Manas, and Kama, feeling that the western words are fine.)
Scientists have argued that evolution is by chance. They would
prove that matter is all, and that certain genes in seeking
reproduction cause the illusion of thought. This theory is
taught in school, except in a few Christian schools. The paradox
is obvious. Why would genes WANT to reproduce themselves?
Biologists do not consider this. There is a splendor of life
forms. Biologists see how they are related, how they evolve out
of others, how they function biochemically, and in higher animals
how they function socially. Biologists would object to using the
word "want" in connection with reproduction. They tell us that
organisms only reproduce so the organisms will not die out. This
is a mechanical thing for them. The impulse is only there
because those organisms that do not have the impulse to
reproduce, will automatically die out. This is the biological
viewpoint. In Buddhism, the will to live, called Tanha, is seen
as the sole reason for reincarnation. Our consciousness is an
observed fact, but many scientists do not look at it that way.
Luckily, there are exceptions, though.
Where does consciousness start? Do the genes already have it, or
are individual cells the first to have some form of
consciousness? If we judge based upon the will to live, viruses
are alive. Biologically, viruses are at the border of the
definition of life, since they do not eat, and they only
reproduce with the help of other organisms. Add the will to live
to our list of qualities. We now have the will itself and the
will to live. Both qualities are absent from a computer, though
theosophically everything has consciousness. I suppose in that
way a computer has as much (or as little) consciousness as any
mineral. A virus is a set of molecules grouped together to
effectively ensure that other organisms copy it. This is as far
as science goes.
In psychology, the medical approach is winning out. In this
approach, every problem is seen as physical. Solutions are
sought by treating the body. This attitude drives away more and
more patients, sending them into the realm of new age healing.
This brings me back to the main questions: What is spirit? What
is matter? How do the two relate? Are they ever separate? The
revealing answer comes in THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT.
We find that they are never separate. Spirit divorced from
matter is a mere abstraction.
> But what is "Spirit" pure and impersonal per se? Is it possible
> that you should not have realized yet our meaning? Why, such a
> SPIRIT is a nonentity, a pure abstraction, and an absolute blank
> to our senses -- even to the most spiritual. It becomes
> SOMETHING only in union with matter -- hence it is always
> SOMETHING since matter is infinite, indestructible, and
> NON-EXISTENT without Spirit, which in matter is LIFE. Separated
> from matter it becomes the absolute negation of LIFE and BEING,
> whereas matter is inseparable from it.
> -- page 155 (Letter 23B, Answer 6).
Spirit and matter cannot be separated. Listening to this the
question changes. It is no longer how spirit and matter relate
to one another. We can now ask why we perceive spirit and matter
as separate. We come back to the questions that we started with,
but slightly changed. How does consciousness work on different
levels of physicality? What is matter? What is spirit? I am
intrigued by these questions. I have no ready answers, but hope
that in sharing some thoughts and literature, I can help readers
approach the subject with the same sense of wonder, and find some
answers for themselves.
SOME SECRETS OF THE HEART
By Madeline Clark
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, November 1946, pages 513-18.]
Like the diamond in the heap of grain, a thought encountered in a
paragraph from SCIENCE flashed forth a suggestive gleam -- and a
train of ideas was born.
[This paragraph comes from REMARKS ON PROFESSIONS IN MEDICINE, by
Dr. Alfred E. Cohn, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research,
New York. January 24, 1940, address before the Alpha Omega Alpha
(Honorary Fraternity), Delta Chapter of New York.]
This is the paragraph:
> I remind you that the uses to which the heart, the blood, and the
> blood vessels are put, engaged the attention of naturalists
> early. They (the naturalists) kept coming back century after
> century to an attempt at solution, always thinking that an answer
> had been found, but never aware of the inaccuracy or the
> inadequacy of those answers. We think now that we have been
> making and are making great strides toward understanding. We
> are. Let me remind you also that truly, we possess small
> likelihood of thinking of kinds of mechanisms except those that
> lie reasonably close to our hands. Yet, in connection with the
> circulation and its mechanics, the questions we can and do ask
> for which there is not even an approach to an answer are
> startling. I am thinking, in the heart, of so essential a part
> of its mechanism as rhythm -- rhythm itself being a phenomenon
> widely recognized as occurring in many aspects of nature, without
> in most situations our having the remotest notion as to how to
> proceed to find an answer to our enquiry concerning its origin or
> its nature.
Learned Sirs, if you could fathom that marvel, you would know the
secret of the Universe. That mysterious and invincible rhythm
that comes to you through your stethoscope, if you could trace it
to its source, would take you out to the borders of universal
manifestation -- beyond the planets in their courses, beyond the
Pole-star, beyond the realms of Time itself, to where Eternal
Duration holds sway over the deeps of Space. In that human
heartbeat you hear an echo from Infinitude, because, as you
yourselves have half-perceived, everything in manifested life
responds in rhythm to "that Absolute Unity, that ever-pulsating
great Heart that beats throughout, as in every atom, of nature."
[THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 2]
This little man, this soul tossed on the frothy billows of
circumstance, comes to you for help in keeping his bark
seaworthy. He is an epitome of the Universe. "He is in little
all the sphere," as George Herbert (1593-1633), the Welsh-English
mystic, says in his poem on MAN. To the myriads of infinitesimal
lives that ensoul the cells and atoms of his being, a single beat
of his heart is the beginning and ending of a definite cycle.
Imagine him expanded to the utmost in all his spiritual parts and
principles, and you have the Adam Kadmon, the Heavenly Man, the
cosmic entity itself, of which the "one absolute attribute, which
is ITSELF, eternal, ceaseless Motion, is called ... the 'Great
Breath' ... the perpetual motion of the Universe." [THE SECRET
DOCTRINE, I, 2]
We can follow this Rhythm or Motion to the confines of thought,
but we can never get away from it. It manifests in the
coming-into-being of worlds and systems and their august deaths,
when they sink again into "the dark mystery of non-Being." [THE
SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 2] It is in the ceaseless reembodiment of all
lesser creatures, down to the smallest. It governs the beating
of the solar heart in its eleven-year cycles. It is seen in the
tides of the ocean, the fluctuations of the seasons, day and
night, sleeping and waking, the fall of the leaves and budding of
the trees, in Mendeleef's table of the Elements, in Bode's Law,
and in all the majestic movements of the celestial bodies. It is
"finite and periodical" in the manifested universe, but "eternal
and ceaseless" in the Intro-Cosmic Spaces ... That human heart
will cease to beat; it and the Universe and all in it will in
time pass away, but the underlying immortal Rhythm is unceasing,
and will one day bring them forth again.
"We must put hard heads at the service of soft hearts," said Dr.
Cohn at the close of his address: another flash of the diamond,
for he has unconsciously touched an ancient truth, which does put
the head at the service of the heart, as a matter of their
essential nature, linking both in a mystic spiritual unity.
Our Theosophical Teachers have pointed out (and history supports
this) that the ancients held the heart to be the seat of the
understanding, in some sense, of the deeper thinking faculty, and
that the head (the brain-mind) was second to the heart and guided
by it in its intellection. How is it that we, for example, still
use the expression, "to learn by heart?" It is a carry-over,
undoubtedly, from the days when the relations of heart and brain
were better understood. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is
he," is still a common saying. "What his heart thinks his tongue
speaks," said Shakespeare. There is still a minority of scholars
and thinkers, who conceive the heart to be the organ of "inmost
and most private, thought," to quote from the dictionary. Yet
for the most part the thoughtless multitude of today think of the
heart only as the seat of the emotions, sentiments, and even
passions, or at best as expressing the motivating power to
There is a modern revival in Theosophy of the ancient teaching
regarding the heart and its spiritual functioning in our human
makeup, and it was given by Dr. de Purucker in several of his
talks to his students. (This material was preserved in Dr. de
Purucker's books, MAN IN EVOLUTION and STUDIES IN OCCULT
PHILOSOPHY.) The heart, he said, is the most evolved organ in the
body, "the hyparxis, physically speaking," and is actually the
organ of our Inner God, whose ray touches it and fills it with
its presence. That is why it is in fact the abode of conscience,
love, peace, courage, hope, and wisdom. The mystic heart, of
which the physical organ is the physical vital instrument, is
higher than the brain, said Dr. de Purucker, "because it is the
organ of the individual's spiritual nature, including the higher
Manas or spiritual intellect."
Here is a teaching to fire the imagination -- that man carries
within his breast, pulsating, vibrating with cosmic life, a
tangible link with the spiritual worlds to which he aspires.
Many a time must we all have marveled at the miracle of the
unceasing motion of the heart from birth to far-off death,
absorbing the shocks, the joys, and jolts of life, invincible and
undismayed. But the fact that it is sustained and energized by
one of the bright gods, destined to manifest for the period of a
human incarnation, that alone perhaps brings such a marvel within
Now then, Dr. de Purucker goes on to make plain how it is that
the heart leads, and the head follows. The two centers connected
with the brain, the pineal gland and the pituitary body, are the
seats of the spiritual intuitions and of the will, respectively,
and their connection with the heart is of the closest, for the
pineal gland is the heart's organ of spiritual-intellectual
activity in the head, and its impulse to activity comes from the
heart. The pituitary body is in its turn actuated by the pineal
gland, and when high and noble impulses come from the heart, the
whole being of the man becomes "a harmony of higher energies --
> The process of the heart's influence upon the pineal and
> pituitary centers can only be mentioned suggestively here: the
> whole subject, embracing also the other centers, or "chakras,"
> should be studied in the two books by Dr. de Purucker already
> cited in this article.
> -- Editors of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
These higher energies, which we might call in a general way the
faculties of sensitive perception and of instant intuition, are
actually the sixth and seventh senses represented by these
centers in the head, which the human race is destined to develop,
but which are "not yet existent and working in us and through us
as manifested activities." Yet even now the first faint stirrings
of these faculties can be felt. They can never be developed
safely unless all selfish motives are eradicated. Dr. de
Purucker tells us how to go about the conquest of these higher
> The first rule is: live as a true man. It is as simple as that.
> Do everything you have to do, and do it in accordance with your
> best. Your ideas of what is best will grow and improve, but
> begin. The next thing is to cultivate SPECIFICALLY AS UNITS the
> higher qualities in you which will make you superiorly human as
> contrasted with inferiorly human. Be just, be gentle, be
> forgiving, and be compassionate and pitiful. Learn the wondrous
> beauty of self-sacrifice for others; there is something grandly
> heroic about it. Keep these things in your heart. Believe that
> you have intuition. Live in your higher being. Then when this
> can be kept up continuously so that it becomes your life,
> habitual to you, then the time approaches when you will become a
> man made perfect, a glorious Buddha.
Scientific discoveries of recent years about sunspots and the
magnetic influence of solar radiation support the statement of
Theosophy that the Sun is in fact the pulsing heart of the Solar
System. Theosophy goes still further, and says that the Sun is
the heart AND MIND of the Solar System. In THE SECRET DOCTRINE,
H.P. Blavatsky quotes an ancient Commentary as saying:
> The Sun is the heart of the Solar World [System] and its brain is
> hidden behind the [visible] Sun. Thence, sensation is radiated
> into every nerve-cell of the great body, and the waves of the
> life-essence flow into each artery and vein ... The planets are
> its limbs and pulses.
Dr. de Purucker refers familiarly to the same fact in his
STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY:
> The Sun, since it is not only the heart but also the mind of the
> solar system as long as this solar system remains a coherent
> unity, is therefore the governor of all the forces in that solar
> system -- governor and controller, as well as source and final
Here we have heart and mind (or brain) seated in the same
celestial organ: a suggestive and significant fact, more closely
related to our human heart and brain than will be understood soon
A final word -- again highly suggestive: The doctrine of
"singular points" (Sir James Jeans), or "lays-centers," as named
in Theosophy, through which the matters or substances of one
world or "dimension" stream through into the world next below, is
really one of wide application. Dr. Jeans applied it to
nebulae: Dr. de Purucker remarks (QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, II,
> Let me tell you something more: every globe that you see in space
> has as its center, its heart, just such a "singular point," ...
> and through this center of each such globe come into that globe
> the streams of entities, the river of living things, by which
> that globe is inhabited, all of them on their evolutionary
> pathway. They then enter into the atmosphere of any such globe,
> such as our earth, and find ... their habitats...
Considering the human heart as the gateway for the life-giving
elements which sustain the circulations of the body, could not
the heart in its higher function be the laya-center through which
stream into our consciousness spiritually creative life-atoms
from the higher worlds?
THEOSOPHY VERSUS CHRISTIANITY
By Elsie Benjamin
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, July 1946, pages 297-301.]
No, Theosophy is not and never has been versus Christianity, nor
has it been against Truth wherever it may be found, in whatever
language and through whatever symbology. It may seem that this
question has been dealt with sufficiently for there to be no more
need to write about it; but as the Theosophical Society is an
ever-expanding body, with new people contacting it continually,
it is a question that periodically comes up for discussion and
This article will attempt to answer recent actual questions that
have been asked: (1) Will you give a definite and final statement
as to what is a Theosophist's attitude towards Christianity? (2)
Why was H. P. Blavatsky so anti-Christian? (3) Why do
Theosophists generally deny the existence of Jesus as an actual
Briefly the answers are: (1) No, we cannot give a definite and
final statement as to what Theosophists should believe on any
point. (2) HPB was not anti-Christian. (3) Theosophists do not
deny the existence of Jesus.
Elaborating the first answer: the Statement that "a belief in the
Principle of Universal Brotherhood is the only prerequisite to
Fellowship in the Theosophical Society" is not a mere theoretic
declaration but is meant literally. The Society has no creedal
or dogmatic beliefs that must be held in order to be a
Theosophist in good standing. Independence of thought and
individual research along all avenues leading to truth are
encouraged. No teaching need be accepted on the authority of
someone else. So it behooves each student of Theosophy to
investigate these matters for himself -- if they interest him,
remembering however that studying ONLY Christianity does not
enable him to judge of the truths in other religions, nor to
place Christianity in its proper perspective.
On April 22, 1888, there was held in America a Convention of the
Theosophical Society, and HPB sent a Message to William Q. Judge
to be read to the Theosophists assembled. One passage in her
Message has bearing on the first question under consideration:
> Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable.
> It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the
> Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body, its many other
> ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the
> existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of
> students of Theosophy, such healthy divergences would be
> impossible, and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in
> which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the
> living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing
Dr. de Purucker continually warned us against trying to place
our teachings and our beliefs in watertight compartments in our
minds, to pigeonhole them so that there would forever be an end
to discussion and diversity of opinion. He invariably resisted
pleas for an authoritative and final statement on any particular
This does not mean, however, that individual Theosophists cannot
hold definite ideas themselves about what they believe -- always
being ready with an open mind however to discard previous beliefs
if some larger truth is unveiled; and remembering also that they
have no right to try to impose their beliefs on others.
In answering questions (2) and (3), we can clear the situation
considerably by turning back to early Theosophical writings and
seeing what HPB, the Founder of the Society, and her Teachers,
have to say. It will be seen that HPB, far from being
anti-Christian, was one of the greatest champions of true
Christianity, and her statements regarding its great Founder
dignify and give a far nobler conception than many of the
orthodox Christian views current today. A study of her writings
will show that she was just as valiant a fighter against
misinterpretations of Theosophy, as she was a vigorous opponent
of the desecrations of true Christianity. She sought for and
upheld truth wherever she could find it, in Theosophy,
Christianity, Buddhism, and all ancient religions and
philosophies. It must always be remembered that when she wrote
and taught, various Eastern and other religions were not held in
the respect that they relatively are among people today. Today
if one professes a belief in Buddhism, or considers that the
ancient Egyptians had a marvelous philosophy, it is not
considered highly scandalous.
In her magazine LUCIFER for Dec. 1887, HPB published her famous
"Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury." The whole of it is
well worth reading, but we quote only a few brief passages:
> The chief work, so far, of the Theosophical Society has been to
> revive in each religion its own animating spirit, by encouraging
> and helping inquiry into the true significance of its doctrines
> and observances. Theosophists know that the deeper one
> penetrates into the meaning of the dogmas and ceremonies of all
> religions, the greater becomes their apparent underlying
> similarity, until finally a perception of their fundamental unity
> is reached. Theosophists, therefore, are respecters of all the
> religions, and for the religious ethics of Jesus they have
> profound admiration. ... These teachings ... are the same as
> those of Theosophy. So far, therefore, as modern Christianity
> makes good its claim to be the practical religion taught by
> Jesus, Theosophists are with it heart and hand. So far as it
> goes contrary to those ethics, pure and simple, Theosophists are
> its opponents. Any Christian can, if he will, compare the Sermon
> on the Mount with the dogmas of his church, and the spirit that
> breathes in it, with the principles that animate this Christian
> civilization and govern his own life; and then he will be able to
> judge for himself how far the religion of Jesus enters into his
> Christianity and how far, therefore, he and Theosophists are
> Your Grace will now understand why it is that the Theosophical
> Society has taken for one of its three "objects" the study of
> those Eastern religions and philosophies, which shed such a flood
> of light upon the inner meaning of Christianity ... In so doing,
> we are acting not as the enemies, but as the friends of the
> religion taught by Jesus -- of true Christianity, in fact ...
> The Churches have brought the teachings themselves into ridicule
> and contempt, and Christianity into serious danger of complete
> collapse, undermined as it is by historical criticism and
> mythological research, besides being broken by the sledge-hammer
> of modern science.
> Ought Theosophists themselves, then, to be regarded by Christians
> as their enemies, because they believe that orthodox Christianity
> is, on the whole, opposed to the religion of Jesus; and because
> they have the courage to tell the Churches that they are traitors
> to the MASTER they profess to revere and serve? Far from it,
> indeed. Theosophists know that the same spirit that animated the
> words of Jesus lies latent in the hearts of Christians, as it
> does naturally in all men's hearts. Their fundamental tenet is
> the Brotherhood of Man, the ultimate realization of which is
> alone made possible by that which was known long before the days
> of Jesus as "the Christ spirit." ... We know that Christians in
> their lives frequently rise above the level of their
> Christianity. All Churches contain many noble, self-sacrificing,
> and virtuous men and women, eager to do good in their generation
> according to their lights and opportunities and full of
> aspirations to higher things than those of earth -- followers of
> Jesus in spite of their Christianity.
She ends her Letter on this optimistic note. It is a note that
assures all truth-seekers the world over. Despite the
discouraging aspects of the present day, humanity is not deserted
by the Brotherhood whom Jesus represented in his time. By
allying themselves with the Forces of Light, the Constructive
forces of the Universe, obscurantism, dogmatism, and the forces
of darkness cannot gain full sway over mankind.
> But He told you He would come as a thief in the night; and lo! He
> is coming already in the hearts of men. He is coming to take
> possession of His Father's kingdom there, where alone His kingdom
> is. But you know Him not! Were the Churches themselves not
> carried away in the flood of negation and materialism, which has
> engulfed Society, they would recognize the quickly growing germ
> of the Christ-spirit in the hearts of thousands whom they now
> brand as infidels and madmen. They would recognize there the
> same spirit of love, of self-sacrifice, of immense pity for the
> ignorance, the folly, and the sufferings of the world, which
> appeared in its purity in the heart of Jesus, as it had appeared
> in the hearts of other Holy Reformers in other ages; and which is
> the light of all true religion, and the lamp by which the
> Theosophists of all times have endeavored to guide their steps
> along the narrow path that leads to salvation -- the path which
> is trodden by every incarnation of CHRISTOS or the SPIRIT OF
In the face of the above quotations, one wonders whether what is
really at the bottom of the alarm with which some people view the
Theosophical conception of Christianity, is an unconscious
rebellion on their part that ANY OTHER RELIGION EXCEPT
CHRISTIANITY should be considered as teaching Truth.
Now comes the third question. These extracts speak for
> We leave it to every impartial mind to judge whether Jesus is not
> more honored by the Theosophists, who see in him, or the ideal he
> embodies, a perfect adept (the highest of his epoch), a mortal
> being far above uninitiated humanity, than he is by the
> Christians who have created out of him an imperfect solar-god.
> ... No Theosophist ... ever denied the existence of the Apostle
> who is an historical personage.
> -- COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, IV, 361.
> In days of old the "mediators" of humanity were men like
> Christna, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Paul, Apollonius of Tyana,
> Plotinus, Porphyry, and the like of them. They were Adepts
> Philosophers -- men who, by struggling their whole lives in
> purity, study, and self-sacrifice, through trials, privations,
> and self-discipline, attained divine illumination and seemingly
> superhuman powers.
> -- COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, I, 299.
> The motive of Jesus was evidently like that of Gautama-Buddha, to
> benefit humanity at large by producing a religious reform, which
> would give it a religion of pure ethics.
> -- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 133
> As an incarnated God there is no single record of him on this
> earth capable of withstanding the critical examination of
> science; as one of the greatest reformers, an inveterate enemy of
> every theological dogmatism, a persecutor of bigotry, a teacher
> of one of the most sublime codes of ethics, Jesus is one of the
> grandest and most clearly-defined figures on the panorama of
> human history.
> -- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 150
Surely, HPB cannot be accused of denying the existence of Jesus!
But here again, it would seem that some people MUST have Jesus as
the ONLY Teacher, the ONLY Savior of mankind, the ONLY Son of
The difficulty has been not in finding enough quotations to
support our brief answers, but in resisting the temptation to
quote too many instances supporting them. We will end with the
following, which comes from a letter from one of the greatest
authorities a Theosophist could recognize, called by HPB "my own
Master's MASTER," the Maha-Chohan:
> Once unfettered, delivered from their dead weight of dogmatism,
> interpretations, personal names, anthropomorphic conceptions, and
> salaried priests, the fundamental doctrines of all religions will
> be proved identical in their esoteric meaning. Osiris, Krishna,
> Buddha, Christ, will be shown as different means for one and the
> same royal highway of final bliss -- Nirvana. Mystical
> Christianity teaches SELF-redemption through one's own seventh
> principle, the liberated Paramatama, called by the one Christ, by
> others Buddha; this is equivalent to regeneration, or rebirth in
> spirit, and it therefore expounds just the same truth as the
> Nirvana of Buddhism. All of us have to get rid of our own Ego,
> the illusory, apparent self, to recognize our true Self, in a
> transcendental divine life.
THE RENEWAL OF YOUTH
By George William Russell [1867-1935]
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, August-October 1895, and June 1897]
> I am a part of all that I have met;
> Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
> Gleams that untravell'd world ...
> ... Come, my friends,
> 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
> -- ULYSSES
Humanity is no longer the child it was at the beginning of the
world. The spirit which, prompted by some divine intent, flung
itself long ago into a vague, nebulous, drifting nature, though
it has endured through many periods of youth, maturity, and age,
has yet had its own transformations. Its gay, wonderful
childhood gave way, as cycle after cycle coiled itself into
slumber, to more definite purposes, and now it is old and
burdened with experiences. It is not an age that quenches its
fire, but it will not renew again the activities that gave it
And so it comes that men pause with a feeling that they translate
into weariness of life before the accustomed joys and purposes of
their race. They wonder at the spell that induced their fathers
to plot and execute deeds that seem to them to have no more
meaning than a whirl of dust. But their fathers had this
weariness also and concealed it from each other in fear, for it
meant the laying aside of the scepter, the toppling over of
empires, the chilling of the household warmth, and all for a
voice whose inner significance revealed itself but to one or two
The spirit has hardly emerged from the childhood with which
nature clothes it afresh at every new birth, when the disparity
between the garment and the wearer becomes manifest: the little
tissue of joys and dreams woven about it is found inadequate for
shelter: it trembles exposed to the winds blowing out of the
unknown. We linger at twilight with some companion, still glad,
contented, and in tune with the nature that fills the orchards
with blossom and sprays the hedges with dewy blooms. The
laughing lips give utterance to wishes -- ours until that moment.
Then the spirit, without warning, suddenly falls into
immeasurable age: a sphinx-like face looks at us: our lips
answer, but far from the region of elemental being we inhabit,
they syllable in shadowy sound, out of old usage, the response,
speaking of a love and a hope which we know have vanished from us
So hour-by-hour the scourge of the infinite drives us out of
every nook and corner of life we find pleasant. And this always
takes place when all is fashioned to our liking: then into our
dream strides the wielder of the lightning: we get glimpses of a
world beyond us thronged with mighty, exultant beings: our own
deeds become infinitesimal to us: the colors of our imagination,
once so shining, grow pale as the living lights of God glow upon
them. We find a little honey in the heart which we make sweeter
for some one, and then another lover, whose forms are legion,
sighs to us out of its multitudinous being: we know that the old
love is gone. There is sweetness in song or in the cunning
re-imaging of the beauty we see; but the Magician of the
Beautiful whispers to us of his art, how we were with him when he
laid the foundations of the world, and the song is unfinished,
the fingers grow listless.
As we receive these intimations of age our very sins become
negative: we are still pleased if a voice praises us, but we grow
lethargic in enterprises where the spur to activity is fame or
the acclamation of men. At some point in the past we may have
struggled mightily for the sweet incense which men offer to a
towering personality; but the infinite is forever within man: we
sighed for other worlds and found that to be saluted as victor by
men did not mean acceptance by the gods.
But the placing of an invisible finger upon our lips when we
would speak, the heart-throb of warning where we would love, that
we grow contemptuous of the prizes of life, does not mean that
the spirit has ceased from its labors, that the high-built beauty
of the spheres is to topple mistily into chaos, as a mighty
temple in the desert sinks into the sand, watched only by a few
barbarians too feeble to renew its ancient pomp and the ritual of
its once shining congregations.
Before we, who were the bright children of the dawn, may return
as the twilight race into the silence, our purpose must be
achieved, we have to assume mastery over that nature which now
overwhelms us, driving into the Fire-fold the flocks of stars and
wandering fires. Does it seem very vast and far away? Do you
sigh at the long, long time? Or does it appear hopeless to you
who perhaps return with trembling feet evening after evening from
a little labor?
But it is behind all these things that the renewal takes place,
when love and grief are dead; when they loosen their hold on the
spirit and it sinks back into itself, looking out on the pitiful
plight of those who, like it, are the weary inheritors of so
great destinies: then a tenderness which is the most profound
quality of its being springs up like the outraying of the dawn,
and if in that mood it would plan or execute it knows no
weariness, for it is nourished from the First Fountain.
As for these feeble children of the once glorious spirits of the
dawn, only a vast hope can arouse them from so vast a despair,
for the fire will not invigorate them for the repetition of petty
deeds but only for the eternal enterprise, the war in heaven,
that conflict between Titan and Zeus which is part of the
never-ending struggle of the human spirit to assert its supremacy
over nature. We, who lie, crushed by this mountain nature piled
above us, must arise again, unite to storm the heavens and sit on
the seats of the mighty.
We speak out of too petty a spirit to each other; the true poems,
> Bring none to his or to her terminus or to be content and full,
> Whom they take they take into space to behold the birth of
> stars, to learn one of the meanings,
> To launch off with absolute faith, to sweep through the
> ceaseless rings and never be quiet again.
Here is inspiration -- the voice of the soul. Every word that
really inspires is spoken as if the Golden Age had never passed.
The great teachers ignore the personal identity and speak to the
eternal pilgrim. Too often, the form or surface far removed from
beauty makes us falter, and we speak to that form and the soul is
not stirred. But an equal temper arouses it. To whoever hails
in it the lover, the hero, the magician, it will respond, but not
to him who accosts it in the name and style of its outer self.
How often do we not long to break through the veils which divide
us from some one, but custom, convention, or a fear of being
misunderstood prevent us, and so the moment passes whose heat
might have burned through every barrier. Out with it -- out with
it, the hidden heart, the love that is voiceless, the secret
tender germ of an infinite forgiveness. That speaks to the
heart. That pierces through many a vesture of the Soul.
Our companion struggles in some labyrinth of passion. We help
him, we think, with ethic and moralities. Ah, very well they
are; well to know and to keep, but wherefore? For their own sake?
No, but that the King may arise in his beauty. We write that in
letters, in books, but to the face of the fallen who brings back
remembrance? Who calls him by his secret name? Let a man but feel
for what high cause is his battle, for what is his cyclic labor,
and a warrior who is invincible fights for him and he draws upon
Our attitude to man and to nature, expressed or not, has
something of the effect of ritual, of evocation. As our
aspiration so is our inspiration. We believe in life universal,
in a brotherhood which links the elements to man, and makes the
glow-worm feel far off something of the rapture of the seraph
hosts. Then we go out into the living world, and what influences
pour through us! We are "at league with the stones of the field."
The winds of the world blow radiantly upon us, as in the early
time. We feel wrapt about with love, with an infinite tenderness
that caresses us. Alone in our rooms as we ponder, what sudden
abysses of light open within us! The Gods are so much nearer than
we dreamed. We rise up intoxicated with the thought, and reel
out seeking an equal companionship under the great night and the
Let us get near to realities. We read too much. We think of
that which is "the goal, the Comforter, the Lord, the Witness,
the resting-place, the asylum, and the Friend." Is it by any of
these dear and familiar names? The soul of the modern mystic is
becoming a mere hoarding-place for uncomely theories. He creates
an uncouth symbolism, and blinds his soul within with names drawn
from the Kabala or ancient Sanskrit, and makes alien to himself
the intimate powers of his spirit, things which in truth are more
his than the beatings of his heart. Could we not speak of them
in our own tongue, and the language of today will be as sacred as
any of the past.
From the Golden One, the child of the divine, comes a voice to
its shadow. It is stranger to our world, aloof from our
ambitions, with a destiny not here to be fulfilled. It says:
"You are of dust while I am robed in opalescent airs. You dwell
in houses of clay, I in a temple not made by hands. I will not
go with thee, but thou must come with me." And not alone is the
form of the divine aloof but the spirit behind the form.
It is called the Goal truly, but it has no ending. It is the
Comforter, but it waves away our joys and hopes like the angel
with the flaming sword. Though it is the Resting-place, it stirs
to all heroic strife, to outgoing, to conquest. It is the Friend
indeed, but it will not yield to our desires.
Is it this strange, unfathomable self we think to know, to awaken
to, by what is written, or by study of it as so many planes of
consciousness? But in vain, we store the upper chambers of the
mind with such quaint furniture of thought. No archangel makes
his abode therein. They abide only in the shining. No wonder
that the Gods do not incarnate. We cannot say we do pay
reverence to these awful powers. We repulse the living truth by
our doubts and reasoning. We would compel the Gods to fall in
with our petty philosophy rather than trust in the heavenly
guidance. Ah, to think of it, those dread deities, the divine
Fires, to be so enslaved! We have not comprehended the meaning of
the voice which cried, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," or this,
"Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates. Be ye lifted up, ye everlasting
doors, and the King of Glory shall come in."
Nothing that we read is useful unless it calls up living things
in the soul. To read a mystic book truly is to invoke the
powers. If they do not rise up plumed and radiant, the
apparitions of spiritual things, then is our labor barren. We
only encumber the mind with useless symbols. They knew better
ways long ago. "Master of the Green-waving Planisphere, . . .
Lord of the Azure Expanse, . . . it is thus we invoke", cried
the magicians of old.
And us, let us invoke them with joy; let us call upon them with
love, the Light we hail, or the Divine Darkness we worship with
silent breath. That silence cries aloud to the Gods. Then they
will approach us. Then we may learn that speech of many colors,
for they will not speak in our mortal tongue; they will not
answer to the names of men. Their names are rainbow glories.
Yet, these are mysteries, and they cannot be reasoned out or
argued over. We cannot speak truly of them from report, or
description, or from what another has written. A relation to the
thing in itself alone is our warrant, and this means we must set
aside our intellectual self-sufficiency and await guidance.
It will surely come to those who wait in trust, a glow, and a
heat in the heart announcing the awakening of the Fire. And, as
it blows with its mystic breath into the brain, there is a
hurtling of visions, a brilliance of lights, a sound as of great
waters vibrant and musical in their flowing, and murmurs from a
single yet multitudinous being. In such a mood, when the far
becomes near, the strange familiar, and the infinite possible, he
wrote from whose words we get the inspiration:
> To launch off with absolute faith, to sweep through the
> ceaseless rings and never be quiet again.
Such a faith and such unrest be ours: faith which is mistrust of
the visible, unrest which is full of a hidden surety and
reliance. We, when we fall into pleasant places, rest and dream
our strength away. Before every enterprise and adventure of the
soul, we calculate in fear our power to do. But remember, "Oh,
disciple, in thy work for thy brother thou hast many allies; in
the winds, in the air, in all the voices of the silent shore."
These are the far-wandered powers of our own nature, and they
turn again home at our need.
We came out of the Great Mother-Life for the purposes of soul.
Are her darlings forgotten where they darkly wander and strive?
Never. Are not the lives of all her heroes proof? Though they
seem to stand alone, the eternal Mother keeps watch on them, and
voices far away and unknown to them before arise in passionate
defense, and hearts beat warm to help them. Aye, if we could
look within we would see vast nature stirred on their behalf. We
would see institutions shaken, until the truth that they fight
for triumphs, and they pass, and a wake of glory ever widening
behind them trails down the ocean of the years.
Thus the warrior within us works, or, if we choose to phrase it
so, it is the action of the spiritual will. Shall we not, then,
trust in it and face the unknown, defiant and fearless of its
dangers. Though we seem to go alone to the high, the lonely, the
pure, we need not despair. Let no one bring to this task the
mood of the martyr or of one who thinks he sacrifices something.
Yet, let all who will come. Let them enter the path, facing all
things in life and death with a mood at once gay and reverent, as
beseems those who are immortal -- who are children today, but
whose hands tomorrow may grasp the scepter, sitting down with the
Gods as equals and companions. "What a man thinks, that he is:
that is the old secret." In this self-conception lies the secret
of life, the way of escape and return. We have imagined
ourselves into littleness, darkness, and feebleness. We must
imagine ourselves into greatness. "If thou wilt not equal
thyself to God, thou canst not understand God. The like is only
intelligible by the like." In some moment of more complete
imagination, the thought-born may go forth and look on the
So it was in the mysteries long ago, and may well be today. The
poor dead shadow was laid to sleep, forgotten in its darkness, as
the fiery power, mounting from heart to head, went forth in
radiance. Not then did it rest, nor ought we. The dim worlds
dropped behind it, the lights of earth disappeared as it neared
the heights of the immortals. There was One seated on a throne,
One dark and bright with ethereal glory. It arose in greeting.
The radiant figure laid its head against the breast which grew
suddenly golden, and Father and Son vanished in that which has no
place or name.
> Who are exiles? As for me
> Where beneath the diamond dome
> Lies the light on hills or tree
> There my palace is and home.
We are outcasts from Deity; therefore we defame the place of our
exile. But who is there may set apart his destiny from the earth
which bore him? I am one of those who would bring back the old
reverence for the Mother, the magic, and the love. I think,
metaphysician, you have gone astray. You would seek within
yourself for the fountain of life. Yes, there is the true, the
only light. But do not dream it will lead you farther away from
the earth, but rather deeper into its heart. By it you are
nourished with those living waters you would drink.
You are yet in the womb and unborn, and the Mother breathes for
you the diviner airs. Dart out your farthest ray of thought to
the original, and yet you have not found a new path of your own.
Your ray is still enclosed in the parent ray, and only on the
sidereal streams are you borne to the freedom of the deep, to the
sacred stars whose distance maddens, and to the lonely Light of
Let us, therefore, accept the conditions and address ourselves
with wonder, with awe, with love, as we well may, to that being
in whom we move. I abate no jot of those vaster hopes, yet I
would pursue that ardent aspiration, content as to here and
today. I do not believe in a nature red with tooth and claw. If
indeed she appears so terrible to any it is because they
themselves have armed her. Again, behind the anger of the Gods
there is a love. Are the rocks barren? Lay your brow against
them and learn what memories they keep. Is the brown earth
unbeautiful? Yet lie on the breast of the Mother and you shall be
aureoled with the dews of fairy.
The earth is the entrance to the Halls of Twilight. What
emanations are those that make radiant the dark woods of pine!
Round every leaf and tree and over all the mountains wave the
fiery tresses of that hidden sun which is the soul of the earth
and parent of your soul. But we think of these things no longer.
Like the prodigal we have wandered far from our home, but no more
return. We idly pass or wait as strangers in the halls our
> Sad or fain no more to live?
> I have pressed the lips of pain:
> With the kisses lovers give
> Ransomed ancient powers again.
I would raise this shrinking soul to a universal acceptance.
What! Does it aspire to the All, and yet deny by its revolt and
inner protest the justice of Law? From sorrow we shall take no
less and no more than from our joys. For if the one reveals to
the soul the mode by which the power overflows and fills it here,
the other indicates to it the unalterable will which checks
excess and leads it on to true proportion and its own ancestral
ideal. Yet men seem forever to fly from their destiny of
inevitable beauty; because of delay the power invites and lures
no longer but goes out into the highways with a hand of iron.
We look back cheerfully enough upon those old trials out of which
we have passed; but we have gleaned only an aftermath of wisdom,
and missed the full harvest if the will has not risen royally at
the moment in unison with the will of the Immortal, even though
it comes rolled round with terror and suffering and strikes at
the heart of clay.
Through all these things, in doubt, despair, poverty, sick,
feeble, or baffled, we have yet to learn reliance. "I WILL NOT
LEAVE THEE OR FORSAKE THEE" are the words of the most ancient
spirit to the spark wandering in the immensity of its own being.
This high courage brings with it a vision. It sees the true
intent in all circumstance out of which its own emerges to meet
it. Before it the blackness melts into forms of beauty, and back
of all illusions is seen the old enchanter tenderly smiling, the
dark, hidden Father enveloping his children.
All things have their compensations. For what is absent here
there is always, if we seek, a nobler presence about us.
> Captive, see what stars give light
> In the hidden heart of clay:
> At their radiance dark and bright
> Fades the dreamy King of Day.
We complain of conditions, but this very imperfection it is which
urges us to arise and seek for the Isles of the Immortals. What
we lack recalls the fullness. The soul has seen a brighter day
than this and a sun which never sets. Hence the retrospect:
> Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone
> was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl,
> the onyx, the jasper, the sapphire, emerald .... Thou was upon
> the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the
> midst of the stones of fire.
We would point out these radiant avenues of return. But
sometimes we feel in our hearts that we sound but cockney voices,
as guides amid the ancient temples, the cyclopean crypts
sanctified by the mysteries. To be intelligible we replace the
opalescent shining by the terms of the scientist, and we prate of
occult physiology in the same breath with the Most High. Yet
when the soul has the vision divine it knows not it has a body.
Let it remember, and the breath of glory kindles it no more; it
is once again a captive. After all it does not make the
mysteries clearer to speak in physical terms and do violence to
our intuitions. If we ever use these centers, as fires we shall
see them, or they shall well up within us as fountains of potent
We may satisfy people's minds with a sense correspondence, and
their souls may yet hold aloof. We shall only inspire by the
magic of a superior beauty. Yet this too has its dangers. "Thou
hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness," continues
the seer. If we follow too much the elusive beauty of form we
will miss the spirit. The last secrets are for those who
translate vision into being. Does the glory fade away before
you? Say truly in your heart, "I care not. I will wear the robes
I am endowed with today." You are already become beautiful, being
beyond desire and free.
> Night and day no more eclipse
> Friendly eyes that on us shine,
> Speech from old familiar lips,
> Playmates of a youth divine.
To childhood once again! We must regain the lost state. But it
is to the giant and spiritual childhood of the young immortals we
must return, when into their clear and translucent souls first
fell the rays of the father-beings. The men of old were
intimates of wind and wave and playmates of many a brightness
long since forgotten. The rapture of the fire was their rest;
their outgoing was still consciously through universal being. By
darkened images we may figure something vaguely akin, as when in
rare moments under the stars the big dreamy heart of childhood is
pervaded with quiet and brimmed full with love.
Dear children of the world, so tired today, so weary seeking
after the light. Would you recover strength and immortal vigor?
Not one star alone, your star, shall shed its happy light upon
you, but the All you must adore. Something intimate, secret,
unspeakable, akin to thee, will emerge silently, insensibly, and
ally itself with thee as thou gatherest thyself from the four
quarters of the earth.
We shall go back to the world of the dawn, but to a brighter
light than that which opened up this wondrous story of the
cycles. The forms of elder years will reappear in our vision,
the father-beings once again. So we shall grow at home amid
these grandeurs, and with that All-Presence about us may cry in
our hearts, "At last is our meeting, Immortal. 0 starry one, now
is our rest!"
> Come away, oh, come away;
> We will quench the heart's desire
> Past the gateways of the day
> In the rapture of the fire.
SOULS AND EGOS
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "Karma, Soul and Ego," made of
a private class held on August 4, 1954.]
At the point where we now are in the book FUNDAMENTALS OF THE
ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, there are one or two ideas that have to be
expressed. Frankly, they are so difficult that I do not know
what to do to simplify them. The subject is Souls and Egos. It
is something that is so different from the connotation of these
words in the dictionary that one is apt to feel rather
discouraged about trying to get the correct meaning. Essentially
the idea is simple enough. To express it adequately is by no
I have pondered this over the years. The idea recurs every now
and then in the Theosophical writings. It seems as if we might
be able to put it simple language. A center of consciousness, a
Monad, enters into its period of active manifestation, of active
involvement into matter, and later evolution out of matter into
spirit. The essential center of consciousness, this
consciousness by itself, is not yet limited by any particular
vehicle or form. It is consciousness per se, in itself. We can
liken it to the conception of "I am," not that "I am" anything in
particular, but that "I am" merely in the abstract, of being.
That consciousness, per se, as a sense of being, is the spiritual
aspect of consciousness. Both HPB and Dr. de Purucker make a
great point of this idea.
During the process of involution into matter, there are
limitations of the various vehicles through which consciousness
passes or builds for itself. The consciousness imposes upon
these vehicles certain qualities. It is in these qualities that
it recognizes itself. When consciousness reflects upon itself,
and recognizes itself in its vehicles, it ceases to be the "I
am." It then becomes the "I am I and not something else,"
limiting itself in an illusory barrier, in illusory limitations.
Herein grows the sense of separateness. It is a necessary
experience, but an experience that has to be outgrown, an
illusory condition of imagining oneself different from all else.
It is intrinsically the same with everything else. It
recognizing itself as being temporarily different, experiencing
the sense of separateness, because of illusion.
It is pointed out that it is when the sheer consciousness, of the
spiritual self builds itself vehicles, through which it
recognizes itself as an "I," "I Am I and not something else,"
that there comes into being this sense of ego, the conception of
egoity. When that consciousness, which is now the consciousness
of an ego, clothes itself in a vehicle for purposes of evolution
on any one plane, it builds for itself what is technically called
a soul. That is not necessarily a human soul.
The idea is stressed here that sheer consciousness, the self,
builds on all the planes through which it passes souls, in the
sense of vehicles. The meaning of the word is different. We use
the word "souls," not in a Christian sense, but in a sense of
vehicles, or sheaths, or forms, through which to contact the
plane through which it passes. The sequence is: self, ego, and
then soul, on any plane and on all of them. There is a spiritual
ego and a spiritual soul. Then there is an intellectual ego and
an intellectual soul. Going down the line, we finally, at the
end of the sevenfold classification, are able to speak even of
physical egoity and of physical soul or vehicle, which is
obviously our physical body -- soul in the sense of vehicle,
That may sound abstract. That is the simplest that I can put it.
It is a metaphysical subject, intangible and subtle. Would
anybody like to say something?
> I would like to ask a question. The soul is not the
> reincarnating entity. Is it the Ego?
Yes. Then the question would then be in order, "Which Ego?" It
is really the intellectual egoity, self-manifesting as an Ego on
an intellectual plane, which is the center that passes through
the various births and deaths. One could use other language for
> How about the idea from Buddha, that there is no abiding
> principle in man? There never were either what we call Ego, or
> the soul, as eternal or indestructible. They are only built up.
> I wonder what they call this reincarnating part in Mahayana
> Buddhism. Perhaps is it the skandhas. How would you define
> skandhas for the Westerners, so they will understand?
Do you think I can?
> What contributes to build the idea of "self?" That is "self"
> with a small "s." It is the intellectual aspect of the human
> being, the passional, emotional, and what we call the average
> mind. That self you may call "Ego." In the higher intellectual
> aspect, it would be the human Ego. A particular side of it is
> what reincarnates. There is nothing that you might say that is a
> thing in itself. It is not an abiding thing, eternal and
> uncreated. It is built up. I understand that from the first
> glimmerings of individualized consciousness, the individuality
> begins to be built up. That is why human beings are
> individualized, and they have that sense of separateness.
> Is it just sort of Theosophical literary license that they use
> terms like the multitude of souls, the hosts of souls waiting to
> be reincarnated? They do not mean souls the way we usually talk
> about them?
No, they do not mean it in that sense.
> We talk about animals as having "group souls." They do not have
> Egos. If the souls are created by the Ego, how could this work?
> There is something missing here.
> They already have something within that group. The mere fact
> that they follow the line of incarnation shows that they have
> something. We might not be able to understand their language and
> their feelings, but they have aspects of self-consciousness.
> I will tell you something that I saw. Last week I went to
> Westlake Park, and was taking a sunbath. I sat down and saw a
> bit of a duck, about ten yards from me. Probably some other
> animal killed it, but just dropped it there. Nearby was a tree.
> A flock of ducks, about fifteen or twenty, came out of the water.
> They came walking in a bunch towards that tree. They had to pass
> in front of the dead duck. Do you know what they did?
> The first one stopped, looked at the duck, and began to
> "cluck-cluck." The others spread out forming a circle around that
> dead duck. For about five minutes, they gave a serenade there of
> "cluck-cluck-cluck-cluck-cluck." Tell me whether they did not
> know that that was their own species. It was only a little bit
> of a thing, but it was part of one of them. They understood that
> much. They were saying what we might if we just walked out in
> the street and saw a man laying down dead. We stop there and
> say, "Maybe you know this man? Who is he?" We all being to
> congregate and say the same thing. It is exactly the same thing.
> That must have been a rare thing to see. Those ducks are
> practically human beings. They live with so many human beings
> down there in the park. You know, I think they pick up their
> I go down there quite often, and I see the mothers with the
> little babies. Then another mother with babies come along, they
> get together, and they began to call out names because they do
> not want the families to be mixed up. Right? The ducks have
> feelings. There is already in the animal kingdom a certain
> glimmering of individualized consciousness of the soul. They
> have that sense of separateness, which shows a glimmering of
> The mother knows her own child in the animal kingdom and will
> defend her own child.
The only way in which the idea of group soul really can have a
definite meaning is that their individualities, their sense of
ego, is less individualized than in the human kingdom. Their
individualities are much less so in the vegetable, and still less
so in the mineral. This is not in the sense that some students
have built up, quite erroneously, that there is no individuality
in animals and plants, and that they all somehow partake of a
group soul, which is the group individuality for them. That is
an erroneous idea.
> It certainly is, and anyone who has ever owned any animals knows
There is less individualization in the lower kingdoms among the
monadic vehicles, in the egoic vehicles of the monad, than there
is at a later stage in human development. Paradoxically enough,
the full flower of individuality, or individualization, is in the
human kingdom. In the kingdoms beyond the human, the
Dhyan-Chohanic kingdoms, everything is resolved into a greater
unity with spiritual divine light, without losing its
It is a paradox. The more personal you become, the more
individualized you become. The more impersonal you become, the
less individualized you are without losing your individuality.
The animal cannot feel separate from others, nor the flower. The
human being can feel perfect separateness from all else, as an
illusion. The Mahatma, which is a human being, feels much less
separateness. The Dhyani-Chohans feel divine identification with
all that lives, but they do not lose their individuality in so
doing. It is one of the greatest paradoxes.
> How can this conscious monadic center have experiences in an
> embodied form? How can something that is a consciousness, per se,
> come down and build these sheathes on all planes, if it is what
> it is? Is it not it a part of the whole? Is it not, in itself,
> infinite? I do not see how it can possibly do what it does! I do
> not see how something that is infinite can become finite!
How are we ever going to explain anything like this, with our
inadequate words and finite conceptions?
> Is that not the idea you were trying to get over?
It is partially the idea. I do not see what else I can say to
make it any clearer.
> We might say that all that is an illusion. It is what modern
> psychology calls "mind constructs." We see the world according to
> our five senses. Maybe it is not anything like we think it is.
> It only appears to us that way. We live in that particular world
> of illusion. You have to remember that we live mostly as
> individuals, that we only think we are separate from all the
> others. We live in a world of five senses.
> Those five senses are limited in scope. We have not half as good
> sight as some birds have. We have far less than half as good
> hearing as some animals. We have all the other senses limited
> too. Consequently, we only perceive a small fraction of the
> material world. Things appear to us in a certain way, but they
> may be entirely different. What we conceive in the events of
> evolution, to be certain facts, are not facts at all, but are
> appearances. They are illusions. We construe them to be that
> way. They are our mental constructs.
That is true. They are largely mental constructs. We could
illustrate this by something that has to do with our physical
bodies. There is no question of course, that from the standpoint
of physical senses, that our bodies are what they look to be. We
speak of man as what he looks to be. It is difficult for us,
with our senses, to conceive what is mind, what is the center of
our emotional life, what is thought. Unless an individual is
naturally clairvoyant, he knows nothing of it. He only sees the
physical body of another human being and his own. How utterly
illusory this impression is! Consider an imaginative case.
Suppose that we had X-ray eyes, that we had X-ray vision. Our
eyes could penetrate all other human beings through and through.
To an X-ray eye, the physical bodies would be completely
nonexistent. We would see only the emotional centers of the
human being, and his thought, but not his brain.
How would the human being appear? What kind of a form would he
have? Everything has a form. However illusory, on whatever
plane, it has a relative form. What kind of a human being would
we have? Would we see each other as centers of force? What kind
of form, or what color, or what shape, or what intensity would it
appear as? Would they blend? Would we be all overlapping each
other, living within each other? This is probably so. To the
X-ray eye, the human physical body would be non-existent. Its
physical organs would be non-existent, but the functions of these
organs would be existent. What if we did not see the human
lungs, and the human liver, and the human stomach, which we can
see with the physical eye if we open the chest? We would see the
functional activity of these organs. Not on the physical plane,
but what emotions and thoughts and feelings they correspond to.
What kind of an appearance would the human being have?
> It would contain certain ranges of color in motion. The human
> body itself gives evidence of that. You know why? In all the
> extremities of the human bodies, there are circles. Take the
> fingers, the tips of the fingers, the tips of the toes and at the
> back of the head, and you will see certain lines there which have
> that tendency, that are indicating a certain evolution of energy.
Even the fingerprints, the mysterious fingerprints.
> I am lying in bed pretending to be asleep. Our dog will noisily
> jump on the bed. If I am asleep, he gets up quietly. How does
> he know the difference? The lights are out. My eyes are closed.
> There is no activity. He knows that I am just lying there. He
> knows that I am awake, even though there is neither sight nor
> sound that would indicate so. He knows the difference. What do
> they see when you sleep? Do they know?
> You may still be breathing, but the body behaves differently when
> the individual is asleep that it does when it is awake. In the
> complete relaxation of sleep, you breathe differently. You may
> fool a human being, but the dog can tell the difference.
Animals live largely on the psychic plane. Their thought
processes are in latency. They are there, but they are not
developed, not as the human being has them. The human lives more
on an intellectual plane. The animal lives largely on the
psychic plane. The psychic centers are more developed in the
animals than in the human in the present stage of evolution. The
animals as a rule would see colors and hear sounds of an astral
kind pertaining to both the animal world and the human world, and
the world of other kingdoms. Unquestionably, dogs and cats, and
a number of other animals, of course, see the human being in its
What about the fact that wild beasts do not attack a sleeping
man? They will not attack a sleeping man, not only for the reason
that they are perfectly safe -- they have no reason to attack --
but also because of the fact that the sleeping individual
automatically charges his surrounding aura with a repellent
We are speaking of the natural propensities of animals. Do not
imagine that what we feed our dogs, cats, and horses is their
natural food. Of course not! It is true that there are few wild
horses and few wild cats and wild dogs in our present state of
civilization. Still, there are species of animals that have
become halfway humanized. In other words, they have been halfway
distorted and twisted away from their natural habit.
A sleeping man charges his aura with a protective or repellant
force, as an automatic method of self-protection. It may be
differently so in the safety of your own home, or in relative
lack of safety in the wilds. Maybe the human being changes its
habits somewhat, I do not know. I think a general statement is
in order, that the fact of falling asleep rearranges the
magnetism of the surrounding aura. I speak now of the physical
aura, because the inner man withdraws from its physical vehicle,
from its physical brain and nervous system, and maybe a
considerable distance from the body.
Here again is a complicated subject, because there are various
portions of the human constitution, and they have a different
method of withdrawing, and are in different states or conditions.
If we just make a general statement, it is the physical aura that
is changed in its polarity, and seems to be saturated with a
fluid or with a magnetic force that is repellant to attacking
influences, if there are such -- an automatic self-protection.
The other self-protection that one should practice is utter
benevolence -- utter and complete lack of enmity. We are all
quite far from it. Some people are a little nearer to it than
others. It is harmlessness, one of the great Buddhist precepts,
which they call ahimsa, harmlessness.
If an individual can practice utter and complete harmlessness at
all times, his aura will be saturated with such positive currents
or forces of love that they will automatically repel any force
that may be trying to hurt it. In fact, forces that are trying
to hurt you would never dare approach an individual of utter
benevolence, because it would mean their complete routing if they
were to try to do anything. We are far from that condition, I am
afraid, even the best of us.
There are men who have saturated themselves in great harmlessness
and love. They have reached the point in their evolution where
they have reached such a state of love that they were never
attacked, poisoned, or otherwise harmed by wild animals. They
handled them and lived with them in the forest. Their numbers
may have included Mahatma Gandhi, and a great many hermits,
monks, and recluses and simple folks of religious bent of mind.
They can be found in all the countries of the world, belonging to
any religion or none at all.
This fullness of love, though, does not necessarily go together
with great intellectual development, oh no!
THE DIVINE DISCONTENT OF GAUTAMA THE BUDDHA
By Inez Davenport
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, June 1936, pages 429-34.]
Twenty-five hundred years ago there was born to the royal family
of the Shakya clan a son, the Prince Siddhartha. Through no
fault of his own, he caused the King, his father, deep concern.
This was because even so many centuries before the coming of the
great Christian Teacher, and before the Prince had reached what
is commonly termed the age of discretion, he had already
discovered the balance of values between the treasures of earth
and the Treasures of Heaven. He was born into one of the best
families, where nobility of character vied with wealth of
possession to surround him with all that heart could desire.
Still, he seemed often to retire inward to a world unknown to his
Handsome he was, strong, and brave, but he had no interest in the
sports that engrossed his cousins. While they busied themselves
in friendly games of contest, he would steal away into the
garden. Sitting under his favorite tree, he would try to
recapture that elusive thing that haunted him as a half-memory of
a purpose in life not yet revealed.
The sage Vishwamitra, who had charge of his scholastic training,
is said to have picked up his books and departed, marveling. It
was as if no human brain had knowledge great enough to instruct
this man who was destined to become the Buddha.
There are different kinds of Saviors. The case of a Buddha is
different from an Avatara, such as Jesus the Christ. An Avatara
is a demonstration to humanity of the keen interest with which
superior beings brood over the progress of men. Shall we call
An Avatara is the mysterious union of a divinity with the highly
evolved soul of one who has formerly become a Buddha, acting in a
pure physical body. This magical, but not supernatural,
appearance of a divinity among men takes place at times of
spiritual barrenness. An Avatara appears in order to encourage
those seeking the light of truth by showing them glimpses of
sublime heights yet to be climbed.
When we consider the Avataras, the teachings should occupy our
fullest attention. Noble as it is, their personal lives are
unimportant. With the Buddha, however, our keenest interest is
aroused by the study of his life, his trials, and his testing of
teachers and methods. Every one of us can follow his procedure
if we will. He started out eons ago a man, as we are now.
According to the stories, it was
> A hundred thousand cycles vast
> And our immensities ago,
In that distant past, he registered his first vow to reach
Enlightenment or Buddhahood. This vow he kept fast in mind and
heart. He resolved it anew with twenty-four successive Buddhas.
We read this was a necessary part of the fulfillment of such a
vow. Because of the inspiration and example given us by the life
of such a great man, this is worth serious study. In fact, it is
an essential part of his teaching.
Many and fanciful are the tales of prenatal visions entertained
by the noble Maya, the one chosen as mother by the Bodhisattva,
together with the interpretations put upon them by the Sages of
the day, wise Brahmanas versed in true astrology. We read
descriptions of the conditions of the Holy One in the heaven
world, where he is represented as teaching the inhabitants in the
interim between one earth life and the next.
There are some 550 Birth Stories said to be episodes in the
various incarnations of this aspirant to perfection, dating from
the beginning of the world. Significant indeed is the impression
we receive that his birth into the Shakya family was a conscious,
well-considered act. He took this step as an imminent Buddha.
His royal father, Shuddhodhana, as was the custom, summoned wise
men to his court to examine the child and read the signs they saw
on him. He possessed all thirty-two marks of divinity. The
prophecies of six of the Sages were unanimous. If he remained in
the household life, he would rule as the best of kings. If he
relinquished that life, he would become Lord of the Universe, the
Awakened One, and the Buddha. The seventh Sage, a younger man
but nevertheless more intuitive than his brethren, saw only one
course open to the young Prince, the attainment of Buddhahood.
The king was a wise and kindly ruler, but he had no understanding
of the nature and status of a Buddha. To his mind, human
kingship was the destiny above all. It was what he would choose
for his son. He tried to fill his son's life with beauty,
wealth, happiness, and distractions of every pleasurable kind.
He built for him stately palaces and gardens appropriate to the
four seasons of the year. He provided for him in marriage the
loveliest of his royal cousins, the radiant Yashodhara. He
brought to court for his delight and entertainment the flower of
the dancing and singing maidens of the country. Poor foolish
king, to think mere beauty of sight and sound could appease the
nostalgia in the soul of a Bodhisattva!
According to legend, the gods became impatient. For too long,
the future Buddha lingered in the toils of material allurements.
So in defiance of the King's commands that when his son rode
abroad he should see naught but youth, health, success, and
beauty, the gods provided for him the Three Awakening Sights.
These were an old bent man who was hideous with age and
deprivation, a man stricken with fatal illness, and a corpse
being borne to the funeral pyre. Not all at once were these
three Sights sprung upon the young Prince, but during successive
drives. Day by day, the power of his resolve gathered momentum.
From the time of the First Awakening Sight, be begun to observe
his fellows in a new way. He found none in whose face he could
read signs of the true course of life. At last, after the third
Sight, he met a hermit wearing such a look of peace that now he
knew and would wait no longer. It was the striking of the karmic
hour. Henceforth and forever, there was no possibility of
Siddhartha's succeeding his father as merely a human king. In
the dead of night, his beloved wife smiling in her sleep, he bade
a silent farewell, fearing lest the pain of parting prove too
great for the human will if accompanied with words and tears.
Understand that the Buddha does not generally recommend the
breaking of home ties. He urged obedience to mother and father,
and the faithful performance of duties owed to others. He once
sent back as unready one who hoped to become a devotee of truth
without having first observed the loyalties due to the home. He
> If you would find comfort in my society, the first thing for you
> to learn is purity of conduct. Go back, therefore, to your home.
> Learn to obey your parents, recite your prayers, and be diligent
> in your daily occupations. Let no love of ease tempt you to
> neglect cleanliness of person or decency of dress. Then having
> learned this, come back to me and you may be allowed to enter the
> companionship of my followers.
His loved ones were prepared for his leaving. Often he told both
wife and father of his desire to enter the ascetic life to seek
release for mankind from the ills of sickness, old age, and
death, which seemed to make futile all their lofty aspirations
and worthy ambitions. He felt that ignorance was the cause of
man's suffering, and there was truth somewhere that he was
entitled to. He balanced the temporary anguish his absence would
bring his family against the liberation of mind and spirit he
knew they would gain when he became Buddha and they his faithful
disciples. It did happen. He gave up all that men hold dear and
began life anew as a hermit.
Clad in yellow gown and carrying the ascetic's begging-bowl, the
Prince studied under various teachers, Rishis and Brahmanas, for
six years. He tried their methods, spared him not at all. He
undertook discipline so severe that it was self-torture. Still
he did not attain the inner illumination he was seeking.
At the point of death, sorely grieved that he had not reached his
goal in this life, he decided to break his fast and seek another
way. Again, the gods are said to have intervened. They provided
him with pure and nourishing food that restored his wasted
tissues and caused fresh blood to course through his veins. He
was readied for the final test, pictured in allegorical form as
his meditation under the Bodhi Tree. Here Mara's hosts, the
mighty Powers of Darkness, made their greatest and most prolonged
attempt to dissuade the Holy One from his purpose.
Fearful and wonderful was the battle that raged during the
watches of the night. The Bodhisattva easily overcame violence,
hate, envy, and the brood of hideous vice with the peace and
tranquility of mind he had attained. Then Mara, using subtler
wiles, caused apparitions of his wife and father to call to him
to return home and ease their distress. He needed more than
human strength to resist. This strength was his too. Calm and
unperturbed, he remained under the Sacred Tree, reiterating once
again his ancient vow:
> Let the sun and moon fall down to earth, let these snowy
> mountains be removed from their base, if I do not attain the end
> of my search: the pearl of the True Law.
Then, indeed, he did attain. The Hosts of Darkness vanished
away, and morning broke upon the marvel of the Holy One grown at
last from Bodhisattva, the promise of a Buddha, into the full
flower of Perfected Manhood, the Enlightened One, the Buddha.
He sat in contemplation for seven days and nights, seeking the
best way to tell mankind what he had learned. Brooding on the
mystery of life, on the composite and therefore impermanent
character of the visible Universe and of man, he wondered if
words could tell the truths he knew.
Picturing lotus flowers in a pond, he remembered how some grow
high out of the water. Some grow less high, and others never
rise above the surface. Thus, they receive varying amounts of
sunlight. Men are like the lotus flowers. The sun is the truth.
The wise do not need teaching. The stupid would not understand.
There are those neither wise nor stupid, who question, seek, but
know not where to find. They should receive help. Therefore, I
will teach. At this, the elements of the Universe joined with
the Heavens and the Earth to proclaim their joy upon the arrival
of a Buddha of Compassion.
Thereafter for forty-five years, Shakyamuni fulfilled his
promise. He wandered up and down India, teaching all who would
listen. Among his earliest disciples were five anchorites who
had witnessed in amazement the extremes of asceticism to which
his zeal had led him, but who later reviled him when they thought
he had relapsed into worldly life. Sitting at their devotions,
these five saw approach one whom at a distance they recognized as
the monk Gautama. Thinking to show their disapproval of his
treachery to their Order, they conspired to show him courtesy
upon his arrival, but no deference. Little did they know that
the transformation that had occurred in the meantime. Little did
they know what power it was that drew them to their feet and
caused them to do most reverent obeisance. Looking into his face
and seeing the glory with which he was transfused, they entreated
the Buddha to accept them as pupils. Because of their sincerity,
and their faithfulness to the light of truth as they had seen it,
he granted their request. Many an instance is given of similar
Brahmanas were indignant at his refusal to discriminate between
the castes. They were indignant at his willingness to impart
what they had kept so rigidly secret from the masses. They
challenged him with questions they thought he could not answer.
Having seen him, they were glad to yield their allegiance to one
whose presence and wisdom were so superior to theirs that
deference to him became the highest honor they could desire.
It is unfortunate for their descendants that more of this learned
caste did not understand the mission and teachings of the Buddha,
for the heart of both Brahmanism and Buddhism is the same. The
Buddha came not as inventor of a new religion, but as illuminator
of the old, which had its source in the same Heart of the
Universe, as all the World Religions have had.
It is not one-sided to speak of the beauties of the teachings of
the Buddha and yet fail to condemn the deficiencies of modern
Buddhism. Whatever may be lacking in the application men today
make of religion in their lives is the fault of the men
themselves, not of the original Teacher of that religion. It
would be decidedly unfair were we not to mention that even after
twenty-five hundred years, Buddhism is still active and a
powerful influence in the lives of millions.
Of all known World Religions, Buddhism has created the least
disharmony, been the cause of no wars, undertaken no conversions
by violence, inaugurated no inquisitions, nor approved any form
of mental or physical torture, whether self-inflicted or not.
Even today, men of every race could adopt it with but slight
modification. The cornerstone of it is love for all beings. Its
building bricks are the virtues that make life beautiful when
practiced. Ignorance is a vice not to be tolerated, for truth is
in the Universe and is to be had for the taking.
The Buddha concluded his mission among men at the ripe age of
eighty years. In full possession of his faculties, he gathered
his disciples around him for the last time. Translators have
given his farewell speech in varying forms. The message is the
same in each. Salvation for mankind comes from within.
When self-appointed teachers appear, test what they say by the
truth you already possess. Do not believe without examination
everything you hear. Think for yourself.
> I have lit the lamp of wisdom. Its rays alone can drive away the
> gloom that shrouds the world. On your part, be diligent! With
> virtuous purpose, practice well these rules. Nourish and cherish
> a still and peaceful heart. Be lamps unto yourselves. Work out
> your own salvation. Look within! Exert yourselves to the utmost.
> Give no place to remissness. Earnestly practice every good work.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application