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THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------- December, 2002
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Of Repentance," by B.P. Wadia
"Theosophy and Buddhism," Part III, by Richard Taylor
"Christmas in Art and Symbol," Part I, by Hazel Boyer Braun
"The Gunas and the Middle Way," by Steven Levey
"Analytic," by George William Russell
"The Vestal Fire," by Allan J. Stover
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part IV, by Phillip A Malpas
"Waiting for a Sign," by James Sterling
"A Study in Fundamentals," Part II, by Boris de Zirkoff
> Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it. It lives
> fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in
> the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out.
> The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death.
> LIGHT ON THE PATH, Chapter One, Rule Four.
by B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 266-70.]
The writer has a rare volume published by John Chapman of 142
Strand, London in 1851. It contains an instructive essay --
"Elucidation and Analysis of THE BHAGAVAD-GITA -- Theosophy of
the Hindus" in three parts -- (a) Introductory, (b) Summary of
the Gita, and (c) Hindu Cosmogony, containing a "Note on the
Occupations of the Four Castes."
Consider the theme of Repentance on which "January Searle"
(George Searle Phillips) writes in this book. He is a mystic and
a scholar, as the contents of the volume clearly show.
Writing on Repentance, he refers to "a nameless and
super-sensuous power which keeps the heart pure." Man's stability
depends upon his faith in this power, which also "strengthens
each good resolution." Sinner though he be, man should have a
correct view of self-reliance for this. "This noble virtue is
the pivot on which life turns." We must obey our inner
convictions to be truly self-reliant.
He points to the prevailing mental attitude -- intellectual
reasoning -- and hints at "the new revelation of whose advent the
idolatry itself is the sure and certain sign." He points to the
Fourth Chapter of THE BHAGAVAD-GITA and the well-known
pronouncement of Krishna about the incarnations on earth of the
Divine. "One revelation closes and another begins." He describes
thus the "idolatry," "the cultus of the age."
> We are the idolaters of science, art, manufacture, and commerce;
> we have no longer a Temple for the Worship of the Invisible, for
> we no longer believe in the invisible. Our civilization is an
> intellectual organism, and there is no room within its pale for
In the opinion of the writer, who calls himself "January,"
looking like Janus at the past and the future, a good man can
live outside the pale of idolatry and "listen to what the Spirit
saith unto him." Referring to the struggle between mind and soul
and its continuing in a new dimension today, he writes:
> Let the intellect have free development and play, and occupy all
> its sphere; let it sift and reason; let it sit in judgment and
> pronounce sentence on all lies, frauds, and deceitful inventions
> -- on all tricks of men devised to enslave the mind and strip it
> of its right and liberty; but quench not the spirit; trust it
> rather to the end; for its silent whispers are the breath of God,
> and the source of all insight and wisdom.
Man, as an individual, is a part of the great whole in which
family, society, and nation have their places. As such, man has
his beliefs that make him "in all things either too intellectual
or too superstitious." His duty to himself calls upon him to
examine his beliefs and convictions.
"Do not think, that it matters not what you think." A wrong
philosophical formula brings disaster. Every man, however
unlearned, has a philosophy by which he lives. It is, therefore,
his first duty, his duty to himself, to think aright. "Beware of
indifference -- for this is death to the soul."
The fundamental principle of self-examination comes next.
> There are eternal and infinite distinctions between right and
> wrong, which no intellectual demonstrations to the contrary can
> ever put aside. Hold by the right, though thou perish on its
> golden horns. It is better thus to die, than to die living with
> the wrong. The conscience is the dial of the man; do not blot
> out the image of God that burns upon its sacred disc.
Will the greedy commercial man, the wrathful retaliationist in
society, the over-sexed man of lust, accept this truth about
"eternal and infinite distinctions between right and wrong?" Does
the modern psychiatrist, the psychosomatic doctor, or the
psychoanalyst affirm that lust is lust? Does he try to make
allowances and to gloss over sex aberrations, upsurges of anger,
monetary covetousness, and thus without meaning to do so push the
poor patient through the "gates of hell" of the Sixteenth Chapter
of the Gita?
To one aspiring to a new dawn, the January of the calendar of
soul life, our esteemed author advises "to stand upon his
conscience and to respect the moral law." There are thousands
today who look to a new dawn. If they turn within, their call of
repentance will be heard.
It has been said in an ancient text that, "Time produces penance
and meditation." However wrong and sinful we may have been in the
past, it is never too late to mend. Only the door of death shuts
off the grand opportunity. If we have not tried to take it while
we had it, we shall find it more difficult to recognize in
another incarnation. Says our author:
> The soul is always pure, and delights not in frauds and
> sorceries, but is forever enamored of that divine beauty in whose
> image it is fashioned.
He puts a great psychological truth forward:
> A man ought to be so well balanced that sin should be foreign to
> his nature; in other words, he should be master of himself, and
> suffer no miasma of the passions to foul the purity of his
> spirit. We are to use, not abuse, our faculties, which even in
> their lowest functions, are all good and proper to man, and can
> only be rendered evil by lawless fruition.
He advises us to guard against the lawless use of our mental,
moral, and bodily faculties. Who among us has not erred,
blundered, and even sinned? What of that? "Life is too short to
waste in useless regrets; and regret itself is disease."
"So long as there is vitality in the conscience there is hope for
the man," says our author, and he calls all who have erred or
sinned to repentance, of which there are two kinds -- the
theological and the intellectual. About the first, he says:
> All the dreadful penalties and horrid pains recorded in the penal
> statutes of Christianity against the sinner, take such absolute
> possession of his nature that he is scared into madness, and sits
> in mute and awful despair, amidst the ruins of his intellect.
> To a mind not diseased by the awful dogmas of innate depravity,
> with eternal torments as its consequences, repentance of our sin
> is a holy act, and brings with it both pardon and consolation. I
> know not how this happens, for it is dark and mystic in its
> process, although so beautiful and beneficent in its results.
> But we get a true insight here into the mystery of atonement; for
> the meaning is this -- at-one-ment with God; and the repentant
> man is once more in harmony with God's laws, and is thus
> literally at-one-with Him.
"We are safe without dogmas" -- Christian, Judaic, or Hindu.
"Morality is the keystone of the world's arch." What is sin? What
Selfishness uses the power of Hate and sin is born: the sin of
money and all types of greed; the sin of lust and all other
passions; the sin of wrath and all expressions of violence.
The foundation of morality and virtue is selflessness. From it
spring Compassion for all, Love for all, Charity for all.
Universal Ethics can be learnt by Faith in the Self within.
Every transgression against them can be remedied by Repentance.
We have to learn the true language and speech of Repentance. The
sound of that speech is silence and secrecy. "Thus have I
THEOSOPHY AND BUDDHISM, Part III
By Richard Taylor
[This is based on the third part of a talk given August 10, 2002
at the Long Beach Theosophical Conference. The talk was
transcribed, edited, then sent to Richard Taylor for further
corrections and review.]
Tsong-Kha-Pa disputes the sexual and other literalisms degrading
some Tantric practices. (See Wayman, YOGA OF THE
GUHYASAMAJATANTRA, 1974, page 267.) From the very
Guhyasamajatantra that Tsong-Kha-Pa is so happy about,
> The superior mudra [the union, the form, the seal of male and
> female] is the JNANAMUDRA [the wisdom-union] referred to in the
> CARYAMELAPAKA (-PRADIPA), when it says: Therefore, he bears in
> mind, that spurning an external woman and entering into union
> with the jnanamudra located in the heart, he will speedily attain
> [the rank of] Vajradhara [the diamond-holder, the
> diamond-realizer]; so he is to practice in complete solitude [and
Are you with me so far? The Tantras are to be practiced by
celibate monks and nuns. The sexual metaphors are metaphors.
But who is Vajradhara? Blavatsky helps us out again. She says in
her SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 571:
> ATMA (our seventh principle) being identical with the universal
> Spirit, and man being one with it in his essence, what is then
> the Monad proper? It is that homogeneous spark which radiates in
> millions of rays from the primeval "Seven;" [I am really curious
> what the "seven" are.] -- of which seven further on. It is THE
> EMANATING SPARK OF THE UNCREATED RAY -- a mystery. In the
> esoteric, and even exoteric Buddhism of the North, Adi Buddha
> [root Buddha] (CHOGI DANGPOI SANGYE), the One unknown, without
> beginning or end, identical with Parabrahm and Ain-Soph, emits a
> bright ray from its darkness.
She is pretty excited about this stuff:
> This is the LOGOS (the first), or Vajradhara, the Supreme Buddha
> (also called DORJECHANG [diamond-holder in Tibetan]). As the
> Lord of all Mysteries he cannot manifest, but sends into the
> world of manifestation his heart -- the "diamond heart,"
> Vajrasattva (DORJESEMPA) [in Tibetan]. This is the second LOGOS
> of creation, from whom emanate the seven (in the exoteric blind
> the five) Dhyani Buddhas, Anupadaka, "the parentless" ... These
> Dhyani Buddhas emanate, or create from themselves, by virtue of
> Dhyana, celestial Selves -- the SUPER-human Bodhisattvas.
I swear! We are almost done with technical terminology!
We go back to Buddhism now. Blavatsky is helping us on stepping
stones, but we have to make the leaps. The Dhyani-Buddhas and
their emanations are grouped by Tibetans into "Buddha families."
Particular cycles of Anuttara or supreme Tantras are grouped
around these families. There are five exoteric and seven
esoteric families. Why five exoteric families? In Buddhism we
have PANCHA SKANDHAS, five skandhas. Adapting from David
Reigle's THE BOOKS OF KIU-TI, page 20, they are:
> I. NON-DUAL
> 1. Kalachakra Tantra
> II. MOTHER TANTRAS -- Teaching Wisdom (Prajna)
> 1. Teach All Six Families Equally
> 2. Akshobhya Family
> Samvara, Hevajra, Buddhakapala, Mahamaya, Arali
> 3. Vairochana Family
> Chatupitha, Chandamaharoshapa, Achala, Krodharaja
> 4. Ratnasambhava Family
> 5. Amitabha Family
> Lokanatha, Tara-Kurukulla
> 6. Amoghasiddhi Family
> Namastare-Ekavimsati, Vajrakilaya, Mahakala
> 7. Vajradhara Family
> III. FATHER TANTRAS -- Teaching Means (Upaya)
> 1. Teach All Six Families Equally
> None Preserved
> 2. Akshobhya Family
> Guhyasamaja, Vajrapani
> 3. Vairochana Family
> Mayajala, Yamari
> 4. Ratnasambhava Family
> None Preserved
> 5. Amitabha Family
> 6. Amoghasiddhi Family
> None Preserved
> 7. Vajradhara Family
The five skandhas are actually divine energies that have become
corrupted in their manifestation. But we can purify them into
Vajrakaya or Vajrasattva. We purify them gradually or purify
them rapidly. Buddhism provides both paths: the Mahayana and the
Vajrayana. Even so, it is the Buddhas that emanate our bodies.
These divine Manushi-Buddhas and Dhyani-Buddhas made our world.
We inherit our bodies and the world from previous generations,
who were ourselves.
In divine representation, the metaphysical and Celestial Buddhas
represent OUR higher selves grouped around five skandhas. They
ultimately emanate from the first and second Logos (Vajradhara
and Vajrasattva). You have been reading THE SECRET DOCTRINE,
right? It is all in the book.
In the Tibetan tradition, there are three primary groupings of
the supreme Tantras. (1) The first is NON-DUAL. It does not
partake of either masculine or feminine. Which Tantra is it? It
is the Dalai Lama’s favorite, the Kalachakra. (And as you know,
he is the head of the Yellow Hat sect, the lineage-holder of
Tsong-Kha-Pa, about whom Blavatsky has never a negative word to
say.) Even today, it is available. You can get initiated into
it. The Tantras are no longer forbidden in Tibet. They are
available today. (2) Second are the MOTHER TANTRAS. They teach
wisdom. (3) Third are the FATHER TANTRAS, teaching means.
Karuna is the vehicle.
The five profound Tantras that Tsong-Kha-Pa speaks of are:
Kalachakra (from the Non-Dual Tantra), Samvara and Hevajra (from
the Mother Tantras), and Guhyasamaja and Yamari (from the Father
Of the seven Tantras comprising the Mother Tantra grouping, two
were just numbered among the profound ones. The other five, the
exoteric ones, are Akshobhya, Vairochana, Ratnasambhava,
Amitabha, and Amoghasiddhi. Picture the five grouped as a
mandala showing the Buddha of the four directions in the center,
and the five Tantras arranged about him as his legs and Buddha
head. The five are his skandhas.
This mandala is often drawn in an excellent manner with great
iconography. If you integrate yourself with it, you are actually
dealing with the esoteric and spiritual aspects of your own
higher nature. You act to purifying your five skandhas (seven in
Esoteric Buddhism) and becoming one with the first Logos.
These are the Tantras one would study to get more details on the
Buddha families. They tell us about the first and second Logos,
Vajradhara, about all the things that Blavatsky talks about.
I want to wrap up by giving you "An Introduction to Tantra," by
Lama Yeshe, who has now passed on to Nirvana or wherever one goes
at his level. He also emphasizes the purity of it, its
non-sexual nature, the committed required, and that you do not
wandering around on the left-hand path doing whatever you darn
well please. On page 14, he says:
> According to the Buddhist teachings, no matter how confused or
> deluded you may be at the moment, the underlying and essential
> nature of our being is clear and pure. In the same way the
> clouds can temporarily obscure but cannot damage the life-giving
> power of the sun, so too the temporary afflictions of body and
> mind, our confusion, anxiety and the suffering they cause, can
> temporarily obscure but cannot destroy or even touch the
> fundamentally clear nature of our consciousness. Dwelling deep
> within our heart and within the hearts of all beings without
> exception is an inexhaustible source of love and wisdom. And the
> ultimate purpose of all spiritual practices, whether they are
> called Buddhist or not, is to uncover and make contact with this
> essentially pure nature.
Did Blavatsky ask us to do anything different? The question is
means. What means suit you? Let us look at the Tantric approach.
Maybe it suits you. Maybe it does not.
According to the Sutrayana, the path to fulfillment is a gradual
process of cleansing our mind of all its faults and limitations.
By substituting bit-by-bit the bad for the good, we develop in
its place beneficial qualities like love and wisdom.
This path consists of creating specific good causes, behaving
ethically, developing our powers of concentration, and training
in meditative insight. This is for the attainment of full
awakening in the future. Because of this emphasis on creating
CAUSES for future results, the gradual approach of Sutras is
sometimes known as the Causal Vehicle to enlightenment.
Compared to this gradual Sutra approach, Tantrayana or Vajrayana
is a far speedier path to enlightenment. Although Tantra
practitioners do not neglect creating the same causes as the
followers of Sutra, they take the future result of full spiritual
evolution as the very starting point of their path. They START
with the fact that they are enlightened.
In Sanskrit, a supremely skillful Tantric practitioner is called
a yogi (male) or yogini (female). Each learns to think, speak,
and act RIGHT NOW as if he or she were already a
fully-enlightened Buddha. Because this powerful approach brings
the future result of full awakening to the present moment of
spiritual practice, Tantra is sometimes called the Resultant
Vehicle to Enlightenment.
Now consider the last paragraph by Lama Yeshe.
> According to Tantra, perfection is not something that is waiting
> for us somewhere in the future. "If I practice hard now, maybe I
> will become a perfect Buddha" or "If I behave well in this life
> and act like a righteous person; maybe someday I will go to
> heaven." According to Tantra, heaven is now. We should be gods
> and goddesses right now, but at present we are burdened with
> limiting concepts: men are like this, women are like that, I am a
> certain way and there is nothing I can do about it, and so forth.
> This is why we have conflict within ourselves and with one
> another. All this conflict will dissolve as we turn into a
> Tantric point of view and recognize that each man is a complete
> man and each woman a complete woman. Furthermore, each man and
> woman contains both male and female energy in their highest
> aspects. In fact, each one of us is a union of all universal
> energy. Everything that we need in order to be complete is
> within us right at this very moment. It is simply a matter of
> being able to recognize it, to stop and recognize it. This is
> the Tantric approach.
This is what Blavatsky leads us to when she talks about Kiu-te
and the source of her teaching being the esoteric commentaries on
Kiu-te. I have some great news for you. We have the Kiu-te and
increasingly have the esoteric commentaries on it. You can read
them tonight. Run to your public library, look up "Tibetan
Canon," and dig in.
I would recommend that you read about how to learn Buddhist
meditation. This is not specifically Tantric, but rather is
preparatory. You might also read about the history and practices
of Supreme Yoga Tantra.
Next is the most important thing I am going to say. Do NOT just
start practicing Tantra! DO NOT START PRACTICING TANTRA! It is
powerful. It is full of energy. It is dangerous. Blavatsky
says that herself. You need a qualified, initiated teacher. I
am not handing out names. Figure it out.
I encourage you to read about Tantra, because Blavatsky read
Tantra and cares about it. She points to it over and over again.
She is an Esoteric Buddhist. Her teachers are Esoteric
Buddhists. THEIR teacher is an Esoteric Buddhist. It is a fact.
Check it out, educate yourselves.
Olcott's Buddhist work is also interesting. While on his
campaigns in Asia, Sri Lanka, and Japan, he was the first one to
get all the Buddhists to organize their basic ideas into fourteen
fundamental tenets. His outline is still being quoted by
Without being literal, I say basically that Blavatsky, Olcott,
and Tantric Buddhism are in bed together. It is important for us
to figure out what the heck that means! And that is all I have to
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
> When some think of Buddhism, they picture monasteries in Tibet
> full of students seeking enlightenment. When enlightenment is
> attained, they are happy to go on to Nirvana. They do not
> fulfill the Kwan-Yin pledge of staying in incarnation as
> Nirmanakayas to help alleviate the suffering of the world.
That is the low path. In the practice group that I belong to and
with all Mahayana Buddhists I have come across, part of the
getting ready to do the Tantric practice is to commit to sticking
around after enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
Blavatsky makes the same point in her THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE.
The low path is to get good and get out. The high path is to get
good as quickly as you can to help others.
There is even a line in THE SECRET DOCTRINE about the Silent
Watcher, the Dweller on the Threshold, the one who stands on the
circle of darkness and light. Why does he do this? It is because
the traveler can lose the way even at the last step. HPB did not
make that up. It is a Buddhist image. She is lifting stuff left
and right from Buddhism on purpose
Blavatsky got the Bodhisattva pledge of Kwan-Yin from Buddhism.
(Kwan-Yin is the Chinese translation of Avalokiteshvara or the
Tibetan Chenrezi.) Its commitment for us to stick around makes it
a standard Mahayana Buddhist chant. In our Buddhist practice, we
chant something like it every day.
> How about the Buddhists in the United States? Many seem
> preoccupied building fancy temples and raising money.
We built a lot of theosophical lodges as well. They are not so
fancy. I do not know if there is intentional symbolism in them.
Coming West, the Buddhists are trying to create conditions that
trigger our esoteric energies to awaken. How do they do this?
They have us see the five colors, the stupas, and the tanka
paintings of enlightened beings. Acting as an artistic metaphor,
it is hoped to trigger us to awaken.
Sitting is awakening. Speaking is awakening. Thinking is
awakening. Viewing is awakening. Have they have gone overboard?
I do not know what to tell you. Maybe they have. But it is on
purpose. They are not doing it to compete with the Catholic
> Stanislaus, a friend of ours at the Malibu Study Class, is one of
> the world's great scholars on alchemy. He was talking to a
> gentleman who had photocopied every text from his teacher’s
> library on alchemy.
> Stanislaus said, "You will have a hard time getting all the
> information from all of these texts fully because they are
> The gentlemen said to him, "Well, it is just information."
> Then Stanislaus replied, "No, there is something inherent in the
> beauty of a book that also relays information."
> This may be the same as with the creation of a temple. There is
> an excellence inherent in the atmosphere of beauty.
That is quite true. Even so, since the Protestant Reformation,
we have become a hemisphere of bibliolaters. The Catholics have
joined in as well. Western scholarship makes it even worse. We
worship books. This is bibliolatry. We think that everything
you need to know is between the covers of a book. I must watch
myself on this, since I am a trained scholar as well.
When we try to transform ourselves into another type of being,
reading a book is not gonna do it. By itself, literal practice
will not do it either. We need to be immersed in our practice.
That is why we chant. That is why we visualize. We are
immersing us in it.
Unlike going to church on Sunday, Buddhism is meant to be a
full-time job. Even at your work, even if you are working at
7-11 selling cigarettes and alcohol, you can be practicing
enlightenment. It is really here where we are.
There is a Buddhist term, "One Taste." It means that all true
teachings -- "true" meaning they actually lead you to
enlightenment -- have One Taste. That taste is freedom. It does
not really have a taste. It is a metaphor.
If you practice a spiritual path and do not taste freedom, you
are not on a true path. What kind of freedom is this? I do not
mean political freedom, although it is nice. I mean spiritual
awakening and release.
There are many ways to truth. Much as she is Buddhist and loves
Buddhism, Blavatsky is the first to say that there are other
paths. All should have that One Taste, that of Enlightenment.
A final question is why bother to study Theosophy. Perhaps we
all should become Buddhists. I thought about it for quite a few
years and almost left Theosophy altogether to became a Buddhist.
You do what is right for you on your spiritual path. Speaking
personally, I find things in the writings of Blavatsky, Judge,
and other key theosophists that I have yet to come across in
Buddhism. I think these things are in Esoteric Buddhism, but
that they are unavailable in the West yet. So why wait around
until somebody translates -- or God forbid, I translate --
something I want to read when Blavatsky has already given it
What does this mean? Buddhism is a wonderful path, but Blavatsky
is unique. Among all the teachers in the world today, Blavatsky
is a sure guide. Buddhism is wonderful, but even in it there are
crappy, false, dangerous teachers and get-rich-quick and phony
"easy enlightenment" schemes. Blavatsky has given me a perennial
approach that is not "Buddhism! Rah-rah-rah! Everybody else go to
Everybody else in my Buddhist worldview has their place. Each
has some truth. Blavatsky takes great pain to pull that truth
out from amidst all the muck. (Yes, there is plenty of muck in
Buddhism!) She pulls out the pearls of great price and strings
them together. Blavatsky finds the most complete picture in
I do not think that my Buddhist practice takes away from my
Theosophy practice. I choose to do both. I think many other
Theosophists maintain their spiritual upbringing as well as
benefiting from the practice of Theosophy.
CHRISTMAS IN ART AND SYMBOL, Part I
By Hazel Boyer Braun
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, December 1947, pages 727-36.]
"Peace to all beings" is the message of the Christmas Sacred
Season. In our hearts there wells a deeper urge for that art of
living which can truly bring "Peace on Earth and Good Will to
Men." The outer aspect is gift giving, the sending of loving
greetings, for in obedience to this inner urge we reach out and
touch the hearts of our fellow men.
A wealth of art has clustered about the celebration of the Winter
Solstice. That of the past thousand years has dealt largely with
the story of the Christ Child, but today when modern science is
probing into the secrets of the universe, there is a more general
recognition of a universal art which reveals this season to be
sacred because it opens a doorway into the inner and spiritual
realms of being.
It is a fascinating bit of research to seek out the legends of
Christmas in many lands, to study the art that has sprung from
them, and to recognize in them some of the most sacred truths
that man can ever come to know.
The art of past civilizations reveals in sculpture, painting, and
poetry a general recognition of this inner meaning in the stories
of the birth of Saviors. There is evidence in the varied art
forms of the fact that all the initiate teachers have taught
man's innate divinity and his kinship with universal nature
through his inner self, reflecting the same complex structure on
which the Universe is built.
When a story captures the imagination of both children and
adults, as this tale of the birth of the Savior does, we may be
sure that it has a spiritual vitality that may be studied from
many points of view. So it is that we find the type figures of
each civilization calling attention to both the human and the
cosmic interpretations of the events of the Christmas time.
The human and spiritual aspects of this story refer to an event
which takes place in the life of great saviors and is destined to
happen to every man in some future state of development. It is a
great spiritual flowering which can come to a man only after
lifetimes of purification. When this illumination is realized it
is called the "second birth" for the initiate undergoing this
sublime experience is thus reborn through his own spiritual will.
Today some of us wonder why it took us so long to realize that
the virgin birth is that birth of the spiritual nature which
Jesus spoke of when he said: "Ye must be born again." (John 3.7)
The importance of the cosmic and astronomical aspect can be
better understood only when we are aware of the close spiritual
ties that bind us to our home solar system, for the initiatory
birth recorded in all stories of the Saviors must always be in
tune with the solar harmony.
Certain times of the year are more harmonious than others, and
one of these is the Winter Solstice when the sun reaches its
lowest point in its apparent yearly journey. Here it remains for
about three days practically stationary before it begins the
northward climb, giving birth to the New Year and lengthening
days. The period from December 21st to January 6th, the
Epiphany, commemorates the sacred experience that may come at
In THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, Dr. G. de Purucker unveils the
secret meaning behind the Christmas legend of the Three Wise Men,
which further reveals the cosmic significance of this mystic
teaching. For the three Magi, Melchior, Kaspar, and Balthasar,
are seen to be none other than Venus, Mercury, and the Moon.
These three planets, whose gifts to the Savior are the secrets of
their being, are thus the bridge makers to the Sun. Dr. de
> The Christmas festival was celebrated ... in its greatest
> splendor and with the most telling cooperation of the cosmic
> influences of these three celestial bodies, when the Sun,
> Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and our Earth, were in the position
> which astronomers call syzygy, a Greek compound word which means
> "yoked together" ... connecting the Earth and the Sun …
> Esoterically, Mercury, Venus, and the Moon in ancient ceremonial
> rites were represented by three initiators … This mystic "new
> birth" of initiation was the "birth" of the inner Christos, and
> during it the whole being of the initiant was transfigured, and,
> to use the saying of the Hebrew Bible, "his face shone like the
> -- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, II, pages 1107-8
This explains the halo used in both Christian and Buddhist Art.
So it is that the spirit of giving which touches the lives of so
many at this Christmas time seems an outpouring from the very
heart of the universe coming to us through the rising sun. Much
as the New Year is given birth by the slow northward climbing of
the sun, the Christmas spirit flames up in the hearts of men.
Doorways have been opened into realms of spiritual grandeur by
the advanced souls who are born at this Sacred Season, at this
propitious time of all nature, virgin-born into the sun of their
We humans on this little planet feel it. We wrap our gifts in
red paper to suggest love that is impersonal, unselfish, and
glorious like that of the sun which gives us our life and light.
We hang the boughs of evergreen as the ancient Druids did to hint
of the ever-living sun part of all beings.
Let us take note of the inner significance of these traditional
Christmas colors. This red that comes flashing with our gifts,
symbol of love, of the divine fire of unselfish regard that
flames in every heart with the Christmas spirit, and this green
of the boughs that always are used as an invitation to the
beneficial spirits of the forest to enter and bless the dwelling
-- the holly, mistletoe, ivy, laurel, bay, yew, and cypress are
especially dedicated to Christmas. With their berries, they
suggest the blossoming power in nature, analogous to the
blossoming of the Christos spirit in man.
Today we gather in the mistletoe as the Druids also did; but they
had a ceremony of cutting it with a golden sickle to suggest the
sun, and also the life of the mistletoe takes from a tree as we
take ours, often unthanked, from the Divine Reality of Being.
The Druids used to carry hazelnuts to the outdoor altars and
charred them there, suggestive of the trials that a human
initiate goes through before he can bring home the nuts of wisdom
-- the teachings concerning the structure of all nature -- to
give to humanity that they may know who they are and why they are
sons of the Sun. Perhaps another reason why they loved this
symbol of the hazelnut is because it is so much like the human
heart. Charring the nuts was the trial by fire, that suffering
and searching for the true life that sears the heart and awakens
sympathy for others. At Christmas we find ourselves breaking
some of our shell and reaching out to give a little more of
ourselves, to carry the spirit of love to others.
The Christmas tree is the embodiment of equilibrium. Its red
balls hint of the suns and galaxies which so brilliantly bedeck
the spaces. The "world tree" is behind the significance of all
Christmas trees and of the countless legends about trees. It has
its roots in the realms of spiritual reality; its branches are
the celestial bodies that make up the universal life. There are
often birds on the trees. Birds to all the ancient peoples
symbolize the divine part of man's nature and that of the
universe as well. The Egyptians revered the symbol of the winged
globe as did the Babylonians and the Assyrians.
Everyone loves a tree whether it be an evergreen or not -- every
tree brings forth some beauty, some fruitfulness that suggests
the kinship of all nature and, at this Sacred Season, serves as
another reminder of that blossoming power in man which brings
forth from the "virgin part of his being" the higher man, the
Inner Christos. Certainly the Christmas tree was especially
loved by the Druids and the old Nordic folk, for the green of its
eternal life is emphasized by the thought that each needle
represents an incarnation on earth, and the pinecones the flowers
of mankind, the initiates who have opened their hearts to the
As if by magic, groves of green trees spring up along the
boulevards as the season approaches, young spruce, pine, and
cedar, their lives cut short to carry some blessing into the
home. Their sacrifice is more justified if we catch the symbolic
intent of the Christmas festival -- its evergreens and lighted
candles. In all times and places there have always been those
who knew and those who had no conception of the inner meaning of
the Sacred Season, yet if we but take the time to investigate it
is surprising to find that the customs we take for granted held
deep significance among the simple folk of all lands in olden
times because universally based on recognition of the natural
mystical order of the universe.
Yuletide, the word yule, derived from yul, ljue, liaul, or huul,
meaning wheel, has reference to the wheel of the galaxy or
perhaps to the rhythmic motions of sun and planets. The sun has
played a leading role in the Christmas festival in many lands.
The ancients always recognized it as the life giver of this earth
and all the planets of our solar system, serving as channels for
the in-pouring of the life of the universe, just as man also may
become a channel of love and compassion.
Many have thought the olden peoples worshiped the sun; but they
were too wise. They recognized the Sun-part, or the Divine-part
of man, and they understood the kinship this suggested and thus
they arrived at a true perspective, knowing them to be related to
the sun through the divine part of their own natures. It is for
this reason that their idea of prayer was more of an invocation.
They may indeed have believed the sun to be a divine being,
raised to the stature of this peak of giving and serving through
its own efforts, and they made obeisance. The following
paraphrase by Dr. G. de Purucker of a stanza from the Rig-Veda
is so similar to just such hymns sung at the Winter Solstice in
many ancient lands:
> Oh thou golden sun of most excellent splendor, illumine our
> hearts and fill our minds, so that we, recognizing our oneness
> with the Divinity which is the Heart of the Universe, may see the
> pathway before our feet, and tread it to those distant goals of
> perfection, stimulated by thine own radiant light.
Then we note the following early Christian Hymn:
> Oh Thou, Real Sun, infill us,
> Shining with perpetual light!
> Splendor of the holy (Cosmic) Spirit
> Pervade our minds!
In the celebration of the mysteries, the Greek seers were made
wise. They knew the structure of the universe by sending their
spiritual natures into the inner worlds and becoming at one with
divine powers there. This bit from the Orphic Hymns has the
characteristic grandeur of thought:
> Hear, golden Titan, whose eternal eye
> With matchless sight illumines all the sky.
> Native, unwearied in diffusing light,
> And to all eyes the object of delight;
> Lord of the Seasons, beaming light from far,
> Sonorous, dancing in the four-yok'd car.
> With thy right hand the source of morning light,
> And with thy left the father of the night.
> With various-sounding golden lyre 'tis thine
> To fill the world with harmony divine.
> Propitious on these mystic labors shine,
> And bless thy suppliants with a life divine.
In the EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD, which is really the story of
Initiation, there are many invocations to the sun, for the
ancient Pharaohs were called: "Sons of the Sun." We quote a small
section of one:
> Homage to thee, Oh Ra, at thy tremendous rising!
> Thou risest! Thou shinest! The heavens are rolled aside!
> Thou art the King of Gods, thou art the All-comprising,
> From thee we come, in thee are deified.
Can we not believe that the North American Indian has the same
universal idea in his mind when he greets the morning sun and
> Oh thou that risest from the low cloud
> To burn in the all above,
> I greet thee! I adore thee!
It is necessary for us to begin to think in universal terms and
to become sensitive to the symbolism that hints of sacred truths
revered in the celebration of the Christmas season through the
ages. Long before the coming of the Savior who is so close to us
historically and whose teachings have held the interest of the
peoples of the Occident, often to the complete oblivion of the
many millions of years before His coming, humanity was even then
guided by the messengers of wisdom. The human family has never
been bereft of truth since, in its infancy some 18 millions of
years ago, Great Teachers lighted our minds and started the race
on its great cycle of self-conscious conquest.
THE GUNAS AND THE MIDDLE WAY
By Steven Levey
There is value in knowing the Gunas and their relation to the
Buddhist Doctrine of the Middle Way. Each concept helps define
the other. Such ideas have practical application on a daily
Make sense of the Middle Way before studying other doctrines.
The study is a precursor to real knowledge of the Path spoken of
in the Wisdom Religion or Gupta Vidya. (In our time, we know it
That which draws one to the Path differs with each person.
Individual experience produces karma that ultimately leads to one
seeking a unique path of study. That karma is different for each
H.P. Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE discusses the Monad,
mentioning Leibniz's profound study, MONADOLOGY. She describes
our nature as Monads, as having pure individuality. This concept
comes logically to mind. At some level of consciousness, we may
have always felt it true. We all have a uniquely individual
The student is on a quest leading to self-knowledge. There is
growing knowledge and the feeling of being rooted in one's
metaphysical individuality. This understanding comes through
experience and promotes ethical behavior. This is where the
doctrine of the Middle Way comes into play.
The Buddha's quest to enlightenment illustrates the Middle Way.
His initial involvement with the Path was as a Sunyasin, one who
forsakes the world to gain enlightenment. Historically, this
type of approach is dead end.
If not for the Buddha's motive to lighten the suffering of the
world’s creatures, he may not have had the necessary presence of
mind to modify his approach. He gave up on extreme self-denial
and found enlightenment as a possibility for everyone. At a
monumental pivotal point in his quest, the Middle Way occurred to
He saved himself at that critical moment. Perhaps it was because
he had vowed to save the world before consciously incarnating
again in the world of men. From him, we see how to live the
teaching to benefit others. The story of his enlightenment is
compelling due to the grandeur of his sacrifice.
With the Middle Way, one forgoes all extremes. The concept
cannot be new. Within all beings is a state of pure
individuality. That state presupposes both involvement and
non-involvement, being in the world but not of it, as Jesus said.
This defines both the soul or Monad and the Middle Way.
The soul brings about incarnation but participates only as much
as the personality allows its light to pass through. In time,
the personal man wants to know its basis. There are many states
of longing, going unfulfilled until one seeks to understand why
and takes self in hand.
Experience teaches that material experiences never satisfy
completely. One learns to stay centered and to detect deviations
in involvement that might lead to suffering, keeping a sense of
objectivity. One also avoids fear of failure so that action is
natural, not mechanical. The Buddha taught us this balancing
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA has teaching about our involvement in the
situations of life. Chapter XIV deals with the Separation from
the three qualities or Gunas. These qualities are inherent in
Prakriti, which makes up the sheaths of the soul. It is
substance or limitation upon the spiritual nature. It is the
necessary basis for incarnation and allows for the existence
required by previous karma. Built up over time, the quality of
mental attitude we have within ourselves determines the nature of
these sheaths. Even so, these sheaths are imminently modifiable.
Sattva Guna is the sense of truth, equilibrium, and justice.
Rajas Guna allows for action or flexibility, for quickness of
mind. Tamas Guna has the instantiation, weight, inertness, and
These Gunas can be unbalanced within us. Rajas may over-shadow
Sattva making us overly zealous or hyperactive and impatient
regarding the Path. Overloaded with Tamas, we would be
lethargic, set in our ways, unable to work through subtle
thought, and tend to dogmatize. There are many ways we might
have an imbalance in the make up of our Gunas.
Practicing the Middle Way in mind and action, we restore then
maintain balance between our Gunas. Our thought attracts the
elements of nature, and they are the Gunas. In them, we live,
move, and have our being. As Prakriti, they make up our
physical, psychological, and moral nature. We choose a direction
in live and seek to motivate ourselves to follow it. Our work is
easy or difficult depending upon that Prakriti out of which we
have made ourselves.
What do we do? How do we know it? We wonder, perhaps driven to
question life from pain or perhaps in soaring intuition. It also
may arise out of love or compassion as in the case of the Buddha.
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA shows the inner search arising out of confusion
and a need to understand one's duty in life. In it are shown
devotion to duty and devotion to the happiness others.
Commenting on the book, William Quan Judge says we are all
Arjunas. One needs to see one in relation to all others.
Something affecting an individual for good or ill affects
everyone, even materially. All must fight this battle against
indecisiveness and confusion.
This thinking alters our motives. We move away from selfishness.
A sense of devotion and duty to others arises within. We attract
the personal and impersonal surroundings that make our lives full
The closing of Chapter XIV has Krishna saying, "But when the wise
man perceiveth that the only agents of action are these
qualities, and comprehends that which is superior to the
qualities, he attains to my state." The teaching says this is
literally true. Our daily lives can mirror that truth.
Arjuna was king. His Teacher and Charioteer was the most
esteemed Krishna. The decisions he made may seem greater than
those we make in our lives. This difference in apparent
greatness does not matter. From the standpoint of our lives, our
decisions are equally consequential. We also have our Krishna,
the Charioteer. We can avail ourselves of him, the highest
nature within us.
The GITA contains ancient teachings regarding the Gunas. It
tells us to admit our ignorance before working to alleviate it.
Look for that place within where there is perspective and true
choice is possible. That is the Middle Way. Therein we find the
basis for our humanity. It allows us to make our lives
practically useful and therefore happy.
Paired, the two doctrines of the Middle Way and the Gunas form a
yin and yang. One is the inner mental stance and the other is
the product thereof. Take care not to picture them is an overly
mechanistic manner. Even though a methodical approach is too
rigid, an approach persistently applied bears far greater results
than one that is sporadic. We must determine a method that works
The Teachings are difficult to grasp, running deeper than we will
ever know. Even so, a rudimentary grasp brings immediate results
in daily life. A steady introspection, good humor, study, and
patience are required. Then, one finds home in the Middle Way
and becomes occupied with the welfare of others. Even with our
little understanding of the Wisdom Religion, we join its Mahatmic
Exemplars in practicing it for the benefit of others.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter VI, pages 38-47.]
Before I write more of that supernature which rises, a tower of
heaven, above the depths where we move, I must try to solve some
of the doubts and perplexities that come to most who hear of
things they have not heard or seen for their own part. They will
> An artist, you have painted such things. We know you have an
> imagination that creates vivid images. You are a poet, and it is
> the art of your tribe to gild for us the thoughts you have and
> the emotions you feel so that what moods are common with us you
> attire richly until they walk like kings.
> How certain are you that it is not all fancy, and the visions you
> speak of were not born in the cloudy hollows of your brain? Could
> they not be glorified memories of things you have first seen with
> the sensual eye and memory refashioned afterwards? What certitude
> do you have that the things you speak of relate to a real world
> invisible to our eyes?
To solve these doubts, I must not fall back on authority or
appeal for trust. It will avail not to say that others have seen
such things and have looked upon them with me. They and I might
speak of them together as people who see the same scene, who
refer as they speak to rocks, waters, and trees, knowing these
are a common vision. It would be true if I said this, but it
would avail me not in my desire that you should go hopefully on
the way I would have you journey.
As an ancient scripture says, to whatsoever place one would
travel on that path, one's own self becomes that place. I must
try first to uproot false ideas about memory, imagination, and
vision. This may help people lead themselves out of error by
pure reason. They must become able to distinguish between that
arising in them and that coming otherwise, like a visitor from a
In boyhood, I had the commonly held idea that the pictures of
imagination are old memories refashioned. I first doubted this
as a child. I would lie on my bed and there would come a sudden
illumination of my brain. Pictures would move before my inner
eyes like the colored moving pictures we see in the theater.
I saw, I remember, a sunlit hillside that seemed close to me.
There were huge grey boulders strewn about. Beyond this
hill-slope, I could see far distant mountains, pale blue through
the sparkling air. While I looked, giants in brazen armor
clambered swiftly up the hillside, swinging clubs that had spiked
balls of brass held by a chain at the end. They glittered in the
sun as they ran up and past me.
Motion, light, shadow, and color were perfect as things seen
passing before the physical eyes. Then the illumination in my
brain ceased, the picture vanished, and I was startled. In
picture or theater, I had seen no hillside like that, no distant
mountains, or giants in brazen armor. I began a speculation that
soon ended. Childhood keeps no prolonged meditation.
I may take this as a type of vision common to most people. It
happens when they sit in darkness, or with closed eyes, or as
they drift into sleep or awaken from sleep. They pass through
strange cities, float in the air, roam through woods, or have
adventures with people who are not the people they meet everyday.
Such visions are common. It is in the interpretation of them
that error arises. People pass them by too easily. They say,
"It is imagination," as if imagination were as easily explained
as a problem in Euclid. Imagination is a mystery. Every moving
picture in the brain needs such minute investigation as Darwin
gave to earthworms.
I was asked to believe that giants, armor, hillside, and sunny
distance appeared in my brain because I had seen men who might be
enlarged to giants, pictures of armor with which they could be
clothed by fancy, brass with which the armor could be colored.
People told me that imagination might multiply rocks from memory
and enlarge them to form a hillside, and said that any sky of
sunny blue would make my distance.
How plausible for a second! How unthinkable after a momentary
consideration! If you gave me a hundred thousand pictures of
heads, by cutting them up and pasting them together, I know I
could hardly make a fresh face that would appear authentic in its
tints and shadows. It would be a work of infinite labor.
These faces of vision are not still. They move. They have life
and expression. The sunlight casts authentic moving shadows on
the ground. What is it combines with such miraculous skill the
things seen, taking a tint here, and a fragment of form there,
which uses the colors and forms of memory as a palette to paint
Some say, "Every man is a Shakespeare in his dreams." The dreamer
of landscape is more than a maker of wondrous colors, because he
makes his trees bend before the wind and his clouds fleet across
the sky. The waking brain does not do this. It is unconscious
Do we refashion memories? To say so is to surmise in the
subconscious nature a marvelous artist to whom all that we have
ever seen with the physical eyes is present at once and as clay
in the hands of a divine potter. It is such a swift creation
that it rivals the works of the Lord.
I do not deny that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us or that the
King is also in His Heaven. We need not deny that and yet hold
that vision comes otherwise. Nor can be it denied that vision is
often radiant and precise. Experience affirms that it is.
Hundreds of artists, and indeed people not artists at all, will
tell you how clearly they see in their dreams.
Many including I have had such visions. Some hold those visions
are only the refashioning of memory, with nothing mysterious
about them. To them, I say try to think out tint by tint, form
by form, how these could be recombined. For whatever marvel I
would have you believe, you will have substituted something just
as marvelous but not so credible.
Not that it is incredible to think that the spirit in man is
Creator. All the prophets and seers of the world have told us
that. The common psychological explanation is not acceptable.
We know that forms can appear in the brain, transferred there
from one person to another by will.
When we know that the inner eye can see the form in another's
mind, we must regard it as indicating an immense possibility of
vision on that plane. There are strange cities and landscapes of
dream, impish faces that flout at us when we are drowsy, and
other visions living and moving in our minds. We ask ourselves
how they come too. Did they come by way of the physical senses
transformed in memory, as some suggest? Perhaps they really come
like the image thought transferred or by obscure ways reflected
from spheres above us from the lives and visions of others.
If we brood on this, we will come to think the old explanation is
untenable. Addressing ourselves with wonder and hope to the
exploration of this strange country within ourselves, we will try
to find its limits. Whether from image or vision long pondered
over, we may reach to their original being.
I think few psychologists have had imagination themselves. They
have busy brains. As an Eastern proverb says, "The broken water
surface reflects only broken images." They see too feebly to make
what they see a wonder to themselves. They discuss the mode of
imagination as people might discuss art, people whom had never
seen painting or sculpture.
One psychologist writes about light being a vibration and the
vibration affects the eye, passing along the nerves until it is
stored in the brain cells. It appears that the vibration stays
or is fixed there. Yet, I know that with every movement of mine,
the words I speak and the circulation of my blood cause every
molecule in my body to vibrate.
How is this vibration in the cells unaffected? It must remain
unaffected in their hypothesis. I can recall the original scene,
can discuss it, and can summon it again after years, finding the
image clear as at first. I refer to it in thought and it remains
unchanged. The physical explanation of memory itself breaks down
even as the material explanation of imagination breaks down. How
can a substance retain an unchanging vibration? The substance
that holds the vibration is itself subject to continual movement.
The moment we close our eyes and are alone with our thoughts and
the pictures of dream, we are alone with mystery and miracle.
Are we alone? Are we secure from intrusion there? Are we not
nearer the thronged highways of existence where gods, demons,
men, and goblins all are psychical visitors?
I will not speak here of high things. I am trying to argue with
people who see no wonder in anything. These people dismiss all
high things with a silly phrase as fancy, imagination, or
hallucination. I know from questioning many people that it is
common for them before sleep to see faces, while their eyes are
closed. Even so, they think are alone.
These faces are sometimes the faces of imps who frown at them,
put out their tongues at them, grin, or gibber. Sometimes they
will see not a face but a figure, or figures. Like the faces,
the figures seem endowed with life. To call this imagination or
fancy explains nothing.
The more that we concentrate on these most trivial mental
apparitions the more certain we feel that they have a life of
their own. We realize that our brain is as full of living
creatures as our body throngs with tiny cells, each a life, or as
the blood swarms with bacteria.
I draw attention to the mystery in obvious and common things. I
ask that we explain them. Do not gloss over them as if no
explanation were necessary. I ask the doubters of my vision to
penetrate a little into the mystery of their own thoughts and
dreams before they cry out against me. For many years, I have
traveled far, coming upon lovely and inhabited regions to which I
would lead them.
I know that my brain is a court where many living creatures
throng. I am never alone in it. You can know that too, if you
heighten your imagination and intensify your will. The darkness
in you will begin to glow. You will see clearly. You will know
that what you thought was but a mosaic of memories is rather the
froth of a gigantic ocean of life. It breaks on the shores of
matter, casting up its own flotsam to mingle with the life of the
shores it breaks on.
If you will light your lamp, you can gaze far over that ocean and
even embark on it. Sitting in your chair, you can travel farther
than ever Columbus traveled. You can journey to lordlier worlds
than his eyes had rested on. Are you not tired of surfaces? Come
with me and we will bathe in the Fountains of Youth. I can point
you the way to El Dorado.
THE VESTAL FIRE
By Allan J. Stover
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 1947, pages 508-12.]
The sacredness of the hearth-fire as a symbol of that spiritual
spark in the heart of every being is a glyph in the unwritten
language of symbolism that is worldwide in distribution.
Many of us preserve childhood memories of long evenings about the
blazing fireplace. We read aloud, sew, talk, or idly watch the
ever-changing pictures in the glowing embers. How much
civilization has lost by substituting the gas or steam heated
radiator for the open fire!
In all ages, men have reverenced fire as a symbol of spirit and
the visible representative on earth of the Fire Celestial. The
best known of the ancient fire ceremonies are those developed in
Greece and Italy.
With Gaia, Vesta (the Greek Hestia) was the primordial spiritual
earth (Mother of all the gods), the nourishing heart of our
earth. As such, she became the symbol of the inner spiritual
fire of every individual and the center of love and devotion of
every home. This was like how the circular temple of Vesta with
its ever-burning flame it represented the spiritual heart of the
We see this ancient understanding in the FASTI of Ovid, Book VI:
> Vesta is the same as the Goddess of the earth (Gaia), the
> ever-burning fire within each. The earth Goddess and the hearth
> are both symbols of the central heart of being. The earth is
> like a ball, resting upon no support, it hangs, a heavy weight
> within the air, upheld and balanced by its own rotation.
Unlike the other gods, people represented Vesta with no image
save the sacred fire burning within the circular temple. In the
time of the initiate and Teacher Numa, the temple walls were
woven of tough osiers and roofed with thatch. Later on, these
were replaced with materials that are more substantial. Bronze
plates replaced the thatched roof. The shape always remained
circular in form, as representing the round earth.
In Henry Riley's translation of the FASTI, Book VI, pages 294-98,
> For a long time in my simplicity, I imagined that there were
> statues of Vesta. Afterwards I ascertained that there was none
> under her concave dome. The fire that has never been
> extinguished lies hidden in that temple. Neither Vesta nor fire
> has any likeness.
The Latin word for hearth or fireplace is FOCUS. Note the
similarity between the Saxon roots HEORTE and HEORTH (from which
the words HEART and HEARTH respectively derive). We see how
deeply the Vestal symbol is ingrained in our language. This is
not surprising since the cult once held an important place in
ancient Ireland and the Hebrides.
Frazer saw Celtic Vestal Virgins in the nuns of St. Brigit, whom
he describes in these words in THE GOLDEN BOUGH, II, pages 240-1:
> Now, at Kildare in Ireland, the nuns of St. Brigit tended a
> perpetual holy fire down to the suppression of the monasteries
> under Henry VIII; and we can hardly doubt that in doing so they
> merely kept up, under a Christian name, an ancient pagan worship
> of Brigit in her character of a fire-goddess ... The nuns were
> nineteen in number. Each of them had the care of the fire for a
> single night in turn; and on the twentieth evening the last nun,
> having heaped wood on the fire, used to say, "Brigit, take charge
> of your own fire; for this night belongs to you." She then went
> away, and next morning they always found the fire still burning
> and the usual quantity of fuel consumed.
It was in Rome that the Vestal ceremonies reached their greatest
importance and retained their purity the longest.
Originally, the guardians of the sacred fire were four in number,
but later were increased to six. Still later, they added a
seventh. The Vestal Virgins were chosen in childhood and
carefully trained for their duties. In time, they became so
highly honored as to almost command the respect accorded royalty.
They were preceded in the streets by lictors bearing the fasces
or symbolic axe wrapped in a bundle of rods.
Greatly honored as they were, their responsibility was also
great. To let the fire go out was a terrible disgrace. It
represented the spiritual heart of the Roman Empire and was to
the Roman citizen much the same as the idea of Liberty is to the
patriotic American. For those who knew, the ever-burning fire
was a continual reminder of the spiritual fire burning within the
heart of everyone, of the divinity within the earth and of the
divinity within the sun.
Once a year, all fires were extinguished and the Vestal Fire
renewed during an elaborate ceremony. In the early days, the new
fire was produced by the friction of fire sticks operated by the
Vestal Priestess. In later times, the burning glass was used.
In either case, the fire was considered pure or elemental fire,
in contrast to fire produced by any other means or under other
conditions. When the central fire had been lighted, flaming
torches were carried to the altars of the other gods, for Vesta
was Mother of all the gods.
The Vestal fire of Rome has long since vanished along with the
understanding of its significance. On the other side of the
world, a similar tradition still exists among certain American
Indians. The Great Circle Encampment of the Sioux and related
tribes may be mentioned first. The circular teepees, each with
its central fireplace, are arranged in a great circle about the
council lodge. In the center is the council fire. The council
fire in its turn is started by four men, each in turn laying a
stick on the fireplace pointing to the east, south, west, and
north, forming a cross. Then finer material is added and lighted
by glowing coals produced by the friction of fire-sticks.
The teepees were representative to the Indian of the universe.
This is shown by the general custom of decorating the upper
portion with symbols of the sun, moon, or stars. The band about
the bottom is given circles representing "fallen stars." Above
this, the Indians often pictured mountains and the achievements
of the owner with other matters pertaining to his life. The
whole suggests the three worlds. There is our world, the world
below, and the world above. The central fire was symbolic of the
inner spiritual light at the heart of every being.
It is with the Pueblo Indians that the fire ceremony reached its
greatest significance in America.
The Hopi kiva was circular in shape. It had an entrance in the
roof. Near the center of the floor was another symbolic entrance
into the lower world. With its central fire, it constituted an
image of the world, the heart of which burned the divine
Frank Waters seized the beauty and significance of kiva symbolism
best, giving the following description in THE MAN WHO KILLED THE
DEER. A young boy is entering a kiva for his first instruction
and ceremonial initiation.
> Hush, son! You are in the womb of Mother Earth. You will be here
> many months, a long time. You have entered a child. You will be
> reborn from here a man. Then you will know why it is you must
> stay ...
> Let there be no more whimpering, no more questions ... You are in a
> womb: in it the eyes, the ears, the nose, and babbling mouth do
> not function. The knowledge that will come to you is the
> intuitive truth of the spirit, the quiescent wisdom of the blood,
> transmitted through senses you do not use outside. The pulse of
> the earth throbs through the walls that enclose you; THE EMBERS
> THERE REFLECT THE HEAT OF ITS GLOWING HEART, that little hole
> runs into the center of the earth, into the lake of life itself ...
> But behind all this you will learn of previous emergencies. Of
> the significance of the four elements, corresponding to the four
> worlds from which man has successively risen: (1) the fire world
> of rampant primordial forces; (2)the world which separated from
> it; (3) the third world of water which came forth from the
> vaporous air; and (4) the present world of earth. From your
> understanding that the body of man is a world derived from these
> four and hence composed of their elements and corresponding
> attributes many things will be plain.
The New Fire Ceremony of the Hopi is described by J. Walter
Fewkes in his report FIRE WORSHIP. He quotes the old chief.
"There are many things in this ceremony that I might explain to
you if you could only understand them, but you cannot." The New
Fire Ceremony belongs to the same stratum of consciousness as the
ceremonies of Vesta or Brigit. It differs from these only in
having been preserved in the hearts and minds of men instead of
in perishable books.
On the day of the New Fire according to Fewkes, all fires in the
Pueblo are extinguished. All paths to the area are closed. The
women and children remain secluded in the houses. In the kiva,
the fire-makers are squatted on the floor. Their fire drills are
fitted into the horizontal fireboard, awaiting the signal.
Then a short-chanted invocation comes. As the chorus begins to
sing, the fire-makers rapidly rotate their drills. In a few
seconds, this produces smoke. In about a minute, a spark is
glowing in the shredded cedar bark. This is raised in the hand.
Having been gently fanned, it burst into flame, and then it was
quickly carried to the fireplace. Thus, they light the new fire
of the year. Then follows the carrying of blazing torches to the
other kivas where firewood is awaiting the flame.
Unlike the Vestal fire of ancient Rome, the sacred fire of the
Pueblo is only allowed to burn a few hours.
It is not enough to show a similarity between the new fire
ceremonies of Italy, Ireland, and America, but also we must seek
in nature the reason for the custom. Such traditions are not
inventions of men. Spiritual teachers gave them to mankind as a
medium of preserving the deeper truths of the universe for those
who might understand.
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part IV
By Phillip A Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE
THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and
published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later
appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND
WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by
Point Loma Publications.]
Apollonius determined to visit India and the wise men of that
country that were called Brachmanes, and Germanes, saying it was
the business of young men to travel and make them known in
(Brachmanes were, strictly speaking, Buddhist. The ancient basic
teachings of the Brahmins seem to have been pure Buddhism as it
was ages before Gautama the Buddha restored it. See ISIS
UNVEILED, II, Chapter VII.)
(The Germanes were said to be Indian philosophers. They were
generally called Gymnosophists, though not all of them were naked
philosophers or yogis, as that term would denote. They lived
alone in the forests, abstaining from wine and married life, and
practicing many austerities. We call a man a "gymnast," although
he may not be naked. Similarly, the world "gymnosophist" is not
always restricted to its primitive sense.)
To converse with the magi at Babylon and Susa and to learn all
they knew, he considered would be in itself sufficient reason for
undertaking the journey.
He declared his intentions to his companions, who were seven in
number, but they disagreed with him and endeavored to dissuade
him from his purpose.
Then he said to them, "I have consulted the gods, and I declared
their will to you, to make trial of your courage, whether you
will go with me or not. Since I find you are not resolute enough
to go, I bid you farewell, and desire you may study philosophy.
It is my duty to go where wisdom and my Genius [daemon] lead me."
After this, he departed from Antioch, attended only by two
domestics of his own family. These were expert scribes, the one
eminent for the dispatch with which he wrote. He was probably a
shorthand writer such as Cicero and others employed. The other
was eminent for the beauty of his handwriting.
THE MEETING WITH DAMIS
At the ancient Nineveh, Apollonius met with Damis the Assyrian,
who became his companion and disciple, and from whose memoirs,
written as a diary, the main part of the present work is
extracted. "Let us go together," said Damis. "God shall be your
guide, and you shall be mine."
Damis further declared that his knowledge of the way to Babylon
and his acquaintance with the languages of the Armenians, Medes,
Persians, and Cadusians would be useful.
"My friend, I know them all myself, though I never learnt them,"
said Apollonius, to the amazement of Damis, though it was years
before the latter began to understand the full significance of
the statement. "Be not astonished," continued Apollonius, "at my
knowing all languages, for I know the very thoughts of men, even
what they do not utter."
When Damis heard this, he adored him, considering him as one
inspired (Daemon). He then became a proselyte to the teachings
of Apollonius and what he learned he did not forget.
Philostratus remarks, "This Assyrian had some eloquence, though
ignorant of elegant writing. Yet his observation of whatever was
said or done in company was acute, and he kept an exact account
of all that passed, which appears from a book he wrote called THE
So minute and trifling were the details that were sometimes
recorded that a wit declared in a derogatory tone that the crumbs
collected put him in mind of the scraps eaten by the dogs which
snap up whatever falls from their master's table.
Damis replied simply. "If the gods have feasts, and eat at them,
they also have attendants who wait on them, and whose business it
is to see that none of the ambrosia be lost."
Such was the companion and friend by whom Apollonius was
accompanied during a great part of his life.
When Apollonius passed into Mesopotamia, the customs officer at
the bridge of Zeugma asked what baggage he had with him. The
traveler replied that he brought Temperance, Justice, Continence,
Fortitude, Patience, and many other virtues (all of them having
feminine names). The collector of customs wrote down the names
and said he had "made a note of the names of the maids."
"They are not maids," said Apollonius. "They are my mistresses,
who travel with me! [This jest explains how in some legends
strict ascetics have a number of wives.]
In Mesopotamia, there dwelt nomad tribes of Arabs and Armenians,
among whom Apollonius learned the Arabian art of understanding
the language of animals. Divination by birds among this people
is as much respected as that by oracles.
"This talent is obtained according to some," says Philostratus in
his symbolical language, "by their feeding on the heart, and
according to others, on the liver of dragons."
After passing beyond Ctesiphon, Apollonius entered the
territories of Babylon. The King, Bardanes Arsacida, was not
fully settled on the throne, and all new arrivals in the country
were carefully examined by the military guards, who suspected
everyone. Apollonius was taken before the Viceroy, or Satrap,
who was then taking the air in his palanquin (a covered litter
carried on poles on the shoulders of four or more bearers). As
soon as he saw the gaunt, linen-clad figure of the philosopher,
he screamed out in fright like a woman. Finally, when his
courage revived, he looked up and asked, "Whence art thou sent to
"From myself," said Apollonius. "I am come to teach you to be
men, in spite of yourselves."
"Who are you that you dare to enter the King's dominions," asked
the Satrap, becoming bolder.
"The whole world is mine, and I have leave to go wherever I
please through it," answered Apollonius.
"Answer me properly, or I will have you tortured," said the
"Oh, that the punishment were to be inflicted by your own hands,
that you might pay the merited penalty for daring to touch such a
man," said Apollonius, boldly declaring the philosophical law
that every man must pay for his own deeds.
That eunuch was astonished at the stranger's wonderful
familiarity with the language. He changed his tone and adjured
Apollonius in the name of the gods, to say who he was.
"Since you condescend to ask me so courteously, I will tell you,"
said the Greek philosopher. "I am Apollonius of Tyana, going to
the King of the Indians to learn from him what is happening in
that country. I shall be glad to see the King, for he is reputed
to be not without virtue, if it is Bardanes who has just regained
"He is the man, divine Apollonius," replied the Satrap (for of
you we have heard long ago). "He is one that would resign his
crown to a wise man, and he will take care to have you and your
companions provided with camels for your journey to India. For
my part, I make you my guest."
Upon this, the bewildered Satrap offered him heaps of gold, to
help himself, but Apollonius firmly refused to touch it. He
offered wine of Babylon such as the King gives to his ten
viceroys or Satraps. He offered roasted pork and goat-flesh,
bread and meal, and all he could think of as being desirable for
the philosopher's journey. Then he suddenly remembered who it
was he was addressing, and was mightily confused, for he could
hardly offer a greater insult than wine and flesh to such a man.
But Apollonius showed no resentment. "You will be treating me
sumptuously if you give me bread and vegetables," he said.
"You shall have leavened bread, and great dates that look like
amber for their richness. Vegetables you shall have from the
river gardens of the Tigris."
"I prefer the vegetables that grow wild by themselves to those
that are forced and artificially cultivated," he said, "for I
think they are sweeter to the taste."
"I fear not," said the Satrap. "The soil about Babylon abounds
in wormwood and tends to make the vegetables bitter and
Apollonius took leave of the Satrap with all the respect due to
his office, but gently rebuked him for his uncivil reception, by
his parting remark, "Cease not from doing good, but I say also,
begin by doing the good."
In their subsequent journey they came upon a lioness that had
just been killed by the huntsmen, who were amazed at her size and
the extraordinary fact that there were no less than eight
half-formed cubs. From this omen, Apollonius deduced the fact
that their stay with the King would last just a year and eight
months. He used the occasion to give Damis an opportunity of
deducing an interpretation from the circumstance, before
declaring the correct augury.
When approaching Cissia after entering the province of Babylon,
Apollonius had the following vision in his sleep "prepared by the
deity who communicated it." He saw some fishes cast on the shore
and panting for breath. They complained like mortals and
bewailed the element they had lost. They looked as if imploring
the aid of a dolphin that was swimming near them, and seemed as
much to be pitied as men in exile, deploring their hard fortune.
Apollonius considered the interpretation of the vision, but gave
Damis the opportunity to explain it as best he could, before
telling him what it meant. Damis was alarmed and almost ready to
turn back at the suggestion that they were like "fish out of
water" in a foreign land. Apollonius laughed at him, telling him
he was not yet a philosopher, to be alarmed at the dream. Then
he declared the purport.
The district of Cissia was inhabited by an isolated group of
Eretrians exiled from Greece by Darius five hundred years before,
like fishes taken in a net. The gods seemed to command
Apollonius to take all the care he could of them, "for
peradventure the souls of the Greeks, who were cast by fate on
this land, have invited me hither for their benefit."
Apollonius did all he could for the dead and the living. He
enclosed the graves and restored the tombs, he offered libations,
and made sacrifices without victims or the shedding of blood.
This was more than had ever had been done for those who had
exiled them, for these died unburied about the Greek island
whence they had come, ten years later. For the living,
Apollonius in his very first audience with the King obtained the
sole use and enjoyment of their hill, the only fertile part of
their land, for them forever, by royal grant. This was a very
important concession, as they had hitherto suffered from the
annual raids of the nomads and desert tribes who left them little
of the fruit of their industry.
Damis says that Apollonius had several conversations with the
Babylonian Magi either at midday or midnight, but he was never
permitted to be present at these interviews. Being asked his
opinion of the Magi, Apollonius said, "They are wise, but not in
The manner of his entry into Babylon was unusual. He bore no
presents for the King and he merely gave a philosophical reply to
the demand that he, like all strangers, should worship the golden
image of the King as he entered. The only exception made was in
the case of Roman ambassadors. On the presentation to him of the
King's golden image, he asked, "Whose image is this?"
They told him it was the King.
"If this man whom you worship is so fortunate as to be praised by
me for his virtue and goodness," said Apollonius, "he will have
honor enough." And he passed through the gates.
The Satrap was astonished at such behavior and at his appearance.
He noted his name, country, occupation, appearance, and the
reason for his journey on the official tablets. He caused
Apollonius to be detained while he reported the matter to the
"King's Ears," the agents of the court whose business it was to
guard against all possibility of action against the throne.
These officials sent for him, ordering that he should not be
molested in any way. "Why do you despise the King," they asked.
"I do not despise him," was the reply.
"But you will do so later on," they asked again.
"Certainly I shall, if I find by conversing with him that he is
not as good and virtuous as I expect."
"What presents do you bring him," they inquired.
"I bring fortitude, justice, and some other like virtues," said
the amazing stranger.
"How is this," asked the King's office. "Do you bring these
presents from an idea that our King has not such virtues
"Not exactly that," said Apollonius, "but I suppose that if he
has time already, I can teach him to use them."
"Yet it is by the very exercise of these virtues that our King
has regained his lost kingdom and recovered his palace, not
without much labor and toil."
"How many years ago did he do that," asked the philosopher. "Two
years and two months," replied the King's minister.
Then Apollonius's manner grew intense and forceful, as he used
the formula with which he emphasized his weightier sayings.
"O guardian of the royal person! HEARKEN TO WHAT I SAY. Darius,
the father of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, after a reign of about sixty
years, when he found his end approaching, is said to have
sacrificed to justice, exclaiming, 'O MISTRESS, WHOSOEVER THOU
ART.' From this, it is fair to assume that he loved justice all
his life, though he knew her not, nor ever thought himself
possessed of her. Thus it was that he educated his children so
foolishly that they warred one against the other. One was
wounded and the other killed by his brother. Now you praise
beyond all deserving a King, as if possessed of every virtue, who
perhaps does not know how to maintain his throne. Yet, if he
becomes better than he is, the gain will be yours and not mine."
One of the Babylonians looking at him declared, "Without a doubt,
the gods have sent this extraordinary man to us. I am of opinion
that men of virtue conversing with a prince so well instructed as
our king must make him wiser and better, and more gracious,
inasmuch as these virtues are painted in his countenance."
Then all ran to the palace, proclaiming the good tidings of a man
being at the King's gates, one who was WISE, and a Greek, and an
WAITING FOR A SIGN
By James Sterling
Waiting for a sign, a symbol perhaps,
Or an omen of future days to come;
Knowing the path to pursue or avoid.
But the sign stays hidden;
The omen never appears.
Life, obscured by a shroud of leaded clouds,
Leads the tap, tap, tap of the white cane
Of the sightless man that is me.
Where is the mentor of my dreams
To offer wisdom of the ages
And guidance for an adept?
Wisdom can be learned only
By those aware of their mistakes,
Mistakes made blindly by taking the wrong road
In a road-consuming life.
Still I wait, hoping for a sign, a symbol perhaps,
Or an omen for future days;
Knowing the path to pursue or avoid.
A path is meant for struggle
As the snake struggles and twists
To get out of its old skin,
Old skin left to rot in the wind.
Without a sign, there's only the wait,
Long and hopeful.
The virgin waits for her sign,
Waiting in eager anticipation.
I wait for my sign, too.
But I lost my seed years ago;
They never sprouted.
We should all wait for our own signs,
Whatever they may be.
Perception is the wisdom
Of seeing and then knowing when it arrives.
A STUDY IN FUNDAMENTALS, Part II
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the second part of a tape recording on
"Chapter XI of FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY," made of
a private class held on April 28, 1954.]
There are two ways to look at nature. One is the materialistic
Western idea of tooth and claw. The other is that nature bases
itself on justice, mercy, universal love, and harmony. We adhere
to the latter.
Nature is not merely a field of violent, cruel, and bloody
conflict. Although it bases itself on justice and love, it has
processes of adjustment. Universal Law accomplishes full justice
wherever necessary. It leaves nobody is out. Nobody is behind.
All are bound to reach where they belong because of that
marvelous togetherness or unified pattern upon which life works.
Yes, you can temporarily fail and fall behind. You drop, but
there are compensations that help you regain your lost stage
through karmic atonement and purification. You regain your
equilibrium. The Christian doctrine of vicarious atonement
refers to this, but it has been completely misunderstood and
dragged down into the mire. In the esoteric sense, there is
purification through suffering. You settle karmic accounts. You
correct mistakes. Then there is a tremendous upsurge of
spiritual force in you. You regain that which you have lost.
You are not behind any longer.
We are speaking of long intervals. Do not get stranded on that
idea. Your personal mind lives in the illusions of time. At
times in your life when you experienced a greatest happiness,
there was no time. At times when you experienced great misery,
time dragged. Everybody else has had the same experience. There
are moods in which time goes like that a snap of the fingers and
other moods in which time drags.
A Manvantara may appear to our personal minds as a long and
possibly dreary stretch of several billion years. It does not
appear that way to the inner self, the soul that bridges the gap
between incarnations. That part of us dwells in time entirely
unlike our clock time. What are a few million years to the
evolution of the soul? From its superior spiritual standpoint, it
may be perhaps half an hour by our clock. We must not apply our
personal, illusory conceptions of time to the state of
consciousness of our inner entity.
To the inner self, the passage of time is not what passage of
time is to the personality. The soul has no clock. Has it a
conception of time? Certainly, it does, but it is of a nature
appropriate to its own plane. That is where human words cease.
We cannot even understand well the nature of physical time.
To the reembodying entity, the past, present, and future of a
particular lifetime are all one. It sees them all at a glance.
It never identifies itself fully with its own embodiment.
Dwelling in a spiritual state, it overshadows and remains
spectator. It does this without completely entangling itself in
our illusory conception of time and space, which our minds dwell
on from birth to physical death.
Some great teachers are fallen angels. We also hear of
Fifth-Rounders. Could the Fifth-Rounders be indigenous to the
evolution on this planet, people having accelerated their
evolution, or are they fallen angels? They might well be both. I
would not draw too clear of a distinction between the two. As
long as they are ahead of the game, ahead of the bulk of the
procession, they might be more advanced entities from other
The Buddha is the only Sixth-Rounder of which we know. Of the
Fifth-Rounders, there are many. The Mahatmas, Adepts, great
Sages and Seers, thousands of high chelas, and perhaps some lower
chelas are Fifth-Rounders of some kind. Having experienced some
of the evolution of the Fifth Round, they have run ahead of
average, Fourth Round humanity. For the fifth time, they have
been around the chain of Globes. Some are ahead a little, others
ahead a great deal, others much more yet.
They are of various degrees of attainment. They have tasted of
experiences and states of consciousness of the Fifth Round
already. They are in the vanguard of humanity. Some have run
the race quicker. They are indigenous here. Perhaps the highest
among them are guests here to help others.
There are many types of Fifth-Rounders. Anyone who strives to
become a chela already tastes the Fifth Round consciousness.
From that point up to and including the greatest Adepts of the
earth, they are Fifth-Rounders. According to HPB and the
Mahatmas, there is only one Sixth-Rounder that has manifested so
far in our humanity, Gautama the Buddha. They said nothing as to
other Buddhas having been Sixth-Rounders. Some may have been. I
do not know.
Perhaps there will be some Fourth-Rounders in the Fifth Round,
belonging to the lowest type of mankind. Are there
Third-Rounders with us in physical shape today? I doubt it. Such
entities may hang around caught in the astral light. I am not
sure. We are far from the Third Round, having evolved through
the entire first half of the Fourth. They may have gone into
their rest by now. There are always laggards of one type or
Let us not confuse this with Root Races. There are Fourth and
Third Root Race men with us now. These are Root Races of this
Since the last Round, we have advanced so much that our physical
bodies have taken a different shape and texture. The Third Round
humanity would not have such coarse bodies. The Third Round was
more ethereal than the Fourth. The Fifth Round will also be more
ethereal than the Fourth. The Fourth is the bottom-most, the
most physical or material, being the halfway point of seven.
On our way up the Ascending Arc, we will go back to using a more
ethereal type of bodies. This will be on the following Globes of
this Round and ever more so in the next Round. We find this even
today in the Fifth Root Race compared to the Fourth Root Race of
only a few million years ago. Even today on this Globe, our
texture is slightly more ethereal than the texture of the
Some points may confuse or mislead. A coarser texture is not
necessarily more material. Sometimes smoother things are more
material. It is complicated. We are not as coarse in the
texture of bones and flesh as the Atlanteans were.
Again, I warn of other points of possible confusion. When we say
"Atlanteans," what do we mean? If we contrast the Fifth Root Race
with the Fourth Root Race, we must compare approximately the same
period in their development. The middle of the Fifth Root Race
is more ethereal than the middle of the Fourth. Compare us now,
near the middle of the Fifth, with those at the end of the
Fourth. You will find them more spiritualized than us. We must
compare the same point of the spiral lest your analogy be false.
Be warned that there are false analogies. It is sometimes easy
for them to catch you. Who were the most progressed Atlanteans?
They were the Fourth Root Race in its seventh subdivision or
subrace. They were some of the great spiritual sages and seers,
the most advanced of the race. They were far ahead of anything
we are today. Who were the fifth and fourth subrace men of the
Fourth Root Race? Obviously, they were lower than what we are
Atlantis faced destruction in the seventh subrace of the Fourth
Root Race. The main bulk sank from six to eight million years
ago. The Atlanteans were one Root Race behind us.
It takes about 300 million years for the human lifewave to pass
from Globe A through B, C, D, E, F, and G. You cannot divide
this into equal parts because the Root Races are not the same
length and the time for evolution on each Globe differs.
Those who know have never fully given out the real numbers. The
mathematics of occultism is jealously guarded. I have my own
feeling as to why. Unusually intuitive people might get hold of
some true numbers. Numbers have a power of their own. Numbers
are vibrations. These people might apply the numbers to their
own constitution and to the constitution of others, playing havoc
with their minds and their emotions. Numbers are power. Numbers
Seen from the big picture of our Fourth Round, it was like
yesterday that Atlantis sank. THE SECRET DOCTRINE speaks of two
big islands. These two portions of the continent sank relatively
recently, between 600,000 to 800,000 years ago.
When we say that Atlantis sank six to eight million years ago, we
mean the Atlantean continent began geologic ages of breaking up
at that time. This was not an overnight affair. It was the
beginning of the breaking up of the continent. There will come a
time when the central mass of the continents of today will begin
to break up too. Noah's ark was one symbol of the sinking. The
great seer came out with the guidance of adepts to dry land. He
brought the best there was, the seeds of life, two by two.
Going through Globes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, we complete a
Planetary Round. Of the Rounds, there is the First, the Second,
the Third, and now we are in the Fourth. While correct to say
that the seven Root Races on a Globe constitute a global Round,
we best use the term "Round" to describe the evolutionary journey
through all the Globes, from Globe A to G.
Depending upon one's zeal, it does not take Rounds to attain
adeptship. It will take a certain number of lives. Within a
Root Race, an individual can climb from an average condition to a
high spiritual condition, unless he is definitely a laggard in
the evolutionary procession and simply cannot make it.
It takes all 49 Root Races to change from one kingdom to the
next. They form seven Rounds, which comprise a Planetary
Manvantara. You change kingdoms from one planet to another. It
will take you all seven Rounds to graduate from one kingdom to
the next, although there are exceptions like the apes. It will
take the entire Planetary Manvantara before we can step from our
kingdom to the next, with the possible exception of the fallen
angels. They could surge far ahead, eventually changing
Before the human kingdom, evolution is automatic. There is no
freedom of choice yet. The will is dormant. We will go through
these earlier stages again when we achieve another kingdom. In
another planetary chain, we will have to start out as an
elemental with no self-consciousness, but go through the stages
exceedingly rapidly. The same unavoidable regression takes place
every time we begin a cycle. Every time we come into incarnation
through the processes of gestation, we begin as elementals. It
does not take long to become a human being, a few months.
In a university, you take a course of study. Later you might go
back to school to study another discipline, starting over just
like a kid. It is familiar ground. You rush through it in
review. There is no other way. The review is necessary. Nature
runs that way. The currents run that way. On any scale, you
have to enter a cycle through the same entrance, ever if you go
through its stages at a different pace.
We are after the middle of the Manvantara in the Fourth Round on
the fourth Globe. At this point, it is practically impossible
for the lower kingdoms to command enough spiritual impetus to
rise with the human race on the Ascending Arc. If they have not
entered into the human kingdom before now, they will not enter in
this Manvantara. This is not evil, not wrong, but is perfectly
natural. They have not done anything wrong. They are not
failures. They are simply moving at a different pace. There
will be compensations. Will they come back in the next Round?
No, they cannot because their consciousness is unable to vibrate
at its higher rate.
If someone has not made the grade in high school, that person
would not command the necessary understanding to go to
university. He or she would simply fall behind. This is neither
as a failure nor from having done anything wrong. It is just
that one has fallen behind in the procession. Unable to follow,
one enters a condition of sleep.
For an animal falling behind at this point, it enters its
peculiar type of an animal nirvana. It enters into that state of
consciousness until the next Planetary Manvantara. I do not know
enough to describe its conditions.
Instead of going forward, go backward in thought. Consider the
Moon Chain. Picture its most progressed animals, the highest
that remained when it ended. They were ready to graduate, to
become low humans in the next Manvantara, our Earth.
The animals of the Moon Chain were ready to raise themselves a
rung on the evolutionary ladder. They were ready for incipient
humanity on this planet. These highest animals in the Moon Chain
are now the animal monads in man. Who were we on the Moon Chain,
we who are fully human now? We were the lowest humans there. We
are higher humans on this one. Its highest men are our spiritual
leaders. Our animal or kamic part was an animal on the Moon
This is a complicated subject. We see high, domesticated animals
on the verge of humanity. In the next Manvantara, what will be
their condition? They will provide the animal consciousness in
its humans. They will not finally become humans until the next
Manvantara. There are two steps between the animal and a full
human. It is already a great step for an animal consciousness to
become part of a human constitution.
Could we become the human part in what the Greeks called the
heroes? There is an analogy. We go through this stage and then
emerge a demigod. We know little about it, but the analogy is
We have recorded this discussion. The Smiths were interested in
hearing us. Do we have a special message for them? They are
wonderful students. It is a privilege to have them as part of
our class, companions in our studies. It was a pleasure seeing
them here at two meetings.
I think it remarkable how people living at a distance can
nevertheless be part of us. They attune to the same vibratory
rate, intensely feeling a spiritual companionship with us. That
applies to many. More than once, I was especially impressed with
the intuitive understanding of the Smiths. I hope we will have
them here again for a longer time. We benefit by their intuition
and the fruits of their studies.
We can benefit by sharing the understanding we all have. At
times when together, each of us becomes much more advanced. None
of us has advanced so far that he or she cannot benefit from such
Bring students together. Start them thinking along lofty lines.
There will be spiritual alchemy. It might be by the intensity of
our collective consciousness bent upon a lofty theme, evoking a
force of its own. Individually, we may be good students or not
so good. Bring us together. The intensity of our aspiration and
one-pointed collective thought gives birth to a third power. It
is not outside of us nor is it outlandish, strange, nor mystical
in the usual sense of the word. This third power comes from the
untapped potentialities within our consciousness.
Our mutual exchange and inward dwelling upon these thoughts
evokes a higher level of consciousness. It would be wonderful if
we could carry this home after we disband. That is difficult
because of the impact of the outer world upon our lower
consciousness. If we persevere, we gradually learn how to keep
it with us.
There is great benefit from dwelling on these ideas quietly
before retiring in the evening. We can make up our minds and
find the way to do it. Especially after our meetings, it is
wonderful to have few distractions between leaving the meeting
and going to sleep. Returning to our families and having duties
to perform, we cannot avoid some distractions. Even so, we can
minimize them and retire quietly.
Our minds operate automatically upon the last thoughts
entertained as we fall asleep. Dwelling on these ideas, we
attune our consciousness to higher themes. Over time, the effect
is cumulative. The more we dwell upon them, the more they
present themselves as if welling up from within, sometimes
unexpectedly. We begin to live more in the loftiness of
Viewed from that angle, Theosophy is not an intellectual study.
It is a way of life, a method of thinking, and a self-imposed
training in the contemplation of spiritual realities. The power
of a man as a thinker is more than his intellectual
understanding. It is not exclusively his ethical nobility nor in
his scholastic achievements. His greatness lies in the depths of
his spiritual consciousness.
In the unplumbed deeps of his spiritual nature, the power lies in
the profundities of his soul-life. How far can we retire from
the outer world of confusion? How far can we penetrate into the
recesses of the inner self, feeling at home in the greatness and
universality of life? To that extent, we carry out from the
recesses of that communion the power we need to meet the problems
of life and to help to raise others to a nobler sphere of being.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application