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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------- March, 2003
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"The Archetypal Virtue," by B.P. Wadia
"What is Wrong With Metaphysics," by Katherine Heck
"Portraits of Theosophists," Part I, by John M. Prentice
"Truth, Light, and Liberation for Discouraged Humanity,"
by Kenneth Morris
"Imagination," by George William Russell
"The Chela Path," by H. Graat
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part VII, by Phillip A Malpas
"Edgar Allen Poe as Seer," Part I, by Henry T. Edge
"The Unseen Divine," by Walter Eugene Kent
"A Study in Fundamentals," Part V, by Boris de Zirkoff
> At the dawn of his consciousness, the man of the Third Root-Race
> had thus no beliefs that could be called RELIGION ... It was the
> "Golden Age" in those days of old, the age when the "gods walked
> the earth, and mixed freely with the mortals." Since then, the
> gods departed (i.e. became invisible), and later generations
> ended by worshipping their kingdoms -- the Elementals.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, pages 272-73.
THE ARCHETYPAL VIRTUE
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 283-85.]
Follow the advice of the sages. Meditate on the anomalies and
miseries of our civilization. Discover the root of its maladies.
We find that the human mind has triumphed by neglecting and
defying the moral forces that are at work in the universe. This
is not generally perceived, and men and their leaders alike are
deluded. Each presumes that he and his nation or class is
following moral principles, while they are slaves of passions,
prejudices, and pilfered or stolen property.
Man, the thinker, has not been able to follow the teachings of a
long line of Sages that state: allow not the force of vice to
lead your mind, but so educate that mind that it follows the lead
of the force of virtue. Knowledge bereft of love, of compassion,
of charity, of harmony flourishes and mass thought-action stifles
the voice of Spirit even in the good individual.
The Sages and Seers have warned against knowledge, reason, and
mind bereft of moral principles. They have always taught the
superiority of moral ideas over mental thoughts. They have
pointed to the truth of truths that Wisdom is Compassion, that
justice is Mercy. Our Divinity is not knowledge-formed but
virtue formed and our vices make us demonic. Is there a better
description of the modern man successful in our social order than
that found in the Sixteenth Discourse of the Gita?
Illuminated minds, like Gautama Buddha or the great Shankara,
have pointed to moral principles as starting points to a life of
peace, goodwill, and wisdom. Jesus, the Jewish Prophets before
Him, and those who followed his advice and instruction have
emphasized the moral life as necessary for gaining true
knowledge. St. Paul affirmed the superiority of Faith, Hope,
and Charity over all knowledge. In showing "a more excellent
way," he exhorted us "to covet earnestly the best gifts."
Christendom knows Faith, Hope, and Charity as theological virtues
and there are four natural virtues -- making in all seven
Cardinal Virtues, to which are opposed the Seven Deadly Sins.
Most probably, Augustine attempted to Christianize the four
Cardinal Virtues in the teachings of Socrates and Plato. They
are Higher Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, and Justice. The
Neo-Platonists described them as "purifications from the lower
In the ancient RIG-VEDA, virtue is given first place. In the
famous hymn (10:129), Kama-Love-Eros is said to be the first
movement that arose in the One after it had come into life
through the power of fervor-abstraction. In the ATHARVA-VEDA, we
find, "Kama-Deva was born the first. Him neither Devas, Pitris,
nor men have equaled. Thou art superior to these and forever
great." The concept of Kama-Deva has become degraded in the
course of centuries, like the Eros of Hesiod. With the Seers of
the Vedas, says H.P. Blavatsky:
> [Kama-Deva personifies] the first conscious, ALL EMBRACING DESIRE
> for universal good, love, and for all that lives and feels, needs
> help and kindness, the first feeling of infinite tender
> compassion and mercy that arose in the consciousness of the
> creative One Force, as soon as it came into life and being as a
> ray from the Absolute. There is no idea of SEXUAL love in the
> conception. Kama is preeminently the divine desire of creating
> happiness and love.
Kama-Deva, Eros, in their original pristine pure sense, personify
the archetypal Virtue. The Sages do not reject the idea that the
virtues-vices of the animal-man are relative. Those Sages teach
that the relativity of conventional morality befogs the mind and
keeps man tied to the kingdom of animal-man. To become truly
human, it is necessary to get hold of the important philosophical
principle that Virtues and Virtue are as definite as metaphysical
categories of Spirit, Matter, Mind; Light, Darkness, Sight;
Space, Force, Motion, etc.
The animal-man becomes human by discarding vicious tendencies and
vices; and progresses to divinity by cultivating moods of virtue
that become his vibhutis (excellencies) fixed and ever flashing
their radiance of Compassion. This Compassion is the archetypal
Virtue that manifests as a Trinity of the Good, the True, and the
Beautiful: out of the first come the moral factors, out of the
second the intellectual, and their joint action is regenerative
Beauty that is Joy and Bliss.
Wisdom-Compassion is the Soul of all Virtues -- be they the
Christian and Greek Cardinal ones, or the virtues of the divine
man of the Gita or the six and ten Paramitas of the Buddhist
Philosophy. In the Mahayana BOOK OF THE GOLDEN PRECEPTS, this
archetypal Virtue is described:
> Compassion is no attribute.
> It is the Law of Laws --
> Eternal Harmony,
> Alaya's Self,
> A shoreless universal essence,
> The Light of everlasting right,
> And Fitness of all things,
> The Law of Love eternal.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH METAPHYSICS?
By Katherine Heck
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1946, pages 97-99.]
Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with metaphysics or
mysticism in most of its phases. The trouble lies with the
student of "other world" philosophies. Sometimes it seems that
"victim" is a better word.
The following comments are not going to deal with the obvious
dangers of the séance or warn against dabbling in black magic,
but are for those of us who think, "I know better than that. It
will take a mighty-smart dugpa to fool me. I am a REAL student
of TRUE occultism." Is that so? Well, there are degrees in
everything and hierarchies in every place. There are smart
devils for smart people. Everything is nicely graded in the
thoroughly organized universe of which we mystics are so sure we
are a part.
Right here is the crux of the matter. If we become so convinced
that the Universe and we are one, it is only a question of time
in the cyclic development of the Western mystic, at least, before
we ARE the Universe and our present incarnations are but paltry
mud spots on the garment of Truth. We do not live here anymore.
We are heading straight for Nirvana on a private train labeled
"Personal Salvation" for the Western mystic, and "Freedom from
the Wheel of Life" for the Eastern philosopher.
In the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese poet Liu Chang-Ching wrote the
> Walking along a little path,
> I find a footprint on the moss,
> A white cloud low on the quiet lake,
> Grasses that sweeten an idle door,
> A pine grown greener with the rain,
> A brook that comes from a mountain source ...
> And, mingling with Truth among the flowers,
> I have forgotten what to say.
This Taoist poem contains a key to mysticism. Inarticulateness
is a mark of the true mystic. Throughout all literature, his
message lies in what he has sense enough not to say. Mystics and
true Occultists have a language of the heart. In the silence,
they converse one with another. Without words, they enter
together into the bliss of "at-one-ness" which is their goal.
It would appear from this that mystics and students of
metaphysics would be the most unselfish of people. Indeed, they
would have a feeling for brotherhood that would make them knowers
of sorrow and sharers of joy. In fact, you would suppose that a
true Occultist would be tops as a psychologist just because he
not only knows people but also in a certain sense IS "people."
It does not often happen that way primarily because mystics and
occultists are people too and not perfect in their chosen path,
however altruistic that path may be. Our problem, therefore, is
with the sincere student on the path of wisdom or metaphysics
who, by his very sincerity and earnestness, is most likely to
miss the forest for the trees. He concentrates so hard on
casting a mote out of his own eyes that sometimes he forgets that
there are other people with eyes and motes of their own -- and
This is a warning to us. Remember the whole. We have a body as
well as a spirit and soul. Theosophy declares that the whole
constitution of man is dependent upon its basic vehicle for
expression and the chance to progress. Why do we hasten to
impede ourselves? Here is our opportunity as evolving entities to
learn certain lessons, impossible to experience if we were not
here on earth, with earth bodies and the necessary equipment for
reacting to physical, mental, moral, and spiritual stimuli that
can operate only on the Earth.
The Earth is an entity too. We are not just our physical bodies,
and the Earth is not just a bunch of oceans and land masses
either. It is quite possible that we have reached a stage in our
evolution where fundamentally we are supposed, for our souls'
good, to learn something about Globe D, the Earth chain.
Otherwise, why are we here with all our fine equipment for
What is wrong with metaphysics? Intrinsically, nothing at all is
wrong. A subtle trap is set for the student who allows
metaphysics to lead him -- very quietly, almost imperceptibly --
to a form of selfishness that outranks all the petty grabbing and
pushing and "Me first-ness" of the world. This is spiritual
selfishness. Alas, it is so often beautifully disguised as a
love of mankind and an apparently altruistic search for truth.
It has been said countless times, but is worth repeating, that
love and loyalty in our immediate personal contacts and fidelity
to our present duties and tasks will change a theoretic
acceptance of Universal Brotherhood into actual practice. In
this wise, we will find ourselves firmly anchored to the path of
aspiring Godhood, while to our hearts belong the stars.
PORTRAITS OF THEOSOPHISTS, Part I
By John M. Prentice
[This is a true sketch of a Theosophist written by the President
of the Australian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena),
from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1945, pages 20-22.]
It is more than thirty-five years since she first attracted
notice as a regular at Lodge Meetings. Long before that, she had
been a member of the Theosophical Society, although no one ever
seems to have known the circumstances under which she joined.
You see, she said so little at any time and it probably never
occurred to anyone to enquire. She was accepted as a member and
that was all there was to it. When death came to her, it was in
the same quiet, unostentatious fashion, although the newspapers
of the day, taking account of her social position, gave her more
publicity than she had ever known before. They did not mention,
however, the fact that she was a Theosophist.
She was a Quaker. Her grey silk frock blended into any
surroundings without making her in any way obtrusive. It was of
the richest silk and the women folk said it was the kind selected
for wearing quality rather than for other reasons. Her grey
bonnet matched it perfectly and set off the charm of her unlined
face. She never wore any other frock or bonnet in all the years
she attended Lodge meetings.
Her wealth was fabulous. Had she been different, she would have
been greatly sought after. Her generosity was in proportion to
her means, yet she was never known to contribute to any of the
charities that are so well publicized. Many a poor scholar found
his way through school or university eased through the
scholarships and bursaries she so richly endowed. Organizers of
soup kitchens or indeed any palliatives of the social order were
quietly but effectively dismissed from her portals.
She never spoke in public. She took no part in the
often-animated debates and discussions following the lecture for
the evening. Yet those who encountered her privately said her
knowledge of the teachings was both wide and deep. Many a
thirsty soul went to her and came away refreshed. Those who were
puzzled in mind or weary of spirit found in her quietly spoken
words the solution to their problems or departed with their
She was deeply versed in the Christian Scriptures but some said
also that she had whole chapters of the Bhagavad-Gita memorized.
She frequently carried a copy of LIGHT ON THE PATH or THE VOICE
OF THE SILENCE with her. In her sitting room, where she received
those who came to her unbidden, was a splendid portrait of H.P.
Blavatsky, before which was always a vase of seasonable flowers
-- white camellias or gardenias, jonquils, or in winter those
quaint white berries that are called snowballs. There were
generally two or three markers in her volumes of THE SECRET
Although she never contributed verbally to the activities of the
Lodge, her very presence was a benediction. She carried with her
an aura of peace. However quietly she ascended the stair -- and
her movements were always quiet -- and slid into her accustomed
seat, somehow everybody knew she was present, that she had
arrived. It was impossible for any uncouth expression to be used
in her hearing. The most vociferous dropped their voices
unconsciously when they realized that, unnoticed, she had dropped
in amongst them. She was always the first to leave. Many a
knotty point in the teaching grew clearer because of her
presence. Such terrifying subjects as "Rounds and Races"
unraveled themselves as she sat and listened to some student
endeavoring to put forth an explanation.
Although elderly, she was magnificently alive in every way:
physically, mentally, and spiritually. Somehow, it seemed that
every moment was used to the advantage of others. Tired members,
for people who worked for a living almost entirely made up the
Lodge, seemed to renew their strength in her proximity. Yet the
physical plane seemed to demand the least of her activities.
Without effort, she created the impression that in the world of
the spirit she walked a free citizen, in her own right.
In another age and under other conditions, she might easily have
been accepted as a Saint. It was not that she worked miracles,
at least to outward vision. Only those who pierce through to
essentials could have assessed what she accomplished in changed
lives, in her healing of broken souls.
Some said that her keynote was Power. Others were equally
emphatic that it was Peace. From her intercourse with the
denizens of higher worlds of consciousness, she brought both
back. In the final analysis, these two are one. Her likeness
was etched ages ago in the Bhagavad-Gita:
> The simile for the Sage in yoga, with heart at rest and
> continuing in meditation, is declared to be as a lamp in a
> windless place.
> When the heart, disciplined by the practice of yoga, rests from
> the final struggle; when it, viewing the Self by the Self,
> receives content in the Self,
> When the objectless, self-perceived summit of bliss he knows, and
> being where he never falls from the Reality,
> Having gained which no other gain is considered superior thereto;
> in which one fixed is not moved, even by great grief.
Power and Peace are the hallmarks of the Theosophist. Yet this
is "that power which the disciple shall aspire to is that which
will make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men!" Surpasses
all understanding, there is a peace that is the guerdon of those
dwelling in the Boundless. There is indeed a power that renews
all things. It abides in and wells up from the hearts of those
comprehending the Unity of Self ceaselessly.
TRUTH, LIGHT, AND LIBERATION FOR DISCOURAGED HUMANITY
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, July 1945, pages 289-92, reprinted
there from THE WELSH THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January/February 1945.]
This is what Theosophy means and is. It came to us from the
Masters of Wisdom, who have traveled the road of evolution to a
point much farther than we have reached, and are much nearer than
we to that Kingdom of Nature which is next above our human
kingdom. They are the Guardians of Humanity. Their supreme
interest is to aid in the evolution of mankind, to draw men
upward, away from the ignorance and consequent selfishness and
wrong living that keep us in misery and make this planet and the
life on it seem the bad joke of an omnipotent Caliban.
There is a Divinity within us. There are men made One with that
Divinity, and the allies of the Divinity in all men. The last
thing they want is to form a new orthodoxy. They do not want to
found a church of the "saved," a new religion for getting its
faithful into its own particular brand of "heaven." They do not
seek to start a School of Magic and teach people how to develop
their "powers" nor to give them interesting teachings to amuse
them and make them feel superior to their fellows. Their
Theosophy -- or Divine Wisdom -- has nothing whatever to do with
any of these things; if these are what you are after, do not join
the Theosophical Society; you will never feel at home in it.
Study the Masters' teachings, that you may get from them power to
help your fellows. Get them clear in your mind. Do not confuse
them with the personal opinions of Tom, Dick, and Harry posing as
teachers at so much a lesson. It is from the Masters' Theosophy
you will get the power to help, however amusingly fantastic the
views of these others may be; but shun like poison the mood of
the creed monger, the attitude that you know it all!
A creed is a dead thing, merely something you "believe in,"
asserting finality to where you are, doping you with the bluff
that nothing is to be learned nor any road of growth to be
traveled. No matter what clauses it might contain, it would
still be a lie. For Truth is not a formula, but a certain
direction, and traveling in that direction; a growth; a progress,
from gross to fine, from mean to noble, from limited to
universal. Could truth be embodied in a creed, it would be a lie
in one tick of the clock.
There is no way to come towards Truth except by cutting out one's
limitations, universalizing one -- which is as much as to say,
deepening and widening one's sympathies. To learn anything of
truth, you must do the work the Masters desire done, learning in
order that you may teach and living in the will to better the
stuff of humanity.
Why should you study what is taught about the Universe and Man,
the Monads and Hierarchies, the Principles and the Atoms? -- Why,
just that you may get the keys to yourself and to the methods of
things, and have entry into the treasure chambers of wisdom,
courage, and compassion that are within you, and bring forth from
them what shall sweeten the life of your valley and your town.
That you may be able to recreate courage where it has fainted to
extinction-point; to waken hope and manhood, and the knowledge
that will sustain them, where before there was only despair; and
all, that the stuff of humanity may be bettered.
You cannot get truth without becoming pervious to that within you
that knows truth, the Higher Nature. The higher the Higher
Nature, the more universal it is, the more it is something that
is in all mankind, in all life, equally. Therefore, the more you
live in your fellow men, in the will to help, serve, and raise
them up, the more you are That Which Knows Truth -- or the more
you know of Theosophy.
What has been written about karma, for instance, would fill
volumes. One means what has been given out from the Masters for
the intellects of men to assimilate. Anything that can be
spoken, written, or printed can be twisted into a lie. Thus, one
has heard it argued that karma means that a murderer should be
hanged for his crime. No one could think so who knew that
Theosophy is Truth, Light, and Liberation for Discouraged
Humanity. A real knowledge of, or belief in, karma, on the other
hand, convinces us that punishment must be left to karma, which
is impersonal, automatic, and certain, and in which there is no
concept of punishment or revenge.
Actually, no human being can be just when he undertakes to punish
another; we cannot know, ever, how much of guilt, of evil will,
went to impel a criminal to his crime. We have no means of
measuring how far the man was responsible, nor what degree of
punishment putting him to death may be. Universal Nature does
know, because man is part of her; and she takes her steps,
dealing out absolute justice, not to avenge, but to cure.
There is the old contention that to come to the assistance of one
who is suffering is to interfere with his karma. His karma and
yours brought you there at the time with the ability to help him;
and not to do so is to sin against the Oneness of Being, and to
incur heavy karma by so flouting the Whole of which we are parts.
There are those who would make dogmas out of karma, and a cause
for division, hatred, and attack; religious doctrinal
hairsplitting; "Who does not believe about it as I do, or phrase
the thing as I do, is a liar and deceiver, and probably a thief."
"Dicach yr od!" Is there help for any man in such tomfoolery?
If you want to know the truth about karma, find a man who is in
despair and tell him what will bring the light of new courage
into his eyes. Tell him what will take from him the bitter
feeling that someone else is wronging him, and make him know that
he, and he alone, is absolutely the Lord and Master of his own
destiny; aye, and more, can enroll himself right now among the
Helpers of Mankind; and you will have told him the truth about
You will soon find out that half measures won't do; that
sometimes-just and sometimes-unjust has no power to rouse the
lion in the soul of him, that it is only H.P. Blavatsky's
teaching, justice Absolute and Infallible, that can do that.
This is the real test; because Theosophy is Truth, Light, and
Liberation for discouraged humanity; and what is not lit by
compassion is not Theosophy.
What is that, you say? Can any religion comfort people in
adversity? Yes, the falsest of them all can dope a man into
effortless drifting with the current, leaving it all to God or
Church or priest -- to anything outside himself. The "Comfort"
of Theosophy is to have him swimming up-stream with strong
strokes, knowing himself mightier than the current.
Nothing is really yours until you have given it away. To know
Theosophy you must help people with it; you must show them how to
meet their difficulties with it. When you have done that, the
teachings you have read about, and have thus used, become
Theosophy in you; Knowledge, Power, Peace; above all, a living
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, pages 66-76.]
In all I have related hitherto, imagination was not present but
only vision. These are too often referred to as identical. In
what I have written, I have tried to make clear the distinction.
If beyond my window I see amid the manifold hills a river winding
ablaze with light, nobody speaks of what is seen as a thing
imagined. If I look out of a window of the soul and see more
marvels of shining and shadow, neither is this an act of
imagination. It is indeed a higher thing than vision, much
rarer. There is something hidden in being as the Son in the
bosom of the Father. It is made manifest in the act of
imagination. A transfiguration takes place like that we imagine
in the Spirit when it willed, "Let there be light."
Imagination is not a vision of something that already exists, in
itself unchanged by the act of seeing. What exists in latency or
essence is realized outwardly by imagination. It is given a form
in thought. With full consciousness, we can contemplate that
which hitherto had been unrevealed or only intuitionally
surmised. In imagination, there is a revelation of the self to
the self. There is a definite change in being, like when a spark
ignites a vapor and becomes an inflammation in the air. Here
images appear in consciousness that we may refer definitely to an
internal creator, with power to use or remold preexisting forms,
endowing them with life, motion, and voice.
We infer this because dream and vision sometimes assume a
symbolic character with significance personal to us. They tell
us plainly, "For you only we exist." We cannot conceive of what
is seen as but a reflection of life in any sphere. In exploring
the ancestry of the symbolic vision, we draw near to that clouded
majesty we divine in the depths of our being. It is heard
normally in intuition and conscience but now reveals character in
its manifestation as the artist in his work.
I had a gay adventure when I was a boy at the beginning of my
mental traveling. I did not meet a lion, but rather a symbolic
vision in the path. I had read somewhere of one whose dreams
made a continuous story from night to night. I was excited at
this and wondered whether I too could not build up life for
myself in a fairyland of my own creation. Could I be the lord of
this in dream, and offset the petty circumstance of daily life
with the beauty of a realm in which I would be king? I bent
myself to this, walking about the country roads at night in the
darkness, building up in fantasy the country of sleep.
I remember some of my gorgeous fancies. My dream world was
self-shining. Light was born in everything there at dawn, and
faded into a colored gloom at eve. If I walked across my lawns
in darkness, the grasses stirred by my feet would waken to vivid
color and glimmer behind me in a trail of green fire. If a bird
was disturbed at night in my shadowy woods, it became a winged
jewel of blue, rose, gold, and white. The leaves tipped by its
wings would blaze in flakes of emerald flame. There were flocks
of wild birds that my shouts would call forth to light with
glittering plumage the monstrous dusk of the heavens.
Many other fancies I had which now I forget. Some were
intuitions about the Many-Colored Land. After I had conceived
this world, one night in a fury of effort, I willed that it
should be my habitation in dream. But of all my dreams, I
remember only two.
In the first, I saw a mass of pale clouds. On them was perched a
little ape clutching at the misty substance with its fingers and
trying to fashion it to some form. It looked from its work every
now and then at something beyond and below the clouds. I came
closer in my dream and saw that what the ape was watching was our
earth, spinning below in space. It was trying to model a sphere
of mist in mimicry of that which spun past it. While I was
intent, this grotesque sculptor turned suddenly, looking at me
with an extraordinary grimace that said clearly as words could
say, "That is what you are trying to do."
Then I was whirled away again. I was the tiniest figure in vast
mid-air. Before me was a gigantic gate, seeming lofty as the
skies. A shadowy figure filled the doorway and barred my
passage. That is all I can remember. I am forced by dreams like
this to conclude there is a creator of such dreams within us. I
cannot suppose that anywhere in space or time a little ape sat on
a cloud and tried to fashion it into planetary form.
The creator of that vision was transcendent to the waking self
and to the self that experienced the dream. Neither self took
conscious part in the creation. The creator of that vision was
seer into my consciousness in waking and in sleep. What of the
vision I remember was half a scorn of my effort and half a
warning that my ambition was against natural law. The creator of
that vision could combine forms and endow them with motion and
life for the vision was intellectual and penetrated me with its
Is it irrational to assume so much, or that the vision indicated
a peculiar character in its creator, and that the ironic mood was
not alien to it or even humor? I am rather thankful to surmise
this of a self which waves away so many of our dreams and joys,
and which seems in some moods to be remote from the normal and
terrible as the angel with the flaming sword pointing every way
to guard the Tree of Life.
Higher in the tower of our being that reaches up to the heavens,
some self of me made objective manifestation of its thought in
this dream. There were moments when it seemed itself to descend,
wrapping its memories of heaven about it like a cloth, and to
enter the body. I knew it as more truly myself than that which
began in my mother's womb. It was antecedent to anything which
had body in the world.
Here I must return to those imaginations I had while walking
about the country roads as a boy. I select from these, as I have
done from vision, things upon which the reason may be brought to
bear. It is more difficult, for when there is divine visitation
the mortal is made dark and blinded with glory. In its fiery
fusion with the spirit, reason is abased, bewildered, or spreads
too feeble a net to capture Leviathan. Often, we cannot
translate to ourselves in memory afterwards what the spirit said,
though every faculty is eager to gather what is left after the
visitation. This is alike how the rabble in eastern legend
scramble to pick up the gold showered in the passing of the king.
By the time I was seventeen or eighteen, my brain began to
flicker with vivid images. I tried to paint these, beginning a
series of pictures with much enthusiasm. They were to illustrate
the history of man. Starting with his birth in the Divine Mind
where he first glimmered in the darkness of chaos in vague and
monstrous forms, they showed him growing ever nearer to the
human. There were men-beasts and men-birds continuing until the
most perfect form were born in space at last, the divine idea of
I traced the descent into matter, its conflict with the elements,
and finally the series ended in a pessimistic fancy with one of
our descendants millions of years hence. A minute philosopher, a
creature less than three inches in height, sat on one of our
gigantic skulls, watching the skies ruining back into their
original chaos and the stars falling from their thrones on the
Most of these pictures were only the fancies of a boy. In
considering one, I began to feel myself in alliance with a deeper
consciousness. That was when I was trying to imagine the
apparition in the Divine Mind of the idea of the Heavenly Man.
Something ancient and eternal seemed to breathe through my
fancies. Then I was blinded by intensity of feeling to the
demerits of the picture. I was excited in an extraordinary way
over what I had done, laying awake long into the night brooding
over it. I asked myself what legend I would write under the
Something beyond reason held me. I felt like one in a dark room
hearing the breathing of another creature. He waits breathless
for its utterance. I struggled to understand what wished to be
said. At last, while I was preternaturally dilated and intent,
something whispered to me, "Call it the Birth of Eon." The word
"Eon" thrilled me, for it seemed to evoke by association of
ideas, moods, and memories most ancient, out of some ancestral
life where they lay hidden.
Still meditative and clinging to the word as a lover clings to
the name of the beloved, a myth incarnated in me. I think it was
the following day. It was the story of an Eon. One of the first
starry emanations of Deity, preeminent in the highest heavens, he
was so near to Deity and so high in pride that he would be not
less than a god himself, enduring no dominion over him save the
law of his own will.
This Eon of my imagination revolted against heaven and left its
courts, descending into the depths where it mirrored itself in
chaos, weaving out of the wild elements a mansion for its spirit.
That mansion was our earth and that Eon was the God of our world.
This myth incarnated in me as a boy walking along the country
roads in Armagh. I returned to Dublin after a fortnight. It was
a day or two after that I went into the Library at Leinster House
and asked for an art journal. I stood by a table while the
attendant searched for the volume. There was a book lying open
there. My eye rested on it. It was a dictionary of religions, I
think, for the first word my eye caught was "Eon" and it was
explained as a word used by the Gnostics to designate the first
I trembled through my body. At that time I knew nothing of
mystical literature and indeed little of any literature except
such tales as a boy reads. The imaginations that had begun to
overwhelm me were to me then nothing but mere imaginations. They
were personal and unrelated in my mind with any conception of
truth or idea that the imagination could lay hold of truth.
I trembled because I was certain I had never heard the word
before. There rushed into my mind the thought of preexistence
and that this was memory of the past. I went away hurriedly that
I might think by myself, but my thoughts drove me back again
I asked the librarian who were the Gnostics and if there was a
book that gave an account of their ideas. He referred me to a
volume of Neander's CHURCH HISTORY. There in the section dealing
with the Sabaeans, I found the myth of the proud Eon who mirrored
himself in chaos and became the lord of our world.
I believed then, and still believe, that the immortal in us has
memory of all its wisdom. As Keats puts it in one of his
letters, there is an ancestral wisdom in man and we can if we
wish drink that old wine of heaven. This memory of the spirit is
the real basis of imagination. When it speaks to us, we feel
truly inspired and a mightier creature than ourselves speaks
I remember how pure, holy, and beautiful these imaginations
seemed, how they came like crystal water sweeping aside the muddy
current of my life. I who was almost inarticulate was astonished
to find sentences which seemed noble and full of melody sounding
in my brain as if another and greater than I had spoken them. A
little later, how strange it was also to write without effort
verse, which some people still think has beauty, while I could
hardly, because my reason had then no mastery over the materials
of thought, pen a prose sentence intelligently.
I am convinced that all poetry is, as Emerson said, first written
in the heavens. That is, it is conceived by a self deeper than
appears in normal life. When it speaks to us or tells us its
ancient story, we taste of eternity and drink the Soma juice, the
elixir of immortality.
THE CHELA PATH
By H. Graat
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, December 1945, pages 532-37,
reprinted there from an address to the European Convention of the
Theosophical Society, Visingso, Sweden, 1937.]
> ... There is a Road, steep, thorny, and beset with perils of
> every kind, but yet a Road, and it leads to the Heart of the
Could there be found a more beautiful motto, drawing in one
stroke, so to speak, the character of the old, old Chela Path,
which each one of us here sincerely hopes to tread eventually?
The Path is narrow. It is thorny. It can be trodden, however
great the obstacles and dangers may be to the weary pilgrim, who,
spiritually speaking, exerts himself to the utmost to tread
firmly this holy Path.
Nor is it the only Path to go. At each step, it is crossed by
other pathways, which seem broad and well paved. The pleasing
foliage of the spreading trees of self-sufficiency afford plenty
of shelter against the dazzling Light of Truth and
Self-knowledge, which blinding light shines right into the eyes
of the pilgrim on the narrow Path. The pleasantly sloping broad
and easy roads lead downwards, unperceived by the traveler, so
that he, perhaps without realizing it, enwraps himself more and
more in the poisonous vapors rising from the swampy land of the
The other Path, narrow and steep, leads on high. It demands the
utmost of the pilgrim's powers. Each moment threatens the danger
of making a false step and sliding down the road again, either to
tumble down into an abyss, or to sink deeper than the point where
the rising had begun.
This narrow, thorny, steep Path is the Chela Path and it must be
traveled with bleeding feet. Where does it lead to, this upward
Path, that there are those who choose to steadfastly walk it with
inexorable earnestness, free from fear of the troubles and
dangers that lurk at every crossroad, free from selfishness and
the lower personality? What is the final purpose of it? Who are
those Pilgrims who have chosen to travel it?
We know what the final purpose is, and we know whither this Path
will lead, ultimately. It is to the Heart of the Universe.
Where shall we find it? How do we tread the Path that leads to
the Heart of the Universe? Who are they, who have the courage and
the strength and the perseverance to commence upon that steep
Path? Are they supermen, liberated from human weaknesses? Are
they gods or semi-gods, exempt from human qualities?
No, Companions. The Chela is a human being, like all of us. His
nature is dual, with a higher and a lower aspect. It places him
before contradictory objectives. The Chela, too, knows the
flashlights of personal desires and temptations, the delusions of
self-conceit. He knows them all, as they arise in the lower
nature of man. He knows them all, but he is not confused by
them; they do not get hold of him. There is a secret, invisible
guide, safely leading the Chela along the marshlands of impurity.
This guide is the Chela's own knowledge that he must travel his
thorny road without paying attention to his lower personality.
The only yearning infilling his thoughts and his very being, is,
to approach nearer and nearer to that wondrous Heart of the
Universe whose steady pulsation is echoed in the deepest recesses
of his own heart. His attention is focused on the great SELF of
the Universe, in which he has found again his own deepest Self.
Thus, he treads the Path, blind and deaf to the temptations and
the sorrows of the lower personality, in which he, too, being
human, is clothed. He does not fight. He does not attempt to
kill his lower nature. All violence is strange to him. He does
not grieve at the faults that lie behind him any more than a
little child regrets its last fall when it is intent on learning
to walk, but just rises again, ready and strong for new
Nor does the Chela in a personal sense rejoice at his own
progress. He knows that all personal ambition will distract him
from the lofty goal he has in view. He does not pride himself on
his attainments; no more does he grieve at his failures. There
is but one aim, one wish: to tread the Path that will bring him
nearer and nearer to the Source of all Being.
If we ask the pilgrim whether it is not a difficult road to
follow, he will smile at us pityingly and answer that not HIS
Path is difficult to walk, but OURS, as far as it leads us away
from the Light. If we point at his bleeding feet, he will look
down in surprise, for certainly, HE had not noticed the wounds,
and they do not harm him. In fact, there is nothing left of the
personal man in him that can be hurt or harmed. He keeps aloof
from ambition. He does not know of jealousy. Hatred and anger
are incapable of disturbing his inner peace and balance. Thus,
he advances on the Path, which is rough to the PERSONAL man only,
but is like a broad highway, like a flowery plain for him, who,
while renouncing the personal self, FINDS himself in the
Truly, how could it be otherwise? We read in GOLDEN PRECEPTS OF
> In living the Chela life, you simply exchange things that you
> detest inwardly, that you hate, for things that are beautiful,
> helpful; exchanging weakness for strength, ugliness for beauty,
> blindness for vision, darkness for Light.
Thus is the revolution that takes place in the inner life of him
who steadfastly and courageously places his feet on the Chela
Where is this sacred Path to be found? How can we tread it? The
Chela Path lies within us. Yea, we ourselves ARE the Chela Path.
"Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become that
Path itself," says H.P. Blavatsky in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE,
and likewise say all the great Teachers of Humanity.
The Path lies within ourselves, within each one of us. For that
very reason, we all can tread the Path, as the possibilities lie
hidden in each and all of us. Every human being knows of
precious moments in his life, during which he lives in his higher
nature. Do let us keep in mind continuously that what is needed
to raise ourselves to the higher, spiritual plane is not to
acquire new faculties, but rather to let the obstructions of our
lower nature fall off quietly, like water drops fall off a swan's
The confusion of the lower desires, the passions of anger, the
bragging of ambition, the false smile of self-sufficiency, the
whisperings of jealousy, the clamor of unbrotherliness, all drown
the still small voice of the Higher Self. Silence their noise,
and we find ourselves face to face with our own inner divinity.
As soon as we consciously strive to attain this purpose, we find
ourselves on the Chela Path. Even beforehand, we had a vision of
the wondrous possibilities that lie hidden in man. For isn't it
true, Companions, that we all of us know the blessed moments of
inspiration in which the great, the good, the beautiful, is born
from within us, the moments of self-forgetfulness and grandeur,
in which we can perform deeds and can think thoughts of which
later on we can hardly understand that they were OUR deeds, OUR
thoughts? We had outgrown our lower personality for a short
They are the moments of sacred emotion, during which the grand
secret of the Universe reveals itself to us in the beauty of a
flower, in the smile of a little child, or in the sparkling of a
dewdrop. They are the blessed moments in which we experience
that there is no such thing as segregation; that all separateness
is an illusion; moments in which the true Oneness of all being
opens itself as a glorious verity before our enthralled vision.
It is the whisperings of the Divine within ourselves, the
comprehension of which will come home to us when the lower voices
are silenced. It is the reflection of the inner Light radiating
through the lower principles now become transparent for a while.
These spiritual experiences may serve as guides to the Chela
Path. From the very moment we consciously determine to do our
utmost to raise continuously our whole being up to this high
plane of thought and living, we have placed our feet on the
The Chela Path is open for all who long to tread it; for all who
have the vision to recognize it; for all who do not fear the
sharp thorns that will tear the Pilgrim's human feet.
Oh wondrous Chela Path, Path of growth, it is said. Yet verily
the Path of growth is not a difficult one, though none can tread
it but on wounded feet. How are we to understand this strange
paradox? Is it the Path of Growing Consciousness? Then whereby is
this growth obtained?
There is one word, weighty with significance, and it will give us
the answer. It is SELF-FORGETFULNESS. Self-forgetfulness
coupled with continuous self-renunciation. For the Chela Path is
the path of renunciation of the personal selfhood. The thorns
and the wounds belong to the personal selfhood only. Paying
attention to them while walking the path, he will be racked and
tortured. The Chela does not heed it. What he is aiming at is
growth of the consciousness of the Higher Self. This growth
keeps pace with the Chela's success in losing sight of his
personal self. Only thus can he proceed along the Pathway.
There is a danger threatening him at every step. It lies in
looking back on the personality and in entangling again in past
faults and failures. They will make him slide down and fall. If
he with the greatest exertion stands up again, he will find that
he must travel anew part of the road he had already covered
before his fall.
The Chela Path consists in rising and falling. In this sense
too, it is a Path of growth, along which the Chela progresses
ever more steadily so that his stumbles become fewer and fewer.
This is spoken of in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, where it says:
> No Arhan, Oh Lanoo, becomes one in that birth when for the first
> time the Soul begins to long for final liberation. Yet, Oh thou
> anxious one, no warrior volunteering fight in the fierce strife
> between the living and the dead, not one recruit can ever be
> refused the right to enter on the Path that leads toward the
> field of Battle.
Even if he does stumble and fall down, even so the effort is not
lost, for as HPB says:
> If he falls, even then he does not fall in vain; the enemies he
> slew in the last battle will not return to life in the next birth
> that will be his.
When the Chela, guided by his holy perseverance, equipped with
the armor of the seven Paramitas, succeeds in traveling the
Pathway to the very end, then a crossroad awaits him not far from
the ultimate goal. The Path divides itself and becomes the Two
Paths. The one is called the Open Way. It leads to the ultimate
goal: Nirvana. The other, the Secret Way, leads him back to the
world as a Buddha of Compassion. Guided by his Compassion and
his self-forgotten love, he renounces even the state of perfect
bliss and once more descends to the earth, saying, "As long as
there is one soul left in anguish yet, I will not enter upon
Thus, Companions, is the lofty Choice of the Lords Buddha. So,
too, is the Choice, be it on a small scale, put to any one who
commences upon the Chela Path, at each moment of his life. For
at each step we are placed before the Choice of the Two Paths,
one leading up to Delivery and Bliss, the other to Renunciation,
also called the Path of Woe.
As HPB says in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE:
> Behold! The goal of Bliss and the long Path of Woe are at the
> furthest end. Thou canst choose either, Oh aspirant to Sorrow,
> throughout the coming cycles!
Companions, it is not a choice of one single moment. They that
desire to tread the Path, have to make a choice at each new step.
Ultimately all will travel the Path of Woe, the only Road
possible to him who has attained to perfect self-forgetfulness
and all-embracing Compassion. The Goal seems endlessly far ahead
when the Chela sets out on his Great Journey. Countless are the
opportunities to choose the Open Path, the one leading up to
ultimate Bliss. His eyes will compassionately fall on those who
walk behind him in the valleys of suffering and ignorance His
ears will listen to even the faintest sighs of unhappiness and
sorrow and in this way. He will arrive at the Great
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part VII
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.]
AMONG THE SAGES
Three things are said by Apollonius of the Sages, "I have seen
the Brachmanes of India dwelling on the earth, and not on the
earth; defended without walls; 'possessing nothing, yet having
everything.' They sleep on grass spread on the ground; they wear
their hair long with white miters or turbans. The only clothing
they wear is a short tunic made apparently of asbestos from which
oil is extracted. By virtue of their ring and wand they are able
to discover many secrets."
The sages receive Apollonius with hearty greeting and open arms.
Iarchas sat on a high throne of black brass adorned with figures
of wrought gold; the others sat in seats regularly arranged below
the throne, not so high and without the golden figures.
Iarchas immediately asked for the letter that Apollonius had from
the King of the Indians, and on the latter expressing surprise at
his knowing about it, he declared that inside the letter was a
letter D missing, which was found to be the case when it was
Iarchas remarked that the other men are accustomed to ask a new
arrival who he is and what he comes for. "But the first proof we
give of our knowledge is that we know all of this beforehand." He
then told Apollonius the whole of his family history both on the
father's and mother's side, what happened at Aegae, his first
interview with Damis, the conversation they had on the way, and
what they learnt from others. This was all related by the Indian
sage in a clear distinct order, without any hesitation, as if he
had traveled with them.
Apollonius was amazed at what he heard and asked how Iarchas came
by this knowledge. Iarchas replied, "Thou Apollonius art come to
share in this wisdom, but art not yet in full possession of all."
Apollonius asked if he might not be made acquainted with this
wisdom, and Iarchas heartily acquiesced.
"Have you been able to form any opinion of my natural
"Yes, we can discern the different dispositions of the mind by a
variety of ways," answered Iarchas. "But noon is approaching and
we must prepare for the offerings to the gods, after which we can
talk about that. You are invited to assist at our religious
worship." Apollonius was delighted with the permission.
The ceremony he witnessed was peculiar. First they anointed
themselves with a preparation of amber, after which they bathed.
Next they went to a temple, crowned with garlands, and singing
hymns with all due solemnity. There they formed themselves into
the figure of the ancient chorus, with Iarchas at their head as
Coryphaeus. Then with staves uplifted they struck the earth all
together, which made it heave and swell like the waves of the
sea. By this they were elevated almost two cubits above it.
Meanwhile they continued singing a hymn not unlike one of
Sophocles's paeans sung at Athens in honor of Aesculapius. The
religious exercises took much time, and at the end the sages took
their seats, with Apollonius seated on the throne of Phraotes
ready to debate with them.
Invited to ask any question of "the men who know all things,"
Apollonius asked whether they knew themselves. He had an idea
that, like the Greeks, they would consider this a difficult
Iarchas replied, "We know all things because we know ourselves.
Not one of us would have been admitted to the study of
philosophy, were we without that previous knowledge."
Admiring the reply, Apollonius next asked what they thought of
"Gods, said Iarchas.
"Why," asked the Greek.
"Because WE ARE GOOD MEN," was the answer. So wise did
Apollonius consider it that he afterwards used it in his defense
IARCHAS ON REINCARNATION
Apollonius asked Iarchas, "What is your opinion of the Soul?"
"The same," said Iarchas, "as was delivered by Pythagoras to you,
and by us to the Egyptians."
"Am I to understand," asked Apollonius, "that as Pythagoras said
he was Euphorbus, so you were some Trojan or Greek, or other
person before you become possessed of your present body?"
"Troy was destroyed by the Greeks who sailed to its shores, and
you are destroyed by the tales told of it," said the Indian.
"From an idea that the men who fought at Troy were the only men
to be esteemed, you overlook many of a more divine character born
in your country, in Egypt, and in India. But since you have
asked about my former body, tell me who was the worthiest of
those who fought for or against Troy!"
"Achilles, son of Peleus and Thetis," replied Apollonius. "He is
celebrated by Homer as the most beautiful and valiant of all the
Greeks and his deeds are described as being greater than all
others. The Ajaxes and Nereuses are also celebrated for their
beauty and courage, but only next after Achilles."
"You may compare my progenitor with him; or rather the body of my
progenitor, for such was the light in which Pythagoras considered
"There was a time," he continued, "when this country was
inhabited by the Ethiopians, an Indian nation. Ethiopia did not
then exist, for Egypt stretched its boundaries beyond Meroe and
the cataracts, taking in not only the sources, but the mouths of
the Nile. Whilst the Ethiopians lived in the country now
possessed by us, and were obedient to the rule of a sovereign
named Ganges, they had all the productions of the earth in
plenty, and were secure under the protection of heaven. But when
they murdered their King, they were no longer regarded as pure by
the rest of the Indians, and the land produced not what was
sufficient for their subsistence. Their corn was destroyed
before it came into ear; the women suffered from frequent
miscarriages; and the land could not support their flocks and
cattle. Wherever they fixed on for building a city, the ground
gave way, and sunk under their feet. The ghost of their King
Ganges haunted them wherever they went, and struck a terror into
the lower orders which never ceased till atonement was made to
the earth, of the perpetrators of the murder and the shedders of
the King's blood. This Ganges, whose beauty was above that of
other men, was ten cubits high. It was the son of the Ganges
River. The deluge which was brought on by the father was turned
into the Red Sea by the son, in consequence of which the father
again became friendly to the land. When the King lived, the
earth brought forth its fruits in abundance, but when he died it
took ample vengeance.
"Homer says Achilles sailed to Troy for the sake of Helen, and
subdued twelve cities by sea and eleven by land; but adds that
when she was forced from him by Agamemnon, he became cruel and
ungovernable. Let us compare in these circumstances the Grecian
hero with this Indian Prince. He was the founder of sixty
cities, the most famous in the country. To build will be
admitted better than to destroy. Ganges next drove out the
Scythians who marched an army over Caucasus and infested the
country. To liberate a country is unquestionably greater than to
enslave a city and that for a woman who was, likely enough, not
carried away without her consent. Besides, the Prince of the
country now reigned over by Phraotes, contrary to all justice,
carried off the wife of Ganges; and her virtue was such that he
would not break the alliance entered into between them, saying
that in spite of the injury to him personally, he would not
violate a treaty which he had religiously sworn to observe.
"I could enumerate many more actions of this man," said Iarchas
"was I not afraid of speaking in my own praise, as I was that
identical person, something that I proved when I was only four
years old. Ganges, it is known, buried in the grounds seven
adamantine swords, which he did for the purpose of freeing the
country ever after of all hostile alarm."
(Ctesias is quoted as saying that the Indians used to bury iron
in the ground to avert the consequences of storms and such
disturbances. This is evidently an echo of the Indian use of the
principle of the lightning-conductor, known among many ancient
"The Gods ordered a sacrifice to be offered on the very spot
where the swords were hid, but none could point out the place.
Though at the time a child, I took the interpreters of the oracle
to the place where I commanded them to dig, and said the swords
"Be not surprised," said Iarchas, "at my transformation from
Indian to Indian. Here is a youth (and he pointed to one not
more than twenty years of age), who is above all men I know best
qualified for cultivating philosophy; one who is of good health,
of an excellent constitution, capable of enduring any pain of
fire or amputation; and yet, in spite of all this, he hates
"What kind of disease is he suffering from," asked Apollonius.
"It is extraordinary to think that a man of such qualities,
whilst in your society, should neither cultivate nor love
"The truth is," said Iarchas, "that he is not of our company, but
rather in our keeping: for like a lion taken and confined against
his will, he looks upon us with an evil eye, even when we are
flattering and caressing him. This youth was Palamedes, who
served in the war of Troy. There he had to encounter two most
bitter enemies, Ulysses and Homer, one of whom laid an ambush for
him, in consequence of which he was stoned to death. The other
deemed him unworthy of a place in his poems. Finding that his
wisdom was of no avail and his name unrecorded by Homer (who has
noticed many others of less celebrity); and besides that he was
outwitted by Ulysses (though innocent), he hates philosophy and
deplores his own fate. And this is the Palamedes who wrote
without ever having been taught the use of letters."
A FORMER INCARNATION OF APOLLONIUS
While they were talking, a messenger arrived from the King to say
he would be with them at noon to discuss some business of his.
"Let him come, since he may go back better than he came, after
conversing with the Greek," said Iarchas in reply to the
messenger, as he turned to continue his conversation with
Apollonius, asking what his last incarnation was.
"It was ignoble and I remember little of it," declared
"Do you then consider it ignoble to be the pilot of an Egyptian
vessel," asked Iarchas. "I know that is what you were."
"You are right," said Apollonius. "Yet I consider that condition
of life not only ignoble but despicable. It is true that
knowledge of maritime affairs is considered as reputable as
governing a city or commanding an army; but it has fallen into
contempt on account of the character of those who follow it. The
action I pride myself most upon in that profession is not one
that entitles much praise to me."
Iarchas asked what that action was, and led Apollonius to narrate
how he had been approached in a temple by a pirate's secret agent
tempting him by great promises of wealth and property to betray
to them a richly laden ship in his charge. Afraid to refuse for
the sake of the ship and the risk of attack, Apollonius appeared
to entertain the proposal with every sign of sincerity; and after
making all arrangements, sailed his ship as far away from the
pirate's hunting-ground as he could.
"Is this what you look upon as a great act of justice," asked
"Yes, and of humanity too," was the answer. "I think that many
virtues are comprised in the character of a pilot who neither
destroys the lives of men nor wastes the substance of his
employers; and who, above all, conquers his love of money."
Iarchas smiled. "I think you make justice consist in not doing
injustice," he said. The Indian philosopher discoursed of the
manner in which the Greeks acted upon this principle, even to the
point of the poets making the cruel Minos a judge in Hades; while
Tantalus, who gave to the men the blessing of immortality is
deprived by them of food and drink; and they even describe him as
having a stone suspended over his head. Instead of which,
Iarchas said he would like to see him placed in a lake of nectar,
of which he made so generous a distribution to others. Saying
this, he showed Apollonius a statue of Tantalus which stood at
their left hand, about four cubits in height, appearing like a
Greek some fifty years of age. In one hand was a goblet of pure
sparkling liquid which was always filled but never overflowing,
enough to quench a man's thirst.
EDGAR ALLEN POE AS SEER, Part I
By Henry T. Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, October 1937, pages 246-55.]
We find many of the best-known teachings of Theosophy in Poe.
This is important because of the prevalent ignorance of the fact.
Misconceptions concerning him have prevented some from reading
his best writings. Those who have read him may judge based on
preconceptions about Poe rather than from the intrinsic worth of
To write a criticism of the man and his works in general is not
our present purpose, and a few brief remarks must suffice as
introduction to our main topic. To whomsoever the fault may be
due, the fact remains that his literary executor defamed Poe, and
that the writers in encyclopedias and works on literature, who
are not always as wise as their claims would suggest, accepted
this false picture without examination.
Later, certain writers who possessed the ability to assess values
by intrinsic merit, and to judge the author by his works rather
than the other way round, succeeded in exposing the calumnies.
No doubt, some of these carried the reaction too far in the other
direction; but at the present date, it is easy for anyone to
obtain a fair and balanced judgment concerning the life and
character of Poe.
He was an over-sensitive and badly balanced temperament, a sad
misfit in the world into which he was born. He suffered from
misunderstanding, frustration, and continual poverty. Like a
being that a passing comet has deposited upon an unfamiliar
globe, he lived in a realm strangely apart from ordinary human
interests. His intense and one-sided temperament carries him to
great heights, and by inevitable reaction to morbid depths.
His tales are all in the strange aloof world of his: he fails
when he tries to introduce the usual components of a fictional
narrative -- human interest, dialog, etc. Some of these tales
are beautiful, others morbid; all are chaste. His attempts at
humor are distressing. It is in his prose writings rather than
in his scanty verse that he justifies his title of poet.
Poe's almost invariable habit of writing in the first person has
probably led some not very competent critics into the belief that
many of his tales are autobiographical. Such a technique comes
natural to a genius whose object is intensity and vividness. To
write a tale in the third person is to give an outside view; the
true artist thinks himself into that which he designs to portray,
realizes the drama in his mind, and identifies himself with the
character. How much more vivid instead of "Mr. So-and-so came
of a race noted for vigor of fancy, etc." -- to write, "I am come
of a race noted for vigor of fancy."
Psychoanalytic experts have dissected his character in a way that
impresses you only so long as you fail to realize that any other
complex character -- yours or mine -- could be dissected in
precisely the same way and with the same results. We one and all
have subtle motives which we suppress until we can find an
opportunity of expressing them under some respectable disguise;
Poe is a long way from being the only writer who has sought
relief by expressing in imagination what he has failed to express
in actual life.
There will be some who, having prejudged Poe in consequence of
the misrepresentations, will not either read his best writings or
will dismiss them as the lucid intervals of a dipsomaniac; which
perhaps will seem to them a good reason for discounting anything
he has said, regardless of possible intrinsic merit. There will
be also what we may call the supernaturalists, who regard
manifestations of genius as due to some occult inspiration from a
power behind the scenes, said power being in turn but the medium
for a still higher power; and so on, so that the source
continually recedes like the rainbow.
This doctrine contravenes the idea that man contains within
himself the potency of all knowledge, and this potency can be
brought into actuality by his own efforts. Poe shows no sign of
indebtedness to the Orient or to ancient Greece. Whether his
intuitions were his own, or were breathed into him by somebody
else, let each decide for himself.
In his prose poem "Eureka," Poe shows the universe as proceeding
from an original unity to multiplicity, and back from
multiplicity to unity; the two tendencies being continually
operative, their perpetual interaction causing the movement, the
stress, the joy, or life; the close of a cycle of manifestation
being marked by the final predominance of the unifying tendency.
This universe is only one of an infinite number of universes.
These surely are Theosophical doctrines. Gravitation is the
desire of separated particles to return to unity; they seek the
center of spheres, not because these are centers, but because
such is the shortest road towards unity. This general principle
is worked out at great length and much detail in a consideration
of the stellar universe and its mechanics.
It must not be thought that he leaves us with a dry mechanism or
views the universe as a cold crystal. For him, all is life, down
to the smallest atomic particle; the entire universe is sentient.
In this, he bears out his own contention that a MERE
mathematician cannot reason, but that a man must be a poet as
well as a mathematician. See "The Purloined Letter," "As poet
AND mathematician, he would reason well; as mere mathematician he
could not have reasoned at all." The following extract from the
conclusion of "Eureka" will illustrate what we have said:
> There was an epoch in the Night of Time, when a still existent
> being existed -- one of an infinite number of similar Beings that
> people the infinite domains of the infinite space. It was not
> and is not in the power of this Being -- any more than it is in
> your own -- to extend by actual increase, the joy of his
> Existence; but just as it IS in your power to expand or to
> concentrate your pleasures (the absolute amount of happiness
> remaining always the same) so did and does a similar capability
> appertain to this Divine Being, who thus passes his Eternity in
> perpetual variation of Concentrated Self and almost Infinite
> Self-Diffusion. What you call the Universe is but his present
> expansive existence. He now feels his life through an infinity
> of imperfect pleasures -- the partial and pain-intertangled
> pleasures of those inconceivably numerous things that you
> designate as his creatures, but which are really but infinite
> individualizations of Himself. All these creatures – ALL --
> those which you term animate, as well as those to whom you deny
> life for no better reason than that you do not behold it in
> operation -- ALL these creatures have, in a greater or less
> degree, a capacity for pleasure and for pain: -- BUT THE GENERAL
> SUM OF THEIR SENSATIONS IS PRECISELY THAT AMOUNT OF HAPPINESS
> WHICH APPERTAINS BY RIGHT TO THE DIVINE BEING WHEN CONCENTRATED
> WITHIN HIMSELF. These creatures are all, too, more or less
> conscious Intelligences; conscious, first, of a proper identity;
> conscious, secondly, and by faint indeterminate glimpses, of an
> identity with the Divine Being of whom we speak -- of an identity
> with God. Of the two classes of consciousness, fancy that the
> former will grow weaker, the latter stronger, during the long
> succession of ages that must elapse before these myriads of
> individual Intelligences become blended -- when the bright stars
> become blended -- into One. Think that the sense of individual
> identity will be gradually merged in the general consciousness --
> that Man, for example, ceasing imperceptibly to feel himself Man,
> will at length attain that awfully triumphant epoch when he shall
> recognize his existence as that of Jehovah. In the meantime,
> bear in mind that all is Life -- Life -- Life within Life -- the
> less within the greater, and all within the SPIRIT DIVINE.
It is superfluous to point out the many ideas familiar to
Theosophists that occur in this passage. In another passage, he
speaks of the "law of periodicity."
> Are we not more than justified in entertaining a belief -- let us
> say rather in indulging a hope -- that the processes we have here
> ventured to contemplate will be renewed forever, and forever, and
> forever; a novel Universe swelling into existence, and then
> subsiding into nothingness, at every throb of the Heart Divine?
We also note the familiar analogy between the Great Breath and
the pulse of the heart. As to this heart, he continues:
> Now -- this Heart Divine -- what is it? IT IS OUR OWN.
This redeems the philosophy from all suspicion of being that of
an external universe, a universe purely objective, omitting the
subject, and therefore unreal and abstract. Such an external
objective universe is familiar enough to scientific philosophy,
and to many metaphysical systems. This cutting off object from
subject not only shuts out one-half of reality but also precludes
a just comprehension of the remaining half.
Poe's criterion of truth is its beauty, its consistency, the
conviction that it brings to the mind, the response as of
recognition that it evokes from the heart. He makes great fun of
the inductive and deductive methods, which he dubs the method of
creeping and the method of crawling. The pedants who rely on
either of these methods do not care whether a truth is true; all
they want to know is the method by which the alleged truth has
been arrived at; if it has not been arrived at by their favorite
method, it is not true. We are reminded of those earnest truth
seekers who are always demanding "proof" -- people who, to be
logical, would have to deny their own existence. Here is a
passage from "Mellonta Tauta" ("These things are of the future"):
> Do you know that it is not more than a thousand years ago since
> the metaphysicians consented to relieve the people of the
> singular fancy that there existed but TWO POSSIBLE ROADS FOR THE
> ATTAINMENT OF TRUTH! Believe it if you can!
Then with his cumbrous humor, he makes fun of the Aristotelians
and the Baconians, who started from axioms and sensations
respectively, or from noumena and phenomena. These notions
operated to retard the progress of knowledge -- which makes its
advances almost invariably by intuitive bounds.
> No man dared utter a truth for which be felt himself indebted to
> his SOUL alone. It mattered not whether the truth was even
> DEMONSTRABLY a truth, for the bullet-headed savants of the time
> regarded only THE ROAD by which he had attained it. They would
> not even LOOK at the end. "Let us see the means," they cried,
> "the means!" If, upon investigation of the means, it was found to
> come under neither the category Aries (that is to say Ram) nor
> under the category Hog, why then the savants went no farther, but
> pronounced the "theorist" a fool, and would have nothing to do
> with him or his truth.
> Is it not passing strange that, with their eternal prattling
> about ROADS to Truth, these bigoted people missed what we now so
> clearly perceive to be the great highway -- that of Consistency?
> Does it not seem singular how they should have failed to deduce
> from the works of God the vital fact that a perfect consistency
> MUST be an absolute truth!
The problem of the origin of evil presents no difficulty to one
who views the universe in this way; he sees that we have imposed
sorrows upon ourselves for our own purposes. The passage quoted
below also connects this thought with the idea of the unity of
all souls in the one Oversoul.
> No thinking being lives who, at some luminous point of his life
> of thought, has not felt himself lost amid the surges of futile
> efforts at understanding or believing that anything exists that
> is GREATER THAN HIS OWN SOUL. It is utterly impossible for
> anyone's soul to feel itself inferior to another. There is an
> intense overwhelming dissatisfaction and rebellion at the
> thought. These, with the omni-prevalent aspirations at
> perfection are but the spiritual, coincident with the material,
> struggles towards the original Unity -- are, to my mind at least,
> a species of proof far surpassing what Man terms demonstration,
> that no one soul IS inferior to another -- that nothing is, or
> can be, superior to any one soul. Each soul is, in part, its own
> God -- its own Creator: -- in a word, that God -- the material
> AND spiritual God -- NOW exists solely in the diffused Matter and
> Spirit of the Universe; and that the regathering of this diffused
> Matter and Spirit will be but the reconstitution of the PURELY
> Spiritual and Individual God.
> In this view, and in this view alone, we comprehend the riddles
> of Divine Injustice -- or Inexorable Fate. In this view alone,
> the existence of Evil becomes intelligible; but in this view it
> becomes more -- it becomes endurable. Our souls no longer rebel
> at a SORROW that we ourselves have imposed upon ourselves, in
> furtherance of our own purposes -- with a view -- if even with a
> futile view -- to the extension of our own JOY.
THE UNSEEN DIVINE
By Walter Eugene Kent
Sitting to meditate, peace again fills me and I am set free.
The troubles of the world have stopped, their ugly voices are not
A sweet and warm love fills me, but this love is quiet, without
I find myself not fighting anger, it is sleepiness and dreaminess
that oppose me.
Making war on an untrained imagination is incredibly hard!
I cannot simply confront it and in a heroic effort tear it to
For the sly devil of unconsciousness and darkness will never face
It slips in behind my back and catches me unaware, bringing
I will kill you, devil! You must die! I must and shall win this
It is you that oppose life and bring about its decay, collapse,
And I will sit here in meditation wrestling with you until I can
get hold of you.
Then I will apply tremendous pressure as I kill you by giving you
When given form and shape, you cannot survive, for you are a
By forcing you to enter my conscious world of manifest life,
I shall destroy your foul, dark, poisonous, seductive emanations.
Let there be light! Let consciousness reign supreme! Annihilate
There is another form of darkness, though, that is rich, sweet,
This is the sweet darkness of the void, the unspeakable wonder of
It consists of an ocean of boundless love, of pure wisdom, of
And it is only hidden from my gaze by the slimy pseudo-darkness
of the enemy.
The enemy is a very personal thing; it fits me as closely as dirt
on my body.
This dirt must be washed clean, and to do so requires ruthless
It is necessary to watch out for it; in the blink of an eye I
could be overtaken.
Minutes later, I might look up in amazement. How did I lose?
When did I forget?
Still meditating, I find a time of such delightful clearness of
For many seconds, perhaps even minutes, I am free, clean, pure in
This is not an experience of a psychic circus of colors and loud
Far grander, it is a joyous taste of profound, sacred, but
One may ask me why I should sit still and meditate by myself.
There are so many enriching and rewarding things to do in the
But too much greed for outer life starves me, I become a ghost.
It is the loving communion with the unseen divine that brightens
A STUDY IN FUNDAMENTALS, Part V
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the first part of the tape recording on
"Chapter XII of FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, Part
II," made of a private class held on June 2, 1954.]
We continue the study of Chapter 12 of Fundamentals. Already
touched upon, the first point regards the essential nature and
characteristics of man as an evolving entity. It addresses the
doctrine of Swabhava further.
The author speaks of the main characteristics of Swabhava:
self-formation, self-evolution, self-development, and
self-becoming. These relate closely to universal hierarchies and
the law of the essential nature of things. He points out that
the essential nature of man is responsible for everything he is
or will ever become. This is important. Man is responsible for
Also part of other things, man is responsible to them as well.
This is the ethical implication of the doctrine of the essential
nature of man, Swabhava, of self-becoming and self-unfoldment.
Man is responsible for himself because his urge for action come
from within. It does not come from without, even if largely
influenced by the action of others. He is responsible to his
Higher Self but also responsible to other beings because we are
all essentially one.
Since we spring from the same source ultimately, Swabhava
involves ethical responsibility. It is impossible to understand
these Teachings without feeling a greater responsibility in life
for our actions, thoughts, and feelings. It is impossible to
understand this doctrine of the essential Svabhavic nature of man
without becoming aware of the interconnectedness of all that is.
We have previously covered questions like, "What makes a rose
bring forth always a rose, or an acorn bringing forth always an
oak?" Be it of an oak tree or a future man, any seed contains
within the spiritual characteristics of the entity essential to
embody itself, to grow forth from that seed. The seed also holds
the entire past history of that entity. That is important.
We plant a seed and see an oak grows out of it. This means the
grown oak was contained in the seed in potential. Even more
important, it also means the entire history of that oak species
through 10,000's and 100,000's of years is also contained in the
seed. That seed came from an oak. The oak came from another
seed. The seed came from yet another oak. Thus into the
immemorial past there stretches a line of physical heredity. In
the case of spiritual entities such as man, there stretches a
line of the spiritual heredity as well.
Start from today's incarnation and look back to the seed that
produced it. Look back to the man in his former incarnation
giving rise to the seed of the present life. Going back, we have
the same sequence as with seed and oak, oak and seed. This law
holds true even when we look upon a man and do not know his
physical heredity or genealogical tree. From the standpoint of
the ancient teachings, his present incarnation is merely the
result of a line of past lives.
This teaching of the essential nature of man as a seed in
unfoldment was prominent among the Stoics of Greece and Rome.
They spoke mainly of the formation of a system of worlds. They
used the Greek term "Logoi" (plural for "Logos"). The seed or
spermatic Logoi were seed-reasons that sprang into existence at
the beginning of a Manvantara. They unfold whole hierarchies of
beings from within, the natural result of former embodiments of
the same system.
There is no essential difference between the various scales of
life. There is no difference between the formation of a world
system and the formation of you or me for an incarnation. We all
come from a seed. That seed is compound both outwardly and
inwardly. A solar system has millions of different hierarchies
in it. The same applies to you and me. Even in our physical
body, we are an aggregate of hierarchies. We are a world in
When the next period of evolution came, these Logoi could only
produce that which they were already. As seeds do, they produced
their inner natures. A seed can produce nothing but itself,
nothing but what is in it. This is the heart of Swabhava. Many
would to describe it as a law. It is really a habit of nature.
Nature operates upon this basis. It is not a law established by
someone, but rather is the habit of nature itself, the manner in
which nature operates.
Next, everything comes from within. The higher does not leave
its sphere in the process of unfoldment. The higher does not
entirely become the lower, and the lower wholly become still
lower, leaving a vacuum or emptiness above. The life on the
higher spheres remains always. Dr. de Purucker says it is like
the flame of a candle laid at the wick of another candle. From
that one candle, you can light all the candles of the universe, a
simile that HPB also used. You can light all the candles of the
universe without diminution of its energy, force, or
characteristic essence. The highest remains the highest always.
It remains that part of us, the developing energy acting from
Atman, the Inner God, or the Inner Flame is the root of
everything we are. It descends into lower spheres for evolution.
A ray from it comes down, becoming Buddhi. Down further, it
becomes Manas. Down yet further, it becomes the lower
We do not mean that the highest itself ever descends into lower
spheres. The Stoics did not mean this in ancient Rome and Greece
nor did any similar philosophy in India. The highest simply
sends a ray out of itself, an influence. It activates elements
in the descending spheres of being. Widening its sphere of
influence, it overshadows these elements. It remains in its own
sphere from which it cannot descend because it is a denizen of
Cycling into existence, everything manifests aspects of itself on
the lower spheres. Look about us in this world. Where is our
Inner God? Is it here? Obviously, it is not here. Where is our
higher Ego? It is certainly not here. Our Higher Ego is on the
inner planes with an influence that penetrates down to the lowest
plane partially. Paradoxically, there is even an Atmic presence
in the lower spheres. It is true of our physical bodies, even to
their last little cells. There is also a presence from Buddhi,
and from Manas.
The Inner God exists as an emanation, influence, or guiding
presence in the most material or grossest spheres of life.
Otherwise, there would be no connection between the grossest and
the highest. The Esoteric Philosophy states that everything
hangs together. The idea is that the highest comes down,
manifesting itself in the lowest, however twisted and degraded
the lower may be. This principle has a practical application.
Our passions, lusts, and criminal tendencies are not evil
energies. They are not forces of evil in the Christian sense,
completely dissimilar from the divine and in opposition to the
highest. They are simply twisted spiritual energies, energies
distorted out of shape. They run in the wrong direction.
As students of Occultism, we do not intend to destroy our
personalities, forever removing the passionate energies. We
transmute the energies into their spiritual equivalent. We
raise, untwist, and straighten them out, removing their
distortions. We redirect the hates, dislikes, and other
manifestations of selfishness. We make an ally of the divine
spark in them, using its energies for high purposes.
However low and gross our personality may be, the ultimate
essence of it reflects nobility and greatness. If we can
straighten out its distortions, the energies manifesting as vices
will become tremendous forces allied with our higher nature, now
working for good.
Should we kill out our personality, killing our selfish
propensities? No! This is sheer nonsense that some half-baked
students believe and teach. There is nothing to kill. We
transmute energy to higher octaves. Manifesting in our lower
vices, it is no more evil than electric current in a wire, which
can run machinery or blow up a factory if handled wrongly. In
itself, electricity is neither good nor bad.
The energy of our personality is neither good nor bad. It is
universal force. If the motive behind it is selfish, it becomes
evil. Change the motive and it becomes good, manifesting in
higher forms. This is true even in men who have not advanced
far, if they are self-controlled.
The highest comes down to the lower spheres as an influence or
presence without quitting its higher state. Consider the
gestation of a human and his descent into incarnation. His
spiritual nature does not come down becoming his body. It
remains his spiritual nature always. It throws out parts of
itself, its lower principles. As the Manvantaric cycle proceeds,
each part secretes, protrudes, or excretes something lower in
The physical body is a temple reflecting the glory of the Living
God within, the lowest manifestation of that God. What is the
difference between a temple built of stones and a temple in this
sense? Our body is sedimentation of energies coming from within
us, whereas man erects a temple using material brought from
outside and put together. Our body is not a temple built using
material brought from outside. It is a deposit of higher
energies upon the various planes of manifestation. By means of a
complex spiritual mechanism, it finally forms. At one stage, it
forms the human body, which gradually matures.
Do we build the physical body from the food we eat? Yes, if we
consider food as taken from outside nature and put into our
mouth. This view of food is shallow, but true in a limited
sense. The teachers have not given the last word about food.
They have only given hints. There is a more important aspect to
food. When we eat, we absorb the energies that come through
food. It is not easy to say how much of the energies that we
absorb from the food are ours, coming from our inner principles
that way. Our energies come to us at least partially that way.
This is a field ripe for future medical and dietary discoveries.
It is chock-full of occult facts that present-day humanity is
unready to understand.
Some of the energies that come to us through food are ours. We
recall them through our eating. There is a great deal of
evidence for this. I do not want to be specific. The food we to
eat today have come into our organism karmically. We have had
choice in the matter, but karmically a certain number of living
entities have come into our system by means of what we have
eaten. It was not by chance. We have a karmic relation with
that which we have eaten and absorbed. It is anybody's guess as
to what that connection may be on inner lines. A percentage of
the food taken in was part of our constitutions in other lives.
The balance of the food was a temporary vehicle to carry into us
that portion which was ours. There is no accident in this.
Outwardly, everything looks accidental, casual, having no
particular reason. Inwardly, accidents do not exist. Everything
connects together. An individual may eat the same food as
another, existing on the same diet. Only one builds up nicely on
the food. Even though the same food and the food agrees with the
second individual, he does not particularly benefit from it. Is
there any physical explanation? Medicine has a score of
explanations, but the occult facts are not touched at all.
One occult fact is that the first individual absorbs from the
food something that is his own and the second does not. The
second is in a karmic situation whereby there is not much benefit
from that food accruing to him. Some years later, the two may
find themselves in reversed roles. When you explain the lower
manifestations of nature as accidental, you forget the Teaching
of the interconnectedness of all that lives.
We have talked about food. It is the same with heat. Covering
ourselves, we warm ourselves with our own heat reflected back to
us. That is what I experience now, a little bit of heat. There
are profound and wide-reaching implications to the heat that the
physical body contains within itself. Of these, we are concerned
with facts dealing with the evolutionary unfoldment of the man
and his lifespan on earth.
The physical body has heat, inner heat, depending largely upon
food and oxidation (muscle contractions producing heat). It has
another aspect not recognized by science. It appears as a
descending cycle. An individual is hottest when born. About to
die, he or she is the coldest. Through childhood, boyhood, and
adolescence as the frame grows older, it loses heat increasingly.
It becomes colder and colder. The heat of a baby is fantastic
compared with that of middle age or the chill that so many old
Science knows this process on the cosmic scale. There is
tremendous heat early in the evolution of a planet. There are
periods of volcanic and seismic activity. As the planet ages, it
cools. It settles down. It has fewer manifestations of heat
from within. As the physical body of a cosmic entity, it ages
and therefore cools. The human body does the same, mirroring the
cosmic system in which he lives.
Science speaks of dying suns, stars cooling and losing their heat
finally. It does not understand the process entirely, but has
excellent intuitions about it. As far as loss of heat goes,
there is a descending cycle from embodiment to disembodiment. We
know little of the occult relation between that, food, and
The process of evolution does not always work out. At our human
level, there are the soulless and lost souls. The two are quite
Some have indulged in evil consciously for many lives. We call
them lost souls. They love evil for its own sake. They finally
break the tie binding their individuality or Ego with the Inner
God or Monad within. Nothing can destroy a Monad, only its
vehicles. Indulging in evil for its own sake, constantly
shutting out the influence of the monadic self, and living
increasingly in devotion to evil, they finally break the tie to
the inner divinity.
Seeking purification, the lower parts of these unfortunate people
drop out of this hierarchy. As H.P. Blavatsky put it, Nature's
laboratory grinds them over. Their Monads finds themselves at
the foot of the class, having to evolve anew their vehicles
throughout ages to come.
A much different class of people, the soulless are younger souls.
They are not born spiritually yet. They have not tapped the
fullness of their spiritual nature. They have not recognized
that there is such a thing. The bridge binding them to their
inner self is there, though weak and with little conscious
connection. They do not reflect much of the guiding force from
within in their minds and emotions. They are younger souls.
They have been slow in their evolution. They are not soulless in
the sense of not having a soul. That is not the idea. We use
soulless as a technical term, saying they are not fully ensouled
yet. Obviously, we have not fully ensouled ourselves from
within. A Mahatma is, relatively speaking.
We are not soulless because we embody a good deal of our Inner
Man's spiritual aspiration and intuition. Millions are soulless,
relatively unensouled. In this incarnation, the spiritual
humanity of their Inner Self manifests little. The nobler soul
qualities are inactive or dormant.
The link with their Inner God remains unbroken. They have not
devoted themselves to evil. They are not strong enough to devote
themselves to either evil or good. It takes strength to choose
evil in preference to good. It takes a strong individual with an
evil will. Soulless people are colorless. They have not made
choices. Eventually, perhaps a future incarnation, they will
reach a stage where more humanity will manifest through their
soul apparatus. HPB calls them "soulless." Remember that this is
a technical term and does not mean that they have no soul. The
soulless and the lost souls are at entirely different poles of
the evolutionary ladder.
Coming back to the doctrine of Swabhava, you cannot produce
anything that is not within you. What of major evolutionary
steps, like when an animal first transforms into a low human? Is
this a case where a seed does not produce what it was before? No,
it is not, because Swabhava refers to the inner spiritual nature
of the evolving entity.
The Monad manifests in a particular kingdom. Gradually over
time, it manifests the consciousness of the next higher kingdom
from within. At one time, it manifested the mineral
consciousness. Later, it manifested the vegetable consciousness
and then that of the animal kingdom. The Monad will blossom over
time, realizing successive degrees of self-unfoldment out of its
In time, a greater degree of consciousness unfolds from within
the Monad. It is self-consciousness, consciousness recognizing
its own existence. That stage is human. Having a physical body
like ours is not necessary. Being human involves a type of
consciousness. The Monad has reached the point where it has
unfolded self-consciousness. That stage we call human. A Monad
has previously manifested in the higher grades of the animal
kingdom. In a new planetary chain, it now manifests as a low
human, a beginner in the human kingdom. That means it has
unfolded the germ of self-consciousness from within. There is no
The Monad does not drop off or lose anything. It retains
everything previously developed. The Monad begins to manifest in
bodies more human than animal. Even so, there are in between
stages where the physical body had looked ape-like. From this
arose the scientific misconception that man came from the ape.
Science does not teach this any longer, now knowing that man and
ape come from a common ancestor. That is fine, a step towards
the occult teaching. The next would be to discover that the ape
line is a sideline from the human.
Of all animals, apes and perhaps some monkeys are highest and
next to becoming human. They might make the grade in this
Planetary Manvantara, becoming low-type humans. Other animals
will not become human until the next embodiment of this chain.
We have considered how you manifest from within progressively.
There is another wonderful idea. All things contain all things.
In the Scriptures, Paul said, "Be all things to all men." Even
now, we manifest so many facets of our being that we can help any
type of human mind that we want. We understand all because we
are contained in them and they are contained in us.
All things contain all other things. This bears upon the healing
arts. There are many occult connections. Every cell of the body
reflects all that the man is. It symbolizes him in its entirety.
Unquestionably, a science exists whereby we can diagnose a man
from any part of his structure. This could be from any cell of
his body or even from the features of his face. We can diagnose
the ills of a man as well as his good qualities. Unfortunately,
we do not have it yet in our laboratories.
Every part of man contains within itself everything of which that
man is. That was the great idea of Paracelsus, who taught it in
the middle ages. It is impossible to find that out physically.
From research conducted with inner senses, the physician of the
future may have tools at his command for the common good that
would sound fantastic and completely miraculous today.
The Ring-Pass-Not is mentioned several places in Fundamentals.
It goes together with the Teaching of Swabhava. At any time, an
evolving entity has a particular state of consciousness, which is
its Ring-Pass-Not. This state is what it has arrived at from
past evolution. It cannot go beyond that scope or conceive of
anything else. Until it rises to the next stage in unfolding
consciousness, it can only fathom or understand the sphere of its
present consciousness. When it does, it can look back and
realize that it has quit a narrow sphere of consciousness and
stepped into a wider one.
Throughout the ages, mystics have taught that we never know
exactly when we pass into a higher condition of consciousness.
We never know when we are about to cross the threshold. We do
know that we have crossed it when we actually have. We can look
back then, seeing the narrow mold we used to consider home. The
Ring-Pass-Not is the limit beyond which the entity cannot go,
short of another great effort from within. It requires another
stage of growth or unfoldment, sometimes is slow and gradual and
other times it is sudden.
They are two ways in which everything grows. There are periods
of slow, steady growth, punctuated by sudden leaps. It exists in
plants. It exists in chemical reactions. It exists in animal
species. It most certainly exists in us. There are periods of
slow, steady growth. They are so slow sometimes that we might
assume that we stay in a static state. We do not. A leap
forward punctuates the slow growth at times.
There may be a strange, sudden change that is not easily
explainable by science. Science knows of mutations, but not of
their cause. Even in lower species, the cause is a change of
state of consciousness. We may not recognize readily mutation in
a human being. One could write an interesting book on the
subject, showing the sudden transformations of human
consciousness. In the lives of men, such changes may occur
inwardly. Suddenly, you have become an entirely different human
being, with new reactions, attitude, and outlook on life. Your
friends do not recognize you. This does not happen to everyone,
but it happens often enough.
People have latent potential. They frustrate themselves with
self-imposed limits. They may have great talent but think they
cannot go further. Only in this particular sense can we consider
the Ring-Pass-Not as self-imposed. It results naturally from our
reaching this stage of evolution, which has its corresponding
condition of consciousness.
What happens if you become too satisfied? Then you crystallize
yourself in a stage. Perhaps you cease making further effort.
Perhaps you sidetrack yourself into bypaths, killing time with
shallow and silly things. You lessen your efforts for growth,
losing your spirit of adventure in the discovery of new things,
both inner and outer. Then the Ring-Pass-Not, which is really
the stage in which you exist, becomes a crystallized mold.
You could be further ahead. You could be greater. You could
have expanded. You could have reached out to something nobler,
but you have not. There are many possible causes. Perhaps it
was a result of self-satisfaction, conceit, the lack of effort,
some temporary stupidity or foolishness, or simply mental and
Most of us could be much further ahead if we made greater effort.
Few want to make the effort. Consider an early generation of
Theosophists in the 1880's and 1890's, comparing a man like
Damodar with them. Well! He was a Chela that did not stop. He
was not self-satisfied in any way. He made the grade in a way
that nobody else did at the time. The Teachers actually took him
for training in their spiritual retreats. Like Damodar, perhaps
others have pushed forward later on. We do not know. His is an
outstanding case that we know a great deal about.
A great many other people could have done the same, except that
they were sidetracked. They were satisfied with what they got,
only few making any further effort. Much of our limitations are
self-made. We do not make enough of an effort to grow out of
them. We should grow into a wider scope where we certainly will
have limitations, but of a wider nature. The Ring-Pass-Not will
be wider. Our consciousness will be more nearly universal and we
will see a wider horizon of possibilities.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application