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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------ August, 2003
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And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Joy Beyond Pleasure," by B.P. Wadia
"Portraits of Theosophists," Part VI, by John M. Prentice
"Roots," by Alexandra McLean
"Irish Fairies, Ghosts, and Witches," by W.B. Yeats
"The Language of the Gods," by George William Russell
"Satori," Part II, by Christmas Humphreys
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part XII, by Phillip A Malpas
"Our Consciousness of God," by S. Vahiduddin
"The Patience to Endure," by James Sterling
"The Relation of the Finite and the Infinite," by G. de Purucker
> The difference between the chela and the man living the ordinary
> life, essentially is just a difference of spiritual,
> intellectual, and psychical outlook. That is about all. Of
> course this difference, because the factors involved are so
> important, is really great; but it is a difference of outlook
> and not a difference of metaphysical distance ... Chelaship is a
> vision, out of which arise conviction and definite action.
> G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC PATH: ITS NATURE AND ITS TESTS,
> page 7.
JOY BEYOND PLEASURE
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 308-10.]
"Sorrow is," taught the great Buddha. The power of the first of
his Four Noble Truths is being intensely felt by almost everyone,
more particularly among the so-called civilized communities.
Enveloping all are poverty, disease, disappointment, and
frustration. Most of us are ever dissatisfied with ourselves and
with our lives, with what we have and what we have not.
> We look before and after,
> Pine for what is not;
> Our sincerest laughter
> With some pain is fraught;
> Our sweetest songs are those that
> Tell of saddest thought.
If we look around us in Nature we find everywhere joy superseding
sorrow, beauty overcoming ugliness. We see Nature "red in tooth
and claw" when we look at her superficially; but when we probe
deep we come upon the heart of the great Mother, ever throbbing
with compassion. In Indian philosophy Nature and her wonderful
processes are described as Lila (a gorgeous play) and the highest
attribute of Deity is called Ananda (Bliss). Life originated in
Ananda; it moves and has its being in Ananda. Intuitive poets,
who have perceived this fact, speak of the "pleasure which there
is in life itself," and bid us perceive that "the Soul of Things
is sweet, the Heart of Being is celestial rest." In the deeper
nature of every creature there is a living spring of happiness,
of harmony and contentment. Real happiness is an inherent
quality of the Soul. According to the Gita, one of the names of
the Soul is "the enjoyer."
To many of us happiness seems to be far off in spite of being so
near. We are apt to judge Ananda or real bliss by the ephemeral
sense pleasures and the deceptive allurements of mundane life
that gladden us in their coming and sadden us when they depart.
How can that which is external satisfy or bring happiness to the
Inner Man? We judge life by its surface appearances -- by the
many comedies which please and the numerous tragedies which
depress. To enjoy life in a real way we must make it a habit to
go to the core of every incident and try to learn its lesson. It
is because we do not look deep enough that we miss the meaning
and purpose of life, and hence its joy. In all events, we must
look for the hidden meaning, the hidden beauty, and the hidden
good. The Joy of Life is ours only when we are able to distil
out of all experiences, pleasurable or painful, the perfume they
contain. Real happiness is above pleasure as it is above pain,
for it is made of the essence of both.
In our civilization, people are so fervently seeking pleasurable
impressions -- even though they are brief and transitory and in
the ultimate analysis not worth pursuing -- and so anxiously
avoiding disagreeable ones that they fail to see the value of
pain and suffering. A little thought would convince us that we
cannot have happiness without suffering. How could we know joy
without the contrast of sorrow? Pain is the womb of progress;
without it we would stagnate. How many recognize this fact? To
enjoy life, therefore, we need to go through every experience,
pleasant or unpleasant, with graciousness and equanimity. Our
happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the
events of life than on the nature of the events themselves.
People fail to derive joy from life because they try to go
through the serious business of day-to-day living without proper
knowledge. Study of human events and human problems is
essential. It develops in us the true sense of humor that
enables us to laugh at our own childishness in being elated over
the soap-bubbles of life and to smile at our own weakness in
heaving sighs of despair at the least mishap. A real sense of
humor also implies the capacity to make others happy, by
performing loving deeds, by rendering gentle service.
> All who joy would win must share it.
> Happiness was born a twin.
PORTRAITS OF THEOSOPHISTS, Part VI
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, June 1945, pages 267-69.]
Her introduction to Theosophy was singular, if not unique.
Towards the end of the 1890's, it came through a punctured
bicycle tire. A Lodge member, himself an unusually successful
seller of life insurance, came upon her, in obvious distress on
the sidewalk, with her machine in a bad way. There was an air of
genteel poverty about her, bravely borne and as skillfully
concealed as careful darning and other less obvious economies
She had patched and patched again the bicycle tube until further
service was problematical. Realizing this and risking being
misunderstood, her helper promptly insisted on purchasing a set
of new tubes. This offer, so spontaneously made, she gratefully
accepted on a basis of future repayment.
Little by little, he elicited her story. She was a music
teacher, too poor to maintain a studio and so compelled to visit
her pupils in their homes. Deserted by her husband, who had
found a rich measure of success and some fame in a foreign land,
she was compelled to earn a living for herself and her two
children, a girl and a boy. Music had been her relaxation and a
social grace, but now it meant food and clothes for the three and
a roof over their heads.
To some extent, a long experience in Spiritualism had prepared
her for Theosophy. Although having seen most forms of phenomena
and knowing the prominent mediums of her city, she came to a dead
end with Spiritualism. In ISIS UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE,
she found exactly what she had sensed must exist somewhere. Her
hungry heart and eager intellect were satisfied. Her soul found
She joined our Lodge and later brought in a number of her
Spiritualist friends. Others turned away from her, saying that
she could be a great medium if she would sit for development.
Her fastidious spirit rebelled against the slavery of being at
the disposal of every astral tramp. In Theosophy, she found her
objection well founded. It had been a temptation, mind you, for
two of her friends, with less education and natural gifts than
she had. They became famous mediums, both accumulating handsome
fortunes ere they answered their final call.
She took her place in the Lodge and gave generously of her
abilities. As soloist and accompanist, she provided music every
Sunday night at public lectures and at other functions where
harmony might be required. She edited a collection of hymns for
the Lotus Circle. Quite a number of Theosophists now reaching
middle age learnt the first steps from her eager efforts to
teach. At times, she spoke from the Lodge platform where her
keen wit and gift of felicitous phrasing made her audiences sit
up and take notice before departing well satisfied.
With her entry into the Lodge, her fortunes improved and her
newfound friends helped her extend her clientele though she never
accepted the slightest suggestion of charity. Her children
adored her. Her home became a place where young people could
gather. Her daughter grew older, taking over the responsibility
of the home and earning enough to meet the requirements as a
teacher of the fine arts. Her son became a well-known public
figure. Both he and his son in turn joined our Lodge. Both,
however, predeceased her. Having become a successful
businesswoman, her daughter finally moved to London, taking her
along. She lived serenely until after the outbreak of the
Her superb courage and deep-seated humor were outstanding. The
latter in particular enabled her to see through shams and
affectations. Although her experience of life did not permit her
to suffer fools gladly, her humor was always kindly. Frequently
she quoted from the Bhagavad-Gita, "The wise man does not
unsettle the minds of the ignorant, attached to action."
This was never an excuse for inaction. It explained the
eclecticism with which she sought out those whom she felt she
could assist. She was completely justified. She demanded
Theosophists hold a high attitude towards life. Many times, she
quoted the same Scripture. "The standard that a great man
setteth up, by that do the people judge." Her music brought joy
to many a weary worker in the Theosophical vineyard.
The music of Macdowell was a special favorite of hers. Those who
heard her play "A.D. 1620" vividly glimpsed the wallowing of the
Mayflower in the long Atlantic surges, hearing the crash and
thunder of great tides on the rock-bound coast. It is probably a
potent feature in her Devachan. Even after the lapse of years,
it is still a fragrant memory to her friends. Who knows? Her
return to rebirth may provide us with a sensitive musician with a
genius salted with a sense of fun all too often lacking in such
It is fitting to say that of those who enjoyed her friendship all
would rejoice in the karma that reunites them in a
newer-and-better brave world.
By Alexandra McLean
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1947, pages 134-36.]
Roots hold an important place in the scheme of things. Invisible
to mortal eye and silent to mortal ear, they work unobtrusively
to manifest myriad forms of glory in the external world. What
stability, strength, and power they transmit to the growing and
unfolding entity they serve! The small word "root" symbolizes the
greatest mysteries. It implies innate wisdom, humility,
devotion, discrimination, and dependability.
A good dictionary intrigues and amazes us at the variety of uses
of "root." There are many beyond the typical definition, "any
subterranean part of a plant." We find it in anatomy, astronomy,
astrology, ethnology, hydraulics, law, mathematics, music, and
philology. With a Thesaurus, we may spend hours considering the
subtle varieties of its usage profitably.
The botanical definition offers:
> In the higher plants (ferns and seed plants), a portion of the
> plant body bearing neither leaves, nor reproductive organs, but
> provided with a growing point and functioning as an organ of
> absorption, an aerating organ, a food reservoir, or a means of
One of the specific definitions gives us, "An ancestor or
progenitor and hence an early race; a stem, also -- the cause,
source." There are thoughts in these definitions which applied
theosophically might be developed to great length. We will hint
at a few ideas, leaving the reader to follow up and develop them
In speaking of Elemental Kingdoms and Cosmic Elements, Dr. de
Purucker tells us:
> Thus then, these cosmic elements are the different stuffs of the
> universe, the different substances out of which the universe is
> built. We can call them the various prakritis of the universe
> ... Spirit in its sevenfold aspect is the root of all these
> cosmic elements, or prakritis.
HPB calls the Higher Self (ATMA) "the Divine Root of all being."
She also offers from an occult catechism:
> What is it that ever is? Space ... What is it that ever was? The
> germ in the root. What is it that is ever coming and going? The
> Great Breath ... The three are one ... and this is Space.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, PROEM, page 11
What in man is analogous to a plant's roots? Perhaps it is our
aspirations. Possessed of Manas, man is a self-conscious entity.
He must learn to discriminate or CHOOSE what he needs for full
development of his unfolding Inner Divinity. Man may direct a
strong taproot deep into the SOURCE, into the Truth of his being.
He may send thoughts into the depths of his inmost, like root
tendrils seeking true sustenance for growth. This
self-development is not selfish, but so that he may be a perfect
expression of Divinity. Like the life energy in roots, the
purity of aspiration and force of surmounts difficulties,
bringing what he needs to complete his life cycle. Divine Nature
works with man and through the just law of Karma, providing him
with opportunity for growth.
We are rooted in Divinity. The vast powers of this Divine Nature
can only act through us as we create channels (strong roots) for
their flow by aspiration and will. Evolution is slow. The lotus
does not open until it has risen above mud and water into the
higher atmosphere where light plays an important part in its
flowering. Even so, man does not become more except through
cycles of growth upward and inward into the atma-sphere of his
SELF. We are gods in embryo. We nourish ourselves by the food
of the gods, the Celestial Fire that is the Reality of our
All manifesting entities follow the same universal law, unfolding
the seed of a previous completed cycle. All have roots with
their growing point. According to degree of consciousness,
aspiration, and will, each must seek nourishment to growth. Like
all else, roots are sevenfold. Each entity may fully nourish its
sevenfold being. Within all, from the humble dandelion to our
Sun (Surya), there is part of the great cosmic urge. It is
within both the visible and the invisible, for all is ONE. The
Divine Dynamo is invisible, at the core of Being, the generator
of all possibilities of expression. Into THAT, "the Dot, which
is everywhere; the circle, which is nowhere," must we ever more
CONSCIOUSLY, send our roots, drawing the Life that will make us
"more than man" in time.
With Tennyson, we may soliloquize:
> Little flower -- but if I could understand
> What you are, root and all, and all in all,
> I should know what God and man is.
In "Roots," we have more than meets the eye or reaches the ear.
We may only apprehend the true significance, the esoteric
potencies, by intuitive comprehension. Roots are humble,
willing, eager servants of TRUTH, seeking persistently for that
SOURCE that is the fountainhead of Life itself, bringing into
visible form the glory of the secret pattern. "Tat twam asi."
IRISH FAIRIES, GHOSTS, AND WITCHES
By W.B. Yeats
[From LUCIFER, January 15, 1889, pages 399-404.]
It has occurred to me that it would be interesting if some
spiritualist or occultist would try to explain the various
curious and intricate spiritualistic beliefs of peasants. When
reading Irish folklore, or listening to Irish peasants telling
their tales of magic and fairyism and witchcraft, more and more
is one convinced that some clue there must be. Even if it is all
dreaming, why have they dreamed this particular dream? Clearly,
the occultist should have his say as well as the folklorist. The
history of a belief is not enough, one would gladly hear about
Here and there, an occult clue is visible plainly. Some of the
beliefs about ghosts are theosophical; the Irish ghost or
thivish, for instance, is merely an earth-bound shell, fading and
whimpering in the places it loved. Many writers, from Paracelsus
to d'Assicr, have shed a somewhat smoky light on witches and
their works, and Irish witches do not differ much from their
tribe elsewhere, except in being rather more harmless. Perhaps
never being burnt or persecuted has lessened the bitterness of
their war against mankind.
In Ireland, they have had overall, a very peaceable and quiet
time, disappearing altogether from public life since the "loyal
minority" pilloried and imprisoned three and knocked out the eye
of one with a cabbage stump, in 1711, in the town of
Carrickfergus. For many a long year now have they contented
themselves with going out in the gray of the morning, in the
shape of hares, and sucking dry their neighbor's cows, or
muttering spells while they skimmed with the severed hand of a
corpse the surface of a well gathering thereon a neighbor's
It is when we come to the fairies and "fairy doctors," we feel
most the want of some clue -- some light, no matter how smoky.
These "fairy doctors," are they mediums or clairvoyants? Why do
they fear the hazel tree, or hold an ash tree in their hands when
they pray? Why do they say that if you knock once at their doors
they will not open, for you may be a spirit, but if you knock
three times, they open?
What are these figures, now little, now great, now kindly, now
fierce, now ugly, now beautiful, who are said to surround them --
these fairies, whom they never confuse with spirits, but describe
as fighting with the spirits though generally having the worst of
it, for their enemies are more God-fearing? Can any spiritualist
or occultist tell us of these things? Hoping they can, I set down
here this classification of Irish fairyism and demonology. The
medieval divisions of sylphs, gnomes, undines, and salamanders
will not be found to help us. This is a different dynasty.
Unlike the witch, who deals with ghosts and spirits, the fairy
doctor is never malignant; at worst, he is mischievous like his
masters and servants the fairies. Croker, in the "Confessions of
Tom Bourke," said by Keightley, of the "Fairy Mythology," to be
the most valuable chapter in all his writings, describes the
savings and doings of such a man.
Each family has its particular adherent among the "good people,"
as the fairies are called, and sometimes when a man died the
factions of his father and mother would fight as to the graveyard
he was to be buried in, the relations delaying the funeral until
Tom Bourke told them one party or other had won. If they buried
in the wrong graveyard all kinds of ill luck would follow, for
fairies know how to kill cattle with their fairy darts, and do
all kinds of mischief.
The fairy doctor is great with herbs and spells. He can make the
fairies give up people they have carried off, and is in every way
the opposite of the witch.
Lady Wilde, in her "Ancient Legends," thus describes one who
lived in the Island of Innis-Sark:
> He can heal diseases by a word, even at a distance, and his
> glance sees into the very heart and reads the secret thoughts of
> men. He never touched beer, spirits, or meat in all his life,
> but has lived entirely on bread, fruit, and vegetables. A man
> who knew him thus describes him: Winter and summer, his dress is
> the same, merely a flannel shirt and coat. He will pay his share
> at a feast, but neither eats nor drinks of the food and drink set
> before him. He never could be made to learn the English tongue,
> although he says it might be used with great effect to curse
> one's enemy. Holding a burial-ground sacred, he would never
> carry away so much as a leaf of ivy from a grave.
> He maintains that the people are right in keeping to their
> ancient usages -- such as never to dig a grave on a Monday, and
> to carry the coffin three times round the grave, following the
> course of the sun, for then the dead rest in peace. Like the
> people, also, he holds suicides accursed; for they believe that
> all the dead who have been recently buried turn over on their
> faces if a suicide is laid amongst them.
> Although well off, he never, even in his youth, thought of taking
> a wife, nor did he love a woman. He stands quite apart from
> life, and by this means holds his power over the mysteries. No
> money will tempt him to impart this knowledge to another, for if
> he did he would be struck dead, so he believes. He would not
> touch a hazel stick, but carries an ash wand, which he holds in
> his hand when he prays, laid across his knees, and the whole of
> his life is given to works of grace and charity.
> Though an old man, he has never had a day's sickness; no one has
> ever seen him in a rage, nor heard an angry word from his lips
> but once, and then, being under great irritation, he recited the
> Lord's Prayer backwards as an imprecation on his enemy. Before
> his death, he will reveal the mystery of his power, but not until
> the hand of death is on him.
Then we may be sure he will reveal it only to his successor.
THE SOCIABLE FAIRIES
These are the Sheoques (Ir. Sidheog, a little fairy), and are
usually of small size when first seen, though seeming of common
human height when you are once glamored. It sometimes appears as
if they could take any shape according to their whim. Commonly,
they go about in troops, and are kind to the kindly and
mischievous to the evil and ill-tempered, being like beautiful
children, having every charm but that of conscience --
Their divisions are sheoque, a land fairy, and merrow (Ir.
moruada, sea-maid, the masculine is unknown), a water fairy. The
merrow is common. I asked a peasant woman once whether the
fishermen of her village ever saw one. "Indeed, they don't like
to see them at all," she answered, "for they always bring bad
weather." Sometimes the merrows come out of the sea in the shape
of little, hornless cows. When in their own shape, they have
fish tails and wear a red cap usually covered with feathers,
called a cohullen druith.
The men among them have green teeth, green hair, pigs' eyes, and
red noses, but their women are beautiful, and sometimes prefer
handsome fishermen to their green-haired lovers. Near Bantry, in
the last century, lived a woman covered with scales like a fish,
who was descended from such a marriage.
All over Ireland are little fields circled by ditches, and
supposed to be ancient fortifications and sheepfolds. These are
the raths or forts. Here, marrying and giving in marriage, live
the land fairies. Many a mortal have they enticed down into
their dim world. Many more have listened to their fairy music,
until all human cares and joys drifted from their hearts, and
they became great fairy doctors, or great musicians, or poets
like Carolan, who gathered his tunes while sleeping on a fairy
rath; or else they died in a year and a day, to live ever after
among the fairies.
These sociable fairies are in the main good, but they have one
most malicious habit, a habit worthy of a witch. They steal
children, and leave a withered fairy a thousand, or may be two
thousand years old, for the matter of that, instead. Two or
three years ago a man wrote to one of the Irish papers, telling
of a case in his own village, and how the parish priest made the
fairies deliver up again the stolen child.
At times, full-grown men and women have been carried off. Near
the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, I have been told, lives an old
woman who was taken in her youth. When she came home, at the end
of seven years, she had no toes, for she had danced them off.
Especially do they steal men, women, and children on May Eve,
Midsummer Eve, and November Eve, for on these days are their
On May Eve, every seventh year, they fight for the harvest, for
the best ears of corn belong to them. An old man told me he saw
them fighting once. They tore the thatch off a house in the
battle. Had you or I been there, we would have merely felt a
great wind blowing. The peasantry knows better than to mistake
the fairies for the wind. When a little whirlwind passes,
lifting the straws, they take off their hats and say: "God bless
them," for the fairies are going by.
On Midsummer Eve, Bonfire Night, as we call it, the sheoques are
very gay. On this night more than any other, they steal
beautiful mortals to be their brides.
According to the old Gaelic reckoning, the fairies are very
gloomy on November Eve, the first night of winter. In their
green raths, they dance with the ghosts. Abroad in the world,
witches make their spells. A solitary and wicked fairy called
the Pooka has power. Girls set tables with food in the name of
the devil so that the fetch of their future lovers may come
through the window and eat.
The sociable fairies are very quarrelsome.
Lady Wilde tells about one battle in which, no stones being at
hand, they stole butter and flung it at each other. A quantity
stuck in the branches of an alder-tree. A man in the
neighborhood mended the handle of the dash of his churn with a
branch of this tree. As soon as he began churning, the butter,
until now hanging invisible in the alder branches, flowed into
his churn. The same happened every churning day, until he told
the matter to a fairy doctor, which telling broke the spell, for
all these things have to be kept secret.
Kennedy describes a battle heard by a peasant of his
acquaintance. The sheoques were in the air over a river. He
heard shots and light bodies falling into the water, and a faint
sound of shouting, but could see nothing. Old Patrick Kennedy,
who records this, was a secondhand bookseller in Dublin, and
claimed in one of his works to know spells for making the fairies
visible, but would not tell them for fear they might set
dangerous forces in action -- forces that might destroy the user
of the spell. These battles are often described by Irish fairy
seers. Sometimes the sociable sheoques, dressed in green coats,
fight with the solitary red-coated fairies.
THE SOLITARY FAIRIES
The best known of these is the Leprechaun (Ir. Leith bhrogan,
one shoe maker). He is seen sitting under a hedge mending a
shoe, and one who catches him and keeps his eyes on him can make
him deliver up his crocks of gold, for he is a rich miser; but if
he takes his eyes off him, the creature vanishes like smoke. He
is said to be the child of a spirit and a debased fairy, and,
according to MacNally, wears a red coat with seven rows of
buttons, seven buttons in each row, and a cocked hat, on the
point of which he sometimes spins like a top.
Some writers have supposed the Cluricaun to be another name of
the same fairy, given him when he has laid aside his shoemaking
at night and goes on the spree. The Cluricaun's one occupation
is robbing wine cellars.
The Gonconer or Gancanagh (Ir. Gean-canagh, love talker) is a
little creature of the Leprechaun type except than unlike him,
however, the Gonconer is an idler. He always appears with a pipe
in his mouth in lonely valleys, where he makes love to
shepherdesses and milkmaids.
The Far Darrig (Ir. Fear-Dearg, red man) plays practical jokes
continually. A favorite trick is to make some poor mortal tramp
over hedges and ditches, carrying a corpse on his back, or to
make him turn it on a spit. Of all these solitary, and mainly
evil, fairies there is no more lubberly wretch than this same Far
Darrig. Like the next phantom, he presides over evil dreams.
The Pooka seems to be of the family of the nightmare. He has
most likely never appeared in human form, the one or two recorded
instances being probably mistakes, he being mixed up with the Far
Darrig. His shape is that of a horse, a bull, goat, eagle, ass,
and perhaps of a black dog, though this last may be a separate
spirit. The Pooka's delight is to get a rider, whom he rushes
with through ditches, rivers, and over mountains and shakes off
in the gray of the morning. Especially does he love to plague a
drunkard -- a drunkard's sleep is his kingdom.
The Dullahan is another gruesome phantom. He has no head, or
carries it under his arm. Often he is seen driving a black
coach, called the coach-a-bower (Ir. Coise-bodhar), which is
drawn by headless horses. It will rumble to your door, and if
you open to it, a basin of blood is thrown in your face. To the
houses where it pauses, it is an omen of death. Such a coach,
not very long ago, went through Sligo in the gray of the morning
(the spirit hour). A seaman saw it, with much shuddering. In
some villages, its rumbling is heard many times in the year.
The Leanhaun Shee (fairy mistress) seeks the love of men. If
they refuse, she is their slave; if they consent, they are hers,
and can only escape by finding one to take their place. Her
lovers waste away, for she lives on their life. Most of the
Gaelic poets, down to quite recent times, have had a Leanhaun
Shee, for she gives inspiration to her slaves. She is the Gaelic
muse, this malignant fairy. Her lovers, the Gaelic poets, died
young. She grew restless, and carried them away to other worlds,
for death does not destroy her power.
Besides these, we have other solitary fairies, such as the House
Spirit and Water Sheerie, a kind of Will-o'-the-Wisp, and various
animal spirits, such as the Anghiska, the water-horse, and the
Pastha (Piast-vestea) the lake-dragon, a guardian of hidden
treasure, and two fairies, the Far-gorta and the Banshee, who are
technically solitary fairies, though quite unlike their fellows
The Far-gorta (man of hunger) is an emaciated fairy that goes
through the land in famine time, begging, and bringing good luck
to the giver of alms.
The Banshee (Bean-sidhe) seems to be one of the sociable fairies
grown solitary through the sorrow or the triumph of the moment;
her name merely means woman-fairy, answering to the less common
word Farshee [Fear-sidhe], man fairy. She wails, as most people
know, over the death of some member of an old Irish family.
Sometimes she is an enemy of the house, and wails with triumph;
sometimes a friend, and wails with sorrow. When more than one
Banshee comes to cry, the man or woman who is dying must have
been very holy or very brave. Occasionally she is undoubtedly
believed to be one of the sociable fairies. Cleena, once an
ancient Irish goddess, is now a Munster sheoque.
O'Donovan, one of the very greatest of the Irish antiquarians,
wrote in 1849 to a friend, who quoted his words in the Dublin
> When my grandfather died in Leinster, in 1798, Cleena came all
> the way from Tonn Cleena, at Glandore, to lament him. She has
> not been heard ever since lamenting any of our race, though I
> believe she still weeps in the mountains of Drumaleaque in her
> own country, where so many of the race of Eoghan More are dying
> of starvation.
The Banshee who cries with triumph is often believed to be no
fairy, but the ghost of one wronged by an ancestor of the dying.
Besides these are various fairies who fall into none of the
regular groups, such as "Dark Joan of the Boyne." This fairy
visits houses in the form of a hen with many chickens, or a pig
with a litter of banyans. Several now living say they have
fought with this fairy pig. This taking the appearance of
several animals at one time is curious, and brings to mind how
completely a matter of whim or symbolism the form of an enchanted
being must be thought. Indeed, the shape of Irish fairies seems
to change with their moods -- symbolizing or following the
feelings of the moment.
When we look for the source of this spirit rabble, we get many
different answers. The peasants say they are fallen angels who
were too good to be lost, too bad to be saved, and have to work
out their time in barren places of the earth. An old Irish
authority -- the Book of Armagh -- calls them gods of the earth,
and quite beyond any kind of doubt many of them were long ago
gods in Ireland.
Once upon a time, the Celtic nations worshipped gods of the
light, called in Ireland Tuath-de-Danan and corresponding to
Jupiter and his fellows, and gods of the great darkness
corresponding to the Saturnian Titans. Among the sociable
fairies are many of the light gods; perhaps, some day, we may
learn to look for the dark gods among the solitary fairies. The
Pooka we can trace, a mysterious deity of decay, to earliest
times. Certainly, he is no bright Tuath-de-Danan. Around him
hangs the dark vapor of Domnian Titanism.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE GODS
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XIV, pages 120-27.]
If I interpreted rightly that dweller in the mind, the true roots
of human speech are vowels and consonants. Each has affinity to
the abstractions of idea, force, color, and form. They unify
into words expressing complexity, as atoms and molecules unify
forming the compounds of the chemist.
It is difficult to discover single words of abstract significance
to represent adequately the ideas associated with these rudiments
of speech. Charged with significance, every root is being the
symbol of a force that is the fountain of energy, even as
primordial being when manifested rolls itself out into numberless
forms, states of energy and consciousness.
The roots of human speech are the sound correspondences of powers
which in their combination and interaction make up the universe.
The mind of man is made in the image of Deity, and the elements
of speech are related to the powers in his mind and through it to
the being of the Oversoul.
These true roots of language are few, alphabet and roots being
identical. The first root is "A," the sound symbol for the self
in man and Deity in the cosmos. Its form equivalent is the
circle . The second root is "R," representing motion.
Its color correspondence is red, and its form symbol is the line
Motion engenders heat, and the third root following the order
from throat sounds to labials is "H," the sound correspondence of
Heat. Its symbol is the triangle , and it has affinity
with the color orange.
Motion and heat are the begetters of Fire, the sound equivalent
of which is the root "L," which in form is symbolized by lines
radiating from a point. "L" is fire, light, or radiation.
It is followed in the series of roots by "Y" which symbolizes the
reaction in nature against that radiation of energy. It is the
sound equivalent of binding, concentration, or condensation.
Matter in the cosmos is obeying the law of gravitation and
gathering into fire-mists preliminary to its knotting into suns
and planets. The color affinity is yellow.
In man it is will which focuses energy and concentrates it to a
burning-point for the accomplishing of desire. Its form symbol
is represented by a vortex or spiral movement inward, opposing in
this the expansion or radiation implied in the root "L."
The root which follows "Y" is "W," the sound symbol of liquidity
or water. Its form is semi-lunar and I think its color is green.
We have now descended to earth and with this descent come
dualism, and henceforth all the roots have companion roots.
Primordial substance has lost its ethereal character and has
settled into a solid or static condition.
The two roots which express this are "G" and "K;" "G" is the
symbol of earth, as "K" is of mineral, rock, crystal, or hardness
of any kind. I could discover with no certainty any color
affinities for either of these roots, and about the forms I am
also uncertain though I was moved to relate "G" with the square
and "K" with the square crossed by a diagonal.
The twin roots next in the series are "S" and "Z," and I can find
no better words to indicate the significance of the first than
impregnation, inbreathing, or ensouling.
We have reached in evolution the stage when the one life breaks
into myriads of lives, which on earth finds its correspondence in
the genesis of the cell. "Z" represents the multiplication,
division, or begetting of organism from organism. It is the out
breathing or bringing to birth of the seed which is sown. I
discovered no color affinities for either "S" or "Z."
The duality of roots succeeding this is "TH" and "SH." The first
is the sound equivalent of growth, expansion, or swelling, and
its twin root represents that state where the limit of growth in
a particular form is reached and a scattering or dissolution of
its elements takes place. In the vegetable world we might find
an illustration in the growth and decay of a plant.
After these two, the duality of "T" and "D" comes. I found great
difficulty in discovering words to express the abstractions
related to these. Yet in meditating on them with reference to
the "T," I was continually haunted by the idea of individual
action, movement, or initiative, and I believe it refers to that
state when life divorced from its old interior unity with the
source of life, and, confined in a form, begins in its
imagination of itself to be an ego, is in a state of outgoing,
acts and looks outward, touches and tastes.
"D" represents the reverse side of that, its reaction or
absorption inward to silence, sleep, immobility, and abeyance.
The form symbol "T" is "+."
There is a parallelism between "T" and "TH" as there is between
"D" and "SH," "T" representing movement of the thing by itself
while "TH" represents growth or expansion merely, while "D"
represents the more subjective sinking of a thing into abeyance
of its powers as "SH" represents the external resolving of an
organism into its elements.
For the dualism of roots "J" and "TCH" my intuition failed
utterly to discover correlations, and when I had placed the roots
in their correct sequence and endeavored by intellect and reason
to arrive at the logical significance these two might have in the
series of sounds, I could never satisfy myself that I had come
nigh to any true affinity, so I pass these by.
The roots which follow are "V" and "F," of which the first refers
to life in water, to all that swims, while "F" is related to what
lives in air and flies. I am doubtful about the form symbols,
but color affinities began here again, and blue suggested itself
to me as the correspondence, while the twin roots which come
after them, "P" and "B," are related to indigo, the dark blue.
Life has now reached the human stage, is divided into sexes, and
"P" is the sound symbol for life masculine or paternity, while
"B" represents feminine life or maternity.
The series closes with "N" and "M." The first of these represents
continuance of being, immortality if you will, while the last
root, in the utterance of which the lips are closed, has the
sense of finality, and it is the close, limit, measure, end, or
death of things. Their color affinities are with violet. In all
there are twenty-one consonants which with the vowels make up the
divine roots of speech.
The vowels are the sound symbols of consciousness in seven moods
or states, while the consonants represent states of matter and
modes of energy.
I despair of any attempt to differentiate from each other the
seven states of consciousness represented by the vowels. How
shall I make clear the difference between "A" where consciousness
in man or cosmos begins manifestation, utterance, or limitation
of itself, and "OO" where consciousness is returning into itself,
breaking from the limitation of form and becoming limitless once
more; or "E" when it has become passional, or "I" where it has
become egoistic, actively intellectual, or reasoning, or "O"
where it has become intuitional.
Our psychology gives me no names for these states, but the vowel
root always represents consciousness, and, in its union with the
consonant root, modifies or defines its significance, doing that
again as it precedes or follows it.
I once held more completely than I do now an interior
apprehension of the significance of all, and I might perhaps, if
I had concentrated more intently, have completed more fully the
correspondences with idea, color, and form. But life attracts us
in too many ways, and when I was young and most sensitive and
intuitional I did not realize the importance of what I was
attempting to do.
This so far as I know is the only considered effort made by
anyone to ascertain the value of intuition as a faculty by using
it in reference to matters where the intellect was useless but
where the results attained by intuition could be judged by the
Intuition is a faculty, of which many speak with veneration, but
few evoke consciously. If it is witness to a knower in man, it
surely needs testing and use, as does any other faculty. I have
exercised intuition with respect to many other matters and with
inward conviction of the certainty of truth arrived at in this
way, but they were matters relating to consciousness and were not
by their nature easily subject to ratification by the reason.
These intuitions in respect of language are to some extent
capable of being reasoned or argued over, and I submit them for
consideration by others whose study of the literature, learning,
and language of the ancients may give them special authority.
SATORI, PART II
By Christmas Humphreys
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1949, pages 294-309.]
Just as the "mind" is immensely complex, including as it does all
parts of the man, from the almost physical "etheric" plane to the
flame, however small it be, of Enlightenment, so "religious"
experiences are of a huge variety. The essence is the same from
St. Paul's "suddenly there shined around him a light from
heaven," to Dr. Bucke's own remarkable experiences.
There must be a background providing an emotional or mental
tension. Then comes the flash, or it may be an hour's experience
of varying intensity. When the vision fades, there is the eager
but useless attempt to explain it to others.
St. Paul's experience was a light that shined around. Dr.
Bucke, in his hansom cab, "found himself wrapped around as it
were by a flame-colored cloud," which was followed by "an
intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe." (COSMIC
CONSCIOUSNESS, page 8) The late Sir James Crichton-Browne could
induce it by a method of self-hypnosis. He would repeat his own
name to himself, silently.
> [Until] as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of
> individuality, individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade
> away into boundless being, and this not a confused state but the
> clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words -- where
> death was an almost laughable impossibility -- the loss of
> personality (if it were so) seeming no extinction, but the only
> true life.
> -- THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, page 384
Is this delusion? Tennyson, who had the same experience, did not
> By God Almighty! there is no delusion in the matter! It is no
> nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated
> with absolute clearness of mind.
> -- THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, page 384
Had he at this time written THE MYSTIC, that superb and
much-neglected poem? Another poet, Rupert Brooke, has described
the experience in his "Dining Room Tea." Time stood still.
> The tea
> Hung on the air, an amber stream;
> I saw the fire's unflattering gleam
> The painted flame, the frozen smoke
With Edward Carpenter, the stone Buddha came to life. Of the
traveler who took pansil before the Buddha Rupa in the ruined
city of Anuradhapura, he wrote:
> His thoughts subside, like waves on water when the wind ceases.
> He too for a moment touches the well-spring of being -- he swims
> into identity with the universe; the trees flicker in the evening
> light, the Buddha just gives the slightest nod, as much as to
> say, "That's it," and then -- he is but stone again and the road
> stretches beyond.
> -- ADAM'S PEAK TO ELEPHANTA, page 108
Under anesthetic, some have had the experience that consciousness
was for a moment freed from the fleshly envelope. Dr. Kenneth
Walker tells of a patient shouting while coming round.
> You don't understand, you don't understand. No one understands.
> The Universe ... the universe. I know, I know! Happiness is
> within you. You don't have to look outside, it's within you ...
> -- DIAGNOSIS OF MAN, page 158
He, too, had found the "Absolute Moment." Mr. Winston
Churchill's experience as he came out of an anesthetic was more
intellectual, yet obviously approaches satori.
> I see the absolute truth and explanation of things, but something
> is left out which upsets the whole, so by a larger sweep of the
> mind I have to see a greater truth and a more complete
> explanation, which comprises the erring element. Nevertheless
> there is still something left out. So we have to take a still
> wider sweep ... The process continues inexorably. Depth
> upon depth of unendurable truth opens.
> -- QUOTED Ibid, page 158
None of these examples has any concern with God. Satori is
utterly impersonal, drawing all its powers under a central wing
and standing like a rock on its own foundation. It is sufficient
unto itself, its own authority. It is utterly here and now and
"this," and takes no thought for the morrow. Without any sense
of separateness, there is no need of benevolence or love for
one's fellowmen. When I and my Father are one, why seek that
Is satori a sudden or gradual achievement? Is it complete in
itself, in the sense that you have or have not achieved satori,
or are there stages and degrees of enlightenment? In the course
of my studies, I have found what seems to be opposite opinions on
these related questions. It may be useful to summarize and
review the apparent differences, as all opposites, in the light
Historically, the Patriarch Wei Lang, of the seventh century,
called his School the Sudden School, as distinct from Shinshao's
School of Gradual Attainment. The distinction, according to Wei
Lang, is solely one of speed.
> While there is only one system of law (Dharma), some disciples
> realize it more quickly than others. The reason why the names
> Sudden and Gradual are given is that some disciples are superior
> to others in mental disposition. So far as the Dharma is
> concerned, the distinction of Sudden and Gradual does not exist.
> -- SUTRA OF WEI LANG, page 93
Huang Po says much the same thing.
> The realization of universal mind (satori) may come slowly or
> quickly. There are those who upon hearing this Dharma, rid
> themselves of mentation in a single flash of thought. Others
> accomplish the same thing through the Ten Beliefs, the Ten Stages.
In other words, Zen is the path that runs straight up the
hillside to the top. It is immediate, without donkeys, guides,
or seats on which to rest at intervals and admire the view.
So far so clear, but how abrupt is the satori thus gained, and
how complete when first experienced? Dr. Suzuki says:
> The reason why the Southern School (of Wei Lang) is known as
> abrupt is because it upholds that the coming of enlightenment is
> instantaneous and does not allow for any gradation, as there are
> no stages of progress in it ... The doctrine of abruptness
> is the result of looking at the multitudinous-ness of things in
> absolute unity. All true mystics are followers of the abrupt
> school. The flight from the alone to the alone is not and cannot
> be a gradual process ... As it opens up all of a sudden a
> world hitherto undreamed of, it is an abrupt and discrete leaping
> from one plane of thought to another.
> -- ESSAYS, I, pages 199-200
On the face of it, this conflicts with the same author's remarks
in an earlier passage, when he says:
> To deserve the name satori, the mental revolution must be so
> complete as to make one really and sincerely feel that there took
> place a fiery baptism of the spirit. The intensity of this
> feeling is proportional to the amount of effort the opener of
> satori has put into the achievement. For there is a gradation of
> satori as to its intensity, as in all our mental activity.
> -- THE EASTERN BUDDHIST, Vol. I, page 210
Alan Watts, who learnt nine-tenths of his Zen, as I have, from
Dr. Suzuki, thinks that
> essentially satori is a sudden experience, and it is often
> described as a turning over of the mind, just as a pair of scales
> will suddenly turn over when a sufficient amount of material has
> been poured into one pan to overbalance the weight in the other.
> -- THE SPIRIT OF ZEN, page 68
So far, there is room for confusion between three things. (1)
There is a school of training which aims at direct, immediate
enlightenment, a rushing straight up the hill, the method of Zen.
(2) There is the violence and utter change of quality in the
experience when achieved, which itself is the result of long
preparation. (3) There is the completeness or incompleteness of
the experience when first achieved.
Let us look at what seems to be contrary opinions to those
already expressed. In the Pali Canon of the Theravada or
Southern School of Buddhism, we read:
> Just as, Brethren, the mighty ocean deepens and slopes gradually
> down, not plunging by a steep precipice, -- even so, Brethren, in
> this Norm-Discipline the training is gradual, it goes step by
> step; there is no sudden penetration to insight.
That seems clear enough, and it accords with nature, such as the
movement of the tide, the opening of a flower, and the growth
from childhood to maturity. There is Zen authority for it.
"When one is earnest enough," said a monk who attained satori,
"realizations will come to one frequently, and there will be a
stripping off at each step forward."
His approved of the simile, and said: "The study of Zen is like
the polishing of a gem; the more polished the brighter the gem .
. . when there is the more stripping off of its outer coatings,
this life of yours will grow worth more than a gem." (ESSAYS, II,
Most Western writers on Zen seem to take this view. Mrs.
Suzuki, the American wife of Dr. Suzuki, who studied Zen with
her husband, says, "In Zen there are grades of realization . .
. there is an upward movement in Zen as in everything else, and
to solve the first Koan is not the whole by any means."
(IMPRESSIONS OF MAHAYANA BUDDHISM, page 166) Dr. Pratt, who also
studied for a while with Dr. Suzuki, says:
> That there are all kinds and degrees of satori can, indeed,
> hardly be questioned. It is a relative term, and many a good Zen
> scholar is uncertain whether he has had it or not. When the
> experience comes in its most intense form it is, indeed,
> unmistakable, but this intense experience is rare in modern
> Japan, just as ecstasy is rare in Christendom, and Samadhi in
Dr. Pratt was an earnest student of Buddhism in Japan. The
following passage, therefore, must be taken seriously.
> It is said that some have experienced satori as many as eighteen
> times (for it is, of course, a temporary and passing state); but
> most of those you question will say that they are not sure they
> have ever attained it, though they have approximated it two or
> three times.
> -- THE PILGRIMAGE OF BUDDHISM, page 641
In considering these modest opinions, however, it is to be hoped
that the learned enquirer bore in mind the amazing
self-abnegation of the Japanese. He who claims to have had
satori has not in fact had true satori for there is still a self
to make this foolish claim! "He who knows does not speak; he who
speaks does not know."
But that satori in an advanced form is rare seems beyond
question. Dr. Bucke himself says that the better-known members
of the group of those whose spiritual eyes have opened could be
collected in a modern drawing room, but he is speaking of the top
flight of ILLUMINATI. (COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS, page 9)
Dr. Jung says much the same thing. This is a road, he says,
that has been trodden only by a few of our great men -- he is
speaking, I think, of Westerners. "For a complete experience
there can be nothing cheaper or smaller than the whole." He goes
on to describe, in the terms of his own psychology, why this must
Where, then, in the wide range of experience does satori begin?
In an interview with Steinilber-Oberlin, Dr. Suzuki says:
> To merit the name of satori, the inner revolution must be
> sufficiently complete for the subject to be really and sincerely
> conscious that a true baptism has taken place in his mind. The
> intensity of the sensation is in ratio to the effort by the
> candidate to satori. For in satori there are different degrees
> of intensity ... the possessor of a mild satori will not
> experience the same spiritual revolution as a Rinzai or a Bukko
> for instance. Zen is an affair of character, not of
> -- THE BUDDHIST SECTS OF JAPAN, page 155-56
Where is the truth in all these references? I think Dr. Pratt
has found it. The aim of Zen technique, he says, is to jolt the
mind out of its accustomed rut and to give the soul such a BANG
that its eyes will be knocked open, and suddenly see the light of
an utterly new world.
> A process of incubation within the subconscious is produced by
> several months or even years of zazen, meditation, study,
> training, and atmosphere. When the time is ripe, the new insight
> will exfoliate suddenly from out the subconscious region if only
> it receives, so to speak, a last shake or stir.
> -- THE PILGRIMAGE OF BUDDHISM, page 632
W.J. Gabb, the English author of BEYOND THE INTELLECT and other
works on Zen, says the same.
> All enlightenment is gradual, but its eruption into consciousness
> may be sudden in cases where its appearance has been obstructed
> by an over-active intellect or excess of sensuality. To most
> professing Christians, the Sermon on the Mount is only a
> beautiful precept in a beautiful holy frame; it is considered to
> be an ideal as an ideal, but it is not thought to be practicable
> in the rough and tumble of usual life. But every now and then
> the truth breaks through the crust of rationalism, and there is a
> repetition of the phenomenon of religious conversion, analogous
> to the sudden enlightenment of Zen Buddhism.
> -- From an MS.
It may be, therefore, that what was written in CONCENTRATION AND
MEDITATION in 1935 is right.
> There are many degrees of satori, ranging from a flash of
> intuitive understanding to pure Samadhi. Presumably, the
> different grades of koan collate with the grades and levels of
> satori. First, the purely personal prejudices are discarded,
> followed by the racial or national points of view. As the koan
> gets more difficult, the claims of humanity begin to predominate
> until, at the threshold of Samadhi, the individual consciousness
> is merged in the Universal Mind. Then only is the unconscious of
> the individual and the unconscious of the universe made one, and
> self, bereft of any abiding place, dissolves into nothingness.
> -- page 247
I can imagine a Zen master, if he happened to read that, saying,
"Now that you have got that stuff off your chest, go and clean
To summarize, whether the preparation for the final assault on
satori be swift or slow, in the end, we storm the gates of
Heaven. We do not stand in a queue at the entrance filling in
When satori is achieved, whether for a second or for an hour, it
is violent, cataclysmic, an unmistakable conversion from the old
mode of consciousness to a new. The first experience, however,
may be short or long, of low or high degree, complete or, far
more likely, very incomplete, for the road from a first taste of
satori to the Buddha's supreme Enlightenment must be long indeed.
Once opened, the gates never close completely again. The satori
thereafter is of increasing frequency, length, and quality, until
the time comes for some measure of control. At first, there will
be an increasing ability to induce the mood of satori by one
means or another. Finally, the power to command it comes. Only
when consciousness can be raised at will to the plane of
(comparative) Enlightenment and maintained there at will does the
pilgrim enter his heritage. "Being free, he knows that he is
free." Mountains are once more mountains and it's time for tea.
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part XII
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.]
ATHENS, CRETE, AND ROME
MEANING BEHIND APPEARANCE
Observing the brazen statue of Milo standing on the discus and
holding in the left hand a pomegranate, while the right was
outstretched with the fingers very close together, the popular
explanation of the attitude is contrasted with the inner
significance. The tightly clasped fingers were said to show his
strength, the fillet round his head was to indicate his modesty,
and the feet close together on the discus showed that he was so
strong that he could defy anyone to move him. Apollonius, ever
on the alert to teach, acknowledged that the story was ingenious,
but that the real meaning was slightly different. The people of
Crotona made him a priest of Juno, hence the sacred fillet. From
his position on the small buckler it is to be seen that he made
his supplications to Juno in that way; the right hand held out
indicates the same. The inseparable position of the fingers
shows the excellence of ancient sculpture. The pomegranate is
sacred to Juno.
It was a lesson within a lesson and a lesson within that. All
that is here publicly stated is little more than a disguised
statement that there is a real meaning in such statues, just as
in some philosophies there is not an ancient building that does
not tell its divine story, its sublime masonry of the divine
architects. The pomegranate with its interior full of seeds
indicates, in the esotericism of the mysteries, the fecundity of
nature, the wife of the Deus Pater, Jupiter. Doubtless the
symbolism would be worth following more closely for symbologists,
but here the important thing is that Apollonius is indicating
that deeper teachings exist, to those who know enough to
apprehend his meaning.
He praised the Eleans for their order and decency, which were a
passion with them. They were as anxious for public approval as
the athletes. Asked for his opinion, Apollonius said, "I know
not if they are to be called wise; but they certainly are
Sophist." That Philostratus wrote this with his tongue in his
cheek it is not to be doubted. Why should he not have his little
joke as much as any other Roman orator of the early third
century? He was himself of such superior eloquence that the title
Sophist was conferred on him. Whether the Empress Julia Domna
regarded him as also a wise man, there is nothing to show. But
from some of the things he says, it may be that he was not
unconnected with a wise school of which she may have been an
ornament and Apollonius himself a founder. Such a man does not
depart after about a hundred years of intense activity without
some of his schools lasting awhile.
A young author full of conceit wished to show Apollonius a bulky
poem he had composed in honor of Jupiter. He doubtless wanted
Apollonius's opinion, so long as that opinion spelt praise; it
hardly occurred to him that he merited anything else. Apollonius
was very ironical and led the conversation round in such a way as
to show that the young man might very well have written a poem of
elaborate praise of his father, but that he feared he would bring
ridicule by his fulsome praises of so excellent a man.
"And yet you dare to praise the Father of Gods and men, without
any fear of him or apprehension of being engaged in a work
surpassing all human ability," thundered Apollonius in one of his
While at Olympia, Apollonius discoursed on topics useful to
mankind, fortitude, wisdom, temperance, and all the virtues.
This was in the porch of the temple. The Lacedemonians ran to
him in crowds and in the presence of Jupiter pronounced him their
guest, the father and director of the young, and the ornament of
the old. These were the men who had taken his apparently harsh
letter so seriously and good-naturedly. To them, it appears, the
reward of their action in this attention they received from the
greatest man in the world of their day came.
A Corinthian was touched to the quick by this enthusiasm and
sneered at the Spartans.
"Are you going to honor him with a Theophany, as if a god had
actually appeared among you," he asked in scorn.
"By Castor and Pollux, we are ready for it," they cried. And
they would have done it but Apollonius did not permit, fearing to
create envy and jealousy.
It was indeed the fulfillment of the saying of Iarchas that he
would be recognized as a god while he was yet living. Yet this
one of the two extremes the gods avoid when they appear among
men; either they are called devils and stoned or crucified, or
they are worshiped blindly, in either of which cases their
mission remains unfulfilled to the public, to make men make
Passing Mount Taygetus he entered Lacedaemon and found the
magistrates engaged in the zealous observance of the laws of
Lycurgus, and the inhabitants all busy about their own affairs.
He determined to give the magistrates the benefit of his views if
they so desired, seeing that they knew how to profit from them.
He told them the gods were to be worshiped as masters, and the
heroes as fathers, but how to honor men was not a question that
Sparta should ask. Laws are excellent masters and masters will
be applauded in proportion to the diligence and industry of their
Of fortitude, he said, "Use it if you have it!"
The Emperor Claudius wrote to the Lacedemonians about the
improper use they made of their liberty of which they were
accused by the Proconsul of Greece. The Lacedemonians debated
whether to send back a lofty answer or to deprecate the wrath of
Caesar. They consulted Apollonius.
His answer was on middle lines. "Palamedes invented letters," he
said, "to the end that men might know, not only what to write,
but also what not to write." In this way he dissuaded the
Lacedemonians from too much audacity and from excessive timidity
in their reply.
Apollonius intended visiting Rome, but a vision induced him to go
to Crete first. This he did, taking with him his whole company
and their domestics.
ROME AND NERO
When he arrived in Rome he found philosophy in much disfavor with
the Emperor Nero, who suspected all philosophers of concealing
evil magic under that name. One Musonius was such a philosopher,
regarded as second to Apollonius. He was in prison, and only a
robust constitution saved him from death. In such circumstances
it required a vast courage for a philosopher to approach the
Imperial city, much more so for one like Apollonius, with a whole
school of philosophers in his train.
A hundred and twenty stadia from Rome the party met Philolaus of
Citium in Crete, a man of eloquence but not fitted for suffering
persecution. He exhorted Apollonius to bow before the storm and
not to go to Rome, frequently casting fearful glances behind him
while he spoke, as though he might be overheard. Philolaus
described the Emperor as driving a chariot by day, singing on the
public stage, as living with gladiators and actually as one of
their company killing men in combat. Such was the low condition
of the most powerful monarch of the time.
Philolaus failed to persuade Apollonius. Damis attempted to
counteract his fearful warnings lest the young disciples should
be terrified and depart. But Apollonius told him it was a
god-given opportunity to test their devotion to philosophy. Some
declared they were sick, others that they were without provisions
for the journey, business affairs at home claimed some, and
unlucky dreams warned others. Thus of the thirty-four disciples,
eight alone were found faithful. The rest fled through fear of
Nero and philosophy. Among those who remained were Menippus, the
one saved from the vampire woman, Dioscorides the Egyptian, and
Damis. These three, and the other faithful five, Apollonius
called true philosophers, and promised to teach them all that he
knew, while refraining from calling the deserters cowards. "But
first it is our duty to thank the gods by whose assistance both
they and we have been inspired with such sentiment, and next to
solicit their direction and guidance on our journey, for without
them we are nothing."
Apollonius told in detail the history of Nero and what a tyrant
he was, worse than any wild beast; how he had murdered his own
mother in an artificial shipwreck, and had committed other
fearful excesses. But however terrible he might be, no true
philosopher should know fear. "Nothing is terrible to men who
have made the maxims of temperance and wisdom the rules of their
lives." Bound more closely into mutual companionship by these
words, the party went on their way to Rome.
They entered the city unquestioned by the guards, who marveled at
their singular dress, strange enough but obviously of a religious
significance rather than that of quacks or mountebanks. At a
public hostel near the gate they ordered a late meal, and came
across one of the strange sights of Rome, in the shape of a
drunken musician who was paid a salary to sing the verses of Nero
all over the city. He was licensed to arraign all as traitors
who did not listen with attention or who refused to pay him. He
had a harp and a little box with a precious string which Nero
himself had played upon. He sang various extracts from Nero's
compositions, his Orestea and Antigone and other tragedies.
Discordant as they were on Nero's lips, this man yet made them
more or less pleasing with his variations.
Seeing that Apollonius and his companions paid him little or no
attention, he exclaimed that they were the enemies of the divine
voice of Nero and had violated the majesty of the Emperor. The
philosophers seemed little concerned at this, but Apollonius said
it was not their business to show signs of dissatisfaction, and
decided to pay him. It was his tribute to Caesar.
In the morning, Apollonius was sent for by one of the consuls who
had a leaning towards philosophy and was a religious man. This
is that Telesinus who in the reign of Domitian preferred exile
from his home rather than give up philosophy.
"Why do you wear that peculiar dress," he asked.
"Because it is ours and not taken from any living creature."
"What is that wisdom you possess," asked the consul again.
"It is divine instinct which teaches what prayers and sacrifices
are most proper to be made to the gods," replied Apollonius.
"Is there any philosopher who does not know this?"
"Very many," said Apollonius. "But if a philosopher is well
informed in these things, it will be much to his advantage to
learn from one wiser than himself, that what he knows, he knows
At once this singular method of reply convinced Telesinus that he
was talking with no less a man than the renowned Apollonius. He
forbore to ask his name, in case the latter wished to keep it
secret. But his next question was based on knowing his quality.
"What do you pray for when you approach the altars?"
"That justice may prevail; that the laws may not be broken; that
wise men may be poor, and the rest of mankind rich, but not by
"What! Do you think you will obtain such great things by asking,"
"Yes, I do. For when I approach the altars, I include every
request in my one prayer, 'Grant O ye Gods, all that is
convenient for me!' If the gods consider me good, I hope to
obtain more than I ask, but if they number me with the wicked, I
know the contrary of what I ask will be given, and I will not
blame the gods for judging me undeserving of their favors through
This philosophy astonished Telesinus. He desired to show
Apollonius all respect and said, "Be it lawful for you to enter
all the temples. I will write to the priests to receive you and
submit to your superior orders."
"Would they not receive me without your written commands," asked
"No," said Telesinus. "The permission depends on my position as
"I am glad so illustrious a man fills the office," said
Apollonius. "At the same time I would have you know that I would
prefer to dwell in temples not so vigilantly guarded. None of
the gods rejects me, and all give me the protection of their
roof. This is all the permission I ask, and it is not denied me
even by the barbarians."
"If that is so," replied Telesinus, "the barbarians are
beforehand with us in such a praiseworthy attention, and I wish
it were said of ourselves."
After this Apollonius dwelt in the temples and he dwelt in none
without making some reformations. In this way he passed from
temple to temple, and there was some gossip which he settled by
declaring that as the gods do not always dwell in the heavens but
visit Ethiopia and Olympus by turns, and sometimes Mount Athos,
so it was proper for men to visit all the gods. This was a
valuable lesson in toleration.
While he instructed people in the temples, they were more than
usually crowded with attentive worshipers; also the publicity of
his teachings prevented any being misreported. He visited no
man, nor ever paid his court to the great and powerful. He
received all with civility and what he said to them he said to
the entire world.
OUR CONSCIOUSNESS OF GOD
By S. Vahiduddin
[From THE ARYAN PATH, April 1953, pages 156-60.]
The consciousness of God as a fact and a phenomenon has an
interest of its own. It is independent of the question of God's
existence. As many have found their way from the consciousness
of freedom and responsibility to freedom itself, so we may also
be led from the consciousness of Deity to find Deity Itself.
That is another question. The consciousness as a datum cannot be
Our purpose is confined to a phenomenological description of what
that consciousness is. It is not a psychological description.
Psychologically we may be interested in knowing the mental
factors at work, their genesis, and the laws that govern them.
That is already an interpretation and an interpretation is not
our object. We want to make the consciousness retrospective, to
make it speak for itself.
The consciousness of God has one disadvantage. Unlike the
consciousness of freedom, its universality may be challenged.
There have cropped up now and then in history religious outlooks
without the notion of God and personal immortality. It may also
be questioned whether God and immortality are so indissolubly
linked together that the one leads to the other. Impressed by
the testimony of history, earnest thinkers have been forced to
affirm that God arid immortality are not pivotal to the religious
Schleiermacher has affirmed in unmistakable terms that God does
not constitute an essential element in the religious
consciousness. Paradoxical as it might seem in a Christian
thinker like Schleiermacher, in his famous DISCOURSES, he has
identified religion with a feeling and a vision of the universe.
The consciousness of God is only one among many possible forms of
Though it is hardly possible to agree with Schleiermacher in his
characterization of religion, it may be that primitive religion
may refer only to the beyond, without any distinct consciousness
of God. God in our consciousness is invested with moral
attributes, more or less pronounced. Religion, shorn of its
moral moments, is the irrational and the numinous of which Rudolf
Otto speaks. Religion, then, does not exhaust itself in morality
and an ambiguous attitude in relation to God is not ruled out by
Who knows whether the great teacher who developed a full-fledged
religion without God had not a consciousness of God in such
fullness that silence was the only medium through which it could
be conveyed? Perhaps in his phenomenality, God was an object of
worship and prayer as Ishvara and creator, whereas God as Brahman
was ignored, remaining too lofty for words? Even the strong
conviction of God that Goethe's Faust entertains does not pour
itself forth in words. Rejection and affirmation become equally
Perhaps the idea of something above the distinctions of being and
non-being is lurking in the thought of Buddhism. Oldenberg has
no doubt that the idea of Nirvana has grown out of speculation
about Brahman. Buddhist thought only brings us before a mystery
that is an abyss for the reason.
However that may be, our purpose is to show how God is present in
our experience! William James has subjected the sense of presence
to an interesting analysis. His remarks deserve attention, not
only as the considered views of an influential thinker, but also
as representative of an age. James assumes a primitive sense of
presence, which, if worked upon, forms the basis of our
apprehension of the real.
Pierre Janet has shown how in pathological cases the sense of the
real fails and the world appears dreamy and unsubstantial. No
doubt in moments of great emotional crisis our hold on the real
gives way. Whitehead cites the murmur of William Pitt, English
Prime Minister, on his deathbed, at a dark hour in the Napoleonic
Wars. "What shades we are, what shadows we pursue!"
This is a human reaction of ontological and axiological import.
The aims that we have faithfully sought all our life seem
divested of all value. The apprehension of ourselves as shades
is the awareness of our insubstantiality, and the apprehension of
the shadow that we pursue is the consciousness of the valueless
emptiness of our pursuits. The strife that is life does not
simply become "ignoble"; that would still be something. All the
hurly-burly of life becomes only "sound and fury, signifying
nothing." Such a moment of emotional crisis is illustrated in
Turgeniev's SMOKE. The world, the gay life of society, and the
heat of political controversy suddenly appear as vapor and smoke.
Regardless of its ultimate foundation, the sense of the presence
of God cannot be ignored. It sometimes takes curious forms. The
person feels himself pursued by some one and frequently looks
back. He may feel his double following him at every stop. The
writer of a document quoted by James expresses himself thus:
> I think it well to add that in my ecstasy, God had no form,
> color, odor, nor taste. Moreover, the feeling of His presence
> was accompanied with no determinate localization. It was rather
> as if my personality had been transformed by the presence of a
> spiritual spirit.
Now James seems to suggest that our consciousness of God is of
like nature. Nothing can be further from the truth. We never
become conscious of God in his substantiality, to use the
traditional language, but effectively in feeling and experience
and ideationally as the reference of thought. The consciousness
of God is very different from the consciousness of a thing or a
person. The religious experience is not to be distinguished by
the non-religious only in the effects that it produces, in the
joy or shudder that is its outcome.
It is no wonder that with his predilection for finite gods and
higher selves, James had misunderstood the nature of the
consciousness of God. It becomes for him like our consciousness
of a departed soul. He asserts that many persons possess the
objects of their belief in the form, not of mere conceptions
accepted by the intellect as true, but rather of "quasi-sensible
realities directly apprehended."
Now what we maintain is that the consciousness of God is wholly
other. The writer of the very document cited above corrects
himself immediately and gives a more faithful expression of what
he felt. He adds:
> The more I seek words to express this intimate intercourse, the
> more I feel the impossibility of describing the thing by any of
> our visual images. At bottom, the expression most apt to render
> what I felt is this: God was present, though invisible; He fell
> under no one of my senses, yet my consciousness perceived.
How then is God really experienced? If we look at the experience
cursorily, we are struck by the personal character of God. It is
not our concern to show how far personality can be attributed to
God. We are only in quest of the way we become conscious of Him.
He is never present as a finite being, engaged in a struggle that
we only hope He will win and with whom we cast in our lot. The
consciousness of God knows no risk, be it in the pragmatic, the
Kantian, or the Existentialist sense. It knows no "either . .
The way we become conscious of God as a person in our prayer and
communion may not be considered elevating for fastidious
speculation. Fichte has vigorously condemned it. The way God
appears in consciousness betrays the man and his spirit. On
different levels of spiritual development, the consciousness of
God appears differently. If God is taken as the object of love,
He is understood as the Idea of personality in its fullness. If
the Deity is taken as other than personality, It can only be a
more in this otherness, not a less. God may appear as a solace,
a hope, and as a wall against which our efforts avail not. "I
have known God in the frustration of my aims," remarked Hazrat
God may well appear in our consciousness as super-personal, as a
direction or an aim that is always elusive. God is then
experienced in self-transcendence. K. Jaspers seems to move on
this plane. God is found in the frustration of all our thought
and action. Even when we are conscious of God negatively, as
"neti, neti," even in the negation there is something positive
hidden; we somehow divine what we are aiming at. Even in
religions with a highly developed personal consciousness of God,
the references to his super-personal character are legion. God
is experienced as "beyond, beyond all beyond, and still beyond."
The communion with God of the creative religious genius, of the
saint and the rishi, may be very different. Without
understanding what they are, we can only divine their
experiences. The common man also lives God in an uncommon way at
certain rare moments of his life. Such moments may bring about
conversion and decide the future course of life. Pierre, the
hero of Tolstoy's WAR AND PEACE, experiences the sudden awakening
of the consciousness of God.
> Suddenly in his captivity he had learnt, not by words or
> reasoning but by direct feeling, what his nurse had told him long
> ago: that God is here and everywhere . . . And the closer he
> looked the more tranquil and happy he became. That dreadful
> question, "What for," which had formerly destroyed all his mental
> edifices, no longer existed for him. To that question, "What
> for," a simple answer was now always ready in his soul: "Because
> there is a God, that God without whose will not one hair falls
> from a man's head."
We need not go even to experiences of such a rare order. As love
remains for many of us only a dream and a longing, so do these
experiences evade the light of everyday reality. Our purpose is
well served if we can bring to light the consciousness of God as
a phenomenon of everyday significance.
Sometimes God reveals Himself in conditions in which one would
least expect Him. In perverse moments, in moments of sin and
degradation one may feel the sudden nearness of God. God may
reveal himself in an awareness of our alienation from the Divine
Order. Many practices of certain religious sects and individuals
have their root in such morbidity. What is more natural and
salutary is to feel God not in sin when we are wallowing in it
but in repentance. The feeling of degradation is the feeling of
value that has unfortunately not found fulfillment in our life.
Many are the ways and the forms in which we become conscious of
God. We may feel the presence of God in all that we do, feel, or
think, and religion will assume a corresponding form. If God is
experienced as activity and urge, a religion of action is born
and a life of duty becomes the goal. Religion then becomes a
mission and a crusade. If God is lived as the affective
atmosphere, religion takes on an aesthetic character and man is
lost in contemplation of everlasting Beauty. If God is lived as
a constant reference of thought, religion takes the form of
knowledge. God's knowledge makes possible the knowledge of
things around us.
It is interesting to observe down the ages, in a single
historical religion, the shifting of accent from one to another
of these, the tension of opposites making for the vigor and
health of a great religion. The contrast between the vita activa
and the vita contemplativa of Martha and Mary is an abiding
contrast. Our consciousness of the Divine is also rich in
contrasts; now one becomes salient and now another. Whether we
live God as the breath of our life or as the Light that flickers
at a distance, or as the frustration of our action and the
despair of our thought, God steals into the heart in a way that
is all Its own.
THE PATIENCE TO ENDURE
By James Sterling
The patience to endure, the ability to keep
Our heads above the swirling waters raging
Below is the only way we can survive these
Blasts of Karman.
Karman can be brutal, those bygone mistakes of
Yesterday, rushing down upon us like rambling
Rapids of misery; chiding us to learn -- don't
Repeat those mistakes again, or else you'll
Only suffer again.
The agony is embarrassing in front of a world
That knows nothing of your secret.
That secret is safe indeed, but only to those who
Have traversed the path inward themselves --
Masters of Wisdom safely hidden from the world
In remote mountain hideaways. Chelas on
Probation out in the world are not so Fortunate.
Being subjected to one test after another,
Leaves us crawling into bed at an early hour,
Waiting for the Karma to end -- or at least give
Us a decent night of rest. But sleep never
And what is the purpose of this, since Chance
Is nonexistent in a Universe ruled by Law?
What is the purpose for young, innocent
Chelas, ready to learn, eager to please
Invisible Guardians of the Light?
But we are left to find our way in the dark,
Struggling for breath, yet slowly developing
The strength and courage it will take for those
Chosen for duty and service to the world.
We wait and wonder about the changes in our
Lives; changes that leave us off guard and
But we will conquer the weaknesses in
Ourselves! We'll have the courage to take
Responsibility for our lives that we have
Created through that intricate Web of Destiny!
And we'll be ready to serve with honor our
Masters of the Great White Lodge.
THE RELATION OF THE FINITE AND THE INFINITE
By G. de Purucker
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 1939, pages 100-107, from a
question asked by a Professor of Philosophy at a public meeting
at a university at Malmo, Sweden in September 15, 1937.]
> What is the relation between the infinite mind and the finite
> mind according to Theosophy? The trouble is if you say the finite
> mind is a part of the infinite mind, you must also ascribe to the
> infinite mind the vices of the finite. If you say it is not a
> part of the infinite mind, then the infinite cannot be infinite.
The gentleman has asked a question which has been debated in all
ages, among all races of men. It is the same problem which has
vexed and harassed theologians, for it is obvious from the
standpoint of theology, if God is infinite, and is nevertheless a
creator, then everything that infinity creates must be infinite;
but we see ourselves surrounded by an infinitude of finite
How comes this? This is the same problem in theology that you, my
dear sir, have spoken of as existing in philosophy. Now I do not
know anything that can answer this question except the god-wisdom
that today we call Theosophy, and you will understand it is not
so easy to answer, because one must be trained in esoteric
thought before complete conviction comes of the full adequacy of
the answer. Yet I will try to state the facts in simple
I have always looked upon the idea that the infinite is an actor
as utterly wrong, for infinitude cannot be an actor, because an
actor is a limited entity. Infinitude does not act as a being,
for a being is a limited entity. We can only say therefore that
infinity is action per se; it is life per se. Infinity is not a
life, which is limitation, finity.
Consider any limited entity, be it me as a man, you as a man, a
celestial body like the sun or a planet, a beast, a plant, or
what not. This limited entity, a finite being, in its physical
expression lives and moves and has its existence in infinitude.
It cannot be outside of it because infinitude has no frontiers,
no boundaries, and no beyond. Therefore, that finite entity
somewhere, somehow, in some part of it, has its roots in
infinity; infinity washes it through, so to speak, as the sea
washes through all that its waves encompass, although of course
infinity is a frontierless sea, so to speak.
Thus I, as a man, have my roots in the Divine, that Divine
surrounds me everywhere, and permeates me throughout, in all my
parts, in all my being. I cannot ever leave it. Therefore am I
a child of it. Yet here am I, a man, in a weak, small, limited,
physical body, with a weak, small, physical, limited brain as
compared with the gods, a weak, small life, with a heart, as we
say, an ethical instinct, and what not. Yet I am a man. I have
divine thoughts; I feel my unity with all that is. How? Why? Oh,
that is the problem.
I will now hint at what esoteric Theosophy says on this point.
There is an infinity of finites, a strange paradox. In other
words, these entities or beings that we call finite are infinite
in number. I wonder if you catch that point. Thus, the atoms of
boundless space are bound by no frontiers, each one is a finite
entity, and yet they exist in infinite numbers.
We can conceive no end because if our thought once says, there
infinity ends, this is a limitation of the Infinitude which has
produced finites here, and we say, with perfect justice, why
should, how could, infinity limit itself in any way? This thought
is repellant. We cannot accept it. It is the infinite
whispering of Infinitude within me that enables my consciousness
to catch this thread of understanding; this limited brain finds
difficulty in holding within its small bounds an infinite idea.
I get an intuition, something within whispers, that is so. That
is the Infinitude breathing through me, washing through me.
Thus, there is an infinitude of finite entities, gathered
together in distinct aggregated masses, whatever they may be:
men, planets, suns, stars, stones, or what not -- call them
atoms, because all these things are formed of atoms, or things
smaller than atoms like electrons and protons, etc., etc.
Indeed, all cosmic phenomena in the great or in the small follow
the same general cosmic rule or pattern; and these are the
phenomena of the universe as contrasted with the hid noumena or
Now, we see thus that Occidental philosophy has made a capital
mistake, a capital error, in its philosophical researches in
saying that infinity is around us, but that the finite is
radically or essentially different from it. Strange paradox!
Just because the finities are limitless, infinite numerically,
therefore collectively as an infinitude they are a part of
Infinitude, indeed, in a sense the garments of Infinity. They
are it. In other words, we must change our outlook on the
universe before we can understand why the infinite breathes in
time as it does, in what we men call boundless space. There is a
manner in which even a human thought is infinite because it is
one of an infinite number of thoughts, energies, living in the
heart of nature, and never able to leave infinitude.
If you catch this very subtle, difficult thought, you will have
precisely what the esoteric philosophy teaches, as also, for
instance, the Vedanta, the Adwaita-Vedanta of India. What does
it as well as the sage of the Vedas teach its disciples? This:
"Tat twam asi," meaning That, the Boundless, thou art. Because
if That, thou, are different, then the thou is outside infinity,
which is absurd, and infinity immediately becomes finite because
there is something beyond it, which means that it is bounded,
therefore limited, therefore noninfinite. Therefore, that
limited entity or finity in this wondrous way is washed through
with infinity, because in its heart, in its essence, it is of the
substance of infinity.
Now turning to theology, this is just the reason why we
Theosophists cannot accept Christian theology, although we accept
the teachings of the Avatara Jesus. We look upon him as one of
the greatest of Theosophists; but the theology of Christianity
was built up by smaller men later in time that had lost the
secret of the teachings of their great Master. When Christian
theology says that God is a creator, that "He" created the world
out of nothing at a certain time in infinity, we say that is
impossible, that limits "God."
Infinity is no creator, it is not a maker, not a demiurge, to use
the philosophical term, demiourgos of the Greeks; just as the
sage of the Vedas, as the Adwaita-Vedanta of India and as the
Esoteric Philosophy say, it is THAT. We give to it no concrete
name, for such a name implies limitation. We simply say it is
nameless, THAT. "THAT" is not a title, it is not a name; it is
just an attempt of the human mind not to label Infinity, or to
give it a name, or to put a ticket on it, but just to use this
term That as a means of reference in conversation.
Lastly, the Esoteric Philosophy teaches therefore, following
these lines of subtle thinking, that even what we call the
physical universe is infinite because composed of an infinite
number of units, finities, strange paradox! It is so from
eternity. It never had a beginning and never will have an
ending. Because infinity has no beginning, has no ending.
Infinity does not create and produce these finities. Therefore,
they are always from infinite past to infinite future, and are
parts of Infinitude. Strange philosophical paradox. Marvelous
intuitions of the archaic sages!
It is noble of us to investigate these recondite and difficult
thoughts because they raise us to higher levels of thinking and
enlarge our minds. Even so, I must agree with the ancient sage
who said that the most real answer to such problems is found in
the Silence. Oh, how true that is. It is words that mislead us,
words that entangle us and lead our thoughts astray. Yet, we
must use words to communicate with each other.
If this gentleman is a professor or teacher in one of the
Universities, I sympathize with him, because I know the
difficulty he has in giving thought so subtle sometimes to other
minds. Yet he does so, teachers do so, because they know there
is something in the learners, in the pupils, which can grasp at
least an intuition of reality.
Friends, I trust you will forgive me if I speak with perfect
frankness about your branch of teaching. I sometimes think that
Western philosophy has lived under great disadvantages. It has
suffered under a heavy handicap, and it is this, that Western
philosophical thought has not had a real opportunity to develop
and free itself from theological dogmatism. Of course, I know
this perhaps is a ticklish subject to touch upon, but it is one
of outstanding importance for the freedom of human thought.
Philosophy in the Orient has not been laboring for thousands of
years under this handicap. The thoughts of Oriental philosophers
and of the archaic Mystery Schools have had the freedom to grow
and to develop; and I will now show you just what I mean.
In the Esoteric wisdom, as likewise in the philosophical and
religious thought of the Orient -- a direct descendant and child
of Occultism, of Theosophy -- the Infinite or Boundless or That
is not good, nor is it bad. These are human limitations, and can
apply only by contrasts to limited beings. It is a man, an
angel, a god, or a deva who is good or bad. A spirit of Good and
a spirit of Evil? This is a blind intuition that Christian
theology has had.
What actually is, is that in the bosom of Infinity, out of it as
from an eternal womb, come pouring forth hierarchies of lives, of
monads as Leibniz would say, all spiritual beings in various
grades and degrees of what we today call evolutionary unfoldment.
We have the highest of the highest of the highest gods. Beneath
them are the highest of the highest. Beneath them are the
highest, then the gods, and then the Dhyani-Chohans. Then there
are beings below them until we reach us, followed by lower beings
like beasts, plants, and elementals. They all march upward on
their evolutionary way, higher and higher.
It is in this world in which we live that we find good and evil,
and we see how beautiful good is. Good is harmony, love, peace,
progress, and development, evolution, expanding, in growth. We
likewise see what evil is, restriction, constriction, suffering,
pain, inadequacies, ignorance, in other words imperfection in
development often involving retrogressions or going downwards
towards larger imperfections, until the lesson is learned by
habit, and the entity begins the upward march. This is what the
evil man does. He is going downwards and backwards for the time
being, for the duration of his evil doing. It is in the
manifested things of the universe that we find beauteous good and
the best, and horrid evil and the worst.
This entire series of thoughts involving the productions of the
hosts of hierarchies of finite beings and things was called in
ancient philosophy the doctrine of Emanations, which Christian
theology has condemned, scorned, and mocked at, and which Western
philosophy has never had a chance to understand because its
teachers have been crippled. They have not been truly free, for
they have not had the chance that the philosophers of the Orient
have. I know. I have been through it.
We cannot say that the Infinite is good. That is a limited term
belonging solely to beings of emanated hierarchies. When in the
lower grades of these, we find them with less of the divine
light. Then, as the Gnostics said -- one School of ancient
philosophy in early Christian times -- they live in darkness,
they are limited, they cannot see clearly, and that is evil, what
we call evil, limitation.
So it is all wrong to talk about Infinitude as being good,
because if Infinitude is good, how are we going to explain evil
in the world? There is lots of it! No, good and evil belong to
the vast range of hierarchies existing in Infinity. These
hierarchies come forth into manifestation in one great Life-wave
in some part of the Universe, live their times, and advance and
progress. When they reach the culmination or highest point of
their growth in that time-period, they return into the bosom of
the Divine for rest. At some future time, they come forth again
on higher planes, in loftier spheres.
We see this process all around us in Nature, like the tree coming
forth in the spring, bringing forth its leaves and shedding them
in the autumn; just as we see men, for instance, reimbody, part
in the divine world and part in the physical, life after life, up
and down the swing of the pendulum which is Nature's law. We see
it around us. There is the great book that we should study:
Nature, the things that are.
When I say Nature, I do not mean physical nature alone, but all
nature in the esoteric sense, in the theosophical sense, the
nature of the divine, the nature of the spiritual, the nature of
the intellectual worlds, the nature of the physical worlds, and
the nature of the worlds beneath the physical. Who can, who
dare, set bounds to the life in Infinity and of it?
I think in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, concerning this question,
that the esoteric philosophy, more than anything else that I
know, fills the heart with reverence, reverence for truth.
The gist of the answer to the question asked is, therefore, as
follows. Every unit of the limitless number of finite beings, or
of things living in and of infinitude, every such unit, I say, is
in its highest, in its essence or fundamental substance, an
identity with the substance of Infinitude. These points of
infinite substance or monadic centers in their several
expressions as cosmic phenomena are, or become, or appear, or
show themselves forth, as the finite units spoken of in the
question. Thus, every unit is in its essential substance of the
very stuff of Infinity, but all in their manifestations or
emanated expressions are, or become, the discrete or "separated"
units in their countless armies or hierarchies.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application