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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- October, 2003
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Three Kinds of Wealth," by B.P. Wadia
"Why Theosophy," Part I, by Linda Rollison
"Externalization of Evil," by Anonymous
"Ethics Now and Then: Meanings of the Mask," by April Hejka-Ekins
"Portraits of Theosophists," Part VIII, by John M. Prentice
"The Mysticism of Tennyson," Part I, by Anonymous
"The Field of the Heart," by Steven Levey
"Power," by George William Russell
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part XIV, by Phillip A Malpas
"Nature and the Butterfly," by James Sterling
"To Whom This May Come," Part II, by Edward Bellamy
> Can we broaden our contacts? Can we widen out to help the world,
> and many other inquirers and students with what we have learned
> from Theosophy? I think we have an opportunity at hand like we
> have never had before. Imagine what HPB would have done if the
> Internet had been available in her days.
> -- Dallas TenBroeck, Email of April 17, 2002
THREE KINDS OF WEALTH
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 314-16.]
Money, which wields such a tremendous influence in mundane
affairs, has a moral counterpart in the world of Spirit. Several
ancient texts refer to wealth of mind as superior to silver and
gold; and again refer to soul wealth as the highest type of
The world recognizes the superiority of the cultured mind
compared to an illiterate and an uneducated mind. It does not
see that there is something higher than mind. Therefore the
wealth of knowledge is used by the educated mind to build up a
bank account instead of creating the fund of moral power,
intuitive perception, true love, and heart philanthropy.
It is said in SANATSUJATIYA that the real twice-born are not
possessors of great material wealth, but rank first and are
unrivalled in Knowledge of the Vedas; they are not to be shaken.
Such may well be valued as forms of Brahma, for they have
creative ability. They have Brahmic wealth, with which they
spread moral power and spiritual beneficence, awakening all who
aspire to possess that wealth.
Education is considered to be the highest asset for the building
up of the prosperous State. Our educators are far from the right
perception of true principles. Our youths are not taught the
truth that each one has been the maker of his destiny in the past
and is so now. Schools and colleges, universities and academies,
turn out "educated" young men and women by the thousand. They
use their talent mostly for making money and getting on in life,
so that they may become prosperous. Such use the motion of
knowledge to hook money for a "happy" existence, and there are
those -- not a negligible number -- who, failing to gain wealth
honestly, use crooked ways and become possessors of filthy lucre.
Everyone knows that most millionaires are not healthy; nor are
they truly wealthy, for they are not wise. He who uses his
knowledge to gain mundane prosperity for himself lowers himself.
Missing out the real meaning and purpose of human evolution, he
becomes selfish and makes of himself an egotist.
Use mental education not only to improve personal life but also
to rise spiritually and bring to birth the truly moral Man. The
educated man who has not learnt the value and the use of moral
perception, of higher values of unselfishness and sacrifice, is
said to have lived in vain. Our mental wealth should be used to
procure spiritual wealth. The mind must seek its own higher
aspect. The ordinary educated man who lives to amass money lives
by the wandering power of the octopus mind; he does not know that
there is within him the controller of the animal mind. The
professional man, the man of business, and the civil servant, are
very impractical. In running after silver and gold they
prostitute the mind; they miss out the securing of the Moral
Power of the soul, wherein is real strength, joy, and
The same text, SANATSUJATIYA, asks, "What sin is not committed by
that thief, who steals away his own Self, who regards that Self
as one thing, when it is a different thing?"
We drag down the Self of Truth-Beauty-Virtue and exploit it for
worldly ends. We need to change our point of vision. A highly
practical truth is enshrined in what sounds like a very
impractical proposition: the educated man should move his mind to
gain knowledge about his own higher mind wherein is the wealth he
is looking for. That man should know himself is an old-world
maxim, which all of us quote but which only too few care to
Among the people dear to Krishna are those who desire possessions
(Gita, VII, 16). Seeking the higher wealth, we gain all that we
are looking for -- and more. We unfold Moral Power which is
resourceful. Seeking material wealth, fame, and power, we
enslave and embitter ourselves. The burdens of material
possessions, the shining mark they offer to avarice, pride, envy,
and misfortune, weigh down and haunt the rich until suicides are
more frequent among them than among the poor. What then is the
way out? The aspirant to the Higher Life has his own formula.
"Desire possessions above all; but desire only those possessions
which can be enjoyed by all pure souls equally." He who seeks
real possessions, to have and to hold by the soul's franchise,
envies not and is never proud, for he knows well that the things
that he prizes are the heritage of humanity.
WHY THEOSOPHY, Part I
By Linda Rollison
[From THE TEMPLE ARTISAN, published by The Temple of the People,
Halcyon, California, April-June 2003, pages 4-14.]
Theosophy is a body of information that makes a lot of sense to
most Temple members and friends. Each one could tell a different
story about how he found this philosophy, what it means in his
life, and why he continues to study it and try to make it a part
of his world. But what would we say to someone who is not
familiar with its teachings? How would we explain why we find
theosophy to be the most useful way of understanding our lives
and the world we live in? And why would we want to try to explain
Most of us would probably agree that events in the world today
point to the fact that humanity is in the midst of some sort of
crisis. Probably many people, non-theosophists included, would
agree that some of the issues that face humanity are bigger and
more crucial than any we have faced in our known history. There
is environmental degradation, potential nuclear destruction of
life and quality of living, political upheaval, war in many parts
of the world, economic imbalance, and the eroding of simple human
virtue. They would agree that such problems seem to indicate
that humanity is at the crux of some process of decision making
that promises to affect the future of the race for some time to
What can theosophy offer to the individual who feels lost in the
magnitude of issues that seem too complex for the individual to
sort out, much less affect in any substantial way? How can
theosophy affect our personal lives, our understanding of other
people and their reality? Does theosophy show us a way in which
we can make a difference?
Every individual has his own set of personal problems, but we
share the basic essential needs of shelter, nourishment,
security, and a sense of meaning for our lives. Theosophy tells
us that life unfolds in cyclic patterns, and that each cycle has
its purpose to teach the people who live in it certain lessons
about themselves and about the universe in general. Humanity is
now at the end of the cycle of Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, of
materialism. This cycle of some 6000 years comprises all we know
of conventional history, and all the evils we experience and
struggle with are a part of its focus on material existence to
the exclusion of spiritual existence.
As with all conditions, there is a reason for this. Humanity
must learn all it can know about the material plane in order to
progress further in its evolution. But we need not to forget
that the material is only a reflection of the spiritual in order
to learn our lessons. Theosophy says that this cycle of Kali
Yuga is drawing to a close, and that the end of a cycle, bringing
in as it does the beginning of a new cycle, necessarily is a time
of disequilibrium, of pressure, analogous to the pressure felt by
the baby in the process of being born.
The passage from one world to the next is always filled with
chaos and confusion. This confusion preys on humanity today. We
have concentrated our attention upon the investigation of all
facets of material life for millennia, and the imbalance of such
one-sided attention has brought us all the problems that face us
today. Focusing our energy on material success leads us into
believing that we are different from our brothers and sisters,
that what happens to them is not as important as what happens to
us. Institutionalized, this belief creates wars between nations
and between belief systems. It creates poverty and suffering,
and not only do the poor suffer. Even the rich find that they
cannot be happy and content.
Theosophical teaching supplies the reason for this. Every human
being is a complex entity, composed not only of a physical body
and brain, but also of other invisible bodies -- of emotion,
higher mind, and soul. This soul, the Higher Self, is the part
of us that knows everything and never forgets. It knows the
truths of life, including all we have ever learned, even if we
seem to have forgotten most of it. It lives again and again, and
never dies. And it dwells in our heart. If we are unhappy or
confused, it knows and can show us the way to contentment. It is
composed of all that is true and beautiful in our existence, and
in the existence of every living thing.
Every thing that exists is alive and aware according to its own
level of development. Our soul is always reaching out to us,
speaking to us in its still small voice, striving to show us the
way to peace with ourselves. Failing to accept this, we become
torn, wasted, and unhappy. Even in our denial, somewhere in our
deepest heart we know that we are a greater being than we appear
to be and that there is a purpose for our existence beyond the
gratification of our material desires.
Very often, in any situation, the voice of our soul speaks first.
Often it is the tiniest impulse, so slight as to be almost
impossible to notice, but before the roar of conditioning and
habit asserts itself, the soul sends us a ray of light that we
can choose to take as our guide, if we will. We can call it
conscience, if we like. It doesn't matter what we call it. But
it will unerringly show us the way through all the problems that
beset us in our personal lives, if we will only honor and trust
When we ignore this voice of our soul and blunder on according to
the accepted manner of our materialistic culture, we create
barriers and obstacles for ourselves, through which we then have
to find our way. When we ignore this still small voice, we are
choosing to flout the laws of nature -- those laws that govern
everything that is, including humanity. When we break these
laws, we have to pay the price as surely as we do if we are
caught speeding and have to pay a fine. The difference between
traffic laws and nature's laws is that we aren't always caught by
the traffic cop, but we always are caught by nature's enforcer,
When we choose to ignore the still small voice of our soul, we
set up a war within ourselves. We know in our hearts that we
have done the wrong thing, and in our heart of hearts, we want to
do the right thing, so we create guilt and its partner, despair.
And on that battlefield, shrouded in a fog of our own ignorance
and egotistical density, the dark forces of suffering and
confusion always win, at least for a time. And then, since we
have learned in 6000 years of conditioning that more material
success is supposed to make us feel better, we turn around and do
the same thing over and over again, deepening the gloom until we
cannot even remember that there could be another way.
But theosophy shows us another way. If just one time we listen
to the voice of our soul urging us to follow the path of ancient
wisdom and act according to the laws of nature, the laws of love
and altruism, of self-responsibility and acceptance, we find the
fog lightened a bit. Just for a moment, when we conduct
ourselves as though we cared what happened to our brother more
than we care what happens to ourselves, we experience a feeling
of contentment, of joy and peace of heart -- knowledge, however
fleeting, of harmony with all that is. If we make the choice to
listen to that still small voice another time, the light in our
heart becomes stronger, and we can see a bit further. We might
even start to wonder why we have been striving so hard for so
long in the opposite direction.
It takes time and even effort to listen to the voice which does
not insist, to make room for the thought that is not blared
incessantly from our TV set, to think twice before accepting the
current explanation for this or that problem of humanity, to sort
out for ourselves the possible reasons for our own problems. But
once the light of wisdom, of the ancient eternal teachings, the
legacy of all humanity, begins to shine on our personal welter of
dilemmas, we find that none of the problems that beset us seems
so big after all. We find that we are able to feel good about
ourselves. We know that we have made many mistakes, but we can
also see that we can choose to do better. We begin to realize
that there is no cause for fear and dread. We can handle all
that comes to us. And we find contentment and peace in our
heart, which readies us to be warriors in the vast struggle with
the powers of darkness that strive more and more in this end game
of Kali Yuga to force humanity to its knees.
Once a person has attained to a modicum of peace with himself, he
can turn his attention to those around him. If we are unhappy,
we can be sure that many others also feel lost and confused.
Theosophy teaches that it is our mission in life to be of service
to our brothers and sisters. "In the last analysis, occultism is
altruism," said Madame Blavatsky. It is hard to be useful to
anyone when we are lost in our own maze of ego-frustration. But
when we learn to see a bit more clearly, we begin to find ways to
be of help.
The fundamental principle of Theosophy is the Unity of all Life.
Each individual is a fragment of a universal whole, and each
contains all the qualities of the multitude within. When we
begin to unravel the tortuous tangles of our own inner beings, we
begin to see our own problems reflected in those around us.
Collectively, humanity has forgotten this great truth. In our
mad dash for self-gratification, we have lost sight of the fact
that what gratifies one often takes away the means for
gratification for another, and often that process robs others of
even the basic needs of life. We have gotten to a place where it
seems natural to assume that as long as we get ours, what happens
to others is not important. If they deserved what we have, we
think, they would work as hard as we do to get it. But when we
begin to realize that all we thought we wanted, and strove so
hard to attain, is as ashes in our mouths compared to being at
peace in our hearts, we can begin to see the desperation in
others, and also its causes.
EXTERNALIZATION OF EVIL
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, November 1959, pages 11-14.]
Cooperation between individuals, groups, and nations is the norm.
It bears witness to their recognizing, however vaguely -- perhaps
"sensing" is a better word -- the fact of interdependence, which,
is the other side of the medal of independence. Both are
necessary to the harmonious unfoldment of the individual and to
peaceful and fruitful relations between individuals and groups.
We are told in "The Synthesis of Occult Science" that physical
health depends on the integrity of all parts of the body and
especially upon their harmonious association and cooperation.
Mr. Judge adds:
> A diseased tissue is one in which a group of individual cells
> refuse to cooperate, and wherein is set up discordant action,
> using less or claiming more than their due share of food or
> energy. Disease of the very tissue of man's body is neither more
> nor less than the "sin of separateness."
> -- ULT PAMPHLET NUMBER 3, page 16
It is stated in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, "from Worlds to atoms ...
the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links
are all connected." (SD, I, 604) This being so, and everything in
the universe following the law of Analogy, "the first key to the
world problem," let us seek in the psychology of warring nations,
great collectivities of individuals, a clue to what happens
psychologically when hostility arises between man and man.
It may be taken for granted at the outset that the common people
in no country desire war, with its risks to life and happiness
and to whatever hard-won prosperity, security, and material
possessions may be theirs. Every man, moreover, whose conscience
is not atrophied, shrinks from killing or wantonly injuring his
fellow man. The attitude expressed in the following dialogue
imagined by Pascal and published in his PENSEES is not natural to
ordinary decent men:
> "Why kill me?"
> "Why kill me? Nay, do you not dwell across the river? My friend,
> if your home was on this side I should be a murderer, and it
> would be wrong to kill you like that; but since you dwell on the
> other side, I am a hero, and it is quite fair."
No, people are convinced of the righteousness of the national
cause by seeing the enemy nation discredited. They are given the
idea that the war is not against a mere collectivity of other
individuals across the border, but against Evil, on the side of
which the enemy is supposed to have shown itself aligned. Hence,
the atrocity stories condoned if not circulated against the enemy
by the government, many of which are found after peace comes, to
have had no basis whatever in fact. FALSEHOOD IN WARTIME,
written after World War I by Sir Arthur (later Lord) Ponsonby, is
a shocking and revealing book. Consider how a lying caption
affixed to a picture of a merry crowd on some celebration before
hostilities had even begun might give an impression of heartless,
fiendish glee if it was indicated that the merriment was
occasioned by some tragic happening!
The immediate effect of going to war with another country is so
well known to end internal dissension and pressure for the
righting of wrongs, however serious, that a foreign war may well
sometimes suggest itself to a harassed government to guarantee
its own stability and peace within the country's borders.
No aspect of this comparison between nations and men in mutual
conflict is more instructive than an examination of the fruits of
victory of the two World Wars. A four-year war was waged "to end
all wars" and the seeds of future, more hideous warfare were sown
in the humiliating and vindictive terms imposed upon the
vanquished, to bear their terrible fruits a generation later.
Another war was fought, of nearly six years' duration, in the
name of democracy, for which it was to make the world safe. But
all can see the tightening of control in the democratic countries
since the war ended, showing unmistakable signs of the
infiltration of the very Fascist tendencies which the sons of
those countries fought and died to extirpate. The words of the
wise Lao-tse may be taken in more than one sense. He exclaimed:
> Let the victors listen:
> Those are funeral bells!
Now let us look at this question of the externalization of evil
as it applies to the relations between individuals. Theosophy
teaches us that the real seat of war is between the higher and
the lower natures in each man. Each of us in his true nature is
an unfolding God. But in each lower nature lurks the enemy, a
devil truly in its potentialities for evil. Krishna answers
Arjuna's question as to what it is that propels man to commit
offences, "seemingly against his will and as if constrained by
some secret force," by saying:
> It is lust that instigates him. It is passion sprung from the
> quality of rajas; insatiable, and full of sin. Know this to be
> the enemy of man on earth.
> -- THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, III, 37
Describing this "constant enemy of the wise man" as "formed from
desire which rageth like fire and is never to be appeased," he
calls upon Arjuna to restrain his senses at the very outset and
to "conquer this sin which is the destroyer of knowledge and of
spiritual discernment." (Gita, III, 41)
> Knowing what is greater than the discriminating principle and
> strengthening the lower by the Higher Self, do thou of mighty
> arms slay this foe which is formed from desire and is difficult
> to seize.
> -- THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, III, 43
The aspirant has to wage an unremitting fight against foe. Many
are its cunning disguises, requiring all his skill to pierce
through to the sin of separateness and fancied self-interest or
self-righteousness that lurks within. "On this plane," Mr.
Judge has written, "the dark powers rely upon their ability to
create a Maya." He also says,
> If we can all accumulate a fund of good for all the others, we
> will thus dissipate many clouds. The follies and the so-called
> sins of people are really things that are sure to come to nothing
> if we treat them right.
> -- LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, page 126
How then must the enemies of man's spiritual advance rejoice
when, abandoning the struggle against the lower nature, or
perhaps fancying he can pick it up again where he dropped it, man
turns his gaze outward, upon the evil, real or fancied, in
another! By directing the force of his energy outside, the unwise
combatant not only makes an occult "break" but also lends aid and
comfort to the enemy within. Instead of pressing the attack on
the real foe, one who may have fallen back a little, the yielder
to the temptation to externalize the conflict against evil in
effect declares a truce in the inner war, giving the enemy a
breathing space. This it will certainly use to improve its
position, which will be further strengthened by allies it will
win. This is evident from the following excerpt:
> Each human being has his own elementals that partake of his
> nature and his thoughts. If you fix your thoughts upon a person
> in anger, or in critical, uncharitable judgment, you attract to
> yourself a number of those elementals that belong to, generate,
> and are generated by this particular fault or failing, and they
> precipitate themselves upon you. Hence, through the injustice of
> your merely human condemnation, which cannot know the source and
> causes of the action of another, you at once become a sharer of
> his fault or failing by your own act, and the spirit expelled
> returns "with seven devils worse than himself."
> -- THE EPITOME OF THEOSOPHY, page 21
The undesirability of externalizing the fight against evil is
also made very explicit in "Some Words on Daily Life" written by
a Master of Wisdom:
> No Theosophist should blame a brother, whether within or outside
> of the association; neither may he throw a slur upon another's
> actions or denounce him, lest he himself lose the right to be
> considered a Theosophist. For, as such, he has to turn away his
> gaze from the imperfections of his neighbor, and center rather
> his attention upon his own shortcomings, in order to correct them
> and become wiser. Let him not show the disparity between claim
> and action in another, but, whether in the case of a brother, a
> neighbor, or simply a fellow man, let him rather ever help one
> weaker than himself on the arduous walk of life ... the truth
> about the actual state of the inner man can only be known to
> Karma, and can be dealt with justly by that all-seeing LAW alone.
> -- ULT PAMPHLET 22, pages 12-13.
ETHICS NOW & THEN: MEANINGS OF THE MASK
By April Hejka-Ekins, Ph.D.
[This article comes from pages 16-17 of the Autumn 2003 issue of THE
SERAPEUM. Write "firstname.lastname@example.org" for a complementary
issue. Further information on the magazine will appear in a
Let's begin with a story about Mullah Nasr Eddin: Mullah went to
a bazaar to buy cloth. Finding all the booths full of customers
bidding and driving up the prices, he stationed himself near the
opposite end of the bazaar and began shouting at the top of this
lungs about the bargains there, hoping to draw away his
competitors. He was so successful that people started steaming
down to that end of the bazaar, leaving the cloth sellers' booths
empty for him, just as he wished. But seeing all the people
hurrying by, he thought: Perhaps there really are splendid
bargains down there! So he abandoned the cloth dealers and ran
after the crowd.
What does this amusing tale tell us? We all play roles that are a
natural part of our human existence and when we do so, we take on
a mask or a face that we express to the world. Just like Mullah,
sometimes we forget who we are and what we are doing; we are
taken over by the role we are playing and the mask we put on. In
this case, Mullah pretended that he was a customer with the
intent to deceive others, but in the end, he fooled himself
through his own scheming. In this article, I will explore some
of the primary meanings of the mask, discuss the importance of
recognizing the masks we wear, and offer some suggestions as to
what they have to teach us.
Masks have been used throughout human history to express both
mythological and psychological meaning. In primitive societies,
the mask served as medium between human beings and the nature.
Joseph Campbell suggests that the mask represents an apparition
of spirit, and that the wearer of the mask actually becomes a god
during a sacred ritual. Reality is built on an "as if" view in
which the actor imagines the spirit behind some material or
intangible aspect of nature and by taking on the mask becomes
that entity. For example, a witch doctor, who wears a lion mask,
takes on a psychic identity of the lion, or as Joseph Campbell
would say, he IS the lion. Thus, for ancient tribal people, the
mask was used to mediate between the spiritual and physical
Another meaning of the mask for humans is psychological. Carl
Jung equated the mask with one's persona or the outward face of
the psyche. According to Jung, a mask is worn by an actor, which
enables him to portray a specific public role, WHICH IS NOT HIS
OWN, in order to gain societal acceptance and recognition. We
can wear multiple masks such as parent, child, teacher, partner,
spouse, citizen, etc. Masks can be used to reveal or to conceal,
depending on the personal motivation and context of the
situation. These are all expressions of what Jung calls,
archetypes or prototype images that reside in the collective
unconscious psyche of all humankind.
We may wish to ask ourselves: Are we aware of the masks we wear?
Do we consciously choose which one to adorn? Do we believe we are
our masks? Do we play our part or does our part play us? Jung
claims that there exists an individual conscious self behind the
mask if we recognize it in us. Often however, we mistake the
mask for the self as Mullah did in the above story. A good
example of the self behind the mask is the idea of the face
within a face. One such mask is Kwakiutl, the Wild Man of the
Woods from the Pacific Northwest; another is this statue of monk
Hoshi from China that reveals three levels--a self within an ego
within a mask. Perhaps there is not only a face within a face,
but also another deeper level of reality behind the self that we
can discover. If so, the mask can be viewed as a metaphor, a
symbol, and a tool for the realization of the real self and the
reality beyond self.
The mask also symbolizes, what Jung called, an inflated persona
that results in psychological fragmentation or a splitting of the
psyche or a neurosis. Books, theater, and film have depicted
many examples of this: a most familiar one is THE STRANGE CASE OF
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. In Stevenson's classic fable, we see
a splitting between a social (Jekyll) and asocial (Hyde) man.
Jung described the archetype of the shadow as our basic animal
nature, that contains the dual potential for our most impulsive
and violent desires but also our creative and instinctual
vitality. By repressing our shadow we do not annihilate it, but
force it underground where it festers and awaits the opportunity
to emerge stronger than ever. The psychological splitting of
Jekyll occurs when he identifies with the mask of the kindly
physician, and disassociates himself from Hyde, his shadow. As
Jekyll repeatedly denies and eventually rejects Hyde as part of
his own self, his shadow grows. Finally the only way Jekyll can
control Hyde from overtaking him is by suicide.
Death has often been portrayed through the mask. For example,
the essential theme in Edgar Allan Poe's short story, THE MASQUE
OF THE RED DEATH is that we live in death, which is played out in
seven chambers, composed of seven colors. People revel within
each chamber until they hear the chiming of the clock, which
reminds them of their mortality. Eventually the figure of death
appears in a red mask with, as Poe would say, "the countenance of
a stiffened corpse."
A brilliant example of how the mask has been used to show both
our horror towards death and the disassociated self is revealed
in Oscar Wilde's, A PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY. Obsessed with
preserving his youth, beauty, and immortality, Gray uses his
portrait as a siphon for his shadow. In return, he retains his
handsome, youthful persona and now is seemingly free to lead the
life of a rogue. Ironically, the full horror of his
psychological bargaining overwhelms him, and his self-destruction
is sealed as he watches his portrait take on the ugliness of his
own diabolical actions.
While the mask can be used as a form of psychological concealment
or disassociation, it can also act as a medium for healing and
self-integration. As a method of transformation for the actor,
the mask becomes a catalyst enabling a dialogue among the
suppressed archetypes within the psyche. The potential exists to
reconcile the inherent tension between them. For example, in the
film, ADAPTATION, Nicholas Cage portrays twin brother writers,
Charles and Donald, whose personas symbolize a splitting within
the psyche. A bizarre twist of events leads them to face one
another with the result of an eventual psychological
reintegration. Thus, we see that the mask can act as the
constant which contains the transformative power to allow the
fluid interaction of disintegrated parts of the personality to
What implications do these meanings of the mask have for us as
individuals? On a mythological level, perhaps the symbolic
imagination needs to spark our modern, rational mind set. Jung
believed that the destiny of humanity is bound up in the creation
of symbols that reveal the evolution of the psyche. What
mythology can we imagine that speaks to our age of conflicts
between technology and the human condition, between global
control of resources and social inequities? Perhaps our search to
create a mythology for our time can help to reconnect us to the
cosmos and each other.
Psychologically we may ask ourselves: do we play our roles or do
our roles play us? How aware are we of the masks we wear? Do we
have inflated personas? Are the masks we wear leading us to
disassociation or transformation? Can we learn to face all
aspects of who we are and come to a sense of peace about the
tension between our internal contradictions? Can the process our
self- integration lead to external transformations in our
troubled world? If we are left with more questions than answers,
maybe the lessons of the mask can provide us with some meaning if
we are willing to acknowledge our doubts and bravely face the
conflicts within ourselves.
For further reading:
Campbell, J. (1959). The Lessons of the Mask. THE MASKS OF
GOD: PRIMITIVE MYTHOLOGY. New York: Viking Press.
De Laszlo, V. (1993). THE BASIC WRITINGS OF C.G. JUNG. New
York: Modern Library.
Dooling, D.M. (Ed.) (1981) Mask and Metaphor: Role, Imagery, and
Disguise, PARABOLA, 6, 3.
PORTRAITS OF THEOSOPHISTS, Part VIII
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, August 1945, pages 365-67.]
Within the framework of the Theosophical Society, he was slow to
move or speak unless someone impinged upon one of his two great
interests. With his love of animals, he came to the forefront of
campaigns for Anti-Vivisection and the Prevention of Cruelty.
The other interest involved his deeply rooted mistrust of all
forms of priestcraft. He was a stalwart of the Lodge and seemed
to be a perpetual Vice-President, beyond which he never aspired.
Only his financial generosity surpassed his words of wisdom.
He succeeded by inheritance to the post of Managing Director of a
large tannery. Circumstances beyond his control made it
impossible for him to set this aside. The family patrimony was
involved. He was trustee for other family members. He accepted
the post as his dharma and carried through faithfully to the end.
He spent practically his entire adult life among the skins of
slaughtered animals, not one of which he would have laid a
destroying hand upon for the wealth of the Indies. For long, he
found the position almost unendurable. When he found in
Theosophy the key to this and other enigmas, the expansion of his
inner consciousness soothed the torture of his outer life.
A life-long abstainer from alcohol and a strict vegetarian from
his early boyhood, he was distressed by the sight of liquor or
the presence of any "funeral baked meats." He subsidized efforts
to suppress liquor traffic but retained the admiration and
affection of many that drew their sustenance from what he
regarded as unmitigated evil. He taught by example rather than
His was the Bhakti Marga, the Path of Devotion. Rebelling
against the narrow orthodoxy into which he was born, he passed
swiftly through Spiritualism into Theosophy. Then he came to a
new evaluation of the teachings of the Master Jesus, an
appreciation of the esoteric character of the Gospels, and a
perception given to few of the Christian way of living and of the
sweetness of the inner life spent in close communion with God.
This does not mean that he did not apprehend the Ancient Wisdom.
He understood technical Theosophy more than most. In his slow,
deliberate, quiet way, he applied Reincarnation and Karma to the
great as well as the little problems of life, to his own life and
the lives of others.
In retrospect, pity that he never read the letter of Master K.H.
to Mr. Sinnett that dealt with priestcraft and the dangers that
beset organized religion. He would have gloried in such a
concept. Any suggestion of a priest-mediator between himself and
his God was completely alien to his knowledge of Reality. He
loathed anything ritualistic except Freemasonry, in which he
played a minor role.
It was as though he had reincarnated from one of those old
Gnostic sects of early Christian years. Much of his daily living
became symbolic of the inner reality taught by those Gnostic
Christians. The food he so sparingly consumed became a symbol of
the nutriment for which the soul yearned. The water with which
he laved his body was a symbol of the living water that cleansed
When New Theology appeared in 1907, he welcomed it avidly.
Divorced from formal theological exposition and freed from dogma,
this new, liberalized expression of Christ's teaching seemed the
dawn of a new day to him. It was a bitter blow when its
best-known exponent submitted to orthodoxy, accepting
reordination into the Catholic Church. Soon the pain passed and
he went on serenely expounding what its originator had renounced.
He married twice and had the offspring of both marriages trained
in the Lotus Circle. His grandchildren, one of which he lived to
see, also follow the same path. In his old age, he always seemed
incredibly wise and tender, so that he was greatly beloved. He
did not attempt to take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence. The
Yoke of the Master was the Yoga of other Avataras. He lived the
Beatitudes. Because he was meek, he inherited a good portion of
the earth. Because of his purity of heart, he was vouchsafed the
Vision. Because he had hungered and thirsted after
Righteousness, he had been filled.
His keynote was strength and stability. He had established
himself as a pillar in the Lodge. In some far distant
incarnation, he will accomplish great things. Having been
faithful in the little, he has earned the right to be trusted
His nobility of his character earned respect for Theosophy and
the Theosophical Society. His was a small taper, perhaps, on the
Altar of the World, but a pure flame that burnt steadily and
without flicker. His singularly pure flame gave back many a
reflection from the hammered and polished brass. Remembering the
years wherein we knew him, we experience a sunset glow falling
through a western rose window as evening falls on the generation
of those who were his friends.
THE MYSTICISM OF TENNYSON, Part I
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, August 1960, pages 372-79.]
Tennyson, the great English bard of the nineteenth century, poet
laureate from 1850 until his death in 1892, was also a mystic, a
pantheist, and a philosopher of a high order. He was as greatly
admired for the nobility of his character as for the wisdom and
beauty of his poems. Earnest students of Theosophy can easily
perceive that his ideas on God and prayer, religion and law,
truth and love, unity and harmony, life and death, revealed here
and there in many of his poems, are Theosophical. He was
preparing the race-mind, and especially the Western mind, along
spiritual lines. Some higher, holier force inspired his creative
It is interesting to note that he began to write poetry very
early in life -- a talent he must have developed in previous
lives. One of his biographers, Hugh I'A Fausset, tells us that
at the age of eight he would fill up his whole slate with blank
verse in praise of flowers, and that before his twelfth birthday
he had written an epic poem of 5,000 octosyllabic lines in the
manner of Sir Walter Scott.
He was born on August 6, 1809, at Somersby, a village in
Lincolnshire. Having been brought up in a quiet and beautiful
country atmosphere, he became a great lover of nature, and the
seeds of "The Higher Pantheism" may have been sown from his
> The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains --
> Are not these, 0 Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns? ...
> Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet --
> Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
Many times the gamekeepers around the village came complaining to
his mother of their traps being sprung by her compassionate son,
much to their loss, of course. Thus early in life he began
silently practicing the golden rule: "Kill not, for pity's sake."
As a child, he was also very imaginative; his inner world was
peopled with heroes and knights and snowy summits; and, being one
of 12 children, he would fascinate his younger brothers and
sisters with strange legends. And perhaps it was here that the
"Idylls of the King" began to germinate.
In 1827, at the early age of 18, he was able to publish his first
volume entitled POEMS BY TWO BROTHERS, as it also contained a few
of his brother's poems. How, even from his young days, he was
contemplating upon high themes is remarkably brought out in the
closing verse of "The Wakeful Dreamer:"
> How could ye know him? Ye were yet within
> The narrower circle; he had well nigh reached
> The last, which, with a region of white flame,
> Pure without heat, into a larger air
> Up-burning, and an ether of black blue,
> Invests and ingirds all other lives.
Tennyson visualizes here a being of a higher order, an elder
brother of the human race.
After finishing his education in a country school, he
matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1828. All were
greatly impressed by his striking personality and many
distinguished societies were eager to enroll him in their
company. He was called by his associates "one of the mighty of
the earth." It was here that he met his beloved friend Arthur
Hallam, who died in 1833, at the age of 22, and whose death later
inspired Tennyson to write his great poem, "In Memoriam."
At Cambridge, he and his close associates formed a group named
"The Apostles," holding regular meetings and discussing
metaphysical and philosophical subjects. His silence at these
meetings had the seal of wisdom. Rarely would he mingle in
conversation, except with one short sentence to sum up the
From Cambridge, he returned to his home in Somersby and spent his
time in poetical compositions.
Tennyson did not believe in a Personal God. To him, God was an
infinite principle that could not be grasped by the finite mind.
He believed in spiritual evolution and looked on man as "the
herald of a higher race." Throughout his life, he had a constant
feeling of a spiritual harmony existing between man and the
outer, visible universe, and of the immanence of God in the
infinitesimal atom as in the vastest system. This is well
brought out in the following little poem:
> Flower in the crannied wall,
> I pluck you out of the crannies,
> I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
> 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 "Ulysses," the concept of the unity of life is beautifully expressed:
> I am a part of all that I have met;
> Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
> Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
> For ever and for ever when I move.
> My most passionate desire is to have a clearer and fuller vision
> of God. The Soul seems to me one with God, how I cannot tell ...
> What such a thing as matter is apart from Spirit I have never
> been able to conceive. Spirit seems to me to be the reality of
> the world. Depend upon it; the spiritual is the real.
In a single verse, Tennyson sums up the Three Fundamental
Propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE:
> That God, which ever lives and loves,
> One God, one Law, one element,
> And one far-off divine event,
> To which the whole creation moves.
"Mankind," according to him, "is as yet on one of the lowest
rungs of the ladder, although every man has and has had from
everlasting his true and perfect being in the Divine
Consciousness ... Forms of Christian religion would alter, but
the Spirit of Christ would still grow from more to more. ...
Love is the highest we feel, therefore God is Love."
In his philosophical poem, "The Ancient Sage," standing beside a
cavern, from where an affluent fountain poured, the Sage says to
the young man who had followed him:
> This wealth of waters might but seem to draw
> From yon dark cave, but, son, the source is higher,
> Yon summit half-a-league in air -- and higher,
> The cloud that hides it -- higher still, the heavens
> Whereby the cloud was molded, and whereout
> The cloud descended. Force is from the heights.
This echoes the Theosophical teaching about emanation, the higher
bringing forth the lower and the lower becoming the reflection of
the higher. A little later in the same poem, he speaks about the
inner communion that takes place in the sanctuary of one's own
heart and which is the only form of prayer advocated by
> If thou would'st hear the Nameless, and wilt dive
> Into the Temple-cave of thine own self,
> There, brooding by the central altar, thou
> May'st haply learn the Nameless hath a voice,
> By which thou wilt abide, if thou be wise,
> And if thou knewest, tho' thou canst not know.
Consider one more quotation from the same poem on meditation. It
is a well-known fact that Tennyson, by repeating his own name
silently to himself, used to go into a kind of waking trance, the
individuality seeming "to dissolve and fade away into boundless
being." In the following lines, he describes his own experience:
> More than once when I
> Sat all alone, revolving in myself
> The word that is the symbol of myself,
> The mortal limit of the Self was loosed,
> And past into the Nameless, as a cloud
> Melts into Heaven. I touch'd my limbs, the limbs
> Were strange not mine -- and yet no shade of doubt,
> But utter clearness, and thro' loss of Self
> The gain of such large life as match'd with ours
> Were Sun to spark -- unshadowable in words,
> Themselves but shadows of a shadow world.
Tennyson always used to say, "Prayer on our part is the highest
aspiration of the soul." And by prayer, he did not mean
lip-prayer but will-prayer and prayer through deeds. We find the
following lines in his "In Memoriam":
> Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers,
> Whose loves in higher love endure;
> What souls possess themselves so pure,
> Or is there blessedness like theirs?
> Yet none could better know than I,
> How much of act at human hands
> The sense of human will demands
> By which we dare to live or die.
The right concept he had of God and prayer naturally led him to
believe in the unity of all beings. This is beautifully depicted
in "Akbar's Dream":
> Shall the rose
> Cry to the lotus "No flower thou?" the palm
> Call to the cypress "I alone am fair?"
> The mango spurn the melon at his foot?
> "Mine is the one fruit Alla made for man."
> Look how the living pulse of Alla beats
> Thro' all His world. If every single star
> Should shriek its claim "I only am in heaven"
> Why that were such sphere-music as the Greek
> Had hardly dream'd of. There is light in all,
> And light, with more or less of shade, in all
> Man-modes of worship ...
More than once, he said what he has expressed in "Vastness": "Has
Thou made all this for naught? Is all this trouble of life worth
undergoing if we only end in our own corpse-coffins at last?"
When THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES was published in 1859, he was among
the first to realize "the vital and disordering impingement that
a physical, as distinct from a philosophical, theory of evolution
would make upon religious sentiment." He urged people to cherish
what was eternal in religion and progressive in science. He
conceived that the further science progressed, "the more the
Unity of Nature, and the purpose hidden behind the cosmic process
of matter in motion and changing forms of life, would be
THE FIELD OF THE HEART
By Steven Levey
[Written January 18, 2003, with the following preface:
"The concept of this poem occurred to us because of the
recently thriving television programs based in proving
the continued existence of the dead to the emotionally
Near the field of the heart
Is a plain, which is everywhere.
Many have buried
Their passed loves there,
while watering their sorrows, still.
The enigma of hoping the past exists
Along with its obvious absence.
Perhaps we need hold a truer affinity to the
Living than last we looked.
The consummation we sought
Along with those we held
Were like passing moments of thought.
Will one give
What the other missed?
Possibly so, perhaps not.
But that for which we long is
often a mirage on that plain.
They come and they go
Fortunately, with our pain.
But the field around the heart is an ever
Oh. There are blooms of rich color
That are merely like a moment.
Some blooms will always remain
never to pass on
like the mortal frame.
What can we give and what can we gain?
When the field of the heart is
An ever existing plain?
What is the color of love?
And does it bloom and pass away?
Shall the longing of the soul be
Quenched from a pool
where only passing needs hold sway?
The ever-existing plain of the heart
However wide is also fathomless.
It is the place of true compassion
Love without end or start. Where all hues
are present, felt, heard, touched, smelled.
The pure white source of all color.
It is not a place to be found,
Where One is
Along with every One else.
It is the gold in the ground
Of our selves.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XVI, pages 137-42.]
I have spoken of a training of the will, but have not indicated
the spring of power in our being, nor dilated on those moments
when we feel a Titanic energy lurks within us ready to our
summons as the familiar spirit to the call of the enchanter.
If we have not power we are nothing and must remain outcasts of
the Heavens. We must be perfect as the Father is perfect. If in
the being of the Ancient of Days there is power, as there is
wisdom and beauty, we must liken ourselves to that being,
partake, as our nature will permit, of its power, or we can never
The Kingdom is taken by violence. The easier life becomes in our
civilizations, the remoter we are from nature, the more does
power ebb away from most of us. It ebbs away for all but those
who never relax the will but sustain it hour by hour.
We even grow to dread the powerful person because we feel how
phantasmal before power are beauty and wisdom, and indeed there
is no true beauty or wisdom which is not allied with strength.
For one who cultivates will in himself there are thousands who
cultivate the intellect or follow after beauty, and that is
because the intellect can walk easily on the level places, while
at first every exercise of the will is laborious as the lift is
to the climber of a precipice.
Few are those who come to that fullness of power where the will
becomes a fountain within them perpetually springing up self-fed,
and who feel like the mountain lovers who know that it is easier
to tread on the hilltops than to walk on the low and level roads.
Because in our ordered life power is continually ebbing away from
us, nature, which abhors a vacuum in our being, is perpetually
breaking up our civilizations by wars or internal conflicts, so
that stripped of our ease, in battle, through struggle and
sacrifice, we may grow into power again; and this must continue
until we tread the royal road, and cultivate power in our being
as we cultivate beauty or intellect.
Those who have in themselves the highest power, who are
miracle-workers, the Buddhas and the Christs, are also the
teachers of peace, and they may well be so having themselves
attained mastery of the Fire.
It is because it is so laborious to cultivate the will we find in
literature endless analysis of passion and thought, but rarely do
we find someone writing as if he felt the powers leaping up in
his body as the thronged thoughts leap up in the brain.
I was never able to recognize that harmony of powers spoken of by
the ancients as inhabiting the house of the body, lurking in
nerve-center or plexus, or distinguish their functions, but I
began to feel, after long efforts at concentration and mastery of
the will, the beginning of an awakening of the fires, and at
times there came partial perception of the relation of these
forces to centers in the psychic body.
I could feel them in myself; and sometimes see them, or the
vibration or light of them, about others who were seekers with
myself for this knowledge; so that the body of a powerful person
would appear to be throwing out light in radiation from head or
heart, or plumes of fire would rise above the head jetting from
fountains within, apparitions like wings of fire, plumes, or
feathers of flame, or dragon-like crests, many-colored.
Once at the apex of most intense meditation I awoke that fire in
myself of which the ancients have written, and it ran up like
lightning along the spinal cord, and my body rocked with the
power of it, and I seemed to myself to be standing in a fountain
of flame, and there were fiery pulsations as of wings about my
head, and a musical sound not unlike the clashing of cymbals with
every pulsation; and if I had remembered the ancient wisdom I
might have opened that eye which searches infinitude.
But I remembered only, in a half terror of the power I had
awakened, the danger of misdirection of the energy, for such was
the sensation of power that I seemed to myself to have opened the
seal of a cosmic fountain, so I remained contemplative and was
not the resolute guider of the fire. And indeed this rousing of
the fire is full of peril; and woe to him who awakens it before
he has purified his being into selflessness, for it will turn
downward and vitalize his darker passions and awaken strange
frenzies and inextinguishable desires.
The turning earthward of that heaven-born power is the sin
against the Holy Breath, for that fire which leaps upon us in the
ecstasy of contemplation of Deity is the Holy Breath, the power
which can carry us from Earth to Heaven. It is normally known to
man only in procreation, but its higher and mightier uses are
unknown to him.
Even though in our scriptures it is said of it that it gives to
this man vision or the discerning of spirits, and to that poetry
or eloquence, and to another healing and magical powers, it
remains for most a myth of the theologians, and is not mentioned
by any of our psychologists though it is the fountain out of
which is born all other powers in the body and is the sustainer
of all our faculties.
Normally I found this power in myself, not leaping up titanically
as if it would storm the heavens, but a steady light in the
brain, "the candle upon the forehead," and it was revealed in
ecstasy of thought or power in speech, and in a continuous
welling up from within me of intellectual energy, vision or
It is the afflatus of the poet or musician. As an ancient
scripture says of it, "The Illuminator is the inspirer of the
poet, the jeweler, the chiseller, and all who work in the arts."
It is the Promethean fire, and only by mastery of this power will
man be able to ascend to the ancestral Paradise.
Again and again I would warn all who read of the danger of
awakening it, and again and again I would say that without this
power we are as nothing. We shall never scale the Heavens, and
religions, be they ever so holy, will never open the gates to us,
unless we are able mightily to open them for ourselves and enter
as the strong spirit who cannot be denied. This power might cry
of itself to us:
> My kinsmen are they, beauty, wisdom, love;
> But without me are none may dare to climb
> To the Ancestral Light that glows above
> Its mirrored lights in Time.
> King have I been and foe in ages past.
> None may escape me. I am foe until
> There shall be for the spirit forged at last
> The high unshakable will.
> Fear, I will rend you. Love, I make you strong.
> Wed with my might the beautiful and wise.
> We shall go forth at last, a Titan throng,
> To storm His Paradise.
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part XIV
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.]
THE WESTERN WORLD
The great natural phenomenon to be seen in the neighborhood of
Gibraltar was the action of the tides. That a philosopher such
as Apollonius was ignorant of the essentials of science seems
incredible, though details and artificial technicalities might
well be unknown to him, as being only matters of temporary
interest. In the same way, physical science would be of little
moment to him in comparison with the deeper sciences and aspects
of life. It was long thought that the ancients knew nothing of
the solar system and the spherical nature of the earth, but plain
records of the Indian schools are now available showing that all
this was known and great accuracy attained. Therefore, what
Apollonius says of science is not to be casually thrust aside,
but if examined may show some useful laws of nature.
He is reported as writing to the Indians that the ebb and flow of
the tides is caused by the ocean being moved underneath by winds
blowing from many caverns that the earth has formed on every side
of it. It puts forth its waters and draws them in again as is
the case in respiration with the breath. This he says is
corroborated by the account he received of the sick at Gades or
"For at the time of the flowing of the tide, the breath never
leaves the dying man, which would not happen if the tide did not
supply the earth with a portion of air sufficient to produce this
effect. All phases of the moon during the increase, fullness,
and wane are to be observed in the sea. Hence it comes to pass,
that the ocean follows the changes of the moon by increasing and
decreasing with it."
Reading 'currents' for winds and allowing for the philosophical
phraseology, this has its meaning. Apollonius was quite well
acquainted with at least some of the actions of various currents,
magnetic, bodily, and the rest. He speaks quite plainly of the
circulation of the blood, which was rediscovered by Harvey
centuries later, but was well known to the ancients and to
Apollonius. It is not at all impossible that our own theory of
the tides will give place to a more complete explanation when
science has advanced a little more.
In a temple, Apollonius found characters engraved on gold and
silver pillars that none of the Gaditanians could read. None
knew what language they were written in, not even the very
priests of the temple.
He said, "The Egyptian Hercules will no longer suffer me to be
silent. These pillars are the chains that bind together the
earth and sea; the inscriptions on them were executed by Hercules
in the house of the Parcae, the Fates, to prevent discord arising
among the elements, and that friendship being interrupted that
they have for one another."
Perhaps this was about as much as he could say without going into
the secret temple-story of Atlantis, to which it seems to refer.
Comic incidents occurred among the Spaniards at times. There was
the royal messenger who came from Rome to order sacrifices to be
made in honor of Nero's being thrice a conqueror at the Olympic
Games. The Spaniard had never heard of the games and celebrated
the conquest of a people called the Olympians by Nero. A
tragedian coming among them, they were astonished at the antics
he played, especially his manner of imitating Nero's style of
singing 'exactly.' This seemed to be done by standing on the
stage without saying a word. When he began to declaim, they were
astonished beyond measure at his stage-dress and actions. They
fled in terror from the theater!
Apollonius, after much solicitation by the governor of Baetica,
agreed to receive him, which he did alone. He seems to have
encouraged the governor to support Vindex in his protest against
the follies of the Emperor, his crimes and debaucheries. The
greatest crime of all, the murder of his own mother Agrippina,
was not made much of, as it was said that she deserved all that
came to her for bearing such a monster of a son.
ON TO SICILY
From Cadiz, the philosophers went to Africa and round to Sicily.
Here they heard of the death of Vindex, the flight of Nero, and
the invasion of the Empire by Romans and strangers. Apollonius
gave a cryptic suggestion that several short reigns would follow,
which happened when Galba, Otho, and Vitellius all reigned and
passed in a year. The phrase was "Many Thebans," comparing the
short reigns of these three to the short reign of the Thebans in
the affairs of Greece. The next day he became more explicit when
he was told that a prodigy had occurred in the birth of a child
in a good family with three heads and three necks on one body.
He explained the wonder to mean that none should have the entire
sovereignty and some should change their parts as rapidly as an
actor on stage. It so happened.
Galba soon perished within the walls of Rome.
Vitellius was lost while dreaming of the supreme power.
Otho within the year ended his career among the western Gauls and
had not even the honor of a funeral.
All these things passed within the compass of a single year.
The recorder here takes the opportunity of drawing the inference
that those who thought Apollonius was an enchanter must be crazy.
He considers enchanters most miserable people who by charms or
poisons or sacrifices or 'spirits' claim to be able to change the
decrees of fate, many confessing these things. By contrast,
Apollonius followed the decrees of destiny and only declared, by
the inspiration of the gods, what they would be. When he saw the
automatic phenomena of the tripods and cupbearers at the feast
among the Indians, he never attempted to ask how philosophy
despises wonderment and attachment concerning such things.
AESOP AND HIS FABLES
Apollonius has a good word to say for Aesop's fables, as being
even superior in their simplicity to the great myths of the
poets, which to the profane have a questionable look, especially
as the poets strive to make the stories appear true in their
dead-letter sense. Aesop, on the contrary, uses absurd little
simple tales to teach true wisdom, as man giving a banquet of
common fare well served. The philosopher told his disciple
Menippus a story of Aesop he had heard from his mother when a
boy. How Mercury had given gifts to all his suppliants --
philosophy, poetry, music, eloquence, astronomy -- forgetting the
humble Aesop, who had no great wealth to offer. When he
remembered, he recalled a story told by the Hours when they
brought him up on Olympus of a talking heifer that had made him
fall in love with Apollo's cows. He gave Aesop the gift of
This digression is given as a hint to read the fables of Mount
Etna with some reserve and discretion.
"I say there are giants, and I say their bodies have been seen
wherever their tombs have been opened," declared Apollonius,
referring to the giant Enceladus said to be bound in chains under
Mount Etna, who is fabled to breathe out fire. "Though I make
the assertion, I do not, however, say they fought with the gods,
but I assert that they behaved with great irreverence in their
temples and shrines. As to all that is said of their scaling the
heavens and driving the gods into exile, I think it as foolish to
conceive as it is to say. There is a less blasphemous story of
Vulcan with his workshop in Etna, but there are other burning
mountains in various parts of the earth, yet we are not so
thoughtless as to ascribe their eruptions to giants and Vulcans."
Apollonius spoke of the causes of eruptions. As usual, he did
not fail in his duty of drawing the moral inference that to the
pious every land and sea is safe. This was shown by the statues
erected to two young men in the Campus Piorum, surrounded by a
flow of lava, yet untouched, so that they were able to save their
parents by carrying them away on their shoulders. Always
consistent, Apollonius never fails to present the higher side of
things, even at the risk of ridicule by those who hardly even
know such a side exists, or at most, it is a very tiresome
application of moral lessons.
Passing from Sicily to Greece in the autumn, Apollonius left the
ship at Leucas. "It is not good for us to sail in her to
Achaia," he said. His disciple who knew him left the ship at
once without cavil or delay. Others paid no attention to the
remark. He then embarked with them in a Leucadian vessel for
Lechaeum. The Sicilian ship went to the bottom.
At Athens, he was initiated by the very Hierophant he had
indicated four years previously, and here he met Demetrius. The
latter told him of the fate of Musonius, who yet preferred
digging in the canal as a convict to the role of Nero as a
Apollonius passed the winter in the Greek temple and decided to
visit Egypt the following spring. The shipmaster with whom he
proposed to sail to Ionia was a dealer in little statues of the
gods, and disliked taking passengers, so the philosopher went in
another, after utilizing the occasion to point out that such
traffic was not commendable if merely as a means of making
At Chios, they did not land, but transferred into another ship
that the herald was proclaiming as about to sail for Rhodes. He
said nothing and all followed him in silence.
Asked by Damis what was greater than the Colossus at Rhodes,
Apollonius replied, "A man whose whole mind is devoted to
philosophy." Sometimes he had seemed too severe in his censure of
musicians, but here he met a flute-player who really was a
musician and understood it in its higher application to the mind.
Apollonius discoursed on the harmony of the actions needed to
produce music and encouraged the musician. It was not music he
disliked, evidently, but only bad music.
To a young man who boasted of his recently acquired fortune and
possessions, Apollonius declared that he did not possess his fine
house, but that it possessed him. The size of his wealth was
nothing in comparison with the quality.
EGYPT AND ALEXANDRIA
At Alexandria, the "people loved him without ever having seen
him." He was received by the Egyptians as a god and as an old
friend, with a procession around him greater than that which a
provincial governor would be honored. They met twelve men on
their way to execution, condemned for robbery.
Now we know that Apollonius had kept strict silence for five
years and except with reason was never prolix. On this occasion,
he chattered like a gossip with the officers in charge of the
robbers. He told them not to hurry, and then went on with a
story about one of the twelve who he said was not really guilty
but had made a false confession. "See that he is the last on the
list," said Apollonius. "In fact, it would be better to refrain
from putting him to death." It was rather a nuisance, this
interruption on the part of the aged stranger, and the execution
was considerably delayed. After eight of the robbers had been
executed by beheading, there was a dramatic turn to the affair.
A horseman rode up to the place of execution with all speed.
"Spare Phorion," he cried. "He is no robber, but confessed
through fear of the torture. He is innocent! Those who were put
to the rack have declared it in their confession."
Apollonius had no more need to delay the men with his chatter.
He had saved the innocent. What a scene! The Egyptians were
ready to receive him with the utmost enthusiasm for his own sake
and for his reputation. Here was a marvelous and joyful
manifestation of his wisdom, his foreknowledge. The applause was
loud and joyous.
When he went up into the temple, a beauty shone from his face and
the words he uttered on all subjects were divine, being framed in
wisdom. This temple is said to be the Serspeum, where in the
year 415, during Lent, the wise Hypatia, the girl-philosopher of
Alexandria, also uttered the words of divine wisdom, before the
Christians tore her flesh from her body and scraped the bones
with oyster-shells. Alexandria passed through many things
between the times of Apollonius and the martyrdom of Hypatia,
some 348 years, but rarely had the city seen such great events as
the arrival of Apollonius and the mission of that fearless,
Apollonius, as we know, did not approve of the shedding of blood.
When the Patriarch of Alexandria asked why he did not sacrifice,
he asked a question in reply. "I would rather ask why you do,"
"Who is wise enough to reform the established worship of the
Egyptians," queried the Patriarch.
"Every Sage who comes from the Indians," was the answer of
Apollonius. "This day I will burn an ox, and I wish that you may
attend and partake of its odor, as I think you would like to do
it, if the gods show no displeasure."
Whilst a bull, made up of various spices, was being consumed in
the fire, Apollonius said, "Behold the sacrifice!"
"What sacrifice," asked the Egyptian. "I see none."
Apollonius pointed out the little model of a bull and in addition
gave him much information as to the value of fumigatory
sacrifices and their oracles. "Indeed, if you knew the wisdom
that is latent in fire, you would be able to discover in the
sunrise many prognostics," he asserted.
VESPASIAN CONSULTS APOLLONIUS
When the great Vespasian was besieging Jerusalem, he conceived
the idea of becoming Emperor of Rome, as it was said. He sent to
ask the advice of Apollonius, who declined to go into a country
that its inhabitants had defiled both by what they did and what
they had suffered. Vespasian had now decided upon his action,
and assuming the imperial power in the countries bordering upon
the Province of Egypt, he entered that country as Emperor, but
actually to see Apollonius and obtain his approval and advice.
Dion and Euphrates, two philosophers in Alexandria, were to
exercise a great influence in the mission of Apollonius, or
rather against it, were frankly delighted, and welcomed
Vespasian. Apollonius made no demonstration, though he too was
The sacred order of the priesthood, the civil magistrates, the
deputies from the prefectures, and the philosophers and sages all
went out in a grand procession to meet Vespasian. The Emperor
made as short a speech as was decent and at once asked for the
Tyanean, if he was in those parts.
They replied that he was, and was doing all he could to make
people better. Damis, being asked, said he was to be found in
"Let us go there," said Vespasian. "First I may offer prayers to
the gods and then I may converse with that excellent man." He
The sacrifices were performed, Vespasian ignored the priests and
the prefects and the deputies in his intensity of purpose and
turning to Apollonius, said in the voice of a supplicant, "MAKE
Apollonius answered, "It is done already; for in the prayers I
have just offered to heaven to send us a prince upright,
generous, wise, venerable in years, and a true father, you are
the man I asked from the gods."
Would any other than Apollonius have answered so philosophically
Asked his opinion of Nero's government, Apollonius granted that
Nero knew how to tune his harp, but that he was given to extremes
in other manners. As to advising Vespasian in the government,
Apollonius said that he had two very good advisers in Dion and
Vespasian prayed aloud, "Oh Jupiter, grant me to govern wise men,
and wise men to govern me!" Then turning to the Egyptians, he
said, "Draw from me as you would from the Nile." The people
rejoiced that for a time they were free from oppression.
Vespasian, who was then a man of about sixty, left the temple
hand in hand with Apollonius, discussing the affairs of the
Empire. Nero was bad, but the affairs of the Empire appeared
likely to become even worse under the luxurious and uxorious
Vitellius who used more perfume in his bath than Vespasian did
water, and who if wounded would have exuded more eau de Cologne,
or the Roman equivalent, than blood.
"On you, Apollonius," said Vespasian, "I chiefly found my hopes
of success. I know you are well acquainted with whatever regards
the gods. For that reason, I make you my friend and counselor
for all concerns that depend on the affairs of sea and land. For
if omens, favorable to my wishes, are given from the gods, I will
go on: if they are not propitious to me and the Roman people, I
will stop where I am and engage no farther in any enterprise
unsanctioned by heaven."
Apollonius, as though inspired, said, "Oh, Jupiter Capitolinus,
who art supreme judge in the present crisis of affairs, act
mutually for each other: keep yourself for Vespasian and keep
Vespasian for yourself. The temple that was burnt yesterday by
impious hands is decreed by the fates to be rebuilt by you."
Here was a statement given to a man who had faith. He asked no
sign, and one was given him without hesitation. Vespasian was
"These things will be explained hereafter. Fear naught from me.
Go on with what you have so wisely begun," added Apollonius. The
sentences sound almost Oriental, almost in that manner of
Iarchas, with that Damis says he sometimes seemed inspired.
Suddenly breaking off in the middle of the conversation,
Apollonius left the Emperor, saying, "The laws and customs of the
Indians permit me to do only that that is by them prescribed."
Vespasian had heard enough to fix him in his purpose and career.
News filtered through after a time that Domitian, the son of
Vespasian, who was in arms at Rome against Vitellius, in defense
of his father's authority, was besieged in the capitol. In
making his escape from the besiegers, the temple was burnt and
Apollonius knew this before anyone in Egypt had heard of it, in
fact, as he said, the next day.
At dawn, Apollonius entered the palace and asked what the Emperor
was doing. He was told by the officers that he had been for some
time employed in writing letters. Apollonius left, saying to
Damis, "This man will certainly be Emperor."
Returning later, at sunrise, Apollonius found Dion and Euphrates
waiting to hear the result of the previous day's conference.
Being admitted to the Emperor's room, he said, "Dion and
Euphrates, your old friends, are at the door. They are attached
to your interest and mindful of the present position of affairs.
Call them in, I pray you, for they are both wise."
"To wise men," replied Vespasian, "my doors are always open. To
you Apollonius, my heart is always open."
Vespasian appointed these two his counselors, having learnt from
his predecessors, as Apollonius said, how not to govern, just as
a celebrated musician used to send his pupils to hear the most
wretched performer, that they might learn not to play likewise.
Already the demon of jealousy began to creep into the mind of
Euphrates. He could not stand the intoxication of power given
him by Apollonius, and envied the Emperor's devotion to that
master of philosophy. Is it necessary to go into the form of
reasoning such jealousy was bound to take? Euphrates, like the
French ministers, was for arguing and taking counsel, and
deliberating and consulting and formality and hesitation and all
the rest. Here was Apollonius who certainly recommended him and
Dion, but only at the stage of "do this or how is this to be
done" instead of asking his advice as to what should be done. In
a cloud of words, he shows his piqued ambition. Among them all,
there is a sentence worth noting as to the popular opinion of the
day of the Jews, but the rest is mostly uninteresting vapor.
"For the Jews, from the beginning, were not only aliens to the
Romans, but to all mankind, and lived separate from the rest of
the world. They had neither food nor libations, nor prayers nor
sacrifices in common with other men, and were greater strangers
to us than the people of Babylon or Spain, or the remotest
Even Dion, invited to speak by Apollonius, approved this,
disapproved that, and harangued the Emperor with a mass of words
Then Apollonius, a thousand times their master whether they knew
it or not, calmly set them right, and the Emperor too. In a
careful and statesmanlike analysis of the situation, Apollonius
declares that Vespasian having all the necessary conditions,
should go on with his enterprise unhesitatingly and without
wavering, leaving aside all sophisms.
"As to me, it is of little consequence what form of government is
established, since I live under that of the gods. Yet I should
be sorry to see mankind perish, like a flock of sheep, for want
of a wise and faithful shepherd. Excelling in virtue, one man
modifies the popular state of a republic, making it appear as if
governed by a single individual. In the same manner, a state
under the government of such a man wherein all things are
directed to the common good, is what is properly called popular,
or that of the people."
Apollonius acknowledges that their sophisms and arguments might
well make Vespasian decide to retire into private life.
Therefore, history need not hesitate to attribute to Apollonius
alone the making of that great Emperor and indirectly his two
sons Titus and Domitian. Either son, each the head of a great
army, would become his bitterest enemy and perhaps the other if
not sure of receiving the empire in his turn. With Vespasian as
Emperor on a stable throne, they would support him.
These words of Apollonius gave immense relief to Vespasian, who
declared that he had expressed his own feelings exactly. "I will
follow your advice, as I think every word you have uttered is
divine," he said. "Tell me then, I pray you, what I ought to
This discourse of Apollonius is so characteristic that it stands
NATURE AND THE BUTTERFLY
By James Sterling
Within the warm darkness of her protecting cocoon,
Lies the sleeping caterpillar dead to the world,
Or so it seems to the unsuspecting eye.
But Nature never rests in her sublime journeys.
Even in the dead of the coldest winter, beings
Sleep patiently, waiting for that magical sign,
That secret yearning for the love and power of
Growth and rebirth.
When the time arrives, the snows from the icy,
Distant mountains begin to melt, the sun shines
With renewed enthusiasm, and birds whistle in a
Harmonious symphony as the dark forest shakes
Herself from her long winter's slumber.
When love stirs the caterpillar ever so gently,
She awakes and climbs out of her winter dwelling.
Behold the metamorphosis! Bright are her colors --
The golden hues of the rainbow! Graceful are her
Wings, reflecting in the pale sunlight of the early
Fear not youthful butterfly. Spread your wings
Toward the bright sun. Open yourself to the beauty
Of the world. Fly to the heavens; rest on a
We, ourselves, are caterpillars trapped in our own
Cocoons. Release yourselves! Feel love and
Compassion for all beings around you. Cast away
Your winter cocoon for the spiritual light of
Fly with the spirit of the butterfly.
TO WHOM THIS MAY COME, Part II
By Edward Bellamy
[This story appeared in THEOSOPHY, July 1938, pages 398-403, and
August 1938, pages 444-453]
It was but a very short time after I had begun to extend my
acquaintance among the mind readers before I discovered how truly
the interpreter had told me that I should find others to whom, on
account of greater natural congeniality, I should become more
strongly attached than I had been to him. This was in no wise,
however, because I loved him less, but them more. I would fain
write particularly of some of these beloved friends, comrades of
my heart, from whom I first learned the undreamed-of
possibilities of human friendship, and how ravishing the
satisfactions of sympathy may be.
Who among those who read this has not known that sense of a gulf
fixed between soul and soul that mocks love! Who has not felt
that loneliness which oppresses the heart when strained to the
heart that loves it best! Think no longer that this gulf is
eternally fixed, or is any necessity of human nature. It has no
existence for the race of our fellowmen that I describe and by
that fact, we may be assured that eventually it will be bridged
for us also. Like the touch of shoulder-to-shoulder, like the
clasping of hands, is the contact of their minds and their
sensation of sympathy.
I say that I would fain speak more particularly of some of my
friends, but waning strength forbids. Moreover, now that I think
of it, another consideration would render any comparison of their
characters rather confusing than instructive to a reader. This
is the fact that, in common with the rest of the mind readers,
they had no names. Every one has, indeed, an arbitrary sign for
his designation in records, but it has no sound value. A
register of these names is kept, so that they can be ascertained
at any time, but it is very common to meet persons who have
forgotten titles that are used solely for biographical and
For social intercourse, names are superfluous. These people
accost one another merely by a mental act of attention and refer
to third persons by transferring their mental pictures. This is
something as dumb persons might by means of photographs.
Something so, I say, for in the pictures of one another's
personalities which the mind readers conceive, the physical
aspect, as might be expected with people who directly contemplate
each other's minds and hearts, is a subordinate element.
I have already told how my first qualms of morbid
self-consciousness at knowing that my mind was an open book to
all around me disappeared. This happened as I learned that the
very completeness of the disclosure of my thoughts and motives
guaranteed that I be judged with fairness and sympathy. Affected
as that is by so many subtle reactions, this was such as even
self-judgment cannot pretend to. The assurance of being so
judged by every one might well seem an inestimable privilege to
one accustomed to a world in which not even the tenderest love is
any pledge of comprehension. I soon discovered that
open-mindedness had a still greater profit than this.
How shall I describe the delightful exhilaration of moral health
and cleanness, the breezy oxygenated mental condition, resulting
from the consciousness that I had absolutely nothing concealed!
Truly, I may say that I enjoyed myself. I think surely that no
one needs to have had my marvelous experience to sympathize with
this portion of it. Are we not all ready to agree that this
having a curtained chamber where we may to go grovel, out of
sight of our fellows, troubled only by a vague apprehension that
God may look over the top, is the most demoralizing incident in
the human condition? This secure refuge lies within the soul.
Its existence has always been the despair of the saint and the
exultation of the knave. The foul cellar taints the whole house
above, be it ever so fine.
What stronger testimony could there be to the instinctive
consciousness that concealment is debauching and openness our
only cure than that the world-old conviction of the virtue of
confession for the soul and that the uttermost exposing of one's
worst and foulest is the first step toward moral health? If he
could but somehow attain to writhe himself inside out as to his
soul so that its full sickness could be seen, the wickedest man
would feel ready for a new life.
Owing to the utter impotence of words to convey mental conditions
in their totality or to give other than mere distortions of them,
confession is, we must needs admit, but a mockery of that longing
for self-revelation to which it testifies. Think what health and
soundness there must be for souls among a people who see in every
face a conscience that, unlike their own, they cannot
sophisticate, who confess one another with a glance, and shrive
with a smile!
Ah, friends, let me now predict, though ages may elapse before
the slow event shall justify me, that in no way will the mutual
vision of minds, when at last perfected, so enhance the
blessedness of mankind as by rending the veil of self, and
leaving no spot of darkness in the mind for lies to hide in.
Then shall the soul no longer be a coal smoking among ashes, but
a star set in a crystal sphere.
From what I have said of the delights which friendship among the
mind readers derives from the perfection of the mental rapport,
it may be imagined how intoxicating must be the experience when
one of the friends is a woman and the subtle attractions and
correspondences of sex touch with passion the intellectual
With my first venturing into society, I had begun, to their
extreme amusement, to fall in love with the women right and left.
In the perfect frankness which is the condition of all
intercourse among this people, these adorable women told me that
what I felt was only friendship, which was a very good thing, but
wholly different from love, as I should well know if I were
It was difficult to believe that the melting emotions that I had
experienced in their company resulted merely from the friendly
and kindly attitude of their minds toward mine. When I found
that I was affected in the same way by every gracious woman I
met, I made up my mind that they must be right and that I should
have to adapt myself to a world in which friendship being a
passion, love must needs be nothing less than a rapture.
The homely proverb, "Every Jack has his Jill," may, I suppose, be
taken to mean that for all men there are certain women expressly
suited by mental and moral as by physical constitution. It is a
thought painful, rather than cheering, that this may be the
truth. The chances preponderate against the ability of these
elect ones to recognize each other even if they meet, seeing that
speech so inadequate and misleading a medium of self-revelation.
Among the mind readers, the search for one's ideal mate is a
quest reasonably sure of being crowned with success. No one
dreams of wedding unless then. To do so, they consider, would be
to throw away the choicest blessing of life. This would not just
wrong themselves and their unfound mates, but also those whom
they and those undiscovered mates might wed. Therefore,
passionate pilgrims, they go from isle to isle until they find
each other. As the population of the islands is small, the
pilgrimage is not often long.
When I met her first, we were in company. I was struck by the
sudden stir and the looks of touched and smiling interest with
which all around turned and regarded us, the women with moistened
eyes. They had read her thought when she saw me, but I did not
know this nor what the custom was in these matters until
afterward. I knew from the moment she first fixed her eyes on me
and I felt her mind brooding upon mine how truly I had been told
by those other women that the feeling with which they had
inspired me was not love.
With people who become acquainted at a glance and old friends in
an hour, wooing is naturally not a long process. Indeed, it may
be said that between lovers among the mind readers there is no
wooing, only recognition. The day after we met, she became mine.
Perhaps I cannot better illustrate how subordinate the merely
physical element is in the impression that mind readers form of
their friends than by mentioning an incident that occurred some
months after our union. This was my discovery, wholly by
accident, that my love, in whose society I had almost constantly
been, had not the least idea what was the color of my eyes nor if
my hair and complexion were light or dark. Of course, as soon as
I asked her the question, she read the answer in my mind, but
admitted she had previously no distinct impression on those
points. On the other hand, if in the blackest midnight I should
come to her, she would not need to ask who the comer was. It is
by the mind, not the eye, that these people know one another. It
is really only in their relations to soulless and inanimate
things that they need eyes at all.
It must not be supposed that their disregard of one another's
bodily aspect grows out of any ascetic sentiment. It is merely a
necessary consequence of their power of directly apprehending
mind. Whenever mind is closely associated with matter, the
latter is comparatively neglected. This is because of the
greater interest of the former, suffering as lesser things always
do when placed in immediate contrast with greater.
Art is with them confined to the inanimate, the human form
having, for the reason mentioned, ceased to inspire the artist.
Among such a race, physical beauty is not the important factor in
human fortune and felicity that it is elsewhere. The absolute
openness of their minds and hearts to one another makes their
happiness far more dependent on the moral and mental qualities of
their companions than upon their physical. A genial temperament,
a wide-grasping, godlike intellect, or a poet soul is
incomparably more fascinating to them than the most dazzling
combination conceivable of mere bodily graces.
A woman of mind and heart has no more need of beauty to win love
in these islands than a beauty elsewhere might need mind and
heart. I should mention here perhaps that this race, making so
little account of physical beauty, is singularly handsome. This
is partly due to the absolute compatibility of temperaments in
marriage and partly to the reaction upon the body of ideal mental
and moral health and placidity.
Not being a mind reader, the fact that my love was rare in beauty
of form and face had doubtless no little part in attracting my
devotion. This, of course, she knew, as she knew all my
thoughts, and knowing my limitations, tolerated and forgave the
element of sensuousness in my passion. But if it must have
seemed to her so little worthy in comparison with the high
spiritual communion which her race know as love, to me it became,
by virtue of her almost superhuman relation to me, an ecstasy
more ravishing surely than any lover of my race tasted before.
The ache at the heart of the most intense love is the impotence
of words to make it perfectly understood to its object. My
passion was without this pang; my heart was open to her, the one
I loved. Lovers may imagine, but I cannot describe, the ecstatic
thrill of communion into which this consciousness transformed
every tender emotion.
As I considered mutual love between mind readers, I realized the
high communion that my sweet companion had sacrificed for me.
She might indeed comprehend her lover and his love for her, but
the higher satisfaction was from knowing that she was
comprehended by him and her love understood what she had
foregone. For that, I should ever attain the power of mind
reading was out of the question. The faculty was never developed
in a single lifetime.
I did not understand why my inability should move my dear
companion to such depths of pity at first. Then I learned that
mind reading was not desired for the knowledge of others that it
gives its possessors. It was chiefly desired for the
self-knowledge that is its reflex effect. Of all they see in the
minds of others, that which concerns them most is the reflection
of themselves, the photographs of their own characters.
The most obvious consequence of the self-knowledge forced upon
them is to render them alike incapable of self-conceit or
self-depreciation. Everyone must think of himself as he is,
being no more able to do otherwise than is a man in a hall of
mirrors to cherish delusions as to his personal appearance.
Self-knowledge means to the mind readers much more than this. It
is nothing less, indeed, than a shifting of the sense of the
identity. When a man sees himself in a mirror, he is compelled
to distinguish between the bodily self he sees and his real self,
the mental and moral self that is within and unseen. When in
turn, the mind reader comes to see the mental and moral
self-reflected in other minds as in mirrors, the same thing
happens. He is compelled to distinguish between this mental and
moral self which has been made objective to him, and can be
contemplated by him as impartially as if it were another's from
the inner ego which still remains subjective, unseen, and
indefinable. In this inner ego, the mind readers recognize the
essential identity and being, the noumenal self, the core of the
soul, and the true hiding of its eternal life to which the mind
as well as the body are but the garment of a day.
The effect of such a philosophy as this -- which indeed with the
mind readers is rather an instinctive consciousness than a
philosophy -- must obviously be to impart sense of wonderful
superiority to the vicissitudes of this earthly state. It gives
a singular serenity in the midst of the haps and mishaps that
threaten or befall the personality. They did indeed appear to
me, as I never dreamed men could attain to be, lords of their own
It was because I MIGHT NOT hope to attain this enfranchisement
from the false ego of the apparent self, without which life
seemed to her race scarcely worth living, that my love so pitied
Leaving a thousand things unsaid, I hasten to relate the
lamentable catastrophe. Because of it, I am no longer a resident
of those blessed islands, in full enjoyment of that intimate and
ravishing companionship which by contrast would forever dim the
pleasures of all other human society. Now I recall the bright
picture as but a memory under other skies.
Among a people compelled by the very constitution of their minds
to put themselves in the places of others, the sympathy that is
the inevitable consequence of perfect comprehension renders envy,
hatred, and uncharitability impossible. Of course, there are
people less genially constituted than others. These are
necessarily the objects of distaste on the part of associates.
Owing to the unhindered impact of minds upon one another, the
anguish of persons so regarded, despite the tenderest
consideration of those about them, is so great that they beg the
grace of exile. Being out of the way, people may think less
frequently upon them.
There are numerous small islets, scarcely more than rocks, lying
to the North of the Archipelago. On these, the unfortunates are
permitted to live. Only one of them lives on each islet, as they
cannot endure each other no more than the more happily
constituted can endure them. From time to time, supplies of food
are taken to them and, of course, at any time they wish to take
the risk they are permitted to return to society.
Together with the innumerable rocks and shoals, some peculiar
configuration of the ocean bed brings the great Antarctic current
to flow violently through and about the Archipelago. Even more
than their out-of-the-way location, this flow makes the island of
the mind readers unapproachable.
Ships making the island from the southward are caught by this
current and drawn among the rocks to their almost certain
destruction. Owing to the violence with which the current sets
to the North, it is impossible to approach from that direction.
At least, it has never been accomplished. Indeed, so powerful
are the currents that even a boat to carry supplies between a
main island and some islet of the unfortunate will cross the
narrow straits ferried by cables, not trusting to oar or sail.
The brother of my love had charge of one of the boats engaged in
this transportation. Being desirous of visiting the islets, I
accepted an invitation to accompany him on a trip. I know
nothing of how the accident happened but in the fiercest of
currents of the straits, we parted from the cable. We were swept
out to sea. There was no question of stemming the boiling
current. Our utmost endeavors barely sufficed to avoid our being
dashed to pieces on the rocks. From the first, there was no hope
of our winning back to land. So swiftly did we drift that by
noon -- the accident having befallen in the morning -- the
islands, which are low-lying, had sunk beneath the southeastern
Among these mind readers, the transfer of thought does not find
distance to be insuperable. My companion was in communication
with our friends. From time to time, he conveyed to me messages
of anguish from my dear love. Being well aware of the nature of
the currents, of how unapproachable the islands were, those we
had left behind as well as we ourselves knew well we should see
each other's faces no more.
For five days, we continued to drift to the northwest. We were
in no danger of starvation, owing to our lading of provisions,
but constrained to continuous watch and ward by the roughness of
the weather. On the fifth day, my companion died from exposure
and exhaustion. He died quietly and indeed with great apparent
relief. While yet in body, the life of mind readers is so
largely spiritual that the idea of a bodiless existence, seeming
vague and chill to us, suggests to them a state only slightly
more refined than what they already know on earth.
After that, I fell into an unconscious state from which I roused
finding myself on an American ship bound for New York. I was
surrounded by people whose only means of communicating with one
another is to keep up while together a constant clatter of
hissing, guttural, and explosive noises eked out by all manner of
facial contortions and bodily gestures. I found myself
frequently staring open-mouthed at those who address me, too much
struck by their grotesque appearance to bethink myself of
I find that I shall not live out the voyage and do not care.
From my experience of the people on the ship, I can judge how I
should fare on land amid the stunning Babel of a nation of
talkers. My friends -- God bless them! How lonely I should feel
in their very presence! Nay, what satisfaction or consolation,
what but bitter mockery, could I ever more find in such human
sympathy and companionship as suffice others and once sufficed me
-- I who have seen and known what I have seen and known!
Ah, yes, doubtless it is far better I should die; but the
knowledge of the things that I have seen I feel should not perish
with me. For hope's sake, men should not miss this glimpse of
the higher, sun-bathed reaches of the upward path they plod. So
thinking, I have written out some account of my wonderful
experience, though briefer far, by reason of my weakness, than
fits the greatness of the matter. The captain seems an honest,
well-meaning man, and to him I shall confide the narrative,
charging him, on touching shore, to see it safely in the hands of
someone who will bring it to the world's ear.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application