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THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------- December, 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
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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Goethe: A Lover of the Ancients," by B.P. Wadia
"The Good Life in a Sick World," by Irwin Edman
"Portraits of Theosophists," Part X, by John M. Prentice
"Celtic Cosmogony," by George William Russell
"Asoka, The Practical Pacifist," by Radhakumud Mookerji
"On Teaching," by J.D. Beresford
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part XVI, by Phillip A Malpas
"To the Gods," by James Sterling
"The Path of the Soul in Sufism," by Margaret Smith
> On the evening of September 7th , Mr. Felt gave his
> lecture on "The Lost Canon of Proportion of the Egyptians." ...
> An animated discussion followed. In the course of this, the idea
> occurred to me that it would be a good thing to form a society to
> pursue and promote such occult research ... I broached the
> subject and ... it was unanimously agreed that the society
> should be formed.
> ... I had in mind when proposing the formation of our Society
> ... was to be a body for the collection and diffusion of
> knowledge; for occult research, and the study and dissemination
> of ancient philosophical and theosophical ideas. ... The idea
> of Universal Brotherhood was not there, because the proposal for
> the Society sprang spontaneously out of the present topic of
> discussion. ... The Brotherhood plank ... [was thought of]
> later on, however, when our sphere of influence extended so as to
> bring us into relations with Asiatics and their religions and
> social systems, it became a necessity, and, in fact, the
> cornerstone of our edifice. The Theosophical Society was an
> evolution, not -- on the visitbe plane, -- a planned creation.
> -- Henry S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, I, pages 115-20.
GOETHE: A LOVER OF THE ANCIENTS
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 327-29.]
Says Goethe in his AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
> With the most ancient men and schools I was best pleased, because
> poetry, religion, and philosophy were completely combined into
In this, he was like Confucius who said, "I believe in the
Ancients and therefore I love them." Goethe had not very great
respect for the moderns who undervalued the ancient sages and
seers, and were busy making new knowledge. His remarks about
them are almost defamatory:
> Bodies which rot while they are still alive, and are edified by
> the detailed contemplation of their own decay; dead men who
> remain in the world for the ruin of others, and feed their death
> on the living -- to this have come our makers of literature …
> With the moderns, the disease has become endemic and epidemic.
The natural consequence of this dual conviction was that he
believed in the reiteration of age-old ideas to overcome modern
> The truth must be repeated over and over again, because error is
> repeatedly preached among us, not only by individuals, but by the
> masses. In periodicals and encyclopedias, in schools and
> universities; everywhere, in fact, error prevails, and is quite
> easy in the feeling that it has a decided majority on its side.
This is a fit occasion to repeat some fine teachings of the
German poet-philosopher-scientist whose Bicentenary is being
celebrated all over Europe and in the United States. Goethe was
born 200 years ago in Germany but soon became a cosmopolitan, a
citizen of the world. A mystic with a vision, he related the
microcosmic types to macrocosmic archetypes and his doctrine of
Archetypes is of practical value.
What are some of the threads he wove that would help our vision
to see the whole Garment of God?
> If I am asked whether it is in my nature to revere the Sun, I
> again say -- certainly! He is likewise a manifestation of the
> highest Being, and indeed the most powerful that we children of
> earth are allowed to behold. I adore in him the light and the
> productive powers of God; by which we all live, move, and have
> our being -- we, and all the plants and animals with us. If I am
> asked -- whether I am inclined to bow before a thumb-bone of the
> Apostle Peter or Paul, I say – "Spare me and stand off with your
Goethe, walking through Rome with a friend, said to him, "There
is not a relic of primitive Christianity here; and if Jesus
Christ was to return to see what his deputy was about, he would
run a fair chance of being crucified again."
Deity was a reality to Goethe.
> To hear people speak, one would almost believe that they were of
> opinion that God had withdrawn into silence since those old
> times, and that man was now placed quite upon his own feet, and
> had to see how he could get on without God, and his daily
> invisible breath.
> He is now constantly active, in higher natures to attract the
> lower ones.
He interpreted the Delphic Oracle as exhorting men to self-study
> If we turn to that significant utterance "Know thyself," we must
> not explain it in an ascetic sense. It is in no wise the
> self-knowledge of our modern hypochondriacs, humorists, and
> self-tormentors. It simply means: Pay some attention to
> yourself; take note of yourself; so that you may know how you
> came to stand as you do towards those like you, and towards the
> world. This involves no psychological torture; every capable man
> knows and feels what it means.
This function of the higher nature is strikingly described in
Goethe's conception of patriotism:
> The poet, as a man and citizen, will love his native land; but
> the native land of his POETIC powers and POETIC action is the
> good, noble, and beautiful, which is confined to no particular
> province or country, and which he seizes upon and forms wherever
> he finds it … If the poet has employed a life in battling with
> pernicious prejudices, in setting aside narrow views, in
> enlightening the minds, purifying the tastes, ennobling the
> feelings and thoughts of his countrymen, what better could he
> have done? How could he have acted more patriotically?
Modern India is in ferment, political and economic; its great
leaders may well ponder over what sounds like Goethe's message to
> Revolutions are utterly impossible as long as governments are
> constantly just and constantly vigilant, so that they may
> anticipate them by improvements at the right time, and not hold
> out until they are forced to yield by the pressure from beneath.
THE GOOD LIFE IN A SICK WORLD
By Irwin Edman
[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1935, 472-75.]
The good life, though it is in danger of becoming a cant phrase
is in essence the whole theme of moral philosophy. Thinkers from
Plato to the present time, in so far as they have tried to turn
their analyses upon distinctively human issues have tried to
frame a vision or a version of a life that might truly be called
Good, or an approximation to some absolute Good that human life
might hope at best only partially to exemplify. The good life
has been in every philosophy the considered statement of an
ideal. That ideal might be perfected pleasure, realized duty,
the harmony of all impulses or the integrity of one's soul.
There are two senses in which the good life cannot be considered
in isolation, as philosophers have repeatedly discovered in
pushing their inquiries to their fundamental implications. The
good life is not a private soliloquy; it is not the exercise of a
cloistered virtue, even for an ostensible hermit. It takes place
in a society and a cosmos.
A moralist is perforce a social philosopher and a metaphysician.
He must make his peace with the ultimate before he can make his
peace with himself. He must understand the relations of men to
each other before he can counsel them as to their harmonization
of themselves. It has therefore come to seem otiose to conceive
the good life without reference to the society in which that life
must be lived and of which it is indeed the flowering and the
It is impossible to conceive of the good life without making some
ultimate commitment as to that world order by which it is
conditioned. It is no accident that moral injunctions have
differed according as their authors were idealists or
materialists, as they made matter or spirit the substance of
things, nor that moral conclusions have differed according as
their framers were communal or individualistic in their political
Nonetheless, philosophers have tried to write about morals as if
it were possible to think about conduct in insulation from
society and from the nature of things. It is here submitted that
the good life is impossible in a sick society, and that any
serious proposal as to the former involves a profoundly
reconstructive attitude toward the latter.
By a sick society, I mean more than the surface political and
economic dislocations of the present day. These, serious though
they are, are palpable symptoms of something more profoundly
diseased. In an industrial society, means have been taken for
ends; in a mechanically minded age, the instruments and materials
have been taken for realities. The spirit has been stifled and
by its material conditions, the fires of life quenched by the
ashes of intellectual formulas on the one hand and practical
operations on the other. It is not simply the disorders of our
economic society but the obsession by economic criteria that is
one of the diseases of our society.
It is not simply that we are tangled by mechanism and that
things, as Emerson put it, are in the saddle. It is that
mechanisms and things have been taken as the ends of life and the
realities of nature. It is not simply that we have inadequate
formulas, but that we have become addicted to intellectualism as
to a drug. Life is best defined in its full flowering; the
reality of it is in the flame of consciousness and the fire of
spirit. As far as society crosses and kills these, it is a sick
society and no good life is possible in it.
The social dislocations of our society have been widely canvassed
of late, and with very good reason. They need a brief
restatement in connection with the theme of this article.
However refined and subtle the sensibilities of the individual
become, however sensitive a harp of response be the individual
psyche, every honest and realistic thinker from Aristotle down
has realized how much individuality is social in its origins, how
much even its rarest blossoming is a social expression.
Even soliloquy uses a language and language is not a purely
private invention; it is a social tradition. This holds true a
fortiori of moral ideas, and attitudes and the expression of an
ideal in a society whose basic economic conditions make the
practice of that ideal impossible leads to hypocrisy, to
disillusion, or to despair.
To enunciate a vision of the good life that is impossible even in
approximation for the majority of those living in a particular
social and political system is to cultivate Pharisaism. Even to
those relatively comfortable and relatively secure, morality
becomes at best a sickly, introspective retreat from existence,
not a harmonious fulfillment of it. Obviously, the grosser
inequities, the cruder bitterness of misery and uncertainty must
be removed before the good life is possible for the many, or even
for the privileged few.
Those concerned, as are so many of the foremost thinkers of our
day, with the more brutal maladjustments of our society, with
economic chaos and with the threat of war, have fallen into an
equally grievous error. They have been so concerned with the
amelioration of social and economic evils, that they have
neglected the basic and directive issue of what constitutes
An ordered society is the condition of the good life, but it is
not a sufficient condition. One of the reasons Spinoza assigned
for order in the commonwealth was that only in an ordered
commonwealth might men be free to lead the contemplative life
without distraction. If individuality can thrive only in a free
and equitable commonwealth, it is still the fact of individuality
that is the be all and end all, the justification and value of a
commonwealth at all. Many of our political philosophers of the
present day are like physicians who might prefer all humanity to
be ill that they might have a wider field for the exercise of
The fact remains that though the good life presupposes an
ordered, a free, and a relatively cooperative commonwealth; its
distinctive elements are elsewhere to seek. Ants in an anthill
live in an ordered polity; their lives are good for ants, not for
men. For the distinctive trait of the possibility of mankind
lies in the fact that given the chance, man may think and dream.
Born among other human creatures, in time he may contemplate
eternal things. Bound externally by physical objects, a body
among other bodies, a thing among things, he feels himself most
alive and most real, and indeed may be said to be so, when he
rises to the level of his distinctive essence, spirit clear and
lucid, timeless in its reach and transcending body and matter in
its context and its aspiration.
One may measure then the adequacy of our social institutions and
of our moral systems to the extent to which they liberate that
activity of spirit in which men may be most truly said to find
themselves. The deepest sickness of our society is that it is
almost calculated to make man lose sight of himself and his
deepest being. Everything about our age, certainly in the
Western world, conspires to make him lose himself in the
secondary, the trivial, and the illusory. Pressed by economic
disorders, he comes to think almost wholly in economic terms.
Constrained by the techniques of science, and taking the formulas
of physical control for the forms of ultimate reality, he takes
economic interests as final and material concerns as ultimate.
The writer should be the last to dismiss as unimportant economic
readjustment or the conditions of physical wellbeing. Economics
and physics are or should be the servants of spirit, not its
conquerors. We have come to pay too devout and too uncritical
obeisance to the language of economics, of physics, and of the
The sources of life and the ends of life both lie deeper. The
sources of and the ends of life may be said curiously enough to
be identical. They both lie in the domain of a reality wider
than any formulations of intellect, more profound and complete
than any of those practicalities and materialities in which our
actions and indeed our imaginations are so much confined. They
lie in the deep movement and tendency of Nature toward the Good.
We do not cure the sickness of our society simply by economic and
social rearrangements, important and prerequisite as they are.
We need a new orientation that reduces itself ultimately to what
used to be and might still be called, putting first things first.
First things are not the materials that life uses, the
instruments that it employs. First things are the ends for which
we live life, the realities at its core. One does not have to
wait for a political revolution to revolutionize one's sense of
proportion. One may within limits, unless the pressure of events
becomes too terrifying, manage to some degree to live a good life
even in a society far from rational adjustment or equitable
The revolution in a sense of values and in a sense of ultimates
is already beginning in the Western world. The enslavement by
mechanisms that should themselves be our slaves is beginning to
seem fantastic and in some ways, the chief sources of our major
social disasters. The West will never again be able to pin its
faith complacent, provincial, and optimistic to the machine, and
to material progress.
Too much faith in the machine has succeeded in reducing life
itself to mechanism, too much faith in material progress to
reduce experience to mere meaningless and blind routine. The
faith in intellectual formulas has been seen to be a postmortem
analysis of reality rather than a communication of it. The
spirit has deeper foundations and higher altitudes than intellect
itself can plumb or scale.
The good life, however stated, is a concern with, an attempt to
discern ultimates, in the light of which conduct may be directed.
Those ultimates are not found in matter defined in mechanical
terms, in practice defined in terms of instruments, in society
delineated in terms of forms and institutions.
Finalities lie in another direction. They are such essences as
are approached by the enterprises of art and of metaphysics.
They are such values as the spirit traverses when it looks beyond
its chains and its conditions to its sources and its objects.
One is tempted to borrow the language of one of the great mystics
of the world, Plotinus. Born in Egypt and destined to teach in
Rome, he said, "This is the life of gods and of godlike men, a
flight of the alone to the alone."
The spirit retiring to its own solitudes looks into itself and to
the ultimate and eternal nature of Being. It moves in time but
it breathes eternity. As far as in art and in contemplation such
ultimate vision is touched, these are moments of the good life in
a sick society. As far as those moments of contemplative breadth
and esthetic insight are rare in our Western civilization, we can
see how really sick our society is.
Perhaps a change in philosophy is the first step toward social
health. Perhaps when the spirit has learned to breathe freely in
terms of eternal things, it will have learned how to measure the
need for social reconstruction and what the ends of all social
reconstruction are. It has learned the freeing of the spirit
itself and its recognition of its affinity in the nature of
PORTRAITS OF THEOSOPHISTS, Part X
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, October 1945, pages 511-14.]
She remains in memory standing at the door of the Lodge Hall
wherein our Sunday night public lectures were delivered. Holding
the collection plate in such a fashion that even the most casual
could not entirely ignore it had given her a humorously cynical
outlook on Theosophical audiences. For many years -- certainly
for twenty -- this was her idea of the service that she could
best render to the Lodge, which was for almost the same period
the largest in the world. Audiences of a thousand were common.
The average throughout the year would be about seven hundred.
After the meeting, she and her husband (the Lodge Treasurer)
carefully counted the offering. They checked and rechecked so
that no possibility of error could arise. Then, no matter what
the sum involved might be, she contributed from her own purse
sufficient to bring the amount to an even number of pounds
sterling. Sometimes but a shilling or two was involved. On
other occasions, it might be seven or eight times that amount.
Always the collection was raised to the even number, the round
figure, "to save work on the accountancy side" as she said.
Her husband carefully replaced coins that did not belong to our
realm with local currency. We had a cosmopolitan audience. He
dropped the coins into a bag kept for that purpose. After more
than twenty years, he visited the local Bureau de Change and
received for these odd coins the respectable sum of 120 Pounds
(about $600.00 at the current exchange rate).
Many years before, they had left their native Austria and visited
many parts of the world. Both spoke English fluently without
accent, yet in their home they always reverted to the clipped but
soft Viennese accent. Both refused to admit that it was a
dialect. The only time they spoke German was in public when some
crisis threatened the Lodge. In committee, she would tell her
husband what he should do and he would silence her with
admonitions that he spoke as softly as she spoke shrill and to
the point. The Lodge solved many a crisis in the laughter that
greeted these exchanges that only the two understood. The minor
crises upset them. The major crises they left to karma. They
were quite impersonal.
She richly furnished her home with objets d'art brought from the
Continent. They only entertained select Lodge members, taking no
part in the social life of the city to which their wealth and
status would have provided entry. The home provided a
surrounding of almost museum-like splendor that yet had the
intimate touch of a true home. With exquisite napery and silver,
she presided over gargantuan feasts, every dish of which she
prepared herself. Five courses were the minimum and often there
would be more.
Dainty is perhaps the best term to apply to her appearance.
Beautiful in youth but now in old age, her lovely face wrinkled
into a million tiny lines, forming a lace-like mesh on her
transparent skin. Sometimes a beholder, seeing her in a sudden
light, got the impression of a breath of wind skimming the
surface of still water. At this period, she wore her abundant
hair short. Its silky whiteness frothed and clustered into a
mass of tiny curls. No art or artifice was involved. It was
just a natural, breath-taking loveliness.
She knew little of the technical doctrine. She was content to be
the Martha of the theosophical family, anxious and troubled about
the affairs of the Lodge. She never opened a book, but heard
many lectures, including those from overseas, listening to every
speaker with care and attention. She saw through
superficialities and shams. Although she never openly
criticized, her silences could be very eloquent.
She could gauge to a nicety the value of a lecture title in terms
of the probable collection. Indeed a faint cynicism pervaded her
appreciation. "Ach," she would say, "LIFE AFTER DEATH will bring
all the Spiritualists, and they are never worth more than four
pence a head!" Again, "THEOSOPHY AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF
SCHOPENHAUER means only two hundred in the audience but they each
will be worth a couple of shillings." She was right. Our
audiences fluctuated as we made our appeal to different levels of
intellectual thought. She watched the thermometer too. She knew
that a sudden drop in temperature easily affected our
Outside her housekeeping, her greatest joy was in her garden.
Great white roses grew to bloom at the beginning of May and all
sorts of exotic plants grew in unsuspected nooks and corners.
There were fruit and foliage in her back garden and a riot of
nasturtiums made a floral carpet. These were self-sown from
season to season. Cross-fertilization produced magnificent
tints. She had a green thumb. Everything she pushed into the
soil gave a harvest of leaf and blossom. It was in this garden
that tragedy lurked.
One day in pruning a rose bush, a thorn scratched her ankle. Her
physician had warned her that she was diabetic. She had lightly
laughed the warning to scorn, refusing to modify even her diet by
as much as a hair's breadth. The scratch refused to heal. In a
matter of days, gangrene had set in, defying all treatment except
surgery. The surgeon in a nearby hospital amputated her foot.
She hid her anxiety regarding her future behind a mask of
desperate gaiety. She was always bright and cheerful when
visitors saw her. The nurses knew how bitterly she wept alone
until she accepted the inevitable and readjusted her outlook on
The operation was not a success. The gangrene appeared higher up
on the limb. The doctors performed a second operation, an
amputation at the knee. Once again, that desperate cheerfulness
concealed a blackness of horror at the thought that she would
never walk again.
Again, the gangrene reappeared and the doctors suggested a third
amputation. This time she would have none of it. She had stood
as much as she could. She turned her face to the wall literally,
refusing further ministration. Desperate with anguish at her
condition, her husband masked his anxiety in his desire to see
Then her English left her. For her last relatively short period,
she spoke German only. It was as though her memory refused to
face to the present and instead centered itself in the Vienna she
had left more than fifty years before. Then she had had no
knowledge of English. She died with some words of Goethe on her
lips. They sounded like "Die milde Macht ist gross!"
None came forward who could completely fill her place. We sorely
miss the welcoming smile at the Lodge door and the collections no
longer reached even amounts. We do not forget her. On White
Lotus Day, the sight of white roses recalls her memory to some of
us. It is as fragrant as the perfume of the blossoms themselves.
This year on May 8, our Lodge borrowed an oil painting of H.P.
Blavatsky that she had owned and treasured, giving it pride of
place at our depleted gathering. Gone are those great meetings
of years ago. In the city where she lived and died, Theosophy
went under eclipse. Her name was not mentioned but those who had
known her hallow her memory. If she could have known, she would
have been delighted about the picture.
This portrait does not do her justice. It fails to bring to life
that bright quality of greatness she possessed. The bright
Spirit that looked with kindly shrewdness on the world had
perhaps rested in this incarnation after soul-stirring activities
in the past.
Her Theosophy was real. It was not mere brain-knowledge or
carefully memorized passages. It was something inherent in her
mental and spiritual makeup. It had its roots deep in her past.
It presages a future where this same bright Spirit will have a
stellar role. Many will be glad to knit old ties anew with her.
They will walk beside her as they tread the ages-old Path.
Narrow as the edge of a razor, it is wide enough to provide a
highway for them and her.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XVIII, pages 153-61.]
In the beginning was the boundless Lir, an infinite depth, an
invisible divinity, neither dark nor light, in who were all
things past and to be. There at the close of a divine day, time
being ended, and the Nuts of Knowledge harvested, the gods
partake of the Feast of Age and drink from a secret fountain.
Their being there is neither life nor death nor sleep nor dream,
but all are wondrously wrought together. They lay in the bosom
of Lir, cradled in the same peace, those who hereafter shall meet
in love or war in hate. The Great Father and the Mother of the
Gods mingle together and Heaven and Earth are lost, being one in
the Infinite Lir.
Of Lir but little may be affirmed, and nothing can be revealed.
In trance alone the seer might divine beyond his ultimate vision
this being. It is a breath with many voices which cannot speak
in one tone, but utters itself through multitudes. It is beyond
the gods and if they were to reveal it, it could only be through
their own departure and a return to the primeval silences.
But in this is the root of existence from which springs the
sacred Hazel whose branches are the gods: and as the mystic night
trembles into dawn, its leaves and its blossoms and its starry
fruit burgeon simultaneously and are shed over the waters of
An image of futurity has arisen in the divine imagination: and
Sinan, who is also Dana, the Great Mother and Spirit of Nature,
grows thirsty to receive its imprint on her bosom, and to bear
again her offspring of stars and starry beings. Then the first
fountain is opened and seven streams issue like seven fiery
whirlwinds and Sinan is carried away and mingled with the
torrent, and when the force of the torrent is broken, Sinan also
What other names Connla's Well and the Sacred Hazel have in
Celtic tradition may be discovered later, but here, without
reference to names, which only bewilder until their significance
is made known, it is better to explain with less of symbol this
We have first of all Lir, an infinite being, neither spirit nor
energy nor substance, but rather the spiritual form of these, in
which all the divine powers, raised above themselves, exist in a
mystic union or trance.
This is the night of the gods from which Mananan first awakens,
the most spiritual divinity known to the ancient Gael, being the
Gaelic equivalent of that Spirit which breathed on the face of
the waters. He is the root of existence from which springs the
Sacred Hazel, the symbol of life ramifying everywhere: and the
forms of this life are conceived first by Mananan, the divine
It throws itself into seven forms or divinities, the branches of
the Hazel; and these again break out endlessly into leaves and
blossoms and fruit, into myriads of divine beings, the archetypes
and ancestral begetters of those spirits who are the Children of
All these are first in the Divine Darkness and are unrevealed,
and Mananan is still the unuttered Word, and is in that state the
Chaldean oracle of Proclus saith of the Divine Mind, "It had not
yet gone forth, but abode in the Paternal Depth, and in the
adytum of god-nourished Silence."
But Mananan, while one in essence with the Paternal Lir, is yet,
as the divine imagination, a separate being to whom, thus
brooding, Lir seems apart, or covered over with a veil, and this
aspect of Lir, a mirage which begins to cover over true being, is
Dana, the Hibernian Mother of the Gods, or Sinan in the antique
Dinnshenchus, deity first viewed externally, and therefore
seeming to partake of the nature of substance, and, as the primal
form of matter, the Spirit of Nature.
Mananan alone of all the gods exists in the inner side of this
spirit, and therefore it is called his mantle, which, flung over
man or god, wraps them from the gaze of embodied beings. His
mantle, the Faed Fia, has many equivalents in other mythologies.
It is the Ether within which Zeus runs invisibly, and the Akasha
through which Brahma sings his eternal utterance of joy.
The mantle of Mananan, the Ether, the Akasha, were all associated
with Sound as a creative power, for to the mystic imagination of
the past the world was upsung into being; and what other thought
inspired the apostle who wrote, "In the beginning was the Word?"
Out of the Divine Darkness Mananan has arisen, a brooding
twilight before dawn, in which the cloud images of the gods are
thronging. But there is still in Lir an immense deep of being,
an emotional life too vast, too spiritual, too remote to speak
of, for the words we use today cannot tell its story. It is the
love yet unbreathed, and yet not love, but rather a hidden
unutterable tenderness, or joy, or the potency of these, which
awakens as the image of the divine imagination is reflected in
the being of the Mother, and then it rushes forth to embrace it.
The Fountain beneath the Hazel has broken. Creation is astir.
The Many are proceeding from the One. An energy or love or
eternal desire has gone forth which seeks through myriad forms of
illusion for the infinite being it has left. It is Angus the
Young, an eternal joy becoming love, a love changing into desire,
and leading on to earthly passion and forgetfulness of its own
The eternal joy becomes love when it has first merged itself in
form and images of a divine beauty dance before it and lures it
afar. This is the first manifested world, the Tirnanoge or World
of Immortal Youth.
The love is changed into desire as it is drawn deeper into
nature, and this desire builds up the Mid-world or World of the
Waters. And, lastly, as it lays hold of the earthly symbol of
its desire it becomes on Earth that passion which is spiritual
In another sense Angus may be described as the passing into
activity of a power latent in Lir, working through the divine
imagination, impressing its ideations on nature in its spiritual
state, and thereby causing its myriad transformations.
Energies have their birth in this fountain. From it comes the
power that lays the foundations of the world, down through love
and every form of desire to chemical affinity, just as Mananan is
the root of all conscious life, from the imperial being of the
gods down to the consciousness in the ant or amoeba. So is Dana
also the basis of every material form from the imperishable body
of the immortals to the transitory husk of the gnat. As this
divinity emerges from its primordial state of ecstatic tenderness
or joy in Lir, its divided rays, incarnate in form, enter upon a
threefold life of spiritual love, of desire, and the dark shadow
These three states have for themselves three worlds into which
they have transformed the primal nature of Dana. First is a
World of Immortal Youth. Then, there comes a Mid-world where
everything changes with desire, called from its fluctuations the
World of the Waters. Lastly, there comes the Earth-world where
matter has assumed that solid form when it appears inanimate or
dead. The force of the fountain which whirled Sinan away has
been spent and Sinan has met death.
The conception of Angus as an all-pervading divinity who first
connects being with non-being seems removed by many aeons of
thought from that beautiful golden-haired youth who plays on the
tympan surrounded by singing birds. But the golden-haired Angus
of the bards has a relation to the earlier Eros, for in the
mysteries of the Druids all the gods sent bright witnesses of
their boundless being, who sat enthroned in the palaces of the
Sidhe, and pointed the way to the Land of Promise to the man who
dared become more than man.
But what in reality is Angus and what is Dana, and how can they
be made real to us? They will not be gained by much reading of
the legendary tales, for they are already with us. A child sits
on the grass and the sunlight falls about it. It is lulled by
the soft color. It grows dreamy, a dreaminess filled with a
vague excitement. It feels a pleasure, a keen magnetic joy at
the touch of earth: or it lays its head in a silent tenderness
nigh a mother or sister, its mood impelling it to grow nearer to
something it loves.
That tenderness in the big dreamy heart of childhood is Angus,
and the mother-love it divines is Dana; and the form which these
all-pervading divinities take in the heart of the child and the
mother, on the one side desire, on the other a profound
tenderness or pity, are nearest of all the moods of earth to the
first Love and the Mighty Mother, and through them the divine may
be vaguely understood.
If the desire remains pure, through innocence, or by reason of
wisdom, it becomes in the grown being a constant preoccupation
with spiritual things, or in words I have quoted before where it
is better said, "The inexpressible yearning of the inner man to
go out into the infinite."
Of Dana, the Hibernian Mother of the gods, I have already said
she is the first spiritual form of matter, and therefore Beauty.
As every being emerges out of her womb clothed with form, she is
the Mighty Mother, and as mother of all she is that divine
compassion which exists beyond and is the final arbiter of the
justice of the gods. Her heart will be in ours when ours
ASOKA, THE PRACTICAL PACIFIST
By Radhakumud Mookerji
[From THE ARYAN PATH, February 1935, pages 77-81.]
Asoka's empire extended up to Persia, thanks to his grandfather's
conquests, but his greatness did not depend upon the mere extent
of his dominion -- great as it was -- or upon his services to the
cause of universal religion. He ruled over an empire that
extended practically from Persia to Southern Mysore.
Much of it was his inheritance from his grandfather, Chandragupta
Maurya (c. 323-299 B.C.), who achieved the credit of uniting in
one empire the valleys of the Indus and other rivers of the
Panjab with those of the Ganges and the Jumna. Then by 304 B.C.,
he achieved the further distinction of extending the boundaries
of his Indian Empire up to those of Persia. This was the result
of his conquests by which the eastern provinces of the Syrian
Empire, then known as Gedrosia (Baluchistan), Aria (Herat),
Arachosia (Kandahar), and the Paropanisadai (the country of
Paropanisus, i.e., Hindu Kush) were ceded to him by a treaty by
the defeated emperor, Seleukos.
Thus, Chandragupta Maurya solved the frontier problems by his
successful prosecution of a bold forward policy that pushed the
limits of India far beyond its present "scientific frontier" or
"Durand Line." His achievements were not confined to this
frontier alone. He pursued conquests far into the interior.
In the words of the only historian of the times, Plutarch, "not
long afterwards, Androkottos, who had by that time mounted the
throne, presented Seleukos with 500 elephants, and overran and
subdued the whole of India with an army of 600,000." One of the
most fruitful discoveries in history is that of Sir William Jones
(Asiatic Researches, IV, 11) in identifying the Greek name
Androkottos with the Indian name, Chandragupta Maurya, mentioned
in the Puranas.
The story of Seleukos invading India to emulate the exploits of
Alexander we also owe to foreign sources like Justin (xv. 4) and
Appian (Syr. 55). His defeat by the Indian King made him
purchase peace by ceding to him the eastern territories that had
been his by settlements arrived at on the partition of
Alexander's empire in 323 and 321 B.C.
The passage from Plutarch shows Chandragupta Maurya's three great
conquests. (1) There was the conquest of the Indo-Gangetic
Plains (by overthrowing Greek rule in the Panjab, and the Empire
of the Nandas in the Gangetic Plains peopled by what the Greek
writers call the Gangaridae and the Prasii, i.e., Prachyas or
Easterns). (2) Then there were conquests, beyond the
North-Western Frontiers, of territories now included in
Afghanistan and Baluchistan. (3) Finally came the conquest of
Thus, Asoka was not called upon to conquer an empire. He had it
as a gift from his father. As has been stated, his greatness as
a ruler did not depend entirely upon the size of his empire. He
himself takes this view, and proclaims it in one of his
inscriptions written on stone in imperishable characters that may
be read to this day.
In that Inscription (Rock Edict x), he is anxious to point out
that the true glory or fame of a king depends upon that of his
people in achieving moral and spiritual progress. This is what
is called Asoka's doctrine of True Glory for a king.
There may be a far-flung empire on which the sun never sets, but
its success is to be judged by the conditions of progress it can
secure to the peoples composing it. A king cannot be viewed
apart from his people. Both are bound to each other as organic
parts of one corporate whole, the State. Thus, the individual
greatness of a ruler depends upon the collective greatness of his
Asoka's moral greatness was not confined to the mere originality
and soundness of the views he held or the doctrines that he
preached. He was so sincere in his convictions that he at once
gave effect to them with all his imperial power and resources.
He was terribly in earnest about all that he preached. With him,
example always preceded precept. When he felt that he, as a
ruler, must be judged by the condition of his people, he at once
devoted himself to a vigorous campaign for achieving their moral
uplift. He instituted a regular Ministry of Morals with a
special staff (called Dharma-Mahamatras) entrusted with a wide
variety of functions, and a sphere of work that embraced the
whole of India. In one of his Edicts (Rock Edict v), he states:
> These Ministers of Morals have been employed among all sects for
> the establishment and growth of Dharma (piety or morality) of
> those inclined to it ... among the soldiers and their chiefs,
> ascetics and householders, the destitute and the infirm ... They
> are also employed to give relief in suitable cases from judicial
> punishments or abuses.
He thus undertook the moral improvement of his people on a
Another striking proof of his greatness was his doctrine of True
Conquest. We have seen how vast was his empire, yet he was not
tainted by any lust for conquests, or "earth-hunger," which
impels a conqueror to further conquests. He was not at all
filled with the spirit of dig-vijaya that led his grandfather to
found the Maurya Empire, a militant spirit that is fully approved
for a king in the Hindu Shastras on Polity. These always insist
on the ambition and duty of a king to be a king of kings and the
sole sovereign of the earth or available space (samrat, eka-rat,
In his early days, following these prevailing and time-honored
ideals of kingship and the example of his ancestors, Asoka
indulged in a conquest by which his territories were rounded off
in the east, the conquest of Kalinga (Orissa). The conquest was
won ruthlessly and "forcibly" against a brave people fighting for
freedom, "not hitherto subdued" (avijitam), resulting in colossal
carnage and casualties, "150,000 carried off as captives, 100,000
slain, and several hundreds of thousands dead of their wounds."
These bloody sights and cruelties, this extermination of a
people's liberty by sheer brute force, for which the king felt
himself personally responsible, produced a complete reaction, a
revolution, in his mind, which turned at once with revulsion from
a creed of Violence to that of an unqualified Non-Violence
With Asoka, there was no gap between thought and action, theory
and practice. He proceeded at once to give effect to this creed
of Non-Violence in all spheres of his life and work, personal and
public, and to run his kingdom thenceforth as a Kingdom of
Righteousness based on a Universal Peace, peace between man and
man, and between man and every sentient creature.
In his personal life, he turned vegetarian. He abolished the
daily slaughter of thousands of animals for purposes of the royal
kitchen (Rock Edict I), all public amusements and sports
connected with cruelties to animals (Rock Edict I), and hunting
and pleasure trips (vihara-yatras) in which the kings indulged.
(Rock Edict VIII) Finally, his activities culminated in the
outlawry of war as an unmixed evil.
"The chiefest conquest is the conquest of Right and not of
Might," declared Asoka. [Rock Edict XIII] The drum of war
(bheri-ghosha) was hushed throughout India. Only dharma-ghosha,
the call to moral life, religious proclamations, could be heard.
(Rock Edict IV) Immediately, the emperor's healing message of
assurance was sent in all directions: "The king desires that his
unsubdued borderers, the peoples on his frontiers, should not be
afraid of him but should trust him, and would receive from him
not sorrow but happiness." [Kalinga Rock Edict II]
Even the primitive aboriginal peoples were assured of their
freedom: "Even upon the forest folks in his dominions, His Sacred
and Gracious Majesty looks kindly." (Rock Edict XIII) To
subjugate them on the plea of civilizing them was no part of
Asoka's political system. The only condition for their freedom
was that they must "turn from their evil ways" that they be not
"chastised." (Rock Edict XIII) The king was only anxious "to set
them moving on the path of piety." (Kalinga Rock Edict II)
Thus, Asoka was the first in the world to usher in the reign of
law and non-violence, abolishing militarism, conquest by force
and bloodshed, which Sanskrit political writers appropriately
designate as Asura-Vijaya, the conquest that becomes only a
demon. He stood for the opposite kind of conquest, what he calls
Dharma-Vijaya, the conquest that is won by love (priti) and
results in subjection and paying homage only to Dharma or
Henceforth, he was busy only with these "moral" conquests, which
were extended all over the country, and even beyond to foreign
countries. Within his dominions, the political map of his empire
was dotted over with patches of independent territory that would
have been deemed as so many blots on the escutcheons of other
conquerors in history like Akbar or Aurangzeb.
The steamroller of annexation that crushed the independence of so
many small States and peoples, and brought a united India under
the undisputed sovereignty of his grandfather, Asoka did not
permit to roll farther and complete its leveling process by a
ruthless fulfillment of the full program of conquests marked out
for him by his predecessors on the throne. He proclaimed his
imperial decree. "Thus far and no farther."
This only released his energies for his scheme of moral conquest.
The resources that were released by prescription of war and by
disarmament were now devoted to the processes of peace, to a
vigorous prosecution of social service and welfare work among the
masses all over the country.
He began by organizing on a continental scale measures of relief
of suffering of both man and animal by the establishment of
appropriate medical institutions such as provision of medical
men, medicines, hospitals, and special botanical gardens for the
cultivation of medicinal plants, indigenous or foreign, to supply
raw materials for the manufacture of medicines in pharmaceutical
works. Says the King in Rock Edict II:
> Everywhere have been instituted two kinds of medical treatment,
> treatment of man and that of cattle (in veterinary hospitals).
> Medicinal herbs . . . have been caused to be imported and
> planted in all places wherever they did not exist. Roots also
> and fruits have been similarly imported and planted everywhere.
Next, he went farther in his scheme of relief by providing supply
of water and shade along the highways: "On the roads, wells also
have been dug and trees planted for the comfort of men and
cattle." (Rock Edict II) His full scheme of welfare work is thus
> On the high roads . . . banyan trees were planted by me that
> they might give shade to cattle and men; mango-gardens were
> planted, and wells dug, at each half-kos; rest houses were built;
> and many watering-stations were constructed for comfort of men
> and cattle.
> -- Pillar Edict VII
Asoka easily takes his place as the Pioneer of Peace in the
world. He stood for principles that the League of Nations has
been formed to achieve, such as the outlawry of war as an
absolute evil, recognition of the brotherhood of all States and
peoples, great or small, in independence and sovereignty, and
He was also the first in the world who, without waiting for
speculation on his ideals, gave effect to them at once in his own
Empire, from which war was excommunicated, and thereby
spiritualized Indian politics for the time being.
He also tried to bring his neighboring States in Western Asia and
Europe to his way of thinking and spent freely from the revenues
of India to that end. This is a record in international service
in foreign countries financed by the resources of one's own
Unfortunately, his ideals were too far ahead of his age to
survive him. The system of politics that he had established in
his vast dominion based on non-violence, disarmament, universal
peace, and international goodwill, and that he had tried to
introduce to several European countries, practically died with
Some unkind critics hold him to be liable for the downfall of the
Mauryan Empire that his grandfather had built up with so much of
military effort and heroism. Asoka's pacifism and nonviolence
found its nemesis in the installation of the Shunga Empire and
the performance by its founder of the ceremony of horse-sacrifice
to celebrate that event.
The ascent of Man has been a bloody process, as in all other
evolution. It should not be so. Man must work out his evolution
in ways that should not be always those of Nature "red in tooth
and claw." The only salvation for humanity lies in its
realization of what Asoka had stood for and realized for his
country as its ruler.
by J.D. Beresford
[From THE ARYAN FORUM, April 1935, pages 235-39.]
In the East, the Chela has his Guru to whom he can go for advice
and direction. In Europe, we have no such reliable guides, and
the seeker must find his own way with whatever help he may be
able to obtain from his fellow pilgrims. This lack of a teacher
is a great handicap, although not for those reasons that will
first occur to the uninitiated.
My own experience has been very limited, but it happens now and
again that I am asked for a direction, which I have neither the
understanding nor the authority to give. Since nearly all those
who have asked me to show them the road are under a general
misconception as to the functions of the Guru in relation to his
Chela, it may be that readers of THE ARYAN PATH will be able to
profit by my experience.
A common delusion of the Western European with regard to the
search after wisdom is that one can learn it as one can learn a
lesson at school. Many people appear to believe that the truth
may be stated in language comprehensible to the multitude, as a
series of definitions, with set rules for the guidance of conduct
and some kind of regime for acquiring holiness.
Seekers of this kind -- and many of them are genuine seekers in
whom the desire for truth has a spiritual and not an intellectual
origin -- go from religion to religion in their hopeless search
for the desired satisfaction. They are to be found in
Theosophical organizations and in new cults of various kinds,
listening to preachers, reading relevant literature, accepting
and trying to practice principles of conduct, always in the hope
that revelation will come in some formula of words that they will
be able to understand with the mind. After a time, such seekers
as these will either transfer their allegiance to another school
of thought, or settle down into a mechanical acceptance of some
not too arduous creed, in the belief that that is all that is
In the West, there are no capable teachers for such people as
these, nor would they be accepted as Chelas by any Guru in the
East. Nevertheless, it seems that they might be helped, or at
least saved from much vain effort, if they could rid themselves
of the primary delusion that wisdom can be passed on from one
individual to another, as are the facts of ordinary education.
Yet, if that were possible, the laws of Karma would have no
meaning, for beyond all question they imply that the education of
the soul comes only by experience. If we tried to state as
briefly as possible, the answer might be that education consists
of the liberation of the spirit, a task every man can only
accomplished by himself. Wherefore, the principle of Karma
contains the lesson that there is no short cut to the acquisition
of wisdom, and that we cannot profit by the experience, or even
greatly by the teaching, of another.
How personal and individual is the acquisition of that knowledge
that alone is valuable for what we commonly call the "formation
of character," can be exemplified by the relations of parent and
child. Out of his own experience, the father cannot teach the
son many things. Until a generation has made the same mistakes
and learnt the relevant lesson, perhaps by suffering, certain
knowledge remains as a thing taught by rote, with no influence on
the liberation of the spirit.
This may seem a tragedy to many parents, but the modern European
has little wisdom in the training of children. He does not
recognize the difference between development of the character and
education for ordinary traffic with the world; nor realize that
each child has an individual personality for which certain
experiences are necessary if it is to be developed.
A father may have made a happy or an unhappy marriage.
Regardless, he cannot pass on the knowledge gained by that
experience to his son. What was right for the one may be quite
wrong for the other. Even the wisest parent or teacher cannot
It may appear from this that our lack of teachers in the West is
not the handicap I declared it to be. If wisdom cannot be taught
by word of mouth, of what use, it will be asked, is the Guru to
the Chela? I will attempt to suggest an answer to that question
by pointing out, in the first place, that a Chela must be
qualified before he is accepted for discipleship.
Unless he has already reached a certain stage of development, the
Guru can teach him nothing. Could the most gifted schoolmaster
teach an ignorant pupil the processes of advanced mathematics?
When Christ said: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," As
the following verses show, he knew that Christ was speaking to
those who were spiritually deaf. To them, as the history of the
world shows all too clearly, the wisdom of the teacher appears as
Having acknowledged this, we may go on to consider the methods of
the teacher with those who have already made some progress on the
road to wisdom. His function is largely that of a guide. The
disciple must find his own way, but he may be warned of blind
alleys and difficult paths. Sometimes he may be deliberately
sent on such hopeless journeys in order that he may get personal
experience of their dangers, and he will have to face the impasse
until he learns for himself the means to overcome it.
In these things, the task of the teacher is to indicate the
difficulty and perhaps to outline the process by which it may be
overcome; but he can give no instruction as to how it may be
avoided. By his own effort, the disciple must win each of the
seven golden keys. "The Teacher can but point the way. The Path
is one for all, the means to reach the goal must vary with the
Pilgrims." [THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE]
There is, however, another way in which the disciple may obtain
help from the teacher, namely, by gathering from him something of
the courage and strength that he radiates. In that communion,
the disciple will find encouragement and spiritual peace. He
will renew his faith in the presence of one who has trodden the
path before him, finding in that example a proof that he is on
the right way. Yet even that peace and encouragement in
communion will not be his until he has already learnt much for
himself and is able to recognize the truths of the spirit. To
those who have no knowledge save that of the mind, the teacher
will appear as other men. By them, he may be condemned as a
charlatan, since the physical proofs demanded will be refused.
They will ask for a sign and no sign shall be given unto them.
Another instance of the pilgrim's inability to progress until he
finds for himself and in himself the desired knowledge, is
provided by the reading of such books as THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, THE
VOICE OF THE SILENCE, or various passages in the Four Gospels.
(The New Testament is unfortunately the least reliable of these,
the letter being dependent on the memory of those who were not
very far advanced in soul-wisdom. The whole spirit of Christ's
teaching derives from and is consonant with that in the other two
books referred to.)
He may make a careful study of the teaching of these books, he
may find truth after truth confirmed by reference from one to the
other, but none of them will become living and urgent until he
rediscovers it in his own spirit. Until the disciple makes that
discovery, his learning will remain mechanical and fruitless.
Just so might the layman learn by heart the symbols of a
mathematical equation without any understanding of their
I have dared to speak with a certain authority on this because I
am writing out of personal experience. I know how I have read
without understanding, accepting the letter but with no
realization of its inner meaning, and how having made the
discovery of truth within the self, what I have read has suddenly
leaped to life with a great power of illumination.
Let me take an instance to make my meaning clearer. What I have
so far written in this article represents a patient rediscovery
by myself of one aspect of truth, summed up in the realization
that there are many things, and those the most important in life,
that we cannot learn from another. Yet all I have said here has
been said repeatedly in the past.
In THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, you will read, "These temporal bodies are
declared to belong to the eternal lord of the body, imperishable
and immeasurable." In THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, "In order to
become the KNOWER of ALL SELF, thou hast first of SELF to be the
knower." In the New Testament, "The Kingdom of God is within
you." All such sayings will remain a form of words until the
realization of their inner meaning is found for each disciple in
his own spirit.
I began by saying that in Europe we have no great teachers in
whose advice we can confidently trust, and if we had them they
would not be understood except by the very few. Those who are
yet only at the beginning of the way may be able to give a little
help to the kind of seeker described in my third paragraph. We
can begin, for example, with the warning that is the principal
subject of this article and go on from that with various
suggestions applicable to those who have to live among the
distractions of modern civilization, and burdened with personal
In the majority, perhaps in all, of those who are at the very
outset of the quest, the desire for separation must be diverted
into another channel. This longing for solitude may be taken as
an indication of a developing spiritual urgency, but if it is
indulged, there will be no progress.
In our present state of Western development, we have to learn
that "By devotion each to his own work, every man gains true
success." The way of stern asceticism and solitude will lead us
nowhither. "Renunciation and union through works both make for
the supreme goal; but of these two, union through works is more
excellent than renunciation of works." (THE BHAGAVAD GITA, Book
This does not imply that there are not many renunciations to be
made by those who follow the way of union through works, which is
the way of love, of the search for the One in the many. Such
renunciations are not made by a determined effort of will but by
the longing for the satisfactions of the spirit, a longing that
will in time convert those oppositions of the mind and body that
work by the continual suggestion to choose that mode of life most
conducive to their own gratification.
This, however, is no more than a beginning that represents the
first recognition of that call of the Spirit described in
Biblical phrase as "the hunger and thirst after righteousness."
For a time, maybe, those to whom this recognition has come may
feel a sense of inner peace, may perhaps believe that no more is
necessary than the cultivation of a feeling of tolerance and
goodwill for all mankind.
There must be no pause at this critical point. Unless the
everlasting search is actively prosecuted, that sense of peace
will presently fade, and the seeker realize that he is slipping
back into old habits of thought, which will rise as an
encroaching mist to obscure the vision that may fade as a present
guide, even though it can never be forgotten.
If, at this critical stage, the seeker is prepared for a
perpetual renewal of effort, if he will continually hold in his
mind the desire for consecration to the great service of humanity
by the sacrifice of personal pride and self-love, he will
inevitably find his teacher at last. Even at the outset, he will
attract to himself those fellow-pilgrims who are striving to
follow the same path, and among them, he may find one, here and
there, older than he is in soul-wisdom, from whom he may gather
help and encouragement. He will be, in short, steadily fitting
himself for Chelaship, and when he is qualified, no matter in
what country he is living, he will find his Guru, not by chance
nor by deliberate search, but as a necessary fulfillment of his
spiritual condition, in accordance with the Law of Karma.
Wherefore we may be sure that if a great Teacher is not known to
us in Europe, it is because we are not yet qualified to be His
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part XVI
By Phillip A Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE
THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and
published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later
appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND
WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by
Point Loma Publications.]
APOLLONIUS DECLARES HIS PHILOSOPHY
At daybreak, Apollonius paid his adorations to the sun and stood,
as was his custom, in meditation. While so doing, the youngest
of the gymnosophists, Nilus, ran to him and announced that they
were coming. Apollonius mildly remarked that they were doing the
right thing, since he had come from the sea to visit them. Then
he followed to the portico.
Thespesion, the chief of the gymnosophists, commenced with a long
discourse based on what he had heard. The gist of it was that
they were far superior in wisdom to the Indians because they
needed no magic arts, no display, no authoritative tones, but
simple virtue and the conquest of desire and envy, with
abstention from that which has life. In fact, it was precisely
that upside-down view of the Indian life and philosophy that an
enemy would make so plausibly credible. Thespesion was very
solemn and serious in what he said.
Apollonius in reply declared his philosophy. Not as that
extraordinary product of the dark age, the missionary of the
sword of the book, but as a merchant with rare and costly
merchandise for sale to others who have precious store of
wisdom's treasures to exchange for his own wares. He told how
the various sects held out this and that before his youthful
gaze, but one that stood apart, of such unspeakable beauty as to
have subdued Pythagoras himself, called him.
"As soon as she understood I was not addicted to any particular
sect, and was as yet ignorant of her, she addressed me in these
> Oh young man, I am sad, and full of cares; if any man conforms to
> my rule of life, he must remove from his table all animal food
> and forget the use of wine. He must not trouble the cup of
> wisdom that is set in all hearts abstaining from wine. He is to
> wear no garments made of either hair of wool, his shoes must be
> made of the bark of trees, and his sleep must be wherever he can
> get it. If I find him susceptible of love, I have deep pits,
> into which Nemesis, the minister of wisdom, will plunge him. I
> am so severe to my own followers that I have bridles made for
> curbing the tongue.
> Attend now, and I will tell you the rewards that await him who
> has made me his choice.
> Without rival, he shall possess temperance and justice. He shall
> be more a terror to tyrants than their slave shall, and shall be
> more acceptable to the gods by his humble offerings of little
> value, than they who shed the blood of bulls. When once he is
> made pure, I will give him knowledge of hereafter, and so fill
> his visual ray with light as to make him capable of
> distinguishing between gods and heroes, and of appreciating duly
> all shadowy phantasms, whenever they assume the likenesses of
"Oh learned Egyptian, this is the life I have chosen. It is one
that I have done obedience to sound sense and the precepts of
Pythagoras. In doing it, I think I have neither deceived myself
nor have been deceived by others."
Such was his description of the Pythagorean rule. He said that
the teachings of Plato had been so corrupted in Athens by the
admission of other doctrines, that the Athenians were not those
who had the knowledge of the soul. He turned his mind to the
Egyptians when a youth, but his preceptor pointed the way to the
Indians as being the parents of Egyptian wisdom, precisely as the
Ethiopians themselves had been Indians in times past.
For some reason, the Ethiopians were ashamed of being formerly
Indians, and they made the most strenuous efforts to conceal
"You yourselves were the instructors of Pythagoras in his
philosophy, which you recommended, and approved as Indians. Now,
ashamed of what caused the earth's displeasure, which forced you
to migrate to this country, you had rather pass for any other
people than Ethiopians come from India. You have worshipped the
gods more after the ritual of the Egyptians than your own,"
Apollonius spoke so well and reasoned so clearly that the learned
Thespesion blushed under his dark and swarthy complexion. Damis
was delighted, and so was Nilus, the youngest of the
gymnosophists, who leaped with joy and running to Apollonius took
his hand and asked him to tell all that had passed in India.
Apollonius said he could refuse nothing to those who love science
and were of a docile disposition, but to Thespesion and others
who despised everything Indian, he was not willing to communicate
any wisdom. Thespesion brought out a convincing argument that
surely Apollonius would not come as a sea merchant and expect to
sell his goods without allowing them to be seen and examined.
"Certainly not," was the answer. "If as the vessel touched the
beach one came down to it and abused the cargo, the ship, and the
country it came from, and even expected the merchant in the ship
to agree with him, I would neither anchor nor tie the ship to the
land, but put to sea again."
Nilus said, "This time, I take the cable and ask you to share
your cargo with me. I will do more; I go on board as a passenger
who knows and acknowledges the excellence of what you have
Then Thespesion agreed with Apollonius, and the secret came out.
"Do you wonder that we felt as you do now when we heard of your
attack on us, before you had seen us?" Apollonius was astonished,
but when he was told of the schemes of Euphrates and Thrasybulus
he understood, though he said the Indians would never have been
so deceived, for they were too wise and knew futurity. He warned
them of the danger of their credulity; it would surely make them
subject to false accusation in their turn, for such is human
Thespesion little liked the long rebuke Apollonius gave him and
tried to pass the matter off lightly, saying they were things of
little moment and he would like to make Apollonius and Euphrates
"That may be so," said Apollonius, "but who is going to restore
you to my favor? A man whose character is attacked by lies has
some reason to be indignant."
Thespesion made up for his blunder as best he could.
Nilus brought a meal for Apollonius with an air of the utmost
respect. "The Sage sends this hospitality to you and to me," he
said, "I have invited myself to dine at your table, so you cannot
say I come uninvited."
Apollonius saw the application of the remark. "Sit down and
eat," he said. "I accept this tender of your person and
character with great pleasure, as I am told your attachment to
the wisdom of the Indians and Pythagoras is great."
"I have a huge appetite," said Nilus.
"For God's sake, eat as much as you please," said Apollonius.
"You will give me matter of conversation, and I will be
answerable for the rest."
Nilus was thus pledged to Apollonius as his disciple. The
formality in the way of the necessity of the consent of the
gymnosophists, which Apollonius pointed out, was of small moment,
because Nilus had gone to them on the report that they were a
colony of the Indian School of Iarchas. The father of Nilus had
been captain of the one Egyptian ship permitted to visit the
coast of India to trade. He had met Indians who told him of the
school of Indian philosophy and had brought the report of the
Ethiopians being from India and of the Indian school. The
gymnosophists gladly enrolled him among themselves, though
inveighing against the Indians, so that he had the full intention
of going to sea in search of the Hill of the Sages, if he had not
met Apollonius. Therefore, his life had always been dedicated to
the Indians, as he had joined the gymnosophists under a
Apollonius asked for a reward for his acceptance of the new
disciple. Nilus promised anything he had to give.
"I ask, in the first place, that whatever choice you make shall
be made for yourself alone and next that you shall not trouble
the gymnosophists by giving them counsel that will not serve
them." That was all the condition Apollonius made. They lay on
the grass and went to sleep for the night.
The following day a great debate on art and the representation by
the Ethiopians of the gods as animals took place. Apollonius was
for the Greek art as being the outcome of Imagination rather than
the Egyptian Imitation, which was degrading as representing the
gods. Thespesion declared they were occult symbols and therefore
justified. "There was an old Athenian," he said, to clinch his
argument, "a man by the name of Socrates, who was as great a fool
as us. He thought a dog, or a goose, or even a plane tree was
gods, and swore by them."
"He was not a fool," said Apollonius. "He was a divine and truly
wise man. He swore by these things, not as being gods, but lest
he should swear by the Gods."
Other debates followed on the customs of the Greeks and on
justice, the immortality of the soul and nature. It is
interesting to students of old philosophies to note that the
Ethiopians treated quite as a matter of course Apollonius's
account of his former incarnation as captain of a big ship. The
doctrine was evidently not new in Ethiopia, any more than in
India or Greece or Judaea or Gaul.
When Apollonius announced his intention to depart for the sources
of the Nile, the gymnosophists declared that he had an excellent
guide in Timasion who knew the country well and needed no
purification in visiting such a place, wherein resides a
divinity. Nilus they called aside and in private endeavored to
dissuade him from going with Apollonius.
He returned to the eleven. These followers of Apollonius saw him
laughing to himself, but such was their respect for silence they
would not ask him what had happened, if he did not choose to say.
Apollonius with his twelve disciples sought the country where the
Nile has its sources, with the river on their left and the
mountains before them.
The cataracts made such a din that Damis actually suggested
turning back, but Apollonius pressed forward to the end of his
journey. In an Ethiopian village, he rid the people of a
vampire; this was regarded as a great feat of practical
knowledge. The incident is described in the quaint language of
the time, making it look like a fairytale.
Returning from Ethiopia to Alexandria, Apollonius found Euphrates
ever bitterer against him. As he had told Thespesion, he bore no
malice towards Euphrates, but the latter could never forgive his
tacit rebuke of his love of money. Apollonius left Menippus and
Nilus to deal with Euphrates, while he himself showed much
attention to the latter disciple, whom they had found amongst the
THE WISDOM OF TITUS
After Titus, the son of Vespasian had taken Jerusalem, and
"filled all places with the dead," the nations round about
offered him crowns of which he did not think he deserved. He
said he did not perform mighty deeds, but rather lent his arm to
god in the just exercise of his vengeance.
This answer was approved by Apollonius as being a proof of the
wisdom of Titus and of his knowledge in divine and human things,
as of his great moderation in declining to be crowned for having
shed blood. He then wrote Titus a letter, to be taken by Damis:
> From Apollonius
> To Titus, Emperor of the Romans
> To you who refuse to be crowned because of your success in war, I
> give the crown of moderation, seeing you are so well acquainted
> with the reasons entitling you to that honor.
Titus was well pleased with this letter.
"In my own name and that of my father, I hold myself your debtor,
and will be mindful of you," he declared. "I have taken
Jerusalem, but you have taken me."
When Titus was invested with the imperial dignity, he set out for
Rome to take his place as colleague with his father Vespasian.
First thinking of what consequence it might be to him to have
even a short conference with Apollonius, he requested him to come
to Argos for that purpose. Titus embraced him and said the
Emperor, his father, had written to him of all he wished to know.
"At present, I have a letter wherein he says he considers you as
his benefactor, and one to whom we are indebted for what we are.
Only thirty years of age, I have arrived at the same honors as my
father did at sixty. I am called on to govern, perhaps before I
have learnt to obey, and I fear to engage to do what I am not
equal to perform."
Apollonius, stroking Titus's neck, which was like that of an
athlete, said, "Who could subject a bull with so fine a neck to
Titus replied, "He who reared me from a calf," referring to his
Apollonius was pleased with the ready answer and said, "When a
kingdom is directed by the vigor of youth and wisdom of age, what
lyre or flute can produce such sweet and harmonious music. The
virtues of old age and youth will be united, and the consequence
will be that the former will acquire vigor and the latter decorum
and order by the union."
"Oh Tyanean, what advice have you to give concerning the best
mode of governing an empire," asked Titus.
"None to you," answered Apollonius. "You are self-instructed.
By the manner in which you show obedience to your father, we can
entertain no doubt about your becoming like him. I will give you
my friend Demetrius to attend you whenever you wish and to advise
you on what is good to be done. His wisdom consists in liberty
of speech, in speaking truth, and an intrepidity arising from a
cynical (in Greek, dog-like) spirit."
Titus was troubled at the idea of a cynic as an adviser, but
Apollonius told him that all he meant was that Demetrius should
be his dog to bark for him against others and against himself if
he offended in anything. He would always do this with wisdom,
and never without reason.
"Give me this dog-companion, then," said Titus. "He shall have
full permission to bite me whenever he finds me acting as I ought
"I have a letter of introduction, ready to send to him at Rome
where he is now philosophizing," said Apollonius.
"I am glad of it," replied Titus, the new co-emperor. "I wish
someone would write to you in my favor and recommend you to
accompany me on my journey."
"You may depend upon seeing me, whenever it shall be to the
advantage of both," said Apollonius.
When they were alone Titus declared that he wished to ask one of
two very intimate personal questions. Receiving permission, he
asked whom he should guard against in regard to his life, as he
already was under some apprehension, though he would not wish to
show fear where none existed.
"Herein you will be but prudent and circumspect," said
Apollonius, "and of all men I think it is your duty to be on your
guard." Then looking up, he swore by the sun he would have spoken
about this even if no question had been asked. For the gods
commanded him to declare to Titus that during his father's life,
he should guard against his greatest enemies and after
Vespasian's death against his most intimate friends.
"What kind of death shall I die," asked Titus.
"The same as Ulysses" said Apollonius, "for he is said to have
received his death from the sea."
Damis interpreted this to mean that Titus should beware of the
sting of the fish trygon, with which it was affirmed Ulysses was
It is historical that Titus died from eating a 'sea-hare,' a fish
from which they say the most deadly poison of sea or land exudes.
Nero was in the habit of mixing this liquid in the food of his
greatest enemies. Domitian gave it to his brother Titus, not
because he thought there would be any difficulty with him as a
colleague on the throne, but because he thought he would prefer
not to have so mild and benevolent a partner in joint rule with
him over the Roman Empire.
As they parted in public, they embraced, and Apollonius said
"Vanquish your enemies in arms and surpass your father in
Here is the letter:
> From Apollonius the Philosopher
> To the Dog Demetrius
> I give you to the Emperor Titus that you may instruct him in all
> royal virtues. Justify what I have said of you. Be everything
> to him, but everything without anger.
Thus Apollonius, the greatest philosopher of the West in "the
first century," gave the Roman Empire two of its best Emperors,
as they themselves acknowledged.
The people of Tarsus of old bore no kindness to Apollonius,
because of his outspoken reproaches against their soft and
effeminate manners. However, at this time they loved him as if
he had been their founder and greatest support.
Once when Titus was sacrificing in public, the whole people
thronged round him with a petition on matters of the greatest
importance. He said he would forward it to his father Vespasian
and would intercede in their interests.
Then Apollonius came forward and asked what Titus would do if he
could prove that some of those present were enemies who had
stirred up revolt in Jerusalem and assisted the Jews against him.
"If I could prove all this, what do you think they would
"Instant death," said Titus, without a moment's hesitation.
"Then are you not ashamed to show more promptness in punishing
delinquents than in rewarding those who never offended, and
assuming to yourself authority to punish whilst you defer that of
recompensing until you have seen your father?"
Titus was not displeased with this direct reasoning.
"I grant their petition, as I know my father will not be angry
with me for having submitted to truth and to you," he said.
Tarsus was not very far from Tyana, the birthplace of Apollonius,
and this incident was doubtless long remembered of the fearless
philosopher, "the Tyanean."
After his return from Ethiopia, Apollonius traveled much, but
usually made short journeys and visited no new countries. He
passed some time in Lower Egypt, visiting the Phoenicians,
Cilicians, Ionians, and Acheans, himself always the same,
unchanged. He taught wherever he found men ready to receive his
At this time, the towns on the left of the Hellespont were
subject to earthquakes. Taking advantage of the alarm, certain
Egyptians went up and down collecting money for sacrifices to
Neptune and Tellus, the gods of sea and land. They put the cost
at the enormous sum of ten talents, but in their fear, towns and
individuals paid all they could, for these moneychangers said
they could do nothing until all the money was in the hands of
Apollonius drove them out. Then inquiring into the cause of the
anger of Neptune and Tellus, he offered the proper expiatory
sacrifices at almost no expense, and the earth had rest.
Seditions and dissensions at Antioch were likewise interrupted by
an earthquake and Apollonius, being present, declared:
"A god hath manifested himself among you for the restoration of
peace." He drew the lesson that these dissensions would make
their city like the cities of Asia, and ruin them. He seemed to
imply that a city, like a man, improves or ruins its body by its
TO THE GODS
By James Sterling
To the Gods who guide my being,
Watching over my shoulder in silence
As I work and struggle,
Do you share my doubts and dreams?
Knowing that true justice
Is well at hand, it is you who know
That true destiny can never be denied.
Only the brave can face the music
And have the audacity to continue
When the mountain has crumbled,
Filling the crystalline lake
With muddy debris.
To the spirits, without you,
I am dead as any man who claims to live;
Yes, I live,
Even the deaf, dumb, and blind
Must eat to survive.
But I crave to live sublime
And to stand aside those who lived before me.
My turn is next and my life awaits me
As does the nervous bride,
Ready for moments unfamiliar,
Unfamiliar as you, guiding spirits.
To the Gods who hold my faith,
Grant me the possible:
Let my dreams come true.
THE PATH OF THE SOUL IN SUFISM
By Margaret Smith
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1935, pages 364-69.]
Before the rise and development of Sufism, orthodox Islam had
taught that within man was a Divine spark, for God had at the
beginning breathed into him of His own Spirit, and there was
therefore a real affinity between God and the soul of man. Based
on this conception, Sufism developed the doctrine of a close
relation between God and the human soul. The soul included the
higher part, the spirit or heart, the "rational soul," containing
the inmost essence of man (sirr).
This, as al-Sarraj (ob. A.D. 988) says, is the "secret shrine
of God Himself, wherein He knows man and man can know Him."
(Kitab al-Luma, p. 231) This higher soul, before its existence
in a body in this world, had dwelt in the Presence of God and had
been one with Him. It has, therefore, the power to perceive
spiritual realities. al-Ghazali says of it:
> Man possesses two eyes, the outward and the inward, the former
> concerned with the world of sense, the latter with the invisible
> world, and this he possesses because he is a partaker of the
> Divine Nature, and so there is within man a power of
> apprehension, which seeks the highest, even God Himself.
The power to apprehend depends on the purity of the soul. Here
in this world it is joined to a lower part, the carnal self
(nafs) ruled by passion, which is the seat of evil, and exercises
a downward drag on the higher soul. The purity of the spirit
becomes defiled, "that fair countenance has been disfigured by
the darkness of sin," it is veiled from the apprehension of
Reality by egoism, sensualism, error of all kinds. The process
of removing the veils, of eliminating the evil, and effecting the
purification that will enable the soul to become conscious of its
own Divinity, is what the Sufis call the Path, the way of inward
ascent, which will lead at last to the reunion of the soul with
The Sufis themselves constantly speak of this as a Way (tariqa),
a journey from the false self into the real self, which is one
with the Creative Truth, that is, the One Reality. The
"traveler," says Mahmud Shabistari, in the ROSE GARDEN of
Mystery, is the one who is acquainted with his own origin, who is
aware of the Divinity within him, and who seeks to become "pure
from self as flame from smoke," so that he may die to self and
live a new life in God. God alone can guide men on the Way, and
therefore man must attend to the promptings of Divine grace and
light within his own soul, but the need for cooperation with the
act of Divine grace is always upheld by the Sufis in their
teaching on the following of the mystic Path. Spiritual
meditation, by which the mystic can apprehend the guidance and
help of God, is to be combined with vigorous asceticism, by which
the soul can be purged of self-will, self-consciousness, and all
those human passions and creaturely conditions that are a means
of separation from God.
The journey is marked out by a number of "stations" (maqamat)
that constitute the ascetic and ethical discipline of the seeker,
and indicate the degree of progress attained by the mystic in the
Path of God, and he must perfect himself in each, fulfilling its
obligations and acquiring the virtues proper to it, before
passing on to the next station.
This stage of the Path corresponds to what is known to Western
mystics as the "Purgative Life," and belongs to the sphere of
practical religion. These stations are succeeded, or
accompanied, by a similar series of psychological "states"
(ahwal) that belong to the inner life, denoting spiritual
experiences, graces received, which are the gift of God alone,
and do not depend upon the mystic's own striving; and these
correspond to the "Illuminative Life" of Western mysticism.
The first step on the way is repentance (tawba) that is really
acceptance of the Path, a turning towards God and away from all
else, when the traveler puts behind him all worldly attractions,
shakes off all human and material ties that fetter him, and
realizes what is the Goal of the quest, towards that he has set
his face. Dhu al-Nun (ob. A.D. 859), and others of the Sufis,
distinguish between repentance due to fear of Divine punishment,
and repentance due to shame on account of the Divine Compassion.
> The repentance of fear is caused by the revelation of God's
> Majesty, the repentance of shame by the Vision of God's Beauty.
Dhu al-Nun also declared that repentance was of three kinds. (1)
There was the common kind, repentance from sin, (2) that of the
elect, repentance from neglect, and (3) that of saints,
repentance (or turning away) from all save God. This meant
forgetfulness (even of sin), for remembrance of sin (self) is a
veil between the soul and God.
Normally at this stage on the Path, the novice takes a spiritual
director. Under that director's guidance, he undergoes a long
process of training. Some Sufis such as the woman Rabi'a of
Basra (ob. A.D. 801) attained their aim without such guidance.
They found the right ascetical and psychological discipline
themselves, trod the Path to its appointed end, and found what
The first station after Repentance was Abstinence (tara') and
this, Hasan al-Basri, one of the earliest Sufis, declared to be
the root-principle of religion, since he held that its opposite,
"desire," (lama') was the chief source of the corruption of the
Closely akin to this "station" was that of Renunciation (zuhd)
the abandonment of all that distracted the soul from God, leaving
the hand free from wealth and the heart from desire.
Of renunciation, also, the Sufis taught that there were three
kinds. There was (1) the renunciation of what was unlawful,
which was common, (2) the renunciation of what was lawful, a more
special type, and (3) the renunciation of all save God. This
last was that of the Gnostics, the renunciation not only of the
temporary pleasures of this world but also of the hope of reward
in the next. "The sign of true Sufi," said al-Qushayri, "is that
he is indifferent to this world and the world to come." (Risala,
pp. 74, 75)
Renunciation involved Poverty (faqr). Of those who are poor for
the sake of God al-Sarraj writes that they are the richest of all
the creatures, for they dispense with the gift for the sake of
the Giver. Poverty, to the Sufi, meant not merely lack of
material possessions, but indifference to both wealth and
poverty. It meant self-stripping in the widest sense, and the
merging of the personal will in the Will of God, until the mystic
attained to complete self-loss. To a friend who asked her what a
man should do in order to come near to God, Rabi'a replied, "He
should possess nothing in this world or the next save Him alone."
Patience and Gratitude were also stations on the way,
representing the passive and active sides of the same virtue,
acquiescence in all that was destined to come to the mystic on
the Path, whether benefits or misfortunes, and acceptance of
such, not only without complaint, but with thankfulness.
The first stage is to leave off complaining, which is the stage
of the penitent. The second is to be satisfied with what the
Divine Will decrees. This is the stage of the ascetics. The
third is to accept with joyful gratitude whatever befalls. This
is the stage of the true saints, the "friends" of God.
"Gratitude," said Qushayri, "is the vision of the Giver, not the
Trust in God and dependence upon Him (tawakkul) followed upon the
stations that had gone before; it meant being contented with God
and His provision, and so finding rest from the troubles of this
world, engendered by anxiety on account of means and subsistence.
Dhu al-Nun taught that such trust meant that worldly motives or
anxieties should no longer influence the seeker. He should bring
the self into obedience to God and take from it the power of
controlling its own destiny. The Sufis should be as "little
children in the bosom of God." Al-Ghazali makes such implicit
trust a test of faith in the Unity of God, since He is the Sole
Cause and the Only Agent and all His acts are the result of
perfect goodness and wisdom. What need has the servant to be
concerned with his own interests, for all that is destined for
him must be for the best?
The final "station," in the view of most of the Sufis, was
Satisfaction (rida), and of this al-Muhasibi (ob. A.D. 857),
one of the greatest of all the early Sufi teachers, has much to
say. It is two-sided, for human satisfaction is linked up with
the divine satisfaction and depends upon it. Muhasibi says:
> Human satisfaction is tranquility of heart about Destiny and
> equanimity of soul in regarding events, whether the Majesty of
> God or His Beauty be manifested therein. It is all one to the
> true servant, whether he be consumed in the fire of the Majesty
> of God or illuminated by the light of His Mercy and His Beauty,
> since both alike witness to God, and whatever comes from Him is
> good. When the servant sees God's choice and chooses it for
> himself, he is delivered from all anxieties, for satisfaction
> means deliverance. There are those who are satisfied with the
> gifts of God and the happiness these bring, and those who are
> satisfied with affliction and trials, and there are also those
> who are satisfied simply with being chosen, and this is love, for
> those who are satisfied with being chosen by the Beloved are His
> lovers, whose hearts dwell ever in His Presence, who are detached
> from the creatures and the fetters of the "stations," and their
> souls have escaped from all existences and have attached
> themselves to God. (Kashf al-Mahjub pp. 219ff.)
Satisfaction is the last of the "stations," it begins with effort
on the part of the self, but in the end it means escape from
striving, for it has become a mystic "state."
The mystic "states," as we have seen, may follow the stations or
may be experienced at the same time, for they belong, not to the
outward life of asceticism, but to the inner life of the soul.
In attaining to the stations, the soul has been purged of the
grosser sins of the self and the senses, but the "states"
represent a still more subtle process of purification, affecting
thought and feeling, and are experiences sent by God to encourage
the soul in its ascent. Among them the Sufi writers include
Meditation, Nearness to God, Fear and Hope, Love and Longing,
Fellowship, Tranquility, Contemplation, and Certainty. Of these,
Meditation (muraqaba) means a process of self-concentration, when
the mystic keeps a close watch upon the thoughts, lest evil
suggestions should hinder him from thinking of God. The
meditation of the Gnostics, the power for which comes from God,
enables them always to concern themselves with God and to fix
their minds upon Him.
On the "states" of Fear and Hope, the Sufis have much to say.
One of them observes that the man who fears rightly fears his
carnal self more than his enemy. Fear, says another, is like a
lamp to the heart, making it see what is good and what is evil,
and godly fear leads a man to shun what is feared, because it is
evil. He who truly fears anything flees from it, but he who
truly fears God, flees unto Him. Fear, to the Sufi, was no mere
dread of material consequences, but of separation from God, and
Dhu al-Nun says on this subject that the fear of Hell-fire is to
the fear of separation from God, like a drop that has fallen into
the bottomless sea. In proportion to the mystic's nearness to
God is his fear of being cut off from Him. Hope, too, is
concerned not with rewards, material or spiritual, for the Sufi's
hope, says al-Sarraj, is in God alone, and he hopes for nothing
from God except God Himself.
Hope, Fear, and Love are bound up together. "The lover," said
Dhu al-Nun, "does not pour out the cup of love until fear has
made his heart ready." Love is the greatest of the mystic
"states" and the most essential to the progress of the soul if it
is to attain its goal; and this, like all the states, is a gift
from God, who has enabled His servants to love Him. It is linked
up with the states of longing (shawq) and intimate fellowship
(uns). Love, says Muhasibi, is a strong yearning, the heart's
remembrance of the One yearned for, and its expectation of the
state of union.
The love of the mystic is that pure love in which is no
defilement, which thrusts out from the heart all baser affections
until all is in God and to God. Love of this type leads to
ecstasy and to the consciousness of the nearness of God, and of
the soul's communion with Him. "Drink the wine of His love for
thee," says Dhu al-Nun, using the mystic symbolism of the poets,
"that He may intoxicate thee with thy love for Him." That close
fellowship with God that results from love, he describes as "the
joy of the lover in the Beloved," a radiant light to the soul,
and by that light the lover is enabled to look upon the Beloved
and to know the rapture of contemplation (mushahada), when the
seeker is face to face with the Sought. The heart of the
worshipper is the real sanctuary, said Muhammad b. al-Fadl:
> For the true sanctuary is the place where contemplation is, and
> only that one to whom the whole world is the trysting-place where
> he draws near to God, and a place of retreat where he holds
> communion with Him, knows what it is to be the friend of God.
From that, one who contemplates God in his heart all else is
hidden and the self passes away into nothingness in that Divine
Presence and there remains naught in the heart save God alone.
"So God, revealing Himself in His Majesty, causes the carnal
souls of His lovers to pass away, and, then by the revelation of
His Beauty, gives immortality to their hearts." To the mystic,
then, filled with love, and rapt in expectation of what God will
reveal to him, is granted the Vision of the Divine Beauty. "It
begins with flashes of light," says al-Qushayri, in a vain
attempt to describe that mystic experience, "then it appears as
rays of light and then as the light shining forth in its full
splendor." In truth the unveiling of the Divine Glory is among
the unspeakable things that it is not fitting, nor indeed
possible, to describe, as al-Ghazali reminds us. None should
attempt to share that experience with any to whom God has not
chosen to unveil Himself.
The seeker has attained through sight to certainty, and now has
passed beyond the "stations" and the "states" and has entered the
higher sphere of the mystic Gnosis, that direct knowledge of God
that comes only by the illumination and the revelation of God
Himself. This is the final stage of the Path, for the traveler
is now in sight of the Goal. The real meaning of Gnosis, says
al-Hujwiri, is to know that all belongs to God. When ignorance
has ended, the veils vanish and this life, by means of Gnosis,
becomes one with the life to come. Gnosis comes from the Light
of lights, and the soul of the Gnostic now knows itself to be one
with that Primal Essential Light and knows that it shall be
joined with it once more, as the spark returns to the flame and
is absorbed in it again.
The traveler reaches the end of the journey. The soul passes
away from itself, from all sense-impressions, from all creaturely
knowledge, attaining to the annihilation of the personal self
(fana) that Suhrawardi states is the end of traveling to God.
> The end of worshipping God is that the worshipper should pass
> away in worship from worship, and be absorbed in Him Whom he
> worships, and this is the state in which perishability perishes.
> (fana al-fana)
Mortality ends, but in dying to itself, the soul is reborn to a
new life in God, and immortality has begun. Immortality (baqa),
says Suhrawardi again, is the beginning of traveling IN God, for
the soul has now entered upon the Unitative life in and with God.
> This is the perfection attained by the saints who have left
> behind them the toil of conflict and are free from the fetters of
> the "stations" and the vicissitudes of the "states" and whose
> search has ended in discovery. They have come to know all the
> secrets of the heart, and of set purpose have become annihilated
> to all desire, and having thus passed away from mortality, have
> attained to perfect immortality.
The Gnostic who has attained is fitly described by some Sufi
writers as the "waqif" (the one who stands still), for he desists
from seeking and passes away into the Sought; he has no longer
thoughts of "otherness," for him all apparent and transient
values have been changed into their real and eternal values.
"Now," Ibn al-'Arabi says,
> "Thou" art "He" and thou seest all thine actions to be His
> actions and all His attributes to be thine attributes, and thine
> essence to be His Essence.
The line of distinction is obliterated. From one point of view
the One Reality is the Creative Truth, from another, He is that
which is created, but the Essence is the same. The Path of the
Soul has brought it to the end of the journey, through knowledge
of itself, to knowledge of God, the Ultimate Reality, and so to
the realization that knower and Known are one, and that God is
not only One, but One in All and All in All.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application