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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- January, 2004
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"Balzac and the Occult," by B.P. Wadia
"Portraits of Theosophists," Part XI, by John M. Prentice
"The Celtic Imagination," by George William Russell
"The Cycle of Initiation," by Abbott Clark
"Avasthatraya: The States of Waking, Dreaming, and Sleeping,"
by M.A. Venkata Rao
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part XVII, by Phillip A Malpas
"The Eros in Man," by Steven Levey
"Withholding the Shadow of a Doubt," by James Sterling
"Thoreau and Oriental Asceticism," by Arthur Christy
"Brahman in Indian Philosophy and THE SECRET DOCTRINE," by
> There are many persons studying with us who do not say one word
> to their children, but allow them to go on imbibing the false
> theories of the current religion, weakly hoping that when the
> children shall have grown up, the errors can be corrected. How
> unjust this is to the children who are thus filled up with
> obstacles to future progress. Surely, if members believe there
> is anything in Karma or Reincarnation, how easy to tell the
> -- W.Q. Judge, PRACTICAL OCCULTISM, page 28
BALZAC AND THE OCCULT
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 330-32.]
> So many proven facts have been first discovered by occult
> science, that someday we shall have professors of occult science,
> as we already have professors of chemistry and astronomy.
> -- Balzac, COUSIN PONS.
Honore de Balzac is famous for the gallery of characters that he
created with profound imagination based upon acute observation.
In his oration at Balzac's funeral, Victor Hugo stressed the fact
of these two powers of the great painter in prose. Balzac has
also been called the unconscious occultist of French literature.
This is an aspect in the author's prodigious output which is very
much overlooked. The abnormal and the psychic elements in his
writings are not rare. These are not confined, as is ordinarily
believed, to his Seraphita which was praised and damned as was no
other volume of Balzac's.
Now the news comes of the publication of the first draft of his
unfinished early novel FALTHURNE, ably edited by M.
Pierre-Georges Castex and published by Jose Corti. In THE TIMES
LITERARY SUPPLEMENT for May 25, its discerning reviewer reports:
> M. Castex has also studied Balzac's interest in the occult and
> lays just emphasis upon it; the realist and the analyst in Balzac
> have been studied too exclusively. There is another Balzac, who
> never died -- the Romantic with his dreams of the magical arcana.
In Seraphita, Balzac puts in the mouth of one of his characters
the truth: "You call a fact supernatural because you did not know
its cause." In many of his stories, "the supernatural" is handled
by Balzac with consummate skill and rare insight. The
significance of this "supernatural" is often missed by the
ordinary reader and so the real meaning of Balzac's writing is
also missed. His observation of objects and events was accurate
and the details and similes in his descriptions have an amazing
quality which strikes the readers' understanding. These have a
profound philosophical background. This was due to his
Imagination or Intuitive Vision.
He perceived the universe of Spirit, the Macrocosm, by the
soul-power of imagination while his keen and penetrating senses
observed the material Microcosm. In his writings, he used both
of his powers in a conjoint action revealing again and again the
intimate connection between heaven and hell in man on earth. The
great fundamental idea, "as above so below," was so assimilated
by his mind that most naturally it leaped to conclusions derived
from his application of the law of Correspondence and Analogy.
Thus he got at such Eastern teachings as Karma and Reincarnation
as will be seen from these extracts -- one from THE MAGIC SKIN
and the others from SERAPHITA:
> Some day you will lie on your couch, unable to endure noise or
> light, condemned to live in a sort of tomb, and you will suffer
> unheard of torture. When you look about for the cause of that
> slow, avenging agony, remember the woes that you have scattered
> broadcast on your passage through life. Having sown imprecations
> everywhere, you will reap hatred. We are the judges, the
> executioners, of a tribunal that holds sway here on earth, and
> takes rank above the tribunals of men, below that of God.
> Who knows how many fleshy forms the heir of heaven occupies
> before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence
> and solitude whose starry plains are but the vestibule of
> spiritual worlds?
> The virtues we acquire, which develop slowly within us, are the
> invisible links which bind each one of our existences to the
> others -- existences which the spirit alone remembers, for matter
> has no memory for spiritual things. Thought alone holds the
> tradition of the bygone life. The endless legacy of the past to
> the present is the secret source of human genius.
> We are born with the need to aspire skywards. Our native home,
> like a mother's face, never frightens its children.
> Light gave birth to melody, and melody to light; colors were both
> light and melody; motion was number endowed by the Word; in
> short, everything was at once sonorous, diaphanous and mobile; so
> that, everything existing in everything else, extension knew no
> limits, and the angels could traverse it everywhere to the utmost
> depths of the infinite.
PORTRAITS OF THEOSOPHISTS, Part XI
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, November 1945, pages 546-49.]
He was the Doubting Thomas of the little group of young people
who were the pride of the Lodge and in whom we saw as a vast
possibility for the spread of the Doctrine. This was not to be.
In some later age under better conditions when wars will not come
to decimate the best in the Race, this potential force for good
shall be free. In this enthusiastic band, he alone hung back.
He was willing to believe the Tradition yet curiously unable to
show his assent in any practical form. He was a natural-born
Agnostic. Like Mephistopheles in Faust, his was the Spirit that
denied. It would have caused no concern whatever if he had
suddenly risen and said, "I'm an Atheist, thank God!"
Born into a poor Roman Catholic family, he knew the bitterness of
poverty. Strictly educated in the Faith, it was the hope and
dream of his family that he might become an ordained priest. He
was the first to realize that he lacked the vocation. This
estranged his kinsfolk, and ultimately forcing him to leave home.
While in his late teens and still conforming to the requirements
of his religion, a semi-political speech by a newly enthroned
Archbishop aroused his doubts as to the Divine origin and purpose
of the Church. Thereafter, he performed his religious duties
punctiliously, but they lacked any inward reality for him.
At this point, he contacted Theosophy. His friendly reception by
the group of young people warmed his frozen heart. They asked
nothing of him and were willing to share all. He listened to and
even participated in many discussions. At the Lodge, he attended
some public lectures but refused to examine the literature. The
Holy Office had condemned Theosophy. It placed theosophical
literature on the Index Expurgatorius. All the same, he gave
generously of his significant musical talent.
An accountant by profession, he was a musician at heart. He
played the piano and possessed a beautiful tenor voice. With
either, he was good enough for the concert platform but not
sufficiently outstanding to base a career on either.
Occasionally, he played at our Sunday gatherings. He would sing
when he could get an accompanist. He heard visiting celebrities,
people including singers such as Melba, Nordica, and Eleanora de
By prodigious effort, he obtained for himself a first class
piano, having sacrificed almost every pleasure to this end. Bach
and Beethoven opened new doors and extended wider horizons.
There was the faint aura of doubt about even his acceptance of
what the music conveyed. He did not disdain the Moderns or
popular music of his day. He played Debussy, Ravel, and
Scriabin. He sensed the Theosophy in Scriabin before hearing of
the background of the composer's life.
Then came a day when he rocked the group to its foundations. He
told the young people, casually and without concern, that he had
become the proprietor of a wine saloon in one of the worst
quarters of the city. It had a most unenviable reputation. Two
murders had happened within a few yards of its unsavory
situation. One reached international fame. It is still a
classic in the literature of "Famous Cases." The refuse of the
city byways made up the saloon's clientele.
When we ventured to walk past it, we saw the place take on a new
aspect in a matter of weeks. Repainted, cleaned, and
refurnished, with the quality of its wares raised to a new
standard, it had become an asset instead of a liability. The
police no longer visited it two at a time. After but little
time, they ceased to visit it at all.
Then the First World War came. Although he cared little for
patriotism in the popular sense, he enlisted voluntarily.
Although he was smart and soldier-like, his very uniform seemed
saturated with the faint aroma of doubt, the air of disbelief
that he wore like an aura.
His military service was reasonably long and quite
undistinguished. He did his duty as demanded of him and no more.
He could easily have exploited his musical talent but refused to
do so. All the same, many a cafe or estaminet echoed to his
voice or his rollicking tunes. He his fellow soldiers respected
and even liked him, but none penetrated into his inner life.
There was a barrier of unbelief, even to love.
The end came on the Menin Road in November 1917. An accident to
a transport vehicle was holding up a convoy of soldiers urgently
needed at the Front. Bored by inaction, he went forward to
assist in removing the vehicle from the shell hole newly formed
in the paved road. The shelling was heavy and most had taken
cover. An observation balloon evidently signaled instructions as
hell let loose on the damaged truck. The third or fourth shell
made a direct hit. When the soldiers had sorted out the debris,
they found and removed his dead body for burial. His face, they
said afterwards, still wore its expression of faint surprise and
Because of the Light within, he was never afraid of the darkness,
even though he would never have admitted the Light. His hunger
for faith was unsatisfied. The wish to believe was always there
but could not express itself. He wanted to believe and just
could not. He might have said, as another was credited with
saying as his confession of faith, "There is no God and Mary is
His mother." It may be that in that blinding flash that released
him from his body, he saw and knew why he found faith denied to
him, seeing why in his case, "the Lonely turned away from the
Alone." Perhaps he saw that in his next incarnation it would be
possible for him to believe.
Even reincarnation was to him, whenever he discussed it, the
return to all the old familiar sights, sounds, and experiences.
Reincarnation was a coming back to the known world rather than a
doorway to spiritual heights unseen by physical eyes. We shall
never know what act of unfaith in some forgotten incarnation that
had made faith so impossible now.
Had he known of these lines that follow, he might have seen
> I who have seen am glad to close my eyes,
> I who have soared am weary of my wings,
> I seek no more the secret of the wise,
> Safe among shadowy, unreal human things.
> Blind to the gleam of the wild violet rays
> That burn beyond the rainbow's circle dim,
> Bound by dark night and driven by pale days
> The sightless slave of Time's imperious whim;
> Deaf to the flooding tide of dreams divine
> That surge outside the closed gates of birth,
> The rhythms of eternity, too fine
> To touch with music the dull ears of earth --
> I go to seek the humble care and toil
> The dreams I left undreamed, the deeds undone,
> To sow the seed and break the stubborn soil,
> Knowing no brightness whiter than the sun.
> -- Eva Gore-Booth, REINCARNATION
To him, reincarnation was a summons back from the Empyrean to the
warm earth. When he does come back, as come he will, a greater
faith than before will show him all he longed to know.
THE CELTIC IMAGINATION
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XIX, pages 162-169.]
Other names might be used in this Celtic Cosmogenesis and the
Dagda stand for Lir, Boan for Dana, Fintan for Mananan, and
others again might be interchangeable with these.
Even as the generations follow one another in time, each looking
upon the same unchanging nature as the ancestors but naming it by
other names, so in antiquity races were invaded by others who
came with a cosmogony the same in all essentials, but for
differences of language and name, as that of the people invaded.
After centuries there comes a blending of cultures and a
subsidence into legend, bringing about a bewildering mosaic of
mythology. The unity of primeval vision is broken up in the
prism of literature. Deities grow in number in the popular
imagination and coexist there, who in truth, if their spiritual
ancestry was known, were but varying names for one divine being.
There are several mythologies in Irish legend the figures of
which are made contemporary with each other by the later poets,
and while it might be of interest to scholars to disentangle
these and relate each deity to its proper cycle, only the vision
of the universe which underlay them all is of real importance.
That spiritual Overworld our Gaelic ancestors beheld was in
essentials the same as the Overworld revealed in the sacred
books; and in the wonder tales of the Gael we find a great
secular corroboration of sacred literature and of half-sacred
philosophy such as Plato utters through the lips of Socrates.
Earth, Mid-world, Heaven-world, and the great deep of deity they
knew as they are expounded in the Upanishads.
We can discern the same vision in the Apostle whose beginning of
things was in the fullness of being out of which arose the
Christos or divine imagination, in which, as it went forth on its
cyclic labors, life or the Holy Breath was born, or became in it,
and these again shine and work in the darkness of earth. And
when St. Paul speaks of a third heaven we divine he had risen to
the world of the Christos and was there initiated into mysteries
of which it was not lawful to speak.
In the sacred books there is a profounder life than there is in
secular literature where there is vision indeed, but in the
sacred books there is the being. The mind in retrospect,
meditation, and aspiration needs guidance; and this spiritual
architecture of Earth-world, with Mid-world, Heaven-world, and
God-world rising above it, made my own vision so far as it went
intelligible to me, for my disconnected glimpses of supernature
seemed to find a place in that architecture of the heavens.
In earlier pages I described my first visions of other planes,
and the beings there, how some were shining and how others were a
lordlier folk lit up from within as if a sun was hidden in the
heart; and in my retrospect of vision I find all I saw falling
into two categories which I think correspond to the Mid-world and
World of Immortal Youth of the ancestors.
My vision into the highest of these spheres was rare, and only
once did consciousness for a moment follow vision and I seemed
myself to be in the world I contemplated. At other times I was
like one who cannot enter the gardens of a palace, but who gazes
distantly through gates on their beauty, and sees people of a
higher order than himself moving in a world enchanting to his
I did see in some sphere interpenetrated with this beings in an
ecstasy of radiance, color, and sound, lovers who seemed
enraptured with their happiness, as they tell in old story of
lovers on the plains of Moy Mell, and to me they seemed like some
who had lived in Earth in ancient days and who now were in the
And I saw, without being able to explain to myself their relation
to that exalted humanity, beings such as the ancient poets
described, a divine folk who I think never were human but were
those spoken of as the Sidhe. I did not see enough to enable me
to speak with any certainty about their life, and I do not know
that it would serve any useful purpose to detail visions which
remain bewildering to me. Into the lowest of these two spheres I
saw with more frequency, but was able to understand but little of
what I saw.
I will tell one or two visions out of many. I was drawn to
meditate beside a deep pool amid woods. It was a place charged
with psychic life, and was regarded with some awe by the people
who lived near.
As I gazed into the dark waters consciousness seemed to sink
beneath them and I found myself in another world. It was more
luminous than this, and I found one there who seemed like an
elemental king. He was seated on a throne, and I saw that a
lustrous air rose up as from a fountain beneath the seat and his
breathing of it gave him power. The figure was of a brilliant
blue and gold opalescence, and the breast, as with many of the
higher beings, was shining, and a golden light seemed to pervade
the whole body and to shine through its silvery blueness.
The tribe he ruled were smaller than himself, and these I saw
descending on the right of the throne, their shining dimmed to a
kind of grayness, and each one as it came before the throne bent
forward and pressed its lips upon the heart of the king, and in
an instant at the touch it became flushed with life and it shot
up plumed and radiant, and there was a continuous descent on one
side of grey elementals and on the other side a continuous ascent
of radiant figures, and I know not what it meant.
And at another time I saw one of these lesser beings flying as a
messenger out of the heart of one greater, and I saw a return to
the heart and the vanishing of the lesser in the greater, and I
know not what it meant.
And at another time I was astonished, for I saw rising out of
deep water seven shining and silvery figures, and three on one
side and three on another side and one beneath, they held
uplifted hands on the hilt of a gigantic sword of quivering
flame, and they waved that mighty sword in air and sank again
beneath the waters.
And after that seven others rose up and they held a great spear,
and it they pointed skywards and sank below; and after that arose
two carrying a cauldron, and, when they had vanished, one
solitary figure arose and it held in its hands a great and
Why these beautiful beings should bring forth the four precious
symbols of the Tuatha de Danaan I do not know, for that
Mid-world, as Usheen traveling to Tirnanoge saw, is full of
strange and beautiful forms appearing and vanishing ever about
the mystic adventurer.
There are to be seen many beings such as the bards told of:
beings riding like Lir or Mananan upon winged steeds, or
surrounded like Angus Oge with many-colored birds, and why these
images of beauty and mystery should be there I do not know, but
they entered into the imagination of poets in the past and have
entered into the imagination of others who are still living.
I can only surmise that they were given the names of Mananan,
Angus, Dana, or Lir because they were mouthpieces of the bodiless
deities and perhaps sitting on high thrones represented these at
the Druidic mysteries, and when the mortal came to be made
immortal they spoke to him each out of their peculiar wisdom.
In myself as in others I know they awakened ecstasy. To one who
lay on the mound which is called the Brugh on the Boyne a form
like that the bards speak of Angus appeared, and it cried, "Can
you not see me? Can you not hear me? I come from the Land of
I, though I could not be certain of speech, found the wild words
flying up to my brain interpreting my own vision of the god, and
it seemed to be crying to me,
"Oh, see our sun is dawning for us, ever dawning, with ever
youthful and triumphant voices. Your sun is but a smoky shadow:
ours the ruddy and eternal glow. Your fire is far away, but ours
within our hearts is ever living and through wood and wave is
ever dawning on adoring eyes. My birds from purple fiery plumage
shed the light of lights. Their kisses wake the love that never
dies and leads through death to me. My love shall be in thine
when love is sacrifice."
I do not believe that either to myself or my friend were such
words spoken, but the whole being is lifted up in vision and
overmastered, and the words that came flying upward in
consciousness perhaps represent our sudden harmony with a life
which is beyond ourselves, we in our words interpreting the life
of the spirit.
Some interpret the spirit with sadness and some with joy, but in
this country I think it will always cry out its wild and wondrous
story of immortal youth and will lead its votaries to a heaven
where they will be drunk with beauty.
What is all this? Poetry or fantasy? It has visited thousands in
all ages and lands, and from such visions has come all that is
most beautiful in poetry or art. These forms inhabited Shelley's
luminous cloudland, and they were the models in the Pheidian
They have been with artist, poet and musician since the beginning
of the world, and they will be with us until we grow into their
beauty and learn from them how to fulfill human destiny,
accomplishing our labor which is to make this world into the
likeness of the Kingdom of Light.
THE CYCLE OF INITIATION
By Abbott Clark
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1939, pages 287-91.]
The Cycle of Initiation was the crowning glory of the work of the
ancient Mystery Schools. It was not a ritual formulated by the
brain-mind of man. Wise Sages and Seers instituted it. These
highly developed spiritual men formulated it in an effort to
coordinate the Initiant with the forces of nature, especially the
higher spiritual forces. We all believe in the inseparability of
Man and Nature, but the process of Initiation has to make that
unity a living dynamic reality, so that through that unity the
Initiate becomes a master of Nature and her forces.
The Sages have chosen the seasons of the year when the cosmic and
solar forces favor this consummation of the most sublime
achievement of human evolution. The object of Initiation, if
successfully accomplished, is to raise man to the stature,
nature, and dignity of conscious godhood.
Primitive men did not found the ancient Mystery Schools to
magnify the glories and mysteries of nature, as described in
encyclopedias and learned books on the subject. It was quite the
contrary. Great spiritually and intellectually enlightened men
founded the Mystery Schools for retaining and preserving the
instruction given to them by great spiritual and intellectual
beings commonly called the gods, who descended on earth to
inaugurate and give the primal impulse to the intellectual and
spiritual evolution of mankind. The Mystery Schools were
essentially and fundamentally ethical and moral. In them were
stored, as an Ark of Safety, the teaching of the gods as to the
origin, nature, mode of operation, and destiny of the macrocosm
and the microcosm, man and his limitless self, the universe.
The Mystery Schools, especially the central one, were an Ark of
Safety. In them, the wisdom of the gods could be preserved and
carried on from generation to generation of initiates. This
continued from age to age, through cycles of spiritual light and
of materialistic darkness, to the present. It will continue
onward to the end of human time, when man shall have fully
achieved his evolution on earth and graduated from humanhood to
From time to time as cyclic law permitted and human intellect
searched for truth and eager, aspiring human hearts demanded
spiritual light and help, the Lodge of Light sent Messengers to
supply the wants and fulfill the needs of the time. Thus were
founded the great religions and philosophies which have raised
mankind to such degrees of civilization as the different ages
have attained. The greatest of these Teachers were the religious
and spiritual ones, called by men in their love and gratitude
At the evening twilight of descending cycles, all is done that
can be done to sustain mankind through the dark ages. At the
dawn of rising cycles (as at present in the West), more teaching
is given out by the Lodge. Provision is made that Mystery
Schools or College-Temples, Theosophical Universities, or some
form of permanent esoteric bodies suited to the times, are
formed. They provide a succession of Teachers to carry on the
light from generation to generation, clarifying and amplifying
the teachings, and giving out all that the intelligence and
character of the age can understand and assimilate.
Into these Esoteric Schools were attracted the intelligentsia of
the youth of the age, though the elders were not excluded. There
they received definite teachings on the science of the soul and
of the inner causal worlds far more definite, complete, and
accurate than modern technical science. They had a system of
education that educes and unfolds the entire intellectual, moral,
and spiritual nature into full flower. It is a system more
complete and efficient than has entered into the imagination of
any modern educator or the best practice of any college or
university. The esoteric discipline produced men with
self-knowledge and self-control, and Christ-like thoughtfulness
There were many of these branch Mystery Schools, each suited to
its time and place. All radiated from the Central Lodge of the
Brotherhood of Compassion. From them came thousands of the best
citizens, men of talent, of genius, statesmen, leaders, and
teachers. The branch centers, Mystical Schools, College-Temples,
and Theosophical Universities were all the life-giving heart and
center of the civilization in which they lived. Sometimes these
civilizations sustained through rising and falling periods for
countless thousands of years, attaining heights unimagined by us.
It is the noble destiny and sublime privilege and responsibility
of the Theosophical Society to revive the knowledge of these lost
mysteries of antiquity, and establish these centers of spiritual
light and learning in the west where they will be the radiating
heart and center of a new order of the ages, of a higher
civilization in the occidental world. The Theosophical
University is the first of these College-Temples. It is, and is
to be, the radiant esoteric center of the occidental world.
For dynamic reasons, the Cycle of Initiation coincided with the
solstices and the equinoxes. The cycle begins with the Winter
Solstice, December 21-22, when the sun reaches the southernmost
point of his journey, and turning northward, is reborn as the
saying goes. The exact moment of this last Solstice at Point
Loma, the astronomers tell us, was December 22, 1938, at 4:14 AM
Pacific Standard Time.
The Initiations at the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, and
the Autumnal Equinox follow. Each Initiation has relation to and
is in coordination with the cosmic forces of the season. The
Winter Solstice is the season of the greatest of the Initiations
when the Christs and Buddhas are spiritually born. We celebrate
Christmas on December 25 through a shift in the calendar.
A few words about what Initiation really means are important.
There are those who make a pretense of selling secrets of
Initiation. So much nonsense has been written on the subject!
The process is one of accelerated evolution. In a sense, it is
terrible, because the slow work of ages is focalized and
concentrated into three or fourteen days. The 'tragedy' is
depicted in many religions, mystery-tales, and hero stories, such
as the Labors of Hercules, the Descent of Orpheus into the
Underworld, the Crucifixion of Christ, and the trial of the
Buddha under the Bodhi tree.
In the Near East at the beginning of the Christian era, the
Initiant would lay upon a cruciform couch, although any
comfortable couch would do. He was plunged into the "sleep of
Siloam." In this deep spiritual trance, the soul, the thinker,
the individual man himself found freedom from the chains of the
body and the attractions of the earth.
He first went into the underworld where he met his bad Karma
congealed into objective form and focalized upon him in all its
force and quality. He had to face, overcome, and dissipate it.
Next, he had to meet and overcome all the elemental forces of
nature -- forces that are natural and all right in their own
sphere, but so far beneath the highly evolved individuality of
man that they are evil and inimical to him. This battle is
variously described, as in the Temptation of Jesus by the devil,
and Gautama under the Bodhi tree -- a struggle from which the
triumphant Siddhartha rose as the divinely illuminated Buddha.
Having become master of himself within, and of the elemental
forces of nature without, he right there begins to practice his
powers as a member of the Brotherhood of Compassion by
ministering to the denizens of these nether spheres, "preaching
to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:18-19)
Now, master of himself, of the Underworld, and of Nature, his
free spirit wings its way through the airways of the soul. He
travels along the Circulations of the Cosmos to the Inner Worlds,
the spiritual or causal worlds, to the "many mansions in my
Father's house," or certain of the Sacred Planets. Therein, he
gains firsthand knowledge by actual experience, by becoming for a
time a denizen of these Inner Spheres.
In daily life, man can aspire, pray, or appeal for help to his
Higher Self, to the powers within or above him. In Initiation,
the Initiant can have no outside help. It is he himself as a man
that undergoes the testing. It is he himself that must have
developed and become strong in his own inherent godlike
qualities. He must be the captain of his own soul henceforward.
The Initiant must know what to do and where to go through the
airways of the soul. For this, he must have had a Teacher to
impart to him definite technical knowledge during the period of
his novitiate. Through his own definite knowledge and inherent
power, he must now be his own pilot. He can have no benevolent
hand of god or Master extended to him. No kindly Mercury can act
as psychopomp, shepherd of the souls of the dead, to guide him as
the Monad has during sleep and death.
Having accomplished his journey through certain Sacred Planets,
he goes to the Sun, where he fully unfolds the solar qualities
that we all have. For a time, he becomes a Sun God, one of the
Solar Logoi. Then he returns to earth by the same pathway
through which he went, and rises from the tomb or couch or cross
as a full Initiate, a Master of Life and Death, osirified, a Son
of the Sun. He arises resplendent, radiant, with the light of
One needs no words to tell who he is. His condition is
self-evident by his presence. To put it into words, his
condition is well described by Jesus Christ, crying on the cross,
when rightly translated, "Oh God, my God within me, how Thou dost
fill me with glory!"
AVASTHATRAYA: THE STATES OF WAKING, DREAMING, AND SLEEPING
By M.A. Venkata Rao
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1935, pages 155-58.]
The study of sleep and dreams for purposes of metaphysical
interpretation is a special feature of Indian philosophy.
Distinct points of view emerge as early as the time of the
Upanishads. I propose to indicate briefly the two rival systems
of interpretation that hold the stage and to suggest their value.
The Mandukya Upanishad sets forth the nature of Brahman as
fourfold. There are the three aspects of Brahman -- Vaiswanara,
Taijasa, and Prajna -- revealed respectively in the states of
wakefulness, dream, and sleep; and the fourth (Chaturth or
Turiya) is Brahman Itself, in Its indivisible integrity. The
mystic word AUM sums up the significance of this fourfold truth;
its component letters, A-U-M, designate the three conditions and
the word as a whole symbolizes their underlying unity.
Vaiswanara is the waking life of living beings and the theatre of
their joys and sorrows. Taijasa is dreaming consciousness,
directed inwards, ruminating over impressions left by past
experience. Prajna is sleeping consciousness free from the
activity of perception and the unrest of desire, both of waking
life and of dreams. Consciousness here regathers itself into its
pristine oneness -- an amorphous mass shot through and through
These states are not the final form, which is Brahman. The
fourth is the real Brahman whose nature is described in a few
pregnant phrases embodying the quintessence of the noblest
mysticism in history. That consciousness is neither inward
looking nor outward looking; it is not a mass of consciousness
nor is it unconsciousness; it is imperceptible and indefinable.
An integral homogeneous self-consciousness is its essence; it
connotes the stilling of the world, the peace that passeth all
understanding, and blessed joy.
Buddhism apart, the history of Indian philosophy displays two
main streams of interpretation of this ancient and venerable
teaching, represented by the Adwaita School of Gaudapada and
Shankara on the one hand and the Visishtadvaita and Dvaita
Schools of Ramanuja and Madhva on the other. Prima facie, the
Upanishad seems to be a nest of contradictions.
If the fourth state is the real, what does that say of the status
of the external world and the whole course of human experience
and history? The answer of Gaudapada and Shankara is decisive.
They are unreal. The world of perception is classed with that of
dreams and both are dismissed as false imagination.
Adwaita draws the conclusion that entities that can become
objects are unreal, for they vary, and variation is the sign
manual of lack of self-dependence and so of unreality. The
subject is the sole real. This conclusion is suggested by the
variation of wakefulness and dreaming in contrast with the
changelessness of deep sleep.
Mind is present in waking and dreaming and so is the appearance
of multiplicity. The mind is absent in deep sleep and the vision
of plurality is likewise absent. "Mind" in Indian thought is not
the Self but the inner coordinating agency of the same rank as
the senses. Whatever is present when something else is present
and absent when it is absent is causally connected with it. Mind
is the cause of the appearance of the multiverse. J.S. Mill
claimed to formulate this method of agreement and difference as
the scientific method. It has been known for over a thousand
years in Indian logic as anvaya vyatireka.
By a further application of the method, we draw the conclusion
that the Self is the sole reality. It is present in all the
three states of waking, dreaming, and sleep, while mind and
multiplicity are absent in the last. The Self and the
world-appearance are not inherently connected and the latter
being sublatable cannot be real. Hence, the ultimate
consciousness is integral and one without a second.
The world is mithya, false. It is not false in the sense of
impossible objects like the barren woman's son, rabbit's horns
and the lotus growing in the sky; for it appears to consciousness
and has a method in its madness, but it is not true, for it
disappears totally on the attainment of sakshatkara or direct
vision of the ultimate reality. The basis is Brahman. When we
know it, we see that the world we had imagined in it did not
exist in the past, does not exist at the moment, and will not
exist in the future.
Ramanuja holds that the world is unreal if regarded as
self-existent, but real as an expression of Brahman. The school
of Madhva holds that corresponding to the three states of the
jiva or individual soul the Deity reveals Itself in three levels
In the waking state, we apprehend the physical universe through
which Brahman gives a real glimpse of Its nature. The cosmos is
not a part of Its nature but a condition of Its manifestation.
In the dream state, strange fantasies are created out of the
stuff of the impressions and traces of past experience in
accordance with the universal mechanism of which the Deity is the
inspirer. The affective side of dreams is regarded as having a
moral incidence and as being a part of the teleological scheme.
In the sleeping state, the mind is not destroyed; it only becomes
Further, Madhva questions the Adwaita application of the method
of agreement and difference. The concomitance of mind and
multiplicity does not prove that the mind is the creator of
multiplicity. It only proves that it is a necessary condition of
manifestation. It is a mechanism for the revelation of what is
The full value of the mystic experience of the Turiya is sought
to be preserved in a more inclusive way. It is suggested that
Brahman's nature as ekatma-pratyayasara, unity of
self-consciousness, is Its deeper aspect in which It is akhanda,
impartible, but that It also includes and sustains a real
universe of infinite multiplicity as a condition of Its
manifestation. The mystic experience is an experience of the
circumambient consciousness that is over all. The Deity limits
Itself as a condition of creativity and of the reign of law.
In a word, an experience of the supremacy of the One in the many
is the fourth state, which does not annul the individual being of
the self but carries it into perfection of self-realization as in
the union of perfect love. Then occurs prapanchopasamam indeed
-- not the destruction of the world but the quiescence of the
fret and fever of the world; the world that is usually too much
with us is not annihilated but seen in the light of eternity.
It may seem a strange proceeding to draw conclusions of such
moment from the common experiences of dreams and sleep. It
sounds wrong-headed to infer objective value of the external
world through an inspection of inner experience. The subjective
aspect is inescapable, for we cannot think of the external world
except through the mechanism of our minds. Indian philosophy
makes use of the experience of dreams to point to this
inescapable role of the Self in Reality. Dreams reveal the
self-luminous creative activity of its character. For Adwaita,
the self-luminous self is the sole reality. For Dvaita, it is
the supreme reality illumining a subordinate universe steeped in
Further, philosophy requires some kind of verification for its
ultimate theories. If the mystic vision (it is also the essence
of religion) is to be rendered in a system of symbols, it can
only be achieved based on typical experiences of a simpler
variety. Absolute Idealists in the West, from Plato and Plotinus
to F.H. Bradley, have thought of various symbols for suggesting
the mystery of the One and the many. Indian philosophers have
unanimously pointed to the experience of sleep for the purpose.
Here is a condition of consciousness in which the One and the
many are dissolved into a single undifferentiated mass, the same
in all dimensions (ekarasa).
Bradley neglects such an obvious example and tries in vain to
rehabilitate some vague state of immediacy that he calls
"feeling." He assumes an unanalysed whole of awareness at the
back of all activity of knowing. He wants a unitary state in
ordinary life so that the final inclusive unity of the Absolute
Experience may be thinkable. Sleep would have served his purpose
better. Sleep is the lower immediacy, the oneness before
> In mere feeling, or immediate presentation, we have the
> experience of a whole. This whole contains diversity, and on the
> other hand, is not parted by relations . . . But it serves to
> suggest to us the general idea of a total experience, where will
> and thought and feeling may all once more be one.
> -- APPEARANCE AND REALITY, pages 159-60.
Bradley is led to postulate a Higher Immediacy including and
transmuting the whole wealth of reality in all its myriad
> It would be experience entire, containing all elements in
> harmony. Thought would be present as a higher intuition . . .
> Every flame of passion, chaste or carnal, would still burn in the
> Absolute unquenched and unabridged, a note absorbed in the
> harmony of its higher bliss.
> -- APPEARANCE AND REALITY, page 172.
He wavers in affirming that it also is a matter of immediate
experience for us. He plays with the idea of esthetic emotion
but slips back to the conclusion that for us finite individuals a
foretaste of that higher integral experience is impossible.
Indian philosophers of both the dominant types of Vedanta are
agreed that the Turiya is such a higher immediacy, sakshatkara,
or aparoksha jnana, and that it is attainable. This
interpretation of avasthatraya occupies a central place in Indian
philosophy and spiritual culture.
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part XVII
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.]
TRIAL BEFORE DOMITIAN
To put it bluntly, Domitian was a brute. If Apollonius, like a
human catalyst, had precipitated all the family good qualities in
Vespasian and Titus, all the dregs had manifested in Domitian.
His luxury of delight was derived from the misfortunes of his
fellow-creatures, from whatever gave them pain. He was
physically of a very robust constitution, florid of countenance,
with overhanging brows and a manner calculated to inspire terror,
Now Apollonius had never shown fear, but he did not approve
rashness. If his duty called him to rebuke oppression, he did
it. If his duty was not in that direction, he did not go out of
the way to make trouble for himself or others. He showed himself
fearless towards Nero and helped to overthrow him by his
There was not a man in the Roman Empire who feared Domitian less
than Apollonius. It might be said that Apollonius was the only
one who did not fear him, for even the brave Demetrius had his
apprehensions. Yet the tone of all that Apollonius said or did
was not against Domitian as a man so much as against a tyrant and
a system of tyranny. In the larger cycle of life, Apollonius was
the 'angel' of the Roman Empire and Domitian the 'evil demon.'
The greater had to submit to the less, the Higher to the Lower,
to raise it and to conquer.
There were three friends of Apollonius: Nerva, Orfitus, and
Rufus. Apollonius was closely connected with them during the
reign of Vespasian and that of Titus, publicly corresponding with
them on the subject of morality. Because of their good
characters, he had attached them to the interests of Vespasian
and Titus. Even so, he alienated them from Domitian because of
his tyranny and pride, and encouraged them to stand forth in
defense of the common liberty.
Naturally, these three were accused of being traitors. Nerva was
ordered not to leave Tarentum, and Orfitus and Rufus were
banished to the islands. All three were thought of as possible
Emperors in place of Domitian, for their worthiness and that made
them more dangerous still. Nerva's horoscope indicated to
Domitian something of the sort, but an astrologer friendly to the
former saved him from being put to death by saying that he had
only a short time to live in the course of nature. Which was
true, but it did not make the horoscope less true.
Apollonius knew quite well that Nerva was to be Emperor, and
when, in spite of all the amazing precautions everyone took to
avoid the slightest indiscretion in word or letter in those days,
he heard that Orfitus and Rufus were banished, he discoursed
publicly on fate and necessity at Smyrna in the grove on the
banks of the Meles. He wrote nothing and said nothing that he
was not perfectly prepared to answer for, since it was a time
when slaves, friends, and wives were all spies, and there was not
a house but had its secrets betrayed; one might almost suspect
the bricks in the walls of having ears and tongues. In spite of
this, no informer ever reported that Apollonius had plainly
indicated Nerva as the next emperor. Euphrates was able to
report that he had spoken publicly as if to a statue of the
Emperor, saying, "Fool, how little you understand the decrees of
Fate and Necessity. For he whom they appoint to reign will
reign; though he should be put to death by you, he will again
come to life to fulfill their laws." However, it was understood
that the words referred to one of the three.
Domitian took appropriate action. He decided to put all three to
death. Even he thought it best to do so under color of reason
and justice. Possibly prompted by the informer, he cited
Apollonius to appear before him to give an account of his
plotting with them.
The reasoning was plain. In the unthinkable event of Apollonius
putting his head in the lion's mouth and appearing, he was to be
found guilty and then they could all be executed with a fine show
of having had a fair trial and proof of guilt. On the other
hand, if that troublesome old fellow fled, which, being a clever
man, he would certainly do and so relieve them of his constant
reproaches; it would be a clear proof of the guilt of his friends
Nerva, Orfitus, and Rufus. The dilemma was perfectly contrived.
Really, Apollonius was a great trouble, for within the limits of
his mission he went all over the Empire creating a spirit of
courage to withstand oppression. He was a dangerous old orator,
ORDER TO ARREST APOLLONIUS
The proconsul of Asia was instructed to have him arrested. By
his power of foresight, Apollonius knew this at once and did not
hesitate a moment. He told his friends he was going to make a
singular journey, and they had some idea he might at last have
come to their view of discretion and be going to emigrate to
Russia or Britain or the nebulous regions beyond India where
there might be a chance of being free from fear of the terrible
tyrant of Rome. He did not say to Damis where he was going, but
just packed his bag and went off to Achaia, thence to Corinth,
and then to Sicily, and Italy. Damis followed -- he had learnt
that -- but his amazement knew no bounds when he found they were
going into the very midst of the burning fiery furnace, as a
younger man might go on a holiday jaunt to the games.
At Puteoli, three day's journey from Rome, they found the brave
Demetrius, who judged it wise to rusticate there at that time.
Apollonius embraced him and in the most good-humored way in the
world chaffed him for his love of ease in such a lovely country
residence, comparable to that which made even Ulysses in the
company of Calypso forget the blue smoke that rises from the
homes of Ithaca in the rose-tinted skies of a Grecian sunset.
Demetrius was too heavy hearted to be otherwise than serious.
"What an injury it would be to philosophy, should a man like this
suffer," he said as he embraced the old friend of God, now over
90 and perhaps nearer ninety-five years of age!
"What danger do you mean," asked Apollonius, as if it were the
last thing in the world to occur to him.
"None but what you are ready for, that I am sure!" said
"If I do not know you, I do not know myself." Then recollecting
that even the stones of the ground seemed to have ears, and the
birds of the air to have voices to report the least indiscreet
word to the fearsome monster that sat on the Imperial throne at
Rome, Demetrius added, "Let us not talk here; let us go where we
shall be more private. Let Damis not be excluded, for I look on
him, by Hercules as the Iolaus of your labors." Always they
compared Apollonius to Hercules.
Times were hard when even Demetrius allowed the thought to flit
for an instant across his mind that the faithful Damis might be
dangerous! They sat in a country home that had formerly belonged
to Cicero. It was best to talk out of doors these days, so
Demetrius spoke under a sycamore tree. In parable, he spoke as
though of those nature touches which ever appealed to the soul of
"The cicadas in the trees have leave to sing in liberty as they
please, while we have scarce the right to mutter," he said, as
they heard the chirping in the trees above. Demetrius the brave
philosopher had been taught to be cautious.
"Even Socrates was only charged by Anytus and Meletus with
'corrupting the youth and introducing new deities.' We find that
our love of wisdom is itself a crime; the greater your knowledge,
the worse the offense." He went on to tell how Apollonius was
accused of being an accomplice with the three friends in seeking
the empire. If his accusers had only stopped at that, there
might have been something in the matter. As ever, they overdo
their cause most woefully. They accused him of sacrificing a boy
that by an inspection of the viscera the secrets of futurity
might become known. If analogy in history were invariable, one
might almost guess that his accusers were guilty of this very
There were other accusations, precisely what one might have
expected, for human nature changes little. Apollonius, that
terrible old philosopher, fast approaching his century of mortal
years, was guilty of – you would never guess in a hundred tries
-- dressing unfashionably! After this, the fact that he was a
vegetarian and a teetotaler were enormities worthy of special
accusation, and then "they say that the people actually worship
From whence did the information come? Telesinus the philosopher,
consul of the days of Nero, told Demetrius. Telesinus was now
far away. He preferred banishment as a philosopher to honors,
consular honors, as a man of the world. Apollonius would have
liked to meet him "but I would not wish him to run any risk on my
account, seeing that he has encountered so much for the sake of
Apollonius was not above a joke when undergoing trials such as
would have crushed smaller men. In fact, he used the power of
humor, the saving grace of jest to lighten the burdens of the
"Well, Demetrius, what would you advise me to do or say, to calm
my fears," he asked.
"Do you jest with me," said Demetrius, "for you have no fears, or
you would not even speak of your present situation." Then he
spoke earnestly and very seriously to Apollonius, as if he really
thought he could persuade that old lion to run away from danger
when duty to his friends called him into it. It was a moving
appeal indeed, full of argument calculated to break a man's
purpose. The very intensity of the appeal sometimes contradicted
itself. What was the good of telling Apollonius that it was an
unworthy thing for a philosopher to submit out of vanity to a
certain ignominious death? "Now if a man dies in giving his life
for the liberty of his country, or in avenging his parents, or
children, brothers, relatives, or friends, instead of the vanity
of maintaining an unpopular cause."
Apollonius said never a word. Was that a little smile at the
corner of his old lips? Was he not going to certain death to save
his friends? The argument must be changed.
"Why, the very fact that you have come to Rome within the
amazingly short space of ten days since orders were sent to
arrest you, is suspicious, as confirming your knowledge of the
future, and they will only use it as one more proof that you did
sacrifice the boy to prophesy by his liver. You cannot say I was
not brave in the terrible days of Nero when I withstood him to
the face at the baths, and came off with my life only because he
had sung extra well that day and was pleased with himself.
I am wise, too, and I say that these times are far more terrible.
Nero was a monster, but his cruelties were at least qualified by
music, such as it was. This man, on the contrary, has not a
single redeeming feature. Why, only the other day he killed some
musicians because they disputed which had won the prize in a
contest by voice and instrument.
"Look at the harbor there and see the ships! Some are bound for
Libya, Egypt, Phoenicia, others for Cyprus and Sardinia, and yet
others for more distant lands. If you are wise, Apollonius, go
down there and get on board a ship, and go anywhere you please,
but not to Rome!"
Damis opened his Assyrian eyes wide on hearing this. He had not
known until that moment where they were going -- all he knew was
that he was with his master, his beloved Teacher. He was
completely overcome at the revelation. There is something
pathetic and yet comic in the way he speaks.
"I hope your advice will be of use," he said. "As for me, I can
do nothing with Apollonius when I try to dissuade him from
running on to drawn swords or into the cruelest tyranny ever
known. If I had not seen you, I should not have known where we
were going! Yet here am I traveling the seas of Sicily and the
Tyrrhenian bays and I literally have to say I do not know, when I
am asked where I am going. I appear ridiculous. If I had only
been told we were off for Rome, I could at least have told people
that Apollonius had fallen in love with death and that I was his
Already Damis sees the executioner before them. "I will say it
while I have the chance, that if I die, philosophy may not suffer
much by it. I am but the attendant of a courageous philosopher
whose sole merit consists in following his master. If they put
Apollonius to death, it will be a trophy for the destruction of
philosophy, for he of all men is best able to support her. We
have many Anytuses and Meletuses with which to contend."
He is thinking of the informers who accused Socrates. How could
Socrates die and Apollonius be saved in circumstances a hundred
Damis continued, "The friends of Apollonius are accused on all
sides, one for having smiled when he glanced at tyranny, another
for having justified what was said. One was accused for having
started the subject and another for having departed pleased with
what was said. For myself, I think a man should lay down his
life for philosophy as he would for his altars, his city, and his
sepulchers, and many are the illustrious men who have died in the
defense of such things. For the sake of destroying philosophy, I
would neither wish to die myself nor anyone who loves her and
He was unruffled. Yet the situation was serious and his advisers
honest, so he took the trouble to go at length into the position
from the standpoint of a philosopher, after chiding Demetrius for
frightening Damis, who was an Assyrian accustomed to rulers of
absolute power, instead of calming his fears.
"Neither fire nor sword would terrify a wise man or make him
flinch, or have recourse to falsehood or equivocation to save his
life, for what he knows he will as religiously preserve as if the
hidden mysteries of Ceres were confided to him. My knowledge is
greater than that of other men, because I know all things. What
I know, I know in part for the use of the wise and good, in part
for myself and the gods; but I know nothing for tyrants, let them
use whatever threats and tortures they please."
Then he gives them a crumb of comfort, a prophecy of the future
exactly opposite to all seeming probability.
"I am not come on a fool's errand. I am under no apprehension on
account of my own life, for the tyrant's power is unable to
destroy me, even though I wished it myself."
Then from point to point, he goes on to show that he could not
act otherwise than in the interests of his friend. If he did, he
himself and philosophy would suffer reproach and he would not be
able to face good men any more, least of all Iarchas, and
Bardanes, Phraotes, and Thespesion, after violating the privilege
of the cup of Tantalus, which required from all who drank of it a
participation in the dangers of their friends. "I will never be
false to myself, and I will combat against the tyrant," he said.
Demetrius and Damis both took heart, and the former was actually
bold enough to invite them to his dwelling. Apollonius declined,
saying that it would be dangerous, even considered high treason,
to be seen supping with the Emperor's enemy, nor must he
accompany him to the port, for the same reason. "When times
shall mend, we shall sup together," was his promise.
It was not easy to upset Demetrius, but the farewell affected him
to an unusual extent, though he tried to hide it, by turning his
Then the test for Damis came. Besides, it was an excuse to
pretend not to see the tears of the brave old Demetrius.
"If you are as full of courage as I am," said Apollonius to
Damis, "let us embark together tonight. If not, now is the time
to decide about remaining where you are. You can stay with
Demetrius who is our common friend."
The long and intimate talk of Apollonius had not missed its mark.
"How could I think of leaving you after what we have just heard
of the duty of a friend in danger," he asked. "What would the
world think of me?" What he meant was, "what should I think of
Apollonius approved. He loved Damis and was unwilling to have
him run into danger without necessity.
"I will appear as I am, but for you," he said to Damis, "I
recommend an ordinary dress instead of what you have on. You
should cut your hair, put on a linen dress, and go without shoes.
I know we must suffer for our course of life, but I am against
your sharing all the dangers and being cast into prison, which
will certainly be the case if you are betrayed by your habit. I
want you to follow me and to be present at all that passes, as
one who in other respects loves me without being pledged to my
Damis laid aside his Pythagorean garb. He did not do so with
fear or sorrow, but because his master wished it.
Going by sea from Puteoli to the Tiber, they arrived on the third
The imperial sword was then in the hands of Aelian, the Pretorian
Prefect. This man formerly loved Apollonius and used to talk to
him when in Egypt, but he said never a word about this to
Domitian, seeing that it could only endanger his power of helping
Apollonius. Instead, he made light of "the prattle of these
sophists, who only do it for advertisement and when they can no
longer make a living that way, they want to die so as to depart
in a blaze of glory. That is why Nero refused to put him to
death, but obliged him to live as a punishment by not giving him
the celebrity he sought."
Aelian laughed while he talked in this way as if he did not care
about it at all except as something of a joke, but he thought to
save his friend from death by it. "Look at Musonius the
Tyrrhenian," he said. "He deified Nero and was shut up in the
island of Gyara (after being set to digging in the abortive
Corinth canal). The Greeks made a regular resort of the island,
for they love sophists of this kind. They used to sail to the
place to talk to him, but now they go to see the fountain there.
For when Musonius went there the island had no water; but he
discovered this spring, and it is now no less celebrated in the
songs of the Greeks than the fountain of the Muses on Mount
Helicon which they call Caballinus."
In this way, Aelian tried to lighten the seriousness of the
situation for Apollonius. When the latter was brought before
him, he went further. The accuser, Euphrates, attacked the
prisoner furiously as an enchanter, and an exceptional one.
"Keep your charges for the Emperor's tribunal," commanded Aelian.
Apollonius asked, "If I am an enchanter, how can I be brought to
trial? If I am brought to trial, how can I be considered an
enchanter? The only explanation of such a possibility is that
calumny has acquired power superior to that of enchantment."
This nettled the accuser, as the dilemma was perfect. He was
about to bring forward some more absurd charge, when Aelian said,
"I want the time before the trial to examine him privately in the
silent room of the court, and let none listen, for the cause is
one of great moment. By so doing it will shorten the process,
especially if he pleads guilty. If not, then it is for the
Emperor to decide."
When alone, Aelian told Apollonius frankly the whole situation.
How that he was friendly, but that if the least sign of it leaked
out, it would be a hard matter to guess which of them would be
killed first. "The Emperor wants to condemn you," he said, "but
seems afraid to do so without some solid ground of accusation;
besides, he wants to use you as a means of destroying some men of
"I was very young when Vespasian, the Emperor's father, went to
Egypt to sacrifice to the gods and to consult you on his affairs.
Being an experienced military man, I went with him as tribune. I
remember you received me with much attention, and when the
Emperor was away you took me aside and told me who I was, what my
name is, and also my father's name. Then you told me I should
one day be what I am, holding an office thought by most people to
be superior to every human dignity, troublesome though I think
Apollonius said, "As you have opened your mind to me, I will open
mine to you. You speak like one of my old disciples, like a
philosopher, and as you seem from affection prepared to share my
dangers I will declare my whole heart to you."
Then he told how he might easily have escaped to a country of the
philosophers where no injustice was possible and therefore no
courts were needed, since the people were much more pious than
those of Rome were. Fearing to be a traitor to his friends and
fearing that they might suffer, he had come to plead his cause.
Then he asked what the accusation was, against which he would
have to defend himself.
Aelian told him. His manner of dress, his way of living, the
adoration paid him, and the answer he gave the Ephesians about
the plague were all to be brought against him. Then used was
every shred of talk that might be twisted against the Emperor,
though more was done purposely and boldly enough. All was said
to have been uttered under the inspiration of the gods. The
tidbit was the story of the sacrifice of the Arcadian boy by the
light of the waning moon in a field, in the presence of Nerva, in
order to bring about the death of Domitian -- as pretty a piece
of magic and criminal superstition as the mind of an evil
magician could conceive.
Aelian begged him not to show disrespect to the Emperor.
"It is to show my respect for him that I come here voluntarily to
be tried," he said. "Even if I wished to be disrespectful, I
would forego that plan for your sake. I do not care what an
enemy thinks of me, but I value the opinion of a friend." In such
a manner, Apollonius answered the Prefect.
Aelian then delivered him to the turnkeys, assuming an air of
great wrath against Apollonius in order to disguise his real
A tribune meeting Apollonius mocked him while pretending to be
seriously anxious to help him. He failed to score his point, for
was not Apollonius so deeply immersed in telling Damis all about
the Nile Delta that he did not notice what the tribune said? That
was ever the way of Apollonius.
Aelian then ordered Apollonius to be transferred to the place of
the unbound prisoners, and Damis was so struck by the coincidence
of finding a friend in Aelian that he declared it looked as if a
god had tried to lend a helping hand in their dangerous
situation. Apollonius rebuked him for his fears. Damis brought
forward one or two very good reasons why he should fear Domitian,
whom nobody could influence, least of all themselves.
"Do you not see that Domitian is inflated with pride and is
evidently insane," asked Apollonius.
"It is impossible not to see it," said Damis.
"Then the more you are acquainted with the tyrant the more you
ought to despise him and all he can do," said Apollonius.
The answer, seemingly somewhat cryptic, is important, for
Apollonius was a master in the domain of psychology and evidently
knew how to deal with a maniac.
THE EROS IN MAN
By Steven Levey
The Eros in Man
Today I say to any who would listen,
That love is like a balm, a salve
Which, bathes the heart while the mind glistens.
It is like a lighthouse near a stormy sea. Why?
Because the Path is my heart and love its beacon.
Let us not over think and become like the world's cynic.
Let us rather, cleave to "the marrow of our inward state."
Then it is Rumi with whom we share existence and we say:
Dare anyone think that love is this and not that?
Can we have suffered so for such disparity to have sway,
When the One has always been the Eros in man?
Look, it is never to late.
Disunity is an illusory If non-existent state.
So, when, love has eluded one
relax and learn to appreciate,
that all have hearts and can weather,
if only our soulful depths are allowed face.
THOREAU AND ORIENTAL ASCETICISM
By Arthur Christy
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1935, pages 161-66.]
To study the rise of Oriental cults in America based on the
careers and work of eminent swamis alone is to ignore the
previously harrowed ground in which they sowed. There is no
better evidence of this fact than even a brief examination of the
Orientalism of Henry David Thoreau. American scholarship has
been singularly myopic and home keeping in the past; else how
explain the fact that it has been only of late that serious
attention was given to such sentences from Thoreau's pen as the
> Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain
> practice the yoga, faithfully . . . To some extent and at rare
> intervals, even I am a yogi.
> The "Laws of Manu" are a manual of private devotion, so private
> and domestic and yet so public and universal a word as is not
> spoken in the parlor or pulpit in these days . . . It goes
> with us into the yard and into the chamber, and is yet later
> spoken than the advice of our mother and sisters.
These sentences are only samples of scores like them to be found
scattered throughout Thoreau's work. Considering the large
number and diversity of his admirers, time need not be given to a
defense of the thesis that Thoreau was a potent force in
preparing America for the swami who began teaching in the latter
half of the nineteenth century.
My purpose in this essay is to present the results of an
examination of several hundred pages of unpublished, manuscript
material that will indicate how absorbed Thoreau was in Manu's
famous work and in Oriental asceticism. This manuscript material
is composed largely of commonplace books that William Ellery
Channing described in the study of his friend, THOREAU THE
POET-NATURALIST. "His reading," wrote Channing, "was done with a
pen in hand: he made what he called 'Fact-books,' -- citations
that concern his studies." Most of these fact-books are in the
Harvard College and the Morgan Libraries.
Perhaps the most significant sentence in a volume entitled
PARAGRAPHS MOSTLY ORIGINAL is the following:
> If the Roman, the Greek, and the Jew have a character in history
> -- so has the Hindu. He may help to balance Asia, which is all
> too one-sided with its Palestine.
Here is perhaps the clearest statement of Thoreau's reasons for
turning Eastward that can be found. There were other pregnant
passages in the volume, a few of which later found their way into
published pages. There were such enthusiastic outbursts as:
> I cannot read a sentence in the book of the Hindus without being
> elevated as upon the tableland of the Ghauts. It has such a
> rhythm as the winds of the desert, such a tide as the Ganges, and
> seems as superior to criticism as the Himmaleh Mounts.
Another unusual sentence was:
> The Laws of Manu . . . are the laws of you and me, a fragrance
> wafted down from those old times, and no more to be refuted than
> the wind.
Some interesting facts may be noted about the twenty-five
manuscript pages that contained Thoreau's extracts from Sir
William Jones's translation of Manu. Every one of Manu's twelve
chapters were quoted from with the exception of the tenth and
twelfth, which dealt with the mixed classes and with penance and
expiation. The second chapter seems to have received his closest
attention, thirty-nine verses culled for the fact-book. It is
also interesting to note that with the quotations from the
seventh chapter Thoreau wrote, "A Brahman could not be taxed" --
as though Manu had endorsed his own refusal to be taxed by a
corrupt state. Following the long series of extracts from the
second chapter appears the following, which I quote in entirety
as a significant Thoreauvian commitment:
> We seem to be dabbling in the very elements of a present
> conventional, or actual and visible life. Here is a history of
> the forms that humanity has in all ages assumed. We forget that
> our entire outward life is but a convention and it is salutary
> thus to be reminded of it. The old lawgiver seems to have
> foreseen all the possible relations of men, and provided that
> they be maintained with adequate dignity. This book could afford
> a maxim applicable to any condition in which a man may be found.
If we assume -- and in Thoreau the assumption is justified --
that the selection of a passage for preservation in a fact-book
meant substantial agreement with Manu, the broad parallels that
lay between Thoreauvian Transcendentalism and the Vedanta can be
readily indicated. Consider first, then, the essential nature of
the universe and its source. From the twelfth chapter, Thoreau
took three suggestive verses:
> Let every Brahman with fixed attention consider all nature --
> both visible and invisible -- as existing in the divine spirit;
> for, when he contemplates the boundless universe existing in the
> divine spirit, he cannot give his heart to iniquity.
> -- XII, 118
> The divine spirit [alone] is the whole assemblage of gods; all
> worlds are seated in the divine spirit and the divine spirit, no
> doubt produces, by a chain of causes and effects consistent with
> free will, the connected series of acts performed by embodied
> -- XII, 119
> Thus the man, who perceives in his own soul the supreme soul
> present in all creatures, acquires equanimity toward them all,
> and shall be absorbed at last in the highest essence, even that
> of the Almighty himself
> -- XII,123
Thoreau was fundamentally not a metaphysician. Emerson, equally
interested in the Vedantic conception of the universe, went on
and gave considerable attention to the doctrine of Maya. It is
not so with Thoreau. There is very in his writing to construed
as metaphysical concern with the relations of the noumenon and
the phenomenon. He was however interested in the doctrine of
Karma and its moral implications. Witness the following extracts
from the fourth chapter:
> Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit
> immediately, but like the earth in due season; and advancing by
> little and little, it eradicates the man, who committed it.
> -- VI, 172
> Yes. Iniquity, once committed, fails not of producing fruit to
> him who wrought it.
> -- IV, 178
The doctrine of Karma found adequate expression in Emerson's
essay "Compensation." The Transcendentalists preferred it as a
doctrine of moral requital to any they had inherited from the
Thoreau never formulated a complete eschatology. It is
difficult, therefore, to state definitely whether he believed in
Transmigration. If he did, it was in a very general way. His
eschatology is perhaps best suggested by two passages that he
culled from the fourth and sixth chapters of Manu:
> Single is each man born; single he dies; single he receives the
> reward of his good, and single the punishment of his evil deeds.
> -- IV, 240
> Let him not wish for death; let him not wish for life; let him
> expect his appointed time, as a hired servant expects his wages.
> -- VI, 45
Death was for Thoreau a return to the Original Source, a dying
down to the roots, as grass dies down in winter. His belief in
the diverse mutations of the cycle of rebirth is uncertain. He
probably accepted much of the basic Hindu idea, but it must have
been tempered by his heritage and environment.
Consider now other extracted passages in the light of the summum
bonum of life. How different from the usual Yankee concept of
success is the following verse:
> Greatness is not conferred by years, not by gray hairs, not by
> wealth, not by powerful kindred: the divine sages have
> established this rule: "Whoever has read the Vedas and their
> Angas, he among us is great."
> -- II, 154
Substitute for the Vedas the concept of nature as the open book
of God and the complete Thoreauvian idea appears.
Despite the profound implications of the foregoing extracts,
there are others even more significant. As has already been
suggested, Thoreau is not known to posterity for the system of
philosophy he developed; he is primarily known for the way he
lived; he will ever be the recluse of Walden. His interest in
the ascetic life led him to extract numerous passages from Manu
that dealt with its practice. These passages are also unique in
that they state clearly the reasons for the mystic's way of life.
The following are from the second chapter:
> The organs, being strongly attached to sensual delights, cannot
> so effectually be restrained by avoiding incentives to pleasure,
> as by constant pursuit of divine knowledge.
> -- II, 96
> A Brahman should constantly shun worldly honor, as he would shun
> poison; and rather constantly seek disrespect, as he would seek
> -- II, 162
The more specific instructions of the fourth chapter as to space
were also noted:
> Alone, in some solitary place, let him constantly meditate on the
> divine nature of the soul, for by such meditation he will attain
> -- IV, 258
The rewards of the meditative life were described in chapter six.
Thoreau did not fail to notice them:
> A Brahman, having shuffled of his body by any of those modes,
> which great sages practiced, and becoming void of sorrow and
> fear, rises to exaltation in the divine essence.
> -- VI, 32
> Thus, having gradually abandoned all earthly attachments, and
> indifferent to all pairs of opposite things, as honor and
> dishonor, and the like, he remains absorbed in the divine
> -- VI, 81
Thus, Thoreau proceeded to balance Asia, too one-sided in its
Hebraism. The Philistinism against which he revolted had much in
common with that denounced by Matthew Arnold. Whereas Arnold
turned to Greece for a corrective, Thoreau turned to India. In
belief and practice, he followed the injunctions of Manu with
amazing fidelity. A closer study of Thoreau's life and writings
will convince the most skeptical of this fact.
Thoreau's natural asceticism sprang neither from any
self-punishing Puritanism, nor from a love of asceticism for its
own sake. It was neither the result of conversion to a system of
practice, nor the effect of any foreign influence of men or
books; it was consistently spontaneous and unaffected. This is
true despite the fact that the scriptures of the East formed the
bulk of his reading in sacred literature.
A close student of Thoreau's mind will come to one conclusion: he
read the Orientals because he recognized his spiritual kinship
with them. He read the Hindus in particular because in them he
found the closest affinity. It is indeed amazing that a shrewd
Yankee should have cherished so un-Yankee an objective as the
Yoga. Yet Thoreau saw nothing strange in this. "The early and
the latter saints are separated by no eternal interval," he wrote
in the diary of 1841.
We find the evidence of Thoreau's interest in Oriental asceticism
throughout his published and unpublished work.
There is an undertone of Orient-tinged other-worldliness in
Thoreau's contributions to the "Ethnical Scriptures" feature of
the DIAL. This is true even of the Confucian extracts. Note
these samples: "Perfection (or sincerity) is the way of heaven,
and to wish for perfection is the duty of man." "He who offends
heaven has none to whom he can pray." Find the outstanding
illustration in the January 1844 number, containing ten pages of
excerpts from Eugene Burnouf's LE LOTUS DE LA BONNE LOI. The
entire selection is in exposition of Buddhist abnegation.
> Then this man speaks thus to the Sages: What means must I employ,
> or what good work must I do to acquire an equal wisdom? . . .
> Then these Sages say thus to the man: If thou desirest wisdom,
> contemplate the law, seated in the desert, or in the forest, or
> in the caverns of the mountains, and free thyself from the
> corruption of evil. Then endowed with purified qualities, thou
> shalt obtain supernatural knowledge.
The significance of these selections will be more clearly
understood when one realizes that the "Ethnical Scriptures" were
chosen for introducing uninformed Americans to the best in the
Were there space for them, scores of comments and quotations from
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, THE HARIVANSA, and THE SANKHYA KARIKA could be
offered here in elucidation of Thoreau's idealism and asceticism.
These may easily be found in the WEEK and the JOURNALS. Our
present interest is in the reason they appeared there. "Like
some other preachers," Thoreau once wrote in explanation, "I have
added my texts -- derived from the Chinese and Hindu scriptures
-- long after my discourse was written." Since the belatedly
selected text so appropriately fits the sermon, there can be but
one conclusion regarding the sermon itself.
Our study of Thoreau's Oriental asceticism would be far from
complete if we fail to mention revealing passages in his
correspondence and diaries. In a letter written to Isaac Hecker
on August 14, 1844, appear these sentences:
> The fact is, I cannot so decidedly postpone exploring the FURTHER
> INDIES, that are to be reached, you know, by other routes and
> other methods of travel. I mean that I constantly return from
> every external enterprise with disgust, to fresh faith in a kind
> of Brahminical, Artesian Inner Temple life. All my experience,
> as yours probably, proves only this reality.
These words were written less than a year before his ascetic
retreat to Walden pond, and yet, so far as I am aware, they are
now for the first time advanced as the reason for the gesture
that shocked Thoreau's contemporaries and that has puzzled his
countrymen ever since.
If this was the reason he went to his retreat, we have an equally
revealing description of his conduct there:
> Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath,
> I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise until noon, rapt in
> reverie . . . in undisturbed solitude and stillness . . .
> until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of
> some traveler's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of
> the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the
> night . . . I realized what the Orientals mean by
> contemplation and the forsaking of works . . . This was sheer
> idleness, to my fellow-townsmen, no doubt; but if the birds and
> the flowers had tried me by their standard, I should not have
> been found wanting.
To ask whether Thoreau practiced the true Yoga, tutored and with
full benefit of rishi, would be to quibble. The fact is he
thought he did, following the injunctions of the Oriental sages
whose books he read. "I would fain practice the yoga
faithfully," he wrote to H.G.O. Blake, his lifelong friend and
literary executor. Furthermore, as early as June 1840, Thoreau
had written in conscious indication of what he conceived to be
the Oriental temper in his retired life:
> I will have nothing to do; I will tell fortune that I play no
> game with her; and she may reach me in my Asia of serenity and
> indolence if she can.
Fully aware that his gestures were open to misinterpretation, he
never failed to emphasize through word and conduct that true
mystics lived in "repose without rust." Recall that James Russel
Lowell objected to Thoreau's taste for Oriental philosophy,
"which would seem admirably suited to men if men were only
oysters." One can distil from Thoreau's writings his effective
answer to all such criticism: "Yes, but are men mosquitoes,
destined only for an ephemeral and inconsequential buzzing?"
What, then, were the results of Thoreau's ascetic way of life? If
he turned from Occidental modes of reasoning and science in his
intellectual life, did he find something to take their place?
Here is his answer:
> Science is often like the grub that, though it may have nestled
> in the germ of a fruit, has merely blighted and consumed it and
> never truly tasted it. Only that intellect makes any progress
> toward conceiving of the essence that at the same time perceives
> the effluence.
> Reason will be but a pale cloud, like the moon, when one ray of
> divine light comes to illumine the soul.
These sentences assuredly indicate his affinity with the seers
who wrote the Upanishads. The words that reveal most definitely
the Oriental results of Thoreau's life are in WALDEN. They
describe his passage over invisible boundaries into a region
where the most liberal of laws prevail, where one lives with the
license of a higher order of beings, where the universe loses all
its complexity, and where "solitude will not be solitude, poverty
will not be poverty, and weakness not be weakness." Nowhere in
all Occidental literature will be found words that more
appropriately describe the dispelling of the fogs of Maya.
In conclusion, it may be appropriate to take note of Thoreau's
penetrating thrust at the materialism of his time. The stricture
is even more apposite for the twentieth century.
> We hear a good deal said about moonshine by so-called practical
> people, and the next day, perchance, we hear of their failure,
> they having been dealing in fancy stocks. There never is any
> moonshine of this kind in the practice of poets and philosophers;
> there never are any hard times or failures with them, for they
> deal with permanent values.
Thus, Thoreau's real life was in the ideal world, completely
unexplored by the majority of his countrymen. This was the
reason they never understood him. They were like the
ideal-doubting materialists whom a Chinese sage once castigated
as summer insects that denied the existence of ice. Furthermore,
they had not transcended the arbitrary distinctions that meant
nothing to Thoreau, whose sympathies were catholic and embraced
all mystics, both Occidental and Oriental.
BRAHMAN IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
By K.R. Srinivasiengar
[From THE ARYAN PATH, May 1935, pages 301-05.]
In an article in THE ARYAN PATH for May 1933, I pointed out that
Theosophy is an expression of the Esoteric Philosophy or THE
SECRET DOCTRINE (Gupta Vidya) that is described as the mother of
all ancient religious philosophies. It is my intention to show
that Indian philosophy -- that is admittedly the most ancient,
successful and influential of all such ancient systems --
represents especially in the Advaitic form one such system sprung
from this Primeval Fount.
It will be sufficient for this purpose to show the real agreement
subsisting between the teachings of Theosophy as given in H. P.
Blavatsky's SECRET DOCTRINE and the conclusions of Indian
philosophy on such fundamentals as Brahman, Maya, Cosmology, etc.
Such a study may help to remove the suspicion with which
Theosophy is sometimes regarded in India, and aid in a more
sympathetic appreciation of this Ancient Source.
> For in the twentieth century of our era scholars will begin to
> recognize that THE SECRET DOCTRINE has neither been invented nor
> exaggerated, but, on the contrary, simply outlined; and finally,
> that its teachings antedate the Vedas.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, xxxvii
In another connection, Madame Blavatsky states:
> Buddhism (of Gautama, the Buddha) was "evoked" and entirely
> up-reared on the tenets of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, of which a
> partial sketch is here attempted, and on which, also, the
> Upanishads are made to rest.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 47
Finally, in summing up her cosmogony, she claims:
> It is not taught ["as a whole," and "in full," she must mean] in
> any of the six Indian schools of philosophy, for it pertains to
> their synthesis -- the seventh, which is the Occult doctrine. It
> is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt, nor is it any
> longer graven on Assyrian tile or granite wall. The Books of the
> VEDANTA (the last word of human knowledge) give out but the
> metaphysical aspect of this world-Cosmogony; and their priceless,
> thesaurus, the UPANISHADS -- UPA-NI-SHAD being a compound word
> meaning "the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of SECRET,
> SPIRITUAL knowledge" -- require now the additional possession of
> a Master-key to enable the student to get at their full meaning.
> The reason for this I venture to state here as I learned it from
> a Master.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 269
The following is peculiarly significant:
> We say it again: Archaic Occultism would remain incomprehensible
> to all, if it were rendered otherwise than through the more
> familiar channels of Buddhism and Hinduism. For the former is
> the emanation of the latter and both are children of one mother
> -- ancient Lemuro-Atlantean Wisdom.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 668
> To begin then with the conception of ultimate Reality or Brahman
> in Adwaita: Ultimate Reality must be supposed to be eternal
> Existence per se, transcending time and space; while specific
> forms of existence may be thought away, Being as such cannot thus
> be conjured away but must be presupposed, like Descartes'
> cogitating self, in every act of thought (Brihadaranyaka: II, i.
> 20). Madame Blavatsky prefers the expression "metaphysical ONE
> ABSOLUTE -- BE-NESS," and says that it is "the first fundamental
> axiom of THE SECRET DOCTRINE."
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14
> An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE . .
> . one absolute Reality that antecedes all manifested,
> conditioned being . . . the rootless root of "all that was,
> is, or ever shall be" . . . It is "Be-ness" rather than Being
> (in Sanskrit, Sat).
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14
Pure Being -- devoid of all determinations -- is according to
Hegel equivalent to Pure Nothing or Non-being. Some Indian
thinkers shy at this identification and criticize Hegel by saying
that absolute non-being is unthinkable because it is
self-contradictory. Madame Blavatsky repeatedly endorses Hegel's
dictum. (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 16, 53, 193) Her explanations,
however, make it clear that she does not mean by non-being
NOTHING AS SUCH but only fullness of Being.
> The idea of Eternal Non-Being, which is the One Being, will
> appear a paradox to anyone who does not remember that we limit
> our ideas of being to our present consciousness of existence;
> making it a specific, instead of a generic term. An unborn
> infant, could it think in our acceptation of that term, would
> necessarily limit its conception of being to the intrauterine
> life that alone it knows; and were it to endeavor to express to
> its consciousness the idea of life after birth (death to it), it
> would, in the absence of data to go upon, and of faculties to
> comprehend such data, probably express that life as "Non-Being
> that is Real Being."
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 45
> Asat [Non-Being] is not merely the negation of Sat, nor is it the
> "not yet existing;" for Sat is in itself neither the "existent"
> nor "being." SAT is the immutable, the ever-present, changeless
> and eternal root, from and through which all proceeds . . . It
> is the ever-becoming, though the never manifesting. Sat is born
> from Asat, and ASAT is begotten by Sat.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 449-50
Thus with a better comprehension of the Indian view Madame
Blavatsky is able to show that:
> The Hegelian doctrine, which identifies ABSOLUTE BEING or
> "Be-ness" with "non-Being," and represents the universe as an
> ETERNAL BECOMING is identical with the Vedanta philosophy.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 449fn
Such a Reality it need hardly be said must be One and Impartite,
and external to it nothing exists.
Such an Ultimate Reality must be unconditioned and non-relational
(according to Adwaita); for relation implies difference and the
Absolute is, ex hypothesi, undifferentiated, homogeneous,
all-comprehensive oneness. The Absolute cannot contain either
swajatiya-bheda (difference between distincts) or vijatiya-bheda
(difference between opposites), but can there not be even
swagata-bheda (difference-in-unity) within it? This fundamental
issue sharply divides the Adwaita from the Vishistadvaita system.
The latter holds that the Absolute is a Unity of differing parts.
The pronouncement of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, however, sounds rather
ambiguous on this point, though Madame Blavatsky stoutly defends
Adwaita. The One Existence is spoken of as "the undifferentiated
essence." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 197) Yet she says, "The first and
Fundamental dogma of Occultism is Universal Unity (or
Homogeneity) under three aspects." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 58) In
order to imagine the Power that acts within the root of a plant,
one has "to think of its stalk or trunk and of its leaves and
> The idea of ABSOLUTE Unity would be broken entirely in our
> conception, had we not something concrete before our eyes to
> contain that Unity. The deity being absolute, must be
> omnipresent, hence not an atom but contains IT within itself.
> The roots, the trunk, and its many branches are three distinct
> objects, yet they are one tree.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 58-59
Is this not perilously near Vishistadvaita? Moreover, is not the
Eternal Parent said to be "wrapped in her Ever-invisible Robes,"
i.e., necessarily associated with Mulaprakriti?
Further Madame Blavatsky adopts the standpoint of the VISHNU
PURANA that describes the Pralaya state in the words, "There was
neither day nor night nor any other thing save only One
inapprehensible by intellect or that which is Brahma, and Pums
(Spirit) and Pradhana (crude matter)." She elucidates the text
> For Pradhana, though said further on to merge into the Deity as
> everything else does, in order to leave the ONE absolute during
> the Pralaya, yet is held as infinite and immortal. The
> commentator describes the Deity as: "One PRADHANIKA Brahma
> Spirit: THAT, was," and interprets the compound term as a
> substantive, not as a derivative word used attributively, i.e.,
> like something conjoined with Pradhana.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 256
> The "Pradhanika Brahma Spirit" is Mulaprakriti and Parabrahmam.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 445
Thus, we find that while Parabrahman in Adwaita is, according to
the received interpretation, an extra-cosmic Principle UNRELATED
IN ANY MANNER TO ANYTHING BEYOND ITSELF, the Eternal Parent, the
Absolute of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, is necessarily and always
associated with Mulaprakriti that is the Root of all nature and
her evolutes. It is a concrete and synthetic Universal. It is
unrelated only to finite and conditioned, i.e., manifested
This, I imagine is what Madame Blavatsky means when she says that
"Parabrahm, being the 'SUPREME ALL' the ever invisible spirit and
Soul of Nature, changeless and eternal, can have no attributes;
absoluteness very naturally precluding any idea of the FINITE or
CONDITIONED from being connected with it." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I,
7) It is 'devoid of attributes and qualities,' "Absolute NIRGUNA"
(SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 62), because it is "essentially without any
relation to MANIFESTED, FINITE being." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14)
(The italics in the above passage are all mine. They show that
the Absolute, while not being related to anything FINITE, may yet
IN ITS ENTIRETY be considered as a Unity of Parts. This is
however, strictly MY OWN interpretation of Madame Blavatsky.) It
is "the Negatively Existent One" (SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 626), the
realm of negativeness corresponding to the Upanishadic NETI,
Ultimate Reality, then, is Existence in the sense described
above. Can we say anything more about it? Yes. Just as
Descartes in his famous COGITO-ERGO SUM (SECRET DOCTRINE, II,
242) identified thought with existence, so too the Upanishadic
seers conceive of Being in terms of consciousness. Reality
cannot be different from or opposed to the nature of thought;
consciousness must be of the very essence of its nature
(swarupa-chaitanyam). That is, consciousness is not a PROPERTY
of Brahman, but Brahman IS consciousness.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE likewise teaches that the One True Existence
is "absolute Consciousness" (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 2) and this
"absolute Chit and Chaitanya (intelligence, consciousness) cannot
be a cognizer, 'for THAT can have no subject of cognition.'"
(SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 6) That is, the Absolute knows itself but
not through the duality of self (subject) and its own processes
(not-self, object). Madame Blavatsky herself explains:
> Consciousness implies limitations and qualifications; something
> to be conscious of and some one to be conscious of it. Absolute
> Consciousness contains the cognizer, the thing cognized, and the
> cognition, all three in itself and all three ONE.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 56
For this reason, she is not even afraid -- as some Vedantists are
-- of characterizing the Absolute consciousness as
"Unconsciousness" because our "finite understanding" is unable to
distinguish such Absolute Consciousness "from what appears to us
as unconsciousness." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 56) Yet although the
Absolute does not possess self-consciousness in the human sense
of the terms (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 50) and Madame Blavatsky
severely criticizes Hegel and the German Transcendentalists for
holding that the Absolute evolves the Universe in order to attain
clear Self-consciousness (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 50-51) still, it is
"Paramarthasatya" or "true self-consciousness," Svasamvedana" or
the "self-analyzing reflection." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 48fn)
Firstly, it follows that the One Reality is "impersonal, because
it contains all and everything. ITS IMPERSONALITY IS THE
FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTION of the System." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 273)
Secondly, it "transcends the power of human conception," and is
"beyond the range and reach of thought," in short, "unthinkable
and unspeakable." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14)
If a proof were required for the self-identical existence of
consciousness that is nevertheless impersonal, THE SECRET
DOCTRINE, like the Vedanta, points to the experience of deep or
dreamless sleep that is not "annihilation" but a state that "not
being remembered in a waking state, seems a blank." (SECRET
DOCTRINE, I, 47) Dreamless sleep "LEAVES NO IMPRESSION ON THE
PHYSICAL MEMORY AND BRAIN, BECAUSE THE SLEEPER'S HIGHER SELF IS
IN ITS ORIGINAL STATE OF ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS." (SECRET
DOCTRINE, I, 266)
Finally, Vedanta affirms that Brahman is unutterable Bliss --
Ananda, because it is perfection itself. THE SECRET DOCTRINE
likewise refers to the Absolute as "Paranishpanna" or
"Paranirvana," that is "that condition of subjectivity that has
no relation to anything but the one absolute Truth
(Para-marthasatya)." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 53) Where there is
conscious Paramartha, there is Bliss (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 54), so
that "Absolute Being" is "the Bliss of Paranirvana." (SECRET
DOCTRINE, I, 268)
Thus through logic as well as intuition, through reason as much
as revelation, does THE SECRET DOCTRINE arrive at the same
conclusion as the Vedanta regarding the nature of Ultimate
Reality, viz., that it is Sat (Existence), Chit (Consciousness),
and Ananda (Bliss) Sacchidananda.
Even then these attributes, according to Adwaita, must not be
taken as in any sense implying a POSITIVE characterization of
this Absolute! In the spirit of a true Vedantin, Madame Blavatsky
> Yet such is the poverty of language that we have no term to
> distinguish the knowledge not actively thought of, from knowledge
> we are unable to recall to memory. To forget is synonymous with
> not to remember. How much greater must be the difficulty of
> finding terms to describe, and to distinguish between, abstract
> metaphysical facts or differences. It must not be forgotten,
> also, that we give names to things according to the appearances
> they assume for ourselves.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 56
If Madame Blavatsky has astonished the Western World by her
marvelous mastery of scientific facts and theories, she has no
less amazed the Eastern world by her equally wonderful grasp of
philosophical distinctions and metaphysical subtleties.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application