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THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------- February, 2004
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Hillel, The Babylonian," by B.P. Wadia
"Earth," by George William Russell
"The Oasis of Peace," by Mikhail Naimy
"From the Other Shore," by Leoline L. Wright
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part XVIII, by Phillip A Malpas
"Zen Buddhism," by D.T. Suzuki
"To the Theosophical Society," by James Sterling
"The Nature and Validity of Mystic Experience,"
by Sri C.V. Srinivasa Murty
"Infinity and Absolutes: Parabrahman-Mulaprakriti,"
by G. de Purucker
> All life is a compromise and a violation of Universal
> Brotherhoods. It is one of the paradoxes of nature. I occupy a
> position in business where I am making money; necessarily by
> holding that position I prevent some other equally worthy
> person from making that money; when I breathe and eat I cause
> the death of myriads of beings -- yet were I to push Universal
> Brotherhood to its extreme limit, then I should have to die at
> once. This question really is one relating to a person's inner
> -- W.Q. Judge, PRACTICAL OCCULTISM, pages 207-08
HILLEL, THE BABYLONIAN
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 333-36.]
> A name made great is a name destroyed; he who increases not,
> decreases; and he who will not learn deserves slaughter; and he
> who serves himself with the tiara perishes.
These are words of the great Hillel, highly reminiscent of the
Chinese Lao-Tzu. As far as we know, there has been no biography
of Hillel in the English language, and so we greatly welcome the
recently published book HILLEL: BOOK AGAINST THE SWORD. Ely E.
Pilchik uses some of the techniques of fiction and has tried to
paint the Rabbi, Master of the Torah, in colors suited to the eye
and taste of the modern economist and social reformer. He was a
Babylonian Jew who was out of sympathy with the sense life that
attracted the companions of his youth and so he immigrated with
his young and faithful wife to Jerusalem, where they knew him in
his famous career as the Babylonian. His exact date is not fixed
by modern scholarship but there are good grounds for assigning 40
B.C. as the date of his death.
No doubt the author has brought to life the Head of the Sanhedrin
in Jerusalem during a part of the reign of the notorious Herod.
The portrait loses its real beauty through its painter's lack of
a deeper perception in the mystic character of Hillel. No doubt
Hillel was a very learned scholar and was respected for his
knowledge and application of the Torah; no doubt, also, Hillel
introduced reforms and bettered the Jewish society of his day;
but his own pious life, his instruction to his intimate pupils,
his own heart of peace and the legacy of his sayings are grander
achievements than his rulings from the seat of honor in the
Sanhedrin, which earned for him trust and recognition from the
Jewish people. The socio-economic basis of his reforms included
the raising of the standard of marriage and his "arrangements"
about payment of loans. These are important and deserve our
tribute. Hillel the Mystic has for us a profounder significance.
Mr. Pilchik tells the good tale of the strange manner of his
entrance into the School of Shemaya and Abtalion, and describes
his rise to power till he came to be called "a second Ezra." Some
of his sayings are used by Mr. Pilchik, but there are many more;
a few of them we give below. They remind us of the sayings
attributed to Jesus in the Gospels; Hillel was a contemporary of
the Nazarene; who borrowed from whom? Probably neither one
borrowed from the other. They were Soul-Companions and the Heart
of each may have caught the throb of the other's Heart. The
worth of these inspiring sayings is not in who spoke them or
where or when; they carry their own conviction to every mind
which loves peace, which seeks truth, and which aspires to be
brotherly to all minds. We have culled a few for the benefit of
our readers. We shall begin with the saying which is said to
have been the motto of Hillel, "He who makes a worldly use of the
Crown of the Torah shall waste away." The golden rule, "What is
hateful unto thee do not unto thy neighbor; this is the whole
Torah and all the rest is commentary. Go now and learn."
Hillel bears further witness to the law of cause and effect,
known in India as karma, saying:
> Because thou drownedst, they drowned thee; and they that drowned
> thee shall in turn be drowned.
He preached peace:
> Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing it;
> loving all mankind and bringing them nigh to the Torah.
> Separate not thyself from the community, and trust not in thyself
> before the day of thy death; judge not thy fellow until thou
> comes into his place; do not delay teaching; say not, "When I
> have leisure, I shall study;" perchance thou mayest not have
He preached humility, but not self-effacement:
> My humility is my exaltation; my exaltation is my humility.
> If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I am only for myself,
> what am I? If not now, when then?
Again and again Hillel stressed the great value of learning:
> More flesh, more worms; more maidservants, more lewdness; more
> manservants, more theft. He who hath gotten unto himself the
> words of the Torah hath gotten unto himself life in the world to
> Learn where there are teachers; teach where there are learners.
It is a high ideal of human uprightness and purity which he
> No boor is a sin fearer; nor is the unrefined pious; the
> shamefaced is not apt to learn, nor the passionate (prone to
> anger) fit to teach. Nor is everyone that has much traffic wise.
> In a place where there are no men, endeavor to be a man.
> As in a theatre and circus, the statues of the king must be kept
> clean by him to whom they have been entrusted, so the bathing of
> the body is a duty of man, who was created in the image of the
> almighty King of the world.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XX, pages 170-75.]
I think of earth as the floor of a cathedral where altar and
Presence are everywhere. This reverence came to me as a boy
listening to the voice of birds one colored evening in summer,
when suddenly birds and trees and grass and tinted air and I
seemed but one mood or companionship, and I felt a certitude that
the same spirit was in all. A little breaking of the barriers
and being would mingle with being.
Whitman writes of the earth that it is rude and incomprehensible
at first. "But I swear to you," He cries, "that there are divine
things well hidden." Yet they are not so concealed that the lover
may not discover them, and to the lover nature reveals herself
like a shy maiden who is slowly drawn to one who adores her at a
distance, and who is first acknowledged by a lifting of the veil,
a long-remembered glance, a glimmering smile, and at last comes
speech and the mingling of life with life.
So the lover of Earth obtains his reward, and little by little
the veil is lifted of an inexhaustible beauty and majesty. It
may be he will be entranced in some spiritual communion, or will
find his being overflowing into the being of the elements, or
become aware that they are breathing their life into his own.
Or Earth may become on an instant completely the realm of fairies
to him, and earth and air resound with the music of its invisible
people. Or the trees and rocks may waver before his eyes and
become transparent, revealing what creatures were hidden from him
by the curtain, and he will know as the ancients did of dryad and
hamadryad, of genii of wood and mountain.
Or earth may suddenly blaze about him with supernatural light in
some lonely spot amid the hills, and he will find he stands as
the prophet in a place that is holy ground, and he may breathe
the intoxicating exhalations as did the sibyls of old. Or his
love may hurry him away in dream to share in deeper mysteries,
and he may see the palace chambers of nature where the wise ones
dwell in secret, looking out over the nations, breathing power
into this man's heart or that man's brain, on any who appear to
their vision to wear the color of truth.
So gradually the earth lover realizes the golden world is all
about him in imperishable beauty, and he may pass from the vision
to the profounder beauty of being, and know an eternal love is
within and around him, pressing upon him and sustaining with
infinite tenderness his body, his soul, and his spirit.
I have obscured the vision of that being by dilating too much on
what was curious, but I desired to draw others to this
meditation, if by reasoning it were possible to free the
intellect from its own fetters, so that the imagination might go
forth, as Blake says, "in uncurbed glory." So I stayed the vision
which might have been art, or the ecstasy which might have been
poetry, and asked of them rather to lead me back to the ancestral
fountain from which they issued.
I think by this meditation we can renew for ourselves the magic
and beauty of Earth, and understand the meaning of things in the
sacred books which had grown dim. We have so passed away from
vital contact with divine powers that they have become for most
names for the veriest abstractions, and those who read do not
know that the Mighty Mother is that Earth on which they tread and
whose holy substance they call common clay.
The Paraclete is the strength of our being, the power which binds
atom to atom and Earth to Heaven: or that the Christos is the
Magician of the Beautiful and that it is not only the Architect
of the God-world but is that in us which sees beauty, creates
beauty, and it is verily wisdom in us and is our deepest self; or
that the Father is the fountain of substance and power and
wisdom, and that we could not lift an eyelash but that we have
our being in Him.
When we turn from books to living nature we begin to understand
the ancient wisdom, and it is no longer an abstraction, for the
Great Spirit whose home is in the vast becomes for us a moving
glamor in the heavens, a dropping tenderness at twilight, a
visionary light in the hills, a voice in the heart, the Earth
underfoot becomes sacred, and the air we breathe is like wine
poured out for us by some heavenly cupbearer.
As we grow intimate with earth we realize what sweet and august
things await humanity when it goes back to that forgotten mother.
Who would be ambitious, who would wish to fling a name like
Caesar's in the air, if he saw what thrones and majesties awaited
the heavenly adventurer? Who would hate if he could see beneath
the husk of the body the spirit which is obscured and imprisoned
there, and how it was brother to his own spirit and all were
children of the King? Who would weary of nature or think it
solitude once the veil had been lifted for him, once he had seen
that great glory?
Would they not long all of them for the coming of that divine
hour in the twilights of time, when out of rock, mountain, water,
tree, bird, beast, or man the seraph spirits of all that live
shall emerge realizing their kinship, and all together, fierce
things made gentle, and timid things made bold, and small made
great, shall return to the Father Being and be made one in Its
When we attain this vision nature will melt magically before our
eyes, and powers that seem dreadful, things that seemed abhorrent
in her, will reveal themselves as brothers and allies. Until
then she is unmoved by our conflicts and will carry on her
No sign is made while empires pass.
> The flowers and stars are still His care,
> The constellations hid in grass,
> The golden miracles in air.
> Life in an instant will be rent
> When death is glittering, blind and wild,
> The Heavenly Brooding is intent
> To that last instant on Its child.
> It breathes the glow in brain and heart.
> Life is made magical. Until
> Body and spirit are apart
> The Everlasting works Its will.
> In that wild orchid that your feet
> In their next falling shall destroy,
> Minute and passionate and sweet,
> The Mighty Master holds His joy.
> Though the crushed jewels droop and fade
> The Artist's labors will not cease,
> And from the ruins shall be made
> Some yet more lovely masterpiece.
THE OASIS OF PEACE
By Mikhail Naimy
[From THE ARYAN PATH, January 1953, pages 3-7.]
Four knights from the four corners of the earth, riding four
graceful steeds in magnificent trappings, met in the midst of a
far-flung trackless desert. After exchanging greetings, they
dismounted to take a little rest and to rest their exhausted
mounts. As is natural for strangers meeting so unexpectedly in
such a place, the knights' first halting conversation turned on
the whence and the whither of each, and on the purpose of his
journey through that vast and parched desolation.
The knights were astounded when it became apparent to them that
their stories were practically identical. Each had conquered
that quarter of the globe from which he hailed. Having subdued
the last of his enemies, and having become weary of fighting, his
soul began to long for the blessing of Peace. Hard as he tried,
he could not find in his vast domain the peace he craved with his
whole soul. The failure to realize that desire cast a shadow of
gloom over all his life; it turned his brilliant conquests into
black defeat, poisoned his dreams, and made of his great kingdom
a prison for his heart. No longer could he relish his food or
hunt a passing pleasure anywhere.
At last, he consulted the wisest man in his kingdom, and the wise
man counseled him to seek the Oasis of Peace in such-and-such a
desert. From that Oasis, if he once enter and drink of the
waters thereof, he would know Peace -- perfect Peace -- to the
end of his days. An exceeding strong wall surrounded that Oasis,
however, in which there was but one small door that only those
who had CONQUERED could open.
For more than an hour, the knights exchanged tales of battles and
adventures, wondering where the Oasis might be and how far they
might be from it. All four expressed amazement at a certain
phenomenon that had followed each of them from the moment they
entered that awesome desert. As they marched, each seemed to
feel himself followed at a distance by his own armies and the
armies he had conquered, armies locked in a bitter fight of life
and death. The shadows of those armies could be clearly seen
during the day but their voices and the din of battle could not
be heard except at night.
One of the knights, endowed evidently with a livelier imagination
than the other three, ventured the opinion that what they saw and
heard was nothing but a mirage, that the ear had mirages much as
the eye has. This explanation seemed plausible to his companions
and they readily concurred in it.
As the four were about to resume their interrupted march, there
loomed in the distance the figure of a man with a staff in hand.
He was walking towards them in broad, measured steps. The man
sang as he walked and was dressed in a flowing black robe of
goat's hair, his feet strapped in wooden sandals. When a few
paces from them, he saluted them saying, "Peace be with you."
The salutation displeased the imaginative knight who had
explained the eye and ear mirage to his companions. He said
gruffly to the stranger, "How can you salute us with peace? Have
you perchance been to the Oasis of Peace?"
"I have not," replied the man simply and light-heartedly. "But I
am on the way."
"Then let your peace return to you unheeded. For how can anyone
give peace with his tongue when his heart is devoid of peace?"
The stranger took the knight's rebuke with a smile and said, "You
are right, brother. Peace belongs to the men of Peace. It is a
language that peaceful hearts alone can understand."
The knight was infuriated when the stranger addressed him as
"brother." Giving vent to his fury, he shouted at the man. "How
dare you call me 'brother' when you are but a tramp and I am the
lord of one quarter of the earth? Behold! We four have conquered
the whole earth. What have you conquered to make you even dream
of entering the Oasis of Peace? Do you not know that none but
those who have conquered may enter it?"
"Aye, that is not unknown to me," said the man nonchalantly.
"And it is because I know it that I am on my way to the Oasis. I
have conquered all my enemies and yet I have killed or harmed not
a single man."
"What enemies have you conquered when we, the lords of the earth,
have never heard of you, nor have we encountered you and your
armies in any of the battles we have fought? Are you, perchance,
not of this earth?"
"I am of this earth as much as you are and I own of it much more
than the four of you combined, but what I own is different from
what you own. As to the enemies that I have conquered, you shall
know their might at the entrance of the Oasis. Let us be hence
if you would reach your goal before sundown."
"Stranger than your looks are your speech, indeed. Do you know
the way to the Oasis?"
"I do. Follow me."
The knights remounted their horses and rode behind the stranger,
wondering in their hearts whether to take him seriously. The
shadows of armies locked in a deadly struggle, of which they
spoke a while ago, followed them at a distance, marching as they
marched, halting when they halted, and trotting as they trotted.
After a wearying march of several hours, with the blazing sun
beating mercilessly upon them, the small company came in sight of
a luxuriant Oasis. Its tall and stately trees wafted to a
distance the cool and aromatic breath of healthy verdure. Birds
flitted and warbled among the trembling branches. In the midst
of that sandy desolation, it appeared as a huge emerald set in an
immense disc of gold. Approaching closer, the travelers found
themselves face to face with a thick and high wall, built of
human skulls. Snakes, scorpions, and worms of all sizes, shapes,
and colors crawled and squirmed in and out of the eye-sockets,
biting and mauling one another and hissing hideously. The sight
was sufficiently ghastly to send the creeps up anyone's spine.
Looking at that wall, the four intrepid conquerors of the earth
turned extremely pale. Their hearts contracted and their tongues
tied. What added to their fright was the fact that the fighting
armies that had marched in their wake all along the road, and
which they had believed to be a mere mirage or hallucination,
became now very real flesh and blood. They were their own armies
and those of their enemies engaged in a deadly combat, and spread
fan-like all about the Oasis.
Appalled by the scene in front of them and all about them, the
knights exchanged stupefied glances as if to say, "Is this the
Oasis of Peace? Or is it Gehenna?" They were confounded beyond
measure when they remembered their strange companion and guide to
the Oasis. They beheld him sitting comfortably on the ground
with no trace on his face of any fear or bewilderment whatsoever.
On the contrary, his face radiated peace and joy, as of one who
was viewing some charming vista and listening to celestial
symphonies. They approached him shyly, begging him to assure
them that the Oasis before them was the Oasis of Peace and point
out the door into it. The man did not move an eyelash or a lip,
but simply motioned to the knights to ride thrice around the wall
and they did.
When they came back to their starting point, the four kings of
the globe found the stranger standing in front of a small, low
door that they had not espied before. Above the door, they saw a
great sign, written in large, luminous letters.
> THIS IS THE OASIS OF PEACE.
> NONE MAY ENTER IT SAVE CONQUERORS.
The sign seemed to restore to the frightened knights their
courage and their confidence. As soon as they read it, one of
them walked firmly and slowly to the small door and pushed it
with his forefinger. The door did not open. He pushed it with
his fist. Again, it did not open. He kicked it with his boot,
but to no avail. Enraged by his repeated failures, he threw the
weight of his whole body against the door. The door remained
firm and never let out even a faint squeak.
Then the second knight took a turn, then the third, and the
fourth. Finally, all four combined their might and weight
against that tiny door, but it moved not even the breadth of a
hair. The stranger all the while looked on, keeping his peace.
Their patience and their resources exhausted, the four knights
took counsel together as to the best means out of the ugly
The happy thought flashed through the mind of one that the
inscription above the door could have meant none other than him
who has conquered the whole earth, not only a quarter thereof.
The only solution, therefore, would be for the four of them to
match their strength and prowess. Perchance the strongest would
open the door and keep it open for the other three. The solution
was readily accepted by all.
For a long time did the four horsemen charge and countercharge
until three of them fell to the ground. The fourth that remained
in the saddle, sighed a great sigh of relief, and boastfully
announced, "I am the lord of the earth!" Dismounting, he walked
arrogantly towards the door, pushed it with his spear, kicked it,
now with one foot, now with the other, but the door remained as
firm as a mountain. In utter despondency and disgust, he looked
to the fifth pilgrim and said somewhat contemptuously, "Ho,
tramp! Perhaps you know the secret of this door. Will you not
open it for me?"
"I do," he replied with confidence, taking no offence at the
knight's derisive manner. With firm, unhurried steps, he walked
to the door. No sooner did he touch it gently with his hand than
it was flung wide open, revealing behind it a marvelous garden
such as may be seen in dreams, and that very rarely. It was a
Immediately after the man was inside, the door swung shut behind
him, leaving the "lord of the earth" outside, greatly perplexed.
Broken-hearted and defeated, he shouted at the man inside, "In
the name of God, queer fellow, explain this mystery to me. Does
not the sign above the door say that none may enter it save
"So it says," intoned the stranger from within.
"How come, then, that I, the lord of the whole earth, am denied
admittance, while you, a miserable vagabond, are admitted so
readily and with such surpassing ease?"
"Simply because I have conquered, and you have not," was the
stranger's soft and confident reply.
"But whom have you conquered, idiot? I have never seen your
wretched face in any of my battles."
"I have conquered myself."
"What a glorious conquest! A rat conquering a rat! You make me
"Laugh, mighty King. Hyenas thrive on corpses and always laugh.
But they know not Peace."
"Is not Peace the prize of victory?"
"Peace is the prize of victory over self. To vanquish others by
the force of arms is to raise from the victor's lusts and
arrogance and from the skulls the pains, humiliations, distress,
and malice of the vanquished. This is an insurmountable barrier
to Peace for both victor and vanquished. To vanquish others is
to live in perpetual fear of vengeance, which fear is the
deadliest enemy of Peace. Whereas to vanquish one's own animal
passions with no other weapons than those of Love, Charity, and
Holy Understanding of one's unbroken unity with all creation is
to live at peace with oneself and with all the things and
creatures in the earth below and in the heavens above. It is for
such conquerors only that this Oasis is set in the midst of such
a boundless, trackless desert."
"Never shall I accept your childish prattle, nor shall I ever
surrender my kingdom until I surrender my life."
"And never shall you know Peace, O deluded King, though you rule
the four quarters of the earth!"
FROM THE OTHER SHORE
By Leoline L Wright
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, February 1939, pages 110-13.]
It is now five years since the holy man was sealed into his
remote mountain cave. He dwelt in darkness and solitude never
again to hear the voice or to see the face of a human being --
immured there in the eternal silence of the mountains until death
should release his spirit.
Close beside the spot where he sat yogi fashion on the hard rock,
a small opening had been left near the floor of his cave.
Through this opening once in so often, a monk from the monastery
of which he had once been the abbot thrust a quantity of barley
grains. It was enough to keep life just pulsing in his emaciated
Wrapped in his vow of silence, dedicated to the attainment of
liberation while still in the body, month upon month and season
upon season of meditation passed over him like invisible shadows.
He had spent years of preparation tempering body and mind to the
awful strain of his self-chosen destiny. The sublime reaches of
the inner worlds opened slowly before his entranced inner vision.
The bliss of freedom began to gleam now like a shining threshold
within reach of his serenely laboring spirit.
What is this? His inner sense began to plummet. Something,
somewhere far below, had fastened upon his consciousness with the
dead weight of mortality. A wave of dull disappointment surged
over him as he continued to fall. Had he not been certain that
the mortal in his nature was long since forever extinguished? Had
he then overlooked some sin of the flesh that had suddenly sprung
out of the dim past and fastened itself upon his soul to chain
him back to physical consciousness? Alas! Whatever the cause, his
unwilling human self had awakened again to insistent demand. He
found himself once more attentive to his body.
He unsealed his physical vision and saw at a glance what had
recalled him from higher spheres. On his lap lay a child. It
was shivering, whimpering, and tugging with half-frozen hands at
the shreds of his rotten old garment. At first, he could hardly
credit the sight of his eyes. How was a child here in this
horrible waste? That seemed impossible. He felt the slight body
clinging, now nestled against him, drawing slight warmth from his
withered members. As he gazed down into its uplifted face, his
ancient eyes met full and sweet the engaging trustful smile of a
three-year-old man-child. In spite of the stiffness due to long
immobility, his arm crept around it gradually and finally held it
"So, manling," he murmured, his lips mouthing with difficulty the
unaccustomed words. "Thou are it who hast brought me back from
the threshold of liberation?" Now, desperate anxiety invaded his
"What shall I do with this youngling," he demanded of the dark
and the emptiness surrounding him. "Plainly it has wandered from
its parents, from some caravan of pilgrims, perhaps themselves
lost in the wilderness of these mountains. They will miss it.
They will surely come in search of it. It must have left some
trace of its flight. I must wait, cherishing it as best I may
meanwhile. It is a terrible misfortune for me. I have broken,
how easily and unthinkingly, my vow of silence. All this will
unavoidably cripple me. There is so much ground now to be made
Here, the child interrupted him once more. It had caught a fold
of his garment and was industriously sucking it. "The poor
little one is hungry!" He reached down into his small sack of
grain and fed it lavishly with the clean barley. As it munched
in contentment, he looked more closely at it with his dim eyes.
This child was Hindu. That was evident from its rich coloring
and lustrous eyes and the already eagle fineness of the nose with
its delicate nostrils as well as the cut of its warm garments.
In far past days of his youth in the monastery, he had often seen
parties of these plainsmen, pilgrims from beyond the ranges. Now
he recognized the characteristics. Yes, the child was Hindu,
possibly from its facial lines a Rajput.
He noticed that on one thumb was a heavy gold ring. Upon
examination, it bore what a crest of some sort, cryptic to him.
The gleaming insignia lay under his eyes like a message. He
shuddered a little. Alas! Alas! He could only wait in impotent
patience for its rescue.
Three days he waited. Nothing happened. Completely tired, the
child slept, awakened, whimpered, and ate. All the time, he held
it close, keeping it warm and comforted. Slowly, the sweet
pulsation of its confiding nearness crept into his withered heart
and numbed the sharp ecstasy of his vision of freedom.
Deep in the watches of the night, it then came to him. Through
the child, he had lost the opportunity to freedom. He lost that
freedom to which he had devoted long years of terrible discipline
and renunciation! Not only had he broken his vow of silence but
also had lost hold upon complete non-attachment. Moreover, he
had lost the freedom to return to his monastery. To return there
now would mean the disgrace of failure. Even now, he might be a
candidate for that ignominy. Then, what might happen to this
forsaken little one? He could not face the thought of its
Months later when spring was blossoming in the rich valleys of
the lower ranges, there appeared upon the outskirts of an old
Hindu city an ancient man bearing in arms a beautiful man-child.
He carried a begging bowl and wore the yellow robe of a
mendicant. In spite of his great years, the holy man was still
erect and clear of eye. Indeed, a benign and penetrating power
seemed to go out from his presence. All who beheld him felt
impelled to do him reverence, especially since he seemed
unobtrusively to avoid it. Only once did he accept the offer of
service. That was from a simple housewife who spoke a kind word
to the pretty boy and tried to coax it to share the midday meal
of her own children.
"It is well, my daughter," he assured her tranquilly. " I thank
you. I will accept for the hour your kind offer of hospitality
to this motherless little one. And you, youngling," he said,
setting his charge down amongst the children squatting beside a
large bowl of rice and sweetmeats, "abide here in obedience to
this good woman while I pay my respects to the priests at the
temple." On the word, he strode out of sight down the narrow
A few moments later, he was deep in talk with the head priest of
the principal temple of the old city. From the folds of his
yellow robe, he had taken the child's gold ring. "Knowest thou
these insignia," he asked the priest.
The Hindu's black eyes widened, amazed. "Why, it is the royal
signet of our kings," he ejaculated. "But whence, Oh wandering
Lama, hast thou acquired it?" The keen suspicion of his glance
died before the noble candor of his visitor's regard.
"It was found on the child's thumb, the lost child I found."
"By Vishnu!" The priest got excitedly to his feet. "The little
lost princeling. It is the son of our Prince here who ..."
"Went astray last year upon pilgrimage," the Lama finished for
him. "Send thou for the child's father."
So a son was restored to the arms of its mother, a son who was to
become a wise, powerful, and upright ruler. Men said that he
owed much of his great virtue and insight to the teachings of a
holy man who lived in a poor hut near the outskirts of the city,
teaching the good law to all who would hear him.
"Reverence not me," said this holy man to a beloved disciple
once. "It was not so long since I was an ignorant seeker after
selfish liberation. A messenger was sent to me. A little child
put its confiding hand into mine, leading me away from the
ignoble quest of the Pratyeka pathway. Down from the cold and
barren heights, it guided my steps to the valleys where men still
suffer in ignorance and pain. Yet such men were more merciful,
having succored, clothed, fed, and sent us upon our way
comforted. So, my son, never again will I seek or accept selfish
individual salvation. Never will I enter final peace alone. I
thank the Celestial Buddha that my eyes opened in time and that I
was permitted -- chastened and joyous -- to return back from the
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part XVIII
By Phillip A Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE
THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and
published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later
appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND
WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by
Point Loma Publications.]
Apollonius was never off duty. No sooner was he among the other
unbound prisoners, and there were about fifty of them in a
wretched state of mind, than he began to rouse them up and
encourage them and show them the bright side of things. Many of
them were under the most trivial accusations and suspicions and
yet they seemed sure of death at the hand of the homicidal maniac
on the throne. To him a house, a city, a country bounded by
rivers, an ocean-bound continent, the whole world, were prisons,
the body itself was a prison full of suffering. As for the
prison at Rome, he had voluntarily come thither, so why should
they fear more than he did?
The result of his speech to all and every one, was that many who
through fear had been going without their meals now left the
steward with empty shelves, and smiles took the place of tears
"How can any harm befall us while Apollonius is with us," they
Speaking to individuals in the prison, Apollonius had as usual
been very frank in what he said of the Emperor, just as he was
equally frank in blaming a crime or inculcating fortitude. One
crime he mentions is interesting. Among other things, he tells
an accused man that if he has really committed a crime such as
acquiring wealth by robbery, or selling poisonous drugs, or by
ransacking the tombs of ancient kings, stored with gold and
precious treasure, he ought to be capitally punished. This to a
man whose inherited riches had excited envy.
One was actually under the grave accusation of liking to live
alone on a little island in peace. How could a man do that, the
informers argued, unless he had committed some crime to make him
shun the mainland?
Next day, the same thing happened, and Apollonius began to talk.
Even in the prison, there seemed to be informers. A new prisoner
came in talking as volubly as an informer talks when he is making
eight or ten false accusations. He said he was in great danger,
and did everything to get others to talk, especially Apollonius.
The wise old philosopher saw through the trick and realized that
this was simply a spy sent to catch him in treasonable utterances
against the Emperor.
How he talked, that old Tyanean! How the prisoners were delighted
with what he said and how eagerly they listened to his
fascinating discourse! Did he speak of the Emperor? He said not a
word of him! He was talking of rivers, mountains, animals, trees,
and all the wonderful things of nature. Quite likely, he talked,
as all those philosophers do, of vast cyclopean ruins, of giants,
of flying dragons and pterodactyls that once inhabited the earth,
of lost continents and huge cataclysms, and a thousand and one
things they had barely heard mentioned in books. Only, as this
wonderful old man spoke, you could almost see the things he
described. There was no vague speculation, but such a vivid
imagery of description as a man having the object before his eyes
could not excel.
The new prisoner could not make head or tail of it. He was here
to catch the old man. Perhaps the steward had thought he might
save more on the victuals if he said that the old man was in some
mysterious way putting heart of courage into all the prisoners;
by talking against the Emperor, doubtless. Well, if he would not
talk against the Emperor, he must be made to do so. The informer
put it to him pointblank.
"You can say what you like against him," was the surprising
answer. "I shall not turn informer! As for myself, I will tell
the Emperor in person whatever I think reprehensible in his
The spy was beaten. How had the old man read his thoughts?
Aelian was evidently on tenterhooks as to what Apollonius would
say to the Emperor. At the very least, he was sure to insult him
to his face, for the Tyanean feared nobody, least of all the
worldly great. He had promised out of consideration for Aelian
not to be disrespectful, but that might only be the old man's
polite way of putting it. When another mysterious stranger came
in and asked for the Tyanean, Apollonius was watchful. When the
man took him aside and said significantly, "The Emperor will
speak with you tomorrow," his sense of sincerity told him that
the message was from Aelian. The visitor asked if he had all he
needed, as orders had been given to the keeper of the prison to
supply all he wished.
"That is right," said Apollonius, "but I need nothing. I live
here just as I do everywhere else, and I talk on the common
things of life as usual. I have no wants." Apollonius seemed
very amenable to reason and good-tempered, so out came the real
"Would you not like the advice of a friend to tell you the right
way to address the Emperor," he asked. If only the old man could
be got to let some lawyer tell him the way to talk, there might
be a chance of his coming alive out of the Emperor's hands. If
not, there was no telling what he would say or would not say, and
then the fat would be in the fire with a vengeance. Now if he
would only cultivate a little delicate flattery.
"I should indeed like such a friend to advise me," said
Apollonius, "if he could only keep from advising me to flatter
The messenger tried again. "Suppose he advised you not to be
disrespectful and to avoid any kind of insolence?"
"Thank you for the advice. It is good, and it is just what I
shall follow," said Apollonius. Was that a little smile at the
corner of the old man's lips?
"Well, that is what I came for, to advise you so, and I am
delighted to hear you will control yourself and act in obedience
to it. I thought it right to prepare you to meet the terrible
countenance and voice of the Emperor without faltering. For even
when he tries to speak gently his voice is harsh, and his
eyebrows hang heavy over his eyes, while his cheeks are so
bloated with bile that there is not another man in the Empire
like him to look upon. Try not to let these things intimidate
you, Oh Tyanean. They are really only natural defects."
Apollonius encouraged him to have no fear by quoting the way in
which Ulysses faced the unseeing Polyphemus and then returned
alive. He would have similar courage. He told Damis all that
had passed and said he wanted no more than to escape with his
friends for whom he had placed himself in such peril. Then he
went to sleep, or seemed to do so. In the morning, he said he
had passed a sleepless night and needed rest.
Would Damis ever really understand his old Teacher? Here he had
been with him for more years than go to make up many a lifetime
of activity and he thought at once the Tyanean had been worrying
with anxiety and perhaps fear.
"Yes, you see, I have been thinking all night over what Phraotes
said to me," said the old man. Perhaps there was a touch of
humor in his tone.
Really, he must be showing signs of his great age! "I think if
you had to stay awake you might at least have been preparing for
the interview; it's not a light matter, that," said Damis. Had
he passed sleepless hours worrying over the peril of his dear
"How can I prepare for what as yet I know nothing about," asked
Apollonius in that strangely disconcerting direct way of his.
Damis opened his eyes in hopeless perplexity. Would he never
understand the old man? "Do you mean to say you are going to
argue a cause which involves your own life, without any kind of
preparation," he asked.
"Certainly I do. All my life has been passed without preparation
until now, without fixed plans, and so it shall be to the last."
Then he appeased Damis by showing him his little joke, if it may
be called that. He told him how Phraotes had taught him how to
tame lions. This a queer occupation for a philosopher,
especially one who had quite recently argued a rich, ignorant
young man out of his ignoble occupation of teaching birds to talk
with a cockney accent, or whatever corresponded to cockneyism in
the days of Domitian and the Roman 'Arrius, and to spend his time
learning to speak decently himself. Tyrants are lions said the
Master, and Phraotes was really telling me how to deal with
tyrants, not too severely, and not too gently.
LESSON FROM AESOP
"In Aesop there is a fable of a lion that lay stretched out in
his den, not sick, but only pretending to be so, for the purpose
of seizing on every animal that came to see him. Aesop adds
there was a fox, who in considering the case of this lion
observed, 'I do not find that anyone remains with him, nor the
footsteps of any who return from him.' Yet," said Apollonius, "I
should have thought more of the wisdom of the fox had he entered
the cave without suffering himself to be taken; and on his return
had been able to show his own footsteps."
He turned over and went to sleep, leaving Damis to think it out.
Many of the Master's best lessons were garbed in the simplest
form and after all, Aesop's fables were a divine gift of Mercury,
Wisdom, himself. Could the old man really mean that though there
were no footsteps that ever came back from the judgment seat of
that greater Nero, the awful Domitian, that there was now a fox
showing the world how it might be done? The thought was too good
to be true. Oh, if only it were all over!
When it was day, Apollonius paid his adorations to the rising sun
as well as he could in prison, and spoke to all who wished to
hear him. About noon, an officer came to prepare him for the
"I'm ready, let us go," said Apollonius on the instant, eager to
be away. He was always dressed! Surrounded by four guards who
kept at a greater distance than usual when guarding a common
prisoner, he left the prison. In the background, there was a
figure that followed with fear and trembling and much sadness.
Nobody noticed that inconspicuously clad man, for he was dressed
much as the crowd was dressed; had not the Master told Damis not
to make himself look peculiar?
That other figure of Apollonius between the four soldiers! How
people stared! See, they keep their distance; he is an important
one, that! What a strange garb for such a man, look at the cut
and fashion of it! Not a tailor in Rome but would lose every
customer if he acknowledged having made that linen garment. Look
at his shoes, made of some kind of tree-bark or bast. What long
hair for so old a man -- must be ninety-five at least! Surely, he
might show the Emperor the compliment of combing it, like
Leonidas and his Spartans when the hosts of Persia came down upon
them. It is the sign of a freeman to wear long hair, but a
freeman need not neglect it; did not they answer the Persian
summons to surrender by saying to the ambassador, "they were
combing their hair," and not a word more? "For me, I think he
will soon have it combed for him, and perhaps a little more,
The usual crowd -- wit and levity. Very few felt quite like that
this noon. There was something squalid in his garb, but there
was something divine in his face and bearing; the latter was as
superior to their own natures, and they felt it, as their smart
clothes were superior to his linen garment. A more serious
current to talk and thought ran through that Roman crowd that
day. Even his enemies were overwhelmed with admiration.
This old man was yet an old man twenty years before. He might
well have earned the right to live out his years in peace. He
had done what no man had ever done before or was ever likely to
do again -- he had actually come of his own free will to Rome to
save his friends Nerva and Orfitus and Rufus! The thing was a
prodigy to be spoken of in history while the world should last.
They dared not whisper that Nerva was to be Emperor after
Domitian, for so it had been foretold, or that others were for
the other two of his companions, for the very stones in the
street would turn informer, if they did; but they thought, they
It was a busy scene. There were throngs of sightseers eager to
see and be seen. Great and small officials passed out of the
palace with documents. There were soldiers with their uniforms.
Friends and friends of their friends flattered those in office
lest perchance they let fall crumbs from the imperial table.
Officials in the making went in. Office-seekers elbowed them up
the stairs. A prisoner was under guard waiting to be tried.
Fashionable people greeted their friends. They were greeted by
them in turn with the gossip of the day. Butchers, bakers, and
candlestick makers jostled, chattered, and gossiped. There was
all the traffic of a great city. Only one man in the midst of
them seemed oblivious of it all; he was alone in the crowd as
only a philosopher can be.
AT THE PALACE GATES
Now they had stopped at the palace-gates and Damis was able to
creep a little nearer. He was very sad. Would he ever see his
Master and Teacher again? True, this was not a trial; it was only
a confrontation, but what was that to that devil Domitian, who
was quite capable of killing the old man with his own hand at the
first word of indiscretion. Who could trust Apollonius to say
anything but what he chose to say? What was he thinking of?
A voice reached him from among the four guards. It was his
Master speaking to him while they waited. Doubtless, he
appreciated his danger and his solemn situation, as Damis had
"Looks to me like a public bath," said the old man. "Those who
are inside are trying to get out, and those who are outside want
to get in; the former have had their bath and the latter are yet
Damis was so taken aback at the comic suggestion that for a
moment he forgot his sadness and depression, and actually smiled.
This was what Apollonius wanted him to do. Did not he seem to
hear one of the guards muttering, "It is a pretty hot bath you
are in for this time, old man, no question about that," or was it
one of the passersby, or only imagination?
Apollonius was unchanged. He chaffed Damis with looking like a
dead man who thought the Imperial Palace was Hades, whose gates
had all but closed on him.
Damis hardly laughed at this. "I do not feel like a dead man,
not quite, but I do feel like one who is going to die soon," said
"I thought I had prepared you, Damis, to be always ready for
death, like a true philosopher," said Apollonius. "Instead of
that you do not seem to like it."
They talked, and Apollonius drew the mind of Damis away from his
troubles as they waited at the palace-gates. The guards wondered
not a little at this strange old man who seemed to forget that
the next few minutes might decide whether he was to be boiled in
oil or have fishhooks stuck all over his back -- actually the
latter treatment was rumored abroad. Did not rumor recall that
an old Jew visionary had undergone the oil treatment before what
was left of him was banished to the islands -- Patmos, or some
place like that?
By D.T. Suzuki
[From THE ARYAN PATH, November 1953, pages 493-98.]
"Zen" is an abbreviation of Zazen, which is Japanese. The
Chinese original is Ch'an, which is the translation of the
Sanskrit term Dhyana. In Pali, it is Janna. Chinese scholars do
not like to use the original Sanskrit terms. They prefer to
translate into Chinese every Sanskrit term. When they find the
Chinese equivalent of the original Sanskrit, they try to blend
the Chinese with the Sanskrit. They create a hybrid in that way.
To the Chinese mind, these hybrid terms are expressive. Long
usage has established words in that hybrid terminology as
Now the terms Ch'an and Zazen have been dropped and Zen alone is
used. That means Janna, which in its original sense, means
meditation. This is not exactly meditation as used in the West
although something very similar to it. Janna we may take to mean
meditation, contemplation, tranquillization, or concentration.
Such terms nearly express the original meaning of Janna, but not
exactly. The way in which Zen Buddhism uses the term Zen is
quite different from its original meaning. This has to be
emphasized at the outset.
Zen developed in China in the eighth century. It is
traditionally ascribed to Bodhidharma, known as Tamo in China and
as Daruma in Japan. Bodhidharma came to China from India in the
sixth century, but what he taught was not exactly what came to be
known as Zen. Zen developed about 150 or 200 years after
The real founder of Zen in China is known as Hui Neng, Wei Lang,
or Yeno. What distinguished Hui Neng from his predecessors and
from the rest of the Chinese Buddhist teachers? It is this, which
really constitutes the essence of Zen teaching:
> Enlightenment is an experience that Buddha had and through which
> he was able to teach Buddhism. Buddhism really means "the
> Doctrine of Enlightenment." Prajana is used quite frequently as
> synonymous with enlightenment.
In China, before Yeno, it had been thought that this
enlightenment could be attained only after one had practiced
Janna and attained proficiency in meditation. Yeno maintained
that Prajna and Janna should go together; neither alone would do.
These two are considered most essential in the study of Buddhism.
There are three forms of discipline in the observance of
Buddhism: (1) moral precepts like non-stealing, (2) Janna or Zen,
and (3) Prajna. Leaving aside the first, let us begin with Janna
or Zen and with Prajna. Yeno said that Janna is Prajna and
Prajna is Janna. One cannot separate these two. One does not
begin with Janna and then obtain Prajna. Where there is Prajna
there is Janna, and vice versa. When one is attained, the other
comes with it. No separation between them is possible. This was
his original teaching.
When we say "Zen Buddhism," this Zen is used in a somewhat
different sense from the ordinary one. Usually Zen is
meditation, concentration, or contemplation but in Zen Buddhism,
Zen is used not in that sense but as synonymous with Prajna. To
understand Zen Buddhism, therefore, it is necessary to know that
Dhyana is not something different from Prajna and that Prajna is
not something obtained after Zen is obtained. Prajna unfolds
itself the very moment that we practice Janna. This was the
original teaching of Yeno and it was the beginning of Zen
One day a Chinese Government Officer who was also a poet and a
painter called on the immediate disciple of Yeno and asked, "What
is this one way? What is the teaching of your school that denies
the distinction between Zen and Prajna?"
The disciple of Yeno replied, "Zen is where you are talking. You
ask a question and Zen is there. It is not that one comes before
the other. They are simultaneous. When you talk to me, there is
Zen. There is Prajna. They are not different."
To express this in a more modern way: while we are doing,
thinking, and feeling, there is this identity of Zen and Prajna.
This spatial intuitive knowledge is not to be developed after the
practice of Zen. Prajna is where Zen is.
Prajna is another difficult term to translate into English. We
generally use "Transcendental Wisdom" or "Intuitive Knowledge" to
express Prajna. In spite of their dislike for foreign languages,
the Chinese used a term that is the Chinese translation of
Prajna. Prajna is something that our discursive knowledge cannot
attain. It belongs to a different category from mere knowledge.
Buddhists emphasize this distinction very much. They say, not
knowing, but knowing and seeing. These two must come together.
To know there must be two -- subject and object.
Now, seeing is not just our knowing about something. Seeing is
directly seeing it. Knowing and seeing are generally coupled in
Buddhist teaching. Knowing is not enough. Seeing must come with
knowing. In the West, you distinguish between knowing and
seeing. Knowing is philosophical, knowing about. Seeing is
seeing directly, personally, that is, by personal experience.
Knowing always requires a mediator but seeing is direct, yet in
seeing, we do not generally see things directly. When we think
we see something, that seeing is not real from the Zen point of
view. When you see a flower, for example, not only must you see
it but the flower must see you also; otherwise, there is no real
seeing. Seeing is really my seeing the flower and the flower
seeing me. When this seeing is mutual, there is real seeing.
Certain scholars say that when we think we see the flower, we put
our feelings into the flower. My thinking or seeing or your
thinking or seeing is put into the flower and the flower is given
life. To the Zen way of thinking, there is no transference of my
imagination into the flower. The flower itself is living and as
a living thing, it sees me. My seeing is also the flower seeing.
When this takes place, there is real seeing. When this end is
achieved, i.e., when my seeing becomes the flower seeing, then
there is real communication or real identification of the flower
with myself, of subject with object. When this mutual
identification takes place, the flower is myself and I am the
A Chinese scholar once asked a Zen Master, "One of the earlier
Buddhist philosophers said, 'Heaven and earth are of the same
source; 10,000 things and I are one.'" He added, "Is this not a
The Master looked at a flower in the courtyard and said, "Men of
the world see this flower as in a dream," meaning that their
seeing is not real seeing, which implies that for real seeing, it
is necessary for me to see the flower and for the flower to see
me. When this is mutual and identification takes place, then
there is real seeing. Then we experience what the Buddhist
scholar stated in the passage just quoted. "Heaven and earth are
of the same source; 10,000 things and I are one."
This is mere abstract talk. So long as we are dealing with
abstractions, there is no actual experience. The Zen Master
pointed out this fact to his disciple. "Instead of talking about
abstractions or quoting what others have said, do look at this
flower that is now becoming and identify yourself with it, not as
if you are in a dream, but see in actual reality the flower
itself. Then you see that the whole universe is nothing but the
expression of one's own mind."
Before I left Japan, I read in an English journal an interesting
article by a Russian whose idea was this: "The objective world
can exist only in my subjectivity. The objective world does not
really exist until it is experienced by this subjectivity or
myself." That is something like Berkeley's Idealism. One day
this Russian was riding his bicycle and he collided with a lorry.
The driver was angry but the Russian kept on saying, "The world
is nothing but my subjectivity." On another occasion when he was
thinking in the ordinary way, there was no collision but
something else happened and he awakened to this truth. "There is
nothing but my subjectivity." When he experienced this, he had
quite an illumination and he said to a friend, "Everything is in
everything else." That means that all things are the same but he
did not say that. He said, "Everything, each individual object,
is in each other individual object. So this world of multitudes
is not denied, as each thing is in every other one." This is most
significant. When he expressed this to his friend, the friend
could not understand but later the friend attained the same
experience. This is Prajna. This is transcendental wisdom.
When we attain this intuition, we have Zen. Zen is no other than
this intuitive knowledge.
I must say more about this intuitive knowledge or direct seeing.
For example, if we touch fire, the finger burns. I feel
intuitively that fire is dangerous without having to reason about
it. When people talk about intuition, it is connected with
individual objects. Someone has an intuition and something about
which he has the intuition. There is nothing between subject and
object. These intuitions may take place immediately, that is,
without any intermediary. Nevertheless, there are subject and
object, though their relationship is immediate instead of being
through an intermediate agent.
We talk about this kind of intuition, but the intuition that Zen
talks about is identification seeing. That is, when I see the
flower and the flower sees me, this kind of intuition or mutual
identification is not individual seeing. It is not individual
intuition. "I see the flower and the flower sees me" means that
the flower ceases to be a flower. I cease to be myself.
Instead, there is unification. The flower vanishes into
something higher than a flower and I vanish into that something
higher than any individual object.
Now when this leveling up takes place, this being absorbed into
something higher than each relative being, it does not mean
merely being absorbed. There is intuition, awakening. There is
something that acknowledges itself to be itself. This is not
annihilation or mere absorption into the void. Intuition
accompanies this "annihilation." That is the most important
point. When this takes place, there is real seeing of the
flower. Therefore, we say that "my seeing the flower and the
flower seeing me" takes place on a plane higher than that where
the flower is seen as an individual flower and I am seen as an
individual being. When there is absorption of the individual
into something higher, there is intuition. This is most
important. This is in accordance with the original teaching of
Wei Lang. Prajna is Janna.
Earlier teachers than Yeno had stated that when Janna was
practiced, all things vanished and there was nothing left. By
this, it was meant that no individual thing was left. There is
something that is not an individual object. There is a
perception of something and this perception is intuition. This
intuition is Prajna or enlightenment and Yeno most strongly
Now it may not be quite clear what Zen is driving at. I have a
book here that contains all the Zen sayings, starting with those
of Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma may be a fictitious individual but
that does not matter. Yeno is historical. From him down to the
early part of the Sung Dynasty, about 900 years ago, this book
contains all those Chinese sayings called Mondo. The mind
revolves, that is, it works. It operates as it faces 10,000
situations. When I see the lamp, I see it illuminated. When I
touch this table, it is hard, so my mind moves along. When I am
struck, I feel. In this way, the mind moves from one sense to
another just as things come along. This moving of the mind is
most subtle, obscure, and mysterious.
When I strike this table, I feel, but who is it that feels? What
is it that feels? When you try to get that person, mind, soul, or
spirit out here and see it, you cannot. You would like to get
something out of yourself, but you cannot. All the time, soul or
spirit moves on and this moving on is subtle. When it is working
in such a subtle way, when it is going on, you can get hold of
that something that cannot be taken hold of. Then you have it.
When you have that, then there is real wisdom or Prajna. When
you have this Prajna, then you are entirely free from all
sorrows, afflictions, and all other things.
Now when I speak of being free from desires, tensions, and fears,
you may think that the understanding of Zen will turn you into a
piece of wood, insensitive, indifferent; but I do not say this.
When I strike the table, it feels pain as much as I would. You
may say, "This is insane. It is not so." Everything is filled
with sense, mind, and heart. So when Buddha says to be free from
desires and afflictions, this does not mean to become like a
piece of wood. It means to make a piece of wood turn into a
In a Chinese Zen monastery, they have a heavy stick made of one
piece of wood that they strike with a hammer. It is very
sensitive. When a monk struck this, the Master said, "I have a
pain." That is not exaggerated. It really takes place. When
they see a worm on the ground, Buddhists try to avoid stepping on
it. You may say that you cannot move an inch because something
would be trodden on and die. True, you cannot move if you pursue
this practice in its relative sense. Actually, when you have
this intuitive understanding of things, you are like St. Francis
of Assisi when he talked about "Our Brother Sun" and "Sister
Moon" and about befriending wolves and birds. He took everything
as his own brother. His feeling was moving along the same lines,
so there is no difference between the Christian and the Buddhist
experience of final reality.
When Zen people talk about not having any feeling whatever, that
does not mean no feeling on the relative plane, but no feeling
based on selfissh interests. To have no pain and no desires does
not mean to become cold ashes. It means to have no feeling in
connection with selfish ideas. So long as we are individuals, we
cannot but be selfish to some extent but this selfishness is not
separate from that which is more than self. When self stays as
self and does not expand to something higher than itself, that is
the relative self. When self finds itself enveloped, a component
in something that is much wider and deeper, then it is not merely
the relative self. When that kind of self is realized,
enlightenment takes place. Zen Buddhism tries to make us attain
Most Christians think that Christ was historically born at a
certain place and time. According to Eckhart, the great German
philosopher of the thirteenth century, Christ is born in every
one of us. When that is so, the relative self dies to itself and
that relative self becomes empty. When the experience of
uniformity, sameness, and sensitivity takes place in our soul, it
is then that Christ is born there. Every impediment or faulty
particle of that which we call ourselves ought to be purged and
the self ought to become really empty.
This is quite different from the ordinary Christian way of
understanding the birth of Christ but Eckhart had no knowledge
whatever of Buddhism and Buddha had no knowledge of him, yet
their teachings coincide perfectly. When I read Eckhart, I seem
to be reading a Buddhist text with but a different terminology.
As far as inner comprehension is concerned, they are the same.
This comprehension corresponds to intuition. Prehension is only
grasping. Touch is, I suppose, the most primitive sense, but
this gives the purest feeling of identity, so prehension, taking
hold of by the hand, is necessary. Sight is the most
intellectual sense and hearing is next but there is a great
distance between them and their object. With touch, there is an
immediate coming together. We must experience that. It is the
same as intuition, not just relative intuition but collective or
total intuition. When this takes place, there is real
understanding of reality and the experience of enlightenment.
This is what constitutes the teaching of Zen as first taught by
Yeno, Hui Neng, or Wei Lang in the eighth century.
TO THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
By James Sterling
To the Members of the Theosophical Society,
And to all Theosophists worldwide,
It is time to settle our petty differences,
And stand united as one body:
FOR THE TIME HAS COME.
We have journeyed together in past lives,
And we meet again to face the DARKNESS,
As David stood humbly before Goliath.
We are all Chelas on the Path;
Every Member who works for Theosophy,
And battles the demons of the lower nature;
WE ARE ALL CHELAS ON THE PATH,
Enlightenment is ours if we stand together,
Like the Oak stands TALL when the Storm
Rages and Ravishes our trembling souls.
I'm on that Ancient Path, that Wise Men
Say leads to the Heart of the Universe,
And I have FAITH that my time will come,
But you, members of the Theosophical Society,
What do you believe?
The time has come to put away our petty differences,
Because we all know that the world needs US,
And we must join together as a WHOLE,
And fight for TRUTH, no matter what the cost.
As Chelas on the Path, we must follow orders,
From our spiritual source,
From Mahatmas waiting and waiting,
To Bring the Race Forward Onto A
Where The Dark Force will SOON remain as ashes,
In their dark, evil grave.
THE NATURE AND VALIDITY OF MYSTIC EXPERIENCE
By Sri C.V. Srinivasa Murty
[From THE ARYAN PATH, February 1953, pages 70-75.]
To take up first the meaning of Mysticism: the term is often
taken to mean something indefinite and inexplicable. It is
identified with intuition, which, unless properly defined, is
often a name for ignorance of the causes at work. Definitions
are legion and they will not help us. The best that can be done
is to indicate the sense in which it is to be used in this paper.
Mysticism is essentially an experience that gives us not merely a
feeling of intimate and personal relationship but knowledge as
well. The knowledge derived from mystic experience is described
as intuitive and is regarded as opposed to knowledge derived from
reasoning. The point of view developed here does not envisage
such a conflict between reason and intuition. Radhakrishnan
> In order to be able to say that religious experience reveals
> reality and in order to be able to transform religious certitude
> into logical certainty, we are obliged to give an intellectual
> account of the experience . . . There can be no final breach
> between the two powers of the human mind, reason and intuition.
-- Radhakrishnan, THE HINDU VIEW OF LIFE, pages 16-17
Intuitive mystical experience cannot be regarded as a special
gift. Every rational individual has the capacity for it, and
does experience it at some moment of his life. In its higher
levels, it is, in a sense, a direct and intimate experience
revealing knowledge. The sage, the scientist, and the
philosopher may have a mystic experience that is qualitatively
more significant than that of the layman because of their special
cultivation in their respective fields. The term is wrongly
confined to religious mysticism. Such restriction of the term
cuts at the root of the possibility of validating mystic
With a well-stored mind and deep contemplation of the mystery of
the universe that is able to translate his speculative awareness
of things into actual experience, a great man -- be he scientist,
philosopher, or poet -- has a claim to be called a mystic. Such
awareness and experience in that aspect of the universe described
as SACRED, as distinguished from the SECULAR, is religious
mysticism. Hence, religious mysticism is the same mysticism
applied to a unique aspect of man's experience.
Clearly mystic experience is universal in character. There
appears to be a difference between the intuition of the scientist
and that of the saint. The scientist who is a mystic looks on
the world and his subject matter appears to him to be something
different from himself, something external and objective that he
contemplates and with which he communes. The religious mystic
feels he is communing with himself, and more of himself, and
experiencing a feeling of self-transcendence to achieve the
presence of or identity with the Supreme and the Divine. There
is knowledge, illumination, and blissful experience. Bertrand
Russell beautifully remarks:
> The mystic insight begins with the sense of a mystery unveiled,
> of a hidden wisdom now suddenly become certain beyond the
> possibility of a doubt. The sense of certainty and revelation
> comes earlier than any definite belief.
> -- Bertrand Russell, MYSTICISM AND LOGIC, page 9
William James in his classic work, THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS
EXPERIENCE, rightly observes that we cannot define such an
experience. We cannot express it in conceptual formula. It can
be described. He mentions four characteristic marks of mystic
experience: (1) Ineffability, (2) Noetic Quality, (3) Transience,
and (4) Passivity. (See pages 380-81.)
An experience that has stamped upon it these four characteristic
marks deserves the name of mysticism. Russell goes further and
points to the reality revealed in the experience.
> This reality is regarded with an admiration often amounting to
> worship. It is felt to be always and everywhere close at hand,
> thinly veiled by the shows of sense, ready, for the receptive
> mind, to shine in its glory even through the apparent folly and
> wickedness of man. The poet, the artist, and the lover are the
> seekers after that glory. The haunting beauty that they pursue
> is the faint reflection of its sun. The mystic lives in the full
> light of the vision. What others dimly seek he knows, with a
> knowledge beside which all other knowledge is ignorance.
> -- Bertrand Russell, MYSTICISM AND LOGIC, pages 9-10
To bring out the importance of the mystical outlook on life, one
can do no better than to quote the further memorable words of
> I believe that, by sufficient restraint, there is an element of
> wisdom to be learned from the mystical way of feeling, which does
> not seem to be attainable in any other manner. If this is the
> truth, mysticism is to be commended as an attitude towards life,
> not as a creed about the world . . . Even the cautious and
> patient investigation of truth by science, which seems the very
> antithesis of the mystic's swift certainty, may be fostered and
> nourished by that very spirit of reverence in which mysticism
> lives and moves.
> -- Bertrand Russell, MYSTICISM AND LOGIC, pages 11-12
While every individual has the potentiality for mystical
experience, its highest ecstatic reaches are open to few. Look
upon mysticism as the most intimate form of adjustment to the
universe as a whole, in which the individual claims to achieve
peace, harmony, and joy. In order to appraise the claims made
for mysticism correctly, it is necessary to make an excursion
into psychology, especially psychoanalysis. Modern psychological
developments have thrown a flood of light on the personality and
have considerably influenced our attitude to religious problems.
Thanks to the speculation of Sigmund Freud, the scope of
psychology is no longer confined to the conscious processes.
Fanatics in the field unearthed the roots of the mental
experiences of exceptional individuals in the fields of art,
science, philosophy, and religion, leaders of thought and life,
asserting that they resembled those of neurotics. They claimed
that the religious life might be due to increased suggestibility,
emotional excitement, and frustration of the deep-seated impulses
of the personality. William James observes -- I think truly --
> Even more perhaps than any other kinds of genius, religious
> leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations.
> Invariably they have been creatures of exalted emotional
> sensibility. Often they have led a discordant inner life and had
> melancholy during a part of their career. They have known no
> measure, been liable to obsessions and fixed ideas, and
> frequently have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions,
> and presented all sorts of peculiarities that are originally
> classed as pathological.
> -- William James, THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, pages
We suppress or even repress a number of our experiences -- normal
as well as exceptional -- owing to custom, tradition, and many
newer social inhibitions of a complex society. These elements
form a reservoir of energy that is dynamic and highly explosive.
Many of our experiences, especially religious mysticism of the
ecstatic type, are explained as an up-rush from the subconscious.
It is said that experiences similar to those of mysticism may be
brought about by self-hypnosis, autosuggestion, or Yogic
practices, involving fasting and affecting the digestive system.
Shall we therefore dismiss mysticism as a malady of the human
At this stage, it is necessary to remind ourselves of the
limitations of psychology. Psychology is a descriptive science.
It can observe, describe, and analyze mental experiences and
maybe determine causes and conditions that bring them about. It
over-reaches when attempting to estimate the value of such
experiences and their significance for human life. To say this
is not to reject psychology. A correct knowledge of the origin
and development of religious experiences throws light on the
formation of value judgments. The application of psychology to
the understanding of the religious mind has revealed the inner
structure of the human mind and the potentialities of the human
personality. Such knowledge, far from turning out religious
skeptics, ought to purify religion and strengthen the religious
spirit. The origin of our religious experiences cannot determine
The religious mystic looks upon his experience as unique and
inexpressible. He lays claim to supreme delight and joy
ineffable. Though mystics have spoken with one voice of the
inexpressible nature of the experience, curiously enough, they
pour out their hearts in eloquent and emotionally charged words.
Some regard the experience as having brought them into the very
presence of the great Being, and the vision that begins with
"dark with excess of light" and later changes to an exhilarating
sense of illumination.
The experience is the same but the manner in which a mystic
interprets it depends upon the mystic's cultural and religious
background. They believe that the experience is solemn and
awe-inspiring, that of an objective reality more real than
anything else in life. This intense "Reality-feeling" is
accompanied by the emotion of refreshing joy and the birth of a
new meaning in an intuition more akin to sense than to thought
but distinguished from both by its immensely superior power to
reveal the divine.
As far as the mystic is concerned, the experience is
self-certifying. He is troubled by no doubts or misgivings.
Such certainty is purely subjective. Any experience, to have
meaning for human life, must be validated. Our philosophic quest
for truth and certainty requires that all we understand all
aspects of experience as a coherent whole. We can least afford
to pass by mystic experience, which through the ages has been
acclaimed as the deepest and the most significant.
If this view is correct, the dilemma of mystic knowledge results
from a wrong conception of the relation between reason and
intuition. Rational knowledge is taken to be purely analytical
and mediate, while the knowledge derived from intuition is
regarded as synthetic and immediate. There need be no hiatus
between mediate and immediate knowledge, between reason and
intuition. The human mind works by analysis and synthesis.
Reason and intuition may be regarded as alternative stages in the
development of knowledge.
In the process of understanding the Universe as a whole, the
highest flights of speculative intellect may result in the
summing up of the experience of a whole people in a deep and
comprehensive intuition. The reality of the Universe may appear
as a unique experience. What is merely mediate knowledge might
translate into immediate experience, the latter becoming the
basis for further advancement. From this point of view, there is
nothing in genuine mystic experience that is not present in every
rational individual. The experience differs in degree and not in
Such an attitude helps us to distinguish genuine mysticism from
the counterfeit. No one has asserted that the milder form of
mysticism is pathological. Although one finds in the lives of
the mystics a certain element of monoideism and suggestibility,
their experiences, taken as a whole, necessarily point to large
differences between the mystic and the hysteric. Delacroix
> The soul of the mystic has a richness of intuition and of action
> that sometimes goes to the extent of delirium; but the power of
> adaptation to life and the intelligence which stands back of the
> intuition distinguish the ordering of the mystic life from that
> of the really delirious.
> -- Quoted in THE RELIGIOUS CONSCIOUSNESS, by J.B. Pratt, page
Genuine mysticism contributes to ever-greater integration of
personality. In pathological cases, there is disintegration of
the personality, paralyzing both will and intellect. William
James recommends the pragmatic test for determining the value of
mysticism. Truth is that which works. It is hardly necessary to
array arguments against the pragmatic test of truth. It is
enough to point out that "workability," good effects on the
personality, etc., simply point to the direction in which one may
If the mystic experience leads to larger integration of the
personality, inner happiness, peace, and contentment, we may
believe that the experience itself is valuable. A problem
remains. How can we validate the mystic's claim to the
revelation of a God who is a "presence," real and objective,
authoritative and compulsive in character? There are two
arguments: mystics speak with one voice as to the authenticity of
the experience and genuine mystics are virtuous and sincere.
These arguments do not carry us far. Of the first argument, it
is not true that there is unanimity among mystics; among them are
pantheists and theists, monists and dualists. Viscount Samuel
> The character of the preacher is no guarantee of the truth of his
> doctrine. Exceptional virtue is one thing. Divine insight may
> be another. Further, the saints of one religion say different
> things from the saints of another religion. Both cannot be
> right. The world cannot find here the sure test by which to
> judge between this creed and that, between one claim to mystic
> inspiration and another.
> -- BELIEF AND ACTION, pages 67-68
There is every reason to admit that an individual can develop his
spiritual capacities and achieve complete harmony with the
universe of men and things and that the individual may even be
dimly aware of a spiritual atmosphere pervading the cosmos.
There is nothing to justify a mystic's interpretation of his
experience in terms of a particular theology. Freed from creedal
interpretations, mysticism is valuable, giving us the experience
of true religion.
The feeling of Reality that the mystic experiences may be that of
a comprehensive spirit expressed in and through the world. The
connected system of things and persons with which the mystic
seeks harmonious adjustment may itself be partly responsible for
stimulating the individual and leading him to a comprehensive and
In the present state of psychological and epistemological
knowledge, however, it is difficult if not impossible to say
definitely whether mystical states give us a vision superior to
anything we know. We do not know enough of subjective
communications such as precognition, clairvoyance, and telepathy
to judge the validity of supernormal understanding.
William James, a sympathetic but authoritative exponent of
religious mysticism, says:
> It must always remain an open question whether mystical states
> may not possibly be . . . superior points of view, windows
> through which the mind looks out upon a more extensive and
> inclusive world . . . Mystical states indeed wield no
> authority due simply to their being mystical states. The higher
> ones among them point in directions to which the religious
> sentiments even of non-mystical men may incline. They tell of
> the supremacy of the ideal, of the vastness of Union, of safety,
> and of rest.
> -- William James, THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
These are, as James rightly believes, only HYPOTHESES.
INFINITY AND ABSOLUTES: PARABRAHMAN-MULAPRAKRITI
By G. de Purucker
[From SPACE AND THE DOCTRINE OF MAYA, pages 47-53.]
> The Universe is called, with everything in it, Maya, because all
> is temporary therein, from the ephemeral life of a firefly to
> that of the Sun. Compared to the eternal immutability of the
> ONE, and the changelessness of that Principle, the Universe, with
> its evanescent ever-changing forms, must be necessarily, in the
> mind of a philosopher, no better than a will-o'-the-wisp. Yet,
> the Universe is real enough to the conscious beings in it, which
> are as unreal as it is itself.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 274
What the Occidental means when he uses the word "Infinite" is
often difficult to specify, being a word conveying an abstraction
-- i.e., everything that is non-finite. It is at best a negative
expression conveying perfect ignorance on one hand and by
implication incomprehensibility on the other. When the
Occidental says "Infinitude" or "Eternity," he implies endless
extension for the former and unending duration for the latter.
The terms are adequate provided they signify just that and are
not clothed with mental similitudes or garments of entification.
As just described, these two words correspond with fair accuracy
to the Ain Soph of the Hebrew Qabbalah, for that means "without
bounds," i.e., the Boundless. This term comprises both Infinity
and Endless Duration, both of which are boundless, unlimited,
frontierless, and without encompassing limits.
Sanskrit is probably the most nearly perfect language that human
genius has yet evolved for the expression of both concrete and
abstract philosophical thought. It is, nevertheless, an
offspring of human consciousness; and even with the help of this
marvelously flexible and comprehensive instrument of human
thought, the Sages and Seers themselves find it difficult to
express the loftier flights of intuitions of their genius at
In Theosophical writings as well as in the writings of the
Adwaita-Vedanta of India, Parabrahman and its Cosmic Veil
Mulaprakriti -- two sides or elements of the one fundamental
conception -- are often employed to signify the boundless expanse
of both Space and Time beyond the Brahman-Pradhana of our own
Universe. Grammatically at least, Parabrahman-Mulaprakriti
admits this usage readily.
What does Parabrahman mean? This word is a compound, formed of
the prepositional particle "Para," meaning beyond, and "Brahman,"
which is the Absolute, the Hierarch of a Universe, the summit or
apex of a Cosmic Hierarchy, or in other words the highest
divine-spiritual Entity of a Universe or Cosmos. From this
descriptive explanation, it is sufficiently clear that
Parabrahman when considered to be an Entity -- however vast or
sublime -- is really erroneously so considered, for an entity of
any magnitude is de facto limited, and Parabrahman, as just
stated, means beyond Brahman.
Do you begin to get the thought? Infinitude thus, when properly
used in a philosophical sense, is THAT, the Incomprehensible ALL,
which with its shoreless fields is beyond the loftiest reach of
either human or divine consciousness. Human consciousness should
not pretend to limit it by saying anything about it. It is
incapable of qualifying it by any adjective. No operation of
even the loftiest and most illuminated consciousness can
encompass it. Thus, Parabrahman is no Entity whatsoever, but is
confessedly a philosophical term meaning beyond Brahman, and
Brahman is the Absolute Spiritual Summit of our Universe.
"Absolute" is a relative term in another sense. It is the
philosophic One -- the Cosmic Originant -- that is the Absolute.
From the One come the Two. From the Two comes the Triad. From
the Triad comes the Cosmic Tetrad or Quaternary, which again
through emanational evolution breaks up into the manifested
multiplicity of differentiation. The philosophic One or the
Cosmic One is the Cosmic Absolute, but it is not the mystic Zero,
representing Infinitude. Consequently, the Zero, Infinitude,
holds or contains, because it is, an infinite number of such
Cosmic Ones, otherwise Cosmic Monads, and the hosts and
multitudes of minor Monads that are derivatives of any such
There are no Absolutes in the sense of Infinitudes. No matter
how great or how vast, every being is relative. It is related to
something else and to all else. Every Absolute is the Hierarch
of its own Hierarchy. It is the One from which all subsequent
series in that Hierarchy thereafter outflow or emanate, starting
from one, two, three, etc. to the limit or frontier of the
Hierarchy. Each such One, as above said, is an Absolute or
Cosmic Mukta or Cosmic Jivan-Mukta. It is an absolutum, the
latter a Latin participle signifying free. It is set free from
servitude to all the lower planes because master or Originant
thereof. Hence, absolute is a word signifying an entity that has
reached a condition of perfect liberation, relatively speaking.
The Sanskrit words "Moksha" or "Mukti" refer to this condition or
state. Thus the Absolute of our, or of any other, Universe or
Cosmic Hierarchy is the highest Divinity or supreme Chief or
Silent Watcher of the encompassed or included Hierarchy of Light
and of Compassion forming the light-side of such Cosmic
Had Occidentals only studied, or studied more carefully, even the
elements of some of the greater Oriental philosophical systems,
they would see the enormous difference between the Cosmic
Jivan-Mukta, above explained, which is an Absolute, a Cosmic
Freed One -- and TAT, the Boundless and Frontierless Infinitude
Once that you attempt to miscall Infinity by the word "Absolute,"
your mind immediately creates mentally a Being, therefore
limited, therefore finite, however vast, however high. It is
impossible in true philosophy to predicate absoluteness of
Infinity. Infinity is neither absolute nor non-absolute.
Absolute is a definite adjective, connoting certain logical
attributes, and therefore implying limitation.
Of Infinitude, no such attributes can be predicated. Infinitude
is neither conscious nor unconscious. It is neither alive nor
dead. This is because conscious and unconscious, living and
dead, and all similar human attributes belong to manifested,
limited, and consequently non-infinite beings and things, dealing
with finitude, whether large or small.
So common in Occidental philosophy and religion, the misuse of
the word "Absolute" arose out of the psychology in European
philosophers' minds of the Christian theological scheme, which
they could not shake off. They had the personal god, the
infinite person, or the Absolute. They pursued a logical train
of thinking arising in a proper conception, but the term used to
express this fundamental conception is wrong. The term
"Absolute" does not mean infinity. A person cannot be infinity.
This is a contradiction in terms. There can be an absolute
person, a Hierarch, the summit of a Hierarchy. This Hierarch is
only one of an infinite number of other Hierarchs, of other
Hierarchies. There are an infinite number of such Ones, but the
Infinite -- without number, attribute, qualification, or form --
is non-absolute. I am striking at the roots of old theological
superstitions and old philosophical superstitions.
Although she frequently employed it in its ordinary and mistaken
significance, HPB was keenly aware of the proper grammatical and
logical use of the term Absolute.
> When predicated of the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE, it denotes an
> abstract noun, which is more correct and logical than to apply
> the adjective 'absolute' to that which has neither attributes nor
> limitations, nor can IT have any.
> -- THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY definition of "absolute"
Mulaprakriti is a Sanskrit compound. It consists of Mula (root)
and Prakriti (nature) and therefore signifies elemental or
Originant Nature. It is the other side or other selfhood of
Parabrahman, but more particularly the root-matter of any and
therefore of every hierarchical system or Cosmos.
A universe is both. It is Mulaprakriti in its essence. In its
essence, it is Parabrahman, because it is formed of hosts of
individual monads. The heart of a monad is boundless space and
boundless space has two aspects: life or energy and substance or
form. You cannot separate the one from the other. Life or
energy is what we call Parabrahman. The substance-side or
vehicular side is the Mulaprakriti. Wipe out Mulaprakriti, if it
were possible, which it is not, and you would have pure
consciousness, pure energy. That is not possible, because energy
and matter are two sides of the same thing. Force and substance
are two sides of the same thing. Electricity, for example, is
both energy and substance. Consciousness is both energy (force)
Your body, my body, or any body is fundamentally Mulaprakriti,
Root-substance, fundamental Essence, manifesting in form.
Everything else is too, be it a star, a bit of wood, a stone, a
beast, or a bit of thistledown floating in the air. Its essence
is Mulaprakriti. Out in the abysmal spaces, in the deepest deeps
of Space, is Mulaprakriti, but also Parabrahman.
In these two words, "Parabrahman" and "Mulaprakriti," you get an
entirely different conception from the vague, Occidental mental
abstraction of Infinite as signifying but a negation or
non-finite. The Oriental conception accepts the manifested
universe and points to endlessness beyond it, and says
Parabrahman or Mulaprakriti. The Occidental also accepts the
manifested universe, but does not point beyond it, simply using a
term signifying "something different from the manifested
universe." This latter conception is philosophically and
fundamentally erroneous, for it makes a distinction between This
The Orientals, and likewise the Ancient Wisdom, never used the
word "Eternity." They rejected that conception. It is like a
mental cloud to speak of "Eternity." The best way in which
Occidentals express this conception is by saying endless
duration. This is not endless time, because time is a limited
human conception, but rather as endless enduring, that which
endures for aye.
All that the human consciousness is authorized to postulate is
that Parabrahman, "Beyond Brahman," or the Absolute is exactly
what we see around us, as far as our human physical
sense-apparatus can translate it to us, but limitlessly so.
Parabrahman, therefore, is not an entity. It is not a being. As
a term, it is a descriptive adjective turned into a noun, simply
meaning "Beyond Brahman." "As above, so below" -- and there is no
fundamental essential difference between the above and the below.
Every atom has its home in a molecule. Every molecule has its
home in a cell. Every cell has its home in a body. Every body
has its home in a greater body. The greater body, in this case
our Earth, has its habitat or dwelling or home in the solar
ether. The solar system has its home in the Galaxy. The Galaxy
has its home in what we humans call the Universe. Although our
telescopes carry us no farther, the Universe has its home in a
larger, greater, vaster Universe. This vaster Universe again has
its home in one still vaster. This goes, as Occidentals say, ad
infinitum. That ad infinitum is the Occidental's way of saying
what the Oriental means when he says Parabrahman or Beyond
Brahman. It is with a profound and radical difference. The
root-idea in the mind of the Oriental is the inner, invisible,
spiritual worlds, which the modern Occidental almost universally
Everything exists in something else greater than it is.
Everything contains hosts of beings inferior to itself.
Parabrahman simply means "beyond our Absolute" or "beyond our
Brahman." Brahman is the Absolute and Parabrahman H.P. Blavatsky
calls "SPACE." This is not emptiness, but using here just a
descriptive word, a descriptive noun, just as when she says
"Duration." Duration is filled with time, moments, or time
instants. Space, similarly, is filled with manifested Monads.
Absolutes are Monads of a far advanced type. They contain armies
and hosts of evolving inferior Monads.
This is what Parabrahman means and Mulaprakriti is but its other
side, the side of expansion and change. You can say that
Parabrahman is the consciousness-side of it, and that
Mulaprakriti is the space-side of it. It hurts to hear
Theosophists talk about Parabrahman as if it were a kind of god.
It is simply Space. It does not mean anything in particular,
however, because it is a purely generalizing term. It is a
confession that human consciousness stops here. It cannot go any
Even the word "Infinite," if you analyze it, simply means "not
finite." It does not mean anything in particular. It is man's
confession of ignorance and of inability to penetrate deeper. It
is a word exactly like Parabrahman. It simply means "not
finite," meaning the human consciousness can no longer reach into
the frontiers of the finite, to seize, grasp, and comprehend what
is there. Being unable to do so, it simply says, "Ah! That, that
is beyond all we know. It is IN-finite, not finite, the All."
The often-used theosophical word "Boundless" is simply a verbal
counter. This very "Boundless" is filled full of, made up of,
and composed of finite, bounded things, of individuals, beings.
People use these terms that are pure abstractions as if they were
concrete realities, creating thoughts about them and thereby
Everything -- even what we call "That" -- is contained in
something greater. The word "THAT" is nevertheless sufficient to
include the entire range of this conception. The entire Galaxy
is a Cosmic Cell. What the modern astronomers call the
Island-Universes, are other Cosmic Cells. Bathed in the
inter-galactic ether, these Cosmic Cells unite into an
ultra-cosmic, incomprehensible BEING. This is just as the cells
of a man's body appear separate from one other when viewed under
the microscope and yet unite to form a man's physical body in the
world. Our Galaxy is like a Cell in a Cosmic Body surrounded by
the abstraction we call Infinitude.
Consider an interesting scientific intuition of the same thought:
> The essential units of which we are composed are molecules and
> chains of molecules. Our life processes are expressed in terms
> of their properties. Our thoughts are conditioned by their
> interactions. Perhaps in the infinite series of cosmic units
> there are others that play the role of molecules in living
> organisms. Sub-electrons of the hundredth order may be the
> molecules, so to speak, of conscious beings that live through a
> million generations in what to us is a second of time.
> Super-galaxies of the hundredth order may similarly be the
> molecules of conscious beings whose life cycles consume
> unimaginable intervals of time. At any rate, it would be
> unjustifiable for us in our ignorance to assume that only on our
> level out of the infinite possibilities is there life.
> -- Forest R Moulton, CONSIDER THE HEAVENS, page 300
> Let us, therefore, once more assume the existence of intelligent
> beings whose constituent elements -- whose atoms, so to speak --
> are galaxies or super-galaxies of stars. Their life-cycles are
> measured in millions of billions of years, for such periods of
> time are required for important transformations of super-galaxies
> of the higher orders, which are for these beings only the cells
> in their bodies or the corpuscles of the blood which circulates
> in their veins. When they breathe, there are exhaled from their
> nostrils torrents of super-galaxies; when their heart beats, the
> galaxies of a billion light-years are in convulsions. For these
> beings, the galaxies that we know are only electrons or photons
> whose gravitational expansions and contractions and whose
> oscillations in form are expressed vaguely in wave packets. To
> their gross sense organs, such minute physical units as galaxies
> have no accurately definable locations or motions, though these
> entities persist and possess a quantitative property. For them,
> the galaxies are the primary elementary units in a chaos out of
> which by statistical averages a considerable degree of order
> emerges in the super-galaxies.
> -- Forest R Moulton, CONSIDER THE HEAVENS, page 330
Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti simply mean "Boundless Space" with
all its indwelling hosts of beings. At any one particular point
of it, a Logos may be springing into manifestation from its
Pralaya. That may happen here, there, or anywhere. Millions of
these Logoi may contemporaneously be bursting forth into new
Manvantaras. Millions of others may contemporaneously be passing
into their respective Pralayas.
Now in order to describe cosmic evolution and its beginning, a
Teacher says that, "In the beginning was THAT." This beginning is
not an absolute commencement of all infinitude, which is absurd,
but one of any beginnings of a system in Boundless Duration. At
its commencement of time, the Logos springs forth, the Logos
merely meaning one of these innumerable monadic points in THAT.
From this Logos -- one such Logos -- is evolved forth a Hierarchy
-- whether it be a Cosmic Hierarchy, solar system, planetary
chain, human being, or atom.
These Logoic points are numberless. Every mathematical point in
Space is a potential Logos. There are also many kinds of Logoi.
Some are much higher in evolution, but in generalized terms, the
doctrine is applicable to all.
Within, behind, above, and surrounding all such manifestations of
Cosmic Logoi or Cosmic Universes, there is that unthinkable and
therefore indescribable Mystery of Mysteries, which the reverence
of the archaic sages rarely ever spoke of or mentioned otherwise
than by hint or by allusion, and which the Vedic Sages in ancient
India called simply THAT. This is the Nameless, as much beyond
the loftiest spiritual intuition of the highest gods in all
manifested Universes as it is beyond the most supreme
understanding of man. It is frontierless Infinitude,
beginningless and endless Duration, and the utterly
incomprehensible boundless LIFE that forever IS.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application