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THEOSOPHY WORLD -------------------------------------- June, 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.)
"Capital Punishment," by B.P. Wadia
"Masks and Faces," by Claude Houghton
"The Guerdon of Self-Forgetfullness," by G. de Purucker
"The Mystic Poetry of the Sufis," by Said Naficy
"Apollonius of Tyanna, Part XVIII, by Phillip A Malpas
"The Theosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite," by Margaret Smith
"African Magic," by Tau-Tridelta
"The Chela and the Winter Solstice," by James Sterling
"A Study in Fundamentals," Part X, by Boris de Zirkoff
> Not ever from the wisest and noblest of these HPB Somebodies did
> I ever get the least encouragement to either regard them as
> infallible, omniscient, or omnipotent. There was never the least
> show of a wish on their part that I should worship them, mention
> them with bated breath, or regard as inspired what they either
> wrote with HPB's body, or dictated to her as their amanuensis. I
> was made simply to look upon them as men, my fellow-mortals;
> wiser, truly, infinitely more advanced than I, but only because
> of their having preceded me in the normal path of human
> evolution. Slavishness and indiscriminate adulation they
> loathed, telling me that they were usually but the cloaks to
> selfishness, conceit, and moral limpness.
> -- Henry S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, I, pages 249-50.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 403-05.]
> The killing of a human being by the authority of the state is
> morally wrong and an injury to all the people; no criminal should
> be executed no matter what the offence.
William Quan Judge penned these words in 1895. He was a great
Theosophist, a practical Occultist whose knowledge of the
invisible and of the human constitution was deep.
Every Sage, Seer, and Religious Reformer has asserted the truth
of the sacredness of all life -- human and animal -- and has
given the same command as Jesus did, "Thou shalt not kill." Six
hundred years before Jesus, in our India, the great Buddha named
Pity as the first of the five virtues to be practiced by monk and
> Kill not -- for Pity's sake -- and lest ye slay
> The meanest thing upon its upward way.
To this day along with the Three Refuges, the Pancha-Shila is
accepted by one about to become a Buddhist. Even the murderer is
careening on the upward way.
It is satisfying to read the words of Sri B.R. Ambedkar, the Law
Member of Pandit Nehru's Cabinet, from the June 3 Indian
Constituent Assembly. Referring to legislation regarding the
death penalty, Dr. Ambedkar uttered words that were acclaimed
> The other view, rather than the provision of power for the
> Supreme Court to hear criminal appeal in cases of death
> sentences, is the abolition of the death sentence itself . . .
> This country by and large believes in the principle of
> non-violence. It has been her ancient tradition. Some people
> may not be following in actual practice, but all certainly adhere
> to the principle of non-violence. The proper thing for our
> country therefore is to abolish the death sentence altogether.
This is as it should be. We are glad our Constituent Assembly is
showing courage and foresight in this matter, and we trust it
will set an example to the British House of Lords and the present
Labor Government, which has been lacking in courage and strength
of mind in the matter.
Lest this reform be considered merely a matter of sentiment, it
will be well to reflect upon capital punishment. Everywhere,
vast masses of people innately believe in the immortality of the
human Soul and its survival of bodily death. This innate idea is
a divine intuition that cannot be destroyed; let materialism do
what it may. It has done plenty!
The doctrine of the Immortality of the soul is neither illogical
nor unscientific. More than ample evidence is available for
anyone who is unprejudiced and not fettered by the bigotry of
modern science. Similarly, the states of the surviving
consciousness have been described -- allegorically and otherwise
-- down the ages. THE GARUDA PURANA and Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
are instances. No less a scripture than THE GITA refers to them
directly. The most cogent reference to the subject of capital
punishment is implicit. (VIII, 5-6) "Last thoughts strong in
death" affect each one of us.
What about the thoughts of the executed, surcharged with the
fierce emotions of hatred, revenge, and the like? The nature, the
passions, the state of mind, and the bitterness of the criminal
have to be taken into account. The condition in which the
criminal is when cut off from mundane life has much to do with
this subject of Capital Punishment.
Violent death is different from natural death, hence the
religious supplication, "From sudden death, Good Lord, deliver
us." There is truth underlying this. Explains Mr. Judge:
> A natural death is like the falling of a leaf near the
> wintertime. The time is fully ripe, all the powers of the leaf
> having separated; those acting no longer, its stem has but a
> slight hold on the branch and the slightest wind takes it away.
> So with us; we begin to separate our different inner powers and
> parts one from the other because their full term has ended, and
> when the final tremor comes, the various inner component parts of
> the man fall away from each other and let the soul go free. The
> poor criminal has not come to the natural end of his life.
What about the executed?
> Floating as he does in the very realm in which our mind and
> senses operate, he is forever coming in contact with the mind and
> senses of the living.
It is good therefore if India is determined to abolish Capital
Punishment, not only cruel for the executed but dangerous to the
executioner -- the State and its citizens.
MASKS AND FACES
By Claude Houghton
[From THE ARYAN PATH, September 1952, pages 391-97.]
I'm going to tell you how I came to this place. A man told me
that he wrote an account of what happened to him before he found
himself here and that it made a difference. So I'll do the same
and see what happens.
* * *
It's a strange place. There's no doubt whatever about that. For
the first few weeks, I thought I must have died and turned up in
the next world. I like it here. I don't want to go back.
This place was once a famous country house, which had belonged to
the same family for generations. A fine drive with monumental
gates: a superb terraced garden: a broad walk with rising meadows
beyond. There are several wings to the house. I can tell you
about only one and not much about that.
Extraordinary people here! Most exhilarating! Such a CHANGE. No
small talk! And everything is orderly. It's amazing. And at
night, there's sylvan silence made musical by the sound of
The efficiency of the staff is unbelievable. Not the efficiency
you find in a first-class hotel. Quite different! EVERYTHING is
so different that I can't even remember what my name was before I
came here. I don't want to remember it. And I don't want to go
There's this, too, and it's important. Since coming here, I
haven't any personal affairs. Don't even handle my own money.
Never draw a check! No visitors and no letters. It's heavenly.
Now, before I tell you about the event that caused me to come to
this place, I must give you an idea of the kind of people who are
There's an immense lounge on the ground floor, one side of which
is practically all windows, with a rapturous view over the
terraced garden to the rising meadows beyond. Well, one morning,
I noticed a most remarkable-looking man. Never seen such a lit
face. There he was, standing by the window, in his own unique
world. (Everyone here is in his own unique world and knows it.)
I went to him and asked the time.
He looked at his watch, then said, "It's a quarter past
See what I mean? No small talk!
* * *
I've always been a solitary person. I can't speak to anyone
unless I'm sure there's affinity between us. So it was pretty
near hell for me in the army. But after I was taken prisoner, it
wasn't so bad in a prison camp. All it really involved for me
was a total withdrawal into the mysterious and unique inner world
that all of us possess, but that most of us deny because it
Of course, we had to work in the prison camp, and most of us
worked in a nearby mine. That scared me at first, but I got used
Now, I'm going to tell you something rather odd. (You'll see why
There was a prisoner in this camp that interested me. We'd never
spoken. He was rather like me, but that's not why I was
interested in him. Not then. It was his eyes. A man with those
eyes must have had experiences unknown to the average man. He
was in a different part of the camp. Sometimes I saw him on our
way to or from the pit-shaft.
Then the event happened that altered the whole of my life,
bringing me here.
It was a raw foggy morning. None of us spoke as we walked to the
pit-shaft. I felt strange in a way difficult to define. D'you
ever get the feeling that things aren't going on as they are? I
felt rather like that.
When we got to the bottom of the shaft, we found the Chief
Inspector with several of his subordinates. Every few weeks,
they broke up the working gangs. That's what they did now. They
weren't going to let men get too intimate with each other lest
they plan an escape. (They made us change huts every few weeks
for the same reason.) We were sorted into different groups. I
found myself in a group with the man who interested me.
From the bottom of the shaft, we had some way to go to reach the
coalface. It seemed to me, on this particular morning, that
there was a new smell in the damp air, but no one mentioned it.
We groped along, bent double, until we reached the place where we
had to work.
I suppose it was about two hours later when I heard a distant
sound like an explosion. Then there was a rending roar. I was
flung off my feet. Everything round me collapsed.
I must have been stunned, because it was some time before I
became aware of surroundings.
I was in a kind of cave, one lit by a miner's lamp. A pick was
leaning against a protruding rock. There wasn't a sound. Near
me was the man with the remarkable eyes, the man who had
I stared at him. "What happened?"
"There was an explosion. We're walled in."
"Will they find us?"
"Possibly, if they trouble to try, but they may not. Plenty of
He wasn't afraid! He wasn't pretending not to be afraid. He just
WASN'T. Then he said, "Have a cigarette."
"It's stupid to smoke, isn't it? The air won't last, if they
don't come soon."
"Yes, it's stupid, but let's have one."
We lit cigarettes. Then I looked round the "cave," part of which
was luridly lit, part in deep shadow. Then I looked at my
I was going to die here, with this man to whom I'd just spoken
for the first time. I could not believe it. There are
situations in which nothing is so astounding as a fact.
He stood motionless, with eyes closed, and I realized with a
shock how closely he resembled me. With his eyes shut, he might
have been my twin brother.
At last I said, "I can't hear anything."
"We'll see what happens." Again, a long silence.
I hadn't a guess what he was thinking about. How could I? And he
couldn't guess what I was thinking about.
Eventually, he said, "I tell you what. We're probably in for it.
So let's tell each other everything about ourselves. All the
things we've never told anyone. Know what I mean? "
"A kind of secular confession."
"Let's toss for it. You call. If you're wrong, you go first.
That all right?"
"That's all right."
He spun a coin. I lost.
"You go first," he said.
Then he added, "Biggest illusion is to believe one is an isolated
self- contained being. Someone said, 'All things think through
me, and I through them.' We're linked with everyone and
everything that is alive. You are everyone and everyone is you."
Then I began to tell him things I'd told no one. I said nothing
about the external facts of my life -- nothing about my parents,
my education, where I'd been, or the jobs I'd done. I told him
everything about my secret interior life, that endless drama
played on a private stage to an empty house.
I revealed all the antagonistic aspects of myself. I explained
how, suddenly, one aspect would strive for supreme ascendancy
over my whole being and how once ascendancy was achieved, my will
became paralyzed and only the monstrous had reality.
I told him my fantasies about women, and my actual relations with
them, which were parodies of those fantasies.
I revealed the world of my loneliness, the wanderings in
tentacular streets and congealed silence of countless rooms, all
the physical loneliness that reflects spiritual isolation.
I repeated the ceaseless arguments that go on, day and night, in
my mind. Arguments, probings, and speculation that are an
amalgam of my own thoughts and the thoughts I have found in
books. I told him about books that had transfixed me like a
I told him how, endlessly, the different aspects of myself
returned. There were my Rapturous Self, which has glimpsed the
Promised Land; my Despairing Self, which is convinced that life
is meaningless suffering; my Ambitious Self, which craves success
as an addict craves drugs; my Perverted Self, with its host of
images; my Resigned Self, which haunts the wings like a ghost and
stares at the spectacle on the stage; my Masked Self, which goes
daily to a job and presents what others expect to see; and my
Child Self, which gazes with wonder at the world. And there were
many other Selves, endlessly returning like steps on a treadmill.
To others, I had shown only masks. To this stranger in the
"cave," I showed my faces.
I gave him my spiritual autobiography. Revealed all my
aspirations, perplexities, and temptations. I told all my
victories, defeats, regrets, and imaginings, all the miser-hoards
of memory. Each Self has its own miser-hoard. I revealed my
sense of Guilt, which lies heavier than a tombstone on the heart.
I revealed the Rebellion that incites; the Hatred that brands;
Lust that consumes; Beauty that bewilders; Wonder that wakes; and
Peace that spreads benediction. I revealed my inner conflict
with principalities and powers -- inevitable to one for whom the
invisible world exists.
I imagine that what I said was punctuated by silences. Often,
during my long soliloquy, I forgot his presence. When I
finished, I felt as hollow as a ghost.
He didn't say anything. I'm certain nothing I'd said had
surprised him. He merely repeated, "You are everyone and
everyone is you."
Then he gave me a cigarette.
So there we stood, in that grotesquely lit "cave," smoking.
I felt immense impatience for him to begin HIS confession. I
felt that, until he had revealed himself to me as wholly as I had
revealed myself to him, I was infinitely his inferior. For some
obscure reason, his resemblance to me became progressively
He finished his cigarette, turned to me, and was about to begin
his confession when I heard a faint sound.
Then I heard another sound.
I seized the pick and hammered on the wall with it.
Then I distinctly heard three distant raps.
I struck the wall again three times.
A few minutes later, we heard the sound of a drill.
Before very long, rescuers reached us.
We were separated. The next day, I heard he had been moved to
A few months later, the war ended.
I never saw him again.
Eventually, I returned to England, found a rather squalid room in
a mean street, and got a job.
This involved movement and action. I'd returned to a world from
which war had exiled me for over four years. I had adjustments
to make, complicated adjustments at many levels. Above all, I
had to present my Public Face to the world. I had to appear
One night, I woke at about two o'clock. I can't tell you the
horror I felt that somewhere was a man about whom I knew nothing
yet whom knew everything about me. Absolute HORROR! He knew
EVERYTHING about me! He might have told others. They might
recognize me in the street. It was terrifying if only HE knew.
Now, there was a spectator at the drama endlessly played on what
had once been a private stage.
Can you understand my terror? Don't you know that everything
becomes different when it ceases to be secret and is SHARED?
Remember, I'd hidden nothing from him. Nothing! It was hell to
know that he knew! Naked hell!
Then, one of his sentences began to repeat itself in my mind with
the monotony of a metronome.
"You are everyone and everyone is you . . . You are everyone
and everyone is you . . . And everyone is you."
My nights became waking nightmares. And, don't forget, every day
I had to go to a job. I tell you, it became impossible, simply
Then something happened, something that still makes me tremble.
I was in the tube at midday, going somewhere or other. The only
other person in the long carriage was a man opposite me. He was
a florid-faced person with a paunch and a floral tie, the kind of
man you usually see only on Bank Holidays. He was studying the
racing edition of a midday paper with blear-eyed immobility.
I watched him. He was not only opposite me physically. He was
my opposite in every way. It was impossible to imagine any link
Suddenly, I noticed a change in his expression. It was almost
imperceptible, but it became more marked. SLOWLY, HIS FEATURES
TURNED INTO MINE! I felt I was gazing into a mirror!
The train stopped, I stumbled out and stood on the platform. I
don't know how long I stayed there. Train after train appeared,
then rattled into obscurity.
Eventually, I went to my room.
Later, lying awake in the darkness, that sentence again revolved
in my mind, "You are everyone and everyone is you."
Nevertheless, the next morning, I went to my job, almost
convinced that what had happened in the tube had been a dream. I
must have dozed for a moment and dreamed the whole thing.
When I reached the office, I was told that the managing director
wanted to see me. That was unusual. Far more remarkable was his
geniality. He gave me a letter, addressed to me, from a firm of
lawyers, Clayton and Hilder.
"I know what's in that," he said, because Clayton telephoned
yesterday to ask if you were still working here. An uncle of
yours -- quite a hermit, I gathered -- has left you a
considerable sum of money. I tried to tell you yesterday, but no
one knew where you were."
"I'm sorry. I was taken queer in the tube."
"Too bad! Well, you won't have to go on working if you don't want
He made me sit down and gave me a cigarette. Everything in his
manner implied that he regarded me as a recruit to his world. As
I studied his confident features and his emphatic movements, as I
listened to the resonant incisive voice and noted the instinctive
assurance that enclosed him like armor, I knew I could never
enter his world. We were not two men, we were two worlds that
were light-years apart.
Then -- IT happened again.
His features became mine!
I got up unsteadily, leaned against the table, then heard his
voice coming from an immense distance. "Knocked you out a bit,
this good news . . . Better go for a stroll . . . Or,
better still, have a couple of doubles."
Somehow, I got out of the room and into the street.
Then, IT happened more and more often -- every day! I looked at a
man and he became me. I had to give up my job. I was afraid to
go out, but I HAD to go out for meals. Every man's face became
mine. Every woman's face became mine, subtly changed, but MINE.
Then, one afternoon, in the park, a CHILD'S face became mine. I
couldn't stand that! No, by the living God, I couldn't stand
Then, strange things happened. I found I was no longer in my
squalid room in the mean street. I was in a very different room.
There was a nurse there for some reason. Can't think why. Mr.
Clayton, the lawyer, often came to see me. He didn't understand
what I said to him. That seemed queer, because he's clever.
Then there was a Mr. Fortesque of Harley Street. He came quite
often. Eventually, I signed some paper or other. At least, I
Then, on a marvelous May morning, a car appeared and I was driven
to this strange place, which was once a country house. How well
I remember driving past the monumental gates and my first view of
the terraced garden and the broad walk and the meadows beyond!
AND the extraordinary people! Amazing, really. No personal
affairs of any kind. Didn't even have to draw checks. It was
* * *
I wrote all this in the lounge here. Wrote it in no time. When
I paused to light a cigarette, the man who had told me that the
time was "A quarter past Eternity" came over and asked if I were
a poet. I said that, most unfortunately, I was not.
He said he was. He told me one of his poems. This is it: --
> All the blinds of the universe are drawn.
> God is dead.
> (No prayers, by request).
You see what I mean? No small talk!
* * *
I've only one more thing to tell you. It's this. All the people
I've spoken to here have only one fear. They're afraid that a
day will come when they'll have to go back. They're all afraid
of that, especially the poet that has a face from another world.
"Go back," he exclaimed! "Go BACK? Back to chaos, back to
pitiless streets, back to the Babel of meaningless words! Back to
the mentally inert and emotionally dead! Back to the perpetual
barrage of hate, fear, and envy! Go back? Back to lying
newspapers and poisoned news! Back to lovers of death! Back to
Beauty's sepulcher, from which the stone will never be rolled!
Back to the dictatorship of the machines and to the demented
yells of those who claim to control the monstrous machines! Go
BACK? Join the universal suicide-pact! Have one's whole being
obliterated by the demoniac din of their damned jets! To read,
hear, dream, and live horror! Back to crucifying isolation! Go
BACK? To rot slowly from the roots? I must stay here, I tell you!
I must! I MUST! I'm afraid to go back!"
I, too, am afraid.
THE GUERDON OF SELF-FORGETFULNESS
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 153-54.]
Theosophy works a magic upon us that is grander by far than
merely telling us of the undoubted and beautiful truth of our
essential divinity. It transmutes our weak and often evil
manhood into godhood. It teaches us to forget ourselves for
others -- for the world. It so washes our natures and our hearts
and our minds of the personal and limited that in time we are led
on even to forget ourselves and live in the universal.
To me this is the lost keynote of modern civilization, whirling
as it does around the egoisms born in us. It seems to me that if
we Theosophists can instill into the thought-life of the world,
of our fellowmen, ideas, principles of thought, and consequent
conduct, teachings of religious and philosophical and of
scientific character and value, which will teach men, enable men
to learn, to forget themselves and live for others, then I think
we shall have done more than teaching men the undoubtedly sublime
verity of their oneness with divinity -- one of my own favorite
thoughts and teachings! For even that can have an atmosphere of
egoism about it, of spiritual selfishness.
You know, I really believe that if our sad and suffering world
today, hovering on the brink of disaster as it is, this world
taken distributively as individual men and women, could learn the
one simple lesson of self-forgetfulness, and the beauty, the
immense satisfaction of heart and mind, that comes from such
self-forgetfulness, living for others, for the world, I honestly
believe with all my heart that ninety-nine percent of the world's
troubles would be solved.
Politics would then become an engine of human achievement and not
of selfishness and often destruction. Works of philanthropy
would be considered the noblest in the world, because they would
be guided by the wisdom of an awakened heart. For no man's eye
sees clearly when it whirls around the pivot of the personal
self; but it will see clearly when its vision becomes universal,
because then all in the field comes within the compass, within
the reach, of its sight.
Am I not right, therefore, in believing that, beautiful as are
the teachings that, as individual men, we can study in Theosophy,
and great as will be the advantage that individually we shall
draw from them, from these teachings, there is indeed something
still higher in Theosophy that it alone, perhaps, in the world
today teaches: that we reach our highest, our most sublime peaks
of achievement when we forget ourselves? May we not find the same
sublime verity at the heart of, as the essence of, the burthen
of, every one of the great religions of the past, provided we
strip away the dogmatic excrescences born of the brains of
Remember that true Theosophy is a matter of the heart-life, and
of the heart-light, as well as of deep intellectual
understanding; but so many people do not realize this, and look
upon Theosophy as merely a kind of intellectual philosophy, which
is only a part of it.
Here is another thought: While the selfless life as taught in
Theosophy is considered by us to be the most beautiful because
universal and all-inclusive, yet can we properly be living such a
selfless life if we ignore those duties lying nearest at hand? In
other words, if a man so yearns to help the world that he goes
out into it and neglects duties that he already has assumed, is
he doing the thing that is manly? Is he living the selfless life;
or is he following a secret, selfish yearning for personal
advancement? Is he even logical? Selflessness means never to
neglect a duty, because if you do that, upon examination you will
discover that you are following a desire, a selfish thought. It
is in doing every duty fully and to the end, thereby gaining
peace and wisdom, that you live the life that is the most
THE MYSTIC POETRY OF THE SUFIS
By Said Naficy
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1950, pages 265-68.]
Sufism had existed a long time before it was codified and
recorded in writing. For more than ten centuries, the tradition
was passed orally, from mouth to ear. Circumstances were
unfavorable later on when an attempt was made to record it. The
Sufis were surrounded by so many hostile and malevolent sects
that they preferred to express themselves through symbol and
metaphor. Often interpreted in different ways, these have always
brought about great confusion and innumerable misunderstandings.
The chief reason that ever stood in the way of the Sufis'
declaring boldly their conviction was that Sufism is essentially
individualistic and therefore incompatible with established
religions. Every religion tries to subdue the individuality of
the believer, to dissolve it through slavish obedience that
allows of no protest, thereby making of its follower an object
rather than a being. All practices are dictated, and there is no
room for free choice. All prescriptions must be followed without
reflection, or, when refection is allowed, it cannot go beyond
the text established by the divine legislator.
Sufism, on the contrary, invites and prepares its votaries to
attain the highest degree of purification. One who reaches that
highest stage no longer needs any guide. The greatest degree of
purification being the image of God, one who attains it has
himself become divine in the fullest meaning of that word and, as
such, has become his own divinity. Thus, it is that one of the
great martyrs of Sufism was executed because he had dared to say,
"I am God," another was brave enough to say, "There is only God
within this garment."
The Sufis were compelled to express themselves by hints, to
preach under cover, and even to hold secret gatherings; they
lived far away from urban centers. Yet they needed votaries.
They had to be initiated; they had to be prepared and directed so
that they might realize divinity. The method employed by the
Sufis to reach this end is subtle and ingenious. They created a
sort of moral hierarchy that we find already in Manichaeism and
that took a more rudimentary form in certain Christian churches
and especially in Roman Catholicism. Among the Christians, one
can begin by becoming a simple priest and then ascend, grade by
grade, until one may reach ultimately the dignity of the Pope.
Among the Manichees, this privilege was not reserved to the elect
or to those who entered the clerical profession; any one was
qualified to enter the community as a Listener -- this was the
designation among them. The Listener then had but to follow the
necessary prescriptions to ascend step by step. Each stage in an
inferior rank allowed him to pass into the next grade, exactly as
in an army, until he arrived at the last or seventh stage when he
was liberated from all obligations, becoming his own shepherd and
flock. Manichaeism differed from other religions in that this
was possible without distinctions of birth, caste, or even of
The Sufis adopted the same method but presented it in a much more
poetical form. This form of Sufism inspired Dante in his DIVINE
COMEDY, Milton in his PARADISE LOST, and Swift in his SENTIMENTAL
JOURNEY. The poetical explanation of the Iranian Sufis is even
more refined. I shall mention some of the prototypes.
The great poet Sanai presents the ascent of the soul in the
following manner. The soul wishes to ascend to heaven in order
to reach perfection. Like any traveler, it takes provisions for
this long ascent of seven stages. Please note that the number
seven is classical among the Manichees and has been faithfully
retained by the Sufis. The soul thus commences its voyage and,
as it gradually ascends, it realizes more and more the futility
of its provisions that are cumbersome and useless to one who is
becoming more and more ethereal, less and less corporeal, and who
can therefore do with less and less luggage. At each stage, the
soul discards some blemish, some defect, some passion, some
sensual pleasure, exactly as the crew of a boat may jettison its
cargo when in danger or as a man in a balloon may have to get rid
of his load in order to be able to reach his destination.
In the same manner, the soul reaches perfection. It has detached
itself from not only the equivalent of the seven capital sins of
European authors, but also from every corporeal and material tie
with the earth. The Sufis designate this as the degree of
complete destitution, leading to unification.
Another great Iranian poet, Attar, gives an even more symbolic
explanation of a remarkable subtlety. A group of birds, having
heard of a fabulous bird, formed themselves into a caravan to go
to visit the object of their envy and to try to follow its
example. In this caravan, each bird is the symbol of a blemish;
thus, the parrot symbolizes gossip, the hoopoe (a bird with a
crest) stands for fatuity, the cock for voluptuousness, the crow
for theft, the owl for malevolence, and so on. The poet first
gives us the portrait of all these and makes them speak to reveal
their own nature. Then the birds begin their ascent towards the
perfect being, whose example they aspire to follow.
Here again we have sever regions that must be traversed. The
journey is hard; each stage sees some of the birds, exhausted
with fatigue, finding themselves unable to continue the trip and
remaining behind. All blemishes, since they cannot ascend, must
be discarded until only one being reaches the goal.
There he finds only a tiny fairy corner, full of flowers, of
fruits, and of all the beauty that one can imagine. At the
center of this veritable paradise, the traveler sees only a
surface of water -- he has been told that it is here that the
fabulous bird resides, but when he approaches, he sees only his
own image reflected in the water! Then he realizes that
perfection was all along within himself. To go through the seven
difficult stages which had to be traversed, it was only necessary
to get rid of all that was an encumbrance and superfluous. When
he had thus completely purified himself, he had become the
perfect being whom he had sought and whose example he had wished
The Iranian Sufis have explained their doctrine in this manner.
The most ingenious manner, as also the safest, that they adopted
to convert the people was that of symbolic poetry. That is why
poetry was cultivated to such an extent and attained such
richness among the Iranian Sufis. In fact, one can say that
nearly all great Iranian Sufis have been poets, as also that all
poets have been Sufis, the latter sometimes unconsciously to
In the poetry of the Iranian Sufis, symbolism attains an
incomparable wealth; it achieves a remarkable variety. Not only
has carnal love been sung in flattering terms but also, while
Islam reigned supreme, the poets praised Hindu pagodas as also
the tabernacles of the Christians, the synagogue of the Jews and,
still more remarkable, they praised even the cabaret of the
Zoroastrian Magi. A few, among them the great Hafiz, even sing
the praises of the Fire of Zoroaster. Thus, it is that poetry,
whether lyrical, bacchanal, or even erotic, reached the highest
degree of perfection among the Iranian Sufis.
In spite of all the anathemas directed against them by Mohammedan
priestcraft, which looks upon them even today as heretics, the
Sufis had great eras in all Mohammedan countries, in North
Africa, Syria, Arabia, Turkey, and in Central Asia. This was
especially true in India and Iran, where they are still most
numerous. The Sufis have always been the refuge of superior
spirits and freethinkers.
The most picturesque aspect of Sufism, as also the most
significant, is its striking liberalism, which evinced itself at
a period when the whole of humanity was poisoned by divisions of
class, caste, race, and religion. Among Sufis, all individuals,
irrespective of religion or sect, are regarded as absolutely
equal. The great Sufi leaders accepted among their disciples,
and even into their intimate circle, Jews, Christians, idolaters,
Zoroastrians, and Mohammedans -- the last with no distinction
among the sects of Islam. The Sufis of India have had among
their votaries Hindus as well as Mohammedans. The Islam of the
Sufis is an Islam absolutely spiritual, that is, a philosophical
principle and not a ritual. That is why the Sufis have never
preached any specific religious observance or recommended any
special worship or prayer.
One can therefore say that Sufism has always been something
beyond and above religion -- a superior ideal, a philosophical
teaching, which looks upon the whole of humanity as equal,
without distinctions of race, of faith, of sect, of clan, of
caste, or of class. The great Sufi leaders always made the
beggar sit next to the prince, a child next to a venerable old
man. Respect was accorded only based on the length of time since
one had joined the circle of Sufis and on that of the number of
personal mortifications and sacrifices undertaken and practiced
under the patronage and the spiritual guidance of the head of the
The Sufi sects, although very numerous, never had any divergence
of views among themselves; this because the basic principles were
identical for all and the question of spiritual exercises was
considered of secondary importance. Successorship was
hereditary; that is, the chief himself, while still alive, chose
among his disciples the one most worthy to succeed him upon his
death. The only prerogative of the chief consisted in a robe and
in an asanna or carpet for prayer, and these were handed down
from one to the other. The robe was not replaced, or it would
have lost its sacred character; as it became worn, it was mended,
and in fact, a very old and very much mended robe brought out
even better the characteristic teaching of Sufism that forbids
attachment to material goods.
Thus, one can consider Sufism as one of the most wholesome
philosophies of humanity. Sufism existed, at least in Iran, long
In spite of the wealth of Sufi literature in Persian, in Arabic,
in Urdu, and even in Turkish, it is still difficult to define
Sufi philosophy. This is because of its inexplicable subtlety
and because the Sufis, having been surrounded by hostile and
malevolent people, had to explain their teaching through symbols.
These brought into existence later on an impressionist type of
poetry of considerable value that has to its credit four
centuries of existence.
I hope that I have succeeded in giving you an elementary outline
of Sufism -- I say elementary, because I have had to avoid the
use of all technical terminology that would have remained
incomprehensible to all who are not specialists in the subject.
APOLLONIUS OF TYANNA, Part XXII
By Phillip A Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE
THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and
published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later
appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND
WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by
Point Loma Publications.]
The time approached when the gods had decided to deprive Domitian
of the Empire. He had put to death Clemens, a man of consular
rank, to whom he had given his sister in marriage. He proposed,
three or four days later, that she should follow her husband.
Now there had been of late a strange phenomenon in the heavens.
A corona, or circle, like a rainbow, had surrounded the sun and
cut off its rays. Many talked of this corona ("Stephanos" in
Greek) and some feared that the world was coming to an end.
Apollonius resisted all attempts to get him to declare the omen.
All he said was, "Keep up your spirits, for some light will arise
out of this night."
Now Stephanos, a freedman of Domitian's sister, the wife of
Clemens, brooded on the coincidence of the character of the
phenomenon and of his own name. Now that his mistress was marked
for death, he took a horrible determination. In the manner of
the ancient Athenians, he fastened a dagger under his left arm
and then tied the arm in a sling, as if broken.
As Domitian was coming from the tribunal, he approached and said,
"Oh Emperor, I have matters of great importance to communicate."
Domitian lived by his spies and informers, who each mistrusted
the other. What more natural then that he should welcome the
disclosure of some new plot by a man who evidently feared a less
direct method of communication. Besides, he was the freedman of
his own sister. He took Stephanos into his private room alone.
"Your mortal enemy Clemens is not dead as you think," was the
startling message. "He is living in a place I know of and is
preparing to attack you."
Domitian, superstitious as he ever was, even in the smallest
things, uttered a shriek of surprise and fear.
Then Stephanos struck him with the dagger in the thigh. The
wound was mortal but it did not kill him instantly. Domitian was
physically robust and not more than forty years old. Wounded as
he was, threw Stephanos to the floor, where he stood over him and
tried to tear out his eyes while striking him in the face with a
golden chalice as he shrieked out to Pallas for help. This was
in a room where sacrifices were made and the chalice stood by the
The bodyguards rushed in. Seeing that the tyrant was losing
strength, they put an end to his life.
This happened at Rome while Apollonius was at Ephesus in the year
96 A.D., or about the year 99 of Apollonius.
The aged centenarian was walking in the groves of Ephesus about
noon discussing philosophical problems with inquirers or
disciples. Something seemed to interrupt his train of thought
and his voice fell. He appeared to be in a peculiar mood. He
talked still, but mechanically and in a low voice. It was as
though he were preoccupied with some other matter than that of
which he spoke. Then he became quite silent, losing the thread
of his discourse. In this mood, he often used to fix his eyes on
the earth as at other times he used to raise them with a meaning
gesture. Suddenly he advanced three or four steps and shouted.
He did this not as one who saw a vision but as though he were
present at the scene.
This was no midnight imagining, but a noonday scene in the most
popular resort of Ephesus. All Ephesus was there to catch if
possible some grain of the wisdom that fell from the lips of the
wonderful old seer who was reaching his hundredth year of the
perfect purity of life.
The vast crowd fell silent. Apollonius now was still, every
sense alert as though watching some contest of which the issue
was yet in doubt. Suddenly he moved with a gesture.
"Men of Ephesus," he cried. "This day the tyrant is killed! This
day, do I say? Nay, this very moment, while the words are on my
lips. I swear it by Minerva!" He said no more. It was a serious
matter, for had he not sworn by Minerva?
Many thought him mad, yet they would have liked to think that
what he said was true.
"I am not surprised you hesitate to believe a thing that is not
even yet known in Rome itself, at least not everywhere. Ah! Now,
now they know. It has run through the whole city. Thousands
believe it and leap with joy. Now twice as many know it, now
four times as many, and now all Rome knows it! Soon the news will
be here in Ephesus. You will not do wrong if you suspend all
sacrifices until the messenger comes. As for me, I will go and
pay my vows to the gods for what I have seen with my own eyes!"
Was ever a more extraordinary noonday wonder witnessed in
Ephesus! Messengers came and confirmed to a second every detail.
Thirty days later, Nerva sent a letter saying he was Emperor by
the counsels of the gods and of Apollonius, and he could better
maintain the imperial dignity if only Apollonius would come to
Rome and assist him to govern the world -- that is what the
request amounted to! Apollonius was a vigorous old man of
ninety-nine! The answer sounded a little strange when Nerva read,
"We shall both live together a very long time, in which we shall
not govern others nor shall others govern us."
So it was. Nerva reigned but sixteen months "in which time he
established a character of the greatest moderation," before he
passed to his long life beyond the gates of death.
Before that, Apollonius, wishing not to seem unmindful of so
excellent a friend and so good a sovereign, wrote him another
letter in no long time, giving him wise advice as to the
governance of the Empire. When the letter was finished, he gave
it to Damis and said, "The critical state of my affairs needs
your assistance, Damis. The secrets in this letter are for the
Emperor and are such as only I can communicate in person or by
you as a messenger."
Damis grieved to part with the old man, his dear Teacher and
Master, even for so short a time as was needed to take a letter
to Rome and return to Ephesus. Had he not learned to do as told
without cavil or delay? He took the letter, and Apollonius,
seeing Damis sorrowful, remarked, "Whenever you are alone, and
give up your whole mind to philosophy, think of me!"
In after years, Damis often recalled the maxim of his old
Teacher, "Conceal your life, and if you cannot do that, conceal
He had done that. For the mission of Damis to the Emperor Nerva
was of double purpose, and the second concerned Damis the most.
It was that Apollonius might enter into his rest unseen and
unwept by mortal eyes. Damis never saw him more.
Philostratus says that concerning the manner of his death, if he
did die, various are the accounts. His wrinkles had something
pleasing in them which added a brilliancy to his looks, which is
"still to be seen in his effigy in the temple built to him at
Tyana (at 210 A.D.), and what literary monuments still survive
speak more highly of his old age than they do of the youth of
Philostratus traveled over most of the known world, and he never
saw any tomb or cenotaph raised to Apollonius. In all countries,
he met men who told wonderful things of him. He adds, "Tyana is
held sacred, not being under the jurisdiction of governors sent
from Rome. Emperors have not refused him the same honors paid to
When Aurelian took the town, a natural reverence induced him to
treat the countrymen of Apollonius the philosopher with lenience.
The Emperor Hadrian made a collection of his letters, and
Caracalla built a temple to him as a hero. Alexander Severus,
who reigned after the book of Philostratus was published, had his
statue in his private room.
Such was the life and passing of the Tyanean, best and greatest
Optimo Maximo, "To the best and greatest."
THE THEOSOPHY OF DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE
By Margaret Smith
Dionysius the so-called Areopagite was a writer whose influence
on the development of mysticism, in both East and West, was
far-reaching, although practically nothing is known of his life
and personality. He claimed to be St. Paul's convert, the
Athenian Dionysius, and gives historical references in support of
his claim; but his work plainly belongs to a later period. His
writings were obviously influenced by Neo-Platonism, and
especially by Proclus (410-485), and he mentions Hierotheos, who
is most probably to be identified with Stephen bar Sudayli, a
monk living in Jerusalem at the end of the fifth century.
Dionysius himself was probably a monk or priest residing in
Syria, possibly a pupil of Stephen bar Sudayli, and almost
certainly a student Neo-Platonism, whose writings belong to the
end of the fifth century. He seems to have made a thorough study
of Greek Philosophy, of Christian dogma, of the Jewish Kabala,
and of the Neo-Platonic theosophy, influenced as it was by the
ancient philosophies of India, for all these were studied in the
Alexandrian schools. He may well have studied under Proclus, the
greatest thinker among the Neo-Platonists after Plotinus.
Proclus made it his business to collate, arrange, and elaborate
the whole body of transmitted philosophy, while he added to it
his own conceptions.
The work of Dionysius is full of the terminology of Proclus and
Plotinus, and shows the influence of Iamblichus, though Dionysius
himself had exchanged the old philosophy for Christianity, and
adapted Neo-Platonist and Jewish conceptions to form a highly
developed system of Christian mysticism. His extant works
include THE DIVINE NAMES, THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, THE CELESTIAL
HIERARCHY, THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, and a few letters, but
he refers to a number of writings, which appear to have been
lost, including THE OUTLINES OF DIVINITY, THE SYMBOLIC DIVINITY,
SACRED HYMNS, THE JUST JUDGMENT OF GOD, THE OBJECTS OF SENSE AND
INTELLECT, and CONCERNING THE SOUL.
Dionysius bases his teaching throughout on the pantheistic
doctrine of emanationtion, as taught by the Neo-Platonic school,
the evolution of the universe from the Supreme Essence, the One
Ineffable and Unknowable, and the tendency of all beings to
return to that original One, and to be reunited once again with
He also taught an esoteric doctrine. What he is writing, he
says, is not for the "uninitiated." He bids those who have become
inspired through instruction in sacred things and who have
received what is Divine into the secret recesses of their minds,
to guard them closely from the profane multitude. (See THE
CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, II.)
Again, he writes:
> It is necessary that those who are being initiated should be
> separated from the profane and become recipients of that
> knowledge which makes perfect those holy ones who are initiated
> into the highest mysteries.
> -- THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, III
There is a re-echo of Plotinus in his exhortation.
> I pray, let no uninitiated person approach the sight; for neither
> is it without danger to gaze upon the glorious rays of the sun
> with weak eyes, nor is it without peril to put our hand to things
> above us.
> -- THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, II
His conception of Ultimate Reality is that of the Neo-Platonic
Monad, the Super-Essential Godhead.
> The One, the Unknowable, the Super-Essential, the Absolute Good,
> cannot be described in its ultimate Nature. It is both the
> central Force of all things and their final Purpose, and is
> Itself before them all and they all subsist in it.
> -- THE DIVINE NAMES, I, 5
The Universal Cause cannot be described by either affirmation or
> It transcends all affirmation by being the Perfect and Unique
> Cause of all things, and transcends all negation by the
> preeminence of its simple and absolute nature -- free from every
> limitation and beyond them all.
> -- THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, V
Yet from what men see of the manifestation of the One, they
conceive of It as Eternal Life, as Ineffable Truth, as the Fount
of all Wisdom, as Overflowing Radiance, illuminating unto
contemplation, as the Beloved in whom all Beauty and all Goodness
meet, as Inexhaustible Power, as the Sun and Morning Star, and as
the Wind, the Fire, and Living Water, as Spirit and Dew and
Cloud, as All Creation, who yet is no created thing. (See THE
DIVINE NAMES, I, 6; IV, 1, 4, 6, 7.)
The One is Perfect, Transcendent, and Undifferentiated in its
Unity, but in order to be manifested, the One becomes the Cause
and Origin of Multiplicity.
> The yearning which createth all the goodness of the world, being
> preexistent abundantly in the Good Creator, allowed Him not to
> remain unfruitful in Himself, but moved Him to exert the
> abundance of His powers in the production of the universe.
> -- THE DIVINE NAMES, IV, 10
The One issues from Itself, in order to return to Itself.
Considered from the standpoint of the Absolute, the whole process
of emanation is self-movement. Viewed from beneath, it appears
as a process of unfolding, differentiation, and descent, and
again of ascent, unification, and return to the One.
> The Pre-Existent is the Beginning and the end of all things: The
> Beginning as their Cause, the end as their Final Purpose. That
> which bounds all things is yet their boundless Infinitude,
> containing beforehand and creating all things in One Act, being
> present unto all and everywhere, both in the particular
> individual and in the Universal Whole and going out into all
> things and yet remaining in Itself.
> -- THE DIVINE NAMES, V, 10
So Dionysius teaches that there is nothing in the world without a
share in the One; as all number participates in unity, so
everything and each part of everything participates in the One,
and on the existence of the One, all other existences are based.
The transcendent is also Immanent, and if all things are
conceived as being ultimately unified with each other, then all
things taken as a whole are One. (See THE DIVINE NAMES, XIII,
The Absolute Godhead therefore exists as both Ultimate Reality
and Manifested Appearance. The interpenetration of all things by
the Divine, Dionysius compares to the action of Fire.
> For this sensible fire is, so to speak, in everything and passes
> through everything, unmingled, separating, unchangeable,
> elevating, penetrating, lofty, ever-moving, self-moving,
> comprehending, incomprehended, needing no other, energetic,
> powerful, present in all, when unobserved, seeming not to be, but
> manifesting itself suddenly, according to its own proper nature,
> when we seek to find it: and again flying away uncontrollably, it
> remains undiminished, in all the joyful distributions of itself.
> -- THE CELSTIAL HIERARCHY, XV
Such are the characteristics of the Divine Energy displayed in
sensible images. It is at work everywhere, purifying,
enlightening, making perfect, and forever drawing back all things
to Itself, their Source. By Prayer, Dionysius observes, men
think they bring God near to themselves, but Prayer is like the
cable of a ship, fastened to a rock. As the mariner pulls upon
the cable, he seems to draw the rock nearer to the boat, but is
really drawing himself and the vessel closer to the rock. Or it
is to he compared to a chain of light, a resplendent cord let
down from heaven. As men climb up it, hand over hand, they
appear to pull it down, but in truth, they themselves are being
drawn upwards to the higher Radiance of the Divine Light. While
men draw near to God, He does not draw near to them, being
everywhere and changeless. (See THE DIVINE NAMES, III, 1.)
The soul of man, therefore, participates in the One but, like all
existent things, while in the material world, it has two sides to
its existence, one outside its created being, in the
Super-Essence, wherein all things are One, and the other within
its own created being, on this lower plane, where all things are
separate from each other. Each grade of being, ascending from
mere Existence, through Life and Sensation to Reason and Spirit,
has its laws and proper virtues, and failure to observe these is
the origin of evil.
Nothing is inherently bad. Evil consists in being separated from
God. It is a pure negation. It is the unnatural, that which
does not correspond to the nature of beings and things, each
taken in its distinctive character. A man sins when he acts in
defiance of his own highest nature, defiling the image of God
within him, but when man realizes his own spiritual nature, he
seeks by purification to restore the Divine image to its original
brightness, and he seeks to make that ascent by which his
personality can be transformed.
The Path of the soul back to God, Dionysius teaches, is a
practice of self-discipline by which the spiritual powers can be
concentrated and unified:
> If we would be united to a uniform and Divine agreement, we must
> not permit ourselves to descend to divided lusts, from which are
> formed earthly enmities, envious and passionate, against that
> which is according to nature.
> -- THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, III, 3
The advance is to be made away from outward things and towards
the hidden depths of the soul, and all that hinders must be cast
away. It is a VIA NEGATIVA, involving the purification first of
the external senses and then of the inner faculties, from which
the soul passes to a state beyond either.
> In the practice of mystic contemplation, leave the senses and the
> activities of the intellect and all things sensible and
> intelligible and things that are and things that are not, so that
> thine understanding being at rest, thou mayst rise, as far as
> thou art able, towards union with Him, who is above all knowledge
> and all being. By the unceasing and absolute renunciation of
> thyself and of all things, thou shalt in pureness cast all things
> aside and be borne upwards into the supernatural Radiance of the
> divine Darkness.
> -- THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, I
The stages of the upward path are three. The first is that of
Purgation, when the soul cleanses itself from the hindrances that
come from the sensual, irrational self. The second is that of
Illumination, when the reasoning intellect is purified and
concentrated on the One.
> Every procession of illuminating light proceeding from the
> Divine, whilst visiting us as a gift of goodness, restores us
> again as a unifying power to a higher spiritual condition, and
> turns us to the oneness of the Divine and to a deifying
Having unified its own powers, the human soul is enabled to
contemplate the Simple Unity of the Uncreated Light, but it must
seek to go beyond contemplation, in which there is still subject
to contemplate and object to be contemplated, and pass altogether
out of self into That which it contemplates, and so to be utterly
merged. Dionysius calls this transcendent unification of the
human spirit with the Divine "Unknowing," as in that state the
soul passes beyond the senses and no longer has need of the
> When we have received, with an unearthly and unflinching mental
> vision, the gift of Light, primal and superprimal, from the
> Supremely Divine, let us then, from this gift of Light, be
> restored again to its unique splendor.
> -- THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, I
This is the stage that is the goal of the mystic, the end of the
Path, for this Divine light elevates those who aspire to Itself
and makes them One, after the example of its own unifying
Oneness. Those who have followed the Path to its end are thus
> As Divine images, as mirrors luminous and without flaw, receptive
> of the Primal Light and the Divine Ray, devoutly filled with that
> Radiance committed to them, but, on the other hand, spreading
> this Radiance ungrudgingly to those that come after.
> -- THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY, III
Only those who have freed themselves from the fetters of the
flesh, and the more subtle fetters of the mind, can attain to
union with Pure Spirit.
> They who are free and untrammeled enter into the true Mystical
> Darkness of Unknowing, whence all perception of understanding is
> excluded, and abide in that which is intangible and invisible,
> being wholly absorbed in Him who is beyond all, and are united in
> their higher part to Him who is wholly unknowable and whom, by
> understanding nothing, they understand above all intelligence.
> -- THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, I
The Divine Darkness, Dionysius states, is in truth that
Unapproachable Light in which God is said to dwell.
> And since He is invisible by reason of the abundant outpouring of
> supernatural light, it follows that he who is counted worthy to
> know and see God, by the very fact that he neither sees nor knows
> Him, attains to that which is above sight and knowledge, and at
> the same time realizes that the Godhead is beyond all things both
> sensible and intelligible.
> -- LETTER, V
Those who in spirit are thus united with the Divine Spirit, are
"deified," for salvation and true blessedness is deification,
which is assimilation and union with God. This is the true end
of the human soul, a love divinely sanctified into oneness with
Him and, for the sake of this, complete and unswerving removal of
things contrary. It is the vision and clear knowledge of sacred
truth, the participation in the Supreme Perfection of the One.
(See THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY, I.) In finding its true self,
the human soul finds and comes into possession of the Divine
Self. (See THE DIVINE NAMES, VIII, IX.) Yet this attainment of
the goal does not mean annihilation. "In the Super-Essence, all
things are fused yet distinct."
Dionysius, therefore, teaches a mystic theosophy, based on
Neo-Platonism. As the soul came forth from God, so it must
return to Him, after being purified, illuminated, and perfected,
ascending from multiplicity to unity, from finitude and disunion
into the ocean of Divine Being. His doctrine is definitely
pantheistic and its widespread influence led to the acceptance of
pantheistic doctrines in the West.
The first mention of Dionysius and his writings was in 533, when
Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch, appealed to them at a Council
held in Constantinople, and it is obvious that they already
possessed some authority. A Syrian version was made of them in
the sixth century by the Aristotelian physician Sergius, and
several commentaries on them were produced in the sixth and
seventh centuries by Syrian scholars. They were widely read in
the Eastern Church and their authority was strengthened by an
edition prepared by Maximus the Confessor (580-662). Pope
Gregory the Great (?-601) appealed to the authority of these
writings, and they were cited at the Lateran Council in 619.
John of Damascus, living at the beginning of the eighth century,
who had a considerable influence upon the theological doctrine of
the Scholastics of Western Europe and whose influence is still
great in the East, made a special study of the works of the
"Areopagite." There is little doubt that in the Near and Middle
East the teachings of Dionysius had their effect on the mysticism
of Islam and, later, on the Muslim mystics of Spain.
In the year 827, the Byzantine Emperor Michael sent as a gift to
Louis I of France a copy of the Dionysian writings. They were
deposited in the Abbey of St. Denis, who was identified with
Dionysius the Areopagite, and the gift, in consequence, aroused
great interest. The Abbot Hilduin attempted to edit and
translate the books into Latin, but the task was beyond him, and
it was left to Erigena, the Irish scholar, who arrived at the
court of Charles the Bald in the latter half of the ninth
century, to produce an adequate Latin version. This version made
the writings available to mediaeval Christendom and their
authority was accepted without question by the great scholars of
the West. Commentaries on the Dionysian writings were written by
the mystic, Hugh of St. Victor (?-1173), by Albertus Magnus
(1193-1280), and by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Of Aquinas,
it has been said that he is "but a hive in whose varied cells he
duly stored the honey" which he gathered from the writings of
Dionysius, to such a degree that, had the works of Dionysius been
lost, it would have been possible to reconstruct them, to a
considerable extent, from the works of his great successor.
Scarcely a medieval European mystic but shows the influence of
the Areopagite's writings, among them Eckhart (1260-1327), the
German mystic, who wrote:
> All that is in the Godhead is One -- above all names, above all
> nature. The end of all things is the hidden Darkness of the
> eternal Godhead, unknown and never to be known.
Eckhart was reckoned a Plotinist and a Pantheist. Another was
Tauler, who writes that when "the outward man has been converted
into the inward, reasonable man and the powers of the senses and
the power of the reason are gathered up into the very center of
the man's being," the human spirit can ascend towards the Divine
Darkness and multiplicity is effaced in unity, "for the sole
Unity, which is God, answers truly to the oneness of the soul,
for then is there nothing in the soul but God." The great Flemish
mystic John of Ruysbroeck (1293-1381) was another who followed in
the steps of Dionysius, writing that the soul that has passed
through the stages of purgation and illumination must ascend to
that region where reason has to be put aside.
> The soul there is simple, pure, and spotless, empty of all
> things, and it is in this state of absolute emptiness that the
> Divine Radiance is revealed. To that Radiance, neither reason
> nor sense nor remark nor distinction may serve. All that must
> remain below, for the Infinite Light blinds the eyes of the
> Reason and makes them yield to that Incomprehensible Radiance.
And then the mystic is "one life and one spirit with God."
To this period belongs the first English translation of THE
MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, called THE DIONISE HID DIVINITIE by the
anonymous author of THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, who teaches that the
Godhead is beyond the reach of human understanding, but union may
be attained by the soul that has passed beyond knowing and
entered the "Cloud of Unknowing."
The same influence is to be noted in the great mystics of Italy,
Spain, and France so that Dionysius, himself deriving his
teaching from the school of Ammonius Saccas, proved to be the
chief influence in molding the mystical theology of the West. In
Christian mysticism, both medieval and modern, is to be found the
same ideal of union with the Godhead, based on the belief that
the soul itself was Divine in origin, and that when it should
come to itself by the threefold Path of purification,
illumination, and perfection, it would return once again to the
Divine, whence it came forth. As a modern writer has stated:
> The mystics are like a chain of stars, each separated from the
> other by a gulf. We think we can trace resemblances, even
> connections: but they themselves tell us that the light comes
> direct from the sun and is not passed on at all.
Yet we cannot doubt that the beacon of such a one as Dionysius
wakes the kindred soul, even though it is across the seas and
across the centuries.
[From LUCIFER, November 15, 1890, pages 231-35.]
Before we enter into the subject of the occult art as practiced
on the West Coast of Africa, it will be well to clear the ground
by first considering for a moment what we mean by the much-abused
There are many definitions of this word; and, in bygone ages, it
was simply used to designate anything and everything that was
"not understood of the vulgar." It will be sufficient for our
purpose to define it as the knowledge of certain natural laws
that are not merely unknown but unsuspected by the scientists of
Europe and America.
It is a recognized fact that no law of Nature can be -- even for
a single moment -- abrogated. When, therefore, this appears to
us to be the case -- when, for instance, such a universally known
law as that of the attraction of gravitation seems to be
annihilated, we must recognize the fact that there may be other
laws at present unknown to Western science that have the power of
overriding and suspending for the time being the action of the
The knowledge of these hidden laws is what we understand by the
term occult science, or magic. There is no other magic than
this. There never has been at any period of the world's history.
All the so-called "miracles" of ancient times can be and are
reproduced at the present day by magists when occasion requires.
An act of magic is a pure scientific feat, and must not be
confounded with legerdemain or trickery of any kind.
There are several schools of magism, all proceeding and operating
on entirely different lines. The principal of these, and on
whose philosophy all others are founded, are the Hindu, the
Tibetan, the Egyptian (including the Arab), and the Obeeyah. The
last named is entirely and fundamentally opposed to the other
three: it having its root and foundation in necromancy or " black
magic," while the others all operate either by means of what is
known to experts as "white magic," or in other cases by
"psychologizing" the spectator.
A whole crowd of spectators can be psychologized and made at the
will of the operator to see and feel whatever things he chooses,
all the time being in full possession of their ordinary
faculties. Thus, perhaps a couple of traveling fakirs give their
performance in your own compound or in the garden of your
bungalow. They erect a small tent and tell you to choose any
animal that you wish to see emerge wherefrom. Many different
animals are named in rotation by the bystanders, and in every
case the desired quadruped, be he tiger or terrier dog, comes out
of the opening in the canvas and slowly marches off until he
disappears round some adjacent corner. This done simply by
"psychologizing," as are all the other great Indian feats, such
as "the basket trick," "the mango tree," throwing a rope in the
air and climbing up it, pulling it up and disappearing in space,
and the thousand and one other similar performances which are
"familiar as household words" to almost every Anglo-Indian.
The difference between these schools and that of the Obeeyah is
very great, because in them there is a deception or want of
reality in the performance. The spectator does not really see
what he fancies he sees: his mind is simply impressed by the
operator and the effect is produced. In African magic, on the
contrary, there is no will impression: the observer does really
and actually see what is taking place. The force employed by the
African necromancers is not psychological action but demonosophy.
White magists have frequently dominated and employed inferior
spirits to do their bidding, as well as invoked the aid of
powerful and beneficent ones to carry out their purposes. This
is an entirely different thing: The naturally maleficent spirits
become the slaves of the magist, and he controls them and compels
them to carry out his beneficent plans. The necromancer, or
votary of black magic, is, on the contrary, the slave of the evil
spirit to whom he has given himself up.
While the philosophy of the magist demands a life of the greatest
purity and the practice of every virtue, while he must utterly
subdue and have in perfect control all his desires and appetites,
mental and physical, and must become simply an embodied
intellect, absolutely purged from all human weakness and
pusillanimity, the necromancer must outrage and degrade human
nature in every way conceivable. The very least of the crimes
necessary for him (or her) to commit to attain the power sought
is actual murder, by which the human victim essential to the
sacrifice is provided. The human mind can scarcely realize or
even imagine one tithe of the horrors and atrocities actually
performed by the Obeeyah women.
Yet, though the price is awful, horrible, unutterable, the power
is real. There is no possibility of mistake about that. Every
petty king on the West Coast has his "rainmaker." It is the
fashion among travelers, and the business of the missionaries, to
ridicule and deny the powers of these people. They do possess
and do actually use the power of causing storms of rain, wind,
When one considers that however ignorant and brutal a savage may
be, yet that he has an immense amount of natural cunning, and his
very ignorance makes him believe nothing that cannot be proved to
him, no "rainmaker" could live for one year unless he gave
repeated instances of his powers when required by the king.
Failure would simply mean death.
The hypothesis that they only work their conjurations when the
weather is on the point of change is only an invention of the
missionaries. The native chiefs are, like all savages, able to
detect an approaching change of weather many hours before it
takes place. Is it at all likely that they would send for the
rainmaker and give him sufficient cattle to last him for twelve
months, besides wives and other luxuries, if there were the
slightest appearance of approaching rain?
I remember well my first experience of these wizards. For weeks
and weeks, there had been no rain, although it was the rainy
season. The maize was dying for want of water; the cattle were
being slaughtered in all directions; women and children had died
by scores, and the fighting men were beginning to do the same,
being themselves scarcely more than skeletons. Day after day,
the sun glared down on the parched earth, without one intervening
cloud, like a globe of glowing copper, and all Nature languished
in that awful furnace. Suddenly the king ordered the great
war-drum to be beaten, and the warriors all gathered hurriedly.
He announced the arrival of two celebrated rainmakers, who would
forthwith proceed to relieve the prevailing distress.
The elder of the two was a stunted, bow-legged little man, with
wool that would have been white had it not been messed up with
grease, filth, and feathers. The second was rather a fine
specimen of the Soosoo race, but with a very sinister expression.
A large ring being formed by the squatting Negroes, who came --
for some unknown reason -- all armed to the teeth, the king being
in the center, and the rainmakers in front of him, they commenced
their incantations. The zenith and the horizon were eagerly
examined from time to time, but not a vestige of a cloud
appeared. Presently the elder man rolled on the ground in
convulsions, apparently epileptic, and his comrade started to his
feet pointing with both hands to the copper-colored sky. All
eyes followed his gesture, and looked at the spot to which his
hands pointed, but nothing was visible. Motionless as a stone
statue, he stood with gaze riveted on the sky. In about the
space of a minute a darker shade was observable in the copper
tint, in another minute it grew darker and darker, and, in a few
more seconds developed into a black cloud, which soon overspread
the heavens. In a moment, a vivid flash was seen, and the deluge
that fell from that cloud, which had now spread completely
overheard, was something to be remembered. For two days and
nights, that torrent poured down, and seemed as if it would wash
everything out of the ground.
After the king had dismissed the rainmakers, and they had
deposited the cattle and presents under guard, I entered the hut
in which they were lodged, and spent the night with them,
discussing the magical art. The hut was about fourteen feet in
diameter, strongly built of posts driven firmly into the ground,
and having a strong thatched conical roof. I eventually
persuaded them to give me one or two examples of their skill.
They began singing, or rather crooning, a long invocation, after
a few minutes of which the younger man appeared to rise in the
air about three feet from the ground and remain there
unsuspended, and floating about. There was a brilliant light in
the hut from a large fire in the center, so that the smallest
detail could be distinctly observed. I got up and went to feel
the man in the air, and there was no doubt about his levitation.
He then floated close to the wall and passed through it to the
outside. I made a dash for the doorway, which was on the
opposite side of the hut, and looked round for him. I saw a
luminous figure that appeared like a man rubbed with phosphorised
oil; but I was glad to take rapidly shelter from the torrents of
rain. When I reentered the hut, there was only the old man
present. I examined the logs carefully, but there was no
aperture whatever. The old man continued his chant, and in
another moment, his comrade reappeared floating in the air. He
sat down on the ground. I saw his black skin glistening with
rain, and the few rags he wore were as wet as if he had been
dipped in a river.
The next feat was performed by the old man, and consisted in
several instantaneous disappearances and reappearances. The
curious point about this was that the old man also was dripping
Following this was a very interesting exhibition. By the old
man's directions, we arranged ourselves round the fire at the
three points of an imaginary triangle. The men waved their hands
over the fire in rhythm with their chant when dozens of
tic-polongas, the most deadly serpent in Africa, slowly crawled
out from the burning embers, and interlacing themselves together
whirled in a mad dance on their tails round the fire, making all
the while a continuous hissing. At the word of command, they all
sprang into the fire and disappeared. The young man then came
round to me, and, kneeling down, opened his mouth, out of which
the head of a tic-polonga was quickly protruded. He snatched it
out, pulling a serpent nearly three feet long out of his throat,
and threw it into the fire. In rapid succession, he drew seven
serpents from his throat, and consigned them all to the same
I wanted to know what they could do in the way of evocation of
spirits. The incantation this time lasted nearly twenty minutes,
when, rising slowly from the fire, appeared a human figure, a man
of great age, a white man too, but absolutely nude. I put
several questions to him, but obtained no reply. I arose and
walked round the fire, and particularly noticed a livid scar on
his back. I could get no satisfactory explanation of whom he
was, but they seemed rather afraid of him, and had evidently --
from the remarks that they interchanged -- expected to see a
After the appearance of this white man, I could not persuade them
that night to attempt anything more, although the next night I
had no difficulty with them. A most impressive feat, which they
on a subsequent occasion performed, was the old custom of the
priests of Baal. Commencing a lugubrious chant, they slowly
began circling around the fire (which said fire always is an
essential part of the proceedings), keeping a certain amount of
rhythm in both their movements and cadences. Presently, the
movement grew faster and faster until they whirled round like
dancing dervishes. There were two distinct movements; while they
gyrated round the circle, they rapidly spun on their own axes.
With the rapidity of their evolutions, their voices were raised
higher and higher until the din was terrific. Then, by a
simultaneous movement, each began slashing his naked body on
arms, chest, and thighs, until they were streaming with blood and
covered with deep gashes. Then the old man stopped his erratic
course, and sitting down on the ground narrowly watched the
younger one with apparent solicitude. The young man continued
his frantic exertions until exhausted Nature could bear no more,
and he fell panting and helpless on the ground. The old man took
both the knives and anointed the blades with some evil smelling
grease from a calabash, and then stroked the young man's body all
over with the blade that had done the injuries, and finished the
operation by rubbing him vigorously with the palms of the hands
smeared with the unguent.
In a few minutes time, the young man arose, and there was not
even a slight trace of wound or scar in his ebony skin. He then
performed the same good offices on the old man with the same
effect. Within ten minutes afterwards, they were both laid on
their mats in a sweet and quiet sleep. In this performance,
there were many invocations, gestures, the circular fire, and
other things that satisfied me that some portion, at all events,
of the magical processes of West Africa had been handed down from
the days when Baal was an actual God, and mighty in the land.
THE CHELA AND THE WINTER SOLSTICE
By James Sterling
The gentle words of the poet bring joy and uplift
The people; but only for a spontaneous moment --
Then my words of love are forgotten
And tossed into the wind like dead, forgotten
Leaves in cold, frozen night.
My words fall on deaf ears; nobody listens;
Who cares . . . ?
My poetry is finished -- I am now preparing
For the trial of that dreaded Winter Solstice.
I am like a knight entering the dark, evil forest
With no weapons, no defense, as helpless
As the tiny infant while all eyes of the
Spiritual World watch like the Roman Emperors
At the Coliseum.
Now my poetry is nothing; my pain
And suffering are nothing;
I am given no compassion or love
As I walk like an acrobat on a wire
With hungry alligators waiting for me
To fall and eat me alive.
It's sink or swim, entering deeper waters
Secretly outsmarting the sharks that
Surround me . . . Or if I lose my concentration
Or focus, I'm the deadest man that ever lived.
No pity is shown for my naked, helpless
Soul -- nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
All I have is a little intuition that is
Not fully developed -- and in total
Honesty, as the Solstice comes, a little
Fear enters my too soft heart -- because this
Powerful Writer with a Will of Iron
Is really just a kid playing with matches;
He doesn't have the slightest idea of what
My wife and child are comfortably hidden
Away; I stand alone.
No one understands, but I have beaten all
My enemies, spoken my mind, passed all these
Tests . . . but they were only silly, little tests --
They are as nothing.
I care nothing for money; I have no ambition;
Even this body that carries my soul is nothing
But a bitter burden to carry;
Food, endless washing, and clothing are nothing
But a painful nuisance.
I am as nothing, because I kill all desires . . .
Or at least I try.
All I have is my Will and Determination:
They say "Many are called but few are chosen."
I have to be Perfect; no more mistakes,
Yet in reality, I have not truly conquered myself,
The Magi, both good and evil know my
Weaknesses; I have no tricks of disguise.
Into the forest I go while the rest of the
World will be celebrating Christmas,
On vacation, having fun . . .
Fun? That's something I abandoned
Long ago . . . The Path winds upward
To the very top of the jagged mountain.
My time is approaching and there ain't
A damn thing I can do about it,
Except prepare for the torture chamber
In solitude, intense pain, and endless endurance
In a storm that will surround me like a
Hurricane with no mercy.
I'm gonna roll myself up in a circle
Like a cat, and hang and hang and hang,
Until January 4 -- Then we'll see
If this lay Chela can play with the Big Boys;
And in the meantime, I sit and wait
Like the eager virgin on her wedding night;
Except, in this case, there will be nothing
But the agony of pain so intense,
That everything in this Universe
Will hear me scream . . .
But these screams will fall on very, very
Deaf and indifferent ears.
And the purification goes on day after day
After day . . .
A STUDY IN FUNDAMENTALS, Part X
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the second part of the tape recording on
"Chapter XIII of FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY," made
of a private class held on July 7, 1954.]
Several people may offer teachings on evolution, using similar
terms but meaning different things. By analogy, if all had meant
that two atoms of hydrogen, an atom of oxygen, and an electric
spark is water, they would have much in common, but they differ.
By analogy, one says one thing, a second differs, and a third
says something else. They do not agree, with all saying it is
water. This is an analogy, since they are not talking about
chemistry. These men talk about the constitution of man, the
after-death states, the origin of man, and the structure of the
How do we know what truth is? How do we decide which source is
most profound? Each tells a different story. Often they do not
say the same thing in different words, but rather say something
To know truth, you start with a basic knowledge, which you use
with a strong feeling, intuition, and reasoning to test these
differing sources. How do you arrive at that basic knowledge?
Study with the best of your ability. See if it makes sense, if
there is logic to it, if it has no absurdities. Apply the best
of your abilities and use your intuition at your best. Use what
you know to compare and measure other theories, seeing which are
sound and genuine. Take nothing on faith.
Thousands of Catholics, Protestants, and Buddhists are as sincere
as we are. They apply logic to their way of thinking, only to
find out they do not understand. Their basic platform of
reasoning is what they know. What they work from is what they
know now. Can they just apply pure logic? Using it, one follows
and develops his thread of thought. Can things be easy to prove
when our minds play tricks on us all the time? One thinks he is
logical whereas another sees him illogical. Their ideas of hell,
of a single lifetime, and of no retribution do not stand a
serious test of logic. They crumble.
Is logic sufficient in the investigation? No, but it is one
weapon. Suppose our logic is not sharp enough. There is
intuition, the a priori knowledge, direct perception of truth,
something you know within your heart. Is there anything in us
that can supply intuition? Plato says that knowledge comes from
inside. Through meditation, we go within to contact the original
source. That is where it is.
With intuition backed by knowledge and reason, we can partially
cognize certain truths directly. This implies there are such
truths. They could not be cognized by any faculty -- logic,
intellect, heart, or intuition -- if they did not exist. Truth
is so superior to the various human theories about nature that we
can call it Absolute Truth, for lack of a better term. We cannot
grasp the whole of it, but only gain insight into its
Out of 25 books, each with some truth and not entirely wrong, is
there one or two that approach the facts of nature closer than
the others do? If we have the intuitive perception developed
enough, we can see which presentations are closer to the truth.
We might look at the explanations in a book and see how well they
hang together throughout without contradiction, but that cannot
help if the book starts with the wrong premise. We would start
with those books that we have determined follow our belief in
Consider the following by G. de Purucker:
> We have tests by which we may prove to ourselves whether
> such-and-such a doctrine of any religion, ancient or modern, or
> such-and-such a teaching of any thinker, ancient or modern, is in
> accord . . . [What could or should it be in accord with?
> Perhaps it is Reality.] . . . with that primeval, spiritual,
> and natural revelation granted to the first members of the first
> human and truly thinking race by the spiritual beings from who we
> likewise derived our inner essence and life, and who are, really,
> our own present spiritual selves.
> -- FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, page 128
I could write a long dissertation on that sentence.
There are many fine people. They are inquirers and even
theosophical students that have not studied or thought deeply
enough. They ask us the origin of the theosophical teachings.
We say the teachings are not man-made. In any genuine
theosophical textbook, the author invariably states that he only
passes on his understanding of certain teachings. He is not
their creator; they are not his ideas; he passes them on just as
he has heard them. See, for instance, H.P. Blavatsky's THE
SECRET DOCTRINE. She makes no claim except that she is passing
on a partial installment of certain truths from ancient days.
What is the source of these teachings? Is there any particular
man that evolved these ideas in the distant past? No. Have they
been built up, like you build up a theory? Have men throughout
the ages taken good ideas from everywhere and put them together
into a system? No. I can only answer from THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
It says that tens of millions of years ago -- not long in the
history of the earth -- the human race had undeveloped minds and
a state of consciousness similar to present day childhood. At
that time, superior beings from higher spiritual spheres gave the
general blueprint, a general outline of the facts in nature, to
the highest of us. Interested in our welfare and unfoldment,
they continue to guide us.
These evolved beings from another sphere are our guides and
spiritual parents. They have a specific, mysterious connection
with our inner selves. In those distant days, they impressed
upon the noblest minds the general pattern or blueprint of
nature. These were not theories about nature, but were its
facts. They gave infant humanity the basic ideas of the sciences
and arts, as well as of occupations like agriculture, the things
by which the human race has lived and evolved since then. They
are not the Manasaputras. Although connected with the
Manasaputras, they came far earlier.
Consider our present era. It could be a thousand years ago or a
thousand years from now. There are all sorts of theories about
the structure of nature and man along religious and philosophical
lines. Never mind the scientific angle. It deals with facts
much more than religions and philosophies do, so we will not talk
about it for a moment. Note that I speak as far as I see things,
to be modified by those knowing more than we do.
From time immemorial, a basic teaching has existed in the midst
of the human race. We find it expressed throughout history in
thousands of languages. It has been clothed in symbols
universally accepted throughout the ages. Symbols do not
necessarily talk. You have to have a key to them. You do not
always understand them, even if you read of them and see
Beings from higher spheres gave these fundamental teachings to
infant humanity. They were not theories of men about nature, but
rather were positive, matter-of-fact scientific statements about
the laws that operate in nature. Nature builds itself upon these
basic facts, unalterable no matter how many theories anyone
invents about them.
Presented throughout the ages by spiritually great men, these
teachings are practically one hundred percent genuine. Presented
by lesser men whose spiritual knowledge was not as supreme, there
was a slight degree of error in the presentation, but the
presentation was superb and true. Presented by people not so
great, less enlightened, but who had heard a portion of these
teachings here and there at one time or another, the presentation
was partly truth, wishful thinking, and unconscious error and
confusion. Given by selfish and ignorant people, possibly having
a monetary end in view (something that has happened thousands of
times throughout the ages), the presentation was largely in
error, with but few jewels of truth here and there.
This is so today, was so a thousand years ago, and will be so a
thousand years from now. There will always be the genuine coin
presented by the noblest men on earth, far higher in knowledge
and insight than any one of us can hope to become in this
lifetime. There will always be partial, distorted presentations.
They multiply like mushrooms after the rain, hollering and
pushing themselves upon us from all the corners of the earth.
There are all kinds of motives, good, evil, and in between. Some
men seek money or power. Even so, since those immemorial days to
the end of evolution, there will always be some men presenting an
installment of the original facts of nature staying as close to
truth as human language can make it.
Apart from that knowledge, is there Absolute Truth? Yes, but it
is relative. It is absolute since it is the highest of which we
can conceive in our present state of evolution. It is final
since we have no way to go beyond it to something greater. That
makes it relatively absolute. From a cosmic standpoint, it is an
aspect of something still greater. Therefore, we answer "yes"
and "no" at the same time, depending upon how we use "absolute"
Consider what a growing child learns at school. At his stage of
understanding, he can consider that knowledge as absolute truth.
It is sufficient. If he can grasp it, his teachers are doing
well. The time will inevitably come when he will know as much or
more than they do. What to him at that time will be absolute
truth is far beyond what it used to be in childhood. The truth
of the teachers that was absolute to him in a relative sense will
become irrelevant, insufficient, and unsatisfying because he seen
a greater vision, as perhaps have his teachers seen something
This study gives us a good wringing! Having expressed some
worthwhile ideas and aimed in the right direction, I remain
unsatisfied. It is possible to talk about this subject much more
intelligently. It requires further pondering. I know that I
could express what I had to say much better.
There are basic rules that pertain to our studies, our
metaphysical beliefs, and the philosophy and art of living.
Different groups like Christian Science and Science of Mind claim
certain results if their rules are applied. Many such groups are
partially or completely false. Here or there, a school of
thought will strike bedrock, encounter the facts of the operation
of nature, and be infallible.
Only one system has the method of action and behavior for one to
be in harmony with nature. How do you find it? Keep trying,
searching, and experiencing life even when faced with failure
after failure. Leibniz defined a genius as one unafraid of
making mistakes. Unafraid in your search, you will find.
Fearful of mistakes, you will not find, but the only way you
never make mistakes is if you do nothing. That is a mistake!
There is most certainly a set of rules, but they are innumerable
and not an even dozen. If you apply them, they work. We find
some of these rules in the psychological application of the
theosophical teachings or Wisdom Religion.
Consider the welter of human emotions. What chaos! What an
uncoordinated mass of action and reaction in which people
flounder or swim! Although there is a science of emotion, even
the majority of so-called Theosophists have not a remote idea as
to how their emotions work.
Theosophy partly explains it. Try plowing through THE SCIENCE OF
EMOTIONS by Bhaghavan Das, one of the greatest scholars of our
day. He wrote it in a rather difficult way since his mind works
that way. No one has condensed and made it pleasant, which
requires a writer that thinks differently. The science is there.
This is no different from two books on the same facts of
chemistry, one simple and clear and another involved. It depends
upon the presentation of the man. There is a science of
emotions. We can work with our own emotions in a practically
infallible way if we know their fundamental principles as well as
the architect knows the fundamental principles in the erection of
his building. Although far from its mastery, anyone can know
this science. The big question is will of us try it long enough
and apply it when needed.
Suppose someone is sad and dejected, having had much sorrow.
Things are tough. His energy is down and courage has departed.
He has surrounded himself with difficult and somber thoughtforms.
A good man, he has made an effort, but cannot get out of it. He
is suffering. Can we deliver the right thought at the
scientifically correct time with an appropriate current of
sympathy, expressing it with the appropriate intonation and
pitch? Five minutes later, the other's mood has changed and the
effect is lost, one cannot then produce a leap of flame from
inside that lifts him. How does one know when and what to do? Go
find out how.
Just today, someone knocked her brains out trying to help such a
person. She sat by the girl and said to herself, "Please, show
me what one little thing I can say to her or one emotion I can
express that would help her get out of this horrible thing she is
in. I do not know what to do!" This was on her mind all day.
She pondered why she failed to find something to pull her friend
out. We assume the girl wanted help. Even with a great desire
to help, it may not work. We may not have the science of it. We
may not have developed the ability. It is a combination of
certain books and a change of heart within us.
Please do not think that because I talk on the subject that I
claim I can do it. I am a dead failure 99 times out of 100, but
once in awhile I succeed. The point is that there is such a
science. Can someone else make it plain to us? That science is
immensely more difficult than architecture, chemistry, physics,
or electronics because it deals with spiritual potentialities
about which present humanity is an infant.
The highest of humanity says that when you meet a troubled
person, say someone wallowing in self-pity, you do not sympathize
with what he or she is doing. You also do not encourage it. If
someone is ready to commit suicide, you do not say "Well, you big
jerk, here is the gun, go ahead." How do we learn to help?
Although intangible, the science has tangible applications.
Sometimes, it is not with words. You just sit quietly with an
individual, produce the desired effect, and say nothing. If you
take that individual into the fathomless reaches of your
compassion, you lift his vibratory rate to yours. You have not
said a word. Can you or I do it?
In Russia, I knew great healer named John of Constadt. He was
poor. He was a hermit. Nobody saw him eat. Hundreds knew that
when he had finished his day of work among the poor and went to
the island of Constadt, about 20 miles offshore, he used no
conveyance of any kind. He just walked on the water, as easily
as you would walk the earth. Thousands knew him.
John was a peasant, illiterate in intellectual ways, uneducated.
When he walked into a room where there were people, he lifted
everybody into a whirlwind of spirituality. All your life's
problems vanished completely. There was no sense of their
existence. As long as he remained, you were completely out of
it, floating in a rosy glow of impersonal love. If you had any
disease, illness, or trouble, psychological or physical, it was
enough for him to touch you and you were well. He would look
into your eyes and you thought this was heaven. Naturally, we
all came down after awhile. None of us could naturally sustain
the level of that man's spiritual vibratory rate.
He got where he was by many lives of loving. His intellect may
have been far greater than it appeared, but in this particular
lifetime, perhaps it karmically clouded because another side
wanted to express itself. Was he an adept? It is probable that
he was, at least partially so.
When a man comes to you in wild anger, you may be afraid and not
know what to do. Remember there are basic rules. If directed in
a certain way in that man, simple thoughts and certain currents
neutralize his anger completely. There is science. It is a more
difficult science to learn than to know how to combine two atoms
of hydrogen and one of oxygen and a spark of electricity.
There is a school to learn this. It is a school with no
building, a school with no staff. There is a school. The school
has existed for millions of years upon the earth, and will exist
as long as humanity exists on it. There is a school where we can
learn. How are you going to apply for admission? You will have
to find it. That school has no commercial interest in increasing
its pupils. The pupils come when ready and they are accepted.
There is a place you can go to learn these things. It has
neither buildings nor staff. It does not advertise, but it
exists. It is equally true that you constitute yourself a pupil
of this school by a certain attitude of mind. You discover your
source of inspiration, of teachership, by that attitude of mind
and do not have to go anywhere. That is also true.
Do you learn and eventually earn the right to go to this school?
No, you take that right. You take it. You take it with your own
strong hands. Remember the statement in the Gospels that you
take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence. Violence does not mean
bloodshed. That is a mistranslation. You take it by your going
and taking it. Then your strength is recognized and help must be
given, because it is earned. If you beg on your knees, "Let me
get knowledge," nothing happens at all. The old Hermetic precept
> To Dare, To Will, To Know, and to be Silent.
I repeat that:
> To Dare, To Will, To Know, and to be Silent.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application