Theosophy World Home Page
THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------- February, 2005
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
To submit papers or news items, subscribe, or unsubscribe, write
(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.)
"Help the Work," by B.P. Wadia
"A Response to THE DA VINCI CODE," by Judith Ann Christie
"What is Old Age," by G. de Purucker
"The Unifying Religion of Akbar," by Jagadisan M. Kumarappa
"Theosophical Travels," by Pedro Oliveira
"Ammonius Saccas," by Geoffrey West
"Aspiration and Environment," by Ernest Hawthorn
"The Path of Patanjali," by D.G. Londhe
"Winter Solstice 1955," Part II, by Boris de Zirkoff
> The Adepts are the trustees and guardians of the sacred
> knowledge and in order to preserve it they cannot mix freely
> with the world, but must live in seclusion. Their work being
> largely on inner planes of thought and action, there would be no
> advantage, but many disadvantages, in publicity; they would be
> hindered at every point. They have no desire to prove their
> existence to a skeptical world.
> -- Charles J Ryan, WHAT IS THEOSOPHY?, page 68
HELP THE WORK
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 27-32.]
Various motives prompt students to serve the Cause of Theosophy.
The nature and extent of that service are according to the
motive. The avenues of service are definite and limited just as
the motives of service are. Some students are moved to service
by the desire of self-growth; others are inspired to be
altruistic by the compassionate longing to better the lot of
their fellow men. Some serve to work out the surplus energy of
their natures; others energize themselves so that service may
Whatever the starting point, a little study reveals a supreme
fact -- service of Theosophy, irrespective of time, place,
circumstance, as well as friends, relatives, and strangers, is
imperative, not only for growth, but also for very existence.
Students of Theosophy prepare themselves by study and otherwise
to serve humanity; they seriously endeavor to fit themselves to
be better able to help and teach others. Theosophists do not
make propaganda for the purposes of gaining power, popularity,
and prosperity for Theosophy, but for bettering men and women,
for enlightening human souls and leading them on to peace and
wisdom. Our philosophy discourages proselytism and advocates the
inner conversion of each by himself.
When by dint of study an individual has remade himself, he is, in
a sense, as one who is newly born. The great Initiations of the
Ancient Mysteries have their projections in the hearts of
mortals. As we learn to be born repeatedly, we come nearer to
the Great Birth of the Dwija, the Twice-Born, the Initiate. Just
as daily bathing of the body is the reflection of the Baptism by
Water, so is seasonal renovation of the mind and heart a symbol
of the Baptism by Fire. For the health of the body, elimination
of waste matter is a necessity, and there is a corresponding
elimination of the moral and mental dregs of our consciousness.
Service of Theosophy is the avenue whereby students of Theosophy
are reborn. It is the great clearinghouse of energies and ideas
and the eliminator of false notions and retainer of the true.
Thus, students of Theosophy do not confer any benefit on the
philosophy or on the Movement by their service; they oblige and
benefit themselves. Columbus did not confer any benefit on
America by his discovery; he and his fellows have been bettered
thereby. America, undiscovered, would have continued to live on,
until human necessity compelled some Columbus to discover it. It
is the same with Theosophy. Let us rid ourselves of the idea
that by our helping the Cause we are obliging Theosophy. We are
helping ourselves. Further, that helping is a necessity of our
All of us have three great possessions: Energy to create, Wealth
to sustain, and Time to renew ourselves. These are our three
jewels. We make ourselves by work, we preserve ourselves with
wealth, and we better ourselves in time. Work, Wealth, and Time
are inter-dependent. In time, work begets wealth; wealth in due
season energizes us to labor; time compels us to work so that we
may enrich ourselves; work whiles away time and time checks the
destructive and wearing power of toil. One without the other
two, nay, even two without the third would end in man's ruin and
In the service of Theosophy, all three of Time, Wealth, and Work
are necessary. We must create ourselves by study; we must grow
through regeneration in the passage of time. Under the Law of
Periodicity as cycles run their rounds, Wisdom and Wise Men work
to preserve Themselves in Their Ever-Green Nature by perpetual
renovation. Nature labors and is born; her bounties sing of her
existence; her ever continuing changes are an indication of her
subservience to the God of Time, Kala.
The Theosophical Movement, in all eras and climes, is created by
the work of the Masters, is sustained by the Wealth of Their
Wisdom, and is regenerated from corruption, century-by-century
and cycle by cycle. The Movement never dies because the Great
Ones and Their faithful servants keep up this threefold process.
The visible and organic incarnation of the Immemorial Movement
decays and perishes because its work, wealth, and time through
friction come to a close. When those who belong to that visible
expression of the Movement cease to work, poverty overtakes them;
famished, they cease to exist. When they labor and toil but fail
to share their earnings with the body through which they enriched
themselves, they perish along with the body. When they create by
work and nourish by wealth, they sometimes fail to renew
friendship with the Ever-Green Source and suit themselves to the
Motion of the Stars. Then they live on, corpses or shells, while
the Life creates elsewhere the body of Truth.
Minor cycles are but replicas of major ones. The Law of
Correspondence and Analogy works perfectly everywhere and all the
time. What is true of previous ages and other bodies is also
true of this and the Lodge to which we belong. As a voluntary
association of students, we exist not for the glorification of
that body, nor of ourselves who belong to it. We exist to serve
the Cause and are responsible for keeping it going as the visible
incarnation of the Invisible Movement. This can be done by Work,
Wealth, and Time and in no other way.
Work that creates for the self is selfish; that which creates for
Self is Sacrifice. Wealth that preserves the self causes
poverty; that which preserves the Self leads to Wisdom. Time
that renews the self begets pain; that which renews the Self is
Bliss. Therefore, we must obtain the wherewithal for creative
work, preserving wealth, and regenerating time. These consist of
the Faculty of Sacrifice, the Possession of Wisdom, and the
Energy of Bliss.
We must gain the faculty of sacrifice on the plane of action,
labor, and work. This means that we should toil for the Great
Sacrifice, exert ourselves by the power of the Great Actor. We
must come to possess the wealth of Wisdom on the plane of mind,
study, and contemplation. This means that we must teach,
instruct, and inspire by the power of the Great Teacher, offer
the boon and the blessing of the Great Contemplation. We must
obtain the energy of Bliss on the plane of life, heart, and
being. This means that we should grow by giving, giving by the
power of the Great Renovator, thus bestowing the Joy of the Great
Birth. Thus, Sacrifice builds, Wisdom sustains, and Bliss
renovates life for ever and ever. The sacrifice of all we have,
the wisdom of all we are, the bliss that is our Self -- every
student of Theosophy should make this triple offering on the
altar of the Sacred Movement.
We create ourselves theosophically by work that is Sacrifice.
Egotism is the one source from which spring the many excuses that
keep us from being theosophically born. Often the desire to work
is wrongly identified with the capacity to serve. The latter
really belongs to the second aspect: wealth. Most students fail
to work not because of the lack of capacity but the absence of
desire to serve and help. The one sure sign of Theosophical
birth is the Will to Work, which seeks out "him who knows still
less than thou." Ahankara-Egotism manifests sometimes as conceit,
at others as mock modesty. This false humility is more subtle
and therefore more insidious. It was not through lack of
capacity that Arjuna cried, "I shall not fight, Oh Govinda," but
because of the lack of Will to serve both the Pandus and the
Kurus. He who in the daily affairs of life loves and sacrifices
gains the great opportunity to enter the Path of Compassion, the
Way of Altruism. To be born is to manifest the power of the
Inner Ruler -- however restricted in scope and small in quantity,
"Doing the King's work all the dim day long" is dependent on the
previous recognition of the King in the Chamber of the Heart.
It is only when we desire to serve and begin working that our
lack of knowledge is truly perceived. When people complain of
their lack of knowledge or their poor capabilities and refuse to
work on that score, they are not aware of either. Only when we
begin to teach do we truly find out what we have to learn; only
when we lift a weight do we know what burdens we cannot bear;
only by expressing what we know do we become aware of what we do
not. It is work, the first aspect, which brings to us our wealth
of wisdom, by revealing to us how very poor we are. When the
spirit of service encounters the fact that we are
poverty-stricken, it sets about accumulating wealth.
Everyone possesses, however poor he be, the threefold wealth of
Heart, Head, and Hands, the last of which has a double aspect of
bodily health and money. If each of us made the right and
adequate use of what we have of money, health, knowledge, and
devotion, we would get more of these and the Cause of Theosophy
would flourish. Spiritual poverty is the cause of all poverty.
Poverty and impurity go hand in hand and work side by side.
There is a very close connection and interdependence between
bodily ill health, vital impurity, emotional deformity, and
mental weakness. Once again, we actually know how poor we are
only when we have found out how rich we are.
Lack of time is a very general complaint and as an excuse is very
commonly offered. But there is a universal saying to the effect
that he who is the busiest has time always at hand. Time and
laziness are enemies and he who uses time is ever the friend of
Time. It is when our time is not used to the best of our
strength that stagnation sets in and death results. Time, the
third aspect, is the initiating power that brings to birth new
and newer aspects of the God within, the Inner Ruler immortal.
"Every man is an impossibility, until he is born." By the
offering of Time on the altar of Theosophical Service, we
manifest the radiance of Joy; we live and multiply ourselves
until we find ourselves a loved and loving member of the human
Thus, work that is sacrifice creates the wealth that is the
capacity to serve wisely, and thus serving all the time, we
radiate joy for all, and help in establishing the Kingdom of God,
Righteousness, and Theosophy.
A RESPONSE TO "THE DA VINCI CODE"
By Judith Ann Christie
THE DA VINCI CODE is a jambalaya of disconnected facts (often not
even true) is in fact a most ingenious marketing plan to
hypnotize every level of reading public around the world into
believing Dan Brown has made a major discovery.
He plays on the religious, philosophical, and scientific minds of
the world that for one reason or another wish to destroy the
structure of both the Christian Religion as well as Freemasonry.
Presented are smatterings of incorrect assumptions, undoubtedly
lifted from books and researchers since the 1700's. To hold the
reader and book in tact the author with candor laces the search
for the grail with mystery and intrigue.
When I read a modern-day book, I always search out the author's
intent. Dan Brown was highly skilled in hiding his intent until
the last page of the book. Throughout the book, he led the
reader to believe he had found the secret of the Holy Grail or
was about to discover the actual Holy Grail. When he finally has
to reveal his discovery, he chokes. Wirth artistic reluctance,
he cloaks his lack of information and discovery in the sham the
position of two glass pyramids above and under The Lourve in
France. What a marketing plan not only to sell the book to every
kind of reader, students, teachers, artists, musicians,
philosophers, scientists and religionists, just everyone.
However, is therein a clue as to what is the reality of the
marketing plan? How do we decode his plan?
With the economy of France on the downward spiral since September
11, 2001 and that is putting it mildly, is it just a simple as
ABC, a master plan to attract unlimited tourism dollars to
France? Did France pay Dan Brown to write the book? The book was
not marketed well here in the United States but it had unlimited
marketing in Europe.
Perhaps, most readers missed the entire discovery of Dan Brown,
which as I see it was in fact to write a book carefully framed
around a marketing plan to sell as historical fiction.
What an amazing idea. It is glaringly apparent that Dan Brown
managed to deceive the entire intellectually disadvantaged world
of readers who seemed to lack the curiosity and clarity even to
see past his misconceived and incorrect ideation of fact and
WHAT IS OLD AGE?
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 65-70.]
What is the scientific rationale of old age? Disease is
disobedience to the laws of nature, the laws of health, of which
disobedience we are all guilty more or less. Death is simply the
withdrawal of the finer powers from this physical plane in order
that the peregrinating ego may journey on in its egoic fullness
to other adventures when the call and attraction of this earth
have temporarily ceased. Books could be written on just these
two points. After all, what is old age? Here is where the
difficulty comes. I am going to say things that will sound to
some of you, I fear, as if I was talking in Eskimo or in Chinese.
First, let me try to prepare your minds for my thought by asking
you if you have ever wondered about a very simple fact, which is
that most human beings die more or less within a certain
framework or cadre of years. Barring disease and accident, the
average lifespan is pretty much the same all over the world.
That is what I mean: we do not live to be a thousand years old,
and unless accident or disease of some kind takes us away to the
other spheres, we live more than ten days or one hundred days.
Why is it that the lifespan for the average human being is
something between fifty years and let us say eighty odd? Let us
say one hundred if you will. It is still so short. Now why is
it? Are you just like sheep that you accept a fact because it
happens and do not think about it and ask yourself why it is? Why
should the elephant live to be several hundred years old, or the
whale, or the turtle some say five to seven hundred years old,
whereas the Angel of Death commonly reaps us before we attain our
one-hundredth year? So rare is it for a man to go beyond the
hundredth year in physical life, that they even keep records of
those exceptional cases where human beings have attained 105,
130, or 140 odd years.
I will tell you what it is, and here is where I begin to talk
Chinese or Eskimo -- or Occultism. It is the habit that we have
of acting and reacting in the evolutionary stage in which the
human race presently finds itself. Do you talk about the planets
and about how they govern the lifespan of man? Perfectly true;
but how is it that the planets allow a man to pass what might be
called the critical period and continue living, and only take him
when he may pass it again? He may have happened to pass it
several times previously in a life. Why does it catch him at a
certain time? These are facts, fascinating, interesting, and I
ask you why. My answer is that it is a habit of Nature due to
our past karma, feelings, thoughts, our past thinking. We have
framed for ourselves a framework of psychic and intellectual
habit that causes the Angel of Death to call for us more or less
within this short span of between one and seventy or a hundred
How did this habit arise? Was this habit always so? Will it ever
be just this same habit? In other words, did our forebears of let
us say 120 millions of years ago live to be only 50, 60, or 70
odd years and then die? They did not. They lived to be several
hundred years old; and you have records of this in all the
scriptures of antiquity, as for instance in the Jewish Bible when
Methuselah lived to be 900 odd. Now I think that is an
exaggeration, but it is an illustration and we can pass it. Then
the days of men shortened on earth because they sought evil and
loved its hot and fetid breath. As evil is an increase of the
vital tempo, the vital reservoir is exhausted before its normal
time, so the lives of men were shortened.
It is a true explanation, and when the human race through
millions of years acquires a habit, a psychic habit, the very
atoms of man's body respond to that habit and obey it. It is so
with all kinds of habits, such as waking every morning at a
certain hour. One can get a habit of over-feeding or starving
himself. He can get all sorts of habits; and every thoughtful
physician must know perfectly well the physiological habits that
every normal human body automatically follows in birth, healing,
and even disease.
However, that does not still quite answer our question. Why is
it that man lives a life of only 80 to 100 years, which is so
short compared with endless time? He is here for just a brief
flash, and then is gone! Look at the stars. Consider even the
other creatures on the earth, many of them much more long-lived
than we humans are. Why should it be just so? Now here is some
more occultism, which whatever you may think of it, happens to be
We acquired this habit because of our past karma, which means the
things we did, the thoughts we had, and the feelings we underwent
and followed, or did not follow, in all our past series of lives.
In its evolutionary journey towards far greater perfection, the
human race is only about the middle point of this evolutionary
journey of what we Theosophists call our planetary chain. In
other words, it has reached in its series of seven rounds just a
little past the central point that is the point farthest down in
matter. The call of physical stuff is therefore the strongest.
Now then, if you watch old age, you will notice several things.
In the cases of those whose old age is the most beautiful, they
never lose their powers until within a few days or a week or so
of death. Their powers remain intact, not the bodily ones,
because the body is aging rapidly, but I mean the real powers
that make a man man. Merely to have a physically strong body is
not the mark of a true man. Sometimes gross animals have bodies
that are far stronger than are those of the highly intellectual
civilized human. It is the powers within a man that make him a
man, and it is these powers that the finest old age retains,
because these men are the finest of men, the most evolved at the
present time. It is as if, because of this fineness of
evolutionary status even at the present time, they took tentative
steps ahead of the race into the future and its greater glory,
and could retain this evolutionary forerunning until death came,
forerunners as it were of the racial habit.
Now there is the key to the whole thing. We are at present in
what we call the fourth round, just about at its central and
lowest point. When we have reached the fifth round, death then
will not come so quickly; the human lifespan will be far longer
than the three score years and ten that the Hebrew Bible gives us
as the normal span of human life. When we shall have reached the
sixth round, the lifespan will be still longer. I will tell you
why in a moment or two. When we shall have reached the seventh
and last round for this planetary embodiment, the span of life
will then be at its longest. There will be no old age. There
will be no future for that particular planetary chain, no best
men as it were who could step a little ahead of the norm. All
men will retain their faculties until death comes.
During this seventh round, the human race will have become
relatively a race of Buddhas or Christs. Death, as the Christian
system has it, the last enemy to overcome, will then have been
conquered; disease will be non-existent, for men then will live
by a habit that is absolutely in accordance with the laws of
Nature; and what we call death will be simply a falling asleep,
to awaken in higher realms. There is no wrench as at present, be
it kindly or harsh, but simply a falling asleep.
We look forward to the future millions of years hence. Man's
life will be several hundred years. Health will be his in
relative perfection, because men will automatically obey the laws
of Nature. When death comes, it will come like a gentle sleep
when there is release into the inner worlds. In those days, men
will step out of their bodies at will. They will leave them
behind if they are tired. They will take a new body at will or
may go onto other spheres for men then will be conquerors of
death. There will be no death as we understand it.
That is what evolution has for us in the future -- a wondrous
picture! Then, instead of old age, men will be in fullest
possession of their faculties, not merely physical powers such as
they have at, let us say, forty-five; but their intellect,
spirituality, vision, and mind will be at their highest. That
happens even today occasionally amongst the finest men of the
human race, those who are a little ahead of their evolving
brothers trailing along behind them. They have intuitions like a
child taking tentative steps towards something still unknown.
Nature pushes them ahead so that their old age is a picture of
what the future will be for all men, visions of the future
casting their shadows back to us here.
We approach old age now as we do because of our past, but in
those far distant eons, we can say the older a man grows, the
stronger and more powerful he becomes in everything about him,
even his body. We have not reached that yet! Our old age is as
it were a copying in us in the small of all that the race has
attained up to the present time. It has become a racial habit.
I will point out something else: mere physical old age is by no
means something to long for. Think about what the old age of so
many millions of human beings is. It is pitiful. There is the
loss of intellectual power, spirituality, the physical powers,
psychological insights, and the mind largely, and yet they live
on because the physical vitality is so strong. Who wants that?
The ideal old age that we can strive for even now and gain in
proportion to our effort is to face death when it comes with joy.
It is the beginning of a marvelous adventure. Until the time
comes so to live and from birth until the time of its coming so
to think, feel, and aspire that while the body inevitably will
become more or less enfeebled as old age comes upon us, the mind
remains unimpaired. Spirituality grows and glorifies what we so
inadequately call the sunset years. This is the Theosophical
ideal of old age: a man increasing in inner power, in inner
vision, in mind power, in intellect, in spirituality; so that up
to even a few hours of his death, he is with every advancing day
a bigger man than he was the day before or the year before. It
is no impossible ideal. Live aright. The guerdon is such.
Yet there are karmic things in the lives of many people that
bring about disease, disease that can be traced back far into
past lives. Therefore, in these things we should do wisely to
remember the fine old rule: Judge not your brother lest you be
judged. You never know but what your brother may be going
through some terrific retribution in this life for a misdeed let
us say ten lives back, which, like a seed of trouble lying hid,
is now blossoming. Judge him not, he may be far ahead of you --
when once this life is ended have a new body and a new karma far
better than anything you could look forward to.
We have many mountain ranges of experience still to climb -- but
what joy there is in all this wonderful adventure! Look at the
future embodiments in all kinds of races, and in all kinds of
lands, some of them to come up above the surface of the waters,
as ours then will have sunken or be submerged: new lands, new
languages, new experiences, new adventures, always going onwards
and upwards, and always-growing better.
Here is a consolation for present conditions: that the race as a
whole has passed the central point. From now on, it will go no
longer downwards into matter, but will be on the slow climb
upwards to the very end of time for this earth. Death will be no
more, and the evolutionary habit that the human race is in
presently and that limits the lifespan to its ridiculously small
number of years will have changed. Death will have vanished;
birth will happen in other ways. Human genius will confabulate
with the gods. Inspiration will be the common heritage of all
men. There will then be no more poverty, no more suffering, no
more sorrow; for the Sun of Truth will have risen in men's hearts
with healing in its wings!
THE UNIFYING RELIGION OF AKBAR
By Jagadisan M. Kumarappa
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1931, pages 348-53.]
Akbar, the Great Mogul, singularly combined in himself the
religious tendencies of a mystic, the sensitiveness and
imagination of an artist, the fighting qualities of a warrior,
and the tact and foresight of a statesman. Though he was born in
India, he had no Indian blood in his veins. The Turk, Mogul, and
Persian strains of blood were responsible for the traits of
character in Akbar insofar as they depended upon heredity.
Similarly, the distinctive manners and customs of his court were
derived from non-Indian sources. The officers and courtiers were
mostly Turks and Persians. Hence, Indian influences counted for
little in the first period of his life and reign.
In spite of those early foreign surroundings, the religion of
Akbar's mature mind was such that Hindus reputed him -- as
strange as it may seem -- to be a reincarnation of a Brahman
sage. Mohammedans claimed him as a pious Muslim. Jain writers
counted him among their devout converts, and others found
reasonable ground for affirming him to be a Zoroastrian or a
Christian. He was exalted, indeed, to the loftiest rank among
religious men. What charm then did Akbar possess that made him
the beloved of all seekers after truth? How did he become all in
all to every religious community in an empire subjected to
furious and frequent religious feuds?
As a boy, Akbar was brought up under strict Islamic discipline.
When he was but five years old, Humayun, his father, sent for
celebrated teachers to instruct him in religion and statecraft.
Young Akbar was fonder of animals than books, and devoted much of
his time to camels, horses, dogs, and pigeons. He resisted all
attempts of his father to give him book learning, so much so,
that he never mastered the alphabet, and to the time of his death
was unable to read or sign his own name. He had, however, a
remarkable capacity for listening; he would absorb selected
passages in poetry, history, philosophy, and theology as others
read for him for hours. Thus, he developed an appreciation of
the value of learning, and his royal library is said to have
contained some 24,000 volumes. He loved the arts, promoted
architecture, encouraged sculpture and painting, and showed an
extravagant liking for music and singing.
In spite of the exacting demands made upon him by the affairs of
the state, Akbar showed an unusual interest in all matters
pertaining to religion. He was brought up in the ways of a
devout Muslim. For praying while on tour, he had a lofty tent
constructed as a traveling mosque, in which he offered prayer
five times a day. At one time, he earnestly desired to go on
pilgrimage to Mecca, but later abandoned the plan as his officers
opposed it strongly in the interest of the state. However, his
zeal and devotion were so great that, since he himself could not
go, he issued a proclamation to the effect that any one who
wished to go on a pilgrimage would be financed by the state. At
another time, when Sultan Khwaja was given a sendoff as leader of
the pilgrim caravan, Akbar donned the attire of a pilgrim and
followed the Khwaja for some distance on foot as a symbolic
He made an exhaustive and critical study of the Koran, and his
passionate desire to know more about the different schools of
Muslim thought led to the erection of a "House of Worship" in the
year 1575. To this place, Akbar invited distinguished Mohammedan
scholars to hold debates and discourses on the beliefs of the
various Muslim sects. Presiding over these meetings, he kept the
peace of the house with much tact and good temper whenever the
disputes became heated. As he himself was a strict Muslim at
this time, the experts invited to participate in and listen to
the discussions confined to the four classes of Muslims: the
Shaikhs or holy men, the Syyids or eminent descendants of the
Prophet, the Ulama or doctors learned in the law, and lastly the
Amirs or nobles of the court.
The debates held every week in the House of Worship began at some
time after sunset on Thursday evening that, according to the
Mohammedan calendar, is reckoned as part of Friday, and were
often continued until noon of that day. The scholarly discourses
helped immensely to clarify the issues for Akbar. Besides, they
greatly stimulated his thinking and led him to an illumination
otherwise impossible. While his belief in Deity became more and
more deep-rooted, his rationalistic tendencies made him more and
more skeptical about the doctrines of Islam. He resented the
claims made for its authority and exclusiveness, and found no
adequate ground for affirming the truth of its inspiration. His
belief in the resurrection of the body and eternal punishment
were also shaken.
With the advance of years, he grew in knowledge and wisdom, and
his unsatisfied quest for truth drove him to a critical
investigation of other religions. The religious assembly was
therefore thrown open to Hindus, Christians, and adherents of
diverse other faiths, and they were invited to debate with
frankness the relative merits of their respective creeds. Thus,
under the hospitality of the Emperor Akbar, the first Parliament
of Religions in the history of the world came to be held in
India. In this manner, he made an earnest attempt to make a
comparative study of religions and evaluate their excellences.
Even as he roamed among people, Akbar frequently sought
intercourse with fakirs and yogins to discuss with them the
problems of life and share their religious experiences. Thus, he
came under the influence of Mir Abdul Latif, a Persian teacher,
who introduced him to the mysticism of the Diwan of Hafiz. To
discuss religious matters, Akbar often called upon Amar Das, the
third Sikh Guru, offering him costly presents and partaking of
his simple fare. His friendly relations with the learned lady
Mirabai, wife of the Rana of Udayapur, initiated him into the
doctrines of Vaishnavism. With the help of the famous Dastur
Meherjee Rana of Nausari, in Gujarat, he acquired an intelligent
understanding of the creed, ceremonies, and philosophy of Iran.
Eminent Jain scholars, such as Hiravijaya Suri, Vijayasena Suri
and Bhanuchandra Upadhyaya, made a profound impression upon Akbar
and influenced his mode of life. He invited the wise Fathers of
Goa to his court, and received instructions under them in the
fundamentals of Christian belief.
From his early youth, Akbar had been deeply interested in the
mystery of the relation between God and man, and took delight in
discussing the abstruse problems of that relation with men of
deep religious insight. Besides such stimulating conversations,
the frequent debates, frank and furious, in the Parliament of
Religions provided him with ample food for thought. The
comparative study of the different faiths of mankind liberated
his spacious mind from the bondage of orthodoxy. His diligent
search led him finally to the conclusion that different faiths
emphasized different aspects of reality, and that no one religion
could lay claim to a monopoly of truth. And the conviction that
all creeds -- having as founders divinely inspired men -- came
from a single source, the Divine Wisdom, grew upon him.
Therefore, much as he admired certain aspects of the four main
creeds, he could not bring himself to embrace wholeheartedly any
one of them. Their rival claims only drove him desperately to
cherish the dream of founding a new and improved religion in his
dominions, which, he hoped, would prove to be not only a
synthesis of all the clashing creeds but also capable of uniting
the various discordant elements of his vast empire. To consider
this pressing need carefully, Akbar summoned a General Council of
all the masters of learning and the military commandants of the
neighboring cities, and after much deliberation, he avowed
publicly for the first time in 1582 his project of establishing a
universal religion in his kingdom. Akbar's new religion, the
Din-i-Illahi, was a synthesis of the material he had gathered
from the several religions and systems of philosophy with which
he was familiar.
To Akbar religion was not merely a manner of thinking; it was
even more a way of living. He began therefore to conduct his
life in the light of what he considered the best teachings of
different religions. Islam indoctrinated him in the belief in
one God, to which he clung to the last days of his life. In
obedience to the teaching of Jainism, he abstained almost wholly
from eating flesh, renounced his beloved sport of hunting, and
restricted the practice of fishing.
He was drawn to Christianity by its power to change the lives of
men. He entertained Jesuit Fathers at his court and made them
build a church in the palace, and there he often attended
Christian worship. Although their attitude was uncompromising
and fanatical, Akbar protected them and asked them to instruct
his people in Christian morals. Though the doctrines of the
Trinity, of the virgin birth of Jesus, and his death upon the
cross were not acceptable to Akbar, the ethical teaching of
Christ had a fascination for him. He often subscribed his
letters with the sign of the cross, and as symbols of his
appreciation of Christianity, he wore round his neck a cross, and
a locket containing the portraits of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
The potent influence of Zoroastrianism on Akbar manifested itself
outwardly in his reverence of fire. The sun, according to
Hinduism, is the source of the ripening of the grain on the
fields, of fruits and vegetables; the illumination of the
universe, and the lives of all living creatures are said to
depend upon it. Akbar therefore thought it but proper to worship
the sun and fire, and began to prostrate himself in public before
them. He even required the whole court to rise respectfully when
the lamps and candles were lighted. Further, in compliance with
the demands of the Zoroastrian ritual, he adopted the Persian
names for the months and days and celebrated the fourteen Persian
festivals. He wore under his clothes the sacred shirt and girdle
of the Parsee.
While he had no use for the idolatrous practices of Hinduism, he
adopted readily such doctrines and customs as appealed to his
reason. Sometimes he would even appear in public with Hindu
religious marks on his forehead. Having become a firm believer
in religious tolerance, he allowed freely to others the right to
make their own experiments, discover the line of teaching that
revealed religion most to them, and then adopt only those beliefs
that gave them the best personal satisfaction.
This new religious movement was followed by the inauguration of
many moral and social reforms. Akbar enacted laws to put an end
to the cruel custom of Sati. He made regulations permitting
widow remarriage and prohibiting child marriage. Through
legislation, he sought to control the sale of liquor, to raise
the standard of morality, and promote chastity. The general
destruction of animals was disallowed and animal food was
partially forbidden. Out of respect for the sentiments of the
Hindus, the slaughter of cows was prohibited and made a capital
Akbar introduced most of such reforms and innovations for the
main purpose of furthering the adoption of Hindu, Jain, Parsee,
and Christian practices. The adoption of the best usages of
different communities, he believed, would go far towards
fostering the spirit of tolerance and mutual sympathy, and
minimizing the dissimilarities that make for separatism and
This unique attempt of Akbar to establish a universal religion
and inculcate a spirit of catholicity is described by a European
writer as "a policy of calculated hypocrisy." Akbar certainly was
a diplomat of the first rank, but the fact that he often
introduced radical changes in the teeth of fanatical opposition,
risking grave dangers to the throne and his own life, makes it
difficult for a sympathetic critic to doubt the sincerity of his
effort in this direction. Further, from his boyhood up he had
given evidence of pronounced religious tendencies. A mere
following up of the several stages in his spiritual growth
clearly shows how the evolution of Akbar's universal religion was
the most natural and logical outcome of the development of his
religious consciousness. Even from the political point of view,
the formulation of a universal religion seemed to him essential
for the solution of the problem of disunity.
Akbar perceived that it was politically unsound to have a nation
divided up into many religious factions, while the empire is
ruled by one head. While religions divide, the true spirit of
Religion, he believed, would bind; and there-fore he thought it
imperative to bring all the religions into one in such a fashion
that they should be both "one" and "all," with the advantage of
not losing what is good in any one religion, while gaining
whatever is better in another.
The best way of doing honor to God, giving peace to the people
and security to the empire, seemed to lie, as he saw it, in a
synthesis of the diverse faiths. Hence, Akbar set for himself
the stupendous task of realizing unity in diversity, of
establishing a synthesis amidst variety. Few have shown so
clearly the true way out of our perplexing problems -- religious
hatred and national disunity. In view of all he did to promote
religious liberality and national solidarity, we may say that
Akbar fully justified the name given to him at birth, and that
Humayun rightly called his infant son " Jalalu-d din," the
Splendor of Religion.
By Pedro Oliveira
[Based upon email written October 10, 12, and 26, 2004 about
recent theosophical travels.]
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE FOUNDERS
In Galle, Sri Lanka, I was taken to the Wijayanada Buddhist
Temple and compound for an interview with the Head Monk. He
showed me a number of books from his library about Olcott in both
English and Singhalese including Prothero's WHITE BUDDHIST, the
Howard Murphet's biography (with its revised title of YANKEE
BEACON OF BUDDHIST LIGHT), plus, of course, OLD DIARY LEAVES.
There is a statue of Olcott in the central area of the town. I
noticed a feeling of great warmth and affection for the Colonel
I was then taken to the hall in the old building (1867) where the
Founders of the Theosophical Society, H.P. Blavatsky and H.S.
Olcott, took Panchasila and became Buddhists on May 19, 1880.
There is a bust of Olcott in an alcove, and below it a
reproduction of his own handwriting attesting to have taken
Panchasila together with HPB in that hall.
I was also taken to the temple in which there is a large and
dignified statue of Lord Buddha. Among the many paintings on its
walls, depicting episodes in the Buddha's life as well as some of
the Jataka Tales, one caught my eye. It shows HPB and HSO
sitting on the floor, with hands joined at their chest, before
four Buddhist elders. It depicts the moment in which they
actually took Panchasila. It was a tad too much for my
I caught myself saying wordlessly to myself: "The guys were here.
The guys were here!"
When the time came for me to leave the compound, I thanked the
Head Monk for his kindness and hospitality (we had a sumptuous
lunch). As the van I was traveling went through the gates, I
left with a lump in the throat.
CONVERSATIONS WITH BUDDHIST MONKS
In Badulla, southeastern Sri Lanka, I had the opportunity of
another visit to the senior Buddhist monk I had met last year.
He used to be a teacher of monks but is now retired due to health
reasons. He lives in a small cottage on the compound of a
The subject of our conversation, done through an interpreter, was
the stages on the path (marga): sotapatti, sakridagamin,
anagamin, and arhat. They are mentioned in theosophical
literature. He mentioned the well-known notion of the "fetters"
(samyojana) and said that progress from one stage to another is
by getting rid of a number of "fetters." One of the central ones
is the sense of self (sakkayadhitti). He said this is the most
serious impediment to one threading the path.
The monk said the "anagamin" (non-returner) is free from "tanha,"
the thirst for experience which is the source of suffering
("dukkha"). "There is suffering but no sufferer." Almost
incomprehensible to me, he said that even the "anagamin" has
fetters to deal with, even when they are necessarily of a subtler
nature. One of them is ignorance ("avijja" in Pali or "avidya"
I then asked him, "Are there Arhats alive today?"
He answered, "Possibly, but it is very difficult to verify it.
It is a universal truth that no Arhat would say that he himself
is an Arhat." "An Arhat," he added, "is free from the illusions
created by the sense of self (sakkayadhitti)."
My questions became slightly bolder. "When do you think
Maitreya-Buddha will manifest himself in the world?"
His answer was quite remarkable. "Maitreya-Buddha will manifest
when the present world is 'destroyed' and after a new cycle of
life begins, either on this or on another planet."
Was he referring to another Round?
"Is the Bodhisattva Maitreya in physical incarnation now," I
ventured to ask. (He differentiated between Maitreya-Buddha and
He said, "Yes."
"Do you have any idea of the place where he would be living now,"
"Bharatha" (India), he said. He made clear that these were just
his views and he did not claim the authority of any traditional
Buddhist text in support of them.
What he said about Maitreya-Buddha reminded me about what
Samdhong Rimpoche had told me in a conversation in Sydney, in
2001, during the World Congress of the Adyar Theosophical
Society. He said that according the Tibetan Buddhist tradition,
Maitreya-Buddha would manifest in the world in a million years
from now, but that there would be partial manifestations before
the full manifestation would take place. These partial
manifestations would prepare humanity for the future teaching.
Rimpoche also said that in this age, the Kali Yuga, there is
individual clarity and collective darkness, and that in the next
age, the Satya Yuga, there will be collective clarity but
individual darkness, for these two poles must always be together.
On being asked about the existence of the Mahatmas, he said that
Tibetan people are aware that Mahatmas exist, but since they do
not attract attention to themselves, it is very difficult to
DAWN AT THE GANGES
I am in India on a lecture tour. While in Varanasi, I paid a
visit to the Ganges -- for which I had to get up at 4 A.M.!
My guide was a 65 years old worker of the Theosophical Society
headquarters in India, Rama Adhar. He walks fast. For the past
27 years, he walks to the Ganges daily.
On the way to the river, we find many people bringing their
offerings, entire families sometimes were coming.
When we reach the river, what I saw is very difficult to describe
with western eyes, so I will borrow an Indian look and attempt
Above the river that flows calmly and effortlessly lies a vast
sky. The river reflects the sky, and incredible as it may seem,
the sky reflects the river. The sky over the Ganges seems to be
a river of pure space (akasha in Sanskrit). River and sky form a
complete and indivisible oneness. Seeing this puts an end to all
"Ganges" is the name given to it by the British. The Indians
call the river "Ganga," and it is regarded as a Goddess. The
river is a living temple. "Ganga is our Mother," one of them
tells me. The ritual they perform at its steps (ghats) involves
body, soul, and spirit, for they actually dip into it several
times. Ganga is a Mother that welcomes all her children, both
the living and the death.
It is utterly impossible to describe the feeling one has at its
steps. The experience is so overwhelming that it does not seem
to leave anything behind to describe. Perhaps holiness could
come closer to it. The whole place seems to be completely
suffused with a profoundly benign spiritual power.
On the way back, there was little talk. In my heart, I carry the
experience that India is an endless love affair with God, who
Indians call Brahman, literally meaning "vastness." This
Vastness, without beginning and without end, is profoundly
Feminine, a Mother that nourishes, heals, inspires, renews, and
accepts all unreservedly.
As I walked, I felt small, very small.
By Geoffrey West
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1931, pages 353-58.]
Of most great men, it has been said that they were born before
their times. Perhaps it would be truer to say of each of them
that he was born punctual to his time. The Hour waited, and the
Man came. Yet of few is this truer than of the founder of
Neo-Platonism, Ammonius Saccas of Alexandria. It is overmuch to
say that men looked for his coming, but if he had not come, it
would have been necessary to invent him! He not only crowned but
he completed the special achievement of Alexandrian philosophy;
in the appearance of chaos, he revealed the reality of order.
The religious mentality that prevailed throughout most of the
civilized world in the second century A.D. in some respects
resembled that with which we are familiar today. The pax Romana
brought into contact men of many races and yet more diverse
faiths, and the curious regarded the multiplication of the gods
and doubted. An easy skepticism bred an equally easy credulity;
superstition was rife.
Alexandria in the lifetime of Ammonius presented a microcosm of
the Imperial macrocosm. It stood at the peak of its prosperity
and pride, second only to Rome and the world's greatest port. It
was a cosmopolitan city, long ago fathered by a regnant Greece
upon a consort Egypt, and now besides, in the course of the
years, become the most virile center of Jewish culture of the
day. The produce of Orient and Occident was bartered to and fro
across its quays by men of all the nations, permanent colonies of
foreign merchants even from far India were settled in the town,
and with them came students also to the ancient and famous
university of the Museum and Library. East and West met here to
exchange not only goods but ideas as well, and though in the wide
streets mob passions ran sometimes high and racial and religious
tumults and massacres were not unknown, among the wiser students
of the lecture rooms a tradition of tolerance and desire for
mutual understanding had long been established.
The sustained Alexandrian tendency was indeed towards a liberal
eclecticism, philosophical in nature but religious in implication
and effect, and even from as early as the second century B.C.,
men of every school revealed it increasingly. It actually
penetrated the Christian Catechetical School, so that one
preceptor, the amiable Clement -- himself a converted pagan and
ardent Platonist -- openly taught his pupils that truth persisted
even in the heathen philosophies and mythologies, though each
preserved only an isolated fragment, and all must be considered
in conjunction if error were to be avoided.
This attitude -- when all its inalienable implications are
allowed -- may be said to represent the final flower of
Alexandrian eclecticism before Ammonius. What he did to deserve
more than either Philo or Numenius the title of founder of that
school from which the term Theosophy dates but that has somewhat
obscured its nature under the name of Neo-Platonism was to
reverse that half-truth and to reveal t higher verity that every
religion, rightly interpreted, possesses all the vital doctrines
of true religion, that these doctrines are in every case
identical, and that, moreover, they derive from a single source.
Ammonius Saccas was born in Alexandria about the year 160 A. D.,
and lived and died there. His parents were poor, and Christians.
He became in youth a corn-porter at the docks -- whence his
distinguishing name of Saccas, the sack-carrier -- but continued
to attend the Catechetical School. Yet from childhood, he had
revolted against the simpler Christian dogmatism. Even the
liberal teachings of Clement and Pantaenus (a converted Stoic who
had traveled much in the East) could not satisfy him. Even
tireless in seeking knowledge, he became at the same time a pupil
of certain non-Christian lecturers, casting the net of his
inquiring mind as widely as possible, and drawing strange fish
from not only Greek, but also Egyptian, Persian, and Indian
streams of wisdom.
He held the balance between them all, for it was said that he had
no instructor in philosophy -- that is, he acknowledged no
teacher as his master. But such was his wisdom that men could
not believe it self-attained, and called him Theodidaktos, or
god-taught, saying that divine truth was revealed to him in
dreams and visions. How long the preparatory stage of initiation
lasted none can say. It is unlikely that he established his own
school much before the age of forty, yet by the end of the first
decade of the new century, he was already one of the most
illustrious teachers in Alexandria, his lectures being attended
by the famous Origen, head of the Catechetical School from 203 to
The controversy as to whether Ammonius ever openly renounced
Christianity centers about this pupilship of Origen. Would a
Christian teacher, ask some, have attended the lectures of an
apostate? On the other hand, it must be pointed out that
Alexandria was then the one place in the world where Christianity
did meet on equal terms with heathen faiths and philosophies, and
further it is declared that Origen went to him specifically to
study heathen philosophy at its best that he might the more ably
combat it. The point is not an important one. Ammonius
acknowledged all religions; he revered Jesus preeminently as a
great seer, not god-born perhaps, but certainly like himself
So far as we may judge by the practice of Plotinus, apparently
based upon that of his master, Ammonius was as a teacher no
dogmatic instructor. He gave of his wisdom, but knew that
understanding must be positive not passive, an imaginative and
spiritual process not merely an effort of the memory. His method
was to read some wise passage, and then to make his pupils follow
him in commenting upon it; he encouraged them to question him
freely. All his instruction was given by word of mouth, and
though various works on the Gospels and on Aristotle have been
ascribed to him, it seems certain that he wrote nothing.
At no time did he lack pupils, and in fact received the
admiration and support of some of the most eminent Christian,
Jewish, Greek, and other Alexandrian teachers of the day. Among
his most intimate disciples were numbered Longinus the critic,
Erennius, another Origen (a pagan), and, of course, Plotinus, who
had come to the university at the age of twenty-seven to study
philosophy, and for a year sought saddened and discouraged for a
worthy instructor until at last a friend brought him to Ammonius.
He heard his future master speak but once, and exclaimed, "This
was the man I was looking for." Thenceforward for eleven years --
until the death of Ammonius in 243 -- he continued the most
steadfast and devoted of all the small inner circle of students.
The principal effort of Ammonius as a public teacher was to
reconcile to the Platonic system the tenets of every school and
sect, whether of Greece, or Egypt, or the East. This
demonstrated the basic teachings of all the great sages from
Buddha and Pythagoras to Plato and Jesus, however superficially
cast into the language of their times and places, to be
essentially one, fruit of a single tree of Divine Wisdom and
revelation. He sought earnestly to purge the prevailing
polytheisms of their vulgar superstitions by revealing their
sacred legends as allegories expressive of spiritual truths.
Opinion ascribes to him a primary if not a sole part in the final
fusion of the Platonic creative World-Spirit, the Aristotelian
Intelligence, and the Pythagorean Monad into the Neo-Platonic
Trinity. It was (1) the One, absolute, incomprehensible,
infinite, indefinable, and supreme; (2) the Universal Mind or
Intellectual Principle that contains the Thoughts or Ideas of all
things, and by thinking creates; and (3) the Universal Soul, that
having radiated down through the hierarchies of the gods, angels,
demons, men, animals, plants, and minerals to the lowest point of
matter is the universe we perceive.
He achieved both the final definition of the One as, in the
phrase of Plotinus, "beyond all being in majesty and power," and
the essential identification of the Ideas with the Intelligence
of God, a dual accomplishment declared by one Christian critic to
"form the bridge between ancient and modern metaphysics." All, he
taught, flowed from the One; all partook of the Nature of the
One; all sought to return to the One -- and his highest teaching
in fact promised mystic communion with the One.
This was a teaching only for the few, demanding as it did a
purity equal to that for which he himself was noted. (Plotinus
wrote on this point: "If the eye that ventures the vision be
dimmed by vice, impure, or weak, then it sees nothing even though
another point to what lies plain before it. To any vision must
be brought an eye adapted to what is to be seen, and having some
resemblance to it.") To the many, he advised with the sanity that
always characterized him, a natural life in accordance with the
laws and customs of their land and faith; only before his own
disciples did he set up the ideal of "a God-like life," a severe
but wholesome asceticism. And only to these disciples, and under
an injunction of secrecy, did he teach the more sublime doctrines
and mystical practices, the Wisdom said to have been handed down
by Initiates in many countries of the East, and to have been
brought by Hermes from India to Egypt. To them alone he revealed
the theurgical -- the so-called magical -- attainments that the
more ignorant would certainly have regarded as miraculous.
When at last Ammonius died, his school was scattered: there
remained in Alexandria not one pupil able to carry on the
tradition of his teaching. Plotinus might have done so, but he,
released at last from his discipleship, desired to study the
wisdom of Persia and India at first hand, and traveled eastward
with the Emperor Gordian's expedition against the Parthians. But
Gordian was murdered, and Plotinus retraced his tracks not to
Alexandria but to Rome. There he lived privately for some years,
bound by the vow of secrecy Ammonius had laid upon his followers.
The pact was broken by Erennius and the pagan Origen, and
Plotinus found himself free to teach, though for ten more years
he did so orally only, and would commit nothing to writing.
Towards his last years, however, he relented -- fortunately, for
his works are indeed the main source of our knowledge of the
exoteric teachings of Ammonius. (The few hundred words on the
immateriality of the soul, and again on the relation of soul and
body, quoted by Nemesius in his treatise ON HUMAN NATURE a
hundred and fifty years after their supposed author's death, deal
with limited though important aspects, and are in any case not
Through the influence of Plotinus, these teachings became for
three hundred years the primary philosophical influence
throughout the Empire, and when at last dogmatic Christianity
conquered, they had so permeated the very thought of the Church
that they were carried onward as a heritage to the world by the
very power which desired to extinguish them. Yet the death of
the Neo-Platonist Hypatia, barbarously killed by a Christian mob,
was the death also of Alexandrian philosophy.
Of the esoteric doctrines who shall say? Such figures as
Iamblichus and Maximus more than hint at the active practice of
theurgical powers, but in general, one suspects a tendency to
degradation and misuse. One of the pupils of Ammonius himself,
it is recorded, sought to bewitch Plotinus, and there are other
instances wherein the black magic blots ominously across the
white. With the victory of the orthodox faith, Theosophy
exoteric and esoteric sank into obscurity, persistent perhaps but
secret. The effort was not wasted, but the world was blind.
Perhaps in one sense, Ammonius Saccas was before his time, but
only in that sense that is itself the condition of his
importance. It is the fate of greatness always to be a torch
that feeds upon itself to light the surrounding darkness. In
broad daylight, it would be merely superfluous.
ASPIRATION AND ENVIRONMENT
By Ernest Hawthorn
[From LUCIFER, October 15, 1888, pages 133-36.]
It has been wisely remarked that the old adage, "The truth lies
between two extremes," does not necessarily imply that it lies
exactly in the middle. That can only be the case where the
exaggerating and the underrating have been precisely equal, which
can very seldom occur, if ever. The truth will generally be
found to lie much nearer to one extreme than to the other,
according to the preponderance of abuse over disuse or the
Regarding the subject of this paper, there are two diametrically
opposed schools of thought. At present in the heyday of
popularity, one asserts that man is in the most absolute sense
the creature of his surroundings, that character is merely a
mechanical product of circumstance. Comprising most of the
mystics and enthusiasts of all ages, the other declares that by
subtle but invariable laws, man is the creator of his
surroundings, that circumstance is merely the fruit of character.
The truth lies between the two extremes, but much nearer to the
latter than to the former.
Undoubtedly we are influenced, and that most powerfully, by our
environment. Until we begin to think in earnest, we have no idea
of the extent to which our thoughts, feelings, and likes and
dislikes are colored by the conditions of our birth, training,
and position in the world. Not one man in a million is able even
by the most strenuous and prolonged effort to free himself
entirely from these invisible chains, or so to "purge the eyes
with euphrasy and rue" that he can see Truth in what Bacon calls
a "dry light." On the mists of our passions and affections, the
white rays of the absolute break and disintegrate, and we see,
not the pure Eternal Light, but rather see the rainbow. It is
beautiful, indeed, but partial.
(I do not forget or ignore the action of karma. The environment
with which each one starts in every fresh incarnation is
determined by the net product of acquired tendencies, by
"character," only modified by the national and cyclic karma. The
self-causation of our position in the world does not affect the
fact that circumstances have a powerful influence in the further
development of "character," which is all for which I am
Nevertheless, that character molds circumstance is equally
patent. Books of "Good Advice to Young Men" (who are somewhat
advised to distraction, by the way) abound in instances. It
would be a waste of precious space to quote. Everyone knows of
scores of such cases.
Are then the two forces equal? Natural Philosophy teaches that
when two opposed forces are equal the result is a deadlock. One
of the two must be the stronger. The Higher Wisdom asserts most
positively that the power of aspiration excels the power of
environment. The former is of the spirit, Divine; the latter of
the body, Human. The one has the force of inertia of dead matter
("dead," that is, relatively to our normal perceptions), the
other has the creative energy of the One-Life.
Very subtly does the higher force work, as is evidenced by the
fact of its mere existence being so often denied; but so, for
that matter, does the law of electrical affinity, which no one
dreams of doubting. That the magnet, plunged into a heap of
mingled sawdust and iron filings, should draw to itself the
latter, is as mysterious every whit as that the spirit should
draw to itself those material surroundings that best suit its
present state. There are modes of action of which our physical
senses can take no cognizance, but they are nonetheless real.
Observe that this force is what we call "moral" rather than what
we call "mental." It is Aspiration that influences environment,
rather than Intellectuality. A man's surroundings will be shaped
more by his character than by his abilities. Doubtless, the
latter have much to do with the matter; they exert an influence
analogous to the power of his muscles on a lower plane. The
former is the chief factor in the equation of life.
"Like unto Like" is the law of the universe. Our desires,
impulses, longings, and aspirations, if they do not influence the
material world directly, do so indirectly, by constantly
generating a stream of psychic or soul forces, which act upon the
objects of the bodily senses. Too abstruse in its undercurrents
to be easily traced, it can be seen at work plainly enough in
some of its phases. That we seize or let slip this or that
opportunity as it comes, depends very largely upon the frame of
mind in which we are at the time. To the soul that aspires,
circumstances are stepping-stones; to the soul that creeps, they
The application of this truth to the social life must for
brevity's sake is left untouched, beyond the remark that the
paramount aim of all reformers should be the inspiring of a
better spirit. (Note it is the paramount aim, but not, of
course, the only aim.) It is true that little higher development
is possible for those whose lives are one long time of drudgery,
whose homes are kennels, and whose bodies are mere machines.
Material progress and moral or spiritual development must advance
with equal steps. Regard the material improvements as a means,
not as an end. Never forget that the strongest incentive to a
change of surroundings is a change of spirit.
It is in its application to the individual life that this truth
is of special interest and value. How common is dissatisfaction
with one's lot, not because it is particularly hard, but because
of the limitations that it imposes (or seems to impose) on one's
aspirations! How frequent the cry, "Oh that I had more leisure,
more wealth, a different station, more congenial occupations and
surroundings! Oh, had I room to spread my wings! How I would then
develop myself and grow liker to the unattainable Ideal!" Aye?
It is sad but common to see someone's aspirations wither away in
the very atmosphere for which he craved. Longing for wealth that
he might have opportunities of unfolding his higher nature, a
poor man becomes rich and then forget his dreams, becoming like
Bunyan's man with the muckrake. "Set a beggar on horseback and
he will!" Why is this? It is because he is still a "beggar" at
heart. Only the clothes are changed; the man remains the same.
Those with little self-knowledge and understanding of the meaning
of Life sigh idly for an Eldorado. Having made up their minds
that they cannot grow where they are, they long for an ideal
environment in which they might be greater. They will not know
how to use that for which they long, if Fortune were cruel enough
to answer their prayers.
This is beginning at the wrong end. "FIRST DESERVE, THEN
DESIRE." Though the restrictions inseparable from material
conditions, though the injustice of others may surround us with
barriers in which the aspirations cannot burst into glorious
fruition, at any rate they can as a rule put forth the first
tender shoots. Do not fear that the growing tree cannot shatter
its prison-walls! A seed lodged in the crevice between two blocks
of hugest and most firmly cemented masonry can force them apart
by sheer force of growth. For they are dead, and it is alive.
Is there not many a Theosophist who longs to enter with full
consecration upon the Path, but is prevented by sheer force of
his environment from gaining admittance into even the lowest rank
of Chelas? Let such a one be wise. If the hindrance is indeed
real and not merely apparent, there could be no clearer proof,
given that he is not yet ripe for Chelaship. If his longing is
genuine and pure, and not an emotional flash of ambition or
curiosity, he will steadily set himself so to live that upon his
next return to earth he may find himself environed suitably for
the solemn initiation.
He who is wise will not long for better environment; he will
strive rather to "better himself" in the true sense of those
terribly misused words, knowing that the fitter environment will
come of itself. He will leave to children the desire for that
for which he is not fitted. The baby would clutch at and cut
himself with the razor; the modest youth leaves it alone until he
needs it, by which time, hopefully, he will know how to use it.
Aspire! Aspire! Only aspire! Believe that matter is but the
shadow of spirit; it is the truth. If you are not in that
condition of life where you want to be, it is strong presumptive
evidence that you are not fit for it; and if not fit, its
attainment would be a curse and not a blessing. Promotion is
sure, when earned; but it must be earned first. The promotion,
however, may not be rapid. It seldom is. It is only by
hairbreadths at a time that we can raise ourselves -- our Selves
-- perhaps not enough in one short lifetime to bring about any
very appreciable change in environment. Nevertheless, making
every allowance and deduction, the truth of the matter may be
summed up in one sentence. If you are dissatisfied with your lot
in life, and would change it, change yourself.
THE PATH OF PATANJALI
By D.G. Londhe
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1943, pages 100-5.]
It is now a quarter of a century since the BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGY of
Mrs. Rhys Davids appeared in the "Quest Series." The Editor's
Note opened with the words:
> One of the most marked signs of the times is the close attention
> paid to psychological research, the results of which are being
> followed with the greatest interest by an intelligent public and
> the continued advance of which promises to be one of the most
> hopeful activities of modern science. The observation, analysis,
> and classification of mental phenomena are being pursued with
> untiring energy, and the problems of mind attacked on all sides
> with refreshing vigor. In brief, the new science of Psychology
> seems to promise at no distant date to become one of the most
> fruitful, if not the most fruitful, field of human tillage.
These prophetic words are significant even at the present time
when the prophecy in the last sentence has been fulfilled.
When Patanjali compiled the YOGA SUTRAS, he laid down a unique
technique of mind culture and thus paved a Path for all those who
are intent upon disciplining their minds and sublimating their
souls. He started with normal healthy individuals and set up a
system of streamlining the soul and perfecting the psyche. He
did not set out to diagnose and cure the disorders of neurotics
and the maladjustments of morbid minds, as the modern
psychoanalysts do, seeking to save their souls.
His was not the modern method of medical consultation and
clinical practice, but rather the time-hallowed method of
personal spiritual guidance. The psychoanalytical method has to
employ "all the devices of the animal tamer to make the defiant
barbarian and the savage in us in some measure tractable" but the
Yogic method aims at awakening the slumbering divine spirit in
man and at developing and evolving the Superman in him.
The Yoga system contains a vast mine of psychological material.
A constructive and comparative study of the system of psychology
implied in it is a great desideratum. The psychological outlook
dominates Indian philosophy, religion, ethics, and culture in
general. Yet it is to Yoga that one has to look for a systematic
and coherent treatment of the nature, working, conditions, and
interrelations of the mental processes. Yoga is the blossom of a
culture that is essentially psychological. European culture
starting from Greek science shows a marked preference for physics
and mechanics. Indian culture, ever since the period of the
Upanishads, shows a remarkable inwardization of spirit. Bergson
indulged in very penetrating and sagacious musing on the genius
of the comparative cultures of the East and West in his Address
to the Psychical Research Society in 1913. He writes:
> I have sometimes asked myself what would have happened in modern
> science, if it had started the reverse way: with the
> consideration of mind (esprit) instead of matter: if Kepler,
> Galileo, and Newton, for instance, had been psychologists.
Following this reverse way, that is, "with the consideration of
mind, instead of matter," India could produce a wonderful system
of psychological theory and practice in what we call Yoga. We
may follow Bergson's suggestion and style Patanjali a "Newton of
Psychology." Mrs. Rhys Davids, writing on "The Birth of Indian
Psychology and Its Development in Buddhism," complains that
> India is still a home for mysteries of rddhi or psychic
> will-force, but she is far from being a home for an intelligent
> investigation of it.
It is high time that our vastly increased psychological knowledge
and the newly discovered methods of investigation be brought to
bear upon truths intuitively discovered by Patanjali and other
illustrious teachers of the Yogic tradition and continuously kept
alive and enriched through the centuries.
Psychology as a separate science is of comparatively recent
origin. Psychology as pursued in the West is only "Mentology."
It is, strictly speaking, a science of the mind, rather than a
science of the psyche, which has obviously a much wider
significance. The English word "mind" is too generic and vague
and is positively confusing when employed as an equivalent of the
Sanskrit word "Manas." It is only in the early Vedic usage that
Manas is equivalent to soul or spirit. In the SHIVA SANKALPA
SUKTA (YAJURVEDA, 34) mind is praised in the sense of an
all-pervading spirit, the description of mind being analogous to
that of the Atman in the sense of the Upanishads. The
all-pervading mind later came to be degraded and limited as a
mere "Inner Sense" (Antahkaran). The term "Chitta" becomes more
prominent in Buddhism and in the Yoga Psychology, as an empirical
science divorced from metaphysics would naturally require a
suitable terminology divested of all metaphysical associations.
Yoga represents a dualistic psychology. Patanjali posits a
psyche distinct from the body. Human life as it is actually
lived is a partnership between the psyche and the body. We are
familiar with these two different trends of thought in Western
psychology. According to Monism, man, as a concrete being, is a
unity of body and mind. However clearly we may distinguish
conceptually between body and mind, the concrete evident
existence of man is as an organic, undifferentiated whole. Mind,
soul, or self is an abstraction for which there is no ontological
counterpart in real nature.
Aristotle had advocated such a monistic view of man. He regarded
the soul as a mere function of the body. Thinking, judging, etc.
are to the body what cutting is to the axe or seeing is to the
eye. Materialists supported the monistic view from a very
different standpoint. Karl Vogt held that "thought stands in the
same relation to the brain as bile to the liver." Buchner
regarded psychical activity as "nothing but a radiation through
the cells of the grey substance of the brain, of a motion setup
by external stimuli." Haeckel considers soul as a function of all
substances. He attributes tissue souls to plants, nerve-souls to
animals, cell souls to ova, and germ-soul to the impregnated ovum
wherein man's body and soul are born together.
The line of dualists starts with Descartes, who postulates two
substances, soul and body or spirit and matter, and thus leaves a
problem for all future generations of philosophers and
psychologists to struggle with. He regarded the pineal gland as
the seat of the soul and as a medium of interaction between the
soul and the body. In modern times, Henri Bergson, Hans Driesch,
and William McDougall are the outstanding exponents of
Yoga, as said, implies a dualistic conception of the constitution
of man. Body is regarded as an instrument of the soul. Health
and efficiency of the bodily part of man, though deemed
desirable, are not so over-emphasized as to be allowed to
jeopardize the well-being of the soul. Psychological dualism is
a necessary presupposition of the recognition of former lives.
Patanjali undoubtedly recognizes a series of births prior to the
present one and suggests the possibility of recalling them to
memory through a revitalizing of the Sanskaras. Even a direct
sallying forth of the psyche is sometimes suggested (See YOGA
SUTRAS, 3, 43 and 19). As Yoga believes in extra-sensuous
perception, it virtually recognizes the capacity of the mind to
function independently of the senses and thus supports a
In our experience, we meet with facts of two kinds: mental and
material. This dualism may not be hastily dubbed ultimate,
metaphysical, and mysterious and yet there can be no gainsaying
that experience is either mental or material. The mental is what
is directly and immediately experienced; the material, on the
other hand, is what is indirectly and immediately known. Our
first acquaintance is with the mental. The mental occurs as
perception, feeling, emotion, belief, judgment, memory, and
What we term mind or self is not experienced in its integrality
at any particular time. Mind may be understood as a general
name, a class-concept, or a universal of which the perceptions
and feelings are the particulars, just as man is a general name,
a universal to which such individuals as Socrates and Shakespeare
correspond. Mind is not a mere abstraction, as it is capable of
taking the form of a concrete passing perception. We may
conceive a particular passing perception, feeling, or belief as
an incarnation of the mind, if the secular use of a religious
term were permitted. It is not the mind but only its "mindings"
(or workings -- Vrittis) with which we are immediately concerned.
Patanjali in his Yoga system aims at developing a definite
scientific method of controlling and mastering the "mindings." He
defines the ideal of Yoga as "control of the modifications of the
mind." (YOGA SUTRAS, I, 2) A question might be raised. What is
the exact nature of this control? The original Sanskrit word
"Nirodha," primarily connoting inhibition, is prima facie a
negative concept. It means withholding, not allowing something
to go forward, so to say. The "mindings" betray a natural
tendency to go forth to objects and to identify themselves with
Yoga implies that it is desirable to check this extravagant
outflow of mental energy that dissipates itself upon objects.
The aim of Patanjali's unique method of mastering the mind is to
retain the contents of the Vrittis on the subject itself. The
control of the modifications of the mind, then, which is laid
down as the ultimate objective of the Yoga system is nothing but
conservation of the mental energy. Thus, in spite of the
apparently negative connotation of the term, "Nirodha" is found
on closer consideration to carry the positive significance of
retention and conservation.
The conservation of the energy content of the "mindings" should
not be understood in a mere passive receptive sense. Control as
conservation of mental energy will ultimately take the form of
transformation and sublimation of mental energy. Patanjali
conceives the human psyche as being essentially a dynamic entity.
Yoga psychology in the last resort turns out to be a species of
Modern Western psychology has only recently come to recognize the
existence of psychic energy. Freud misinterprets psychic energy
as being sexual in character. McDougall has rightly insisted
that psychology must postulate general psychic energy if it is to
avoid being merely descriptive. The hypothesis of energy, being
so very serviceable in physics and biology, should be equally
serviceable in psychology also, if psychology is to deal
satisfactorily with the problem of innervation of human activity.
In McDougall's view, this energy must be conceived as being
different in character from energy as postulated in physics. It
should be understood as being psychophysical, or hormic, as he
chooses to term it.
The physiological basis of a mental process consists in a neural
process of enormous complexity involving inter-neuronic
connections between any number out of those nine billion cells
that inhabit the cerebral cortex. Our knowledge of the exact
nature of the neural process accompanying and conditioning a
mental process is still meager, yet we may conjecture that it is
probable that the stimulation of a nerve results in the discharge
of stored-up energy contained in a neuron.
> The brain activity is sustained by these streams of energy that
> keep it charged with neurokyme at a varying tension or potential
> and this charge of free energy is constantly being worked off by
> thought or mental activity of any other kind; for all mental
> activity involves the discharge of neurokyme from the sensory to
> the motor side of the brain, according to James's Law of Forward
> -- McDougall, OUTLINE OF ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY, page 104 and
> ENERGIES OF MEN, page 9
The value of controlling the mental modifications is being
increasingly recognized with the progress of neurology. Intense
brainwork sustained for some time should convince us in a general
and non-technical way of the probable loss of mental energy
caused by mental activity. The most outstanding mark of an
untrained and undisciplined mind is unsteadiness. The "monkey"
mind is a wandering mind. Now it thinks of one thing and then
suddenly and unexpectedly it thinks of quite another thing
absolutely disconnected with the first. The unsteadiness in the
last analysis amounts to lack of adequate attention and
application to the object in the focus of consciousness for the
The evil of unsteadiness that it is sought to remedy by the Yogic
method is the excessive speed, the mere movement that overshoots
the mark, the velocity that is valueless because it defeats its
own purpose. The mere passage of the mind from one object to
another is a movement of thought that does not help the
understanding of a particular object, as it fails to open up
different perspectives for looking at the same object or
situation. Unsteadiness in its extreme form expresses itself in
a miserable lack of logical and coherent thinking. A flickering
mind is like a flickering flame: unreliable, treacherous, and
good for nothing. Unsteadiness beyond a certain measure is a
symptom of insanity. In the manic form of insanity, a man's mind
betrays absolute incapacity to fix itself on a particular object.
Yoga leaves out this abnormal state of unsteadiness, and takes up
unsteadiness only in its normal aspect, seeking to control it by
a definite method and technique. Jung has rightly grasped the
high value and significance of this method. He writes:
> We Occidentals had learnt to tame and subject the psyche, but we
> know nothing about its methodical development and its functions.
> Our civilization is still young and we therefore require all the
> devices of the animal tamer to make the defiant barbarian and the
> savage in us in some measure tractable. When we reach a higher
> cultural level, we must forego compulsion and turn to
> self-development. For this, we must have the knowledge of a way
> or method and so far, we know of none.
> -- MODERN MAN IN SEARCH OF A SOUL, pages 61-2
Patanjali provided a "way or method of self-development" two
thousand years before the birth of modern psychology, which is
still groping in the dark to find such a way.
WINTER SOLSTICE 1955, Part II
By Boris de Zirkoff
[This talk comes from the second part of the tape recording
entitled "Winter Solstice 1/2" made of a private class on
FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY held on December 21,
What we have said is but a bird's eye view of certain recondite
facts of nature. Our ultimate spiritual growth bases itself upon
these spiritual dynamics. We do not have time to go into many
details. We could do it some other time. Yet our minds,
intuitive as they are, can supplement these studies a great deal.
The various stories of the time of the Winter Solstice flow out
from these facts of nature upon which we have lightly touched.
These included the virgin birth, the birth of the child in a
stable, and the animals surrounding the child (the animals
symbolizing the powers within the neophyte's constitution). If
we put our minds to it, we can see how the Christian symbolism of
Christmas derives from esoteric facts clustering around the
The tree is one of the most beautiful symbols coming down from
antiquity. This is not the Christmas tree, which is not very old
a symbol, but rather a tree in general. The symbol of the World
Tree comes from antiquity, invariably connected with the Winter
Solstice. Curiously, its roots are above and its branches spread
downward. This tree of cosmic life branches out of a spiritual
seed and it has roots forever hidden in the planes of spiritual,
divine life at the heart of the universe. The manifested forms
of life flow from it. They branch out through the circulations
of the cosmos and spread downwards into worlds of matter. There
are seeds of the various worlds -- cosmic systems, galaxies,
solar systems, and planets. They are the whirlpools of force
that form at times from this tree as it branches out.
We want lights on our trees, which symbolize cosmic worlds.
Likewise, we find centers of spiritual light strung upon the
branches of the cosmic tree that the Hindus call ashvattha and
the Druids worshipped in their oaks. The Christmas tree
illustrates the ancient symbol of life coming from that
everlasting and incognizable Root in the inner worlds. The
cosmic tree bears innumerable worlds upon its branches, each a
manifestation of that life.
HPB points out that in that endless plane of world-manifestation
there are always worlds coming into birth. There are always
worlds in full evolutionary unfoldment. There are always worlds
just coming to fruition and going out like lights. Some are
going out, here and there, and others are coming into
No matter what the outer conditions in which we live, those
curious and sometimes strange changes upon the karmic stage of
life, the spiritual realities endure. They cannot pass away.
Their forms change, but their spiritual content remains valid.
Their spiritual integrity remains, because back of these thoughts
is universal law. Back of all of it is the universality of
divine life. All is well as long as we keep the ancient fires
burning upon the altars of our homes and the Christmas spirit
sings in our hearts, prevailing in its deeper meaning. We have
not lost sight of the vision; there is always hope and courage.
In the light of that greater spiritual vision, humanity forges
ahead towards those heights of human perfection when a new Sun
will shine upon a regenerated human race. There will always be
Christmas in the deeper sense of its meaning, always.
In addition to the tree, its branches, and its lights, there are
Christmas presents, an ancient Roman custom. The French word for
these presents is "etrennes," coming from the Latin word
"strenae." In ancient Rome, it denoted the giving of Christmas or
Winter Solstice presents at the start of a new year. The
Saturnalia began in early December and culminated around the 25th
with great festivities and the giving of presents.
In those pre-Christian days, people exchanged eggs just as we do
now at Easter. We find another esoteric fact behind the exchange
of presents, particularly obvious with the giving of eggs. The
idea was, "Here I am, bringing a portion of myself, the best in
me, with a loving thought to you." This is more apparent with
eggs because from time immemorial they were the symbol of the
initiant life, life in its inception. The egg symbolized the
solar system within the encompassing range of its consciousness.
It was a seed of future life.
The idea refers to all gifts. We should not exchange gifts out
of habit. It is of greater value to give a flower to a friend
with love than to indifferently buy a thousand dollar present
just because it is Christmas. The gift is the feeling behind the
giving, the spiritual thought of sympathy, compassion, and loving
kindness. The physical gift only embodies that feeling. Our
Christian civilization inherited this from Rome; they had it for
Rome had its great periods and it had its periods of
commercialism and decadence. When religion declined and money
meant too much, Romans were as bad as we are in commercializing
their festivals. Certainly, we are not the first to lose the
spirit of giving. In both Europe and here in America, we have so
many characteristics of ancient Rome that I wonder if many of us
may have had a recent incarnation in the Roman Empire.
There is occult significance to the Christian story of gold,
frankincense, and myrrh brought to the birthplace of Christ. The
gifts are under the respective rulership of the Sun, Mercury, and
Venus. The story of the Three Kings who came to worship the holy
babe symbolizes the Sun, Mercury, and Venus coming into
juxtaposition at the neophyte's initiation. The legends have not
come down through the ages in their purity; many things have
changed; we do not have clear, original versions. The nature of
the Magi and their gifts show that initiates of that time hid
facts pertaining to initiation in the story.
Can we tell when there are special juxtapositions of the planets?
Astronomically, it requires far greater knowledge than mine.
Personally, I cannot, because I do not know enough about occult
mathematics. Using a planetarium, would it be possible to find
when the planets come together this particular way? If a
planetarium were revolved back two thousand years, the cumulative
error would make the answer unreliable. We are dealing with
things that might take place but once in 100,000 years.
Obviously, no mechanical device is perfect enough to tell it to
Only those of far greater knowledge of occult numerical
relations, the teachers, could answer this question. I mean the
Masters, the teachers of HPB, those whom have been terribly
reluctant to share anything pertaining to actual numbers. They
have given out little. I do not know why. Apparently, numbers
are an easy way whereby we can wreck ourselves. So far, they
have withheld much. The knowledge exists. The mathematics for
the calculation of these things exists. We could determine the
initiatory dates with absolute reliability if we knew more, if
occult mathematics supplemented our calculations. Even though
some specialists, astronomers or mathematicians among us
Theosophists, might come much closer than I might, they still
would be uncertain.
It is not difficult to find how often a New Moon happens at the
Winter Solstice. It is not difficult to find how often there may
be, let us say, a conjunction of Venus at the Winter Solstice,
without the slightest reference to the Moon. It is not difficult
to find when the conjunctions of one body occur. When you take
two, the difficulty is enormously increased. When you bring
three, the difficulty is immense. You bring four, and you
stipulate that the position must take place around December 21,
which means that the Sun must be entering Capricorn and not
something else, and you have five unknowns, which would tax the
mind of the greatest mathematicians. I would not be surprised if
our mechanical brains might one day solve it. Someday one of us
might ask a scientist to work this out with a mechanical brain.
Many are reluctant to give up their Christian stories. Aside
from the position of the planets and the story of the Wise Men,
some think it possible that the Wise Men did come. This is
childish, but I would not say so to any Christian to whom it
means a lot. Most stories are symbolic tales from the crypts of
This is, however, just one meaning. True symbols have seven
meanings of which we may grasp one, two, or three at most. The
story also alludes to the threefold nature of an Avatara. First
is the God-like being that comes from higher spheres. Second is
the loaned psychological apparatus of a Bodhisattva. Finally is
the pure physical-astral vehicle, born the usual way. The three
combine by a feat of supreme magic to function together over a
short period. These are the Three Kings bringing their gifts.
The "star" may actually mean a certain planetary configuration.
I do not mean the conjunctions of which we have spoken. Various
signs heralded the appearance of any Avatara or Buddha to the
initiates that knew how to interpret them. Certain positions of
the planets and Sun foreshadowed it as well as other things like
possibly the appearance of a great comet. For the initiates who
know these things, a star in the story might symbolize all of
this, a generalization that indicated the appearance of a great
Some people have tried to identify that "star" with a conjunction
of Saturn and Jupiter. Approximately 2,100 years ago, there was
such a conjunction. It is possible that is what the story meant.
I feel it meant something much more important. The conjunction
has taken place several times since then; it is not so rare.
There are many ways to interpret the symbol of the "star." A
symbol could mean several things at once. There have been many
strange manifestations of light, even in recent times. I would
not preclude the possibility of some earthly phenomenon connected
with the appearance of a great initiate. It could be.
Everything that we see around us goes through a stage of
preparation before reaching usefulness. The skepticism so many
people feel about worthwhile things is regrettable. We wish they
would move faster and accept what we understand to be true. Yet,
their skepticism often protects them from falling headlong into
all sorts of byways or illusory approaches with lots of
additional confusion. It acts as a protecting veil, stopping
them from moving too fast into unknown territory.
This even applies to theosophical students. When you hear some
teaching that sounds entirely new, do not swallow it wholesale.
Do not be overly skeptical, but weigh it carefully. Accept it
only when it has awakened a responsive note inside your heart and
mind, back of all possible skepticism on your part.
Everything goes through stages of preparation. It has its point
of inception, growth, and unfoldment. This is true even of a
mechanical structure, because that structure is the outward
exemplification of an idea in the mind of the discoverer or
engineer. Even a manufacturer brings his product into fruition,
from which its life cycle begins. The things we manufacture have
a portion of our mind in them. To the extent they are the
product of a brain functioning in that direction, they are
animated. Nothing in nature is inanimate. Everything has a
degree of life and of consciousness, however rudimentary that
consciousness may be.
Open a book on physics and read the definitions of light, matter,
and energy. Light, in modern physics, does not mean
illumination. The entire electromagnetic spectrum is light, but
most is invisible. The definition of light is practically
identical with the one in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, which plainly
states that the fundamental substance of the universe is light.
This is not light in the sense of illumination, but rather the
energy behind the vibratory rates with which we deal.
Stories that are dear to us cannot lose meaning when lifted to
higher levels. Fairy tales are beautiful to those knowing they
are not real. The beauty stays and makes them dearer. This
applies even to some church doctrines. It applies to some of the
most dogmatic church creeds. They too have esoteric meaning.
Beginning as an esoteric teaching, they have become what they are
Many theosophical students unfortunately want to break apart the
rigid thinking in another person's mind. They want to break up
the creeds and dogmas with which someone has ties himself up.
No! Do not break anything. Why break it? Why do violence of any
type? Awaken him to understand the inner meaning of the ideas.
Today we find these ideas crystallized in various churches. Give
the ideas a turn or two with the mystic key and perhaps you can
awaken in that person the understanding of what this thing came
from. It is much more constructive than to try to break it up.
Realizing the inner truth, a Christian would not have to give up
his or her outer shell of religion, even if that eventually may
be the result.
Although you can tell people that Christmas is a story symbolic
of something greater, they may cling to their literal ideas.
They may still think three Magi came to see a baby born with a
light leading their way. They believe there was Jesus, he lived
around two thousand years ago, he was born at a certain time, and
we commemorate his birth. People cling to ideas they learned
while growing up. You outgrow that literal view, coming to see
it as symbolic.
Considering the fact that we are complex beings, we can be
intensely aware of certain realities in the higher part of our
mind, less intensely aware of the same realities in the lesser
mind, and have sediments from former beliefs because of heredity
and education in the personal astral-mental makeup. To
coordinate these three and to harmonize them and align them is a
long process. We have to watch out for these sediments; when we
encounter them, they are sometimes difficult to handle.
We have now considered many interesting subjects. We have
touched upon truths that play an important part at this time of
the year. We do not need to consider these realities in merely
an academic way. We have come together as students are coming
together today in other parts of the world. In considering these
teachings, we become close, attuning our minds and hearts to
certain spiritual realities of supreme importance to the
neophytes. These events are actually taking place, perhaps even
at this very moment.
The birth of a neophyte into a greater life is a gigantic
spiritual event for humanity as a whole. When new seers and
sages are born, it produces a tremendous effect upon all kingdoms
of life. The effect is on inner lines, not outer. The neophyte
undergoes a spiritual birth, unifies his consciousness with his
inner God, and becomes a master of life. In an event of such
grandeur, a spiritual, dynamic wake follows it. It has a
vibratory that we can feel if attuned. As it happens, however
far we may be from it, we can partake of its influence. This is
a solemn idea to bear in mind. We can partake in consciousness
in events far from our personal and individual cognition.
Remember that wherever we stand in life is the place that belongs
to us. It is our own. We are not here by chance. Every one of
us occupies in life a certain position of consciousness, a karmic
stage setting distinctly our own. We cannot complain of our
trials. We are where we have placed ourselves. We cannot
complain of not being something else because we have not made
ourselves to be that yet. We cannot shirk our circumstances,
however pleasant or unpleasant they may be, because what is
coming to us is our own. Our trials and tribulations are our
own. Our happiness, so-called good luck, prosperity, and good
fortune are our own. We have sown the seeds for them, and they
have now come to fruition.
Accept the negative and the positive with equanimity. Do not be
shaken by adversity or elated by good fortune. Try to remain in
that serene condition of consciousness that contemplates sorrow
and happiness with equal-mindedness, realizing both conditions
are essentially illusory. They are only a stage setting for the
growth of the soul through misfortune and fortune, sorrow and
joy, and difficult and easy times. It is easier to learn from
tests of sorrow and bereavement than of joy, happiness, and
fortune. The latter is the greater and more difficult to handle.
Carry home some of these teachings, realizing that we are all on
the way. We all belong to the same mystic pilgrimage that
stretches from the very lowly ones up to the greatest divinity in
the universe. In that endless pilgrimage or procession of
evolving life, each helps the other. Everyone strives to become
something greater. Everyone follows some guiding star. See that
our own star is high in heaven and that we securely hitch our
soul to that star.
Friends, let us all rise for a moment and close our meeting with
a few moments of silence in which we can rededicate ourselves, as
it were, each one of us in his own way, to whatever may be his
highest ideal and objective in life.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application