Theosophy World Home Page
THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------ August, 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.)
"The Desertion of Discipline," by B.P. Wadia
"Review of the Peace Issue of THE QUEST MAGAZINE,"
by Bart Lidofsky
"How Best to Become a Theosophist," by Henry S. Olcott
"The Idea of the EST," by H.S. Olcott
"Schiller's Conception of Beauty as a Medium of Culture,"
by S. Vahiduddin
"To Those Who Suffer," by Jasper Niemand
"Three Stages of Visioning Truth," by G. de Purucker
"The Process of Reincarnation," by Leoline L. Wright
"The Worship of Beauty," by D.S. Sarma
"The Quickening of Mind," by Grace F. Knoche
> For an exhaustive disquisition upon Adepts, Mahatmas and
> Nirmanakayas, more than a volume would be needed. The
> development illustrated by them is so strange to modern minds and
> so extraordinary in these days of general mediocrity, that the
> average reader fails to grasp with ease the views advanced in a
> condensed article; and nearly everything one would say about
> Adepts -- to say nothing of the Nirmanakayas -- requiring full
> explanation of recondite laws and abstruse questions, is liable
> to be misunderstood, even if volumes should be written upon them.
> The development, conditions, powers, and function of these beings
> carry with them the whole scheme of evolution; for, as said by
> the mystics, the Mahatma is the efflorescence of an age. The
> Adepts may be dimly understood today, the Nirmanakayas have as
> yet been only passingly mentioned, and the Mahatmas are
> misconceived by believers and deniers alike.
> -- W.Q. Judge, ECHOES FROM THE ORIENT, page 32.
THE DESERTION OF DISCIPLINE
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 57-59.]
> ...The fortunate
> Is he whose earnest purpose never swerves,
> Whose slightest action or inaction serves
> The one great aim.
A verse in THE DHAMMAPADA says that no outer device can purify a
person "who has not solved his doubts." It is no exaggeration,
then, for the poet to say that "doubts are traitors."
People live so grossly centered in the without that they have no
time to attend to the within. Sometimes the without is full of
sensuality of the animal kind; sometimes, of adventure devoid of
wickedness; for many the without is full of the humdrum passing
of days and weeks into months and years; for a few that without
is absorption in outer ceremonialism of penance and prayer and
even asceticism, with many fasts and no festivals. But always it
is preoccupation with matters of the mundane spheres.
The newcomer to Theosophy begins in enthusiasm and with intuitive
faith; he becomes a student, then an aspirant, with devotion
endeavoring to learn and to serve; he blossoms into a neophyte.
In due course, he is overtaken by weaknesses and the fear of
difficulties. Above all, he is lured by the gaiety, the pomp,
and the power of the world, and he feels that his life is gliding
by, untouched by all that wonder. Then come failures and
frustrations, followed by doubts regarding the present mode of
Theosophical living, a desire for escape or for change of venue.
Boredom leads to laziness as well as discontent and the mischief
is done. "My life is marred; discipline is not for me; I must
change all this. To gain the soul is fine; but to lose the world
for it? No."
We ought to clear our minds about the vital Esoteric teaching
that the arising of doubts in the consciousness of a neophyte, if
not conquered by quiet study and calm reflection, leads to
desertion from the field of battle. Small slips or great sins
may occur, but the temptation to commit them is overcome when the
neophyte stands firm and gives battle. Even to speculate about
desertion of Discipline is to strengthen our doubts about the
Wisdom and the Wise Ones, about the Divinity within ourselves,
about the true Altruism by which alone man feels the Peace of the
Occult World, sees the Light of the Hidden Ones, hears the sound
of the Spiritual Spheres. Therefore has doubt been mentioned in
the same context as hypocrisy, which is called an unpardonable
sin in Occultism. When one gives up the Fight, he begins to
forget the rules of the Discipline of the Righteous Soldier; and
in a short while he becomes careless, scoffs at the Discipline,
struggles anyhow, and even fails to see himself as a deserter.
Neophytes talk of their weaknesses but they let go opportunities
to learn and to overcome them. What they are called upon to do
is not to fail, not to be broken, but to remain true to the Way
of Discipline, to be faithful to the very end. The only sin that
Occultism condemns is the sin of desertion. Doubts of the
spiritual and higher life ever spring from the form of sin (
papa-purusha) of the personal man. Carnal forces sow seeds of
doubt in us, tempt us to commit follies, goad us on to desert the
good, the true and the beautiful. The temptation to desert does
not come to the worldly man, for he has nothing to be tempted
away from. He is free to "enjoy" his carnal appetites. But the
neophyte is tempted to desert the Discipline. What is the form
of this temptation? Carnal forces speak to him and say, "Why be a
slave to the discipline you have accepted? Be free; make your own
discipline." This is the blackest of delusions.
The duty of the neophyte is to possess a direct ray of thought
and of purpose and to use the overcoming of his weaknesses, small
or big, of body or of mind, for the fulfillment of that purpose
and for intensifying the power of that ray. Says an aphorism:
> Selfishness will desert you, if you do not desert the
How encouraging is the instruction:
> . . . each failure is success, and each sincere attempt wins
> its reward in time. The holy germs that sprout and grow unseen
> in the disciple's soul, their stalks wax strong at each new
> trial, they bend like reeds but never break, nor can they e'er be
> lost. But when the hour has struck, they blossom forth.
But where can reward come from if after any failure no sincere
attempt is made? When with some degree of failure the neophyte
deserts and so is broken, is he not lost? HPB has explained in
more than one place the declivity which failure follows, and what
this "loss" means. Failure to try and to keep on trying is the
one and only real failure. Can it be turned into a success? Not
until the temptation which enslaved the deserter, by the false
notions of personal freedom, is destroyed; not until the doubts
which caused the desertion are removed. Only then restoration to
the Path of Discipline is achieved.
REVIEW OF THE PEACE ISSUE OF THE QUEST MAGAZINE
By Bart Lidofsky
One day, a fire started in a library that had many rare and
irreplaceable volumes. One employee, a man of great faith,
calmly walked out, taking nothing with him. A coworker asked
excitedly, "What about the rare books?"
"Do nothing," replied the man. "They'll be taken care of."
While the man stood and watched, the other employees risked
personal injury, saving many rare books. By the time the
firefighters arrived, most volumes were stacked on the street.
The burned and soot-covered employees stood nearby, catching
"You see? You did all that for nothing," said the man. "They
were taken care of."
THE QUEST MAGAZINE is the main voice of the Theosophical Society
in America. Large amounts of information about the Society are
included, as well as a single paragraph, hidden near the bottom
of the indicia, saying, "The Theosophical Society is not
responsible for any statement in this magazine by whomever made,
unless contained in an official document of the Society. The
opinions of the writers are their own."
Even so, the editorial policy is certainly that of the
Theosophical Society. What appears in THE QUEST is presented as
if it was the official opinion of the Theosophical Society. This
is why I am extremely disappointed with the July-August, 2005
issue of the Quest.
One principle that virtually all Theosophists agree upon is the
basic unity behind the perceived universe. Despite the apparent
separation, everything interconnects with everything else. One
does not find this principle of unity in the current issue of
QUEST MAGAZINE. On the contrary, the articles present the
viewpoint exemplified by the employee in the story. He was
incapable of connecting the safety of the books with the work and
sacrifice needed to ensure that safety, even chiding those who
risked themselves to save the heart of the library.
The current issue of THE QUEST has a theme of peace, with the
authors criticizing those who go to war, without ever making the
connection that a temporary war may be the only way to preserve
life and ensure lasting freedom. In addition, its authors
disconnect action from intent, unlike previous Theosophical
authors whom stress the importance of treating action and intent
as a whole.
Consider the first article, "Thinking in Freedom." It starts with
a quote by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, an author who would have been
put to death in the gulags of the Soviet Union had it not been
for the efforts of those who were willing to put their lives on
the line for human freedom. Sheldon Stoff, the author,
criticizes the desire to preserve freedom, claiming it grows out
of ego. He writes as if there was something wrong with
preserving the freedom that allows him to write the articles that
he does. Stoff talks about answering hate with love, ignoring
those for whom freedom means taking freedom away from others,
while they cynically use love and trust to destroy those who
believe in freedom. He ignores the fact that humanity has not
completed its evolution. Some refuse to evolve; to them,
self-determination means taking away the right of
self-determination from others.
In the next article, "A Breath of Life for the Anonymous Dead,"
the author, Edward Tick, clearly dissociates actions from intent
by indiscriminately equating the Ann Frank House, the site of My
Lai, and Hiroshima. The first was a victim of a policy of
atrocities by a government. The second was individuals
representing government acting in a manner that the government
itself considered criminal where the perpetrators were tried,
found guilty, and imprisoned. As for the third, it represented
the attempts to free people like Ann Frank from oppression; the
oppression by the Japanese is even given in more detail by Tania
Dyett in a later article, "A Lesson Learned."
Tick later equates the extermination of the Holocaust, where the
Nazis systematically and purposely slaughtered millions of
innocent civilians, with the deaths of Iraqi civilians killed
during the current war in Iraq. He fails to mention that many
were killed by fellow Iraqis, that great efforts were made to
minimize the deaths of Iraqi civilians, and that the rate of
civilians being killed actually went considerably DOWN during and
after the invasion. Saddam Hussein killed civilians at a far
greater rate than have the American forces. Once again, intent
is ignored, the context is ignored, and only the action is
In "The Miracle of Transformation," Kay Mouradian implies that we
should ignore the adage "those who forget history are doomed to
repeat it" and it is better for us to forget history if it makes
us happier. The apparent message is "It is a much happier world
when we let wrongdoers go unrestrained and unpunished while we
just forget about the evil they do." Such a world does not remain
happy, because more people are encouraged to doing evil as they
see their predecessors spared the negative consequences of their
In an article written over a decade ago, Tony Lysy describes a
sweatshirt with a caption, "We're all on the same side." In the
universal sense, where time has no meaning, this may be true, but
in the time-space continuum in which we are currently rooted,
this is not true at all. He writes, "Can we as a people ever
grasp that unity requires diversity and not uniformity?" This
ignores the people willing to kill to destroy diversity; if they
are not stopped, human evolution humanity will certainly be
In his article, John Algeo promotes a similar theme, writing
about the preference of archetypes of love over than archetypes
of murder. This is fine when dealing with people willing to live
and let live. Once again, if one is dealing with people for whom
the right of self-determination includes taking that right away
from others, even to the point of death, then perhaps love should
be extended to those who are being oppressed.
Radha Burnier rounds out the issue in her article, "Mental
Compartments." She equates the suicide bombers of Al Queda,
pedantic teachers, and Siegfried and Roy, calling them all
terrorists. This falsely reduces the significance and danger of
the former while belittling those who make distinctions between
them. Even though she fails to acknowledge it, there is
definitely a difference between making somebody feel bad about
themselves and maiming or killing them. Animals do NOT have the
same rights as people. And there is a difference between armed
criminals taking hostages and armed police freeing the hostages,
even if both use weapons. Once again, one's intent is the
On the back cover is a quote that says, in part, "War is merely
the effect, the symptom, of inner moral weakness." Once again, it
ignores the fact that inaction creates karma; if there is
injustice that one can stop, and one fails to act to stop it,
then one takes partial responsibility for that injustice.
Sometimes, war is the only way available to end the injustice, in
which case war arises from moral conviction, not weakness.
Several times in the issue, there is mention of people liberated
from their oppressors, whereas none of the authors seem to
connect the liberation with the actions required in the process
of the liberation, even to the extent of condemning those
actions. The freedom that the authors have to write was paid for
in war, whether they acknowledge and appreciate it or not.
The issue promotes the attitude of the man who relied on faith in
our imaginary library, selfishly running to his own personal
safety and ignoring the safety of the rare books, since "they
will be taken care of." In our world, he would be watching people
as their freedom and very lives are destroyed. The issue should
have at least considered the attitude of his coworkers, facing
danger, and altruistically risking their personal safety for the
benefit of others.
HOW BEST TO BECOME A THEOSOPHIST
By Henry S. Olcott
[From THE THEOSOPHIST, March 1890, pages 143-44.]
THE LONDON SPIRITUALIST gives space to a full report of the
inaugural address of George Wyld, the newly elected President of
the British Theosophical Society, a branch of our own, which we
lack the room to print. Dr. Wyld's paper is marked by the
force, learning, and sincerity that are his recognized personal
characteristics. It teaches the true doctrine that Adeptship,
the attainment of a full spiritual condition, is only possible
for those who bring the bodily lusts of all kinds under the
control of the higher and better nature.
In a series of apt quotations from the four Gospels of the New
Testament, he endeavors to convince his audience that Jesus,
though perhaps not the very and only Son of God, was at least the
highest type of human spirituality ever vouchsafed to humanity.
At the same time, Dr. Wyld affirms that every man may become a
"Son of God," his rule being "So to empty our souls of self that
the Father, becoming manifest in His Sons, illuminates and
regenerates the world."
This species of Christian Adeptship our respected brother places
even above the Adeptship of the East, which he says
> is secret, mysterious, and hidden from all except a select few
> who have passed through an ordeal so severe and dangerous that
> many, it is said, perish in body or in soul on making the
> attempt, and into which select few, so far as we know, no woman
> has ever been admitted.
In these utterances, so foreign to the views entertained by a
large majority of Theosophists, our Oriental friends will see a
practical evidence of the truly republican and cosmopolitan
nature of the Theosophical Society. Dr. Wyld is an enthusiastic
admirer of the character of Jesus, and yet sees his way clear to
the accomplishment of that personal spiritual unfolding towards
which we all aspire.
As is but natural with strong thinkers, his path seems to him the
best and surest one, and he lays his scheme before his Society
and the world with an ardent longing for its acceptance. Brahmo
Samajists will doubtless recognize the very essence of their own
ideas coming from this good Theosophist's lips, and see that our
journal was not wide of the mark in saying upon its first
appearance that there was ample room for Brahmo and Prarthana
Samajists and even liberal Christians, in our fellowship.
Our London brother means every word he speaks on this theme, and
his opinions are respected by us just as much as though he had
avowed his faith in either of the ancient Eastern religions,
which some of us think the best ever evolved by man. If he had
been in India, studied the ancient philosophies, and seen the
Eastern adepts and the practical proofs of their lofty science,
he would beyond doubt change the views he now expounds so
eloquently. And all this may come in time.
But, in thus conceding to Dr. Wyld the full right of private
judgment, it must not be forgotten that like the rest of us, he
speaks only for himself, and neither the Theosophical Society as
a whole, nor even the British branch, as a body, is responsible.
The very idea of "Brotherhood of Humanity" and "Republic of
Conscience," both of which synonyms apply to the basis on which
our Society is building up, covers the principle of strict
intellectual reciprocity. Any attempt to use the Society for
propaganda, whether of Christianity or any other single religion,
would at once strip it of the first quality of cosmopolitanism,
and make it only a sect.
For myself, I am free to say that there is no adequate proof to
my mind either that Jesus was the Son of God, that be said or did
the things ascribed to him, that either one of the four Gospels
is anything better than a literary fabrication, or that Jesus
ever lived. Nor do I see that the ideal character of Jesus is
any nobler than that of Gautama, if so noble. At the proper
times and places I have maintained these views, and hope to do so
often again. So far from sharing Dr. Wyld's ideal of
Christianity, I have, after nearly fifty years of practical
observation and experience in Christian countries and among the
teachers and professors of Christianity, been forced to conclude
that it is a bad religion and fosters every sin and vice against
which its ethical code inveighs.
This is my opinion. In expressing it, I no more compromise our
Society than does Dr. Wyld, so strong an admirer of Jesus, by
expressing his. Neither would Mr. Massey by his article in this
number of THE THEOSOPHIST, or the Swami Dayanand, or our orthodox
Hindu fellows, or the high priest Sumangala, or any other
adherent of any special sect or theology by what they
respectively teach. We are all individual and free as to
personal beliefs, but are knitted together by the strong ties of
intellectual reciprocity and universal brotherhood.
Dr. Wyld is not warranted in his definition of the nature of
Oriental Adeptship, as given in the following terms:
> The Oriental adept obtains magical or soul power over matter,
> which he uses for his own ends -- and over spirits. But the
> Christian adept has no dealings with low or weak spirits, except
> to convert them or to cast them out; but his life is spent in
> openly transmuting his spiritual powers into good works for the
> good of mankind.
The implication here is most unequivocal -- the Eastern adept
uses his acquired power for selfish ends and consorts with low
and weak spirits with a less commendable object than that of
converting or casting them out; and, unlike his Christian
compeer, does not "transmute his spiritual powers into good works
for the good of mankind." Since I, as an individual, am
commenting upon the opinions of Dr. Wyld as an individual, I am
bound to say that nothing could be farther from the real state of
Whatever the Christian adept may or may not do of beneficent
deeds -- and church history is not all one-sided on that question
-- it is most certain that the Eastern adept's first and last
aspiration is to benefit humanity by making himself purer and
better than they. So far from consorting with low and weak
spirits, the very elementary instruction he receives is to avoid
them and rid himself of their fatal influence by becoming too
holy for them to approach him. Not a single "Eastern adept"
comes within Dr. Wyld's hypothesis, except the problematical
practitioner of Black Magic or Sorcery, who uses his knowledge of
arcane natural powers to gratify carnal appetites and desires,
and invariably falls victim to the evil spirits he has drawn to
It is equally incorrect to say that no woman has become an adept.
Not to mention one example that will immediately recall itself to
every Theosophist, I may say that I personally have encountered
in India two other initiated women, and know of a number of
others in the East. Some women, it must be remembered, are of
that sex only in body -- taking sex to mean that negative quality
of individuality that Dr. Wyld evidently had in mind when
thinking of them.
If Jesus made adepts by breathing on men, so that they could
under this afflatus do "miracles." If Loyola, Theresa,
Savonarola, and the Cure D'Ars, possessed the power of aethrobacy
and healing, so have hundreds of "Eastern adepts" in Indian
history healed their multitudes, "miraculously" fed the hungry,
and raised the dead. As for air walking, the readers of this
paper need not be told that in India, even an English doctor
admits, it is an exact physiological science.
My friend Dr. Wyld deplores that in Great Britain there are no
examples of Adeptship to refer to. I could name at least one
British Fellow of the Society who in modest privacy has already
acquired by intelligent self-discipline very marked results in
this direction. I have, with my own eyes, seen in the streets of
London one of the most eminent of Eastern adepts, who has that to
look after, which is a transmutation of his powers for the good
These "adepts," "Rosicrucians," "initiates," or whatever else we
may choose to call them, go about the world -- as Professor
Alexander Wilder so clearly told us last month -- without being
suspected; mingling in crowds but not affected by them and doing
what is best to be done, and out of purest love for their
fellowmen. Those only are permitted to recognize them whom it is
necessary they should reveal themselves to, for the attainment of
a definite object. But this one thing is indisputable, that,
whether they outwardly call themselves Buddhists, Hindus, Parsis,
or Christians, they are absolutely at one in spirit; and that
spirit is to become spiritually great, so that great good may be
done by them to the whole world.
THE IDEA OF THE EST
By H.S. Olcott
[From OLD DIARY LEAVES, II, pages 293-94.]
It had been arranged that I should return alone to Ceylon and
begin the collection of a National Education Fund to promote the
education of Buddhist boys and girls. The scheme had -- as HPB
assured me -- the full approbation of the Mahatmas, and her own
concurrence had been strongly expressed. Thereupon I had written
to Ceylon and made all necessary arrangements with our friends.
On February 11, as it seems, HPB fell out with me because I would
not cancel the engagement and stop and help her on THE
THEOSOPHIST. Of course, I flatly refused to do anything of the
kind, and as the natural consequence, she fell into a white rage
She shut herself up in her room a whole week, refusing to see me,
but sending me formal notes of one sort or another, among them
one in which she notified me that the Lodge would have nothing
more to do with the Society or myself, and I might go to Timbuktu
if I liked.
I simply said that my tour having been fully approved of by the
Lodge, I should carry it through, even though I never saw the
face of a Master again; that I did not believe them to be such
vacillating and whimsical creatures; if they were, I preferred to
work on without them.
Her ill temper burnt itself out at last, and on the 18th of that
month, she and I drove out in the new carriage that Damodar had
presented to her! A Master visited her on the 19th and exposed to
her the whole situation, about which I shall not go into details,
as all has turned out as he forewarned us.
On leaving, he left behind a much-worn gold-embroidered head
covering, of peculiar shape, which I took possession of, and have
until this day.
One result of this visit was that, on the 25th of the month, she
and I had a long and serious discussion about the state of
affairs. This resulted, as my Diary says, "in an agreement
between us to reconstruct the Theosophical Society on a different
basis, putting the Brotherhood idea forward more prominently, and
keeping the occultism more in the background, in short, to have a
secret section for it." This, then, was the seed planting of the
EST, and the beginning of the adoption of the Universal
Brotherhood idea in more definite form than previously.
SCHILLER'S CONCEPTION OF BEAUTY AS A MEDIUM OF CULTURE
By S. Vahiduddin
[From THE ARYAN PATH, April 1941, pages 166-70.]
The influence of Kant in his own Country showed at first in the
unfruitful tendency to bring into opposition several facets of
the personality. The theory of Knowledge was rent by a conflict
of reason and understanding; ethics suffered from an
irreconcilable struggle between inclination and duty. It was in
the philosophy of beauty that he finally attempted to bring into
harmony the elements at war in his epistemology.
The faculty of judgment was the mediator between the world of
understanding and the super-sensual world of reason. But ethics
remained to the last the ethics of discord. The conflict of
inclination with the categorical imperative was too strong for
the synthetic efforts of the philosopher; they could not stand
together. A poet was now needed to fulfill the mission left
uncompleted by a master of systematic thought. In other words, a
philosophy of culture was wanted to restore the equilibrium, and
Schiller, with his idea of a beautiful soul, attained at one
stroke that harmony between divergents for which his master
Man's straying from the path of his destiny can be of a twofold
character. He can be nature alone, a devotee of the senses; or
reason alone, a slave of maxims. It is Beauty's great function
to forestall these deviations. What a wonder it is then that it
is not infrequently held responsible for an alienation from
reality! An appeal to history unfortunately confirms an
> The Romans, we know, had first to exhaust their energy in civil
> wars, and, enervated by Oriental superfluity, had to bow to the
> yoke of a fortunate dynast before Greek Art could be seen to
> triumph over the rigidity of their character. Culture dawned
> upon the Arabs only when the energy of their warlike spirit
> flagged under the scepter of the Abbasides. In modem Italy, fine
> art showed itself only when the glorious association of the
> Lombards was dissolved, Florence was subjected to the Medici, and
> the spirit of independence in all those brave cities had given
> place to infamous resignation.
Experience is not encouraging. If aesthetic culture can be
bought only at the expense of force of character, it is not worth
having. But experience is not the tribunal to which we have to
appeal. The beauty we are speaking of is a concept of reason and
has other sources than experience.
These philosophical reflections led Schiller to expound a
remarkable theory of play. It must be noted that Schiller's
theory is not to be confused with those empirical theories,
Spencer's for example, which find so much favor among
psychologists today. The instinct of play, says Schiller, is
that via media we have been seeking all along the course of our
history. It is the unity and reconciliation of the material and
formal forces of human nature. The material instinct excludes
from its object all self-activity and freedom. The formal
instinct excludes from its object all dependence and suffering.
The exclusion of freedom is the physical, the exclusion of
passivity the moral necessity.
Both these instincts compel the spirit (Gemut): the one through
the laws of Nature, the other through the laws of reason. The
instinct of play, where both of them work in cooperation, frees
the spirit (Gemut) morally and physically at the same time.
While it lifts up all contingency, it will also set aside all
necessity and bring freedom to man, morally and physically.
When we cling to a man who is worthy of our contempt, we feel
painfully the compulsion of nature. When we are inimical towards
another to whom we are forced to give our respect, we feel
painfully the compulsion of reason. But the moment he interests
our inclination and wins our respect simultaneously, then the
compulsion of the senses as well as that of the conscience
vanishes, and we begin to love him, that is, we play with our
inclination as well as with our respect.
Schiller inquires into the objects of the two fundamental
instincts that he elaborates in detail. The object of the
material instinct is life in its widest sense, which includes all
materiality and all that is presented immediately through the
senses. The formal instinct has as its object what may be called
"form." That is, all the formal qualities of things and their
relation to the power of thought. The instinct of play refers
then neither to form simply, nor to life simply, but to the form
that is pregnant with life.
> A block of marble, though lifeless and remaining so, can still
> become a living form by the will of the architect or the
> sculptor. A man, though he lives as a form, is not therefore a
> living form. For that, it is necessary that his form should be
> life and his life should be form. So long as we think only of
> his form, it is lifeless, a simple abstraction: so long as we
> feel its life, it is formless, mere impression. Only insofar as
> its form lives in sensation and its life forms itself in our
> understanding is it a living form, and this will be the case
> whenever we judge, it as beautiful.
Schiller himself anticipates the doubt that might rise in many
minds, namely, that to think of beauty as an object of play does
not conform to the dignity of beauty, which is after all taken to
be the instrument, and the only instrument, of culture. To
confine it to the beautiful at the same time contradicts the
general notion of play.
> Of course, we should not think of the plays that are in vogue in
> real life, and that are directed to some material object, but in
> real life we seek in vain the beauty that we desire . . . When
> the Greeks amused themselves in the Olympic tournaments, a
> bloodless competition of power and alacrity, and in the nobler
> competitions, and when the Romans enjoyed themselves in the
> deadly struggle of gladiators or their Lybian enemies, it becomes
> clear of itself why we should seek the ideal form of a Venus, a
> Juno, an Apollo, not in Rome but in Greece. In a word, man
> should play with beauty and with that only.
The whole structure of Schiller's thought owes much to the Greek
ideals of culture, and no less than his friend Goethe he sees in
ancient Greece the highest realization of the ideals that
bestirred their souls. It was for Holderlin later to give the
most fervent and tragic expression to this attachment and passion
What was it in the land of Plato and of Homer that so fascinated
the humanists and the romantic poets of the early nineteenth
century? The Greeks above all saw harmony everywhere, and they
hoped their educational ideals would produce a like harmony in
the soul. It was not in parts but in the whole that their
spiritual metaphysics centered. It was not on multiplicity and
division, but on the unity that supersedes them that the
seemingly antagonistic schools of Plato and of Aristotle laid
It was reserved for Hegel to give a most systematic and
comprehensive expression to this feeling of unity, which not only
replaces manifoldness but also transcends it. The truth is that
all education must conform to the metaphysical structure of the
soul and of the world. At what else but unity and harmony has it
Throughout, Schiller raises his voice against the superficial
utilitarianism that is the bane of modern life. Culture, as he
understands it, does not culminate in making man happy or
practical, but stands quite indifferent to these aims. Kant, the
philosopher who most effectively banished the notion of utility
from the domain of Ethics, was of the opinion that it was not
happiness as such that man should desire, but that he should
rather prepare himself to deserve happiness!
Schiller, while giving full justice to the demands of reason, saw
in culture the reconciliation of the senses and reason. But the
world of facts and experience shows us men either in a state of
tension or in a state of relaxation. It is for beauty to restore
harmony in tension, and energy in relaxation.
All things can be considered in one of the four relations. A
thing can relate itself to our sensual conditions (our being or
well-being). This is its physical quality. Or it can relate
itself to our understanding and can impart knowledge to us. This
is its logical quality. Or it can relate to our will; we can
regard it as an object of choice for our reasonable being. This
is its moral quality. Or, lastly, it can relate itself to the
totality of our manifold powers, without being an object for any
of them. This is its aesthetic quality.
A man can be agreeable to us in his readiness for service. He
can make us think through his conversation. He can inspire us
with respect through his character. Lastly, independently of all
these and without our taking into account any law or purpose, he
can please us in our contemplation of him and in the way that he
appears to us. In this last quality only do we judge him
There is then an education of health, an education of insight, an
education of morals, and an education of taste and beauty. This
last has for its purpose the cultivation of all our sensory and
spiritual powers in the greatest possible harmony.
For Schiller, there is first a state of man when beauty has not
yet begun to work. Man is only a slave of needs and desires.
> In this epoch the world is only fate (i.e., something unalterably
> given for him) not yet an object. All has an existence for him
> insofar as it makes possible his existence; that which does not
> give anything or take anything from him is not at all present to
He sees in all the wealth and luxury of the world only something
to exploit and in its majesty only an enemy. This is the
primitive condition of man when he is not yet chastened by
beauty. He lives in the present and is isolated there. He is
indifferent to the dignity of himself and to the dignity of
> Man, we can say, was at no time completely in such a brute-like
> condition but he has not yet extricated himself therefrom. Even
> in the most uncultivated subjects, we find undeniable traces of
> rational freedom, just as in the most cultured there are moments
> that remind us of that dark period of nature. It is peculiar to
> man to unite in his nature the highest and the lowest, and if his
> dignity rests on the strict distinction of one from the other, so
> his happiness rests on the removal of such a difference. The
> culture that has to bring into harmony his dignity and happiness
> will also have to see to the preservation of both principles in
> their unity.
It is here that reason makes its appearance for the first time.
It is the function of reason to raise man from the immediacy of
the present to the realm of eternal ideas. But by a curious
misunderstanding, reason, instead of raising itself to the
eternal, makes endless all desires and passions, all needs and
> The first fruits that a man earns in the world of spirit are
> anxiety and fear; both are the results of reason, not of
> sensuality, but a reason that misses its object.
In the end, it comes to the same whether man is ruled by reason
or by the senses. In the first place, he is a rational animal,
in the second, an irrational one. He should in fact be neither.
Nature should not rule him exclusively nor should reason control
Schiller further examines the question of beauty and knowledge.
Wherever there is a question of knowledge, thought and feelings
stand apart. Feeling associates with thought as something
accidental. Beauty, on the other hand, rests on the synthesis of
activity and passivity, of thought and feeling.
> We need not therefore be at a loss to find a transition from the
> compulsion of the senses to moral freedom, when in beauty we find
> that the first can exist with the last.
The Romantic School that followed Schiller and advocated the
independent claims of feeling in face of the one-sided domination
of reason had its forerunner in Schiller. Unfortunately, even
today, psychologists show a deep ignorance of the emotional
depths of man, and their usual division of feeling into pleasure
and pain is highly debatable.
It is therefore in the interest of culture that a sense of beauty
should grow in us and free us from the shackles both of the
senses and of reason. The primitive mind pleases itself with
what it touches by the senses, or, in other words, with the brute
reality of facts. It has not yet gained a feeling for what
simply appears. But beauty is only in the ideal, in appearance,
not in reality. We have to enjoy the beautiful without asking
why it is so, without having recourse to the category of purpose.
The world of beauty is the world of play. We see animals play.
Why do they play? The psychologists have ventured different and
highly doubtful answers. Schiller already sees that freedom from
compulsion that terminates in the aesthetic play of man.
> Indeed nature has raised even the irrational brutes above
> physical needs and has inflamed the spark of freedom in the dark
> life of the brute. At a time when no hunger torments the lion
> and no animal challenges him to fight, leisurely strength creates
> its own object; with an audacious roar, he fills the echoing
> woods, and without purpose, his overflowing energy expends
> itself. The insect enjoys life in the sunshine. Certainly, we
> find not the cry of passion in the melodies of the singing birds.
> Freedom is undeniable in their movements, not a freedom from
> desires in general, but only freedom from particular needs. An
> animal works when physical want goads it to activity, and it
> plays when it is stimulated by the overflow of energy, when the
> overabundance of life becomes an incentive to its own activity.
> Even in lifeless nature, such an abundance of energy and laxity
> of determination show themselves as may well be called play in
> the material sense. The tree produces numerous seeds that die
> undeveloped and shoots forth many more roots, branches, and
> leaves than can be made use of for the preservation of itself and
> its species. We find ourselves already in the freedom of
> movement that is its own purpose, and in the realm of matter, we
> have a foretaste of the unlimited and the infinite. Reveries and
> the free association of ideas have in themselves that freedom
> that is characteristic of aesthetic play, though in this case it
> is only a freedom of material art. Another step and we play with
> If it is need that forces men into society and reason that endows
> him with social maxims, beauty alone can invest him with social
> character. Only taste can bring harmony into society, while it
> sets up harmony in the individual. All other forms of ideas
> separate man, while they establish themselves exclusively on the
> sensual or on the spiritual part of his being. Only the
> beautiful idea makes a whole of him where both these natures
> harmonize. All other forms of expression separate society, while
> they rest on the private receptivity of certain parts, or, in
> other words, they have to do with what differentiates man and
> man. Only beautiful expression unites society when it conforms
> to what is common to all. The pleasure of knowledge we enjoy
> only as a species, and insofar as we set aside assiduously from
> our judgments every trace of individuality. We cannot make,
> therefore, make the joys of reason universal, for we cannot
> eliminate the traces of individuality from the judgment of others
> as from our own. It is only the beautiful we enjoy both as a
> species and as an individual, that is, as a representative of the
> species. The good of the senses can make one happy while it
> rests on appropriation and exclusion. It can make one happy
> one-sidedly, for the personality does not take part in it. The
> absolute good can make us happy under conditions that cannot be
> presupposed universally. Truth is the reward of self-denial, and
> in purity of will, only a pure heart believes. Only beauty
> blesses the whole world, and every being forgets its limitations
> as long as it feels its charm.
Schiller's philosophic thought aims at restoring a totality.
Man, Kant had said, is a citizen of two worlds, one of the senses
(mundus sensibilis), and the other of reason (mundus
intelligibilis). It is in beauty, says Schiller, that both these
worlds are reconciled. Man is no more a stranger in Nature, or
unfaithful to the realm of freedom. Like Shelley's skylark, he
soars aloft but never loses his relation with the world. Hegel
spoke of the unhappy consciousness, the feeling of inner discord,
and the pang of incompleteness; but now that beauty by her magic
has brought extremes to meet, personality is at peace. What else
is culture but this inner peace, this beauty of the Soul?
TO THOSE WHO SUFFER
By Jasper Niemand
[From THE PATH, January 1890, pages 313-16.]
Last night, I saw in dream, a man. He was weak, poor, an exile;
his feet were torn, his wounds bled, his heart bled also. He
cried out to heavens that were brass; they sent forth a dull
reverberation, a sullen thunder, in reply. Around him was
blackness; in his soul was a grim despair. This wretched,
hunted, abandoned creature gazed wildly about him, finding
nothing upon which Hope might rest, not even Death, for he knew
he could not die before his time. All Life passed before him as
he stood at bay, and mocked him in every tongue.
I heard a sigh as if some one beside me grieved at this piteous
spectacle and, turning, I saw One who seemed to be a guide of the
country, and to whom the sufferer appeared to he known. Of him,
I made inquiry.
"Can no one help that man?"
"Oh yes. There is one who can help him."
"Who is that?"
"Why does he not help himself, then?"
"Because he suffers so much. His suffering engages all his
"What, then, is the cause of this great suffering?"
"Himself," said the guide, and smiled.
This smile revealed a divine pity, tenderer than tears. It
opened my heart, so that I said, "Teach me more of this strange
Self that is at once his persecutor and his Savior."
"Nay," replied that guide. "Thou shalt ask thyself that
question, for that self is thee also, and every other man as
Then I awoke, understanding very well that we suffer from
ourselves. I could see, too, how each man was the sharer of the
experience of others. Is there not that rare, tenuous ether in
which every human sphere is suspended, feeling every current,
every thought, every struggle of all its neighbors, of the whole
vibrating mass, and translating every vibration into thoughts of
its own quality in the wonderful mechanism of the human brain?
Could I not see well how these thoughts, in their dynamic and
formative energy, molded that ether into pictures that lived,
moving along currents that were baleful or beneficent in their
action upon other spheres, according as they caught the tone of
the mass, or failed to reach it?
This tone was given by the Great Law Itself as the appointed
chord to and by which all spheres should be regulated, in order
to vibrate in unison. Where any sphere failed to do so,
vibrating at its own choice and out of time and tune, the whole
ether was violently agitated, with its current of light rendered
turbid and its melody disturbed, destroyed.
I saw that what was mainly required for the restoration of
harmony was that each human sphere should accept without
resistance the great currents of the Law as these impinged upon
it. Of course, at first, many of them would suffer internal
confusion from this sudden change of motion; they would
experience Pain, and even disintegration in some parts.
Let those who had the courage so to suffer for the restoration of
general harmony would soon find a new and higher form of
organization crystallizing within them. They find it just as the
music of the master's bow causes the sand particles to thrill and
to range themselves in ordered patterns of beauty, or as at the
magnet's mysterious message iron filings range themselves in the
same polarized lines as those of the human brain.
Yes, what was imperatively needed was that every human creature
should stand still long enough to feel the currents of Law
sweeping through his life, and then think with and obey them. In
other words, the first step is Resignation.
In the year whose last sands slip by as I write, many cries have
fallen upon my heart. That heart suffers like every other. This
truth gives to each heart the divine right to understand all the
rest. We hear the cry of the exile, and out of our own
experience, we respond to him. There are so many cases. There
are the comrades who wish much to do and to be. They desire
greatly to work in the Altruistic Cause.
Karmic circumstance fetters them. So they devise plans whereby
they may be made richer, stronger in body, freer from care and
duty, or gaining more ample time in which to work. But that
Karma that they themselves have made, and that is their only
judge, refuses them these things. Then a deep sadness falls upon
them with the failure of their plans; their energies are sapped
and wasted by the thousand allies of doubt and despair. They
forget that their plan is not needed. What is greatly needed is
Harmony. This is only attained by submission.
Accept the Karmic Environment, and go calmly to work to take an
inventory of ourselves as we now are, both externally and
internally, in all our mental states and Ever Changing Motives.
Then ask earnestly what such a man, in such a given condition of
life, can do, just where he stands and as he is, to help
Humanity. Doing so, we find an answer. We find some work to our
hand. It may be only in Right Thought that we can help, but in
that dynamic power, we work silently along with silent nature and
the Great Vibration, whose melodies are real, profound, and heard
by the inner ear alone.
In thus spreading the fluidic far-reaching energies of harmonious
thought upon the ambient ether, we create currents in accord with
those of that Universal Mind whose grand totality is "Angels and
Archangels and all the Powers of Heaven." Is this a small power?
Not so. By its means, we change our entire mental environment.
That in turn will order future Karmic circumstance so that in the
next life, or perhaps even in this, we shall be placed where we
can help our fellows more. That help is their due and our
I think we place undue stress upon material help. The heart of
man is at the bottom of every circumstance. It moulds every
event, builds up all societies, and determines the character of
every age. Reforms that do not reach that strange and hidden
heart are built upon the sand. Nothing can reach it but Right
Thought, and it is in the gift of every person to turn that
reconstructive power loose upon the wild turmoil of our time.
This Light stills the waves.
Instead of chafing at our limitations and our failures, let us
then accept them with harmonious serenity and use them as our
instruments. Thus, I know a sick person who uses the sympathy,
evoked by that sickness as a means of gaining the attention of
others to higher thoughts. I know a comrade in great poverty who
realizes that this very poverty gains the ear of those likewise
suffering, and of those too who think much of the material gifts
they can bring, and so this brave soul drops a true brave word
here and there on the thorny way. By acceptance of Karma, we
learn great and wonderful things, and a master has said, "Karma
is the great teacher. It is the wisest of guides and the best."
This does not mean that we should sit down supinely and think
only. It means that we should accept the inevitable in material
life, and gather what spiritual riches we can find, in order to
give them all away.
Then, again, the sufferers come through Love, the hearts that
cling to the personal sweetness, the strong human ties, the
thousand endearing tendencies often cemented by a long although
unknown Past. Death, separation or Life, sweeps between. Or the
Beloved suffer, and we cry out. We cry in ignorance. Our Love
is never lost. Every Universe makes for Love: that Love is
Harmony, is Justice. Not one vibration of it is ever lost.
Out of our deep spiritual nature, the yearning Love comes pouring
from an eternal fountain. Our personal mind translates its
meaning in many perverse ways. We take it to mean all kinds of
personal desire or hope. That we belie our nature is evident
because, when these desires are gratified, the heart is never
content with that, but goes on to new desire. It is the sacred
truth that, in the very ground of our natures, a spark burns ever
in the vibration of the highest Love. All our small personal
affections are simply the straying tendrils of this one great
root, and ought to draw us inward to it. Our Love rests in the
We do really desire the highest fulfillment of the Being of our
loved one. If we will and if we seek, we can find ourselves
consciously reaching up in hope to the perfection of those
beloved natures. It is really the Higher Self, the great Ideal
One, that we love. The man or woman, Its faint reflection, is
there to lead us to this blessed Truth. Alas! We find self far
too much in so called love, but I believe -- in all conscience I
can attest it -- that once we get a glimpse of this truth, our
inner natures yearn to help our Beloved to greater heights, we
will make a mighty effort to continue in that higher, holier
From thus loving one, to loving all, we proceed gradually through
the pure overflow or the natural gravitation of Love until we
know nothing of Separation. For all starved natures, there is
then this hope. We are not to love less, but to love more. We
are to expand to fuller conceptions, to realize deeper meanings,
to find within the self of flesh and sense, and all the selfish
corruption of our natures, these germs of living truths. We have
indeed perverted these meanings, but that we are powerless to
destroy, because they are germs of that Truth that is One and
indestructible, the "Law that makes for Righteousness," the
Harmony that is Love.
Those who suffer will find at the very root of their suffering,
no matter of what kind, some revolt against this Eternal Law of
Love. We have only to turn round and obey it. We have only to
cease desiring to put it to personal use, or to grind personal
comforts out of it, and all its blessings and powers are ours.
It lives in every heart; it gilds and glorifies every atom; it
"stands at the door and knocks." It is Life; it is Light; it is
Peace; for it is Eros, the one Ray. It is universal, divine
Oh, suffering comrades, Accept it! Embrace it! Live by it, at any
cost. Die by it if needs be, for so only shall we find Life
eternal, only by receiving and acknowledging the Law, only by
living in the thought of all beings, in harmony with all and with
THREE STAGES OF VISIONING TRUTH
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 273-75.]
The psychological opening of the human being to truth, to the
ingress of our God-Wisdom, in other words the training that every
true Theosophist undergoes, begins once he is touched and his
heart is opened -- begins even though he knows it not. This
opening of the heart may be divided into three stages. We are
familiar with these in that form of Buddhism that originated in
China coming from India. In Sanskrit, it is called the
Dhyani-form, and in Japan, it is known as the Zen-form of
Buddhist thought. It is expressed somewhat as follows, and it
applies equally well to Theosophy because the Zen or the Dhyani
form of Buddhism is but a branch of Theosophic thought.
The student in entering the pronaos of the temple of wisdom, and
later in entering the temple itself, goes through three phases of
inner opening -- that is the word they use. Thus, in the first
phase, the mountains and the waters of the earth are mountains
and waters, and they are recognized as worthy of study and
research, and their wonder is seen and sensed; but they are only
mountains and only waters.
But by study and aspiration after truth, finally comes the second
psychological opening of his character, of his understanding, of
his being. He realizes that the mountains and the waters,
however beautiful they may be and wondrous for study, are after
all but aspects, appearances, phenomena of noumena behind, the
effects of invisible and secret causes. He realizes in this
second phase of the opening of his being that if he wants truth
he must go deeper and study the science of the mountains and of
the waters of the earth. He must investigate the causes that
bring them into being, the inner causes and energies that
produced the mountains and the waters. He realizes that the
mountains and the waters, because they are effects, phenomena,
appearances, however relatively real they may be, are but
illusion, maya, because the real truth is within and behind them.
And his whole being is enwrapped in the thought of this wonder.
Then gradually he begins to sense the profound wisdom of the old
saying that the entire universe is a phenomenon and therefore
illusory, but illusory only because we do not understand it
aright. It does not mean that the universe does not exist. That
is absurd and a wrong construction. He realizes that we do not
understand it aright, that we must see behind and within it. The
visible should portray the invisible, the effect should teach us
the underlying causes. In this phase, he begins to sense his
oneness. This is the finest part of the second phase of the
psychological unveiling of this system of training that the
Theosophist undergoes and loves so well. He begins to sense his
true oneness with all that is, for he realizes that, as physical
man, he is but a phenomenon, an effect; that he is in fact the
product of secret and invisible causes; that behind the
phenomenon of the physical man, is the human spiritual noumenon.
And he grows very reverent and a great sense of sympathetic
beauty enters into his heart because he realizes that he is but
one of all beings and entities and creatures that infill the
universe. And he begins to sense from this moment that ethics
are no mere human convention; morals are rooted in the very
fabric and stuff of universal nature herself. He feels immensely
his oneness with all that is. "I and my Father are One."
And this leads to the third step of psychological opening, and in
this third step he realizes the wonderful paradox of all that he
knew before in the two earlier states. In this third step, he
learns that inwards and upwards, expansively upwards, yet ever
inwards, the mountains after all are the real, and the waters are
after all real in a certain wondrous sense. Illusory though they
may be to our relatively imperfectly evolved human understanding,
nevertheless fundamental reality has produced them forth, just as
we as phenomena are brought forth.
So then we see at one and the same time that the only reality is
the divine, and yet that this divine because it is the utterly
real, makes real in a certain sense even the illusory appearance
of cosmic phenomena. And applying this to ourselves, we sense
that the only real part of man is the divine within him; and yet
precisely because this divine is reality, that very physical
phenomenon that we call the physical man is in a certain
marvelous sense real also.
We have come back; the circle has reentered itself. We come back
to the point of starting. First, there were just mountains and
waters that were the only real things. Then the mountains and
waters seem to be but the garments, the clothing of secret,
invisible, realities. Then the next step brought us to the
realization that precisely because these are real things they
could not produce essential unrealities; so that the very
mountains and waters, strange paradox, are both real and unreal.
Happy the man who can understand this third step.
The key to this understanding is another thought that I will
again take from Dhyani-Buddhism, because it is fairly well known
in the West mainly through the Zen Buddhist writings of Professor
Suzuki of Japan (from whom, by the way, I did not take this
extract). This is the Zen thought. Hearken carefully, please,
because the significance is so slippery.
> In the wind of the mountains and the sun of the lowlands, in the
> fall of night and the mists of dawn, it is cried aloud That alone
> was, is, abides.
The whole universe is That, and all its phenomena are the
productions of divine noumena, or divine thought; so that all are
essentially unified in a divine oneness. In a rather pragmatic
way, we can bring down this thought and say that all men are
brothers, that every one is his brother's keeper. You see the
path of conduct? Any violation of this path means setting
yourself in opposition to all universal nature herself.
There is a way to peace and happiness and wisdom and power. For
once a man realizes that he is one with Nature, and Nature is one
with him, his consciousness becomes, vibratorily speaking,
co-rhythmic with the pulsing of the cosmic heart. That is why
the great sages and seers can work marvels in the world: heal and
raise; retain consciousness after death; transport the thinking
ego to distant fields and be there in self-conscious thought and
see all that passes around them; and many things more. For the
Universe and we are one. There is but one life and this life is
THE PROCESS OF REINCARNATION
By Leoline L. Wright
[From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages
Granting that reincarnation is true, where was I before I was
born? This is a question sure to follow in the wake of the
foregoing discussion. So far we have said little about death,
one of the grandest and most important processes of life; nor
shall we now go deeply into it for it is discussed fully in the
manual AFTER DEATH -- WHAT?
As said before, man is, broadly speaking, a threefold entity, and
those three basic elements in his constitution give him a triple
line of evolution: the spiritual, the mental-emotional, and the
astral-vital; and the physical body is the channel through which
these express themselves.
When the body dies and breaks up, dissipating its astral-vital
energies, the process is followed by the gradual dissolution of
the whole personality, the mental-emotional being. Yet there
will still be something, in some cases a very large part, of the
personality that endures. The Spiritual Ego will absorb into
itself all the personality that it can, that part of it that is
of its own nature -- its spiritual aspirations, its true and
abiding loves, its unselfish and pure desires.
Whatever is spiritual in man partakes of the Universal Divine
that animates and supports the Cosmos. An ideal of
unselfishness, purity, and noble actions, consistently lived up
to, transmutes the personal elements that strive and aspire into
the incorruptible gold of spirit. It raises the mortal into
immortality. When death comes, this transmuted energy is not
dissipated; it is incorporated into its own nature by the
This incorporation is assisted by the very mystical experience
that takes place at the time of death. In that solemn and
beautiful hour after the last sigh has been given, the Ego hovers
for a brief time upon the threshold of the earthly portal. Then,
before its now unclouded vision, there passes a panorama, like
the unwinding of a living scroll, of all that has happened, down
to the least detail from birth to death in the life just ended.
In its dawning freedom the self-conscious Thinker follows these
life-scenes and can then see the plan and significance of all its
experiences, the relation of the parts to the whole, and of this
life to those gone before.
The justice, the necessity, and the beneficence of its trials and
sufferings, with their guerdon of wisdom, are brought home to the
egoic consciousness. These memories are now carried with it as
it ascends into the Heaven-world, called in Theosophy DEVACHAN.
Here it passes a long period of blissful rest. Is this not one
aspect of what Jesus meant when he said, "Lay up for yourself
treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt?"
This spiritual rest in the inner Heaven-world gives the
reincarnating entity an opportunity to absorb and assimilate the
experiences of its last life on earth. For the same rhythmic
cycle of activity -- sleep, rest, assimilation, followed by
refreshed energies -- characterizes not only our physical bodies,
but is experienced by all living entities, whether physical,
psychological, or spiritual. And, correspondingly, it applies to
atomic, planetary, stellar, and cosmic organisms.
It may prove clarifying to review the chief reasons why the Ego
in man, the Thinker, is awakened out of his blissful term of
happiness to return to its tasks, to the joy and sorrow of
another life on earth. The first of these reasons is that man
and all things in Nature follow a universal pattern: birth,
growth, youth, maturity, decline, death -- and rebirth.
The second and a most compelling reason is the thirst for
material life: the hunger, the yearning for the scenes and
experiences of a past to which we consciously or unconsciously
There are those, as noted before, who declare vehemently, "I
don't WANT to come back to this earth! I want to go somewhere
else where I can forget it all and never think of this world
again!" But is this verily so? For those of us who have lost a
beloved helpmate or child, must not that "somewhere else" include
those loved forms exactly as we remember them? Our regrets for
past mistakes or unkindness, a lifelong dream of a career that
was never possible, unsatisfied longings for books, music,
travel, luxuries, congenial friends, or for the power to help
others -- these are indeed energies: somewhere they must work out
into their due consequences. These desires make the unconscious
hunger of the human heart, and only human life can satisfy them.
And they may well be called "secret causes" because we are too
unaware of them as formative energies.
The following will give us the metaphysical side of the matter:
> This "thirst" is a composite instinctual habit, compounded of a
> host of things -- as all habits are, if we analyze ourselves --
> of loves, hates, affections of various kinds, magnetic
> attractions of the hosts of life-atoms composing man's
> constitution, both visible and invisible, and of longings and
> yearnings of many types. All collect during the various
> life-terms on earth into the human soul and mind. For these
> reasons, they are called by Theosophists "thought-deposits" --
> emotional, mental, and psychic tendencies and biases. All these
> are energies, . . . and they will energize the reincarnating
> entity's destiny until evolution and expanding consciousness and
> the purification of suffering finally transfer man's
> consciousness as an individual being to higher planes.
> -- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 874
Then there is the other side of the picture -- the pull of the
life-atoms. This is yet a third cause for the return of the Ego
> [The Reembodying Ego] "descends" through the same intermediate
> planes or worlds by which it had previously ascended at the end
> of the preceding earth life, and it takes up again as many as
> possible of those very life-atoms that had been left there during
> the previous ascent and that are now drawn back again to the
> descending Reembodying Ego because of affinity.
> -- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 790
These life-atoms do not all belong to the physical plane. There
are different classes or grades of them acting in the three
general planes of evolution already referred to -- the physical,
mental-emotional, and the spiritual. Each of these classes of
life-atoms manifests a degree of evolution corresponding to the
plane in which it belongs. Lifeatoms are infinitesimal,
undeveloped god-sparks emanated by the central Life-Flame at the
Heart of our Universe. They are the building blocks on all
planes of the Cosmos: they form the "stuff" of which are built
the three planes of evolution just spoken of, and from which the
higher beings on that plane fashion their vehicles and are thus
able to manifest and express themselves therein.
Thus, man expresses bodily actions and functions by means of the
life-atoms that make up his body until death occurs and liberates
them to pursue their transmigrations. Likewise he has his
mental-emotional and his spiritual life-atoms through which his
personal and Ego-life express themselves. In thinking of these
mental-emotional life-atoms as awaiting the reincarnating entity
we must remember where they have been since the Ego passed out of
earth-life through the portal of death:
> These life-atoms of man's intermediate nature, in other words of
> his vehicular "soul," are freed from the overlordship of the
> Monadic Ray and form a host or group or multitude on interior
> planes; and all these multitudes of various kinds or classes of
> life-atoms are attracted to or seek refuge as it were in other
> human beings.
> -- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 782
There are other causes of the Ego's irresistible urge to return
to earth-life, but here we have said enough to indicate the
underlying "laws," or "habits" of nature.
We come now to the process by which the Ego reenters existence
upon this planet Terra. Owing to the causes mentioned above,
combined with others equally compelling, the Reincarnating Ego at
last awakens out of its blissful heaven-dream and begins its
"descent" earthward. Its progress is very gradual. Not much is
told in the exoteric teachings of Theosophy as to the various
states of substance and consciousness through which the Ego
passes in its approach to the threshold of material life. But we
know of course that at first these states are psychological, as
the Ego is MANAS, the thinking-principle, the creative,
formative, self-conscious intellectual element in us.
This psychological element combines with the emotional to make
the personality that is the distinctive "human" consciousness in
man. Thus, the psychological-emotional life-atoms awaiting the
Ego on the threshold of rebirth are used to make the first
garment or vehicle that the Ego weaves around it as it emerges
from the higher spiritual realms. Then the lower vital forces
come into play -- the life-atoms of ethereal or astral and
physical substance guided by their formative tendencies ingrained
into them in the last life, and further strengthened in these by
their transmigrations during the inter-human interval.
The life-atoms carry the SKANDHAS referred to in Chapter II. As
already said, the life-atoms are, during their association with
the reincarnated entity, impressed or imprinted or shaped with
the physical, emotional, and mental trends of the life being
lived. What their own transmigrations are after the dissolution
of the body at death will be influenced by these SKANDHAS, or
attributes of character. And when the life-atoms return to the
entity about to reincarnate it is these SKANDHAS embodied so to
say in the life-atoms that will furnish the nature and
characteristics of the mental, emotional, and physical ventures
of its new earth-life.
Again, referring to the process of birth itself we are told:
> The reincarnating entity, now rebecomes a bundle or aggregate of
> substance, is . . . drawn magnetically and psychically to the
> family or to the particular human womb where vibrational
> conditions most similar to its own exist. Its lowest, i.e., more
> material, force and substance connect psycho-magnetically through
> its own astral-vital fluid with the "laya-center" of a human
> generative particle when the appropriate time comes; and from the
> instant of conception, "the appropriate time," the reincarnating
> entity "overshadows" that particle as this particle grows from
> conception through its different phases of intra-uterine life,
> birth, childhood, into full adulthood.
> -- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 893
Here we naturally encounter popular theories of heredity, which
nowadays is supposed to be the determining cause of all our
characteristics of mind and body. Heredity, however, simply
pushes a little further back, without explaining, inequalities in
human destiny. Why are some men born in the slums and others
with every possible advantage? It is such facts as these that do
more to discourage the average man than anything else, and they
cry out for an explanation.
But when we remember the selective -- because psycho-magnetic --
qualities of the various psychological, emotional, astral, and
vital sheaths, garments, or vehicles, already, even before
conception, formed around the Ego, we see that a reincarnating
entity embodies automatically from its family stream of heredity
exactly those tendencies that correspond to its own nature
developed in the past. Thus viewed, our so-called heredity is
seen for what it actually is, only another name for the effect of
creative energies, high or low, generated by the individual
itself in its own past. The family and the parents give but the
inevitable channel through which these self-generated energies
work themselves out as consequences in character, temperament,
and physical constitution.
At this point, we encounter another instance of Nature's creative
processes of repetition. For, just as the Ego on leaving the
body sees, as above described, a living picture of the just ended
earth-life, so immediately before it reincarnates, is this
process repeated. The events of the coming life are then all
foreseen by the Being standing upon the threshold of human
existence. The necessity and the justice of all that will happen
in the coming life are accepted by the Reincarnating Ego, which
then enters willingly upon a fresh attempt to guide and urge the
human personality through conscience and love into the ways of
self-knowledge and self-mastery.
It is interesting to remember that because our whole nature is
made up of the life-atoms used by us in many past lives we are
practically the same personality of our past life. Yet, because
all these life-atoms come together at birth in fresh combinations
and after manifold new experiences of their own, in harmony with
our own past, our new personality is in many respects different
from the one we had grown so tired of when death kindly compelled
us to lay it down like a worn-out tool.
Is it not wonderful to be forever the same, and yet forever new?
-- forever developing and changing and perfecting the
consciousness stuff and energy-stuff, and the matters of all
grades through which and by means of which as spiritual Egos we
We may say that the time between incarnations is usually about a
hundred times the length of the life just lived on earth. There
are exceptions, of course. The important thing to remember is
that the quality of the life just lived, the sum and substance of
character, really controls both the experiences and the
time-period in the after-death states. The more spiritual the
life on earth the longer is the need for the rest and bliss of
Devachan. This is more fully explained in the Manual AFTER DEATH
This brief sketch may give some idea of the complex nature of the
doctrine of Reincarnation. Yet, it is all so majestically simple
when once the basic principles of evolution are grasped. These
are: the unity of all beings; the cyclic and periodic nature of
all manifested life; and the obligation of all entities --
supernally high or elementally humble, which make up the Cosmos
-- to pass continually forward upon an ever ascending spiral of
THE WORSHIP OF BEAUTY
By D.S. Sarma
[From THE ARYAN PATH, September 1932, pages 616-20.]
The worship of beauty is not like the pursuit of truth or the
striving after righteousness. While these have never produced
untoward results, men have often found beauty a snare and a
delusion. Puritans all over the world look askance at those who
urge the independent claims of beauty; and the lives of the
artists in general and of the hierophants of beauty in particular
seem to confirm their suspicions. It is no wonder that the wise
teachers of mankind have refrained from laying as much stress on
beauty as on righteousness and knowledge. Nevertheless, every
cultured man must know exactly what beauty means, what forms it
has, how far and under what conditions it is necessary for a
There is beauty even in ugliness in which we are doomed to spend
our lives, and its claims are insistent. To neglect them or
oppose them would be as unwise as to overrate them or make them
exclusive. In the one case, we deprive ourselves of a great part
of our happiness and probably of our knowledge of Reality, and in
the other, we lose all sense of proportion and degrade ourselves
into mere voluptuaries.
What is beauty? Libraries of books give the answer and some of
them are among the dullest books that have ever been written.
Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Baumgarten, Kant, Hegel, Schelling,
Schopenhauer, Bosanquet, Bridges, and Croce -- to mention only a
few names -- have attempted to solve the problem in the West.
In our own country, all the exponents of the Rasa theory
following in the footsteps of Bharata have done the same.
Lollata with his UTPATTI-VADA, Sankuka with his ANUMANA-VADA,
Bhattanayaka with his BHOGA-VADA, and above all Anandavardhana
and Abhinavagupta and their numerous followers with
ABHIVYAKTI-VADA have tried to probe the secret of aesthetic
experience. But beauty remains a mystery.
Systems of aesthetic philosophy de-signed to catch beauty are
like the clumsy attempts of elderly Gopis to catch the immortal
Child Krishna, who laughs, sports, and eludes them all. To some
thinkers, beauty is the perfect symmetry of parts; to some, it is
a function of life. To some, it is a form of knowledge; to some,
it is an experience of pleasure; and to some, it is a revelation
of the Spirit.
Thus, we have the mechanical, biological, intellectual,
emotional, and mystic conceptions of beauty. The main
differences between them arise from the different points of view
from which beauty is judged. Some have taken an entirely
objective view of beauty, while others have taken an entirely
subjective view. Some have emphasized the formal element in
beauty, while others have emphasized the expressive element.
Some have identified themselves with the observer of beauty,
while others have identified themselves with its creator. Some
have confined themselves to the causes, while others have
confined themselves to the results of beauty.
There is an element of truth in all these theories. The error
lies in their exclusiveness. Beauty is the expression of Rasa,
that is, of universal and impersonal emotion, as the Hindu
aesthetic philosophers discovered long ago, and as Croce and his
followers are explaining today. It expresses itself in
harmonious or symmetrical form. It promotes the highest ends of
life; and thus it brings us nearer to the knowledge of the
ultimate Reality. Beauty is not entirely a thing of matter and
form, for these are only its media. It is not entirely a thing
of love and desire, for these are as much the result as the cause
of beauty. Nor is it entirely a thing of the spirit, for this is
only its unmanifest or abstract state.
Beauty is one of the ultimate values of Life having its
mysterious analogue in the bliss of Spirit on the one hand and
symmetry of Matter on the other. Properly understood, it is one
of the pathways to Reality. The beautiful is one of the aspects
of the Real. The aesthetic experience is one of the phases of
spiritual experience. Rasasvada is one of the forms of
This statement is quite different from the statement contained in
the well-known but rather misleading lines of Keats:
> Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty; that is all
> Ye know on earth; and all ye need to know.
If by truth, the poet means Reality, we know that beauty is only
one of the aspects and therefore the statement is only partially
true. If, on the other hand, by truth the poet means what is
scientifically or logically true then the statement is much less
correct, for beauty is not necessarily truth, nor truth
necessarily beauty, inasmuch as we have dreams that are beautiful
and facts that are ugly. RIGHTEOUSNESS, BEAUTY, AND TRUTH ARE
THE THREE WAYS IN WHICH WE APPREHEND REALITY ACCORDING AS WE USE
OUR MORAL, AESTHETIC, OR INTELLECTUAL FACULTIES. Hence, the
cultivation of beauty is as important for us as the pursuit of
truth or expression of righteousness. Art is as necessary for
the development of the spirit as science or ethics.
But in one sense, the statement of the poet seems to be
profoundly true. Beauty is the unconscious perfection that all
creatures attain when they are most true to the law of their own
being. But in that case, truth is not only beauty, but also
righteousness. In fact, Svadharma, in the broadest sense of the
term, connotes the three highest values of truth, righteousness,
and beauty. It connotes truth because the creature is true to
itself. It connotes righteousness because the creature acts in
accordance to the divine will, which is the law of its being.
And it connotes beauty because the creature then becomes the
embodiment of an impersonal and universal joy. Thus, every act
of Svadharma is a miniature perfection making the creature
god-like for the moment.
That is why the lilies of the field, as Jesus observed, never
swerving from the law of their own being and taking no thought
for the morrow are clothed in glory surpassing that of Solomon.
All natural objects and creatures that instinctively follow the
Law have an inimitable grace and perfection of their own. They
are ensouled by the eternal bliss of Deity. But their circle of
perfection is closed. They are truly STANDING examples of divine
beauty. Man, on the other hand, who is free to swerve from the
Law, has not a circle of perfection but a spiral.
Let us now examine some of the practical considerations of the
worship of beauty.
Firstly, it is the duty of every man in practical life to make
himself sensitive to beauty and to cultivate the sense not only
in himself but also in others around him. To a soul sensitive to
beauty, nothing gives greater pain than to be forced to endure
the slovenliness of dress, coarseness of language, and crudeness
of manners -- not to speak of the sight of a thousand and one
unlovely objects. The only safeguard against such things is to
establish standards of comeliness in the public mind and to
enforce habits of conformity. Meanwhile, the worshipper of
beauty should make himself a perfect example to others in matters
of conduct, demeanor, and dress.
Secondly, we must see that the beauty we strive after is not of
the superficial kind. It is no good to be particular in small
things and indifferent in big things. We should not be pennywise
and pound-foolish in the pursuit of beauty. When beauty is
superficial, it amounts to mere prettiness; when it goes deep
into the heart of things and lies hidden by large masses that
obstruct the view, we have a difficult type of beauty called
sublimity. And we have so many grades between prettiness that is
small, easy, and superficial and sublimity that is great,
difficult, and profound.
The worshipper of beauty should be sensitive to all of them and
should always be prepared to sacrifice, if necessary, the lower
to the higher. He should train his eye to look through both the
microscope and the telescope to catch the fugitive gleams of
beauty in the universe. In judging a work of art, he should
never be carried away by mere appearance, but he should see
whether there is as much internal as external beauty, and
further, he has to probe and see how deep it penetrates. Is it
skin-deep, flesh-deep, or bone-deep? For instance, in judging a
poem, he has to ask himself if the poet gets beyond the mere
beauty of words. If so, does the poet touch the mere outworks of
the soul or does he reach the inner citadel? Is the poet
concerned with the appetites and pleasures of the flesh or with
the imagination and the sanctities of the heart?
Thirdly, the worshipper of beauty should cultivate a wide
catholicity of taste and learn to appreciate all forms of beauty.
One of the benefits of studying foreign literature is that the
student acquires a catholicity of taste and learns to appreciate
beauty in forms and modes of life -- entirely different from
those to which he is accustomed. It is no small thing from the
point of view of culture or of humanity for a Hindu to learn to
appreciate some of the beautiful ways of life of the English
society that is so different from his own. Again, apart from the
perfection of form, the strange and unfamiliar beauty of the
classics explains their fascination for the modern mind.
Similarly, strangeness added to beauty explains the lure of
romance. Therefore, the worshipper of beauty should ever be on
the alert to recognize and welcome new forms of beauty in life,
literature, and art.
Fourthly, the worshipper of beauty should be entirely freed from
the desire of possession. The difference between the higher
goods and the lower goods of life is that the latter suffer
diminution when we share them with others, but the former, far
from suffering diminution, acquire an enhanced value. Beauty is
one of the higher values of life in which there are no exclusive
property rights. In fact, many aesthetic philosophers maintain
that disinterestedness is an inalienable condition of
appreciation of beauty.
Beauty should be admired or cultivated for its own sake for the
pure joy that it brings to the mind -- joy in the widest
commonalty spread. Beauty should be regarded as an extra, above
all utility, comfort, or convenience. We have already seen that
it is only when a feeling ceases to be personal and becomes
detached that it becomes fit for artistic treatment and thus
generative of beauty. The bhava has to be impersonalized,
universalized, and converted into a rasa before it becomes
Art is supposed to possess the power of liberating us from all
passions and calming our minds. That is what Aristotle calls
catharsis. Art possesses this power because of the infinite or
cosmic character of beauty. When the true artist waves his wand,
the spirit of beauty sleeping in our souls is awakened, our
upadhis are removed for a moment, and we have a taste of the
bliss of the Infinite. We then understand the meaning of the
famous utterance of the Hindu aesthetic philosopher that
Rasasvada is akin to Brahmasvada.
Fifthly, the worship of beauty should not degenerate into a
sickly sentimentality or a hidden and exclusive cult.
Aestheticism has become a byword because of this mistake.
Beauty, of course, is different from righteousness and truth.
But all the three are interconnected. The aim of art is, of
course, neither to inculcate morality nor to propagate truth.
But that does not mean that art can be divorced from morality or
truth any more than the different faculties of the mind to which
they appeal can be divorced from one another. Far from this
being the case, the foundations of all great art are moral
consciousness and ideal truth.
A poet to be a poet need not inculcate virtue; he need not even
be a virtuous man himself, but he must have a sense of virtue, he
must love and admire nobility, generosity, and heroism and must
loathe meanness, coarseness, and cowardice. Similarly, he need
not be a constructive thinker, but he must know the value of
thought and be able to transmit from the sphere of reason to the
sphere of feeling the progressive thought of his age.
If an artist or a worshipper of beauty shuts himself in his own
chamber without taking part in the drama of human life, he
defeats his own end, for the goddess he worships in seclusion
will soon sicken and die. No, beauty is a flower that grows in
the open air. It requires for its health the sunshine of truth
and the waters of purity. Remove it to the dark chamber of
falsehood or expose it to the fumes of vice, and it will perish.
Sixthly and lastly, the worship of beauty, as well as pursuit of
science and cultivation of moral goodness, should always be
guided by a profound religious sense. Tolstoy points out in his
noble essay, "What is art," that in every age and in every human
society there exists a religious sense of what is good and what
is bad, common to that whole society, and it is this religious
perception that decides the value of feelings that should be
transmitted by art. By religious perception, which is of course
different from religious cult, Tolstoy means men's perception of
the meaning of life. It represents the highest comprehension of
life accessible to the foremost spirits of the age. This should
be the guiding star of all the activities of the age, the
actuating spirit of the artist and the scientist as well as the
In all healthy societies progressing in the right direction,
religion, understood in its highest sense, should be the
charioteer. Morality, science, and art are the horses under its
whip. The charioteer sees the way; the horses have to go as he
directs them else there would be no safety for the man in the
chariot. If the horses get out of hand and think they know
better than the charioteer does, heavens help the men in the
chariot! The peoples of modern Europe stand in this predicament.
If on the other hand, the horses are obedient but the charioteer
old and blind, again we say heavens help the man in the chariot!
In present day India, we stand in this predicament.
THE QUICKENING OF MIND
By Grace F. Knoche
[From TO LIGHT A THOUSAND LAMPS, Chapter 3.]
Traditions all over the globe describe an event of titanic import
which occurred millions of years ago: the quickening of mind in
childlike humanity. Where before we as a race had been dreamlike
and without goal, now we were afire with the vigor of
self-conscious thought, of choice, and the will to evolve.
Legend and myth, scripture and temple preserve the record of this
wondrous transition from mindlessness to self-awareness, from
Eden-innocence to knowledge and responsibility -- all due to the
intervention of advanced beings from higher spheres who wrought
within us "a living mind . . . and new mastery of thought."
(PROMETHEUS BOUND, Aeschylus, trans. Gilbert Murray, lines
In the Puranas of India, for example, and also in the
BHAGAVAD-GITA and other sections of the MAHABHARATA, are a number
of references to our divine ancestors being descended from seven
or ten "mind-born sons of Brahma." They go under different names,
but all are mind-born, MANASA, "thinking" (from MANAS, "mind,"
derived from the Sanskrit verb MAN, "to think, to reflect").
Occasionally they are called MANASAPUTRAS, "sons of mind"; more
often AGNISHVATTAS, those who have tasted of AGNI, "fire"; also
BARHISHADS, those who sit on KUSA grass for meditative or
ceremonial purposes; or they are referred to simply as PITRIS,
"fathers" -- terms that preserve the tradition that solar and
lunar fathers, progenitors, gave mind and the power to choose to
early humanity so that we humans might pursue our further
evolution with conscious intent.
The awakening of mind in an entire humanity could not have been
accomplished by a single heroic deed; it must have taken hundreds
of thousands, if not several million years to achieve. And the
humans of that predawn period no doubt were as diverse as we are
today: the most enlightened were probably few in number, the
great majority of mankind being in the middle range of
attainment, while some lacked the impetus to activate their
potential. The coming of the light-bearers was indeed an act of
compassion, yet it was destined also because of karmic links with
humanity from previous world cycles.
Understandably, the unleashing of this new power among a humanity
as yet undisciplined in the use of knowledge called for guides
and mentors to point the way. Legends and traditions of many
peoples relate that higher beings remained to teach, inspire, and
foster aspiration as well as intellect. They imparted practical
skills: navigation, star lore, metallurgy, and husbandry, herbal
medicine, carding and spinning, and hygiene; also a love of
beauty through the arts. More important than all else, they
impressed deep within the soul memory of those early humans
certain fundamental truths about ourselves and about the cosmos,
to serve as an inner talisman for ensuing cycles.
In the West poets and philosophers for centuries have elaborated
on the legends surrounding Prometheus which the Greek poet Hesiod
(8th century BC) recorded from very ancient sources. Among
others, Aeschylus, Plato, Vergil, Ovid, and in more recent times
Milton, Shelley, and others immortalized various facets of the
tale. In his Dialogues Plato hints often of a wisdom beyond the
myths he relates, and in his PROTAGORAS (sec 320 ff) he tells of
the confrontation of Epimetheus (Afterthinker) with his older
brother Prometheus (Forethinker). When the cycle had come for
"mortal creatures" to be formed, the gods fashioned them from the
elements of earth and fire "in the interior of the earth," but
before bringing them into the light of day they commissioned
Epimetheus and Prometheus to apportion to each its proper
qualities. Epimetheus offered to do the main work, leaving the
inspection and approval to Prometheus.
All went well with respect to furnishing the animals with
suitable attributes; but, alas, Epimetheus discovered he had used
everything up, "and when he came to man, who was still unprovided
[for], he was terribly perplexed." Prometheus had but one
recourse, and that was to procure by stealth from the common
workshop of Athena, goddess of the arts, and of Hephaestus, god
of fire and craftsmanship, that which was needed to equip "man in
his turn to go forth into the light of day." Off Prometheus sped
to the forge of the gods where burned the everlasting fire of
mind. Stealing an ember from the sacred hearth, he descended
again to earth and quickened man's latent mind with the fire of
heaven. Man the thinker was born: instead of being less
qualified than the animals which Epimetheus had so well equipped,
he now stood a potential god, conscious of his power, yet
innately aware that from then on he would have to choose between
good and evil, and EARN the gift Prometheus had brought.
At first the youthful humans (ourselves) lived at peace, but in
time many of us turned our mind-power to selfish ends and were
"in process of destruction." Zeus, noting our plight, called
Hermes and empowered him to go swiftly to earth and instill
"reverence and justice" in every man and woman, so that all, and
not merely a favored few, would share in the virtues. In short,
we humans, however unequal in talent or opportunity, are equal in
In myth form Plato transmits the beautiful truth that not only
did Zeus sow within man the seed of immortality (see likewise
TIMAEUS sec 41), but also, at the appointed hour, an ember of the
mind-fire of the gods fructified that seed into self-conscious
awareness of his divinity -- the work of Prometheus, whose daring
and sacrifice for the sake of humanity make him the noblest of
The third chapter of GENESIS, when understood, tells the same
story, with God warning Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of
the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or they would die. But
the serpent assures Eve that they "shall not surely die," for God
-- or rather gods, 'ELOHIM, plural -- know(s) that as soon as
they do eat from it, their "eyes shall be opened, and [they]
shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." They did eat, and they
did "die" -- as a race of mind-innocent children -- and became
truly human, became AS GODS, KNOWING GOOD AND EVIL. And here we
are, gods in our inmost being, though largely unaware of this
since memory of this momentous truth has faded.
Turning to the same story in the Stanzas of Dzyan of THE SECRET
DOCTRINE we find:
> The great Chohans called the Lords of the Moon, of the airy
> bodies. "Bring forth men, men of your nature. Give them their
> forms within. She [Mother Earth] will build coverings without.
> Males-females will they be. Lords of the Flame also . . ."
> They went each on his allotted land: seven of them each on his
> lot. The Lords of the Flame remain behind. They would not go,
> they would not create.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 16
Thus it came about that seven times seven creatures were
fashioned, shadowy, and each after his own kind. Yet the beings
with mind had still to be born. The Fathers each provided what
they had, the Spirit of the Earth as well. It was not enough:
"Breath needs a mind to embrace the Universe; 'We cannot give
that,' said the Fathers. 'I never had it,' said the Spirit of
the Earth." Early man remained an "empty senseless" being.
"How did the Manasa, the Sons of Wisdom, act?" They spurned the
earlier forms as unfit; but when the third race was produced,
"the powerful with bones," they said, "We can choose, we have
wisdom." Some entered the shadowy (astral) forms; others
"projected the Spark"; still others "deferred till the fourth"
race. Those in whom the mind-spark entered fully became
enlightened, sages, the leaders and guides of average humanity in
whom the spark had been but partially projected. Those in whom
the spark had not been projected, or burned too low, were
irresponsible; they mated with animals and bred monsters. The
Sons of Wisdom repented: "This is Karma," they said, because they
had refused to create. "Let us dwell in the others. Let us
teach them better, lest worse should happen. They did. . . .
Then all men became endowed with Manas [mind]."
Thus did the third race produce the fourth, whose inhabitants
"became tall with pride." As the cycle of evolution rapidly moved
toward its lowest point in the arc of material descent,
temptations multiplied. It is recorded that a fearsome battle
took place between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness.
"The first great waters came. They swallowed the seven great
islands." The Sons of Light took birth among the incoming fifth
race -- our own -- to give it the needed spiritual impetus, and
"taught and instructed it." (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, pages 16-21,
The igniting of our intellectual faculties was a climactic moment
in human evolution. It quickened our awareness of everything: we
became conscious of who and what we were -- self-conscious.
Knowledge gave us power: power to choose, to think, and to act --
wisely and unwisely. It gave us the ability to love and to
understand others. It stimulated the yearning to evolve and
expand our capacities. In the process it gave us the greatest
challenge of all: the awakening of our powers for both
beneficence and maleficence, culminating in a contest between the
light and dark forces in ourselves. When we multiply this by
several billion human souls, we easily understand why there has
been and still is a continual conflict of wills.
During the third great racial cycle or root-race, the
manasaputras, who united their mind-essence with the latent mind
of those early humans, remained with us as divine instructors.
Inevitably, however, there came a time when these higher beings
retired so that the young humanity could evolve and develop on
its own. They withdrew from our immediate presence, but they
never withdrew their love and protective concern, any more than a
mother and father ideally will ever stop loving their children.
The wise parent learns that the greatest gift he can give his
children is his trust in them that they can make it on their own.
That is what the manasaputras did for us; and what our
god-essence is continuing to do for the human portion of
In fact, WE are manasaputras, although in its higher reaches mind
is not as yet fully manifest in us. Nonetheless, the truths the
mind-born sons implanted in our soul-memory remain an intrinsic
part of ourselves. It is for the purpose of consciously
reestablishing contact with this inborn wisdom-knowledge that we
come again and again to earth: to rediscover who we truly are,
companions of stars and galaxies and fellow humans as surely as
we are of our brothers of field, ocean, and sky -- one flowing
consciousness, from our parent star to crystals and diamonds, and
further, to the tiny lives that animate the world of the atom.
Nor do we overlook the several classes of elemental or primary
beings who maintain the integrity of the elements of aether,
fire, air, water, and earth.
It may seem strange to think of ourselves as one flowing
consciousness, yet this is just what we are. We see our human
self as a separate unit when in fact it is only a cell, we might
say, of the loftier being in which humanity is living and having
its conscious evolutionary experience. Separateness is an
illusion. There is an interconnection among all nature's
families -- in the sense that all beings are sacrificing a little
of themselves for the benefit of the kingdoms above and below
them. There is an interchange of helpfulness constantly going on
that we might intuit more often could we FEEL our oneness with
all. Along with a constant interchange of life-atoms and of
energies of many kinds, there is also an intermeshing of karma
among all of nature's kingdoms. Indeed, we have the mineral,
plant, and animal kingdoms within us, and the elemental kingdoms
as well, and we also have the god kingdoms within us, because we
are gods in human form. We too often overemphasize our seeming
Today an astonishing array of evidence is confirming that
consciousness is ONE and that while it manifests in different
ways in stone, plant, animal, and human, it is one flowing river
of life. Experiments with plants, for example, suggest plant
sensitivity to human thoughts and to music. If there is
reciprocity of vibration, both positive and negative, between
humans and plants, it surely exists among our own species. The
continuous interchange of thought-energies, of thought-atoms,
among us is not limited to the human kingdom or to our planet.
When we reflect on the living network of magnetic and soul force
between ourselves and every aspect of the cosmic organism we call
our universe, we sense something of the magnitude of our
responsibility. If we could view all that occurs in our personal
circumstances, in our social and communal relationships, from
this perspective, from the eye of our immortal self, we would
transform every aspect of human living.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application