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THEOSOPHY WORLD -------------------------------------- March, 2006
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Celestial Experience in Mundane Duties," by B.P. Wadia
"Occult Teachers and Disciples," by G. de Purucker
"A Humanist Looks at Mysticism," by John Hassler Dietrich
"The Dog, The Ferryman, and the Devil," by Sadath Ali Khan
"Why Do We Not Remember Our Past Lives," by Leoline L Wright
"Who Am I," by H.P. Edge
"A Remarkable Christmas Eve," by Constance Wachtmeister
"The Stars and the Sun," by Rose Winkler
> I wish that everybody in the Society could realize how certain
> it is that those Great Brothers who are behind our work keep a
> vigilant eye upon all of us who with a pure heart and unselfish
> mind throw our energies into it. What more comforting than to
> know that our labors are not in vain nor our aspirations
> -- H.S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, III, page 95
CELESTIAL EXPERIENCE IN MUNDANE DUTIES
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 90-92.]
> Look to the future; see to it that the continual performance of
> duty under the guidance of a well-developed Intuition shall keep
> the balance well poised. Ah! if your eyes were opened, you might
> see such a vista of potential blessings to YOURSELVES and mankind
> lying in the germ of the present hour's effort, as would fire
> with joy and zeal your souls! Strive towards the Light, all of
> you brave warriors for the Truth, but do not let selfishness
> penetrate into your ranks, for it is unselfishness alone that
> throws open all the doors and windows of the inner Tabernacle and
> leaves them unshut.
> -- MAHATMA K.H.
Every tyro in Theosophy knows that present actions mold our
future character as well as our environment. The performance of
duty, day by day, has also its immediate recompense. The Master
implies, in the words quoted above, that such performance would
tend towards sustaining our balance and equanimity. The small,
plain duties of life hourly call upon us to acquire skill in
action as well as concentration of mind. Many have a
discontented attitude to mundane tasks; others are bored at
peeling potatoes or writing accounts. To be of good cheer during
such occupations at home or at office is very necessary.
But the Mahatma points out that "the continual performance of
duty" should be "under the guidance of a well-developed
Intuition." This may well he called "a tall order." People are
swayed by desires in small as in important affairs; most of the
time they fail to make proper use of their rational faculty. To
expect them to be guided by "a well-developed Intuition" is, so
to speak, asking for the impossible.
People often inquire: How can Theosophy help the common man to
live a noble life? Here is one answer. What is going to help is
not the doing of works forced upon him by his destiny, with a
long face, a wandering mind, and a heavy heart, but a cheerful
acquiescence in the accurate and punctual doing of what has to be
done. The Law of Necessity provides the first help; for, it
requires that that which is not necessary to be done is not a
duty. The mundane ways, customs, and conventions involved in the
performance of duties take their toll from the earnest student,
and he is compelled to seek guidance from the doctrines of the
Esoteric Philosophy. Our perception and evaluation of the
routine duties of life undergo a fundamental change when we
examine them in the light of Theosophy. But the Mahatma
advocates not a well-developed rationality but a well-developed
Intuition. Intuitive knowledge depends not on logic and reason;
the faculty related to Buddhi, the abode of intuitions, is the
faculty of coordinating the mundane and the material to the
celestial and the spiritual. This means learning the science of
the laws of analogy and correspondence. The study of logic is
considered necessary for the correct use of the mind. The
development of intuition demands a study of the law of analogy
and correspondence, so that we perceive the "world in a grain of
sand" and comprehend the profound and mysterious knowledge
enshrined in such a formula: "Oh! the Jewel in the Lotus."
In the present hour are hidden great potentialities. Can it be
that the right, hourly performance of duties would bring us the
vision which would prove a blessing to ourselves and to mankind?
Can it be that in the "germ of the present hour's effort" there
are possibilities of progress undreamt of by us? The words of the
Mahatma quoted above certainly point to such an idea. Are our
souls fired with joy and zeal during the doing of the small,
plain duties of life? One such duty for the Theosophical student
is regular attendance at all ULT meetings, once again not with
discontent and bored feelings but with a cheerful mind charged
with zeal and enthusiasm. Among our numerous small, plain duties
there are those that might be compared to the body; others, to
the principle of Prana; others, to the mind; and then there are
duties that form the soul aspect of them all. Regular, punctual
attendance at ULT meetings is the soul of mundane duties, most
helpful in revealing to us the celestial aspect of all events and
happenings. But intelligent preparation for such attendance at
ULT meetings has to be made. Especially it seems that the
Mahatma refers to this Theosophical duty when He speaks of the
"vista of potential blessings to YOURSELVES [italics His] and
mankind lying in the germ of the present hour's effort."
In and through the small, plain duties, intuitively performed, we
must strive to catch the vision of the Light. But we must heed
the warning, "do not let selfishness penetrate into your ranks,"
we must note the pregnant words about what unselfishness can and
The "inner Tabernacle" is mentioned by the Mahatma. Its doors
and windows are thrown open, not while we eat, walk, or are
engaged in mundane works, but, to begin with, when we attend the
ULT meetings with a prepared heart.
The real value of ULT classes and meetings is often not
comprehended. The student-aspirant's devotion elevates him at
such gatherings, which make it easier for him to pursue the
principles of Unity, Study, and Work.
OCCULT TEACHERS AND DISCIPLES
By G. de Purucker
[A talk given August 7, 1932 at the Theosophical Headquarters,
published in WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 311-17.]
Friends and Brothers: You doubtless know that today 'Occultism'
is a word to swear by -- that it is a word which is on the lips
of men and women who are hunting for truth, and who, in most
cases, have not found truth, but who yet in some few cases think
that they have found it. Nevertheless, they are hungry because
the truth that they think they have found, they have not found.
There is indeed truth in the Universe, for truth is Reality.
Truth is the fundamental being and course of the Universe.
Whatever essentially is, whatever is fundamentally, that verily
is Truth; and that verily is occult, for Occultism means the
science of things that are hidden, that are not superficial and
open so that all who run may read.
Occultism, I repeat, is the science of things AS THEY ARE IN
THEMSELVES -- reality. There are Teachers of this Reality, who
are men who have evolved so far that they are able to send the
percipient spirit-soul of themselves behind the veils of the
outward seeming, deep into the womb of Kosmic being, and thus
'see' with the consciousness that is essentially themselves.
They can see, and seeing, they understand, and in understanding,
they can bring occult facts back to their fellowmen and teach
them in the forms of human language. However, it is by no means
everyone who can say truthfully, "Come unto me, I have the real,"
for besides genuine Teachers of Occultism, there are likewise
those who claim to be teachers but who are not. You doubtless
remember what the Christian New Testament has to say of such
claimants, in its warning against 'false Christs.'
How may the average man judge, how may he discern, the true
Teacher from the false, the real and the genuine from the merely
pretentious? I can show you how to do this. Nevertheless, it is
you yourselves who must see for yourselves. I can show you not
because I myself have attained the sublime summit, the peaks of
wisdom, but because I am simply the student and mouthpiece of
others incomparably greater than I am, and can therefore pass on
to you what I myself have been taught.
Truth, as I have told you, can be found, because Truth is in the
Universe, and Truth is always hid. As the old saying had it, it
lies at the bottom of a 'well.' What is that 'well'? It is an
expression for the deep abysms of the Universal Being, and it is
the well of consciousness within each human entity. That deep
conscious root of us is of the very fabric and substance of the
Universe. We and the Universe are one. Thou, Brother, and the
Universe -- the vast, infinite spaces of the Kosmic SPACE -- are
in essence one. This 'one' is the 'well' of reality, the well of
wisdom, the well of truth. Just because each human being, and
indeed every other animate or so-called inanimate thing, is an
inseparable portion of boundless infinitude, just for this reason
can such an entity drink of the well-springs of consciousness and
wisdom within himself or itself -- the well-springs of reality,
of truth. Therefore, he drinks of the vast Kosmic fountain, for
he and it are essentially one.
Try to understand this sublime truth. It lies at the very basis
of an adequate comprehension, not only of Occultism and
Theosophy, but also of any truth of the Universe, such even as
those that the scientific researchers today are investigating,
thinking about, and making their most interesting deductions
What, then, is the pathway leading to this fountain of wisdom, to
this well? It is what I have so often told you from this platform
-- a favorite theme of mine, because it is a master key to truth.
THOU AND THE UNIVERSE ARE ONE. Know thyself, 0 man! Go deep into
the wellsprings of thine own being, and thou shalt know the
Universe. Thou shalt know all truth, for thou and it are
inseparably one. 'Gnothi seauton,' said the ancient Greek: "Man,
What do our Occidental searchers for truth do? Are they seeking
to know themselves? No, bless their hungry souls. They are
searching without. Like drowning men struggling for straws, they
run after anything that offers something they can mentally grasp
at. They ignore the great portal of the spiritual self within
them opening inwards to infinite reality. Truth is within us,
for each one of us, and not without; and yet that 'within' and
that 'without' are one after all. But to find truth in the
outwards, you must nevertheless go inwards, into your own
consciousness, into your own understanding, for thereby you enter
into the very fabric and essence of the Universe, which is also
yourself. "Tat twam asi," said the Vedic Sage, "Thou art It" --
In the Occident, we hear the plaintive cry from every side: We
want practical teaching. We don't want any more theories. We
are tired of theories and speculations. We want reality. We
want practical things that we can live by, act by, and help other
men by and with. Very good indeed. That is exactly what the
genuine Occultist or Occult Teacher also says. You must have the
real things, the things of reality, the only things that are
practical in this Universe.
Therefore, cease running after the fleeting shades that beguile
the eyesight and deceive the heart. We Theosophists insist upon
the practical; but the practical is the real, and the real is
found and understood only within ourselves. You cannot become a
genuine occultist nor can you understand the A-B-C of the occult
teaching until you, my brothers, become occult, until you
yourselves learn to look within, learn to seek impersonally for
the everlasting truth, until you attain, at least in some minor
degree, the Vision Sublime, which is the vision of real things,
When you have attained that, then you have something genuinely
practical to live by, something that never will fail you and that
you carry with you from birth to birth, from life to life, and by
the use of which your character grows ever grander and stronger.
Please don't think, friends, that by these words I am attacking
anybody or anything. I have studied these sublime teachings all
my life long; I know them so well! They are the truths I
personally live by. I am here to teach them, but also because I
know something, however small it may be. I have gained some few
fragments of the very bread of life; therefore do I know what is
the real, and what is the false -- that is, as far as I have
gone, I know how to distinguish. It becomes my duty therefore to
tell those who will listen what truth I myself have found.
The genuine Theosophist never attacks the honest convictions or
religious or philosophical beliefs of any other living being; but
he reserves his right to declare from public platform, or in
published book, what he himself has found to be true. He does
not declare it as dogma, but if he is a genuine Theosophist, he
"This, my Brothers, is what I have found to be true and good:
doing something that I can live by, something that will remain
with me and comfort me in times when comfort is needed, for such
times come to us all: in the hours of grief and sorrow and pain.
This I have myself proved, and what I have to give, I am ready to
give. It is yours if you will, but you yourselves must take it.
I alone cannot give it to you. All I can do is to point to the
Path. THERE is the Path. Now what is that 'there'? It is
Teach a man to think nobly. Teach a man to think nobly and live
highly and grandly, and you thereby better the whole world,
because individual men are bettered and made stronger. Is there
anything more practical than that? The cry is for practical
teaching, and yet they follow not even that which they have. If
the men of the Occidental world were to live even by the ethical
and spiritual teachings that they have, the Occident would be a
paradise, relatively speaking. Instead, it is a quasi-hell, with
nation arming against nation, with every parliament or congress
suspicious of every other similar gathering of fellow human
beings. Brotherhood is a name, a mere word to talk about and
preach. But to PRACTICE it?
Yes, Occultism is the most practical thing in the world, for it
teaches, as I have so often told you, how to think grandly, and
because it teaches men how to think grandly, they learn to feel
and to act grandly. Show me something more practical than this.
Show me something that will more quickly develop the intellectual
and psychical character, powers, and faculties of men than being
taught to live grandly, because one feels and thinks grandly.
What is the root of all the sorrow and pain in the world today?
It is false thinking and insincere feeling, and consequently
false and insincere living.
It is very good to have soup kitchens for the poor. It is
doubtless a good work. But the main thing is to teach men the
philosophy of life. This philosophy will raise them out of
poverty, both spiritual and intellectual on the one side, and
even physical on the other, into the inner reaches of the spirit;
and then they will be able so to control their lives that even
poverty and its accompanying deprivations will become unholy
recollections of an evil past. As it is today, so terrible are
the conditions in the West that men have to face, that even those
who are striving to help their fellows have, as it were, the
spiritual and intellectual inertia of two or three continents
against which to struggle.
Undaunted by the conditions, we Theosophists keep on hammering
and hammering and hammering these truths home, by book, by
precept, by example, and by teaching from the lecture-platform.
In every way possible, we try to show our fellow human beings the
way to peace, the way to happiness, yea, even the way to success,
by changing the hearts of men -- which means changing their minds
and therefore the conditions in which they live. Show me now
something more practical than this. "Tired of theories and
speculations?" Poor hungry hearts, yes! That is just what you
are, and just what I am -- tired, weary, heart-weary of mere
preaching. But I have found the truth -- for me, and it passeth
all understanding of men, except for him who has won it at least
in some minor degree. How precious it is! What inestimable peace
and what ineffable comfort it gives!
Prove it. There is our challenge! Don't take anything that I say
or that any other Theosophical speaker says; but study, examine,
test for yourselves, and retain what is good and discard what you
find to not be good. This too is practical. This is what every
genuine Theosophist urges you to do. This is what every genuine
Occult Teacher tells to his disciples. He says to him or to her:
"Chela, child, look within thyself. There lie the secrets of thy
bygone mistakes and of thy present sorrows. There lie the causes
of thy past grief, and of thy present. In thyself lies glory
unspeakable for thee, which thou shalt realize when some day thou
shalt have found it, and have brought it out. Within thee lies
the only peace thou shalt ever know. Within thee lies the only
happiness thou canst ever cognize.
"Within thee lies the only wisdom thou shalt ever obtain. Within
thee is the Path, and that Path, 0 Child, is thyself -- thy
spiritual Self, thy divine Self, that starry celestial power
which is thy root of being. It, IT, is also the heart of the
Universe, for thou and the All are one.
"Canst thou, 0 Child, separate thyself from the Universe that
encompasses thee around? Canst thou ever leave it? Art thou not a
child of it, flesh of its flesh, bone of its bone, blood of its
blood, life of its life, thought of its thought, being of its
being? Thou art verily It.
"So when thou hast found thyself, thy greater Self, thy spiritual
Self, the inner god, the divinity within, then hast thou found
not only the Path that leads to the heart of the Universe, but
thou hast found THYSELF AND IT TO BE ONE."
Oh, do you understand? Once a man has attained this wisdom, once
the feeling, the sense, the idea, and the consciousness of all
this has entered into and become a very part of his own soul,
then he has attained and he is free. He is then at utter peace.
He is at rest, but almost infinitely active. He has found
himself, and nothing thereafter can ever tempt him to wander from
the Path. Nothing thereafter can ever cause his feet to stumble
on the way.
Were I offered today ten billions of dollars to organize soup
kitchens and to provide men with physical work, I would say, "May
the gods bless the one who did this," but I would answer, "No.
Let those who understand these rather impractical ways attend to
them. My message is to the hearts of men, for when you change
men's characters, when you change their hearts and remake their
minds, then soup-kitchens and such things will be like a horror
of the past."
It is a shame, Brothers, that in our Occident men should look
upon such things as those as being even virtuous deeds. The
Theosophist aims to change the fabric of the character of men, so
that such things as these will no longer be needed. I prefer to
do my Master's work in doing what little I can to change men's
hearts. Thus, I give them a new hope, a new vision, new insight.
I help them, showing Path what I have found so that in treading
it themselves, they will become men, MEN. That is like a god's
work on earth.
Every son of man, every human being, is an incarnate divinity;
and we must learn some day -- indeed we shall some day learn --
to live within, towards and in the god within us, which is our
own spiritual Divine Self. Meanwhile, let us try to bring out
from within us its transcendent powers. Let us try to cultivate
these transcendent powers and faculties now lying latent within
us. This is true Occultism, and learning to do this is a
beginning in practical Occultism.
I tell you, my Brothers, with all the earnestness of my being,
that anyone who tells you: "Come here, I will show you how to
gain powers," is one to avoid. But, if he says to you:
"Sir, or my Brother, you yourself within yourself hold the keys
to wisdom beyond human description, and I will show you how you
may cultivate and develop these inner faculties and powers, not
by my own act, but through following the teachings of the titan
intellects, the spiritual Seers and Sages, of the human race, the
god-men of the past."
Then if he says this to you, hearken carefully to what he says,
for in thus much he tells you truth, and it will be your labor to
find out if his invitation is to be accepted or rejected, and if
he be a genuine occult teacher or not.
A HUMANIST LOOKS AT MYSTICISM
By John Hassler Dietrich
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1936, pages 117-21.]
In discussing the relation between Humanism and mysticism, it is
necessary to understand what we mean by these terms; and yet they
are difficult to define in a few words. Humanism is a term used
in a number of different ways. In America, there is a religious
movement by that name, and it aims at the enrichment of human
life on earth through intelligent human effort, working in
conformity with natural processes.
It rejects a belief in God or any kind of purpose in the universe
(except in man), and relies upon intelligent cooperative human
effort to transform both the individual and common life of man
into something joyous and worthy. In other words, it declares
that men and women have nowhere to turn for help except to
themselves and to one another, and believes that within
themselves and in their natural and social environment they may
find powers sufficient to achieve the good and happy life, or at
least to greatly improve the present situation.
To this end, it seeks to preserve all the human values thus far
attained and to develop man to the highest point possible within
the margin of human capacities and environing conditions. In
short, it is man-centered rather than God-centered, and aims at
the enrichment of human life rather than at the glorification of
God. It depends therefore upon purely natural methods, which of
course repudiates every form of divine revelation or power.
On the other hand, mysticism believes in God or some Universal
Spirit, with which during some unusual experience, called ecstasy
or illumination, individual souls may merge or become identified,
resulting in a conscious oneness with God or reality and thereby
gaining knowledge of cosmic laws and truths above and independent
of sense perception.
This definition may not be satisfactory to every one, but if we
examine the writings of the great mystics, we are forced to
accept it. They all believed, with varying degrees of intensity,
of course, that they had direct contact with reality. They all
had certain periods of ecstasy or illumination when they felt not
only in harmony with God or reality, but actually identified with
and part of Him, and through this identification were able to
absorb knowledge. So I think we can conclude that pure mysticism
means the consciousness of identification with God or reality,
and through this experience access to truths beyond sense
On the face of it, there would seem to be no possible relation
between Humanism and mysticism, and yet a modified form of mystic
experience is an essential part of and can make a valuable
contribution to Humanism. The Humanist does not doubt the
reality of these experiences, and as they are human experiences,
they should be of Humanist concern. He does question the cause
ascribed to them; that is, the experiences may be real, but they
may have nothing to do with God or reality. He would rather
accept the conclusion of the psychologists who, insofar as they
have been able to analyze the mystical experience, have decided
that it is an intense emotional state induced in a purely natural
But even though the experience has a natural foundation, it does
not mean that any knowledge gained at the time is useless. The
state of relaxation induced by the experience is favorable to the
production of valuable ideas. It is commonly recognized that
sometimes an idea that could not be induced by persistent and
intense effort appears suddenly and unexpectedly during mental
relaxation. So even though the Humanist rejects the belief of
the mystics that they have been in direct communication with God,
he accepts the possibility of knowledge gained in this way.
While he would reject also the mystic's attempt to soar beyond
reason in his frenzied effort to reach the absolute and transcend
sense experience, he recognizes that the mystical experience
offers valuable hints for the accomplishment of purely Humanist
objectives. It may be possible to achieve within the actual
limits of the mind by similar methods a richer experience than
enjoyed by the average person, and therefore he would recognize
this mystical method as a way of extracting from life greater
satisfactions than we usually attain.
In this effort, he dismisses the more exaggerated forms that he
considers more or less pathological. He thinks of those mystics
who have not tried to soar beyond the bounds of their natural
being, but who, within the limits of the human mind, have sought
an intensity of experience that would give them a deeper sense of
life and reality in times when religion was decadent because of
corrupt institutionalism or cold intellectualism. For them
religion was an inner experience, a personal inspiration, an
aliveness to the real issues of life. While even this kind of
mysticism is subject to dangerous perversions and exaggerations,
nevertheless religion is almost a useless appendage unless it
possesses our inner life of feeling and imagination, and thus
gives direction to our volitional nature.
The greatest weakness of Humanism is that it frequently lacks
this inner conviction. It is essentially an intellectual
movement without any real motivating power. It does not
penetrate to the inner part of our natures from which conduct
springs. After all, the purpose of the mystic was to identify
himself with and lose himself in the object of his religion. In
his case, this object was God. Now the Humanist does not desire
identification with God, but he should desire to identify himself
with and lose himself in the object of his religion -- the
enhancement of human life. In other words, his religion would be
a more vital thing if he could adopt the mystic's attitude toward
it and possess it inwardly as a part of his psychic structure, in
short, assimilate it until its expression becomes the motivating
power of his emotional and volitional natures.
What I am trying to say is that Humanism is
over-intellectualized. It possesses much knowledge, but the
knowledge does not possess it; that is, it has not become a part
of its mental and emotional structure sufficiently to mould
personality and generate action. Mere knowledge no doubt adorns
life to a certain extent, but it does not become a powerful
motive for conduct until it strikes deep into our emotional life,
and becomes a very part of our innermost being.
I believe, therefore, that we Humanists might learn something
from the mystics who aspired within the limits of the mind to
identify themselves so completely with the objects of their
religion. A little more of the mystic aspiration and fervor
would add tremendously to the significance of Humanist religion,
which is in great danger of degenerating into a cold formula of
There is no doubt that Humanism in adopting the scientific method
has come into possession of an increasing body of sound
knowledge. It has been successful in diagnosing our more serious
ills. It has a well-defined vision of the goal toward which man
should travel. It is fully aware of the necessity of mankind
itself transforming the life of society. Even so, it somehow
lacks the emotional drive to generate the concrete enthusiasms
that are essential to making these things effectual in our
individual and social lives.
I believe this can be done only by achieving something of the
passionate desire of the mystic to identify himself with the
objects of his religion, to lose himself in the contemplation of
these objects until they become a vital part of his psychic
structure, affecting his emotional and volitional natures. When
we strip mysticism of all its extravagances, its real meaning is
the inward possession of great ideals and the transformation of
character and purpose by the influence of those ideals; and in
this sense, we should all be mystics, for it is only by this
method that religion and morals have any transforming power.
Again, Humanism is in sympathy with what is frequently called the
mystical attitude toward life. This may not fall within the
category of real mystical experiences, although it is closely
related. It usually means nothing more than the use of the
imagination and emotion in our interpretation of the world and of
human life. It is the opposite of drab realism and
matter-of-factness. It is a consciousness of the mystery and
wonder of existence. It is that from which music, art, poetry,
and imaginative literature spring. It was the lack of such
wonder that Wordsworth had in mind when he wrote of Peter Bell:
A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more,
And the presence of it that he expressed in his poem, ending with
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
This means living imaginatively and emotionally as well as
intellectually and rationally, and it is a vital part of a
well-rounded personality. By imaginative feeling, we reach out
to the world and seek to become conscious of our oneness with the
whole of nature and of life. This is greatly needed in our
materialized and mechanized world that is dominated by science
and commercialism. Science represents the external approach to
life, and mysticism represents an internal approach, which is
There are things in the world that cannot be understood only
through the senses or by means of logical thought. They are
"sensed" by the imagination and feelings, but they are just as
real as the things we can see and handle. The danger here, of
course, lies in the exaggerated importance of these faculties or
in their abnormal functioning, whereby they may encumber one with
a whole freight of ideas and interpretations that the
circumstances do not justify. Poets and artists are frequently
dominated by their imagination and feelings, but businessmen and
scientists whose lives are absorbed in facts need to cultivate
their feelings in an intelligent way. The ideal, of course, is a
sane and well-balanced personality, capable of imagination and
emotion as well as of clear thinking.
Humanism should try to retain some of the qualities of the
mystic, especially in this sense of imbuing life with imagination
and poetry. There is grave danger that we resolve life into a
series of logical propositions, based only on factual
observation. We are too prone to ignore the inner life of man in
our eagerness to create a new social order, and thus smother the
urge toward individual psychical needs.
The Humanist should be aware of the presence of this urge and
seek to cultivate it and thus recognize, as do other religions,
that there is in the universe, including human life, something
mysterious, something greater than the individual. He should
cultivate a consciousness of his identity with the entire cosmic
process, a feeling of oneness with the unending procession of
living forms, especially a conscious unity with the whole mass of
It is the business of religion, as John Dewey pointed out, to
make us conscious of our identification with humanity at large,
and to recognize our knowledge, faith, and ideals as the product
of the cooperative operations of human beings living together.
It gives us an understanding of our relations to one another and
the values contained in those relations. We are not only
individuals, we are corporate parts of a humanity that extends
into the remote past and will continue into a remote future.
The things that we prize most in our civilization are not of
ourselves. They exist by grace of the doings and sufferings of
the continuous human community in which we are a link, and in
which we must play our part. In short, we should recognize
ourselves as component parts of the great body of humanity, in
which we live, move, and have our being; we should seek to attain
that mystical experience of identification with the human race,
to the adventure of which our individual lives are but
More than anything else, the world needs this spirit today. No
legislation, no new economic system, no changed industrial order,
in and of themselves, will create this needed unity. The
transfer of power from a self-seeking few to a self-seeking many
will not help much, unless this new spirit fuses and inspires men
with a new consciousness of the mystic unity that underlies all
our social life.
As individuals, we may be wrapped up in our own concerns, our
private plans, and personal ambitions. We may be content to be
merely our private, separate, exclusive selves, blind to our
essential unity with all other members of society, oblivious to
our vital place and function in the living body of humanity.
Then we miss the greatest of all experiences: achieving the
consciousness of our true oneness with the common life about us.
To this extent, much will be gained through the combination of
Humanism and mysticism.
So while Humanism may not admit the claims of the mystics, it may
at least recognize the methods of the mystics as the way to
discover some of the favorable conditions of the abundant life.
In the struggle for more and better life, man needs, among other
things, moments of quiet to be free of the distractions and
confusions of modern life and to reap the fruits of experience
and deep contemplation.
While in these moments, he may not experience the ineffable and
unutterable illumination of the mystical trance. He may achieve
a sense of harmony with the whole of life, which inspires the
normal person to an ethical and practical religious attitude,
which brings peace and trust and humility to the individual, and
reflects itself in a more wholesome and generous attitude toward
his fellow men.
THE DOG, THE FERRYMAN, AND THE DEVIL
By Sadath Ali Khan
[From THE ARYAN PATH, September 1947, pages 392-96.]
It is a strange reflection that man should describe with sadistic
delight and cruel satisfaction the sorrows and sufferings rather
than the felicities of life hereafter. Perhaps the knottiest
problem since the day when Cain slew Abel has been the problem of
death and of life after death. Some of the most acute brains and
most imaginative minds have in the past tried to paint the
existence beyond the grave in a language that can hardly be
Dante knew the topography of hell as well as if not better than
the streets and byways of his native Florence. But what amazes
one is why the sorrows of the Inferno have been described so
vividly at such painful length rather than the luxuries and
spiritual happiness of the soul in heaven. The reason is perhaps
that there lurks in the human mind a deep-rooted desire to
inflict pain not only upon others, but also upon one's self, thus
"making fear longer than life" as Plutarch so succinctly puts it.
In the story of Circe's enchanted palace, Homer tells us how
Odysseus visited the world of the dead and saw there his dead
mother who had been alive when he sailed from Ithaca. He
inquires about her fate and wonders what lingering disease has
brought her there. She answers giving him news of his homeland
and father. She says,
> [His aged father] has given up sleeping in laundered sheets and
> blankets on a proper bed. Instead, he lies down with the
> laborers at the farm in the dust by the fire and goes about in
> rags. But when the mellow autumn days come round, he makes
> himself a humble couch of fallen leaves anywhere on the high
> ground of his vineyard plot. There he lies in his misery nursing
> his grief and yearning for you to come back, while to make things
> worse old age is pressing hard upon him. That was my undoing
> too; it was that that brought me to the grave.
On hearing this sad news of his parents, filial love wells up
within Odysseus and he stretches his hands to embrace his mother.
"Thrice like a shadow or a dream she slipped through my arms and
left me harrowed by an even sharper pain."
Now Odysseus was known in Ithaca for his wisdom and cunning and
he had in his time tricked many a monster successfully but, alas,
here he is made to play the fool and to chase vainly the shadow
of his dead mother. How deeply the wise Odysseus must have felt
the humiliation! Later, having interviewed a host of spirits, he
meets Achilles "who in stature and in manly grace was second to
none of the Danaans." Odysseus comforting him speaks of the glory
and fame of former days, but the hero who had fought with such
distinction on "the windy fields of Troy" finds little
consolation in the memory of old times.
> Speak not soft words concerning death to me,
> Glorious Odysseus: rather had I be
> A thrall upon the acres to a man,
> Portionless and sunk low in poverty,
> Than over all the perished day below,
> Hold lordship.
From this, it would seem that Achilles was not having a very
enjoyable time in Hades after all! Indeed how could he find
comfort in a place where "the dead live on without their wits?"
The tortures and sufferings are inflicted upon Orion, the great
Hunter, upon Tityous, son of the earth, and upon Tantalus, who
suffers the pangs of eternal thirst seem commonplace and mild
when compared with the sorrows of Dante's Inferno. The fate of
the classical dead seems rather sad than horrible. Hades is a
dull place like a reformatory where spirited children pass their
days uneventfully. Imagine Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn in a
reformatory, living a life of eternal boredom! The humanism in
Homer and the poetic rhythm and grandeur of his story capture the
heart and the imagination of the reader. The dead in Hades are
not so very dead. Even after departing from the world of affairs
and the hurry and bustle of life, they take an intelligent
interest in those whom they have left behind.
> The mourning ghosts of all the other dead and departed passed
> round me now, each with some question for me on matters that were
> near his heart.
The catalogue of horrors in Dante's hell is too long to be quoted
here. The feverish imagination of Gustave Dore has left for
posterity the illustrations of Dante's poem. The Inferno abounds
in references to the political squabbles of the day and
Alighieri, whose malice has a very sharp edge to it, has thrown
in blackest hell not only those of his contemporaries who opposed
his political and religious inclinations but also, it seems, some
of his friends and acquaintances.
We come across, among the blackest souls in hell: Farinata,
Teggheario, Arigo, not to speak of Framcesca de Remini, Cardinal
Ubaldini, and Dante's own tutor Brunetto Latini. They are
treated with scant consideration. Besides, Dante's Inferno is of
considerable zoological interest. It is teeming with a large
population of animal-monsters of all varieties who mechanically
perform their unsavory duties. There is Cerberus with triple
gullet, "his beard" greasy and black, and red his eyes, and belly
big and fingers clawed. He is called the fierce and monstrous
animal -- a very noisy, clamorous monster placed there to punish
The administration of hell is well planned. The classes of sins
and the distribution of the damned are defined with great care.
In Canto XI, we are told that because God loathes fraud more than
any other sin, therefore the fraudulent are placed beneath and
assailed with greater pain. Thus, Dante has punished all the
importunate tradesmen and crafty moneylenders of Florence at
whose hands he certainly did suffer.
In the matter of sheer torture, Dante has not much to learn from
the Nazis. The Inferno is, as someone has suggested, a vast
medieval kitchen where devils practice their culinary art with
grim determination. The Tuscan poet has even invented a place,
neither hell nor no-hell that is infested by hornets and wasps.
Here he has placed those whom he despised:
> Wretches who never were alive and who were slowly stung upon
> their bodies nude by hornets and wasps that thither flew.
In the last analysis it seems quite clear, regardless of the
beauties of Dante's poem, the width of the canvas upon which he
painted his great picture and the force of his imagination, that
two basic but very human emotions were the main factors in the
conception and execution of his work, namely, personal animosity
and intolerance. It is the lot of the mute and the unimaginative
to hate in silence but hate becomes a great creative force in men
of genius. The idea that God is love and that the act of
forgiveness is "divine" seems a huge jest to the reader of the
Inferno. There is no reprieve, no respite from eternal
punishment; the devils presumably are never in need of a holiday
and no one can persuade them to take a day off from their grim
occupation if they do not wish to do so!
Milton's hell has been made familiar to generations of
schoolchildren by the indefatigable toil of editors and
commentators such as Verity, Browne, and Wright. Such is the
malignity of Milton, says the good Dr. Johnson rather severely,
that hell grows darker at his frown. In spite of what the genial
Doctor has said, Milton's PARADISE LOST with all its "ever
burning sulphur," "doleful shades," and "fiery deluge" is in a
sense less physical and the spirits of evil are less corporeal
than in the Inferno. There is real, convincing sorrow -- not
purely physical -- in the speech of Belial during the great
> Thus repulsed, our final hope
> Is flat despair; we must exasperate
> The Almighty Victor to spend all his rage;
> And that must end us, that must be our cure --
> To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose,
> Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
> Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
> To perish rather, swallowed up and lost
> In the wide womb of uncreated Night,
> Devoid of sense and motion?
This seems like an echo from Shakespeare.
> Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
> To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
> This sensible warm motion to become
> A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
> To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
> In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
> To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
> And blown with restless violence round about
> The pendant world; or to be worse than worst
> Of those that lawless and in certain thoughts
> Imagine howling: -- 'tis too horrible!
> The weariest and most loathed worldly life
> That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
> Can lay on nature is a paradise
> To what we fear of death.
Claudio, that windy rogue, expresses in picturesque language the
fear of death. The references to classical and medieval aspects
of hell in this passage are worth noticing.
But not all descriptions of hell are either so terrifying or so
melancholy. The terrors and tribulations of an after life have
been wholly lost on some eminent writers and poets; others have
found consolation in the fact that as only children between the
ages of seven and twelve and idiots of all descriptions will go
to heaven, there will at least be good society in hell. This
notion cannot entirely be discredited. The names of some of the
most distinguished personages in the history of the world appear
in the list of the damned, which are made to suffer eternal pain
or only ennui in the Inferno.
Rabelais gives a very jovial account of hell in PANTAGRUEL. It
is, indeed, extremely refreshing to come across this piece of
healthy vulgarity after the sad and somber descriptions of hell.
The account of Inferno given by Epistemon is too interesting to
be left out. He said, "that he had seen the devil, had spoken
with Lucifer familiarly and had been very merry in hell and in
the Elysian fields affirming very seriously before them all that
the devils were boon companions and merry fellows."
The punishment meted out to the damned is as interesting as it is
novel. For once, they are put to work and are not allowed to
pass the slow hours of eternity either in boredom or in ludicrous
suffering. Alexander the Great spends his time mending and
patching old breeches and stockings; Xerxes is a crier of
mustard; Cicero a fire kindler; Pope Alexander a rat-catcher,
Cleopatra a crier of onions. So, it seems, great Lords and
Ladies and Princes of the blood eke out "a poor, scurvy, wretched
living there below," but on the contrary, the niggardly
philosophers who walked in rags on earth appear attired in
shining raiment. Diogenes (perhaps the reader will recall this
excellent philosopher who passed his days lying in a tub) wearing
a rich purple gown and with a golden scepter in his right hand;
Epictetus gaily dressed in the French style sits in the company
of handsome ladies frolicking, drinking, dancing, and making good
cheer. The only pain that is inflicted on a large number of the
inmates of the Inferno, says Epistemon, is "a certain disease"
that those who did not get it in this world would get in the
Shelley, in his poem "Peter Bell," has also made irreverent fun
of the tortures and stench of hell, offering thereby a contrast
to other hells of literature.
> Hell is a City much like London --
> A populous and a smoky city;
> There are all sorts of people un-done
> And there is little or no fun done;
> Small justice shown and still less pity.
Here, in the end, is the incomparable Wordsworth in a
half-serious, half-jesting mood:
> It is a party in a parlor,
> Crammed just as they on earth were crammed,
> Some sipping punch -- some sipping tea;
> But, as you by their faces see,
> All silent, and all -- damned!
WHY DO WE NOT REMEMBER OUR PAST LIVES?
By Leoline L. Wright
[From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages
The fact is that we do remember them. The question is here put
in this form because that is how it is generally asked by
inquirers. But it is not thus correctly phrased. It should
rather be, "Why are we not able to recall the circumstances of
our past lives?" Character itself is memory. In a certain family
are born two children. One is candid and honorable, the other
thieving and sly, and the second has to be painfully disciplined
into a sense of honor. We all know of these puzzling cases of
differing character in one family. The first has learned by
experience in past incarnations that dishonesty is base, and so
it is born with that innate knowledge as part of its character.
The other child has this victory yet to achieve, and will the
better achieve it because of its family environment -- a
favorable condition earned by the beginning of effort toward
learning this lesson in a previous incarnation. It is in this
way in which we can say that character is memory.
Genius too is memory. All inborn faculties, whether good or
evil, are the consequences of past self-training or of past
weakness in other lives on earth. Mercifully, it is rare that
anyone can remember the particular events through which these
victories or failures as to character and faculty have been built
into the inner nature. Since we learn usually through suffering
and many initial failures, such memories would mainly be of a
We might also include hereditary traits as a phase of memory,
developing a little more fully the subject above alluded to. Why
is it for example that of three children born into the same
family, one is a genius, another has a shrewd business head,
while the third is entirely commonplace? Theosophy teaches that
an Ego coming to birth must automatically, by the natural
attraction of psycho-magnetic energy, embody those hereditary
qualities and traits appropriate to the expression of its own
nature brought over from its experience and actions in the past
life. We thus see that in every way character is memory. And
without these stored-up, accumulated memories, carried over from
life to life -- as before emphasized -- no evolution of organism
either physical, mental, or moral would be possible. Evolution
depends upon continuity. Moreover, everything repeats itself.
It is the method of Nature that characteristics are fixed through
repetition and the type developed. Likewise is it by repetition
through life after life that lessons of human character are
realized, absorbed, and become a permanent part of man's nature.
What is true of brain-memory is also true of the personality. As
indicated in Chapter I, the Ego has a different personality with
each life. This must be so because in each life, we learn
something new, develop mentally and morally, unfold emotionally
or spiritually, so that the old personality becomes inadequate --
the Ego outgrows its possibilities as an instrument. The Ego,
therefore, when it is reborn, makes for itself a fresh
personality fashioned from the lessons incorporated into itself
in the last life. For the personality is not the real I, it is
only the mask, or vehicle, or garment, or temporary character
through which the real I expresses an aspect of itself. Then
consider the structure of the brain. Though the same atoms that
made up the brain in a former life are now used again by the
reincarnating entity, the brain of the new personality is a fresh
combination entirely. For these life-atoms themselves have
undergone changes so that while the instinctive trend is the same
the total effect is a fresh outlook in the character.
So here is another and deeper reason why memories inhere and
persist but details are forgotten, when the Ego returns to
incarnation. Characteristics, faculties, which were built into
the inner nature are brought back as unconscious memories; but
the newborn personality, through the working of nature's
compassionate laws, has no recollection of the actual happenings
of a former life.
Another reason, and a basic one, why men do not remember the
circumstances of past lives is that the Universe to which we
belong is an expression of intelligence, wisdom, and compassion.
It is an organism, an immense, interblended series of infinitely
graded living entities, having at its center or heart a Divine
Intelligence, one of the Cosmic Gods. The 'laws' of the Universe
are the life-rhythms -- spiritual, intellectual, and vital -- of
that Cosmic Divinity, flowing out along the Circulations of the
Cosmos, guiding and controlling all things from the mighty Sun to
the electrons of the atom.
These beneficent laws protect man, as far as his free will does
not prevent, against those things that hinder his evolution.
Evolution always looks forward, is constructive, and builds
afresh and on developing patterns. Foremost among hindrances to
evolution would be a constant preoccupation with the past. Man
is supplied by the laws of the Cosmos with an adequate memory of
his own past and that of the race, with all that he needs to use.
He is protected in the very nature of things from a memory of
details that would burden, distract, and bring suffering to his
upward struggling nature. To leave behind the low-vaulted past
is one of the conditions of growth. Does the oak bother about
the acorn that produced it, or the butterfly take thought for its
abandoned chrysalis? We are children of a Universe of Life, and
we are forever and healthily abandoning the worn-out and
developing the new out of the old.
All of us undoubtedly, as Spiritual Egos, have played many parts
on this wonderful stage of the human drama, our planet Earth. It
is through these manifold roles that we have developed the highly
complex psychological apparatus called human nature, which in the
great majority is able to adjust itself to almost any condition
of human existence, under all climes and in any environment. So
true is this that there is a great restlessness upon men today, a
feeling that life as we know it has been lived out, exhausted of
its possibilities. Mankind inarticulately feels itself upon the
threshold of some new discovery. Theosophy proclaims that this
is a genuine intuition, a prevision of the New Era that is just
about to dawn upon the world.
We must not forget, however, that a time will eventually come
when each of us will be able clearly to recollect all the events
of our past lives. The register of everything that has ever
happened to an individual is imprinted imperishably upon the
deathless, divine side of his nature. But we have not yet
developed the spiritual faculties that would enable us to read
that mystic record. Nor shall we develop them so long as we
constantly identify ourselves only with the life of the brain and
the personality. For now self-interest shuts us in, passions
hold us in selfish blindness. Prejudice weaves its dense web
over intuition and creative power. And so we languish in our
narrow prisons of personality. Only occasionally, when the
sunshine of divine love or the spirit of self-sacrifice inspires
us, do we catch a gleam of the mountains of dawn without our
prison walls. Man must use his spiritual will to realize his
essential godhood and break through the bonds of selfishness and
ignorance into the glorious kingdom lying just beyond the
threshold of his everyday consciousness.
WHO AM I?
By H.T. Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1931, pages 224-29.]
This is a question that none can escape; it must often suggest
itself even to the most thoughtless. It cannot be indefinitely
evaded, for man cannot indefinitely remain in an irresponsible
state, refusing to face facts, or trying to live superficially
and in the moment. Yet why should it be evaded? Man has the
power to answer any question that he has the power to propound.
Those who reject religion and authority, from a motive of
self-reliance, should surely have self-reliance enough to tackle
this question. We cannot consistently stand on a pinnacle of
pride and self-sufficiency in order to proclaim therefrom our own
incompetence and inability to know.
It is within our own intelligence, therefore, that an answer must
be sought; man's own judgment is always the final court of
appeal. Yet that man would be foolish who should attempt to
start on the career of knowledge all by himself, without availing
himself of the help that may be afforded him by the efforts of
It is not dogmas or the say-so of anybody that we here offer, but
suggestions for due consideration. It was from the teachings of
others, tested by our own judgment, that we received the hints
that we now try to pass on.
You are a conscious intelligent being. Here is a fact to start
with. Or if you do not regard this as a fact, if you doubt or
deny your own existence, then turn the leaf, for we can have no
more to tell you. The next fact is that you are not the only
intelligent being in the Universe. Or if this is not a fact,
then the Universe is a product of your imagination, and I do not
exist outside of your imagination; a point on which we should at
once take issue. The world then contains a multitude of
intelligent beings like you.
Next, it contains beings also regarded as alive and conscious,
possessed of a different kind and degree of intelligence, not
showing signs of being self-conscious (or not as we are). These
are the animals. Then we come to the plants. They are alive;
they know enough to select their food, build their tissues, and
care for their welfare. Are the plants conscious? If not, how
are we to explain their behavior? We must invent some other
theory. When we get down to what has been called the mineral or
inorganic kingdom, the same question arises in even greater
The so-called inorganic kingdom exhibits organization, system,
adaptation, growth, change, and other phenomena of conscious
mind. But for some reason we have chosen to regard this kingdom
as being dead and inert. Therefore, we have been driven to try
to explain its behavior in some other way; and science has
invented a whole pantheon of mysterious gods, such as force,
affinity, attraction, chance, etc., to explain the properties of
the 'inorganic' world. In short, a dualistic system has been
imagined, in which there is a vast universe of dead inert matter,
acted on (a) by mysterious forces, (b) by a lonely isolated
deity. The lonely deity, who has existed from eternity, built a
universe, either out of nothing or out of an equally eternal
matter. The physics of last century gave us a universe of two
eternal things, matter and energy. Both are eternal,
indestructible, and uncreate.
In place of all this metaphysics, religious or scientific,
consider the idea that there is nothing dead in the whole
universe: that the universe is composed exclusively of living
conscious intelligent beings. Get this into your mind, and
difficulties begin thenceforth to drop off.
The consciousness of these many beings is not all of the same
kind or degree. As man differs from the animals and the animals
from the plants, so there are other orders of life, other kinds
of mind. What we call 'character' in man, and 'instinct' in
animals, we have chosen to call 'properties' in the mineral
kingdom. But the distinction is artificial. All such qualities
are manifestations of intelligence. When the intelligence is
small, it may suffice for little more than a continued repetition
of the same acts. This we see in men, where we call it habit;
still more in the animals, and there we call it instinct.
When we come to the 'inorganic' world, we see so much
invariability that we speak of the properties of matter as 'laws
of nature.' But in truth, they are merely habits. Science itself
now begins to doubt whether these habits are invariable. Science
has traced the chain of cause and effect down to a point where it
finds particles moving without any detectible cause in obedience
to any known law. Science is in doubt whether to attribute to
these particles purpose or to fall back on the lame explanation
that they are actuated by Mr. Chance.
The answer to the question "Who am I?" begins to shape itself:
you are one conscious being in a vast society of conscious
beings, of which the greatest and most inclusive is the universe
itself. Further, you are a self-conscious being, endowed with
the power of introspection and of being aware of your own mental
activities. You have the power to consider a course of action
and to act upon it or refuse to do so. You stand on a higher
level than do those orders of life that have not these powers.
Around you are many other beings of the same rank as yourself.
You are endowed with a mysterious sense of separate personality;
you must infer that other men have also this sense. But your
reason abhors the idea of this separateness. Often, even in
childhood, has your brain reeled and your heart sickened over
this problem of the difference between You and Me. You may since
have learned to crowd it out of your mind, but the specter is
still there. This means that the present state of existence,
wherein this sense of separateness and isolation from others
exists, is not the real and final state for you. You have roots
in some higher stratum, and of those roots, you are even now
dimly conscious. You have an intellect, but you cannot seem to
stretch it to fit your intuitions. This brings us to another
Whenever you find yourself brought to the point where most people
give up in despair and say that this is beyond the limits of
possible knowledge -- then you stand at the very place where, if
you have the courage, knowledge begins. Yet this is the very
point where so many people stop. They either take the agnostic
position and regard knowledge as unattainable, or leave
everything to Providence. In either case, they deny their own
power. But, though you may live through incarnation after
incarnation in such a state of mind, you will at last be driven
back upon your own resources and compelled by necessity to face
the problem by the strength of your own resources.
When you die, you will shed your body and some other belongings.
You will continue to exist -- not as your present personality,
for the conditions of its existence are now broken up -- but
rather as a comparatively disencumbered spiritual entity. But
you also existed before you were born into this present life.
There is no sense in the theory that your existence is limited,
at either end, by the confines of this earth-life of seventy
years. Such a theory mocks the reason and is not to be
reconciled with the facts of life.
You enter this life endowed with the seeds of character and
destiny, which you yourself have generated by your past exercise
of will and imagination. You spend your present life in creating
new seeds for a future harvest. Sometimes you are able to trace
the cause of your present experiences, and then you blame
yourself or take credit, as the case may be. But oftener you are
unable to trace the causes of your present experiences, and then
you say it is chance, fate, or Providence. So you have divided
experience into two classes, distinguished from each other merely
by the limits of your present knowledge. This distinction is
absurd; all experiences follow the same law; they are due to the
causes that you yourself have set up.
But -- to keep to the point -- who is this you or I of which we
speak? He is the master of your destiny, your real Self, the real
liver of the lives.
You do not realize this yet, for you are in a kind of dream; you
are not fully awake. But there is one point in which you are
better than some -- you have at least a suspicion that you are
dreaming. What you have to do, then, is to wake up, not all at
once, perhaps, but at any rate bit by bit. And does it not seem
certain that, in this awakening, the mystery of separate
personalities will be solved, or at least greatly elucidated? For
in this higher, more awake, state of consciousness, we cannot be
as we are now; we must stand at a higher level. If the delusion
of separate personality persisted, wherein would that state be an
improvement on this?
The Universe is at the same time One and Many: innumerable
distinct beings, yet with one life running through all. This
grand truth of the oneness of all that lives -- it is your
destiny to realize it. One day you will wake up to the fact; and
then it will no longer be a beautiful saying but an obvious
thing. Here then is the foundation stone of all ethics; ethics
is not an enforced code to live by reluctantly; it is a statement
of the scientific truth about life. If you make your personal
interest (or what you may foolishly think to be your personal
interest) paramount over your social obligations, you are acting
contrary to the real law of your nature and will run into
Much of the mystery of pain lies herein. Why does the Supreme
Power permit us to suffer? Well, if the Supreme Power were to
shield us from suffering, he would be coddling us; instead of
which he may have endowed us with free will and left us to
exercise it. And so we experiment and burn our fingers. But how
much better this, than to be the mere marionettes of some
all-powerful deity or the sport of ruthless laws of Nature!
No, we must solve the riddle of life for ourselves -- find out
Who am I? This means polishing up the mirror of the mind and
cleaning up a good many other matters as well. Science and
ethics are the same -- different aspects of the same path of
knowledge. Conduct is all-important; conduct means knowledge,
and knowledge means conduct. But, when it is said that we must
solve the riddle for ourselves, this does not mean that we are to
tear up our books, listen to no one, and sit in solitary
meditation. It means that we must seek knowledge wherever we can
find it, relying on our own judgment as to whether it is what we
need or not.
Let me express for you this devout good wish: that you may be
fortunate enough to find a Teacher. For this will save you a
deal of trouble and futile wandering. What has just been said
about the Universe implies that there must be men who have
preceded you and me on the path of knowledge, and must therefore
be in a position to perform the usual functions of a teacher to a
pupil. If you are afraid of being imposed upon, take my advice
and do not risk anything until you have gained more confidence in
your own power of discrimination.
We are actors, playing a part, playing many parts, as the mystic
bard has said. But there must be an actor, an actor who is none
of the parts, and yet is (in one sense) each and all of them.
You have become so used to the part you are enacting now that you
have lost your real identity, yet are dimly conscious of it. The
path of human evolution leads straight on to the place where you
will wake up and become aware of your identity. It is the voice
of the true Self -- the impersonal Self -- that speaks in such
words as these: "I am the Self, seated in the hearts of men"; "I
am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
You cannot even read these words, if they are new to you, without
taking a step in your evolution. For they will put into your
mind ideas that were not there before; or rather revive in your
consciousness ideas that were latent. And thereby your outlook
cannot fail to be changed, your conduct colored, in however
slight a degree. The old truths that Theosophy revives are a
leaven working in the mind.
One token of the truth is UNITY -- a thing we cannot help longing
for and striving after. Conflict is our bane, as we pitifully
realize the two natures, the many natures that struggle within
us. We continually thwart ourselves. If only we could find that
of all these selves is the real I! This conflict vanishes in the
light of self-realization; our several desires unite to a single
end. No more contrast between the desire for knowledge and the
sense of duty; or between selfish lust and impersonal love.
Knowledge and duty are found to be one; lust fades like a rush
light in the glow of love. The answer to our question "Who am
I?" is to be given by our own experience; let us not seek to
express the ineffable, to measure the immeasurable.
A REMARKABLE CHRISTMAS EVE
By Constance Wachtmeister
[From LUCIFER, December 15, 1887, pages 274-81.]
(Here is a simple story told to the writer by an old naval
officer, about the most "memorable Christmas Eve" that came
within his own experience.)
It was a dark and solitary path, a narrow, hardly perceptible
footway in a dense forest, hemmed in by two walls of impenetrable
thorns and wild creepers covering as with a network the trunks of
the tall, bare, moss-covered trees. The path led through the
woods down to a deep valley in which a few country-houses were
nestled. Night was fast approaching, and the hurricane that blew
across the country boded evil to many a traveler by land and sea.
The wind, hitherto moaning through the trees in low sad tones
reminding one of a funereal dirge, was now beginning to roar with
fury, filling the forest as with the howling of a hundred hungry
wolves. A drizzling, ice-cold rain soon veiled the whole forest
in a damp shroud of fog.
One solitary traveler was wearily wending his way along this
deserted path. The hour was late, and the darkening shadows were
creeping on steadily, making the gloom in the thicket still more
depressing. The young man looked worn and tired, as he
repeatedly brushed aside the entangled briars that impeded his
progress. He was well dressed and wore a marine officer's cap.
But his coat was now in rags, torn by the hard, frozen, cruel
thorns, and his hands were bleeding from the struggle he had had
with the briars for a whole long night and a day since he had
lost his way in the huge forest.
Panting, he stopped at last. As he heaved a deep sigh, he fell
down half-insensible at the foot of an old shaggy oak. Then,
half-opening his weary eyes, he murmured in despair, as he placed
his hand on his heart, "I wonder how long THIS will yet beat. I
feel as if it were gradually stopping."
He closed his eyes once more, and soon the feeble palpitations he
was watching within himself turned his half-paralyzed thought
into a new groove of ideas. Now the hardly audible beatings of
his heart seemed to transform themselves into the ticking of an
old clock quite near to him. He imagined the old Nuremberg
timepiece in his mother's room. He was dripping wet, chilled to
the marrow of his bones, and was fast losing consciousness.
Forgetting his situation momentarily, he caught himself
soliloquizing, as was his custom when alone.
"This clock," he thought, "has to be wound up else it will stop.
So shall this heart. A man has to eat and drink to renew the
fuel that feeds life, the clock too -- no! The clock is different
to man. Let it rest for a week, for two, three months, even for
a year. Still, if wound up again, it will tick on as merrily as
ever. But once the supply of the body is stopped -- well, what
then? Shall the working power cease forever, or the ticking of
the heart be resumed as that of the clock? No, no! You may feed
the dead body of man as much as you please! It shall awaken to
life no more. There is a queer problem to solve. What becomes
of that something that made the body move? The food is not the
cause, is it? No, the food is only the fuel. There must be some
inward fire ever burning, as long as it is supplied. But what
happens when the supply of the fuel ceases? Ah! That is it.
Where does it go? Does anything really die? What form shall MY
inner fire take? Shall it return to ITS primordial light and be
no more? Oh, how I suffer! No, no, I must not allow this, MY
fire, to go out. No, not before I see once more my loved ones:
my mother and Alice."
Arising with great effort, he pursued his way with tottering
steps, feeling his way in the darkness. But instantly a wild
gust of wind, tearing along the narrow pathway, caused the great
trees to sway and rock as if in agony. Catching in its icy clasp
the weakened form of the young man, the hurricane nearly upset
him. Being already wet through and through with rain and cold,
he shivered and groaned aloud, as he felt a sharp pain
penetrating his limbs from the brain downwards. Another short
struggle and he heavily fell on the cold hard ground. Clasping
his hands over his brow, he could only whisper again, "Mother, I
can do no more. Farewell, mother, forever! Alice, fare thee
His strength was gone. For over thirty hours, he had tasted no
food. He had traveled night and day in the hope of being with
his family on Christmas Eve -- that blessed day of joy and peace.
Never yet had he spent a Christmas Eve away from home; but that
year had been an unusually unfortunate one for him. His vessel
had been wrecked and he had lost all. Only by chance had he been
enabled to find his way back to his country in time to take the
train that brought him from a large seaport to the small town
some twenty miles' distance from his home. Once there, he had to
travel that distance by coach.
Just as he was preparing to start on his last journey, he met a
poor sailor, a companion of his shipwreck. With tears in his
eyes, the man told him that having lost all, he had no more money
left to take him to his wife and children, who were yet two days'
journey by rail from where he was; and that thus, he could not be
with them to make merry Christmas together. So the good-hearted
young officer, thinking he could easily walk the short distance
that separated him from home, had emptied his purse into the
sailor's hands and started on his way on foot, hoping to arrive
on that same evening.
He set out early in the morning and bethought himself of a
shortcut through the vast forests of his native place. That
afternoon, he hurt his foot badly. Now only able to move slowly,
he was overtaken in the forest by night and lost his way. Since
morning, he had wandered the entire day, until pain, exhaustion,
and the hurricane had overpowered him. Now, he was lying
helpless on the bare frozen ground and would surely die before
How long he laid there, he never remembered; but when he came
back to himself, he thought he could move, and resolved to make a
last supreme effort after the short rest. The wind had suddenly
fallen. He felt warmer and calmer as he sat leaning against a
tree. Old habit brought him back to his previous train of
"Never, mother dear, never," he addressed her in thought, "have I
spent a Christmas away from your dear selves. Never, have I
missed one since my boyhood, when father died twelve years ago! I
made a vow then that, come what would, I should spend each
Christmas Eve at home; and now, though life seems slowly ebbing
out of my body, I want to keep my promise. They must be waiting
for me even now, including Alice, my sweet fair cousin, who tells
me she never loved but me, Reginald and Lionel, my brothers, who
are earnestly waiting for me, my shy pretty May, and little
Fanny. They are all longing to see me, my dear ones, all
expecting their old brother Hugo to return and decorate their
Christmas tree. Oh, mother, mother, see you I must! I will be
with you on this Christmas Eve, come what may!"
This passionate longing appeal seemed to give him a ten-fold
strength. He made a desperate effort to rise from his place, and
found he could do so quite easily. Then, overcome with joy, he
flew rather than walked through the dense black forest. He must
have surely mistaken the distance, as a minute later, he found
himself in the brushwood, saw the well-known valley so familiar
to him, and even discerned in the bright moonlight the home that
contained all his dear ones.
He ran still faster, forgetting in his excitement to wonder
whence he had found the power of using his lame foot so easily.
At last, he reached the lawn and approached the cozy old house,
all wrapped in its snowy winter garments and sparkling in
moonlight like a palace of King Frost. From a large bay window
poured out torrents of light, and as he drew still nearer, trying
to see through it, he caught a glimpse of the loved faces, which
he stopped to look at before knocking at the door.
"Oh, my mother! I see her there," he exclaimed. "There she is,
seated in her armchair with her knitting by her side and her
beautiful silvery hair as soft and glossy as ever under her
snow-white cap. I see her kind eyes and placid features still
unmarked by the furrows of age. She looks troubled. She listens
to the fierce gusts of wind that cause the windows to shake and
rattle. How that wind DOES try to get into the house, and
finding itself no welcome guest, hark, how it rolls away. How
strange! I HEAR, but I do NOT FEEL the wind. Oh! Kneeling at my
mother's feet, there is Alice. Her arms are clasped around
mother's knees. Her golden curls fall on her back. But -- but,
why are her large violet eyes filled with tears as she looks with
upturned face into mother's sad eyes? Hush! What is she saying? I
hear it, even through that wall."
"Don't be uneasy, mother, dear," Alice said. "Hugo will come
back. You know he told us so in his last letter. He said that
after their shipwreck, he was kindly cared for by those who saved
the crew. He wrote also that he had borrowed money for the
journey and that he would be with us at the latest on Christmas
Eve! Bad roads and the stormy night will have detained him. The
coach, you say? Well, and though the coach has long since passed
by, he may have taken a carriage. He will soon be here, mother."
"Ah, dear Alice," Mother said, "I see. She looks at her finger,
with its little ruby ring I placed on it. She puts it to her
lips, and I hear her murmuring my name."
I rushed into the house at that appeal, and as I now remember,
without knocking at the door as if I had passed through the stone
walls. I tried to speak, but no sound appeared to reach their
ears. Nor did anyone seem to see or greet me. I drew Alice by
the arm, but she never turned round, only continuing to murmur
sweet words of consolation into my mother's ear. Good God, what
agony! Why do they not hear, or even see me? Am I really here?
I look round the room. The old home is just as I had left it
nine months since. There is my father's picture hanging over the
mantelpiece, looking at me with his kind smile. The old piano is
open with my favorite song on it. The cat is sleeping as usual
on the hearthrug and purring as she stretches out her lazy paws.
Albums are on the table alongside my photograph with its bright
and happy look! How different to my present self! Here am I,
standing in an agony of doubt, before my loved ones, seeing them,
feeling them, and touching them, and yet I am unseen by them,
unnoticed as one who is not there. Not even my shadow is on the
wall over theirs. But who then, am I?
Why have they grown so blind to my presence? Why do their hearts
and senses remain so dense? I try again and again. I call them
piteously by their names, but they heed me not. My heart, my
love, all is here, but my physical body seems far away. Yes, it
is far, far away, and now I see it, as it lies cold and lifeless
in that forest where I must have left it. It is surely for ME
and not for that body that they care! And is it because I am no
longer clothed with flesh that I must be as only a breath, an
empty naught to them?
Full of despair, I turned away, and passed through the folding
doors. I arrived in the adjoining room where my young brothers
and sisters were busily occupied decorating the Christmas tree.
There it stands, the old friend of my youth. I see it, and even
discern its resinous perfume. Towering up towards the ceiling,
its lower branches are bending to the ground, laden with golden
fruits, toys, and wax tapers. My brothers and sisters are
gathered around it.
Reginald looks grave. I see him turning to May, and hear him
say, "Are you not anxious about Hugo? I wonder what can have
become of him!"
"I did not like to tell mother," May replies with a little
shiver, "but I had a dreadful dream last night. I saw Hugo white
and cold. He looked sorrowfully at me, but when he tried to
speak, he could not. His look haunts me still," she softly
sobbed with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Now little Fanny gives a scream of delight. The child has
discovered among the Christmas presents a real pipe, a pipe with
"Oh, THIS shall be for Hugo, and then he will have music whenever
he smokes," exclaims the little one, merrily laughing and holding
out the toy in the direction where I am standing.
For a moment, I hope she sees me. I try to take the pipe, but my
hand cannot clasp it, and the toy seems to slip away from me as
if it were a shadow. I try to speak again, but it is of no use.
They see me not, nor do they hear me!
Grieved beyond words, I left them. Returning into the next room,
I went up straight to Alice, who was still at mother's side
murmuring to her loving words. I spoke again, I entreated, I
besought them to look at me, and my suffering was so great that I
felt that death would be preferable to this!
Then I made a last and supreme effort. Concentrating all my
will, I bent over Alice and gasped out with my whole soul, "If
ever you loved me, Alice, please know and hear me now," I
exclaimed as I pressed my lips to hers.
She gave a shudder, a start, and opening her eyes wider, she
shrieked in terror, "Hugo! Hugo! Mother, do you see? Hugo is
She tried to clasp me in her arms, but her hands met together,
and only joined as if in prayer. "Hugo, Hugo, stay, why can I
not touch you? Mother, look! Look! Here is Hugo!" She was growing
wilder and more excited with every moment.
My mother looked faint and frightened as she said, "Alice, what
is the matter, child? What do you see? Hugo is not here!"
The children, hearing Alice's cry, flew into the room, eager with
expectation. "Where is Hugo? Where is he?" they prattled.
I felt that I was invisible to all but Alice. She was the only
one to see me. Realizing that my body had to be saved from its
danger in the woods without loss of time, I drew her after myself
with all my will. I slowly moved towards the door, never taking
my look off her eyes. She followed me, as one in a state of
My mother looked stunned and bewildered. Rising with difficulty
from her place, she would have made for the door also. Instead,
she sank back into her armchair powerless, covering her face with
"Boys, follow Alice," said May. "Wait! The carriage is there
ready to go after the doctor's children. Take it. Call the
gardener and John to go with you. I will stay with mother." And
whispering to Reginald, she added, "Tell John to take rugs and
blankets, but I am afraid poor Hugo is dead!" She then turned to
mother, who had fainted.
I would see no more. WILLING Alice to follow me, I left the
She came slowly after me, her face all white, her large eyes full
of terror, but also of resolution in them. On she would have
gone on foot, in the drizzling rain, her golden hair all flying
about her head, had she been allowed to do so by my brothers and
servants. The strange cortege was ushered into the open
carriage, the coachman being ordered to follow her directions.
On it went as speedily as the horse could go. I found myself
floating now before them, and to my own amazement, I was sliding
backwards with my face turned towards Alice, strongly willing
that she should not lose sight of me. Two hours afterwards, the
carriage entered the brushwood, and they were obliged to alight.
The night was now dark and stormy. Notwithstanding the lanterns,
the group made way with great difficulty into the thicket. The
wind had begun to blow and howl with the same fury as when I had
left the wood, and it seemed to have caught them all in its
chilly embrace. The boys and servants panted and shivered, but
Alice heeded nothing. What cared SHE for that! The only thought
of my beloved was I, Hugo. On, on we went, her tender feet
wounded with the brambles, and the wet sprays of branches
brushing against her white face. On, on she ran, until with a
sudden and loud cry of joy and terror mixed, she fell.
At the same instant, I collapsed, and FELL ON THE GROUND, AS IT
SEEMED TO ME. Then all became a blank. As I learned later, at
that moment, the boys drew near. Lowering their lanterns, they
found Alice with her arms clasped around a form, and when the
lanterns were placed close to it, they saw before them the body
of their brother Hugo -- a corpse!
"Sure enough he is dead, the poor young master," cried John, our
old servant, who was close behind.
"No, no," Alice answered. "No, he is not dead. His body is
cold, but his heart still beats. Let us carry him home. Quick,
Lifting up the body gently and placing it in the carriage, they
covered it with rugs and shawls, and drove at a furious speed
back to our home. It was near midnight when the carriage stopped
at the gate.
"Reginald, run on quickly and give the good news to mother,"
cried Alice. "Tell May to have hot bottles and blankets ready on
the sofa in the drawing room. It is warm there near the fire.
Tell them all that Hugo lives, for I KNOW he does," she went on
More lights were brought out, and the servants carried carefully
their burden into the house, where they placed it on the sofa,
hot flannels and restoratives being immediately applied.
Noiselessly and breathlessly went on the work of love around the
apparently dead body, which was at last rewarded. A sigh was
heard, a deeper BREATH was drawn, and then the eyes slowly opened
and I looked round in vague surprise at all those loved and
anxious faces crowding eagerly around me.
"Don't speak yet, Hugo," whispered Alice anxiously. "Don't, till
you feel stronger."
I could not control my impatience. "How am I here," I asked.
"Ah, I remember. I lost my way in the old forest. Ah, yes, I
recollect now all. The cold biting wind, my lame foot after I
stumbled and fell, knocking my head against a stone, and then all
became a blank to me!"
"Hush, Hugo, hush my boy," said my mother wiping tears of joy
from her still pale and suffering face. "You will tell us all
that presently. Now rest."
But I could not refrain from speaking, as thoughts crowded into
my head and recollections came vividly back. "No, no, I am
better," I went on. "I am strong again, and I must let you know
all that I dreamed. I was here, and I saw you all. Oh, the
torture I suffered when you knew me not! Mother, darling, did you
not see me, your son? But she, my Alice, saw and followed me, and
she saved me from death! Ah, yes! I remember now, you found my
body, and then all was darkness again. Kiss me, mother! Kiss me
all! Let me feel that I am really with you in body and no longer
an invisible shadow. Mother, I kept my promise. I am here on
Christmas Eve. Light the tree my little Fan, and give me the
pipe with the bells I saw you holding and heard you say it was
for old brother Hugo."
The child ran into the other room and returned with the pipe with
which I had seen her playing a few hours before. This was the
greatest and final proof for me as for my family. The event was
no vision then, no hallucination, but true to its smallest
details! As my mother often said afterwards, referring to that
wonderful night, it was a weird and strange experience, but one
that had happened to others before and will go on happening from
time to time.
Of late years, when I had been happily married to my Alice (who
will not let me travel far without her any longer), I have dived
a good deal into such psychic mysteries, and I think I can
explain my experience. I think that by privation, cold, and
mental agony, I had been thrown into abnormal conditions. In my
astral body, as it is now generally called, my "conscious self"
was able to escape from the physical tenement and take itself to
the home I so passionately desired to reach. All my thoughts and
longings being intensely directed towards it, I found myself
there where I wished to be in spirit.
The agony of mind from the consciousness that I was invisible to
all added to the fear of death, unless I could impress them with
my presence, became finally productive of the supreme effort of
will, the success of which alone could save me. Joined to
Alice's sensitiveness and her love for me, it enabled her to
sense my presence and even to see my form, whereas others saw
nothing. Man is a wonderful and marvelous enigma that WILL be
completely unriddled some day, the skepticism of the age
THE STARS AND THE SUN
By Rose Winkler
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1932, pages 265-69.]
> The stars and the suns and the planets, the meteors and nebulae,
> and all the other celestial bodies, are ruled and governed by a
> soul whose fiery life courses through them as it courses through
> us. They are all on different stages of evolutionary progress or
> growth, cosmic growth, for they have their cycles even as we
> human beings have them.
> -- G. De Purucker, QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, Series I, page 64
How was it that aspiration and desire for a nobler and wider
outlook on life led me to a study of the Sun? It happened thus.
One night in early August, while contemplating the brightness,
the majesty, mystery, and hidden powers inherent in the sparkling
constellations, my gaze was attracted by twinkling signals of
several stars as if broadcasting their messages to each other.
Reflection on the nature of their communications evoked a second
thought, which led me to wonder whether they were not also
pouring forth to each other and all the universe, their living,
pulsating streams of life-atoms and of influence, interpreted by
modern science as radiant energy.
To whatever point of the vast heavenly fields I directed my gaze,
I realized that the high-vaulted dome stretched away and away
through immeasurable reaches of Space, unrolling in endless
splendor mysterious sidereal bodies, the outer manifestations of
THAT which men call God. And all that flashing splendor above,
as seen by unaided human sight, with the exception of the nebula
of Andromeda, is our Home Universe encircled by the Milky Way.
In that Milky Way are immense groups of stars, great suns, many
of them with possible families of planets. And thought is
challenged anew by the mysterious Power that keeps the sun and
all the stars and planets in their courses. Uplifted, in
reverent awe, and reflecting in wonderment, I recalled the words
> The stars attract from us to themselves and we again from them to
> us. Everything pertaining to the Spiritual world must come to us
> through the stars.
> -- ISIS UNVEILED, X, xxvi
As the spiritual essence of the divinities ruling the sidereal
orbs, and the monadic essence -- the inner god, in the core of
man's being -- are the same, we of necessity must be linked
spiritually, mentally, and psychically to the stars, as they are
linked to us and to each other. The spirit of Cosmic Divinity,
throbbing with impersonal love, pervades everything, from atom to
super-gods, from our gross earth to our glorious Sun and beyond.
Surely, if spiritual intelligences or gods did not ensoul and
guide the destined courses of all that overarching celestial
splendor, those scintillating heavenly mansions of the gods who
once were men, would be in deep darkness. How analogous to the
carnal body of man! If the ensouling divinity at the core of
man's being did not energize, enlighten, and set aflame his
intellectual and spiritual powers, he would have remained
mindless, and his dwelling of flesh as gloomy as darkening
The grand eternal truths and the majestic illuminating wisdom
passed on through the ages by a Golden Chain of Seers and Sages,
have again been transmitted to humanity during the past fifty
years. The Pythagoreans believed that all the globes were
rational intelligences, in each of which resided A PURE SPIRIT OF
FIRE -- the very cause of their re-incorporation in starry
substance, and the source of the general harmony. Kepler, the
great astronomer, entertained the idea that each planet or
celestial body had its guardian angel, intelligence, or genius.
According to the ancients, the stars and planets are not merely
spheres, twinkling in space and made to shine for no purpose.
They are the domains of various beings that have a mysterious,
unbroken, and powerful connection with men and globes. Thus we
learn that there is a sublime purpose in evolution, for at the
root of everything is the self-impelling Monad -- a ray of the
Absolute that, as life, law, intelligence, and harmony becomes
involved in matter to its utmost limitation, to be evolved out of
matter into the highest god.
How came all these celestial bodies into manifestation? Are we
not familiar with the fact that everything springs forth from a
life-atom, seed, egg, or ovum? Likewise do comets, planets,
stars, suns, galaxies, and universes evolve from either larger or
small nebulae. These glimmering, nebulous wisps of
light-substance in the heavens are scattered like cosmic seeds
through the depths and heights of Space. And as these cosmic
seeds or world-germs contain all the inherent forces, powers,
energies, and substances that have been transmitted from previous
constellations on other spheres and in a preceding Manvantara or
age of manifestation, so did the Sun come forth, through eonic
periods, from a life-atom. In fact, just as man has his cyclic
periods of birth and death, of waking and sleeping, so in future
cosmic cycles each sidereal body will be reborn, to continue on
higher levels its evolutionary progress.
As for the birth of our glorious Sun: in a far distant cosmic
cycle, when disintegration was in progress, it split up into
millions of fragments, and after its long age of repose, or
Pralaya, each fragment with its inherent forces became
incorporated in a nebula. After incredible periods of time, it
came forth as a comet, then blossomed into a planet, and through
long cosmic cycles evolved into a sun.
Thus are there myriads of systems of worlds beyond this. And for
each to retain its magnetically attained position, it must
conquer the titanic elements that seek to oppose it on its
evolutionary path. Likewise is it man's problem to conquer the
elements in his lower nature through his inner god -- his
spiritual sun. Obeying the irresistible urge of its being, our
present Sun is the fruitage of what it was in a remote past age
or Manvantara, having risen phoenix-like out of its cosmic dust.
Our Sun, like everything else, came forth at first as a god-spark
from the Central Cosmic Fire, the Heart of the Universe. As
Nature repeats herself on all planes, the key of Analogy will
open many doors connected with the mysteries of the Sun. For
example, just as the human seed is carried in transit from an
ethereal world, there pour through it, as the laya-center,
streams of life-atoms that, proceeding to gather material and
unfolding into different varieties of cells, are cemented
together in the process of bodily construction.
Inasmuch as man's body and inner constitution evolved forth from
a nucleus or germ plasm and from its more concreted substance
called protoplasm, so do heavenly bodies unfold out of the cosmic
germ plasm and protoplasm comprising their cosmic seeds or
nebulae. Anyone who longs to know more of the spiritual or
concealed Sun may find a key in the following excerpt, quoted
from a private Commentary, hitherto secret:
> The real substance of the concealed (Sun) is a nucleus of Mother
> substance. It is the heart and matrix of all the living and
> existing Forces in our solar universe. It is the Kernel from
> which proceed to spread on their cyclic journeys all the Powers
> that set in action the atoms in their functional duties, and the
> focus within which they again meet in their SEVENTH ESSENCE every
> eleventh year.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 290
Of the seven-globe suns of the Chain of the Sun, it is our
spiritual parent, Father Sun, who as its supreme Chief rules and
governs the destiny of the visible solar system. Father Sun, the
divinity at the heart of the Sun, is the storehouse of the
self-generated solar energy or vital fluid that circulates
through the planets and their hierarchies, vitalizing all their
innumerable hosts of entities and life-atoms. This solar fluid,
like the blood stream, is propelled by means of the Sun's
rhythmical contractions, carrying the solar vitality through its
auricles and ventricles and then through the sunspots to the
entire solar system. Like the blood stream, this returns to the
lungs of the Sun for purification and a renewal of its vitality.
The Sun is drawn upon but never exhausted. Although the human
blood stream completes its round in some seconds, the circulation
of the solar fluid requires ten years to be conveyed through the
planets and one year through the auricles and ventricles.
Inasmuch as the number of solar spots increases with the
contractions of the solar heart, astronomers now say that the
eleven-year cycle of the sunspots affects terrestrial conditions
in various ways, including the weather. Some say that the
maximum sunspot periods bring 'dry' conditions, while the minimum
periods bring a heavier precipitation. The Ancient Wisdom,
supported by modern science, teaches that a maximum of numbers
and intensity of the sunspots recurs on the average every eleven
years, and is attended by magnetic disturbances on earth.
Another of its very interesting teachings is that the Sun, having
lungs, breathes just as our globe breathes every twenty-four
hours, just as man and every living creature, plant, and even
mineral breathes. Its brain, hidden behind the outer visible
Sun, radiates sensation into every nerve center, while the
streams of its life-essence flow into each artery and vein, and
that, like man's extremities, the planets are its limbs and
pulses. The Sun's vitalizing energy impels all motion and
awakens all into life in the solar system.
As Father Sun, our spiritual parent in remote eons of the past
was a human being, just as you and I are now, so verily is man at
heart an embryo-sun. The Sun having passed through all the
intermediate kingdoms up to super-godhood, this fact may help us
to unfold the mystery of the evolution of its heart, lungs,
brain, nervous system, and its limbs. Of course, these organs of
the Sun are not flesh-enveloped like those of the human body, but
as centers of force, they function through organs of ethereal
Like the human body, the Sun is one vast organism. Having passed
through the human stage in eons and eons gone, his body and inner
constitution gradually etherealized and the substance of density,
weight, and texture became more rarefied. One is led to conclude
that the septenary encasement eventually spiritualized was
resurrected into the blindingly effulgent vesture comprising his
graded septenary garbs or vehicles. May not the
intercommunicating arteries and veins be the channels or bypaths
coursing between planet and planet, and between planets and Sun?
We learn that his outer transmitting envelop or body of radiant
light corresponds to our dense physical form. The almighty power
of Father Sun, permeating his dazzling sheaths, communes with
more divine beings of higher solar systems. Life-streams of
energy flow from them through him and then throughout the solar
system. Although the Sun is our spiritual parent, he is in truth
the Elder Brother of the planets, including our earth. This is
borne out in the following quotation:
> The Occult Doctrine rejects the hypothesis born out of the
> Nebular Theory, that the (seven) great planets have evolved from
> the Sun's central mass, not of this our visible Sun, at any rate.
> The first condensation of Cosmic matter of course took place
> about a central nucleus, its parent Sun; but our sun, it is
> taught, merely detached itself earlier than all the others, as
> the rotating mass contracted, and is their elder, bigger brother
> therefore, not their father.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 101
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application