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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------- August, 2006

An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World

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to theos-world@theosophy.com.

(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)

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CONTENTS

"The Way Downward," by B.P. Wadia
"Seeing Beauty," by G. de Purucker
"Theosophical Teachings Concerning Deity," by Marjorie M. Tyberg
"Mahatmas Actually Laugh," by H.S. Olcott
"Common Sense in the Home," by G. de Purucker
"The Main Purposes of the Theosophical Society," by G. de Purucker
"In the Public Marketplace of Ideas," by Daniel Caldwell
"Universal Brotherhood Means Universal Peace," by Grace Knoche
"Has Man An Immortal Soul," by Abbott B. Clark
"What Religion Should We Teach Our Children," by Margaret Barr
"Why Karma Has Been Forgotten," by Gertrude W. van Pelt

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> The mission of Theosophy is not to tell you that you can chase an
> astral orb and find your affinity or to recall a former
> incarnation and thus gain "power." No, the mission of Theosophy
> is to have you stand face to face with the serious facts of life
> and the serious problems that surround you; to sound the depths
> of your natures and find the Light. This you must do if you are
> to serve, and help lift the burdens of Humanity. Truly, you must
> know yourselves: "Man, Know Thyself!"
> 
> -- Katherine Tingley

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THE WAY DOWNWARD

By B.P. Wadia

[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 113-16.]

Pious but false is the belief that the Soul enjoys eternal
happiness if the person dies holding to the "right faith." By
right faith, belief in churchianity is implied for the Christian,
who dies believing; the Muslim considers himself faithful if he
dies with the words on his lips: "There is no God but Allah and
Mohammed is his prophet," and so on.

A wicked sinner, however, does not turn into a saint because his
body dies; nor is an ignorant blunderer suddenly transformed by
bodily death into an all-knowing sage.

Contrariwise, people believe that a heathen, an infidel, a
DURVAND or a MLECHCHA is bound to suffer in hell, either
never-never-ending, or terminating through metempsychosis as the
sinner expiates through abject and ghastly long, long suffering.

Nature clearly indicates and Theosophy teaches that
life-processes have the character of perpetual motion. Eternal
heaven or eternal hell for one life's wickedness or religious
belief is, on the face of it, unnatural, against common sense and
moral perception.

Among the numerous crimes of priestcraft, the upholding of this
false belief is a major one. But is there any explanation for
this crass and crude notion? There is. Nirvana and Avitchi are
terms that imply knowledge about the Eternal Bliss experienced by
the emancipated Nirvani, and the eternal torment experienced in
Avitchi by the lonely entity who, having lived many lives of
increasing wickedness, finds himself isolated with a peculiar
type of memory that gnaws at him.

Eternal Nirvana and eternal Avitchi are not eternal in the sense
of never-never-ending. Eternity, however long, begins and ends.
Philosophy speaks of sempiternity and eternity, and Theosophy
distinguishes between Time and Duration. Nirvana and Avitchi,
however long, come to an end, and the Absolute Power of Nature
and Nature's Law spells continuous and never-ending progression.
Beginningless and endless is the process of Perpetual Motion --
the symbol of the Supreme Spirit.

What, then, do the downward path to Avitchi and the upward
gliding to Nirvana signify?

Every man and every woman is not immortal; each person has to win
immortality. Writes HPB, "Personal virtue could claim no merit,
unless it had passed through the furnace of temptation."

The technique is given in the third of the Ten Items of ISIS
UNVEILED:

> Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his
> vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are
> brooded over and illuminated by the third -- the sovereign, the
> immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself
> with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
>
> -- ISIS UNVEILED, II, page 588.

Progression and retrogression are the eternal ways that the human
kingdom ever encounters. If a man does not attempt, or
attempting does not succeed, in winning his own immortality he
recedes and often enters the declivity that leads to Avitchi.

How and where does this downward course begin? Both in the
Bhagavad-Gita and in the Dhammapada, the downward path to
destruction is described. The Gita succinctly speaks of the
fatal descent:

> He who attendeth to the inclinations of the senses, in them hath
> a concern; from this concern is created passion, from passion
> anger, from anger is produced delusion, from delusion a loss of
> memory, from the loss of memory loss of discrimination, and from
> loss of discrimination loss of all!
>
> -- ISIS UNVEILED, II, pages 62-63.


Musing on objects of sense creates a concern in them and leads to
a longing to possess them. By attachment, we want to yoke
ourselves to them as intimately as possible. From this longing,
passion is born -- not only passion for those particular
sense-objects but also passion for possessing the entire world of
the senses and the organs. A person has passion, not only for
money, for example, but also for fame, power, etc., born of
passion for money. A person does not have only sex-lust but also
other lusts akin to it -- e.g., obscenity of speech arises; and
so on. Kama -- passion -- is the builder and sustainer of
egotism -- the lower "I"-making tendency. Failure to secure the
object of desire produces anger; success in obtaining it produces
covetousness; covetousness ultimately, through frustration,
produces anger. Anger results in Moha -- Delusion. A deluded
man parts company with his memory, which is closely allied to
knowledge and experience. A man develops delusion, like other
quality, gradually. Every indulgence in anger deepens delusion.
Delusion begets loss of judgment, through loss of Buddhi, and the
entire life process is one long line of destruction -- "loss of
all."

So, by not controlling the senses and letting the desires and
passions have their way, we lose the power to control and the
guidance of the controller.

The twenty-second chapter of the Dhammapada offers the same truth
in a different way: An evil deed is better left undone. Guard
yourself within and without. Speech that reports the untrue and
refrains from expressing the true drags a man downward. Better
for a man to swallow an iron ball than to live unrestrainedly,
eating the food of other-dependence.

Of special value is the instruction to the practitioner: the
psychological demerit of false asceticism, of an act carelessly
done, of a vow badly kept, of disobedience to accepted
discipline, is directly pointed out. A lax practitioner scatters
more and more the dust of his passions. False shame, false fear,
and evil-seeing are contrasted with right shame, with what should
be feared, with right handling when real evil is perceived.

The Pythagorean downward track has four steps -- Belly, Sloth,
Luxury, and Rage.

Whatever way we look, we find that the senses and organs arouse
desires, for the satisfying of which Kama presses the mind into
its service and exploits it; loss of mental integrity causes
further retrogression and delusion ensues, destroying the Soul,
the Thinker.

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SEEING BEAUTY

By G. de Purucker

[From GOLDEN PRECEPTS, pages 25-40.]

You cannot see beauty outside unless you have beauty within you.
You cannot understand beauty unless you yourself are beautiful
inside. You cannot understand harmony unless you yourself in
your inner parts are harmony. All things of value are within
yourself, and the outside world merely offers you the stimulus,
the stimulation, of and to the exercise of the understanding
faculty within you.

There is beauty in understanding, and understanding springs only
from an understanding heart, paradoxical as that may sound at
first hearing. The understanding heart has vision.

The Seer trains himself to open the Seeing Eye, and Nature speaks
to him in tones that grow with each year more entrancing, more
wonderful, because he is growing greater inside. His
understanding is broadening and deepening. The whispering of the
trees, the susurrus of the leaves, their rustling, the boom of
the waves on the shingle of the shore, the chirp of the cricket,
the cooing of the dove, the sound of a human voice -- strident
though it often is -- contain marvels for him. He recognizes his
kinship with all that is, he realizes that he is but one element
in a most marvelous mosaic of life in which he is inseparably
bound, and that as the vision grows it becomes ever more
beautiful and sublime; and he knows that the Vision Sublime is
there and strives to see it ever more clearly.

Every tree, every flower, every atom of the mineral crunched
under your feet as you tread the surface of the earth; everything
that is, had you the Seeing Eye, you could learn from. Have you
never looked into the bosom of a flower? Have you never studied
the beauty, symmetry, glory, around you? Have you never looked at
the rising or the setting sun, and marveled at the paintings on
the eastern or western horizon? Have you never looked deep into
the eye of a fellow human being, looked with a seeing eye on your
own kind? Have you never found marvels there? What a wonderful
world with which we are surrounded!

Yet with all the beauty that surrounds us, our hearts ache and
minds are overwhelmed with the thought of the woes of mankind
caused by the three dire problems -- Old Age, Disease, and Death.

Old Age need have no fear for you. One who has lived aright, one
who has lived cleanly, and thought highly, as age comes on him
and the body weakens and the physical veils thin, sees, and
seeing knows. His vision passes behind the veils of matter, for
he is slowly becoming acquainted with the mysteries beyond the
veil which men call death.

For a certain period, dependent upon the interval preceding
death, the soul is withdrawing from the aged body. This accounts
for the so-called advance in the symptoms and physical phenomena
of age, of old age. But such withdrawal of the soul, in the
normal course, is peaceful and quiet, and is Nature’s way of
making death come as a quiet blessing of peace and harmony.

Death is birth -- BIRTH. Instead of the wrench in the case of
youth when death comes, death to our old ones comes in peace and
quiet, stealing like an angel of mercy into their being,
releasing the bonds binding the soul to its vehicle of flesh.
The passage is as quiet and gentle as the coming of the twilight
preceding night, and it is a blessed sleep.

Any human being can avoid a painful old age, or at least very
largely modify its troubles; and this can be attained by living
humanly: by living in the Higher Self, instead of idealizing the
wants and desires of the body. Then old age comes stealing upon
one, bringing blessings with it, and increase in all the higher
faculties and powers; so that the approach of old age is vibrant
with the harmonies of another world, and beautiful with its
visions of truth and glory.

Old age is a blessing if the life has been lived aright. It
brings with it things otherwise unattainable, such as an
expansion of consciousness which youth knows nothing of. It
brings with it increased intellectual power that because of its
very reach the undeveloped person, the youth, the man of middle
age, does not understand and therefore ascribes to the vague
generalizations of Grandfather. Grandfather in such
circumstances is nearer the truth and sees more than does the
still unseeing eye of the youth. A fine old age brings an
expansion of soul, not only of the intellect, but also of the
spiritual consciousness and its vision.

Sometimes when the life has been lived in gross physical desires,
when the bonds uniting the soul to the body have been riveted
into the vehicle of flesh by self-indulgence in the gross
appetites, then even in age death is painful. The natural
withdrawal of the soul has not taken place, or at least to such a
large degree, nor is the physical age attained so great before
death finally comes.

Old age is nothing to fear. It is a blessing, for in it, the
splendor of the life beyond is seen as through a veil, the life
in which the higher incarnating Ego lives. Shadows: coming
events casting their shadows before, the shadows of the splendor
to be: such is a fine old age.


Diseases, the second of the woes that inflict mankind, are
purifying processes, processes of purification, and to men of our
present imperfect stage of evolution, in many instances are a
heaven-sent blessing. They cure egoism. They teach patience.
They bring about in their train a dwelling of the mind on the
beauty of life, on the need for living rightly. They make one
kindly and sympathetic.

Consider the average man in his present imperfect stage of
evolution: passionate, with ungoverned emotions, with fierce
desires for sensation, for ever more sensation, and still more
sensation. Consider a moment: if men of today, such as they are,
had bodies that could not be diseased, but could be weakened and
killed by excesses. Do you not see that things as they are have
a very kindly side to them? Diseases actually are our warnings to
reform our evil thoughts and to live in accordance with Nature’s
laws.

Remember that an outside and tyrannical Nature does not brings
disease upon us; disease is in every instance the result or
consequence of our own wrongdoing: mental wrongdoing, and
physical wrongdoing: either in this or in some past life.

Diseases, with their concomitant suffering and pain, are our best
monitory friends: they soften our hearts, they broaden our minds,
and they give us an opportunity for the exercise of our wills and
a field for the play of our moral instincts. They also instill
pity and compassion for others in our breasts.

It is true that each one of us is responsible for his diseases
and his misfortunes: all the misfortunes of life we ourselves
have made for ourselves. We have deserved them, because we are
the parents of them. They come upon us, we ourselves receive
them, and are merely receiving the reaction, the effects, of the
seeds of thought and act that we have sown in the past -- a
wonderful doctrine, Karma!

Yet GOOD and BAD are relative. We call things GOOD when they
happen to please us, and when we do not like them, we say that
they are BAD. Yet the very thing or things which you did not
like at the time in some cases have turned out splendidly for
you, brought you good luck, brought you happiness. At the very
least, it put strength of fiber into your character, which is
worth more than all worldly treasures: they gave you insight,
unlocked the powers of your heart, enabled you to think, and in
short made a man of you.

Nothing happens to us that we ourselves did not engender in the
beginning. We sowed the seeds. Now the seeds have grown up in
us, and we say, I cannot understand how such a thing could have
happened to me! But it has happened, and if you take it rightly
and face it rightly, and react properly, and look upon it as just
the thing that you would have chosen, you become a collaborator
with destiny, become happy, and grow. Strength becomes yours.
Wisdom grows in your heart.

Let me illustrate with the case of an exceedingly good and noble
man. Suddenly he is stricken, let us say, to make the case
picturesque and pointed, with some loathsome and terrible
disease. Nothing in the present life that he knows of has
brought this about. He is stricken down suddenly and
unaccountably, so that, for a while, he hates himself, his soul
turns in agony to the gods who hear not, and he says, "What have
I done to bring this thing upon me?" Shall we say that he was a
bad man? No, he is a good man; but in this case, past seeds of
thought, emotion, and weakness in past lives had hitherto not
eventuated, hitherto had not come to fruitage, but now do so.
Now they come forth. In past lives, perhaps they wanted to come
forth and the man was a coward and damned them back, in some way
or other by thought, postponing the agony until some later day.

When misfortune comes upon you, sorrow racks your heart, and it
seems as if the entire world had turned against you, the lesson
is for you to be a Man. Face it all. Have done with it, so that
in the future when your character is stronger and more improved,
you shall not have laid up for yourself some not worked out seed
of karmic destiny then to blossom and bring you greater
unhappiness by far than it could now bring.

There have been great and noble men, disciples on the path, and
advanced at that, to whom such occurrences have happened. Old
karmic seeds of destiny, held over, damned back, willed to
disappear -- now coming forth and apparently ruining a noble
life.

So when sorrow comes, when grief appears in your life, when pain
comes upon you, take them to your heart, for they are the
awakeners! Pleasures lull you to sleep; the so-called joys send
you to sleep. It is sorrow, it is grief, and it is change that
you do not like. Precisely these three things are your
awakeners. Oh, seize the truth of this! It will give you
strength; it will give you peace; it will enable you to meet the
problems of life with an illuminated mind; it will bring you help
and comfort.

Remember, it is only the finite which suffers; likewise it is the
finite which loves. The finite does these, because it learns
thereby. It is learning, growing; no matter how small it may be,
no matter how great: insect and god, super-god and atom of earth:
all are learning and growing, and therefore passing through
stages of happiness and bliss, and of suffering and pain.

Everything that IS, is an opportunity to the percipient eye and
the understanding heart to learn, which means to grow; and when
you realize that suffering and pain are two of the means by which
we grow, then come peace to the heart and rest to the mind.

What is it that makes the majestic oak such as it is? Is it the
gentle zephyr and the soft-pattering rain? The oak might be weak
and yielding as a willow to the blast if that were the truth.
No, the tempest and the storm have their way with the oak, and
the oak reacts in robustness and strength; battling the storm and
tempest, it grows strong.

Human beings learn far more quickly than does the so-called
insensate plant. Nothing learns as quickly and easily as does
the human heart. Therefore, shrink not from suffering and pain,
for they are better teachers than are happiness and smug
contentment. The latter is almost spiritually suicidal -- to be
so smugly content with yourself and what you are, that you sleep.
But Nature will not have it thus always; finally there comes the
karmic impulse, the karmic stimulus, and then you suffer a
little; but in doing so you awaken and begin to grow. Bless the
karmic stimulus; be not afraid of it. Look to the essential
divinity within. Remember that everything that happens is
transient, and that you can learn from everything, and in
learning you will grow -- grow great, and from greatness pass to
a larger sphere of greatness.

It is exercise that makes us strong, that makes us lithe and
vigorous, ready to face still greater trials and difficulties.
The greatest friend we have, the noblest cleanser of all, is
sorrow, or is pain, for the heart and mind must be cleansed by
pain even as gold is tried in the fire.

A beautiful, helpful rule is the following: Whatever comes to
you, meet it manfully. Look upon it as the very thing that you
would have willed -- and therefrom reap peace. It will pass; it
will work itself out. It is a good practical rule of the moral
law: repine not, keep your face to the Mystic East of the future,
fill your heart with courage, and remember that you are a
descendent of and kin to the immortal gods who control and guide
the Universe.

There are times indeed in life when the Higher Self actually
leads us into paths of trial so that we may grow by reacting
successfully against the trials. The Higher Self is always with
us, constantly warning us in the shape of intimations and
intuitions to be courageous, to face life boldly, to be truthful,
to be clean, to be strong, to be sincere, to be upright, and many
other such things. These precisely are the very qualities in
human nature which, when followed out continuously, protect us
against disaster. The only real disaster that the spirit-soul of
man knows, is weakness, is failure, is discouragement. Physical
disasters and other things of physical life are often blessings
in disguise; the Higher Self teaches us how to meet these in the
proper mood, and how best to come forth from them triumphant.

All physical maladies have their ultimate origin in a faulty
outlook on life, in a faulty direction taken by the individual
will. All diseases therefore ultimately have their origin in the
mind, in this or in another life, though it is in the physical
body that they wreak their work of suffering and pain. Weakness
of will, the giving way to bad habits breeding seeds of thought
that leave thought-deposits in the mind, enfeeble the character.
An evil or false thought manifests in a body and ultimately ruins
it by bad habits. Criticism and faultfinding are diseases of the
mind in very truth.

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THEOSOPHICAL TEACHINGS CONCERNING DEITY

By Marjorie M. Tyberg

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October 1927, pages 350-55.]

Fifty years ago when H.P. Blavatsky began to give out the
teachings of Theosophy to the western world, the popular
conception of Deity was that of a Creator and arbitrary Ruler, a
supreme Person. He was outside the world but had absolute
control over everything in it, which He was believed to have made
out of nothing in a week. The majority never questioned these
beliefs. They prayed to God, confident that He could if He would
grant their petitions.

The first text that little children learned was "God is Love,"
but the picture of a great person full of love like kind parents
soon gave place to that of an all-seeing One, born of the
repetition of the next words learned, "Thou God seest me."

Many who were children in the 1870's and 1880's must remember
their discovery that if God did see all that happened, at least
no such summary treatment resulted as invariably followed the
successful vigilance of other guardians.

Later, constant reading aloud of the Bible and study of the
Shorter Catechism led to confusion of mind about the attributes
of God and sometimes to a strong feeling of resentment. Then
gentle, reverent voices stilled all inquiry by another text,
"Canst thou by searching find out God?"

Truly, when we think of the sincerity and seriousness, the
sterling, noble characters of these elder folks, we wonder at the
certainty they felt that these teachings were the limit of human
knowledge about God. We long to share with them the glorious and
inspiring conceptions that we have learned from Theosophy.

H.P. Blavatsky's ISIS UNVEILED was a bombshell exploding this
certainty. In this, H.P. Blavatsky showed how the conception of
a personal God had been built up. She made it clear that in no
other great religion has the One Supreme Source of All been
reduced to personal form. This infinite Divine Essence exists
from all eternity, now in a passive condition and again at
regular intervals in a state of activity. And this periodical
awakening of life proceeds by well-defined stages from the One
Great Unmanifested to external manifestation, guided by
Intelligences, but NO PERSON.

The Jews took names and symbols that referred to this cosmic
evolution and applied them to the history, personages, and ideas
of one people so that the Bible contains much which, as an
allegory, is suggestive and conveys truth. As a narrative of
"God's intercourse with His chosen people," it is misleading.

H.P. Blavatsky shows that Jehovah was perhaps ONE of the
architects who were concerned in building the universe from
pre-existent matter, but never was the Unknowable Cause or Deity.
The Jews themselves in their esoteric works have never looked
upon Jehovah as the "One God."

Augustine tells us of the Christian personal God:

> [God] has by His arbitrary will, without regard to foreseen faith
> or good action, irretrievably ordained eternal happiness for
> certain persons selected beforehand, while He has condemned other
> persons selected beforehand to eternal punishment.

We learn that there were no real atheists in those days before
God was conceived as a Person and that the Aryan nations had no
Devil.

Many forces were at work in undermining these orthodox beliefs;
and in the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century, they became
the subject of attack by scholars, scientists, and critics. The
great changes that have taken place can be measured by the
statement made in 1922 that scholars belonging to almost every
denomination -- Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. --
have abandoned the idea that the Bible in its entirety is the
revealed word of God. In Great Britain at any rate, it is the
modern view of the Old Testament that prevails in colleges where
students are being trained for the ministry. This came less than
sixty years after Bishop Colenso was tried and excommunicated for
his writings on the Books of Moses, in which he advanced the
views now accepted!

Scientific discovery and investigation did much to overturn the
old beliefs. These proved that what had been thought to be made
out of nothing by an Omnipotent Power is rather the result of
eons of slow growth and evolution. The old idea of special
creation had to be abandoned. The study of comparative religion
revealed the fact that some of the religions older than
Christianity had more scientific and philosophical conceptions of
the Divine than Christianity. Increase of communication between
the people of the world brought friendly tolerance and respect.

Limited notions of Deity and salvation have had to give way. A
few years ago, a writer on "The Religion of the Lower Races"
suggested that missionaries to a certain African tribe would do
well to try to learn the point of view of these "heathen." It is
clear that a more inclusive Divinity is what man is now aspiring
to discover.

The lack of any such adequate conception of Divinity has led many
to turn away from all thought of God. In the HIBBERT JOURNAL of
July 1922, T.R. Glover is quoted as follows:

> Apart from Jesus, God is little better than an abstract noun.

Other writers note that only at times of calamity do the minds of
many turn to the Divine. The philosopher Harald Hoffding remarks
on the consequent decay in religious feeling:

> Religion was once the pillar of fire that went before the human
> race in its march through history, showing it the way. Now it is
> fast assuming the role of the ambulance that follows in the rear
> and picks up the exhausted and wounded.

The Rev. T.J. Hardy, in the HIBBERT JOURNAL of October 1925,
asks:

> Who, outside the handful of people who attend church, understand
> us when we speak of the "duty towards God" in things such as
> worship, prayer, fasting, accountability as to time, money,
> speech, and thought?

In another passage, he states:

> [The problem is] whether we can discover any means of proclaiming
> the characteristic message of Christianity in such a manner as to
> restore in them the lost sense of God.

Dean Inge in the second series of his "Outspoken Essays" urges
the necessity for religious people to find a way of reconciling
their intuitive belief in the Divine with the acceptance of the
facts established by science. Intuitive lovers of truth do not
lose their faith in divinity because of what scientific study
brings to them. This is seen in the experience of the great
scientist and inventor, Michael Pupin, who finds the light of the
stars to be part of the life-giving breath of deity, and states
that he never looks upon the starlit vault without feeling this
divine breath.

Courageous thinkers, while acknowledging the waning sense of
divinity among the less intuitive, are convinced that there is no
possibility of galvanizing into life the old limited idea of an
omnipotent personal deity. Only a Divinity in consonance with
the growing feeling of the brotherhood of man, of the equality of
all races, and a cosmic divine significance in harmony with an
infinite evolving universe will now be accepted. Say such a
conception be presented, a Divinity that both as transcendent and
immanent is in accord with what we have learned. Say that all
the truths of philosophy, religion, and science were harmoniously
related. Then the transition through which religious thought is
passing would lead to higher levels where once more the words
"union with God" would thrill the human heart with joy, wonder,
and aspiration.

H.P. Blavatsky's book, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, first published in
1888, deals exhaustively with these very subjects. Many of us
who have faced the changes that have taken place in Western
thought concerning the Divine and the Cosmos. We have
experienced a rude awakening from the limited ideas that
prevailed in our childhood or though inwardly rebelling against
them still found nothing satisfactory to take the place of them.
We have first-hand knowledge of the fact, which Theosophy
teaches, that there are cycles in human history when the truth is
temporarily obscured. We know that such periods are followed by
others in which a greater measure of truth can be perceived.
Study of THE SECRET DOCTRINE convinces us that a time comes when
the veils are drawn aside and the Light of Wisdom reveals the
unity and sanctity of the larger hopes and deepest intuitions of
humanity.

Of the teaching given in this book, H.P. Blavatsky says:

> The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the
> ancient and prehistoric world. Proofs of its diffusion,
> authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents,
> showing its character and presence in every land, together with
> the teaching of all its great adepts, exist to this day in the
> secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity.
>
> -- I, page xxxiv

The symbols, allegories, myths, rites, and religious dogmas
having to do with Divinity and Cosmos are examined and probed by
H.P. Blavatsky and set forth in their relation as partial
revelations and as decayed relics of the universal Wisdom
Teaching once given to mankind in its childhood by the higher
beings who were its Guardians and Watchers.

In THE SECRET DOCTRINE, the appearance and disappearance of the
Universe are pictured as the outbreathing and the inbreathing of
"the Great Breath." The Cosmos itself is regarded as an
outbreathing of the Unknowable Deity; and it is this Supreme
Source -- this One Reality, this Unknown and Nameless Deity --
that is looked upon by Theosophists as the Divine.

H.P. Blavatsky shows that

> No account of the creation the world over, with the sole
> exception of the Christian, has ever attributed to the One
> Highest Cause, the Universal Deific Principle, the immediate
> creation of our earth, or man, or anything connected with these.

She reiterates the statement that never have the Jews in their
esoteric Bible, their secret teaching, accepted Jehovah as the
Living Divinity; and she shows that the book of Genesis when it
is correctly translated and studied in the light of the Wisdom
Religion is no exception to this.

The constructive work of building the universe, the bringing into
external life or manifestation, is performed by countless groups
or hierarchies, themselves sentient beings called Dhyani-Chohans
-- or Angels, Architects, Messengers, and Mystic Watchers. Each
has its own special duty in guiding the unfolding of the Divine
Idea into outer form. They are all impersonal agents of Cosmic
Law, either fully perfected former human beings or beings in
process of becoming human. Like everything else in the universe,
they are governed by that Law.

H.P. Blavatsky traces the connection between many old stories
popular among various peoples and the original teachings. She
shows that the Titans, "the working gods," can be recognized in
every religious system, and that the restoration of esoteric
knowledge enables the student to find the cosmic significance of
much that has come to be looked upon as fiction suitable for the
childish mind.

In these Theosophical conceptions of Deity and the Cosmos, there
is no element of personality. Of the Beings who are concerned in
the unfolding of the Universe, none has any personal elements.
They do not love or hate; they are not jealous or wrathful; they
are not amenable to persuasion by praise or by sacrifice made to
them; they are themselves under the jurisdiction of immutable
law.

But, according to this most ancient teaching, Man is of divine
origin, has a spark of that divine ideation that is reflected in
the plan of life, and being one with these Creative
Intelligences, has the possibility of awakening this inner
Selfhood and learning to work consciously with the Cosmic Powers.
When he has identified himself with his Higher Self, having
realized his non-separateness from the One Great Self, he
partakes of the spirit of union and harmony that characterizes
these impersonal Hierarchies. This abides with him and is
protection in the very highest sense of the word.

The question naturally arises: Is there none among all these
Creative Agencies in the Universe to whom an appeal may
rightfully be made? Jesus, who knew the Ancient Wisdom answers,
"When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are ...
but enter thine own inner chamber and having shut thy door,
pray to thy Father which is in secret." He knew that prayer is
communion with the God within, and worship the invocation of that
Divine Self in each man. Furthermore, restored by the
Wisdom-Religion to majesty, awe, and mystery, energizing
everything in the universe and again rising out of it, the Great
Unknowable Source of all is a worthy object of our reverence.

This conception of Deity, given by "exalted beings who watched
over the childhood of Humanity," was common to the most ancient
antiquity.

H.P. Blavatsky points out that:

> As systems began to reflect with every age more and more the
> idiosyncrasies of nations; and as the latter after separating,
> settled into distinct groups, each evolving along its own
> national or tribal groove, the main idea gradually became veiled
> with the overgrowth of human fancy.

As time passed, the idea of the Cosmic Living Source of All
became vague.

> [Some nations] began to transfer the abstract attributes of the
> causeless cause to the caused effects -- become in their turn
> causative -- the creative Powers of the Universe. The great
> nations, out of fear of profaning the IDEA, the smaller, because
> they either failed to grasp it or lacked the power of philosophic
> conception needed to preserve it in all its immaculate purity.

After her exhaustive examination and comparative analysis of the
ancient cosmogonies and religions, H.P. Blavatsky asserts that
all the PERSONAL gods known to history belong to the later stages
of cosmic manifestation, while in every religion can be traced
the idea of the hidden Divinity, the Source of All.

The conception of the Divine presented in THE SECRET DOCTRINE is
not of an arbitrary, supernatural, extra-cosmic God whose
forgiveness can be won only by accepting the sacrifice of a
Redeemer, His Only Son, and with this a theory of special
creations to account for man and the universe. It is not a
negation in a world with brain-mind reigning and all Nature
evolving because of blind forces in matter. Rather, it is a
metaphysical Deity ever remaining transcendent while outbreathing
the visible world. The Divine Intelligence directs every step of
the descent from subjective existence into materiality. Divinity
is transcendent yet immanent in Nature. In man, Divinity is
present, however hidden and unguessed, giving the wondrous
possibility of self-transcendence and conscious union with the
Highest, making man a being whose responsibility is of universal
extent and whose sphere of duty is infinite.

The idea is heartening. The universe is animated throughout by
willing Messengers of Divine Law. Men may, by self-discipline
and impersonal, compassionate service, learn the laws governing
life and may climb to that stage of perfected humanity, where, as
a Nirmanakaya, they may incarnate where and when the divine
purpose calls for the guiding principle to direct and to further
the highest possibilities of the human race.

The Theosophical teachings as expounded by H.P. Blavatsky fill
the world with life, intelligence, harmony, justice, and
Divinity.

------------------------------------------------------------------
MAHATMAS ACTUALLY LAUGH

By H.S. Olcott

(From OLD DIARY LEAVES, III, pages 350-51)

Baron Ernest von Weber had gone on a short tour at the close of
the Convention, but returned on 11th January and sailed for
Calcutta on the 17th. He was a good-natured man, and heartily
entered into a joke of mine for the amusement and instruction of
the resident Indian members of the Headquarters staff.

On the evening of the 15th, he donned his gold-embroidered court
dress, with his orders, cocked hat, silk stockings, pumps, sword,
and all, and pretended to have been sent to me as special
Ambassador from his Sovereign, to convey to the President of the
Theosophical Society His Majesty's compliments and
congratulations on the completion of our first decade.

I made the Hindus take up positions to the right and left in the
vestibule, advanced as Marshal of Ceremonies to the columned
front entrance to receive and conduct the Ambassador, led him up
the vestibule, and announced his name, dignities, and functions.
Then I wheeled around to face him as PTS, heard his (coached)
address, responded to it with solemn gravity, and hung on the
Baron's button a small tin shield emblazoned with HPB's
escutcheon, to which I gave the dignity of an order with a
fanciful name. I begged him to wear it as a proof to his august
Master of the value I placed upon his brotherly message.

The mock levee being then broken up, the Baron and I had to laugh
heartily on seeing the unsophisticated wonder displayed by the
auditory at his whole "outfit," every article of which they
successively inspected and asked about. His white kid gloves
surprised them quite as much as anything else did. They did not
know what to make of them, but said they were very strange things
to wear, "very soft and smooth."

Of course, I know that this innocent bit of tomfoolery will be
deprecated by those of our members who take life lugubriously and
fancy that the PTS must be a yogi-ascetic, but it would have been
just the thing to suit HPB's temperament, and she would have
entered into it with zest. In how much of such harmless nonsense
did she not indulge in those old days, when we laughed and joked
while carrying our heavy burden up hill! In truth, but for our
light-heartedness it would perhaps have crushed us: a good laugh
is more restful than laudanum, and mirth than morphia. I know
Mahatmas, my lugubrious friend, who actually laugh!

------------------------------------------------------------------
COMMON SENSE IN THE HOME

By G. de Purucker

[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 138-42.]

It is my earnest conviction that the so-called spiritual problems
of the young are no greater today than ever they have been -- not
a whit greater, nor are they different or more embarrassing for
children and parents alike. Human character does not change over
night. The Great War, supposed to have destroyed all old
moralities, was simply the bursting of a dam, the flood sweeping
away certain restrictions and limitations that nevertheless were
good, and we have not yet learned how to build up other fences of
protection around our homes and our young people. But our young
people are no worse and no better than we were, and the same
fundamental problems of human character that faced us, face them.
And it is somewhat as an old boy that I myself write, for I
believe that children are old folks not yet grown up, adults not
yet matured, and that adults are still boys and girls.

I think one of the greatest spiritual problems for youth is their
parents; and this is saying nothing against the parents, because
they were youths at one time and had their parents. And the
youths today will grow up and be parents equally relatively
futile, and, alas, relatively inadequate! If there are any
spiritual problems affecting the youth at any time, it is largely
the fault of the parents, and I will tell you why I think so.
The parents do not err from lack of love. They err from lack of
common sense as to how to treat growing youngsters -- just common
sense.

If you want to correct a fault in some other man, you cannot do
it by going to him and preaching at him, laying down the law.
The chances are nine out of ten that he will resent it instantly.
But by example you can make your words good to that man's mind
and he will begin to admire you and respect you for exemplifying
what you yourself talk about.

Nothing fascinates the mind of the growing youth so much as a
striking remarkable example seen daily before the eye. It is
worth years of talking and preaching, years and years of reading
books that are stuck under its nose until it learns to hate these
books. In the home, a child may see snappy speeches from side to
side, little selfish actions, unkindness done by father to
mother, or vice versa, quarrels perhaps, short, irritable
speeches, perhaps no words at all but the obvious habit of
self-seeking in taking the easiest chair, the better light, the
larger portion, in lack of courtesy to the other. When a child
sees these things, it remembers. These things hurt the child.
You older ones, put yourselves back into your childhood and
remember whether you have not seen things in your own parents
that hurt like the very dickens when you discovered them -- and
you wondered. . . . Yet your parents may have been half
saints. I do not mean to say that parents are bad. Not at all.
But parents lack common sense. They wonder why their children go
wrong sometimes. Here I speak of the normal child; if a child is
born degenerate, he needs special treatment.

You have no right to have children unless you honestly feel in
your hearts that you can bring them up properly. It is of
infinite importance to make a child love and respect you, not for
what it receives from you as gifts, which are often bribes to
keep it from shrieking or making a noise, but love and respect
you for what you are.

In my opinion, subject to correction by wiser minds than mine,
the best way to solve most of the so-called problems that face
children is to let them see daily examples of unremitting
courtesy at home. We just need that one thing, which is
unremitting kindliness and courtesy. Now what does that involve?
It first involves self-control and next kindliness, which means
thoughtfulness for others.

This is a wonderful discipline that a child understands, admires,
and loves to see. It sinks into the child's mind and heart; and
these things are not forgotten. When a child is brought up in a
home where there is slackness, lackadaisical conditions, not bad
but little selfishness of the home combined with emotional
outbreaks of any kind, it in turn, because very imitative,
becomes lackadaisical, emotionally unstable, not ambitious to
improve itself, slow in mind, discourteous to others, because too
lazy to be courteous. It does not care. In a home where
courtesy rules, everyone is happy. The child remembers the
things it sees, and learns, because the example sinks into the
mind. It becomes habitual in the child's thought. The child
begins to pride itself on being courteous to others.

The whole root of the so-called difficult problem is this: we
older people try to preach at the younger ones in giving them
brain-mind thoughts: schemes to do this, and schemes to do that,
which the children see the parents themselves do not practice.
How can anyone respect something preached at him all the time and
that he sees nobody else following or practicing? It is a very
lovely idea when parents, for instance, want to have their
children study beautiful books that give noble thoughts. They
consider it a method of training, no doubt, presenting beauty to
the mind of the child. But my opinion is -- well, if I had
children and I made them read for example the Bhagavad-Gita or
similar book all day long; or if whenever they wanted to read
they were given the Bhagavad-Gita, before they were even fifteen
years old, I know that they would hate that book like nothing
else on earth. They would have to grow to be eighty years old
before they would see the wondrous beauty of books like that.
The child is quick to see that Daddy and Mother do not pass all
their time when they have a little leisure at home in reading the
Bhagavad-Gita. They see that in their leisure they read books of
a lighter character. There is an instance. You cannot expect
your child to do what you yourself do not do. You as parents
have to set the example. Now it is right to keep out of the home
books that are obviously wrong, lewd or obscene or pornographic
in tone. It is obviously wrong for adults or children to go to
movies that picture the same ignoble things, precepts, or
examples. But I am not speaking of things that everyone
condemns, nor am I decrying really good and elevating movies.

The minds of children are especially susceptible to suggestion
and example. Precept is excellent, but precept comes afterwards
when the child begins to ask questions: Why? Then is the time to
give the precept, to explain. But the child never forgets an
example, and for the reason that children are old souls in
immature bodies, souls coming to us out of the past, ages and
ages of the past, having lived time and time and time again.
They are wonderfully instinctive in catching things in you that
finally become habitual in their thought and growth. They
actually reason; and commonly do they intuit things.

One of the greatest follies that parents commit is to bribe their
children, is to talk to them and act towards them as if they were
not reasoning beings. I believe it is all wrong. And in fact, I
know it is, because I have seen how children despise in their
hearts actions that their parents do in order to win
acquiescence, approval, or a sweet smile from the child. What
kind of love is it that the child gives to its parents that has
to be bought or bribed? You do not need anything of that sort.
The character of youth is intrinsically that of the
hero-worshiper; it loves the ideal, the beautiful, what strikes
it as strong and grand. I believe that youth loves these things
more than we sophisticated older people do that have lost that
appreciation.

Half the fear in the world begins in the home. It is a psychical
injury to the child's mind, originated or brought about often by
some circumstance or some ghastly thing that it has seen, that
hurts, shocks. And the mind, by so much, is warped, hurt, and
injured with fear. It is -- I do not want to be uncomplimentary
to the youth -- but it is exactly the same principle by which a
dog is trained, or a horse. You can make a dog or horse a
vicious beast by ill-treating him. But if you treat a dog as you
would a human being, in courtesy and kindliness and considerate
action, you make that dog gentle towards others, as well as
towards you. That dog actually is in degree humanized. And the
only difference in principle between the beasts and us is that we
are far more evolved.

Make your homes centers of kindliness and courtesy -- the parents
to each other. That is the main thing. I do not mean manners
only. That is only a part. I mean the actual instinctual wish
to be kindly and courteous to the other; make this wish so strong
in you that it takes action. The children sense it, see it, and
copy it, and they learn as they copy that it takes self-control
to do it, to give up what 'I' want in order to do a courteous act
to others. This discipline teaches self-control,
self-abnegation, and self-respect; and when children discover
that they win the respect of others for being this way,
instinctively that self-respect is added to; they begin to see
and feel that others have the same feeling that they have, that
others too admire and respect kindliness and courtesy. Then
there grows in youth the feeling of fellowship, of brotherhood.
See how it works all around!

The old idea of a child honoring its parents and obeying them is
a beautiful ideal, and is as valid in human conduct as ever it
was. But the basis upon which this honor of parental dignity and
standing should lie, is the instinctive respect born in the minds
of children and youth for their parents, because the parents
themselves are seen by children to honor honor, respect respect,
and revere reverence.

------------------------------------------------------------------
THE MAIN PURPOSES OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

By G. de Purucker

[From MESSAGES TO CONVENTIONS, pages 183-85.]

Why do Theosophists devote so much time, energy, and intelligence
to a study of recondite doctrines? What is the use of it? To be
very Occidental, "does it pay?" It will not pay a particle if
your mind is directed downwards. But if you are a normal human
being, with normal human aspirations, and want to be more and
greater than you are, if your mind is directed upwards, it will
"pay" enormously. Why is this? I will tell you why.

The Theosophical Society was founded by the Masters of Wisdom for
one purpose mainly. The secondary purpose was to give priceless
comfort and help to human individuals, giving them courage and
hope and a sublime objective in life. But the main purpose was
to give to mankind a religio-philosophical and scientific
explanation of life's riddles, based on the natural fact of
Universal Brotherhood, which would bring about a moral and
spiritual revolution in the world.

The Masters knew that the world was entering upon conditions
which if not checked would lead us to hell, conditions spiritual
and intellectual, social, political, conditions of all kinds, of
which the psychical outbreaks are only symptomatic.

The purpose of the Theosophical Society therefore, principally,
is to establish a nucleus of a true Universal Brotherhood, and to
give unto thinking men and women the reasons for this. When you
can persuade men's and women's reason, and charm their hearts,
you have won; and you cannot persuade thinking man that a thing
is right if all his instincts rebel against it, instincts
intellectual and other. So the Masters founded the Theosophical
Society once more in our age in order to give anew to a very
materialistic and discouraged world, the teachings of the
God-Wisdom of all the ages, man's heritage. Now understand that
clearly. And we study these Theosophical doctrines so that we,
becoming acquainted with them, understanding them, and ourselves
persuaded by them, our minds and hearts captured by their
grandeur and completeness, will change our own lives. Then we
shall be able so to present them to other men that they too will
see the Vision Sublime of which we at least have caught glimpses.

That is why we study the Theosophical Doctrines. Had it not been
for the perilous conditions the human race began to go into with
the downfall of the so-called Pagan religions and philosophies of
two thousand years ago and had it not been for world conditions,
I doubt the Theosophical Society would have been founded for two,
three, or even six thousand years. Individuals would have been
helped in the silence and privately. Conditions were such that
help from above, from wiser heads than ordinary men, was needed.
It was given.

I will tell you, the problem in the world today is not with the
men on either side of the fence, or any side of the fence. Men
are human beings. The trouble is which make wrong conduct. You
change ideas and you have conduct in conformity therewith. If
you can set men going crazy about some fad or other, you can just
as easily fire and enthuse them with the love of something
sublime, and change the whole course of life: bring peace on
earth and goodwill to men.

You have to know how to persuade men. You have to give them a
philosophy that they can study, respect, have conviction in, and
will grow upon them as they study it the more -- the greater the
study, the greater belief. Truth is marvelously persuasive in
itself. Men are inherently decent and good; and a good many, I
do believe, of the so-called criminals of the past and of the
present are people, men and women, who have become so discouraged
that they have lost their grip. If they had had a decent chance,
the inherent weaknesses in their characters might probably not
have overpowered, paradoxically as it sounds, the higher part.

I believe in my fellow human beings. I know men, and I know that
men think and feel -- no matter what their race, no matter what
their beliefs. Men are men the world over, and fundamentally
decent, and they love decency and grand things. See how the
appeal of a heroic action runs like wild fire in all countries;
all men respond. That shows the inherent right and decency in
the human heart. It is to these things that we appeal. Consider
how fads can sweep over not only one people but also the whole
world and fascinate humanity for a thousand years or more making
them all kinds of things that we now look upon as crazy. You can
just as well and with just as much hope and with infinitely more
chance of permanent success appeal to the decency in men, to the
good in men, to the common fellow-feeling that we are human
beings, that we at least will learn to respect each other's
convictions in harmony and in peace. There is where real decency
comes out and not in the attempt to convert with violence, always
bringing forth more violence and resentment.

There is the pathos of the situation. I personally have never
yet found it to fail in my own dealings with my fellow humans; I
have never found kindliness, consideration, and the appeal to the
decency in other men. I have never found these to fail. If the
response has not always been what I have wished for, then I have
questioned myself, whether I myself have longed for the things I
have wanted, longed for them strongly enough.

That is one reason why the Theosophical Society admits to its
Fellowship men of all races, of all creeds. There is no
distinction of race, caste, creed, or color in our organization.
Remember the main objective of the Theosophical Society: to
establish a nucleus of a genuine Universal Brotherhood, a nucleus
that is absolutely and throughout non-political, based on no
sentimental reasons. This perhaps may never make an appeal to
some of the hardheads, those willfully blind, who simply will not
see. Our appeal is to intellect and decency in moral instincts,
and points to the laws of the universe as the foundation on which
life is built. That is why we study Theosophy and its sublime
religio-philosophic-scientific doctrines. The Occult Hierarchy
sent our HPB to establish the Theosophical Society, whose work is
not to labor spectacularly, showily, theatrically, but to work
steadily, untiringly, to change the hearts and minds of men.
Secondarily, the work of the T. S. is to help us as individual
Theosophists.

------------------------------------------------------------------
IN THE PUBLIC MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS

By Daniel Caldwell

In the public marketplace of ideas, which can be seen, for
example, on the WWW, on television, in books, etc., there are
many, many competing and contradictory ideas, teachings, supposed
"truths", etc.

For example, there are persons who tell you that you have only
one life to live and after that, you go to either heaven or hell,
to enjoy heavenly delights for all eternity or to suffer forever
in hell.

There are those who tell you that you have only one life to live
and after that, you will enter either the kingdom of God which
will be this physical world reborn or you will be (as a soul)
utterly destroyed and annihilated in Gehenna.

There are those who tell you that science shows that there is no
life after death.

Once our physical body is dead, our psychological life also
ceases. We are merely material physical entities and the concept
of a soul is sheer nonsense.

There are those who tell you that this is the first life of many
"lives", but that our

future lives with all be in higher non-physical realms.

There are those who tell you that we live many lives besides this
life, but that many of these lives are actually on other planets
in our solar system or even on other star systems.

There are those who tell you that there is a ceaseless round of
births, deaths, and rebirths for each of us but that we will be
trapped in these lower worlds UNTIL we find a true physical guru
who can help us to escape this suffering round of births and
deaths.

There are those who tell you that we do not need to reincarnate
after death in another physical body in this world, but that we
can choose any kind of life we want. We need only to believe it
is true and it is!

There are those who tell you that we belong to different group
souls and that we will not necessarily exist after the death of
our physical body as a separate entity but will be absorbed back
into a certain group soul. The essence of our being will merge
with the group soul.

The list goes on and on.

Even in Theosophical teachings, there are many conflicting and
contradictory ideas depending on the Theosophical book you happen
to read.

Where is the truth in this morass of beliefs, of claims and
counterclaims?

------------------------------------------------------------------
UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD MEANS UNIVERSAL PEACE

By Grace Knoche

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, February 1929, pages 165-70.]

> "But," some judicial mind may say, "How can we hold the nations
> of the world at peace when differences exist, seemingly
> irreconcilable differences?"
>
> My reply must be, "What holds together a family when differences
> arise? Kinship, the basic love of brother for brother that is
> teeming within its life. That will suffice to hold it together
> always if it has grown and evolved in the spirit of justice. Why
> not, then, the larger family of the world?"
>
> Brotherhood is the way; that is the keynote of the new age.
> Universal Brotherhood means Universal Peace.
>
> -- Katherine Tingley, THEOSOPHY: THE PATH OF THE MYSTIC

No one denies that spiritually the world is in arrears. Many are
beginning to feel that it cannot be kept this side of spiritual
bankruptcy unless some calm new greatness enters in. But through
what channel? By what means? Peace-plans -- and more peace-plans?
Nations, societies, individuals are evolving these year after
year, as though they held some magic in themselves. Yet do they?
Obviously not, for no one is able to make the plans work.

The prospect for world-peace is exceedingly tenuous. Every
thinker will admit as much, yet everyone, thinker or otherwise,
wants peace. The nations want it. Their diplomats and statesmen
are hammering away, as never before in written history, trying to
forge it. But the fire is not there; nothing melts and you
cannot forge a thing till its elements, its ingredients, are
melted down.

If the advance guard could win the battles for the army, the
world would have stepped into sunshine and happiness long ago,
and if political efforts could suffice to lift humanity into
virtue, we might afford to shirk the burden of thinking for
ourselves. But the two or three, the leaders, can no more than
point the way. Political means are futile as long as human
nature does not change. These are facts, older than history and
as old as thinking man is.

Virtue and contentment are qualities of mind and heart, and no
fiat from whatever source can create them for humanity. In the
templed inner world of these great things, man alone, individual
man, is the creator, though he may be fortunate enough in some
eras to have, it is true, the fine bulwark of good treaties and
just laws. But these latter, of themselves! -- We need not bring
up that old issue.

The record of treaties and treaty making, not in one or two
nations but in all of them, is a delicate subject. Naturally,
for treaties, laws, plans, whatever, that discount the supreme
value of the personal equation, are handicapped from the start.
It is well known that every attempt to legislate men into virtue
is followed by a mad flaring up of the very evil sought to be
suppressed. This never proves that the lawmaking method is
wrong; however, merely that something else is needed.

So that however we deviate or twist and turn, we are brought up
finally flat against the adamantine fact that human nature is the
crux of the matter. It strikes its roots into deeper levels than
legislation of itself can ever hope to reach -- levels of
conduct, of our relations with each other and our attitude
towards ourselves.

When Seneca 'discovered' that conduct was "three-fourths of
life," he missed it, according to Katherine Tingley, by just
twenty-five percent. Levels of conduct are the only levels upon
which the world's moral foundations can rest without danger of
'settling' or worse. They are the only levels upon which real
regeneration can rise with no fear of an ultimate fall. They are
the levels into which the Peace-Tree of the ages is waiting to
strike root. The problem is how we can reach them.

Back of all problems lie principles, and the thinker who grasps
them can unravel the worst enigma, if he does not lose heart and
will persist. Now obviously governments, special committees, or
religious convocations cannot solve problems of human nature and
character building for us. They cannot be solved for us at all.
They must be worked out by each one for himself, but the
principle by which a solution is arrived at may be received by us
from another source -- from a teacher, from books, from our own
inner and wiser Self. Once received, once grasped, they must be
respected and applied; else, it is only a scramble in the dark.

The actual processes of that very practical thing called the
application of principle to practice will differ with each human
being, but with a sacred difference. We stand here, in truth, in
the sacred tribunal of the soul, wherein no person, no agency,
has any least right to intrude.

Comparatively few, as the world goes, have the hero-stuff in
their makeup that will give them grasp of the principles of
things and then compel them, at whatever cost, to test these
principles out. Most of us sit back and clamor for a receipt --
which shows how spiritually crippled we are, for such a course is
a virtual denial of the Divinity within. If we know the
principle involved, we can make our own receipts. Clear
understanding of principles is a sort of celestial mortar,
holding the bricks of our ideal in their place.

We are in an era of cruel pressure and heavy loads. It is
heartless to fold our hands and wait for the few to fix things up
for us. Every back should be bent to the burden, not just a few,
and that burden of burdens today is how to create world-peace.

It is criminal to sit down meekly and say, "Greater minds than my
own will have to settle this. I will wait and see what they say
about it -- and meanwhile take my ease." It shows ignorance of
our own nature, ignorance of the powers and possibilities of the
mind itself, and greater still, ignorance of the infinite
resourcefulness of the Divinity that resides in our perambulating
bodies and can kindle and illumine the mind with holy fire -- if
only we allow it. Ignorance of one's resources as gross as this
would not be tolerated in the world of the dollar. Dwellers in
that world would wipe you out very nicely and very soon.

Those who have studied most deeply into the nature of mind -- and
Theosophy alone can throw real light upon this -- know that no
limit can be set to its service in respect to world-needs
excepting those set by that quantity known as human nature -- in
a word, by selfishness, conceit, passion, prejudice, hatred,
extremism, insularity, or fear.

The mind in its nobler aspect is a river of light and fire,
flowing down into us, to the extent that we permit it to inflow,
from its source in the Divine. Our task, obviously, is to clear
out the streambed of character, so that the former may flow
unimpeded in its course.

This does not square with theories of modern psychology, but no
one can say anything as to that, for they do not square with
themselves. They do square with conditions as we find them in
bedrock life, however. That ought to be enough, for here is the
why of what is today such a pitiful anomaly: the fact that a
certain few who pose as leaders of thought, who hold great
theories and can talk you into unconsciousness on the now popular
ideas of brotherhood and international fraternity, utterly fail
to make good when confronted by the practical test.

Obstructed by the debris in the character, the great tides of
spiritually illumined thought -- which sweep round us all, all
the time, seeking ingress -- are stopped before they can get to
the fields of practical work and application, either to stagnate
and be dissipated (how often we can observe just this) or -- and
the world has far-flung examples of this, too, alas! -- to burst
all barriers and spread death and destruction around. And thus,
with channels of character so clogged that truth cannot flow
through in its large purity, instead of an orderly progress, with
problems all taken care of and beneficent, constructive results,
we have no describing what stagnation, destructive, and
mischievous results.

The remedy for all this miscarriage must be apparent, and
Theosophy would suggest that it is not too soon to begin to apply
it.

It may be objected that with stricken millions in China, in
Russia, in India, at our own doors, crying out with famine,
urgently needing medical help, housing, and bodily care, there is
not time to think of anything but how quickest to hand out bread.
But is that all there is to do? Bread -- yes. But then what?
Over and above the cry for bread, more heart-breaking and more
shrill, is the cry for the bread of the spirit -- for some
explanation of what seems like hideous injustice, for some real
basis on which to build a new hope, for something to nourish the
heart-life, something that one dare trust.

According to those who stand near the center of things,
outwardly, this appeal is not being met. To quote but a single
expression: in an address given by the Honorable Newton D.
Baker, former Secretary of War, while on a visit to San Diego, he
said, " The war was a simple matter compared with what is to
follow. The world is full of despair; man has lost faith in
government."

Man had lost a nobler faith than that, we think, and it is still
far from him. He has lost faith in self-government. It is that
which complicates the problem of world-peace, which is the
world-problem now. Restore that and faith in government will be
restored automatically, for government is only man's creation,
bearing his image, his very mood, his stamp.

We may hand out legislation by the volume and bread by the
million loaves, but until man is aroused to search for the
essential Divinity within himself -- how plain it is now: the
purpose and single aim of the Theosophical Leaders, H.P.
Blavatsky, William Quan Judge, and Katherine Tingley -- until it
dawns on man with the power and force of conviction that he can
believe in himself, he is only building houses on the sand. The
next storm will blow them down or sweep them into the sea, just
as the next excuse -- oh, how many both admit and fear it! --
will precipitate another war.

To bring about universal peace -- one of the aims of the
Theosophical Society from the beginning as its history amply
shows -- is a very large order, but surely, it will have to be
filled.

No one is ready to say, in spite of the pessimism afloat and all
the excuses for pessimism, that the tide cannot be turned, that
civilization must go out, as civilizations have gone out before,
"like a torch dipped in water."

We hear more or less about the melting pot of the nations, and
America in particular is called the melting pot of the world.
What is needed more -- and how many times Katherine Tingley has
pointed this out, as H.P. Blavatsky did before her -- is a
melting down of the diverse and warring elements in the
individual character to the end of a simple harmonious blend or
quantity marked by wisdom and power and love. And there is no
reason why this cannot come to pass save the unreason of man
himself. No wonder the Spirit of Peace has to wait, as the
deadlock of disagreements over peace-plans is waiting for the
hammer-stroke of some great, resourceful, new idea to break it.

Great hope lies in the fact that ideas of Brotherhood are in the
air; and with increasing numbers, Service, from being the impulse
of a moment, has become the habit of a life. It begins to look
as though Theosophy spoke with authority after all, and not as a
harmless scribe. Katherine Tingley declared that had Theosophy
-- which be it remembered is the philosophy of Universal
Brotherhood and whatever of power and wisdom may be incidental to
it -- been made a living power in men's lives prior to 1914 the
great war would not have occurred. Of course it would not have
occurred. We all can see that now.

Brotherhood is a popular theme in our pulpits, now, at our
conferences, in the diplomacy of the world. Brotherhood is
exactly the key with which the world is now eagerly locking up
the stable-door. Perfectly clear, afterwards, for where
Brotherhood is a living power there nations will learn to settle
their little differences, as you and I would do, without cutting
each other's throats.

What is the matter then? It is simply this (again Theosophy):
that it is one thing to accept Brotherhood in the mind, and quite
another to believe in it in the heart. The heart is greater than
systems, greater than all the schools. And Theosophy -- what has
it been called from the beginning but the Doctrine of the Heart?

Now we see why peace-plans, skillfully thought out, laboriously
evolved, perfect -- as plans -- are not pulling us out of the
mire at all. The wheels are settling all the time. The
heart-touch of soul is not in them. The world can be taken for
Brotherhood only by the strategy of the soul. Systems and
nations both would surrender before the sheer surprise of such an
attack, but its generalship is not in parliaments, not in
council-halls or convocations, but in conduct -- the conduct of
you and me, the conduct of nations that are only you and me
larger grown.

And life itself is getting out of patience. It is demanding
something more than has been given it in the past -- not temporal
but rather permanent peace, not a few decades of civilized
behavior, but rather a whole perpetual future of it. The soul is
that calm new greatness that, entering in, will bring peace home
to stay.

------------------------------------------------------------------
HAS MAN AN IMMORTAL SOUL?

By Abbott B. Clark

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1928, pages 253-56.]

This is a question asked by millions of people throughout the
ages, and Theosophy answers: "Man, in fact, is a Soul. He can
prove it for himself. Theosophy points the way in which one can
find the answer."

Viewed from the standpoint of material life, the soul is
subjective and within the man himself, so that the 'proof' must
be entirely within himself. No one else can 'prove' it for him.
He must think for himself, digest his own food. But it should
not be too difficult for every man to have the satisfaction of
finding his own soul -- that is, himself -- the Center of his
being. Or, at least, finding the way to it.

If man gave half as much attention to his conscience and
intuition as he gives to his outer senses, he would find that
conscience and intuition are channels of knowledge leading to
direct perception of spiritual values.

No arguments about conscience and intuition affect the soul and
its light any more than arguments about astronomy affect the
sunshine. They only confuse or clarify, as the case may be, the
brain-mind. The soul in man keeps on shining, ever trying to
warn and guide. Who follows the light is wise according to the
degree of his evolution.

The trouble is that our instruction has been such that all our
ideas about soul and spirit are indefinite, hazy, confused. It
will take a generation or two to clear up the public mind on such
matters. But meanwhile, any man having interest in his own soul
or in the higher values of life should be able to attain
knowledge: at least to attain his full capacity for knowledge.

The way to do it is to give attention to such things. He should
establish the habit of noting where his thoughts come from, and
which are inspired by the Higher nature and which by the Lower:
two entities within man of which he is as ignorant as he is of
the mystery of sleep, or of digestion, or of what makes the heart
beat and the blood circulate.

The soul is a mystery for the same reason that the circulation of
the blood was a mystery -- in Europe -- before Harvey's time.
People have not found it out. When people with one accord turn
their attention to their higher nature, they will acquire
spiritual knowledge with less pain and effort than they have
expended in material accomplishments. In fact, the pursuit of
spiritual knowledge leads directly away from pain and strain to
an ever increasing joy. Its pursuit is a form of practice,
training, a self-directed habit, which, once formed, is easy.
The right way is the easy way. The wrong ways make the trouble.
Conscience does not trouble a man unnecessarily. It tries to
keep him OUT of trouble. It is a sort of inner traffic-officer!

To hear a nineteenth-century man talk, one would think that
spirit was some sort of gas arising out of matter. It is not.
Spirit is the foundation of matter. Matter in that ocean of life
much as the earth floats upon the free and fluid ether. It is
the animating consciousness guiding the motions of matter -- of
all things, each in its own proper degree and order. All nature
is animate with life if we could only accustom our eyes to see
it.

As the ancient Chinese sage Lao-Tse said, all that is good and
true and beautiful in nature is Tao -- the Divine shining
through. This is the message that our present Teacher, Katherine
Tingley, is trying repeatedly in every lecture and book to bring
us to open the windows of our soul and let the divine light shine
in and flood our whole being with glory. It is so simple that we
cannot believe it, but we go on straining for something afar.

Acquiring spiritual knowledge is very much like waking up. It is
a CONSCIOUS clarifying or expanding of consciousness. It may
come in a moment of time or it may take years, but in either
case, it will be a natural growth -- the result of long continued
sincere effort in which the virtues have been practiced. For the
soul of man is that center from which all the virtues arise, even
as light and electricity come from the sun. All the virtues put
together do not make the soul, any more than its rays of light
make the sun. The man who finds the Soul within himself will
overcome weaknesses and radiate virtues more or less, as
naturally as fire radiates light and heat. The soul is the
center of all the virtues at once and much more. It is the
center of continuity: that center from which the sense of
spiritual immortality arises. Faith, hope, trust, and knowledge,
are its rays. The presence of the virtues is the proof of the
soul. No other explanation will meet all the facts -- stand all
the tests.

As the virtues radiate from the soul, they make an atmosphere
congenial to the soul. The soul cannot come in and abide in a
house darkened by vices. The presence of the one excludes the
other, as darkness excludes light and light dissipates darkness.
The light is the positive quality; the soul is the real. The
vices are negative, hypnotic. They result from weakness. The
virtues are an active positive quality and require self-directed
spiritual will and constant exercise. If indolence, pride, and
self-righteousness creep in, the virtues stagnate and the moral
nature decays.

The path of effort is the easy path. The path of self-indulgence
becomes harder with every turn and leads to endless difficulties.
The selfish path is a rough and rocky road because it is one
against all. Unselfishness is constructive, co-operative: one
with all and all with one.

The virtuous man seeking his own soul is the strong man: as
naturally strong as light, heat, and electricity are strong. He
meets the difficulties of life as the mountain-climber surmounts
the rocks in his path. Each step is one of vigor, resolution,
victory. Climbing is exhilarating, but falling is painful, oh,
how painful!

When in control, the lower self is a blind thing, a mere brute
having only instinct to guide it. Controlled, it is a priceless
instrument: a dynamo transforming the coarse energies of nature
into higher mental, moral, and spiritual currents of force.
Spiritual currents are established by the HABIT of spiritual
aspiration carried out in appropriate action. The repeated
aspiration and action form the habit and produce the result. The
result is a man who radiates spirituality -- more or less.
Sunny, strong, kind, well balanced, and having common sense. He
makes few mistakes and those not often serious. His optimism
seems to transform mistakes into good lessons, failures into
successes. Should he fall, he will not fail.

Man himself being of an essentially spiritual nature, it is the
mistake of the ages to think that he can satisfy himself with the
things of matter. He gets them and they are gone again.
Satisfaction seems ever within his grasp yet ever eludes him.

The Soul -- the power behind evolution -- urges him on, and the
lure of Nature ever seeks to sidetrack him. So this pursuit and
disappointment, unrest and change, continue as long as selfish
desire rules. At last, man recognizes that selfish desire is an
eternal Cheat, that there is no material goal -- no final home --
in matter. Being spiritual, he must seek the spirit. Then the
whole plan of life changes.

When a man finds Tao, he sees the light shining through the form
he loves. He sees the soul within the one he loves, and passion
becomes peace. Fixing his attention on Tao, the Eternal, his
desires lose their hold. The storms of life become but passing
shadows. Even the shock of death itself seems a mere cloud
flitting across the sky inviting him to turn his eyes sunward and
seek the light into which his loved one has vanished.

The higher the mountain-climber ascends, the broader the view.
So the pursuer of the truth becomes of broad, clear-sighted mind,
charitable and tolerant, kind, and courteous. He becomes able to
see the truth from the standpoint of others and blend his
consciousness in mental sympathy with theirs. This is real
brotherhood. It is not sentimentality but rather wisely directed
and intelligent love and kindness.

When this condition is established in a man's character, it forms
an atmosphere into which the presence of the Higher Self can
enter and abide, filling his life with truth, light, and joy.

Tao is the spiritual light within. Tao is 'the Path.' Fixing the
attention on this light and following it is 'treading the Path.'
It is so simple that a child can understand it. It takes more
courage than most men willingly use!

------------------------------------------------------------------
WHAT RELIGION SHOULD WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN?

By Margaret Barr

[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1947, pages 348-52.]

The question of religious instruction for children is always
before the public mind, and it would seem that the majority who
has any views on the subject incline to one of two camps.

On one hand, secularists feel the harm done by religion
throughout history so far outweighs the good that we best disown
it completely. Leaving our children entirely without religious
instruction, they are free to live out their lives untouched by
religion or to evolve a faith for themselves when they reach the
age to do so.

On the other hand are those who believe that their primary duty
in life is to proselytize for the faith to which they happen to
belong and who consequently make the most of every opportunity
that comes their way for influencing the unformed and pliable
minds of children and young people.

If a tree is to be judged by its fruits (and how else can it be
judged?), it would appear that both of these attitudes are
tragically wrong. Surely, the absence of religion is one of the
root causes of the materialism, selfishness, and restlessness
that prevail throughout the world at the present day, whereas
communal conflict, intolerance, and bigotry are some of the
fruits of the dogmatic, proselytizing attitude.

Let us look a little more closely at both of these. The
secularist argument is plausible and cogent. It is difficult to
deny that religion has been either the cause or the pretext of
many black chapters in human history and will continue to be a
very dangerous rallying-cry so long as the masses remain either
ignorant and superstitious or bigoted and fanatical. Therefore,
say the secularists, let us be rid of it once and for all; and
if, as the religious people claim, religion has any intrinsic
value or importance, it will rise again from the ashes of the old
faiths in the hearts and minds of people who have been left free
and unprejudiced in childhood.

Such a theory rests on the assumption that religion is in a class
by itself and differs radically from all other activities of the
human mind. And it is in conflict with educational theory in all
other branches of knowledge. We do not say that if Mathematics
and Science have any intrinsic value, people will discover them
for themselves in adult life without any teaching when young.
Doubtless, in the future as in the past, if these subjects were
left untaught, an occasional rare mind, a Euclid, a Galileo, a
Newton, would arise to make the discoveries all over again. But
because the average human being is not a gifted creature like
these, does that mean that Mathematics and Science have no value
for him? How much of the knowledge that is put to daily use in
the healing of the sick by the average practitioner would ever
have been acquired by him without guidance, teaching, and the
knowledge of the findings of his predecessors? And even in the
less specifically rational and more imaginative activities such
as Art and Music, surely it is only the very greatest who can
achieve anything without instruction and in utter independence of
all that has gone before, if indeed anybody ever can.

And in religion, though it is true that saints and mystics cannot
be made by teaching any more than musicians and artists can, it
is true that the lives of ordinary, average people can be
enriched and ennobled by contact with religious genius. This is
done in just the same way, by contact with the world's great
works of art and music and literature. It would seem, therefore,
that the secularists are insisting upon an unwarranted
impoverishment of the educational environment when they press for
complete secularization.

The people in the other camp, on the contrary, believing that
religion is the most important thing in life, leave no stone
unturned in their endeavor to persuade or compel everyone to join
their particular organization and profess their creed. Also by
them, though in a different way, the accepted canons of
educational theory are discarded. In all other subjects,
education teaches children to think for themselves and to
understand the things that they study, tracing the development of
a subject systematically. But in religion, what matters is the
acceptance of truths miraculously revealed in a book that under
no circumstances is to be submitted to the ordinary processes of
rational criticism but is to be venerated blindly as being
entirely different from all other books, the ipsissima verba of
God.

Surely, it is possible to find a middle path between these two
extremes, one that shall neither disregard nor contradict the
findings of enlightened educational theory.

The secularists are right in demanding that children's minds be
left free and unprejudiced. But is it not possible to introduce
the study of religion, as to Natural Science and Geography,
without either fettering their minds or filling them with
prejudices?

The other camp is right in asserting the tremendous importance of
religion and the harm that is done by leaving it out of a child's
education. But that does not mean that religion should be
presented to the child mind as something wholly different from
all the other things he learns, something which he must just
accept blindly and on no account question or seek to understand.

It is true that no amount of teaching can give religious
experience to either child or adult, any more than it can create
a poet, artist, or musician. But it is also true that even the
least gifted can derive great inspiration from the achievements
and example of the great. It is also true that children are by
nature hero-worshippers, and if encouraged in their early years,
can grow up to revere those who are great in spirit above those
who are merely great in martial prowess -- the warriors and
conquerors of history's sorry tale. And people taught to know
and love, not one only but also all of the world's great
spiritual leaders, will have a far better foundation on which to
build their own religious life than those brought up in either
the secularists' or the dogmatists' camp.

In approaching the question of religious instruction for
children, keep in mind certain basic principles.

First, that the capacity for clear, honest thinking is one of
man's greatest and rarest capacities, and that no matter what the
subject of their study, children should be encouraged to develop
this capacity to the utmost and to be as honest in their doubts
and questionings as in their beliefs and acceptances. Such
honesty will not lead them astray but will help them to sift the
gold from the dross and to distinguish between superstition and
faith.

Second, that, great though thought is ("the light of the world
and the chief glory of man," as Bertrand Russell has called it),
it is not man's only gift, and in the study of religion, as of
other subjects, imagination, idealism, and reverence should be
allowed full play. Encourage children to think and reason and
ask questions about the tenets and teachings that have come down
from past ages, but let them be encouraged also to love and
revere the great souls who have set examples of unselfishness and
tolerance and devotion and courage, of love for God and their
fellows. For it is only such love and reverence that can awaken
in them the desire to explore for themselves the path which those
great ones trod and to test for themselves the truth of their
religious message.

What then is the answer to our question, "What religion shall we
teach our children?" Far be it from the present writer to attempt
any final or dogmatic answer. And before attempting even a
tentative one, let me first reiterate and stress some negative
points that must never be lost sight of.

First, that we should not confine our teaching to any one of the
religious and theological systems of the world. Second, that
when teaching children, we should avoid everything controversial.
And third, that the teacher should remember always that, strictly
speaking, he cannot teach religion at all. What he is will
always speak more loudly than what he says. The utmost he can
hope to do is, by his own example and by the inspiration that he
can put into his teaching, is to make his pupils want to embark
upon the quest for themselves.

Having made these points clear, the writer's own answer as to
what the content of the teaching should be can be summarized
shortly.

Teach young children, suitable stories, both scriptural and
traditional, from all the world's religions.

At the next stage, teach outlines of the lives and teachings of
the founders of the living religions, and perhaps even of the
founders of some religions no longer living, such as Akhnaton of
Egypt.

At the next stage, teach studies of outstanding passages in the
world's sacred books.

Like trees, religions must be judged by their fruits, and since
no one of the world's faiths can claim a monopoly of good fruits,
children should be taught the facts about them all, in order that
they may grow up free from the bigotry and superiority complex
that cripple the minds of those whose early instruction is narrow
and dogmatic.

In other words, they should be taught, not just this or that
particular religion, but the perennial, universal truths that are
at the root of all. And since it is useless to expect that
teaching such as this will be given in the home, it would seem
that all religious instruction given in schools should be along
these lines. So long as school instruction also remains in the
hands of people whose chief concern is to proselytize for one
particular faith, just so long will children continue to grow up
either with narrow, exclusive notions about religion or with no
interest in it at all as at present.

It is unfortunately true that now there are almost as few
teachers as parents with the necessary interest and knowledge to
teach in this way. That can be remedied if the matter is taken
in hand by training centers and colleges and insisted upon in all
State and State-aided schools. We teach citizenship as a matter
of course these days, but who can be said to have had an adequate
course in that subject if he has been brought up in ignorance of
or with distorted ideas about the religion and customs of his
fellow-citizens? When the State takes the matter up and insists
on teaching religion as impartially and thoroughly as it teaches
other subjects, there will at last be some hope of doing away
with the rivalry, bitterness, and misunderstanding that at
present rend India in pieces and cast such a dark cloud over a
future otherwise bright with hope and promise.

------------------------------------------------------------------
WHY KARMA HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN

By Gertrude W. van Pelt

[From THE DOCTRINE OF KARMA: CHANCE OR JUSTICE, pages 33-40.]

It is natural to ask why a teaching so in harmony with facts and
common sense should not have had general recognition in western
lands, as it has in the East wherever the Ancient Wisdom has not
been forgotten. The answer is not far to seek. Western nations
have been taught to believe in a personal god outside of
themselves, one who could be influenced by prayers for special
favors -- a god who was, in fact, an enormous image of human
personality. How could people so believing be expected to
develop the impersonal, the lordly and divine side of their
natures? How could they, taught that they were born in sin and
that eternal bliss or torture was to follow this short life on
earth -- lived often against great odds and with little help;
taught also that belief in the blood of the Son of God insures
their safety: how could they, indeed, fail to have their sense of
justice blunted? The fact that, in spite of this, the qualities
of compassion, gentleness, forbearance, mercy, kindness still
flower, is a standing witness to the divinity within the heart of
man.

> But if we step outside the little circle of creed and consider
> the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of
> parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of
> Justice revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! If the criminal
> sinned only against himself, and wronged no one but himself; if
> by sincere repentance he could cause the obliteration of past
> events, not only from the memory of man, but also from that
> imperishable record, which no deity -- not even the Supremest of
> the Supreme -- can cause to disappear, then this dogma might not
> be incomprehensible. But to maintain that one may wrong his
> fellow-man, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society, and the
> natural order of things, and then -- through cowardice, hope, or
> compulsion, matters not -- be forgiven by believing that the
> spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spilt -- this is
> preposterous! Can the RESULTS of a crime be obliterated even
> though the crime itself should be pardoned? The effects of a
> cause are never limited to the boundaries of the cause, nor can
> the results of crime be confined to the offender and his victim.
>
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, ISIS UNVEILED, II, 542

It is astounding how such perversions and misinterpretations of
the true teachings ever developed; how there were ever found
people to teach them or others to believe them. No doubt there
are many mysteries connected with this that must some day be
explained. It is certain, however, that the great Teacher known
as Jesus, one of those Avataras who appear at certain cyclic
periods, never taught any of these dogmas. He came, as did every
other great Teacher, to restore once more the Ancient Wisdom --
that inexhaustible source of all the religions and philosophical
systems of the world; for Christianity was, in its beginnings,
pure Theosophy. This can be proved through an intimate study of
those times in the light of the Neo-Pythagorean and Neo-Platonic
systems.

For perhaps fifty years after the passing of Jesus, his teachings
survived, but even he could not stem the ebbing spiritual tide of
that age. A dark cycle, begun about the time of Pythagoras,
lifted a little for short periods, but gradually grew heavier,
its lethal vapors clouding man's intuitions, until in the fifth
century those recognized channels for conveying Truth -- the
Mystery Schools -- whose light had by this time burned low or
vanished, were closed by order of the Emperor Justinian.

Many of the old forms and ceremonies were, it is true, used by
the church that called itself Christian, but the life and meaning
went out of them, and new interpretations crept in, transforming
those vehicles of spiritual splendor into agents for mental
paralysis. Rites and forms distracted from realities and drugged
the souls of men. The multitudes were obsessed by selfish fear,
which was exploited by others until gradually it was as if a
dense cloud settled over men's minds, shutting out a knowledge of
the glorious past, even of the contemporaneous areas of sunshine
on the globe, such as the Golden Age of China, ushered in by
Li-Shih-min, until the Europeans were lost and isolated in the
gloom or the dark ages.

> People speak of Christianity as if it were wholly derived from
> Judaism. Very little of it is. It is, in its theology, almost
> wholly derived from misunderstood Greek thought, mainly, as said,
> from the Neo-Pythagorean and Neo-Platonic systems; and this is
> obvious to anyone who reads the writings of those who are called
> the great doctors of Christian theology, such as Dionysius, the
> so-called Areopagite, whose system is, in essentials, entirely
> taken from the Neo-Platonic philosophy. Mainly derived from him,
> again, are the present standard theological works of the Church
> of Rome: I mean the works of Thomas Aquinas. These are today the
> standard by which the theology of Rome is directed and settled
> when disputed points are to be adjudicated. And yet, while this
> is so, and while much of that which was taken over by the early
> Christian Fathers still remains as factors and words in the
> Christian theology, it has utterly forgotten the spirit of these
> early pagan thoughts, and that religion today stands reduced to a
> system of forms and ceremonies, mostly.
>
> -- G. de Purucker, FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, 420

> Practically all the civil institutions of ancient times,
> punishments among others, were based upon what took place in the
> Mystery-Schools. Such, for instance, was the crucifixion of the
> Romans, taken direct from one of the ceremonies of initiation,
> the "Mystic Death;" taken from it, stolen from it; and made an
> instrument of legal murder by the State, in later, degenerate
> times. Another instance, also taken from the ceremony of the
> "Mystic Death," was the "Cup," in India the Soma-draft; in Greece
> we find Socrates punished by drinking from the Cup of Hemlock;
> and we are reminded of Jesus, praying that the "cup" might pass
> from him. Numerous other very different instances could be cited
> ?
>
> Another instance that we might mention, of a quite different
> type, is that of the wearing of a crown, or a diadem, by civil
> rulers, formally enacted in the "coronation" of a king -- a
> ceremony adopted from the Mysteries. Some of the earliest crowns
> that they wore had outstanding spikes, reminding one of the
> "crown of thorns" of Jesus.
>
> -- G. de Purucker, FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY, 216

> It is a few philosophers who, driven by the political events of
> the day, tracked and persecuted by the fanatical Bishops of early
> Christianity -- who had yet neither fixed ritual nor dogmas nor
> Church -- it is these Pagans who founded the latter. Blending
> most ingeniously the truths of the Wisdom-religion with the
> exoteric fictions so dear to the ignorant mobs, it is they who
> laid the first foundations of ritualistic Churches.
>
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, "The Roots of Ritualism in Church and
> Masonry," BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, XI, 71, and LUCIFER, Vol.
> VI, 37, March 1889

Other remarkable instances are the festivals of the Christmas and
Easter seasons. These are materialized reflections of sacred
ceremonies of initiations held at these times and described in
symbols, which the Church interpreted as physical facts. All of
which goes to bear out our statement that Christianity IN ITS
BEGINNINGS was pure Theosophy.

From the dark ages, we have happily emerged. They are past, and
a great cycle of opportunity is before us, but the old false
dogmas have left a stain, not yet wiped out. Among those
obliterated teachings that were essential to an understanding of
life, was that of Reincarnation. It was believed in the early
centuries of this era, but discouraged by the Church when it
became a political power. Finally, at the Second Council of
Constantinople, A.D. 553, the teaching was anathematized. Thus,
gradually, the knowledge of it faded out in the dark night that
followed.

Without this fact of Reembodiment, life would be an absurdity, a
grotesque farce without meaning. The events, emotions,
ambitions, fortunes, or misfortunes of any one life-period, would
be as anomalous, as incoherent, as dislocated, as would be any
one day with the yesterdays and tomorrows blotted out. Try to
picture such a crazy unhinged day, if you can. Observing
superficially, one might say that from day to day we have the
same body, the same brain and a memory, conditions not present
between lives. But this comprehensive, archaic philosophy, every
aspect of which dovetails into every other, relating all parts to
the whole, leaves no unexplained gaps, but shows the perfect
analogy between the DAY and the LIFE-cycle.

At the close of a life, all the entities that make up the complex
nature of man, separate and go to their respective realms, as has
been stated. The body, as we know, disintegrates, and the
teaching is that its life-atoms gain experience by transmigrating
through the kingdoms of Nature. The human or reincarnating ego
passes into a state of consciousness known as Devachan, leaving
behind the groups of attributes or skandhas that make up its
personality. This longer night is for the human soul one of
absolute bliss and rest, one in which all the experiences of the
past are assimilated; all the nobler aspirations realized and
worked into the nature; and from which it awakens, refreshed and
strengthened, to take up its unfinished duties.

The striking fact in the analogy drawn between sleep and death,
is that the complete man returns identical in all his elements.
The higher aspects begin again to function together; the skandhas
again become active; even the same life-atoms that made up the
old body are magnetically attracted to their old places. The
stage is set in new surroundings but the same old actor is there
charged with the same energies, tendencies, power or lack of
power to deal with the problems that he himself has created, and
that he is therefore bound to face. Without a knowledge of these
facts it has been impossible for men to realize that they must
reap what they sow. The thread of continuity, though unbroken
and clear to the higher parts of man's constitution has been lost
to view by the brain of each succeeding rebirth. Thus with
intuition clouded by false teachings, life has become an enigma.
Our civilization is indeed an exemplar of the dire results of the
loss of a true, deeply-rooted sense of justice and
responsibility.

> The Law of KARMA is inextricably interwoven with that of
> Reincarnation.
>
> It is only this doctrine, we say, that can explain to us the
> mysterious problem of Good and Evil, and reconcile man to the
> terrible and APPARENT injustice of life. Nothing but such
> certainty can quiet our revolted sense of justice. For, when one
> unacquainted with the noble doctrine looks around him, and
> observes the inequalities of birth and fortune, of intellect and
> capacities; when one sees honor paid fools and profligates, on
> whom fortune has heaped her favors by mere privilege of birth,
> and their nearest neighbor, with all his intellect and noble
> virtues -- far more deserving in every way -- perishing of want
> and for lack of sympathy; when one sees all this and has to turn
> away, helpless to relieve the undeserved suffering, one's ears
> ringing and heart aching with the cries of pain around him --
> that blessed knowledge of Karma alone prevents him from cursing
> life and men, as well as their supposed Creator ?
>
> Truly a robust "faith" is required to believe that it is
> "presumption" to question the justice of one, who creates
> helpless little man but to "perplex" him, and to test a "faith"
> with which that "Power," moreover, may have forgotten, if not
> neglected, to endow him, as happens sometimes. Compare this
> blind faith with the philosophical belief, based on every
> reasonable evidence and life-experience, in Karma-Nemesis, or the
> Law of Retribution.
>
> ? Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans
> and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which
> adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony, tending ever to
> resume its original position, like a bough, which, bent down too
> forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigor. If it happen to
> dislocate the arm that tried to bend it out of its natural
> position, shall we say that it is the bough that broke our arm,
> or that our own folly has brought us to grief?
>
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 303-5

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