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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------ January, 2008

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

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


"Order is a Lovely Thing," by B.P. Wadia
"An Address at the Katharinebau," by Katherine Tingley
"The Nature of Creative Art," by K.S. Venkatararnani
"Shifting our Center of Consciousness," by G. de Purucker
"Life and Death," by H.T. Edge
"What Happens to Man After Death," by Winfrid von Hahn


> Every human being contains within himself vast potentialities,
> and it is the duty of the adepts to surround the would-be chela
> with circumstances which shall enable him to take the "right-
> hand path," -- if he have the ability in him. We are no more
> at liberty to withhold the chance from a postulant than we are
> to guide and direct him into the proper course . . . We allow
> our candidates TO BE TEMPTED in a thousand various ways, so as 
> to draw out the whole of their inner nature and allow it the
> chance of remaining conqueror either one way of the other.


By B.P. Wadia

[From THE BUILDING OF THE HOME, pages 46-53.]

> Do what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and
> feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice, and give thyself
> relief from all other thoughts. And thou wilt give thyself
> relief if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the
> last, laying aside all carelessness and passionate aversion from
> the commands of reason, and all hypocrisy, and self-love, and
> discontent with the portion which has been given to thee. Thou
> seest how few the things are, the which if a man lays hold of, he
> is able to live a life which flows in quiet, and is like the
> existence of the gods; for the gods on their part will require
> nothing more from him who observes these things.
> -- Marcus Aurelius

> Nothing was too trivial for the Hindu lawgiver, however offensive
> it may be to modern taste. He teaches how to eat, drink,
> cohabit, void excrement and urine, and the like, elevating what
> is mean, and does not falsely excuse himself by calling these
> things trifles.
> -- Thoreau

One of the tasks of the Theosophical practitioner is to see order
in what appears to be chaos in the whole of Nature. Human
progress can well be measured by man's capacity to perceive that
all manifestation takes place in design and rhythm, to hear the
music of the marching orbs, to see the pattern that the drop of
dew and the flake of snow make as they fall; to appreciate that
Nature PLANS movement. Extending the idea to our own
psychological nature, we have to learn to see that our failings
and fallings also take place following a design, and that we rise
from our dying or dead selves to a higher order of living also
after a pattern.

Immutable and indestructible Law is at work everywhere, and every
tyro in Theosophy knows that it is "an undeviating and unerring
tendency in the universe to restore equilibrium."

> It maketh and unmaketh, mending all;
> What it hath wrought is better than had been;
> Slow grows the splendid pattern that it plans
> Its wistful hands between.

Perfected Men servilely copy Nature in all They do. The
aspirants who have resolved to follow Them should learn to do
likewise, doing in their own restricted sphere as the Holy Ones
do in the vast expanse which is Their Home. They "the blessed
workers have received the Thyan-Kam, in the eternity" -- say THE
APHORISMS OF TSONG-KAHH-PA, and HPB explains that "Thyan-Kam is
the power or knowledge of guiding the impulses of cosmic energy
in the right direction." All men, all women, are moved onwards on
the path of progression by the mighty sweep of this cosmic
energy; when his own moral perception leads a man to swim with
its tide, bliss fills his heart; when he in ignorance thwarts the
ceaseless motion onwards, confusion enters his head and loss of
breath weakens his being; soon or late he finds out that the Law
of Motion cannot be thwarted. Seeking knowledge, he hears the

> Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as
> one of her creators and make obeisance.

The Theosophical practitioner must utilize his opportunities
morning, noon, and night to see that the inner rhythm of his
consciousness is not disturbed and that it helps him to remove
every type of disorder in his outer environment. To make the
crooked straight; to brush away the dust of disorder; to tidy up
the pell-mell; to smooth the sharp corners; to weed out one's
plot and prepare it for neat noetic action; these -- in and
through the small plain duties of life. "There is an occult
meaning to everything, and all things work together for good to
those who love the Lord (Law)," wrote Robert Crosbie.

Physical nourishment created in an enlightened kitchen will not
produce real good health unless mental rhythm and moral order are
made to guide the home. For this purpose, men and women of the
world should be taught the necessity of individual study and of
the observation of silence, as well as of pleasant conversation
which entertains and of serious discussion which enlightens.

Art and literature, philosophy and politics, and other subjects
are not worthless. The Theosophical family, however small, can
and should benefit itself by absorbing ideas to be found outside
the realm of Theosophical books, rejecting with discrimination
those that are false, lighting up those which are true with
Theosophical interpretation.

World events, great or small, tragic or pleasant, have a
different meaning when examined in the light of Theosophy, and
the Grihastha has the duty of understanding and of interpreting
them to his kin as well as to his companions. Therefore every
family needs an intellectual kitchen -- a corner for a library; a
single shelf of books and periodicals yields much cream for the
discerning reader touched by the dynamic power of Theosophy. In
this a Theosophical home should set an example.

But even more necessary than a corner for a library is a spot
where silence is observed, where the heart becomes steady and the
mind is elevated to heights of devotion. Man's heart is the Holy
of Holies and his body is the Temple; but he needs a spot for the
body to sit on, and his heart and his mind need protection from
the gales which blow from the astral light. The silent
repetition of sacred texts, the attentive reading of Holy Writ,
these develop the soul in man, and from that spot reserved for
such work comes the power which develops the Soul of the family.

The soul of the family should energize every member. All
servants and menials are such under the Law of Brotherhood which
the Theosophical student is bound to honor. Just as, by paying
right attention, the Human Ego affords to each organ of the body,
and to the cells which make that organ, due facilities for
developing in health and in strength, so should the soul of the
family give to all adults and children, masters and servants,
adequate opportunity to labor and to learn, to work and to grow.

If the application of the Law of Brotherhood be properly made in
the handling of servants, enabling them to love their duties and
to take pleasure in performing them, the master and the mistress
of the house, as well as others, will gain benefit. Every
employer is also an employee -- recognizable as such or
otherwise; the peon serves the clerk, the clerk the manager, the
manager his superiors; the Chela serves his Guru, and the Great
Ones call Themselves the Servants of Humanity.

What the lives of the body are to the Soul, the servant-class is
to the employing master in the social fabric. An employer is not
a slave-owner; an employee should feel not only economically but
also morally and spiritually dependent on the employer. This
implies a relationship similar to that which subsists between the
young Chela and his Great Guru. There is willing obedience,
cheerful cooperation, a brotherliness of a particular kind. In
India, through the institution of the servant, great good can be
achieved. In this also the Theosophical student can and should
increase in power.

IN HIS EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS (VI, 5-6), the Initiate Paul gave
some wise directions to parents and children, to masters and

> Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to
> the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart,
> as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the
> servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with
> good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing
> that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he
> receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
> And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing
> threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither
> is there respect of persons with him.

Such ideas applied to vocations and toils in the world beyond the
family would not only remove many of the existing difficulties
but would in course of time usher in the International State of
Peace with Justice to all.

Beneficent influences radiating from a home through the channel
of its ideals and practices is one aspect; there is the other --
the home should attract to itself the benign forces of its
neighborhood, of its guests, of its friends. A Theosophical home
should be a centre of study and of work towards which higher
influences stream forth, to which people seeking comfort for
heart and clarity for mind, desiring energization or inspiration,
would come, and besides -- companions wishing to share their
knowledge, their plans, their hopes, their achievements.

Sometimes students raise the question -- what about finances?
Occultism accepts the philosophy implicit in the adage -- "Cut
your coat according to the cloth." Poverty has its advantages, as
wealth has its obstacles. But the principle to be observed is
this: whatever we possess, little or much, is not really ours;
our body is nothing else but an object of trust; our sundry
possessions are objects of trust; whatever cash or stock we have
we hold in trust for the great Cause and for the service of human
souls. Thrift and frugality are virtues to be practiced by the
student who may be rolling in wealth, as generous sharing of what
we have with others can and should be practiced by those who are

The Law of Necessity is another name for Karma. Nature never
works unnecessarily. That which is not necessary should be
avoided. Nature is bountiful, profusely so, but her economy is
marvelously profound. The great Mother provides for every
necessity of every son; her home, the Earth, has never been
struck with poverty; men and women in their great selfishness
spoil the labor of her love and produce war in place of peace,
passion in place of compassion.

In his life the Theosophical aspirant should observe this law of
necessity and many of his difficulties would vanish -- they never
existed. Thus he will find time to apply remedies to those which
do exist, and also time for the unfoldment of inner soul-powers,
till he is able to wear the jewels of the paramitas. In every
sphere of life with the unnecessary removed, we serve the
ever-increasing wealth of Nature.

But all of us are children of the Kali-Yuga, and to the best of
us come inheritances of body and psyche pertaining to the cycle.
Disappointment and despair, mental anguish and bodily aches,
losses of many kinds often overtake us. The Dark Age devours
millions who do not or will not learn to use it by acquiring the
knowledge by which it can be devoured.

That knowledge is Theosophy and its votary can benefit himself,
lighting up the darkness of the Yuga. He should be prepared:
temptation will test him at every turn; life has for him a lesson
in every event. If he would follow the Wisdom-Teaching let him
learn to perceive the radiance behind every phenomenon of the
Dark Age. Thankful that the sun, the moon, the stars, and
man-made lamps help him to walk onwards, he should convince
himself that his destiny is to become a Self-luminous being. The
World of Divine Astral Light radiates, even though passions hard
as iron makes this earth impervious to its benign influence,
enveloping it in black darkness.

How can the Theosophical practitioner attempt to catch the light
which shines in darkness? It is by a constant effort to read the
meaning of every event which is a symbol. Events are emblems.
Every phenomenon has its noumenon. By educating himself, the
practitioner can come to decipher the stable Reality behind and
within the mighty magic of Prakriti.

All the mundane acts of life's routine are symbols -- each with a
meaning and a message. The act of waking every morning is
analogous to the soul's preparing itself for a new incarnation.
If he is wise, the student will use one noble thought in place of
the prospective vision of the ego in Devachan. The act of
bathing is a baptism -- cleansing the body for the soul to dwell
in. To remember great ideas, to repeat holy words, is to invite
the Inner Ego to guide our conduct. This is symbolized in the
Sacred Thread ceremony of the Hindu or the Parsi. To breakfast
is a symbol; to go to work is a symbol; to seek recreation is a
symbol; to return home to one's kin is a symbol; to retire is a
symbol. Birthday is a symbol, funeral is a symbol, marriage is a
symbol -- the uniting of the personal to the individual self.
Life becomes sacred because all its acts and events are looked
upon as sacraments.

The Home of the Theosophist is a temple where minds worship to
gain enlightenment; where hearts feel peace and bliss; where
hands are active to create beauty of form as of feeling; where
amity energizes all to better and nobler living. All these
constitute an Ideal. But every ideal is realizable. Let us try
to realize the ideal Theosophy holds aloft for the Grihastha --
the Gentle Man.


By Katherine Tingley

[A talk given in Nurnberg, Germany on May 23, 1922 which appeared
in THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1922, pages 210-17.]

Friends, I deeply regret my inability to speak your beautiful
language; but in spite of this obstacle I wanted to do something
for the people of your country; and so, in my enthusiasm, I have
come to Germany in my present lecture-tour through America and
Europe. My object is to bring to you a message of encouragement
and good cheer.

As you know, the American nation is made up of people from many
different countries; yet there still remains in America the old
American spirit of fair play and love of justice; and I am not
ready to say that those in my country who believe in brotherhood
and justice, encouraged the idea of sending over our American
soldiers to Europe. I myself am a peace-maker; so are the
members of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society,
which I represent; I carry the strain of the suffering of all
countries. Particularly is my sympathy with yours now, when the
discouraging aspects of the treaty are before you.

From the experiences that I have had in Berlin, I feel that it
will be only a little while before something splendid will happen
to relieve your anxiety; that in some unexpected way, as though
the light had forced itself through the dark horizon of your
present condition, justice will be done you.

My heart is very much attuned to the suffering of the people; I
feel that the message of Theosophy is so optimistic, so
convincing, so encouraging, so uplifting, and so inspiring that
even though you do not understand my language you will know that
I am very much in earnest and that I am absolutely satisfied that
Theosophy is the saving power of the world. Without Theosophy
there is no way of solving the crying problems of the present

During the war I can vouch for the fact that thousands of people
in all countries found it impossible to feel that they could call
upon the accepted, orthodox, personal God and pray for the
success of any one of the contending nations. We Theosophists
realize that the divine laws are immutable and infinite; we
believe in the Supreme, in Deity, in the Omnipresent,
All-powerful, All-compassionate, Infinite, and Unknowable Source
of Light and Life.

Without Theosophy there is no way in the world that you can
settle in your own mind and to the satisfaction of your own
reason why you are here, whence you came, and whither you go. To
a very large degree you are unacquainted with the splendid
potentialities of the spiritual man. You know so little about
him, because all down the ages you have been psychologized with
fear. You have been taught that you were born in sin, and you
have also been taught that life on earth is limited to
seventy-five or a hundred years. You have been given no grand
vision of the possibilities of man -- of his dignity and the
potential qualities of the spiritual man. But Theosophy gives
these to you.

So the message that I hope will warm your hearts tonight is this:
Build up a new courage in your minds and in your hearts. I know
you have your longings and your yearnings; there are many noble
people everywhere; there are thousands who would sacrifice their
lives for their country; but I say, it is better for you to live
for your country than to die for it.

Theosophy teaches that man is something more than he seems, that
he is immortal, that he has a grand and superb future, and that
in order to avail himself of this future, in order to bring out
the divinity of his own nature, he must have the light ahead to
show him the path. Theosophy can be that light; but each man
makes his own path. Each man can make of his life a blessing or
a blasphemy. Each man is his own savior and the controller of
his own destiny.

Theosophy teaches that man must evolve through his own efforts,
through the inspiration of his own divine nature, through the
light of his soul, through the knowledge that he has gained by
self-conquest and by trust in the infinite law. Thus, through
the study of Theosophy, will man find that after all, life is
joy, in spite of the distressing circumstances that surround him.

But when I say that life is joy, I refer to the real life, the
spiritual life, truly, the Theosophical life. It is not the life
of the senses that will bring this happiness. How many people
are there in the world today, outside of Theosophists, who
believe in the potentiality of their own higher natures, in the
power of their soul, in the dignity of the royal manhood that
belongs to the race through self-evolution? Alas, I say, there
are very, very few. To be sure, the world has its culture, the
reasoning faculties and the intellectual qualities are splendidly
cultivated on many lines, but when the human race, individually
or collectively, attempts to work out the mysteries of life by
depending solely on cold reason, humanity finds itself in the
shadows of uncertainty, unacquainted with itself and afraid of
the future.

So I say to you that no matter from what standpoint you look at
life, the only hope for yourselves, your country, humanity, and
particularly your children is Theosophy. But in order that
Theosophy should bring you the fulfillment of your hope, you must
not only study it, you must live it, become splendid examples of
right action, of pure living; and thus, by the power and dignity
of your own souls and the cultivation of your conscience which is
a part of your spiritual nature, you can evolve a power of
perception and discernment that will enable you to look beyond
the shadows of today into a brighter tomorrow. I declare to you,
though I am not a prophetess, that the immutable, divine laws
work towards justice; they are justice itself, and justice shall
yet bring your country out of the shadows. How soon this will
be, I cannot tell, but it is in my heart, it is in my mind, and I
dare to look ahead and to say that for you.

The very condition that humanity is in today, each country
grasping for territory, each man striving for power, conquering
nations imposing unnecessary and cruel suffering on a conquered
nation, is against the laws of justice, the laws of compassion,
and the laws of God.

There is a simple way of doing everything. Your country which is
so famous for its wonderful composers -- its rare, classical
music -- did not evolve your Mozarts and your Beethovens without
years of study and practice. And so it must be with Theosophy;
you must first begin to find yourselves, to challenge yourselves,
to believe that you are something more than you have thought you
were. You must know that you are governed by the spiritual as
well as by the physical laws of life; you must realize that it is
the lower part of your nature, the physical, mortal part, with
its passions, its selfishness and its personal desires, that
makes you discouraged or disconsolate, or that permits you to
make mistakes and indulge in vices.

These things come not from the soul; the divine, infinite laws do
not support them. So first of all, man must know himself.
Jesus, as well as the Greek philosophers, taught that. Did not
the Nazarene promise you that you would find the Kingdom of
Heaven within? Theosophy accentuates this teaching and makes it
clear. You remember also that when his disciples wondered at the
marvels that he did, Jesus said to them: Greater things than
these shall ye do. Thus he admitted that the divine laws control
man, acknowledged the soul life in all, and showed that man must
evolve through his own will and learn the power of self-control.

In pursuing this line of thought, we find within ourselves two
natures in one: the higher, nobler nature, and the lower,
undeveloped, animal nature -- the higher the immortal, the lower
the mortal. And when the time comes that you have finished your
earth-life and meet the change that is named death, Theosophy
says that you do not die; that your real self, the Ego, is
released from the body, the worn out and tired physical coat or
house you have lived in. It goes to dust with its vices, its
mistakes, its weaknesses, and its despair; but the immortal soul
is released and goes to its own condition; and at the proper time
and under the proper circumstances, returns to earth and takes up
another life in order to evolve the perfect man. This is called
the doctrine of reincarnation.

Fifty years ago if I had taught these ideas or called them to the
attention of the public, even in free America I am sure I would
have been hissed off the stage. But today the most advanced
minds, the most thoughtful, the most scientific, are taking up
the study of Reincarnation and accepting it.

Theosophy rejects the old ideas of heaven and hell. It teaches
that man, with his willpower and his desire for self-evolution
and vision of the possibilities of life cannot in seventy or a
hundred years do justice to himself or to the higher law. He
leaves the earth with his aspirations, with his loves, with his
hopes, and he returns; and these aspirations, loves, and hopes do
not die. They are attributes of the soul. So in the truest,
deepest sense, even though our loved ones seem to die, they do
not. The essence of their love lives on, and though we do not
hear from them, as many good spiritists think, yet on the inner
plane, in the deepest recesses of the heart, glorious, superb,
inspiring, and immortal love holds true. And just as far as man
is attuned in his thoughts to these higher things, just so far
can he realize within himself that those he loves have simply
gone on before; and that while there may be spiritual communion,
it is a mistake to look for verbal communications, for there is
nothing in the higher law that will permit the retrogression of a
liberated soul.

The true spiritual communion is not in words; it is nothing to be
spoken about; it is a benediction that will come to us in the
moments of aspiration and touch the soul with its silent power --
ingrain itself so deeply into the mind and the life that while it
cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot touch, yet the inner man,
the higher man, has found something that no words can describe.
He lives in the thought of those who have passed on before and
are carrying out their mission. According to the higher law that
we cannot fully explain, by working with it, man finds his own

If every individual in Germany could have the conviction that I
have today, something would happen to your country that would
astonish you. There would be an aggregation of optimistic
thought that would bind you together in such harmony and unity
that it would be an indescribable blessing to you; it would
strengthen in you the spirit of brotherhood; it would bind your
hearts together in the love of these eternal verities, the love
of right and justice. I am as convinced of this as I am that I
shall be here tomorrow.

Since having Theosophy to bind my heart to the world's needs,
since finding that it enlarges my conception of life and my
compassion for all that lives, since it brings sunshine into my
life and the lives of those whom I have helped, I feel that in
offering you Theosophy I have given you a message that is of more
value to you than millions of dollars. Many others of course
have the disposition to help in other ways; all I can do is to
attune my heart and my thought to your heartaches and your
disappointment and to try to leave with you something of my
better self, something of my higher self, something of that
wonderful science, philosophy, and religion known as Theosophy.

In the limited time at my disposal I can but touch the surface of
the Theosophical teachings -- give a hint here and there that may
stir your hearts and minds and move you to look into Theosophy
for yourselves. Do not be afraid of it; do not lose your courage
or your interest because people in this city, or other cities in
Germany or other countries, have been offering you a so-called
Theosophy with no life in it, no example of spirituality behind
it, and in many respects the very antithesis of true Theosophy --
wild, weird, and uncanny, nothing practical, a perfect

Theosophy is so simple that a child can understand it; it is
nothing that you have to pay for; all you have to do is to have
courage to believe that there is something more in the world to
learn than you have yet learned. The key to the whole situation
begins with the idea: "I will try to believe in the spirituality
of my own nature." You must clear your mind of your prejudices,
of its limitations; you must forget all the wrongs that have been
done you; you must learn to love your neighbor as yourself; you
must forgive your enemies and aim to set a superb example for
better things for the whole world.

True, Theosophy may appear to you at first to be an enigma, a
mystery, just as your music was when you first began to study.
But after a while, by concentrated study and practice, you will
believe that out in the great big world there is justice in spite
of the things that you see today. Rejoice in the friendship of
the trees and the flowers, and all the sweet things that nature
has given you; look into the wonderful eyes of your children, who
come to you from somewhere -- you know not where. You may be
able to explain a little of their physical development before
birth, but you cannot explain the mystery of that wonderful
inside self, the soul.

Mothers and fathers may think these children belong to them
entirely; but if the mothers and fathers have Theosophy, if they
have prepared themselves for the responsibilities of parenthood
and look upon their children as treasures of the gods, the little
ones can soon be taught to realize that their responsibilities
begin when they are born.

There must be fashioned and impressed into the mind of the child
something of the higher nature of father and mother. To
accomplish this needs no logic, no explanations, no books; it
only needs the heart-urge and trust in all that I have referred
to. You will begin to teach them the power of self-control. It
takes only a few years for a boy to grow into manhood. I wonder,
when you think of the criminals behind the bars, do you ever go
back to the time when they were in the arms of the loving
mothers? I am always pleading for the so-called criminals; I
believe in abolishing the death penalty.

"Criminal" is not the right word for them; they are mental and
moral invalids, and their troubles began in their childhood, in
their little uncontrolled tempers, their ugly moods and selfish
ways. The seeds of their difficulties were then being sown; but
they appeared so dear and so sweet and so innocent, that their
weaknesses were overlooked -- sometimes even encouraged. Mother
indulges them and father indulges them. They think their
children are the greatest in the world. They forget that there
is a law working in the lives of those little ones that cannot be
interfered with.

In the course of time, the seeds of indulgence sown in their
tender years will spring up, and through the failure to learn the
secret of self-control, under an impulse which was allowed in
childhood, fevered and allured by the outer things of life, the
crime or the mistake is committed. And then we railroad the
offender off to prison! We put him behind iron bars! We shut out
the sunlight from his life and we close our hearts against the
teachings of Jesus who enjoined forgiveness and brotherly love!

When you have found Theosophy and it has become a part of your
daily life, the mind attunes itself to the wee small voice of
conscience, and after awhile you will find music in life, joy in
life, peace in life, and love for all men. Can you not see that
my enthusiasm is born of the knowledge of these things? Could you
conceive that I could come across the waters, travel through
Europe with my workers, asking nothing in return, unless I had a
very high motive? There is no price on Theosophy. I beg of you,
I urge you, and I pray for you in my own Theosophical way not to
let a day pass until you have found a way to interpret what I
have said; because when man reaches a point, through the study
and application of Theosophy, where he can find through the power
of his spiritual will, which is immortal, that he can say as
Jesus said, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" he shall conquer his
weaknesses, his deceits, his idiosyncrasies, his greed, his

Cannot you believe, is it not easy to believe, is it not best to
believe that happiness can be found on earth, and that instead of
having nation against nation, religion against religion, brother
against brother, we shall find a wonderful, sweeping, pulsating,
inspiring power of unity? That is what your country needs, and
you have it to a large degree. I know how you love your
fatherland, and it is very beautiful. I think you are very
courageous. But I have so much respect for you and I am so
convinced that you are on the right path that I know you do not
want war. I am determined in my conviction that you have the
power to adjust the difficulties of your own nation by putting
your mental houses in order, your moral houses in order, by
living with the vision or the picture of the possibilities of
your country.

Forget the past. Forgive your enemies. Close the doors on the
dark shadows that have surrounded you, and look forward with a
new hope. Search for the deeper meaning of life. And out of the
busy life you lead in solving the bread-and-butter question, you
can at least take fifteen or twenty minutes a day to find out
something of Theosophy.

Theosophy is as old as the ages. It was known and lived
centuries before the time of Jesus. It is called the
Wisdom-Religion. Madame Blavatsky was really the good angel who
brought it into modern life. She declared it was not hers but
that she had garnered the essential truths of all religions. In
her deep and profound study, with the same kind of urge that I
have -- a burning love for humanity -- she found the secret of
life, which has ever been a living power, because truth cannot
die. But truth has been overshadowed by the centuries of wrong
education -- by man having been taught the literal meaning of
life instead of the spiritual.

Did you ever think what hypocrites some religions have made of
men? When a man who can feel at his best moments that he is
something more than he seems, has to go through life bowing and
bending his knees in trembling fear and accepting the idea that
he was born in sin, and declaring that he believes, when he
cannot live the life -- hypocrisy is the result. Theosophy does
not accept the idea that man was born in sin, but simply that he
is born imperfect -- a ray of the great central source of all,
buried in the flesh and trying to bring about the perfection of
man life after life. I cannot believe that Beethoven and Mozart
came to this earth and did what they did just in one life and
then went to glory. Not I!

The great composers who can give us the music that Beethoven and
Mozart and the others have given, had something in them of the
immortal fire, of the immortal life; and just as far as the human
mind could grasp it, they gave it to us. We cannot but believe
that they are still working; and if we had our ears attuned to
spiritual things, we might catch some of the grand symphonies
that our souls long for when we hear the best music.

In order to have my audience love me just a little bit so as to
be willing to listen, I always desire to lift it up to a picture
of the glory and beneficence of these infinite laws. They are
everywhere around us; they are serving us all the time, and all
we have to do is to turn our backs on the past and to stand face
to face with the possibilities of a larger and a fuller and a
richer life.

One never can evolve, one never can find any satisfaction in the
heart, and there will never be any certainty in life until man
has realized that he possesses the divine power of self-control.
No matter how old you are, you can begin tomorrow to study
Theosophy and in a year or two you may know just as much perhaps
as some of the great composers knew in their moments of
inspiration. Where spiritual aspiration exists and the mind is
attuned to a belief in man's higher possibilities, the immortal
soul opens the door of imagination, and in the course of his
experiences on earth, man may become a god through
self-evolution. I thank you.


By K.S. Venkatararnani

[From THE ARYAN PATH, May 1948, pages 216-21]

What is Life? What is Art? What is Criticism? These are questions
that go to the roots of Life and Art. A careful and detached
exploration of these processes will give us the very mystery of
life, the pearl-like drop of dew that a blade of grass gives us
in the morning sun. We know not how. Nonetheless it is there to
reflect in prismatic splendor the glory of the sun and the
universe and the life that it bedecks.

If Life be the play called forth by the primal urge of evolution,
Art is the great mirror that reflects this play of life and
imprisons for joy and study the evanescent flow of life in its
immortal mood. Art helps you in the same way in which a mirror
helps you -- enabling you to see yourself truly and well till you
see All. Art and Criticism make the mirror to each other so that
Life and Truth may be truly reflected and the Soul of Man led on
proper flights to the footstool of God. So some of our greatest
queries are centered round this grand inquiry into what Life,
Art, and Criticism are.

Let us first see what Art is, to know what Life is. Art, like
Life, has one common messenger of God: Sound or Rhythm, the
spoken or the written word. Even where the word is not the
medium, Rhythm, the Soul of Sound, is the medium of all Arts.
This Rhythm lies imbedded in Architecture, Sculpture, Painting,
Music, as well as Literature -- as the Soul of Beauty. So Rhythm
serves as the universal voice of all Arts and of Life.

Every Art has its own peculiar instruments of expression, through
which the Rhythm is assembled and created. Architecture and
sculpture work out the universal soul through hard and unyielding
stones; painting, through fastidious colors; music through flimsy
instruments or the difficult and taxing human voice; and
literature through half-baked or hard-baked, overloaded, and
overused words. Literature has always to earn its life by the
alchemic touch of the artist's own personality, changing the
copper into gold and reminting the words.

Words either spoken or printed ultimately rely on the quality of
sound and associative ideas for their suggestive appeal to the
mind and their literary quality. Sound, Vibration, is the
original value as the source of creation, and the master
craftsman in letters seeks to capture this rhythm through the
sound value of words and the allusive enrichment they bring
forth. The noblest passages of Shakespeare or Valmiki derive
their vitality and suggestion of infinity mainly through the
intricate or simple rhythm. The pure meaning of words in their
individual or collective capacity plays but a very subordinate

Words, by birth, ancestry, and tradition are as hard as marble
and become smooth and shining only in the hands of a master
craftsman. It is the problem of the personality of the creative
artist to render this opaque material glowing and transparent by
the transmuting touch of his own sincerity. Then only he
liberates the imprisoned soul of the word and the soul of

But what is sincerity? Feeling is its mother, and its
transmutation into another form at higher levels is thought.
But, by a strange irony of fate, every time such conversion and
storage take place in the intricate economy of human nature, the
less powerful becomes the original impulse and the capacity to
convert, in equal measure and with the same purity, feeling into
thought. You become either a hardened cynic or a weakened

By his inborn yogic power and advanced still further no doubt by
his own tapas, the creative artist gains this magic power which
is creative Art, to keep the feeling forever fresh and
unimpaired. Sublime thought is vision, like the flame that
bursts from the fuel, and it gives one a glimpse of the rhythmic
beats of cosmic life; the ultimate nature of reality, a glimpse
of Satyam or God, the feeling of utter advaitic kinship with all
life, the sense of perfect oneness. Pray remember that through
all this intricate process of ascent of consciousness, feeling is
never extinguished. Once feeling is extinguished, the movement
deadens, art languishes, and words lose their magic touch and

Let us then enquire why to man alone this strange gift of speech
is given, why this choice blessing of words. Without it the
animal kingdom lives a satisfied life, expressing in faultless
style, though within a limited range, its own aims, passions, and
appetites. It is in order that man may lead a higher life. That
he may widen the range as well as the quality of his
consciousness, keep alive his receptivity, receive every kind of
message in sunshine and in storm and, by sublimating his mode of
experience, extend his consciousness till he knows the nature of

The gift of speech is an august step in evolution towards
self-realization. The whole of life, from amoeba to man, has
been striving for this joy and craving for a perfect voice. For
in its inmost heart, it knows that vibration is life, that sound
is Brahman. To realize and to communicate however faintly that
Ananda, there can be no more apt instrument than the human voice.
For words widen the range of Swa-anubhava and experience, create
and involve the mind in a greater knowledge of itself. Hence it
surrenders to the churning mind a subtler rhythm, a deeper vision
of the Atman, of what is Satyam and imperishable. Feeling and
sincerity carry this healing, renovating touch.

Let us now explore "words" from the point of view of authentic
literary critics of the West. Sir Walter Raleigh in his famed
essay on "Style" says: "A word is an operative symbol of a
relation between two minds." This is hardly a complete
definition, as it expresses only the objective relationship of
the personality to the environment, and, as I will tell you later
on, a great creative artist thinks of no audience; his Self, his
inner Self, is the sole audience, and he writes for its joy and
satisfaction. A word is as much a symbol of relationship between
the Artist and his Atman.

How does this symbol operate? By associative memory, no doubt.
But associative memory relies on conjuring up the reality behind
a word only through the medium of sound vibration. Strictly
speaking, every word suffers a kind of death every time it is
used. And it is the problem of personality of the creative
writer, or the literary artist, to change this ancient load of
inheritance and uses into a golden symbol of something new,
fresh, and originating. That is possible only when there is some
authentic experience in which the creative artist rejoices; he
has to express that joy by charging this power into, and
reissuing the old word with, a new stamp like a new king who has
just ascended the throne.

Let us next explore what "Style" is. Just as a wall emerges out
of bricks, style is the result of words. Buffon's definition,
"that the style is the man" has all the merits which suggestive
brevity always carries with it, especially when it is the nearest
approach to Truth. It destroys the dual conception that is so
fatal to a proper understanding of style and reveals the mode of
critical approach to it, emphasizing the oneness of style with
its matter. This definition keeps words in immediate touch with
reality. Thoreau says: --

> Literary gentlemen, editors, and critics think that they know how
> to write because they have studied grammar and rhetoric; but they
> are egregiously mistaken. The art of composition is as simple as
> the discharge of a bullet from a rifle and its masterpieces imply
> an infinitely greater force behind them.

To Thoreau, style is an indivisible whole. Walter Pater says the
same thing: "As a quality of style, soul is the fact," and truly
the old idea that "Soul is form" is the key to the solution of
the problem of style.

Sir Walter Raleigh says: "It is not what a word means but what it
means to you that is of the deepest import." That is true.
Surely the vitality of a word depends on the degree of strength
which you are able to project into it by your own personality.
For purposes of trade and commerce and the inanities of daily
life, every word has no doubt a meaning attached to it almost as
if it were by a statute. But it is really dead weight in the
atmosphere of art unless the creative artist by his magic touch
raises the dead and makes the word live by reflecting his soul.

Middleton Murry says that "a strong and decisive original emotion
is the source of style." This would be true if not applied to the
mode in which a writer assimilates his experience and returns it
in art productions, but confined only to his choice of subjects.
A decisive original emotion is valuable in selecting a particular
subject and laying the plot and the foundations as best suits his
experience. The decisive original emotion really decides only
the choice of a subject and the birth of an idea in the vaguest
forms of ecstasy like a racing cloud in the monsoon sky. It will
not yield us the secrets of creative art.

Gustave Flaubert says: "It is impossible to detach the form from
the idea for the idea only exists by virtue of the form." This is
testimony indeed from one of the greatest and most fastidious and
conscientious of artists. To a particular mode of experience as
sensed and revealed by a creative artist, every idea has only one
word to convey it correctly, and that is the unique word of
Flaubert. It is not that the word is the same for all artists
for all time. But to that personality, for every idea there is
only one word, the unique word, to reveal the idea in its
ultimate reality. So perfect is the fusion then between idea and
form that it results in a perfect rhythm.

It is clear to my mind that the search for the word, the unique
word of Flaubert, understood as above, is in essence the search
for the vision of Truth. It is a search for reality, for Satyam.
So sincerity eventually equates with Truth.

Creative art and Criticism are ONE.

To sum up finally: In any true view of great art, there is no
audience except the artist himself. A master craftsman in his
infinite absorption in his work, in his highest and loneliest
hours of communion, never thinks of the audience. There is a
complete annihilation of duality in the transcendental joy of
Swa-anubhava, or self-experience and self-expression. The
artist's soul is the audience as well as the auditor. Auditor
and audience merge into one in the God-intoxicated, inspired
artist. Matter and form become one. Sound and sense become one,
as Kalidasa formulates the basic rule of literature and art in
the opening stanza of "Raghuvamsa." If these great conditions of
art are not satisfied, the result is not creative art or
literature, but mere commercial production, coming at its best
under De Quincey's classification of "literature of knowledge"
and not of POWER.

Literary composition, all great art indeed, is one of the
authentic modes of self-realization, releasing the flow of mind
energy in rhythmic patterns, thus infusing greater tranquility in
human affairs. Art needs no ritual or ceremony but a profound
sincerity of thought and feeling that detaches the gross body at
the golden end of the pen and liberates the inner spirit of man
to survey and comprehend to the full, and to compose the endless
diversities and conflicts of life in this mysterious universe.

The great South Indian Sanskrit poet and statesman and Advaiti,
Neelakanta Deekshatar's definition of the functions of art is the
best to my mind and is quite in keeping with our own authentic
traditions of Art and Life, always inseparable.

He says that "Kavithai itself is conceived as a yoga-sadhana."
Self-expression in art is an authentic mode of self-realization
-- a yoga that transforms the mind energy into its higher forms
till Ananda is realized, a state where work is still dynamic but
rhythmic, where the mind loses its lower accents and tones and
acquires the higher. The restless, the predatory, the
acquisitive, and the selfish instincts of the mind are
transformed into the peaceful, the non-predatory,
non-acquisitive, and selfless spontaneities of the soul and usher
in a state and a society where the policeman is the individual.

Art conceived and executed as yoga-sadhana and not as shapely
products for the gains of commerce, kills the asura qualities in
man and liberates the imprisoned Atma gunas as outlined in THE
BHAGAVAT-GITA, thus slowly transforming the human into the divine
in the ever-ascending spiral of human consciousness.

Art as yoga destroys the duality that erects the conflicting
barriers and limitations of life and enables you to see the unity
in diversity, the oneness of all life from amoeba to man. This
"vision splendid" is reached only when the restless and unsteady
mind is slowly sublimated through rhythm, through the immersion
of the mind in Nadha-Brahmam or rhythmic sound.

What is rhythm? Rhythm is the basic wand of creation. Rhythm is
as creative as an atom bomb is destructive. The quest of all
artists -- the architect, the sculptor, the painter, the poet,
and the composer-musician -- is to contact on bended knees this
goddess of Rhythm and have a glimpse through her of the nature of
Reality or of God. For rhythm is vital to perception and vision.
Rhythm gives the yogic mind, the mind without attachment, but
still active in the wake of its duties; the mind which works but
still desires not the fruits of action, the mind which does
nishkamya karma spontaneously.

Pray, remember that Sound is the firstborn of creation and Rhythm
the firstborn of Sound. Rhythm is the cornerstone of cosmic
life. It is the root source of all constructive energy which, in
the leela or play of creation, interlocks itself into the
rhythmic pattern and the till now impregnable fortress of the
atom and the molecule, the vivid crystallization of energy into
matter. Science, in the innocence of its ignorance of the true
cosmic process, is seeking light and knowledge by the back
staircase, knowledge of creation through destruction. But we are
releasing this imprisoned energy in the atom through the wrong

Flood water, if canalized, irrigates; otherwise it inundates and
destroys. Atomic energy as released through science is
destructive; released thorough art as a yoga-sadhana, it
divinizes the ascent of man and the whole of life.

In conclusion -- Rhythm is as creative as the atom bomb is
destructive. It is an enrichment of the totality of
consciousness and not a mere accumulation of cyclopedic
knowledge. Creative art is a yoga-sadhana whose highest
fulfillment is in the Path that it shows towards
self-realization. Self-expression based on rhythm and
Swa-anubhava gently takes you on to self-realization, like the
river to the sea, for all her lazy windings. That is why
rhythmic activity based on self-experience is so vital to the
individual. It never destroys, but integrates. So, truly,
Kavithai is a yoga-sadhana; and the test is that it should take
you to the footstool of God -- give you Brahma-Gnayanam,
self-realization, the Highest Knowledge. Otherwise it is not
creative art.

Art and Criticism, under this selective conception of a great
ideal, become the noblest striving of man, work that is worship
at the most exalted level, seeking Divine Grace and Joy in a
dynamic daily surrender.

I already see the faint streaks of the day struggling against the
heavier darkness of early dawn. I feel sure that we will soon
learn to release the atomic energy in rhythmic patterns of love,
spreading over the diverse races of the world now in conflict,
chaos, sorrow, and suffering -- but not without the help of a
free India, the cradle-land of religions and civilizations. The
world will learn the way to true peace and love only when India
takes her rightful place among the nations and assumes once again
her cultural and spiritual leadership in human affairs. Atomic
energy released by the poet and the yogi and not by the scientist
will save the world.


By G. de Purucker

[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 16-24.]

What ails the world? Can its ills be cured by shifting politics,
changing forms of government which change themselves with time,
or by a change of mind and heart which actually will produce
effectual results that every normal man today feels are needed --
if for nothing else than to divert into harmless channels the
psychic energy gathering for the crisis which all, clearly or
vaguely, feel impending? But what about politics? Had we naught
but politics to depend upon, I for one feel that the case would
pass from being desperate to being hopeless. Fortunately there
is a way out.

I have always felt that the Theosophist, as an individual man,
could and should follow what politics he pleases -- if indeed he
cares to follow any; but I have likewise felt that ethics,
individual and collective, are an incomparably more practical and
interesting phase of human life.

Political theories change and vary from century to century, or
oftener; and what one age thinks is the proper way in which to
conduct the affairs of the world is usually rejected in the next
age. That is one reason why we Theosophists do not touch upon
politics in our private or public gatherings. They are strictly
banned therefrom because of the obvious fact that men usually
fight like Kilkenny cats about politics, and fight as foolishly;
but all men agree upon the fundamental verities of morals or
ethics -- and the grand lessons taught by philosophy, and the
inspiration of religion as contrasted with religions, are, both
of them, of unsurpassed importance in their sway over human
thought and imagination.

As a rule it is only when men have lost confidence in religious
matters, or have come to look upon philosophy as a dry-as-dust
system of empty speculation without practical value, that they
turn to politics in order to find what seems to them an
interesting and sometimes, alas, a lucrative pursuit and outlet
for latent energy.

As regards politics, we hold that what individuals want to think
or believe or practice as political theory is a matter for each
individual to decide for himself. We simply do not concern
ourselves, as an organization, with politics, and as such we are
traditionally and rigidly non-political in every sense of the
word. Personally I consider politics as being too futile a waste
of time. Even in any one era, like our own, what one part of the
world believes to be the political salvation of mankind, another
part of the world rejects perhaps with contempt and holds in

You cannot get men to come together into bonds of genuine
brotherhood on a political platform of any kind. Political
unions are proverbially loose and unstable; and the obvious
reason is that politics do not reach into and touch the deeper
strings of man's heart that are common to all men, nor fascinate
the higher reaches of his mind. In other words, politics are not
interesting enough. We Theosophists, I repeat, as an
organization do not bother with these things; but, as
individuals, our members think, and can think, and do think,
whatever they please, and they act in accordance with their
opinions and conscience -- at least as far as I know.

Now, as regards the sometimes mooted question of the individual
ownership of money and property, I myself, as a follower and
student of the ancient and traditional path of discipleship,
believe that no permanent, no enduring, no genuine happiness can
be found merely in the ownership of material things at any time.
In other words I might even be said to believe in and to accept
the old statement found in the Christian New Testament,
summarized somewhat as follows: "Except ye leave father and
mother, wife or child, and property, and follow me, ye cannot
enter into the kingdom of the gods."

Obviously, this stern mandate applies only so far as the man is
concerned who is desirous of becoming one with that sublime
Brotherhood of noble-hearted Men whose whole life is devoted to
the betterment of the human race as a whole; for if such
individual disciple have family-attachments or
property-attachments, he is thereby bound to them, and his
energies and interests are more or less diffused and dissipated

This, however, in its application to mankind as a majority in no
wise signifies that a man should neglect any smallest duty if he
has already assumed it; nor should he leave father or mother, or
wife or child, or even property, until he has made proper,
equitable, and generous provision in all senses of the word for
those depending upon him, and taken proper care for the
administration of the property which every true man must realize
he holds in trust for the happiness of others.

Remember that a man's future destiny depends upon that which his
heart most loves now. If his heart is set solely upon acquiring
personal property for himself and for those associated with him,
how indeed can he free himself from the bonds of personal ties,
from the bonds which hold him fast in the worldly life? That of
course is not politics; but it is ethics and religion and
philosophy and true science, because when properly understood its
meaning is this: Love not these things; set not your heart upon
them so that your heart thereby becomes enchained, becomes bound,
becomes shackled. Use them, however, as you use all other good
things of earth; but use them as a master of them, not as a slave
to them.

Lest I be misunderstood, let me say here once for all, that I
have absolutely no patience with, nor sympathy for, the actions
of the man who abandons those who are dependent upon him merely
for the sake of pursuing his own career, even if it be a
spiritual career. A man cannot fulfill a greater duty if he
willfully and cruelly neglects or ignores the smaller duty. A
man who does at all times and in all places even his worldly
duties is the man who is on the right path.

Should it happen to a man -- and this is one of those rare,
exceedingly rare cases -- that he is called to follow the path of
chelaship, i.e., of discipleship, he cannot make a proper
beginning in following this path if he plays the part of a coward
by ignoring the duties he has already assumed. These duties he
must either first fulfill and then become free in an honorable
and upright and kindly way and by mutual understanding with those
depending upon him, and after providing for them; or, if they are
already provided for, then by mutual agreement that after a time
at least, he shall be free to follow the dictates of his soul.

The Theosophist above everything is not a non-social being; the
Theosophist recognizes his social obligations as keenly as
anyone, and perhaps more keenly than the vast majority. The
Theosophist believes in marriage; he believes in being a good
citizen, for he cannot be a good Theosophist unless he is a good
husband and father, son and brother, and does his duty by the
state under whose protection he lives. And this applies to all,
irrespective of who they are.

The Theosophist as a believer in and teacher of brotherhood and
peace, which includes amelioration and betterment in human
relations of all kinds, is de facto a believer in law and order,
and an upholder of established authority; and as a good citizen
he therefore recognizes his duty to his country and obedience to
the laws under which he lives. He realizes that believing in
brotherhood as a universal fact of being, he should therefore
first exemplify it in his actions and conduct by becoming in
himself a living example of order, good will, and willing
acquiescence in the laws of the country where he lives; the while
always seeking in every lawful and proper way for an improvement
in the social structure, for the changing of imperfect or bad
laws into better ones; and in doing what good he can as an
individual to his fellow-men.

What I am trying to say in these brief and rather aphoristic
sentences is that we, not only as Theosophists but as earnest men
and women, should strive at all times to weaken the merely
personal and selfish bonds which cramp the winging flight of our
souls into higher regions, and which, because of the action of
such selfish desires and bonds, cause by conflict and friction,
both with ourselves and with others who hold the same views and
who act similarly, the larger part of the human misery and moral
degradation in the world.

It is not money per se that is the root of all evil; it is the
selfish love of it. Money in the hands of a noble and a wise and
a good man, can be a most useful instrument for helping mankind.
It is in the selfish love of these things for oneself alone, or
for the sake of those immediately associated with one to the
detriment of others not so closely associated, that lies the evil
and the consequent wrongdoing; the wrong is not in the property
or in the money itself.

This is what Jesus the Avatar meant, and what all the great Sages
and Seers of all the ages have meant and have taught: Tie not
your heart unto the things of earth, but enter into the profound
deeps of the spirit within you, and there you will find utter
freedom and immense peace and ineffable happiness.

The wise man is he who lives in the world and uses the things of
the world -- never in a merely worldly way, but with wisdom and
kindliness and due regard for the rights of others, yet with his
heart free from all attachment to these worldly things, and free
from all love thereof. This is the Chela path; this is the path
of the disciple -- at least in the beginning of it.

This is the reason why I have answered the question which has
been more than once asked of me: "G. de P., if someone gave to
you ten million dollars, would you accept it? And if so, what
would you do with this money?" My answer has been immediate:
"Gladly would I accept it, and devote it all to works of
usefulness and beneficence for mankind. For myself, not one
penny; I am pledged to personal poverty; yet I am no idiot, I
know the power of a good instrument in the Master's hand; and
money can be an instrument for good; property should be an
instrument for good. It is not these things themselves that
injure; it is our selfish reaction to their influence which is
injurious -- not only to ourselves but to others." Do you catch
the thought?

Consequently, though the Theosophical Society as a Society shuns
politics -- and personally I look upon them as pestiferous,
though I know that this statement means treading upon a great
many sensitive toes -- yet every individual member of the
Theosophical Society holds and practices such politics as he
pleases. I think the world is approaching the time when it will
realize that the only way in which men can "save themselves," to
use an old-fashioned term, and "save the world," is by BEING, and
not by preaching -- whether it be preaching politics or
philosophy or religion.

Politics, at least such as we understand them today, will vanish
away as an illusion, and I believe a pestiferous illusion, once
men realize what riches lie in the human heart, the great secret
mysteries that lie there: love and brotherhood, compassion and
peace, the love of a man to be a man, and to grow, to improve
himself, i.e., his mind and his morals, and his yearning to allow
his instincts for right and justice towards all full play and

These are the great things that should come into the world, for
the world's universal benefit; and I believe that someday a great
man will appear with an idea, or a series of ideas, of a
spiritual and intellectual character, which will show the present
tottering civilization the sure way to safety, human concord, and
peace; and bring about, not a crash as some wrongly suppose, but,
to change the figure of speech a bit, a new superstructure of
thought and ideals on a nobly strengthened social foundation.

It is, after all, ideas that rule the world; and it is precisely
because people misthink and wrongly suppose that money is a thing
in itself, and that politics is a thing in itself having
intrinsic value, and that property is a thing in itself of
absolute value, that these last feeble instruments and products
of human endeavor have their grip on mankind and wield their sway
over human hearts.

Men make politics, men make money, men make things, men make
property, and men make civilizations. It is ideas that rule the
world, and it is likewise from men that ideas come. Let us then
change our ideas, and follow ideas which are composite of good,
ideas based on universal brotherhood, ideas of intrinsic moral
beauty, ideas of spiritual and intellectual grandeur, ideas which
in time will bring about a confraternity not only of the people
of the earth, but of all the smaller social units that go to make
up a nation. Then, with these ideas permeating our
consciousness, we shall not need to bother about petty politics
and the rights or non-rights of private property, or what not.
The world of humans will then run as easily and smoothly as a
well-ordered mechanism; and we shall have happiness and peace all
over our globe.

This is not the pipe-dream of a vaguely visioning and idealistic
dreamer. It is an actuality which can be put into practical
operation simply by a reorienting of our thinking and of our
feeling into new standards of human conduct; and in such a new
world men will be judged not only by what they do or produce, but
by what they think, because thoughts of brotherly and humane
benevolence will then be carried into constructive action. They
will then not be judged by what they have or what they own.
Property will not be the standard of righteousness nor of the
proprieties, nor again of respectability.

We must shift our moral center of gravity to ethics, where it
rightly and truly belongs, and away from property where it has
been falsely placed during the last few thousand years because of
unfortunate contributing historical causes. It is easier far to
make such shift of values to their natural, proper, and therefore
legitimate sphere, than it is to continue being involved through
centuries of the future in the horrible struggles of an
international or internecine character with their bitter
animosities and remembered hatreds, their dislocations of social
and political life, and the consequent misery weighing so heavily
upon us all.

There is not a single logical or reasonable argument to be urged
against it -- this shifting of our center of consciousness --
except ignorance, prejudice, and dense human stupidity, due to
the inertia brought about by moral somnolence, and empty
disbelief in our own powers to carve our destiny shapely.

It would seem to be undoubtedly true that unless there come upon
the world a new outlook and a change of our habit, mental and
psychical, of envisaging events through the distorted lenses of
our present-day sense of values, our already badly shaken
civilization runs a danger of sliding down into a welter of
confusion, despair, and human misery, such as the annals of known
history have not yet chronicled.

The peoples of the earth gathered into nations must learn to look
upon each other, and to treat each other, with the same decorum,
high sense of honor, and instinct for mutual service, that it is
customary to find among gentlemen; instead of continuing to
follow courses of conduct based upon the very shaky foundations
of opportunism, expediency, and convenience, that have so often
governed and disgraced international relations in the past, thus
presenting a picture of international morals probably far beneath
even the standard held by the average man in the street.

The case is by no means hopeless however, for the remedy is
simple indeed, practical and practicable, and lies merely in a
shifting of our center of gravity of consciousness from politics
and profit to morals and mutual service. The average intelligent
business man today has come to realize that a successful
enterprise must be founded upon honesty and service; otherwise he
is doomed to failure; and there is no ostensible, indeed no
actual, reason why nations should follow courses which even the
average man would consider disgraceful in his own case. The
whole secret lies in a change of outlook, in a change of vision;
and then the apparent difficulties will be understood for what
they are, illusions; and they will be gladly cast aside for the
standards prevailing along the pathway of safety, progress,
happiness, and peace.

I certainly and most emphatically do not wish to give the
impression, when speaking of the loss in recent centuries of a
sense of ethical values, which arose in a translation therefrom
of our center of gravity of consciousness to property as the
pivot around which our national and individual interest revolves,
that the Theosophist is in any wise blind to, unconscious of, or
indifferent to, the really great and sometimes harrowing misery
that exists in the world in individual cases because of a lack of
proper resources or support.

It is very much to the contrary. The philosophical Theosophist
can point to such conditions with emphatic finger as an
illustration in proof of the power which material possessions
have gained over both human heart and mind; for the insane race
for wealth and the desire for acquisition for the individual
himself, even to the detriment of his fellows, have blinded him
to one of the primal human duties: a brotherly regard for,
consideration of, and in needful cases proper care of, one's
fellow-men less fortunately placed by karma -- or destiny -- than
he himself is.

It is good indeed to note that during recent times the whole
tendency of the best men in the various countries of the world is
towards doing everything possible, both through the state and by
the individual, to ameliorate the condition of the needy,
combined with the growing realization that essential values lie
not in property but in human beneficence, and in that universal
brotherhood which is inherent in any properly organized and
enduring social structure.

Some of the noblest men who have ever lived have suffered all the
pangs of personal humiliation, as well as the great disadvantages
of dire poverty, while it is a commonplace of history that great
riches have often lain at the disposition of the unworthy or of
the incompetent. The world is rapidly moving towards a time --
provided its course be not interrupted or broken by some
catastrophe -- when it will be recognized far more keenly than
now it is that every human being has an inherent right, in the
words of our National Constitution, to "life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness," and that it is one of the noblest duties
of an enlightened State not merely to provide equal opportunities
for all, but actively to aid those who, from one cause or
another, often greatly to their credit, are not accumulators of
property. Such things as the need of old-age pensions, free
education, and the providing of work for every willing hand, have
become commonplaces of conversation, and rightly so.

Yet, admitting all this, and much more, and after stating that
the tendency above alluded to is all to the good, I take occasion
to point out that the root of all the world's troubles in the
past has lain in the wrong centering of our human sense of
permanent values as in property rather than as inherently
residing in human beings themselves. The natural and inevitable
consequence has found its culmination in the present-day
worldwide unrest, conflict, endless arguments, and a talk about
rights ad nauseam; but we discover very little talk about the
duty which a man owes to his fellowmen.

Once our center of gravity of moral consciousness is taken from
property as the pivot of civilization, and placed in man himself
as the center of all greatest and primal values, then 99 percent
of the world's constantly recurring paroxysms of agitation,
perturbation, and violence will vanish; and human relations of
whatever kind, international, national, social, or political,
will automatically adjust themselves to and for the common good.
Universal Brotherhood -- as we understand it, not as merely vague
sentimentalism, but as recognition of human solidarity based on
Nature's own laws -- is after all, as the Theosophist has always
taught, the keynote of any true civilization, and without it no
civilization can ever endure.


By H.T. Edge

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1922, pages 217-21.]

The duality of human nature is often mentioned in Theosophical
writings; but it cannot be mentioned too much; for its importance
is supreme. Yet one is apt to undervalue its importance,
because, like other profound truths, it sounds so simple. To
borrow a familiar simile, we may compare it to the ocean, which
is shallow enough at its shores for a child to play in; while in
its depths it could swallow all earth's mountains. And so the
duality of human nature manifests itself in simple and familiar
forms to the dullest observation; and yet this great truth can be
applied as a key to solve the deepest problems touching human

Let us take, for example, the question of immortality. Our
judgment will not consent to the idea that our present earthly
personality, in all its imperfection, is immortally preserved;
nor, on the other hand, can we brook the notion that we shall be
wholly extinguished. The teaching as to the duality of man
enables us to understand how one part of our soul may be mortal,
and the other part immortal.

The personal self or personal ego, which we call "I" is not the
real Self, but only a sort of reflection thereof. In explaining
this, H.P. Blavatsky has used the simile of a lamp throwing its
light on a wall. The lamp represents the real Self; the light on
the wall, the fictitious self; and the wall, the body. The real
Self, which in its one sphere is single, becomes dual at
reincarnation. A portion of it attaches itself to the brain of
the nascent child, and becomes the seat of the personal ego for
that incarnation. Around it grow up impressions received through
the bodily senses from the outer world. Its source and origin is
forgotten, and it wakes up (as it were) in the new world of its
terrestrial life. But above and beyond this personal ego is the
other part of the real Self, which has no direct connection with
the body.

In Theosophical terminology the real Self is called Manas, which
is a Sanskrit term meaning the Thinker; and to the personal ego
is given the name lower Manas. In many ancient allegories the
Self is said to sacrifice himself and to take on the sins of the
lower self. He is also said to redeem the lower self. The
meaning of this is that it is man's destiny to "raise the self by
the Self," as THE BHAGAVAD-GITA says; it is his destiny
consciously to accomplish his own evolution by raising the
personal ego in aspiration towards its divine counterpart, the
Higher Ego.

This teaching constitutes the essence of all religions and of all
the great practical philosophies of life. We find it abundantly
in the Bible. John refers to it in his frequent mention of the
"Father" and the "Son." The Son is sent by God into the world to
save it; the Son shall make you free; he that hath the Son hath
life; and so on. Paul is full of the doctrine in his teachings
about the natural man and the spiritual man. Jesus' interview
with Nicodemus, an inquirer who came to him for instruction,
deals with the same topic; he speaks of the second birth; of how
a man is first born naturally, and then takes a further step like
a spiritual birth.

It would of course be possible to give instances from a great
number of other sources, sufficient to fill volumes. This has
been done in Theosophical writings, especially by H.P.
Blavatsky. As a familiar example we may mention the myth of the
heavenly twins -- Castor and Pollux -- separated while the one is
on earth, and otherwise united; they stand for the Higher Manas
and the lower Manas.

We are all "Sons of God," though this term applies in a special
sense to those Teachers and Initiates who have attained to
conscious union between the higher and lower Manas. The records
of Jesus would indicate that he was one of those Masters of
Wisdom and that his object was to lead his disciples on the Path
which he himself had trod.

The word "Path" brings us to the next point: that between Manas
and its lower earthly counterpart there is a bridge or link,
often referred to mystically as the Path or Way. It is this that
makes it possible for man to achieve his salvation, to accomplish
his higher evolution. The Self, by its incarnation in a body,
and by its connection with terrestrial life, is able to garner a
harvest of experiences that can only be attained in earthly life
and to assimilate these experiences to itself. From the personal
life on earth, the real Self gleans the aroma of all the best and
purest and noblest and finest aspirations and deeds.

This will make it clear that, even in our earthly make-up, there
are many elements that are immortal; and also that the degree of
our immortality depends on the use we make of our present
opportunities. For we may either concentrate our affections and
energies on the perishable things of this life, or raise our
thoughts to what is imperishable. But mark, this is not to be
taken in a sour ascetic sense -- that we should eschew the
harmonies and graces of life, and fix our sad thoughts on death
and heaven. It is nothing of the kind; it means that we should
wean ourselves from all that is narrow, sordid, and selfish and
espouse those things that are generous and spacious and

Death does not mean the destruction of Individuality. What it
does mean is that that fleeting image, the personal self, will
fade out, leaving the true Self shining like the unclouded sun.
And it means further that the Soul, which has been released,
carries with it riches that it has garnered from the best
thoughts of its earthly life. In this we find a glimpse of the
eternity of true Love. Passions are evanescent, but in a pure
genuine love, that has outlived all mere attraction and is rooted
deep in well-tried experiences, we feel there is an eternal

It also becomes evident that the simulacrum evoked in
seance-rooms is not the real man, but an image made up of not yet
decayed remnants of the deceased personality, or perhaps merely
an impersonation by some of the non-human denizens of the astral
plane. The Soul cannot be evoked or dragged down to earth.
Rather than try to drag it into our murky atmosphere, we should
strive to raise ourselves to the plane on which it rests.

The world at the present time is full of strange theories and new
crazes, and people are trying to find some new anchorage to
replace that which they have lost in the recent upheaval. But
this doctrine that we are explaining here is no new theory, no
passing fad. It is simply a very ancient and well-known
teaching, which however has been lost sight of during dark cycles
of human history, from which we have not yet emerged.

The human intellect is a grand thing, but it has spent its
energies too much in one narrow channel. It has been occupied in
trying to trace the heredity of man back to primitive animal
types. And whether its conclusions in this respect are true or
false, in either case it has practically ignored the higher
nature of man. Nevertheless this higher nature is a fact, and
this fact cannot safely be ignored any more than any other fact.
If men do not learn anything about the nature of this marvelous
intelligence with which they are endowed, they will be at the
mercy of fads and superstitions.

That part of Manas which is shut up in the human brain acquires a
marvelously acute intelligence, but it is of a one-sided
character. It is competent to systematize and organize knowledge
and to fit us to cope with the conditions of the physical world.
But it is unable to solve questions concerning the deeper
problems of life. It cannot deal with ultimates. Its function
is to doubt rather than to discover. It evolves agnostic and
materialistic systems, and does not inspire that faith and
certainty which is so essential to our well-being. Hence we need
light from another source. Now, bearing in mind that there is a
higher aspect of our mind, about which science tells us nothing,
and which even religions generally ignore, we begin to realize
that the power to KNOW lies within our reach.

There are doubtless some who find satisfaction in simple faith in
religion; but it has to be admitted that their number is
comparatively few, and that a majority of people live in a state
of darkness as regards the meaning of life. They do not know
what man is or why he is here or what power rules a universe that
seems blind and ruthless and without law. But this state of
affairs is not right, and it need not be so. The ways of God are
not inscrutable; it is possible for man to enter on a path that
leads ever nearer and nearer to light and liberation.

This path is the old one, taught in all the great philosophies:
to rescue Manas from its imprisonment and to bring it into closer
union with its spiritual prototype.

The importance of educational work, especially in its earliest
stages, is paramount. It is in the young child that Mind takes
its first lessons in the new life that is before it. How
important that these first steps should be directed aright! The
ignorance or heedlessness of parents pampers the instinctual
animal selfishness, because at that tender age its manifestations
seem so harmless and pretty. But it takes root and waxes strong,
until in after years it has become the tyrant of the life. A
little knowledge, a little loving self-sacrifice, on the part of
the parent, would have enabled him or her to discriminate between
the good and evil natures of the child, and to help the one while
restraining the other. The child should be taught early to
regard the Higher Self as the true seat of wisdom and authority,
and how to summon his own will to the conquest of his own

Many materialistic philosophers cannot separate the mind from the
brain. The reason is that they are not aware of the duality of
Mind. They are studying only its lower aspect -- that part of it
which is lodged in the brain. But a truer philosophy has for
ages been aware of the duality of Manas.

The conditions which we call life and death are nothing more than
changes of state. Neither of them is true life and neither true
death. For true life is a "conscious existence in Spirit, not
Matter" (H.P. Blavatsky); and real death is the total loss of
this. Hence the attainment of real life is seen to be
independent of those alternating states which we call life and
death. How this alters the whole question as to immortality! "I
will give you eternal life." This has been construed to mean a
promise of perpetual existence in heaven. What it really means
is a promise of attaining to Spiritual consciousness, both during
life and during the periods when we are supposed to be dead.

It will not of course be thought by reasonable people that we are
attempting to show any short cut to bliss. Theosophy has nothing
to do with false methods of so-called self-development or
meditation which promise ecstatic states or personal advantages
of any kind. Such things may be left to the quacks and cranks.
What Theosophy does is to point out the true goal of humanity.
However far ahead may be the realization of our ideals of
perfection, it is necessary that we should have those ideals
right, and keep our eyes fixed on them. Men will have ideals of
one sort or another; if not right, then wrong. It is enough to
know that people who are in darkness and almost despair, through
their loss of faith in life and in themselves, can regain their
hope and confidence.

It has been said that, if you cannot see anything good in
yourself or in others, it is because you have not searched deep
enough. Search deeper and you will find that there is a fountain
of faith, hope, and charity in your own heart as in those of
others. For the basic laws of the universe are righteous, and
the evil is superficial and impermanent. As long as we hypnotize
ourselves with the notion of our own impotence, we can do naught;
but once we get the idea that the Path is to be found by those
who earnestly seek it, we have already raised ourselves many
degrees out of our despondency.

Manas is a principle which becomes dual during incarnation,
because it is attracted both by the divine and spiritual from
above, and by the animal from below. The soul of man may be said
to be threefold: spiritual soul, human soul, and animal soul.
This last is a pure animal, full of instinct and concerned with
its own wants. If it gets the predominance, the man becomes a
low and sensual type; his Manas has been made the servant of the
animal. The mind should be united with its divine prototype and
then the God rules and the animal becomes the servant. To
conclude with a quotation from H.P. Blavatsky:

> The "harvest of life" consists of the finest spiritual thoughts,
> of the memory of the noblest and most unselfish deeds of the
> personality, and the constant presence during its bliss after
> death of all those it loved with divine spiritual devotion.
> Remember the teaching: The human soul, lower Manas, is the only
> and direct mediator between the personality and the divine Ego.
> That which goes to make up on this earth the PERSONALITY,
> miscalled INDIVIDUALITY by the majority, is the sum of all its
> mental, physical, and spiritual characteristics, which, being
> impressed on the human soul, produces the MAN. Now, of all these
> characteristics, it is the purified thoughts alone which can be
> impressed on the higher immortal Ego. This is done by the human
> soul merging again, in its essence, into its parent source,
> commingling with its divine Ego during life, and reuniting itself
> entirely with it after the death of the physical man.


By Winfrid von Hahn

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, December 1929, pages 692-700.]

> The spiritual Ego of the man moves in eternity like a pendulum
> between the hours of life and death, but if these hours, the
> periods of life terrestrial and life posthumous, are limited in
> their continuation, and even the very number of such breaks in
> eternity between sleep and waking, between illusion and reality,
> have their beginning as well as their end, the spiritual Pilgrim
> himself is eternal. Therefore the hours of his posthumous life,
> when unveiled he stands face to face with truth and the
> short-lived mirages of his terrestrial existences are far from
> him, compose or make up, in our ideas, the only reality.
> -- H.P. BLAVATSKY, LUCIFER, XI, page 103

To understand what happens to Man after death, knowledge is
required of what Man is, of what he is not, and of what is meant
by "death." To the crass materialist "man" is the physical body,
"death" the disintegration of it, "the hereafter" a meaningless
term. The thoughtless Christian divides man into body, which
perishes at death, and something -- indifferently called "soul"
or "spirit" and generally defined as that which is not body --
which presumably survives. If, by analogy, we were to regard the
physical body as composed of bone and blood, and define blood as
that which is not bone, we would see how far this kind of
division can take us. Paul's tripartite classification into
body, soul, and spirit is reasonable enough, yet inadequate to
explain many of the phenomena of life. Alone, the age-old
septenary division of Ancient Wisdom provides the key to the true
understanding of man's being and of the states through which he
passes after the dissolution of the physical frame he temporarily
dwelt in and acted through.

As viewed by the Esoteric Philosophy, Man consists of a
perishable Quaternary and an Immortal Triad, forming together the
seven "principles" of his entire constitution, which "principles"
should not be regarded as entirely separate things, like the
coats of an onion, but rather as interpenetrating and
interdependent manifestations of the ONE LIFE, by means of which
it mirrors itself in every atom of the septenary Cosmos, and
descends from plane to plane to ascend again, having attained to

The perishable Quaternary is composed of:

1. Sthula-Sharira or physical body, the visible, tangible outer
form, built up of various tissues -- the domain of physiological

2. Linga-Sharira or the ethereal counterpart of the physical
body, the astral double or eidolon, the model around which the
physical frame is gradually molded during gestation.

3. Prana or vitality, the integrating energy that coordinates
the astral and physical atoms and keeps them together -- a drop
from the boundless ocean of Life Universal.

4. Kama the aggregate energies of passions, emotions, desires,
and appetites.

The Immortal Triad consists of:

1. Manas or Mind-Principle, the Thinker in us; in its higher
part the Reincarnating Entity, the central pivot of man's
constitution, the Human Soul.

2. Buddhi or Spiritual Soul, the vehicle of

3. Atma, the Spirit, a ray of the Universal and One Self.

The link between the Immortal Triad and the mortal Quaternary is
Manas, which, during the period of incarnation, is dual, and
functions as Lower and Higher Manas. The Higher Manas sends
forth, as it were, a ray, the Lower Manas which functions through
the brain as brain-consciousness, the ratiocinating intelligence,
and the brain-mind. This lower aspect of Manas mingles with the
Kama or passional nature, forming what may be termed Kama-Manas;
this is the battleground, during life, of the Higher and Lower
natures of Man, the perishable and the imperishable elements in
his constitution.

According to H.P. Blavatsky (THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 172),
Atma the God above (more than within) us, is the HIGHER SELF;
Buddhi or the Spiritual Soul, in close union with Manas --
without which the former is only the vehicle of Atma -- is the
Spiritual Divine Ego; Manas, the fifth "principle," independently
of Buddhi, is the Ego (it is the Spiritual Ego only when merged
into Buddhi), the permanent Individuality, the reincarnating Ego;
the physical man in conjunction with the lower self -- animal
instincts, passions, desires, etc., -- in other words, the Lower
Manas combined with Kama and operating through the physical body
and the astral double, is the Lower Personal Ego.

> The remaining "principle," Prana, or "Life," is strictly
> speaking, the radiating force or energy of Atma -- as the
> Universal Life and the ONE SELF -- ITS lower, or rather (in its
> effects), more physical, because manifesting, aspect. Prana, or
> Life, permeates the whole being of the objective Universe, and is
> called a "principle" only because it is an indispensable factor
> and the deux ex machina of the living man.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 173

The above sevenfold constitution of Man may perhaps become
clearer if we say that ONE LIFE on seven planes pervades the
Universe, and on every plane shows itself in a different way. It
breathes throughout the boundless expansion of the Cosmos. The
ONE LIFE manifests as Atma and Buddhi in its higher stages, as
Manas on the plane of thought, as Kama on the plane of emotion,
as Prana in the sphere of physical vitality, as attraction,
repulsion, cohesion, electricity, etc., on the lowest plane of
manifestation; and the "principles" are but vortices of force,
endowed with consciousness and set in motion by the ripples of
the ONE LIFE viewed in its most abstract aspect.

What is the physical body? Biological science has conclusively
demonstrated that it is a vast congeries of animate cells, almost
all tissues being of cellular structure and constantly undergoing
a process of decay and reconstruction. Each of the myriads of
cells has a life and death independent of the life and death of
the creature into which it is built. With every instant minute,
particles -- whether cells, molecules, or atoms -- are passing
away from the body, others are streaming in to replace the loss.

From the time of its fashioning around the astral model in the
womb, the human body is continuously built up by the insetting of
fresh material, and the out-going stream is scattered abroad, to
enter some other vortex of animal, vegetable, or mineral life,
the physical basis of which is the same.

Man's body is the least permanent of all his "principles," for,
owing to the constant state of flux in its constituent parts, it
never remains in the same condition even for a minute; it could
be compared to a river which, though permanently existing as an
Ideal Form, is yet in a state of ceaseless change both as regards
the material of its bed and the rushing masses of water.

Recognizing a life-force as permeating the countless cells of the
body, modern science has not yet dared to endow with life the
molecules, atoms, and electrons at which it has arrived. Here it
shows itself inconsistent and, unconsciously, gives the right of
way to Esoteric Philosophy which, at this precise point, steps
into the arena and shows that far beyond the individual cells,
the molecules, and even the atoms, the whole of the human
tabernacle is built up of countless lives, all conscious on their
own plane.

> Science teaches us that the living, as well as the dead organisms
> of both man and animal, is swarming with bacteria of a hundred
> various kinds . . . But Science never yet went so far as to
> assert with the Occult Doctrine that our bodies, as well as those
> of animals, plants, and stones are themselves altogether built up
> of such beings, which, except larger species, no microscope can
> detect . . . The physical and chemical constituents of all
> being found to be identical, chemical Science may well say that
> there is no difference between the matter which composes the ox
> and that which forms man. But the Occult Doctrine is far more
> explicit. It says: Not only the chemical compounds are the same,
> but the same infinitesimal INVISIBLE LIVES compose the atoms of
> the bodies of the mountain and the daisy, of man and the ant, of
> the elephant and of the tree which shelters him from the sun.
> Each particle -- whether you call it organic or inorganic -- is a
> life.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, pages 260-61

These countless lives in the aggregate form the atoms, molecules,
and cells of the physical frame, and, streaming in and out, build
a bridge between man and his environment. Controlling them are
higher lives which constrain them to work harmoniously, and
direct their activity. The Universe in all its realms is formed
of hierarchies of beings, the higher guiding the lower, the lower
reaching up to the higher. And so it is with the physical body,
for analogy is the Great Law.

Prana, the active energy, the vital solar force animating all
things, permeates likewise the physical frame and resides at the
very core of the invisible lives. During life the body is
polarized oppositely to it, and in accordance with
electromagnetic laws, a normal interplay is established between
the two. The Pranic energy is accumulating steadily during the
day, and its positive flood overpowers our negative forces by
bedtime. Sleep restores the balance and prevents our being
killed by an excess of life. In death, however, we are utterly
conquered by the Pranic forces, their tremendous onrush during
life having gradually undermined the resistive capacity of cells,
the result being inability to withstand the pressure.

> When we awake we are in equilibrium as to our organs and life;
> when we fall asleep we are yet fuller of energy than in the
> morning; it has exhausted us; it finally kills the body. Such a
> contest could not be waged forever, since the whole solar
> system's weight of life is pitted against the power to resist
> focused in one small human frame.
> -- W.Q. Judge, THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, pages 50-51

In the life of every man, therefore, a time collies when the
disintegrating tendency reaches a maximum and the body gives up
the fight against the natural pressure of the Solar System, the
existence of this cyclic period of breaking-up being derived from
the past and being largely due to hereditary causes. (Karmic
causes are too profound to be touched upon in this study;
needless to say, they are the mainspring behind everything which
pertains to the phenomena of life and so-called "death.")

Blending together the teachings of Ancient Wisdom and the
investigations of biological science, it is possible to
distinguish three kinds of death: the molecular or cellular
death, which finds its expression in the constant tearing down of
cellular and chemical structures in the body, and is as
constantly followed by the integrating process of new formation;
the somatic death -- from the Greek soma, the body -- which is
the more or less sudden final change of the entire complex
organism of a living entity; and the so-called "second death" of
Theosophical writers, to be reviewed later on.

It is almost needless to point out that somatic death results
from the failure of one of the three great vital, internal
systems: the heart and circulatory system, the respiratory
organs, and the brain with the spinal cord and nervous system.
This is really the domain of physiological science and need not
be entered upon more fully. By whichever path death approaches
the body, a rapid cessation of the action of the three great
vital centers occurs, one after the other. But death is not
instantaneous as some have believed, and no physician would be
able, on purely scientific data, to fix the actual moment of the
change from life to death. The ebb of the life-wave is a
mysterious and secret process.

From the earliest records of opinion and belief which have come
down to us, and throughout the ages, a general idea has prevailed
that the stage of so-called "death" is marked by a mental
panoramic perception of the experiences of the life just about to
end. Esoteric Philosophy accepts the accuracy of this belief and
teaches that at the moment of the final transition, the vision of
life passes before the inner eye of the Ego, and the man,
appreciating his own conduct, realizes the meaning and the value
of the incarnation about to close.

> At the solemn moment of death every man, even when death is
> sudden, sees the whole of his past life marshaled before him, in
> its minutest details. For one short instant the PERSONAL becomes
> one with the INDIVIDUAL and all-knowing Ego. But this instant is
> enough to show to him the whole chain of causes which have been
> at work during his life. He sees and now understands himself as
> he is, unadorned by flattery or self-deception. He reads his
> life, remaining as a spectator, looking down into the arena he is
> quitting. He feels and knows the justice of all the suffering
> that has overtaken him.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 160

This is the time when the thought-images of the passing
incarnation interweave themselves into a complex picture and are
impressed in their totality on the Astral Light. The Ego reads
the Karmic record of its life; it is the first Judgment -- a
moment of sacred solemnity indeed, during which utmost peace and
silence should reign around the departing, aye, the departed as
far as medical certificate goes. A Master has written:

> At the last moment the whole life is reflected in our memory, and
> emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners, picture after
> picture, one event after another. . . The man may often appear
> dead, yet from the last pulsation, from and between the last
> throbbing of his heart and the moment when the last spark of
> animal heat leaves the body, THE BRAIN THINKS, and the Ego lives
> over in those few brief seconds his whole life. Speak in
> whispers, ye who assist at a deathbed, and find yourselves in the
> solemn presence of death. Especially have ye to keep quiet just
> after death has laid his clammy hand upon the body. Speak in
> whispers, I say, lest you disturb the quiet ripple of thought,
> and hinder the busy work of the past, casting its reflection upon
> the veil of the future.

After the last breath is expired, the inner man, reviewing his
life, remains for a while concentrated in the deepest centers of
the brain, probably unconscious of the body he is leaving; and as
his vision sweeps backwards from the solemn present to his
childhood days, it is possible that the moment of incarnation
coincides with REAL death.

While the retrospect of the past is taking place, and the real
man gradually withdraws from the physical body, the bodily form
begins to break up under the pressure of a change in polarity.

> When a body dies it passes into the same polarity as its male
> [positive] energy, and repels therefore, the active agent, which,
> losing hold of the whole fastens on the parts or molecules, the
> action being called chemical.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 526fn.

During incarnated life, while the human form still retains the
other principles which make it into a perfect whole, the
countless lives are restrained in their activity, are grouped
into definite combinations for special purposes, and are
marshaled as an army, in regular order and under a supreme
command. But as soon as the informing, indwelling power has
begun to withdraw, they become a disorderly crowd, a rioting and
tumultuous mob, rushing hither and thither, with no common object
or recognized authority. A process of complete disintegration
sets in and the physical frame is gradually transformed into the
solids, fluids, and gases which entered into its chemical

This chemical activity of dissolution (and occasional
reconstruction of other complex chemical structures, for
temporary purposes) is one of the manifestations of the
life-principle and is, of course, governed by intelligent forces,
though by different ones from those present during the period of
IS "DEAD," paradoxical as it may sound. It is alive in its
units, dead in its totality; alive as a congeries, dead as an

Science regards man as an aggregation of atoms temporarily united
> by a mysterious force called the life-principle. To the
> Materialist, the only difference between a living and a dead body
> is that in the one case that force is active, in the other
> latent. When it is extinct or entirely latent, the molecules
> obey a superior attraction, which draws them asunder and scatters
> them through space. This dispersion must be Death, if it is
> possible to conceive such a thing as Death, where the very
> molecules of the dead body manifest an intense vital energy . . .
> Says Eliphas Levi: "Change attests movement, and movement only
> reveals life. The corpse would not decompose if it were dead;
> all the molecules which compose it are living and struggle to
> separate."
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, ISIS UNVEILED, I, page 480

It is the Linga-Sharira, or astral double, the vehicle of
vitality, that exercises the controlling and coordinating force
on the countless lives of the physical body, of course, under the
guidance of the inner man; after the latter has withdrawn from
its tabernacle of clay, he gradually disengages himself also from
the astral form which for a time remains attached to the
disintegrating physical body by a delicate magnetic cord.

The final snapping of the thread which connects the astral with
the physical body means the breaking of the last magnetic link
between the latter and the higher principles of man. Man is now
a six-principled entity, and very soon, after his withdrawal from
the astral envelop, and the dissipation of the life-principle, a
four-principled one, which he will remain for a certain time.

Death, truly, is a process of repeated disrobing or unsheathing.
The immortal Pilgrim, casting off one outer casing after another,
gradually emerges, like the butterfly from its chrysalis, into a
higher and wider state of consciousness.

The disintegration of the Astral Double goes on pari passu with
the dissolution of the physical frame. The first is an astral
corpse as much as the latter is a physical one. The
Linga-Sharira, formed, like the physical body, of atoms, although
of much more subtle ones, meets the same fate, gradually
dissipating on its own respective plane. It is probable indeed
that the astral form is not entirely dissipated until the last
stage of decomposition is attained by the physical body. One of
the main advantages of cremation lies in the almost immediate
restoration to Nature of the material elements which constitute
the physical frame, and the acceleration in the decomposition of
the astral form which follows. Needless to say, all dealings
with the astral double of a dead person belong distinctly to
Black Magic.

Prana, the vital energy, inhering in the astral form, is but a
drop from the shoreless ocean of Universal Life, and when death
supervenes it re-becomes the ocean, "the dewdrop slips into the
shining sea," and the Inner Man, still wrapped in his emotional
elements, the Kamic nature, passes into the dreamy
semi-consciousness of Kama-loka.

> When the man dies his three lower principles leave him forever;
> i.e., body, life, and the vehicle of the latter, the astral body,
> or the double of the LIVING man. And then his four principles --
> the central or middle principle (the animal soul or Kama-Rupa,
> with what it has assimilated from the lower Manas) and the Higher
> Triad -- find themselves in Kama-loka.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 142

Loka is a Sanskrit word meaning place, world, region, so that
Kama-loka is really the world of Kama, of that part of the human
constitution which is made up of desires, emotions, and

> [It is] an astral locality, the Limbus of scholastic theology,
> the Hades of the ancients, and, strictly speaking, a LOCALITY
> only in a relative sense. It has neither a definite area nor
> boundary but exists WITHIN subjective space, i.e., is beyond our
> sensuous perceptions. Still it exists, and it is there that the
> astral eidolons of all the beings that have lived, animals
> included, await their SECOND DEATH. For the animals it comes
> with the disintegration and the entire fading out of their astral
> particles to the last. For the human eidolon it begins when the
> Ata.-Buddhi-Manasic Triad is said to "separate" itself from its
> lower principles or the reflection of the EX-PERSONALITY, by
> falling into the Devachanic state.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 142

We should bear in mind that H.P. Blavatsky uses here the words
"astral" and "eidolon" for a much subtler matter than the almost
physical astral, which perishes pari passu with the dissolution
of the physical body.

The Kamic element of man contains the will to live, the instinct
of self-preservation, the animal passions and propensities; it is
the sentient agent, translating vibration into sensation. During
life it has no independent vehicle, but after death it builds
around itself a rupa or form which encloses the Immortal Triad
within its ethereal folds.

The second death, then, is the passage of the Immortal Triad, the
Pilgrim, the real Man, from Kama-loka into the higher state of
peace and bliss, called by Esoteric Philosophy "Devachan," the
"land of the gods." The processes of the "second death" must
necessarily differ with the inherent characteristics of man's
emotional nature, and his stay in Kama-loka varies accordingly,
so that no description can be given of something which changes
with every man, except that a general outline of the average case
may be attempted.

The Kama-Rupa is the subjective being (from the terrestrial
standpoint, of course) composed of the whole of the passional
nature of man, and the Higher Ego cannot immediately withdraw
from it the Lower Manas, that emanation of itself which, during
earthly existence, became entangled with the Kamic element and
hence the delay.

If a person has led a pure life, and has aspired to higher things
rather than identified himself with the lower ones, the passional
element in him is comparatively weak and will not assert itself
to any appreciable degree in Kama-loka. The Manas may have
controlled Kama to a great extent, and the link between them is
now but slight, the aspirations of the Lower Mind being towards
its parent-source, the Higher Manas.

Gradually, therefore, the Immortal Triad, the true Man, draws in
all its forces, the memories of the life just ended, its loves,
its hopes, and aspirations, and by degrees frees itself from the
last chains which bind it to the material spheres. It leaves
behind, in Kama-loka, the Kamic form, to disintegrate sooner or
later in its entirety, except for the seeds of future action --
seeds that have been sown in life and that will come to fruition
in some later incarnation.

> [Kama-Rupa, metaphysically,] is the subjective form created
> through the mental and physical desires and thoughts in
> connection with things of matter, by all sentient beings, a form
> which survives the death of their bodies . . . the pale copy
> of the man that was, vegetates for a period of time, the duration
> of which is determined by the past life of the defunct. Bereft
> as it is of its higher mind, spirit, and physical senses, if left
> alone to its own senseless devices, it will gradually fade out
> and disintegrate. But, if forcibly drawn back into the
> terrestrial sphere, whether by the passionate desires and appeals
> of the surviving friends or by regular necromantic practices --
> one of the most pernicious of which is mediumship -- the "spook"
> may prevail for a period greatly exceeding the span of the
> natural life of its body.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, page 172

With the disentanglement from the meshes of the Kamic principle,
after a period of "gestation" and unconsciousness, the Immortal
Man enters the final state of his postmortem journey, the
Heavenly World or Devachan. Volumes could be written in an
attempt to describe in words the indescribable, to picture in
human speech that which nothing but actual experience of that
particular state of consciousness can ever make clear. And so we
will limit this part of the subject by merely saying that
Devachan is the highest, purest, most peaceful state between two
incarnations, a state of temporary release from the bonds of
personality, a complete rest for the real Man after the trials of
earth-life, when he assimilates the experiences of the past and
transmutes them into innate faculties, tendencies, and germs for
future incarnations. For the ordinary mortal, his bliss in
Devachan is complete.

> It is an ABSOLUTE oblivion of all that gave it pain or sorrow in
> the past incarnation, and even oblivion of the fact that such
> things as pain or sorrow exist at all. The Devachani lives . . .
> surrounded by everything it had aspired to in vain and in the
> companionship of everyone it loved on earth. It has reached the
> fulfillment of all its soul-yearnings. And thus it lives
> throughout long centuries an existence of UNALLOYED happiness,
> which is the reward for its sufferings in earth-life. In short,
> it bathes in a sea of uninterrupted felicity spanned only by
> events of still greater felicity in degree.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 147

What is called "death" cannot touch the higher consciousness of
Man; it can separate those who love each other only as far as
their physical vehicles are concerned, but for the Devachani
"there is no such thing as Death at all," for he has passed
beyond the limitations of matter.

When the causes that brought the Ego into Devachan are exhausted,
the experiences assimilated, Man begins to feel once more the
thirst for sentient life which can be assuaged on the terrestrial
plane only. The Ego then returns to earth in a gradual descent,
meeting on his way downwards the seeds of evil sown in his
preceding life.

These seeds have remained in a state of suspended animation
during his stay in Devachan; they awaken to life as the new
personality is slowly fashioned for the incarnation that is to
begin; the burden of the past is taken by the Ego, to be
lightened or made still heavier, as the case may be.

These seeds are what the Buddhists call Skandhas and are
sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies, material qualities, the
aroma of which has been assimilated by the Ego while on his way
to Devachan. They are woven into the new "man of flesh" into
which the Immortal Pilgrim is soon imprisoned again. Such is the
Wheel of Life, the Cycle of Necessity, "which none at last can
turn aside or stay."

Death is the "great adventure." It is the portal through which
passes the Immortal Pilgrim on its way to freedom, light, peace.
It is the birth of Man into spheres of unspeakable glory, into
realms of Universal Life. What but dead-letter dogmas could ever
have disguised death so as to make it appear as a Black Phantom
to be dreaded by man? Nature is a compassionate Mother, a Friend
to be respected and loved. She provides for us all the rest we
need between our days, the peace we yearn for between our lives.
There is a continuity of life everywhere in Nature; and the
glorious transition which comes to us all at the end of earthly
existence is but the starting-point of another and fuller state
of being, an opening of the secret flower of our Soul, though for
the present we miscall this by the inadequate name of "death."


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