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THEOSOPHY WORLD --------------------------------------- March, 2008
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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.)
"Jacob Boehme and 'The Secret Doctrine,'" by W.Q. Judge
"Theosophists and Prayer," by G. de Purucker
"Little Things and Little Lives," by B.P. Wadia
"The Spring Equinox Symposium," Part I, by Theosophical Students
"The Occult Side of Nature," by Anonymous
"Theosophy -- An Impractical Theory or a Practical Guide,"
by Grace Knoche
> There are so many beautiful and holy and glorious things in human
> life, and they are a balm to the hearts of men. They should be
> cultivated, they should be sought for; not eagerly and selfishly
> for oneself, but only that by becoming ourselves beautiful
> inwardly, we can shed the light of our love with its softening
> and refining influence. Love is always beautiful, and therefore
> is always grand, especially the higher love, for it is universal.
> I wonder sometimes if the great scientists, I mean those who
> devote their lives to the impersonal study of Nature, realize
> that they are cultivating within themselves an aspect of the
> beauty in Nature, because, by the fact of losing themselves in
> their study, they are becoming progressively more universal in
> their thoughts, less concentrated on self. A selfish love can
> even damn, and this is the inverse case of evil spirituality; but
> a beautiful love can raise.
> -- G. de Purucker, WIND OF THE SPIRIT, page 34
JACOB BOEHME AND "THE SECRET DOCTRINE"
By W.Q. Judge
[From THE THEOSOPHIST, April 1886, pages 417-21, appearing later
in ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, II, pages 100-105.]
Jacob Boehme (or as some say Behmen) was a German mystic
[1575-1624] and spiritualist who began to write in the 17th
century. In his work he inserted a picture of an angel blowing a
trumpet, from which issued these words: "To all Christians, Jews,
Turks and Heathens, to all the nations of the earth this Trumpet
sounds for the last time." In truth it was a curious emblem, but
he, the author, was a mystic, and as all experience shows, the
path of the mystic is a strange one. It is, as Job V, 28:7 says,
a path which the "vulture knoweth not."
Even as a bird cleaves the eternal ether, so the mystic advances
on a path not ordinarily manifest, a way which must be followed
with care, because like the Great Light, which flashes forth and
leaves only traces when it returns again to its center, only
indications are left for those who come after seeking the same
spiritual wisdom. Yet by these "traces," for such they are
called in the Kabala, the way can be discerned and the truth
Boehme was poor, of common birth, and totally devoid of ordinary
education. He was only a shoemaker. Yet from the mind and out
of the mouth of this unlettered man came mighty truths.
It would be idle to enquire into the complications of Karma which
condemned him to such a life as his appeared to be. It must have
been extremely curious, because though he had grasped the truth
and was able to appreciate it, yet at the same time he could not
give it out in its perfect form. But he performed his work, and
there can be no manner of doubt about his succeeding incarnation.
As Krishna says in THE BHAGAVAD GITA, he has been already or will
shortly be "born into a family of wise devotees," and thence "he
will attain the highest walk."
His life and writings furnish another proof that the great wisdom
religion -- the Secret Doctrine -- has never been left without a
witness. Born a Christian he nevertheless saw the esoteric truth
lying under the moss and crust of centuries, and from the
Christian Bible extracted for his purblind fellows those pearls
which they refused to accept. But he did not get his knowledge
from the Christian Scriptures only. Before his internal eye the
panorama of real knowledge passed. His interior vision being
open, he could see the things he had learned in a former life,
and at first not knowing what they were, was stimulated by them
to construe his only spiritual books in the esoteric fashion.
His brain took cognizance of the Book before him, but his spirit,
aided by his past, and perchance by the living guardians of the
shining lamp of truth, could not but read them aright.
His work was called THE DAWNING OF THE ETERNAL DAY. In this he
endeavors to outline the great philosophy. He narrates the
circumstances and reasons for the angelic creation, the fall of
its chief three hierarchies, and the awful effects which
thereupon fell upon Eternal Nature. Mark this, not upon man --
for he was not yet -- but upon the eternal Nature, that is
BRAHMA. Then he says that these effects came about by reason of
the UNBALANCING OF THE SEVEN EQUIPOISED POWERS or forces of the
Eternal Nature or Brahma. That is to say, that so long as the
seven principles of Brahma were in perfect poise, there was no
corporeal or manifested universe. So in THE BHAGAVAD-GITA we
find that Krishna tells Arjuna that "after the lapse of a
thousand ages (or Night of Brahma) all objects of developed
matter come forth from the non-developed principle. At the
approach of that day, they emanate spontaneously." (THE BHAGAVAD
GITA, Chap. 8.) Such is the teaching of the Secret Doctrine.
And again Boehme shows the duality of the Supreme Soul. For he
says in his work PSYCHOLOGIA VERA CUM SUPPLEMENTO that these two
eternal principles of positive and negative, the YEA and the NAY
of the outspeaking SUPREME ONE, together constitute eternal
nature -- not the dark world alone, which is termed the "root of
nature," the two being as it were combined in PERFECT
This is nothing else but Purusha and Prakriti, or taken together,
what is referred to in THE BHAGAVAD GITA where it is said: "But
there is another invisible eternal existence, superior to this
visible one, which does not perish when all things perish. It is
called invisible and indivisible. This is my Supreme Abode."
Clearly the SUPREME ABODE could never be in Purusha alone, nor in
Prakriti alone, but in both when INDISSOLUBLY UNITED.
This scheme is adhered to all through this great philosopher's
works, no matter whether he is speaking of the great Universe or
macrocosm, or of its antitype in man or microcosm. In DE TRIBUS
PRINCIPIIS he treats of the three principles or worlds of Nature,
describing its eternal birth, its seven properties, and the two
coeternal principles; and furthermore in DE TRIPLICI VITA
HOMINIS, he gives the threefold life of man from which the SEVEN
is again deduced.
In DE ELECTIONE GRATIA, he goes into a subject that often proves
a stumbling block to many, and that is the INEVITABLENESS OF EVIL
as well as of good. From this it is easy to pass to a
contemplation of one of the difficult points in occultism as
shown in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, that nothing is evil, and that even
if we admit evil or wickedness in man, it is the nature of the
quality or guna that in THE BHAGAVAD-GITA is denominated rajas,
foulness, or bad action. Even this is better than the
indifferent action that only leads to death. Even from
wickedness may and does come forth spiritual life, but from
indifferent action comes only darkness and finally death.
Krishna says in THE BHAGAVAD GITA, Chap. XIV: "There are three
kinds of action; first, that which is of the nature of Sattva, or
true action; second, that which is of the nature of Rajas, or bad
action; third, that which is the nature of Tamas, or indifferent
action." He then says: "Although thou wert the greatest of all
offenders, thou shalt be able to cross the gulf of sin in the
bark of spiritual wisdom," and a little farther on "The ignorant
and the man without faith, whose spirit is full of doubt, is lost
and cannot enjoy either world." And in another chapter in
describing Himself, he says that he is not only the Buddha but
also is the most evil of mankind or the Asura.
This is one of the most mystical parts of the whole Secret
Doctrine. While Boehme has touched on it sufficiently to show
that he had a memory of it, he did not go into the most occult
details. It has to be remembered that THE BHAGAVAD GITA and many
other books treating on the Secret Doctrine must be regarded from
seven points of view and that imperfect man is not able to look
at it from the center, which would give the whole seven points at
Boehme wrote about thirty different treatises, all of them
devoted to great subjects, portions of the Secret Doctrine.
Curiously enough the first treated of the "Dawn of the Eternal
Day," and the second was devoted to an elucidation of "The Three
Principles of Man." In the latter is really to be found a
sevenfold classification similar to that which Mr. Sinnett
propounded in ESOTERIC BUDDHISM.
He held that the greatest obstacle in the path of man is the
astral or elementary power, which engenders and sustains this
Then he talks of "tinctures," which we may call principles.
According to him, there are two principal ones, the watery and
the igneous. These ought to be united in Man; and they ardently
seek each other continually in order to be identified with Sophia
or Divine Wisdom. Many Theosophists will see in this a clue not
only to the two principles -- or tinctures -- which ought to be
united in man, but also to a law which obtains in many of the
phenomena of magic. But even if I were able, I should not speak
on this more clearly.
For many inquirers the greatest interest in these works will he
found in his hypothesis as to the birth of the material Universe.
On the evolution of man from spirit into matter he has much more
than I could hope to glance at. In nearly all of it, he was
outlining and illustrating the Secret Doctrine. The books
indicated are well worthy of study not only by Western but also
by Eastern metaphysicians. Let us add a few sentences to support
this hypothesis from Count Saint-Martin, who was a devoted
student of these works.
> Jacob Boehme took for granted the existence of an Universal
> Principle; he was persuaded that everything is connected in the
> immense chain of truths, and that the Eternal Nature reposed on
> seven principles or bases, which he sometimes calls powers,
> forms, spiritual wheels, sources, and fountains, and that those
> seven bases exist also in this disordered material nature, under
> constraint. His nomenclature, adopted for these fundamental
> relations, ran thus: The first ASTRINGENCY, the second GALL or
> bitterness, the third ANGUISH, the fourth FIRE, the fifth LIGHT,
> the sixth SOUND, and the seventh he called BEING or the THING
The reader may have begun to think the author did not rightly
comprehend the first six but his definition of the seventh shows
he was right throughout, and we may conclude the real meanings
are concealed under these names.
> The third principle, ANGUISH, attenuates the ASTRINGENT one,
> turns it into WATER, and allows a passage to FIRE, which was shut
> up in the astringent principle.
There are in this many suggestions and a pursuit of them will
repay the student.
> Now the Divine Sophia caused a new order to take birth in the
> center of our system, and there burned our sun; from that do come
> forth all kinds of qualities, forms, and powers. This center is
> the separator.
It is well known that from the sun was taken by the ancients all
kinds of power; and if we mistake not, the Hindus claim that when
the Fathers enter into Para-Nirvana, their accumulated goodness
pours itself out on the world through the "Door of the Sun."
THE BHAGAVAD GITA says that the Lord of all dwells in the region
of the heart, and again that this Lord is also the Sun of the
"The earth is a condensation of the seven primordial principles,
and by the withdrawal of eternal light this became a dark
valley." It is taught in the East that this world is a valley and
that we are in it, our bodies reaching to the moon, being
condensed to hardness at the point where we are on the earth, and
thus becoming visible to the eye of man. There is a mystery in
this statement, but not such an one as cannot be unraveled.
> When the light mastered the fire at the place of the sun, the
> terrible shock of the battle engendered an igneous eruption by
> which there shot forth from the sun a stormy and frightful flash
> of fire -- Mars. Taken captive by light, it assumed a place, and
> there it struggles furiously, a pricking goad, whose office is to
> agitate all nature, producing reaction. It is the gall of
> nature. The gracious, amiable Light, having enchained unerupted
> Mars, proceeded by its own power to the bottom or end of the
> rigidity of Nature, whence unable to proceed further, it stopped
> and became corporeal; remaining there, it warms that place, and
> although a valet in nature, it is the source of sweetness and the
> moderator of Mars.
> Saturn does not originate from the sun, but was produced from the
> severe astringent anguish of the whole body of this Universe.
> Above Jupiter the sun could not mitigate the horror, and out of
> that arose Saturn, who is the opposite of meekness, and who
> produces whatever of rigidity there is in the creatures,
> including bones, and what in normal nature corresponds thereto.
This is all the highest astrology, from one who had no knowledge
> As in the Sun is THE HEART OF LIFE, so by Saturn commenceth all
> corporeal nature. Thus in these two resides the power of the
> whole universal body, and without their power, there could be no
> creation nor corporification.
> Venus originates in EFFLUVIA from the Sun. She lights the
> unctuosity of the water of the Universe, penetrates hardness, and
> enkindles love.
> Mercury is the chief worker in the planetary wheel; he is SOUND,
> and wakes up the germs in everything. His origin, the triumph of
> Light over Astringency (in which sound was shut up silent), set
> free the sound by the attenuation of the astringent power.
It is certain that if this peculiar statement regarding Mercury
is understood, the student will have gained a high point of
knowledge. Seductive bait is here held out to those striving
disciples who so earnestly desire to hold converse with the
elemental world. But there is no danger, for all the avenues are
very secret and only the pure can prevail in the preliminary
Boehme says again: "The Mercury is impregnated and fed
continually by the solar substance; that in it is found the
knowledge of what was in the order above, before Light had
penetrated to the solar center."
As to the Moon, it is curious to note that he says: "She was
produced from the sun itself, at the time of his becoming
material, and that the moon is his spouse." Students of the story
of Adam being made to sleep after his creation and before coats
of skin were given, when Eve was produced from his side, will
find in this a strong hint.
The above is not by any means a complete statement of Boehme's
system. In order to do justice to it, a full analysis of all his
works should be undertaken. However, it is sufficient if
thoughtful minds who have not read Boehme shall turn to him after
reading this or if but one earnest reader of his works or seeker
after wisdom shall receive even a hint that may lead to a
clearing up of doubts or to the acquisition of one new idea.
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin continually read him: and the merest
glance at THEOSOPHIC CORRESPONDENCE or MAN -- HIS NATURE, etc.
of de Saint-Martin, will show that from that study he learned
much. How much more then will the Western mind be aided by the
light shed on both by the lamp of Theosophical teachings.
"Let the desire of the pious be fulfilled."
THEOSOPHISTS AND PRAYER
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 162-64.]
Pray not to the gods, for hearing they may not act; for the gods
themselves are held within the bonds of cosmic law from which
they may not vary. Our prayers spring from our ignorance and
weakness: ignorance of our own most real needs, and weakness
because we want others to do things for us that we lack courage
or will to begin to do for ourselves.
I pity those poor hearts who in their simplicity think that by
praying to Almighty God their prayers will be answered. Just
think it over. What is the reason that so many people like to
pray? They really know by experience that their prayers are
unanswered. But this is why they like to pray: because it brings
peace, because it brings a sense of throwing their burdens upon
some other; likewise because it strengthens the ineradicable
feeling of the human heart that there are spiritual powers of
enormous constant activity in the world, and that by thinking
towards these beings, we come in touch with them.
Yes, it is thus far true. Were every prayer to be a yearning to
come into closer contact with these spiritual powers, it would be
beautiful. But change the picture: Two armies meet for mutual
slaughter, destruction, each side sending petitions to Almighty
God for victory for its own army. Don't you see something
horribly blasphemous in this, an utter lack of understanding of
the divine character of the governance of the Universe?
It is the petitionary prayer that Theosophists disbelieve in: the
asking God Almighty for physical and other benefits which the
petitioner is either too lazy or too indifferent to his duties to
endeavor to secure for himself. Such prayers are often downright
immoral, secretly or even openly; as when one prays to God
Almighty for selfish advantages over one's fellows.
But oh, how the human heart longs for compassion, for sympathy,
for beauty, for the understanding handclasp of someone else; and
we realize from our studies and our intuitions, we keenly realize
the living reality of great spiritual powers in the universe,
surrounding us constantly, and our infinitely faithful allies and
helpers when we strive to raise ourselves spiritually and
intellectually towards them. Thus we Theosophists have something
so much more beautiful and noble than prayers to non-hearing
divinities. We have something incomparably closer to our human
hearts and souls, something wondrously beautiful, gentle,
compassionate, always listening, always helping: the Brotherhood
of Compassion and Wisdom.
This Brotherhood extends upwards from us men in an unbroken chain
to the Chelas and the Masters, and on to the very heights of the
ethery spaces. I know not how high the Hierarchy runs, certainly
as high as the highest peaks of our own Galaxy; and it is along
this stairway that the Chela, the disciple, climbs up, up, up
forever more. And marvelous tale of occult meaning, he climbs
most fast, most quickly, whose hand of compassion is extended
backwards in help to those behind himself. Isn't that a strange
It is these Helpers of humanity, the Masters and their Chelas,
and those above the Masters, who extend to us constantly the help
of their always pitiful hearts, their strength, marvelous as it
is, yet given to us freely. And they are very wise in their
giving, for the help they give is rarely known. "Let not thy
left hand know what thy right hand doeth." I could tell you some
of the things that the Helpers do for men, unseen, unknown, even
by the recipients of their compassionate bounty and benevolence:
lives saved in many a way, disasters prevented in many a way;
those disasters which cannot be prevented, because invoked by
man's own egoism and evil-doing, softened so that their
asperities and harshness hurt men less. Things like these are
done constantly, and we men know little or naught of it. We
simply see the results. This is why this Hierarchy of Compassion
is called the Guardian Wall around men.
The selfish and lazy that make no efforts to regenerate their own
lives do not climb the stairway leading to the Hierarchy of
Compassion. Paradoxically, it is those asking the most who as a
rule give the least. What gift is greater than a man's heart,
than HIMSELF? Show me something nobler than that, something more
practical, something that will bring about results more quickly.
Why, do you know what the matter with the world is today? Men are
distracted because of their own weaknesses; they have not
will-power even to pursue a single path for a week at a time, or
a month, still less a year. Their wills are asleep, their minds
are weakened from lack of exercise and from depending upon help
from without, their spirit within them has no chance to spread
its wings and soar.
To say that Theosophists disbelieve in prayer is a
misunderstanding of the Theosophical attitude. But most prayer,
unfortunately, is petitionary, disguised or open, and prayer in
this sense weakens the character. If I were the Christian God
Almighty, I would say to the one who prays thus: "Son, you have
the truth enshrined in your own heart. You have been taught it.
Get upon your feet and BE." The most beautiful prayer is
aspiration transmuted into action. Then you have the real man,
the real woman. No Theosophists through the ages have ever
objected to prayer if it consists in inner aspiration, the will
towards self-regeneration to spiritual things, and the
transmuting of this inner attitude of the soul into positive
action on earth. Where you have this prayer-inaction then the
whole life becomes filled with the prayer of the Avatara Jesus:
"Not my will, but thine be done!"
LITTLE THINGS AND LITTLE LIVES
By B.P. Wadia
[From THE BUILDING OF THE HOME, pages 28-37]
> Regard only MORAL asceticism as necessary. It is as a means to
> an end, that end being the perfect equilibrium of the INNER
> nature of man, and the attainment of complete mastery over the
> body with all its passions and desires.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY
> Those who endure gory austerities contrary to Holy Writ, and who,
> wedded to hypocrisy and egotism, and endued with the strength of
> Kama and Raga, passion and anger, thoughtlessly torturing the
> Lives (assemblage of the Elements) which make the body and ME
> seated in the innermost Heart -- they are of infernal tendency.
> -- THE BHAGAVAD GITA, XVII, 5-6
The law of family-life is love -- the motor-power without which a
nucleus of Universal Brotherhood cannot be formed. The elders
sacrifice in love for the younger members of the family; the
children manifest love through gratitude and devotion to their
elders; there must be sympathy and kindliness and affection
between all, including the servants, who are described by Manu as
"one's shadows." (IV. 185) The state of the family at home, as
its honors abroad, are wholly dependent upon its morals -- the
way in which its members behave towards each other, and that
behavior almost wholly depends upon the yoga of self-respect. It
is said in the Chinese book of ceremonials, the Li Chi:
> The superior man commences with respect as the basis of love. To
> omit respect is to leave no foundation for affection. Without
> love there can be no union; without respect the love will be
Each person, old or young, has to learn and has to be taught the
art which we call the yoga of self-respect. Reincarnation
implies that each human ego has lived in human bodies before, and
Karma means that all the egos incarnating in a single family have
had relationships with each other before. These may not have
been blood-ties, they may be weak or strong in the present; but
there they are -- opportunities to learn how to behave with
others in the wider field of world activities.
The yoga of self-respect demands that a person cultivate some
realization of his own divine and immortal nature; that he
recognize that liberty of thought and speech and action for any
one must be in accordance and in conformity with the laws of that
superior divine nature; that none is free to do as he pleases
without a proper consideration for the place others occupy in the
scheme of things; and lastly that each must learn, or has to be
taught, to endeavor to regard the body as the Temple in which the
Divinity of the Superior Mind has to become manifest.
Some of these items are common phases of any good system of
education. But in modern civilization much theorizing and
speculating and experimenting is done at the cost of practical
actions flowing from self-evident truths. One major difficulty
is caused by the bifurcation of responsibility between home and
school, parents and teachers. In the case of the adults, there
is absence of knowledge; ethics, as a branch of
psycho-philosophy, is not taught and everything is left to the
person who has to do the best he can with whatever he has within
himself. But the home-builder who is the student of pure
Theosophy knows the truths of Reincarnation and Karma, and even a
modicum of application of these to his own personality teaches
him many important lessons.
The Grihastha represents one great fact of evolution -- his the
function to practice noblesse oblige. To him falls the duty of
showing how the women should be honored in the home, how the
young should be energized and the poor protected, how the law of
the family should be extended to the sphere of citizenship. The
Laws of Manu go far enough to state that "where women are not
honored, sacred rites yield no reward." (III, 56) And his
responsibility, as described, is terrifying to the Theosophical
> Whatever be the qualities of the man with whom a woman is united
> according to the law, such qualities even she assumes, like a
> river which is united with the ocean. (IX, 22).
On the other hand, the woman represents the principle of
Dependence, inasmuch as she is the vehicle, Vahan, who first
receives and then carries the seed of life. The preserving,
sustaining work of Vishnu is carried forward through the
dependability of his Shakti. Manu states that "by the sacred
tradition the woman is declared to be the Soil, the man is
declared to be the Seed." (IX, 33) This dependability is often
mistaken for graceless docility and blind obedience; a dependable
daughter or a dependable wife or a dependable mother offers
something more than obedience.
The muscular system is more largely developed in the male, while
the glandular is more highly developed in the female. This
difference is related to the different parts played by man and
woman in the reproduction of the species. Again, Alexis Carrel
in MAN, THE UNKNOWN states:
> Sex is inevitably determined from the time of the union of the
> paternal and maternal cells. The egg of the future male
> possesses one chromosome less than that of the female, or an
> atrophied chromosome. In this manner all the cells of the body
> of the man differ from those of the body of the woman.
But these physical and physiological phenomena are reflections of
inner psychological ones. According to Occult Teachings sex
difference is due to the predominant mental habits of the
incoming Ego; it becomes further crystallized as soon as the
astral germ develops; and the physical body is only the outer
casing. The latter ought to reflect faithfully the inner; but in
our civilization, tampering from without, produces a phenomenon
corresponding to the modern woman coming out in man's clothes.
Some scientists are searching to discover how they can determine
the sex of the children to be born -- a very dangerous line of
investigation. Misfits along sex lines are psychically
unhealthy. Women trying to act and to be like men are taking a
wrong course; a bifurcation in their consciousness is likely to
be engendered. To learn to lean on the physical and the
intellectual strength of the male makes the woman morally and
emotionally dependable (not dependent) -- a real helpmate and not
a drag on man.
The Laws of Manu state: "By a girl, by a young woman, or even by
an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own
house." (V, 147)
The same teaching is to be found in the Chinese Li Chi:
> The woman follows the man. In her youth, she follows her father
> and elder brother; when married she follows her husband; when her
> husband is dead, she follows her son.
This sounds drastic to the Western woman and will be resented by
her Indian sister "educated" along Western lines -- but
Dependability is a high spiritual quality, more easily developed
in the female body, and it is necessary for the future life of
Chelaship. The obedience necessary in a disciple towards his
Master, in a personality towards its Inner Ruler, is the type of
obedience required in a woman towards father, husband or son.
Then, in modern days, the respect for elders in the home as in
society has grown weak. The service of father, mother, teacher
is insisted upon in the Laws of Manu -- "the service of these
three is called the highest austerity." (II, 229) These three are
types from archetypes: "The teacher is the image of Brahman, the
father of Prajapati, the mother of Prithivi." (II, 226) There is
a strange sounding statement in the same laws:
> The vital airs (prana) of a young man mount upwards to leave his
> body when an elder approaches; but by rising to meet him and
> saluting he recovers them. He who habitually salutes and
> constantly pays reverence to the aged obtains an increase of four
> things, viz., length of life, knowledge, fame, strength. (II,
The Chinese proverb with a fine sweep brings out the truth
underlying the point we are considering: "Under Heaven no parent
is ever wrong," and then there is another which advises with
graphic humor: "Before fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts,
itch as you may, you dare not scratch."
The Indian and the Chinese sages not only lay great emphasis on
respecting the elders, they point to the importance of correct
treatment of and behavior towards guests. In India uninvited
guests are as welcome as invited ones; the former do not cause
embarrassment to the old-fashioned housewife; but the system, as
it has developed, does involve a considerable waste of cooked
food. In these days of coffee shops and restaurants, the ways of
guests and hosts are undergoing a change. Indians have a lesson
to derive from the habit of the West where uninvited guests who
share "potluck" are as rare as they are common in India -- and we
are given to understand in China also. But, for all that, the
institution of the host and the guest is of great value -- not
only social, but also spiritual.
Adaptability and sat-sang are readily developed by the
householder because of this institution. How not to refuse and
whom to invite -- these are learnt by the host from the guest.
Where not to go and whom to seek -- these are learnt by the guest
from the host. There is a truth in the idea which Washington
Irving gives that there should be "a tone of solemn and sacred
feeling that blends with our conviviality."
The yoga of self-respect, which really means respecting other
selves, must have a true spiritual foundation within one's self,
We will not be able to pour out love-respect towards others till
we discern the duality of our own nature -- the personal and the
individual. We cannot respect our own foibles and follies, but
we have to tolerate them, while we are eradicating them.
Tolerance without the effort at eradication will develop psychic
blindness in us; mere efforts at harsh eradication without due
regard for the tanhaic elementals will fail, for we are dealing
with living organisms which possess their own intelligence, and
which WE have brought within the sphere of our thought-feeling,
and to which we have given a home; this in the near or the
When we have, with justice and humility, seen the good and the
strong powers of our own Individuality, we also have developed
the mercy aspect of justice, and the courage aspect of humility,
and then we are truly capable of becoming like "the ripe mango
fruit; as soft and sweet as its bright golden pulp for others'
woes, as hard as that fruit's stone for thine own throes and
Moral expressions of love-respect towards elders, equals, and
youngsters proceed from the psychic side of our being, and so do
those of hate-contempt. Deformed morality bespeaks psychic
disturbances, and the latter are the most potent cause of bodily
illnesses. One of the major pillars of home-building is that of
Health. Bodily health is a very important factor. At best, we
have bodies of the race and the cycle, which have their own
peculiar limitations; as Mr. Judge puts it, "a sound body is not
expected, because our race is unsound everywhere," but he adds "a
correct mental and moral position will at last bring a sound
body." In another place Mr. Judge writes:
> If you will rely upon the truth that your inner self is a part of
> the great Spirit, you will be able to conquer these things that
> annoy, and if you will add to that a proper care of your bodily
> health, you will get strength in every department.
A Theosophical Home-Builder must observe the rules of health
which spring from the doctrines of his great philosophy. And the
principal teaching about the building of the body must be
Science, dimly perceiving the truth, may find Bacteria and other
> infinitesimals in the human body, and see in them but occasional
> and abnormal visitors to which diseases are attributed.
> Occultism -- which discerns a life in every atom and molecule,
> whether in a mineral or human body, in air, fire, or water --
> affirms that our whole body is built of such lives, the smallest
> bacteria under the microscope being to them in comparative size
> like an elephant to the tiniest infusoria.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 225
> As to our outward physical bodies, the house of the tabernacle of
> the Soul, the Doctrine teaches a strange lesson.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 248
> Each particle -- whether you call it organic or inorganic -- IS A
> LIFE. Every atom and molecule in the Universe is both
> LIFE-GIVING and DEATH-GIVING to that form, inasmuch as it builds
> by aggregation universes and the ephemeral vehicles ready to
> receive the transmigrating soul, and as eternally destroys and
> changes the FORMS and expels those souls from their temporary
> abodes. It creates and kills; it is self-generating and
> self-destroying; it brings into being, and annihilates, that
> mystery of mysteries -- the LIVING BODY of man, animal, or plant,
> every second in time and space; and it generates equally life and
> death, beauty and ugliness, good and bad, and even the agreeable
> and disagreeable, the beneficent and maleficent sensations. It
> is that mysterious LIFE, represented collectively by countless
> myriads of lives, that follows in its own sporadic way, the
> hitherto incomprehensible law of Atavism; that copies family
> resemblances as well as those it finds impressed in the aura of
> the generators of every future human being.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 261
> We are taught that every physiological change, in addition to
> pathological phenomena; diseases -- nay, life itself -- or rather
> the objective phenomena of life, produced by certain conditions
> and changes in the tissues of the body which allow and force life
> to act in that body; that all this is due to those unseen
> CREATORS and DESTROYERS.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 262
> The most positive of materialistic philosophers agree that all
> that exists was evolved from ether; hence, air, water, earth, and
> fire, the four primordial elements must also proceed from ether
> and chaos the first DUAD; all the imponderables, whether now
> known or unknown, proceed from the same source. Now, if there is
> a spiritual essence in matter, and that essence forces it to
> shape itself into millions of individual forms, why is it
> illogical to assert that each of these spiritual kingdoms in
> nature is peopled with beings evolved out of its own material?
> Chemistry teaches us that in man's body there are air, water,
> earth, and heat, or fire -- AIR is present in its components;
> WATER in the secretions; EARTH in the inorganic constituents; and
> FIRE in the animal heat. The Kabalist knows by experience that
> an elemental spirit contains only one, and that each one of the
> four kingdoms has its own peculiar elemental spirits; man being
> higher than they, the law of evolution finds its illustration in
> the combination of all four in him.
> -- H.P. Blavatsky, ISIS UNVEILED, I, 343
It is through these lives that we contact the invisible kingdoms
of Devattas and Devas -- Elementals and Gods. A continuous
exchange of lives belonging to our kingdom and theirs is taking
place; and one of the principal means of creating a calm mind, an
enlightened heart, and a healthy body is in the right use of this
process of exchange. In the selection of food, in the taking of
exercise, in regulating hours of sleep and waking, in amending
bad habits and forming good ones, in the matter of bodily
cleanliness with its psyche or magnetism, knowledge of this
doctrine is very necessary. Details are not easily available,
nor are they needed; necessary principles are to be found in
Moral character is akin to outer behavior, just as thought is
akin to speech and words to action. The activity of the senses
and the organs is dependent upon emotions and unless the mind is
able to elevate them, they will degrade the mind, enslaving it.
The connection between emotions and bodily health is recognized
even by modern science. Thus Alexis Carrel writes in his MAN,
> Emotions, as is well known, determine the dilation or the
> contraction of the small arteries, through the vasomotor nerves.
> They are, therefore, accompanied by changes in the circulation of
> the blood in tissues and organs. Pleasure causes the skin of the
> face to flush. Anger and fear turn it white. In certain
> individuals, bad news may bring about a spasm of the coronary
> arteries, anemia of the heart, and sudden death. The affective
> states act on all the glands by increasing or decreasing their
> circulation. They stimulate or stop the secretions, or modify
> their chemical constitution . . .
> Thus, envy, hate, and fear, when these sentiments are habitual,
> are capable of starting organic changes and genuine diseases.
> Moral suffering profoundly disturbs health . . .
> The instability of modern life, the ceaseless agitation, and the
> lack of security create states of consciousness which bring about
> nervous and organic disorders of the stomach and of the
> intestines, defective nutrition, and passage of intestinal
> microbes into the circulatory apparatus. Colitis and the
> accompanying infections of the kidneys and of the bladder are the
> remote results of mental and moral unbalance. Such diseases are
> almost unknown in social groups where life is simpler and not so
> agitated, where anxiety is less constant. In a like manner,
> those who keep the peace of their inner self in the midst of the
> tumult of the modern city are immune from nervous and organic
Tastes and habits are psychic manifestations. Between the seeing
eye and the discerning intelligence there is a direct relation;
between the listening ear and the discriminating mind also.
Between heart aspirations and solar plexus desires a distinction
must be drawn, as also between head-learning and soul-wisdom. If
our mind food is faulty our body-food is likely to be wrong, also
books, like physical foods, may be sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic.
In the selection of both, Theosophical principles have to be
THE SPRING EQUINOX SYMPOSIUM, Part I
By Theosophical Students
[The materials that follow come from theosophical symposiums
given at the Point Loma Theosophical Community in the early
1930's. It was read aloud by various participants. It was taken
from various theosophical writings including those of Kenneth
Morris and from THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE by H.P. Blavatsky. It
was later reprinted in IN THE TEMPLE, pages 35-44.]
Beyond the misty space of twice a thousand years there lived an
ancient race of Western Shepherd-Seers. The Cymry called them
Druids, these Guardians of the Light who on cairn-crowned hills
held their festivals at the four sacred seasons of the year.
These Druid-Bards were beings of a commanding and awe-inspiring
character, invested with genuine spiritual power, and their
mastery of the occult knowledge of Nature caused them to be
regarded with feelings of deepest reverence. The truths they
taught in their temples formed a secret and inward basis for all
that was high and noble and true in the life of the Celtic
The sacred spirit of universal truth permeates their philosophy,
and once their mystic symbols are unveiled we find the light of
our own esoteric wisdom shining within.
Let us, therefore, refresh our minds this Spring Equinoctial time
with the divine teachings of the Druids and reveal their unity
with our own deeper mysteries.
Let us imagine we are all together in one of those ancient
temples built by the Druid Guardians of the Light. We are
surrounded by the beauties that Nature blesses us with at the
time of the Spring Equinox, called by the Druids the Alban Eilir.
See ye the huge stones, the two upright, the third across the
top, the symbol of the upper triangle of Divinity whose source is
the heart of the sun? See also the mighty circle of the temple,
symbol of eternity, of the zodiac, of unity. Above, the mighty
vault of immensity, the velvet blue of a cloudless night. Across
the firmament shine the starry homes of our Greater Brothers who
in their compassion give us light and inspiration.
Those Druids had been taught the mysteries of the spiritual
world, of the stars, the sun, and the zodiac, and they placed
these mighty stones of their temples in symbolic positions. In
the temple of Stonehenge, where these great trilithons raise
their heads, can be read the mysteries of the zodiac, the
equinoctial and solstitial points of the sun's journey. These
stones are so placed that the rays of the rising sun at the four
sacred points of his journey shine directly upon them and the
central altar stone of the temple. The middle stone marks the
times of the Equinoxes, the two outer ones, the Summer and Winter
Solstices. A line joining these three stones and the central
altar formed for them the sacred unmentionable name of Divinity.
Thus in stone and orientation is to be read the mystery by those
who have the key.
Aye, and the temples reared upon these mighty foundation stones
were likewise wrapped in mystery save to the chosen few. To the
passer-by they might have appeared as huge and meaningless heaps
of earth. But when the four sacred periods of the year drew near
special artisans were instructed to open up the secret entrances
and passageways leading into the interior, and within,
preparation for very holy things proceeded silently and swiftly
and all was made ready for the sacred hour. And when that time
had passed, the secret entrances and passageways were again
covered over and entirely concealed so that no trace might be
left of the mighty things that had transpired within.
They built their temples sacred to the Dragon only because he was
the symbol of the Sun, which in its turn was the symbol of the
living Divinity abiding at its heart. They considered the sun as
the essence of Divine Nature. The visible sun is the center of
this our material life, it is but the reflection of the divine
sun, the center of our spiritual life. To become such a shining
one was one of their goals of evolution. Hence during the
mysteries they called their Hierophants Sons of the Dragon.
They knew as we do, that the very Solar God, whose shining body
we see, and all the other units of the stellar host, were once,
in bygone ages, so far past in time that it is but a dreaming
memory -- men such as we now are, or closely similar to what we
are now. For as a man is but a fully-evolved life-atom, having
attained self-consciousness, and already the beginning of a
spiritual-divine consciousness, so will every life-atom evolve
into becoming finally one of the stellar host. These gods
themselves are life-atoms of a cosmic Hierarchy higher than the
spiritual part of our own Hierarchy; and through that superior
cosmic Hierarchy the gods will go upwards stage by stage -- and
so on forever. What a magnificent picture!
Yes, men are in reality embryo suns. Even today, even as men are
now, had we the eyes to see it -- we should realize it because we
should see it -- each one of us is shining resplendently; every
pore of our body is emanating light, and we see it not, because
our physical optics are too gross; they have not been evolved as
yet to sense these particular ranges of vibration and to
interpret them through the brain to the mind. Yes, every flower
on every bush, every blade of grass, every tree, every beast,
every bird that flies, every crystal, and every sun is pouring
forth a flood of light -- pouring forth energy, which is
fundamentally the same thing. Consider the dignity with which we
There are many other mysteries connected with the Sun. Had we
the eyes to vision, to be able to trace the reach of the energies
pouring forth from the sun and extending to the outermost bounds
of its kingdom, which is the Solar System, and could we do this
by rising to a higher plane, we should see what we call the empty
spaces of our Solar System as one vast substantial body
corresponding to our own body. We should see floods of energy,
of life, vitality, of substance, pouring forth from the heart of
the sun, and returning to it in regular cyclic intervals and
byroads and pathways, which all entities follow in passing from
planet to planet, and from planet to sun, and from sun on their
returning journey to planet: a circulation truly of the
life-blood, the life essence, of the Solar System.
The sun is the beating heart of our system, and the sunspot
period including its maximum and its minimum phases is just like
the expanding and contracting of the human heart, which is
intimately connected with every organ and indeed every molecule
of the body. So it is with the Solar System; every celestial
body is intimately connected with the beating of the solar heart.
The sunspots may be considered as windows through which we have
the vaguest of glimpses into the temple-body of a living god. We
may speak of them as the embrasures in a Fort or House of Life,
through which we may cast -- provided indeed we can do so! -- our
vision and see at least a little of what takes place within. We
may also look upon them as channels, openings, vents, which serve
for the passing into the Sun, and for the ejection from the Sun,
of Rivers of Lives.
These Rivers of Lives are of many grades, high, low, and
intermediate. Every Monad, every life, of all the countless
myriads which infill the Solar System, must pass again and again
and again at cyclic periods into and through the solar heart, and
come out therefrom, just as every drop of blood must pass into
and through the human heart, and come out from it again to pursue
its destiny along the circulations of the human body.
As the sun is the center and source of light and truth, so the
Druids symbolized their divine truth as coming forth from the
center of the temple. They taught that the Temple of Truth is
one. Many are the gateways to the Temple, for it is Boundless;
Truth is everywhere. From the center flows Love. Love in the
light of divine Truth gives birth to divine Wisdom, and from
these three flow Will and Understanding. So therefore are these
the divine essentials. It is therefore that the bard sings:
I will adore the Love-diffusing Lord of every kindred, the sovereign of hosts and powers round the Universe.
Singing of this Love-diffusing Lord in the center of all things, the bard says:
> I am the wind that blows over the sea;
> I am the wave of the ocean;
> I am the murmur of the billows;
> I am the oxen of the seven combats;
> I am the vulture upon the rocks;
> I am a tear of the sun;
> I am the fairest of plants;
> I am the wild boar in valor;
> I am the salmon in the water;
> I am a lake in the plain;
> I am a word of science;
> I am the spear-point that gives battle;
> I am the god who creates or forms in the head the fire;
> Who is it that enlightens the assembly upon the mountains if not I,
> Who telleth the age of the moon if not I,
> Who showeth the place where the sun goes to rest if not I?
So sing the poets, knowing full well that the divine spark
within, that minute particle of spiritually subtle essence, ever
seeks new forms through which it may continue its evolution in
the effort to reach the Circle of Ceugant, the Circle of
Infinity, the Absolute, or what we call the Divine Consciousness
of the starry Divinities of the Galaxy. A man cannot attain the
Circle of Infinity until he has traversed the Circle of Abred,
the Circle of Necessity, of Evolution. He must return again and
again to the Circle of Abred, or what we call our Solar System,
until he has attained perfect knowledge and understanding of
everything within this Circle, until Cythrual, the
personification of Evil and Death, is mastered. Then is a man a
god-man, ready to enter the Circle of Gwynfyd, the Circle of
Wisdom, Bliss, and Liberation, the condition of the enlightened
human being who is freed from earth and its attractions.
The Archdruids always warned their disciples that this Circle of
Gwynfyd, the Circle of Bliss, Wisdom, and Liberation, could not
be entered without full and perfect love of all things; that
where there is perfect love there is perfect knowledge, and where
there is perfect knowledge, there is perfect liberty. When all
the mysteries of godliness were known then the Circle of Ceugant,
or of Infinity was reached, that region in which dwelt the
Highest of their Gods. Of this God, the Mighty One, Hu Gadarn,
the Bard writes:
> He is the smallest of the small,
> Hu, the Mighty as the world judges;
> He is the greatest of the great;
> He is the god of the Mysteries;
> Light is his course and swift;
> An atom of sunlight is his car.
> He is great on the lands and the seas.
> Greater than we can conceive,
> Greater than all the worlds.
> Let us beware of mean indignity
> To Hu Gadarn who deals in bounty.
How I love that line, "An atom of sunlight is his car," for atoms
of light are the smallest of all small things, and yet the
greatest of all great things. In every atom there is a place
wholly commensurate with the Divine. The true name of Divinity
is known only to the initiated, for it contains all science and
poetry; it is the sound underlying all life and harmony and form
and music and beauty. Could we but sense the sound by hearing,
as we do its outward beauty of form by sight, then what
symphonies should we hear from the bluebells in the woodland, and
the daffodils on the hills; for are they not bluebells and
daffodils by virtue of the wondrous strange music, the vibrations
of which shape the atoms into loving cups and bells? What
vibrations of music brought this great flower, the Universe, into
bloom? What flaming harmonies were sounded forth to shake these
gleaming galaxies into form and life and motion?
Yes, and what heights of evolution we must conceive of to imagine
the builders of a Universe, those who could sing it into being.
Even man, who is a little universe, have not gods of many grades
builded him into a wondrous unity?
What are we told of our origin:
> Out of the womb of Being I come, and with expanding consciousness
> through the ages I evolve. I am the Universe: The Universe is I.
> My spirit is a spark of the Central Fire; my mind is a reflection
> of the Cosmic Soul; the very atoms of my physical body are the
> same atoms which vibrate in symphonic harmonies in the celestial
> bodies which fill the velvet dome of night. I am what I am
> because I am a child of Space, a child of the gods, passing
> through this earth-stage on my long-evolutionary pilgrimage. I
> keenly feel my oneness with the All; I sense that the remotest
> god in remotest space, call such a god a Cosmic Spirit if you
> like, is my close kin, I am friendly with him and he is friendly
> with me. In consequence I am at home everywhere. I am at home
> in remotest Sirius, I am at home in the Polar-Star; I am at home
> in the most distant nebula, because I recognize my kin in them.
> I am a Son of the Sun, clothed in its splendor.
These words challenge us to advance step by step and thus climb
to the sun-bathed peaks of the Mystic East, that Inner East where
dwells the very source of wisdom and beauty and love and peace.
Let us become Sons of the Serpent -- abandon the personal and
work the spiritual marvel within us as did the Druids of old.
They termed the candidate for Wisdom a Son of the Serpent, for,
if he would succeed, dire and terrible struggles were in store
for him -- that eternal struggle between himself and his
personified human passions, when the inner enlightened man has
either to slay them or fail. In the former case he became the
Dragon-slayer, as having happily overcome all temptation; and as
"Son of the Serpent" he became the serpent himself. Having cast
off his old skin and being born in a new body he became a Son of
Wisdom and Immortality in eternity. The serpent was the emblem
of wisdom, eternity, infinitude, and regeneration.
To inspire their disciples to become Sons of the Serpent these
ancient Druid-teachers clothed their precepts and philosophy in
Triads, simple enough to be held in the memory like stars of
thought to enlighten their path upward. They taught that in the
long, long journey through the Circle of Abred or Evolution,
there were three essentials and inevitable things: Suffering
through the breaking of the Law in order to learn the Law;
Temporary deliverance by death from the power of Cythrual, the
Personification of Evil; and third, the growth of spiritual life.
There are three principal qualities to be acquired by man:
wisdom, compassion, and strength of character. These can be
acquired only by the exercise of free choice. These three are
known as the three victories which attend a man all through the
cycles of the Ages.
There are three essentials of good discipleship: keen
observation, retentive memory, and sincere reverence for truth.
Three intentions are there to the Druidic instructions: the
training of the mind, the cultivation of the heart, and the
making of true manliness.
Three embellishing names of conscience: the Light of Heaven; the
Eye of Heaven; and the Voice of the Divinity within.
Three aspects are there of the divine: beauty, love, and truth.
Three places where Divinity is to be found: where it is most
sought for, where it is most loved, and where there is least of
There are three prime causes of evolution: the involution, or
inspiration of divinity from within; the essential unity of all
things with the divine; and harmonious action with the Divine.
We see that Druidism insists that all the forces of the Universe
are working with us to help us to take up the fight against
Cythrual, our Evil Nature, and make ourselves free.
To become such a Master of life one must understand the working
of nature, of evolution and the structure of the Universe, and
above all of one's own self. Thus we learn that the Archdruid
would ask his disciples such questions as these:
Whence didst thou proceed? And what is thy beginning? How camest
thou to where thou art in evolution? What wert thou before thou
didst become a man in the circle of Abred? Through how many forms
didst thou come? And what happened to thee in these forms? How
many forms of existence are there and what is the use of them?
What will happen to man at the end of life in the Circle of
Other profound examination questions given to seekers of wisdom
> Who was the regulator between Heaven and Earth? Who carries the
> measuring line of the Lord of Causes? What scale was used when
> the heavens were reared aloft? Who supported the curtain from the
> earth to the skies? Knowest thou what thou art in the hour of
> sleep, a mere body, a mere soul, or a secret retreat of light?
> What supports the fabric of the habitable earth? Who is the
> illuminator of the soul? Who has seen him, who knows him?
But with knowledge came responsibility, so their beautiful
Triadic precepts were an essential part of their training. How
similar are their thoughts to those given to us today by our
teachers. Have we not been told:
> Of the highest mysteries we cannot have knowledge unless our
> hearts are filled with love and overflowing with it. Oh! If men
> only knew what they could have if they would but take it! Nothing
> would be of any value to them after that realization had enflamed
> the soul with its divine fire. No suffering, no pains, no
> personal agony of mind and heart would ever daunt them. Know,
> will, love, dare, achieve, and be silent. This is the way to the
It is along the pathway of forgiveness that you pass to the heart
of the Sun.
Love will guide the wings of your soul to your Spiritual Sun.
Yes, the teacher has said: Forgive when forgiveness means calling
forth the strength in you. Love when there is a mean and selfish
impulse upon you to hate, because loving means strength and
grandeur within you. The way of the spirit is the way of light,
of peace. Practice love and forgiveness, and the holy presence
will be in you every moment of life: with you day and night, the
living companion of your silent hours, and the Warrior
Invincible, always fighting within you and for you in your hours
The Chela-training comes with absorbing power into all the events
of the everyday life ? In his great longing for us to come up
higher, our Teacher once said to us:
> Suppose that I were to ask of you, companions, for six months
> only, never to justify yourselves and never to answer back. I
> wonder how many of you could stand the strain of even that simple
> test which as you see would operate so strongly in the events of
> daily life. This is one of the very first rules in the Chela's
> course of training. Never indulge in self-justification in any
> circumstances, but when another is unjustly attacked then spring
> immediately to his defense, if you consider the attack to be
> unwarranted and unjust.
Conquest is the golden crown. Failure means trying again.
Remember that the soul ripens in tears.
While you give out the treasures of your heart all the lower part
of you dissolves away. Oh, how blessed is Nature's law!
THE OCCULT SIDE OF NATURE
[From THE ARYAN PATH, October 1937, pages 437-42.]
Familiar categories and classifications aside, every man should
be aware that he lives in a dual, a triple, a quadruple world --
a world which is none the less one and indivisible.
There is, first, the world as pictured by the senses and the
mind. Both these are eidolons, the phantom worlds of phenomena,
one internal and the other external to the waking human being.
Next, these two worlds exist within a third which cannot be
predicated in terms of either, because beyond both though
permeating them, controlling both because independent of them --
the universe of law-and-order, of cause-and-effect, of
attraction-and-repulsion. This world neither acts nor is
affected by action, neither creates, preserves, nor destroys
anything or anyone. It is as invisible, intangible, impartite,
as space -- a world of spontaneity everywhere being born and
dying at every instant of time, yet itself unborn, undying, a
purely metaphysical absolute constant. It is to actions of every
kind as substance is to form. In the one case we apply the
abstract formula or symbol, "motion," and in the other, "matter".
Finally, there is the omnipresent inhabitant of the other three.
Whether we use a religious symbol and call it the spirit, a
philosophical and name it intelligence, a biological and speak of
it as life, or express it scientifically as force or energy, it
is all one -- the anima mundi, the world-soul, the abstract basis
of Being and beings, as eternity is of time, as substance is of
form, as motion is of action. Existence, small or great,
conscious, semi-conscious, or unconscious, temporary or
long-continued, is contingent upon all these four worlds. In the
symbolism of all ancient peoples and cultures, so far as we have
any record of them, the assumption of these four worlds and their
containments is what is meant by and implicit in the theorem of
"Orbs." So universal is this conception, so basic its nature, so
indisputable when understood, that one is justified in calling it
a theorem rather than a revelation, a theory or hypothesis, a
belief or speculation.
Briefly stated, this theorem posits seven "azure transparent
spheres," one "within" the other, all "in coadunition but not in
consubstantiality," each and all the scene of CORRESPONDING
manifestation, or interpenetrating "influences." Under this
theorem, in each sphere, from highest to lowest or the reverse, a
relative condensation and rarefaction goes on, so that a sort of
"great circle" or plane of perception extends from an observer in
any of the spheres to the corresponding degree of the "fixed,
mutable, and volatile modifications" in all the other spheres.
The intervening space is necessarily EITHER a "plenum" or a
"void" according as the observer himself is in the higher or the
Whether we see physically, metaphysically, or spiritually as we
designate perception, we are observing on different planes and
focalize separately or in combinations. Thus there are,
sentiently, five physical senses known to and used by men in
varying degrees, five mental senses as more or less recognized,
and seven spiritual senses. The "mind" stands between the
highest and lowest "set" of senses and so is uniquely capable of
double-refraction besides its own "characteristic property" --
the "sixth sense."
In measure as a man reflects, meditates, concentrates, or
otherwise uses his mind for withdrawal from any given plane of
perception, he is inevitably at the same time in transit to
another, whether above or below his point of departure. If
completely in the other plane on the descending scale, he loses
consciousness of the anterior in successive gradations or
limitations. Conversely, on the ascending arc, he loses
consciousness of the lower according to the degree of transfer of
his power to perceive.
Between these planes of perception or states of consciousness are
two inescapable facts to be considered by him who would learn to
live and act consciously in either or to synthesize them all in
one. First, there is a twilight zone, dusk on the one side
coincident with dawn on the other as at the familiar sunrise and
sunset; call it the "critical stage." Second, there is the actual
"moment of occultation" on the one side of the horizon which
separates one sphere from another, one "modification" from
another within each sphere. This is "sleep" or "death" on the
hither side, but on the other the "awakening" or "birth." This
corresponds to the blind spot in the visual organ, or to what in
aviati is already called the cone or silence in quite other than
an auditory sense.
With these primary concepts in mind, the student or devotee of
any philosophy, science, religion, or other system can soon begin
to see for himself that they all represent "modifications" and
will be able to detect the pervading or principal combination of
elements in each general or particular scheme, his own or any
other. In measure as he pursues this process or modulus he will
be entering intelligently on the path of true Occultism. He will
lose his own affinity or partiality for any one of these
"modifications" -- that is, he will observe for himself that
while they differ exoterically they have the same esoteric basis.
When the several considerations outlined are clothed by the
student's own thought, reflection, and conduct, he will
understand why it is HE does not "remember" in this body the
cycle of necessity travelled in former bodies. And he will
understand why it is that the "lives" (the cellular, crystalline,
colloidal, molecular "beings" DO "remember", and KNOW what they
are about in their own sphere far better than he knows his
business here. On the other hand, his problems of life are
manifold, more complicated than theirs. The analogy is to be
found in every direction, but one will suffice as model: the
new-born insect or animal is incomparably better equipped at the
start in the struggle for life here than is the new-born child,
but as existence continues, the animal or insect learns less and
less, the child more and more.
When this is sufficiently pondered, one will be able to realize
why it is that we can no more see ahead than in retrospect with
the same clarity that we are enabled to visualize the "present"
-- why our "imagination" is as mutable and volatile as our
"memory." Perhaps he will begin to sense that thought, memory,
and imagination are no more actual divisions in the mind than
present, past, and future are actual divisions of time or
"eternity." Memory and imagination are a "pair of opposites"
whose nexus is thought, as past and future are the divergent
lines from a common point (the observer) which enclose opposite
angles of vision. We have no word in English to indicate the
trinity of thought, memory, and imagination because the concept
itself has long been absent from Western minds. Nor have we
specific psychological terms for the other trinities in mental
operations, as we have, say, in physics and mechanics.
This is not to be wondered at, nor many other unreckoned or
unrecognized combinations of the elements of objective, the
principles of subjective perception and action in man and in
nature. Our science is only a few hundred years old, our
psychology as a distinct pursuit barely half a century. These
children have still "a lot to learn" from their parents, religion
and philosophy, or by dearly-bought experience of their own.
Religion and philosophy themselves, as we know them, were once
children, as our civilization is the descendant of earlier, and
for all we know far higher spheres and modifications.
Again, in this direction, the student of scriptures and
philosophies far, far antedating our own or those of our parents,
will soon find in them indubitable evidence that they all spring
from one common Source -- sometimes called the "Mysteries,"
sometimes the "Hermetic philosophy," sometimes "Magic," and
nowadays "Occultism." Such men as, say, the long line of
Zoroasters, Buddhas, Avataras, along with the more recent
individual or deified Incarnations such as those of Muhammad,
Jesus, and others will be seen to be, one and all, great Beings
from higher spheres who descended of their own will and wisdom to
this one, but who, to reach us on our own level, had to take on
such "modifications" as we do -- and then REGAIN their conscious
contact, FROM THIS SIDE, with those higher "azure transparent
Mankind, too, came originally from those higher worlds, but has
not yet, except in rare individual cases, regained what, for
comparative purposes, may be called the same waking consciousness
of them that he has of this present "modification" which envelops
him. All are cognizant that although all men are of one kingdom
or species, as compared with the other partakers of the common
nature, yet men differ greatly in "spiritual gifts" -- in what
the Hindus have from time immemorial called the "four castes."
There are, in fact, not four but six castes, so to say. For
besides the four orthodox or main divisions, each with its many
subdivisions, there are two classes of "outcastes," which,
strange to say, represent the extremes of the "pairs of
opposites" -- those above all caste distinctions, and those
outside the pale. Westerners may smile or sneer at these
Looked at dispassionately, who can doubt that moral, mental,
psychical, and social castes and outcasts (of both kinds) exist
and have always existed in the West as in the East? Two
relatively moderate distinctions do, however, exist. In the East
is greater honesty on the subject than in the West; in the West,
because caste divisions are not rigidly enforced, it is easier
for an individual to rise from one caste to another. Applying
the theorem to human beings in general, as apart from racial and
creedal "modifications," they will be found to come under more
intelligible designations. One might express these in this
(1) Those men whose outlook on life and conduct is philosophical,
irrespective of their particular philosophy.
(2) Those in who the religious nature or instinct predominates,
regardless of their religion.
(3) Those whose natural tendency is not merely to take sides or
fight on whichever side they may be, but who stand for law and
order, as well as conquest, whether of nature or of self, whether
in or out of any special uniform.
(4) Those whose highest conception is that of give and take, of
live and let live no matter what business they may be engaged in.
(5) The great majority, "those whose natural disposition is to
serve," as THE BHAGAVAD GITA puts it, apart from whom or what
(6) Those who lead parasitic lives, no matter how they prey or on
whom they subsist, or what their "coloration."
Once attention is directed to the subject, "the confusion of
castes" is everywhere observable, East and West, and more among
the highly civilized than among aboriginal peoples. The
psychological facts seen, two great and absorbing questions arise
spontaneously. What caused them in general? WHAT CAUSED THEM IN
PARTICULAR? To the first problem, there is no other solution than
the theorem of Karma; to the second, no other solution than the
theorem of Reincarnation.
Those who push their introspection thus far will need no one to
tell them they are face to face with "human nature" stripped of
all speciousness -- and the "likeness" is unmistakable. Will
they fall back in the haste of affright, once more to clothe
themselves in the habiliments of caste, or will they GO ON? With
the first case, this chart has no concern, but is offered to
every would-be adventurer into "the astral world."
The word "astral" is, fittingly, a dubious word in itself. It
means an unknown light, dim, uncertain, easily obscured. It
means a substance or state of substance that partakes more of the
nature of forces than matter, as known to us, allergic rather
than energic. It means a state or condition of consciousness
that, if entered from one direction becomes the servant of the
wise, but if entered from the opposite becomes the master of the
ignorant -- and wisdom and ignorance in that region bear
connotations of which the learned and the mighty of this world
know no more than a child or a foolish man. In a word, it is the
"critical" point between viability here and viability in either a
higher or a lower "Orb," in higher or lower "modifications," than
any known to this world as it is, or to human nature as at
present constituted -- albeit an element in both, whether in the
fixed, the mutable, or the volatile state of either. Men are
awake to this sphere, asleep both to the ones above and ones
below as INHABITED WORLDS. Interpose between waking and sleeping
the intermediate two-way fluxation called dreaming, and you have
the analogy and correspondence for the astral world.
Analogy and correspondence are the only intelligible means of
description or direction possible to be employed to the men of
this world by men of the higher worlds WHO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE
TALKING ABOUT. Whatever the emblems, symbols, personifications,
and parables employed, all are Occult, all esoteric as well as
exoteric in meaning. Between what we know and what we do not
know there is no hard and fast line, but only a fading out of
sight or coming into it. Dream-state applies to this, too, and
the language of metaphor is precisely the language of
communication, the astral counterpart of the yea and nay of
nature and of wisdom -- both ways.
A large and ever-growing class of men and minds is already loose
from its moorings in one or another of the harbors of the
established order of things here. They have no charts nor
compass whether of past or future; they are actually helpless as
a blind man is, or a dreaming man, whether as regards the astral
world or what may lie above or below its treacherous vortices --
unless they reread the record of the book of life, reevaluate
their own understanding of it in the zodiacal light of
correspondence and analogy.
Who, among all those attracted by the phosphorescence of the
Occult, ever seriously questions his own motives, his own moral,
mental, and psychic stamina, for such a venture? Who takes into
account the law of Karma, the process of Reincarnation, even as
accessible in literature or visible in the life around him? Who
among them is able to steer a true course HERE? Who has the
"sixth sense" enough awake to tell true from false or erroneous
HERE where contrast and comparison are, so to say, thrust upon
him at every instant?
A modicum of observation of human nature at large and of
self-examination will quickly show how rare a thing it is to find
anyone intentionally engaged in self-study and self-discipline in
their most ordinary meaning. Many men are capable of "meditation
with a seed" and its corresponding "power of concentration," but
that is INDUCED, not under the control of the will. Like a rich
man who owns much wealth, the truth is that it possesses him.
Like a man of power, the power possesses him. Wealth and power
in our day as in ancestral eras, far more often than not are
burdens or intoxicants to their possessors. In the Occult
meaning of power and wealth, rare are those who are in CONTROL of
their senses and their minds, sure of their motives. The best of
them are able merely to set up certain conditions, external and
internal, whereby certain results will ensue. This is the method
of Western Science and of Eastern Yoga.
We observe only the successes, not the failures, whether in
results or upon the individuals thus engaged. Yet everyone knows
or can learn that the destiny of families, communities, nations,
and civilizations is bound up, embodied, one might say, in the
careers of the very, very small number of "leading spirits" good
or bad, from generation to generation, from century to century.
Is the outlook for Western civilization so charming that we
should regard these leading spirits as authentic guides here on
earth? Is the EXISTING condition of Eastern cultures so
fascinating that we should become pupils of the hundred-and-one
brands of yoga, in our thirst to enter "the land of the Occult?"
It should not be necessary to make the marginal notation that
these remarks are intended neither to comment invidiously on any
man or anything that he holds dear, nor to discourage any one's
disposition to ask, to read, to learn, in the Occult sense. They
are meant simply to put every such aspirant on his own voir dire,
his own bona fides, his own competency to judge himself, his
would-be teacher and instructions. Long ago H P. Blavatsky put
in print a statement, the truth of which anyone can verify for
himself merely by pausing to observe history and the flux of life
today. She said:
> Even the students of Occultism, though some of them have more
> archaic MSS. and direct teaching to rely upon, find it difficult
> to draw a line of demarcation between the Sodales of the Right
> Path and those of the Left.
Many good, able, sincere men will be found giving their devotion
to some one or another of the hundreds of schools representing
one and another of the modifications of one and another of the
Occult arts and sciences. The Path of Occultism, the Path
between "the seven azure transparent Orbs," is one and the same
for the devotees of "White" Magic or "Black," but one should
reflect that it can be travelled IN EITHER OF TWO OPPOSITE
DIRECTIONS. Many devotees do not themselves know WHICH WAY THEY
THEOSOPHY -- AN IMPRACTICAL THEORY OR A PRACTICAL GUIDE?
By Grace Knoche
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1920, pages 270-78.]
To be practical -- what does this mean? A cloak is practical if
it fits the wearer and protects him from the cold. A practical
mind is one that can grasp both sides and all angles of a
question, not one side or one angle alone. A practical test is a
test that marshals up all the qualities of a machine or a theory
or a man, not merely part of them, and that can determine whether
they meet the all-round, all-the-time demand or only fractions of
it here and there. Similarly, Theosophy is practical if it fits
the whole great human need, if it can bridge the yawning gulf
between man's desires and his duty, and if it is protective to
the whole of his nature, not merely to a part.
We call ourselves practical and point with pride to our thousands
of mechanical inventions, our conquest of the earth and the air,
the vast machinery we have erected for the administration and
justice and the study of delinquency and disease, our
labyrinthical religious and educational systems, our possession
of vast slices of the earth's surface, and so on. We are
practical -- if the word is used correctly. But is it? This
boasted cloak of our making does not pretend to cover humanity
except materially and intellectually, and in actual fact it does
not cover even that. The barest material needs are still unmet;
starvation and disease walk hand in hand in how many nations; the
birth rate is steadily going down and the death rate as steadily
climbing up; we cannot build jails and asylums fast enough to
take care of the by-products of the enterprise called modern
life. With every year this cloak of material benefits, which we
believed when making it would so wonderfully suffice, shows up as
more and more scanty and slack. We are not practical, after all.
But even if the case were otherwise: even were there not in the
whole world a starving man, a deprived child, an uncaged
bacillus, or an unconquered disease -- even then would this cloak
of ours, so patiently woven and at such tremendous cost, cover
human life in its wholeness? No! What is protection for the body
or food for the brain-mind if there is no sustenance, no
shelter-house, for the soul? Man is not one, but TWO.
When will we learn that truth? Part of his nature we may satisfy
with 'red-topped boots and a dinner,' with mountains to climb or
lions to stalk or laboratories to play in -- but there is another
part not to be satisfied with any of these things. And that
other part has to do with the Eternal Man, the man that lasts,
the man that slips off and lives on and on without even a nod at
the grave. It has to do with the affections, with the sense of
devotion and of duty, with that flaming Spirit of Love in the
heart that if not guided into right courses is so apt to drift
into the wrong; in a word, with the Real Man, "who was and is and
shall be, for whom the hour shall never strike." A cloak that is
thoroughly practical will cover this part of the man too. It
will wrap the whole vast human need -- not merely the negligible
part of it -- in soft enveloping folds as a babe is wrapped, not
to confine and restrict it, but to provide warmth and tender
protection while giving the little limbs the utmost freedom to
toss and play and grow strong.
Watching the world-tides come and go in their bed of suffering
and of change, and the failure of the wisest statesmanship to
stabilize their oscillating course, one can see that the crux of
the difficulty is not in ways and means, or theories and ideas,
or incapacity for sacrifice and effort; it is not in any outer or
brain-mind thing, but lies in the nature of man himself. It is
that which is the unsolved mystery, and before it the rulers of
our nations, equally with the teacher in the humblest school and
the mother in the simplest home, hesitate, falter, fail, and too
often turn away. They dare not attack it.
Human nature! You would think it was a bomb, timed to explode but
there was no way of finding out when. Nor can we wonder. We get
some human engine safely on the proper track, perhaps after
infinite sacrifice and labor, and presently we find it switched
to another and headed straight for disaster. We level it down in
one place and it bobs up like a volcanic island, all without
warning, in another. We do not know how to handle it or what it
One thing we can count upon and one only: the certainty of being
surprised. The man who does a godlike deed today, perhaps at the
risk of his life, may turn on us in ingratitude and blacken our
good name tomorrow. The unfortunate woman or the common thief
may surprise us with acts of generosity and compassion of which
our smug respectability is as incapable as an earthworm is of
speech. Of course, it is equally true that they may not. But
the point is, we never can tell, so that we hesitate to try the
brotherly way because of the crass uncertainty of the thing.
Human nature is a mystery (to us), and it is the defeating sense
of that fact which constantly checks us in our longing to do the
brotherly thing, and which even stops the springs of our courage
so that we cease to try. How many worthy reforms have been
simply abandoned, because lust or ingratitude rewarded the first
kindly efforts and faith in human nature was killed. We cannot
get man's measure, somehow, try as we will, and yet without it,
no cloak that we make for man will ever fit. In short, matters
are at a deadlock, and unless something new comes in, some new
element, some new light . . .
But something new has come in: we have only to turn our eyes and
change our position enough to see it. It is the eternal solvent,
the great reconciler, Theosophy. Old as the ages, guiltless of
dogma or any creed, it nevertheless has fundamental and very
definite teachings on the nature of man -- human nature, in other
words -- the nature of the universe and the destiny of the soul.
For the soul is the fundamental postulate. Man is immortal,
divine: the whole system rests upon that broad base like a tower
upon a rock. Brotherhood is a fact in nature inevitably if man
is divine, for he is one with Deity in essence, a Child of God in
simple fact, within him a portion of God's pure light as the
sun's ray holds the pure light of the sun.
But man, the deathless, the immortal one, dwells in a house of
flesh. As we know him, therefore, he is not one but two: soul
and body, god and animal, with a higher nature and a lower one --
these two natures ever in conflict until one or the other finally
gains the day. And between the two is the mind, bridge and
battlefield both. Out of the conflict that takes place there --
that conflict which in its last analysis is always between the
higher and the lower impulses in man -- spring all the
happenings, all the vicissitudes, all the anguish, all the
horrors, and equally all the happiness and the spiritual
conquests of life: its peace and its wars in the life of nations
and the life of you and me. To write the story of that conflict,
we have dedicated the noblest in our art, our literature, our
philosophy, and even our music, all down the ages. It is not a
new idea, but merely a long-forgotten one, and five minutes spent
in quiet observing or in silent self-examination will prove its
utter truth: man is not one, but TWO.
We are seeking new light and keys to conduct as we never sought
them before, and because it can throw new light on the mystery of
human nature, Theosophy can give us the keys. It says to us:
There is really no mystery here. Man can be understood and the
surprises of life lose their power to discourage or to alarm us.
Human nature has its standard and its pattern, and its plan, a
plan that has persisted through the ages, always the same,
however the surface of it may be checkered or clouded or flecked
by the play of light and dark, good and evil, black and white, as
mood follows tendency and impulses come and go.
And that nature is not one, nor any indefinite collection of ones
-- devotees of the 'multiple personality' theory notwithstanding
-- nor is it amenable to categorical divisions, nor can it be
pigeonholed or labeled and shelved like jellies or bacon or
cheese. Write it upon the tablets of your heart that man is not
one but two -- two natures, two beings, if you will, two selves:
one of the essence of truth and love and light, the other clamped
to earth, coarse, material, trending downward just as far as it
is allowed. And between these two selves, the daily waking
consciousness flutters anxiously, too often blindly and
fearfully, now following the higher trend, now the lower, without
a light, without any safe guide, like a frightened bird seeking
foothold in the dark.
How pitiful it all is, yet how true! Once perceive for yourself
this picture, once grasp this mighty philosophic truth, and the
whole earth, all our institutions, our literature, the record of
human mistakes and human successes all down the centuries, will
loom up like silent advocates to prove it to you, while the
secret intuitions of your innermost heart will write the
confirmation. MAN IS NOT ONE, BUT TWO. It is one of the great
truths of Theosophy. Shall we dismiss it as a theory, a clever
and artistic idea, or keep it, hold it, treasure it, and make it
a practical guide?
For the teachings of Theosophy on paper merely, or the end of
one's tongue, are a mockery pure and simple. Unless they are
practically applied, they only bolster one in insincerity,
hypocrisy, or dead indifference to one's fellowmen. But to apply
them practically, so that they are really a guide to conduct, is
a serious matter because of the fact that human nature is dual --
though by 'serious' we do not mean gruesome or desert-like but
simply that Theosophy calls out and challenges the deeper and
more earnest side of the nature.
You cannot honestly object to that, and if you are genuine and
sincere, with a real desire to make your life count for good if
only the way can be shown, Theosophy will say to you: Wake up!
Stop this shifty oscillation and make up your mind which way you
want to go: whether with your lower tendencies down to
materialism, selfishness, decay, and spiritual death, or with
your higher ones to the wide and lofty places of the soul where
real peace is waiting for you. For be sure you cannot go with
both. You cannot travel east and west at the same time, nor down
and also up, and this constant oscillation, this childish
fluttering back and forth from one path to the other, is no
better than standing still: it will bring you nowhere. You must
But in this matter of choice, you are uncoerced and free.
Whichever of these two paths appeals to you is yours for the
traveling, only you MUST choose one or the other, or else drop
your aspirations and desires both and be nothing but flotsam on
the tide, neither cold nor hot but lukewarm, whose only right is
the classic right of lukewarm and repudiated things.
Once the choice has been made on the side of the higher nature,
however, there need be no slipping back. From the moment of that
choice, the man is more than man; he is a god, an awakened soul,
a spiritual warrior, and in his hand is the warrior's supreme
weapon, the Spiritual Will. But this, be it understood, has
nothing to do with the kind of 'will' mooted in popular
advertisements -- the ' will' that you may be shown how to
develop in exchange for so many dollars, and that will make you
rich or famous or able to annex your friend's position or his
wife or almost anything you may happen to desire.
The Spiritual Will has nothing to do with passion or selfish
desire. Moreover, it is not a faculty of the mind nor dependent
upon the mind. It is one of the infinite creative powers
belonging to the soul of man, that "flyeth like light, cutteth
obstacles like a sharp sword," and indeed it is commonly
symbolized by a sword. With its help, you can make Theosophy a
practical guide and a protective cloak of love and wisdom and
peace to no telling how many of earth's children.
This is the ancient method, but it meets the modern need, for
human nature is ever the same, EVER THE SAME. When the fires
flashed over Gomorrah; when Pompeii squandered and sinned; when
Rahab let down the scarlet thread and the searchers passed her
by; when Rahula wept for his inheritance and found it greater
than he guessed; when Job trusted and protested and held on, and
when the great Solomon judged; when Hector battled and Patroclus
fell to be battled over again; when Penelope wove in the daytime
and raveled her web at night; when Louis said "I am the State,"
and the people brought forth another state to spell chaos; when
Sant Angelo smothered its victims and the Bastile could still
lock its doors; when the Telesterion was a-building at Eleusis
and when it was razed to earth; when the Fayum held its vast
Halls of the Mysteries and when jealousy blotted even the memory
of them out; when the tinder was piling up in Europe, and when it
went suddenly afire; when you and I and millions no better and no
worse were choosing to drift and play rather than consciously
live and serve -- when all these things were happening and
countless things besides, human nature was the crux of every
problem, the explanation of every catastrophe, every triumph,
In its hands were ever two keys, the key to Bluebeard's Chamber
and equally to the vast golden Treasury of Spiritual Wisdom and
Life. And we were free to choose which key to take. We,
mankind, you and I, with so much power as that! Was ever any
teaching or any truth fuller of inspiration? It would electrify a
stone. If some giant hand were to wrest from us every spiritual
teaching that we possess, every single ray of guiding light, and
yet leave us the one great teaching of the Duality of Human
Nature, we still could escape the deluge and make port; we still
could change this disheveled world into a pattern of law and
order, we still could make it a Paradise.
Of what other single philosophic principle can so much as this be
said? With one hand it touches every material interest, every
material need in the Universe; with the other, it lifts man up to
God. Like the protective cloak of a mother, it covers the whole
man, divine and human, and does not, like so many boasted
'philosophies,' leave the soul shivering and exposed.
Those who perceive this fact do not have to be argued into a
conviction that Theosophy, to be of any value at all, must be
made a practical guide. What could it amount to, left solely
between the covers of neat books? What does anything amount to --
on paper? Do the Teachers of Theosophy dare and suffer and slave,
simply to leave a new weapon of power for hypocrites, a few
dainty and marvelous morsels for pseudo-philosophers and
empty-souled litturateurs? By no means, and they have said so in
plain words. For humanity's protection as well as for its
inspiration, these Teachers insisted from the beginning of their
work -- I refer to Helena P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, and
Katherine Tingley -- that Theosophy must be made practical: its
principles a living power and its precepts honestly carried out.
Yet paradoxically, though to make Theosophy practical is an
exceedingly easy matter, it is not easily achieved except in
instances so rare as to be negligible, because of the obstacles
that exist within ourselves. Those who accompanied Mme.
Katherine Tingley on her recent visit to the Government Indian
Reservation at Pala, California, will remember -- with a little
mist in the eyes, perhaps the swarms of Indian children who came
to her with such affection and climbed and clustered about her
knee. Among them was a rather frail child of some five years who
had charge of an overgrown, enormous toddler nearly as large as
she. Going down the porch steps after the visit one day, she
picked him up -- a near miracle, so tiny was she herself.
One of the Theosophical students involuntarily exclaimed, "Be
careful, dear! He's too heavy; you will hurt yourself!"
An older child who stood near piped up promptly, "Oh, no she
won't; HE'S HER BROTHER!"
Oddly enough, within a week after the party returned from Pala,
the writer noticed in one of the reviews an account of the
'little mothers' of China, one of whom a traveler saw staggering
under the weight of a baby nearly as large as herself.
"Isn't he too heavy for you?" was the query, and the answer
flashed back (as reported) was this: "Why, no! HE'S MY BROTHER!"
She had one point of view, the traveler another; and much depends
upon the point of view. When the feeling of real Brotherhood is
burning in the heart, everything is easy, simple, supremely
natural, even just. Not only these replies but the strange
coincidence of them -- one in America and the other in the Far
East -- constitutes a sermon on Brotherhood that would repay
examination and reflection.
But they were only children, says a skeptic. True: only
children, which proves our case better still. How the wisdom
shines now of that ancient Teacher, whoever He may have been, to
whom we owe this precept, dear to all Students of Theosophy: "The
pupil must regain THE CHILD-STATE HE HAS LOST ere the first sound
can fall upon his ear," or the injunction of the Man of Galilee:
"Except ye become AS LITTLE CHILDREN ye cannot enter the Kingdom
of Heaven" -- the kingdom which He is at pains to tell us is
WITHIN. Everything is easy, everything is possible, if we have
the child-heart in our bosom and not some imitation of it, and if
only we can come to our duties disburdened and free instead of
spiritually sick from the mental diseasement bequeathed to us by
ages of wrong thought.
Exposure even to malignant disease is a negligible matter to one
whose blood-stream is pure, whose functions are stable and
vigorous, whose vitality is undepleted, and whose powers of
resistance represent nature at her best. The result in such a
case would be innocuous if not nil. But what is usually the
situation? A has a heart out of kilter, and B a liver out of
tune; C has an alcoholic heredity, and D a neurotic one; E has
"wasted his substance in riotous living" until resistance is
gone, and F has a debit account made up of a little of them all.
Exposure or strain in such cases might be very serious indeed,
perhaps fatal. And thus with the man who pits a devitalized
moral nature against life's problems or its tasks. Already
poisoned with jealousy, selfishness, unbrotherliness, greed or
fear, he succumbs. What else could be expected? But the trouble
is not with life, nor with its problems or duties or laws: it is
with the man himself. Equally, there is nothing the matter with
Brotherhood or Theosophy. Both are practical, easily lived, and
true. The difficulty lies in ourselves: we carry too many
impurities in our mental blood. Once this is understood, the way
is plain; there is only one thing to be done, and the student who
is serious-minded and sincere wastes no time in setting about it.
We are living in a day of vast issues, and we cannot shirk our
task. To make Theosophy practical means to widen the viewpoint
and broaden out the life. The nation, all nations, the world
itself, are no longer hazily foreign but are part of our
immediate concern, and, oddly enough, the first result of making
this so is that the immediate duty, far from being neglected, is
much more faithfully done. A law too little reverenced broods in
the background of it all.
To illustrate: every student of art is familiar with the
injunction: "Don't become so wrapped up in that eye or ear or bit
of drapery that you lose sight of the figure as a whole. Keep
the whole before you constantly; never lose the ENSEMBLE!" How
true! The most perfectly studied details are absurdities,
abortions, and blots if out of relation to the whole. Set an ear
a bit too high, and the head becomes animal if not grotesque, and
so with all details, with every part.
The teacher is asking nothing difficult. It may take conscious
effort at first -- but so did our babyhood efforts to walk or our
first drink from a cup -- but it soon becomes unconscious habit,
and then how the work takes on vitality and how the art broadens
and expands! Every student of music hears the same. The
diagnostician observes it habitually. It is a principle of
Theosophy would make it a living power in the simplest thought or
act. And all so easily! There need be no strain or revolution.
You have merely to extend a bit the path you take ordinarily.
For instance: you consider the convenience of mother, the opinion
of an employer, or your duty to your own finer nature when
tempted to lie abed in the morning, and such considerations
determine your course. If there is garbage to be disposed of,
the laws of the city must be considered: it cannot be dumped into
your neighbor's frontyard or even into your own. Such
considerations do not feel like chains upon you, and they are
indeed so natural, so habitual, that it is a surprise when
someone drags them out before you for inspection.
All that Theosophy would have is merely an extension of the sense
of obligation that you feel already in this limited way -- in a
word, a broadening and deepening of the nature, until, back of
the immediate thought or task there rises, strong and singing in
its strength, a flood-tide of unconscious, self-forgetting love
for all humanity; a realization that the spiritual life-stream
pulsing through you is part of one great conscious stream of
Divine Life, feeding the nations and the world.
The bare notion that this MAY be true, once taken into the mind
to be considered, seems to open a new door; a conviction of it
pulls you up into the tonic atmosphere of world-issues before you
know what has come about. You cannot be small and insular now if
you try to be; your shell is broken and you are a living, moving,
growing, pulsating something outside of it, with no bounds set to
your new life. There is no such thing as being content with a
little personal dark-room after that. There is no more whining
about 'Karma,' either; no more petitioning advertisers or the
whimsical gods for receipts: how to make money, how to 'develop
your will,' how to make your children mind you. No! You have
your hand on principles and can make your own receipts.
To summarize: Theosophy is a practical guide because (1) it
solves life's greatest problem, the mystery of human nature, (2)
it meets the great human need, which is protection for the whole,
twofold, mystical nature of man, not merely the brain-mind part
of it, and (3) it keeps the fire of Love and Brotherhood burning
in the heart. Theosophy, once admitted as "the servant in the
house," serves faithfully the whole man, human and divine,
keeping each part, god and animal, at its task and in its place.
It loosens the interest in material things and clamps it to
spiritual realities; it bids us discriminate between the true and
the false and shows us how to do it; it links us with the mighty
and misunderstood past of ourself and of the nations and the
world; it augments our little life with the expansive urge and
energy of the whole; it gives the power to translate principles
into creative fire and precepts into the daily bread of life; it
infuses the commonest duty with the majestic, genial fire of the
heart; it is Justice and Love in action, than which there is no
higher path to go. it is the 'small, old path' of the sages.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application