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THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------------- July, 2008

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

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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
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"Avalokiteshvara -- The Divine Presence," by G. de Purucker
"We Have Not Been Deserted," by W.Q. Judge
"Self and Suffering," by Christmas Humphreys
"ULT Day Letter," by the United Lodge of Theosophists
"Practical Occultism," by Henry T. Edge
"Joining the Theosophical Society," by Alexander Fullerton
"Certain Welsh Traditions in the Light of THE SECRET DOCTRINE,"
    by Kenneth Morris
"Goethe's Power of Vision," by Richard K. Ullmann


> We hold that a good book which gives people food for thought,
> which strengthens and clears their minds, and enables them to
> grasp truths which they have dimly felt but could not formulate
> . . . does a real, substantial good.
> H.P. Blavatsky, THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, page 249


By G. de Purucker


Mahayana Buddhism, which is mainly the form studied in Tibet
today, as it has been for centuries past, recognizes three
distinct entities or hierarchical Logoi in the Buddhists'
hierarchy of spirit. They are the Buddha Amitabha or the Buddha
of Boundless Light, then Alaya, then Avalokiteshvara. Alaya
means the spirit-source of all, the garment or clothing of the
boundless light; matter cosmic or infinitesimal in nature. Out
of it spring the multitudinous rays, as rays of light leave the
sun for instance; and each ray is itself a being.

Avalokiteshvara does not mean "the Lord looking down," as Rhys
Davids translates it, in direct violation of the elementary rules
of Sanskrit grammar. Ava means 'down,' lokita is the past
participle passive of the Sanskrit verbal root lok, 'to see,'
hence meaning 'seen.' Ishwara means 'Lord.' So Avalokiteshvara
means, paraphrased somewhat, "the Lord who is beheld everywhere,"
the cosmic light, the cosmic spirit, in which we live and move
and have our being, whose very essence, whose very light, thrills
and burns in every human soul, the spark within every human
being. It is the immanence or the constant presence of divinity
around us, in everything, seen down here in all its works,
preeminently for humans in man, the most evolved vehicle of this
divine presence.

Compare this wonderful Buddhist triad of Tibet, which is likewise
our own, although our Christian trinity is degenerated and
grossly transmogrified through centuries of theological and
scholastic mishandling because of misunderstanding. We find that
Amitabha, the Boundless Light, corresponds to the Father in the
Christian Trinity, the Cosmic Father or Abstract Spirit, the
Pythagorean monad of monads, the source -- in silence to us, and
darkness to us -- of all the monads emanating from it, streaming
from it, born from it through the second logos, Alaya, the
Spirit, which in original Christian teaching was feminine, the
productive and generative power in nature, in spiritual matters
as well as material, the mother of all, the fosterer of all, the
preserver of all. And Avalokiteshvara corresponds to the
original third Person of the Christian Trinity, the Son, the
cosmic or Third Logos.

In Brahmanism the triad runs: Parabrahman or Brahman, Pradhana or
Mulaprakriti, Mahat. When manifesting in individual monads such
as a human being, the trinity is Amitabha, Atman; Alaya or
Mahakasha, Buddhi; Avalokiteshvara, Manas; for Manas is a direct
ray from the cosmic Alaya, and our Atman, a direct ray from the
Paramatman, the cosmic Atman, or Brahman or Parabrahman, or the

Thus we have Father, Spirit or Holy Ghost, and Son -- the
original Christian trinity which the Latin Church finally
succeeded in turning around into Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
making the Son or Logos precede the Mother from which it is born!

So, as the Masters pointed out in the last part of the letter we
have been studying, Avalokiteshvara has its temple in the
Universe around us. It is the creative Logos, the Third Logos,
the one closest to us as it were, from which we all spring as
rays from a cosmic sun, which is the divine presence in nature,
which is the divine presence in the human manasic part, emanating
of course from Atman or Amitabha; for the Son, is he not the Son
of his Father? Is not Manas through Buddhi the offspring of
Atman? Is not Mahat through Alaya or Mahakasha or Pradhana -- all
names for the same thing -- the offspring of Adi-Buddha, or if
you wish Paramatman or Brahman or Parabrahman?

So Avalokiteshvara is the divine presence around us everywhere,
which every sensitive human soul can feel continuously, day and
night, even when we are in dreamland or when embodied on Earth.
And that same divine presence is in the human breast, because the
human breast, even the human body, is a microcosmic
representation on this plane of the Universe. No wonder the
ancients had their Holy of Holies in every temple -- originally a
beautiful metaphor and a suggestive one when understood by those
who came to the temple to worship the divine in purity of heart
and with utmost reverence -- wherein as in the universe, the
divine presence dwells. It was a symbol; so that when one
approached the Holy of Holies, shoes were cast from the feet, the
garments were wiped, the heart was raised, the mind was elevated;
for the worshipers in their reverent raising of their own spirits
upwards entered into the Presence, even the Presence Divine.

That Presence is Avalokiteshvara; and its ray in us through the
Atman is the Higher Manas, illuminated by Buddhi, Buddhi in its
turn filled with the divine light of Atman. For the Father
dwelleth in the Mother; and the Mother giveth birth to the Holy
Son; and the three are one and yet three, each distinct from the
other. Very simple to understand, but amazingly difficult to
attain a deeper realization of that marvel! Yet it is wonderful
to know and to strive upwards towards. Would that every man and
woman realized that in every human breast is such a Holy of
Holies; for when the man, through his own self-discipline and
cultivation of the highest within him by forgetting himself in
service to all others, thus sinking the unit into the all, thus
becoming even then relatively divine, becomes so over powerfully
strong that nothing less than It will ever satisfy, then he
yearns upward, he opens the portals of his holier being, and the
light streams in and fills the Holy of Holies within his breast.
Then the man is transfigured, he is a Christ, he is a
Bodhisattva, for the time being.

That was the effect of successful initiation, just that.
Sometimes the aura of the event remained with the man for days,
it may be weeks, and his very body at the time was surrounded
with light. He was spoken of as being clothed with the solar
splendor, the sun being a symbol of Atman, as he is in his
kingdom; and our own inner God being the sun, the inner God of
our own divinity, our Father in Heaven, that ray from the cosmic

I think it is just here that we find the reason why the Tibetan
esotericists and mystics, Initiates, and the common people -- by
that I mean the mass of the people, the hard working, kindly,
good-natured, loving, aspiring men of the multitude -- why they
all look upon the Bodhisattvas with deeper reverence and a more
fervent love than they do even upon the Buddhas. For the Buddhas
have achieved, they have left these spheres. Behind them remains
their glory as a spiritual influence. But the Bodhisattvas are
still men, not yet Buddhas, men whose life is consecrated to
making Avalokiteshvara a living power in the world through

This is why it is the Bodhisattvas that the multitudes love.
They deeply revere the Buddhas as having gone on and shown the
way, but they love with an exalted human devotion the
Bodhisattvas who remain behind with arms outstretched to help in
pity. No wonder they love the Bodhisattvas, for he who brings
Avalokiteshvara to live in this Holy of Holies in the human
breast, becomes more than man. No wonder he is loved and revered
and trusted. I think these thoughts are beautiful beyond
description. Their sublimity does not blind us, for it is like
divinity clothing itself in human habiliments, in human apparel,
and therefore becoming understandable to us humans. It is like
seeing humanity clothed with divinity. The Bodhisattvas are not
so abstract, so seemingly far away, as are the Buddhas.

So true is this psychology that to it is due, to it alone I
believe, all the success of early Christianity, that it taught
the very ancient doctrine which had become almost forgotten in
the so-called pagan world, and it was this: that a man lived who
had been filled with divinity, and that he came amongst us and
taught and showed the way and loved us all so greatly that he
laid down his life and all that was in him so that others seeing
might follow on the path -- the typical Bodhisattva, the typical
Christ. I think THAT one thing alone captured for Christianity
those who joined the Christian Church.

But how very old is this doctrine of beauty and inspiration! The
Christians received it from the Orient. It is far older than the
so-called enduring mountains, for when they were still sea-slime,
not yet having been raised, these doctrines were taught among men
in other continents, in other ages, in other Root-Races, these
same wondrous teachings of cosmic origin.

See the difference between the Christian theological idea of
Avalokiteshvara as wrongly translated by Rhys Davids and others
as being the "Lord who looks down," something "up there" and
apart and away, as compared with the real meaning: the Lord here
amongst us, the Lord of Pity, human and yet divine, the Divine
Presence surrounding us everywhere, which makes the human breast
recognizing this the human Holy of Holies.


By W.Q. Judge

[From "Answers to Correspondence No. 4," March, 1893, reprinted
in ECHOES OF THE ORIENT, III, pages 423-25.]

It is very proper to answer the question which has come to many,
expressed or unexpressed, which is whether since the death of
HPB's body the EST has been in communication with the Masters who
ordered her to start the EST? And it must be understood by all
members of the School that the information in this is private,
for it has been found that talking publicly of these matters
weakens our strength, and also arouses an opposition that is not
likely to arise if we are silent as to details while willing to
say, if asked, that the Masters have not deserted us.

We have not been deserted at all, and the Masters have all along
been watching and aiding. They have communicated with several of
those who by nature are fit; those who have made themselves fit;
and with those who are, by peculiar Karma, in the line of such
communication. None of these messages go by favor or by the
desire of some to have them. Some of the members of the School
have sent in the past to the Masters letters and requests that
have not been replied to in writing, and they perhaps wonder why.
They need not be named, but I can say that in my possession are
their letters sent to me by those Masters in the ordinary way of
the mail. The requests were not strictly deserving of an answer.
One of them was answered at the time by the Master, and the
envelope bears the memorandum in His hand that an answer was
sent. Others may be answered later if right, but as to that I
cannot say.

There are in the School certain persons known to me who have been
in communication with the Masters for some time, but they do not
know each other and have never by word or sign given out the
fact. And if, after this goes out, any members not included in
that number pretend they are of that class, the very pretence, no
matter how expressed, will be proof to the contrary, as all the
persons who have thus heard are incapable of telling

A rumor was started in one section that the Masters had no more
to do with us, but very soon it was seen to be false. In one
case a member went to India and there was shown by a wandering
fakir that the Masters still worked with us and that HPB was a
very high personage who had gone out to the west to start the
work, but that all those who thought they knew her and what she
was were deceived by her outward appearance. This person also by
his remarks showed a full knowledge of the problems of the work
in all countries, and indicated the exact fact that different
lines had to be pursued in each.

In America the line of communication is not ruptured. It is true
that it is not as strong as when HPB was here, but we cannot
expect always to have the same amount of force working, for there
is a law, based on cycles, which requires such lines of force to
be stopped or weakened now and then. The stoppage however is
never total, but at certain periods it is confined to the few

We have the misfortune to know that at one time many of the
Masters were publicly at work here in our early years and that
the opportunity for us was missed by reason of the materialistic
and naturalistic tendencies of the day and of our education. Our
missing it did not, however, prevent the doing by those
personages of the work in hand. A more narrow confinement of
these lines of action and communication will come at a later day,
strictly in accord with the laws I have referred to. But we have
only to do our duty and to work on for the future so as to be
able to return to the work at a better time in some other life.

Within the last nine months some communications have been
received from the Masters BEARING ON THE GENERAL WORK, for They
have ceased (as by rule) to deal much in personal concerns, but
They do not fail to help in the real and right way the efforts of
all members who sincerely work for others. Those who are at work
for their own benefit will meet with the exact result of such a
line of action, that is, they will not go far and will lose much
at death which is sure to come to us all. But unselfish work
makes the effect sink down into each one's own nature and
therefore preserves it all.

Furthermore, some years ago the Masters said that in the course
of time I should see that certain facts had to come out. Some of
these I now give, and shall give them in the Path publicly.

First, the Masters both certified in writing, about 1884, that
THE SECRET DOCTRINE was dictated by them to HPB, she only using
discretion as to certain connecting paragraphs and certain
subsidiary arguments. That book is, therefore, for those of us
who say we believe in the Masters, the very work of these
personages. What we cannot understand we can lay aside for the

Second, They sent me copies, as also to others, of the

Third, They certified that not since the batch of letters used by
Mr. Sinnett for his book had They sent such teaching to anyone,
and bade us note the fact. This of course does not include HPB,
as she and They in respect to the teaching are the same. But she
and They left many things in writing for future use.

Fourth, They directed that about the present time these matters
might come out. In respect to one point you will find published
something about the sevenfold system of planets of the highest
value, and going to upset the old materialistic notions


By Christmas Humphreys

[From THE ARYAN PATH, May 1962, pages 206-9.]

So important in Buddhism are the doctrines of no-self and of the
omnipresence of suffering that it may be of help to consider the
nature of each and the close relation between them. The average
man admits the existence of suffering, for he cannot ignore it;
but he does his best to keep it from his mind, and if religion
insists on its recognition he firmly imputes it to the will of
God even though he cannot explain why God, who is Good, permits
Evil. In the same way the Western mind admits that selfishness
is a blemish in character, but continues to act on the assumption
that the one reality in life is that which grasps all it wants in
the name of "I." Buddhism teaches otherwise: that every thing,
and "thingness" itself, is inseparable from suffering in some
form and that the false, ingrained illusion of "I"-ness is the
cause of the greater part of it.

Let us look again, then, at the SELF, the Self and the self, for
it is idle to deny this trinity. As Dr. Evans-Wentz says:

> Unenlightened man, being far from the Full Awakening, believes
> himself to be possessed of an individualized mind uniquely his
> own; and this illusion-based belief has given rise to the
> doctrine of soul. But the Tibetan Teachers declare that the One
> Cosmic Mind alone is unique; that, on each of the incalculable
> myriads of life-bearing orbs throughout space, the One Cosmic
> Mind is differentiated only illusorily, by means of a reflected,
> or subsidiary, mind, appropriate to, and common to, all living
> things thereon, as on the planet Earth.

And this Tibetan teaching is basic to the whole field of Mahayana

The SELF, or One Mind, or Absolute, changes in form from the ONE
to Two, from Two to Three, and from Three to the Infinite Many.
Yet the One and the Many are ONE, and never cease to be so, a
fact which is the basis of all mysticism, Buddhist and otherwise,
as of all compassion. Each part of this stupendous Whole is an
essential part of the Whole, and partakes of the wholeness. As
the Whole would not be Whole without each part, each part is, in
a super-rational sense, itself the Whole. To this extent each
part, and here we are speaking of "you" and "me," is a "divine

Can we not rightly say, then, that somewhere within us is a
divine soul which is my soul and your soul respectively? No, says
the Buddhist, very much no. If the distinction is subtle, it is
profound and basic. Every drop of the ocean is wet, but is the
drop immortal, and does it own the wetness? Each lamp shines in
the room with electricity, but does it own the electricity with
which it shines? You and I are alive with the same Life; we do
not own it. It uses us, as forms of its expression; then it
kills us, as forms, and passes on to new forms of expression. In
brief, that in me which is of the One is not mine; that which is
"mine" is fleeting, perishable, suffering, and of the Many.

What, then, is the difficulty of the Anatta or "no-self"
doctrine? It lies in the fact that it is usually misunderstood.
The Buddha never said, "There is no self." Indeed, he most
expressly refused to say any such thing. What he did say is that
certain specific things are not the Self, being subject to change
and suffering. These are the five Skandhas of physical body,
feeling, perception, mental conformation, and consciousness. But
when the self as we know it is thus taken to pieces and analyzed,
what is left to say, "I"? Only Mind-Only, functioning through the
intuition, the faculty in every mind by which that Self or
awareness of Wholeness contacts and is aware of the Whole. By
this alone man moves to Enlightenment; without it the part could
never rebecome the Whole.

Each self is an illusion and the illusion must be purged from
that "Higher Self" which consciously moves on to its own and the
world's Enlightenment. Miss I.B. Homer has collected seventeen
references to this natural duality within each mind in the Pali
Scriptures (THE MIDDLE WAY, Vol. 27, pages 77-9), the most
famous of which, perhaps, is that in THE DHAMMAPADA:

> Self is the lord of self. What other lord could there be? With
> self well tamed one gains a lord which is hard to gain.

But the selflessness of all things, carried to its logical
extreme, produces the doctrine of Sunyata, the Voidness of all
manifestation, and this Void, bereft of attributes, is the
One-mind which is the first fruits of the Absolute.

Now let us look again at suffering. Suffering, like self, was
born when the One became Two, when God limited himself in order
to be God. When God held up a mirror to see himself and know he
was God, he became Two, not One, yet the mirror was God too. But
the mirror, believing itself to be the Whole, fell into the
illusion of believing itself to have its own particular Wholeness
of a soul, and all the rest of us are subject to the same
illusion. There is in fact no such thing as self: only SELF or
the "Essence of Mind," and all its aspects sharing it.

The Anatta doctrine, then, is not only a statement of fact but
obvious. Why, then, do we not live accordingly? Because the self
in which we have been trained to believe has grown very powerful,
and like all parasites has no desire to be slain. Yet it causes
most of our unhappiness. Look again at the doctrine of Suffering
(Dukkha). All sankharas (aggregates, compound things as distinct
from the Indivisible) are dukkha, i.e., filled with and
inseparable from suffering, whether as actual pain, or in the
emotional sense of lust, or hate or fear, or as incompleteness,
imperfection in the mind. None doubts it, and if it is true, it
is not pessimistic but intelligent to face it. Said the Buddha,
"As the sea has one savor, salt, so my Teaching has one savor,
deliverance from suffering." Suffering and deliverance from
suffering -- deliverance by removing self.

Let us face it, perhaps for the first time. First,
metaphysically, for as already pointed out, suffering was born
with the universe, and only in the awareness of Oneness will
suffering end. In daily life it is all around us. On the
physical plane, it appears as illness and injury of body,
limitation of expression, a lack in a thousand forms in the
body's circumstance. It appears as fear and hate and desire,
three brothers who camp extensively, and with some degree of
comfortable welcome, in our minds. In our thinking minds, it
appears as ignorance and narrowness of viewpoint and a general
sense of inferiority. And, even in the "spiritual" sphere, there
is the awareness of a Light above us that we cannot reach.

What do we do about it? The Buddhist approach is to suffer it --
not nearly as simple as it sounds. Yet the word "suffer" means
to bear, to endure, and hence to "take" it -- if need be on the
chin. There should be a genuine acceptance of suffering as a
fact inseparable from life. But here the illusion of self, in
the sense that self is an illusion, divides our attitude to the
suffering we are learning to accept. Our own pain we just
suffer, learning to remove the constant cause of it, the desire
of self for self. But others' suffering is more and more our
personal concern, and it is a fact to be faced that as we climb
the ladder of Self-expansion and self-elimination, we suffer not
less but more. For, as we increasingly become aware of Oneness,
of the One Life breathing in each brother form of life, we learn
the meaning of compassion, which literally means to "suffer
with." Henceforth the suffering of all mankind is daily ours, and
as the sense of oneness grows so does the awareness of "that
mighty sea of sorrow formed of the tears of men." Here is the
glory of the Bodhisattva ideal, to turn aside at the entrance of
Nirvana, and to postpone that ultimate guerdon of a thousand
lives of effort "until each blade of grass has entered into

But note that the awakening of the Buddha-heart that feels in its
own suffering that of all mankind comes when the self that
thought of itself alone is dead. Compassion wakens when the drug
of selfishness has been purged from the system. Only then can
the suffering of others be seen dispassionately in the full
extent of its nature, and in the simple nature of its cause. The
self is utterly self-ish, striving for itself oblivious of the
needs of other selves and of the Whole. It is like a swimmer who
swims upstream. For a while his strength will fight the current;
in the end the current, the will of the river, will prevail.
Such suffering by the part that fights the Whole explains the
suffering of the part and provides a criterion for right action.
That which serves the Whole is good, and that which opposes it is

Thus self and suffering are inseparable, and the heart's release
is to remove the pair of them. How, then, do we slay the self?
First by watching it at work, and this is the province of
mindfulness. Then, by analyzing its desires and the futility of
their achievement. It has been often said that the trouble about
desire is that one achieves it, and then there is ashes in the
mouth indeed. Compare "the strength of no desire," and watch it
in operation. Who is the strongest man in any gathering convened
to effect a common purpose? The man who has no axe to grind, who
wants nothing. Then, self must be allowed to die, that the total
Self within may raise its head increasingly and in the round of
vast endeavour know itself again as One. Meanwhile we suffer
from the illusion of our self-hood. To remove the cause we must
tread that Middle Way which leads to the end of self, and hence
to the end of the suffering of self. Compassion, the will to end
all others' suffering, will die with the need of it, when the
Many is again the One, and not before.


By the United Lodge of Theosophists

[Following is a letter to friends and associates of the United
Lodge of Theosophists. This voluntary association of students of
Theosophy exists "to spread broadcast the Teachings of Theosophy
as recorded in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge."
The ULT issued the letter June 21-25, 2008 under the letterhead
of the Los Angeles Lodge (245 West 33rd Street, Los Angeles CA
90007). The letter is signed, "With gratitude for the last 100
years, and in anticipation of hearing about the thoughts and
choices, events and activities that will launch the next 100
years, The United Lodge of Theosophists.]

The annual ULT Day Letter usually reviews the past year in the
light of the Theosophical Movement, the Heart and Mind at work in
the world. This year, however, we look to the future, to the
anniversary of the 100-year cycle of the founding of the United
Lodge of Theosophists. While the result of choices made and
actions taken a century ago may appear inevitable, leading
smoothly into a new phase of work -- we might remember that the
planting and gestation of seeds are always more than what they
seem. Since "Things past are easier than things present, or the
unknown yet to come," as Robert Crosbie noted in 1910, a review
of the events of 1908 and 1909 helps to appreciate the principles
behind the formation of ULT, the discernment and will called for
at that time, and a deeper view of its current purpose.

Following the death of William Q. Judge, students struggled with
questions of successorship, authenticity, and direction. Based
on interactions with conventional theosophical groups, Robert
Crosbie noted that energy spent on organizational structure,
finances, and individual opinion diverted attention from the
study of Theosophy. To free the mind from personal coloration,
Crosbie devised an approach to work based on the three
fundamental propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE. As units of the
One, of that nameless Unity whose essence we all are, the vast
cyclic evolutionary process brings each of us to the point of
"self-induced and self-devised effort," of individual choice
motivated not by the wish for progress, but for the well-being of
all. With this as a foundation, individual issues concerning
method resolve themselves as we address the overall question:
"What can be done in this time and place to provide sound access
to the ancient Wisdom Religion?"

After "surveying the field," Robert Crosbie issued a circular
letter, "TO ALL OPEN-MINDED THEOSOPHISTS," on November 17, 1908.
(THE FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, page 409) Commenting on the neglect of
the First Object of the original Movement -- "To form a nucleus
of Universal Brotherhood without any distinctions whatever" -- it
recommended the formation of a new entity called "The United
Lodge of Theosophists," on the grounds that:

> The unassailable basis for union among Theosophists, wherever and
> The acceptance of this principle by all Theosophists would at
> once remove all barriers. A beginning must be made by those
> An agreement between such is necessary; an assembling together in
> this spirit . . . The binding spiritual force of this
> principle of brotherhood needs no such adventitious aids as
> Constitution or By-Laws or Officers to administer them.

During the ensuing three months, Robert Crosbie's letters
indicate that some longtime students of Theosophy, more
comfortable with traditional structures, were unsure of this
proposal and did not continue along the new lines laid down.
Newer students were drawn to the work, however, and the
foundation of the United Lodge of Theosophists, including the
adoption of its "Declaration," formally took place on February
18, 1909:

> associate themselves with those principles and ideas are
> attracted and bound by them only -- not by their fellows who do
> likewise or who refrain or who cease to consider themselves so
> bound. (THE FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, page 366)

How has ULT continued for 100 years? Simply put, "every one and
any one" is invited to study and encounter in the writings of
H.P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge a reflection of their
innermost self, and the Self of All. Awakening to the natural
cycle of humanity as it moves from action based on personal
desire to action based on unity, students find in ULT unfettered
freedom of choice. The "Declaration," as compiled by RC,
underlies and supports such effort, as this forward-looking
document provides clarity to the work. Students who wish to
associate themselves in a deeper manner with ULT and the larger
Movement it points to consciously align themselves with the
challenge set forth in the Declaration:

> Being in sympathy with the purposes of this Lodge, as set forth
> in its "Declaration," I hereby record my desire to be enrolled as
> an Associate, it being understood that such association calls for
> no obligation on my part, other than that which I, myself,
> determine.

What might be done to mark the centennial of this great paradox
-- the anniversary of the reappearance in an every-day format not
of an "organization" but of the eternal idea of spiritual freedom
linked to the responsibility of service? In the spirit of ULT, as
well as of that Universal Movement that transcends time and eras,
each student, study class, or Lodge will determine for themselves
what this should be, perhaps turning for ideas to the following:

> It was natural that the Fiftieth Anniversary meeting, held on
> February 18, should everywhere be an occasion for re-statement of
> the aims and purposes of ULT, giving primary attention to the
> philosophic content of the ULT Declaration and to the educational
> function of Theosophy magazine through continuous republication
> of the great articles of HPB and Wm. Q. Judge with their
> breadth of view which was not only "theirs," but the natural
> birthright of every man. (1959 "ULT Day Letter")


By Henry T. Edge

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, July 1932, pages 62-68.]

This is an attractive title, because it touches a very real and
honest desire of the human heart -- the desire to know, to
achieve, and to be. Whatever we may have been told, whatever we
think we believe, about our own nature, we can never escape the
testimony of the actual fact: that at the root of our being is an
infinite source of wisdom and power. The light is hid by many
veils, but it will send a ray into our minds at times; enough to
make us desire more, enough to make us aspire towards the source
of the light.

But a Theosophist who undertakes to speak on this subject must be
true and loyal to Theosophy; he must take his stand firmly on the
principles which he stands for; and, while he may be anxious to
accommodate himself to the needs of inquirers in every possible
way, he cannot modify the truth out of deference to human

And this is why we must begin by saying that practical occultism
is a very serious matter and not one to be entered upon lightly
or trifled with in any way. The aspirant to knowledge must be
prepared to exercise the proper attributes of a reasoning and
responsible human being. The first of these is that he should be
able and willing to exercise his own judgment; and abundant
opportunity for exercising this power is provided by the fact
that he will find shams and false pretences, and will have to
decide for himself between the genuine and the spurious. If he
does not feel able to do this, if he wants to be spoon fed and to
have his decisions made for him by somebody else, then he is but
poorly equipped for an entry on the path of knowledge.


Whatever may be the ultimate solution of the problem of good and
evil, it remains an inescapable fact that, in the imperfect world
wherein we have to live, the contrast between good and evil is
apparent. Wrong and right are words denoting a real distinction,
and in conduct we find ourselves always confronted by two paths.
Man has acquired a multitude of powers which he is able to use
for good or for ill; for he is a being who has evolved to the
stage of conscious choice and its attendant responsibility. As
to the more normal powers, we have only to look around to see how
they may be used or abused; and there are many subtler powers in
human nature which can be called forth and developed, and which
likewise may be used either for good or for ill. This is true of
the psychical powers, those powers which belong to the
intermediate nature of man; but it is not true of his spiritual
powers, for they cannot be perverted to evil ends.

So we must begin by insisting on the distinction between the
Right-hand Path and the Left-hand Path. Under the name
'practical occultism,' Theosophists understand the following of
the Right-hand Path, whereby man regards himself as acting
unselfishly in the interest of all beings. The Left-hand Path is
followed by those who seek to make their powers subservient to
personal ambitions and desires. It is up to the inquirer,
therefore, to determine which path he intends to follow; and then
to use his judgment in deciding what teachings and what teachers
can help him in following that path.

The following of the Left-hand Path means that the aspirant sets
his own will against the general plan of evolution, thus being at
variance with his fellow-beings. Any seeming advantage which he
may gain is gained at the expense of others; and must sooner or
later be followed either by the retribution which is needed to
correct the mistake, or else by a determined resolve to continue
on the Left-hand Path until its end in destruction.

Will you join the forces of light or the forces of darkness? Will
you become a friend of humanity or one of its enemies?


In practical occultism we study Nature, as does the man of
science, but we study it on a much greater scale than does he.
The spirit of Nature is harmony; nature is infinitely vast and
sublime, august and not to be trifled with. The word 'Nature'
comprises all there is in a man and in the rest of the Universe.
We cannot enter on such a study in a spirit of flippancy or

We have spoken of the study of Nature, and Nature here means much
more than it does in ordinary language, for it includes the whole
Universe and all the innumerable beings of which that Universe is
composed. The first thing for a student of occultism to
understand is the intimate relation between man and the Universe.
Man is a universe in miniature; he contains within himself all
that there is in the Universe, much of it latent or in germ.
Hence to study Nature is to study himself. It is through himself
that he comes in contact with Nature.

Science studies Nature through the medium of the physical senses,
thus making a very imperfect contact and seeing Nature through
the outermost of her many veils. But if we aspire to know the
secrets of Nature which escape scientific observation, we must
use more intimate means of contact. Man contacts Nature at all
points, and it is through his finer faculties that he contacts
the deeper recesses of Nature.

Occultism therefore means the study of man, of self. And how is
the aspirant to establish this subtler and more intimate
connection with Nature? The answer must be that this can be done
by refining the instrument which he proposes to use -- by
refining his own nature. Hence the very first step is the
beginning of a process of self-purification. It is only thus
that the aspirant can come into touch with his real teachers.
And who are they? Partly his own interior source of knowledge,
the light emanating from his own spiritual monad; and partly
those more advanced human beings who, having themselves attained,
stand always ready to extend a helping hand to those who aspire.


By the latter we mean those sometimes called the Elder Brothers
of Humanity. They are men who have risen to a higher level of
evolution; and in whom, personal motives having been superseded,
there remains only the desire to be of service to others. Hence
they become spiritual teachers to mankind. Now it is not to be
supposed that such teachers, whose only motive is to help, would
do anything harmful to their disciples; they would not be the
means of equipping the learner with powers that would be
injurious to him and to other people associated with him. And
there is another reason why their teaching must be subject to
certain limitations. This reason is that they desire to evoke in
their disciples the power of responsible action, and therefore
they must not do anything which would constrain the disciple's
free power of choice. They must not impose upon him their own
will; for by doing so they would defeat their purpose, which is
to evoke HIS will.

For these reasons, then, the Teacher meets the disciple halfway,
extending a hand, which does not grasp, but which may be grasped.
This is tantamount to saying that the disciple must give evidence
of his fitness to be taught; he must 'ask' in order to receive.
And here the word 'ask' does not mean simply making a verbal

It may seem a little irritating perhaps, to one who is seeking
for knowledge and has not seen how to find it, if he is told that
he already possesses a key which can unlock the first door for
him. One has known such answers as that to give the impression
of a kind of mockery of the questioner. Yet all that is meant is
that the aspirant shall make up his mind to observe certain
necessary conditions. These conditions are such as he CAN
observe if he is sufficiently in earnest; but they are apt to be
unwelcome; and it is here that the student finds an opportunity
to test the strength and sincerity of his own motives. What he
is asked to do is to prove that he has been able candidly to
acknowledge his own frailties and has made a reasonable amount of
progress in overcoming them.


The student must remove from his own path the obstacles that lie
in his way. These obstacles are the imperfections of his

The greatest fault is covetousness. People have asked what they
should do in order to gain those higher powers which will make
them Mahatmas. And the answer has been given that the very
desire to gain such powers is the greatest obstacle. This may
seem a hard saying, yet it is evidently true; for the desire to
gain powers is an expression of covetousness -- the very force
which holds us back, and which we must overcome before we can
advance. So here we have a definite question and answer: "How
can I advance on the path of Occultism?" "You do so by overcoming
covetousness." There is your first lesson. Will you elect to go
on with the course, or do you think it is going to be too hard
for you? Would you have teachers tell you anything else --
something easier to understand and easier to do? They can but
tell you the truth. All teachers have said the same: that wisdom
is to the pure in heart, and the Kingdom of Heaven for the quiet
and gentle spirit.

The aspiration for spiritual knowledge is not the same as the
craze for gaining powers. Ambition is man's great curse. If you
meet anything which offers to gratify such ambitions, be sure it
is not the genuine thing; it has not the hall-mark; it bears the
wrong stamp on its face. It is possible to go a long way on the
wrong path; for man has free will. It is for each to decide what
path he will follow.


This word is often used for the introduction into new knowledge,
accompanied usually by rites and the observance of certain
conditions by the candidate. The word is also used in connection
with our subject of occultism. Initiation is both a continuous
process and an occasional process; it takes place in small
continuous degrees and also in occasional larger degrees. In
this it is like many other natural processes, as for instance
those in geology, which are classed as continuous and
catastrophic. All our mental development is a series of
initiations; but we may incur special occasions when we take
large steps.

If one should ask for further information on this subject, the
fitting answer is that he should proceed to affiliate himself
with the general body of people who are working in the cause
which he is espousing. For it has already been explained that
this cause is the pursuit of serviceable knowledge by means of
subordination of private ambitions. Such a purpose can be
achieved only through cooperative work and study

It is of course open to anyone who wishes to do so, to tread a
lonely path, relying on the principle that light comes from
within. The position of such people is not very logical; they
have availed themselves of the assistance of others up to a
certain point, and perhaps have not sufficiently considered the
obligations which the acceptance of that help entails upon them.

Had H.P. Blavatsky and others chosen to pursue a path of lonely
self-development, Theosophy would not have been proclaimed, and
these self-sufficing aspirants would have had no basis on which
to ground their claims. The solitary student, in fact, eschews
the prime requisite for progress -- that he should hand on what
he has received, that he should be one link in a chain; and he
makes it difficult for himself to realize the impersonality which
is a prime condition.

We can only repeat, therefore, that membership in the
Theosophical Society is the logical step to be taken by an
aspirant. Further, it is publicly announced that there is, among
members of the Theosophical Society, an Esoteric Section, not
officially connected with the Society as such; and that
membership in this Section affords the desired opportunity for
further study, and in fact opens the portals which lead to
initiations. An aspirant, upon application to the Secretary of
that body, would receive information as to the conditions
necessary for entering it; which is as much as can be said here.

Occultism is extremely realistic, matter-of-fact, and literal.
This will appeal to people of a scientific and practical turn of
mind; but may be found somewhat disconcerting to those lacking
courage to face inconvenient truths. There is a natural
conservatism in the human heart, which makes people reluctant,
whether they be religious or scientific, to grapple with ideas
that lie beyond a certain mental sphere which they have
prescribed for themselves. Religious people have been known to
set aside without examination ideas which would involve a
recasting of their mental outfit; and scientific men have
sometimes declined to hear evidence in favor of alleged facts
whose acceptance would oblige them to alter their neatly arranged

The study of Occultism is certain to involve the provisional
acceptance of doctrines which run counter to one's habits of
thought, and which cannot be demonstrated immediately, as their
due demonstration depends on further study by the student.
Moreover Occultism makes demands upon self-control, in that it
exposes before the eye of the student the defects in his own
character; and he is thereby faced with the alternative of either
admitting and correcting these defects or of succumbing to his
own wounded pride or vanity. Yet, if he has a truly scientific
and practical mind, he will recognize the justice of requiring a
student to observe conditions essential to the knowledge that is

The first test comes when we institute our first inquiries. It
is essential that the inquirer should know his own mind and feel
confident in his ability to discern the genuine from the false.
An aspirant who is full of doubts and fears and complaints will
not get very far; indeed it is a mercy that he should thus be
shielded from undertaking what he is not yet strong enough to
bear. There comes a time, even in the life of a young bird, when
it is obliged to pick for itself, and its fond parents ruthlessly
refuse to feed it any more.

There are in this world very many people who do not aspire to
tread any high path, but whose admirable qualities render life so
much easier for the rest of us. Every tribute should be paid to
these excellent and indispensable people; only, the present
article was written for those who aspire and adventure. Assuming
the sincerity of their aspiration, we have tried to respond with
an equal sincerity. No dogmas are laid down for unconditional
acceptance; but, as with other branches of science, there are
laws of Nature which it is well to observe. A professor of
physics would not be thought dogmatic and arbitrary for pointing
out the existing laws of Nature; if asked, why this should be so,
he can only answer, I cannot say, but it IS so. And so in
occultism -- which should be regarded in a scientific spirit --
there are laws of Nature both within and without, and these have
to be recognized, and either obeyed or transcended.

The path of occultism is one of ever widening freedom, inasmuch
as the student becomes emancipated from conditions which have
been restraining him. Yet freedom does not mean chaos; conduct
without a pattern would be madness, and we render ourselves
independent of a lesser law in order that we may be free to
fulfill a higher law, the law of our enlightened choice.


By Alexander Fullerton

[From THE PATH, January 1893, pages 311-14]

The question "Whether or not to join the Theosophical Society" is
one which meets every person who has read even a little of the
literature the Society is circulating. The letters "T.S." appear
very often therein and the closing words of one of its best-known
books are an appeal that every interested reader should
"register, Register, REGISTER." And, indeed, just as those who in
conventional circles feel the warmth of religious principle are
conscious of an impulse to join the Church, so do those who give
a welcome to the unconventional revelations of Theosophy
experience an impulse to join the Society. The great human
instinct of sympathy is asserting itself, the desire for
companionship, for the friendly touch of fellow thinkers.

That the Society desires the largest possible membership is
evident from the unparalleled catholicity of its spirit and the
unexampled brevity of its requirements. Any one of any race or
class or belief may pass unchallenged in, provided only that he
subscribes to the doctrine of Universal Brotherhood. No one is
-- or, at all events, should be -- urged to enter, for entrance
is a matter of his own free will and accord, not an involuntary
duty, not a saving sacrament, but the natural expression of a
cordial interest. If a man enters because of unwillingness to
refuse a friend, or because he yields to what he supposes a
claim, or because he expects a spiritual illumination, he is sure
in time to regret that he ever did so and to regard his
membership as distasteful. Then he formally resigns or
informally fades out.

The questions which are put to officials concerning membership
very often disclose the reasons for contemplating it, and at
times reveal the human nature which philosophers and Theosophists
unite in considering at far remove from inherent loveliness.
There is something amusing, and yet pitiable, in that query which
I have read in letters to the General Secretary, "What good will
it do me to join the Theosophical Society?" Amusing, for it shows
that the very first principle of Theosophy has never come within
heart-sight of the questioner; pitiable, for it shows that the
universal bane of selfishness persists even in the very presence
of the Wisdom Religion. The man cannot even pay homage to Truth
as he descries her outlines in the dawning, without asking how
much he is to make by it! It is somewhat grotesque to haggle over
the commercial value of a tribute to Right.

But if the question must be treated seriously, one replies, "The
good it will do you is dependent on the good you seek. If you
desire access at small expense to books, the reception of such
documents as the Society issues to its members, and the right to
visit Branches when in their neighborhood; or if, living near a
Branch, you desire the use of its Library, the privilege of
intercourse with other students on the same lines, the
participation in intelligent discussion of thoughtful topics at
Branch meetings; any or all of these advantages may be secured.
They are not unworthy; culture of the mind is a laudable
undertaking; to join the Society as a means thereto is quite
legitimate. And if this is the good you seek, this is the good
you will receive."

But there is another attitude in which applicants approach the
door of the Theosophical Society. Improvement they wish and
covet. Association with other thinkers promises heart-felt
pleasure. Opportunity for the solution of perplexing questions
is a boon. But, after all, the factor of personal gain is in the
background. The main motive, far to the fore, is personal
contribution to the movement.

Perceiving that it has within it the germs of a regeneration for
the human race, appreciating the fact that Masters have prompted
its inception and assist its work because of Their knowledge of
what it can do and evolve, an applicant may become such simply
and purely because he can thus strengthen a philanthropic cause,
because he wishes to add his force to that which is wrestling
with ignorance and evil and sorrow. The impulse is to a
gratuitous service, not to a gain but to a gift. And here too
the good sought is found. Opportunities to help open very
readily before anyone who is eager for them. Money and time and
labor find ample scope in the mission faced by the Society, and
he who joins it that he may help it need never be disappointed.

And so the selfish and the unselfish are equally successful in
their aims. The great law of cause and effect works impartially
upon both, seeing that forces are not wasted or annulled, but go
forward duly to their result. The student gets intellectual
advance, -- his good; the worker gets occasions for assistance,
HIS good. Yet deep down in the mechanism of things is that
subtle law which a high authority voiced in the words "He that
loseth his life shall save it." It means that self-sacrifice
accomplishes more than self-preservation.

As the mind slips away from thought for personal interests and is
alert for opportunities to drop a seed of truth or help another
pilgrim or give strength to the agencies which seek to elevate
humanity, it dwells in the atmosphere of sunny sentiment, is in
touch with large thought and healthy purpose, is emancipated from
the little and the petty and the mean. Unfettered by constant
care for self, it can spread out in the broad expanse of
universal aims, and so is enriched by all that Nature lavishes on
such an area. Of no moment is it whether the fresh thought
contradicts the stale, dry husks which the teacher doled out to
childhood and the parson doles out to maturity; the sun and the
air and the landscape teem with life even though the
Sunday-school is in the distance and the Church spire has sunk
out of sight.

In the free air of a purpose no longer hemmed in by selfishness,
truth comes with every breeze and every ray; the mind is ready
for it, open to it, filling with it. Small considerations no
longer interest; the ties which hamper have been torn off that
each muscle may have play; everything which constricts or
belittles is of the past. Surely such a state is the precursor
of light and strength.

Then, too, the very movement invigorates. When a man is intent
on the services which will best forward an altruistic work, he
instinctively tends to broad schemes and senses the conditions to
their success. He asks himself what will most efficaciously
rouse sluggish souls to effort towards right, and, to find it,
must think out the influence of particular truths in their
bearing upon life.

This is no vague speculation. The active Fellow of the
Theosophical Society soon sees that the great stimulants to
reform are, as Masters have insisted, the doctrines of Karma and
Reincarnation, and as he voices them and applies them he
perceives even more clearly what they mean and what they involve.
Then their relations come into view, and collateral truths begin
to shape themselves distinctly before him, partly as the result
of the study which his effort induces, partly because intuition
is clearing and the Higher Nature beginning to function better.
His thought and his effort and his strength are working outside
of that little self who used to enclose them, and every new
endeavor adds an increment of knowledge from the vaster field.

And then there is another element. The Theosophical Society is
the offspring of Masters, formed by Their agent, at Their
instigation, to promote Their aims. He who throws himself into
its work and strives that its beneficent teachings may permeate
the thought of the age is cooperating with Them, an ally in Their
unselfish mission, Their friend and helper and servant. Is it
not most natural to suppose that They will help him who helps
Them? Many a fresh inspiration or invigorating thought or tonic
encouragement has doubtless cheered those who have been
faithfully laboring to sustain the organization which has such
authors and protectors. And here again the unselfish have
without intention prospered, for "there is that scattereth and
yet increaseth."

Every sincere believer in Universal Brotherhood is welcomed to
the Theosophical Society. He may come as a mere friend to an
enlightened sentiment; as a student of Comparative Religions, of
psychology, or of the spiritual world; as one who thinks that
truth is discoverable on these lines, arid that he wishes himself
to share it; or as a believer in the doctrines now known as
"Theosophical." No matter: there is room for all on the broad
platform of the T.S. But I think he most fully realizes all that
lies back of and beneath the Society who enters it as an earnest
worker for the cause of Truth, who sees it as the greatest of all
missions to the regeneration of humanity because it rests on fact
and not on fancy, and who is eager to contribute his strength to
such an effort. It is this aspect of the Society which is its

Viewed as a group of believers in human fraternity, it is
honorable. Viewed as a gathering of students, it is valuable.
But viewed as a band of earnest philanthropists, seeking to push
everywhere that knowledge of Man as he is and can be which shall
make possible revived morals and a changed world, determined not
to rest till all men shall recover primeval truth and attain
millennial bliss, it is sublime. It has no purpose of selfish
aggrandizement; it imposes no creed or ritual or vows; it erects
no hierarchy and no altar; but it stretches out eager hands for
every truth and fact which can feed the spiritual instincts of
humanity, and then scatters them broadcast to the race.

This is an unselfish, a glorious mission. To take part in it is
a privilege any one may covet and all may have. When we who are
passing our existing incarnation in the latter part of the
nineteenth century come to summarize its overtopping happiness, I
do not think we shall find them in memories of a progressed
civilization or of a refining scholarship so much as in that
corrected view of life which made the real past and future a part
of its continuity, and in that impulse to share our treasure with
all other men which led us to teach and give and scheme and
strive in the work of the Theosophical Society.


By Kenneth Morris

[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1912, pages 227-38]

By many, tradition will hardly be looked upon as a field for
profitable study; especially this class of Welsh tradition which
cannot be so much called, for the most part, folklore, as
bard-lore, and has come down with a certain class or order,
rather than with the peasantry as a whole.

Folklore indeed is studied; but --! Most commonly, "we murder to
dissect." Folklore, and bard-lore, before they will yield their
values, must be approached in a very different way. Indeed he
who deals with them must look for values, not for logical proof.
This point cannot be too much insisted upon. Your true
tradition, like a good teacher, leaves the work to be done by
yourself; it suggests, hints, lights a little fire in the mind,
and appeals foremost to the intuition. I contain this much of
truth, it says; but will not force it upon you with the cudgels
and bayonets of logic. You shall read it for yourself if you can
or else leave it for him who can. I contain within myself, it
says, the seed and possibility of poems, romances, dramas;
innumerable uplifts for the soul, innumerable indications of
historic and mystic truth. But you shall have nothing from me
unless you treat me with due respect. I will not be thrust
through with a pin, and neatly docketed under a glass case.

Tradition proves nothing, but suggests all. But the beauty of
any really true thing is that it cannot be proven; otherwise the
intuitive faculty might be let go atrophy. Of the things that
can be proven to the brain-mind, the value is relatively small;
all beauty and nobility makes appeal to that which is greater.
One must frankly lay aside the test tube-cum-crucible frame of
mind before one approaches tradition, or expect to gather nothing
but Dead Sea fruit. So it may be that what there is of cultural
value -- and there is indeed very much of it -- in these ancient,
beautiful, and haunting ideas, will remain mainly for an age that
has outgrown our modern, puerile exact-itudinarianism, and can
pluck the apples of the Hesperides, beauty and wisdom, where it
may find them growing.

We have been so cheated by dogmatism that we look askance at
everything imponderable, and cry to our own souls "Proof! Proof!"
We have worshiped stranger divinities so long that now we will
have no competitor for good, practical Mammon; we have set an
embargo on the divine. To walk cautiously is well; for every
wolf in the world of thought, sheep's clothing is the only wear.
What a host of perverted fantastical creeds have sprung up in
revolt against materialism! If you WILL set aside the soul, until
you can put it down in fractions of an ounce and of an inch; if
you WILL put the beauty of the world through a test-tube, and
snip off truth by the centimeter, you must look to be flung and
banged from one reaction to another, and take no account of that
wholesome and stable central point where there is peace and

We shall never be able to judge the merits of any question, until
we rediscover our own divinity; for that divinity is the
touchstone for everything. To whatsoever thing is good, noble,
excellent, and pure, it responds, and asks no proof save that
glow of recognition. The permanent factor in man is the spirit,
a divine element, a blazing glory within him; dimmed and overlaid
indeed with all this pother and rout, opinions, theories,
ignorance, passions, turbulence, animality, desires. So the
things that come from the spirit are true, beautiful, and
permanent, and can be recognized as such, even after the lapse of
many ages, even if there is no sort of satisfying proof to them.
But the recognition will be by the soul, and because of the light
of beauty and nobility that shines through them. That is the
only proof that the soul demands, or will take any cognizance of.

So the distinction between what we call the strictly historical
and the merely traditional becomes largely meaningless when we
take this into account. History is written from day to day in
our newspapers; and a large part of it contradicted the day
after. The best of historians is treading on the most unstable
of ground. A war arises somewhere, and the world begins to echo
with contradictory reports. The siftings of these, in the light
of the result, pass into recorded history; but what does your
historian know of the realities? As to the ultimate and real
causes of the war he is dumb; because those causes are set to
work behind the scenes of ordinary human action. Even
eye-witnesses disagree; and there is the whole matter of personal
and national bias to be taken into account.

History from the standpoint of England is one thing; from that of
France, another. What dependence, then, can be put ABSOLUTELY on
what this or that historian has recorded? In the last resort it
comes before your own soul again, to believe or reject what it
will, and to form its own judgments; and these will be nearer to,
or farther from, the truth, according to what power of judgment
may be in you.

A great soul incarnates to perform a great work; and performs it,
drives it through in the face of the world and the opposition of
all the forces of evil. He comes down to us, say, as a tyrant
and evil liver, a cruel egotistical bully on the throne. But who
shall say? "By their fruits ye shall know them." And the fruits
of his life were: so many centuries of prosperity and swift
growth for his nation, and the loosening of the shackles of a
great part of the world. Is it to be supposed that those
malignancies whom he disinherited will allow his reputation to
come down unscathed?

Is it to be supposed that his very beneficiaries will have the
wisdom and far sight to defend him rightly? It rarely happens so;
for the sheep cannot read the mind of the shepherd. But what
cares he, being a great soul, that all history brands him, and
that the future ages that reap his benefits shall hold him to
have been the worst of men? His work was done, and to that sole
end he came; not to win for that one personality of his a great
name or human gratitude. Put no absolute dependence upon
historical evidence so-called; for there are many that are
interested to distort it; and heaven only knows to what extent it
may have been tampered with.

Tradition, on the other hand, with so much less sure a
foundation, has its own methods of self-protection. Its root of
truth is in the soul and memory of the race. Cut and trim the
leaves how you will; distort the visible growth to any extent;
still the root is down there in the truth, and the tradition
remains, a symbol, for those who can read symbology. It
presents, one might say, like Portia, its three caskets to every
generation; and relies on it that for a thousand Moroccans and
Aragons, a Bassanio will appear now and again through the ages.
It will have an aspect upon all the planes of thought; and
although on the outward ones it may appear distorted and
fantastical, there yet remains the innermost beyond distortion.

Those who most loved the dead-letter would only the better
preserve the symbol. And because the tradition was the genuine
property of the national soul, molded by that to its own peculiar
delicate forms, the work of the conscious distorter would stand
out and easily be recognized for inferior workmanship, just as
one can easily recognize the botching of the Spanish kings in the

A tradition is like a folksong and bears the same national
imprint. If one succeeded in composing anything that had the
sound and feeling of a Welsh, or an Irish air, it WOULD BE a
Welsh or Irish air; it would have come, just as much as any
other, from the racial soul of Ireland or Wales. What the
composer would have done would have been to have won an entrance,
for the time being, into that racial soul, and heard some
fragment of the music that is always sounding there. It makes no
difference that the one who did it was a Pole, or a Dutchman, or

Now a race is composite, and has its seven principles like a man;
and it would appear that some phase of memory inheres in each one
of them. You will have the mere popular rumor of some historic
battle, murder, or sudden death, on the one hand; and on the
other, the spiritual and poetic tradition, a remote glow from the
arcana of the gods. Which is the better, the more important?
Which is the truer, as opposed to the more exact? History will
set itself to considering the former only; but tradition deals
the more lovingly with the latter.

When the Welsh peasant tells you that on such and such a
mountainside his ancestors fought the Flemings or the French
(Normans) -- "Oh, a long time ago indeed -- over a hundred years,
I shouldn' wonder" -- one sees how little the race mind heeds the
externalia that history battens on; for the Norman and Fleming
wars came to an end in the thirteenth century. In such details
there are no spiritual values; and tradition makes light of them.
But when one hears that he who sleeps in the cave of Snowdon, or
on the rock of Cadair Idris, will either die or go mad in the
night, or come down an inspired bard in the morning -- then one
is walking on surer ground altogether; for here there is a
spiritual value; here there is something important to remember.
This is the stuff that Poems are made of.

For a Bard meant an Exalted One, a spiritual teacher, an initiate
into the Sacred Mysteries; and it was because the bards among the
ancient Britons or Welsh taught the people by means of poetry,
and because religion and poetry were one and the same thing, that
the word has come down to us with the meaning of poet. And this
becoming a bard is a very real thing, and does actually involve
the passing through trials and terrors of initiation, which do
kill some, and make others mad.

How should it be otherwise, when the object of it is to strip the
candidate of personality, selfhood, the sense of separateness,
all private interests and desires? It is the purification of the
whole nature of a man, the great overcoming, and the second

Wales is crowded with reminiscences of this. There was the Pair
Dadeni, the Cauldron of Regeneration; when the dead were put into
it, they came forth alive. That is, the selfish self must die
and be eliminated, before the glory of the human soul can be born
in the candidate for initiation. Little Gwion, it will be
remembered, having obtained the drops of Wisdom, was reborn from
Ceridwen, the Mighty Mother, as Taliesin, the Chief of Bards,
whose forehead shone like the morning star. "Unto him that
overcometh shall be given a new name," because he is in a sense a
new being; he is Taliesin, the soul, who was formerly Gwion Bach,
the personality. We get a relic of this in the Welsh Gorsedd of
today, where the man that is made a bard has a new name given
him, which quite supersedes the old one, so far as the public is

There have always been those in Wales who would maintain that
there was such a thing as the Wisdom of the Ages, and that it was
anciently in possession of the druids and bards. That there
should be is just as necessary as that there should be a stable
center within the consciousness of man, a divine soul. No one
could imagine it, unless it was true; because each part of our
mentality imagines and dwells upon that which is upon its own
plane. The animal in us imagines animal possibilities and
gratifications; the hero imagines the heroic. That which
conceives of wisdom and divine being, by all the laws of analogy
and correspondence must be itself divine and wise.


So this tradition indicates to us that these two sacred mountains
-- you will not dispute the epithet if you know them -- were of
old centers of initiation, places of the Mysteries. And who
would wonder?

> Theirs was no dream, O monarch hill
> With heaven's own azure crowned,
> Who called thee what thou shalt be still,
> White Snowdon's holy ground.

Earth has indeed her places where the veil is slight between the
material and eternal Beauty, and drawing near them, you seem to
approach the Soul of things. Beauty and mystery and majestic
loveliness mark such spots, and well, we will say nothing about
the beauty and the proud glory of Eryri Wen and Cadair Idris.

Cadair Idris is the seat of Idris, who, according to the
tradition, was a giant and astronomer in the ancient days. From
the head of the mountain he watched the stars; vast rocks in the
valley below, are the pebbles he shook out from his shoes. Would
you be surprised to hear of him again -- in Arabia? In his
HISTORIA ANTEISLAMITICA, Abul-Feda says that the Sabaean language
(astronomy) was established by Seth and Idris. The historian
Ahmed-ben-Yusuf Eltifas speaks of him as of Sabaean origin, and
"the author of thirty books."

> Having established the rites and ceremonies of primitive worship,
> he went to the East, where he constructed one hundred and forty
> cities, of which Edessa was the least important, and then
> returned to Egypt, where he became its king.

Now let the champions of their lord god Coincidence charm never
so loudly, thoughtful people will desire to inquire into it when
they find Idris, a giant and an astronomer (for the Arabs make
him a giant also), appearing in Welsh and Arabian legend. One
common factor -- the name -- would be mildly interesting. Two
would be enough to attract attention. But with three -- it
cannot be ignored. By all means let us inquire into it. The
place in which to make such inquiries is, as will be generally
recognized some day, Madame Blavatsky's magnum opus, THE SECRET
DOCTRINE. Cast prejudice aside then, if you are troubled with
it; the book is, amongst other things, an encyclopedia of
abstruse learning, and draws unfamiliar information from every
quarter of the globe. H.P. Blavatsky does not mention our Welsh
Idris; but explains him nevertheless. She says:

> Those who in the Koran (see Surat xix) are generically termed the
> Edris, or the "Learned" (the Initiated), bore in Egypt the name
> of "Thoth," the inventor of arts, sciences, WRITING or letters,
> of music and astronomy. Among the Jews the Edris became "Enoch,"
> who, according to Bar-Hebraeus, "was the first inventor of
> writing," books, arts, and sciences, the first who reduced to a
> system the progress of the planets. In Greece he was called
> Orpheus, and thus changed his name with every nation. The number
> Seven being attached to, and connected with, each of those
> primitive Initiators.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 529

One would not dogmatize; one would not claim to have PROVEN
anything, after the manner of the schools. But it is strange --
is it not? -- that we should find this Idris identified with the
hierarchy of ancient Initiators:

> "Sons of the Serpent-god," or "Sons of the Dragon," the name
> under which the Hierophants of Egypt and Babylon were known
> before the Deluge, as were their forefathers, the Atlanteans.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 530

Thus says H.P. Blavatsky, and that we should find in Wales (to
which Madame Blavatsky makes no reference here) that Cadair
Idris, Idris' Seat, the sacred mountain, is traditionally a place
of Initiation, one where a man might pass through the trials that
make of him a bard. "Sons of the Dragon" -- what a familiar
sound has that, too, to Welsh ears! "Wyf Sarff, wyf Dryw," says
Taliesin in the BUARTH BEIRDD: "I am a Serpent; I am a Druid,"
thus associating the serpent or dragon with the order of initiate
priests. And how intimately the Dragon was connected with the
leaders of the Cymry -- both bardic and regal -- until it passed
into its familiar place on the national flag! Coincidence? Well,
well; perhaps indeed! Only, from China to Peru (excellent old
phrase!) we find traces of the Dragon of Wisdom, and that the
initiates into and possessors of the esoteric wisdom, the
Illuminated, were called the Sons of the Dragon.

But to return to our Idris; we find him connected with Arabia,
North Africa, Egypt. Thoth-Hermes was his Egyptian paradigm; and
there is a tale told of Thoth which reminds one of the Welsh
tradition of the three Wands of Hazel that sprang from the grave
of Einigan Gawr, and had all Wisdom inscribed upon them. (It
will be remembered that Einigan Gawr in his lifetime possessed
all Wisdom, arts, and sciences, even to the Secret Name.)

Thoth, we are told, buried his books of wisdom beneath certain
stone pillars; and after, found the wisdom inscribed upon the
pillars. One's mind runs somehow to certain stone pillars, in
whose arrangement and conformation, in a sense, the wisdom of the
bards is inscribed; a great circle of them in the midst of a wide
plain in the Island of the Mighty; and their traditional
connection with the druidic mysteries, and the fact that they do
constitute a Gorsedd circle, such as is necessary for the bardic

Who built Stonehenge? Our archaeologists do not know; here is a
mystery on which science is wisely dumb. It is a poor compliment
to pay to Christianity and modern civilization, to imagine that
our old pre-Christian forefathers were a kind of Hottentots,
cannibals, or barbarians. It was not that kind of people that
set up the pillared circles on the plains. What says Welsh
tradition? That the stones were brought over from Africa
magically by Myrddin Emrys. What say you to that, 0 men of the
schools? "Nonsense!" bawls Tweedledum officially; but adds, sotto
voce: "but one of the stones IS of a variety hardly to be found
nearer than in northern Africa." Now, there is an instance of the
value and methods of tradition. Myrddin, in the reign of Arthur,
certainly did NOT bring those stones over or set them up. But
Myrddin, again, is a figure symbolizing the Initiates into the
ancient Magic. Tradition never shouts out truth upon the
housetops; but leaves it embodied in a legend to travel down the
generations; and he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

H.P. Blavatsky teaches that all the druidical monuments -- we
will call them that for convenience, and because they did become
druidical ages after -- were erected by a race of Initiates who
came up from Egypt in times when the configuration of seas and
lands was very different from what it has been in historic times;
who passed through Spain and France dryshod into Britain,
establishing their sacred rites and temples wherever they came.
Let it be noted here, that the grammar of the Welsh language is
mainly Egyptian, although the vocabulary is mainly Aryan.

In a recent number of Y GENINEN, one of the best of the Welsh
magazines, Dr. Mary Williams of Paris writes very interestingly
on the Mabinogion; and in the course of the article draws
attention to a fact that has been too little noticed. Speaking
of Bran the Blessed's invasion of Ireland, and how he crossed the
rivers Lli and Archan, that at that time separated Wales from
Ireland, she says:

> The scribe has added on his own account that it was AFTER this
> time that the sea divided these two kingdoms. This part of the
> story shows clearly how old it is. (The translation is ours.)

Dare we venture to add that it shows something else too --
namely, how old is the primitive population of Britain? Rather
perhaps, let us say, how old is mankind in northern Europe.
Ireland and Wales are, we believe, of kindred geological
formation, very ancient; the eastern part of Britain being much
more recent; and there was a time when the Irish Sea was
(appropriately?), so to say, dry land. But that was not
yesterday. It must be put back, conservatively speaking; we
suppose at least some hundreds of thousands of years. We will
not say that there were Welsh-speaking Welshmen in Gwynedd and
Dyfed at that time; but if there had been no population, and if
the population that there was had not been merged in the later
incoming races, how did the old Welsh bards come by the memory or
tradition of it, and embody the same in the Mabinogi of Branwen
ferch Llyr?

Were they good enough geologists to know the fact, and yet so
ignorant as to suppose that it was as recent as the supposed date
of Bran the Blessed, about the beginning of the Christian era? To
what pains will not some of us go, rather than accept obvious
inferences! Before there was an Irish Sea, Britain and Ireland
were inhabited; before there were Straits of Dover, men came into
Britain through Gaul and Spain, from Africa. What about the
Silurian and Berber or Iberic types among the Celts of today?

Now let us glance at the tradition of the FIRST influx of
population into Britain.

It is said that there was a great continent called Gwlad yr Haf,
the Summer Country, which for its many sins was destined to be
destroyed. As to the manner of its destruction, is there not
somewhere a reference to the "oppression of waters?" Among the
remnant of its inhabitants not stained by sin, were the Cymry,
which word may mean "fellow-countrymen," or may perhaps be akin,
as Borrow says, with the Sanskrit "Kumara," with the meaning of
the "unstained," the "pure." Under their leader Hu Gadarn, they
set sail, and came at last to Ynys Fel, the Honey Island
(Britain), then uninhabited.

As is usual with settlers in a new land, they gave names to
certain parts of it which should commemorate themselves and the
land they came from. Those parts, one may well think, would be
the regions first settled. One such they called Gwlad yr Haf;
the other Cymru, the land of the Cymry. Now Gwlad yr Haf, in
English Somersetshire, is on the southern, and Cymru or Wales is
on the northern shore of the Severn Sea. All of which suggests
-- mind, only SUGGESTS -- that they came from the southwest, and
sailed up the Severn Sea.

Which is against all received suppositions. But here again,
Theosophy supplies a teaching which explains the Welsh tradition,
and a thousand things otherwise inexplicable all over the globe.
Synthesis again throws light on that which analysis would cloud
round with more than Egyptian darkness.

The evidence for the existence of the continent and race of
Atlantis, are much too numerous to be more than alluded to here.
There are all the Cyclopean remains to be accounted for; and they
are found all over the globe. There are the similarities in
custom between ancient China and pre-Incan Peru; architectural
correspondences between the temples of Central America and Egypt;
the Easter Island Statues, and the gigantic statues of Bamian in
Central Asia; strange linguistic parallelisms between certain
American and the Celtic tongues, and again between both and
Egyptian; and so on, and so on.

All of these things are not to be satisfactorily accounted for,
unless we admit Atlantis. Plato tells us something of it; he in
turn had it from the Egyptian priests. A great continent where
now the Atlantic rolls; and colonies from it spread out over the
earth, and flourished as mighty empires and civilizations long
before the dawn of history, even the most conjectural; long
before the first beginnings of the present Aryan race of
humanity. The waves covered the last great island-remnant of
Atlantis, according to H.P. Blavatsky, some nine thousand years
B.C., but the main part of it had succumbed to the "oppression of
the waters," ages before that.

Now supposing that Hu Gadarn (or, perhaps, for a sop to the
theorists, "someone else of the same name") did bring his ships
up the Severn Sea; there would have been Atlantis for him to have
come from. Or supposing that he came from Atlantis; it would
have been very natural for him to have sailed up the Severn Sea.

Anthropology finds that the Welsh are a composite of three races,
the latest of which was the Aryan Celts. Welsh tradition
declares that the "men of the Island of the Mighty" (the Ancient
Britons) were a composite of three races, the last corners being
a race that crossed the continent of Europe as the Celts are
supposed to have done. Of the second, AS SUCH, little is said in
the traditions; but facts above stated would seem to indicate the
coming of men from the south, from Egypt and north Africa, led by
the initiates who are represented in tradition by the giant
Idris; which race, or their Adept leaders, built Stonehenge,
Avebury, and the cromlechs for the purposes of their
Mystery-Religion. Science confirms, with the stone that came
from Africa, the Iberian type among the Welsh, and the Egyptian
grammar of the Welsh language.

How should that last have come to be? In those parts of Wales and
Ireland where English is spoken, when English is spoken, it is a
form of English that retains its Celtic grammatical construction;
and this, indeed, would appear to happen invariably; when one
language supplants another, it is the vocabulary -- not the
syntax -- that is supplanted. If then, the language of Britain
in those days was Egyptian, or akin to the Egyptian, the Egyptian
syntax and construction would have been retained, even after the
Aryan Celtic immigrants had imposed upon the island their own
Aryan Celtic vocabulary. This is just what we find, to a very
marked extent, in both the Gaelic and Cymric tongues. No; it is
not a mere wild theory; it is well known to the authorities that
this is so.

The three races of immigrants into Britain would be then, in
Theosophic terminology:

(a) Atlanteans: the Cymry under Hu Gadarn, who was afterwards the
chief of the Gods of the Welsh Pantheon.

(b) Aryo-Atlanteans from Egypt: the followers of certain Adepts
who erected Stonehenge, and who are represented in the traditions
by Idris Gawr, the Astronomer.

(c) Aryan Celts.

We shall be told that there is much, even in Welsh tradition,
that conflicts with many of the points raised above. Certainly;
but our plea is that tradition will not yield its truth to
analysis; the legends of one single race will tell you little or
nothing; the method of approaching them MUST BE SYNTHETIC. The
beauty of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, or rather one beauty of it, lies
in the fact that it collates and synthesizes the traditions of
all races, and shows them confirming certain teachings which have
been handed down. Hardly at all does Madame Blavatsky mention
Welsh tradition; yet Welsh tradition, when examined, like
Scandinavian, Hindu, Chinese, ancient American, and Egyptian
traditions, confirms her teachings, and receives from them a
light, an elucidation, which is to be had from nothing else. In
a short article such as this, one cannot but have done injustice
to this great book; what is to be emphasized is the prodigious
scope of the learning displayed in it; the rare sources from
which it draws; the mastery of the thousand and one branches of
modern discovery.

It is to be hoped that the many in Wales who are studying and
disputing over the ancient records, will come before long to
recognize that their problems will be wonderfully solved, or that
they will be aided wonderfully in the work of solving them, by
study of THE SECRET DOCTRINE and the teachings of Theosophy. It
would open new and splendid worlds for the literature and drama
of the future, throwing back our horizons, displaying for us
wisdom, beauty, heroism; and the value, the true value, of many
ancient, noble, and long-loved things that we stand in danger now
of throwing by the board.


By Richard K. Ullmann

[From THE ARYAN PATH, August 1949, pages 345-49.]

The greatness of Goethe, whose bicentenary we are celebrating
this month, is usually found both in his poetical gift, equaled
in Western literature probably only by those of Shakespeare and
Dante, and in the versatility of his mind which penetrated into
many fields of science and learning, literature and art. Unlike,
however, the so-called polyhistors, of whom there lived quite a
number in or just before his time, Goethe's activities in fields
as varied as meteorology and numismatics, mining and stagecraft,
physics and administration, were not varied activities of a
scholar interested in many different subject-matters, but the
expression of one metaphysical urge: the insatiable quest of his
Dr. Faustus to discover "what it is that in the innermost holds
the world together." Goethe once put this relation between
detailed study and ultimate knowledge into the lines:

> Into the Infinite you wish to stride?
> Step in the Finite then to ev'ry side.

The work of Goethe as a whole is, therefore, not a collection of
beautiful or interesting pieces of drama and research, fiction
and discourse, but shows an astonishing unity in its diversity.
The results of his scientific studies are the natural
commentaries on his poetry; his poetical images, on the other
hand, enunciate his deep insight as a scholar and a philosopher.
It is a unity not at all artificial and farfetched; on the
contrary, it enables him -- and this may be the most remarkable
feature of his genius -- to perceive the connections between the
apparently unconnected, the simplicity of the outwardly complex,
and the beautiful order in what to most people seems senseless
turmoil or irreconcilable discord. It is as though he had been
endowed with a special power of vision, piercing through the
manifold irregularities and contradictions of life to the cosmic
harmony of all reality.

Clearly, for Goethe there cannot be a division, in thought or
fact, between God and World. Goethe's God does not "push the
world from outside." He lives and breathes in and as Nature and
is revealed in every part of it.

> What were a God who only, from without,
> The universe set spinning with His finger's touch!
> It is befitting for Him to move the world within,
> To maintain Nature in Himself, Himself in Nature,
> So that there's naught that in Him lives and moves and is
> That ever knows the absence of His Spirit and His power.

Goethe is fundamentally a pantheist, as such on the whole a
monist, and in many ways a mystic. His mysticism, however,
experiences the Divine not through spiritual and moral exercise,
at least not in the first line, but through his extraordinary
susceptibility to beauty and truth. He is filled with a deep
reverence for Nature and Life, but except during short periods of
his life he is not pious in any denominational sense. The
affinity, however, which he feels with Creator and Creation
alike, expresses itself in an ardor sometimes more than poetical
and almost purely religious. In such moments the ancient unity
of poet and prophet is fully restored.

At other times, his sense of kinship with the "One and All" is
revealed in his scientific curiosity about natural phenomena, and
it is here that his feeling for the Divinity of Nature and his
power of simplification and interconnection led him on to a
principle of cosmic order which amounted to the first decisive
step towards modern science beyond a merely descriptive biology.

According to this conception every phenomenon -- plant, animal,
etc. -- is true to some prime form or "archetype." (Urphaenomen)
It is only one outward image, among an infinite number of
possible images, of the one archetype, the latter being a kind of
Platonic Idea which exists neither in some temporal reality nor
in some transcendent heaven (as Plato's ideas do), but only in
its copies or imitations produced by Nature in every single
phenomenon. All the changes or metamorphoses apparent in the
living images can nevertheless be traced back to the archetype.

This conception had very practical results both for Goethe's
scientific research and his aesthetics. Among other things it
guided his anatomic studies forward to the discovery of the OS
INTERMAXILLARE, i.e., of the fact that the human upper jawbone
consists actually of three bones just as does that of the higher
animals. In the field of aesthetics it helped him to develop his
neo-Hellenistic doctrine assigning to the poet the task of
representing, not individual cases in naturalistic manner, but
archetypes of humanity in classical style.

It would be wrong to take this interrelation of various fields
for an act of willful intellectual coordination. However
powerful Goethe's intellect, the source of such vision can be
found only in his whole personality. He tells us that when he
closed his eyes, he could at will make grow and develop imaginary
flowers before his inner sight. He was a seer in a most peculiar
sense of the word, his visual inspiration was one and the same in
realms as different as botany and poetry, and no intellectual
process was necessary to bring them together.

It is not surprising that his power of harmonization should
extend also to human affairs. Not that he was not a passionate
partisan in the literary feuds of his days. Indeed, often enough
he was not only the leader, but also the instigator and the
aggressor, mainly in his youth and his prime; and not always was
his hostility directed exclusively against mediocrity and bad
taste. He had no small share in the protracted struggle between
the so-called classical and romantic schools.

But, as time went on, Goethe, advocating and representing
classicism, yet claimed as a romanticist by the younger
generation, withdrew more and more from the melee of day-to-day
fighting into the realm, not of neutrality, but of integration.
The second part of his Faustus, published only after his death,
gives his true answer to that literary conflict, an answer
revealing once again his power of vision: Helen of Troy, the
archetype of classical beauty, is called from the "Mothers" (the
archetypes) back into the existence of living images by Faustus,
the symbol of restless romantic drive and longing, and their
loving union produces the precocious child Euphorion, that
short-lived glory of high-soaring poetry, which Goethe found --
to some people's surprise -- in the genius of Lord Byron.

This posthumous act of reconciliation of a wide-spread
philosophical antagonism in Western literatures has a parallel in
Goethe's idea of World Literature. In his early years, as
Herder's pupil, he had learned to appreciate the folksongs of
different nations and ages, and to the end of his life he thought
of them as healthy tonics for the more cultivated forms of
poetry. In his classical period, however, he discovered the
absolute standards for all national literature in ancient Greece.

Without abandoning this view, he visualized, during his last
years, an increasing literary interchange between the Western
nations, and his personal share in it, and he declared that
poetry was a gift common to all peoples and therefore not the
right object for mutual boasting or sneering. All nations, he
thought, were making their special contribution to the literature
of mankind; and to overcome national narrowness, their leading
poets should be conscious of the higher community. "National
Literature does not mean much now," he said in 1827, "the time
has come for the epoch of World Literature."

This idea, in some ways the last flower of the enlightened
cosmopolitanism of the eighteenth century, in others a prophecy
not yet quite fulfilled, repudiates the major historical force of
Goethe's later years, the ardent nationalism rising under the
impact of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars and
feasting upon its first eccentricities.

The young German patriots attacked Goethe violently for the cool
reserve which he maintained towards national events and for his
appreciation of Bonaparte's genius; and even today he is often
criticized, if not for disloyalty to Germany, at least for his
lack of understanding of the political movements of his age.

As in other fields, however, so in that of politics, Goethe's
vision enabled him to reduce complex situations to simple
formulas which struck to the very core. It is well known that
when in 1792 the Central European sovereigns, who had set out to
liberate the King of France, withdrew after a short and
apparently unimportant cannonade at Valmy and left the field to
the French revolutionary army, the "reactionary" and
"aristocratic" Goethe, who accompanied the headquarters of the
princely coalition, made the penetrating remark that then and
there a new epoch of world history was beginning.

It is less well known that in the 1820's, when he learned about
some early plans for piercing the isthmus of Central America in
order to connect the two oceans, he made the comment that this
would lead to quite incalculable results for the whole of
civilized and uncivilized mankind. He mentioned the importance
of such a waterway for the youthful United States and her
contacts with China and India. Thus, with unique perspicacity,
he anticipated events by at least a century.

His aloofness from the hectic fluctuations of his time, his
vision of World Literature, and his poetical imagination found
their integrated expression in the remarkable anthology called
"West-Eastern Divan," the very title of which testifies to his
power of harmonization. From early childhood the lands of the
Old Testament had retained much attraction for him. Now, during
the last battles of the Napoleonic Wars, he came across the poems
of Hafiz, and soon he tried to identify himself with that Persian
poet. He wrote his "Hegira," the poem which now opens the whole
collection of twelve books and which begins significantly enough
with the words:

> North and West and South are crumbling,
> Thrones are bursting, kingdoms tumbling.
> Flee and, in the pure East, fare
> Richly thou on patriarch's air.

Many of Goethe's critics have argued that the Eastern garment
donned by him was just a superficial disguise which covers
scantily the nakedness of a Western mind; neither the
introduction of a few Persian and Arabic words, they say, nor the
hardly noticeable imitation of Eastern poetical forms are to be
taken for more than pretence. On the other hand, an Eastern
student has claimed that Goethe's whole philosophy of life and
particularly its mystical texture are proof of his basic
"Orientalism." (Yusuf-Ali, "Goethe's Orientalism," Contemporary
Review, 1906)

Certainly, the Orient painted by Goethe is, though outwardly
Islamic, in no way clearly discernible as Arabic, Persian, or
Indian. He presents us with a romantic mixture of styles, times,
and places such as has commonly had an Eastern flavor for the
average European, and with an atmosphere of humor, mysticism,
erotic cheerfulness, sarcastic irony, and profound wisdom, which
makes the anthology a queer book for readers from whatever
quarter. Probably it is not Eastern enough for the East, and yet
it was not quite Western before the West had absorbed it into its
own heritage.

Goethe did not presume to write any entirely Eastern poetry; the
term "West-Eastern" is chosen with great care and expresses a
relationship which he -- and no other like him -- could perceive
and materialize. It is his very detachment from contemporary
Western events which sets his eyes free for a wider vision.

> He who cannot take account
> Of three thousand years, shall stay
> Unexperienced, darkness-bound
> Living on from day to day.

Thus in a mood equally removed from modern political
internationalism and from Kipling's nationalistic verdict that

> East is East, and West is West,
> And never the twain shall meet,

Goethe, rejecting all narrow-minded prejudice, shapes his
prophetic message of West-Eastern integration. Time and time
again he tries to guide the nations towards a greater community.
He perceives clearly that:

> Where the nations are divided
> And despise each other's name,
> Neither will admit that still they're
> Striving for the self-same aim.

He, therefore, endeavors to move between, or rather to hover
above, the two spheres of West and East and to make their peoples
conscious of their fundamental kinship:

> Knowing others and thyself
> Make thee knowledgeable:
> Orient and Occident are
> Ne'ermore separable.

And, another time:

> West and East alike give thee
> Precious food of purity.

His deep confidence in West-Eastern Harmony is based on his
metaphysical knowledge that there is only one God and only one
true way of serving Him:

> Fools who each of them apply
> Their own opinion as measuring rod!
> If Islam means dedication to God,
> In Islam all of us live and die.

And as an appropriate conclusion of this essay, Goethe's
wonderful little poem "Talisman" may stand here, which, like a
triumphant antiphon to a passage of the Koran ("God's is the East
and God's is the West; He guides whom He will on the right
path."), proclaims solemnly the unity of everything that has ever
seemed divided:

> God's is the Orient!
> God's is the Occident!
> North-lands rest and Southern lands
> In the calm peace of his hands.


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