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THEOSOPHY WORLD ---------------------------------- February, 2010
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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be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"What Are Our Powers?" by Eldon B. Tucker
"What Do We Mean By PSYCHIC?" by Boris de Zirkoff
"Who am I?" by E.A. Neresheimer
"The Muses and the Mind," by Erica L. Georgiades
"An Enduring Vision," by Pedro Oliveira
"Saving the Children," by Henry T. Edge
"Linear Discipline," by Dara Eklund
"Contemporary Classics and Theosophical Thought," by John Algeo
"The Love of Novelty and the Fear of Change," by Ralf Lanesdale
"Book Review," by K. Paul Johnson
"The Doctrine of Swabhava," by G. de Purucker
> Prayer with us Theosophists is aspiration; it is a constant
> raising of ourselves from day to day, trying each day to go a
> little higher towards the god within. This means inner harmony
> which means peace. Therefore, having harmony and peace within
> you, in your mind, in your heart, that state of mind and heart
> will reflect itself in your physical body, and your body will
> function harmoniously, which means in health.
> óG. de Purucker, QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK, IV, 78
WHAT ARE OUR POWERS?
By Eldon Tucker
The simplest way to think of a power is the ability to make
something happen in the world. We have the power to bring a
smile to a friend's face, to write a piece of music, to build a
house for people to live in. Anything that we can do that change
things in the world is a power. Until our intentions find a way
of concrete expression and are lived out in life, we are
powerless, either due to lack of skill in manifesting ourselves
in the world or due to our own chosen inactivity.
Doing things in an extraordinary way doesn't give them special
value. Getting a pen from our desk is still getting a pen,
whether we walk over to the desk and get it or use a paranormal
ability to make the pen float through the air to us. Either way
gets it done. The floating pen trick may impress people, but
that's only important if we're seeking ego gratification.
Getting the pen is what's important, not how it's done.
Expressing ourselves uniquely to make the work a better, bigger,
brighter, and more beautiful place is what's important, and for
that, special abilities aren't needed. We get good at anything
that we try, with continued practice, even if it may take
lifetimes to achieve expert status. Although we can talk about
different ways that our abilities can be latent, not yet realized
in life, there's only one way that the abilities are put to use
and we grow. That's in doing things, in finding what we get and
give the most joy in doing, and just being active.
We hear that inactivity in a good deed is a deadly sin. We have
many good deeds (creative activities) that we could be doing.
There's no need to wish or wait for special abilities. We should
just do what we love and our skills will grow over time to match
When I hear the word "gifts," it makes me think of the Christian
God creating a multitude of beings. "I think," he'd say, "I'll
make this one blind and crippled." Then he pauses. "And I'll
make her brilliant and a healer of souls." With this, a "gift" is
whatever arbitrary attributes one is created with, having done
nothing oneself deserve the pain nor merit the benefits bestowed
With the idea of reincarnation and karma, that each of us is
self-made, there are no gifts. We grow and progress by doing
things, learning, growing, becoming more skilled at bringing out
things in the world. As we do so, over many lifetimes, we
acquire advanced skills. The skills aren't "given" us. We've
acquired them through a long learning process, where we learn BY
DOING. No one taps us on the shoulder, whispers a secret
password in our ears, and suddenly we've got magical, occult
If we're not fully using what we have, how can we possibly grow
to be capable of doing more? The important thing here is in the
DOING, not in the exotic nature of how we do things. Healing the
troubled heart of a friend takes a few kind words. We don't, for
instance, need to astrally travel to someone's house, wave our
hands before their unseeing eyes, and picture some energy flow.
The fondness for special abilities, like comic book superheroes
have, comes from the idea that "if only I had this, then I
could..." These IF ONLY'S are really an excuse to put off putting
forth the energy to go out into the world, be creative, and
starting doing things with the resources we have right now.
Granted, there are people with extraordinary abilities. But
abilities are tools, and without a creative and compassionate
mind and heart, they're wasted.
Someone could be a great writer, struggling with pencil and pad
of paper. Not having a $400 net book or $4000 high-end laptop
didn't stop him or her from greatness. Another person could have
the "special ability" that the best laptop could provide, and yet
write worthless verbiage.
People may sometimes waste time, hoping or striving for special
abilities with the thought that if only they could do
such-and-such a wonderful thing, they'd help the world greatly,
and incidentally amaze people, be taken seriously, and be highly
Doing the best with what we have, we'll find that we become more
skillful, our worth to the world grows, and inner and outer
changes will happen in due course. The motivation is that we do
what we love, or follow our bliss, as Joseph Campbell might say.
Whatever abilities we have are meant to be used, to be tools to
draw upon. The abilities don't define us. We are defined by
what we do. Our abilities grow with use and shrink if not used.
Whenever we act, we help co-create the world and define ourselves
at the same time. Our lack of abilities is not so much because
we've failed to cultivate them as it is because we're not
actually doing anything that would justify them being needed in
Being able to make a brick rise off the floor and float in front
of us, we might impress others and they might be inclined to
accept what we tell them. They might assume that if we showed
such an extraordinary ability, we must know what's going on. But
I don't think so. Writing a great piece of music far exceeds
lifting the brick; it manifests a far deeper part of ourselves.
But what if our pet dog could make the brick float? Would we ask
it for psychological counseling or help with our taxes? No. The
ability doesn't confer intelligence, knowledge, experience, or
creativity; it's just elemental energy.
I would say that seeking abilities is getting things backwards.
If we become active in doing our special contribution to the
world, appropriate abilities will arise naturally. And they come
because we're not seeking them, but rather because life needs us
and lets us be the best that we can be.
As Blavatsky said,
> The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no
> privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego
> through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of
> metempsychoses and reincarnations.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 17
The world is not waiting for any of us to say a few magic words
or learn some occult trick and then do wonders. It needs our
higher awareness that is only realized in self-forgetful actions
bettering the lives of all about us. A mother could make
breakfast for her children with such loving kindness that the
world is more greatly enriched than when a preacher heals a
cripple on national television to the jaw-dropping amazement of
his million viewer fan club.
Looking about us, there is a whole spectrum of neediness in those
behind and of greatness in those beyond. We learn and benefit
from more spiritually advanced people and teach and aid those we
can help. Our worthiness comes from using what we currently
have. Our abilities aren't gifts because no one has given them
to us. They are skills that arise naturally based upon what we
Some skills may be on tap and only need awakening, because
they've been acquired in past lifetimes. Others aren't developed
yet, and require much learning and experience to flower in us. A
skill with mathematics may be remembered and reacquired in our
childhood. Or we may not have it and always find it a struggle.
But no one, no external person or being, no matter how advanced,
can give us an ability we don't already have.
We function at our highest when we give ourselves to doing things
we totally love, things than are creative, giving, sharing,
things that brighten the world. Our sense of "I" disappears and
there's only the joy of bringing something wondrous into the
world. There's not a feeling of a puny ego or self supplicating
and a bigger ego or greater being. There is no "I" and "thou,"
nor even an "I", just love, beauty, and the joy of giving birth
to new things in life.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY "PSYCHIC"?
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From THEOSOPHIA, Spring 1978, page 4.]
Why do students of Theosophy oppose psychic practices?
Because they undermine both intellect and spirituality, and
strengthen the personal qualities of man to the disadvantage of
What are some of the psychic practices you are opposed to?
Divination, psychic readings, psychometry, any trance condition,
certain methods of meditation leading to mediumship, alleged
"recall" of former incarnations, lower aspects of Yoga, claims of
astral clairvoyance, drug-addiction, etc.
But surely some of these have a modicum of truth in them and can
be of benefit to some people?
Everything has a modicum of truth in it, but that truth can be
uncovered and understood only against the background of a careful
study of the intellectual and spiritual facts of Nature outlined
in the Esoteric Philosophy. Without these facts in mind, and
without the philosophical understanding of them, psychic
practices cannot possibly be of any benefit.
You emphasize therefore the need of a thorough development of the
We certainly do not, unless supported by the development of
spirituality. Intellect without spirituality is the direct road
to materialism, crass selfishness and other evils of the
And what do you mean by spirituality?
Primarily the ethical nature of man, the powers and forces
inherent in his Higher Self, such as kindness, justice,
self-control, self-forgetfulness, patience, equanimity,
forgiveness of wrong, non-retaliation, impersonal love, sympathy,
compassion, and other spiritual qualities which are today largely
overlooked and practiced by a very small number of people.
What do you consider to be the chief results of the
indiscriminate usage of psychic practices?
Intellectual confusion, loss of spirituality, weakening of the
spiritual will, and the eventual debilitating of the moral or
ethical qualities; also the strengthening of the personality as a
result of the inordinate love for wonder and phenomenalism.
But is not the psychic part of the human organism an important
part of every man? It cannot be obliterated?
It is just as important as any other part of his sevenfold
constitution, and no one intends to obliterate it. It must be
understood in the light of the higher teachings of Theosophy and
brought under the control of his spiritual will. Its powers and
forces, when raised to the spiritual level, can be of immense
benefit in his evolution. Then they become a team of horses, as
it were, under the powerful and intelligent guidance of the
driver - the Higher Self in man.
WHO AM I?
By E.A. Neresheimer
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, November 1924, pages 443-49.]
A body must necessarily have a form, and form must contain a
limited amount of matter, centered and held together within a
certain shape by consciousness of some kind, expressing itself in
physical or other mode of manifestation. It may be assumed that
for the formation of every object, many forces have converged,
drawing together numerous and divers grades of matter into its
mold, in order to comply with the specific need for which that
object was called into being. The simplest shapes, such as the
spherical or geometrically crystalline even suggest that an
active intelligent law is at work selecting and governing the
assemblage of particles, for the purpose of fashioning them into
an infinitude of forms.
The intelligent Energy which causes all this is said to be the
Universal Mind, whether the object be a simple mineral
organization, or that of a plant, animal, man, or god, as the
case may be. We may therefore justifiably ask, how does so
complex a thing as the human body, with its manifold combinations
of forces and substances, come into being, and furthermore who
and what is he who we call the Real Man?
If we look at ourselves in a mirror we see, reflected back from
it, the visible image of a living entity. Our attention is
arrested not only by the definite outlines of shape, but by the
intelligence and other characteristics expressed, and sometimes
we wonder what its meaning and purpose may be. We perceive that
there is not only one, but two, -- the one looking at the image,
and the one that is being looked at. Both are perfect duplicates
of each other in appearance, to be sure, and this gives us a hint
as to what the ancient sages must have meant when they asserted
that there are in reality more than one duplicate of man within
himself, though not visible to the physical eye.
The teachings further tell us that there is also a PRESENCE -- he
who comprehends them all; in whose sight the visible one is but
the last outermost garment or shell, formed after a particular
model that is but just one grade finer in structure than the
physical. All the remaining duplicates of the body are said to
be types of still finer and finer structure, until we reach the
ARCHETYPAL ONE -- the PRESENCE. And mark ye, THOU ART THAT!
This LUMINOUS ONE is never to be perceived. IT is the source and
essence of all the other invisible duplicates within the physical
body of man, and all are but as graduated shadows and illusions
to IT. This HIGHEST ONE is not a Being; not the manifesting Ego,
not the Logos; IT is the SUPREME SELF that "IS and WAS and SHALL
BE" -- "whether there is a Universe or not, whether there are
gods or none," of whom a spiritually evolved oriental neophyte
would say with assurance, "It is myself," -- "I am Brahman."
Brahman is the Law itself, the Self-existent, the Unfathomable
Principle, from which emanates, at the opening of every
periodical Grand Life-Cycle -- since beginningless time, -- the
Divine Essence called the MONAD, the Eternal Kosmic Pilgrim.
The Monad may be conceived of as the combined equivalent of the
Logoic Intelligence, Spirit, and Matter, the Eternal Trinity in
One: coming forth from out of the bosom of the unmanifested
Principle, for the purpose of enacting one of such periodical
World-Dramas as our present Grand Life-Cycle. It -- the Monad --
descends into 'Existence,' and from its combined powers are
reproduced all subsequent modifications of Life, Intelligence,
and Matter, throughout the vast Universe. Every creature and
thing, therefore, partakes of the Monadic Essence, commensurate
with the respective degree of its development.
There are certain associations of 'form and consciousness' which,
as types, are eternal, into which the different grades of
evolving matter enter. These types are called the Kingdoms of
Nature; the Elemental, Mineral, Vegetable, Animal, and Human.
During the first part of the evolutionary program, which requires
enormous periods of time, only the lower kingdoms are developed,
and each of these kingdoms has a certain group-consciousness of
Some time towards the end of the first half of the Cycle, a great
change takes place in certain UNITS of the Animal Kingdom, which
have reached the most advanced development possible in that
stage; i.e., a division or rather differentiation of their
consciousness occurs, which separates the units from the former
group-consciousness of the animal kingdom. As a matter of fact,
they become relatively independent and individualized entities.
The rational faculty of each unit becomes detached from its
group, instead of being, so to speak, submerged into the ONE
consciousness with its contemporary fellow-units of the kingdom
to which it belongs. In other words, at that epoch of
separation, the Sparks from the Flame take the first steps in
creating a career of their own, and entering the human kingdom,
become the potential 'Man,' -- a more or less self-conscious
It is by reason of the presence of the Divine Monadic Spark still
being so deeply immersed in material environments that the
average man of today, looking at himself in a mirror, sees
therein but the grossest outer covering or sheath of the Monadic
Spark, i.e., its changing vehicle, its body of living flesh.
We can justly affirm that man is the most advanced and complex
form of being on earth that the enfolding Monad could produce, up
to the present time. In him have converged, and are now
represented, all the divine and material forces that operate in
Nature's workshop, centralized in his being, in order that he may
successfully proceed upon his pilgrimage through the worlds of
evolutionary progression upon the upward path. Since his
complete segregation from the former group-consciousness, of the
lower kingdoms of Nature, he has acquired the faculty of mind, by
reason of which he stands at the summit of physically organized
beings. Moreover, this new endowment of mind also made him the
superior over certain nature-forces, diverse cosmic
sub-intelligences, and semi-spiritual entities that have not as
yet had the privilege of experience in the human kingdom.
However, it should be remembered that the bulk of the humanity of
our Solar System is at present still in the early stages of the
ascending arc of the evolutionary scheme, and consequently quite
ignorant of the nature and extent of its latent potential divine
powers. It is in enacting the second, the ascending part in the
Great Cosmic Drama, that 'Man' is destined to play his most
important role, namely that of a helper of all the kingdoms below
him, and as liberator of his own kind. Besides this he has the
privilege of acquiring progressive knowledge, and consequent
discrimination, which enable him to fulfill his destined mission,
both with respect to himself and to all other beings, which are
rooted in the same Deific Source wherein he "lives, and moves,
and has his being."
As a consequence of its prolonged association, through long ages
of evolution, with the lower kingdoms of Nature, collective
humanity is naturally very much encumbered with the results of
those grosser material associations. At the same time it is
necessarily also greatly attracted by the sensations of the new
life of its independent entitative being, in fact so much so that
it has practically lost sight of the greater values gained
throughout preceding ages.
The average man of our day hardly ever stops to consider how
strenuous the efforts must have been that he has made in the past
in order to enable him to acquire all the synthetic use of many
of the faculties, and the organs which he now enjoys. Let us
take, for instance, the elaborate interaction that prevails among
the countless lives within the human body; what a harmonious,
reciprocal exchange there is between the various centers, organs,
muscles, nerves, and senses that we make use of in every act and
motion. Where did it all come from? How did these become so
automatic in their functions?
In the absence of a conscious appreciation of this great asset,
do we not miss a very powerful incentive towards building up more
responsive instruments for the expression of finer and greater
faculties that are almost within our reach? The brain-mind, or
the ordinary centers of consciousness through which we usually
function, are certainly much too gross for the expression of the
greater potentialities and possibilities of the real Higher Self
in us. Nor would they suffice for the realization of the future
exalted goal in store for humankind. To ascertain this with any
degree of success, we certainly will be constrained to acquaint
ourselves somewhat definitely with our higher faculties and the
vehicles of our Inner Self, and its province.
The Theosophic teachings give us in this respect firstly the
assurance that we actually have acquired an enormous store of
knowledge during the aeons of time spent in the womb of Mother
Nature, and, secondly, that the result of these achievements is
the indispensable stepping-stones to the threshold of our inner
Let no one imagine that all our present automatic functions of
mind and body are, or can be, anything else but well-earned
resources gained by past efforts. Indeed, we have been building
to a great purpose, as we can observe by what is going on not
only in the human kingdom but in other kingdoms as well.
We have been shown in the Theosophical teachings how the Monadic
Energy first descended lower and lower in the realms of Matter,
until it became immersed in what we know as the mineral kingdom.
From obvious facts surely easily to be observed, we can make some
simple deductions as to how experience is gained by the Monadic
Consciousness in that form of existence, and how this broadens
and expands by its subsequent passage through the vegetable and
animal kingdoms as it rises step by step to nascent
self-consciousness in the human kingdom. And now individual man,
after having evolved a highly complex physical vehicle, and added
unto himself the contemplative faculty of Mind, is, at last,
truly in the enviable position where he may realize the actual
fruition of all his former travail and the limitless
possibilities of his divine nature.
Having gained relative power over the lower kingdoms, and being
now closely intertwined with every grade of matter and force, as
well as with all manner of contemporary creatures and
fellow-beings, man is approaching the step when introspection
becomes an inevitable necessity of circumstances. At this point
it seems no longer strange that we should ask ourselves who we
are, what we are here for, whither we are going.
These questions well up in our hearts and minds as does the
surging ocean before the wind, and though their solution may
still seem to be far away in a nebulous horizon, they rise again
and again in the foreground of our consciousness until answered
and solved. This does not mean that a full explanation of these
questions, if given, could at once be understood, but their
purport will ever continue to goad us on, until we are each able
to find our own answer for ourselves; one which will not be that
of any other.
Serious and diligent search in Theosophic teachings will disclose
to us the truth of our Divine Origin and the fundamental fact of
Universal Coherence, which binds men and all beings and things
together in one indissoluble Unity of spiritual being. This,
above all, is the very first lesson we have to learn.
An earnest inquirer will soon realize that explanations of these
grand questions can only be milestones or keynotes, and that for
a beginner without preparation, a real and final solution would
be incomprehensible and thus of but little avail.
However, one certain encouraging assurance can be given to
everyone who is ardently seeking for knowledge, namely, that
Divine Wisdom has existed since time immemorial, and does exist,
though it cannot be attained immediately, and just for the
asking. It will be for those who are prepared to enter upon 'the
Path' of serious inquiry and endeavor.
This age-old wisdom rests upon ascertained facts, proved and
checked up by untold generations of seers, sages, and wise
Initiates, who declare that there is positive, persistent, and
gradual progress ever proceeding in the silence of Nature. And
so in 'Man' also. It is Divinity behind Nature that controls and
disposes of her resources throughout the immensity of the Cosmos,
and Divinity also makes of man's estate the field wherein It may
find its opportunity and resort for the actual conscious
realization of all that was, is, and shall be. In him,
individual man -- indeed in each one who dares to hew out the
truth for himself -- shall Divinity be revealed and Existence
The rounding out of PERFECTED MAN alone, is said to be the real
purpose of the coming forth of Deity; its descent into the arena
of Manifestation and the bondage of Matter. It, however, ever
remains the guiding principle that supervises the unfoldment of
the Cosmic Drama. An unbroken concatenation of causes and
effects runs through, and links together, all lines of evolution
with every phase of conditioned life in the great as in the
small. Its scheme of organization is so marvelous that the most
insignificant thing on earth has its proper place, function, and
possibility of infinite expansion and unfoldment; be it 'Man,' a
Solar System, or the highest Cosmic Intelligences.
Those who have gone before us on the eternal path, have left us
records for the benefit of those who are prepared to enter the
Path in their wake, in the spirit of humility and service. A
continuous line of intelligent guidance is provided for in the
great economy of the Universe, to assist at every step the
upcoming entities, and aspirants, and reveal to them the wisdom
and true significance of 'Compassion Absolute' -- the Law of
Laws, the Light of everlasting Harmony, the 'fitness of all
things,' upon which the Universe and man are built. Everything
must go forward; nothing can stand still.
The power of observation is within reach of every individual of
ordinary intelligence, whereby he may see the true analogies that
subsist between the great and the small within whose compass
Nature carries on her plan, design, and purpose. There is not
the least friction or encroachment anywhere along the line;
everything is continuous and certain.
Its object is accomplished in cyclic waves of ups and downs,
affecting alike the stellar universe, the affairs of races,
nations, communities, men, creatures, and things. Through these
rises and falls, man has reached his present state of being,
advancing from step to step through the lower stages of
evolution. What valid reason then could there be to prevent him
from ascending farther, in due order, to the utmost heights in
the future, in the successive turns of the wheel, to the very
Now that Humanity has long since passed the half-way point of the
Great Cycle of Evolution, and already enjoys the fruits of the
bygone mutations of his long and apparently involuntary journey
through the lower strata of Nature, the questions concerning
man's own identity, purpose, and destiny become more and more
urgent. Man must know where he stands in relation to the rest of
the world, and what the meaning is of the great pressure that
spurs him persistently on. Ever since the beginning of the
present Grand Life-Cycle all things, beings, men, worlds, and
universes have been irresistibly carried forward, each in its
respective way towards a certain goal; and in due order of this
progress every advanced being and individual furnishes, so to
say, a prototype for the grades below it.
All things and beings have but one Supreme Source of Being, --
the Divine Monad, whose purity is inherent and unchangeable. The
Monad does not acquire merit by its descent into Matter. Its
'toil' is simply the accomplishment of the purpose of the Eternal
Law in action, within which everything is swept along
concurrently with the evolving Cosmos itself, according to the
original plan set by the Universal Mind for this particular
What then shall we infer from these teachings as to "Who am I?"
The answer is clear, simple, and unequivocal. I am the 'Spark,'
temporarily differentiated from the 'Flame,' the Divine Monad. I
am the sum of all experience gained in the past; firstly within
the group-consciousness of the UNDIFFERENTIATED Monadic Energy,
through the lower stages of evolution; and, secondly, as an
individual unit-entity. Having now reached my present estate, I
am the sum of the experiences gained by myself in the past,
epitomized in the synthetic knowledge acquired from it.
The latter is the 'metaphysical point,' so to say, where I stand
in relation to everything else in the Universe. From now forward
I am prepared, and therefore propose, to hew out my own line of
progress by self-devised efforts, in obedience to the One
Universal Plan and Law, which I know is unlimited and immutable.
And, having attained my present status, in part from Nature's
bounty and care, and partly from and through my own independent
efforts, -- though still on one of the lowest rungs of the ladder
that mounts to true spiritual being -- yet I feel that I am well
enough equipped to embark unafraid, and with enthusiastic zeal,
upon the 'Path' that leads to the final goal.
Well am I aware that progress lies along certain well-defined
lines, within the limits of the Law. There is no other course.
The Monad is the embodiment of the Law. As a Spark of the Divine
Monadic Flame, I am a part of the Law itself. IDENTIFICATION
with this Law is the destiny of the Spark; the goal however
distant shall finally be won!
THE MUSES AND THE MIND
By Erica L. Georgiades
and written August 9, 2009.]
> Daughters of Zeus, dire-sounding and divine,
> Renowne'd Pierian, sweetly speaking Nine;
> To those whose breasts your sacred furies fire
> Much-formed, the objects of supreme desire:
> Sources of blameless virtue to mankind,
> Who form to excellence the youthful mind;
> Who nurse the soul, and give her to descry
> The paths of right with Reason's steady eye.
> Commanding queens who lead to sacred light
> The intellect refined from Error's night;
> And to mankind each holy rite disclose,
> For mystic knowledge from your nature flows.
> -- Orphic Hymn to the Muses
There are many limitations, but the most severe one is a mind
filled with dogmas, for they are just a subterfuge used by those
who are unable to investigate and penetrate into the infinite
OCEAN of life. As the mind begins investigating, without any
expectation to reach a certain result, the mind begins to
penetrate into the mysteries of life, which are endless as the
drops of the ocean. Such investigation is like an endless
journey that begins from within, and only those who are able to
give up every attachment to any kind of idea rooted in the mind,
will be those who will be able to begin such journey.
From this point of view, every preconceived idea is an obstacle
to unveil the real meaning of things. The very process of
investigation requires a humble attitude, keeping in mind that in
reality we know nothing, as wisely Socrates said:
> The only thing I know, is that I know nothing.
And exactly because of his humbleness and open minded spirit, he
was considered by the oracle, the wisest of the wisest.
Communication through words and writings are always limited as it
is always filtered by one's own experiences and psychological
perceptions. What might be truth to one, maybe not truth to
another, the level of perception and understanding each one of us
have differs, as differs our life experiences. Therefore it is
always necessary to question one's ideas and beliefs and try to
develop an open mind, such a mind will be able to penetrate
deeper into the nature of things.
To penetrate deeper into the nature of things is the work of the
occultist, and the mind is the primary tool in this process. No
rituals, no faith no beliefs will ever be able to awake in the
aspirant his superior inner abilities and the latent potentials
endless as the cycles of life itself. In this context in the
Theosophical Glossary there is a very suitable definition for the
study of occultism:
> The study of genuine occultism signifies penetrating deep into
> the CAUSAL mysteries of universal being.
All the legends mythologies and the most elevate philosophical
and religious teachings are basically expressed through
symbolism, such a symbolism can be through images, hieroglyphs or
enigmatic language. When one begins to investigate it (with an
open mind), the mind begins to enter the realms of abstract.
All the symbolism depictured in mythologies, religious and
philosophical writings are but prototypes of eternal truths that
the aspirant must realize from within. In other words, the very
first initiation into the mysteries is to develop a certain state
of mind which is able to investigate without attachment or
dependence. This is the very first step into the path of
occultism, which for some may be surprising difficult even to
comprehend, as the attachments to external things and beliefs is
a condition of human nature which is natural in the process of
evolution. But as the mind begins expanding and the process of
inner maturity taking place, a different level of consciousness
takes place, and it is this very level of consciousness, which
enables one to investigate the nature of things, that the
aspirant must develop in order to progress on his inner journey.
The symbolism of the Muses and their meaning is related to a
state of mind able to penetrate the nature of things, as they
seem to be prototypes of a superior and pure state of mind, a
must for one to progress into path occultism. They are related
to inner potentials which are revealed as the aspirant progress
towards the awakening of higher levels of consciousness.
Plato while constructing philosophical etymologies for the names
of the gods, refers to the words Music and Muse as apparently
derived from the word "mosthai" (Plato, CRATYLUS 406a), which
means, to search, to investigate. In ancient Greece philosophers
were many times calling philosophy as Music, while Diodorus
Siculus says the word "mousai" is derived from the word "muein,"
which signifies the teaching of those things which are noble and
expedient and are not known by the uneducated.(Diodorus Siculus,
LIBRARY OF HISTORY 4.7.1) The most accepted etymology of the word
"muse" is that most probably is derived from the Hindu-European
root, MEN, and it is the word from which mind and mental are also
derived, the words museum, music amuse are all derived from the
The relation of the Muses to mind and its different levels of
expansion towards higher levels of consciousness will become
clear as we as we advance in the investigation related to their
The Library of Alexandria and all its scholars were created
around a Museum. The Museum was the shrine of the Muses, and a
place for study, which would also contain gardens areas for
lectures and the Library itself.
As one of the major intellectual centers of antiquity was build
around the temple of the Muses or Museum, one may conclude that
the Muses were just related to gnosis, but in fact they were not
only related to gnosis, which could be acquired through study,
but to wisdom and inspiration or through the inspiring wisdom
expressed by someone who have crossed the limits of the
understandable mind and entered the lands of eternal ideas, from
where the prototypes of all that exists will exist and existed
can be accessed. "The Mousai who make a man very wise, marvelous
in utterance." (Homerica, FRAGMENTS OF UNKNOWS POSITION FRAGMENT
The real inspiration comes from the Muses, the inspiration that
gives the guiding light for those who truly are investigating the
mysteries of life and death, the mysteries of existence itself.
Such minds eventually became the Great Minds, the ones that are
immortalized by its deeds between the mortals, those that inspire
generations and generations, and became immortalized, because
their genuine and unselfish efforts created a chain of
inspiration. Such chain is mentioned by Plato as he refers to
the Muses in his dialogues,
> In like manner the Muse first of all inspires; and from these
> inspired persons a chain of inspiration to other persons is
> created. You Praise Homer not by Art but by Divine Inspiration.
Divine inspiration is how I can define the role of the Muses in
the Hellenic Mystery Tradition, a Divine inspiration which were
enabling one to access eternal truths. Such experience takes
place only within minds that are able to learn, for only such
minds are able to be really being inspired, and not those minds
who believe that already have learned or already know and
consequently remain imprisoned into the chains of ignorance.
GNOSIS is an everlasting process which leads the mind through a
process of expansion, breaking every barrier created in the world
of form penetrating the formless realm, from which Divine
inspiration may flow as fountains of wisdom softly running over
the rocks of the material word. It is a kind of Divine Madness
as Socrates mentioned.
Divine Madness is the sort of insanity that is a gift from the
Muses, and gives poetry, mysticism, love and philosophy itself.
It is also called many times as intuition however Socrates'
characterization of the phenomenon as "daemonic" suggests that
its origin is divine, mysterious, and independent of one's own
Independent of one's own thoughts, because only the ability to
transcend the limitations of the egoistic mind, of the mind
centered in the EGO, that will lead one into this "Divine
Madness" mentioned by Socrates, which we insist to regard here as
Divine Inspiration. Socrates mentions that:
> The divine madness was subdivided into four kinds, prophetic,
> initiatory, poetic, erotic, having four gods presiding over them;
> the first was the inspiration of Apollon, the second that of
> Dionysos, the third that of the Mousai, the fourth that of
> Aphrodite and Eros.
> -- Plato, PHAEDRUS
The Muses do not have only a category for themselves, but are
also dedicated to Apollo, and close related to all other deities
mentioned by Socrates. Such gives to them a relevant role, both
in the prophetic, in the initiatory, in the poetical and erotic,
as we will see with more details as we examine the symbols
related to the Muses, their offspring and powers.
Plato give us a picture of what in some sort, we could also
described as this Divine Madness:
> There is, O lawgiver, an ancient saying -- constantly repeated by
> ourselves and endorsed by everyone else -- that whenever a poet
> is seated on the Mousai's tripod, he is not in his senses, but
> resembles a fountain, which gives free course to the upward rush
> of water and, since his art consists in imitation, he is
> compelled often to contradict himself, when he creates characters
> of contradictory moods; and he knows not which of these
> contradictory utterances is true.
> -- Plato, LAWS 719c
When Plato mentions, "and he knows not which of these
contradictory utterances is true," he refers to the knowledge
that is limited to the LOWER-SELF, as the mind when centered in
the personal self, is not able, to discern between the real and
the unreal. Many times, such a mind indeed is subject of
inspiration, as Socrates also mentioned in his APOLOGY, but that
does not means the inspired person, has or had really a
comprehension of what is the real meaning of the uttered inspired
words or writings.
Exoterically the Muses became known as inspirers of artists and
arts, but what is in reality the artist and art? Quoting
Shakespeare, will shed some light upon the previous question:
"All the word is a stage and we are the actors." If we do picture
the word as Shakespeare did, a great stage, and we the actors, so
yes the Muses are related only to Art. For art is all that most
noble lies within the human mind, so yes we are wandering artists
in the stage of life, trying to find our universal source of
Countless paths of ambrosial verses lie open for him who obtains
gifts from the Mousai Pierides and whose songs are clothed with
honor by the violet-eyed maidens, the garland-bearing Kharites.
Weave, then, in lovely blessed Athens a new fabric, renowned Kean
> You must travel by the finest road, since you have obtained from
> Kalliope a superlative prize.
> -- Bacchylides, FRAGMENT 19
AN ENDURING VISION
By Pedro Oliveira
From 1875 to 1896, the Objects of the Theosophical Society were
progressively modified in order to embody, in their wording, the
organization's essential purpose and aim. The fact that they
have remained unchanged for over one hundred years, in spite of
the fact that several attempts to change them were made over the
years, is clear evidence of their enduring significance. They
clearly represent what the Society stands for, the nature of its
work, the Society's relevance to the progress of humanity and to
the inner transformation of the human being. They can therefore
be seen as visible expressions of that Divine Wisdom which the
Society seeks both to embody and to serve.
The first Object is "to form a nucleus of the Universal
Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex,
caste or colour." A few people haven taken exception to the word
"brotherhood" and therefore refused to have anything to do with
the Theosophical Society while accusing it of sexism. But a
close examination of the wording of our first Object clearly
indicates its all-inclusiveness, for it embraces the whole of
humanity without any distinctions. It is evident that only a
mind without barriers such as prejudice, bias, self-importance
and pride, can really contribute to form such a nucleus for, as
N. Sri Ram wrote, brotherhood is the only right relationship.
Every relationship that is not based on this all-inclusive,
selfless, and universal understanding sooner or later is beset
with problems because the personal element in the human mind has
at its core the inbuilt notion of its separateness from all
others as well as from reality itself. Because this notion
contradicts the underlying oneness of all life it generates
suffering, both for the individual concerned as well as for
The conditions prevalent in the world today amply demonstrate not
only the relevance of the Society's first Object but also its
urgency. There is unprecedented insecurity in the world which
has fuelled an atmosphere of war. Ethnicity and religion are
being used as shameful excuses for hegemonic politics and
domination. We have created one of the most bizarre paradoxes in
history: the information technology revolution has brought us
closer like never before, yet we remain bitterly divided and
clinging to our own self-interest, whether it is at individual or
at the collective level. Very sophisticated knowledge coexists
with an appalling fragmentation, sometimes fostering it.
It is therefore important to understand that universal
brotherhood without distinctions is not another ideology to
counteract other ideologies. It involves a process of real and
irreversible transformation of the human mind, referred to in
some religious traditions as love and in others as compassion.
The first step is the acceptance of the other as he or she is,
and for that we need to learn to go deep within our
consciousness, to reach a deeper dimension in ourselves where
harmony and peace reign. Universal Brotherhood was referred to,
in the early years of the Theosophical Society, as "the only
secure foundation for universal morality," probably because when
brotherhood is a reality in our lives, we perceive each person's
intrinsic dignity, and respect and honour it. Just think for a
moment how different this world would be if at least for a
nucleus of people this perception became a reality!
The second Object of the Theosophical Society is "to encourage
the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science."
Religion, philosophy, and science can be seen as different
approaches to Truth. They may have distinct perspectives on the
universe, the human being and the Divine Ground, but all of them
are concerned with Truth, with a search for meaning, with what
Paul Tillich called "ultimate concern." They all enquire, along
different lines, about the nature of reality and each of them
throws light on certain aspects of the universal Truth or
Existence. The Sanskrit word SAT, commonly translated as
"truth," also means "boundless existence." Truth, in this sense,
is not a mental construct or a notion, but the ultimate Reality.
Religion, philosophy, and science are perhaps age-old attempts to
probe the apparently fathomless mystery of existence.
By engaging in such a study, the human mind acquires breadth of
vision and perspective, becomes free from parochialism, and
renders itself more receptive to the extraordinary significance
inherent in life. As C. Jinarajadasa put it, "even a wayside
flower throbs with the message of the cosmos." The great
religious teachers, philosophers, and scientists were deeply
aware of this profound dimension of life, and therefore their
teaching upholds the unity of humanity, the sanctity of nature,
and the splendour of the universe. Among the many qualities
present in their sublime minds, one stands out, namely tolerance,
the respect for differences, and the total absence of any desire
to persuade others to their viewpoint. In the words of Madame
Blavatsky, they all searched for Truth "freely and fearlessly."
Today, while science has experienced stupendous progress in many
areas, its supposed "ethical neutrality" continues to pose many
challenges to the world community, like the issues involved in
cloning technology and genetic engineering, to mention only a
few. In spite of the efforts of scientists like David Bohm,
Rupert Sheldrake, and Fred Hoyle, among others, the mechanistic
fortress of modern science remains intact after many centuries,
reality is still seen as a collection of separated things, and
consciousness, referred to as the "hard problem," as just the
by-product of the brain's chemistry!
If science has progressed, religion has apparently walked
backwards, with fundamentalism being the rising force in many
religious denominations, even in India, the land of the Buddha,
Sri Krishna, and Sri Sankaracharya. In the west, many
traditional church buildings have been sold, and the
congregations have either dwindled or disappeared, and many, many
people felt betrayed by their religion. This does not mean that
the essential religious teaching of many traditions, which points
to the eternal Truth, has been invalidated. The fact is that the
religious system has eroded and lacks vitality and spiritual
acumen, which only independently-minded individuals can have. In
view of all this, the motto of the Theosophical Society continues
to be profoundly relevant: "There is no religion higher than
The third Object of the Theosophical Society is "to investigate
unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man." Many
find this Object difficult to understand. How do we investigate
the unexplained? It has been said that our third Object involves
the exploration of what is hidden or occult. It has nothing to
do with "occult arts" though, but with what in India is called
GUPTA-VIDYA, "hidden wisdom." "Hidden" here does not mean
mysterious but simply that which is beyond the confines of the
ordinary, superficial mind. For such a mind, only what can be
seen is real. Therefore, it only sees appearances, never the
essence, the heart of existence, the Ground of Being.
For such an investigation, a new faculty has to be awakened in
the human consciousness, that of spiritual intuition. The word
"intuition" comes from the Latin verb TUERIS, "to look." So
intuition is to look within, to discover a deeper dimension in
consciousness, and therefore to learn to look at life with new
eyes. The wisdom tradition affirms that when such an awakening
takes place, it affords an insight into the uncreated essence of
Nature and the human being, both being indissolubly one.
Intuition has been referred to as spiritual perception, a
capacity to see the essence, the core, the kernel of things,
which goes much beyond appearances and sensory-induced cognition.
Such a perception penetrates the world of the True, the Good, and
the Beautiful, values which are beyond time but which are
essential if humanity is to survive the present onslaught of
violence, greed, and ignorance.
By understanding the hidden laws of Nature, we are able to
cooperate with her in her benign designs, thus furthering the
unfolding of her uncreated riches in every living creature. For
Nature is indeed the Divine Mother, and all creatures "live, move
and have their being" in her. All the ancient cultures that
revered Nature manifested enormous creativity, a deep sense of
peace and cooperation, as well as a life-altering awareness of
beauty. Our present-day humanity has lost its link with Mother
Nature, but it can be restored through reverence and study of her
Self-culture is essential. If we live only at the surface of our
being, we are allowing, in the words of THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE,
the senses to make a playground of our minds. The latent powers
mentioned in the third Object are those faculties that, once
awakened, can help us to see life much more deeply. They do not
necessarily refer to psychic abilities, like clairvoyance or
telekinesis, because these abilities, when developed, do not
automatically change the deep-seated self-centred patterns which
have governed the human mind for millennia. Newspapers all over
the world are full of ads of "clairvoyants" offering people
solution to all their problems!
Perhaps one of the powers alluded to in our third Object is the
power of listening. We react to everything we see, hear, and
read according to our own opinions and partial knowledge. Real
listening can be transforming for those who are truly hearers,
AKOUSTIKOI as Pythagoras called them, who are those that have
established in their lives a non-reactive space of observation
and clarity. Those who truly listen understand, radiate peace,
are free from self-interest, and therefore their actions are
benign, for they become embodiments of goodness.
After 126 years, our three Objects remain extraordinarily
relevant and throw light on many serious issues today, like war,
violence, religious fundamentalism, environmental desecration,
injustice and cruelty, alienation and lack of meaning in life,
and many others. Perhaps the reason they remain valid is because
they continue to address very profound needs in the human being:
to relate to others meaningfully and lovingly, to explore the
ultimate meaning of existence, and to discover who we really are.
The Theosophical Society could not possibly have had a better
beacon for its work.
SAVING THE CHILDREN
By Henry T. Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1924, pages 259-61.]
The sacrifice of children has always been one of the tragedies of
life; and we can look back on our own childhood and that of
others whom we have known for illustrations of the effect of
rough contacts upon innocence, and of the lack of knowledge and
real sympathy on the part of those in charge. The child is a
living expression of purity and innocence, accompanied with the
qualities of strength and intuition which arise from that purity.
Reverence and protection are both at the same time due to it. In
many respects it can be our teacher, calling us to order and
setting a standard for us to live up to; and yet at the same time
it demands our unremitting care.
How often do the most 'loving' parents tarnish that innocence by
sowing seeds of vanity and encouraging faults of temper because
they look so innocent and engaging at that early stage? Lack of
understanding and true sympathy soon shows the child that his
parents are the very last people to go to with his real problems;
and he is left to his own resources, while at the same time those
real resources which he possesses in his soul have not been shown
to him by his supposed guardians.
Saving the children means more than saving infants; it means
saving everything that is pure, whether in the child or the man.
And the child in us is continually being sacrificed, however old
we may be.
In Lomaland we have the example of children actually being
protected and guided, so that there purity can be preserved; and
though many of them may go out into the world, yet one knows the
immense influence of those early years. And, since life does not
end with the grave, the seed sown will produce new harvests for
all time. The school at Lomaland is an undying center, through
which flows a continual stream; so that the effect on the world
is incalculably great for good.
To sigh over the past or fix one's eyes on a remote and
speculative future is to waste forces that are intended to be
used in the immediate present. That immediate present is the
field wherein the powers of evil act. It is the field wherein we
must meet and conquer them. If those who yearn for purity and
harmony could realize how much can be done by working hopefully
in the immediate present, instead of wasting energy in vain
regrets and impossible dreams, they would soon find confidence
replacing their dissatisfaction.
And this is true of the work for children; it is a practical
enterprise, carried out in a spirit of trust, with the faith that
what is done faithfully now will inevitably yield its due result
in the future.
Most people realize the importance of beginning with the
children. But there is more in it than appears at first sight.
The work reacts most beneficially on those engaged in it. For
what is the ideal we set before ourselves, if not one of
purification? It is not so much that we have to learn as to
unlearn: we need to simplify rather than to accumulate. Since
our own childhood, our simplicity has become overlaid with
accumulations of ideas that prove of no use and only stand in our
Children grow up with various defects of character and
constitution; and nobody sees how to remedy these; while often
the remedies suggested are worse than the disease. But the real
key to the problem is simple enough; it is, not to let the evils
grow at all. Then we shall not need to look about for remedies.
It is often supposed that an undue preponderance of the carnal
passions is a sign of luxuriant strength, whereas it is really a
sign of weakness. A nature strong at the center and harmoniously
poised in all its parts would not be pulled out of balance by
forces at the periphery. The passions of lust and anger grow
strong from small beginnings; and these small beginnings are the
first little yieldings which are not checked when they are small.
How small a force is needed to keep the sapling straight; and how
impossible it is to straighten the grown tree!
Theosophy gives the parent and teacher a superior power to which
to appeal in training the young nature straight. The appeal is
not to mere authority, or to self-interest, or to fear of public
opinion, or to some vague dogma. The appeal is to the child's
own higher nature; for back of all the undertakings of Theosophy
lies its teachings. Theosophy teaches the essential worth and
strength of human nature. But this does not mean that we must
put our trust in our own particular private personality; for to
do so leads inevitably to undoing. It means that we must find
within ourselves ideals and aspirations that go beyond personal
desires and prejudices; that we must get down to the root of our
nature, and discover there the reality that lies beyond the
delusions of our mind.
For Theosophy teaches that man IS a Soul. If we say that man HAS
a soul, we imply that he IS something less. The doctrine of
original sin, teaching that all men are corrupt, and must perish
unless saved by a special intercession, cannot be considered a
part of true religion, and is hard to reconcile with modern views
in other respects. What was the standing of mankind during the
ages before the Christian era, or what is their condition in
places where the knowledge of Christianity has never penetrated?
It is impossible not to believe that these people are as much
under the care of the All-Wise and All-Good as are those who have
heard of the Christian doctrine. The Divine Spirit dwells in all
men, and has the power to save from destruction all those who
invoke it. How important then that children should be brought up
from the first in this knowledge, instead of being told nothing
at all about themselves!
The Divine in man speaks to him in many voices, but always in the
form of high aspirations and ideals, whether of beauty, or
goodness, or truth; but in the midst of our materialistic
civilization, such aspirations are sporadic and scattered, dying
out from want of union and collaboration. Moreover they are not
in accord with the materialistic philosophy of life, and thus
lack support. Again, the physique of mankind in the present age
is seldom qualified to support the efforts of genius; so that
geniuses are apt to be top-heavy and lopsided, as though they
could only achieve their deeds at the expense of suffering; or as
though their moments of inspiration must always be evanescent and
followed by reaction. Hence the importance of cultivating a
strong and well-balanced physique.
The number and variety of EXPERIMENTS that are being tried in
education prove the doubt and ignorance that must exist, not
merely as to methods, but even as to principles. In many cases
those in charge seem to have lost AUTHORITY, and hence to be
trying a policy of letting the child decide. There is confusion
about that word 'authority.' It does not necessarily imply
dictatorial power. When there is a street accident, and a
policeman comes up and orders everybody about, taking entire
charge of the whole affair and reducing chaos to order, it is not
by his despotic power that he achieves this result. It is
because he carries out the will of the crowd, and represents
UNITY, which is what the crowd lacks. Thus a teacher or guardian
should be a leader, standing for unity of will and for order, and
imposing a law which all recognize and consent to.
Discipline is indispensable, and is of course desired by the
pupil when it is of the right kind. Many of these experiments in
leaving the pupil to his own devices are really attempts to make
the best of a loss of the power of discipline. The aim of the
teacher should be to impart to his pupil the power of
self-discipline; and the process is analogous to that of teaching
a baby to walk. If left to his own devices, the baby would
probably become a sort of quadruped; he needs support and
leading-strings at first; but he does not stay in leading-strings
all his life. Freedom is given as soon as there is sufficient
self-control to render it safe.
By Dara Eklund
[From THEOSOPHIA, Spring 1978, pages 15-16.]
We arrive at an inner poise as if it were a moment when all
influences are naturally stabilized, when events seem to be
self-regulated, not cascaded upon us in torrential streams.
Inner poise means alignment or linear discipline. While a war is
waging between various aspects of our natures, alignment cannot
be achieved. If anxiety to solve a problem acts upon divergent
and conflicting thoughts, that is not alignment. Alignment will
come when we allow these cross currents to draw through some
focal point. Call it inner space, a vortex, or a vacuum. Nature
abhors a vacuum and something must come to fill it.
Alignment has in the psychic or mental worlds the feature of
calmness. "Calmness allows the spirit to be heard," wrote
William Q. Judge. True guidance flows in a direct line of
unfoldment from the Higher Self. The will must be exerted to
keep that line open, to command the restless energies of mind and
feeling to keep at bay. It must clear the path as a wind sweeps
down through a forest from the mountain top. Great ideas such as
the concept of Reincarnation could clear the forest for man to
become clear of many things. He can release his attachment, and
concerns for passing objects, events and even persons, when he
perceives the clock of Karma revolving through his life. Its
hands permit the cyclical vistas and changes, and a chance to
establish harmony within the whirl of existence.
What man has not pleaded with his Higher Self, "Why can't you be
with me all the time?" Aspiration for our better wisdom brings us
a certain enlightenment, but unless a constant modification or
inner discipline balances our response to Karmic influx, we are
drowned in the event itself, be it a mood or an outer
circumstance. If we ourselves become brittle and crystalized we
can't expect the process of change to be lighthearted and quick.
It may take an earthquake figuratively to make a line open to the
"He who does not practice reflection, has no calm," teaches the
Bhagavad-Gita. Here lies the main argument for meditation which
may be found today. There are schools, outlines, compendiums,
textbooks, even correspondence courses on "Meditation." There are
promises of what it can bring to all walks of life. Yet we are
still admonished in our teachings to learn first to Concentrate.
Without concentration there is no disciplined alignment to the
inner man. Because our age is not rich in the art of
concentration, much of what is known today as meditation is a
jellyfish type of passivity, effusing a lovely aura of every
range of emotion, from the lowest passions to the higher forms of
love and devotion. Depending upon the person meditating, the
hunger for these practices is at its best a form of devotion.
But a man who is truly devoted finds knowledge springing up
spontaneously in the course of time, according to the
Bhagavad-Gita, or the "Book of Devotion." Daily aspiration to
begin each day and make it better. Nightly reflection to probe
wherein we succeeded or fell short of our aim. These will draw
to us the resources of our guideline within.
A friend was recently offered a first lesson in Meditation for
"free." The next doses would be "three dollars each ... since we
assure you our teacher is not out for money." The friend says she
does not feel that the words to be repeated are natural for her.
They interfere with her own thoughts. Such a person is already
in a current of her Inner Godhood. Why should she pay three
dollars to anyone for a course or schedule to her thought
If our "linear discipline" is correct, our daily life is the
fruit of our musings, reflections, meditations. These are all
varying vibratory rates of the dweller on this planet, the depth
of whose experiences we barely plumb as earthlings turning on the
wheel of life.
"Forces of thought constantly circulate around us, constantly
transform us, while we, in turn, constantly create currents of
thought. The individual as a creator of thought is an active
thought in the universal ocean of currents of thought," wrote
Edmund Szekely (The Living Buddha, p. 19.). This eminent
scholar shows that the "Wheel of Life" of Tibetan Buddhism
provides the solution to suffering, because the path out of
Samsara (or that which consists of things which appear and
disappear) is the central point of the wheel around which all
things revolve. It is characteristic of all the "wheels"
discovered in India and Tibet that the symbols of suffering
appear on the circumference or the spokes of the wheel. The
noble eightfold path along the spokes of the wheel leads a man
away from the blind forces of tanha (thirst) which hold him to
the outer rim of phenomena and suffering.
By our contentment with a simple life, by relinquishing our
ambitions, we become capable of the most lofty Duty: meeting all
that is our own through our daily associations with family,
friends and teachers. We light the lamp of service and keep
alive thereby the flame of truth, towards that day when Devotion
to Truth alone will be the common discipline of Mankind.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICS AND THEOSOPHICAL THOUGHT
By John Algeo
[This was originally a talk given at a meeting of the Madras
Theosophical Federation on January 5, 2008, and otherwise
I thank Bro. C.V.K. Maithreya for inviting me to talk at this
meeting and for suggesting the topic.
Theosophists have traditionally communicated Theosophy by means
typical of the nineteenth century: lectures, books of exposition,
and journal articles. But there are other means, some
originating near the turn of the twenty-first century (such as
the Internet and PowerPoint computer programs) and others going
back to the dawn of time. One of those latter ancient means is
through the telling of stories that illustrate a point, for
instance, the parables of Jesus, the jataka tales of Buddhism,
the epics of Hinduism (the Mahabharata and Ramayana), and the
myths of the Greeks and of all peoples around the globe. My
subject this evening is yet another one of those typical
story-telling genres that can be used to express Theosophy. But
to begin with a brief definition of the terms in my title
"Contemporary Classics and Theosophical Thought."
"Theosophical Thought" needs no special definition. Everyone
here knows what that term refers to.
The nicely alliterative "Contemporary Classics," however requires
some explanation. I am going to use the term "Contemporary" in a
broad sense to refer to anything in or since the twentieth
century. As we are now well into the twenty-first century, that
may be straining the usual sense of the term "contemporary," but
I am by profession a historian of language, for whom "Modern" is
anything after the year 1400, so I think of the past hundred or
so years as all contemporary. To compensate for using
"Contemporary" in a broad sense, I will use "Classics" in a
narrow one. One definition of "classics" is that they are works
"of enduring excellence." But I am going to narrow down the sort
of works considered here to a particular, special kind, namely,
those traditionally called "fairy stories."
The term "fairy story" is applied mainly to older works, not
contemporary ones, which are usually called "fantasies" instead.
But fantasies and fairy stories are terms for the same thing,
differing only in chronology. The term "fairy story" is actually
misleading. J.R.R. Tolkien, a contemporary authority on fairy
stories, points out that such stories may (indeed usually) have
no fairies in them. They are so called because they are about
the Land of Faerie, which is a beautiful, enticing, enchanted,
but also dangerous country in which a human hero is on a quest,
assisted by a guide, and from which the hero returns as a changed
Mme. Blavatsky was fond of such stories, especially of the more
macabre or horrifying sort. As a girl, she told stories like
that to her playmates and, as an adult, she wrote some. In ISIS
UNVEILED (2:406), she notes that fairy stories are universal, and
she says that they have been interpreted in three quite different
ways. First, some people, children and the young in heart, have
taken them just as entertaining stories. Second, other people
have misinterpreted them as literal and made religions out of
them; fairy-tail motifs can be found in the scriptures of every
religion. Third, a few wise persons have recognized fairy
stories for what they really are, namely, symbolical
representations of the inner experience any human being can, and
many of us do actually, have. Each of us is the human hero
pursuing a quest when we enter our own inner consciousness, which
is our Land of Faerie. And we each have a guide who can show us
the way through that land and how to return from it as a changed
To illustrate this genre of classics for analysis with respect to
Theosophical thought, I have chosen six contemporary fairy
stories or fantasies:
> THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ (1900)
> MARY POPPINS (1934)
> THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1954)
> THE WIZARD OF EARTHSEA (1968)
> THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE (1995)
> HARRY POTTER (1997)
Most of these fantasies are multivolume works (the dates above
are of the publication of the first volume of each work).
Because of their length, it is impossible to discuss them fully.
Instead, for each of six, I will make some general comments, then
point out why it is a fairy story or fantasy, and finally choose
one episode or theme in the work as illustrative of Theosophical
THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ was first published in 1900 but is
best known through the Judy Garland movie of 1939. Many sequels
to the work were published and new ones are still appearing. It
is probably the best known of all contemporary fairy stories.
Its author, Frank L. Baum, was a member of the Theosophical
Society, as were also his wife and his mother-in-law. He also
wrote explicitly about Theosophy and the Society in a newspaper
he edited. In the story, the hero is a young girl named Dorothy
(a name that means "Gift of God") who is carried by a tornado or
cyclone from her home in Kansas to a land of Faerie called Oz far
out in the Pacific Ocean. She wants only one thing, namely, to
get back home to Kansas. That is her quest: to return home. But
that is also the quest of each of us. We are Dorothy; we have
been transported from our homes, that is, union with the divine,
into this mayavic world. We live in Oz. And our quest also is
to return home to the divine source of all life.
The Wizard whom Dorothy meets in that land is a fraud. And we
make a fraud out of any guru to whom we attribute supernatural
wisdom and whom we expect to solve all our problems for us.
Dorothy does have a guide, however, the good witch Glinda (whose
name suggests "glint of light" and who represents our intuition).
She reveals that Dorothy can go home whenever she wants to do so
by using the magic slippers she is wearing. We each wear a pair
of slippers that can return us to our home. They enable us to
tread the Path of service, which is the way home.
MARY POPPINS was first published in 1934. It is also known
through the Walt Disney movie of 1964 or the more recent musical
play of 2004. The book's author, Pamela Travers, was a disciple
of the Irish Theosophist, poet, and artist George William
Russell, whose pen name was AE. She was also a follower of
William Butler Yeats (another student of Madame Blavatsky's and
was associated with Georgei Gurdjieff, the Russian mystic. Her
creation Mary Poppins drops out of the sky to teach her charges
about the mystical unity of existence and the topsy-turvydom of
everyday life. The Theosophical themes in the books include the
Great Chain of Being (which links all of us in the vast unity of
life of HPB's first fundamental proposition) and the Cosmic Dance
(which is a symbol of the orderliness of the universe in HPB's
second fundamental proposition).
Mary Poppins takes her charges on adventures in three elements,
which correspond with the three planes of personal existence.
One is a birthday party at the zoo among the animals, that is, on
land or earth, representing the physical plane. Another is a
garden party under the sea or in water, representing the
emotional plane. And the third is a circus in the sky or the
air, representing the mental plane.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien was first published in
1954. Three films based on it date from 2001, 2002, and 2003.
Tolkien, an Oxford philologist and expert in the ancient
languages of northern Europe, was also the last century's most
influential authority on the nature of fairy stories. Robert
Ellwood, an academic authority on religion, has published the
best book tracing the Theosophical implications of Tolkien's
work: FRODO'S QUEST: LIVING THE MYTH IN "THE LORD OF THE RINGS"
(Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2002).
In it, he shows that Tolkien's book is both a modern example of
the classic fairy story and an example of the journey in Joseph
Campbell's HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. Ellwood's book also
points to ways in which Tolkien's work presents a map of the
spiritual adventure that anyone can follow.
THE WIZARD OF EARTHSEA by Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, first published
in 1968, is one of the best of modern fantasies. Its author was
the daughter of two American anthropologists. Her fiction
consequently has a strong anthropological basis, as she imagines
worlds different from ours and then asks how their differences
would change human behavior. Le Guin was also much influenced by
Taoism, the concepts of which enter into her fiction. For
example, in EARTHSEA, she cites an aphorism from an ancient book
of that land: "To light a candle is to cast a shadow." That is
not only an echo of the yin-yang principle of Chinese philosophy,
but is a metaphor for H.P.B.'s explanation of the existence of
what we call evil: each of the two implies the other.
THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, by Steven Pressfield, was first
published in 1995. A movie was released in 2000, starring Will
Smith and Matt Damon. The book is a retelling of the Bhagavad
Gita, substituting a golf tourney for the battle at Kurukshetra.
The names are clearly allusions to the Gita. Rannulph Junuh is a
golfer who has lost his swing. "R. Junuh" (as he is called) is
Arjuna, the hero of the Gita who has lost the will to fulfill his
duties. Bagger Vance, a black caddy who helps R. Junuh find his
swing, is Krishna, also known as Bhagavan ("the Lord" whence
Bhagavad Gita "the Lord's Song"), who helps Arjuna recover his
will to act. The Gita is one of the world's greatest spiritual
guidebooks, translated brilliantly into English by Annie Besant.
HARRY POTTER, by J.K. Rowling (volume 1) was first published in
1997. The first movie was released in 2001. The seven-book
series is now clearly the best known and most loved modern
fantasy. The third volume in the series, HARRY POTTER AND THE
PRISONER OF AZKABAN (1999), has an unmistakable allusion to
Blavatsky in chapter 4. When Harry is buying books for his
third-year course in Divination at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry, he says: "I need UNFOGGING THE FUTURE, by Cassandra
Vablatsky." "Vablatsky" is an obvious spoonerism on "Blavatsky,"
and even "Cassandra" is relevant, for that was the name of a
Trojan prophetess who always spoke the truth but was never
believed. Even the title of the Vablatsky book may echo that of
Blavatsky's first book: ISIS UNVEILED. The Theosophical
relevance of the HARRY POTTER books is being explored in a series
of articles on the series by Prof. Abditus Questor in the e-zine
Theosophy Forward (http://www.theosophyforward.com/).
The question may arise of why we should bother about fairy
stories -- ancient or contemporary? Why not just set Theosophy
forth straightforwardly and literally in factual expositions
through lectures, articles, and books?
In reply to that reasonable question, first, Theosophy is more
than a set of intellectual concepts about the world and ourselves
that can be stated straightforwardly and literally. It is that,
but it is more than that. It has also an affective side, an
active side, and an intuitive side. Its affective side is a way
of feeling about the world and ourselves. Its active side is a
way of responding to the world and ourselves. Its intuitive side
is a way of seeing into the inner reality of ourselves and the
world. Stories, fictions -- especially fictional stories of a
highly symbolic nature -- may be more successful ways of setting
forth the affective, active, and intuitive sides of Theosophy
than straightforward, literal expositions of Theosophical
Second, stories may make a deeper and more lasting impression on
those who hear them than does intellectual explication. Stories
speak through our conscious minds to our deep-level unconscious
minds. They plant seeds in our unconscious that can grow into
affective, active, and intuitive responses to the world and to
ourselves. As already noted, all the great religious traditions
have used stories for precisely that purpose. Hinduism has the
puranas. Christianity has the parables of Jesus. Buddhism has
the jataka tales. Those are all stories, not to be taken
literally, but to be interpreted as illustrations of profound
Third, fantastic fictions or fairy tales use archetypal elements
-- characters, objects, places, events -- to trigger a deep-level
response in our minds. They connect us with the past and the
future, with all human cultures, and with the divine Mind, which
is the ultimate source of all archetypes. Fantasy is not a
record of the past, nor a report of the present, nor a prediction
of the future. It is instead a projection of the nonexistent but
possible. The creation and perception of fantasies is the
closest we, at the present state of our evolution, can come to
realizing our ultimate goal of development. Human beings are
Dhyani Chohans in training. Dhyani Chohans are the creators of
worlds. By entering into a fairy-tale or fantastic story, we are
creating a world. We are practicing in symbol that which
eventually we will do in fact.
G.R.S. Mead, who was Mme Blavatsky's private secretary and
editorial assistant at the end of her life, wrote a preface to a
work called "The Dream of Ravan: A Mystery," first published in
1853 and 1854 in THE DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE. The authorship
of that work has never been established, but it has been reputed
to be by the Master K.H., and the work was praised by Mme
Blavatsky. Mead ended his preface to the 1895 book reprint of
THE DREAM OF RAVAN with these words:
Though the narrative is set forth in the garb of phantasy and
much of strangeness is intermixed, so that the general reader
will pass it by as merely a strange conceit, nevertheless the
mystic and student of yoga will recognize many a home truth but
slightly veiled, and many a secret wholly disclosed.
That statement could be made also about any true spiritual
fantasy or fairy story, such as the six works briefly introduced
earlier in these remarks.
THE LOVE OF NOVELTY AND THE FEAR OF CHANGE
By Ralf Lanesdale
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, September 1924, pages 262-65.]
In considering the difficulties encountered by reformers and
innovators in general, one finds it hard to understand why human
nature should be so often charged with weakness and inconstancy
because of its craving for novelty. Surely in that respect at
least, in its undying love of 'some new thing,' the world
displays a constancy that merits at least our serious
The pursuit of novelty for its own sake may be a sign of mere
frivolity; but on the other hand there may be a deeper cause. Is
it not possible that this craving for novelty may have its origin
in an imperishable FAITH? May it not be that in the human heart
there is a certainty, perhaps a memory, of bliss beyond the grasp
of intellect and utterly unjustified by any actual experience,
that is the basis of all HOPE?
However dark the picture painted by experience, that gloomiest of
realists, hope leads us on with promises and hints of joys as yet
untasted and bliss unthinkable. Man is unjust to hope that makes
his present troubles bearable and gilds the future according to
his fancy. Hope has no traffic with experience; hope is an
idealist: hope is the child of faith, and faith is the reflection
in man's soul of Spiritual Wisdom. Faith is the revelation of
But what does the world know of faith like that? And yet it is
the inward shining of the light of faith that keeps man's hope
alive. And it is man's undying hope that prompts his utterly
unreasonable love of 'something new.'
The new thing is always disappointing, for once experienced it is
no longer new, and all experience on this earth brings
disappointment; for the thing hoped for is not of this earth; and
the ideal is the image of the Divine not realizable as such upon
Man is not merely an intelligent animal, his higher nature is
divine. He is essentially a spiritual being: his body of course
is as material as is that of the animal, but his consciousness is
spiritually linked with the Divine. Thus man is himself the
missing link between the world of Spirit and the world of matter.
And in the individual man, the link between his higher and his
lower self is faith, by means of which the light of truth can
reach the mind in an intelligible form as a ray of hope to lead
him on continually through new experience to the old familiar
disappointment; for which he curses fate and slanders hope,
calling her the great deceiver. And yet it is by such experience
he learns that the bliss hope seems to promise is not of earth.
She calls him upward: let him follow where she leads. So shall
he learn to know reality and shun illusion. And so he will
fulfill the purpose of existence and attain Self-consciousness.
Thus faith will be justified and hope's fairest promise be
redeemed. But all too often man, embittered by his
disappointment, turns his back upon the light and tries to live
without it. Still faith and hope endure, and their light shines
undimmed by man's ingratitude.
Man may seem justified in blaming hope for all the disappointment
he experiences in life; but after all the fault is his. He reads
the promise wrongly, and complains of the bitterness of all
experience, by means of which alone he grows. Hope promises
experience -- no more; the means of growth; the richest treasure
in the power of life to give; not pleasure, not enjoyment, unless
he can find joy in growth and pleasure in experience. There is
deception certainly, but the deceiver is not hope. Desire is the
great deluder that blinds man to his destiny.
Hope leads man on and up to higher things. Desire would hold him
down to gratification of the senses and emotions. Hope is a
star: desire is a fire that burns; the fire wavers, but the star
is fixed; the fire consumes the fuel on which it feeds: the star
shines on eternally. Such a star is hope.
Man's mind is like a mirror: it reflects both the starlight and
the fire. Wisdom is needed to discriminate between the two: and
wisdom is from above; it is the crown of life, the radiance of
divinity: not the black crown of death stained with the blood
that drips from tortured brows -- the emblem of experience.
But you may ask what has this to do with man's supposed love of
novelty. Simply this: the starlight falls upon the earth, the
star remains on high. Man's hope is like a star set in his soul
whose rays illuminate his mind with promises of bliss and
immortality. This is the novelty hope offers him; not that his
passion paints -- a new experience, not an indulgence.
It has been said that "there is nothing new beneath the sun," and
truly so; for what is new is the unknown, the thing that is
beyond the sun; the Eternal.
Man's mind in its duality reflects both the undying light of
spirit and the uncertain wavering flame of passion; the
destroying fire that burns and the life-giving ray of spiritual
peace that proceeds from the Eternal. The paradox of man's life
presents a problem that Theosophy alone can solve; and the key to
the solution lies in the duality of mind. The importance of
knowledge of this great truth is evident at once if we reflect
that all our notions about life and about the world we live in
are formulated in our minds; and that moreover all our ideas
about ourselves are subject to the same controlling influence.
So too the thoughts that seem to spring spontaneously in the mind
may have their origin elsewhere, and take their form alone from
mind (the deluder).
And so the love of novelty perhaps is traceable to hope's promise
of a new experience translated by the mind into a dream of sense
under the prompting of desire. For though man's spiritual self
"is a like a star that dwells apart," yet it is bound to the
lower self by karmic ties, and suffers from the limitations of
its earthly vehicle (the body) during the period of its
This strange duality of human nature accounts for all the
fluctuations of the public mind, which at one time is bent upon
pursuit of novelty and the next moment may be engaged in fiercely
opposing some reform or useful innovation, as if any change in
the existing order were a calamity to be dreaded or a
sacrilegious interference with the plans of deity to be opposed
by ever honest man. Seeing that change is the law of life upon
this plane of existence, such an attitude of mind as this appears
unreasonable; and yet in despite of all experience man still
persists in his attempts to build imperishable monuments, that
shall defy the law of change and testify to the permanence of
There is in man a certain natural conservatism that seems to
balance the love of novelty so common in the public mind; but
which is not so easily explained. Frequently, no doubt,
conservatism is no more than the expression of inertia, or the
force of habit, but it may also in some part be traced to that
instinctive reverence paid by mortal man to the Eternal as an
involuntary tribute from ephemeral man to that which never dies.
Feeling himself adrift upon the tide of time he catches like a
drowning man at anything that seems to have in it some quality of
permanence, not understanding that he himself is of the essence
of eternity and has existed since the unthinkable beginning of
the universe. For truly he is a spiritual being.
> Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
> Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams.
So sings Krishna in THE BHAGAVAD-GITA announcing to Arjuna the
immortality and permanence of the human spirit.
Man may be ignorant as to the permanence of his own spiritual
self; but the truth is not affected by man's ignorance, and it
reveals itself subconsciously inspiring his mind with a vague
feeling of respect for law and order, or for fate, or for some
relic of antiquity that seems to symbolize eternity. This
feeling shows itself in many ways, of which one is a general
mistrust of any innovation.
To the impetuous reformer this kind of opposition seems like
stupidity or fear, inspiring malicious persecution or
obstruction; while the conservative himself is conscious of no
lower motive than a desire to protect society by preserving
institutions 'that have stood the test of time.' Of course the
wise reformer will assure himself that such an institution has
outlived its usefulness before beginning to demolish it; nor will
he attribute evil motives ignorantly to well-meaning people whose
most grievous crime is lack of imagination.
Truly a coat of dust may make a mirror useless; but the dust may
be removed without destruction of the mirror, and without
attributing malicious motives to the dust; a little common sense
is wonderfully valuable in life, and more precious still is
knowledge of the mind's duality. When that is understood, the
paradoxes and the incongruities of life will not be done away
with all at once; but they will have become intelligible.
We shall not feel compelled to call our fellow-creatures
hypocrites because their actions contradict their words; nor need
we feel overcome with shame because we may have failed to bring
our conduct into line with our ideals. A failure of this kind
however serious is never final; on the contrary, it is an
opportunity to learn a valuable lesson, if we use it so. If we
keep this strange peculiarity of mind in view when judging other
people's characters, we shall most surely find the world a better
place to live in. For if our minds are mirrors in which the
general world reflects itself, so surely too we see ourselves
reflected in the minds of others.
Must we then rest content to live like shadows? Or can we reach
It is said in the ancient teachings: "The mind is the great
slayer of the real: let the disciple slay the slayer." To do this
he must rise above the mind and master its duality. He must
discover the real Self and know his own divinity. Self-knowledge
is the final word of human evolution. But this Self-knowledge is
not mere egoism; we all have that to start with. It is the
knowledge of the true self, as distinct from the personality
which is at the mercy of the two-faced mind, and which fluctuates
continually between the two inevitable aspects of each problem
that presents itself for practical solution in our daily life.
The study of THEOSOPHY will provide us with keys to these
mysteries; but Theosophy will not do our thinking for us.
If we would solve life's problems as they arise, we must rise
above the bewildering duality of mind into the region of first
principles perceived alone by intuition. Only thus can we hope
to know the TRUTH.
By K. Paul Johnson
[A book review for Amazon.com.]
THE MASONIC MYTH: UNLOCKING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SYMBOLS, THE
SECRET RITES, AND THE HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY by Jay Kenney
THE MASONIC MYTH succeeds equally on several different levels,
addressing readers new to Freemasonry as well as those who have
studied it for years. Kinney combines an insider's mastery of
the subject with an outsider's skeptical irreverence, making him
a very trustworthy guide through this hall of mirrors. He
addresses the concerns of readers with little knowledge of
Masonry, Masons with much insider knowledge but little grasp of
its historical meaning, and those who think they know a fair
amount about Masonry but are confused by unreliable sources where
misinformation is rife. Kinney devotes considerable attention to
some of the most widely diffused misconceptions that have
flourished for centuries. "Things you thought you knew about
Masonry that are wrong" are scattered throughout the book and
debunked persuasively. As Dan Brown's latest novel brings a new
round of speculation about Freemasons' role in American history,
the time is ripe for a serious explanation of Masonic myth and
The first four chapters are an engagingly written, solidly
researched account of the origins of the Craft. This makes the
book the best place to start for anyone seeking a reliable and
accessible guide to Freemasonry. The middle four chapters
provide an informed account of Masonic rites, symbols, and
hierarchies. As Kinney leads readers through a labyrinth of
degrees and orders, his personal involvement with Masonry brings
meaning to what is otherwise a bewildering landscape. Without
proselytizing, Kinney conveys an appreciation for the value
contemporary Masons find in the brotherhood and its
not-so-secret-after-all practices. In the final three chapters
Kinney explores the vast realm of misinformation about Masonry
conveyed in a variety of conspiracy theories, and considers the
likely future of the Craft. He confronts paranoid notions about
Illuminati and Masonic occultists that have appeared in a
fascinating variety of sources. We learn that the Craft's
influence on the Founding Fathers has been greatly exaggerated,
and that international Masonry is far too fragmented and diverse
to be the basis of any global domination schemes as envisioned by
Based on scholarly research that will be cited for decades to
come, written in an engaging first person narrative by an author
long recognized as a reliable guide to the entire realm of
Western esoteric traditions, THE MASONIC MYTH is the first book
to read for anyone intrigued by the mysteries of the Craft.
THE DOCTRINE OF SWABHAVA
By G. de Purucker
[From STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, pages 53-55.]
The doctrine of Swabhava is the doctrine of individuality, of the
essential characteristic of every individual seed of the Spawn of
Life. There are as many coordinated swabhavas as there are
individuals, entities in other words, in the Universe.
Swabhava means individuality, the essential characteristic of an
individual, making it that individual and thereby distinguishing
it from other individuals. That is swabhava. Consequently it is
not individuality which changes through the aeons as they pass.
The changes come in and through the unfolding of the
individuality, in its self-expressions or vehicles. The
unself-conscious god-spark has its swabhavas or individuality,
but not yet "unfolded," "unrolled," "unwrapped."
Do you see the reason why I so often repeat this phrase?
Evolution means unfolding, unrolling, unwrapping, what is within,
i.e., the swabhava, the individuality. A rose, a violet, a
horse, a dog, any entity anywhere, a god, a sun, a planet, a man
-- anything in self-expressing its individuality, manifests its
swabhava; and passes through the aeons, thus casting off vehicle
after vehicle, casting off garment after garment, casting off
expression of itself after expression of itself.
For instance, the particular class or family of entities which is
passing through the rose-stage -- or the horse, or the dog, or
the man-stage -- comprises entities all belonging to the same ray
if you like, of the same solar logos, or to one of the
subordinate rays of one of the solar logoi; and hence it
continues as such an individuality, constantly manifesting its
It lives for a time in the rose-stage -- taking this stage as an
illustration -- and then outgrows it; and the rose-stage
disappears or vanishes; the manifesting individuality or swabhava
meanwhile making for itself some new garment in which it lives
and expresses itself for an aeon or twain or three or more, and
then outlives this new stage and the new stage disappears.
This process continues until finally the growing or
self-expressing individuality, i.e., the monad, pressing forward
on its evolutionary journey, constantly unfolding, unwrapping,
developing forth what is within itself, and casting body after
body behind, reaches the human stage; and then after the human
stage comes the god-stage. When the god-stage is reached, humans
will be no more; they will have been outlived as vehicles.
This process as you see likewise explains the problem facing
geologists of the various great classes of entities which the
geologic record shows as appearing, reaching a culmination in
manifestation, and then disappearing to be succeeded by a new
order of lives.
Do you understand better now? The swabhava itself does not change
in the lower realms, although it is evolving on its own lofty
planes. The changes that human intelligence notices come from
the constant self-expressions of the individuality or swabhava.
Swabhava, remember, is the essential characteristic of an entity,
that vital pressure, that dhyan-chohanic fluid, behind and within
a manifesting entity, continually pressing upwards and forwards,
and thus creating or rather building for itself, bodies after
bodies after bodies.
It is a wonderful doctrine, this of Swabhava. One could write a
dozen bulky volumes on it, and then feel that one had merely
touched the fringes of its import.
Here is something more that perhaps I should add. I have spoken
of the vehicles or expressions, the swabhava-expressions, of the
evolving entities as they pass from aeon to aeon in their long,
long evolutionary journey: e.g., the rose, the cat, the dog, the
horse, the man, the god, etc. Each such vehicle or garment or
veil or sheath, after it has disappeared or vanished because
outgrown, leaves behind an imprint of itself in the Astral Light
as an indelible impression.
Other entities in our rear, coming along behind us, will finally
in good time reach the stage in their evolutionary unfolding
where these indelible impressions exist in the Astral Light, and
then these evolving entities behind us will mold themselves into
these astral patterns.
It is thus that the things that were shall be reproduced in
future ages, as the spiritual seers of all time have stated,
exactly as we are now reproducing today things that were in aeons
of past time, now existing as records of an aeonic past.
Do you catch the idea, this wonderful idea? Yet remember that
each such new reproduction in manifestation of bygone astral
molds or types is always a reproduction a little higher, i.e.,
there is always a step upwards, a step beyond, the stage last
passed. I hope that these explanations have clarified the
Recollect always that swabhava means the unfolding of the
individual: the unwrapping, the unrolling, of the individuality:
seeking, pressing forwards, to express itself, its innate or
essential characteristics. Consequently, this is the reason why
the rose always reproduces a rose; why the apple-seed always
brings forth an apple; why the child of a man is always human,
and so forth.
This also explains why orders and genera and species and families
are grouped together, because they are individuals resembling
each other closely in their respective swabhavas, and this is
because they all belong to the same particular branch or part or
class of one of the seven (or ten) solar logoi. Yet every
entity, considered as an individual, no matter to what order or
family it may belong, is an individual in the core of the core of
the heart of the heart, in the innermost central point, of its
You see how I have to repeat words in order to carry the idea
into your minds. Each such entity therefore in its essence is an
eternal individual; and therefore its swabhava does not grow or
change in the realms inferior to the individual, although the
individual itself is constantly unfolding larger measures of its
individuality as it advances to higher planes.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application