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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------- March, 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.)
"Be Gods and Goddesses," by Eldon B. Tucker
"The Power of Silence," by R. Machell
"Music in Our Lives," by A. Student
"Sincerity," by Talbot Mundy
"The Mystery of Love," by Ralph Lanesdale
"The Gold of Silence," by Dara Eklund
"The Monads in Man," by G. de Purucker
"What Everybody Knows," by Ralph Lanesdale
"The Paradox," by Erica L. Georgiades
> True silence may not be something passive, something that only
> exists when noise stops momentarily. Silence is a state of
> peace, calm, and original purity of perception that is behind
> every moment of life, however turbulent or serene it may be.
> There is a silent center to one, peaceful, still, deep, that can
> be appreciated at every moment, except when we turn our backs on
> -- Eldon B. Tucker
BE GODS AND GODDESSES
By Eldon B. Tucker
Life is not a dull routine of chores, a never-ending to do list
of tasks, filling all your free time until one day your lay your
weary frame down one last time, passing into the deep rest of
Imagine what it was like to be a newborn, full of the joy of
being alive, the blind thirst for existence, the immense craving
to exist in the world. Life was a grand adventure. Since then,
nothing has changed. Where has that wonderment gone?
As a backdrop to the outer world, there are higher experiences of
life. When we leave our mortal frames behind, we may exist in
some form on those higher planes. But even here, in this world,
we are fully capable of enjoying what those worlds are like. We
don't do so outwardly, as we are limited to the laws of nature,
the rules of existence we find in this physical world. Even so,
in our consciousness, in our awareness of life, we can awaken to
a higher form of sentience. We can see life through deeper eyes.
A baby, emerging into the world, is steeped in higher awareness.
In its joy of life, it is reaching out to bond with things,
seeking to find love and meaning in life.
Where along the way did we forget who we really are? When did we
last recall our essential nature, our depth of being?
Life may seem colorless now, in black and white, when once it was
vibrant and flowing. How do we find that missing love and
meaning? The answer is simple. As Joseph Campbell said, we
follow our bliss. Perhaps it is romantic love, the love of a
child or parent, our church and religious devotions, or a favored
movement or cause.
You don't seek it out. It stands out like a flash of lightning
in a dark, cloudy sky. Something may appear in your life for
which you genuinely care. Out there before you in the otherwise
gray world may be someone who appears in brilliant colors,
sparkling, saturated in the numinosity of higher worlds. He or
she may appear to be a god or goddess, steeped in the holiness of
life, worthy of worship, even if flawed, an ordinary person in
But what is real life? The divine in thou is far more real than
thy external flaws. A young woman, an aged Zen Master, a
empathetic psychologist, or a dear friend may be your true window
into the blazing light behind external things. Knowing them as
ordinary people, you see their flaws, their human imperfections.
Even so, there is a palpable light of the divine that shines
through them, something that uproots your life and draws you into
The role of the guru is to awaken that vision to the higher. And
it is the same role that the psychologist plays in the
transference or the beloved in deepest romantic love. They teach
you to tap into the higher levels of life, an experience you may
otherwise be asleep to. They draw you back to the sacred, the
precious beyond words.
You embrace it in rapture. It is sacred and precious beyond
words. Nothing you can do in life can adequately honor it. But
even so, failing to try to express it is the ultimate in
selfishness. Although you may feel unworthy of the guru, the
beloved, it only seems so if you try to hold onto the feeling, to
keep it to yourself.
This bottomless joy, agape, unconditioned love has to be shared
and passed on. Then even though it may be crudely shared with
unskilled hands, you become worthy of the beauty and make it part
of your life.
The Path is not something you tread. It is a light that shines
within you. You give it away or go blind. You must open up the
barriers between yourself and others and become a beacon in the
Find the magic. Let your life blaze with it. Don't care what
other people think. Don't hold it within. Create things in the
world. Make things of beauty and enrapture others as you share
your sense of wonder. Let the majesty of higher realms spread
through outer life like a wild fire. Do all you can to ignite
and set ablaze the lives of others.
Powered by an awakened inner life, you will work hard for the
world. But it won't feel like work. It will be an act of joy.
You don't need to say "I love you" to the people in life that
shine like gods and goddesses before you. You say so by shining
as brightly yourself. They'll see the same light in you and love
you as dearly without words exchanged.
Love is not something said. It is lived -- by reaching deeply
within and pouring out the divine into life around you.
In deep personal love, a sharing with the beloved is an
expression of the love one feels. It can be two way, with each
sharing with the other, the feelings running deep and true.
Beautiful, simple, and pure as that is, there is more. The same
love could reach out to others or the world in general. Becoming
expressive in wider measure, its majesty is indescribable.
When one reaches out to the whole world and is changed -- that is
one way to look at initiation. One has undergone a process in
which one has metamorphosed into someone far greater.
This numinosity is the sweetest thing in life, aside which
everything else pales into ghostly shadows.
Seek it out, but don't become drunk on it. Take it in measured
doses, package it with something uniquely you, and give it away
freely. Take the rapture, combine it with the karma yoga of good
deeds, and in small steps, change the world.
Then you've set one foot in the heavens and kept the other on
earth, and share the fire of the gods with the hungry mortals in
the cold, dark world.
THE POWER OF SILENCE
By R. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, February 1924, pages 145-49.]
There has been much speculation as to the purpose of the pyramids
which are to be found in so many countries that formerly were the
homes of highly civilized races. The most popular explanation,
if I may use the word in this connection, is really no better
than a guess based on modern usages. That pyramids have been
used as tombs is possible, but there are good reasons to believe
that some of these great buildings were tombs only in the sense
of being places of initiation. The candidate entranced would be
dead to the world of ordinary mortals, and his temporary
entombment would be a kind of paraphrase of ordinary burial.
When he great initiations ceased, for lack of worthy candidates,
it is easy to understand how that which was originally designed
as a temple for the living should be taken as a model for tombs
of those whose worldly ambition demanded an imposing monument for
the body of one who might be supposed to be initiated by death
into the mysteries of spiritual life. There are pyramids and
But why is a pyramid? What it is we all know; but not why it is
so vast, so solid, so unshakable. In the heart of the pyramid,
there is silence, and silence is the key to the mystery.
The most characteristic feature of human life is noise. To the
majority, perhaps, silence is very closely akin to death, and for
that reason it is dreaded by the ignorant. But those who have
learned to look on death as a doorway in the house of life will
know that silence is the entrance to the Hall of Wisdom.
There are many kinds of noise, and there are many kinds of
silence. The dreaded silence of the tomb is a mental image of
that involuntary silence imposed by death upon the chatterer to
whom life is but one great opportunity for talk.
Those who have entered on the path of life fear neither death nor
silence knowing that life is not broken off by death, nor is
consciousness destroyed by silence. On the contrary, silence is
a necessary condition for growth of that subtle body which we
loosely call the soul.
In ordinary life, silence means simply suspension of talk, and in
society, it is generally dreaded as a draft of cold air would be
in a heated room. But all who have ever studied deeply know that
the most desirable condition for that purpose is silence.
As I have said, there are many kinds of silence, and one of the
most curious is that which seems to open up in the midst of the
confusion of sounds that blend into a great city's voice, which
is no voice, for it is inarticulate. It is purposeless by reason
of the conflict of innumerable purposes. It is no voice. It is
an atmosphere, in which a million voices and a million voiceless
noises lose their identity in a tumultuous ocean of vibration
that is most like a mystic sea of silence. Listen to it! You can
scarcely catch a vibration of articulate sound. The ocean is too
Listen then to the silence of a summer night far from the haunts
of men and motorcars! In vain. The frogs down there in the marsh
and the crickets all about fill up the air so full of sound that
it becomes painful to the listener, who vainly seeks some voice
among the millions more articulate or purposeful than the rest,
some note distinguishable among the multitude. There is no
And when the night seems silent, listen to the silence, and you
will hear more noises than the frogs can make; and you may wonder
if the ringing in your ears is due to a disturbance in your own
organism, or to the song of nature audible to some finer sense
than hearing, translated into sound by your imagination.
You may feel as if you were opening your ears to hear until the
effort becomes painful; and then you may try to get away from the
enveloping and overwhelming infinity of sound, seeking a refuge
in the silence that you cannot reach. For true silence is
unattainable to man in his waking consciousness.
But there are many substitutes for silence bearing the same name.
The substitutes are all negative and relative. The genuine
article is the unspeakable reality that precedes the evolution of
the universe and sustains it in its turbulent career and changes
not nor ceases for all the prayers of men and all their wars and
all their hymns of praise.
Silence is the great Mother whose outspread wings protect the
trembling worlds from premature destruction by the power of the
Word that called them into life. She was the mother of the gods,
the most mysterious deity, invoked by those who seek to rise
above the bounds of mortal mind into the realm of truth.
And in the pyramid is silence of many kinds, which must be
mastered by the aspirant to wisdom, stage by stage, as his
perception opens. The mass of masonry was so constructed as to
secure the silence that consists in the exclusion of all ordinary
noises, as it was also a protection from the heat of day and
chills of night, and from the alternation of light and darkness.
But there was more than this.
The pyramid indeed contained a tomb in which was laid to rest
during the long ordeal of initiation the mortal body of the
candidate. For in order that the soul may stand unshaken in the
presence of the 'Lord of life' (the higher Self), it must be
freed from the disturbing influence of the lower nature, which
continually seeks to hold it captive in the web of sensuous
existence by playing upon the senses of the mortal man.
These senses must be silenced. The bridge between the higher and
the lower world must be barred against influences from below, yet
it must not be broken, as in death, for the soul must return
enriched with knowledge of the spiritual life acquired in the
period of this artificial liberation.
The bridge must be preserved. For this, silence is necessary.
There must be silence of the ordinary kind, freedom from sound.
There must be mental silence, the control of mind and the
suppression of all thought. This is the negative silence merely
and concerns only the lower mind and physical senses.
The next stage is purely mental and is attainable only to those
who have mastered true meditation. Beyond this the candidate
must find the path which can never be described in words, for in
the nature of things, the secret of silence must for ever be
The elementary and preliminary steps are all that the teachers
have declared in words, and even these instructions are
misunderstood. And yet silence appropriate to our various stages
of evolution is within reach of everyone. There is no school of
philosophy that does not teach the value of silence, though what
is understood by that impressive word may differ widely from the
silence of the 'mysteries.'
One of the first lessons in self-control is to refrain from
improper or untimely speech, from cruel or unkindly criticism,
from slander and from gossip. When that is mastered, the
restriction will be found to include all talking during certain
hours of the day and then all conversation that is not
Even such simple mental exercise as this is sometimes found to be
irksome to students professing a sincere desire for self-mastery.
Yet common sense would be enough to show the benefit of such a
practice. Nearly all the troubles that make social harmony
impossible are due to unwise talking.
It was well said of old: "Speech is as silver but silence is as
gold." Yet there are times when to keep silence would be to
indorse some slander. Each one must judge for himself, and in
the process some will be fooled by their own ingenious lower
mind, which will declare that true silence is a mental attitude
and not a mere refraining from conversation.
I have heard this argument put forward by one who suffered from a
verbal flux. It reminded me of an old sea-song with a refrain
that ran like this: "It's no matter what you do if your heart be
true." A pretty sentiment indeed; but the application of the
principle was further illustrated in the song, which told of a
sailor who loved his wife, by name 'Poll,' and who sailed to many
ports, and in every port he took to himself, in the greatness of
his heart, a new wife, and justified his conduct by the
reflection that "it's no matter what you do if your heart be
true: and his heart was true to Poll."
Perhaps the first lesson to be learned is that silence means just
that--silence. The fact that speech is necessary and often
beneficial does not excuse unnecessary chatter.
The power of silence is amazing. I remember two instances of the
power of silence on the stage. One was in a long scene in
Wagner's Gotterdammerung, if I remember rightly. During the
greater part of the scene, one man stood with his back to the
audience gazing into the abyss in silence. At first one hardly
noticed him, and then his silence seemed to assume a dignity that
compelled attention. At last, he dominated the whole scene by
his silence and his immobility.
Another instance was not on the actual stage but is to be found
in William Morris's version of the battle of the Nibelungs in the
hall of Atli when the brothers come at the bidding of the Queen
to meet their doom for the slaying of Sigurd the Volsung.
When they enter the hall with their followers, no man is there
but only the white-robed woman on the throne, and she neither is
silent nor stirs while the battle rages when the foemen rush in
upon their victims and are slain.
Three times the battle is renewed, the blood splashes up on the
robe of the white woman upon the high seat, and she moves not nor
utters a word till the vengeance is accomplished.
It seems that the brothers recognize in her the power of fate.
In the picture presented of the awful carnage and heroic valor of
these demigods and men, the whole tragedy is focused in that
embodied silence, which finally asserts its spiritual mastery and
dominates the scene of carnage.
'A silence more eloquent than words' has become a cant phrase,
and yet how few who have the power of speech have also become
masters of silence?
It was said of Mr. Gladstone that he could speak longer and
while holding his audience spellbound by his eloquence could say
less in the time than any living parliamentarian. This sarcasm
contained an involuntary tribute to a master of oratory who could
swing vast audiences at his will without compromising himself by
The secret of the power of such oratory lies in the mental
silence achieved by the speaker rather than in his command of
language. There are plenty of speakers who can keep on talking
without holding their audience. There are great phrase-makers
who can influence masses of people momentarily, but who cannot
escape the reaction upon themselves of those telling phrases,
which are so often verbal boomerangs.
The art of silence is greater than the art of speech, yet they
are not ultimately separable, and there are very wise people who
are great talkers. There is a greater art than either, which is
the speech that maintains silence. It is perhaps more rare than
the silence which speaks suggestively and which is sometimes but
a shallow device for self-protection, much used by
slander-mongers and gossips.
To keep silence when an opportunity occurs for launching a
cutting sarcasm or a cruel retort demands rare self-control in
those who have not yet freed themselves from the desire to wound
or the craving for applause. There are times when only perfect
courtesy or rare diplomacy can save a man from falling into the
swamp of mere vulgarity and yielding to the temptation of 'I told
The student of Theosophy more than others should learn when to
speak and when to keep silence. History tells us of the
insistence on this rule of great philosophic teachers who imposed
absolute silence for long periods on their disciples. It was
only so that the student could learn self-control and grow
spiritually to his full stature.
In one such school, the rule ran somewhat in this fashion: "There
shall be silence during meals, and on the way to and from the
dining-rooms. There must be no talking in the offices and
workshops, no stopping for gossip on the roads, and no
unnecessary conversation at any time." And it was recorded that
so long as these rules were honored in their observance, the
school was free from quarrels that defeat all efforts to
establish such schools.
But the silence sought by the builders of the pyramids was
apparently of another kind, though in reality identical. The
pyramid like all real temples or halls of initiation was
fashioned on the model of man's body. The true form of man's
inner or unseen body being is conceived and symbolized as one or
other of the Platonic solids.
The evolution of the soul was allegorized in the dramatic
pilgrimage enacted in the celebration of the rite, the pilgrim
seeking in his ideal body for the path of illumination and the
discovery of the secret places in which are to be learned the
mysteries of life. Before the pilgrimage is actually begun,
silence must be established. For this, when all outer sounds are
rendered impotent, the body is entranced and mental silence is
established. This is plainly indicated in the rituals of
initiation sometimes called the Book of the Dead, as well as in
the more exoteric mystery-dramas.
But also there are some who think that the true initiator is life
itself, the temple is the world we live in, and the ritual of the
mysteries is the right accomplishment of duty, the right living
of our daily life. It may be so. And it may be that the lost
word of the forgotten mysteries of antiquity is that which is
uttered by the Voice of the Silence.
MUSIC IN OUR LIVES
By A Student
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, February 1924, pages 150-52.]
> The unvoiced conviction that the man who had spent a lifetime in
> the world of music has in some fashion approached closer to
> absolute harmony through the mystery of death. If there is any
> kinship at all between this life and the domains of eternity,
> surely it is music that most nearly expresses that obscure bond.
> Of all the arts, music most baffles description in words or
> phrased thoughts. Music reaches most profoundly into the depths
> of the human heart, and rises most securely above the boundaries
> encompassed by the human mind. It is the most mystical of all
> man's efforts to express the hidden things. It is difficult to
> believe that the end of life can also mark an end to any man's
> attainments in an art so little defined by physical things and so
> ineffably linked with eternity.
> Those who love music, whatever their philosophy of life and
> death, can hardly escape the conviction of man's immortality. .
> . when they think upon the call of death to a man who has given
> his life to music . . . Surely the imperfect harmonies of life
> will vibrate into perfection in that wide mystery that lies
> beyond life.
> -- THE SAN DIEGO UNION, Nov. 23, 1923
We remember reading of some great piano-teacher who made a point
of asking his pupils to describe what was suggested to them by
particular pieces which they executed, and who was wrathful when
they failed to do so. As the writer quoted above would do, we
sympathize with the pupil and not with the teacher.
If the effect produced by music can be described in terms of
rippling brooks and dancing peasants, then it is surely not a
high class of music, and the art has descended to mere imitation.
The whole essence of the art is surely that it can produce
experiences not only ineffable but beyond ordinary thought and
feeling, introducing us into a new world. We feel emotions
unrelated to anything we have known in life. We strive in vain
to give them a form or meaning in terms of anything familiar to
our recollections of the past or our hopes of the future. A door
is opened, but soon to close. The thrilling chords of our nature
cease to thrill. Like the unplayed instrument, we sink into a
mass of inert mahogany.
Yet we have had our initiation. Music is truly a messenger of
the Gods, sent to remind mortals of that immortality which dwells
ever with them even in the tomb of material life.
Music is related to a state of consciousness beyond the normal
states of waking and sleeping. We are since long untaught to
dwell in this region or to link it with our ordinary
consciousness. Hence, when evoked, we fail to interpret it, save
as vague feelings to which no definite ideas attach. Nor can our
frame endure the vibrations excited. It would seem that, unable
to bring down the influence to where we stand, we should also
endeavor to rise towards it.
And here it is advisable to distinguish music itself from the
audible harmonies commonly understood by that word. To the
former we may give a higher and wider meaning, while regarding
the latter as the chief means of evoking music itself.
Considering music as harmony, we see that harmony in sounds is
but a single form. It is harmony in our whole life that we must
seek. We must have music in our soul. Music as a mere sensual
appeal or a display or an accomplishment is not music in the true
There must be many people who are truly musical in the better
sense, but have not the power of expression, just as there are
poets that cannot write poetry and artists who cannot depict.
And are there not skilled technicians in music, who have not
music in their lives?
Music may solve the mystery of death in that it can teach us to
dwell in the eternal. If it is related to the immortal essence
in us, it can intensify our knowledge of that essence and
withdraw us from what is mortal.
In the wider sense, styles of audible music seem to have the same
relation to music itself (in the wider sense), as religions have
to religion. They differ among different people and in different
ages. Oriental music is not very like ours. The music of the
ancient Greeks differs widely from modern music.
Our music is associated with the indoor life and with the other
appurtenances of our particular sort of civilization. A piano in
the open air is out of place. Choral music in harmony and
counterpoint are far better suited to the well-lighted interior
than to the open-air and sun.
There are fashions in music, and various forms are suited to
different external circumstances. What, then, is Music itself,
which underlies all? Is it not a harmony in the soul, which is
evoked in many ways, according to conditions?
It would seem that performed music is a means rather than an end.
One feels unable to make positive statements on the subject at
all, it being out of the reach of formal reasoning. But it is
safe to say that music must be made a part of life, and that its
cultivation must go on in equal steps with the harmonious
cultivation of all our faculties and sentiments.
In the Raja Yoga system of education, this idea is certainly
carried out. Music, as there taught, must be regarded as one
(and a very important one) out of many means for creating harmony
in the character.
We should not rest content with enjoying the sensation of music
when heard, and forgetting it afterwards; but should try
earnestly to absorb its meaning and introduce it into our life,
It may often happen, for instance, that we allow ourselves to be
obsessed by unpleasant thoughts and moods, arising, not (as we
suppose) from any particular circumstances, but really from the
fact that we are out of tune physically or otherwise. It is then
that MUSIC, conveyed perhaps through the warm sun and the dew on
the trees, or the birds pouring out their souls in an ecstasy of
song, may help us to throw off the discord and create an
atmosphere of harmony within.
Great music can help us to understand how joy and sorrow are in
some magical way swallowed up in a sublime harmony. Thus we get
a key to one of the mysteries of life -- a key that cannot be
supplied by the ordinary mind.
That supernal being, which we speak of as the Higher Self, may be
defined to our inner senses as a sublime music that is sounding
silently behind the troubled scenes of our external life,
enabling us to see the good in other people and to welcome
experiences usually considered as troubles.
A person enjoying music and seeking to rise to a high level of
interior experience, may find himself suddenly seized with anger
at interruption by the conversation or unwelcomed presence of
others. This may serve to show him that harmony pertains to the
relation of man to man, rather than to the personal states of an
We cannot hide away from the world and leave it distracted by
discord while we seek personal bliss, which thus becomes only
another name for self-indulgence. Without adaptability of
temperament, a man would be a creator of discord rather than
It is well known that a grouchy mood will influence those minor
incidents that go to produce trouble or success in any
undertaking. A person so afflicted encounters accidents and
disabilities, while the man disposed to smile at everything finds
matters mysteriously smoothing themselves out in his path.
A great part of our doings is automatic, executed by elements in
our nature that are sunk below the level of attention. It is
these unconscious actions that are influenced by our moods. The
man who cuts himself with a razor has his muscles partly under
the control of some adverse mood which he is harboring. If we
fall foul of inanimate objects, how much more so of our
fellow-creatures, whom we may likewise bless without word or act
through the silent influence of our own interior harmony.
By Talbot Mundy
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1924, pages 332-40.]
Most of us pride ourselves on being sincere and reasonable.
Modern systems of government are based on a theory that
reasonable men and women shall elect their representatives, who,
after reasoning out the issues of the day, shall reach decisions
reasonably applicable for the common good.
Nothing more annoys an individual than to be told he is
unreasonable and insincere. International irritation is the
invariable consequence whenever one nation's press and
politicians charge the government of another nation with adopting
an unreasonable attitude.
Criticism that a creed or dogma is unreasonable induces frenzy
and such raw irreligious bickering as recently has broken out
between the self-styled Fundamentalists and so-called Modernists.
And we pride ourselves that our irritation is due to our
Just how sincere and reasonable really are we? Man, catalogue by
the scientists as Homo sapiens, concedes himself to be the
crowning glory of creation because his reason is developed,
whereas, it is asserted, animals have only instinct and -- it is
again asserted -- flowers, sun, moon, stars, and the imponderable
universe have no intelligence whatever. But can this egoistic
claim by Homo sapiens be supported by evidence, in the light of
the very reasonableness that he asserts is his own exclusive
Will this vaunted reasonableness bear sincere scrutiny? How much
of our thinking and our conduct of ourselves and our affairs is
due to what in animals we arrogantly term blind instinct? How
much is due to what in nature we term blind forces? Just how
open-eyed and open-minded are we ourselves, as compared to the
nations, sections of society, animals, vegetables, minerals, and
unknown stars, which we regard as inferior because devoid of that
ability to reason of which we boast?
COME NOW AND LET US REASON TOGETHER
Webster's dictionary defines reason as "the power or faculty of
comprehending and inferring." What is it that we comprehend? What
is it we infer? Where are we, as a consequence? And whither is
the process leading us? The question requires to be faced.
Do we reason from cause to effect? Do we comprehend causes at
all? Or do we infer imaginary causes, and try to justify the
inference by seeking, from a thousand different motives, to
manipulate the effects of our wrong thinking? In the event that
the latter should appear to be true; are we brave enough, and
sufficiently reasonable, to reverse our mental processes and to
face the issue? And if we refuse to face the issue, in what way
are we superior to "the beasts that perish" or to the vegetables,
which we and the animals eat?
It is true that we can kill the animals. But they can also kill
us. It is true, we have invented methods for butchering
hecatombs of beasts, which place the beasts at a considerable
disadvantage and appear to make it improbable at the moment that
the beasts will ever gain the ascendancy. But it is also true
that organized hosts of creatures, so small individually as to be
almost, if not quite invisible under the most powerful
microscope, can kill us with much more deadly certainty than we
can massacre, say, elephants or rabbits. Consider the microbe.
We can, and we do kill one another; and we do it with more
ingenuity, more cruelty, and more hypocrisy than can by any
stretch of the imagination be charged against the animals to
which we claim to be superior.
We try to exterminate some animals on account of their alleged
ferocity; but if their ferocity is bad, is not ours worse?
Therefore, if they should be destroyed, should we not also be
It would appear, judging from the news in the sensational
newspapers, that all humanity is surging forward to destruction;
and although we do not like to believe that, but prefer to solace
ourselves with the delusion that our particular nation, our
particular political system, ourselves and our circle of friends
are immune from what we see, more or less clearly, to be
impending on the inferior peoples of the earth, it would likely
do us no harm to consider wherein our alleged safety lies, and
whether the causes that we are agreed endanger others are not
also at the root of our own thinking.
It is fashionable nowadays to denounce as a knocker everyone who
discerns and dares to mention faults in the conduct of private,
local, or national affairs, and the imputation is that all such
individuals belong to the undesirable class of selfishly carping
critics who loathe seeing prosperity in other people.
Alternatively, whoever cheers noisily for conditions as they are
is called a booster, and is supposed to belong to that
respectable class of honest citizens who always loyally fulfill
their obligations and on whom prosperity depends.
But that fashion is not new. The system of labeling oneself and
one's opponents, with the absurd notion of monopolizing all the
credit and assuming none of the responsibility, and with the
criminal intention of masking one's own selfishness, while
attributing ill-faith to one's opponents, is as old as savagery.
The fact that these labels, religious as well as political, are
as often as not chosen for the purpose of self-deception, makes
no important difference. It is just as criminal to deceive
oneself as to deceive others, because self-deception is the
underlying cause of all crime.
No one would commit any crime whatever, unless he were first
self-deceived; the inevitable outcome would be too obvious.
Unless first self-deceived, we could never be deceived by others,
nor could we ever be induced to practice deception. We all know
this. The very children know it. The first principle of
banking, and of every other successful business, is to be on
guard ceaselessly against self-deception, and the great majority
of failures are attributed to lack of judgment, which is only
another name for the same thing.
THE SIN OF INSINCERITY
There are two outstanding peculiarities of human nature, which
anyone can recognize who dares to examine his own thought
processes; but although we like to pride ourselves on daring, we
are seldom prone to it when we ourselves are to be the objects of
The two peculiarities are these: that we always seek to transfer
the blame for any sort of evil consequences from ourselves to
others, and that we will accept any makeshift, any harbor of
refuge, rather than be radical, admit that our philosophy is
wrong, and face the issue bravely reasonable.
We pretend to, and to some extent we do hate insincerity (as for
instance when we think we recognize it in the arguments and acts
of others); but it remains the king-pin, so to speak, of our own
and of all the world's calamities.
Until we learn to be sincere, there is no hope whatever of relief
from distress, whether individual or national. And the process
must begin at home. We can never be sincere with others until we
are first wholly sincere with ourselves.
It is an indisputable axiom, discernible in every circumstance of
nature, that like begets like. In Bible-phraseology, we cannot
gather figs from thistles or obtain both sweet and bitter water
from the same spring. Nevertheless, we pretend to try to abolish
crime by hanging criminals. We seek to abolish pain by
permitting vivisection. We pretend to aspire to peace, while
openly boasting of our preparations for the next war. We
prohibit alcoholic drink and censor plays, books, motion
pictures, but insist that our newspapers shall print sensational
reports of every abominable crime.
In law we hold each individual responsible for his own acts,
unless it can be proved he is out of his mind, in which case we
lock him up and make ourselves responsible for him; yet we seek
salvation through vicarious atonement, and try to substitute a
profession of faith for downright honesty, as a solution of the
mystery of life after death.
These are only a few of our more obvious absurdities; anyone who
cares to look about him frankly can discover countless others for
himself. They are all due to our besetting sin of insincerity,
which is the armor of ignorance.
The process of insincerity is easily illustrated, and the
arguments by which it propagates itself will occur to everyone
the moment the illustration is given.
Consider the question of international rivalry and what has
happened recently in that connection. Weary of a sort of warfare
that exhausted all the combatants and left none with a
perceptible advantage, the rival governments sent representatives
to a conference, at which it was agreed to limit the more costly
and out-of-date engines of destruction.
There has been a great deal of mutual suspicion since then as to
whether the governments who agreed to the contract have loyally
obeyed its terms, but there is absolutely no question that every
government concerned is working day and night to supply itself
with cheaper and much more deadly means of making war!
That is no secret. It is openly discussed in the newspapers.
There are very few newspapers that do not urge their own
government to assume the lead in deadly preparation. The excuse
is that unless THIS government is fully prepared to do wholesale
murder on a scale never before dreamed of, THAT government will
take the initiative and will seize the upper hand by means of
A nice new label has been made for this comparatively ancient
form of international mistrust. But Xenophobia is nothing but
another mask for insincerity, another way of deceiving ourselves
and imputing the blame either to others or to a psychology over
which we are supposed to have no control. It would be amusing if
it were not so disastrous, stupid, and yet simple of solution.
The apparent helplessness of individuals takes all the humor from
the situation. The individual who feels inclined to sneer would
do better to remember that the acts and methods of governments
are no more than a large-scale illustration of the workings of
the human mind, his own included.
From the pulpits of a million churches the command is thundered:
"Love ye one another!" There lies the solution certainly. But
without sincerity, it is impossible to love.
We are all afraid. Our lower nature, which persists in every one
of us (or we should be invisible to mortal eyes and functioning
on vastly higher planes of being) dreads its own destruction and
deceives us -- even the best of us -- with arguments of
ever-increasing subtlety, of which a favorite one is that we
should be at the mercy of the lower nature of others unless ready
at all times to use dishonest methods for our own defense.
The truth is that the only absolute protection against treachery
is honesty. The slightest compromise with dishonesty provides an
opening through which the darkest forces surge and gain control
of us. It is not the other man's dishonesty, but our own that
endangers us as individuals. In other words, if we admit one
trace of insincerity into our reasoning, the effect is similar to
that of poison introduced into a well. It does not poison one
part of the water, but all of it. The more colorless and
unnoticeable it is the more deadly the results.
It is not possible to exaggerate the inevitable consequences of
continuing in insincerity, because the lower nature of every
human being is capable of limitless evil, and if left to its own
resources, is totally incapable of anything but evil.
The lower nature of nations is a multiplication of the lower
nature of individuals in the mass. It is what the churches call
the devil. It possesses a sort of intelligence, which amounts to
a keenly alert instinct of self-preservation combined with
mercurial subtlety. It knows no more of the higher nature than a
stagnant pond knows of the sun that sterilizes it.
It is no more useful as a foundation on which to raise a
spiritual edifice than a desert-mirage would be as a source of
drinking water. Every concession to the lower nature is of the
nature of a bargain with a heartless, conscienceless, blind
force, and is of the very essence of insincerity.
WHAT THEN IS INSINCERITY?
The common mistake is to regard sincerity as an emotion.
Glimpsed through the mist of that mistake, it would appear to be
the consequence of action, a variable product subject to the
judgment of opinion, possessing qualities that differ in degree
with individuals. Accepting that fallacy, we find ourselves at a
loss for a word with which to define that stark, uncompromising
habit of watchful self-analysis, which alone insures right
It is customary (perhaps because we like to be respectful) to
speak of the sincerity of politicians, churchmen, and
(undoubtedly because of a desire for self-respect) particularly
of ourselves. And yet, in whichever direction we look, we see in
our own actions, and in the acts of others, the unquestionable
effects of insincerity.
A worldwide plebiscite for or against the Golden Rule would
certainly produce an overwhelming, and possibly unanimous, vote
in favor of it, but the vote would be perfectly insincere, and
its only possible result would be a temporary smug
self-righteousness and a delusion that the world was better than
it is. Ignorance knows nothing of sincerity; and sincerity
cannot be attained by protesting allegiance to a creed, whose
tenets are obscure and incomprehensible.
Sincerity is impossible without knowledge. We must understand
what we profess before there can be the remotest chance of
putting the profession into practice. And it is surely obvious
that we must understand ourselves before we can hope to
understand others or be qualified to criticize them.
The occult, that is to say the concealed, inmost, meaning of
sincerity, is Self-knowledge. It is the only guide to right
action. To wait for sincerity in others before striving to
attain it in oneself would be as useless as to wait for the
harvest without troubling to plant the seed. The Millennium will
come when we have learned sincerity. We shall find it within
ourselves -- or nowhere.
THE WORLD'S PROBLEMS SIMPLIFIED
The world's problems appear intricate and overwhelming. The more
they are studied, the more impossible it seems that any of the
plans for their solution can provide relief.
It is beginning to dawn on business men, and even on the
legislatures, that no nation and no individual can live unto
himself alone but that a disaster to one section of humanity is
sure to be felt eventually in the remotest corners of the earth.
But the converse of that is equally true, and is immensely more
important to consider, because on it depends the redemption of
the human race.
Improvement in any one individual must eventually benefit the
whole world. Therein is found the solution of the whole
difficulty, extremely simple, yet, in common with all simple
things, prodigiously more difficult to do than may appear at
Sincerity must be the watchword, or the effort is waste.
Sincerity, which knows no thought of compromise, insists that the
sole motive for self-improvement shall be that others may be the
beneficiaries. That is the exact opposite of all of the methods
of self-improvement that the world indorses.
The Ancient Wisdom, which is the Mother of all religions, teaches
that man is the microcosm of the macrocosm, and we can prove this
for ourselves, if we only examine ourselves fearlessly. Within
our own consciousness, we may discern every one of the motives
that govern and misgovern all mankind.
As individuals, we have no resources and no virtues that are
denied to other men. We are immune from none of the temptations
that waylay others. We have the same destiny, whether or not we
recognize it, the same broad duty to our fellowmen, the same Law
for our guidance. And the only way in which we can obey the Law
is by applying it in every instance to ourselves.
Our lower nature is incapable of comprehending, and consequently
utterly incapable of obeying, the Higher Law. Our Higher Nature
knows the Law. Which of the two is to govern us, which is to
direct our thinking and the acts that are the outcome of our
thinking, is the only real problem we are called on to decide.
WHAT ARE WE?
We are. Each one of us knows that, if nothing else. In
phraseology that is epochs older than the Bible that is commonly
supposed to be its origin, "it doth not yet appear what we shall
be." Very few are in agreement, even for five minutes at a time,
as to the extremely recent past. Human memory is silent as to
what preceded our birth into this particular existence.
We are, and we are now. Now, and our own consciousness, are the
limits within which we function. Now is the immeasurable point
where past and future meet. Our consciousness is the
immeasurable point at which the Higher and the lower nature meet.
The only important difference between us and the animals is that
while the whole universe, ourselves and the animals included, is
subject to the law of evolution, we, as human beings, have
reached the stage of self-direction. We are no longer at the
mercy of what the scientists prefer to call blind forces, but
have the privilege of controlling our own individual destiny by
the exercise of will. We may choose between the Higher and the
We may control and discipline our lower selves, or we may let our
lower selves continue to deceive us. In either event, we shall
receive the full, logical, exactly just, inevitable consequences
of our choice.
In other words, our consciousness -- that of which we are
conscious -- will continue to be better or to grow worse in exact
proportion to our effort to be governed by the Higher Law, by
recognizing it, or our submission to the dictates of the lower
nature. The problem is individual in every instance.
THE SUBTLETY OF INSINCERITY
Our lower nature is dependable in one, and in only one respect:
it is invariably a deceiver. Never, in any circumstances, does
it tell the truth, because it does not, and cannot, know the
It presents expediency in the disguise of principle, and when
that fails, it flatters us with the suggestion that we are making
sacrifices when we forego personal advantage for the universal
It is obvious at once to anyone who communes with his Higher
nature even for a moment, that the universal good inevitably must
include each individual, not excepting him who makes the
sacrifice. It becomes at once obvious that the only sacrifice
that could entail the slightest, even momentary disadvantage
would be to let go the Higher for the sake of the lower,
foregoing the universal for the sake of the personal. But the
ridiculous delusion of self-sacrifice persists and propagates the
subtlest forms of vanity.
Another favorite method of the lower nature is to frighten or to
flatter us with the belief that we must struggle terribly in an
incessant warfare before the Higher Nature can prevail. But the
Higher Nature knows absolutely nothing of any struggle.
The illustration is at hand, in nature. The moment the light
appears, the darkness disappears. There is no struggle between
them. In the bright light of the Higher Nature, the darkness of
the lower vanishes. As long as one prefers the lower, there will
be a struggle to cling to it, and the dawning of the Light into
the consciousness will hurt.
SINCERITY AND SELF-ANALYSIS
The delusion of struggle is due to insincerity in the attempt at
self-analysis. It means that one of the subtlest forms of
personality is masquerading as a virtue.
A sense of humor is the readiest solvent of that obscure
condition, since whoever can laugh at himself is in a fair way to
He is likely to discern that he has been struggling to benefit
his personality by posing as a student of the Higher Law; whereas
the first axiom of the Higher Law is that no degree of
selfishness can possibly be beneficial, and that the only way in
which we can really benefit ourselves is by first benefiting
Sincerity insists that the sole purpose of self-directed
evolution, its only motive, and its constant care shall be, so to
discipline, govern, and improve ourselves as individuals that we may be, not only not a handicap to the rest of humanity, but an assistance to it by becoming fit to bear at least our full share of the load. That is the law of Universal Brotherhood. Recognition of the Law -- confession to oneself that the law exists -- is the first step. Sincerity soon follows.
The first stage of sincerity appears when we find ourselves, even
while continuing a certain course, admitting to ourselves that
the course is wrong, instead of deceiving ourselves that it is
In the second stage, we discontinue doing what we know is wrong,
for the simple reason that by injuring our own character, we are
committing a sin against our fellow-man.
In the third stage, we see clearly what the right course is, and
from that moment we become a positive force for good.
We are our brother's keeper; but, like the sentinel on duty at
the gate, we keep him by guarding ourselves against the enemy,
our lower nature.
DUALITY AND REINCARNATION
All the great teachers of whom there is any record have laid down
the law that we must purify ourselves before we may hope to help
others. Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as saying: "Cast out first
the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to
pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."
With characteristic human insincerity that has come to be
accepted as authentic doctrine by a civilization whose foremost
characteristic is delight in condemnation of its neighbor while
continuing its own self-indulgence in immorality.
But the reason is not far to seek. The two essential facts --
Duality and Reincarnation -- have been overlooked. The
three-score years and ten that statisticians and a prophet have
assured us is about the limit of a human life, have so
circumscribed our view that the task of raising the general
standard of morality appears hopeless, if not useless.
The old Latin proverb "Cui Bono" -- in colloquial modern English,
"What's the use?" -- must occur in some form or another to every
man who assumes that he was born in sin, lives for something less
than a hundred years, dies, and that's the end of it.
Reincarnation instantly changes the aspect of things and events.
The moment we realize that no effort can possibly be lost, that
no thought and no deed can remain uncompensated, that full and
perfect justice is unavoidable, and that we return into the world
again, and again, and again, to meet exactly the conditions that
our former efforts have deserved, we begin to discern the purpose
and the joy of evolution and to take our part in it with a
sincerity that has no use for self-pity and laughs at adversity
as an experience whose sublime and encouraging purpose that we
may learn from it self-mastery -- the Key of Life eternal.
THE MYSTERY OF LOVE
By Ralph Lanesdale
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, May 1924, pages 430-34.]
Love is a mystery which each one must interpret in his or her own
particular fashion, for its manifestations are innumerable, and
its modes as various as are the hearts in which it has its
origin, the minds unbalanced by its delusive spell, the emotions
inflamed by its seductive grace, or the ideals that it calls to
At times love seems like a consuming fire; then it will be a
passion for possession; then a beatitude, a selfish craving, or a
yearning for the bliss of mere self-sacrifice: self-sacrifice may
be as selfish as any form of self-indulgence, while aping
The lower nature with its apelike qualities is a most wonderful
mimic that delights in parodying the highest virtues, cloaking
its ugliness and masking its deformity with a disguise of pure
It is this kind of elemental mimicry that has evoked the scorn
and bitter railing of some short-sighted satirists, who have
denounced the love of human beings as a fantastic form of
selfishness. For it was well said of old: "The truth is hid by
that which is not true." So the false love has made men doubt the
existence of the true. This kind of pessimism is often
reinforced by the subtle hypocrisy of the lower nature, which
knowing itself incapable of pure love, declares that there is no
In this, as in all other human problems, we must use the key of
the duality of mind. Then we shall see that every kind of love
is possible to human beings.
That is one step on the path of understanding. The next will be
to look within. In us lies latent all the evil and good that we
find elsewhere. There we shall find the love of self in all its
pride and cruelty, the elemental passion of the animal, and "the
love of god that passeth understanding." If we dig deep enough
beneath the accumulated selfishness of ages, we may perceive the
flame of love enshrined in a mystic vase that sheds around the
golden glow of BROTHERHOOD.
From such contemplation, we may learn to know and to distinguish
the qualities that characterize the higher and the lower love.
The first and most noticeable characteristic of the higher love
is generosity, or a desire to give: while in the lower we
encounter first and last and all the time unmitigated selfishness
and the desire to get. Yet both of these are personal.
Beyond, there shines the mystic flame, which like the sun
distributing to every corner of his universe the light by which
it lives, "gives life to all but takes from none." From the
supreme Self of all flows out the Love Divine, the radiance of
And as the sunlight differs from the cold glimmer of the moon, so
does the love of the supreme Self differ from the selfish
personal passion of the slave of appetite. Yet as in man there
is a model of the entire universe, so too in man we may discover
all the divers kinds of love, from the divine down to its lowest
parody, which seems the very opposite. How often with a misused
word we blind ourselves to the reality, and hide an ugly vice
from our own sight by giving it an honored title!
Love is an honorable name, and should be used respectfully. And
yet we talk about the love of money, instead of frankly calling
it the greed of gold, or simply avarice. But if we were to call
things by their proper names, we might be often guilty of
indelicacy, because in actual practice, we have degraded our
ideals while still honoring their memory.
It is probable that all human motives are so mixed, by reason of
the duality in human nature, that love is seldom pure, nor
utterly corrupt. Thus it may happen that a gross and selfish
passion will show in its brighter moments some faint reflection
of the sunlight of pure love. If so, it may be asked: Why is it
not redeemed thereby? Why is the lower able to drag down the
It is simply because we live so much upon the lower plane, where
all the lower forces are at home, and because so many people are
not aware of the duality in their own mind, and have not the
habit of examining their motives, or of studying their moods and
their emotions. Self-study rightly conducted brings revelations,
but it must be self-study, not merely self-justification.
If we would have the higher nature dominant, we must identify our
will with it, we must accustom the lower nature to submit to its
control. It is not enough to call upon our god. We must evoke
the divinity, and not merely invoke it. This may be done in many
ways. Religious ceremonies have this end in view, but the
religions of the world seem to have lost their magic power. The
church-rituals are mostly meaningless today even to their own
To the majority of church-goers the Love of God is but the
stirring of a vague sentimentality, which finds expression in
hymns of adoration or ceremonial worship with sacrifice of words.
The bare idea that man can by any means evoke the deity would
probably be looked upon as blasphemy in church-circles, though
paradoxically enough such devotees insist upon the need of
But prayer is supplication, or the begging for benefits of some
kind. Such devotion is obviously selfish and arises in the lower
nature. The adoration of a personal god inevitably implies
belief that man and god are separate. And such a god is ipso
facto limited, not the Supreme or Universal Deity from who love
flows like sunlight from the orb of day, awakening in human
beings divine compassion, which is the soul of BROTHERHOOD.
Those who still cling to a personal god do so they say because
they cannot love a mere abstraction. There is no need to try,
for God is in everything that lives; and it is more than probable
that what the lover loves is not the face and form of the
beloved, but in reality is an abstract ideal in the mind of the
lover, who is in most cases spellbound by the delusive magic of
This was the lesson Shakespeare tried to teach in "A Midsummer
Night's Dream." And this is the lesson that experience teaches,
and that man so constantly declines to learn.
What Shakespeare could not teach was the duality in the mind of
man, the presence in the human heart of both the angel and the
demon. He could picture its results and satirize its victims,
but in his day, it would have been in vain to try to liberate the
people from the obsession of a personal devil living in a hell of
his own and making war upon a personal god, who reigned alone in
Heaven for the right to torture and torment mankind.
But the times change, so that some teachings that could at most
be hinted at in allegory when Shakespeare was alive can now be
promulgated openly. Much that seems mysterious today will, in a
little while, be looked upon as popular science.
The teachings of Theosophy -- during the dark ages known but to a
few who guarded them as sacred mysteries -- have not changed nor
are they new: but having been so long forgotten or neglected they
may seem strange although so eminently reasonable.
Reasonable as these teachings are they do not kill the sense of
wonder nor of reverence before the mysteries of life. The veil
of matter may be lifted for a moment, but it has well been said:
"Veil after veil will lift but there must be veil upon veil
Indeed, a wise man has more reverence for Nature's mysteries than
has the fool. A Theosophist worthy of the name tolerates honest
ignorance, knowing a little of the possibilities behind the veil.
A careful study of Theosophy lets in a flood of light upon the
mysteries that meet us here at every turn. Of these mysteries,
perhaps the greatest is the most familiar. Love is so universal,
that we are apt to think that we know all about it, whereas it is
not only the most subtle and elusive, but also the most complex
of our emotions.
Even sex-love, which seems so simple, defies analysis, escaping
from the scientific formula as easily as from the many
philosophic aphorisms invented to define its operation.
Theosophy alone can throw some light upon the mystery of sex,
because it has the key to the complexity of human nature, the
meaning and the origin of sex. It can explain the great variety
of human characters and consequently of their emotions, the most
complex of which is love.
It is a common thing to speak of mother-love as if all mothers
loved their children in the same way. Assuredly all mother-love
has in it some taint of selfishness; but even so, how vastly
different the feeling of a woman for her child, who looks upon it
as a sacred charge entrusted to her care to rear and educate,
from that of a woman who regards motherhood as a misfortune, and
her child as an infliction forced upon her by a cruel destiny, or
as a punishment for sin.
Again how different the love of the light-hearted mother whose
children are her toys given to her for her amusement, and the
affection of the one who sees a great soul look out at her from
her child's wondering eyes. How can we talk of mother-love as if
it were all standardized and of one quality?
And so it is with all sex-love: the different varieties are as
wide apart as the two poles, ranging from the most degraded
selfishness and sensuality to selfless adoration and saint-like
purity, and yet . . .
> "Poor children of earth," cried the wandering spirit,
> Dearly ye pay for your primal fall:
> Some flowerets of Eden ye still inherit;
> But the trail of the serpent is over them all.
If love is a floweret of Eden then the trail of the serpent is
the delusion of sex which blinds its victims and leads them to
destruction. And why so? Why this delusion? What is it that
suffers such destruction? The cause of the delusion is ignorance
of the duality of mind. As has been said, "the mind is like a
mirror," but the surface of that mirror is unstable as the
surface of a lake that is disturbed by every passing breeze.
The breath of passion is a wind that ruffles and disturbs the
mind, distorting every image it reflects. If love were pure, no
breath of passion would disturb the mirror of the mind; there
would be no delusion, no phantom-fires of lust would hover above
the deadly swamp of sensuality, in which deluded souls are
drowned. The tranquil mind would truthfully reflect the light of
day, in which true images are seen and the true path reveals
itself to the soul's gaze. To know the truth, tranquility of
mind must first be won. No storms of anger or of lust must stir
the mirror. Pure love is peace, and power, and light. It is
And what if the lower nature protests according to its natural
impulse? What if it endeavors to persuade the soul that there is
no such thing as pure love undefiled by lust? For the lower
nature, that is true; but for the higher it is false: when a man
understands this dual nature he is not disturbed by the unwelcome
promptings of his lower nature, nor distressed to find unworthy
thoughts occasionally come sweeping over the surface of his mind;
for he will know that the breeze cannot disturb the depths; nor
can the sun of truth he long obscured even by the darkest clouds.
He will soon learn that though his mind is like a mirror, his
soul can look below the surface of the lake and find the sunlight
gathered there. Such is the mystery of mind. He who would
understand the meaning of true love must master first the
fluctuations of the mind, and learn to recognize the magical
illusion which the lower nature practices upon the untrained mind
in its attempts to snare the soul with false appearances.
Philosophers have posted danger-signals all along the path of
life. Beware of men. Beware of woman. Beware of love. Beware
of beauty. But all that is in vain. The danger is not on the
path, but in the mind. The signs should read: "Beware of vanity
and egoism," "Keep the Light burning in your heart," "The light
of life is Love," and "Live in the sunlight as its ray in thee,
so shalt thou reach the goal!"
THE GOLD OF SILENCE
By Dara Eklund
[From THEOSOPHIA, Spring 1973, pages 16-17.]
> On the tree of Silence hangs the fruit of peace. The secret thou
> wouldst not tell thine enemy, tell it not to thy friend.
> -- AN OLD ARAB PROVERB
Like a cave of echoes our conversation ripples at the edge of a
mighty ocean. So unworthy of our deepest dignity, it defies the
imagination to remember a world once again filled with the gold
of silence. The old teachings, advise men to be sparing of
speech and things will come right of themselves. Sensitivity to
hidden laws of nature, patience to wait and watch, divide the
sage from the fool. Only from the sage is speech priceless.
Care is no longer taken for words. We use fine words like "keen"
and "beautiful" but slander them by application to unworthy
objects and conditions. Everyone feels he must have an opinion
or an "enthusiasm" about something or someone. This we have
called intelligence, while the ability to analyze is one of its
aspects rarely found in the glibly stated opinions. We say, "He
is one of the beautiful people," without attaching any standard
or value to beauty. It is an emotional admiration, a lusted
attraction. People do not have to reach up any more for acclaim.
Everyone is "grooving" for something.
In the matter of real consent, in trust between two hearts or
promises and confidences, how many of us, even Theosophists,
uphold them when there are "fall-outs" and breaches of
friendship. We dare not spread our word-treasures too widely.
One has many acquaintances, perhaps, but few friends. Even with
our friends we have to be alert to the shades of feeling, so that
our words give our true meaning. Emerson urged us to Be, not
seem. (in SPIRITUAL LAWS: Essays: 1st series)
> Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of the divine
> circuits . . . real action is in silent moments. The epochs
> of our life are not in the visible facts of our choice of a
> calling, our marriage, our acquisition of an office, and the
> like, but in a silent thought by the wayside as we walk; in a
> thought which revises our entire manner of life and says -- "Thus
> hast thou done, but it were better thus . . .
> I desire not to disgrace the soul. The fact that I am here
> certainly shows me that the soul had need of an organ here.
> Shall I not assume the post?
A fisherman knows on which bank of a river to cast his line.
When you really want a trout you don't let him see your shadow.
In an age when the personality is rife, while the ego "mute and
torpid sits," we are rightly worried about being misunderstood.
The prisoner within has first to be understood by ourselves,
because that being UNDERSTANDS. If freed, its gentle ways would
soften the hardest hearts, casting and fearing no judgments.
Personalities are so numerous, so various, that we fragment
ourselves by tuning in to public opinions and not holding to
guiding principles in our speech.
Wasted words are often spun out in our attempt to maintain the
hum of mutual consent in which society rests its security.
Besides the waste of words, the restraint of words in
self-defense is an even more difficult discipline. At times
those we felt we could trust have cast aspersions on our very
motives. In these often heart-rending predicaments we catch
ourselves upholding rigorous measures of thought which we might
not have followed through into daily practice. Certainly we
cannot enforce them on others when we see how we must work to
bring them into fruition ourselves. If we sense the desperation
of a one life goal we may develop genuine forbearance with our
neighbor's competitiveness, which drives him to now and then
thwart us in our pursuits. Sincerely believing he has only one
life to accomplish things in, what else can he do but pursue his
desires hastily toward their accomplishment.
The chaparral on hillsides in late winter withholds its budding
branches to the colder winds, even though tempted by warming
currents of coming spring. Nature waits, instead of bounding
with irregular spurts of energy, until everything unfolds
harmoniously. In terms of human spring times it may take
centuries for the heart-light to penetrate the crusty human
brain. Only by tending our own thought-cultivation can we reap
HPB's promise that one day "this garden of the Gods, called
humanity, will blossom as a rose."
THE MONADS IN MAN
By G. de Purucker
[From STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, pages 200-202.]
Here is a question I would like to ask: You have spoken of the
different Buddhas. You have referred to -- at least you have
inferred -- the existence in man of different egos. We have
heard on other occasions of the Divine Monad, the Spiritual
Monad, the Human Monad, the Astral Monad, and the Physical Monad.
Now here is my question. Just what, then, is man? How many mans
-- if I may so coin a plural, I won't say men, but how many mans
-- are there in a man?
Is each one of these monads an entity by itself, united with the
other entities, all together forming man's constitution; and if
so, are there several mans in man, or is it just one single
unitary being to which different names -- I mean divided into
portions to which different names -- are given as we pass down
the scale? Now that is a question well worth studying.
I would now like to suggest an answer.
It is not a mere figure of speech when we speak of man as having
in his constitution different monads. A monad means an
indivisible center of life-consciousness-substance, a spiritual
ego. Therefore man, in addition to being a stream of
consciousness as he is as a constitution, has within him a
Divinity, a Buddha or Christ, a Manasaputra, a human being, an
astral entity; and he is housed in the human beast -- the
astral-vital-physical body. All these collectively constitute
Hence I have so often said to you: Remember in all your studies,
never forget it, that man is a composite entity, which means an
entity formed of other entities, other beings.
Therefore did I choose the words in asking my question: How many
mans -- not men but mans -- are there in what we call man?
All through any one such constitution there is the sutratman or
thread-self from the inmost of the inmost, the core of the core,
the heart of the Universe -- through all these different monads,
from the highest till it touches the physical brain of man. Thus
man is both legion and unit. The Silent Watcher in him is the
Dhyani-Buddha, an actual, entitative, living ego of divine type.
Man is but a copy, a microcosm, of what the solar system is, the
Macrocosm. He is no different, he is the same: powers,
substances, faculties, and essences -- everything -- only in the
minute scale. What you see in the solar system, you should find
in mankind. If you want to know what the solar system consists
of, study yourself. You simply copy the Great.
Now, then, the human ego which is I, which is any one of you, is
one of those particular monads as yet relatively unevolved.
Above it there is the Spiritual Monad, and above the latter there
is the Divine Monad.
For karmic reasons very intricate, difficult to understand but
existent, any one of us happens to be a certain stream of
consciousness, a sutratman; yet you or I as human individuals are
the human monad.
I am a human monad, each one of you is; so that, as a human being
you are only in the intermediate part of that stream of
consciousness which is your constitution, and the upper part of
it makes your link with infinity, and the lower part of it
enables you to learn on this plane.
Thus you are both one and legion. Thus the divinity in the solar
system is both one and an army. We are component parts of that
army. The god of the solar system has a
life-consciousness-substance, energy, being, which flows through
all of us, and is the substantial, conscious background in which
we live and move and have our being; and all that particular
range of monads or egos which forms any one of us, and forms his
stream of consciousness, is spiritually housed in this solar
Divinity in whom we live and move and have our being.
It is really very simple, and it is so beautiful, because in
understanding this seemingly intricate but really very simple
thought, you have the key to so many of our deepest doctrines.
Now then, a last thought: Any one of these monads or spiritual
egos which form the constitution of a man is evolving -- you are,
I am, the god within me also, the god within you also, each one
on its own plane, each one following its own pathway, and each
one in time going a plane higher, and then a plane higher still.
When our monad shall have brought out from within itself its
latent powers, its unevolved, undeveloped powers, it will become
a Spiritual monad, and we shall all be Buddhas, and we shall then
work through what is now the animal nature in us, which then will
be human. Each monad will have stepped up a degree, and be more
Keep this thought in your mind of your utter oneness with the
Divinity; and one of the best ways of recognizing the utter unity
of everyone of us with Infinity, is remembering that we are
composite, not by fastening our minds on the fact that we are
just an ego different from other egos.
Therein is the heresy of separateness. The differences are
illusory, yet they exist. Illusory does not mean that they do
not exist; it means that it is not the real Real, the realest
Real, the fundamental Reality.
Take Father-Sun. We see only his body, and yet his vitality
enfills the solar system in which the planets are bathed, and all
the beings on the planets, and the invisible planets. Then the
innumerable armies and multitudes and hosts of life-atoms
building my body, your body, the bodies of the earth, the bodies
of the sun, the bodies of the gods -- each one of these
life-atoms is a growing, learning entity, ensouled by a monad,
which is likewise a stream of consciousness.
Man is a unit when you take a particular portion of the
constitution which is the human ego, which is evolving. It will
become a spiritual ego, and afterwards a divine ego; and yet at
the same time shot through and through with forces streaming down
into him from egos superior to himself, of which he is the child.
This is the esoteric basis for the old saying, that at the flame
of a candle you can light all the fires of the world, and the
flame of the candle is undiminished. Consciousness is just like
that. You cannot exhaust it.
WHAT EVERYBODY KNOWS
By Ralph Lanesdale
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1924, pages 252-56.]
The use of paradox is not always a sign of high intelligence. It
is perhaps a sign of weakness or a result of shallow thinking, if
it be not an attempt to state a problem that must be thought out
to a rational conclusion capable of a straightforward expression.
Indeed, as a mode of stating the first appearance of any mental
problem, it is perhaps impossible to avoid the facile paradox.
If it is a literary vice, it is a very tempting one. As an
excuse for falling into it, I dare to quote the familiar
assurance that we may climb to higher things on "steppingstones
of our dead selves." From another source, the declaration is that
our vices may become steppingstones as we surmount them. That is
the point: as we surmount them. A steppingstone must not become
Comforted by such reflections, I will venture the paradox that
the hardest things to believe are the things we all know.
We all know that the world was going on as usual before we were
born; but no one believes it. The world began with ME! Then too
we all know that we shall die, and the world will go on as usual.
But we do not believe that. The things that 'we all know' would
fill a big book, but few that we believe.
When a man begins to think for himself, he ceases to share that
general knowledge which consists of the things that we all know.
Of course, he comes to his first real paradox when he realizes
that he knows nothing beyond the fact of his own existence.
A friend was trying to comfort me in my melancholy by an
assurance that the sun was shining beyond the clouds, but he
failed to show me where the comfort of that assurance came in. I
could have done it better myself, but I was tired of that sun
which always is shining somewhere else.
Sometimes I find it hard to believe that beyond the clouds, the
sun is shining as usual, and yet that is as sure as any of the
things we know. Of course, what the sun is doing is really a
matter for conjecture, so far as we are concerned.
As there is no one likely to question such a statement, I feel
safe in saying that I know the sun is shining. As a matter of
fact, the sun that looks so bright up there may have ceased
shining, may be dissolved in space, may have changed his course,
or may be otherwise engaged.
So it is with nearly all the things we know. There is no
certainty about our so-called knowledge. Thus we know (or have
been assured) that the sun is a long way off and that light
travels at a definite rate, and so the light of the sun, that we
now see, left its starting-point some time ago and since then
many things may have happened. The solar system may have gone
out of business for all we know while the light we see has been
on its way here.
This is easier to realize if we think of one of the great solar
systems that we call fixed stars, because they are (supposedly)
so very far away and the time-distance is so great. Then it
would not matter much to any of us if a few such far away solar
systems did disappear or have already gone into obscuration.
It is interesting occasionally to think about the things we
really know. They are so few. Indeed, it may be questioned if
there be truly more than one really knowable fact, one thing that
we can be absolutely sure of. That one fact is presumably the
same for all of us. When I search deep into my mind beyond the
shores of knowledge and of information, of supposition and
conjecture, of reasoned conclusions and logical deductions, I
come at last to the bedrock of human consciousness, or at least
to the foundation of my own consciousness, and know that I am I.
From that I infer that the same is true for all other thinking
beings. This is not knowledge -- only inference.
Meditating upon this one fact of consciousness, I become aware of
a deeper perception, as elementary as to seem quite inseparable
from consciousness, and yet so abstract as to transcend the grasp
of reason or of objective thinking. It would almost seem to be
the link connecting mind with spiritual consciousness, the human
with the divine, the first word and the last of human
consciousness -- I AM. Beyond this formula, I find no foothold
for my mind.
To separate myself from consciousness of self seems to me beyond
the power of my mind, yet I am conscious all the time. There is
never a time in which I am unconscious. I may say I have been
unconscious, but even so at the time I was not aware of my
How then do I know it? The answer is that I do not know it. I
cannot know a negative. All that I can know is consciousness. I
know I am, but all the rest is thinking.
Thoughts are things, creatures of mind. Real knowledge is
perception and deals with realities. And here we step off from
the plane of matter into the region of ideas, which may be called
the spiritual essences that ensoul our highest thoughts.
Thoughts are things, but ideas are alive. They are like the
causes of which thoughts are the effects.
It seems to me that there must be states of existence in which
pure ideas are actual realities, and are like sparks of
consciousness, centers of radiance, stars fallen from union with
the universal Soul, caught by the lure of individual existence,
seeking experience on the shores of time, like children building
castles in the sand.
We have drunk the waters of forgetfulness, and the delusions of
the mind are now realities for us. Our changing personalities
are our own creations, and the facts of life are thoughts. Our
knowledge, all illusive, deals with appearances, and our dreams
are merely phantasmagoria.
Yet our intuition now and again awakes and wonders, "Where am I?"
What is this world? Who are these about me? The shadowy images
with which this world of ours is furnished waver as we look at
them. Faces familiar to our eyes change as we try to recall
their radiant prototypes and appear as masks, which merely veil
the truth we fear to look upon.
Yet with wonderful assurance we speak of 'things that everybody
knows,' meaning perhaps things that we all may constantly
experience, such as the changes of state from waking to sleeping,
of growth and decay, of memory and forgetfulness, and all the
marvels of nature: how the plants know what to look like, not
losing their own particular character in the process of growth;
all the countless mysteries of life that have no secrets for the
multitude but that excite the wonder and the admiration of the
Oh what a wonderful thing is scientific education! How beautiful
it is to feel we know it all, and that there are no mysteries in
life beyond the reach of the learned authors of modern
text-books, who know the laws of nature and the whole history of
creation! We have much to be thankful for.
Yet man is not altogether satisfied. The things that everybody
knows are sometimes strangely difficult to explain to an
inquiring mind that really wants to know. The young have grown
skeptical and demand proof and evidence, and failing that, they
imitate their elders, make a bluff and call it knowledge, feeling
that there is no possibility of really knowing anything beyond
the self-evident fact of their own existence.
We are all sure, I suppose, that we exist. Is it not possible to
know other things with the same certainty, to use the same means
What is that means of knowledge by which I know that I am I? It
is not the result of a process of reasoning. It is direct
knowledge with no intermediary process. It does not come from
faith or belief, but it is self-existent. It is consciousness in
its simplest manifestation that is self-consciousness, which is
not knowledge at all as generally understood.
The knowledge that is acquired by study or by experience is
produced by a process of thinking and reasoning; and it is all
liable to error. However convincing it may be, it is not
certain, for the mind may be deceived.
When we come to that kind of knowledge which is acquired by
reading or by listening, we are forced to admit that it is no
more than accepted information, which may or may not be accurate.
It is not entitled to rank as real knowledge until it has been
assimilated by an individual mental digestive process, that is
hard to define, but which seems to bear some analogy to the
assimilation of the elements of food by the body, a long and
complicated process, which is very liable to derangement.
For ordinary purposes, we accept on faith almost the whole mass
of information, conveyed by school teachers and by writers, and
call it knowledge. Where this knowledge is widely accepted, we
call it absolute, and then base all our reasoning upon it as if
it were fact. As our reasoning is a personal process, the
results are frequently impossible of coordination. The things
that everybody knows are almost entirely articles of faith
accepted without examination upon authority, which itself depends
for its status upon faith.
When a man tries to verify some article of faith, he is forced to
inquire into the basis of knowledge, and it is not surprising
that he should come to the conclusion that he knows nothing
beyond the fact of his own existence. All else is matter of
faith, and may be classified by the mind as probable or
improbable. But if such a student then assumes that nothing else
is knowable, he is venturing into the unknown, and any denial of
the possibility of direct knowledge is manifestly a mere bluff.
For every serious student of life, the possibility of direct
knowledge is a matter of deepest interest. While it may well be
that the solution of the problem may lie beyond the reach of the
brain-mind, yet it would be a bold man who would decide that the
limits of human reason have yet been reached.
It would be even more presumptuous to maintain that man's
intuition is not capable of direct perception of truth upon a
plane of consciousness superior to that upon which the intellect
habitually functions. This possibility is an accepted fact for
many people, but not for the ordinary person in this age of
rationalism and animalism. Some of the poets have realized it in
their own lives, and have tried to express it, and generally
failed. To others it has remained for them an accepted article
of faith, the demonstration of which might never be achieved.
There have been religious enthusiasts to whom it was an object to
be striven for and prayed for. But the revelation comes not for
searching, nor for prayer, nor mortification of the flesh; yet do
all true devotees yearn for the marvel. The secret of the search
and the reason of failure are fully explained in Theosophical
teachings as to the dual nature of the mind.
The object of evolution is the attainment of true Self-knowledge,
which can only be reached by one who has freed himself from the
blinding and imprisoning delusion of personality.
The man who yearns for spiritual advancement may be shut out from
spiritual light by the very force of his personal desire for
achievement. The teaching of Theosophy is that the desires of
the personal self must be transmuted into impersonality by the
fire of spiritual wisdom. The key lies in the mystery of
Universal Brotherhood. Follow the Path!
By Erica L. Georgiades
and written September 9, 2009.]
I sat down to write and all of a sudden my mind was bombed with
thousands of ideas and is really hard to choose which one write
about. It is like you have unrolled in front of you a thousand
paths to follow and you know that you have to choose only one.
Every path is special in its own way and to make choice is a
So I closed my eyes in the middle of a thousand paths, and headed
towards one. This was the path marked with the sign "death." As
I began my journey on the PATH OF DEATH, my first steps were
within a dark area. No wind was blowing, no birds were singing;
there was a deep penetrating silence and darkness everywhere.
Such condition makes me to wonder if I have done the right
For a moment I wondered if Cerberus would lie ahead or on my way
back, and would not allow me either to enter or to leave the
KINGDOM OF HADES. Shadows of fear began growing within me. What
am I doing here? Why haven't I chosen another path, an easier
one? I asked myself while standing still, trying to listen or to
see something. Then I remembered the time I was attending a
seminar to become a voluntary in the Cancer Hospital of Sao
Oh gods, I remember that during the first day of this seminar I
was taken to visit the children's area of the hospital. I saw
all those children, with their curious and bright eyes, and the
beauty of childhood, secluded on a hospital bed. Some of them
were one year old, others ten years old; there were children of
every age. But most of them were just condemned to die. I gazed
on them and silently asked myself:
> Oh immortals,
> is there something I can do to release them from such suffering?
After that, for many days I was feeling very sad. At that time I
was young (17 years old), and I could not accept what I have
accepted today. We may fight against everything in life we may
fear many things in life, but we cannot fight against death (when
time arrives) and most important we should not fear death.
I also remember this friend of mine, who was so young with a life
full of dreams ahead of him, and suddenly passed away. I
remember his smile, his playfulness and his dreams which he
shared with friends, and all of a sudden everything was
transformed into ashes. He was no longer alive, and what
remained from him were the memories that his family and friends
are carrying. Probably the greatest feeling of impotence we may
have during a lifetime is when someone we know is dying and we
realize that there is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent it.
Again I gazed on the chosen path, there was only stillness and
darkness, and as a lightening the words of Goethe stroke my mind:
> There is no way out for those who enter here.
I thought that hell maybe is to die expecting to enter a world
similar with the one we live. It's that condition of being
attached to a self which no longer exists. While nothingness
might be the bliss or paradise. So heaven is denied by those who
are attached to the self. This denial might be the nature of
hell, the insistence to keep a self which is no more.
Everything is transitory so why the self would not be also
transitory? Ask someone dying what does he/she have to say about
life, and the answer will be: passed so fast, like the blinking
of an eye. Everything was like a dream.
So I am thinking maybe this stillness and darkness will also pass
with the blink of an eye, and will be like a dream. So this is
also not real. And I asked myself is there any reality on life
Life flies, and during its flight we are so much egocentric,
immersed in a world full of doubts, fears, intrigues,
competition, suffering, love, quarrels etc. And moment after
moment we praise the transitory. Once I heard that we should
praise the eternal and not the transitory. And now I ask: is
there anything eternal, if there is can we grasp it?
Again I look ahead; trying to leave that darkness unfolded on the
path, but still could not see anything. I thought that something
should change eventually. It is not possible for me to stand
still on the same spot anymore. Being stubborn, I decide not to
choose another path to thread, but to wait patiently because
while nothing in life is static, why on death would be?
Someone cannot offer a remedy for an unknown illness. Only when
someone has a deep empirical knowledge will be able to find the
cure for it. The attachment and illusion of a self, is a kind of
illness that can be healed only from within. A Doctor may
prescribe us a medicine and we will be healed. The "Doctors of
the Soul" as Buddha for example, taught us how to overtake such
fears and to reach a state of bliss within all this chaos,
through the realization of the illusion of the self.
Of course this is not an easy job, because it implies the fact
that we cannot get an external help over such matters, but the
only help we can have is the one which is derived from the depths
of something which is not our self, but can be reached only
through our self.
That sounds as a contradiction to me. If the self is
illusionary, and has a transitory existence, how can we possibly
reach through the transitory the eternal or that which may lead
us out of ignorance?
It's a kind of paradox for that would imply something that is not
illusionary consequently not transitory but eternal. Is there
such thing which is eternal? Maybe motion. But motion implies a
force or forces that give it an impulse. So the force or forces
beyond motion may be the eternal, consequently not illusionary.
Maybe this is what we have to realize, not intellectually but
Anyway the path is esoteric (internal) and it seems at the same
time nonexistent but possible to be created. Maybe Antahkarana
which in esoteric philosophy, is described as the bridge that we
can build from the lower to the highest states of consciousness,
is the key. But still on a theoretical level. Antahkarana is
called the link between the higher mind and the Buddhic
But as I don't want to get lost in technicalities, the paradox is
still there. How something that is transitory can reach
something that is not transitory as the eternal? It seems highly
improbable, except the Eternal is also transitory.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application