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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------- April, 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.)
"Tones and Overtones," by L. Gordon Plummer
"What is a Greeting," by R. Machell
"Nirvana Now," by George Cardinal LeGros
"With Heart in Mind," by Vonda Urban
"The Stemming of the Tide," by Gertrude van Pelt
"Work Versus Mere Talk," by T. Henry
"Blavatsky in Literature," by John Algeo
"The Eternal Pilgrim," by R. Machell
"Speak Little, Judge Not, Love Much, and Work," by J.D. Buck
> Who am I? How did I get here? Where am I from? What is
> consciousness? How do worlds form? In other worlds, the exciting
> questions, the ones which can never truly be answered, but since
> time immemorial have inspired great music, art, poetry, the
> belief in love, and all those other areas of human experience
> which can never be proven, only pondered. These questions are
> the ones that build religions, perplex great minds, and breed
> philosophers, but also appeal to children who, while looking at
> the starts, tell their own stories because they have not yet
> forgotten that the world is a place of wonder.
> -- Leigh J. McCloskey, TAROT REVISIONDED, iv
TONES AND OVERTONES
By L. Gordon Plummer
[From THEOSOPHIA, Spring 1968, 12-13]
Whenever a musical tone is sounded, there are certain tones of
other frequencies which ride on the note being struck. Although
inaudible as separate sounds, they bear a definite relationship
to the fundamental tone, giving to it the peculiar sound which
identifies it as belonging to a violin, flute, oboe, or any other
musical instrument. These overtones or harmonics are exceedingly
important, for if a pure tone is sounded without any harmonics,
we have a completely colorless and uninteresting sound.
We may detect some of the harmonies present in musical tones by
the following simple experiment. Gently depress the E, G, and C
notes on the piano, so that the strings are free to vibrate. If
done carefully, the hammers will not strike the strings. Now,
firmly sound the note C two octaves below middle C, and hold the
key down so that this string continues to vibrate. If you listen
carefully, you can hear the three higher notes, because the
strings left free to vibrate are set in motion by the vibrations
of the low C. This is because the notes E, G and the high C are
three of the many harmonics that are present in the piano sound
of the lower C string. In other words, the three strings vibrate
in harmony with the lower C. Many other strings would not
vibrate because they are not harmonically related to this
There are many ways in which this lesson may be applied to human
life. All of us share certain things in common for the simple
reason that we are all members of the human race. Nevertheless,
we show marked differences one from another. Can this not be due
to the presence of overtones of character that we have built for
ourselves as we weave our own thoughts, habits, characters, and
Students who study comparative religion might also look for a
lesson from the law of harmonics. It might well be that while
all of the great religions of the world teach the same basic
truths about man's nature, his place in the universe, and his
destiny, the differences that seem to exist between them are not
fundamental. They are in reality evidences of the presence of
overtones or harmonies, these being in the nature of the racial
characteristics of the people to whom these religions were
brought. It is no doubt a broadening experience to try to grasp
the meaning and atmosphere of religions other than our own,
through an effort to understand, if not to experience,
temporarily at least, the patterns of thought and feeling that
are a part of the psychology of other peoples.
Only a step farther in this study brings us to the teachings of
Theosophy, wherein one of the loftiest aspects of the Ancient
Wisdom is that which deals with the appearance from time to time
of spiritual leaders of the human race. What is their real work?
Does it necessarily lie in the spoken or the written word? Or
must we look deeper still?
A worthwhile thought to pursue would be that just as the strings
of the piano are caused to vibrate by the sounding of a
fundamental tone, so when the human heart is free, then, if it is
harmonically tuned, it may vibrate of its own accord to the
messages brought to us by the Teachers of mankind.
It is possible that, just as there was no mechanical connection
between the strings of the piano as used in our illustration, so
we may find that sympathetically tuned hearts and minds may be
induced to vibrate in harmony with the great spiritual keynotes,
even though the persons so responding may be unaware of the
presence among us of anyone of a marked degree of spiritual
stature. This may be one key to the spreading of H.P.
Blavatsky's message, wherein we see evidences of intuitive
thought in so many books and articles published in our own times.
And so we are tempted to ask: Is the world fit and ready to
receive a Teacher of the caliber of HPB? What value would there
be in a work such as hers being done openly? Would such a one be
recognized in a world torn by one crisis after another? We have
no ready answer for these questions, but there is one factor in
human life that we may take into account, and we may be
encouraged by it. And this is the receptiveness to which we have
Leaving then the final answers as to the MODUS OPERANDI in the
hands of those who know better than we do, we may nevertheless be
assured that whatever the manner of work in the future, there
will always be the sounding of the fundamental tones, and since
this is done on the inner planes of thought and intuition, the
outer aspects of the work are of secondary importance.
It is along the lines of inner communication that hearts and
minds sympathetic to the universal truths will be activated, and
will give utterance to lofty ideas. Thus they will be aided in
the work that they undertake according to their own abilities and
It would appear then that a good start can be made in studying
the vast material that is already at hand, to wit, the writings
of HPB and one of the ablest of her students, a Teacher in his
own right, G. de Purucker. His challenge rings true: SURSUM
CORDA! Up, hearts!
WHAT IS A GREETING?
By R. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1921, pages 373-76.]
I had sent a greeting to a comrade and he had courteously
acknowledged it, thanking me in appropriate language: but the
letter had a postscript: "What does your greeting mean, anyway?"
That set me thinking. I had tried to formulate my thought
clearly and to express it in simple terms, but it seemed that its
meaning had not reached the receiver of the note; and I knew that
when that had occurred, there was good reason to suspect that the
writer did not know how to accomplish his object. But on
thinking more closely, I saw that it might also mean that the
writer had no very clear idea of what it meant to send a
greeting. And I asked myself again: "What is a greeting,
Apparently it is a call to someone or to something capable of
responding to the call; for a greeting is not a mere expression
of emotion having reference alone to the one who utters it. It
must be addressed to some other person or intelligence, and it
can only be intended as an expression of friendliness, approval,
or compliment, an encouragement, a congratulation, or a
consolation, unless it be a challenge. It is more than a mere
salutation or simple act of recognition. One may salute a dead
body, a monument, or a flag; but such a salutation need not
contain a greeting.
A greeting has in it some appeal to an inner consciousness, which
may not be outwardly displayed, but which is recognized or
divined by the one who pronounces the greeting. In this sense it
may be said that a greeting partakes of the nature of an
evocation, in that it appeals to an unmanifested spirit supposed
to be latent in the person addressed.
Another form of evocation is the expression of what we call good
wishes. In this form of greeting, some other power is evoked,
that can bestow favors and benefits, honors, health, or joy upon
the recipient of the greeting. It matters little whether the
greeter actually invokes the beneficent action of some higher
power, or merely expresses a hope that the natural course of
events will bring about the desired result. In either case there
is the recognition, however involuntary, of some sort of guardian
spirit or presiding genius whose favor may be invoked. There is
also an implied belief in the power of goodwill to effect an
improvement in the circumstances of the person who is greeted.
Of course, in our own days, it is customary to deny any such
belief; but if the denial be sincere then the greeting is not;
and can at best be regarded as an empty compliment. The exchange
of such empty compliments may be a general custom, but it would
have died out entirely, if it were not supported by either faith,
fact, or experience.
The general skepticism is itself insincere; and while faith may
have vanished, superstition unavowed acts as a substitute; so
that greetings are still given and received, with a lurking hope
that they may carry some sort of a blessing with them, in spite
of the insincerity of their utterance.
We wish each other a "Happy New Year" with a certain sincerity of
desire for the fulfillment of the wish, that is modified perhaps,
but not entirely neutralized, by an avowed skepticism as to the
efficacy of prayer on the one hand and the possibility of
happiness on the other.
Faith in the efficacy of a good wish may be spasmodic; but it is
based upon a natural fact that is known to the soul, if not to
the brain-mind that formulates the wish; and that fact is that
the mind is dual.
There is a higher mind that can know truth in itself; and there
is a lower mind, that can only reason and argue, or can speculate
and hope. The higher mind sees the realities of life, whereas
the lower sees only their shadows or images, of which the
material world is so largely composed.
These shadows are our impressions about the unknown realities and
are all that the lower mind can understand. And yet the two
minds are not entirely separate. Should they become so, the
individual would be so unbalanced as to be really insane. It may
be a question whether this kind of insanity is not so widespread
as to pass notice under favorable circumstances, while the
disorders of human life are all traceable to the lack of balance
in the dual mind.
To attain to happiness, self-mastery is necessary. Self-mastery
means the control of the lower mind by the higher: for the higher
mind sees 'the fitness of things,' and can understand the
spiritual nature of the universe and the meaning of universal
law; whereas the lower mind is under the influence of the animal
nature in man, and can only argue, reason, and speculate about
right and wrong.
As happiness results from obedience to the higher law or from an
intuitive perception of the fitness of things and a willing
conformity to that fitness, it is necessary that the lower mind
be the faithful reflector of the light shed by the higher Self,
and that there is a true cooperation between the two.
When one wishes happiness for another, one necessarily invokes
the aid of the higher mind to dispel the delusions of the lower;
for all unhappiness is due to delusions of the lower mind. A
greeting therefore is an invocation. It is an appeal to the
higher mind to come down, take control of circumstances, and
assert its authority. That is to say, a greeting should be so.
But things are not as they should be; if they were, our evolution
would be an accomplished fact. This being as yet but a dream to
the ordinary mortal, a greeting may be no better than an appeal
to the lower nature to take things into its own hands and to
assert its independence of the control or guidance of the higher
Such greetings usually take the form of wishes for the success of
enterprises aimed at: the attainment of wealth, prosperity,
honor, or fame, or such things as tend to the gratification of
the passions and desires of the lower mind. They are, in fact,
evocations of the subhuman, elemental nature, which constantly
tries to get the higher mind enlisted in schemes for
self-gratification, which, if successful, reduce the higher to a
servant of the lower, as in the case of some specimens of
perverted genius which so puzzle the ordinary observer of human
A greeting is not always a benediction: but it would be so if
people really understood the duality of the human mind and the
power of the mind to make or mar the happiness that seems so
dependent on circumstances or destiny. And even without this
knowledge, a kind wish is indeed both a benediction and an
evocation; for, however ignorantly expressed, a kind wish comes
necessarily from the heart rather than from the brain-mind, and
so is a ray from the higher nature; and it awakes a certain
sympathetic response which in itself is a recognition, if no
more, of the existence of the higher mind.
So intimately blended are the two natures of man in general, that
it would be hard to decide in any particular case what might be
the source of what we call good wishes. But to a student of
human nature, it should be always possible to make such wishes
truly beneficent, for it should be easier to such a one to
distinguish between happiness and the mere gratification of
desires, which latter is more generally the cause or the
forerunner of unhappiness.
So I conclude that a greeting is an appeal to higher powers than
those of the lower nature, an evocation and a benediction, a
declaration of faith in the divine nature of man or else it is a
dead form of words, used as a blind to hide the absence of the
Soul, or a survival of better days, when men were not ashamed to
recognize the Soul as a reality that might be evoked in ordinary
Perhaps materialism has nearly run its course; and if our
civilization can recover from this malady, the day may come when
men will greet one another openly as souls, and will not have to
ask the meaning of a greeting.
By George Cardinal LeGros
[From THEOSOPHIA, Fall 1972, 7-10]
> Never will I seek nor receive private individual salvation.
> Never will I enter into final peace alone; but forever and
> everywhere will I live and strive for the redemption of every
> creature throughout the world.
> -- Kwan Yin Pledge
Among the many things in human nature that make the angels weep
is the universal desire to find an "easy way" out of effort and
responsibility and into comfort and contentment.
Theosophists and pseudo-Theosophists are no exceptions. In fact,
we may be the guiltiest of all. Years ago, in the pages of a
Theosophical magazine, I debated points of doctrine with a
learned PhD who claimed to have read Blavatsky. His chief
argument was that the disciplines given in THE VOICE OF THE
SILENCE and LIGHT ON THE PATH were obsolete -- that in our
enlightened age it was no longer necessary to be hard on
ourselves. He was a dedicated apologist for the "easy way."
Finally, when he attempted to justify self-indulgence as a
blessing by a "loving God" for "His children," I gave up.
It still goes on. The world is teeming with fast gun
Salvationists of every size and color from Krishnamurti to Billy
Graham assuring us that the Way to Heaven is an easy matter of
canceling Karma, abolishing Rebirth, accepting God's Grace, and
spiraling right up among the angels. Liberation is ours for the
asking. Nirvana now!
As long as Blavatsky lived, the little people around her, with
feigned humility, watched their steps; but after her departure
they revamped the teachings to make them more attractive to an
"easy way" world.
Their success was phenomenal. Fanciful "commentaries" on THE
SECRET DOCTRINE, mutilated editions of THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY and
THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, plus tons of rehashed Spiritualism and
spooked-up science fiction pour from some of the presses like
water over Niagara Falls.
Speaking of books, did you ever wonder why so many are written on
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, and none on THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, LIGHT ON
THE PATH, and GOLDEN PRECEPTS? The answer should be obvious. The
GITA, sublime though it is, stresses private, individual
salvation (the goal of the "easy way" dreamers) while the other
three emphasize the "hard way" of self-forgetfulness and
self-sacrifice. Concentrating on the GITA alone is like quoting
out of context. It means ignoring the cardinal doctrine of the
Hierarchy of Compassion, the giving of the self.
Says THE BHAGAVAD-GITA in a famous passage:
> There dwelleth in the heart of every creature, O Arjuna, the
> Master -- Isvara -- . . . Take sanctuary with him alone, O son
> of Bharata, with all thy soul; by his grace thou shalt obtain
> supreme happiness, the eternal place.
But LIGHT ON THE PATH tells the aspirant that "If he desires to
become a Neophyte, he at once becomes a servant." (page 79) THE
VOICE OF THE SILENCE states "To live to benefit mankind is the
first step." (page 31) And "Can there be bliss when all that
lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world
cry?" (page 71)
Here we have two Paths clearly outlined: the "easy way" of doing
your duty, minding your own business, and becoming so pure and
holy that you tumble right into heaven, and the "hard way" of
all-out service and sacrifice for others, with total indifference
to personal comfort and "peace." That is still true unless you
believe that the rules and disciplines of the Masters change with
the weather and finally become obsolete.
The "hard" fact is that unless studied in conjunction with the
other books a work such as the GITA can easily induce a Pratyeka
state of mind in which the aspirant drowses away into a beatific
dream and forgets about the rest of the world. He becomes like
the yogi who meditates till his hair grows twenty feet long and
his pride twenty feet long.
In the Spring issue of THEOSOPHIA, the editor mentions "The
choice between self-complacent intellectual gratification and an
intelligent, purposeful, dynamic, but kindly and self-sacrificing
work for the Cause of Theosophy." That is putting it in a
nutshell. It is easy to sit comfortably in an armchair turning
out books and articles of innocuous whimsy with Theosophical
titles, most of which, as someone said the other day, is not
"writing" at all, but merely "typing."
With all the exciting allurements of our swinging age, how can
Theosophical literature hope to win an audience unless it is
alive, ensouled, provocative, and spiced with humor and anecdote?
The heavy material was written long ago by the Adepts and chelas,
enough to last the world a thousand years. We can't add to that.
In fact, in THE MAHATMA LETTERS, the Master K.H. states that
"... none but those who have passed at least their third
initiation are able to write upon these subjects
comprehensively." (page 357) And if there are any
third-initiation chelas in the present Theosophical Societies,
it's news to me. There weren't any the last time I looked.
Self-complacency is the dry rot of the soul, and the easiest
thing on earth to fall into. Going out into the world, widening
the sphere of one's affinities, and spending time, money, and
life itself for the Cause we talk so much about calls for
courage, daring, self-sacrifice, and contempt for personal
comfort. It means following the "hard way" that challenges
manhood and spirithood and usually demands a painful price.
It all comes down to the question of whether one is to give to
himself or to humanity. LIGHT ON THE PATH tells us that "Until a
man has become, in heart and spirit, a disciple, he has no
existence for those who are Teachers of disciples. And he
becomes this by one method only -- the surrender of his personal
humanity." (page 93) Note that it is by "one method only" -- not
by a number of methods, among which we might find the longed-for
And what does this surrender of personal humanity amount to? It
has to mean a lot more than to give up cigarettes, pork chops,
and stop telling lies. Our "personal humanity" is the whole of
us, not merely a few glaring vices that common sense tells us we
have to do something about anyway.
For that matter, many evil persons master their predominant
shortcomings in order to become more efficient and proficient in
deviltry. Years ago, Dr. Henry T. Edge, who had been a
personal pupil of Blavatsky, wrote about the individual who,
finding some particular form of sensuality oppressive, conquers
it in the interests of his own selfish personality. In doing so,
he does not ally himself with the higher part of his nature, the
Immortal Trinity, but simply strengthens his will and becomes a
greater menace than before.
I have met a few men who claimed proficiency in black magic. I
remember asking one of them what he would do when the psychic
powers he boasted of got out of hand. With a knowing smile, be
answered, "We prune our powers." What he didn't know was that
eventually the Elemental Forces involved would absorb all that he
was, and then it would be too late for any "pruning." He was
another traveler of the "easy way."
We come back to the quotation from LIGHT ON THE PATH. The only
safe and sure way to steer our boat through the deep waters of
the Occult is by the total surrender of all that we are. It
can't be a half-way or half-hearted surrender, nor the
elimination of a few nagging faults or weaknesses. There is no
compromise between the God and the Demon.
Theosophists who have not yet been confronted by the power of the
Demon have no idea whatsoever of its strength and cunning. In
his NOTES ON THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, Judge points out that "if we
completely apprehended the enormous power of our passions and
various tendencies, most of us would throw up the fight in
advance; for nothing could persuade us that any power within
could withstand against such overwhelming odds."
But there is a Power, the greatest in the universe, our Higher
Self, the Divine-Spiritual source of our being. The Masters have
allied themselves with it, and so can we because we now stand
where they once stood. And everyone who has glimpsed the glory
of the Path those mighty souls tread and determines to move
toward it has beside him, night and day, the faithful Presence of
that Higher Self.
But "He will not know thee unless thou knowest Him." The initial
effort (how many times have you heard it?) must be made by us.
We must make His acquaintance. The Higher Self has no awareness
of the lower, animal-passional man absorbed in his pursuit of
selfish gratifications (including spiritual gratifications). The
lower man must be dethroned, crucified on the Cross of
Renunciation and sacrifice, so that the awakened and aspiring
part of him may join hands with the God, the Warrior, the
As well as I can understand it, the secret of success lies in the
total giving back of the self to the ALL. It isn't easy to
capture the thought in words because in making the effort --
which is hardly an "effort" but a wonderful "letting go" -- one
transcends the squirrel cage of the brain-mind and tastes a
freedom that expands outward into a limitless "everywhere." One
finds himself as part of something more than himself, something
ineffable, nameless, infinite, and eternal. Individuality is on
its way to Universality.
It is difficult to write on a theme such as this because the
phrases one must use have been cliches for a hundred years. But
the teaching about the surrender of one's personal humanity is so
fundamental and all-important that unless it is taken to heart
and acted upon, the rest of the Theosophical philosophy can be
studied till Doomsday and at best lead only to that Sattvic
complacency and quiescence which are next-door neighbors to
WITH HEART IN MIND
By Vonda Urban
[From THEOSOPHIA, Fall 1979, pages 14-16]
There is an urge to growth that is rooted in the very essence of
Nature's unceasing evolvement to ever greater stages of
unfoldment; a pull upward carrying all kingdoms of life onward to
the full flowering of their species, and thence upward and
forward along the spiraling ladder of life.
So it is that mankind moves onward with the momentum of a great
human river, flowing swiftly here, slowly there; sometimes
swirling through whirlpools of muddied turbulence, and again
moving in a calm of limpid serenity, reflecting, as it journeys,
all of the tides and moods of hope, joy, pain, and despair in the
souls struggling to find their way.
We move together in the broad main stream of experience, within
whose mighty course each one stands alone, riding the Karmic
currents on which we may surge forward, or plunging into
undertows that drag us down; but through it all proceeding along
with the Great Evolutional Tide of Humanity that is just
beginning slowly to emerge upward from the turbid bottom, rising
along shafts of light that ripple down through the murky gloom,
guiding us upward to the surface where we will unfold silken
wings of Spirit to soar ever higher along the Luminous Arc.
The Grand Urge to Growth Spirit-ward begins with a yearning in
the human heart and mind to understand the meaning and purpose of
life -- an inspiration in the soul prompting us to live for
others, an aspiration in the personal man to find his Spiritual
This longing comes when the Heart-Light touches the mind, for we
cannot "PENETRATE THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT WITH THE EYES OF THE
Intellectual knowledge is garnered through the mind, Kama-Manas;
Spiritual understanding -- which is soul wisdom -- awakens in the
heart; and unless the flame of Spiritual love ensouls the mind,
it remains blind but to the eyes of flesh that can perceive only
the sensory physical world.
H.P. Blavatsky explains the higher and lower aspects of mind in
the excerpt quoted here from her article, DIALOGUE BETWEEN TWO
> The mind is dual in its potentiality: it is physical and
> metaphysical. The higher part of the mind is connected with the
> spiritual soul or Buddhi, the lower with the animal soul, the
> Kama principle. There are persons who never think with the
> higher faculties of their mind at all; those who do so are the
> minority and are thus, in a way, BEYOND, if not above, the
> average of human kind. These will think even upon ordinary
> matters on that HIGHER plane . . . This is why it is so very
> difficult for a materialist -- the metaphysical portion of whose
> brain is almost atrophied -- to raise himself, or for one who is
> naturally spiritually minded, to descend to the level of the
> matter-of-fact vulgar thought.
> The habit of thinking in the higher mind can be developed . . .
> but only with great difficulty, a firm determination, and through
> much self-sacrifice. But it is comparatively easy for those who
> are born with the gift. Why is it that one person sees poetry in
> a cabbage or a pig with her little ones, while another will
> perceive in the loftiest things only their lowest and most
> material aspect, will laugh at the 'music of the spheres,' and
> ridicule the most sublime conceptions and philosophies? This
> difference depends simply on the innate power of the mind to
> think on the higher or on the lower plane, with the ASTRAL (in
> the sense given the word by de Saint-Martin), or with the
> physical brain. Great intellectual powers are often no proof of,
> but are impediments to spiritual and right conceptions.
> -- BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, X, 222-23
The heart is the center of life; it is the organ of the spiritual
man, the focus of spiritual consciousness while the mind is the
seat of the intellectual man, the center of self-consciousness.
Both of these streams of energy are channeled through the
sentient animal man whose body is made up of life atoms that
correspond exactly with the quality and type of spiritual and
material currents that are being transmitted into the motives,
desires, and thought governing our actions in daily life.
This explains why it is so very difficult to change habit
patterns or understand and accept easily that which is new and
unfamiliar to our experience. Our actions and reactions follow
the entrenched grooves of habit-knowledge built up throughout all
of our lifetimes and function almost automatically through the
reflexes and responses with which we react to experience.
Knowledge has literally to GROW into the fabric of our being; CAN
BE RE-MADE. Thus the urge to character traits UN-MADE before
they grow at this stage of human unfoldment is a process of pain
and suffering, which is the only way we can learn to understand
until the heart-light awakens and begins to guide us with a moral
code of responsibility for our deeds. Motive is in the heart,
thought in the head.
The quality and type of knowledge that we possess is the result
of developing our mental faculties; but the use we make of it for
either selfish or selfless purposes is guided by the predominance
of spiritual or animal desire in control of our human nature.
A brilliant mind without compassion guiding it becomes a cold,
heartless fiend of evil, and a selfless heart without the
know-how to use it properly can also result in harm from
misguided good intentions. So while we must "LEARN ABOVE ALL TO
SEPARATE HEAD-LEARNING FROM SOUL-WISDOM, THE 'EYE' FROM THE
'HEART' DOCTRINE" we must never lose sight of our motives, for
"EVEN IGNORANCE IS BETTER THAN HEAD-LEARNING WITH NO SOUL-WISDOM
TO ILLUMINATE AND GUIDE IT". (VOICE OF THE SILENCE)
With heart in mind, we blend the light of intellect with the
flame of Spiritual love; self-consciousness reaches into the
impersonal; understanding unfolds a metaphysical perception that
merges the aspirational with the practical, the intuitional with
the rational, inspiring whatever mental-spiritual capacities we
have to work with into Right Motive, Right Thinking, and Right
THE STEMMING OF THE TIDE
By Gertrude van Pelt
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1921, pages 286-91.]
In that wonderful ancient book of wisdom, the Bhagavad-Gita,
there is a passage from Krishna which runs thus:
> I produce myself among creatures . . . whenever there is a
> decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in
> the world; and thus I incarnate from age to age for the
> preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the
> establishment of righteousness.
This refers to the great tide of spiritual life, following upon
the volcanic eruption of evil. One might say also stirring it,
and forcing it to the light of day. The great tides rise at
their appointed time and place. One who knows how and where to
look can see them far back in the mists of the past like mighty
outbursts of inexhaustible life, breaking over human minds,
cleansing and invigorating them.
The corruption and refuse, the acids of hate, the deathly poisons
of selfishness with which men saturate every layer of
brain-consciousness they touch, lie relatively near the surface
and are with inexorable justice thrown out. Then come terrible
disturbances of all kinds; wars, famines, unbelievable cruelties.
That which in the past was inhuman thoughts becomes inhuman acts.
Suffering blinds the eyes. The light of the soul is lost. Many
people doubt that it will ever again be found, and heavy, numbing
despair settles over their minds.
Behind this noxious tide which seems to emanate from the depths
of hell is the great tide of life, exhaustless, unfathomable,
exhilarating, and certain to rise, in comparison with which the
other is a mere boiling on the surface. It is Krishna,
personating here the spirit behind all, more fully incarnating in
human minds: Krishna, upon whose presence life depends, who
sustains the universe, and whose home on this earth is in the
hearts of men.
Everyone should lie open for the coming of THIS tide so that it
may rise in unobstructed fullness in his own heart. Nothing but
ignorance, delusion, and insanity could oppose or disregard it,
for that would mean a painful course of self-destruction.
The tide we have to STEM is the tide of evil, and it should be
stemmed not by blocking it up, but by neutralizing it. It has
always been gathering and periodically breaking forth with
violence, sweeping not only over the lands of earth in ruthless
destruction, but over the lives and hearts of men, leaving them
bitter, cruel, bereft of the sweet, pure feeling which really
belongs to them.
Such an eruption this generation has just witnessed. Apparently
its fury is not yet spent. Some fondly hoped the war would
purify, but such has never been the effect of war. The child of
war is more war. It arouses and sustains mutual, crushing
disbelief in human nature. It brutalizes the finer feelings. It
is the last expression of unbrotherliness, and cannot by any
sophistries be represented as an advantage to humanity.
Glorious things appear in the general upheaval, of course. Great
souls come to the front and shine all the more gloriously against
the dark background. But, also, fierce and terrible passions are
aroused; merciless wounds are inflicted; disappointments follow
hopes; aspirations are wiped out by despair; dazed, amazed,
bewildered, thousands wander, easy victims to the ghoul of
ferocious selfishness which stalks over the earth.
It is inevitable that an upheaval such as we have witnessed,
should bring to the surface buried treasures. They belong to the
divinity in man and can never be lost; but it brings also buried
passions -- the results of little sins which have been covered as
the ages have gone, by mock pieties, by suavity, policy, or one
of the thousand forms of insincerities which everyone knows --
and great crimes such as burning thoughts of revenge, cunning
greed, and the whole hateful brood of selfishness.
Storms like this do not gather over night, during the life of a
generation, a nation, nor even in historical times. Indeed,
Madame Blavatsky traces the tendencies of today back to old
We have had high tides periodically, as said, and as history
shows; that is, great epochs when the forces which set in motion
the old order are exhausted; when new impulses are born and races
of men enter into new conditions. They are a sign of life. In
themselves, they bring only blessings. They are the process by
which old forms are broken and new ones built up for greater
experiences. They are natural, healthy tides which lift from
glory to glory.
The seeming disasters are due to the millions upon millions of
barriers that have been thrown into the current during all the
moments since the last great tide. We might call them unfinished
works which gather, becoming more and more dangerous, and ready
at any time to be ignited into a terrible conflagration of human
The real work of human beings is not the manipulating of physical
atoms. These furnish only the means. It is rather the gaining
of the mastery of self and of the elements of life; the
establishing of harmony within and then without. Every least
event is an opportunity for the only real growth. An unfriendly
thought or act from another is one of these.
The work to be done is so to meet this evil that it is
transmuted. An enemy then becomes a friend. But this work is
for the most part shirked, and thrown into the great heap of the
world's unbalanced accounts. The enemy becomes a greater enemy,
and the one who added to his disorder, moves on to his next
Who has not done his part toward creating confusion and unrest?
Is any soul guiltless? Age after age, incarnation after
incarnation, thoughts of every kind that make for disintegration,
selfishness, degradation, and degeneracy have been cast into
earth's atmosphere. The mental air is poisoned with such stuff.
We have acquired and bequeathed all down the centuries bodies
permeated with disease. It is difficult in these days to find a
really healthy body that will last to its natural term. Doctors
and officials were appalled during the late recruiting to
discover the actual physical condition of the race. The poverty
in this rich civilization is unbelievable. It is stated that
seventy-five percent of the births in some cities in the United
States are of indigent parents. It is not likely that a world
average would give a better figure.
The National Association for the study of epilepsy announced that
there is one epileptic for every four hundred people in the
United States. The numbers of prisons, and increasing and more
debasing crimes, have been so often commented on that the mind
grows callous to their significance. The New York City estimates
of drug habitues have doubled in a period of months to 200,000.
It is believed there are from one million five hundred thousand
to five million addicts in this country. Only ten percent of
cocaine production is used legitimately. The remainder is
corrupting for the most part boys and girls of from seventeen to
It is difficult to realize one's personal responsibility for this
state of things. In fact, without the teachings of the old
Wisdom-Religion about life, it would be impossible. But when one
knows of all the lives behind him right here on this globe, and
knows that no one can live without exerting an influence on the
trend of life; that the souls who are here now are the same that
have been coming again and again; that heart-life is in a way
common soil, absorbing mental deposits as water absorbs and
spreads its ingredients; and when one adds to this the knowledge
that all are every moment, willingly or unwillingly, consciously
or otherwise, contributing their quotas to create the powerful
controller of events, known as 'public feeling,' then we cannot
escape the belief that we have a causal relation to present
It may seem that if one lives quietly at home, taking no part in
public activities, that the blame can be shifted upon the
shoulders of those who do. But the old teaching shows that it is
what one IS that really shapes events, and national and race
issues are in truth decided by the composite man, as world events
by the composite nation.
There are always abundant evidences that things are going wrong.
It does not need a great prophet to see that sooner or later some
violent general disturbance must take place.
It is the same in the physical body. Disease hints of its
presence long before it becomes threatening. There are little
ebullitions of the virus, and then a return of calm. They grow
more frequent, more general, more various, for the life-forces
work always for harmony.
It is in the human body as in the great world. Slight
manifestations first; the innocent disorder termed 'a cold'
appears. Poisons are thrown off and relative health returns.
Then perhaps more frequent colds, more serious conditions follow,
which means that the organism is making more strenuous efforts to
purify and reestablish health. The more vigorous the
constitution, the more energetic will be the symptoms.
The very weak will fade away with mild ones. There is no tide of
health for them. The destroyers have the upper hand. For it is
a fight between the builders and destroyers; illness meaning an
arousing to action on the part of the former to rid the system of
the poisons which have been allowed to gather there through the
ignorance, mistakes, and sins of the ego who should have guarded
The final result each time depends upon which side comes out of
the battle the stronger and the subsequent history depends upon
which of the two is reinforced by the man who inhabits that body.
There are two ways of meeting disease, namely, taking it at an
advantage, or disadvantage. Most people choose the latter. They
follow their desires of a lower, selfish order, consider the
immediate physical comfort of the first importance; or strain and
overtax their forces with a reckless disregard for the future.
Then come one or more of the inevitable occurrences of life -- an
unusual exposure, an emotional strain, an extra push of work,
perhaps a genuine injury to the body or one of those apparent
conspiracies of circumstances to converge upon a single
individual a host of minor misfortunes which block his efforts
for relief at every step. Of course, more toxins accumulate, and
the issue is forced for the constructive energies, which they
must arouse themselves to meet, doing as well as they can under
There is the natural illness, so to speak, which belongs to its
cycle, but which may be forced out of time, and the emergency is
then weighted with a burden of precious accumulations to such a
degree that the result becomes problematical. We may call it
unexpressed Karma, latent disease, or a feeble constitution. But
there it is, in greater or less degree, with most of the race
units. Very few probably have any idea of what real health is.
The other way to meet disease is to so live and act and think
that little by little the burdens of the past grow less. There
will be no escaping of Karma, of course. Those old effects now
become causes and will have to be endured as effects. But they
can be worked off by degrees and at an advantage. One can begin
to work with the Builders instead of with the Destroyers.
In the natural growth toward health, and as gradually incidents
which blur the picture are eliminated, these tides can be
observed, which if met, cooperated with intelligently and
philosophically, will gradually diminish as an expression of
disease, and finally fade, if new mistakes are not constantly
committed. They may then, no doubt, be felt as a wonderful
influx of vigor, fresh joy, or clearer vision. Who can dream
what the natural, unobstructed tide might be?
Finally, for each life comes the great Regenerator, Death. But
we interfere sadly with our lives if he comes before his time.
Thus likewise in the larger world, normal tides bring joy. It is
the Karma of the world which forces upheavals. There must be
danger that these latter also may be precipitated out of season,
like the bursting of a dam before the walls are ready, for Mr.
Judge tells us somewhere that the Guides of evolution hold back
the awful Karma of the world till it can break with least
But history repeats these deluges, and what wonder? Nations
always nursing hatreds of other nations, marching upon them like
pirates and seizing their goods; governments glorifying this
conduct, and calling it patriotism -- such things have made up
its pages as far back as our records reach.
The marvel is that with the wrong nations do to each other, with
the injustices that individuals are guilty of toward each other,
and with the crimes that people commit against themselves, the
wonder is that we have even so much of beauty and happiness as we
have. It is a striking vindication of the Soul.
And so it has been that century after century, the evils seething
in the heart of man have come to the surface and shown themselves
for the ugly things they really are, in a most DISADVANTAGEOUS
way. They have got beyond control and spread like a forest fire,
because they were not met and conquered in the proper place, in
the individual hearts.
Warnings come like the rumblings of a volcano; there are little
uprisings of the oppressed, then greater, and finally a
tremendous bursting forth of the pent-up furies that have been
created by man's selfishness.
The French Revolution was inevitable since the abundant warnings
extending over years were unheeded by those who should have
heeded them, and since no change of heart could be effected in
the nation. The final dissolution of all the nations that have
gone down in disgrace was always preceded by signs of disease,
periodical at first, then chronic, but it was not cured in the
only way and place possible, namely, by new currents generated in
the human heart.
A persistence of the old habits of thought and feeling carried
them, one and all, down to their doom. For all these things, if
they exist, must be cast up when the Great Spirit of life begins
to stir beneath the waters. The air must be purified. Humanity
must be made to see itself. Following this, come the wonderful
opportunities, the chances to start again in a new way. The
rainbow of promise is in the sky, but its fulfillment depends
upon ourselves alone.
It has been clear to many for a long time that this age was
mortally sick. Carlyle wrote graphically of it many years ago.
This Theosophical Movement was started in 1875 with knowledge of
what was to come and for the purpose of calling the attention of
the people to the remedy to be applied. William Q. Judge said
in substance once that unless we could succeed in making
Brotherhood an active force, we should see rivers of blood
flowing in our cities. In THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY, he quoted this
from a great Teacher:
> THAT which
> > Just, though mysterious, leads us on unerring,
> > Through ways unmarked, from guilt to punishment
> -- which are now the ways and the high road on which move onward
> the great European nations. The western Aryans had, every nation
> and tribe, like their eastern brethren of the fifth race, their
> Golden and their Iron ages, their period of comparative
> irresponsibility, or the Satya age of purity, while now several
> of them have reached their Iron age, the Kali-Yuga, an age BLACK
> WITH HORRORS. This state will last . . . until we begin
> acting from within instead of ever following impulses from
> without. . . . Until then the only palliative is union and
> harmony, a Brotherhood in ACTU and ALTRUISM not simply in name.
In another place, he himself says:
> This Yuga began about 3102 years before the Christian era, at the
> time of Krishna's death. . . The scientific men of today will
> have an opportunity of seeing whether the close of the five
> thousand year cycle will be preceded or followed by any
> convulsions or great changes, political, scientific, or physical,
> or all of these combined. . . .
> At the present time the cycle has almost run its course for this
> [i.e., last] century. . . . [It is to be] hoped by the time
> the next tide begins to rise that the West will have gained some
> right knowledge of the true philosophy of Man and Nature, and be
> then ready to bear the lifting of the veil a little more.
The great movement for Universal Brotherhood heralds something
possible for this century which is beyond human imagination. The
cycle now upon us offers an opportunity, colossal, supernal, and
over powering in its glory. But nothing is made clearer than
that the seizing of it depends upon the degree to which each one
seizes upon his own nature, masters it, and turns its forces in
the right channels. This is the keynote to the situation, which,
if found and used, will transfigure human life, make it sound and
beautiful as it should be, and bring a reign of peace and
happiness to supplant this age of horrors.
One can avoid being lost in the confusion by reflecting on the
Higher Law, and focusing the mind on the rich pure stream of
divine energy which underlies all the abortive, deformed
expressions marring the world's life; by working with this deep,
true, compassionate power, and becoming one of its channels to
On one of her recent lecture-tours, Katherine Tingley said:
> It is a glorious work, and those who take part in it are indeed
> fortunate. Their responsibility is great, and the calls made
> upon them often heavy. But they should know that they are
> working with the tide of the world's life working with them.
> They can afford to keep in their own hearts an immense courage,
> an utter fearlessness, an unshakable determination. For victory
> is ready waiting for them. They, for their part, have only to do
> their simple duty.
WORK VERSUS MERE TALK
By T. Henry
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, April 1921, 323-26.]
This saying, which is but one of many similar, refutes any
statement that might be made to the effect that Theosophy is
merely speculative and unpractical. It also serves to
distinguish Theosophy from its counterfeits (some of the
counterfeits being under the very name of Theosophy). We can
surely point to the words of the Founder in definition of what
Theosophy is and what it is not.
The inference is that anything which does not lead to action is
not Theosophy, whatever it may call itself. The difference is
the same as that between real and sham virtue, genuine compassion
and mere emotionalism, merit and presumption, and, generally
speaking, between all genuine things and their mere appearance.
Theosophy was never intended by its Reviver in our age to be a
mere pursuit for the gratification of intellectual curiosity,
love of the marvelous, or ambition; but strong efforts have
always had to be made to keep it from becoming so. We may find
even today people and coteries who use the name of Theosophy to
designate unpractical activities of this kind; and they are in
marked contrast with the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical
Society, which alone carries on the work in the spirit of its
The teachings of Theosophy are of such a nature that they cannot
be made serviceable to oneself unless one makes the sincere
endeavor to apply them to one's conduct. And the application of
Theosophical teachings to one's conduct implies that one shall
engage in active practical work among men. As expressed by
William Q. Judge:
> The power to know does not come from book-study nor from mere
> philosophy, but mostly from the actual practice of altruism in
> deed, word, and thought; for that practice purifies the covers of
> the soul and permits that light to shine down into the
The Theosophical teachings, such as Karma, the septenary
constitution of man, the spiritual unity of mankind, may be
studied intellectually and made objects of pious meditation; but,
unless put into practice, will remain in the state of all such
intellectual beliefs -- that is, detached from actual life and
barren of results so far as betterment of that life or the
attainment of real knowledge, is concerned.
There are many people perfectly willing to change their religious
beliefs and adopt any new ideas, so long as their REAL religion
-- that is, the settled principles on which their life is ordered
-- is not disturbed; but when that is threatened, they resist
strongly and instinctively. The invariable resort of such people
is to make the new ideas unpractical, to keep them in the state
of merely intellectual beliefs.
But Theosophy, as is abundantly proved from the utterances of the
Founder of the Society and her successors, is intended to work a
reform in the very life of humanity, to supplant some of our
fondest delusions, and to influence us to lay aside many
prejudices in favor of broader and more unselfish aims.
This may help us to estimate the magnitude of the task undertaken
by the Founder. She called in question the validity of a vast
and time-grown concretion of rooted ideas. And from out the
depths of this mass of conservatism there went forth a silent and
determined opposition, which she had to confront. Such is the
price paid by Teachers.
In a smaller way, each sincere Theosophist has to face just such
a problem in his own character.
Among those who are drawn to Theosophy, we may distinguish people
who merely anticipate a pleasant new belief but are not prepared
to make any sacrifices for it; and those who welcome Theosophy as
a herald of better achievements in the line of conduct and duty.
Calling the latter sincere Theosophists, be it observed in
reference to them that there is a law of nature which is called
into operation by the force of their aspirations. It is Newton's
third law of motion, but in a sense less restricted than usual:
to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This
law, however, does not prevent progress.
A swimmer encounters the resistance of the water, which he does
not arouse so long as he remains still; and in spite of this
resistance, he progresses. So the aspirant, by his aspiration,
arouses resistance from the inertia of his character and his
Thus begins his practical work. It is the token that his
Theosophy is sincere, has taken root in his character, and is
accomplishing work. Theosophy leads perforce to action;
otherwise what has been supposed to be Theosophy is mere
intention and talk.
Obstacles, then, may be expected; but surely the wise man will
hail them, not deplore. Are they not the tokens of his success?
As said in our second quotation, the practice of altruism
purifies the covers of the soul. This refers to the teaching
that the soul is the real knower, and the mind is one of its
instruments, which should interpret it, but which in ordinary
cases obscures it. Wisdom is to be attained by so purifying the
mind that it is enabled to reflect the soul-wisdom. Desires and
passions and wrong notions of all kinds are the great hindrances,
for they throw the mind into myriad fantastic forms, and no
wisdom is able to penetrate. Hence real progress in Theosophy
demands practical work, for so only can we render ourselves
capable of appreciating the essence of its teachings.
It scarcely needs saying that, where there is the desire for
practical work, the opportunity will not be wanting. Such
opportunities present themselves all the time, and there is no
need to go hunting for them. We have only to use the
opportunities we have been hitherto letting slip.
It is by no means an unknown experience that a student of
Theosophy will, by his zeal, draw upon himself an opportunity;
and then, instead of taking it, miss it. He has tested himself
and failed at the test. If he is wise he will, looking back over
the experience, learn a lesson that will prevent a similar
mistake later on.
Suppose, for example, that the student was anxious to overcome an
irritable temper and acquire thereby a more equable and judicious
disposition. In accordance with certain natural laws, which
begin to become evident to the practical student of Theosophy,
his aspiration would before long bring a test upon him. His
desire to conquer his weakness would tend to bring about its own
fulfillment. Then he would either win or lose in the
opportunity. Thus practical work is indispensable, for who can
overcome his temper theoretically and without actually trying?
People may say they have come across several different sorts of
Theosophy, but there is only one practical, and therefore
genuine, Theosophy; the others are of the mere talk-and-intention
Ardor and energy are the very essence of the character of the
Founder. Hers was a herculean work. She had to go right beneath
the surface and strike at many rooted ideas and prejudices in
modern civilization. This roused a great amount of silent and
determined opposition, and a character of surpassing strength was
needed to stand the strain of such opposition.
Theosophy was anything but mere talk and intention for her: it
was very practical indeed. And so it must always be for her
pupils. If they aspire to the name of Theosophists, they must be
endued with at least a portion of her spirit, however small; and
this will mean that their desire is to achieve, to plant the
seeds of real progress.
How, it may be asked, can we be practical in connection with such
a Theosophical teaching as Reincarnation? The answer is that the
teaching was promulgated for the purpose of enduing man with that
new hope and self-respect which is so necessary; it was not given
out for the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity or to provide
food for vain and foolish speculations and claims. We are
expected to prove our belief in Reincarnation by acting as
immortal Souls should act.
The desire for knowledge is a worthy aspiration, and Theosophy
makes a point of assuring man that he is not forbidden to try and
know as much as he can. But the sincere and earnest student is
not long in finding out that he cannot advance in his quest for
knowledge unless he obeys the necessary conditions -- that is,
unless he puts into practice what he has learned -- puts it into
practice in his conduct with himself and towards his fellows.
Some of us old members were once attracted to the pursuit of vain
speculations and experiments, but had our feet turned in a
different direction by the Teacher, who showed us what her real
purposes were and what Theosophy demanded of its adherents.
Those speculations and experiments now seem by-paths, which
cannot be profitably pursued until certain very urgent reforms
have been accomplished in our own nature. The work of uprooting
weaknesses becomes more important than the attempt to acquire new
faculties. We are too top-heavy as it is, and need to acquire
more strength at the center, more poise.
Theosophists are striving to create a better standard of life for
themselves and for others. And how can this be done except by
continuous and strong practical endeavor? Mere talk and intention
will not suffice.
BLAVATSKY IN LITERATURE
By John Algeo
H.P. Blavatsky is occasionally mentioned in literary works.
Such incidental allusions are of little significance in
themselves, but they are evidence of her continuing influence on
the modern world. The allusions occur in both fiction and
One example is from fantasy literature. The novel WICKED: THE
LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST (New York:
Regan Books, 1995), by Gregory Maguire, is a reinterpretation for
adults of several characters from the children's story THE
WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum. The reinterpretation
involves a book called the GRIMMERIE, of which the Wizard says
> This is an ancient manuscript of magic, generated in a world far
> away from this one. It was long thought to be merely legendary,
> or else destroyed in the dark onslaughts of the northern
> invaders. It had been removed from our world for safety by a
> wizard more capable than I. It is why I came to Oz in the first
> place . . . Madame Blavatsky located it in a crystal ball, and
> I made the appropriate sacrifices and -- arrangements -- to
> travel here forty years ago. I was a young man, full of ardor
> and failure. I had not intended to rule a country here, but just
> to find this document and return it to its own world, and to
> study its secrets there.
Another example is from a biography of a prominent Canadian
artist and Theosophist: LAWREN HARRIS: AN INTRODUCTION TO HIS
LIFE AND ART, by Joan Murray (Toronto, Ontario: Firefly Books,
2003), kindly brought to my attention by Kathleen Hall. The
biography includes a good many references to Theosophy, such as
> Harris was keenly interested in theosophy, a synthesis of
> religions tied to Eastern beliefs that deal with ethics, art and
> aesthetics, and moral codes . . . He had fallen under the
> spell of the nineteenth-century Anglo-Russian author Helena
> Petrovna Blavatsky, co-founder in 1875 of the burgeoning
> Theosophical Society . . . Madame Blavatsky had suggested that
> theosophy is the primordial wisdom-religion, the secret doctrine
> that underlies all existing religions and scriptures . . .
> Harris deeply believed in theosophy, to such an extent that he
> wrote for The Canadian Theosophist, read papers at conventions,
> and gave radio talks on the subject. He bothered his friends by
> zealously handing out or sending them literature about the
> society (pp. 40-42).
HPB is alluded to in many other works of literature. If any
reader knows of such allusions, I would be pleased to hear of
THE ETERNAL PILGRIM
By R. Machell
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1921, pages 232-40.]
Under one disguise or another, the eternal pilgrim has been the
subject of innumerable legends, myths, fables, and historical
romances. All the wanderings of ancient legendary heroes are
fashioned upon the same foundation; and such stories are found in
the great epics of all ages. In history we have the migrations
of races, and in tradition these races and nations have been
personified as individuals who lived through immense periods of
time. The earth in its journey through space presents a cosmic
version of the wanderlust or of the forced pilgrimage that is
decreed by some superior power according to the fancy of the poet
or the fashion of the time.
The fairy-stories of our own childhood owed much of their charm
to this never-failing theme, the wandering hero or heroine in
search of some apparently unattainable object, veiled perhaps by
a goal of more achievable proportions, adapted to the
comprehension of the public or the taste of the age in which the
story was told.
In our own times the Wandering Jew has been perhaps the most
popular version of the eternal pilgrimage; and the theme has been
used in one form or another by almost every well-known writer of
romance, and by more than one serious historian.
The popularity of a legend depends upon its power to appeal to
some passion of the human heart that is common to all sorts and
conditions of humanity: and there is no quality more generally
admired than heroism, no theme more popular than that of a noble
hero wandering in search of some elusive goal, or the
accomplishment of some impossible task, to be crowned at the last
with power, fame, love, wealth, the mere consciousness of mighty
deeds well done, or spiritual wisdom gained.
Why is this theme so popular? Why is hero-worship universal? You
may say simply because all human beings desire things more or
less unattainable: that is to say, things that are far beyond the
reach of such powers as they may be able or willing to exert.
Things easily attainable make no appeal to the imagination, which
in the ordinary man or woman is only stirred by some secret
longing of the heart, such as the desire to be or appear heroic.
Why such longing should exist in people of the ordinary kind is
not apparent, without a deeper insight into the mysteries of the
human heart than is possible to the ordinary man. That there are
unsuspected depths and unexplored heights within the heart of the
most ordinary person is made evident when some unusual
circumstance calls out heroic qualities in the character of one
who till then seemed utterly devoid of heroism.
It is evident that many, if not all, people of unheroic character
are pleased to imagine themselves capable of heroic deeds, and
would be delighted to pose as heroes if there were the smallest
chance of their being able to impose upon anyone. And why? Does
not the desire for admiration rise in the first place from a sort
of subconscious belief that the real inner man is truly noble,
courageous, heroic, as well as strong and beautiful? May it not
be that indeed there is in every one of us hidden beneath a mean
and commonplace personality a potential hero who would behave
heroically if that same personality would but give him the chance
to display his beauty and his courage?
This inner, unknown, and only potential hero may be a fact; and
it may be that the whole evolutionary process is concerned with
the unfolding of his spiritual possibilities. It may indeed be
the fact that the whole of nature exists for the purpose of the
evolution of the soul. And so the soul of man, of nature, or of
the universe, may be the great unmanifested reality that stands
behind all the temporary and passing illusions of ordinary life.
So too it may be the fact that the unknown and unevolved soul of
man is the hero who would stamp his image on the ignoble
personality that so shamelessly asserts himself as the real man,
and it may be for this reason that every youth, and most
full-grown people, nurse in their hearts a secret conviction that
under more favorable circumstances they would be recognized as
heroes, both by an admiring world and by themselves. And for
that reason, tales of chivalry, heroism, and adventure are always
But you may say the eternal pilgrim is not a hero of romance.
That merely means that the hero of romance is a variation from
the original theme of the soul wandering in search of experience.
The Wandering Jew has been presented by Christian writers as a
soul doomed to unending woe, wandering from land to land, without
home or hope, eternally. But in this case, as in all others, the
outer form of the myth changes from age to age, and is colored to
suit the taste of the public for whom the story is told. The
essential feature of the tale is the undying soul of man
wandering through all experience in search of final liberation.
This wandering was represented as a punishment for sin by those
who were interested in propounding and exploiting a definite
scheme of salvation, by means of which a man could pass, with
certainty and dispatch, from life on earth to eternal bliss in
In lands where the scheme of salvation was different, the
pilgrimage of the soul was perhaps itself the path of salvation
or of illumination; and it may have been a long tale of triumph
crowned by final victory; or it may have been a path of joy that
ended in undying bliss: a pilgrimage is not necessarily a period
In ages of ignorance, such as seem to come to all nations and
races at recurring periods in the long story of evolution, the
knowledge of Reincarnation generally dies out, or is obliterated
by those who find the easiest way to rule the world is by fear.
They teach the fear of death and make a horrible bogey out of the
gentle presence that bears the order of release for the
imprisoned or incarnate soul, the beautiful messenger of death.
But there is good reason to believe that, however black may be
the dark age of national ignorance in one part of the world, some
other part may be witnessing a period of the highest culture and
most advanced learning: for the evolutionary waves sweep round
the earth, rising and falling, but not all together. Knowledge
of the Divine Wisdom, called by the Greeks 'Theosophy,' is never
lost to man, though it may be for a while lost to the majority of
men in some particular countries, or even apparently in all; but
not by all men in all lands simultaneously.
While the western world had utterly forgotten the teaching of
Reincarnation, and had almost lost faith in the existence of the
human soul, such knowledge was still common property in many
oriental lands; and other and much higher knowledge was still
treasured by a few even in the west.
Among the more illuminated minds, the progress of the eternal
pilgrim was the one great subject of thought and study. And if
the people as a whole had utterly forgotten the old teachings,
and were living as animals hoping to pass straight from a life of
grossest animalism to one of purely spiritual bliss by virtue of
a blood-offering made for them by their Savior; yet deep in their
hearts remained the knowledge of the soul's existence and the
conviction that the soul was truly heroic. Since the soul knows
its own immortality, there was in every heart a silent witness to
the truth that lay beneath the allegory of the eternal wanderer.
The function of a myth is to present a truth in a form that may,
by its familiarity, appeal to the popular mind without raising
the antagonism certain to be roused by dogmatic assertion of an
unfamiliar teaching. So the myths of wandering heroes, or
eternal exiles banished from a spiritual home, were means of
keeping alive in men's hearts an intuition or an instinct of
immortality that had been forgotten by the popular mind.
The myth sometimes deals with the experience of a soul passing
through a single incarnation, as in the bible-story of the
prodigal son, who leaves his father's house, the Father "that is
in heaven," and journeys to a far land, this earth, and there
squanders his substance in riotous living.
At last he remembers his father's home, his own spiritual origin,
and he says: "I will arise and go to my father." He returns from
his long wandering on earth, where he has groveled with
swineherds and gained his experience of the unfitness of such a
life to satisfy the soul's needs; and his father in heaven
receives him cordially. Thus is told very briefly and
symbolically the story of a single incarnation.
Other myths have a far wider range, and represent the pilgrim of
life as passing through many lives on earth and in mystic worlds
above or below the earth. They speak of descent into an
underworld, or of translation into the celestial regions of the
blessed, and of a return to earth at periodic intervals.
There is the beautiful Peri, cast out of Paradise, seeking to
return, and sent back to earth to gather a gift that shall unlock
the crystal bar of heaven. She looks down on the children of
earth pityingly as she tries to find there some pearl that is
pure enough to shine in heaven, sighs as she searches, and says:
"Some flowerets of Eden ye still inherit, but the trail of the
serpent is over them all."
When Madame Blavatsky began to call the attention of the world to
Theosophy, the doctrine of Reincarnation was so completely
forgotten by the general public that the teacher had to 'go slow'
in reintroducing to the European public a doctrine that was still
openly accepted in a large part of the Orient.
Even now, after nearly half a century of Theosophical propaganda,
there are people who regard this self-evident truth as a
questionable theory; but it would be hard to find a well-educated
man or woman in the western world today who is not more or less
familiar with the term, however little they may understand the
teaching. Numbers of people have recognized the truth of the
proposition at the first hearing, and many have expressed
surprise at not having found it out for themselves. The reason
for such ready recognition of a truth is probably that the soul
of man is not so sound asleep within its 'chrysalis of flesh' as
one might well imagine, judging men and women by their ordinary
The eternal pilgrim is the most universal fact in human life: for
every human soul is such a pilgrim, traveling in search of
self-knowledge and gathering experience, necessary or
unnecessary, helpful or harmful, as the case may be; eternally
urged onward by the evolutionary impulse, which is sometimes
called the principle of desire, the desire for existence.
Without the Theosophic teachings as to the complex nature of man
and the dual character of mind, a soul may answer to the call of
truth, although the unilluminated mind may not be able to explain
to itself the reason for its acquiescence in a doctrine that may
seem strange and unreasonable at first hearing. But when
Theosophy is studied in the right spirit, the complex character
of man becomes self-evident; though the understanding of the true
nature of the various principles may come slowly.
The great fact that man is a soul inhabiting a body, once that it
is recognized, becomes the key to every problem that can possibly
bewilder or assail the mind. The fact that the soul of man is an
eternal pilgrim wandering in search of jewels of wisdom, once
that it has become alive in him, will prove its truth to him
continually in the unfolding of his character. In fact the
recognition of this simple fact is the first step towards
self-consciousness, in the higher sense.
Of course it may be argued that all experience is good and that
all is equally desirable; but this is a deceptive play on words.
To be precise, in speaking of experience, one might well say that
repetition of an experience is waste of time and energy, and
indeed is not truly experience, in the real sense, but merely
useless repetition of sensation. Certainly something may be
learned in that way, if only the lesson that such repetition is
unnecessary and injurious. But is there not a better way?
When a soul begins to struggle for its liberation from the
thralldom of the body and the senses, then repetition of
experience is waste of time. When the prodigal remembers his
father's home, he will turn in disgust from his diet of "husks
that the swine do eat." He will not argue that such food is
valuable experience. He has learned that lesson, in one aspect
at any rate.
The legend of the Wandering Jew is interesting from many points
of view. Some think it had its origin in the destiny of a people
doomed to wander for a long period, preserving their traditions
through the dark ages of their wanderings, to emerge at last
purified and enlightened for the helping of humanity.
Others have seen in it a tale of vengeance, long drawn out, for
crimes committed long ago. Many writers have used it as a theme
of mere romance, not looking beyond the legendary personality
condemned to live on in loneliness, till expiation of his crime
shall set him free to die. Yet few have failed to realize the
element of allegory in the drama even if they were unable to
divine the meaning.
The key to the story must surely be Reincarnation. And it may
well be that some historical initiate remembering his past lives
may have been represented as speaking of the forbidden topic, and
so, self-doomed to the long expiation of his fault, in boasting
of his knowledge, to live on beyond the normal age of man and
thus to serve as a reminder to mankind that there are higher
powers, not far away behind the clouds, but close in touch with
ordinary humanity, able to call them to account for profanation
of the mysteries.
It is indeed most probable that some of the historical or
legendary characters reported to have lived for thousands of
years, were men who displayed a knowledge of events connected
with their own previous incarnations, and who thus seemed to be
remembering those events in the ordinary way, which would require
the use of the same body and brain for the whole period covered
by the supposed or pretended memory.
As to the possible limits to which man's bodily life may be
extended, I do not pretend to guess -- and I am quite prepared to
find that we all die long before we would do if we lived better
lives. Indeed it seems to me most probable that the chief cause
of death is the accumulation of memories, physical as well as
mental; results of evil or mistaken causes, set up in ignorance
or in defiance of the laws of health, and weighing us down with
sickness of mind and body.
If a man lives in perfect harmony with all the laws of life, he
must surely have nothing to regret, no wasted energies to
restore, no damaged instrument to repair, and no evil
consequences of mistakes to suffer. Why should he die? There
would still be the habit of the race to overcome: the habit of
early dying, stamped in every atom of his material body and mind:
for a man cannot at will make himself separate from the race in
which he chooses to incarnate, or in which his Karma compels him
Brotherhood is a fact in nature and it cannot be overlooked, nor
can its claims be repudiated. So we should naturally expect that
if a man had the power to prolong his own life indefinitely, he
would only use the power for the service of a worthy cause, and
never for his own gratification. Brotherhood is a fact in
nature, and selfishness is a denial of that great natural law,
which is what some call sin. It has been well said that sin is
the seed of death, meaning by sin the violation of natural law.
The eternal pilgrim is the reincarnating ego of the personal man:
the man who never dies, and who, in his deeper consciousness, may
carry the memory (or its equivalent) of many lives. But we all
know that there are many things admitted as true by our own inner
selves, which are ignored or even actually denied by the personal
self in its most selfish moods.
We all live in open violation of many laws of nature that we know
nothing about, as well as in frequent defiance of some laws that
are better known to us than we care to admit; and consequently we
grow old, and look for our release from the burden of a worn-out
instrument as a step towards a fresh start with a new body better
suited to our needs. We are all optimists in such matters and
expect each time to get a better body and fresh opportunities.
What right do we have to expect a better body than the one we
have so shamefully misused? For we all do misuse, or have at some
time misused, these bodies. And they were probably much better
than we might expect, all things considered. "Better it is to
bear the ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of."
Better still it is to acquire habits of self-control that will
enable us to make better use of the next body that we get.
Nor can it be a matter of chance what kind of body shall be our
next vehicle; for we are sowing seeds of causes all the time, and
they will in due course result in just such a manner as the
complexity of causes must necessitate. We may get more or less
than we expect; but we may reckon on the justice of natural law
to give us our due regardless of our expectations.
If we are working for the good of all mankind rather than for our
own personal advantage, we shall regard events as opportunities,
and not at all as either rewards or punishments. If we can live
to benefit mankind, we shall not care overmuch what are the
conditions of our service, nor shall we take much thought of
where our lot is cast, since we have taken service in the cause
of Universal Brotherhood.
It has been well said that to work for self is to work for
disappointment. This refers to the personal self, the lower
self, spoken of in mystical works as the illusion, the shadow,
and the image. The eternal pilgrim is the real individual, the
Ego, the real self. Some writers call it the soul; and I think
that term is a good one for general purposes, though it may be
too loose for philosophic use, unless qualified and defined; for
the word has been used in many strange ways by various religious
The personal self is naturally selfish, even in its most
unselfish actions. It is selfishly virtuous, and selfishly proud
of its own virtue. Vanity and modesty may be equally evidences
of self-admiration, both being the result of an absorbing
interest in the personal self and its interest or emotions. So
much is this the case that to speak of a selfless personality is
almost to use a contradiction in terms: selflessness being only
possible to the higher self, which is conscious of its identity
with the Universal Self, to whom all personal selves are but as
the fruits of one tree to the tree itself.
This is not to say that a person cannot act unselfishly; far from
it: but the selfless motive can only come from the selfless Self,
if I may use another paradox of terms. Selflessness is beyond
the comprehension of personality, but the lower or personal self
can be taught to behave unselfishly: and it is a common thing to
see good virtuous people falling over themselves in admiration of
their own virtue, and practicing virtue for the selfish enjoyment
of a sense of superiority to their neighbors, whose natural
selfishness may be really more impersonal than the affectation of
such a self-deceived model of all the virtues.
Selflessness is indeed a big word, and we may well leave it out
of our general vocabulary and content ourselves with the more
easily attainable ideal of unselfishness: for it has been well
said that: "Step by step we climb to higher things." Even the
most selfish virtue may be a step upward towards the Path; while
an unkind criticism of a self-deluded brother may be a big step
downward on the wrong road. We must remember that "Brotherhood
is a fact in nature," not a mere theory to be trifled with
intellectually, and what we owe to humanity is forgetfulness of
personality in recognition of our common origin and eternal
Some critics of Theosophy complain of the coldness and
impersonality of the Theosophical ideals, not finding in its
teachings much encouragement for that sentimental 'gush' so dear
to the emotional ones who revel in the indulgence of their own
feelings, and pride themselves upon their sensibility.
The student of Theosophy must learn to distinguish between the
REAL self and the FALSE; and this can only be accomplished by a
constant invocation of the true self, and a continual effort to
control the lower by the higher: for the lower is a usurper of
But the eternal pilgrim, the real self, is nearer to the "Father
that is in secret," the supreme Self of all, and knows the true
self from the false; and so is not deceived by the delusions of
the mind, nor blinded by self-righteousness. It seeks the pure
light, in which no self-deception can exist. It sees all men as
other selves, each with its separate purpose to fulfill, each
with its lesson of experience to be learned. It sees its own
small personality as one of the multitude to be cared for, as one
of the great family of earth-born children individually weak, but
accomplishing collectively a mighty purpose in the evolution of
the great universe, of which no smallest atom is without its
value to the whole, no single personality without its individual
significance in relation to its fellows.
"To live to benefit mankind is the first step," we are told; and
those who have adopted this as their attitude of mind in all
life's problems know that it is possible to live a selfless life,
while working in the world, accomplishing the duty of the moment
and the day, but almost unconcerned as to the personal results of
The ideal is not impractical. But it will take all a man's power
of will, and all his energy and enterprise, to hold that attitude
of mind as his guide and make it practical. It may require many
lifetimes of experience before the ideal can be fully realized,
for wisdom is not a gift of the gods, but a fruit of evolution;
and a man must learn wisdom by experience. Though intuition may
reveal secrets of natural law as in a flash, yet the fruition of
man's work on earth can be accomplished only by mastering the
world of matter and illusion in which our lot is cast.
This earth is now our workshop. We must apply ourselves to learn
its lessons, and to cooperate with nature and with man in order
to make life beautiful. So shall the eternal pilgrim go
rejoicing on his pilgrimage to the ultimate goal of Universal
SPEAK LITTLE, JUDGE NOT, LOVE MUCH, AND WORK
By J.D. Buck
[From THE PATH, April 1890, pages 10-14.]
> Rest is not fitting
> The busy career:
> Rest is the fitting
> Of self to one's sphere.
> 'Tis the brook's motion
> Clear without strife,
> Fleeting to ocean
> After this life.
> 'Tis loving and serving
> The highest and best:
> 'Tis onward unswerving,
> And this is true rest.
Notwithstanding all that has been written on the subject, a good
deal of both obscurity and confusion still remains even among
professed theosophists regarding the ethics of theosophy and the
objects of the Theosophical Society.
This was, indeed, to have been expected, both on account of the
extent of the subject, the immeasurable ground covered, and from
the fact that each individual, whether student or disciple, must
not only have in himself "the beginnings of theosophy," but from
first to last is himself the measure of his own understanding and
The mistake is indeed very common to suppose that when once the
whole truth is clearly stated, the work is virtually
accomplished. But the "instructive tongue" must find an echo in
the "faithful breast" ere we reach the beginnings of wisdom. The
end of wisdom, understanding, is again but the beginning of
knowledge and power.
Power is thus a thing of slow growth. It is never reached at a
bound. It is often imagined that when one has really renounced
the world, the whole work is accomplished. So long as one is in
the world, and has not renounced it, his reward is in the world.
Having renounced the world, one is apt to look for his reward, or
to expect some adequate compensation, thus mistaking the
beginning for the end. In truth, however, one does not really
begin to work in the world till he has renounced the world.
Henceforth his work is in the world, not away from it. This is
the paradox that so few seem able to understand.
Renunciation in the sense in which it is ordinarily understood is
substantially suicide. To have found the world distasteful and
life on the ordinary plane a failure, and hence to renounce it,
to turn from the disappointments of life because they seem to
equal its successes, and so to give it all up as not worth the
candle, is to make life a failure indeed.
If this were the mission of theosophy, the short cut by way of
suicide is more logical and sensible.
In response to the hackneyed query, "Is life worth living,"
Theosophy replies, "That depends on the Life and the Living."
So long as one is involved in the life of the world, he is
subject to circumstance and never master even of himself.
Renunciation does not take man out of the world; it but his him
to work in the world by changing his entire attitude to it.
The first result of this change of attitude is the removal of
fret and friction. The result is equipoise and self-possession.
Not that conceit of shallow minds that springs from egotism,
complaisant self-satisfaction, the sign-manual of ignorance.
This often, indeed, passes for self-possession, when it is only
greed for possessing others. That cool, calculating attitude of
the man of the world when seeking the best advantage with the eye
always on the main chance is even nearer defeat and final
catastrophe than almost any other condition that can be imagined.
Self-complacency is superficial, and beneath this mask lurks fear
of the inevitable final catastrophe. This is far removed from
that self-possession that follows renunciation. It is, in fact,
its opposite. The first is inspired by egotism; the second by a
truism. The first seeks to gain. The second is to give. The
first does indeed gain a temporary power over the world, only to
fall afterwards into nothingness and despair. The second gains
power over self, leads upward to the everlasting, triumphs, and
This is the meaning of the "vow of silence" in ancient
initiations. Apollonius did not relinquish his journey or relax
his labors during his five years of silence. When one stops to
consider how much of speech is ill-timed and useless, if not
actually pernicious, golden silence begins to be appreciated.
Our judgments and condemnations of others are at best but
embryonic till we give them life through speech.
In thus limiting speech, we improve judgment and mature thought.
Nor does this limitation of speech by any means destroy
conversation or hinder human intercourse. A good listener is
often as welcome and as greatly admired as a good talker,
provided he listens intelligently. When the time for
conversation arises, well-chosen words, expressing clear ideas,
inspired by noble sentiments, are all that is in any way
desirable in conversation,
A silent example is always more potent than words. Argument is
useless, and criticism of persons pernicious. One who has this
self-possession, who refrains from judging or condemning others,
is ready and able to engage in labors of love. He is not a
reformer, but a transformer. It has often been said that
reformers are men of one idea, and there is a good deal of truth
in the statement.
The motto of William Lloyd Garrison was, "Immediate and
unconditional emancipation of the slave." No compromise, no
colonization schemes, no subterfuges; and presently the nation
heard and trembled.
The transformation of society is by slow methods, like a broad,
shallow stream flowing over vast territories, permeating
everywhere. It is an evolution.
The reformation of society is like a mountain torrent dashing
down precipitous descents, and is often accomplished by
revolution. A reformer must not see too much. A transformer
cannot see too much. The weakness of the one is the strength of
the other. A reformer seeks by criticizing and condemning evils
in others to put down abuses in the world.
A transformer seeks by the power of a noble example and rooting
out the evil in his own nature, to bring out the latent good in
all through the all-redeeming power of love and charity.
It makes all the difference in the world as to how we take our
levels, whether we level up or level down. Say to the fond
mother that she should love other children as her own, and she
replies that she CANNOT, and she brings strong arguments against
it. Shall she level down the love she bears to her own child,
"her own flesh and blood," to the level of that common love and
sympathy that she already bears toward the homeless, and yet that
satisfies itself with giving the broken food and the cast-off
garment to the needy? Or, on the other hand, shall she level up
this indifferent charity to the plane of real mother-love, and so
realize not only the human but the Divine Motherhood?
Suppose all the mothers in any community were to go to work
together to level up their charity to the plane of human
motherhood, would not their own children reap the first fruits of
the diviner motherhood? It is true that no single mother can
reform the motherhood of the world, but she can transform her own
motherhood and make it really divine in its beneficence; AND THAT
IS WHAT THE MOTHERHOOD OF THE WORLD IS REALLY ACCOMPLISHING, IN
SPITE OF THE FATHERHOOD OF MAN, THAT CONTINUALLY IGNORES PERSONAL
RESPONSIBILITY AND MULTIPLIES ORPHANAGE AND BASTARDY! The work
that one noble, loving woman can accomplish in any community is
seldom even dreamed of, much less realized.
In relation to woman, man should begin as a reformer. In
relation to woman, the average man of the world is indeed "a man
of one idea." This idea is anchored in "sex" and bounded by
"self." Let him declare "immediate and unconditional
emancipation" of WOMAN. No colonization, no compromise, no
subterfuge. Let him replace the sham of generosity by the
reality of justice. Let motherhood be a free choice with full
partnership in the subsidy.
Love in its truest and best sense is impossible without Liberty.
The real love-labor of man and woman begins only where slavery
Here is precisely the partition wall between love and lust. The
one thrives only in freedom, giving that which is its own: the
other is the degradation of slavery, the tyranny of egotism,
despoiling another and taking that which is not its own.
The reformation of man must go back to the year ONE of the
"Christian Era," and begin with the first chapter of Genesis.
Man began by stealing the "Godhead." Let him relinquish this
ill-gotten, ill-used authority over woman, and a real Christian
era will begin.
The Roman Catholic Church, always "wise in its day and
generation," colonized the Godhead, and by instituting Mary Queen
of Heaven managed to keep possession of woman in the present
world with an apparent sanction of both logic and justice. This
is precisely what Constantine did when he married Catholicity to
temporal power, making the man of sorrows an incomprehensible
mystery, and putting creed in the place of Christos.
Let the critic judge as he will of the writings of Madame
Blavatsky, her work stands as an everlasting memorial to every
member of the Theosophical Society. What occurs during the eight
hours from 10 pm to 6 am, no witness has ventured to declare.
The other sixteen hours are amply testified to by a cloud of
witnesses to the most constant and uncomplaining labor for the
Society and its work, regardless of heavy burdens that would
daunt the stoutest heart. Ill-health, poverty, and abuse have
been her reward as men count gain. Whatever motive her
calumniators may find for such labors under such adverse
circumstances concerns us very little, only so far as it really
impedes her work. It has been so far powerless to arrest it,
however it may misinterpret and misrepresent.
Only they will understand her labors that have already within
themselves the germ of that for which she toils, and whenever all
of these have received the message, her work is done. The
monuments which the tardy justice of her detractors and
obstructers may rear to posterity will no more atone for present
injustice than the monument offered to the memory of Bruno in
Rome can bring him back to life or justify his murder. Her
present example, however, cannot fail of its significant lesson
to everyone in any way deserving the name of Theosophist.
Ask Madame Blavatsky. "Is life worth the living," and she will
tell us, from all personal considerations, "A thousand times No!"
Yet how many who love life for its rewards and emoluments work as
she? Relinquishing every personal gain, all worldly advantage,
her labors are such as no worldly ambition ever excites and no
love of personal gain ever inspires.
A thoroughly sick woman at the age of sixty can demand little of
the world, and cares little for future fame in the face of
unfailing abuse. At that age, ambition usually cools and
enthusiasm is dead, and yet through all, she WORKS and loves, and
loves her work.
"My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me."
The theosophist who thirsts for knowledge and longs for power,
who imagines that he has renounced the world, and who pretends to
despise the "flesh and the devil," and is looking anxiously for
Mahatmas, or listening for "astral bells," may learn a lesson in
WORK, not only from Madame Blavatsky, but from Col. Olcott and
Mr. Judge as well. Whether to these workers life be worth the
living or not, they are working to make it more desirable to
St. Hilaire may see only the motive of selfishness in Buddhism,
while the professed Christian practically apotheosizes
selfishness. Yet he who knows what renunciation really means
will see that work for the world inspired by love of man is
neither confined to Christ or Buddha, nor to the followers of
either. Man can transform the world only as he reforms himself;
and man can elevate himself only through his efforts to help
The reward is in the work. To serve the truth for the truth's
own sake is to give truth a lodgment in one's own soul. All
falsehood will thus disappear as clouds and darkness vanish
before the rising sun. Thence come peace and rest.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application