Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (
No: 101 August 2010
Karma and Reincarnation – Marjorie Mitchell.
A Cracked Pot.
Places of Power – Stefan Carey.
A Heart of Gold – Amanda F. Rooke.
The Secret Doctrine: abridged and annotated version by H.P. Blavatsky – abridged by Michael Gomes.
Exploring Theosophy – TS
Lost Christianities: the battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew – by Bart D. Ehrman.
Mans’ Responsibility for Nature – by John Passmore.
The Privilege of Learning – Andrew Rooke.
Dr Alan Gudenswager;
‘Aham asmi Parabrahm’ – Koshish Karunga.
Building Your Dream-Home in Heaven – Jim Long.
Advertisement: The Secret Doctrine – HP Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine Index – JP Van Mater.
KARMA AND REINCARNATION
Theosophical teacher G. de Purucker once said:
“We are here on this earth because we have sown seeds of destiny, of life here, and we come back to reap them, to undo the wrongs we did in the past, to reap the rewards that we sowed in the past, and that is why we will come back to re-embodiment in the future. We are now making ourselves to be what we shall in the future become. We are now preparing our destiny for our next life on earth.” – G de Purucker - Wind of the Spirit.
What do we see as the basic tenet in that quote? To me it seems that we are drawn back by the force of our own creation, and this force expresses the quality of our aspirations, motivation, knowledge and wisdom. For wisdom is the result of discovering from experience what is upgrading for ourselves to follow and what is destructive and downgrading. Once we have become aware of this truth, the awareness becomes intuitive, and prompts us to accept what is wholesome and to reject what is evil or destructive, that is, contrary to the divine plan of spiritual growth.
Many people in the Western world find this teaching of reincarnation so foreign and abhorrent, especially if life has been hard or unhappy for them, or when they look with compassion on the apparently unjust sufferings of others. This very question was raised by one of Jesus’ disciples, when he asked Jesus:
“Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 11:2).
Obviously, unless he had lived before he could not have sinned before he was born into his present incarnation. Jesus also referred to John the Baptist as the reincarnation of Elias which was for to come. (Mark ). Reincarnation was an accepted belief in the Jewish teachings that the re-embodiment is part of the divine plan (see Theosophy in the Qabbalah by Grace F. Knoche, page 120 at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gfk-qab/qab-hp.htm.)
Reincarnation was also taught in the Mystery-Schools of
Everything re-embodies itself, from Universes to the tiniest Atoms. Each is ensouled or activated by a spiritual consciousness-centre, which is evolving in its own degree, and the purpose of life is to raise the mortal to immortality. The outward form is but the vehicle through which the deathless, spiritual potency at the core of Man’s being may grow and unfold into perfection. It is not the personality which endures and reincarnates, for this is changing constantly, but the awareness-centre which is divine, and which the personality imperfectly imitates. It is this awareness-centre which yearns to express itself in intellectual, emotional and physical ways, all the potential within of which it is so aware. Who of us has not grieved because we have had to let a dream go unrealised, or sorrowed because the results of some endeavour did not reach the potential he or she intuitively knew was possible? Yet very few of us have either the opportunity or capacity to achieve divine perfection in one life. But we have created this longing to be, and of necessity must continue to reincarnate, in order to achieve our self-conscious Godhead. We can all recall seeing the joy on the face of a little child who has persisted with an unfamiliar task and, wonder of wonders, triumphs over the difficulties to achieve his goal. The inspiration of self-conquest and achievement spurred him to improve and persist, and then to pass on to something more demanding of his latent talents.
And so it is with us. Far from being a heartless punishment, or a merciless treadmill of endless lives, the chance to reincarnate gives us a chance to experience, learn, expand, and to realize and live with that greatest of all truths, that we are part of a great universal plan, behind which stands the Divine Father, and we are all beings in this Universe truly brothers, made of the same Cosmic stuff and subject to the same Universal laws. The cycles we are aware of in our lives and in nature, the rise of seasons, the daylight and night, the rising and falling of the tides, are but short spans of activity and subsidence into relative quiet, which typify the Universal pattern of expenditure and revitalisation of life. Each of us, when reincarnating, is drawn back by our earth experiences of the past which have been imprinted on the Ego as it withdraws from the last incarnation. As each layer of consciousness is shed, the life-force we have given the cosmic material we have used is left behind on that plane to be collected again by the Ego as it makes its way back again to our Earth life. What we leave behind is drawn to, and used by, others who are on Earth and whose levels of evolvement are similar to our own, because this electro-magnetic quality which draws us to the parents and environment most suited to provide the opportunities and vehicle which will best serve our reason for reincarnating.
For we have had and will continue to have, ongoing relationships with the family members and friends with whom we have been closely associated in past incarnations. Like attracts like, and so does antipathy, by the degree we put our emotional or psychic energy into our thought processes. We have the continual choice of selection in our goals and ambitions and associations, but at the same time we cannot run away from our obligations or the responsibility consequences of what we ourselves have created atmospherically and left behind. It is because our vision becomes clouded by imperfect goals and values that we need to withdraw to the Divine to rest and reclothe our Egos with the Divine will or purpose. We can come back refreshed and inspired by renewed joy and resolutions to pay our debts and create in a wholesomely expanding way.
The Ego is ‘Manas’, or the thinking principle, the self-conscious intellectual element in us. When it combines with the emotional, it creates the human personality which makes each of us distinctive. The life-atoms thus imprinted create our character and because we draw them back to us when we reincarnate, we are not, despite the life-atoms having their own degree of self-direction, very different from the personality that left the earth at disembodiment or death. We do indeed pick up the threads of the life we have left behind, and move on from that point.
The scientists among us will say perhaps: “But what of heredity, doesn’t that control what we are, and the environment creates the changes?” What else are heredity and environmental impacts but two aspects of Karma and Reincarnation? What else but the psycho-magnetic forces we have created between one another draws us back to our earthly families and circumstances, as stated earlier. Depending on our values, so the conditions to which we are drawn. As we become less materialistic and selfishly emotional, so we reach out to the wonderful vistas of what is beyond our own limited awareness. The more spiritual we become by which we become more conscious of the power of love and compassion to sustain our noblest principle, so we draw closer to the God-spark within and union with the Divine Father from which we have sprung, until finally we have the choice of moving into higher realms for ever, or of holding back from our just rewards, in order to guide and encourage our less advanced brothers. Such are the ‘Buddhas of Compassion’.
Let me conclude with a brief comment on the so-called ‘avenging angel’ of Hindu tradition known as ‘Narada’, the agent of karmic destiny, a guiding spiritual power, a protector and an inventor of Mankind, who uses men of destiny as agents for the purpose of allowing the Law of Karma to function without the complete destruction of Mankind. Destiny is held firmly in the hands of the Gods, and Narada is their agent. Through his guidance, crystallisations which check spiritual growth is broken and circumstances which could destroy or injure Mankind are stopped. He brings about or restores spiritual and intellectual stability, despite the suffering experienced which the freeing and restoration of true spiritual values necessitates, the results are regenerating and lifting to the souls involved in the experience.
Thus Narada is for Mankind both a destructive and
regenerative guide, the true saviour of men’s souls. This should check us from
sitting in the judgement seat, no matter how the other person’s behaviour
appears to us because with our limited understanding we cannot assess another’s
destiny role in the universal plan of spiritual endeavour and progress. –
Marjorie Mitchell –
Further information on Karma and Reincarnation and other basic teachings of Theosophy is available at the ‘Theosophy Tour’ section of ‘Theosophy Downunder’ website at: http://theosophydownunder.org/theosophictour.php
Meetings in Melbourne August
through December 2010: all meetings are held
Sat. August 7th, : An Introduction to Islam – Nasirah Cavaney (Victorian representative from Islam-Australia).
Sat. September 4th, : As Above, So Below: computer presentation and discussion – Andrew Rooke.
Sat. October 2nd, : Self-Directed Spiritual Evolution: the Doctrine of ‘Swabhava’ – Paul Rooke and Don Shepherd.
Sat. November 6th, : Applying Eternal Wisdom to the Problems of Daily Life – Jennifer Pignataro.
Sat. December 4th, : Indigo and
New in the
New books: Lost Christianities: the
battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew by Bart Ehrman (2003); and
many others, please ring or call in at the library in
New on Theosophy Downunder website: our website is at: www.theosophydownunder.org where you will find a wide range of lectures, books, artworks, and many other items of interest on theosophy and related subjects. New lectures available include: A World Without Money: Is it Possible? – Roza and Margarita Riaikkenen; Buddha: When Will He Return Again? – Andrew Rooke; Man: Know Thyself – Amnda Rooke.
New National Secretaries in the UK: many of our members and friends will have occasion to return ‘home’ to the UK on occasions and will be interested to know that long-serving National Secretary, Renee Hall, retired in January and Pat and Sandy Powell were appointed as joint National Secretaries of the UK Section. If you are travelling to the
New film on Hypatia: Hypatia was a famous pagan woman scholar of
the 2nd century AD in
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.
A CRACKED POT
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."
The old woman
smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path,
but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your
flaw, so I planted flower Seeds on your side of the path, and every day while
we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these
beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you
are, there would not be this beauty to Grace the house -
kindly sent by Nigel Carey –
PLACES OF POWER
I feel that we owe it to ourselves as city dwellers, to know and have our own special places of power, because city life robs us of that special connection with place, our at-oneness with nature.
In this article I’ll look at:
· what some others have said about their feeling of oneness with nature.
· how modern city life and our new culture of distraction takes away our feeling of oneness.
· some of my personal places of power.
· what others have said when they found their place of power.
Sometimes our places of power are far away, high in the mountains, the ocean or the desert. Sometimes they are closer than that, a local park perhaps, or even in the backyard. Sometimes all it takes is for us to be alone for a while in our gardens or some other private place. But why, have most of us in daily life, lost our connection with nature, the special feeling we are at one, that we are a part of your surroundings?
It’s not surprising. We live so much of life in a hurry, our behaviour patterns are under pressure to speed up. Technology is just contributor to what has been called the “hurry disease”. Computers and mobile phones work so quickly we end up thinking faster and faster. We are so used to being able to multitask, we have not noticed how our concentration has been fractured, probably the cause of so much recently diagnosed adult attention deficit syndrome, and why I can no longer easily read a book.
What this distracted state of awareness has done is to put a large barrier between us and our capacity to be in the here and now. And as another consequence, all the communication tools, the social networking sites such as ‘Facebook’, for example, have not strengthened our relationships in an enduring way, they just multiply them manyfold, and they seem to weaken them in some way at the same time. It's as though we have watered-down something important for the price of being instantly and everlastingly connected.
A personal anecdote might help us answer the question of why we so easily lose the connection with nature and inner selves. The phone company rang me the other day to say how wonderful it was we’re still their customer (actually it’s because I am already on information overload!), but they also wanted to know what communication devices we have in our home. I told them. We have a fax, an answering machine, three computers, three telephone handsets, and two mobile phones.
Thinking about what's on the list, I’m surprised we don’t have a direct line to an inner or outer god, but sadly the phone company can’t offer this as their latest product! Thankfully, they’ll never be able to. But my real point is, when I answered I saw we’d gathered lots of machines to make communication with each other easy, but at the same time I’ve forgotten to look after another more important kind of communication, the one I have with nature. One for which the phone company can’t supply a special account or gadget.
In recent years I’ve had little time to visit my places of power to commune with nature, and get in touch somehow with what I think is my inner self and nature. You could also call it universal mind, or God, or the soul, eternal essence, energy or spirit - or whatever. I’ve lost the connection to nature via my places of power, the places where I feel empowered, where I feel deeply connected to something, right at home. But so much for having lost the connection, what is the connection? What am I talking about when I use this word.
Let’s hear about the oneness with nature from others, Henrietta Mann is a PhD, a Southern Cheyenne Elder American Indian. Her comments are published in the book, Native Wisdom for White Minds with comments by Anne Wilson Schaff:
“Nature is God’s greatest teacher. Man must learn to attune his higher spiritual consciousness to the harmonious flow of nature and the throbbing heartbeat of the man [in heaven] who created it for lasting duration in order to realise his oneness with nature and with God.”
And the author’s observation on the Southern Cheyenne Elder Henrietta’s comment is:
“Nature is my greatest teacher. When I take the time to go into nature it takes me a while to adjust to the rhythm of my surroundings. Initially what I hear is the rushing of my own heart and the pounding of my brain. It takes me a while to leave my culture behind me and begin to attune to a harmonious flow of nature. God’s messages in nature do not just enter the brain; they enter the whole being and move into a flow of consciousness that assures us of the oneness of all things with the creator. Only when the mind and the body slow down enough do I have the possibility to know oneness.”
Just listen to those words: It takes time to get to feel the rhythm of nature. Another way to say this is that it takes time to feel the rhythm of universal mind, or that which is nameless without form but with form. A quick jaunt to the country is helpful, but one cannot really appreciate nature without taking the time. My experience is it takes about three days to wind down and relax from normal city-paced living.
It also seems to take
nature time to adjust to us. A city dweller writing for Time Life books
describes a first night out in the dunes of the
“The air was sharp and cold, and life was starting in the dunes after the dead heat of the day. I went for a short walk and surprised a fennec, a small desert fox with large ears, sitting patiently in ambush at a Jerboa’s hole. He was dazzled for a moment by the light, and his eyes glowed brightly. Then he bounded away up the side of the dune, a pale shape with its own moon shadow. I saw nothing else this first night; the dunes were not going to deliver up their secrets easily to a day visitor from the civilized world”. (p.17).
And here’s a good question. Why would not the
The city dwellers divine occupation and privilege is to fight the peak hour traffic, like David against Goliath, but with bad aim caused by an overdose of morning news and rising interest rates. Add to this the disruptive energies of other people, sent just a little bit crazier than us, by their over-sensitivity to modern city living. For example, I have a workmate, James, a devout Buddhist, who seems to be nearing nervous collapse, trying to please too many other people in his struggle for perfection. Sadly, his stressed out condition gets on our nerves. All these influences we do not control, but have to adjust to, can be at the expense of realising and knowing our inner life, our connection with nature and other people. Ask anyone who lives in the country and they will usually say city people are quite mad. They might be right!
But what drives these influences that propel us in the
direction of haste? I think it is important to understand this. For many of us,
it’s the daily struggle to accumulate more possessions, comforts and
experiences than somebody else. The author of the excellent book, Clutter
Busting, Brooks Palmer, says we are already complete in ourselves, but
marketers and advertisers have seduced us to think we are somehow incomplete,
that's why we buy more and more stuff to fill a void – and one does not even
exist! Collecting ‘stuff’ also harnesses the natural human urge of competition.
Car-makers, for example, know our egos are weak. We’re also hooked on creature
comforts; as is the appliance maker who now supplies remote controls for
microwave ovens. Some city dwellers like to collect experiences in the same way
as possessions. I’ve often heard people say they will ‘do’ Europe or they will ‘do’
The frenzy of modern life has turned the city to a place of spiritual emptiness and powerlessness for many individuals with little connection to others. It’s a rootless existence, lived in a borderless and endless urban tract. More so, when they keep moving from suburb to suburb in search of more impressive houses and supposedly better lifestyles. What this creates is a large group of people sensing they belong to nothing, no personal history of place, and cut off from nature and even themselves and each other. Sometimes they turn on each other in frustration.
Road rage is an extreme example of pent up frustrations and anger, fuelled of the feeling of powerlessness and discontentedness; it's a strange permission to let-fly provided by the seeming anonymity of the car. To continue in my harsh insight into modern living and the city as a place of spiritual powerlessness, modern life also offers so little inner satisfaction and communication with the inner life, and so much frustration, that addictions of all kinds are common. They are symptomatic of a life spent in a state of denial of our authentic selves. Do I exaggerate? Look at the statistics for mental illness and prescriptions for anti-depressants, the rate of heroin abuse and teenage suicide – they are increasing. All these are symptoms of unhappiness and inner discomfort on the increase, when outer comfort increases.
Yet supposedly we are living in paradise, “relaxed and comfortable” as a past Australian Prime Minister said some time ago. So what is my solution to all this angst? When possible I go to my places of power.
Here is the story of how I discovered the first when I was seven or eight years old. On a heavily overcast humid, warm spring morning, I stood alone in the schoolyard. A warm wind swept the long grass. For some minutes I was the breeze, and the grass and the grey clouds above, floating across the schoolyard, waving the tassels of the ripe grasses. Sometimes I can still feel this moment of awakening to Mother Nature or Universal Mind.
For many years I lost this feeling of being connected to the elements, of oneness, until I rediscovered it through renewed contact with nature outside the city. I guess that early schoolyard experience was a sign for me for the need for a close future relationship with nature. The outdoors would be important. There would always be the quest for the special feeling of being alive in a different way. To get away from the city entombed in concrete, to find the subtle shift of the breeze, the scent of the bush after rain away from the city, and the pure, cold air carrying the scent of snow in the mountains.
Today my places of power are the river and mountain and forest. I get to them when I can, or when I am driven to them by some inner urge. The first and most important is the river. The river gives me the strongest sense of connectedness most quickly. Why? Because I find the quickest way to get in touch with natural forces and rhythms is by being on and in the river, paddling a kayak. A kayak allows me to float with the current, ride the rapids and basically feel alive again. In a kayak one is with the movements and energies of the river, there is really no other choice. One cannot think about work or anything else but being there. If you do think about other things, you lose focus and capsize. It can be very cold and sometimes dangerous. If there’s a strong current or lots of rapids, the need to focus on the natural forces outside you is even stronger.
In the space of an hour I become the river, my body is an extension of the river, no longer fighting, but working with it. Mentally you must concentrate and read the rocks and the current. This then is a sacred place, a sacred connection between human and natural energy, a place of moving power, because you’ve forgotten yourself and the trifles and troubles that occupy the anxious and worried, uptight, tense, nervous, stressed, annoyed, angry irritated mind – and the emotions we’re not supposed to have.
But if there is one place where I am awakening to an even stronger special energy it is the mountains. It takes me by surprise every time. Before my eyes is a feeling of place where I somehow feel I have always been – a place of feeling “infinite and unforseen” as the singer KD Lang says. This is my connection point with the heavens.
The first time I
realised the power of altitude, was on a
Years later the feeling returned. Atop a higher peak,
Others have been strongly affected by their connection with nature too. On the ocean, the first man to sail solo around the world, in 1898, Joshua Slocum in his book Sailing alone around the World said this:
“During these days a feeling of awe swept over me. My memory worked with startling power. The ominous, the insignificant, the great, the small, the wonderful, the commonplace – all appeared before my mental vision in magical succession. Pages of my history were recalled which had been so long forgotten that they seemed to belong to a previous existence. I heard all the voices of the past laughing, crying, telling what I had heard them tell in many corners of the earth.” (p.51)
If we have no place for peace and contemplation, we have no place, we have no sacred site where we can see and feel the true nature of our lives; places where we may contemplate, and where the soul and the body might sing quietly or loudly in unison. Do you know your place of power? Perhaps you have a vague recollection you like the sea or the mountains. Perhaps your place of power is near a waterfall where the earth’s energies are more conducive to your own special thoughts and feelings seldom felt at other times. Perhaps your place is in the desert, perhaps in a She-Oak forest, with its magical quality of soft foliage and bark on rocky slopes, with the breeze whispering all about you in the desert air.
I’d like to end this short paper with a true-life account of
a world-famous person’s first encounter with his place of power, the ocean. The
ocean frightens me, Jacques Cousteau, co-inventor of the modern aqualung, found
the ocean was his place of power. Quite by surprise, in fact. Jacques Cousteau
suddenly realised, on his first dive with swimming goggles, that the quiet
enchanted world with its “incommunicable beauty”, so close to a busy street in
“One Sunday morning in 1936 at Le Mourillon, near
As they say the rest is history! – Stefan Carey,
A HEART OF GOLD
Amanda F. Rooke
Once there was a most remarkable
statue. Every one of its internal as well as external physical structures, was
an exact mirror of its human counterpart, the sculptor had cast it in lead.
Gradually the sculptor came to realise the leaden man had a consciousness of
his own, and that he had kindly and compassionate feelings towards living
things. Its human like heart was pained by humanity’s suffering, and it yearned
to help people along their path of spiritual evolution. Aided by the sculptor,
the statue gradually became more and more caring, and in a way, its heart, its
brain, its Self began allegorically to turn into a golden likeness of its old
leaden self. The tragedies of life’s grind continued to oppress him, but the
sculpture realised that when one becomes heavy-hearted it is because one has a
heart of gold – Amanda Rooke,
The Secret Doctrine - abridged version - by H.P. Blavatsky; abridged and annotated by Michael Gomes. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, NY, 2009; 255 pages, ISBN 987-1-58542-708-6.
The Secret Doctrine,
Blavatsky's 1500-page masterwork, is the foundational text of the modern
theosophical movement. Still, many find it difficult to read. Its main
lines of reasoning are often obscured by a plethora of examples from world
cultures, citations from authorities, and arguments about the scientific,
religious, and philosophical thought current in the late 19th century when she
wrote. This skilful abridgment preserves the poetic flavour of her
writing and the main outline of her theme while removing references to other
writers and texts as well as criticism and analysis of scientific ideas and
theosophical misconceptions. Gomes organizes his abridgment around the Stanzas,
giving a paragraph or two, or sometimes several pages, of her explanatory
material about each. As he explains: "In this way the stanzas
receive more of a central role and are allowed to speak more clearly than before.
With their strange cadences and rhythmic flow, they provide the means to an
alternate way of looking at the world, humanity, and the saga of creation, or,
as the author describes it, 'a glimpse into eternity.' Fact or fiction,
the stanzas provide one of the great mythos of our time, whose influence on
modern esotericism is undeniable." (p.xxv) Portions of several of
the chapters on symbolism are also included. This is a useful introduction
to theosophical thought which would also make a good choice for book groups. –
reviewed by Sally Dougherty,
Exploring Theosophy – compiled by members of our HQ staff in 2007 and available from our bookshop
This collection of 14 articles, condensed and edited from theosophical publications, is an invitation to inquirers to explore and enjoy the depth and beauty of theosophy. The Theosophical Society is dedicated to making universal brotherhood better understood and more deeply felt in human hearts. Its philosophy, drawn from the universal wisdom tradition of mankind, offers timeless principles that stimulate intuitive knowing and cast light
on any question. These principles provide
tools that can help students discover truth within themselves and unlock the
mysteries of nature, fostering altruism and compassion for all beings – from
Lost Christianities: the battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew – by Bart Ehrman.
Since the hugely successful books by Dan Brown and films starring Tom Hanks – The Da Vinci Code, and, Angels and Demons – it has become better known that what we call Christianity today is merely one version of original Christian teachings. What of the other versions and their scriptures that were rejected at early church Councils like the Council of Nicea in 325AD which largely shaped what we call Christianity today? These include many beliefs which are at odds with orthodox Christian belief, but may easily have become standard fare at the pulpit on Sundays if they had won the race for political acceptance from the Roman authorities in the 4th century AD! These were the ‘Lost Christianites’ which were condemned as ‘heresy’ by the orthodox church and disappeared from history until the 19th century when it became more acceptable for scholars and philosophers, such as Theosophy’s HP Blavatsky, to question the established church. Such versions of Christianity include: the Ebionites – who believed that Jesus was completely human and not divine, and who advocated Jewish religious observance; the Marcionites – who believed that there were two God’s instead of One, and who completely rejected Jewish tradition and the Old Testament; and the Gnostics – more familiar and similar to Theosophy in that they said Jesus spoke of a sacred tradition which if learned and lived could open the doorway to the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. Professor Ehrman has brought together the different strands of scholarship and the discoveries since the mid-20th century of lost scriptures such as the Gnostic Nag Hammadi library, and made all this diverse information available to the everyday reader. The companion volume to this book is Lost Scriptures: books that did not make it into the New Testament (2005). – reviewed by Andrew Rooke,
MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR NATURE by John Passmore Duckworth 1974.
This book by
Australian author John Passmore, is described as “an assessment of man’s
attempts to perfect the world around him”. The author’s aims are firstly to
describe those Western traditions which encourage, or which try to curb, “man’s
ecological destructiveness”. He then
describes the four problems to be addressed, namely pollution, depletion
of natural resources, species-loss, and over-population, and finally weighs
which helpful notions to keep against which destructive notions to reject, in
the Western ecological outlook, so mankind does not continue to live as
“predators on the biosphere”. - reviewed
by Amanda F. Rooke,
THE PRIVILEGE OF LEARNING
We often say that
122 years ago theosophical pioneer HP
Blavatsky published her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine (see review of
new abridged version under ‘Book Reviews’ this issue), which offered the world
an outline portrait of spiritual teachings previously held in sacred trust by
the initiated few. We are told by theosophical writers that these teachings are
more freely available in our present age than they have been for many thousands
of years. In the far and recent past, many earnest defenders of the ‘secret
doctrine’ have sacrificed their energies and sometimes their very lives (for
example, see above the notice on the new film ‘Agora’ about the fate of
Hypatia) to protect the Ancient Wisdom that is now freely available on the
internet or in any good bookshop in
We have the sacred opportunity in this life as Australians and theosophists to make the best of the opportunities our national and theosophical forebears have made for our learning and development. We have relative freedom compared to most countries of the world, and an abundance of information at our fingertips on the internet openly provided for students of the ancient Wisdom. Let us be aware of the privilege of learning we have to enrich others and ourselves with the pure teachings HP Blavatsky sacrificed so much to bring to the world all those years ago.
Theosophical teachings tell us that we have progressed only 5,000 years into the 432,000 year cycle of the Earth’s life known as the ‘Kali Yuga’, literally ‘Black Age’, or figuratively ‘Age of Materialism’. It may well be in future lives that we shall not enjoy the same freedoms and openly provided ‘occult’ information that are our fortunate lot in this life. It may also be that we shall be called upon to contribute to the preservation and dissemination of the Wisdom tradition in far more difficult conditions than prevail today. Let us then seize the golden opportunities each day provides for us to learn and grow, no matter what our span of years, so that we can better serve the cause of human development today and in the future. One of the theosophical founders, William Quan Judge, summed up our responsibilities as theosophists and students of the Ancient Wisdom as follows:
“…We are really working for the future,
laying the foundation for a greater day than this. We are all coming back
together to carry on this work if we now take up all our opportunities. We must
act from duty now, and thus be right for the future. Our duty is to recognize
the great human soul with which we have to deal and for which we should work.
Its progress, its experience, its inner life, are vastly more important than
all our boasted civilization. That civilization could early be swept away, but
what would be left? But no cataclysm can destroy your thoughts. They live on.
And so all the work that you do for the inner life of man can meet with no
destruction, even though the records and books and all ingenious works upon
this outer plane were swept out of existence…” - from an address given by W.Q Judge as
Chairman of the Second Annual Convention of the European Section of the TS
London, July 15th, 1892. The entire address is included in William
Quan Judge’s The Echoes of the Orient which is currently being reissued in the
second edition in three volumes by our Theosophical University Press, Pasadena.
– Andrew Rooke,
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 brain-mind. – William Q Judge.
Walter Geerlings: Our dear friend and fellow worker of many years, Walter Geerlings, passed to greater Light in June. Walter was a long-standing member of our TS, and he was our contact in
Dr Allen Gudenswager:
Allen was a member of a group of theosophical students who met at the home of the
late Tom van Erp in
David Spurlin: Our
members and friends who have visited our international HQ in
Jaromir Skrivanek: The
National Secretary of the Czech Section passed away on
Gaudeant in Astris – ‘They Rejoice Amongst the Stars’
Theosophy Downunder is issued three times per year in
April, August, and November and is edited by Andrew Rooke. We can be contacted
at the Theosophical Society (
Our International Leader is Randell C. Grubb
‘AHAM ASMI PARABRAHM’
Amongst the wonderful prayers of
Pause for a second and think what this statement implies; everything in the Universe from the most massive galaxy to the tiniest atom has at its heart the same Divinity. Think what that means if we take this seriously for our assessment and treatment of our fellow humans and our environment generally. Everything has the potential to unfold Divinity, but what divides us is the degree to which this Inner God is manifest and how much we are willing or able to recognize this potential for Divinity in all things.
Perhaps we can start by simply looking for the ‘highest’ and noblest aspect of other people we meet in course of everyday life instead of forming the habit of criticizing and finding fault with the ‘lower’ aspects of human behaviour with which we are more familiar. For, if we follow the thought behind the Hindu prayer, the ‘highest’ aspect of each person we meet, must necessarily be of the same substance as the ‘Highest’ aspect of the Universe, and we recognize this when we make the effort to see the best in each and every person.
We can start to appreciate the beauty
of the ancient Indian Hindu greeting - ‘Namaste’, meaning, ‘a bowing of the
head’, and implying, ‘My inner Divinity salutes your Inner Divinity’ –
‘Namaste’ from the editorial team at Theosophy Downunder until our next issue.
BUILDING YOUR DREAM-HOME IN HEAVEN
A man died, and he when he eventually got to heaven, St. Peter was there at the gate to welcome him. He said, "Come in, John. I have been expecting you."
"Oh, you have?" he said.
"Yes. I will take you right to your new home," he said.
"Well, that is fine. Thank you." And they started down the golden streets, and John noticed the beautiful mansions and homes on both sides of the street, and marvelled at them, and he said to St. Peter: "My, you certainly have some nice places here. They are beautiful."
"Yes," St. Peter said, "some of our people here live very well. They have fine accommodations." So they went down and down the streets, and John marvelled and marvelled, but the mansions and the houses were not quite as pretentious — a little smaller. But they kept going, and he still marvelled. But after a while the houses became a little bit decrepit looking, and John said to St. Peter, "These places aren't nearly as nice as those up there. How's that?"
"Oh, we have all kinds here. It all depends," replied St. Peter. So they kept walking, but after a little while longer they got very ramshackle, and John got a little worried and said to St. Peter: "Now, wait a minute. Where are you taking me?"
"Why, I'm taking you to your new home," St. Peter said.
"Yes, but I would like to have one of those back there."
"Now wait, you will have your place in just a moment." So they went around a little corner and got to a place, and here were just a few sticks up with a roof over them, and within an old broken-down chair and bed. He said: "This is your place, John."
John drew back and said, "Oh! I don't want this. I want something better than that. Why can't I have something like those other houses? I don't have to have one of the big houses; one of the little nice ones would be all right."
St. Peter said to John:
"Well, I am awfully sorry, John, but this is all you sent up for us to
build your house with." -
the late Jim Long, formerly of
AVAILABLE FROM OUR
"This massive study of man, of nature, of spiritual evolution, of the essence of reality is an astonishing document. . . . Blavatsky synthesizes science and spirituality into an exhilarating journey of spiritual awareness." — The Book Reader (1988)
Continuously in print for over 120 years, the SD remains today the most comprehensive sourcebook of the esoteric tradition, outlining the fundamental tenets of the "Secret Doctrine of the Archaic Ages." Challenging, prophetic, and strikingly modern, it directly addresses the perennial questions: continuity of life after death, purpose of existence, good and evil, consciousness and substance, sexuality, karma, evolution, and human and planetary transformation.
"The aim of this work may be thus stated: to show that Nature is not 'a fortuitous concurrence of atoms,' and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe; to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which are the basis of all religions; and to uncover, to some extent, the fundamental unity from which they all spring." — Preface
Based on the ancient ‘Stanzas of Dzyan’ with corroborating testimony from over 1,200 sources, these volumes unfold the drama of cosmic and human evolution — from the reawakening of the gods after a "Night of the Universe" to the ultimate reunion of cosmos with its divine source. Supplementary sections discuss relevant scientific issues as well as the mystery language of myths, symbols, and allegories, helping the reader decipher the often abstruse imagery of the world's sacred literature.
Photographic facsimile of the original 1888 edition
Why not consider the invaluable Secret Doctrine Index by John P. Van Mater as well:
To aid the reader, major subject entries are cross-referenced; foreign terms are identified by language and, where possible, given in both their 1888 spelling(s) and as modernly transliterated, often with one or two word definitions. Subentries are arranged alphabetically. Cited works and authors, whose titles or names are not given in the SD are placed in brackets for convenient identification. Also included is an Appendix of foreign phrases with translation and source reference — all helping to make this Index an invaluable reference tool for students of The Secret Doctrine.
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