Theosophical Articles


Spiritual teachers throughout the ages have emphasized that as we grow spiritually, we live in an increasing state of greater awareness of divine consciousness at work in our every moment. 

If this is so it would make sense for us as aspiring spiritual students to develop our Awareness.

But – What exactly do we mean by Awareness? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Awareness as:

“ the quality or state of being aware : knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists.

Synonyms for Awareness include: attention, cognizance, consciousness, ear, eye, heed, knowledge, mindfulness, note, notice, observance, observation.”

Awareness in Traditional Societies: Traditional societies such as the Australian Aborigines and the American Indians promoted awareness of nature in the education of young people.

American Indian Vision Quest:  some American Indian nations required their young men to sit without speaking and remaining alert for 24 hours under a tree observing everything that happened around them.  After being attentive to nature’s patterns in this way they were said to come back as a changed person.

Ancient Egypt: as a beginning in training for spiritual initiation, candidates in the temples of ancient Egypt were required to observe nature (among many other duties) over an extended period and discuss what they saw and their understanding of nature’s patterns with their teacher.

Mystical Christianity: Mystical Christianity certainly encourages us to have an awareness of the divine presence everywhere in Nature by looking at common things and our whole lives in a different way.

For example, from The Gospel According to St. Thomas (never included in the New testament but discovered in Naj Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945):

(3) Jesus said: If those who lead you say unto you: Behold, the Kingdom is in heaven, then the birds of the heaven will be before you. If they say unto you: It is in the sea, then the fish will be before you. But the Kingdom is within you, and it is outside of you. When you know yourselves, then shall you be known, and you shall know that you are the sons of the living Father. But if ye do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty, and you are poverty.

(113) His disciples said to him: On what day will the kingdom come? Jesus said: It cometh not with observation. They will not say: Lo, here! or: Lo, there! But the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.

Poets: Poets of all ages have ever encouraged us to mystical Awareness of the common things we see in nature every day.

For example, William Blake from Auguries of Innocence:

“…To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour…”

William Wordsworth encourages us to look for what we can learn from the innocence of children and how our state of awareness can fade away as we grow into youth and adulthood because of the pressures of daily life.

From Ode to Intimations of Immortality, from Recollections of Early Childhood:

“…But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!


Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day…”

Shakespeare: William Shakespeare in his famous play, Hamlet, encourages us, through Hamlet’s speech to himself, to look for the essence of man even though we may despair of the state of the world we live in:

“…What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?…”

Modern Spiritual Teachers: In modern times spiritual teachers such as J. Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle devote a great deal of energy to encourage their students to develop Awareness. This involves:

  • Self awareness/self knowing/freedom to observe and therefore learn from our mistakes and have the opportunity thereby to grow.
  • Awareness of the invisible part of other people that makes their character.
  • Be aware of our sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions and our ability to make these observations.
  • There must be something which is observing to have these sense perceptions, that there is a thought/emotion, etc.
  • Perhaps this is one key to pure consciousness that we never really spend much time exploring because we don’t examine our lives much in this hectic modern world.
  • Examine the role of intellect versus our total being and seeing that there is something behind intellect that is examining and learning from it.

Scientists: Quantum Physics: Things are not what they appear to be: Illusion – ‘Maya’: our experience of reality reflects our level of conscious awareness. The laws of physics as we know them relate to our level of reality. They may be quite different in other dimensions, or levels of vibration. As our Awareness increases, we understand our world in different ways, as we have seen in the discoveries of modern physics.

Truth and Relative Truth: Our understanding of the real nature of the universe as it really is in Itself is relative to our level of spiritual understanding, eg a human understands the universe quite differently from an animal, and a ‘God’ presumably has a much greater understanding of the nature of reality than a human.

Things are not what they appear to be: The Universe is mostly empty space between subatomic particles. The Ancient Wisdom refers to our physical bodies as ‘Stuhula Sarira’ – the Foamlike Body. We live and are aware of maybe 5% of the mass of the Universe: The rest is composed of ‘Dark Matter’ – 27%, and ‘Dark Energy’ – 68%.

So, if anyone says that I only believe what I can see and touch, then what about the 95% of the mass of the Universe we cannot see or touch?

Our senses filter out an enormous amount of reality: as well as allowing us to function in the world as far as our consciousness is developed to understand, eg. We can only see about 0.0036% of the total electromagnetic spectrum.  As the famous inventor, Nicholas Tesla, once said:

“The gift of mental power comes from God, divine being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. Our senses enable us to perceive only a minute portion of the outside world.”

There are people who have such a wider sensory awareness: and can ‘see’ music, and ‘feel’ colour, or see energy fields, or ‘auras’, around other people, or see ‘dead people’ as portrayed in the film The Sixth Sense!

Perspectives from Theosophy: Four States of Awareness (Based on the works of G de Purucker): According to Theosophy, following Hindu terminology, there are four states of consciousness that human beings experience, though only the first three are common to most people. A man/woman can enter these states of awareness both in life and after death.

In Sanskrit language, these are called:

Jagrat: meaning the normal waking state.

Swapna: the dreaming-sleeping state.

Sushupti: the condition of profound and dreamless sleep.

Turiya: the highest of them all spiritually.

Awareness in the Average Person: Let us take an average individual: he/she is in the normal waking state while on earth (Jagrat), yet he/she has intimations of something nobler and finer in him than the Jagrat quality shows.

This is the Higher Manas (Higher Mind) or Manasaputra (Son of Mind) within him/her, expressing itself in this sphere of consciousness in the Swapna quality because, although its power is already fully manifested on its own plane, it can but weakly express itself in such average man/woman.

Again, the Buddhi (ie. Compassion) within him/her, although fully functional on its own plane, nevertheless, because of the man’s/woman’s imperfections, only occasionally can reach him/her with a brilliant ray from itself, and this usually vaguely and more or less in the Sushupti quality.

Finally, the Buddha or Christ within him is functional on its own lofty spiritual plane, but cannot impress its fullness of consciousness on the mind of the ordinary individual, and thus to him/her, his or her inner Buddha is of the Turiya quality of consciousness.

Also, at any time throughout a man’s life, there are those very mystical and wonderful, and all too infrequent ‘revelations’ or intuitions, which come into his/her consciousness like spiritual-intellectual illuminations.

The Human Ego and the Four States of Awareness: Now then, the particular part of man experiencing these various qualities of consciousness is the human ego, which is obviously self-conscious in the Jagrat quality of physical existence.

Thus, at the onset of both sleep and death the consciousness passes from the Jagrat into unconsciousness. The human ego first has a temporary condition of Swapna, or sleeping-dreaming, and then, quickly or slowly, according to the constitution, begins the ‘unconscious’ condition of the Sushupti — unconscious from our standpoint only because we have not yet become accustomed to live self-consciously in our higher qualities.

This is our challenge here and now – but how to move upward through the four states of awareness?

Some Practical Advice (based on the works of Ryan Kurczak): Spiritual teachers, psychologists and psychiatrists all give advice about the process of being happier more functional people. But let’s be down to earth and practical about this!

Awareness of Health: look after our physical and mental health by being careful about what we eat, drink, the amount of exercise we have, work/life balance etc.

Let’s remember about the importance of what we watch on TV, the internet, phones, etc not to ingest ‘mind junk’ which can be equally damaging as junk food.

Emotional Health: don’t escape pain but move through it and learn from it. Accept it and be at peace. Don’t dwell on negative emotions. Be here in the present moment in your life and not a prisoner of regret.

Be Kind to Everyone as Much as You Can: as the Buddhists say treat others as you would treat your ideal mother – with unconditional love and gradually extend the circle of unconditional love to others.

Be Authentic/Sincere about your goodness/happiness: Be who you are in awareness.

Meditation: commit to whatever meditative practice that seems right for you. Clear your mind. Internalize your attention. How you turn off negative thoughts is a personal path. You have to find your own way. Sit and watch your mind. Perhaps a pen and paper can help to note down things that happen to you. Sit still and watch your mind and gradually the mind will empty itself over months/years.

Contemplation: get rid of preconceptions about divinity. Follow the signs that come along. Eventually insights will come. Figure out what is real to you. Doesn’t have to be mental gymnastics. Figure out your role in divine consciousness.

Psychic Awareness: A Measure of Spirituality? Is a person with psychic awareness necessarily more spiritual than a normal person? Theosophy answers emphatically – No.

Psychic abilities are inbuilt in most people, but we are shielded from their negative side-affects because we have not yet developed the moral, ethical, and character strength to cope with such powers. Imagine if we could read another person’s thoughts and knew what they really thought of us – how would we react and relate the to them?

Through the relevant knowledge and practice, anyone can develop these powers, but that does not mean that they are spiritual people doing this for a noble reason. In fact, Masters of Wisdom, who have access to all these powers, will only use them if it is necessary for their compassionate work in helping raise the consciousness level of Humanity.

Humility: Sit quietly. Figure out your relationship to divine consciousness. How can I bring this to others. Realize you are part of the One. Follow what is right. Don’t get carried away with your knowledge or outer achievements.

A Silent Relationship with Divine Consciousness:  You don’t have to shout it from the roof-tops. Expand awareness. Lose the small sense of self. It is not a dramatic thing but grows slowly as your awareness grows. Don’t get egotistical about your achievements or energetically mixed up with others. You can’t prove anything spiritually to others as we each have to learn for ourselves.

Accept Suffering/Failure and Learn from It: every experience is a manifestation of divine consciousness and life is a constant opportunity to learn and grow exactly tailored to our individual needs.  

Don’t remain in a prison of regret if you do something stupid. Learn from it and move on working honestly realizing divine presence in everything that you do. Suffering and Failure are often our best friends in spiritual work and the main reason why most people start their journey on the spiritual path. Suffering is a potent method of learning Empathy and Compassion for others who are similarly suffering and looking for a way out of the cycle of Suffering and Failure.

Keep whatever spiritual practice you follow strong. Be kind to others. Give someone a compliment every day. Help someone every day.

Remember: You Don’t Lose – You Learn!

Acceptance versus Willpower: apply each whenever it is appropriate as life rides between the two in spiritual training especially. Live your life all the time in divine awareness. Meditation and spiritual ritual are supports – not the whole thing. Strive for consistent communion with the Divine presence and all sorts of inspirations will come spontaneously.

Follow your own Path: are you inspired to follow a particular Path then stick with it find people you can work with be devoted to the recommended process alert and awake as you go to new possibilities. A spiritual teacher is a guide only to your practice – but you have to do the work! Your teacher can be a role model – but you always have personal responsibility.

Ride the wave of consciousness to new horizons.

Further Reading:

  • Videos by J. Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle are available on You Tube.
  • G de Purucker: The Fountain-Source of Occultism.
  • G de Purucker: The Path of Compassion.
  • Ryan Kurczak: A Course in Tranquillity: Integrating Meditation, Effective Living and Non-Dualism.

If you wish to contact the compiler, please write to andrewrooke@hotmail.com

Founded by Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu (meaning: ‘The Old Master’) 2,500 years ago and developed by Chuang Tzu and Haai Nan Tzu. The Tao means ‘The Way’,ie: the substance/creator of all things. Today Taoism has approximately 30 million followers mainly in China and South East Asia. It is a non-dogmatic philosophy based upon the book by Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (meaning: The Way and its Power). It is up to each person to find ‘’The Way’, the energy of the Universe, the path of the Universe. If you picture life as a river, you are no different from the river, you are the river, if you obstruct the flow of the river you fight the irresistible force of the Tao current creating imbalance and disharmony in your life.

 

Major Concepts:

 

Wu Wei: meaning: ‘Non-Doing or ‘Non-Action’ or, more accurately, right action in accordance with The Way and not being attached to the results of our actions. Action by non-action, by not trying to fight the characteristics of who we are, our own intuition, handle what comes up in front of us, don’t dwell on the past and be in the flow of the Universe. The only way to understand the Tao is through the intuition (Tzu-Jan: literally the laws of nature)), this attitude does not discriminate but responds immediately and spontaneously.

 

Simplicity: it is best to be simple, modest, humble, and non-ambitious and go with the flow of the natural order – the Tao, as the Taoists say: ‘Having less or more’.

 

Spontaneity: be spontaneous, react to the situation in front of you, life is a moment by moment experience, so be in that moment. Don’t spend your energy regretting the past or fearing the future.

 

Managing Desires in Small Steps (Kaizen): Lao Tzu, affirms that people who take less will always have more. People with insatiable desires end up becoming obsessed with the object of their “affection” which tends to throw their energies, and their thought processes, out of control. To Lao Tzu, greed without limits constituted the worse of the vices. If you work towards being content with what you have, you would find that you already have enough to be happy. One can easily reach Peace of Spirit when you limit the amount of desires to manifest in your life. Lao Tzu says: “The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, the more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the Sage is to act but not to compete.” But how do you get to this point of detachment from desires when modern society is pushing indulgence constantly? Taoism advises that it is always better to deal with facts and situations while they are small, before they become bigger and more difficult.  If one is planning to reach a big goal, one should establish a series of small steps that would guide one safely to the destination.  This is essentially the principal of Kaizen: progress through small increments. As Lao Tzu says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

 

God: little discussion of God as He/She/It is undefinable, not understandable by humans – so why waste time discussing these questions endlessly? Don’t get in the way of the Tao by indulging in such intellectual debates. Some Taoists believe in God, some are atheists, some followers of other religions.

 

The Three Treasures: Sexual Energy, Spiritual Energy, and Emotional Energy – being in tune with these energies allows you to be with the Tao.

 

Yin and Yang: the Taoist symbol shows that there is always light and darkness, male and female energy, spirit and earth. Yang is the active principle and Yin, the principle of rest or stillness. The interaction of these two principles engenders the phenomenal world which is relative and changing unlike the permanent Tao from whence it is derived.

 

Hierarchy of Forces: the highest is the unmanifest Tao, next the primordial Chaos, next the Three Officials or Three Heavenly Worthies/Pure Ones -The first Pure One is universal or heavenly chi (life energy). The second Pure One is human plane chi, and the third Pure One is earth chi. Next comes a vast array of Gods inhabiting the nine heavens, followed by demons, humans, animals, etc. These need to be placated and kept in balance through rituals, meditation, and the control of earthly desires thus enabling a person to manifest the Tao in their lives. When this happens, you achieve:

 

Immortality (Chen-Jen, or ‘true human’): goal of all Taoists. This is not necessarily the preservation of the body but the achievement of spiritual enlightenment or Transcendence. Taoists believe that there are many men and women that have achieved such Immortality and that it is perfectly possible to become one if you follow Hygiene and Dietary Disciplines, Breathing techniques, Circulation of the ‘Inner Breath’, Sexual self-control, Moral actions and attitudes.

 

Buddhist Concepts: Karma, Reincarnation, Monasticism and Celibacy derived essentially from Buddhism are accepted by many Taoists.

 

Sects: Taoism developed gradually into a fully religious movement in the second century AD with the Way of the Great Peace (Tai-p’ing Tao) and the Way of the Celestial Masters (Tien-Shih Tao). In the fourth century AD the Mao-Shan sect and the Ling-Pao sects evolved which concentrated on immortality and end-of-the-world predictions. Since then many other sects, rituals and forms of Taoist magic have developed. The White Cloud Monastery in Beijing is a fully functional Taoist temple and is the seat of the Chinese Taoist Association. Taoism survives strongest in Taiwan where priests receive ordination from the Celestial Master, they conduct exorcisms, healing, community services of thanks-giving, inauguration of temples, training of Taoist priests , etc.

 

In essence, Taoism encourages us to go with the flow of life, having non-action in your life, acceptance, don’t dwell on the past, don’t worry endlessly about the future – live life, be happy, be kind to others and yourself – including your flaws, your history – these are all aspects of the Tao – decide what you are going to do right Now!

 Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with approximately 30 million followers, 75% of them in the Punjab state in northwest India where the religion began. The religion was founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539), who showed early signs of brilliance in philosophy as a child. At 30 years of age he proclaimed his mission to teach the new religion. As was his habit, he went to bathe in a nearby stream, when he suddenly disappeared in the water and was presumed drowned for three days and nights, when he suddenly reappeared and said he had been in the presence of God who charged him with a mission to bring people back to holy ways of living.

 

Sikhism therefore believes in One God/Creator; that all people are created equal; human life is a precious blessing and opportunity to learn to come back to God; that we should live a life of service to the Creator and our fellow humans; that Sikhs are warriors of Truth;  and that Salvation is possible in this life. His teachings were complete in the lives of ten Gurus who succeeded Guru Nanak till 1708 and continues in the holy book of Sikh teaching, the Granth Sahib, which is the eleventh and final Guru.

 

Sikh: the word means ‘Learner/Student’. ‘Sikhism’ is a Western term referring to those who follow the Sikh religion. To Sikhs it is not a religion as such but more a way of life.

 

Based on Hinduism and Islam: The Indian state of Punjab where Sikhism evolved, is at the crossroads of what is now Islamic Pakistan and Hindu India. It is not surprising therefore that Sikhism combines the teachings of devotional Hinduism (Bhakti Marga) and mystical Islam (Sufi) teachings.

 

Monotheistic: Devotion/surrender to the One God, ‘Ik Onkar’ (‘One with Everything’), and ‘Wahe Guru’ (‘Wonderful Teacher’). All powerful, non-understandable God. Rejection of idol worship and the caste system of Hinduism. Devotion is prized over intellectual understanding. Unlike other monotheistic religions, Sikhism does not seek to actively convert others to their faith. It stresses living their beliefs: Sewa: service to humanity; Simran: remembrance of God by repetition or recital of His Name or Naam.

 

Guru: the keystone of Sikhism is devotion to a teacher, or Guru. Without a Guru as a guide you cannot reach Moksha (release from the cycle of reincarnations). But the Guru himself/herself is not to be worshiped.

 

Maya (Illusion): people live in a state of illusion or the Hindu concept of ‘Maya’, remote from their true God-like qualities due to the operation of the ‘Five Thieves’: Ego, Anger, Greed, Attachment, and Lust. These qualities divorce us from God. We are in love with the Five Thieves and have forgotten God. We must disconnect from Maya and reconnect with God. We need to look inward to find what we already know in the better part of ourselves – ‘Akal’ – the purpose of life – to reconnect with the Oneness of Truth. There is no Heaven or Hell. Release from this life of dedication to worldliness through reconnection with the Oneness. Sikhs believe in Reincarnation (that we are all subject to repeated rebirth), Karma (the law of action and reaction); that we should avoid the illusion of worldly values and behavior (Maya); and in service to other humans, and in social justice.

 

Devotion: Sikhism has a huge emphasis on remembrance and chanting of the Divine Name. Music is very important as all Sikh hymns are mixed with music. Sikhs should pray at least two hours per day morning and night. In all these things they follow the Hindu tradition of Devotional Yoga or ‘Bhakti Marga’ especially the Hindu practice of chanting mantras (sacred words and phrases) in a group setting called ‘Kirtan’.

 

Service: service to the community in action is what kills out Ego. Three types of service: Tan: Physical Service; Man: Mental Service; Dan: Material Service. Sikhism has a huge emphasis on social justice and helping people to live better lives.

 

Family Life: Sikhism believes in the equality of men and women. Sikhism rejects asceticism and expects all Sikhs to marry and family life is central to Sikh culture: ‘Be in the world but not of it’.

 

Khalsa: refers to both a special group of initiated Sikhs, as well as a community that considers Sikhism as its faith. All Sikhs initiated into the Sikh way of life have the surname – ‘Singh’ (Lion) if a boy, and ‘Kaur’ (Princess) if a girl. Initiated Sikhs must follow the Five ‘K’s’: Kesh: Don’t cut your hair; Kara: wear a metal bracelet; Kanga: wear a wooden comb; Kirpan: carry a sword or dagger; and Kacclera: wear a special undergarment/shorts.

 

Holy Book: The Guru Granth Sahib: a collection of hymns and prayers of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, and the other nine Gurus. The book has a place of honor in every Sikh place of worship (Godwara). Readings take place every week (Sunday) and in its completeness once per year.

 

The city of Amritsar in the Punjab: the main spiritual center of Sikhism. The Golden Temple with a huge kitchen providing 100,000 to 1 million meals per day free of any charge.

 

Pilgrimages: Sikhism does not believe in pilgrimages to holy places or the use of priests to recite prayers or perform rituals for others. Every Sikh should be his or her own priest although there are those who perform priestly duties (the ‘Mahant’ belonging to the ‘Udasi’ sect).

 

Sects and Orders: there are several religious orders of Sikhs based on disputes over the succession of the gurus or points of ritual and tradition- the ‘Nirmala’: a strict sect, ‘Nihangi’: a militant order, ‘Namdhari: an ascetic sect, ‘Nirankari’: includes persons of all religions without the requirement of conversion to Sikhism.

 

Current Issues: The most important issue, besides various political disputes with the Indian government, is the rejection of Khalsa tradition by the younger generation of Sikhs – cutting of long-hair and shaving beards and gradually relapsing into Hinduism. The many attempts to revive the Khalsa tradition have met with limited success.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world with an estimated 1.7 billion adherents representing 23% of the world’s population. It is the fastest-growing religion in the world and second largest religion now in Europe. Most Muslims live in South-East Asia with only about 20% in the Middle East where the religion began. Islam is an exclusively Monotheistic religion requiring its believers to submit to the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-merciful God – Allah. Along with the other major Monotheistic religions, Judaism,  and Christianity, Islam believes in Angels, Satan, Prophets, Revelation, moral accountability and responsibility, divine judgement, eternal reward and punishment. Thus for Muslims, Islam is the fulfilment and completion of earlier revelations. There is one Islam revealed in the Koran and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, but Islamic tradition and heritage reveal many interpretations of Islam, some complementing each other, and others in conflict.

Islam: means to ‘Submit’ or ‘Surrender’ to the commands of God found in the Koran.

 

Muslim: means one who submits to the will of God.

 

Allah: means the One transcendent God, creator, sustainer, and ruler of the Universe.

 

Muhammad: The Prophet and founder of Islam based on the commandments of Allah. Islam recognizes 25 prophets before Muhammad including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The Prophet Muhammad is seen as the latest of these prophets from Allah. He is the final prophet charged by Allah to bring humanity back to the one true religion with a worship of complete submission to an all-powerful God. Muslims are forbidden to worship the Prophet. He was human and chosen to communicate the commandments of Allah to humanity via the intermediary of the angel Gabriel.

 

Koran: The Holy Book of Islam which represents the final revelation to humanity dictated by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic language.  The Koran is the literal word of God comprising 114 chapters (Suras) and 6236 verses in Arabic. All prayers from the Koran must be said in Arabic.

 

Hadiths: different accounts of Muhammad’s life and application of the commandments given in the Koran. Ethics, morals, parables, based on The Prophet’s life are viewed as a guide to enacting the Koran in real life. Some Hadiths are viewed as better sourced in The Prophet’s life than others.

Shariah Law: a legal system based on The Koran and Hadiths. Iran and Saudi Arabia practice Shariah Law and some other countries have aspects of Shariah Law within their existing legal systems.

Ummah: the community of believers.

 

Kaaba: cube-like structure covered in black cloth in the holy city of Mecca which contains the Black Stone. This was a holy place pre-Islam and according to Muslim history, was cleansed by Muhammad and continues as the holiest shrine in Islam today. Every Muslim is expected to visit it once in a lifetime if their situation and health permits such a pilgrimage.

 

The Five Pillars of Islam:

 

  1. Shahadah: Faith: give yourself up to faith in Allah. There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is the messenger of Allah.
  2. Salah: Prayer: a Muslim should pray in a prescribed manner five times per day facing the city of Mecca.
  3. Zakat: Charity: Muslims are expected to give away a certain proportion of their wealth to those who are less fortunate.
  4. Sawm: Fasting: In the month of Ramadan Muslims are not allowed to eat between sun-up and sun-down. This is to remind Muslims of hardship and obedience to Allah.
  5. Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca: every Muslim should make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives if their circumstances and health permit, so that they can pray at the Kaaba, touch the Black Stone kept therein, and take part in the ritual of stoning the Devil.

 

Jihad: literally means ‘to strive’ or ‘struggle’. Jihad implies the obligation to follow and realize God’s will: to lead a virtuous life and too extend the Islamic community through preaching, education, example, writing, etc. ‘Jihad’ involves an internal struggle with ourselves to realize God’s will. It also includes the obligation to defend Islam and the community of believers from aggression. Despite the fact that ‘Jihad’ is not supposed to include aggressive, offensive warfare, as distinct from defensive warfare, this has occurred throughout history.

 

Major Sects:

 

Sunni: those who believe that Abu Bakar (Muhammad’s father-in-law) the first Caliph, or leader of Islam, after Mohamed was the legitimate leader. Sunni Muslims adopted the belief that leadership should pass to the most qualified person, not through hereditary succession. Sunni Muslims make up 85% of the world’s Muslims;

 

Shia: those who believe that Ali, Muhammad’s first cousin and Muhammad’s closest living male relative, was the Prophet’s legitimate successor. He eventually became the fourth Caliph after 35 years. The differences between Sunni and Shia do not have to do with religious dogma but, rather, are political, concerning the qualifications for the head of the Muslim community;

 

Sufi: the mystical sect of Islam.

 

History of Muhammad and Islam:

 

570CE: the birth of Muhammad in the city of Mecca, in what is now Saudia Arabia, into an upper-class family. Orphaned as a young boy, lived in the city and the desert, visited Syria as a boy and interacted with a Christian monk who had a great influence on him. He identified with the Abrahamic lineage. Abraham was the father of Judaism and Abraham had two sons Isaac and Ishmael. Muhammad’s lineage goes through Ishmael. Muhammad heavily influenced by Judaism and Christianity and he believes that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were prophets and Islam respects Judaism and Christianity as ‘people of the book’. As an adult, Muhammad was a merchant and arbitrator in Mecca. He married at the age of 25 to a wealthy widow merchant aged 40.

 

In 605CE Mecca was a pilgrimage site for pre-Islamic Gods mostly derived from the Mesopotamian pantheon of Gods. People would have a pilgrimage to the Kaaba and during renovations to the Kaaba they took out the sacred Black Stone and could not agree who should put it back again so Muhammad was called upon to arbitrate.

 

610CE: the first of many visions in the Hira Cave where Muhammad was praying, visited by the angel Gabriel who is a central figure in Islam as the intermediary between man and God. Muhammad to become the great prophet to speak to man as the instrument of God to teach people to submit to the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful Allah. Muhammad was seen by the people of Mecca to be an obstacle to the lucrative pilgrimage trade of polytheists to Mecca and as a false prophet of monotheism.

 

622CE: Muhammad was driven out of Mecca to Medina. This is the Hijrah or Exodus from Mecca to Medina where he is welcomed as a uniter. This Exodus is so important that it is marked as the beginning of the Islamic calendar and all Muslims started the practice of praying towards Mecca instead of Jerusalem. Muslims at this time had their first city in Medina.

 

In 630CE Muhammad leads 10,000 followers back to Mecca and lays siege to the city which is successful and he walks into the city as its new leader. This is tremendously important for the future of Islam as it can be seen that politics, the military and religion have never been separated in Islam as they have been in Christianity and Judaism. In Mecca Muhammad destroys all pagan images and statues in the Kaaba which now becomes the exclusively holy place of the Muslims.

 

632CE June 8th : Muhammad dies aged 62 years in Medina. In the following years, under the first four Caliphs, or rulers of Islam the Muslim empire grows rapidly with extensive military campaigns against the Christian Byzantine and Sassaneid Empires saw an incredibly rapid expansion of the empire and millions brought to the new religion by the power of the sword, convinced by heavy taxation on idols, or impressed by the power of Islam over local deities. Following these conquests Muslim culture flowered with centres of learning, academic research, and the preservation of knowledge from many parts of the world which later paved the way for the Renaissance in Europe.

 

Like members of other faith communities, Muslims in the 21st century face the challenge of defining the role, meaning, and relevance of Islam in both public and private life. Often, we focus on radicalism and extremism, but a deeper and more pervasive struggle exists between the conservatives and reformers, mainstream Muslims and extremists. Its major issues include the relationship of state to society, the role of Islamic law, the status of women and non-Muslims, the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and relations with the West.

 

The world’s largest religion with 2.4 billion followers.

 

Monotheistic: belief in One God who is transcendent, all powerful, demands exclusive loyalty. Whilst being a Monotheistic religion, Christianity believes in a Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (the active power of God) in the one person of God.

 

Jesus is not just a Prophet: According to Christian belief, He is the Son of God sent to earth by God as God’s sacrifice on the Cross to save those of humanity who will believe in Him. Following the crucifixion he rose from the dead (the Resurrection) to teach his Apostles and prove his status as one with God (summed up in the Nicene Creed).  Jesus performed miracles such as curing the blind, lepers, fed thousands with a small amount of food, walked on water, etc. He is the Messiah and we should accept Him as your personal Saviour so that you can have eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Faith in Jesus: According to Christian belief, Jesus is the Son of God and sent by Him as the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. He was sent by God as our Saviour to cleanse Man’s Original Sin. In order to be a Christian you need to accept Christ as your Saviour and this is the only way to get to eternal life in heaven when you die; to be resurrected in the distant future when Christ returns to rule the world and to cleanse the earth of sin. Jesus will surely return on this Judgement Day to save all the people who believe in Him. Therefore, Christianity is strongly based in Faith.

 

Christian Life: in addition to Faith, according to Christian belief, you need to live a Christian life whist alive. Love God, love yourself, other Christians, and even your enemies as well – ‘turn the other cheek’. Help the poor.

 

Forms of Worship: Going to church at least once per week. Highly ritualistic with sacraments, music, reverence for relics/sacred places, and pilgrimage. It is not necessary in all types of Christianity to go to church as long as you attempt to live a Christian life and have faith in Christ the Redeemer. Christianity also has a mystical tradition within the church, eg. Meister Eckhardt, St Theresa, Thomas A’Kempis, and heretical traditions not accepted by the mainstream churches, such as the Gnostic Christians who had such a major impact on early Christianity.

 

Conversion: Christianity is a proselytizing religion which expects that Christians will try and convert as many people as possible to Christianity to save them too.

 

Sacred Texts: The Bible, meaning the Old and New Testaments. The Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are the main source of information on Jesus, his life and ministry. There is little independent confirmation of his existence and ministry, eg. Josephus.

 

Three Major Forms of Christianity: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant. There are innumerable permutations of these three basic forms of Christianity. Most forms of Christianity have a hierarchical structure of priests, bishops, archbishops, etc.

 

Festivals: Christmas – birth of Jesus; Good Friday – death of Jesus on the Cross; Easter – resurrection of Jesus.

 

History of Jesus life (according to the New Testament): Judea in Palestine was conquered in 63BCE and Herod became the client king of the Romans with his son of the same name being the king when Jesus was born. There was a long history of resentment and rebellion amongst the Jewish people in reaction to the Roman conquest with some (Zealots and Sicari) wanting an outright rebellion, and the majority awaiting a Messiah or Saviour who would restore righteousness, the Jewish way of life, and rid them of the Romans. Jesus was born into this volatile situation to a poor family in Bethlehem attended by a number of miracles including Virgin birth to his mother Mary. Not much is known of his early life except that he worked as a carpenter.

At the age of 30 he began his ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus of Nazareth was basically a Jewish priest of that time talking about monotheism, the 10 commandments, with new elements of his teaching being: a personal relationship with God, love, forgiveness, looking out for the poor and weak, attended by many miraculous healings, casting out of demons, and other miracles showing Jesus super-natural powers. The New Testament, especially the first four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tell us most about Jesus were all written 60 to 70 years after Jesus death. In the three years of his ministry Jesus appointed 12 male Apostles and Mary Magdalene, his constant companion, preaching a promise of eternal life if they followed Him.

In 29CE Jesus went to Jerusalem where he was seen to be the Messiah promised for ages by Judaism. This presented a real problem for Jewish priests (Pharisees) for whom it was a heresy of the highest order to say that Jesus was the Son of God, and for the Roman authorities (Pontius Pilate the Governor) who were worried about any further cause for instability in a very volatile political environment in Judea of that time. At the Last Supper Judas betrayed Jesus and the Jewish religious authorities gave Jesus back to the Romans to be crucified between two thieves. Jesus was put into a tomb when 3 days later he was found to have gone and he visited the Apostles when he told them to spread the word of eternal life through the world. Then Jesus ascended into heaven where He sits at the right-hand of God the Father.

Following His death Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire largely due to the efforts of St Peter and especially St Paul., a Roman citizen with freedom of travel in the empire and a common language to preach the Gospel. St Paul preached that Christianity is open to all without circumcision, Jesus was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah for all peoples, no observation of Jewish laws necessary, the promise of eternal life, particularly attractive to the poor and dispossessed of which there were many in the Roman world at that time, attraction for women – the cult of Mary, simple and exclusive faith in Jesus enough to achieve these great benefits. James, brother of Jesus was opposed to Gentiles converting to the cult of Jesus, but he was killed early in the period after Jesus death. In 70CE the Romans brutally crushed the Jewish rebellion pushing the Jews out of Palestine. Persecution of Christians, especially by Roman Emperor, Nero, who ordered the death of St Peter and St Paul, but Christianity continued to spread. Emperor Constantine (280-337CE) was converted to Christianity in 312CE and in 380CE Christianity became the official state religion of Rome guaranteeing its status as the leading religion in Europe thereafter spreading across the world wherever European civilization spread.

In the first decades of the 21st century, the future of Christianity lies less in the First World where numbers and enthusiasm seem to be declining, than in developing nations. The greatest numerical growth of Christianity today is in Asia, Africa, and Latin America as well as the countries of Eastern Europe where communism had forbidden religious practice. The future of Christianity appears to lie in its capacity to become a truly ‘world religion’.

Only about 0.2% of the world’s population or 14 million people follow Judaism but it is an enormously influential religion being the foundation of the two most popular religions of the world – Christianity and Islam.

History:

2,600BCE: Judaism is about 4,000 years old originating from the ‘father’ of the Jewish nation, Abraham, of the city of Ur in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Early Jews were polytheistic but after Abraham and their greatest prophet,

1250BCE: Moses, they became Monotheistic, believing in One God with whom they had a Covenant, by which the Jewish people would be especially favoured as long as they maintained the instructions given by their God and summarized in the 10 Commandments given to Moses on Mt Sinai whilst he was leading the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan (modern Israel).

922-738BCE: Jewish civilization prospered after the Exodus led by powerful Kings – Saul, David, and Solomon, who built the first great temple in Jerusalem which became the focus of faith as it contained the Arc of the Covenant, containing the original tablets of the Ten Commandments.

586BCE: the Babylonians overran Jerusalem and destroyed the first temple causing a crisis of faith for many Jews as they thought their God had been defeated by the Babylonian gods when their temple was destroyed. The prophets Isiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel said that the disasters had happened because the people had broken aspects of their Covenant with God and were being punished for their sins. 539BCE: the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, allowed 40,000 Jewish people to return from Babylonian captivity. 538BCE: the second temple was built by Solomon but the burden on the people was great which caused the united kingdom established under Saul and David to be divided into two kingdoms – Judah in the south and Israel in the north.

539BCE-70CE: Restoration of ancient institutions and leadership; Temple rebuilt (515BCE).  Emergence of classical Judaism cantered on the law (revelation) and its interpretation (traditions). Rise of Greek power and dominance of Palestine and Syria. Alexander the Great, of Macedon conquers Persian Empire in 332BCE. Development of different groups of Jews, Essenes around the Dead Sea, and beginning of Hellenized Jewish philosophy. Emergence of Pharisees as dominant religious movement and its consolidation of the ideals of scholarship and piety. Rise of the Roman empire and Roman conquest of Palestine in 63 BCE.

70-700 CE: Development of Rabbinic Judaism. Destruction of the second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Bible settled into its present format (ca. 622). Compilation of the Mishnah. Development of the Talmud.

700-1750 CE: Jewish life spreads from Middle East to Europe and US (the Jewish Diaspora). Persecutions of Jews, as in Rhineland (1040) and England (1190), and exile from England (1291), France (1309), Spain (1492), Portugal (1496).

1759-present: Development of new patterns of Jewish life in response to the European Enlightenment and modernity. New reform movements develop such as Hasidism (18th century), Reform and Conservative Schools. Revival of Jewish nationalism in the Zionist movement (founded 1897) and first resettlements in Palestine. Murder of six million Jews in Nazi death camps of World War II. State of Israel founded in 1948. Evolving and continuous conflict with Palestinian people and surrounding Arab states.

Key Beliefs: there is no formal body or organization that represents all of Judaism today. Nor is there any authoritative body or person whose decisions are binding on all adherents of Judaism. The Jewish world allows a variety of opinions.

Monotheism: One God, Yahweh, transcendent, omnipotent, and just. He reveals Himself to, but does not become, human.

Covenant: a formal agreement with God by which the Jewish people would be especially favoured by Yahweh as long as they maintained the instructions given by Him.

Prayer: we can develop a relationship with God through prayer. A conversation with God.

People are made in God’s image: there is no original sin in Judaism.

Messiah: a Saviour or Messiah will come and establish peace on the earth. This has not yet happened.

Core Texts: Torah (Pentateuch) or the first five books of the Bible received by Moses on Mt Sinai; the Talmud: the written interpretation and development of the Hebrew scriptures; Mishnah: the book of oral traditions and laws which Jewish people are to follow; Books of Midrash: commentary on the Torah; Jewish Prayer Book.

Legal System: Halakha: the legal component of Jewish tradition; Aggada: covers pretty much everything outside of Halakha. Codified in the Mishna (220CE).

Kosher (meaning ‘Suitable’): strict dietary laws observed especially by Orthodox Jews.

Three Main groups within Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, and, Reformed: all practice festivals which are the key events in the history of the Jewish people.

Schools of Judaism: Sadducees; Pharisees; Essenes; Hasidism.

Mysticism: Kabbalah; Zohar.

Battle of the Two Wolves: An American Indian Story: An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 

What is good? What is evil? Are they things-in-themselves, or are they conditions through which entities pass? Good is harmony because it is relative perfection, and evil is disharmony because it is imperfection; and these two, good and evil, insofar as we are concerned, apply solely to our hierarchy of life. Our ‘good’ is ‘evil’ to the entities existing in a superior hierarchy. Evil signifies a state of an entity or group of entities in greater or less degree opposing the forwards-moving evolutionary stream of life.

 

Whence comes the Evil in the world, if the Divine which is mightier than Evil is everywhere? One would think from such a question that evil is an entity – Devil, Demon, Satan, etc, a power or a force, which flows forth from the heart of some thing or being. On the contrary, the Ancient Wisdom says it is merely the condition of an evolving entity which has not yet fully manifested the latent divinity at its core, and thus is inharmonious with its environment because of its imperfection.

 

This does not mean that there are not hierarchies of evil beings – according to the Ancient Wisdom – there are: These are composed of beings that make the choice of seeking power for themselves in the material side of nature – Evil. This is the – Left-Hand Path – as opposed to the – Right-Hand Path – of those beings that choose to flow with the spiritual side of Nature – what we would call the Good. If our minds and hearts are turned in the direction of the Right Hand Path we  can receive immense inspiration and help; or contrariwise with the Left Hand Path an attraction to the hellish  aspects of life which can have their own type of immense power over other people and aspects of Nature. This forms the basis of the Christian and other religious traditions of calling upon either hierarchy (Good or Evil) for assistance/inspiration/power.

 

The Left-Hand Path: is the way of service to self. It comprises all self-seeking, including the quest for self-liberation and self-enlightenment. Through spiritual practices applied with a personally-oriented attitude, psychic powers and expansions of consciousness may be attained, yet no purity or holiness can ever be realised in this way, and this is why one of the greatest powers in the universe – Love – always eludes the seeker with self-interest, ultimately leaving them bereft of fulfilment and happiness.

It has been demonstrated since time immemorial that the Left-Hand Path is a most difficult and painful road, fraught with all the dangerous temptations that pervade and proliferate within the illusory world of the Lower Ego.

The Left-Hand Path is strewn with potholes down which the short-sighted self-seeker may fall at any moment into an even deeper darkness of separation and suffering. If the traveller upon this path remains un-illumined by the lamp of right-seeing and therefore does not presently choose to switch to the Right-Hand Path, in time it is likely that he shall develop a sombre interest in manipulating his environment solely for himself.

The dangers are therefore certain upon the Left-Hand Path, for in his consequent sinking into greater self-obsession, and by thus promoting his own isolation and hunger for power, the self-seeker shall begin to attempt to control and exploit others, and may eventually embark upon the way of Black Magic.

So it may be clearly seen that the Left-Hand Path ultimately leads to Evil.

 

Evil: bears within itself the seed of its own destruction because its transgressions go against the natural, inclusive and upward flow of Evolution, which must triumph, for such is the purpose of Creation. It may be recognised, therefore, that any selfish thought is analogous to the planting of an evil seed or the fostering of an existing evil tendency that must ultimately lead to misery and self-destruction in the invincible wake of cosmic forces, which are ever engaged in service to the Universal Intelligence. Ghengis Khan, Hitler and Stalin demonstrated perfectly the typical consequences of following the Left-Hand Path.

 

Is Matter Inherently Evil? Good is not Spirit, Evil is not Matter, the nether pole of spirit, because that would be saying that matter is essentially evil, which, according to the Ancient Wisdom, it is not. Evil, whether spiritual or material, is whatever is imperfect and passing through a phase of growing to something better. Neither matter nor spirit is in one or the other condition absolutely, and for eternity. A spiritual entity is evolving just as much as any material entity. Nevertheless, because spirit and spiritual beings are nearer to nature’s heart, they are, collectively speaking, more perfect, therefore less evil than matter and material entities.

 

Does Evil Become Good? Evil per se does not become good per se, that is, one state does not become another state, the truth being that it is the evolving entity which passes from one state into another. Both good and evil are conditions of growth. This calls to mind the saying of the ancient wisdom tradition of many lands— and Christian — expression concerning entities existing in a state of “spiritual wickedness” (Ephesians, VI, 12). Obviously, if those entities, although belonging to the spiritual realms, are imperfect and inharmonious there, they are ‘evil’ in that state. If entities, belonging to the state which we call relative perfection, exist harmoniously with surrounding beings, then they are entities of spiritual good. Harmony, law, order, peace, love: all these are conditions of entities that are in accord with the onward-flowing current of evolutionary growth. Such entities are more nearly at one with the heart of Being, and therefore endure.

 

The Balance of Good and Evil: It is the balance of spiritual and material existences — the natural course of universal being — which gives the diversity in the universe. There is no power (or powers) which keep the universe either all good or all bad; for it is neither the one nor the other. Vast hierarchies are the universe, hierarchies on the invisible planes and likewise on that cross section we call our physical world; and it is the differences in evolutionary degree attained in these hierarchies and in the hosts of entities composing them which provide the vast diversity that the universe manifests. It can at no time be either all good or all bad, for it is perpetually advancing; and this marching army is without beginning and without ending.

 

Evil and Karma: We should have a lunatic universe if Karma was non-existent; if men could wreck the lives of others, and then escape scot free. Nature is not so built. Man is a god in his inmost and, because he is linked with the divine elements as well as with all the other elements of the universe, what he does, nature reacts against. He has free will, and so reaps the consequences of all that he thinks and does and is. A man who works for brotherhood and kindliness has all nature’s evolutionary stream with him; this brings strength and light and induces a cosmic expansion of his inner faculties. The man who works for hate, for selfish ends, who sets his puny will against the evolving river of lives, has all nature’s incalculable weight pressing upon him. Such action on his part is imperfection, disharmony, and therefore evil.

 

Good and Evil: Duality: Universal nature in manifestation is dual in character, divided into consciousness or the light side and matter or the dark side. Quoting from The Key to Theosophy (p. 112):

‘Light would be incomprehensible without darkness to make it manifest by contrast; good would be no longer good without evil to show the priceless nature of the boon; and so personal virtue could claim no merit, unless it had passed through the furnace of temptation. The ancient Zoroastrian religion strongly emphasized this duality, and this conception was very early taken over by the Christians”. (cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 411-24, “Demon est Deus Inversus”).

But when the cosmic unit passes into its Pralaya [rest period], then good and evil vanish and are resolved back into the ineffable oneness of cosmic divinity — to lie latent until the new term of manifestation as a universe begins again.

 

Evil: Arising From the Conflict of Wills: Throughout the cosmos we see that Evil is the conflict among entities…Arising because of their as yet imperfectly developed spiritual powers. Applying this to man and his works, the conflict of human wills and intelligences which strive against each other, produces disharmony, pain, disease, and all the host of evils. Yet when we learn the lesson that our interests are one instead of diverse, we shall work together in a constantly increasing ratio as our spiritual understanding unfolds.

 

Cosmic Evil: Again, on the universal scale, cosmic evils arise from the different strivings and conflicts of the Prakritis [planes of the universe in manifestation = Matter] in nature with their respective inhabitants. Matter — the seven prakritis — is not evil per se, but crystallized or condensed spirit; and the prakritis are simply incomputably vast numbers of monads individually unawakened or unevolved and hence functioning in nature as fields of material or prakritic extent. When a universe, through evolution of all its variously differentiated prakritis, shall finally reach spiritual levels, these differentiations will merge into the spiritual unity of the cosmic monad, thus bringing about the grand consummatum est, when duality vanishes into unity.

 

Discord is the Harmony of the Universe: Allowing Spiritual Growth: The following passage in The Mahatma Letters (p. 401) gives a further key:

“. . . discord is the harmony of the Universe. . . . each part, as in the glorious fugues of the immortal Mozart, ceaselessly chases the other in harmonious discord on the paths of Eternal progress to meet and finally blend at the threshold of the pursued goal into one harmonious whole, the keynote in nature Sat.”

Thus, in its essence, matter is as divine as spirit, for it is merely the shadow or vehicular side of spirit.

 

Applying All This to Daily Life: We have seen that human nature is dual and that the Battle of the Wolves is ever going on between the Higher and the Lower Selves: the Angel and the Demon in every Man/Woman. When the Higher, immortal part dominates – there is knowledge and peace. When the Lower rules, all the dark despairing elements of human life rush in upon the unguarded soul. But man in his inner essence is a being with divine inheritance and immeasurable possibilities of spiritual evolution. So how come we manage to get ourselves into so much trouble?

 

Opening the Door to the Bad Wolf: How do human weaknesses creep in to our lives? Because of our dedication to selfishness – ‘I, me,me,mine’ – we open the door to our inner being and invite the obsessive, potent force of evil into our lives. Often with the power enough to destroy our very being. The door of selfish desire once opened, the incoming stranger is welcomed, entertained, permitted to enjoy the bounty of our intellectual life, permitted to sit in the very chamber of man’s being, where really only higher and splendid things should be.

 

How can We Shut the Door on Selfish Desire? This door may be open in any one of us. It can never be shut, and kept shut, until our feet are planted on the rock of spiritual knowledge [the seven jewels of wisdom] and of trust in their reality. Until we shut the door against the faintest tinge of evil that would mar the purity of the inner realm of mind that the soul works in and through, we are at risk of allowing evil tendencies to rule our character.

The key to it is: MAN, KNOW THYSELF!

 

Self-Directed Spiritual Evolution: Through honest self-analysis of our actions and motivations we can realize our mistakes and evil tendencies – and make a start on the appropriate actions to exclude evil from our lives – self-directed spiritual evolution. Our inner divinity – the Knower/Observer  – our spiritual companion within – is ever pleading to be listened to, ever waiting to be recognized, ever ready to help and serve that it may bring  the whole nature of us to its standard of godlike perfection – ie, bring out the ‘good’ part of us.

 

Another Way of Looking at Knowledge of Good and Evil: the Green Leaf Drawing: Look at the drawing of a green leaf on a white background. The form of the leaf was already there on the board before it was drawn, but you weren’t able to recognize it, because the positive form of the leaf and the negative nature of the background were still at rest within each other. They were completely identical. The form of the leaf was not yet separated from the Everything that is contained in this Nothing. When the leaf appeared on the board, it became separated from the Everything, and therefore recognizable.

 

The Complimentary Part of the Green Leaf Left Behind: The Red Leaf: Remember something very important: the fact that this leaf appears in green colour means that it has left behind in the Everything its form in the complementary colour, in this case red, as its invisible, negative picture. Whatever you see as you look about you is only recognizable because it has separated itself from its complementary half and the latter has remained behind in the invisible, unmanifested state. You can achieve spiritual knowledge only through comparing the two sides, positive and negative, which have become separated from each other. As long as these two sides are together, resting with each other, you can’t perceive or recognize anything.

 

Mountains and Valleys: There can be no perception unless unity is split into two halves—one of them manifested and the other, its reflection and complementary half, unmanifested — so that both become recognizable through comparison! Nothing can ever be manifested and made recognizable, unless its opposite—its complementary half—is simultaneously present unmanifested! When something positive is manifested, the negative remains unmanifested, and vice versa, when something negative is manifested, the positive is unmanifested. Wherever the one appears, its complementary half must also be present even though in an unmanifested state. The two are bound together for all time and eternity. When a mountain is formed, its complementary half, a valley, must also be formed. How could a mountain be possible without a valley, or a valley without a mountain?

 

Separation From Unity: Both good and evil have arisen only through separation from unity which itself is neither good nor evil but divine. Only through separation is it possible to achieve recognition and knowledge. Consequently the recognizable world must consist of good and evil. If this were not so, it would not be recognizable and could not exist at all.

 

Reconciliation of Opposites: As long as a man/woman seeks its complementary half outside his/herself, in the created, recognizable world, we will never find unity, simply because his/her complementary half isn’t outside ourselves, manifested, separate from ourselves, but on the contrary, unseparated from itself, in our own unmanifested part, in its unconscious. No creature could exist if it did not have its other half in the unmanifested.  

 Take ourselves for example. The opposite of everything you are and manifest in your conscious part is contained in your unconscious part which nevertheless belongs to you, and which you are just as much as you are your conscious, manifested part.

You don’t find your complementary part outside yourself—in a man/woman of flesh and blood, for example, but in the unconscious part of your true self.

When you unite in your consciousness two halves of yourself, you’ve found your way back into the infinite all and nothing, you’ve become identical with  God-consciousness again!

 

Finding God-Consciousness Again: Take ourselves for example. The opposite of everything you are and manifest in your conscious part is contained in your unconscious part which nevertheless belongs to you, and which you are just as much as you are your conscious, manifested part. You don’t find your complementary part outside yourself—in a man/woman of flesh and blood, for example, but in the unconscious part of your true self. When you unite in your consciousness two halves of yourself, you’ve found your way back into the infinite all and nothing, you’ve become identical with  God-consciousness again!

 

Good and Evil: Battle of the Two Wolves: Further Reading:

 

G de Purucker: The Fountain Source of Occultism: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/fso/fso-hp.htm

 

G de Purucker: Studies in Occult  Philosophy:

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/soph/studies_in_occult_philosophy.pdf

 

Katherine Tingley: Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/pathmyst/path-hp.htm

 

Elizabeth Haich: Initiation: http://www.znakovi-vremena.net/en/Elisabeth_Haich_Initiation.pdf

 

If you wish to contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1882, Master K.H. wrote to A.O. Hume that there were three types of “pralayas and manwantara.”1 The two less significant types included minor planetary and solar cycles, but the primary type was a “universal or Maha pralaya and manwantara.”2 The succession from a Maha-Manvantara to a Maha-Pralaya signified a period “when even Brahm the creative architect of the world is said to have merged into non-being.”3 After all these years, we still only hold the barest conception of what Master K.H. meant by this statement. H.P. Blavatsky concealed the sacred cycles associated with it, but G. de Purucker teased his readers a bit and suggested that by making the necessary adjustments one could “come to very clear conclusions as to the time-periods of the Solar System and of the Galaxy.”4 While no one has presented such “very clear conclusions,” there is so much already given in H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine that still needs to be investigated. One of the themes that needs to be explored is the relationship of a Maha-Manvantara, as a “Great Age” of 311,040,000,000,000 years, to the complete lifespan of our solar system.5 Thus, the starting point for understanding Cosmic Life is with a study of the Great Age.

 

In The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky equated a Maha-Manvantara with the Great Age or one hundred year Life of Brahma. She spoke of this Great Age in terms of the evolution of our solar system, “Not even Esoteric philosophy can claim to know, except by analogical inference, that which took place before the reappearance of our Solar System and previous to the last Maha Pralaya.”6 With her characteristic aplomb, she admonished that if we extend “our speculations beyond our planetary chain” to “cross the limits of the solar system,” then indeed “we act as do presumptuous fools.”7 Fortunately, there is no danger of being a presumptuous fool since the Great Age can be defined in terms of two cosmic events: 1) the complete period of the solar system in all its cycles 2) the death of Brahma in his manifested existence with the dissolution of the materials that built the solar system. To reiterate, our sun in its earliest cycles is coeval with the manifested life of Brahma. H.P. Blavatsky chose Slokas to include in The Secret Doctrine because they pertained to the “fifteen-figure manvantaric cycle” of 311,040,000,000,000 years that applied to our “solar system” as opposed to an even larger cycle for the “whole of the objective universe.”8 The whole of the objective universe concerned our Milky Way Galaxy and its complete period far exceeded 311 trillion years. Therefore, her commentary in the first Sloka on the first Stanza of The Secret Doctrine—“THE ETERNAL PARENT (Space), WRAPPED IN HER EVER INVISIBLE ROBES, HAD SLUMBERED ONCE AGAIN FOR SEVEN ETERNITIES”—addressed the last Maha-Pralaya prior to the first fluttering of the new Great Age as a Maha-Manvantara for the complete lifespan of the solar system.9 For H.P. Blavatsky, the beginning of our sun as a comet “once upon a time” inaugurated “Brahma’s Age.”10 The ever-invisible robes of Space were the “non-differentiated” substances that our solar comet within its manifesting nebula had to break through in order to arrive at objective existence.11

 

This focus on our solar system was in keeping with her other statements that the key to the cycles beyond our sun could not be given because they involved the “Evolution of the Universal Kosmos.”12 The grander cycles of the Universal Kosmos included the complete period for the lifespan of our “Central Sun,” but it was separated from “milliards of solar systems” due to its vastness in time, its current transcendence of place, and its omnipresence of consciousness.13 Actually, the Central Sun from its etheric fields emanated our sun and its various companion suns at the “Manvantaric Dawn.”14 As such, The Secret Doctrine approached the study of Cosmic Life from the perspective of our solar system throughout its 311 trillion year Maha-Manvantara after it emerged from the invisible robes that veiled it during an equally long 311 trillion year Maha-Pralaya. Thus, Master K.H.’s allusion to a universal Maha-Manvantara and Maha-Pralaya referred to two cycles of the sun—meaning the birth of the solar materials that constructed its principles at the start of a Great Age to carry it through all its minor solar cycles into the finality of a magnificent demise and subsequent rebirth in the next Great Age—that endured over some 622 trillion years in total, minus a few trillion years to account for the transition between the two ages.15

 

While the key to the grander cycles in the Universal Kosmos could not be given, H.P. Blavatsky did contextualize the Great Age within the Universal Kosmos. Since the first Stanzas in The Secret Doctrine treated of the “awakening from Pralaya” and were not “concerned with the Solar system alone,” she acknowledged that the sun participated in grander cycles.16 She confirmed there were several Great Ages mentioned by the “ancients,” thereby implying that a Great Age was merely one in a successive series of lives of Brahma.17 Certain remarks by H.P. Blavatsky, however, have led many researchers to miss the possibility that the Great Age is not the consummate dissolution of a grander cycle such as a universal solar system with its Central Spiritual Sun, but only the consummate dissolution of the solar system with our sun. For example, in The Key to Theosophy, she remarked that the “dissolution of the universe becomes universal” after this 311 trillion year period.18 What readers miss is that this “Universe” is evolved from the “Central Sun, the POINT, the ever-concealed germ” which is thereby beyond the universal dissolution in its inner aspects.19 In The Secret Doctrine, she stated, “these Stanzas refer to the whole Universe after a Mahapralaya (universal destruction)” and this universal destruction was a Prakritika-Pralaya “at the end of the Age or Life of Brahma, when everything that exists is resolved into the primal element.”20 Since a Prakritika-Pralaya is only “partial,” these statements may have only described a distinct part of the Universal Kosmos.21 The Maha-Pralaya after a Great Age is a universal dissolution for the principles of the solar system but only a partial dissolution for Brahma the Creator—as the Central Sun or the “Blazing Dragon of Wisdom”—in so far as the close of the Maha-Manvantara refers to his manifested existence in the fields of his respective solar systems.22 In her description of the Maha-Pralaya at the end of the Great Age, our solar system dies and disappears along with the manifested Brahma, leading to a condition where “NO-THING reigns supreme and alone in Boundless Infinitude and that No-thing is non-differentiated space which is no space, and the ABSOLUTE.”23 Elsewhere, she noted that the Maha-Pralaya or “Universal destruction” only swept “out of Space every differentiated thing.”24 In light of these statements, the Maha-Pralaya may be a partial dissolution after the Maha-Manvantara that separates the differentiated from the non-differentiated. Non-differentiated existence in its own state of activity still exists in the Universal Kosmos and it is in this non-differentiated existence that the “lucky Jivanmukti” who “reaches Nirvana at an early period of a Manvantara” enjoys, and nearly doubles to 622 trillion years, his paradisiacal experience.25 The lucky Jivanmukti has soared to the highest reaches of the solar system, dropped the solar principles, and gone beyond into the unmanifested life of Brahma—a condition equivalent to the Maha-Pralaya.

 

To understand the nuances in H.P. Blavatsky’s exposition, it is necessary to turn to G. de Purucker’s writings. In Studies in Occult Philosophy, he established the complete lifespan of our solar system as a Saurya Manvantara of “some three hundreds of trillions of human years.”26 He added that there were figures beyond these 311 trillion years that pertained to the “Manvantara of our entire Galaxy,” but it would be “perfectly futile to talk about because we could not understand them.”27 In the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary, he defined a Maha-Manvantara as a cycle of a “solar system or Life of Brahma” which lasts 311,040,000,000,000 years.28 Likewise, he defined a Maha-Kalpa, or the equivalent of a Maha-Manvantara, as the “time period between the beginning and end of a complete solar manvantara—the entire lifetime of our solar system.”29 If the entire lifespan of our solar system is 311 trillion years, then the entire lifespan of a universal solar system with a Central Spiritual Sun, or a Raja Sun, must be trillions of years longer since our solar system has “many embodiments within the universal manvantara” of that grander cycle. 30 And if the complete lifespan of a universal solar system were trillions of years longer, then the complete lifespan of the galactic Monad at the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy would presumably stretch to thousands of trillions of years. But the enormous extent of these cycles is mind-boggling and only the field of discovery for those eminently presumptuous fools or those who know.*

 

Fortunately, G. de Purucker explained this process of Cosmic Life in his article, “The Sevenfold Seven Principles,” in the October 1943 magazine The Theosophical Forum. In this article, G. de Purucker gave out the key to H.P. Blavatsky’s teaching on the solar system and the Great Age. He drew a comparison between what happens at the death of a human being as opposed to a planet or a solar system. For a human being, death means that his “four lowest principles” disappear and he is “attracted” up into the Manas by the Atman and the Buddhi.31 The man, from being sevenfold, “has become a triad, a threefold being.”32 G. de Purucker then continued to explain that when a planet dies the only principles left of a human being are his Atman and Buddhi. Finally, when a solar system disappears, the only principle remaining “either of the solar system or of any man” is the Atman.33 That is, the human being and the solar system are indrawn into the Atman—the link between non-differentiated and differentiated existence—at the close of the Great Age. In Fountain-Source of Occultism, he confirmed that Atman is “appurtenant to the solar system.”34 Since the principle of Atman corresponds to the sun, the 311 trillion year period is a Saurya Manvantara for the solar system, not a Maha-Saurya Manvantara for the universal solar system. Since the principle of Atman is universal for the manifested existence of the six lower principles, the Great Age is presented as a universal dissolution.

 

Using G. de Purucker’s model, the structure of Cosmic Life for our ten-fold system of worlds can be extrapolated. It can be extrapolated downwards through animal, plant, mineral and elemental life. With the death of 1) an animal, its life merges into the principle of Kama 2) a plant, its life merges into the principle of Prana 3) a mineral, its life merges into the principle of Linga 4) an elemental, and its life merges into the principle of Sthula. But more importantly, the structure of Cosmic Life can be extrapolated upwards. With the death of 1) a Raja Sun and its universal solar system, its life merges into Mahat as the 3rd Logos 2) an Emperor Sun and its super-universal solar system, its life merges into Mulaprakriti as the 2nd Logos 3) a Galactic Monad and the Milky Way Galaxy, its life merges into Parabrahman as the 1st Logos. In short, G. de Puruckers’ model clarifies that the complete periods for a Raja Sun, an Emperor Sun, and the Galactic Monad stretch far beyond a Great Age.**

 

When the differentiated energies of the solar system disappear into Atman at the close of the Maha-Manvantara, they return to their source in the non-differentiated energies of the three logoic classes beyond them: the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Logos. This clearly places our sun as Daiviprakriti, the light of these logoi, which transforms into Fohat in a “more developed state of manifestation.”35 In a general way, G. de Purucker diagrammed this relation between Mahat and Fohat in Fountain-Source of Occultism.36*** Once again, G. de Purucker affirmed H.P. Blavatsky’s original teachings. For her, Fohat “is the light (Daiviprakriti) of all the three logoi—the personified symbols of the three spiritual stages of Evolution.”37 When we return to our parent source at the close of the Great Age in 155 trillion years—since “half of the existence of Brahma (in the present Maha Kalpa) has already expired”—with the disintegration of the fohatic forces of Daiviprakriti, we are actually returning to the non-differentiated energies (all very much incorporeally alive) of the 3rd Logos.38 The Lipikas of our solar system “make an impassable barrier between the personal EGO” of the seven principles and the “impersonal SELF ” of the three logoi, circumscribing “the manifested world of matter within the RING ‘Pass-Not.”39 As H.P. Blavatsky warned, “No principles can cross the ring ‘pass not,’ only the memory of these in the eternal divine ideation, which ideation itself from something manifested becomes the Absolute on that ‘Day Be-With-Us.’”40 Beyond this barrier within the highest principle of Atman in the seven-fold universe where the “Ah-hi” ultimately emerge from the “Universal Mind” of the logoic triad as the “primordial seven rays” is the “One” (but only a secondary “One”) who is the “collective aggregate, or totality, of the principle Creators or Architects of this visible universe.”41 This Architect is the Cosmic Mind of the 3rd Logos; this is Brahma, the “symbol of the Universe.”42 His one hundred year life represents the duration of his manifested existence. He is the “impersonal SELF” of Mahat who as the pilgrim Monad—one of the “manifesting stars” or “sparks of Eternity”—periodically manifests the “playground” of a seven-fold universe to play within.43 The Great Age begins and ends with him; he is the “noumenal germ” that produces the “phenomenal germ” and that “germ” becomes the “acorn” as our physical universe.44 As H.P. Blavatsky made clear, “Mahat and matter are the inner and outer boundaries of the Universe.”45

 

When it is time to withdraw the universe back into himself, then Mahat as the “cosmic spirit” is for his “own universe one and sole” during the Maha-Pralaya.46 But that universe only refers to the “lower cosmic planes of manifested life.”47 At its end, the universe, as the entire solar system that is indrawn into Atman as the “one universal principle” which is simply a “ray” that figuratively re-enters Mahat as its Nirvana and then ascends to its Paranirvana in Parabrahman, engages in an “intense spiritual and superintellectual activity characteristic of the highest planes of the cosmic essence.”48 Atman is the “all absolute” in which we “live and breathe and have our being” in the “whole universe and during the whole Manvantaric period.”49 With the close of the whole Manvantaric period, Cosmic Pralaya ensues, but “Cosmic Pralaya is for things visible, not for the Arupa, formless, world.”50 This “Cosmic or Universal Pralaya” comes at the “end of one hundred years of Brahma” and it is said to be a “Universal dissolution” because Mahat is “Universal Intelligence limited by Manvantaric duration.”51 For H.P. Blavatsky, Mahat is the “universal memory” of the “whole Manvantara.”52 But this assimilation of memory into the 3rd Logos is only such for a solar system since life, as “Avyaya,” enters the “Seven Rays of the Sun”—the “Rays” belonging to the Atman principle of our sun and being produced by the “Third Creation” or Mahat—to thereby drink up “all the waters of the Universe.”53 When the universe of “Manvantaric duration” ends, the “seven solar Rays” (having already assimilated the planetary chains) then dilate to “seven suns and set fire to the whole Cosmos.”54 Nothing differentiated from the seven-fold universe survives this conflagration. H.P. Blavatsky made it clear that “every atom of the seven principles” and “even the refulgence of Atma-Buddhi” must “remain outside the portal of Nirvana.”55 Only “divine ideation” as Mahat—the “consciousness, the bearer of Absolute memory, of its personalities now merged into the one impersonal—can cross the threshold of the Laya point, which lies at the very gate of manifestation, of the human soul and mind in which facts and events, past, present and future, were alike fixed during the joint pilgrimage.”56 This joint pilgrimage that a human being takes into the solar system  is initiated from the depths of divine ideation in Mahat and we are accompanied in some mysterious way by the pilgrim Monad itself who walks with each one of us through the different and unique stages of our individual cosmic lives.

 

Notes and Sources:

 

*In the June 2017 Theosophy Downunder newsletter, I provided some brief suggestions for understanding the length of theosophical cycles in “How Long are the Cycles Mentioned in Theosophy?” The solar chain Brahma, in all his minor cycles, extends throughout the 311 trillion years of the Great Age. While the manifested aspect of a universal solar chain Brahma in his grand seven-fold cycle ends at the close of the Great Age, his unmanifested Mahatic energies continue to operate during the Maha-Pralaya. In this sense, among others, the life of the universal solar chain Brahma extends beyond 311 trillion years. Since there are multiple Great Ages and each Great Age comprises some 622 trillion years when both the Maha-Manvantara and Maha-Pralaya are included, the entire lifespan of a galactic Brahman presumably stretches into the thousands of trillions of years.

 

**G. de Purucker mentioned Emperor Suns, or Maharaja Suns, in his Dialogues.57 Though it is open to debate, it is a logical deduction to place G. de Purucker’s “Emperor Sun” in this position.

 

***G. de Purucker acknowledged that his two diagrams in Fountain-Source of Occultism differed “enormously in particulars.”58 It is not the purpose of this article to harmonize the two diagrams. G. de Purucker’s model for the unfolding of the solar system is based on the first diagram on page 435. His second diagram on page 437 relating Fohat to Mahat corresponds to H.P. Blavatsky’s Kabbalistic explanation in the second volume of The Secret Doctrine.59

 

1(ML93) 2(ML93) 3(ML60) 4(ST465) 5(SD1-36) 6(SD1-369) 7(SD2-700) 8(CW10-321) 9(SD1-35) 10(CW10-402) 11(CW10-304) 12(SD1-13) 13(SD1-13) 14(SD1-527) 15(SD1-206) 16(CW10-354) 17(KY334) 18(KY334) 19(SD1-379) 20(SD1-140,371) 21(ENC-PP) 22(SD1-71) 23(CW10-44) 24(SD1-151) 25(SD1-371) 26(ST464) 27(ST464) 28(ENC-MM) 29(ENC-MK) 30(FS131) 31(TF444 & ST61) 32(TF444 & ST61) 33(TF444 & ST61) 34(FS434) 35(FS191) 36(FS437) 37(CW10-334) 38(SD1-368) 39(SD1-129) 40(SDD375) 41(CW10-317 & SD1-27,129,130 &  SDD28,35,100) 42(SD1-41) 43(SD1-16) 44(SDD165) 45(SD1-257) 46(FS178) 47(FS178) 48(FS178 & SDD550) 49(SDD592) 50(SD2-69) 51(SD1-62,2-69) 52(SDD594) 53(CW10-394 & SD2-69) 54(SD2-69) 55(SDD372) 56(SDD372) 57(DIA1-341) 58(FS-436) 59(SD2-241)

 

CW = Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings. Vol. 10.  Wheaton: The Theosophical

Publishing House, 1974.

 

DIA = Purucker, G. de. The Dialogues of G. de Purucker. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1948.

 

ENC = Purucker, Gottfried de. Editor-in-Chief. Encyclopedic Theosophical 

                  Glossary. (1999). See terms including Prakritika-Pralaya, Maha-

Manvantara, and Maha-Kalpa. Retrieved from theosociety.org.

 

FS = Purucker, Gottfried de. Fountain-Source of Occultism. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1974.

 

KY = Blavatsky, H.P. The Key to Theosophy. Pasadena: Theosophical University

Press,1995.

 

ML = Barker, A.T., comp. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1975.

SD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine. Pasadena: Theosophical University

Press,1999.

 

SDD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine Dialogues. Los Angeles: The

Theosophy Company, 2014.

 

ST = Purucker, Gottfried de. Studies in Occult Philosophy. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1973.

 

TF = Purucker, Gottfried de. “The Sevenfold Seven Principles.” The

                  Theosophical Forum. Vol. 21, No.10. Covina: Theosophical University

Press, October 1943.

 

May I be with you, you gods; May you be with me . . . your Onite (character) is in me, O God . . . See me, O Ra, recognize me O Ra, I belong to those that know you, so know me.
Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, 2,500 BC

The Influence of Ancient Egypt

 Ancient Egypt has had an immense influence on Western society throughout the ages. It was always seen in the ancient world as the very apogee of education in every field – like America today. But unlike its modern equivalent, ancient Egypt was respected throughout the ancient Western world as the pinnacle of the spiritual sciences, a little bit like we respect India or Tibet for their spiritual knowledge today.

The Hermetic philosophies of Greece and Rome which inspired Neo-Platonic thought and then later Christianity in the early Christian era, were based on spiritual knowledge from ancient Egypt. Later, following the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or rebirth of classical knowledge in Europe, was really an attempt to rediscover the ancient knowledge of Greece, Rome, and of their predecessor, ancient Egypt.

Ultimately the very structures of the modern Western world which flowed from the French Revolution in 1789 and the formation of the USA in 1776 were both greatly influenced by Freemasonry which in turn is grounded in the spiritual traditions of ancient Egypt. The Emperor Napoleon in post-revolutionary France, President George Washington, and many of the principle founders of modern America, were Freemasons with a tremendous respect for the esoteric knowledge of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt has had an immense influence on the arts in every field especially since Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 and the French scholar Jean Francois Champollion cracked the code of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822. Today the tremendous popularity of The Mummy and The Scorpion King series of films (1999-2012) and the Tutankhamen Exhibition shown world-wide, testify to the continuing fascination we have with ancient Egypt.

The Mystery Tradition in Ancient Egypt

 An examination of the writings and monuments of ancient Egypt tells us that, in its prime, the civilization of the Nile possessed many of the keys to the doors of the Esoteric Wisdom. Certainly the ancients themselves were well aware of this fact. For example, the Church Father Origen tells us that the philosophers of ancient Egypt had a… “most noble and secret wisdom concerning the nature of the Divine which was disclosed to the people only under the garment of fables and allegories…” (Contra Celsum, Bk I, ch. xxii).

Theosophist HP Blavatsky understood this was true when she wrote: ‘Verily there was some truth in the old saying, “The Wisdom of the Egyptians.”…”The Mighty Ones perform their great works, and leave behind them everlasting monuments to commemorate their visit, every time they penetrate within our mayavic veil (atmosphere)…” The Secret Doctrine 1:434.

Some of these keys to the high wisdom of ancient Egypt were rediscovered in the mid-twentieth century by the great French archaeologist Rene A. Schwaller de Lubicz and his wife Isha who spent 15 years studying the esoteric significance of the design of the Temples at Luxor. Theosophists, Manuel Oderberg, and Lionel Whellams, of our own Australian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) wrote on these matters in the 1940s. Theosophical writers and Rene Schwaller de Lubicz were followed by 21st Century mystical and symbolist interpreters of ancient Egyptian civilization notably – American writer and traveller, John Anthony West, and Oxford philosopher Dr Jeremy Naydler whose books and videos provide most of the information that follows in these articles.

Summarizing the mystical view of ancient Egyptian civilization and how this differs so greatly from that of mainstream Egyptologists, Robert Lawlor says:

“In the Symbolist (mystic) model of ancient Egypt, at least two concurrent, simultaneous levels are at work in any given instance. One is the study of Egypt as a civilization that existed in a factual geographic place and time, its people, mythology, social forms, its chronological unfolding, its monuments and artifacts. But this is only a backdrop, or support for another Egypt, which might be called a quality of intelligence. This Egypt is outside of chronological considerations; it is rather, both an ever present and recurring possibility of consciousness.”

Was there a Civilisation in Egypt even Older than the Oldest we currently know?

Contemporary Egyptology teaches that Egyptian civilization appeared around 3,000BC and that the people were believers in animal-headed gods and had a primitive view of the universe and man’s relation to it.

In fact the Egyptians themselves in their temple records of their history date their origins to their Gods and the Servants of the Gods who ruled what is now Egypt at least 36,000 years ago. Their science, mathematics, and astronomy seem to have been in place from the beginning (3000BC) and reached a flowering in the Old Kingdom (2686 to 2181BC) with magnificent buildings such as King Djoser’s step pyramid constructed only 500 years (2650BC) after the first comparatively primitive structures of Egypt’s earliest dynastic period (3000BC).

It is as if a core of Egyptian initiates had the background knowledge to build such structures before the beginning of the historical period we know. But these highly educated people needed simply to refine the skills of enough architects and craftsmen to build such huge monuments, and to await the right astrological time for such activities – perhaps the start of Kali Yuga?

How is this possible? Perhaps there was a still older kingdom than the Old Kingdom recognized by modern Egyptology?

Ancient Stone Vases in Primitive Villages

In predynastic archaeological sites in Egypt exquisite stone vases made from some of the hardest stone known, such as Diorite, Porphery, and Granite have been found surrounded by primitive artefacts.

These have complex designs and are hollowed out in the centre. They have a hardness greater than steel but the Egyptians are supposed to have had only copper tools with which to manufacture them.

The stone is so difficult to work with that it would be difficult for us to make these stone vases today with our technology, much less 5,000 years ago. Could it be these items were remnants of an earlier civilization kept as treasured artefacts by the people of later times who were living in a post-apoplectic era after the destruction of the civilization that originally had the technology to make them?

The Great Sphinx – a lot older than we think?

There is no more iconic image of ancient Egypt than The Great Sphinx near the Great Pyramid at Giza near modern day Cairo. It was supposed to have been built during the reign of the Pharoah Khafra about 2,600 BC. But was it really?

The statue itself and the man-made temple walls surrounding it show evidence of water erosion, ie. that the statue was exposed to rain for a long period. But it hasn’t rained consistently in this area for 10,000 years at least and the Sphinx shows extensive signs of water weathering, therefore, it must have been exposed to water erosion for hundreds or thousands of years! Boston University Geologist Robert Schoch confirmed these findings in the mid-1990s.

In 1991 New York forensic artist Detective Frank Domingo, proved conclusively that head of the Sphinx was not the same individual as the Pharoah Khafra (Chefren) as identified by other statues depicting him.

Both pieces of evidence would suggest that the Sphinx is of immense antiquity, perhaps constructed at the end of the last Ice Age when the area was subject to flooding and rains.

The discovery in 1994 of a sophisticated temple complex at Gobekli Tepe in south-western Turkey dated to 12,000 years ago, indicates that there were civilizations in the region in the remote past capable of building huge monuments with stone slabs weighing up to 20 tons each. Archeologists working at the site tell us that the whole site at Gobekli Tepe seems to have been deliberately buried about 10,000 years ago!

Other Evidence of the Ancient Origins of Egyptian Civilization:

  • Use of advanced lathes to produce pottery and statues.
  • Advanced methods of producing near perfect replicas of eyes in Old Kingdom statues. The eyes follow you and are of complex construction.
  • Accuracy of stone-work, eg. Serapeum granite sarcophagi which have 27 ton lids perfectly made from a single piece of granite.
  • Monuments were cut, carried and manoeuvred into place over a long period requiring enormous sacrifice and sustained effort and leadership.
  • Prehistoric astronomical devices in the desert of the Western Sahara, eg the Nabta Playa astronomical observatory dated at 4,000 BC discovered in 1973 and recognized as an astronomical observatory in 1993. Stones are arranged to measure the beginning of the summer solstice and seem to have alignment with the star Sirius, and constellations of Orion, Canis Major and Ursa Major – all of which seem to have been important in Egyptian religion.
  • Possible connection with Mexico: some Egyptian mummies give evidence of nicotine and cocaine but these were only introduced to the world after the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. Le Plongeon theory that Mayan Indians from Mexico settled Egypt and Mesopotamia – Pyramids are native to Mexico; Thor Heyerdahl in the 1950s/60s proved that inter-continental journeys were possible in primitive sea-craft across the pacific and Atlantic; genetic similarities of DNA between the native inhabitants of the canary island (Guanche’s) and Egyptian mummies being Cro-Magnon with extended skulls.
  • The Turin King list gives an accurate record of all kings from Menes (3,000BC) to the New Kingdom (1,550BC-712BC) and then says the Shemsu-Hor (Companions of Horus) ruled before that for 13,420 years and before them the Neteru (Gods) for 23,200 years.
  • Evidence that Pyramids may have been utilized as electric power generators – see under pyramids in this lecture).
  • Evidence of ancient cultures in the Mediterranean: Ancient culture in Malta. Huge temples built in megalithic style with underground chambers with perfect acoustics and large reservoirs. Ancient cart ruts in stone all over the island some disappearing into the present sea and reappearing on land some distance away. Hagar Quinn temple complex with huge cyclopean walls with the Western wall destroyed by some massive wave action. Extended skulls of Cro-Magnon man similar to ancient Egypt and some areas of Europe around the Mediterranean.
  • Cyclopean ruins in Lebanon at Baalbeck have the largest quarried stones in the world at 1200 tons each fitted perfectly together. No modern machine can move that weight.
  • May have been an ancient civilization in the Mediterranean which was flooded about 8,000BC at the close of the last Ice Age when the sea level rose 122 metres. Could be the origin of flood legends which are widespread in the area, eg. Gilgamesh epic (Mesopotamia), Biblical record of the flood.

When you consider these facts we might well agree with symbolist Egyptologist John Anthony West when he says:

“… The much vaunted flowering of ancient Greece 2,000 years later pales into insignificance in the face of a civilization which, supposedly starting from a crude Neolithic (Stone Age) base, produced in a few centuries a complete system of hieroglyphs, the most sophisticated calendrical system ever developed, an effective mathematics, a refined medicine, a total mastery of the gamut of the arts and crafts and the capacity to construct the largest and most accomplished stone buildings ever built by man. The cautiously expressed astonishment of modern Egyptologists hardly matches the real magnitude of the mystery.

A realistic approach to the mystery suggests alternatives that are unacceptable to the orthodox mind. The first is that Egyptian civilization did not develop in situ but this was brought to Egypt by hypothetical conquerors. This alternative simply translates the mystery of a period of development to the as-yet-undiscovered homeland of these conquerors.

The second alternative is that Egypt did not ‘develop’ her civilization, but inherited it…that the coherent complete and interrelated system of science, religion, art and philosophy of Egypt …came from a prior civilization possessing a high order of knowledge. In other words, this alternative brings up the old question of ‘Atlantis’…” – John Anthony West: Serpent in the Sky: the High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, pages 184-195.

Refugees from Atlantis

Theosophy teaches that what became the ancient Egyptian civilization was founded by refugees fleeing from a highly advanced, but very materialistic society – the 4th Root-Race of Humanity (we are the 5th) – Atlantis. This civilization was destroyed by a series of massive floods and subsidence of some continental areas and raising of others. This point of view is advocated also by 20th century French archaeologist Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, the American psychic Edgar Cayce, and 21st century symbolist Egyptologist, John Anthony West.

The Great Pyramid: One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Great Pyramid is a marvel in stone. Located on the West bank of the Nile opposite Cairo; it is the largest of a group of three pyramids and surrounding temple structures including the Great Sphinx. Although dated by conventional archeologists to 4,500 years ago, it represents architectural perfection and engineering genius that would be difficult for us to duplicate today.

For 3,800 years it was the world’s tallest building. It is constructed of 8 million cubic feet of stone; 2.3 million stone blocks weighing 2.5 tons each; and originally entirely covered in white limestone which shone brightly in the desert sunlight for miles around. It is equidistant from the pole and the centre of the earth showing an exact knowledge of latitude and longitude. The French emperor Napoleon’s surveyors found that the Great Pyramid was at the apex of an exact triangle fanning out from the Pyramid over the Nile Delta like the Greek capital letter ‘Delta’.

Further amazing facts about the Great Pyramid and other pyramids in Egypt is available in an article by Coen Vonk: ‘Pyramids and Temples in Egypt’ at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/52-02-3/eg-vonk.htm

Was the Great Pyramid a Tomb?

Archaeologists say that the Great Pyramid was just a tomb for the Pharoah Khufu (2589-2566BC) – but was it really just that? No body; no coffin; no funerary appurtenances; and no after-life pictures on the walls were ever found in the Great Pyramid. Khufu’s name appears only on a few stones in the upper courses of the pyramid. The so-called ‘burial chambers’ are 150 feet above the ground not below as would be expected for a burial. Air channels run 200 feet from the surface of the Pyramid to certain chambers. These were obviously meant for living men.

Funerary scripts from the tomb of Queen Henutsen, one of Khufu’s four wives, refer to her husband’s restoration work at the Great Pyramid – he cleared away the sand, restored, and possibly added to, an ancient existing structure. In ancient Egypt, the Great Pyramid was known as: the ‘Temple of Osiris’ – Osiris was the king of the Underworld and patron of the ‘Mysteries’: a system of learning about the nature and processes of the cosmos and man, and, ‘Akhet’ – the ‘The Horizon of Heaven’.

Was the Great Pyramid a Power Generator?

Christopher Dunn expert machinist who speculated on the use of lathes in ancient Egypt to cut stone pottery and statues.

In the late 1990s came up with an ingenious explanation of the Pyramids (or the Great Pyramid at least) as an electrical power generator. Generates electric power by resonance of the granite panels with tectonic plate movements in the earth’s crust. King’s Chamber and Chambers above it create resonance. Queen’s chamber converts the energy using chemicals based on water. Grand Gallery is really a Resonance Hall fitted with Helmholtz resonators to project energy in the form of sound waves into the King’s chamber.

Water flowing below the pyramids in man-made tunnels is part of the power system.

Theosophy says that the Great Pyramid was really a Temple of Spiritual Initiation

Inside the Great Pyramid there is a maze of tunnels and rooms fanning away from the main entrance and serviced by air-shafts to the surface meant for living people. Theosophy says the purpose of the Great Pyramid, as with most other of the larger pyramids, was not as a tomb, but an environment where suitable candidates could undergo spiritual initiation into higher states of consciousness – hence its ancient name ‘Horizon of Heaven’ – a place where one could literally enter other dimensions of reality which we call ‘Heavens and Hells’.

HP Blavatsky hints in her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine (2:432), that it was built originally three processional cycles, or 78,000 years ago, by refugees from the doomed Atlantis based on the design of their own temples. To achieve spiritual awakening candidates had to undergo a variety of tests of character, encounter first-hand some of the other dimensions, and to face various aspects of themselves before achieving ‘enlightenment’ for a few in the very centre of the Pyramid – the ‘Kings Chamber’.

These initiation tests offered a vastly accelerated path to enlightenment for strong souls called by the ancient Egyptians in their Book of the Two Ways, ‘The Path of Horus’. The Egyptians had three degrees/stages of spiritual initiation with several sub-stages, personified under the ‘three guardians of the fire’ in the Mysteries. This quick Path contrasts with the slow journey for the majority of humanity to the same state of enlightenment but through the everyday initiations of daily life experience called by them – ‘The Path of Osiris’.

Osiris was the King of the Underworld, patron of the Mysteries, father of Horus, and the Great Pyramid was also known in ancient Egypt as the ‘Temple of Osiris’. A wealth of information on the Great Pyramid as a temple of initiation is available in an article by I.M.Oderberg: ‘Gateway to the Horizon of Heaven’ at: http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/med/my-imo6.htm

Secret Rites of the ‘Sed Festival’ and the Pyramids

Recent academic research by Dr Jeremy Naydler published in his book, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts – the chapter of his PhD thesis – ‘The Pyramids as the Locus of Secret Rites’ – 2005) shows that many of Egypt’s pyramids, including the Great Pyramid, feature inscriptions and pictures of the king involved in the mysterious ‘Sed Festival’. This festival ostensibly celebrated the continuing power of the king after thirty years in power, but history shows that it was often held more frequently and that there was an outer festival for the people, and an inner festival of ‘secret rites’.

The very kernel of the Sed festival are the mystical experiences of the king (candidate for initiation?) during these ‘secret rites’ associated with this festival which seem to have been conducted in the pyramid and surrounding buildings during the life of the king. The central experience of these secret rites was that the king was brought to the very threshold of death in order to travel into the spirit world.

These secret rites bear comparison with ‘shamanic’ initiation rites described by peoples all over the world including our own Australian Aboriginal peoples. They belong essentially to the same mystical tradition that we find in the Eleusian and later Greek mysteries – see Grace Knoche’s book: The Mystery Schools, available at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/mysterys/MysterySchoolsGFK.pdf – the dialogues of Plato, and some of the later Hermetic dialogues.

Three main elements of the universal mystic experience can be identified within the Pyramid Texts related to secret initiation ceremonies of living people:

Cosmic Ascent: the ecstatic flight away from the earth and away from the physical realm. The description of such as ascent is often by means of a ladder. In this connection, it is interesting to note that many of Egypt’s pyramids are in the form of steps.

Vision of the Gods: in this heavenly region amongst the stars, the mystic has a direct vision of the Gods.

Spiritual Rebirth: The mystic knows that he or she is a spiritual being as well as a merely physical being. This direct experience of one’s spiritual and immortal core is often described as a ‘rebirth’.

“…All these themes … are present in the pyramid texts of Unas. Their presence suggests that the Pyramid Texts, far from being funerary texts, were primarily concerned with mystical experiences of a similar type to those that the living king had during the ‘secret rites’ of the Sed festival, for they can clearly be seen to belong to a genre of archetypal human experiences at the crossing point between this world and the spirit world…” – Jeremy Nayder: Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: the mystical tradition of ancient Egypt (2005), page 121.

Sacred Architecture: The Great Temple of Amun in Luxor

The great Temple at Karnak (Luxor) dedicated principally to the God Amun, representing the principle/animator (or Neter) of growth in the Universe, was founded in 3,200BC and built continuously over a period of 2,000 years. It covers 1.5km by 0.8km. The area dedicated to Amun alone would hold 10 large European cathedrals. The Hyperstyle Hall is still the largest religious room in the world with 134 huge columns. In addition to the main temple complex there are many minor temples and a vast sacred lake.

The Temple as a Spiritual Teacher

The French symbolist Egyptologist, Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, and his wife Isha, spent 15 years studying the Temple of Amun at Karnak and produced his masterful study: The Temple of Man. This study shows that esoteric philosophy is embodied in the design and structure of the Temple complex which represents Man as a reflection of the Universe – ‘As Above So Below’.

The design and measurements of the building reflect sacred geometry, the mathematics of the Fibonacci Scale upon which nature builds its forms, esoteric anatomy of the human body, and geomancy in the alignments of the buildings – from the beginning to end of construction. Isha Scwaller de Lubicz was inspired by the temple to write her series of novels on ancient Egypt – the Her Bak series – which dramatizes the esoteric life of an ancient Egyptian priest as inspired by what she learnt from her experiences in the Temple of Amun.

21st century popularizer of the Schwaller de Lubicz’s ideas, John Anthony West says of the great Temple of Amun:

“… The Temple at Luxor is designed to evoke understanding of the creative power of the Absolute through a strict imitation of its creative processes.

The Temple is ‘alive’. Though obviously it has no power of self-replication, nor physical autonomy, as far as our sensory apparatus is concerned it is in constant motion; its intricate alignments, its multiple asymmetries, make it oscillate about its axes. (This secret was either handed down or rediscovered by the builders of the Gothic cathedrals, which incorporate similar asymmetries.) The Temple ‘grew’ in discrete stages; symbolically it grew from a ‘seed’. Schwaller de Lubicz claims that Egyptian temples were constructed and demolished according to astrological plan, and never according to the whim of a pharaoh …” – John A. West: Serpent in the Sky: the high wisdom of ancient Egypt. 1993. Pages 162-163.

Magic in Ancient Egypt:

Magic has received a bad reputation from Christianity where it is equated with dark forces. In Egypt religion, magic/spirit world and daily life in the material world were all One not separated as they are now in modern Western society.

Heka – ‘Master of the Sky’

Heka was the god of magic representing the all-pervasive power underlying everything and the power enabling manifestation closely associated with the maintenance of order in the Universe represented by the Goddess Maat.

Heka literally means activating the Ka, the aspect of the soul which embodied personality. Theosophically, the Ka would be the equivalent of the ‘astral body’. The art of practical magic includes control of astral forces. Egyptians thought activating the power of the soul was how magic worked. “Heka” also implied great power and influence, particularly in the case of drawing upon the Ka of the gods. Heka acted together with Hu, the principle of divine utterance, and Sia, the concept of divine omniscience, to create the basis of creative power both in the mortal world and the world of the gods.

Magic touched every aspect of life and those trained in the ‘Houses of Life’ became, ‘Masters of The Secrets’, and were the high officials and professionals. The spiritual and physical realm was considered as One, similar to Australian Aboriginal peoples, so statues were ‘alive’, words have great power, written language gives power over what is described, hieroglyphs symbolised and gave keys to the powers they represented, and human gestures in art carried great power.

In the modern world we seem to have largely forgotten our direct connection with the spiritual world and its powers to such an extent that we are in danger of losing sight of our ‘soul’ altogether to our great peril – global environmental damage for example.

Heka’s Name

The hieroglyph for Heka’s name featured a twist of flax within a pair of raised arms; however, it also vaguely resembles a pair of entwined snakes within someone’s arms. It may represent the ‘Kundalini’ or ‘Serpent’ power which is said to be one of the fundamental energies utilized by magicians of all ages.

In ancient times, Heka was said to have battled and conquered two serpents, and was usually depicted as a man choking two giant entwined serpents. Medicine and doctors were thought to be a form of magic, and so Heka’s priesthood performed these activities.

Methods in the Practice of Magic

There were five basic steps in the practice of magic in ancient Egypt:

Invocation of the First Time: like the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, a time before time began in which archetypal events were enacted by the gods. Like the universal sea of energy which modern physics tells us forms the material universe. The Egyptian magician would invoke this First-Time of ‘Nun’, the ocean of primal energy – and identify with it.

Identifying with the Gods: the magician would identify with the appropriate ‘Neter’ or universal principle/God and assume that name to get his work done.

Confronting Demons: anything physical is a reflection of the inner spiritual world so the possibility of possession by inner world beings always exists. Medical doctors would principally try to identify what demon /natural imbalance was at work, and invoke the name of an appropriate God to confront that demon.

Threatening the Gods: Heka, the God of Magic, existed in the First-Time before the Gods and therefore he can control the Gods. The magician could literally threaten the very Gods to achieve his work. Man has to conform to natural and cosmic cycles and if he doesn’t this can have catastrophic results, ie human actions have cosmic implications.

Reordering Nature: nature is a living unity. Nothing is ‘dead’ in the way we think of it in the modern world. Therefore inanimate objects can become animate, eg. The story of the rods turning into snakes from the Bible, statues that could talk and move about commonly referred to in ancient Egypt. The rivers, wind, and sun are alive in their own way, ‘real and ‘not-real’, I and not-I, were not thought of in the same way as we do. The structures of reality are inseparable from the consciousness perceiving them.

So, what can we learn today from mystical ancient Egypt?

  • Human civilization could be a lot older than we imagine under current scientific understanding.
  • Spiritual initiatory systems to accelerate the development of human consciousness – the Path of Horus – have been around for a long time. Ancient Egyptian society at its height was dedicated to the preservation of the knowledge that produced such enlightened people. It was dedicated to the production of such people and extension of their influence in the world even down to today from the radiant influence of their art and buildings that remain to us.
  • The spiritual and physical worlds are aspects of an organic living universe which is a Oneness.
  • Related to this, we are not separate from Nature or other species and nothing in Nature is ‘Dead’. Somehow today we are being given the opportunity to relearn this lesson with global environmental crises and species depletion.
  • We should not make the mistake of many New Age groups to try and recreate ancient Egypt today. Since then, in modern Western society we have developed a sense of our individual self and right to find our own way, psychic autonomy, and moral responsibility. We have to combine the spiritual with the intellectual in a way suited to the modern world where individuals can find their own way spiritually – this is the same goal but very different from ancient Egyptian society which was very ordered and had a different sense of the individual in relation to society.

The Riddle of the Great Sphinx

 The riddle of the Sphinx – symbol of spiritual and material elements – applies not only to the culture of early Egypt, but to the enigma of our own lives here in the modern world. Perhaps the head stands for the inner man of intuition and the Higher Mind (or, on a cosmic level, the Christos-Horus aspect), whilst the body betokens the animal side of man and nature generally, ie. The future of mankind lies in the control of the animal side of human nature by the intuitional Higher Self.

Will we find our own way from the Desire Mind to the Compassion Mind as the ancient Egyptians encourage us to do even now with the testament of their mighty monuments calling to us from a long gone era?

Further Reading:

 Rene A. Schwaller de Lubicz:

  • The Temple of Man.
  • Sacred Science.

 Isha Scwaller de Lubicz:

  • Her Bak: The Living Face of Ancient Egypt.
  • Her Bak: Egyptian Initiate.

 Jeremy Naydler:

  • Temple of the Cosmos: the Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred.
  • Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt.

 John Anthony West:

 I.M. Oderberg: any of his articles on ancient Egypt published in Theosophical Forum and Sunrise from the 1940s through to 2000. Available at Theosophical University Press online: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ts/tup-onl.htm

 

 . . . the doctrine of the Egyptians concerning principles, proceeding from on high as far as to the last of things, begins from one principle, and descends to a multitude which is governed by this One . . . Iamblichus, Syrian Neo-Platonic philosopher, 3rd century AD.

Author’s email address: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

How do some of the key concepts of modern science compare to the teachings of The Ancient Wisdom?  Let’s look at some concepts of physics since Einstein and see what correspondences there are with the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom.

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientific thinkers of all time who fundamentally changed the way we see Time, Space,  Atomic Physics,  just about everything that affects the way we live today. For example, did you know that atomic clocks on GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites are set to account for Einstein’s theory of relativity and if they were not our GPS would be out by kilometres!

But it takes quite a leap of imagination to understand what Einstein and Quantum Physics tell us:

  • that everything is in motion and therefore time is relative to movement;
  • the material universe floats on a sea or ‘fabric’ of space/time;
  • that dense objects can actually bend space-time and suspend time if you can get near enough to them;
  • that our common understanding of the world is OK if we look at macrostructures in the universe, but strangely different laws of physics apply in the world of sub-atomic particles, the world of ‘Quantum Mechanics’:
  • where particles an become waves and then revert to particles,
  • matter seems to behave like it is conscious,
  • and reality seems conditional on whether it is being observed, and by the nature of the expectations of the observer.
  • All very similar to the teachings of The Ancient Wisdom.

Features of the Theory of Relativity: Classical Relativity and Time Dilation

Classical Relativity: objects move relative to each other and there is no such thing in the universe as absolute rest. It depends on where you are as to what speed you observe a particle moving. Earth, Solar System, and the Galaxy are in constant motion.

Time Dilation: the speed of light is the same for all observers therefore time for something travelling near the speed of light slows down because a light beam travelling has to travel a longer distance. Therefore time is relative to motion

Length Contraction Time Dilation and Length Contraction Working Together

Length Contraction: Time does not dilate enough to maintain the speed of light for an item near the speed of light therefore the object itself contracts and time slows down.

Time Dilation and Length Contraction: work together. The speed of light is the same for all therefore speed and time are not separate but one thing – SPACETIME.

Time Travel

Time slows down for objects travelling near to the speed of light and stops altogether for objects travelling at the speed of light. Faster than the speed of light and time goes backwards. No object can achieve the speed of light because they increase in mass at the speed of light and it would require an infinite amount of energy to move them. Therefore we cannot travel back in time because we cannot travel faster than the speed of light.

As we approach the speed of light time for us would be about half of what it is back on Earth. Therefore it would be quite possible to travel into the future when we returned to the Earth.

Also, time slows down around massive objects such as a Black Hole. If we were to orbit around the ‘Event Horizon’ of a Black Hole for a number of years and escape to return to Earth we would travel into (for us) the future.

Special Theory of Relativity

Dense mass can bend space-time: warping of space-time causes gravity, ie causes items to be attracted to one another.

All This Sounds Good – But is it Fact? Countless experiments prove that the Theory of Relativity actually occurs in Nature, eg. in 1971 two planes flew around the world west to east with atomic clocks on board. The clocks did not synchronize upon their return.

Features of Quantum Theory

Particles behave like Waves: the Double Slit Experiment.

Quantum Leaps: electrons jump into different orbits.

The Superposition Principle: when we don’t measure an electron it will be in all possible positions it could be in at the same time. When we observe, Superposition collapses.

Schrodinger’s Cat: observation makes a huge difference to the positions of electrons. Particles can be a wave until observed.

Many Worlds Theory: electrons can exist in many different states so that there may be many different versions of the same world existing at the same time.

String Theory: Everything is made up of tiny vibrating strings of energy. In physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. It describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other.

We are unable to prove this theory experimentally but mathematics confirms the theory as long as we accept that there are 11 dimensions of reality., ie. 10 dimensions of space plus time which became what its discoverer, Ed  Whitten, called ‘M’ Theory.

Branes Theory: In the mid 1990s Joseph Polchinski discovered that String Theory requires the inclusion of higher dimensional objects, called ‘membranes’ or ‘branes’ for short.

This theory opens the possibility that  there are many dimensions of reality. Perhaps aspects of ourselves can exist in many dimensions at the same time. Our unique and eternal consciousness is simultaneously at the centre of our present existence as well as all other dimensions where our consciousness resides.

The theory suggests that the universe consists of the same matter at every level, the large and the small are the same. Perhaps we have our own personal universe that connects us to the cosmos itself!

Quantum Entanglement: instantaneous changes are replicated in other particles linked to a particle but separated by vast distances. Measured by the direction of spin – up or down. Observation causes Superposition collapse

Quantum Tunelling: particles can cross barriers they shouldn’t be able to by reverting to wave function. This process is thought to power the Sun by enabling the combination of hydrogen protons overcoming their natural repulsion.

Comparison of Modern Physics with The Ancient Wisdom: Things are not what they appear to be!

Illusion – ‘Maya’: our experience of reality reflects our level of conscious awareness. The laws of physics as we know them relate to our level of reality . They may be quite different in other dimensions or levels of vibration. As our Awareness increases we understand our world in different ways, as we have seen in the discoveries of modern physics.

Truth and Relative Truth: Our understanding of the real nature of the universe as it really is in Itself is relative to our level of spiritual understanding, eg a human understands the universe quite differently from an animal, and a ‘God’ presumably has a much greater understanding of the nature of reality than a human.

The Universe is mostly empty space: between subatomic particles. The Ancient Wisdom refers to our physical bodies as ‘Stuhula Sarira’ – the Foamlike Body.

We live and are aware of maybe 5% of the mass of the Universe: The rest is composed of ‘Dark Matter’ 27% and ‘Dark Energy’ – 68%. So if anyone says that I only believe what I can see and touch, then what about the 95% of the mass of the Universe we cannot see or touch?

Our senses filter out an enormous amount of reality: as well as allowing us to function in the world as far as our consciousness is developed to understand,eg. We can only see about 1 millionth of the light spectrum.  As famous inventor, Nicholas Tesla  once said:

“The gift of mental power comes from God, divine being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. Our senses enable us to perceive only a minute portion of the outside world.”

There are people who have such a wider sensory awareness: and can ‘see’ music, and ‘feel’ colour, or see energy fields, or ‘auras’, around other people, or see ‘dead people’ as portrayed in the film The Sixth Sense.

Time: is a function of consciousness, eg. If you are doing something you enjoy time seems to pass quickly and the opposite is true. Do minerals, plants, and animals have a consciousness of time as we humans do? The experience of time is relative to the consciousness perceiving it.

Time is a function of the plane of reality you are living in: it is said that time exists as it does for us so that we can generate and experience karma and thus learn in the material world. Beings living in superior worlds are said to not experience time as we do but on some planes of reality past, present, and future are one. Sometimes people reach this state of consciousness and therefore can prophesize about the future.

The Universe is a Living Being: and we are a part of it. Some writers on the Ancient Wisdom have compared the earth to an Electron of an Atom (Solar System) living within a cell (Galaxy) of a macrocosmically huge (to us) entity.

The Universe is a Whole: everything is related to everything else, somewhat like a Hologram.

The Universe is Energy: Matter is literally ‘concretized light’ E=mc2 as Einstein stated – energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared.

The Universe is Consciousness: an aspect of the Universal Mind emanating from the ‘First principle’ or the Unmanifest or Unknowable God. Consciousness exists in everything, but there are huge differences of self-awareness, eg. A rock and a human, a human and a god. The Ancient Wisdom affirms that a type of consciousness exists in everything and in fact the Universe is consciousness.

 

 If you wish to contact the author, please write to: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One Principle

In The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky outlined three fundamental propositions: the existence of One Principle under two aspects, the manifestation of numberless Universes, and the identification of every Soul with the Universal Oversoul. In looking at the first fundamental proposition, she described the One Principle as “Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable.”1 Since it is boundless it is infinity of substance. Being immutable it lacks disintegration. As eternal it produces nothing. In its omnipresence no monadic point exists outside of it.  Random speculation on the One Principle may well be impossible, but direct cognition, inference and comparison from subsequent discursive reasoning are not.  While infinity itself is not a monad since it lacks individuality, the One Principle conceptualized as the substance of that infinity stretching to the limits of our imagination can be described as an unborn cosmic atom—a “giant atom of the Infinitude above.”2 Like the astral-physical atoms of the manifested Universe that display themselves as both a wave and a particle, the unborn cosmic atom presents itself, as the latent design within those astral-physical atoms, in two ways: ultimate reality and conventional reality.  Devoid of “all attributes,” ultimate reality is the emptiness of “Be-ness” whereas conventional reality is the fullness of dependence in finite manifested “Being.”3 The unborn cosmic atom is labelled a “principle” precisely because it impresses its characteristic of Be-ness and Being as the one universal law throughout the fabric of itself. While the search to understand the One Principle can never end, it can begin with an exploration into these two aspects of the unborn cosmic atom.

The Be-ness of the unborn cosmic atom is represented as the “unconditioned consciousness” of abstract Motion and the “bare subjectivity” of abstract Space.4 Parabrahman is unconditioned consciousness; Mulaprakriti is bare subjectivity. Bare subjectivity, as a “conscious spiritual quality” that spreads like “a film” in the objective world to give the appearance of motion to unconditioned consciousness, is the first moment of that apparent motion of self-grasping towards individual identity.5 Individual identity is the arising of consciousness of beings within Being; it is the conventional and constructed reality of the human mind where everything exists interdependently. No human mind can exclude bare subjectivity from its “conception” since it is its root.6 But to conceive it is to bring the mind to a “blank” since it is “impossible to conceive anything without a cause.”7 In its Be-ness, Mulaprakriti is rootless and thus uncaused. Therefore, the human mind in this state of blankness views abstract Space as an immense void. Alternately, no human mind can conceive of bare subjectivity “by itself” because conventional reality is as much an aspect of the unborn cosmic atom as is ultimate reality.8 The human mind in this state views the appearance of abstract Motion as an immense moving fullness infilled with beings all dependent on their identities from one another. The “absolute abstraction” or “limitless void” of ultimate reality and the “conditioned fullness” or “mayavic perception” of conventional reality are the two ways in which the unborn cosmic atom presents itself.9

This Be-ness of unconditioned consciousness and bare subjectivity develops in the “finite mind” into a “theological Trinity” because a ray of consciousness in the field of self-grasping breaks through the “dim and hazy” blankness of abstract Space to establish its identity as an active Soul within conventional reality.10 This abstract Space is Mulaprakriti, but it is also referred to as the Universal Oversoul. Mulaprakriti, as Space, is treated as both undifferentiated and differentiated because this ray of reflexive self-consciousness penetrates it.* Mulaprakriti becomes the basis for the active Soul because of the self-conscious explosion of manifest light from its own darkness. Similarly, the Universal Oversoul is treated as the combination of the “central point” of light that comes into view against the darkness of fathomless Space and the “dull black ground” itself that covers the “immaculate white disk” of the unconditioned consciousness of ultimate reality—the “Kosmos in Eternity.”11 On the one hand, the dull black ground is the “one true actuality” and the “basis and the root of light” for the shining central point, without which the “latter could never manifest itself, nor even exist.”12 In this case, the dark unmanifest aspect of the Universal Oversoul, like Brahma, “assumes another form, that of the Day”—or the lighted manifest aspect of the Universal Oversoul.13 This lighted manifest aspect is the active Soul. There are countless active Souls “manifesting and disappearing” as sparks of light against the blackened expanse of the latent Universal Oversoul.14 As sparks from the darkness of the Universal Oversoul, every active Soul owes its “fundamental identity” to it.15 On the other hand, this darkness “in its radical, metaphysical basis” is the “subjective and absolute light” of the “immaculate white disk” beyond both the darkness and its central point.16 Thus, the theological Trinity in the “tenets of Eastern Occultism” is the immaculate white disk as unconditioned consciousness or the 1st Logos, the dull black ground as the Universal Oversoul or the 2nd Logos, and the central point of light as the active Soul or the 3rd Logos at the head of Being at the “dawn” of differentiation—the appearance of conventional reality against the backdrop of ultimate reality.17 This active Soul is the second “One” since there are, “properly speaking, two ‘ONES’—the one on the unreachable plane of Absoluteness and Infinity” and the other one on the “plane of Emanations.”18 The first One of ultimate reality can “neither emanate nor be divided” as it is “eternal, absolute, and immutable,” but the second One can “do all this” in the “Universe of Illusion.”19 As the head of Being, the active Soul oversees the seven cosmic planes from Atman on down through the objective world in all its interrelatedness and interconnectivity. As such, it is the “Logos” that “crucifies” itself “in Space” for the duration of a “life cycle” for the “redemption” of Matter—and the individual that links himself with it becomes Plato’s “man-god.”20

Unconditioned consciousness is the “Causeless Cause” from which the active Soul as the “First Cause” arises.21 Actually, unconditioned consciousness is not even a cause but only a “propelling” of  “causality” since infinity can neither “emanate” nor “create.”22 While this causal propellant is “outside the province of legitimate speculation,” it reveals itself to the human mind as the emptiness of the unknowable or Nirvana.23 But the arising of the “First Cause” establishes the conventional consciousness “which wells up” within each human being.24 Trying to “pass in thought” from the conventional consciousness of conditioned existence to the ultimate reality of the causal propellant leads to an impress on the human mind of “Absolute Negation.”25 But absolute negation does not mean nihilism; absolute negation can lead to affirmation. From a philosophical perspective, the negation of the identity of something as one particular thing does not prevent the establishment of an identity for that something as another particular thing. For example, the recognition that the causal propellant is not conventional consciousness projects through its very negation the idea that another particular thing such as ultimate reality could be relevant to the existence of that conventional consciousness. Similarly, the denial of conventional consciousness to the Causeless Cause does not eliminate the possible affirmation of its unconditioned consciousness. Absolute negation can in fact affirm an alternate existence to existence. The Causeless Cause as absolute negation is the alternate existence to the existence of the active Soul.

The unborn cosmic atom is both alternate existence and existence. This alternate existence is a mode of living independent of a perceiving consciousness. It has to be independent in its unconditioned state because all perceiving consciousnesses are conventionally conditioned in dependent relations where there is necessarily a “dualism.”26 Either this alternate existence as ultimate reality is “absolute and unconditioned” with “no relation to anything nor to anyone” or it is “bound and conditioned” and then “cannot be called the Absolute.”27 If relation in ultimate reality is asserted then unconditioned absoluteness is denied. This is because relation implies conditioned consciousness and conditioned consciousness implies duality. If relation is denied then unconditioned absoluteness is asserted. This is because lack of relation implies lack of dependence and lack of dependence implies a state of unconditioned absoluteness or emptiness. There is no distinction of parts in a uniform continuum such as emptiness; no part can be isolated to distinguish it from others. Therefore, Be-ness, as Parabrahman, can have “no relation to the bounded.”28 On the other hand, Being, which is “finite and conditioned,” can have “relation to something else.”29 As a result, the unborn cosmic atom is both relational and non-relational. The unborn cosmic atom is One, but the characterization of that Oneness allows it to appear either as Being or Be-ness where dependence and emptiness exist in every monadic point throughout its fabric. Experience can either be unconditioned absoluteness or conditioned consciousness at every monadic point.

From an even deeper philosophical perspective, the unborn cosmic atom is actually neither relational nor non-relational; it is neither existent nor alternately existent. The non-relational and alternately existent aspect is simply an approximation to ultimate reality. Non-relation is merely the nonexistence of relation; alternate existence is merely the nonexistence of existence. But ultimate reality—being both—transcends both since it is not solely one or the other. H.P. Blavatsky referred to this transcendence as “meta-spirit.”30 For her, this meta-spirit was the “TOTAL” independent of all relation—even independent of its refutation or negation.31**

Finally, the manifested Universe in Space is “pervaded by duality” as a result of Fohat, or cosmic energy, operating in the original field of self-grasping to separate and divide the arising individual identities into relations where they are dependent on each other.32 Fohat brings about the appearances in conventional reality. By fully differentiating the manifested Universe from its root-source of the bare subjectivity of Mulaprakriti, the astral-physical atoms blossom into fully dependent relationships. But each atom, as a reflection in the Universe of Illusion of the unborn cosmic atom, displays its own characterization of Being and Be-ness. Thus, the dependent relations of atoms in the conventional reality of the manifested Universe only make up one part of what is actually going on. The other part of what is actually going on is the Be-ness of unconditioned consciousness with its independence of relation for that particular astral-physical atom. Atoms that are dependent on each other are also completely independent of such dependent relations. And so the unborn cosmic atom is replete with these atoms that are both full and void. They are merely reflections of the One Principle’s infinite substance that sets the pattern for this most wondrous and mysterious paradox: Ultimate reality is always the same, but the ultimate reality for one individual is not the same as the ultimate reality for another individual. It is a shared experience and yet we retain our identity.

 

Playgrounds of the Soul

In turning to the second and third fundamental propositions in H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, the “Being” of the unborn cosmic atom frolics on the “Be-ness” of the “boundless plane” of the “Eternity of the Universe.”33 The boundless plane is the immaculate white disk or the “Eye of Self-Existence.”34 It is the Eye of Self-Existence for two reasons. First, the vision of the “Be-ness” of unconditioned consciousness operates as a seeing without objects. No otherness exists for this type of seeing; therefore, the seeing is self-existent. Second, the vision of the “Be-ness” never becomes distracted by exteriorizing the process of its seeing to take into account its own luminescence. There is no process of exteriorizing vision in ultimate reality. But since the flip side of ultimate reality is a conventional reality of constructed appearances, the self-existent must reflect a self-appearance. The theoretical fall from the unconditioned consciousness of “Be-ness” to the consciousness of “Being” occurs when that self-appearance is taken to be real. There is a type of consciousness in the luminescence of the immaculate white disk that takes the self-apparent reflection of the self-existent to be real. This consciousness becomes distracted by the luminescence of the immaculate white disk and exteriorizes the vision of the luminescence as something other than itself. But unable to comprehend the luminescence in its wholeness, it views that luminescence as an underbelly of darkness. This underbelly of Space is the Universal Oversoul; the viewing consciousness is the Soul. Captivated by the contrast between itself as a luminescent spark and the darkness of its mother, this consciousness grasps at the otherness in which it resides. Due to its grasping, consciousness explodes into a self-conscious spark that shoots across the vast expanse of the latent Universal Oversoul. The playground of this active Soul is the blackened underbelly of its mother Space and the luminescent boundless plane of its father, the Eternity of the Universe.

With the exteriorizing of the vision of the Universal Oversoul through its spark, the luminescence of unconditioned consciousness has to be shadowed by the darkness of bare subjectivity; bare subjectivity, though a highly spiritual parent-source, is the beginning of ignorance. The Soul, having gestated in the moistness of its parent Universal Oversoul, becomes, when the proper hour strikes, one of the “manifesting stars” and  “sparks” in eternity against the backdrop of the Eternity of the Universe “in toto”—meaning both the Parabrahmanic luminescence and the Mulaprakritic darkness.35 The Mulaprakritic darkness, as the “Universal Mind or Space,” has “its ideation which is projected into objectivity at the appointed time,” but it itself is “not affected thereby.”36 This ideation of divine thought pours into the Soul from the Universal Oversoul. The Soul then manifests this divine thought as the great cosmic intelligence of Mahat to the numberless universes “incessantly manifesting” from and “disappearing” into it as the pilgrim monad.37 The numberless universes have to manifest and disappear because all the member monads of an infinite series cannot exist at the same time in the same way. The light of these universes illuminates the darkened underbelly of its mother and reunites with the luminescence of its father. Mulaprakriti, as the root of matter, provides the magnitude for the potentially infinite Parabrahman to always have a part beyond itself. As such, Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti serve as the “playground” of the Soul.38 Observing the distinction between unconditioned consciousness and bare subjectivity, the Soul replicates that dualism into the processes of “Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking” that preside at the heart of the smaller universes that it itself emanates, oversees, and lives within.39

The combination of Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti is the playground for the Soul, but it develops a new playground with the emanation of its own universe. The Soul, as Kalahansa or the Swan of Time, glides through the womb of its mother Mulaprakriti to drop the Mundane Egg as the origin of a seven-fold universe. When the Soul incarnates into its own universe, a seven-fold system is used to explain its subdivisions. In the seven-fold system that H.P. Blavatsky used in the third fundamental proposition in The Secret Doctrine, Atman as Parabrahman is the Universal Seventh principle, Buddhi as Mulaprakriti is the Universal Sixth principle, and the Soul is the “spark” that “issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle” to become the Universal Fifth principle of Manas.40 But in its figurative transformation from pure Essence into awakened intellect the spark must also break into the four lower planes of conventional reality. In those lower planes corresponding to Kama, Prana, Linga, and Sthula, this spark must acquire “individuality” first by “natural impulse” and later by “self-induced and self-devised efforts” in order to fully develop its own mental capabilities and ultimately return to its source, the Universal Oversoul.41

But in her deeper writings H.P. Blavatsky actually held to a ten-fold system for the Cosmos in its universal, super-spiritual and physical “completeness.”42 In this ten-fold system, the Soul, as the exteriorizing consciousness of Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti, is the culmination of the first in potentia three-fold monadic combination on the first, second, and third cosmic planes. Viewed from below, it is the “One” in the “Universe of Illusion” (conventional reality) above “the seventh principle” of Atman.43 This “One” is Mahat, the receptacle of cosmic intelligence from the bare subjectivity of Mulaprakriti. What happens is that the Soul touches Atman as the Universal Seventh principle on the fourth cosmic plane and then it retreats back into the “Silence and Darkness” around the immaculate white disk.44 But the thrill of that touch flutters through the fifth cosmic plane of spiritual Buddhi that acts as the reservoir for the beings in “Being” to emerge as unique manasic individualities on the sixth cosmic plane. As a result of impacting these lower objective planes, the Soul, as the tip of consciousness downwards in the three uppermost subjective planes and linked with Atman as the tip of consciousness focused upwards on the highest of the seven objective planes, transforms into the “Heavenly Man”—the first four-fold Tetragrammaton.45*** Atman becomes the receptacle of the powers of the Soul. While the initial playground of the Soul is Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti, it gains a new playground by tincturing the Atman, becoming enmeshed in the spiritual Buddhi, and enflaming the intellect of Manas.  This combination of “Atma-Buddhi-Manas” is the second three-fold monadic combination but in the manifestly objective worlds on the fourth, fifth, and sixth cosmic planes.46 Because the second monadic combination of Atman, Buddhi, and Manas is a reflection of the first monadic combination of Parabrahman, Mulaprakriti, and Mahat, the terms become interchangeable when switching between explanations for a seven or a ten-fold system. Having reached the stage of Manas in its descent, the Soul, as the Swan of Time, journeys along the coils of Ananta-Sesha, or the cosmic Serpent who carries the suns and the planets along his back, through the four lower planes (or seven, eight, nine, and ten) of the objective world.****

To make this clearer, the unconditioned consciousness of the immaculate white disk of ultimate reality is the “Hansa-vahana” that uses Kalahansa, or the Swan of Time, as “its vehicle” to awaken consciousness in conventional reality.47 The Swan of Time, as the Hindu Brahma or the male-female “Archetypal man” who of androgynous necessity must drop his own eggs, creates its universe as the auric egg of Atman.48 The potent subjective force of the Swan of Time reverberates through the egg’s seven cosmic planes stirring the consciousness centers of suns and planets into “limitless objectivity” as “secondary” aspects of its cosmic power.49 Within a solar system, the Swan of Time follows the planets along Ananta-Sesha’s back as they reach the lowest plane and then coil upwards to return to their source in a dance between bird and snake along the sacred caduceus or spinal cord of the Cosmos. H.P. Blavatsky diagrammed this descent of the ray of the Swan of Time as the solid rod of the caduceus; she diagrammed the pathway of the planets from and to their source of origin as the two-headed serpent.50 The two-headed serpent is coiled in a four-fold chain link, representing the four lower objective planes that must be awakened. The Swan of Time descends on the left-hand side through those four lower objective planes stimulating the principle of each planet into activity. The Swan of Time re-ascends on the right-hand side arousing the respective principles of those planets with their corresponding lives. Reaching the summit, Kalahansa reassumes his proper place in all his winged glory. His mission is complete. As the carrier of Hansa-vahana, Kalahansa imprints the subjective three-fold nature of Parabrahman-Mulaprakriti-Mahat onto the Atman-Buddhi-Manas of the three highest objective planes, which then carries his potent force to the four lowest realms of Nature.

This entire evolutionary journey undertaken by the Soul once it emerges from the Universal Oversoul is the “Sutratma” or “Thread-Soul” of the individual cosmic experience.51 The journey begins with the Universal Oversoul and its root “point” of light in the center of the “perfect Circle.”52 This root point of light is the “re-awakening” of the universe in its seven lower objective planes.53 The journey culminates in the perfect Circle bisected with the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross symbolizes the journey of each Soul spark from the Universal Oversoul through the elemental, mineral, plant, and animal stages to acquire human individuality in conventional reality. In the Rosicrucian doctrines, the Pelican tears “open its own breast to feed its seven little ones”—this is merely symbolism for the Swan of Time splintering itself through the seven cosmic planes to supply the need of all souls with the nourishment of its self-same fundamental identity.54 As it has been shown, after all, there are “Seven Paths or Ways to the bliss of our existence, which is absolute Being, Existence, and Consciousness.”55 Alternately, they are the same Seven Paths that take us to the bliss of “Non-Existence.”56 Existence and non-existence, life and death, objective and subjective, light and dark, conventional reality and ultimate reality, Being and Be-ness—these are merely the terms for the two aspects of that great unborn cosmic atom which, considered as a whole, transcends the duality of them all and whose truly unknown nature gets lost in a unified meta-spirit somewhere beyond the Cosmos.

Notes and Sources:

* Whether Mulaprakriti technically differentiates, subdivides, or simply emanates/radiates the active Soul is open to debate. The process is spoken of differently in numerous places. For example, H.P. Blavatsky asserted that Mulaprakriti “never differentiates but only emanates or radiates its first born Mahatattva.”57 The active Soul as the central point of light is treated as the “first differentiation of the ever-unknowable PRINCIPLE.”58 In this way, abstract Space is never subdivided. On the other hand, H.P. Blavatsky suggested that “differentiation” begins in the “latent World-Thought” of the 2nd Logos as Mulaprakriti.59 Mulaprakriti, as the Mother Goddess, is “both differentiated and undifferentiated.”60 In her commentary on The Secret Doctrine, she established the existence of “subdivisions” of “unknown quantities” of the 2nd Logos.61 Mulaprakriti must be subdivided if Pradhana and Prakriti are to be considered its lower aspects. Perhaps H.P. Blavatsky’s advice in The Key to Theosophy should be heeded—“We need not quarrel over terms.”62

 

**In Buddhism, H.P. Blavatsky’s meta-spirit is Swabhavat or Adi-Buddha (the primordial wisdom), the one basic element that unifies Parabraman and Mulaprakriti but, in doing so, transcends both.

 

***The first four-fold Tetragrammaton is the “Heavenly Man” or the Kabbalistic  “Adam Kadmon.”63 Even this first four-fold Tetragrammaton is only a “secondary perfection” related to the “manifest planes” because the Soul as the 3rd Logos touches Atman and departs.64 Atman is the head of the manifest planes and only secondarily perfect. Adam Kadmon brings unity to the Universe since the touch of the Soul thrills through all his “limbs”, meaning he connects the seven objective planes with the three subjective ones—the complete Sephirothal Tree.65 As H.P. Blavatsky pointed out, the immaculate white disk, as the 1st Logos or the “Circle,” becomes Adam Kadmon on the “fourth” cosmic plane.66 This fourth cosmic plane, as a “ray” from the “Unit” of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Logos, corresponds to Atman.67

The first four-fold Tetragrammaton is also the Jewish Jehovah, as Yod-He-Vav-He (or YHWH) in one of his three aspects. The first sephirah Kether, as the Ayin of no-thingness, emanates Hokmah as the primordial point and Binah as the womb of the primordial point. For H.P. Blavatsky, Hokmah and Binah were a “synonym of Mahat” and corresponded to Jehovah.68 These three constitute the Kabbalistic immaculate white disk, the darkness of Space, and the central point of light. This triad breathes the Great Breath of life into the seven sephirot to establish the descent from Atman through the sephirah Gevurah into the objective realms below.

There is also a second and a third four-fold Tetragrammaton; these stretch across the seven objective planes and are truly only secondary perfections. In her Collected Writings, H.P. Blavatsky wrote, “The Duad doubled makes a Tetrad and the Tetrad doubled forms a Hebdomad.”69 The compiler of her writings is uncertain as to her meaning and reflects on her statement with his own, “A Tetrad doubled would be eight or an Ogdoad, while a Hebdomad would imply seven. This may be a typographical error, unless some other meaning is implied.”70 Exactly. Some other meaning was indeed implied. The first, second, and third Tetragrammaton overlap, thereby accounting for a Hebdomad as opposed to an Ogdoad. The Tegrammaton is the Jewish example of the Greek Tectraktys system, so the four-fold combinations have to fit within ten planes, not twelve; therefore, there is an overlap. Atman is the lowest of the first Tetragrammaton but the highest of the second. Kama is the lowest of the second but the highest of the third. It is to this third Tetragrammaton that H.P. Blavatsky referred when writing, “Taken from the plane of matter, it is among other things, the lower Quaternary, the man of flesh and matter.”71 In Kabbalism, this lower Quaternary was often meant when the Tetragrammaton was explained in terms of Malkuth, the lowest of the ten sephirot.

 

****Thus, a simplified outline of a ten-fold system can be given: Parabrahman, Mulaprakriti, Mahat, Atman, Buddhi, Manas, Kama, Prana, Linga, Sthula. But in a seven-fold system, the arrangement is slightly different. Parabrahman equals Atman, Mulaprakriti equals spiritual Buddhi, and Mahat equals Manas. In her Collected Writings, H.P. Blavatsky established this system where Atman corresponds to Parabrahman, Buddhi to Mulaprakriti, and Manas to Mahat.72 But since Manas is dual, so is Mahat. H.P. Blavatsky alluded to this duality in her reference to Mahat as the “Higher Mind-Entity” of “Alaya-Akasa.”73 As Alaya, Mahat is spiritual Buddhi. As Akasa, Mahat is the crown of Manas. Thus, Mahat is “Buddhi-Manas.”74 In The Secret Doctrine, Mahat is often equated with its Alaya aspect of spiritual Buddhi or Mahabuddhi. For example, “UNIVERSAL SOUL is not the inert Cause of Creation or (Para) Brahma, but simply that which we call the sixth principle of intellectual Kosmos, on the manifested plane of being. It is Mahat, or Mahabuddhi, the great Soul, the vehicle of Spirit, the first primeval reflection of the formless CAUSE.”75 Please remember that Mahabuddhi is simply the shortened term for Mahat-Buddhi.76 In a seven-fold system, Mahat is interchangeably the 5th or the 6th cosmic principle.

 

1(SD1-14) 2(CW5-152) 3(SD1-14) 4(SD-14) 5(SD1-289) 6(SD1-14,340) 7(SD1-44) 8(SD-14) 9(SD1-8) 10(SD1-1,14) 11(SD1-1) 12(SD1-70) 13(SD2-59) 14(SD1-16) 15(SD1-17) 16(SD1-70) 17(SD1-1,70) 18(SD1-130) 19(SD1-130) 20(KY188) 21(SD1-14) 22(CW10-336) 23(CW10-336) 24(SD1-14) 25(SD1-15) 26(CW3-423) 27(CW3-423) 28(SD1-56) 29(CW10-311) 30(KY33) 31(CW4-580) 32(SD1-15) 33(SD1-16) 34(SD1-17) 35(SD1-16) 36(ML404) 37(SD1-16) 38(SD1-16) 39(SD1-17) 40(SD1-17) 41(SD1-17) 42(CW12-525) 43(SD1-130,573) 44(CW12-525) 45(CW12-525) 46(SD1-18) 47(SD1-20,80) 48(SD1-356) 49(SD1-62,356) 50(SD1-550) 51(SD1-17) 52(SD1-19) 53(SD1-19) 54(SD1-17) 55(SD1-38) 56(SD1-38) 57(CW6-143) 58(CW10-242) 59(CW10-359) 60(CW10-304) 61(SDD296) 62(KY85) 63(SD1-99,2-25) 64(SD2-582) 65(SD2-625) 66(SD10-398) 67(CW12-520) 68(CW10-355) 69(CW10-356) 70(CW10-356) 71(CW10-357) 72(CW10-304,12-630) 73(CW12-371) 74(CW10-314) 75(SD1-420) 76(CW10-324)

 

CW = Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings: Vol. 3,4,5,6,10,12

Vol. 3. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1968.

Vol. 4. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1969.

Vol. 5. Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, Inc., 1950.

Vol. 6. Los Angeles: Blavatsky Writings Publication Fund, 1954.

Vol. 10. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974.

Vol. 12. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1980.

 

KY = Blavatsky, H.P. The Key to Theosophy. Pasadena: Theosophical University

Press, 1995.

 

ML = Barker, A.T., comp. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1975.

 

SD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine. Pasadena: Theosophical University

Press, 1998.

 

SDD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine Dialogues. Los Angeles: The

Theosophy Company, 2014.

 

If you wish to contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What is truth?” Pilate asked — a question worthy of a philosopher. For nearly two millennia Christian theologians, clergy, and laymen alike have tried to answer this question and define their identity as people “of the truth.”

 

But conflicts soon arose over what Jesus taught, and visible borders began to be inscribed defining truth and error, right views and heresy, and, inevitably, “our God and your god” — a tragic paradox in a faith that teaches gentle loving wisdom. Discerning Jesus’ actual teachings is another paradox. “Seek and you will find” is commended in both Testaments, and our surest answer is said to be in our hearts. But as to scripture and tradition, who defines truth and what is spiritually authentic?

 

A Diversity of Belief:

In the first three centuries after Jesus there were widely diverse Christian communities scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Different groups with differing ideas about what Jesus taught, who/what Jesus was, and who taught different things. These included:

 

  • the Jewish-Christian Ebionites;
  • the anti-Jewish Marcionites,
  • a variety of groups now called ‘Gnostic’;
  • and groups which were the forerunners of today’s Christian Church – the ‘Proto-Orthodox’.

 

There was then no monolithic Church; no formally defined New Testament; no ruling orthodoxy; wide disagreement about the observance of Jewish law and basic theological issues such as the Resurrection and the Divinity of Jesus.

 

Winners and Losers:

Saint Paul reinterpreted and transformed the teachings of a relatively small Jewish esoteric sect into a growing Gentile movement proclaiming the risen Christ. Irenaueus (130-202AD) Bishop of Lyon, fathered a church orthodoxy that became normative theology for virtually all Christians today.

The First Council of Nicea in 325AD formulated our traditional view of Christ today under pressure from the Emperor Constantine and epitomized in the Nicene Creed (amended in 381AD) and repeated in most churches at Sunday services throughout the Christian world today.

Research into the diversity of early Christian belief has been well summarized in Bart Ehrman’s: Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and Faiths We Never Knew – 2003.

 

The Ebionites: Ebionites were Jewish Christians who did not reject Judaism. They held that Jesus was the natural son of Joseph and Mary, but at baptism had been “adopted” by God as the most righteous man on earth. In addition to Hebrew scriptures, they appear to have accepted Matthew’s gospel, or an edited version of it (e.g., no nativity story of a virgin birth), but strenuously opposed Paul as an apostate from the Law, especially for allowing male Gentiles to remain uncircumcised, the sign of the covenant. As to secret teachings, aside from the virtually certain inference of Jewish esotericism, there are several references in the Pseudo-Clementine literature used by the Ebionites, e.g., “the true gospel must be secretly sent abroad for the rectification of heresies that shall be” (Homilies 2.17).

 

The Marcionites: At the other pole were the Marcionites, founded by the second-century theologian, Marcion, son of a Christian bishop and a bishop himself. This well-organized community was regarded by the orthodox church as perhaps its most dangerous foe. Revering Paul as the only true apostle and Christ’s gospel as a universal message, Marcion attempted to purge Christianity of its Jewish elements, even to formulate his own Christian canon:  ten letters of Paul and an abridged version of Luke.

He had been troubled by the dichotomy between the wrathful, vengeful, and harshly punitive God of the Hebrew Bible and the loving, merciful, and forgiving God preached by Jesus.

He came to understand that there was not one, but two gods:

 

  • the previously-unknown God over all “separated by an infinite distance”

 

  • from the just (but not evil) God of Genesis who created man and the material world.

 

Sent by the former, Christ was neither the promised messiah nor was he born of a woman. Rather he was a divine manifestation: a ‘docetic’ [docetic means: the doctrine, important in Gnosticism, that Christ’s body was not human but either a phantasm or of real but celestial substance, and that therefore his sufferings were only apparent.] “phantasm” who died on the cross to redeem mankind from the ownership of its inferior creator. Marcion’s doctrine rejected bodily resurrection, affirming instead liberation from this material world through strict asceticism and faith in the promise of eternal life with the God above all.

 

The Christian Gnostics attempted to address, among other questions, the problem of why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Their writings depict the material world as the imperfect (sometimes evil) creation of an ignorant creator, usually identified with Yahweh (Jehovah), though often under other names.

Not all Gnostic groups shared this theology and it is impossible to synthesize their views, presuppositions, religious perspectives into one monolithic system. However most groups believed in some or all of the elements listed below:

 

  • Gnostic thought distinguished between the supreme God and the creator.

 

  • The supreme God was separated from the God of the Old Testament.

 

  • Matter was considered to be independent and eternal.

 

  • The created world was the product either of an evil being or of an intermediary acting out of hostility to the supreme God.

 

  • Evil was a force inherent in matter.

 

  • Christ revealed a previously unknown God.

 

  • Gnostic Christology distinguished Jesus in his human appearance from the heavenly Christ.

 

  • Humans were divided into two or three classes, depending on whether they possessed spirit (pneuma), soul (psyche), or only a material (hylic) nature. Only the spiritual were “capable of Gnosis and the divine life . . . in virtue of their constitution.”

 

  • Gnostics rejected the second coming, the resurrection of the body, and the final judgment, waiting only for delivery from the sensuous world into the heavenly Pleroma, the “fullness” of God’s kingdom.

 

Gnostics and Buddhists share four basic assumptions:

(1) Salvation by Gnosis or Jnana (the words share the same Indo-European root),

 

(2) Ignorance (i.e., blindness to the true facts of existence) is the cause of evil,

 

(3) Knowledge is derived solely from revelation which each one has to experience within himself, and

 

(4) The crucial role of Wisdom in each system.

Scholars realize that the inner content of secret gospels remains largely hidden and that Christian origins are still shrouded in mystery. However diverse and complex its expressions, Gnosis by its own definition requires its ethics be lived if its “secret” is to be revealed.

Even then gnosis offers two fundamentally different paths to the truthseeker: personal escape from the evils and suffering of the world or, like the bodhisattva of compassion, to remain and help transform it with the light of knowledge and divine wisdom.

Information on Gnosticism has been provided to modern scholars largely from the discovery of the ‘Naj Hammadi Library’ of early Christian writings in 1945. Also known as the “Chenoboskion Manuscripts” and the “Gnostic Gospels” is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945.

Thirteen leather-bound vellum codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local farmer named Muhammed al-Samman. The writings in these codices comprised fifty-two mostly Gnostic treatises, but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation/alteration of Plato’s Republic. In his introduction to The Nag Hammadi Library in English, James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery and were buried after Saint Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 A.D. The discovery of these texts significantly influenced modern scholarship into early Christianity and Gnosticism.

The contents of the codices were written in the Coptic language. The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text. After the discovery, scholars recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898 and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition circa 80 AD or earlier has been proposed for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas. The buried manuscripts date from the 3rd and 4th centuries.

The Nag Hammadi codices are currently housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. [from Wikipedia].

 

The Proto-Orthodox (ie ‘orthodox’ in the sense of being the forerunners of modern Christianity):

 The “proto-orthodox” were mainly the early Christian theologians whose views prevailed over other quarrelling bishops at the 4th-century Nicene council.  Having “won” the sanction of Constantine and subsequent Roman emperors, they commenced their suppression of rival “heresies,” especially Gnostic groups, chose the “approved” texts, revised church history, resulting in the loss of many Christian voices that deserve to be heard today.

 

More details on this fascinating subject are available at: Thackara, WTS: Secret Gospels and Lost Christianities at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/53-03-4/xt-wtst.htm

 

Further reading:

  • Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Random House, New York, 2003; ISBN 0375501568, 258 pages.
  • Marvin Meyer, Secret Gospels: Essays on Thomas and the Secret Gospel of Mark, Trinity Press Int’l, Harrisburg, PA, 2003; ISBN 1563384094, 208 pages.
  • Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and Faiths We Never Knew, Oxford University Press, 2003; ISBN 0195141830, 336 pages.
  • Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. Harper One, ISBN 9780061778186.
  • Karen L. King, What is Gnosticism?, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2003; ISBN 067401071x, 358 pages.

 

If you wish to contact the author please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

What is Spiritual Initiation? There is a lot of talk these days about spiritual initiation, enlightenment, Ascended Masters, Masters of Wisdom, Mahatmas, etc… but what does it all really mean?  Is immediate enlightenment possible as advertised by several ‘New Age’ groups, or, is there a long slow road stretching ahead to spiritual achievement as many ancient traditions tell us?

 

In The Ancient Wisdom, initiation is generally used in reference to entering into this long and winding road to the sacred wisdom under the direction of initiates in schools specially dedicated to this type of learning – The Mystery Schools. By the process of a series of tests, a student or candidate for initiation quickens the natural journey of spiritual evolution. The candidate thus anticipates the growth that will be achieved by ordinary humanity at a much later time, but at the price of discipline and strength of character beyond the reach of the majority of people at this stage of spiritual development.

 

He or she unfolds from within their latent spiritual and intellectual powers, thus raising individual self-consciousness, and helping raise world consciousness thereby, to a higher level. The induction of such a candidate into the various and increasing grades or degrees was aptly spoken of as a ‘new birth’.

 

The Times of the Major Spiritual Initiations: the preparation for the major initiations is a continuous process of unfolding the potentials of the inner god within us all. We experience this process as living up to the best of ourselves in daily life. These qualities were/are recognized so to speak at the times of the major initiations which were/are determined by the earth’s orbit around the Sun, its orientation with the Sun, the other planets, and the Moon. The reason for this is essentially to facilitate the flight of the ‘inner man’ to various ‘worlds’ where initiatory experiences are available.

 

The four major initiations were held at the Solstices (December and June) and the Equinoxes (March and September) being the ‘stations’ along the elliptical orbit of the Earth around the Sun. No doubt other astronomical influences from outside the solar system, such as our position in relation to the different constellations of the Zodiac, also played a part in the timing of initiation ceremonies.

 

Major Christian festivals, principally Christmas and Easter, coincide with the ancient times of spiritual initiation.

 

What About Us in the Southern Hemisphere? The information on the Solstices and Equinoxes refers to the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the Earth at the time they experience their seasons, ie. at the opposite times of the year to each other. This is because initiation has to do with how the Sun is affecting any part of the earth and all the life forms inhabiting that part of the earth.  So the spiritual “currents” from the Sun depend on how the Sun is affecting the earth and nature at the time these currents are felt on any particular part of the Earth.

 

So, in my view, for the Southern Hemisphere, we could say: Birth at the Winter Solstice (June 21st), the beginning of the year; Adolescence — trials and their conquest — at the Spring Equinox (September 21st); Adulthood, full-blown strength and power, at the Summer Solstice (December 21st), representing a period of initiation when the Great Renunciation is made; Death: and then closing with the Autumnal Equinox (March 21st), the period of the Great Passing.”

 

The mystic year contains four seasonal points, and that these four seasons in their cycle are symbolic of the four chief events of progress of initiation. We’ll look at these in greater detail soon but in summary:

 

Winter Solstice: the ‘Great Birth’: First, that of the Winter Solstice, which event is also called the ‘Great Birth’, when the aspirant brings to birth the god within him and, for a time at least, becomes temporarily at one therewith in consciousness and in feeling; a birth which indeed is the birth of the inner Buddha born of the spiritual solar splendour, or the birth of the mystic Christos.

 

At the time of the Winter Solstice, there are two main degrees which neophytes or initiants must pass through: The fourth, and the seventh degree, or last: the fourth for less great men, although they are great men nonetheless; and the last or seventh initiation, coming at rare intervals being the birth of the Buddhas and of the Christs.

 

The Fourth Initiation: During the initiation of those individuals of less grandiose spiritual and intellectual capacity than is the human material out of which the Buddhas are born, during this fourth initiation, the postulant is taught to free himself from all the trammels of mind and from the lower four principles of his constitution; and being thus set free he passes along the magnetic channels or circulations of the universe, even to the portals of the Sun, but there and then he stops and returns. Three days usually are the time required for this, and then the man arises a full initiate, but with a realization that ahead of him are still loftier peaks to scale on that lonely path, that still path, that small path, leading to divinity.

 

The Seventh Initiation: This occurs in a cycle lasting some 2,160 human years, the time which it takes for a zodiacal sign to pass through a constellation backwards into the next constellation.

 

When the planets Mercury and Venus, and Sun and Moon and Earth are lined-up then the freed monad of the lofty neophyte can pass along the magnetic pathway through these bodies and continue direct to the heart of the Sun. For fourteen days the man left on Earth is as in a trance, or walks about in a daze, in a quasi-stupor; for the inner part of him, the real part of him, is peregrinating through the spheres.

 

Two weeks later, during the light half of the lunar cycle or month, that is, when the moon stands full, his peregrinating monad returns rapidly as flashing thought along the same pathway by which it ascended to Father Sun, retaking to itself the habiliments which it dropped on each planet as it passed through it.

 

Then for a while, the neophyte’s whole being is irradiated with the solar spiritual splendour, and he is a Buddha just “born.” All his body is in flaming glory, as it were; and from his head, and from back of his head especially there is an aura or rays of glory like a crown. It is because of this that crowns in the Occident and diadems in the East were formerly worn by those who had passed through this degree, for they are Sons of the Sun, crowned with the solar splendour.

 

The Spring Equinox: The Great Temptation: Then, second, comes the period or event of esoteric adolescence at the Spring Equinox, when in the full flush of the victory gained at the Winter Solstice, and with the marvellous inner strength and power that come to one who has thus achieved, the aspirant enters upon the greatest temptation, except one, known to human beings, and prevails; and this event may be called the Great Temptation. With this initiation at the time of the Spring Equinox the Avataras are particularly concerned, forming as they do one of the lines of activity — a god-line, in fact — of the Hierarchy of Compassion and Splendour, although the Avataras are outside the circle of temptation except insofar as concerns the human portion of them.

 

The initiations which take place at the time of the Spring Equinox include:

 

  • the passing through trials and an ultimate resurrection from the personal man of the god within and an ascension into the spiritual realms, at least for a time, of the initiant’s percipient consciousness.

 

  • the descent of the neophyte-initiant, however grand his spiritual stature may be, into the Underworld, into those very real but to us utterly invisible realms of space which have their being in cosmic reaches still more material than our gross sphere of physical substance.

 

Just as at certain times in the progress of cosmic destiny a certain divinity leaves its own luminous realms in order to “descend,” or more accurately to transfer a portion of its own divine essence, into the world of men for the purpose of aiding and helping erring mankind,(the descent of Avataras) so exactly does the neophyte-initiant descend or transfer his percipient consciousness into the Underworld in order to learn and also to help the denizens of those gloomy spheres.

 

What the gods from their lofty height do in this connection to help us, this do likewise these great men in spheres below our own.

 

Summer Solstice, The Great Renunciation: Following the initiations of the Winter Solstice and Spring  Equinox comes the event of the Summer Solstice, at which time the neophyte or aspirant must undergo, and successfully prevail over, the greatest temptation known to man just referred to; and if he so prevail, which means the renouncing of all chance of individual progress for the sake of becoming one of the Saviours of the world, he then takes his position as one of the stones in the Guardian Wall.

 

Thereafter he dedicates his life to the service of the world, without thought of reward or of individual progress — it may be for aeons — sacrificing himself spiritually in the service of all that lives. For this reason the initiation at this season of the year has been called the Great Renunciation.

 

Why a ‘Great Renunciation’? This initiatory cycle is called the Great Renunciation because it involves the giving up of all personal progress for the sake of helping our suffering world. Such initiants become members of the ‘Hierarchy of Compassion’ comprising the ‘Guardian Wall’ protecting humanity from the results of its unthinking invoking of cosmic forces which might possibly destroy us in an instant. Such service includes the ‘damming back’ of humanity’s accumulated karma, defending us against physical and psychic threats to the planet including invasion by ‘rivers of lives’ circulating around the solar system on the inner planes which could threaten our existence.

 

It must never for a moment be supposed that the Great Renunciation implies an abandonment of any single part of the manifested universe in order that the neophyte or aspirant may devote himself only to following the sole pathway of light. This in itself is a subtly spiritual selfishness which is the spirit governing the career of the Pratyeka Buddhas. It is necessary for the neophyte or chela who desires to pass through even the first gateway of the initiation leading to the Great Renunciation to understand that instead of abandoning the world he remains within it, in order, as he grows greater and stronger, wiser and loftier, to serve ever more largely in the cause of all things that are.

 

The Hierarchy of Compassion: There are many grades of those who take the path of the Great Renunciation:

 

  • first, the loftiest ones, the very gods themselves who lean from their azure thrones, so to speak, and who communicate with those of the same hierarchy but who are less than they.
  • the Buddhas of Compassion;
  • the Masters of Wisdom and Peace;
  • the high chelas;
  • the chelas of lower degree;
  • ordinary men and women who feel within themselves the upsurging force of the mighty fire of compassionate love which, at times at least, fills their hearts with its flame.

 

Celestial Buddhas, Dhyani-Buddhas, Manushya-Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Masters, Chelas, Inferior Chelas, and Great and Noble Men and Women — there in brief is the line or ladder of being which forms the Hierarchy of Compassion.

 

It must never be supposed that the Great Renunciation implies that, once taken, this debars one from further initiation. The Great Renunciation implies, rather, that the entity so devoting himself consecrates himself to a series of further and ever loftier initiations, but with the sole and single purpose of rendering himself ever more fit for transmitting the divine light to others less advanced than he, and for that purpose alone.

 

Autumn Equinox: The Great Passing: Then, finally, comes the fourth and last period of the cycling mystical year, the event of the Autumnal Equinox, which perhaps is the most sublime … because in the initiation of the Autumnal Equinox the neophyte or aspirant passes beyond the portals of irrevocable death, and returns among men no more.

 

One line of this activity, lofty and spiritual but yet not the line of the Hierarchy of Splendour and Compassion, is that followed by the Pratyeka Buddhas. Aeons will pass before these Pratyeka Buddhas reawaken to take up anew the evolutionary journey, the evolutionary pilgrimage. The Autumnal Equinox is likewise straitly and closely related to the investigation, during the rites and trials of the neophyte, of the many and varied and intricate mysteries connected with death. For these and for other reasons it has been called The Great Passing.

 

Of all the four sacred initiatory seasons of the year, none perhaps is so difficult to describe as the events and trials and success that belong to the initiation of the Autumnal Equinox, technically called the Great Passing – the recondite and in some cases dread mysteries of death.

 

This is the time of the final choice between becoming a Pratyeka Buddha and spending aeons in the bliss of Nirvana, or, to become a Buddha of Compassion (Amrita Buddha) returning to a suffering Humanity on Earth such as the Christs and Buddhas do and lending a helping hand.

 

The Ultimate Choice: There are two distinct but not conflicting elements of the teaching regarding the Autumnal Equinoctial Initiation:

 

  • All the greater initiants must pass through this initiation, but they return. They taste in it of death and vanquish it; and in the words of the Christian scripture they may say: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” because the initiant rising successfully as an initiate has truly conquered death, and its mysteries in all their various phases are to him mysteries no longer.

 

  • The second element of the teaching is the fact that armies, multitudes, crowds, of human beings, at some time in their evolutionary pilgrimage, choose this initiation with deliberation for the sole purpose of passing out of the world and ken of men, to return no more. Such are the Pratyeka Buddhas, and those who, like them, prefer the bliss of individual nirvana to the self-sacrificing but sublime life and destiny of a Buddha of Compassion

 

Understanding the Upper Worlds: The Great Passing is the fourth and concluding initiation which every Master of Wisdom must go through, and the glories of which he must renounce. In this initiation leading to complete Masterhood, the initiant must indeed, as in the preceding three initiations, pass through the Underworld; but his goal this time is principally the mastery of, the Upper Worlds.

 

Here then, in this initiation, are learned all the intricate and very mysterious secrets connected with Death, some of them sublimely beautiful, and some of them dreadful beyond any ordinary human imagination. The entire framework of the constitution of the initiant must be ruptured and torn apart for the time being, so that the divine part of him may wander the stars of our galaxy.

 

The divine monad returns to its own parent star and passes from star to star, ranging and wandering among them, familiarly and fully at home. What takes place in the case even of the ordinary human being when he dies, and which to such ordinary individual is blank unconsciousness because he has not evolved far enough to understand what he is undergoing, must to the freed divine monad of the master-initiant be made fully conscious and clear.

 

Every phase of the process of death that takes place in ordinary human beings is undergone by the initiant at this time: sheath after sheath of the soul is dropped and abandoned, cast aside and for the time being forgotten, until the naked divinity stands alone, a living fire of energy in self-consciousness and self-cognizing memory.

 

Where Were/Are These Initiations Held? The places of initiation are/were often situated on mountains which, because of this, were regarded locally as holy mountains. Often rocky caves or recesses in mountains were chosen for their inaccessibility, and used as initiation crypts or chambers.

 

Examples would be the Himalayan Mountains and the Nilgiri Hills in India, parts of the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia, and man-made structures such as the Elephanta Caves in India, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Great Pyramid at Gizeh in Egypt.

 

Seven Degrees of Initiation: Various countries and traditions have different numbers and names for each degree. Essentially it is the same process – an accelerated evolutionary journey to overcome the power of the Ego/Lower Self, and by degrees grow closer to the Higher Self/Inner God within us all.

 

The ancient Egyptians had three degrees/stages with several sub-stages, personified under the ‘Three Guardians of Fire’ in their mystery tradition.

In the Greek/Roman system the process of spiritual initiation was usually configured as Seven Degrees as follows:

 

1st, 2nd and 3rd Degrees: Probation: are preparatory, consisting of discipline of the whole nature: moral, mental, and physical and balancing of the emotions. At each stage, the neophyte has to pass through a carefully graded series of tests or trials in order that he/she may prove his/her inner strength and capabilities to proceed.

 

4th Degree: First Self-Conscious Encounter With Other Planes of Reality: the powers of his/her inner god having by now become at least partially active in his daily life and consciousness, he/she is enabled to begin the experience of passing into other planes and realms of life and of being, and thus to learn to known them by becoming them. In this way he/she acquires first-hand knowledge of the truths of nature and of the universe about which he previously has been taught.

 

5th Degree: First Direct Meeting With The Inner God: Theophany (the appearance of a god), the candidate meets, for at least a fleeting moment, his own spiritual ego face to face, and in the most successful of these cases, for a time actually becomes one with it. Epiphany signifies a minor form of theophany.

 

6th Degree: Taken Over By The Inner God For a Time: Theopneusty (in-breathing or through-breathing of a god, divine inspiration), the candidate becomes the vehicle of his own inner god, for a time depending on the neophyte’s own power of retention and observation, so that he/she is then inspired with the spiritual and intellectual powers and faculties of his/her higher self.

 

7th Degree: Permanently At One With The Inner God: Theopathy (the suffering a god — suffering oneself to be one’s own inner god), the personal self has become permanently at-one with the inner divinity. The successful passing of the seventh trial resulted in the initiant’s becoming a glorified ‘Son of the Sun’ as the ancient Egyptians would say, to be followed by the last or ultimate stage of this degree known in Buddhism as achieving Buddha-hood or Nirvana.

 

Since limits cannot be set to attainment, however, still loftier stages of spiritual and intellectual unfolding or initiation await those who have already attained the degree of Buddha-hood.

 

Does This All Really Matter For Our Daily Lives Here and Now? The attempt to lift our state of consciousness also helps with uplifting Humanity as we are all connected at an inner level of our composite nature. As HP Blavatsky reminds us:

 

‘It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin alone. In reality there is no such thing as ‘Separateness’. ” The Key to Theosophy: page 203.

 

The greatest and simplest preparation for all the various grades of initiation is our daily life. Here one can prove what he is made of; here he can show the stuff that is in him; here he can strengthen his character, evoke his will, enlarge his understanding, expand his heart- life.

 

The Masters judge, or rather test, a beginner, a neophyte taking his first steps, by the way in which he acts in daily life and reacts to the temptations and trials that daily life puts upon him. Life is the great school, and that all the initiations, without a single exception, are but higher grades, the reaching of higher classes, in the school of life — life terrestrial and life cosmic.

 

All Initiation Is  Essentially Self-Initiation: We have the opportunity everyday in our interactions with other people to express the qualities of the Inner God that will make sure we keep to the ‘Path of Compassion’ and one day perhaps, stand ourselves at the entrance to the Temple of Initiation, as did those brave souls in days long gone and, do even today, at the threshold of the Temples of Initiation in hidden places around the world.

 

Some Further Reading:

 

  • More information on the qualities Theosophy encourages us to develop in our daily lives can be found in G de Purucker’s book ‘The Path of Compassion’.
  • Information on the cycles of spiritual initiation throughout the year can be found in G de Purucker: ‘The Four Sacred Seasons’.
  • Detailed information on the initiation ceremonies of the ancient world can be found in Grace Knoche’s book: ‘The Mystery Schools’.
  • All of these books are available from our Melbourne library, or free online at:
  • http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ts/tup-onl.htm

 

 

Condensed from G de Purucker’s book  ‘The Four Sacred Seasons’ available free on line at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/4sacsea/4sacsea.htm

with additional comments by Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia.

If you wish to contact the condenser of this book please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 Why me? We are tempted to ask ourselves this question whenever suffering comes knocking at our door.  Our first reaction naturally is Pain and the desire to avoid it. But let’s take a moment to consider the value of suffering and trial in our lives.

Buddhists tell us that we shouldn’t expect a life without challenge as the ‘Three Awakening Sights’ – Disease, Old Age and Death – are our greatest friends in awakening our spiritual awareness. How? Because these outwardly unpleasant realities enable us to understand and empathize with the sufferings of others. In this way we have the opportunity to develop Compassion because we know what it is like to suffer ourselves and therefore we want to save others from this fate. As the old saying goes: “If you don’t feel it, you can’t heal it.” – both for ourselves and for the world.

Empathy & Compassion- Definitions: The very words ‘Empathy’ and ‘Compassion’ provide the key to understanding this process. The English word Empathy is derived from the ancient Greek word εμπάθεια (empatheia, meaning “physical affection or passion”).  This, in turn, comes from εν (en, “in, at”) and πάθος (pathos, “passion” or “suffering”).  Compassion, is derived from the Latin com with + pati to bear, suffer] Literally then, the capacity of ‘feeling with’, sympathetic understanding; the feeling of one’s unity with all that is, resulting in an “intimate magnetic sympathy with all that is.”

Empathy and Compassion are the key qualities enabling us to be sincerely motivated to help others without thought of reward in a suffering world and to maintain the desire to continue that help on into the future ages which are required for enough people to change inwardly to outwardly make a better world.

The Good Life? Consider the life of a person who lives comfortably all the time without many challenges and setbacks, ie. the ideal life painted in magazines and TV programs of material wealth and well-being.

What if we were to have such an easy life and didn’t have any difficult experiences? Surely we would then become ‘Colourless’ people who couldn’t easily identify with the majority of people and therefore would not make the effort to heal ourselves and the world.

This, in fact, is often the case for many people living in comfortable ‘first-world’ situations such as prevails for most people in Australia.  We may be tempted to remain isolated from the suffering of the majority of humanity – ‘Us and Them Syndrome’.

Or we may become exhausted by continually being asked to contribute to the efforts of those organisations, like the Salvation Army, trying to help out  – ‘Compassion Fatigue’.

Psychological studies of how ordinary people can inflict horror on others: Psychologists have studied the effects on human behaviour of becoming remote from the suffering of others.  Three famous psychological studies spring to mind which have had an enormous impact on our understanding of how ordinary people can be capable of inflicting horrors on other people during wars and in other stressful situations.

Zimbardo Prison Study: Psychological scientist Philip Zimbardo, a professor emeritus at Stanford University and president of the Heroic Imagination Project, uncovered the demon inside with devastating, and unexpected consequences.

In the 1960s he set up some pioneering studies where psychology students role-played prison guards and prisoners in a make-believe prison over a three day period.

Physically and psychologically normal and healthy people role-playing uniformed ‘prison-guards’ and under the orders of a brutal administration (Zimbardo himself) rapidly became sadistic and brutalised the ‘prisoners’.

Professor Zimbardo is famous for this Prison Study and his authorship of various introductory psychology books and textbooks for college students, including notably The Lucifer Effect (how good people turn evil) and The Time Paradox.

The Milgram Obedience Experiment: In the 1960s and 70s, Stanley Milgram, a Yale psychology professor, designed a series of studies on obedience to authority, using a “teacher” and a “learner.”

The “teacher” was supposed to inflict an imaginary electric shock on the “learner” if an answer was incorrect, starting at 15 volts and going up to 450 volts, increasing the shock each time the “learner” missed a word in the list. The ‘teachers’ were told that the electric shocks were real.

Ultimately 65% of all of the “teachers” punished the “learners” to the maximum 450 volts which would cause death if a real charge was administered!

The Asch Conformity Study: These studies reflect the findings of Solomon Asch an American psychologist. Seeking to discover why ordinary people could inflict dreadful suffering during World War II, Asch found in his famous experiment of 1951, that people when pressured by a peer group and knowing answers they gave were wrong, still went along with the group.

Asch measured the number of times each participant conformed to the majority view.  On average, about one third (32%) of the participants who were placed in this situation went along and conformed with the clearly incorrect majority on the critical trials. Over the 12 critical trials, about 75% of participants conformed at least once, and 25% of participants never conformed. In the control group, with no pressure to conform to confederates, less than 1% of participants gave the wrong answer.

Why did the participants conform so readily?  When they were interviewed after the experiment, most of them said that they did not really believe their conforming answers, but had gone along with the group for fear of being ridiculed or thought “peculiar.”  A few of them said that they really did believe the group’s answers were correct.

Apparently, people conform for two main reasons: because they want to fit in with the group (normative influence) and because they believe the group is better informed than they are (informational influence).

Asch found that the majority of people can be manipulated by peer group pressure to do things they know are wrong!

Good and Evil Within: These studies show that when we are remote from the suffering of others, or pressured by those in authority, most people are capable of identifying with their ‘Lower Self’ and are therefore quite capable of inflicting suffering and even death upon other people.

However, we should not lose sight of the fact that most people can also make the choice of identifying with their ‘Higher Self’ and providing Empathy, Love, and Compassion for others given the right external leadership and inner motivation.

The Patience of Job: The Biblical Book of Job certainly reflects this theme:

The “richest man in the East”, Job had had everything stripped from him by God as a test of his Faith – his wealth, his children, and even his health.

With unswerving faith in God, Job tried to make sense of what was happening to him. Perhaps this is what is meant by ‘the Patience of Job’ which is certainly required of all of us sometimes in dealing with life’s challenges, or most certainly when actively treading the spiritual Path.

‘Be not afraid of Sorrow and Trial’: Theosophical writer G de Purucker reflects this universal dilemma with the following advice:

“…Be not afraid of sorrow; be not afraid of trial. They are our best friends; and see what a manly doctrine this is. It is a doctrine of compassion; it is broad-minded, it is human, it is humane, it is sympathetic, it is full of wisdom and quiet peace.

The heart which has never been wrung with sorrow has no fellow-feeling for others. The mind which has never been tormented with sorrow and doubt has a veil before it. Sorrow and doubt awaken us, quicken our intellects, open our hearts, and expand our consciousness; and it is sorrow, suffering, sickness, and pain, which are amongst the gentle agents, the merciful ministers, of the evolutionary process.

The man whose heart has never been wrung with sorrow cannot understand the sorrows of others. The man who has never sorrowed, knows no greatness. He is neither great in heart or mind. Greatness, ethical majesty, spiritual and intellectual power, spring forth from trial.” from Studies in Occult Philosophy page 709.

A Christian Prayer for Empathy & Compassion: A Christian friend offered the following prayer which is in another way of saying:  “If you don’t feel it, you can’t heal it”:

May God bless you with discomfort

At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people.

So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,

So that you may reach out the hand of comfort to them

And turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in the world,

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done

To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen.

Where does the Path of Empathy and Compassion ultimately lead? According to Mahayana Buddhist tradition there are two paths in spiritual endeavor. The one is called the Path for Oneself, (Pratyeka Yana) and the other, the Deathless Path or the Path of Compassion (Amrita Yana). The Path for Oneself is that followed by all who seek salvation for themselves — whose most ardent devotees usually yearn to enter some type of life whereby they may leave the turmoil and distraction of earthly existence and attain nirvana quickly. The other is the ancient Path of Compassion, steep and thorny, which is trod by those who would follow in the footsteps of the Christ and the Buddha: the path of altruistic endeavour which seeks wisdom solely that truth and light might be shared with all.

Choices on the Spiritual Path: The path of matter tends downward; though we are involved in its atmosphere, there are very few indeed who follow the pull downward to the exclusion of all else. The path of spirit is up and forward always, toward the divinity within. The choice between matter and spirit therefore is clear, regardless of how often we fail to realize our aspirations for the permanent values.

However, in spiritual things there will likewise come a forking of the way: either to follow the path for ourselves, or for others.

 Boddhisattva: One Whose Essence is Compassion: This concept is well known in the Orient, particularly in those countries where Buddhism has been firmly established for centuries; and that is the reason the populace, by tradition, hold the Bodhisattvas in far greater reverence than they do the Buddhas. To them, the Bodhisattva is one who has reached the point where she/he could step across the chasm of darkness into Nirvana, omniscience, peace or wisdom, however you care to describe it, but she/he refuses so that she/he might stay behind until the last of his/her brothers can cross over with him. A Buddha, however, is one who, having reached the portal, sees the light ahead and enters nirvana, achieving his well-earned bliss. In Japan, China and those parts of India where Buddhism has taken root, you will find numerous carvings of Bodhisattvas. The ideal of compassion is perpetuated in a few of these statues by the right hand of Bodhisattva reaching toward the wisdom and light and beauty of nirvana; while the left hand leans downward toward mankind, in a compassionate gesture of benevolence.

Kwan-Yin: Goddess of Mercy and Friend of Mankind: In Japan, Korea, Tibet, and China, the Boddhisattva, Kwan Yin, is the beloved personification of compassion. Images of her can be found in homes, temples, and within thousands of shrines and grottoes beside roads and shaded pools. People of all ages bring gifts of flowers and fruit, but not in supplication. There is no need for that. Kwan Yin, like a wise and loving parent knows and does what is best; does it with gentle guidance and never needs to punish or coerce. Of all the world’s great gods, she is undoubtedly the kindest and most giving. Innumerable folktales describe her beneficence and each in its way inspires to noble action. Like her, devotees seek to help others by giving of themselves, and of whatever they have. Like her, they avoid causing pain to any other being for, as they say:

‘When a worm is crushed, all beings are crushed; When a single bee sucks honey, all beings in the myriad universes suck honey.’

To the humble she is goddess, mother figure, friend, guide, and protector; to the philosophical she represents the divine force of compassion that not only pervades the cosmos, holding all together in harmonious accord, but also manifests in this world in various forms sometimes through the spiritual nature of one or a series of great men and women. Devotees claim they often feel her nearness, or see her in person. Whether this presence is physical or a subtle thought form perceived by mystic vision, who can say? According to tradition Kwan Yin had been an ordinary person who had followed the Path of Wisdom and Service until after many incarnations she reached the supreme goal, Nirvana. Pausing a moment at the threshold, she heard, rising from the world, a great wail of woe, as if all the rocks and trees, insects, animals, humans, gods and demons, cried out in protest that so virtuous a one should depart from their midst. Without a second thought this noble-hearted soul turned back, determined to remain until every being without exception should precede her into Nirvana.

When the time of choice comes – Will we have the strength of Empathy and Compassion to follow her example?

The Pledge of Kwan-Yin: “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.”

 

  • Compiled from the writings of G de Purucker, James A. Long, and Eloise Hart, with additional comments from Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia.
  • If you wish to contact the author please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are all interested to explore other worlds in relation to our own and the possible influence of these worlds upon our Earth. The ancients were absorbed with this fascinating subject as indicated by the orientation of many of their great monuments that remain to us in many parts of the world which point to the Solstices of our own Sun and to other Suns such as Sirius, Polaris, Vega, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, the Pleiades star group, and other worlds which they must have felt were major influences on the Earth and its inhabitants. Surely they did not go to all this trouble for nothing!

Maybe they left these enduring monuments which may well have been designed to instruct those, like us, living in less enlightened ages overshadowed by the baleful influences of the Kali Yuga in which we live at the moment.

Of special importance was what the ancient Greeks (Plato) following the Egyptians called ‘The Great Year’. We would now call it, the ‘Precession of the Equinox’ which determines in which house of the zodiac the Sun appears and therefore influences our solar system and the earth (currently in transition to, or maybe already in, The Age of Aquarius). Just as we have Solstices and Equinoxes as we orbit around our Sun, so the ancients suggested we have a similar arrangement as the entire solar system passes around a ‘Raja’ (or King) Sun. To further complicate matters, the entire solar system orbits the ‘Central Sun’ of the galaxy every 230 million years moving up and down through the mass of stars and gas in the ‘saucer – shape’ of our galaxy’s ‘plane of the ecliptic’ like a merry-go-round carousel horse taking us through some very dangerous galactic territory indeed on a regular cyclic basis.

Therefore, there must also be momentously great Solstices and Equinoxes in this aspect of our cyclic journeys riding along with the Sun and our family of planets through the galaxy at 70,000kmh as a member of our solar system called the ‘Barque of Ra’ (ie The Ship of the Sun) by the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians, as I understand it, suggested our Raja Sun may be Alcyone in the midst of the Pleiades star group and that we orbit this great sun (actually group of stars) every 25,920 years. There are some who believe that this Raja Sun may be the double-star Sirius revered by the ancient Egyptians and to which some of their famous monuments, eg. The Great Pyramid, were aligned. If we accept that our solar system may be in an orbit around the Pleiades star group, this would therefore be a more likely explanation of the real Precession of the Equinoxes and not, as currently thought by modern science, because of a slow wobble in the earth’s axis causing the Earth to appear in different houses of the zodiac and all the vast implications this has for life on Earth. It also means that our solar system may be a ‘missing’ member of the Pleiades star group itself and this would account for the tremendous awe and respect that this star group was regarded by peoples all over the world including some American Indian tribes.

May I suggest an excellent You Tube video available at:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25Ym6DmK7EQ

 

This video includes interviews with contemporary researchers such as, John Anthony West, (the mystical Egyptologist) and, Graham Hancock, (unconventional researcher of ancient civilizations and famous author of books on alternative archaeology). The video gives a succinct summary of the concept of The Great Year and how it has been depicted in the past although its explanation of the four ‘Yugas’ differs somewhat from a theosophical explanation.

I understand that we are approaching the ‘Summer Solstice’ of The Great Year, and, if this is indeed so, it must have a vast impact on our entire Solar System including the Earth. For example, the Summer Solstice of The Great Year may be a hidden factor affecting global warming amongst other more subtle spiritual influences on humanity which spiritual teachers tell us occurs at the time of the Solstices. This suggestion could be verified by checking climatic and magnetic changes in the life of the Sun and other planets of our solar system besides what we know of changing climate patterns on the Earth.

As we have discussed above, our Sun may well be in an orbit around a greater (‘Rajah’ or ‘King’) Sun, and that this orbit of 25,920 years (the Precession of the Equinoxes) would have ‘Seasons’ like we do on Earth as we orbit our Sun. As we are now approaching the transit from the astrological ages of Pisces to Aquarius, it has been suggested that we may be approaching the ‘Summer Solstice’ of The Great Year. Besides the physical manifestations of this time, such as perhaps an influence on global warming, what possibly could be the spiritual influences on humanity at this time and into the near future?

This is a huge question which it is difficult, or maybe impossible to answer as we have such little outwardly available knowledge of the influence of the Spiritual Hierarchy on human history. Many people have speculated that the Age of Aquarius will herald a time of brotherhood and peace, with the focus shifting from the devotional religions such as Christianity and Islam, to a ‘New Age’ based on a synthesis of universal religious principles. The dawning of the Age of Aquarius follows the Earth’s polar axis leaving the sign of Pisces, where it has been for the last two thousand years or so. Jesus Christ is associated with the sign of Pisces, the Fishes. During the Age of Aries (the sign of the Ram) from 2000BC until the time of Christ, Ram cults developed in Egypt, the Middle East, and elsewhere. The Age of Taurus (the sign of the Bull), from 4000BC to 2000BC, had Bull cults such as those of the Egyptian Apis and in Minoan Crete and with us even today in Spanish/South American bullfighting. There is a lot of speculation from various spiritual authorities as to exactly when we have, or will transit from the Piscean Age into The Age of Aquarius varying from1898 to 2160!

Perhaps we can look at what we know from the history of the past 2,000 years of the Piscean Age and compare it with trends in human history now, which will no doubt mature over the next 2,000 years during the coming Age of Aquarius. During the Age of Pisces just ending we have had forms of religion in which the masses could generally only approach Divinity through the mediation of priests and religious organizations. There has been a tremendous amount of conflict between these mediated forms of religion which continues today. The activities of the Higher Mysteries seem to have gone underground but wider public education has become increasingly evident as a prelude to the New Age.

The incoming influences of the new Age of Aquarius are evident today when widespread public education encourages individuals towards personal realization of a direct progressive connection with the spiritual and divine in themselves and Nature without the intervention of a priestly class. Consequently there may be a gradual decline in old style temple/church worship as we are seeing today, especially in Australia. More and more people, through education, scientific research, and due to the activities of esoteric organizations such as the Theosophical Society, recognize themselves as embodied/ensouled spirits – potentially self-conscious gods. The ‘initiations of the threshold of the mysteries’ are becoming gradually exoteric, or, as the former Leader of our Theosophical Society, James A. Long, used to say: “The esoteric has become exoteric and the exoteric has become esoteric.” Spiritual secrets long withheld from the general public are now freely available via the activities of the Theosophical Society, related organisations, and on the internet. The only bar to such knowledge for the general public being the interest/motivation of individuals to seek out and understand the great ‘Laws of Life’ such as Reincarnation and Karma.

Hopefully such spiritual trends as we see today permeating the world during the time of the ‘Summer Solstice’ of The Great Year, may continue under the impetus of this special time in the Great Year to encourage us towards a more just, harmonious, and brotherly world in the developing Age of Aquarius.

OK, I hear you say, if we are moving in the direction of peace and love in the Age of Aquarius, then why is there so much violence, war, and social unrest in the world at the moment and for the foreseeable future? I can do no better than quote a recent author who comments:

“ … One of the major issues to be considered in terms of the future program of human development is the fact that, within the 25,920 year cycle of Precession, we are fast approaching the celestial (Summer) Solstice and the beginning of a major new astrological cycle. As a direct consequence – like the current of a river flowing towards a narrower elliptical bend in its course – our human society is experiencing a huge amount of turbulence during that approach.

Much of the cultural experience of the last (ie 20th) century is going around and around in ever faster sub-cycles, like localized whirlpools and eddies, thereby rendering our present social culture ever more repetitive and superficial from one angle. In very real and practical terms, however, the ‘sediment’ of historical mores and customs built up in our psychology (as instincts) over the last millennia or so is being shaken loose so that the inner current of intelligence can travel on faster and more freely to join the greater approaching cycle. This chaos will inevitably continue for the next several hundred years at least as the separated psychological sediment settles into its own slower cycle, leaving the faster spiritual flow to those capable of sustaining it and traveling onward with it.

The acceleration away from the ‘bend’ of the solstice will itself be substantial, effectively resulting in the psychological separation of a large part of our present human consciousness from the past. In a very real sense, this approach to the forthcoming Age of Aquarius involves the protracted ‘Judgement Day’ of our present greater cycle (of 25,920 years of The Great Year). Following this faster-evolving spiritual nature of humankind will be allowed a period of unfettered progress, at least temporarily detached from the materialism of the immediately past cycle of centuries…” – from J.S.Gordon The Path of Initiation: spiritual evolution and the restoration of the Western mystery tradition. (2013) pages:466-467.

If you wish to write to the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

A Definition of The Ancient Wisdom: Nature exists and man exists, and somewhere unobscured by man’s own religious and philosophical imaginings, there must be available the wisdom and learning which tells why and how. As we ponder the question it seems an inevitable conclusion that somewhere there must be preserved a recording, a gathering of facts or ‘laws’, a formulation in human language of the Truth concerning Man and Nature. There must be a basic source from which sciences, philosophies and the great religions have sprung.

This Source has been called The Ancient Wisdom, the Sacred Science, or, in ancient India – Gupta Vidya (the Hidden Knowledge) or Atma Vidya (Soul Knowledge), in Greek, Theosophia, or knowledge and wisdom such as the Gods live by. The Ancient Wisdom has always been in existence, though not always publicly known, having come down through the ages tested and checked by generations of Great Seers of all the world’s peoples. It may be called the Facts of Being, the ‘Laws’ or workings of Nature.from the Introduction to the Theosophical Manuals series.

Sources of The Ancient Wisdom: There are many sources of the wisdom traditions of the world’s peoples. These include: Tradition; Religion; Philosophy; Revelation; Faith; or in the case of Theosophy, Spiritual Initiation. But how reliable are these sources?

Maybe It’s All Just Imagination? Critics and Skeptics say that the concept that there is a Knowledge of the Universe ‘as it actually is’ is a fantasy. Such critics say that ‘The Ancient Wisdom’ is pure imagination; maybe the product of a primitive world; a ‘disease’ of reason; complete fiction enshrined as reality over time; somebody’s best model of how the universe works; invented for social and political control; or maybe even a conspiracy of Demonic Forces to divert us from ‘true’ religion!

Features of The Ancient Wisdom:

Universal Brotherhood: If we can get past these criticisms, what does Theosophy (as I understand it) have to say are the basic features of the world’s esoteric traditions – The Ancient Wisdom? Let’s start with the foundation concept of Theosophy: Universal Brotherhood: the entire realm of Nature is linked by correspondences or analogies from its tiniest to its most massive structures. We can therefore understand Nature through Man. ‘As Above So Below’. Everything is related and has its source in the Divine. This Divine Source is Unknowable as it is beyond human knowledge, called by various names in different traditions – Ain-Soph (Jewish), Tat (Hindu), Unknowable God (St Paul), IT is the boundless source of All, Infinite Space, Eternal Duration, and Unending Motion. Universal Brotherhood is therefore a fact in Nature.

Everything is Alive: Nature is a complex hierarchical Being alive in all its parts. We exist and are an integral part of a living Universe. Nothing is ‘dead’ but there are differences in the state of consciousness according to the stage of conscious awareness.

The Ebb and Flow of Life: The living universe is subject to the absolute universality of Periodicity, ie. the ebb and flow of life, day and night, life and death, sleeping and waking. From out of the infinite the finite is born, only to dissolve back into the infinite once again after a time of manifestation.

A Hierarchy of Being: The Universe is composed of a ‘ladder of life’ of sentient beings stretching in conscious awareness above, and below us – Many but One. All these beings are on a pilgrimage of learning starting from an unconscious ‘elemental’ through to the highest god. Hence the universe is filled with divine intelligences of every conceivable type all seeking to unfold themselves through spiritual evolution by means of repeated embodiments.

Transmutation: an understanding and experience of spirituality has the power to transmute us. Thus we can achieve a higher state of awareness of the reality of the Universe if we put enough effort into such an understanding, ie we can achieve Enlightenment, Ascension, Samadhi – such as have been achieved by other enlightened thinkers before us.

Similarities Amongst All Traditions: we naturally discover similarities in the description of spiritual realities amongst different esoteric traditions. This is the ‘Golden Thread of Hermes’ running through all traditions, which may use different words, but describe the same Reality.

Transmission of the Teachings on The Ancient Wisdom: most esoteric systems say that, at a certain point along the spiritual journey, understanding can only be passed from Master to Student , or at least drawn forth from within the Student, through an established path of initiation. Thus the presence of sacred places around the world where such experiences are available to those suitably qualified, eg. Great Pyramid (Egypt), Himalayan mountain caves (India), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), the Elephanta Caves (India), Hopi Indian ‘Kivas’ (USA), the ‘Forbidden City’ (Northern Territory, Australia).

‘Gnosis’: meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘knowers’. All traditions united in having such a body of knowledge of higher truths surpassing faith and even reason which can have a transformative affect on those who study and ‘become’ it. This is not ordinary scientific knowledge but an inner initiation enabling one’s spiritual advancement requiring discipline and ethical development of a very high order, with the aim of transcendence.

Lesser and Greater Mysteries: this knowledge is usually divided into two phases:

Lesser Mysteries: myths and allegories to awaken intuition, a preview of greater mysteries presented by a teacher, eg. In Greek system: an academic education, the Olympic Games, the Greek plays, the cycle of Greek Myths.

Greater Mysteries: actual experience of what has been taught previously by others. Awakening of inner potential, descent into invisible worlds and reascent into the One.

Features of the Gnosis tradition: in some form or other, all esoteric gnostic traditions teach the following using their own terminology to speak of the same things:

Theology: Divine principles and processes. The relation of the Universe and Man.

Cosmology: the birth and death of the metaphysical and physical universe from the One Life.

Anthropology: the nature of Man. His descent into material life and the nature of his inner being, both visible and invisible.

Eschatology: ‘knowledge of the end of things’ – the destiny of mankind in the Universe. Death and After-Death journey.

Pilgrimage: teachings about the qualities of thought and attitude of conduct necessary to achieve the Hidden Spiritual Knowledge. Such qualities as Wisdom, Compassion, Patience, Concentration, Ethical Disciple, Meditation, etc..

The Seven Jewels of Wisdom: are the specific subjects studied in the Ancient Wisdom which are said to be the summit of knowledge available to us at this stage of humanity’s spiritual development. They are:

  1. Reincarnation: and Reimbodiment (‘Punarjanman’).
  2. Karma: the law of cause and effect.
  3. Hierarchies (‘Lokas and Talas’): reality has many levels through which we progress.
  4. Self-Becoming (‘Swabhava’): the essential nature of each person and entity and their inbuilt capacity to grow in self-awareness.
  5. Evolution (‘Pavritti’) and Involution (‘Nivritti’): evolution into materiality and Involution back into spirit of Humanity and the Earth.
  6. The Two Paths of Spiritual Development (‘Amrita-Yana’ and ‘Pratyeka-Yana’): choices along the spiritual Path. Good and Evil, Selflessness and Selfishness.
  7. Knowledge of the Self (‘Atma Vidya’): what do we actually mean by the ‘Self’. How did the One become the Many?

More detailed information for those interested in The Seven Jewels of Wisdom is available in an article on the subject by Stefan Carey at: http://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-lectures/the-seven-jewels-of-wisdom-by-stefan-carey/

Three Keys to Understanding the Ancient Wisdom:

“…Firstly, the philosophic axiom, As Above, so Below. This is a master-key, by the aid of which we may unlock numberless mysteries. It teaches the interdependence of all things, for all things are in essence one. What is true of the nature of man is true of the sun. Universe and atom alike are composite in nature.

The second key is the religious aphorism, Man, Know Thyself — another master-key closely related to the first. Could we but know the mysteries of consciousness and the sevenfold nature of man in their completeness, we should have full knowledge of the universe.

A third key, the scientific, is that All Things are Relative. In the last analysis nothing is great, nothing small; all things are relatively great or small, in relative degrees of development, with relative manifestations of consciousness…” [ from: La Fayette Plummer: ‘An Unfinished Universe’ Theosophical Forum, April 1937].

 

Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content…
– Walt Whitman

 

If you wish to contact the author, please email andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

The Buddhic Cycles

 

The study of technical theosophy is one of the most rigorous intellectual aspects of theosophical exploration. At the same time, it is also one of the most intuitional exercises of logic. The two main expressions of technical theosophy are found in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and G. de Purucker, but their works—though inspiring many—have largely remained an abiding mystery of esoteric thought on the monads and their cycles through the cosmic planes with their respective humanities. This is because the study of technical theosophy was never intended as a means to an end, but rather as a never-ending means to understanding the ever-present process of mind evolving. As such, both writers seemingly veiled the cycles in cryptic numbers and apparent contradictions while revealing just enough of the light to draw us deeper into their world and remind us that there is a sacred context to every moment of experience. Technical theosophy, when understood in this light, serves as the vector along which mind evolves towards deeper spiritual significances in which we are directly participatory. Each one of us as human beings directly participates in the life cycle of the Buddhas—those human buddhas like Gautama who come to us twice in every major cycle, or the Root-Races of each Round, to provide the keynote for that cycle and to sow the seeds for the next; it is this life cycle that technical theosophy helps one to understand. The following is an exploration into technical theosophy and the Buddhic cycles.

In G. de Purucker’s Fountainsource of Occultism, he explained that two main Buddhas appear in every Root-Race, “one towards the beginning and the other towards the middle or the end, depending upon circumstances.”(FS 520) Elsewhere, in his Dialogues, he asserted that Gautama was the “first Buddha of the two” for the 5th Root-Race. (DIA 2-211) If one takes these statements at face value, he immediately confronts an apparent contradiction. As humanity is currently in its “4th Sub-Race” of the 5th Root-Race (having already traversed through the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Sub-Races), it seems problematic that the first Buddha, the one at the beginning, would appear near the middle of the Root-Race trending towards its great mid-point Racial catastrophe that splits it in two. With a 5th Root-Race that is 4 to 7 million years old with another 4 to 5 million years to go, it clearly is not in its beginning stages. (FU 239, ST 639, FS 166). Precisely here is the veil thrown over his own teaching by G. de Purucker.

The solution to the problem is to recognize that he has either thrown a blind over the numbers or over one of the words relating to the numbers in the cycle. In regard to this technique, G. de Purucker stated that one of the commonest blinds used “when writing on esoteric matters in a public work is using the same word in varying senses.”(FU 239) In the example provided above, what word did he use in a varying sense?  In this case, G. de Purucker used the word “beginning” in his explanation in Fountainsource in a varying sense. He used it in the sense later confirmed by him in Dialogues when clarifying that the “first Buddha of the two of any Root-Race comes at about the middle point of his Root-Race.” (DIA, 2- 216) Therefore, rather than there being a first Buddha at the “beginning” and a second Buddha “towards the middle or end” as described in Fountainsource, the first Buddha actually comes at about the middle and the second Buddha actually comes near the middle or the end, depending on the circumstances. Those circumstances are even more complicated because they deal with the Sub-Race cycle in relation to the Root-Race cycle—but they will be explained shortly. The key to remember, however, is that there is no beginning Buddha for a Root-Race in the traditional, chronological sense of the word; there is middle and a middle/end Buddha. Thus, the middle Buddha (or Gautama) is referred to, quite accurately, as the first Buddha of the 5th Root-Race. This is a part of technical theosophy.

The first middle point of the Root-Race is rather stationary in that it occurs in the 4th Sub-Race of its respective Root-Race and signifies a coming of age for that Root-Race. The seeds of the subsequent Root-Race are sown in this period. As for the Buddha that corresponds to this first middle point of the 5th Root-Race, it is the Root Buddha or Gautama Buddha, described by G. de Purucker as the “noblest and most complete and the fullest since the beginning of our 5th Root-Race.” (ST 612) The second middle point of the Root-Race is rather fluid in that it can occur anytime from the middle to the end of the Root-Race (although there is an exception to this rule for the 1st and 2nd Root-Races) so long as the number of the Sub-Race of the current Root-Race matches the number of the succeeding Root-Race. The Buddha for this period as the Seed Buddha—or Maitreya for the 5th Root-Race—watches over those seeds that were dropped earlier by the first Buddha as they sprout into a new, self-sufficient, sui generis, Root-Race. This is considered a second middle point because the new sui generis Root-Race is quite distinct from the previous Root-Race in type and character. Therefore, there are two middle points for each Root-Race—one stationary and one fluid—that correspond to the times when the Buddhas incarnate for the benefit of humanity. (DIA 1-56, 86, 87)

To demonstrate how this worked in practice leading up to Gautama as the first 5th Root-Race Buddha, let us start with the 4th Root-Race and carry the process theoretically through the 7th Root-Race. In the 4th Sub-Race of the 4th Root-Race about 4.5 million years ago, the first Buddha of the cycle came and sowed the seeds for the 5th Root-Race. In the 5th Sub-Race of the 4th Root-Race about 1 million years ago, the second Buddha of the cycle came as a psychological bridge to link the two fully sui generis 4th and 5th Root-Races together. In the 4th Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race around 560 B.C., the first Buddha of the new cycle, or Gautama, came and sowed the seeds for the 6th Root-Race. In the 6th Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race, the second Buddha of the new cycle, or Maitreya who will come “millions of years hence,” will bridge the 5th and the 6th Root-Races. (FS 521) In the 4th Sub-Race of the 6th Root-Race, the first Buddha of the next cycle will arrive and in the 7th Sub-Race of the 6th Root-Race the second Buddha of that cycle will usher in the 7th Root-Race.

This process of double middle-points for the Buddhic cycle is confirmed by reading the writings of H.P. Blavatsky. For example, she wrote in her letters to A.P. Sinnett that Gautama corresponded to the end of the 4th Root-Race “between the 4th and the 5th.”(BL 242) As the 4th Root-Race is currently in its 7th Sub-Race and at the same time the 5th Root-Race is in its 4th Sub-Race, this places the current evolutionary state of humanity in accord with H.P. Blavatsky’s statement. (ML 154, DIA 1-88) Further, in her Collected Writings elucidating the technical theosophy in A.P. Sinnett’s book, Esoteric Buddhism, she clarified that Gautama was the “fifth spiritual teacher,” thereby equating him with the 5th Root-Race Buddha. (CW 6-267) For her, as with G. de Purucker, Maitreya would come “after the partial destruction of the 5th [Ed. That is, near or after the first middle point or the 4th Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race] and when the 6th Race will be established [Ed. That is, near or after the second middle point or the 6th Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race] already for some hundred thousands of years on earth…and therefore he is called the fifth Budha.” (BL 242) As with G. de Purucker, these two, Gautama and Maitreya, are the 5th Root-Race Buddhas. H.P. Blavatsky went on to clarify that the 6th Buddha “will be at the beginning of the 7th Race,” thereby referring to the Root Buddha in the 4th Sub-Race of the 6th Root-Race who initiates the seeds of the 7th Root-Race. (BL 242)

As humanity progresses through these successive Buddhic cycles, each one of us has the opportunity to directly participate in the work of Nature’s cycles. The imprint that each Buddha makes on the fabric of humanity has to be carried forward by us until the next Buddha sounds its keynote for the subsequent cycle. And so it is that each one of us as a pioneer builds the momentum in unison with one another until the crescendo of the sounding of that future keynote brings with it a figurative new earth and new heaven—the new sub-planes of a new cycle that the Buddha fearlessly guides us into as the earth’s orbit, ever led on by an even higher Dhyani-Buddha overlooking the Rounds in which the humanities of the Root-Races participate, takes us into ever deeper parts of an inner cosmos yet to be explored.

 

Universal Brotherhood and Ancient Cycles

The present discourse on the intricacies of technical theosophy reminds us that technical theosophy serves a larger purpose by helping us open-endedly evolve towards deeper spiritual significances in which we are directly participatory. One of the significances that a study into the Buddhic cycles provides is how the Racial Buddhas blend the Root-Races together and how we are to follow the key note of their example. The first 4th Root-Race Buddha sowed the seeds of the 5th Root-Race—and therefore this Buddhic entity, as much as his Sub-Race offshoots, was intimately entangled with it. The second 4th Root-Race Buddha enabled those seeds to blossom into a unique and distinct people, but he did so by thoroughly mixing the later Sub-Races of the 4th Root-Race with the earliest Sub-Races of the 5th Root-Race. In regard to this constant mixing of Atlantean (4th Root-Race) and Aryan (5th Root-Race) generations, G. de Purucker emphasized that there is “no such thing as a pure race on the face of the globe. We are all mixed.” (ST 18) Previously, William Judge had pointed out that we are all “Atlantean monads.” (EC 21) In continuing this exploration into technical theosophy, our attention turns to Universal Brotherhood and Ancient Cycles—how the fusion of the 4th and 5th Root-Races, who were we ourselves in earlier incarnations millions of years ago, proceeded apace under the guidance of the Buddhas.

In H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, she wrote about the “commingling of the 4th and 5th sub-races” that corresponded to “the Mongolo-Turanian and the Indo-European, so-called, after the sinking of the great Continent” that ultimately produced the “smallest branchlets” of the “Semitic tribe”—or the Jewish people. (SD 1-319) If one tries to take this statement at face value, one immediately confronts enormous difficulties. First, the Root-Race to which the 4th and 5th Sub-Races belonged is never identified. Second, the terms Mongolo-Turanian and Indo-European could refer to numerous historical periods as wave after wave of migration left Central Asia over long periods of time. Third, there is a separation of millions and millions of years since the sinking of the great Continent of Atlantis some 4.5 million years ago and the emergence of the Jewish people as one of the last waves of migration out of Central Asia some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago after having initially retreated into the surrounding mountains with the flooding of the Gobi Desert (as a result of the climactic sinking of the final Atlantean outpost at Poseidonis in the Atlantic Ocean some 11,000 to 13,000 years ago) and then the subsequent migration across Iran to the Holy Land in Israel. (SD 2-5, ST 137, CW 3-452, 14-270) Precisely here is the veil thrown over her own teaching by H.P. Blavatsky.

One possible solution to the enormous difficulty presented by H.P. Blavatsky’s statement is to recognize that she elucidates the process of an entire Buddhic cycle—the 4th Root-Race Buddhic cycle with its two middle point Buddhas. In the 4th Sub-Race of the 4th Root-Race, Atlantean civilization enjoyed its heyday. It reigned vibrant and strong but soon began to crumble due to its errant ways. And so in this 4th Sub-Race the Buddha dropped the seeds of the 5th Root-Race. These seeds of future humanities remained unnoticeable at first as they lived side-by-side with the Atlanteans. When the 4th Sub-Race fled to Central Asia to escape the sinking of the great Continent, it carried these 5th Root-Race seeds. In Central Asia these two groups mixed and married—and loved and laughed together—until the time when their descendants left the homeland to spread out across the world. The combination of the 4th Sub-Race with its 5th Root-Race seeds was the Mongolo-Turanian. In regard to the Turanians, H.P. Blavatsky commented, “neither are they themselves a pure, primitive race, as it is a mixture of the white and yellow races, and the people who belong to it offer an infinite gradation of hues and types, a gradual descent from the pure European down to the Chinese type.” (CW 13-329) While the Turanians technically belonged to the 5th Root-Race (though with “ample reservations” due to their great age and amalgamation), they clung to the “Mongolo” 4th Root-Race like moss clinging to a stone. (SD 2-200) They salvaged what they could in the thousands and thousands of years after the great Cataclysm; they grew up together, produced children together, mirrored each other, and learned from each other through the common heritage and experience of this 4th Sub-Race. All the while, the first Buddha of the 4th Root-Race watched over his progeny.

The 4th Sub-Race continued for a very long time since it was the main cycle within the 4th Root-Race, but the 5th Sub-Race began to develop within it as a single “nascent Aryan race” in Central Asia that eventually divided from its “parent stock” and rushed “asunder to scatter over Europe and Asia in search of new homes” some one million years ago. (CW 5-206)  H.P. Blavatsky referred to this 5th Sub-Race as the “so-called” Indo-European because portions of the 4th Root-Race had now become distinct, or fully Aryanised, in contrast to the Atlanteans. (SD 2-435) These portions of distinct 5th Sub-Race, 4th Root-Race people were the earliest Sub-Races of the Aryan 5th Root-Race. The Mahatma K.H. spoke of them as belonging to the “first sub-race” of the 5th Root-Race. (ML 154) H.P. Blavatsky classified them “as the last offshoot of the first sub-race” of the 5th Root-Race. (CW 12-382) G. de Purucker connected them with “one of the very first sub-races” of the 5th Root-Race. (FS 163) But there were portions of the 5th Root-Race such as the Turanian seeds from the 4th Sub-Race that were heavily mixed and, in some cases, continued heavily mixed until “11,000 years ago.” (SD 2-444) In regard to this developing distinction between the Mongolo-Turanian and the Indo-European, H.P. Blavatsky clarified, “A strong percentage of the Mongoloid or 4th Root-Race was, of course, to be found in the Aryans of the 5th. But this did not prevent in the least the presence at the same time of unalloyed, pure Aryan races in it.” (CW 5-216) To make it even clearer, the 4th Sub-Race and the 5th Sub-Race belonged both to the 4th and 5th Root-Races. Even as portions of the 5th Sub-Race separated into a distinct sui generis people and thereby earned the epithet of 5th Root-Race, they still functioned as a sub-set of the 4th Root-Race chronology and karma at the same time. To help guide them through this transition of belonging to both Root-Races, the second Buddha of the 4th Root-Race—along with other Dhyani-Chohans—descended to help and carry them through to the first middle point of the 5th Root-Race. (SD 2-436)

In the many millions of years of the 4th Sub-Race of the 4th Root-Race, the early Sub-Races of the 5th Root-Race developed from the Mongolo-Turanian seeds. The 1st and 2nd Sub-Races of the 5th Root-Race overlapped this dominant 4th Sub-Race. Shortly before the sinking of the Pacific Island Ruta about 850,000 years ago, a number of 5th Root-Race groups prepared for independence. These groups belonged to the 2nd and 3rd Sub-Races who descended from the highlands of Central Asia to spread across Eurasia. (SD 2-436, 750) By the 3rd Sub-Race there were portions of the 5th Root-Race that were fully Aryanised; these peoples chronologically and culturally overlapped with the 5th Sub-Race of the 4th Root-Race, or their Indo-European roots. As the 3rd Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race evolved into its 4th Sub-Race and as the 5th Sub-Race of the 4th Root-Race evolved into its 6th and 7th Sub-Races over the last million years, portions of both groups interbred with each other so much that even though many different peoples belonged to the 5th Root-Race—and were “generally called Aryan”—it was “not entirely so” as the 5th Root-Race was “largely mixed up with races to which Ethnology gives other names.” (SD 2-429) In her own way, H.P. Blavatsky hinted at this intermingling where the Turanians, the Egyptians, the Chinese, and the Chaldeans belonged to both the 4th and 5th Root-Races. (SD 1-113)  The categorization of the Turanians has already been explained. As for the Egyptians, they were one of the Atlanto-Aryan peoples on the doomed island of Ruta. (SD 2-436) Although younger than the Indo-Europeans, both the “ancestors of Egypt” and the “Brahmin Aryans” sprang “once upon a time from the same stock”—the seeds of the 5th Root-Race or the Mongolo-Turanian. (SD 1-387, CW 11-338) After fleeing the sinking of Ruta, the ancestral Egyptians gradually separated out from their Atlantean and Aryan predecessors. This separation accelerated with the demise of Daitya, an Indian Ocean island, around 270,000 B.C. when multiple chains of islands around Sri Lanka sunk over tens of thousands of years. (SD 1-651, 2-141, ST 24) Their inhabitants fled in multiple waves to India as well as Northern and Eastern Africa. The migrants who colonized Egypt and built the pyramids did not belong to the 4th Root-Race even though they were “Atlanteans.” (CW 5-286) As for the Chinese, their language is a little less “ancient than the Egyptian alphabet of Thoth.” (SD 1-307) Considering that the Chinese belong to the last families of the 7th Sub-Race of the 4th Root-Race, this makes perfect sense because the Egyptians, even though technically the 5th Root-Race, preceded them from various Sub-Race mixings. (ML 154) But even the Chinese, as G. de Purucker noted, are not true Atlanteans. Rather, they are mixed—a combination of Mongolo-Aryan—and they belong “to our Aryan race in time and karman.” (ST 19, DIA 1-92) H.P. Blavatsky agreed, placing the Chinese as “one of the oldest nations of our Fifth Race.” (SD 2-364) As for the Chaldeans, their own records showed that, in their earliest Persian origins, they represented a combination of Atlantean and Aryan. (SD 2-429)  In looking back at these four groups and their intersections between the 4th and 5th Root-Races, it is helpful to keep in mind H.P. Blavatsky’s statement that the Races and Sub-Races “down to their smallest ramifications overlap and are entangled with each other until it is nearly impossible to separate them.” (SD 2-434)

The reason that H.P. Blavatsky mentioned the small branchlet of the Semitic tribe, or Jewish people, as an offshoot from this 4th and 5th Root-Race is because their emigration out of Central Asia—their primeval homeland being “Upper India, or Turkestan”—some 10,000 years ago corresponded to the close of the Atlantean Root-Race with the sinking of Poseidonis. (IS 1-135) As G. de Purucker pointed out, a Root-Race, such as the Atlantean, continues until the succeeding Root-Race, such as the Aryan, reaches its own Kali-Yuga. (ST 43) The 5th Root-Race reached its Kali-Yuga some 5,000 years ago and therefore the true Atlanteans have finally disappeared. (CW 5-58) But, as H.P. Blavatsky suggested, Root-Races (and their minor sub-cycles) linger on beyond this point into subsequent Root-Races. (CW 14-81) Actually, all the Root-Races and their Sub-Races are with us perpetually and perennially since the “auric shades and gradations of colour in the inner man” (corresponding to the Solar Rays of these various groups) continually circulate throughout the inner life of the Earth globe in a spiral motion from north to south and east to west that breaks through into the outer life of mankind as well. (CW 5-213, DIA 2-158, ST 434) Human life is coiled within these spirals and released as a manifestation of the seven-fold “Divine mind” that flows through all the planets. (IS 2-293) But the south-westward migration of the Jewish people—as well as the eastward migration of the Aeolian, Dorian and Ionian peoples out of the Atlantic with the sinking of Poseidonis to establish the more recent Celtic, Mediterranean, and Germanic cultures as part of minor cyclic Family, National and Tribal Races within the 4th Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race—symbolized the end of Atlantis. (CW 5-215) With this end, the second Buddha of the 4th Root-Race stepped away—a job well done—and the first Buddha of the 5th Root-Race took charge of these new civilizations that stretched across India, Arabia, Europe, Northern Africa and, more generally, all across the globe.

In closing, the 4th Root-Race Buddhas propelled the ancient cycles forward through the brotherhood that they shared with the upcoming generations of the 5th Root-Race. When a younger generation in ever-progressing cycles comes into its own, it does not come in at the feet of the previous generation but on its shoulders. But this is in part because of the loving outstretched arms that put it there. The progression of cycles comes from one generation helping the next generation. It comes from the loving outstretched arms of the Buddhas—and those who work for them—who view every human being as eternal and who teach that every single one of us draws from his source of experience on that “Atlantean monad” that we all have in common stretching back millions of years. As the 6th Root-Race begins to come into its own, we must greet the future generations with the same internal eternalness that greeted us.

 

The Shared Responsibility of Overlapping Cycles

Gautama Buddha took over the shared responsibility for the 5th Root-Race from his 4th Root-Race predecessor. The 4th Root-Race Buddha passed the torch of brotherhood to his successor near the middle point of the 4th Sub-Race in the 5th Root-Race. As successor, Gautama Buddha assumed leadership of the civilizations of his time. These civilizations included Family, National and Tribal Races that were smaller subdivisions within the 4th Sub-Race. For example, each Sub-Race is divided into seven Family Races. Each Family Race is divided into seven National Races and each National Race is divided into seven Tribal Races.  The length of each of these minor cycles varies dramatically based on its particular relation to the larger cycle and due to the fact that the Universe is vibrantly alive as opposed to purely mechanistic. Using G. de Purucker’s extremely generalized seven-fold division, a Tribal Race lasts approximately 3,700 years, a National Race lasts approximately 25,920 years, a Family Race lasts approximately 181,500 years, and a Sub-Race lasts approximately 1,270,000 years.  (ST 38, FU 252) G. de Purucker provided this generalized outline because he recognized that H.P. Blavatsky’s teachings on the sub-cycles of the Root-Races as given in The Secret Doctrine had “not been in all respects properly understood.”  (ST 484) The present exploration into technical theosophy seeks to further understand these smaller overlapping cycles of the 3rd and 4th Sub-Races within the 5th Root-Race leading up to the transfer of shared responsibility from the 4th Root-Race Buddha to Gautama Buddha as the first 5th Root-Race Buddha around 560 B.C.

In examining H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, theosophical students have expressed uncertainty about the meaning of her passage, “Now our Fifth Root-Race has already been in existence—as a race sui generis and quite free from its parent stem—about 1,000,000 years.” (SD 2-435) The confusion around this passage has arisen because of the assumption that its timescale applies to an entire Root-Race. (FU 302) On closer examination, the passage may well apply to a single Sub-Race within the 5th Root-Race as opposed to the Root-Race itself. It is in the 3rd Sub-Race that the 5th Root-Race became sui generis and quite free from its parent stem about 1,000,000 years ago. In her Collected Writings, H.P. Blavatsky stated that the “Aryan Hindu is the last offshoot of the first sub-race of the fifth Root-race which is now the dominant one.” (CW 12-382) Since each Sub-Race consists of seven Family Races, the last offshoot of the 1st Sub-Race was its 7th Family Race. But this 7th Family Race actually thrived, based on H.P. Blavatsky’s explanation for the closing of cycles, at the beginning of the 3rd Sub-Race. (CW 14-81) Therefore, the Aryan Hindu is a 3rd Sub-Race people but heavily mixed with the 1st and 2nd Sub-Races. H.P. Blavatsky felt uncomfortable labelling the entire 5th Root-Race as Aryan since the first two Sub-Races were predominantly Mongolo-Turanian, but she did so because it was in this 3rd Sub-Race that the 5th Root-Race became distinct from the 4th Root-Race. (SD 2-434) When the Dhyani-Chohans descended to assist the fledgling Aryan Sub-Race, they matured the 3rd Sub-Race to the point where it could settle and harden into the 4th Sub-Race. (SD 1-159, 2-436)

In this passage from The Secret Doctrine on the Aryan Hindus of the 5th Root-Race, H.P. Blavatsky, for simplicity’s sake, enumerated each one of the five Family Races of the 3rd Sub-Race—during these past 1,000,000 years—as lasting approximately 210,000 years each. This meant that its 5th Family Race was about 160,000 years old and its 6th Family Race was just beginning.  As such, it was in this early 6th Family Race of the 3rd Sub-Race—living alongside the up and coming 4th Sub-Race—when Gautama Buddha dropped the seeds of the 6th Root-Race.  In her communication with A.P. Sinnett, she remarked that the Hindus were “almost ready for the evolution of their sixth race units” while the Europeans had “yet to whistle for them” and “must thank her stars for evoluting even occasionally Hindu like spiritual and beautiful characters.” (BL 238) H.P. Blavatsky’s comments to Mohini Chatterji on his book, Man: Fragments of Forgotten History, expressed this evolutionary phase as the “fifth Sub-race of the first Root-race in this our World period.” (BL 258) Clearly not one anxious to tell the whole story her explanation served as an appropriate blind for the time: 1) “our World period” corresponded to the last one million years of the 5th Root-Race 2) “first Root-race” corresponded to the last Family Race of the 1st Sub-Race from which the 3rd Sub-Race became quite free of its parent stem 3) “fifth Sub-race” corresponded to the 5th Family Race of the 3rd Sub-Race.

When the 3rd Sub-Race reached its greatest “physical point of evolution” some 270,000 to 100,000 years ago (more or less, perhaps) spanning its two middle points of the 4th Family Race during the many stages of the Daitya island sinkings, the 4th Sub-Race distinctly arrived on the world stage. (BL 238) H.P. Blavatsky, in her veiled way, outlined its arrival over the “last three family races of the fourth Sub-race of the Fifth Root-race.” (SD 2-433) While the 2nd and 3rd Sub-Races were the builders of dolmens and menhirs as they migrated across Eurasia, the 4th Sub-Race, nearing the “acme of materiality” of the 5th Root-Race, engaged in massive pyramid building as they migrated, in part, from the Indian Ocean to Africa, Egypt and Europe. (SD 1-610, 2-750) G. de Purucker described the successive waves of migration of these early Family Races of the 4th Sub-Race—often referred to as Eastern Aethiopians—that culminated in the construction of the Egyptian pyramids between 150,000 and 75,000 years ago. (ST 540-541, IS 1-525) As for H.P. Blavatsky, she summed up this evolutionary transformation from the 3rd Sub-Race to the 4th Sub-Race—in all its sui generis pyramid building glory—in the various “Glacial Periods and subsequent Deluges” from 850,000 to 100,000 years ago. (SD 2-141) When she drew the distinction between the “Western Aryans”—some of who had migrated out of the Atlanto-Aryan Daitya islands—and their “Eastern brethren of the Fifth Race,” she hinted at the growing independence of the 4th Sub-Race and its ultimate split from the 3rd Sub-Race. (SD 1-644, CW 5-170) Mahatma K.H. had previously alluded to this split by distinguishing between the “first sub-race of the fifth root Race” who were the “Aryan Asiatics” and the “last sub-race of the fifth—yourselves the white conquerors.” (ML 154) It must be noted, however, that these so-called “white conquerors” of the 4th Sub-Race started out as a “colony of dark-skinned Aryans” from Southern India who headed northwards through Egypt into Europe while more “fair Brahmins” migrated southwards to meet them. (IS 2-435, SD 2-768, CW 13-331)

In regard to the 4th Sub-Race, G. de Purucker explained that we are “nearing” its middle point; we have “almost reached” the middle point of the “great Fourth or Primary Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. (TF 4-83) Since the initial middle point is the 4th Family Race, this indicates that we are currently in the 3rd and 4th Family Races. As for the 3rd Family Race, it seems we have already reached the 4th European National Race in its 5th Germanic Tribal Race. (ST 38-39) This means we have passed the first middle point of the 4th European National Race in its 4th Tribal Race and are currently at the second middle point in its sui generis 5th Tribal Race that produces the 6th Tribal Race as well as the grander 5th National Race concentrated in the Americas. (SD 2-444) H.P. Blavatsky wrote on this upward arc in the 5th Tribal Race when she described the Europeans as “just emerging from the very bottom of a new cycle and progressing upwards.” (CW 2-312) When G. de Purucker spoke of this 4th European National Race and 5th Tribal Race, he could not have been addressing the 4th Family Race because we have not passed the middle point of the 4th Sub-Race. Actually, we have just reached the 4th Family Race of the 4th Sub-Race. As for the 4th Family Race, it is already in its beginning stages because the seeds of the 5th Sub-Race have been sown. (DIA 2-134) In addition, the seeds of the 6th Root-Race—which are dropped during the 4th Sub-Race—have flourished into “millions of scattered individuals, beginning feebly to differentiate into the Sixth Root-Race qualities.” (ST 639) Joseph Fussell, the Secretary-General to G. de Purucker, confirmed, “We are not yet at the mid-point of the Fifth sub-race, but only of our sub-race which, as clearly shown elsewhere by H.P.B in The Secret Doctrine, is the mid-point of a family race.” (TF 10-368) In The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky had written, “We are in the midpoint of our sub-race of the Fifth Root Race.” (SD 1-610) To clarify, the “midpoint of our sub-race” meant the 4th Family Race of the 4th Sub-Race. For her, this 4th Family Race (referred to by her as the “fourth sub-race”) witnessed “the destruction of the last remnant of the Atlanteans—the Aryo-Atlanteans in the last island of Atlantis, namely, some 11,000 years ago.” (SD 2-433)

This 4th Family Race flowered from the first and second middle points of the 3rd Family Race in its 4th European National Race.  When did this take place? G. de Purucker affirmed that the 4th National Race became sui generis from the previous 3rd National Race about 9,000 years ago and therefore the first middle point was prior to that date—thereby confirming that the 4th Family Race as well as the 4th National Race of the 3rd Family Race witnessed the destruction of the Atlanteans several thousand years earlier. (ST 36) This is why H.P. Blavatsky used the term “fourth sub-race” in The Secret Doctrine in reference to the sinking of Poseidonis; two different sub-cycles of significantly different lengths were both in their fourth stage of development. In Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky delineated this progression from the 3rd National Race to the 4th National Race by drawing attention to Baron Bunsen’s 21,000 year cycle from Egypt’s Place in Universal History. (IS 2-366) She had previously asserted in Isis Unveiled “the beds of the ocean are displaced” at the “end of every decimillennium and about one neros [Ed. approximately 10,500 years]” when there is a “semi-universal deluge.” (IS 1-31) Therefore, using Bunsen’s model, the high point of the cycle began 19,760 B.C. and the low point of the cycle occurred in 9,260 B.C. This low point broadly corresponded to the small kali-yuga, or the 4th Tribal Race in this case, of the 3rd National Race that gave birth to the 4th National Race. Several thousand years later the 4th National Race became sui generis, but the Poseidonis disaster some 11,000 to 13,000 years ago took place slightly before since old lands must sink and new ones appear before the new race can migrate. (SD 2-445)

Thus, the time was ripe—in the 4th Family Race of the 4th Sub-Race—for Gautama Buddha to assume the shared responsibility for the 5th Root-Race from the 4th Root-Race Buddha. But one final monumental evolutionary shift had to occur first. The 5th Root-Race had to enter its larger Kali-Yuga. It entered its Kali-Yuga on the “18th of February, 3,102 years before the Christian era, at midnight, on the meridian of Ujjaini at the death of Krishna.” (CW 5-58) With the 4th Sub-Race and the 5th Root-Race beginning the descent into their respective times of trial, the appearance of Gautama Buddha as the first 5th Root-Race Buddha was timely in initiating the much-needed beginning of the 6th Root-Race. (FS 163, SD 1-377, CW 2-312) On the one hand, those 6th Root-Race seeds were dropped into the 6th Family Race of the 3rd Sub-Race. On the other hand, those seeds were dropped into an even smaller cycle of the 6th Tribal Race that had just emerged from the 5th Tribal Race—being near its end—of the 4th European National Race in the 4th Sub-Race. (ST 39) Since a Tribal Race is such a small cycle, this is why H.P. Blavatsky had written to A.P. Sinnett—in an effort to quell his sense of nineteenth-century English superiority—that the Europeans had to “thank her stars” for even occasionally evoluting a “sixth race” unit. (BL 238) Joined hand in hand, all of us, as generational offshoots or karmic participants in the overlapping cycles of the 3rd and 4th Sub-Races in the 5th Root-Race, share the responsibility of successfully giving birth to the 6th Root-Race.

 

Recent Cycles and the New Age

When the wave of the distinct sui generis 4th National Race washed into the Eurasian continent from many directions some 9,000 years ago, it carried in its bosom the buddhic force from the highlands of Central Asia. The time of the descent of the Buddha neared. In 3,102 B.C., the cycle of Krishna ended—his 126-year lifespan approximating the 1,270,000 years of a Sub-Race. The 8th Avatar of Vishnu who had ruled over the five Family Races of the 3rd Sub-Race was figuratively dead; the 9th Avatar of Vishnu, or Gautama Buddha, was about to assume power. (IS 2-274) The buddhic force rolled out from Central Asia into “India and towards Europe and Northern Africa” as the 4th National Race dropped into its own kali-yuga around 500 B.C. (CW 14-270) Just at the moment that the buddhic force changed directions “backward to its old home and birthplace,” the Buddha incarnated to imprint his own 6th Round nature as the seed of the 6th Root-Race within the fabric of 5th Root-Race humanity. (CW 14-270)  In closing this exploration into technical theosophy and cycles, it is necessary to bring the current investigation up to the present date by investigating the recent cycles leading into the New Age overseen by the Buddha.

The birth of the Buddha was presaged by a minor cataclysm around 1600 B.C., approximately 10,500 years after the sinking of Poseidonis. The explosion of Thera (the Aegean Sea volcano on the Cyclades islands) did not just devastate the island of Santorini but completely altered the course of European culture and migration. Thera was the largest volcanic eruption on record in the last 10,000 years and it signalled a close—though not fully effected until 1240 A.D. according to Baron Bunsen’s model—to those 3rd National Race civilizations that had previously sought refuge in the Mediterranean. (IS 2-366) It also signalled the impending split of the 4th National Race in its 4th Tribal Race. The 5th Tribal Race, a Germanic continental people as opposed to an island nation, spread across Europe and dominated the new landscape. (DIA 2-218) Soon after, many of these 5th Tribal Race peoples left Europe to further establish the 5th National Race in the Americas—truly a geographical as well as a cultural split.

As the 5th Germanic Tribal Race rose to prominence, the early history of the 3rd and 4th National Races faded into the background as Celtic and Mediterranean folklore. G. de Purucker confessed that “only the last of these minor sub-races of the Root-Race is known to us, the Germanic.” (ST 21) H.P. Blavatsky alluded to this 5th Germanic Tribal Race in The Secret Doctrine when she confided that “History—or what is called history—does not go back further than the fantastic origins of our fifth sub-race, a ‘few thousands’ of years.” (SD 2-351) This 5th Tribal Race possessed its own cyclical history, most probably originating sometime around the collapse of Santorini and progressing towards its own middle point with the eruption of Vesuvius and the burying of Pomeii in 79 A.D. The Dark Ages followed with a “cycle of spiritual barrenness” that “began to come to pass about the time of the beginning of the Christian era.” (QU 15) The 5th Tribal Race had reached its first middle point and entered its own short kali-yuga. The 4th National Race had previously entered its much longer kali-yuga with the destruction of Santorini, but with the close of the 3rd National Race around 1240 A.D. it began its rise in the higher aspects of its 5th Tribal Race. G. de Purucker wrote about the bottom points of the 5th Tribal Race and the 4th National Race in slightly different ways but, in general, the “lowest point” was “reached about the time when Christopher Columbus is stated to have made his Atlantic journey.” (DIA 2-134, FS 164, ST 702) For him, the cycle we “are now entering upon, or have been entering upon, is a rising one.” (DIA 2-135) With the conclusion of downward descent some “three or four hundred years ago,” the 4th National Race began its ascent into the 5th National Race and the 5th Tribal Race began its ascent into the 6th Tribal Race. (QU 15) H.P. Blavatsky held the same position, “the same law of descent into materiality and re-ascent into spirituality asserted itself during the Christian era, the reaction having stopped only just now, in our own special sub-race.” (SD 1-417) For her, an “era of disenchantment and rebuilding” had already begun. (IS 1-38) Mahatma K.H. explained to A.P. Sinnett that the “Western sub-race” as a “small cycle” was “running on to its apex” while the greater cycle was “beginning on its downward course”—an obvious reference to the 4th European National Race in its ascent through the 5th and 6th Tribal Races within the broader descent of the 5th Root-Race. (ML 149) Like H.P. Blavatsky and G. de Purucker, Mahatma K.H. described the “curious rush” running to its apex in the recent Tribal Races in terms of a few “dozens of centuries.” (ML 149, 150)

With the so-called discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 A.D., it became the responsibility of the “mankind” of the New World to “sow the seeds for a forthcoming, grander, and far more glorious Race than any of those we know of at present.” (SD 2-446) While this “glorious Race” as the 6th Root-Race is still far off in the future, William Judge could not help noticing that it seemed “as if some power, deliberately planning, had selected North and South America for the place where a new primary root-race should be begun.” (ECH 2- 21) On a small scale leading up to this larger event, a portion of the 6th Tribal Race of the 4th National Race split off from its European counterpart and planted the 6th Root-Race seeds in the soil of the New World. At the same time, these 6th Tribal Race seeds were imbedded in the vaster 5th National Race cycle that was nearing its own sui generis point as it grew out of the closing 5th Tribal Race of the 4th National Race. It was the combination of these two cycles that H.P. Blavatsky wrote about in her passage on American exceptionalism: “Thus the Americans have become in only three centuries a ‘primary race,’ pro tem., before becoming a race apart, and strongly separated from all other now existing races. They are, in short, the germs of the Sixth sub-race, and in some few hundred years more, will become most decidedly the pioneers of that race which must succeed to the present European, or fifth sub-race, in all its new characteristics.” (SD 2-444, 445) H.P. Blavatsky’s use of the term “Sixth sub-race” applied to many different cycles, not just one. First, the 6th Tribal Race will succeed the present 5th Germanic Tribal Race; therefore, the “Sixth sub-race” corresponds to this small cyclical counterpart. Second, the 6th Tribal Race is the germ of the 6th Sub-Race and the 6th Root-Race; therefore, the “Sixth sub-race” can in a very loose way refer to these two bigger cycles—especially in the Americas. (FS 165) Third, as an intermediate approach, the “Sixth sub-race” can also refer to those seeds of the 6th National Race in the earliest forerunners of the 5th National Race. While G. de Purucker emphasized this third case, H.P. Blavatsky’s comment on the “germs of the Sixth sub-race” can refer to a Tribal Race, a National Race, a Sub-Race, and even a Root-Race. (ST 39) She elucidated this method of explanation by acknowledging that a “Yuga” may refer to a “Root-Race, and often a Sub-Race.” (SD 2-147) By the italicized term “Sub-Race,” she implied that all the Family Races, National Races and Tribal Races that blended together in overlapping cycles could be spoken of interchangeably. Gautama Buddha generated the impulse to carry us into the 6th Root-Race in all these minor sub-cycles that intersected with the influence of his birth in the 4th Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race.

As to the future, it is Gautama Buddha’s responsibility to support the races in these minor sub-cycles as they undergo a successive series of cataclysms leading up to the massive cataclysm that splits the 5th Root-Race.  H.P. Blavatsky hinted at the next major cataclysm—a more “terrible and universal geological convulsion” as opposed to the minor cataclysm of Thera—around 16,000 years from now when large portions of Europe will disappear under the waves of the ocean. (SD 2-330, CW 3-150) Although G. de Purucker’s language is veiled on the timeline, the 4th European National Race will have evoluted its 6th and 7th Tribal Races and the 5th National Race will have descended into its kali-yuga to begin the 6th National Race. (FS 164) While this first series of cataclysms will destroy Europe, these National and Tribal Races will survive and prosper in the Americas. But as the 4th Sub-Race drops fully into its 4th Family Race, there will be a second series of cataclysms that will “still later” destroy “the whole Aryan race (and thus affect both Americas).” (SD 2-445, ECH 2-21) Opinion differs as to how closely this first series and second series of cataclysms overlap. G. de Purucker’s enigmatic statement that it will be “between sixteen thousand and twenty thousand years yet before the Racial Cataclysm will ensue which will cut our Fifth Root-Race in two” leaves room for interpretation. (FU 239) The word “ensue” simply means, “to follow in sequential order.” It does not imply that the two series of cataclysms will happen concurrently. Whether the cutting of the 5th Root-Race is in 16,000 years or 160,000 years, what is clear is that the 6th Root-Race under the initial guidance of Gautama Buddha “will be said to be definitely born” in “some three hundred thousand years” while the Aryan 5th Root-Race will be ending its Kali-Yuga. (ST 640) H.P. Blavatsky described it this way: “The Fifth will overlap the Sixth Race for many hundreds of millenniums, changing with it slower than its new successor, still changing in stature, general physique, and mentality, just as the Fourth overlapped our Aryan race, and the Third had overlapped the Atlanteans.” (SD 2-445)

Gautama Buddha’s tenure over the 5th Root-Race will continue until the 6th Sub-Race of the 5th Root-Race. Then it will be time for the 9th Avatar of Vishnu to pass the reins of shared responsibility to the 10th Avatar, the Kalki-Avatar, or Maitreya Buddha. (ST 650) This transition will happen millions of years hence, “When Maitree Buddha comes, then our present world will be destroyed; and a new and a better one will replace it.” (IS 2-275) In The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky added, “Maitreya is the secret name of the Fifth Buddha, and the Kalki Avatar of the Brahmins—the last Messiah who will come at the culmination of the Great Cycle.” (SD 1-384) In the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, this Kalki-Avatar, or the second Buddha of the 5th Root-Race, is the “King Messiah” or the “fifth emanation” in the Talmud. (IS 2-256) Viewing the cycles on the large scale, this is why both “Jesus and St. John the Baptist preached the end of the Age.” (IS 2-144) But there were new ages in all sorts of different cycles to which they preached as well. Jesus, as an Avatara and a Messenger in the smaller 5th Tribal Race that transitioned into the sign of Pisces in 255 B.C. within the 25,920 year Sidereal cycle, was assigned the symbol of “the Fish”—a symbol that identified him with the two Buddhas in the larger 5th Root-Race cycle as well.  (CW 8-174, IS 2-256, FU 274) Gautama Buddha gave his “human soul” to the “boy-child” in Palestine to directly impress the 5th Tribal Race with an ennobling 6th Root-Race influence. (DIA 2-211)  H.P. Blavatsky enumerated these cycles in relation to technical theosophy in her elaborate Commentary on the Pistis Sophia, a main text from the Gnostic tradition of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. (CW 13-1) But as for the closing of our “present cycle” in the 5th Tribal Race with the “great Sidereal year” transitioning from Pisces to Aquarius “between the years 1897 and 1898”—a shift that was accompanied by its own Avataric Messenger infilled with the “Buddhic Splendor” of her “Master”—H.P. Blavatsky reminded us that the success or failure of the New Age depends on the “few Theosophists” who, “true to their colours,” still “fight the battle.” (CW 8-174, 11-202, TP 40-475, 476, OC 136, 142) What are we fighting for? Ironically, we are fighting for the New Age to “silently come into existence” unnoticed until one day this New Age, having been formed and shaped gradually by the thoughts of all those humanities in the smallest sub-cycles of the Tribal Races that widen to influence the National Races and to include the Family Races and finally the Sub-Races, will usher in the mankind of a new Root-Race that “will awake to find themselves in a majority.” (SD 2-445)

In review, this presentation of technical theosophy has been offered as a response to G. de Purucker’s challenge to raise “honest objections” in “our own” minds that we ourselves “must solve” in relation to the very complicated subject of cycles. (FU 289) For example, H.P. Blavatsky often subdivided a Sidereal cycle of 25,920 years by 12 instead of 7. Therefore, the general length of a Tribal Race can be given as 2,160 years as opposed to G. de Purucker’s 3,700 years. Both are correct, but the presentation varies depending on which subdivision is used. In addition, H.P. Blavatsky preferred to explain a Sidereal cycle in terms of its core 21,000 years (per Baron Bunsen’s model) without its dawn and twilight. When the dawn and twilight is added, a re-examination of the subdivisions of a Sidereal cycle must be proffered. But these are issues for another time. What has been presented here are some new ways to think about the cycles in a manner that opens up options that were not previously part of the theosophical dialogue.

 

Sources:

 

BL = Barker, A.T., comp. The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett.

Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1973.

 

CW = Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings: Vol. 2,3,5,6,8,11,12,13,14

                Vol. 2. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1967.

                Vol. 3. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1968.

Vol. 5. Los Angeles: The Philosophical Research Society, Inc., 1950.

Vol. 6. Los Angeles: Blavatsky Writings Publication Fund, 1954.

Vol. 8. Adyar: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1960.

Vol. 11. Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973.

Vol. 12. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1980.

Vol. 13. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1982.

Vol. 14. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1985.

 

DIA = Purucker, Gottfried de. The Dialogues of G de Purucker. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1948.

 

EC = Judge, William Q. Echoes from the Orient. Point Loma: The

Theosophical Publishing Company, 1906.

 

ECH = Judge, William Quan. Echoes of the Orient. Vol. 2. San Diego: Point

Loma Publications, Inc., 1980.

 

FS = Purucker, Gottfried de. Fountain-Source of Occultism. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1974.

 

FU = Purucker, Gottfried de. Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy.

Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1947.

 

IS = Blavatsky, H.P. Isis Unveiled. Pasadena: Theosophical University Press,

 

ML = Barker, A.T., comp. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1975.

 

OC = Judge, William Q. The Ocean of Theosophy. Pasadena: Theosophical

University Press, 1973.

 

QU = Purucker, Gottfried de. Questions We All Ask. No.15. January 7, 1930.

 

SD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine. Pasadena: Theosophical

University Press, 1999.

 

ST = Purucker, Gottfried de. Studies in Occult Philosophy. Pasadena:

Theosophical University Press, 1973.

 

TF4 = Purucker, Gottfried de. “Question 120.” The Theosophical Forum. Vol.

4, #3. Point Loma: The Theosophical Society, November 15,1932.

 

TF10 = Fussell, J.H. “Our Present Sub-Race.” The Theosophical Forum. Vol.

10, #5. Point Loma: Theosophical University Press, May 1937.

 

TP = Purucker, Gottfried de. “The Esoteric H.P.B.” The Theosophical Path.

Vol. 40, #6. Point Loma: Theosophical University Press,

December 1931.

 

Should you wish to contact the author, please email:

andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1: Music and Healing

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The Ancient World:

 

Traditional peoples all over the world used music in the form of incantations, songs, rhythms and sounds to ward off evil spirits, absolve sins, or placate the Gods. The ancient Egyptians called music ‘the physic of the soul’ and had specially trained initiate priest/physicians who specialized in the use of music in curing especially nervous disorders. The ancient Persians used the music of the lute to cure many illnesses and the Hebrews used it to cure nervous diseases, the most famous example being David soothing the despondency of King Saul with his lyre.

 

Ancient Greece and Rome:

 

The Greeks investigated and used music scientifically. Homer recommended it to avoid negative emotions, Pythagoras prescribed musical remedies for a variety of physical disorders and Plato linked music to the future welfare of whole nations, Aristotle believed music to be an emotional catharsis and his most famous student, Alexander the Great, used music to motivate his troops before, and calm them after battle. The Romans learned from the Greeks and statesmen such as Cicero and Seneca believed that music affected the whole basis of society, and doctors, such as Celsus, used music extensively in their treatments and had a profound effect on European medicine down to the Middle Ages.

 

The Middle Ages and Renaissance:

 

Music therapy largely disappeared in the Dark Ages but surfaced spectacularly in the Middle Ages where it was the only remedy for the strange mass hysteria or ‘dancing mania’ which swept Europe following the Plague in 1374.From the Renaissance onwards, a growing number of physicians became interested in the healing properties of music. Dr Robert Burtin was a leading physician who wrote about the use of music for healing melancholia (depression). Music was subsequently used to treat the depressions suffered by Phillip V of Spain, George III of England, and King Ludwig of Bavaria.

 

The 18th and 19th Century:

 

In the 1700s efforts began to scientifically investigate the precise effects of music on the human body which have continued down to the present day. Dr Pargeter, towards the end of the 18th century, was one of the first physicians to express the belief that a scientific musical knowledge was required to control its therapeutic use. In 1846 Dr Hector Chomat wrote a treatise on ‘The Influence of Music in Preventing and Treating Illnesses’. These efforts formed a pervasive influence on the rediscovery of music as a therapy in the 20th century ongoing in the 21st century where music therapy is an established part of modern medicine and rehabilitation.

 

 

 

Music Therapy in the Modern Era:

 

One of the first hospital uses of musical therapy was to strengthen the morale of wounded and especially ‘shell-shocked’ veterans of World-War II. These therapeutic uses were based on laboratory studies in the 1930s and speculation in the early part of the 20th century on the healing properties of music. In the 1940s, music therapy was included in the curriculum of the University of Kansas and Michigan State University. Since then music therapy is routinely applied to an enormous range of disorders. Applications range from encouraging people to exercise, physiotherapy, and especially in psychiatric treatments including encouraging patients to re-establish communication, encouraging self-confidence, socialization, and self-worth training in severely withdrawn patients and mentally retarded people. Recently in Australia and elsewhere in the world, music has been used to activate memory in elderly people suffering dementia.  Brisbane radio station 4MBS ‘Silver Memories’ was founded in 2008 playing popular music from the 1920s-1950s to help activate memory in older people, particularly those living in care institutions.

 

Music Therapy to Reduce Anxiety:

 

Since the 1960s research has concentrated on the role of music in reducing anxiety. These experiments have led to the uses of soothing background music in hospitals, dentists’ clinics, delivery rooms, and of course, industrial and commercial applications such as in shopping centres and factories. Studies show that music can result in reducing the amount of pain medication required for some cancer patients (Canada), in delivery rooms  (USA), and that symphonic music especially reduced painful neurological symptoms (Poland),

 

Part 2: Music and Other Forms of Life

 

Music and Plants: Early Research by Dr JC Bose in India:

 

One of the earliest pioneers in this area of investigation was Dr JC Bose of Calcutta, India. His book, Responses in the Living and Non-Living (1902), showed that fundamental properties of animal life were shared by plants and even minerals. He established institutes at Calcutta and Darjeeling for the detailed study of consciousness in plants no doubt based on his knowledge of Hindu philosophy.

In the 1950s his work was carried on by Dr TCN Singh of Annamalai University in Chennai with emphasis on increasing crop yields with the use of traditional Indian music. Dr Singh discovered that the hydrilla, a water plant, reacted to Indian ragas played on violin, flute and vina. Further experiments with various pitches of sound caused plants to greatly increase their yields. From 1960 to 1963 Dr Singh conducted a series of remarkable experiments in rice fields around Chennai  and in Pondicherry increasing yields from 25% to 60% when exposed to Indian ‘ragas’. Around the world this research continued in the 1960s and 1970s with mixed results. Plants responded to most kinds of music or sound, to magnetic and electrical fields or current, all of which favoured growth under certain conditions. It was discovered that jazz and classical music in general gave better results than hard rock music, which produced an adverse effect.

 

Canadian and American Experiments Boosting Crop Yields with Music:

 

These Indian experiments were repeated with similar success by Canadian researchers using Bach violin sonatas which stimulated a 66% greater harvest in a test plot of wheat.

In the late 1960s American botanists continued this work first using Gershwin’s music and then continuous sounds at various frequencies to increase crop yields and protect crops from insect damage. Other researchers followed similar lines of enquiry: “Clive Backster used a polygraph (lie-detector) to test plants, attaching electrodes to the leaves. By recording electrical impulses he found plants to be extremely sensitive to his thoughts, particularly thoughts that threatened their well-being. Backster also observed a reaction in a plant when even the smallest cells were killed near it. He noted that plants have a kind of memory, reacting to someone who earlier had done harm to another plant nearby: in a line-up of anonymous people, the plant could pick out the one who had performed the act! Marcel Vogel, a contemporary, performed most of Backster’s experiments successfully. He came to an interesting conclusion: that there is a life-force, a cosmic energy surrounding all living things, and shared by all the kingdoms of life including us humans. He said: ‘this oneness is what makes possible a mutual sensitivity allowing plant and man not only to intercommunicate, but to record these communications via the plant on a recording chart.’ – The Secret Life of Plants, p.24.” (quoted from John Van Mater Jnr. “Our intelligent companions, the Plants” in Sunrise April/May 1987, page 133)

 

Popular Books on Music and Plants:

 

Inevitably, all this scientific work caught the popular imagination largely spurred on by Dorothy Retallack’s vastly popular book, The Sound of Music and Plants, and Peter Tompkin’s classic, The Secret Life of Plants,  both published 1973 followed up with further research such as Stephen Buhrer’s, Secret Teachings of Plants, in 2004.

Dorothy Retallack showed that plant growth was promoted by certain types of Western classical and traditional Indian music and retarded by heavy-metal rock music. This finding sparked a wave of controversy over the effect of rock music on a whole generation of younger people and had gardeners around the world playing music to their plants. As indicated, Backster, Tompkins, and others provided evidence that a type of consciousness exists in plants.

 

Music Made Visible:

 

Many other researchers have since the 1960s followed these pioneers. Outstanding among them was Dr Hans Jenny who investigated the effects of vibration on living things – what he called Cymatics.

Part of this work involved high-speed photography of vibrations including music producing beautiful patterns in sand, fluids, and fine iron filings – including the Hindu chant ‘Om’ which produces a circle filled with concentric squares or triangles such as is used in many of the world’s religions.

Cymatics was followed up by the founder of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies(CAVS) at MIT, György Kepes. His work in this area included an acoustically vibrated piece of sheet metal in which small holes had been drilled in a grid. Small flames of gas burned through these holes and thermodynamic patterns were made visible by this setup.

Photographer Alexander Lauterwasser has also captured imagery of water surfaces set into motion by sound sources ranging from sine waves to music by Beethoven,  Karlheinz Stockhausen, and overtone singing.

 

Music and Education: MATB – Music and the Brain:

 

There are many ways in which ancient ideas about music are being applied to education today. One exciting project that reflects Plato’s ideas on the importance of music in the education of young people is inspired by neurological research linking music and cognitive development.

Since the 1990s a program called Music and the Brain (MATB) has been introduced at many schools in the USA. MATB is the experience of what these studies are telling us – when children receive sequential music instruction, it can impact their proficiency in language, reading, math and cognition. The MATB program is granted to qualifying public schools and includes invaluable teacher training, piano books, keyboards, recordings and rhythm cards for successful classroom piano study.  With participating schools throughout N.Y.C., New Orleans, Ferguson (MO) and beyond, more than 45,000 students receive Music and the Brain lessons each year.  Since 1997, more than 275 schools and 400,000 students have benefitted from Music and the Brain training, curriculum and keyboards. More information is available at: http://www.musicandthebrain.org/

 

Harmonious Tuning at 432 Hz:

 

Recently many musicians around the world, who are concerned about the inner effects of music on audiences, have revived what they say is the ancient practice of tuning musical instruments to 432 Hz. This is believed to be the natural vibration of living cells and therefore is healthier than the normal tuning at 440Mz. Such researchers claim that in ancient China at various times the central government authorities enforced the tuning of instruments in this way lest improper vibrations set off conflict between various parts of their kingdom attuned to different musical vibrations. In ancient Greece too we have seen that Plato especially emphasized the importance of harmonious music, played at the healthiest level of vibrations, especially for young people, lest social disharmony and upheaval be encouraged amongst the general populace. An interesting video series on the tuning of instruments to 432 Hz, covering all the issues of this complex subject is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e9-P_zbjbY

This is currently a highly controversial debate, but it causes us to ponder on the effects of disharmonious music, played at high volume, featuring vibrations which may be unhealthy, upon today’s mass audiences for some types of popular music.

 

Part 3: Hidden Aspects of Modern Popular Music.

 

Popular music, especially rock music, has a dominating influence on the lives and aspirations of millions of young people all over the world today. Whatever its shade – rock, rap, hip-hop, dance, techno, etc. – pop music represents the modern folk music indicating, as music of the people has always done throughout the ages, the emotions, frustrations, and aspirations of ordinary people.

 

Rock is based on Afro-American blues music and therefore is the music of dance, good times, love and physical desire – and is therefore  a limited medium for expressing mystical or spiritual ideas. This is because the rhythms of rock’s ancestors expressed physical vitality and were designed to excite the desire nature.  As the majority of mankind’s consciousness is currently at the level of Desire Mind (Kama/Manas) this accounts for the enormous popularity of rock and rhythm-based music with today’s mass audience.

 

Some rock performers have expressed mystical ideas in their music, pre-eminently, British rock band: The Moody Blues, Greek band Aphrodite’s Child, Led Zeppelin (Stairway to Heaven), Yes (Close to the Edge), Alan Parsons Project (Tales of Mystery and Imagination). Many rock bands have been influenced specifically by Eastern mystical ideas including The Beatles (especially the late George Harrison), Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, Carlos Santana, Pete Townshend of The Who. Others reflect their own journeys of self-discovery, eg. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen (especially his songs – ‘Who by Fire’, ‘If It Be Your Will’, ‘Hallelujah’, and many others), David Bowie (especially the Ziggy Stardust period).

 

Many rock bands are concerned with brotherhood, equity, and anti-war themes, eg. The Hollies, Genesis, Pink Floyd, even Black Sabbath and AC/DC have powerful anti-war themes in their repertoire!

 

New Age and Meditation Music:

 

After the effects of music on plants became better known, people became more concerned about the effects of popular music on the bodies and mental state of young people. This engendered a new form of ancient esoteric music known as ‘New Age’ or ‘Meditative Music’.

 

This music is notable for its lack of rhythm, use of natural sounds, quiet melodic strains, and its attempt to create an atmosphere conducive to reflection, relaxation, and spiritual aspiration. Some new esoteric music, like Prima Sounds, attempts to find sympathetic vibrations with the various ‘chakras’ or energy centres in the body to promote the flow of balanced energies in the body and create an environment for deep meditation. Much of this music is based on acquaintance with esoteric aspects of music, on the study of Eastern religions, yoga, meditation, and especially mantras from many different traditions.

 

Esoteric Music for the 21st Century:

 

Our lectures and discussions over the past few months have shown that ancient peoples the world over had a deep knowledge of the potent influence of music and vibration on the inner planes of being.

 

This esoteric science is only beginning to be understood with all our technical wizardry of the 21st century and is part of a gradual reawakening to the pervasive influence of the spiritual worlds on everyday life.

 

Once again, scientific orthodoxy lags behind and much of this research is not applied, for example, to enormously boost crop yields for the world’s starving peoples. In some instances the same research on vibrations may have been applied for destructive and military purposes.

 

The outstanding pioneers of the New Age are attempting to combine ancient wisdom with new technology in ways which will make for a better world into the future.

 

Please feel free to contact the author at: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

Readers of this article may also be interested in the following article by Terry Stefan: The surprising benefits of playing an instrument for people of all ages at: https://guitarsignal.com/guides/benefits-of-playing-the-guitar/

 

Ghosts: a decaying remanent of a real person:

Do ghosts actually exist? Yes, Theosophy teaches that ghosts certainly do exist. However, they are not the real person as a whole – even if they claim to be! They are rather a relic or remanent of the real person’s emotional and ‘astral’ energies decaying slowly in the Astral Light. The Astral Light is a normally invisible plane or world very close to the physical plane/world. Under some circumstances ordinary people can see into the astral light and there can be communication with the beings resident there..

Ghosts are always the remains of people who have died under circumstances of great stress and emotion. No one who has died happily leaves a ‘sinister’ ghost – although there are ‘apparitions’ which are the natural result of the disintegration process of a life ended under normal processes. The strength and persistence of a ghost seems to be proportional to the intensity of emotion at death.

A full explanation of Theosophical teachings on the various stages of the after-death journey is available on our website at: After Death –What? at: http://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-articles/after-death-what-by-andrew-rooke/

The natural decomposition process after physical death:

Normally following physical death, there is a slow dissolving of the astral body (linga-sarira) in the astral light. This is just part of the natural disintegration process and nothing to do with emotion. The resultant ghostly ‘apparition’ may sometimes be seen hovering over the grave.

Most societies recognize this and believe that ghosts remain in the vicinity of their bodies, especially if they have been improperly buried. It is therefore much better to cremate a body to free the life atoms to pursue their post-death journeys rather than waiting months or years for the body to slowly decay in the ground. Cremation is universally practiced wherever possible by Hindus.

OK, but what about the common experience of seeing visions of dead people at the moment of death or shortly after – the Doppelganger.

Visions of the dead: the Doppelganger and other harmless ghostly apparitions:

It is a common experience that just prior to departing completely from their earthly frame, a dying person may appear to loved ones to say farewell.

This is the Astral Double (‘Mayavi-Rupa’) of the dying person impressed with the thought to say farewell being so strong that it is attracted to their loved one. This species of phantom is commonly referred to by using the German word – Doppelganger.

Other Apparitions rather than sinister Ghosts:

  • The astral remanents of those who have died in close proximity to the person who sees them.
  • The ghosts of people who have died far away being a mixture of real ‘astral double’ and memories in the personal aura of the person viewing the ghost.
  • Fictitious ghosts: reflections of genuine ‘ shadows’ of the deceased person in the imagination of the perceiver.

OK, but what about genuine ghosts?

Genuine ghosts:

In theosophical terms a genuine ghost is a ‘kama-rupic shade’ which has a strong attachment to the physical plane. The strong physically-based desires, impulses, and appetites of these shades keep them bound to physical spheres which are congenial to them.

They pose a real danger to the psychological health of the living because they are ‘soulless’ as the higher soul qualities of the departed person have moved on to more spiritual inner realms of being. Also, they are in-filled with energies of a depraved and ignoble type. They comprise embodied emotions whose energies are heavy and dense.

Their bonds of attraction to the physical world slow down the dissipation process of the ‘kama-rupa’ in the lower reaches of the astral world. There are numerous examples of ghosts showing up in photographs as they are dense enough to record on film in the proper light whereas we cannot see them when the picture is taken.

Features of genuine ghosts:

Ghosts are attached to particular places associated with their deeds in life. Tragedy, love, or intense materiality binds them to the lower planes. Some move around soundlessly oblivious to the presence of frightened onlookers such as depicted in the film ‘The Others’. There are other types of ghosts that delight in frightening people sitting on the bed, producing ghostly lights, pungent odours, or various kinds of noises.

Poltergeists describes a species of ghosts responsible for loud noises and physical disturbances such as throwing things around a room. People who have seen genuine ghosts describe a Sudden Chill in the air. Whether seeing or merely feeling the presence of ghosts there is most often reported a sudden chill in the surroundings caused perhaps by a drain on the vitality of the living and perhaps an actual drop in temperature in the immediate vicinity of the ghost as shown in the film ‘The Sixth Sense’.

Haunting ghosts:

An intense desire at the moment of death keeps the ghost in a certain location. It has only one idea or purpose – such as justice for a murder, the desire to acquaint the world with the circumstances attending the tragedy, or strong attachment to material possessions – utterly ignoring everything else. It endlessly repeats the tragedy until someone has the courage to demand to know what it wants to tell us. When this is done, the information will be given and then the phantom will fade away.

This type of ghost will disappear with the destruction of the building, or change to the surroundings of the environment they have been haunting. Fire is supposed to be the best cleanser in such circumstances. Exorcism won’t work – only the playing out of the objective of the ghosts existence is effective.

Animal ghosts:

There are many stories of animal ghosts. Examples from the UK include: strange black frogs in the Scottish Highlands, the bizarre spirit of a witch appears in the form of a hare in Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire, and a spectre of a bear was said to cause the death by fright of a soldier guarding the crown-jewels in the Tower of London in 1815.

According to HP Blavatsky these spirits do not remain true to their animal nature and are more likely elemental spirits manifesting the traits of depraved human nature as spectre animals. ‘Elementals’ is a generalized term in Theosophy for all beings below the minerals of the scale of evolution.

‘Ghosts’ inhabiting animals: the curious case of the Tsavo Man-Eaters:

Theosophy teaches that there is a certain class of evil black magicians that regress in their evolution so that they can no longer inhabit the human form. They exist self-consciously in the astral light when out of incarnation in the physical world. They desperately seek incarnation in the physical world in animal or even plant forms. They inevitably sink into the spiritual hierarchy below the one in which we are incarnated as they are no longer fit to stay in our world. This world is known as the dreaded ‘Planet of Death’ in Theosophy. In animal or whatever form they are potentially very harmful to humanity.

Perhaps the Tsavo Man-Eaters are examples of this type of ‘animal ghost’. They were a pair of notorious ‘man-eating’ lions that terrorised the construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway in 1898. They killed 135 railway-workers until eventually shot by Col. John Henry Patterson in December 1898. According to local people, their hunting techniques and behaviour when being hunted themselves, was entirely unlike normal lions. They were reputed by some local people to be the returned spirits of evil ‘nganga’ or witch-doctors.

There are many such other legends in Europe of ‘Were-Wolves’ and Haunted Forests which may be the same phenomena and the subject of numerous Hollywood movies.

Business-as-usual ghosts and animated thought-forms:

Thought-Forms are animated ‘elementals’ (energies below the mineral kingdom on the scale of spiritual evolution), and the survival of a thought-form is determined by the intensity of the mental/emotional energy originally infused into it. One type of ghost could be the result of such thought-forms or memories, established over time and left behind by the person who built them. Another theosophical explanation is that they may be the ‘kama-rupas’ of deceased persons adhering to the places they habitually visited in life.

This type of ghost is sometimes seen as a ghostly presence just going about its ‘business as usual’. These ghosts are frequently encountered by family members in houses or places of business frequented by their deceased relatives. An example is a long-deceased chambermaid who stills tends to guests in an English inn. The owners described that she appears at the foot of startled guests beds, dressed in Victorian era clothes and carrying a bundle of keys. She smiles at the astonished guests and departs. She worked at these premises most of her life and apparently died in the room where she is so often seen.

Sometimes no ghost is seen but people feel impelled to do things which were previously foreign to them, eg. develop a love of art or music. Here again thoughts (embodied elemental energies), the so-called ‘Memories-in-the-Walls’, have left their impressions.

The case of the Chinnery photo, 1959:

When visiting her mother’s grave in 1959, Mrs. Mabel Chinnery decided to finish off the roll of film by taking a picture of her husband seated in the car. When the roll was developed, a female figure appeared, sitting in the back seat. Mrs. Chinnery and several family members insist that the female figure is that of her mother, who appears to have taken her customary place in the back seat and is patiently waiting to be driven home. A photographic expert examined the print and declared it to be neither a reflection nor a double exposure. In the photo “mom” appears to be a pretty solid ghost, with no hint of transparency or light from the rear windows shining through her. Even her glasses appear to reflect light!

Enchained Elemental Spirits:

The ancient Egyptians were renowned magicians – both ‘white’ and ‘black’. They knew the art of enchaining elemental spirits to objects in tombs to forever protect them by releasing harm on tomb robbers – perhaps the reason behind the famous Pharoah’s Curse.

Following the opening of Pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, 11 people connected with the discovery of the tomb, notably Lord Carnavon, died by 1929. This included Carter’s personal secretary and his father. In 1926, Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb, said he saw jackals like Anubis, the guardian of the dead, in the desert for the only time in his 35 years in the desert.

In 1699, Louis Penicher wrote an account in which he recorded how a Polish traveller bought two mummies in Alexandria and embarked on a sea journey with the mummies in the cargo hold. The traveller was alarmed by recurring visions of two spectres, and the stormy seas that did not abate until the mummies were thrown overboard.

The ‘Unlucky Mummy’, exhibit number 225423 in the British Museum, which came from the sarcophagus of a high-priestess of Amun-Ra was implicated in many tragedies for the owners and visions/disturbances in the museum.

Famous Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, recalled that as a young archaeologist excavating at Kom Abu-Bellou he had to transport a number of artifacts from the Greco-Roman site. His cousin died on that day, on its anniversary, his uncle died, and on the third anniversary his aunt died. Years later, when he excavated the tombs of the builders of the pyramids at Giza, he encountered the curse: “All people who enter this tomb who will make evil against this tomb and destroy it may the crocodile be against them in water, and snakes against them on land. May the hippopotamus be against them in water, the scorpion against them on land.“

Though not superstitious, he decided not to disturb the mummies. However, he later was involved in the removal of two child mummies from Bahariya Oasis to a museum and reported he was haunted by the children in his dreams. The phenomena did not stop until the mummy of the father was re-united with the children in the museum. He came to the conclusion that mummies should not be displayed, though it was a lesser evil than allowing the general public into the tombs. Hawass also recorded an incident of a sick young boy who loved Ancient Egypt and was subject to a “miracle” cure in the Egyptian Museum when he looked into the eyes of the mummy of King Ahmose I. Thereafter, the boy read everything he could find on Ancient Egypt, especially the Hyksos period.

Ghosts appearing at séances: Astral Shells:

How about the ghosts that appear at Seances? Theosophy says that, regardless of what spiritualists believe, this is not genuine communication with the spirit of the departed as claimed by mediums but rather the ‘astral shell’ or decaying astral remanent of a departed person energized by the living astral body of the medium making the ‘materialized spirits’ so often seen in the séance room.

These energized astral shells can move objects, give reports from deceased relatives (pictures in the astral light or from the memories of those present). In many cases the medium is providing the means for the ‘shades’ of suicides and executed criminals to communicate with the physical world as they long to do. In ancient times till now, such evoking of astral shells has been condemned as the black magic of ‘Necromancy’ and definitely not something to be dabbled with from a theosophical perspective.

Dark energies living in the Astral Light:

According the Theosophy there are many other types of dark energies living in the Astral Light which are not strictly ghosts. They can detrimentally affect the living, if they are given a pathway back into the physical world.

Two of such astral entities are:

  • ‘The Dweller on the Threshold’.
  • ‘Elementaries’ as opposed to ‘Elemental Spirits’.

The Dweller on the Threshold:

This is the embodied result of past evil deeds and tendencies which can attach themselves to a person with such intensity that they don’t dissipate after death and remain intact to haunt the person in their next life. This can especially be so for advancing aspirants to the spiritual life who may become aware of the existence of such a ‘Dweller’ either by seeing or sensing it.

G de Purucker says of them: ‘They are verily ghosts of the dead men that the present man formally was, now arising to dog his footsteps, and hence are very truly called ‘Dwellers on the Threshold’. In a specific sense they may truly be called the ‘Kama-Rupas’ of the man’s past incarnations arising out of the records in the astral light left there by the ‘old’ man of the ‘new’ man who now is.’

If an aspirant tries to counter such evil tendencies arising from the ‘Dweller’, it will redouble its efforts to instil evil behaviour as its ‘life’ depends on its host feeding it. This is intensely magnified in the case of a candidate for spiritual initiation determined to progress on the spiritual Path. He/She must face the Dweller, as only the author of such evils can dissipate the resultant ‘kama-rupa’. The Dweller must be triumphed over and literally ‘left behind’ in the lower astral light to dissipate. This is done by the exercise of the Spiritual Will as the Dweller was created by Will and must be destroyed/left behind by the Will of the aspirant to focus his/her attention on higher spiritual truth/realities.

Elementaries:

These are the earth-bound disembodied human souls of people who were evil or depraved when alive – eg. executed criminals, sorcerers, and black magicians. Such people have refused all spiritual light when alive and remained immersed in materialism deliberately separating themselves from their Higher Nature. Such people would first be known as Psychopaths, and then later, when more spiritually-aware, as Black Magicians.

Also, the spirits of people trapped in the kama-loka until the natural time comes for their release, principally, people who have committed suicide. They exist as conscious entities in the astral, especially close to people and places of great materialism and low vibration, eg. bars, hotels and places of ill-repute. They may exist in such a state for centuries before dissolving away. During this time they can exert a strong influence on the living with tendencies similar to their own.

The Dark Lord Lord Valdemort, the evil master magician of The Harry Potter stories and films is a fictionalized example of such an Elementary. He is an accurate representation of a certain class of ‘Elementaries’, ie black magicians living self-consciously in the Astral Light, who long for power, influence, and embodiment in the physical world, and who influence others in the world of the living who fall under their power.

Self-defence from ghosts and other evil influences in the Astral Light:

The following methods of psychic self-defence are suggested based on theosophical teachings:

  • Any person of a spiritual character repels these astral entities automatically due to the higher nature of their vibrations of love.
  • Therefore, do anything which is likely to engender these higher vibrations in terms of lifestyle, meditation, use of mantrams like the Gayatri and the Lord’s Prayer, which will raise your vibrations and put you out of their reach.
  • Use of the Spiritual Will to dismiss such entities impinging on your personal spiritual space.
  • Exorcism by the spiritually aware may work in some instances.
  • Keep away from the places and habits where such low vibrationary influences are present.
  • Physical mechanisms such as burning candles and incense.
  • Demolition and cleansing by fire of haunted buildings is said to be effective.

Further reading:

Pelletier, Rogelle: ‘Ghosts and apparitions’ published in Fohat, Summer 2006. Available online at: http://www.theosophycanada.com/files/fohat-summer-2006.pdf

G. de Purucker: Fountain Source of Occultism Available online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/fso/fso-hp.htm

G. de Purucker: Occult Glossary Available online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ocglos/og-hp.htm

 

If you wish to contact the author please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

How can I possibly make a difference to this suffering world?

Should we rush out and volunteer for service in the developing countries, or shout religion and theosophy from the roof-tops! Most of us are not in the position to do anything dramatic about many of the world’s problems. We have families to feed and ever increasing mortgages to pay, and the world is already full of people promoting their religious ideas all over the place! Theosophy tells us there is one enormously effective thing anyone can do to quietly assist the positive forces trying to relieve suffering in the world.

It is simply this – doing the duty before you no matter what your station in life, and thinking right thoughts can make a big difference. Making a sincere effort to live the ‘Golden Rule’ – doing unto others as we would have them do unto us – is within the reach of everyone and is a most powerful way of helping. How can this be you say? Surely we must be doing something more spectacular than this?

Living in a ‘Thought Atmosphere’

Theosophy teaches that our every thought and emotion impacts our fellow humans, and all other kingdoms of life. The quality of our thoughts for good or bad creates an atmosphere of dynamic ‘thought-forms’ around us individually and the entire world which reflects the general quality of human thought-life – the ‘thought atmosphere’. Quite literally there is a ‘continent of thought’ floating around us all the time to which we are adding with the quality of our thoughts.

How is this possible?

One of the Masters of Wisdom who founded the Theosophical Society comments:

“… every thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner world and becomes an active entity by associating itself — coalescing, we might term it — with an elemental; that is to say with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind’s begetting, for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offsprings of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions, a current which reacts upon any sensitive or and nervous organisation which comes in contact with it in proportion to its dynamic intensity. — Margaret Conger, Combined Chronology, p. 33

The Effect of Thoughts on the Astral Light

Our thoughts and emotions automatically register on the Astral Light surrounding us and the Earth. There are cyclic times when there are openings or ‘thinnings’ between the astral and physical worlds. This can happen at the conjunction of cycles – such as at the present time. Then the contents of the astral world can find their way back into the physical world. This can affect sensitive people when the mostly negative thoughts and impressions of generations of conflict and exploitation which form the substance of much of the thought-life of humanity are reflected back on people living in the world today, eg. People suffering from depression or other forms of mental illness, people tempted to commit crimes, drug affected individuals, and people under extreme stress – and effect their behaviour in everyday life.

What one IS, is therefore is vastly important.

OK! But What Can We Do Here and Now?

Balance our emotions: maintain a balanced outlook and not give way to feelings of hopelessness — either about ourselves or about the future of humanity. The debilitating influence such moods have on us infects the vital circulations of thought-energies through our planet. Too much is at stake for any of us wantonly to add negative thinking to the world karma!

Use the power of visualization to balance negativity: when gloom or despondency creep into our minds, immediately conjure up their opposites and thus initiate a new quality of energy. The influence of this new thought- current will in time prevail, and we can feel a new sense of purpose, a new joy in our everyday duties.

Give the duty at hand the fullness of our attention: if it seems impossible to lift our mood the next best thing to absorb ourselves in the duty at hand. In this way we will become self-forgetful of the negatives weighing us down. We will charge our atoms with a lightness and generosity of feeling radiating outward in terms of our attitude to others.

Start with brotherliness to our own family: if we have trouble feeling good feelings to others, start with such feelings to our own family and then think of others in our circle in the same positive way, and thus gradually widen the circle of unconditional love outwards towards others.

We Must Start With Ourselves

We cannot eradicate selfishness and greed in the world unless we root them out of our own character. Such an effort takes lifetimes to achieve but that’s no reason not to start right now – and everyone can do this no matter what our circumstances. By such efforts we strengthen the pathways to the Higher Self and by so much we illumine ourselves and our surroundings.

As the Buddhists say: ‘The flowers come into bloom when the sage walks through the garden’ or in India there is a saying: ‘The bees come of their own accord in search of honey when the flower is in full bloom.’

These thoughts were expressed beautifully by the American civil rights leader MARTIN LUTHER KING Jnr in 1963 when he said:

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

What About The Starving Millions?

These are fine sentiments you might say, but what about the starving and suffering millions we see on the TV news every night? Surely something practical has to be done? We can all do what we can to practically support those brave individuals who are helping in our own and in war-torn countries far way. But the truth is most of us are not qualified or don’t have opportunity or money to help out as we would like to do. While many of us may not be able to do much in a practical way to better material conditions, there isn’t one person who cannot contribute unselfishness in the world through their attitudes at home or to needy neighbours and in such ways strengthen the light forces in the world.

When we are overburdened by the enormity of suffering endured by so many, we can encircle the globe in consciousness supporting in thought and heart those individuals practically helping in those countries. This helps our own state of mind and helps relief workers along inner planes.

“… Seeds sown in good soil take root in the fullness of time. So too, thought and aspiration born of selfless yearning to ease the sorrow of man result in deeds, if not through ourselves, then through others karmically favoured to bring to fruition what we envisioned….” – Grace Knoche.

A Reservoir of Spiritual Force

Theosophy speaks of a Brotherhood of enlightened individuals who labour in the quiet to stimulate the creative impulses in receptive hearts – called by various names in different cultures – Mahatmans, Ascended Masters, Masters of Wisdom, Sons of the Sun, Kahunas, Ankh (The Living) – and their helpers in the outer world. They are constantly working to alleviate suffering in the world and guide us forward on the path of spiritual evolution. However, Theosophy teaches that they can only work with the ‘reservoir’ of karma that has been put there for this ‘manvantara’ (cycle of activity) and that is all there will be – unless we add to it. It is therefore vitally important that we have a responsibility self-consciously to direct our own spiritual evolution and to contribute to that ‘spiritual reservoir’ of positive energy that is available for the Masters to use.

The Power of the Reservoir

The power of simple spiritual energy coming forth from the heart of a sincere and compassionate person when it adds to that reservoir of spiritual force which the Masters of Wisdom only can use, and nothing more than we send there, is so great when it finally breaks through on the outer plane of ordinary life that we have not the slightest possible conception of the results that are given and received by the average ‘man in the street’.

The results of our quiet efforts of good will and living the Golden Rule will be felt by our fellowmen as a spiritual strength and a guidance, however unconscious it will be to them, that will lead our civilisation a real step on the pathway towards the Masters of Wisdom. To the extent that we reach up through the quality of our thoughts and aspirations to these representatives of the ‘Hierarchy of Light’, is the extent to which they in turn can reach ‘down’ and assist our faltering footsteps along the path of spiritual evolution.

Our Individual Duty

As our former Leader Jim Long said during a lecture tour of Europe:

“Thus our job as theosophists, individually and as a Society, is to attend to our work and, being good citizens in our respective nations, work for theosophy as we see fit, to the best of our ability, doing our daily duty, whether it is one thing or another. So long as we do it one-pointedly and honestly, we will begin thereby to form such a solid nucleus of spiritual force that it will have an incalculable influence in the world around us and we will win the battle of true spiritual freedom.”

Our Possible Future as Co-Workers with the Masters of Wisdom

If we try and live this philosophy, we may qualify one day to be co-workers with the Masters of Wisdom in their compassionate work transforming the root causes of human suffering to an enlightened future for humanity. The Hidden Reality or Hidden Knowledge which they teach is a living philosophy for all the reasons we have mentioned in this article. Neither a religion nor a philosophy, it is a practical way of life based on intuitive knowledge and inner guidance where everything about oneself, about others, and about matters outside of oneself is placed under constant study and observation for the purpose of mastery in all aspects of life.

The fraternity of illumined individuals emerging from these initiatory trials – the Masters of Wisdom – labours in the quiet to stimulate the creative impulses in receptive minds and hearts. The spiritually enlightening movements we see working outwardly in the world today, and others that remain unseen, are but the tip of an immense spiritual effort which has been in existence for many millions of years, and prior to that in previous world cycles.

This network of these enlightened teachers and their helpers still exists, and the realization of a universal fraternity, hand in hand with the spiritual enlightenment of humanity, remain the “aspiration of the true adept”…

“And we will go on in that practical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice … will be found to prevail.” – The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, pp. 17,51.

What Future for the World? Building a New Continent of Thought

Suppose that an increasing number of altruistically-minded people were to direct their aspirations toward high thinking and unselfish deeds, inevitably sufficient power would be generated to effect a spontaneous transmutation of humanity’s life patterns – from narrow self-interest to largeness of compassion.

If we simply, sincerely, and wholly offer our best, impersonally, we will be helping to build bridges leading to that new continent of thought which the Masters of Wisdom and their servants strive to achieve throughout the long ages. – compiled from the writings of Grace F. Knoche and James A. Long.

Further Reading:

This article is based on Grace Knoche’s book: To Light a Thousand Lamps especially the chapter: A new continent of thought, available in print from our Melbourne library or free online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gfk-lamp/lamps-hp.htm

James A. Long: 1951 European Tour Report online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/jal-1951/jaltour-hp.htm

James A Long: Expanding Horizons available from our library in Melbourne or online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/exphoriz/ex-hp.htm

 

If you wish to contact the author please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

A four-and-a-half year-old boy who had just been reprimanded by his father once responded angrily: “In the past, when I was grown-up, I was your dad and you were still a child.” The father told his son that he could know nothing of such things, because he hadn’t yet been born. To which the boy replied: “Later, when we are grown up, you will be little, and when you are grown-up again, we will be little.”

 

Reincarnation Defined: Reincarnation has always been a controversial subject. Many people nowadays are giving it serious thought and realize that in one short life it is impossible to learn everything about ourselves and the universe. They also wonder why there is so much misery in the world. They are no longer satisfied with religious explanations about heaven and hell and are searching for more inner truth.

 

According to ancient teachings that form the basis of later religions, the human ego returns at some point to earth after the change we call ‘death’ and a long period of rest in other realms, where we process our past life. Reincarnation allows us to learn new lessons on earth, where our ties of sympathy and friendship, but also of antipathy and hate, are revived.

 

While some people live to a ripe old age, others die very young. What is the purpose of all these lives if we are merely temporary phenomena in an immense universe? Are we here simply by chance, because now and then life originates here and there in the cosmos? Death often feels like a big hole that we fall into when we die; if reincarnation is true, however, it is something we have experienced many times. Humans die every day, as do animals, plants, stars, and whole solar systems. Do they all simply dissolve into nothing, for no reason at all?

 

Thinking about these issues is the only way to discover a certain logic in the idea of reincarnation. Knowledge of it enriches us because it leads to an inner change, an ‘inner alchemy’, and if we change the world changes too.

 

Some parents have said that when they look at their own newborn children, their eyes look back as if reflecting heaven. Consider the achievements of ‘wonder children’, such as Mozart. Such children must have brought such gifts with them from somewhere. The purity of many children, and their unconditional love for their parents and others, indicate that they are recalling a much purer period of existence.

Reincarnation and Karma: According to the doctrine of reincarnation, everyone is responsible for everything they do and say. Thoughts are elementals, some of which are born within us, while others are drawn from the thought reservoir of the planet. All our actions, words and thoughts have consequences – our karma. In other words, what we sow we will someday have to reap, in this life or in a future life.

 

Our responsibility for all our actions is something we need to handle consciously. That is probably why reincarnation was removed from the Christian scriptures, though if you read between the lines, the Bible still contains statements pointing in this direction. By abolishing the concept of reincarnation, our individual responsibility for our deeds is transferred to a religious institution. This makes it possible to acquire power of those individuals, and if you add a few dogmas, this creates dependence on a particular faith.

 

But we humans are not dependent on any ruler. Even ‘God’ would never want to oppress us or act as a dictator in our lives. What’s more, this innermost core of life is in essence ourselves. It is our deepest self and connects us all. We are all ‘god sparks’, ‘sparks of cosmic fire’, ‘droplets in the universal ocean’. Cosmic consciousness is made up of the innermost essence of all beings, whatever their physical form.

 

Reincarnation is inseparable from karma. In addition to our individual karma, there is our family karma, national karma, group karma, and the karma of our earth, our solar system, and even our universe. It is through karma that we incarnate in a particular family and country with the right parents, though those who do not get on well with their parents might find this difficult to understand. Consciously, or unconsciously, we are all co-workers with the universe and possess a large measure of free-will.

 

Reincarnation and Suffering: Many people wonder why there is so much suffering in the world. It is sometimes hard to comprehend what people go through in their lives. There are countries where the most terrible things happen. Seeing images of such suffering sometimes causes a strong feeling of powerlessness. It is impossible to help everyone on this earth, so it is important to think carefully about what we do.

 

Many countries donate money, especially after major disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis. On a smaller scale, they provide clothing, medical assistance or help with building homes and schools. Seeing all this suffering is already a lesson for people who are materially better off, because our response is a deliberate act that we do for others, a deed of love and respect for our fellow human beings. But people may also need help in our immediate environment, even though it doesn’t get mentioned in newspapers or on television. The important thing is not to close our eyes to the suffering of others, and do whatever we can.

 

The major and minor lessons in our lives apply to both those who suffer and those who see people suffering and lend a helping hand. In both cases, an inner transformation occurs, a growth in consciousness. By understanding the true purpose of our present life and subsequent lives, we acquire increasing insight into the inner realms of life. Our freedom as human beings entails a high degree of responsibility for all the living things around us, including animals, plants and the earth as a whole.

 

Every choice we make, individually or collectively, will have consequences. These consequences may affect entire nations, or entire families, and either bring people together or drive them apart. It is therefore very important to think carefully about what we do. That doesn’t mean we can suddenly become perfect. But every effort to improve ourselves is a step in the right direction.

 

Reincarnation and the After-Life: According to some religions, we only have a single life on earth and afterwards go to a sort of paradise. They also say that there is a God, a sort of personal being of the male sex, who lives in heaven, where he welcomes people who have been good, who can stay with him for the rest of eternity. Meanwhile, bad people go to hell, a place of fire and suffering, to which they are condemned for eternity, without any chance to change themselves.

 

This scenario raises a number of questions. What are the people in heaven going to do all that time? You might feel blissful surrounded by beauty, love and angels, but in the long run I think it would be excruciatingly boring. As for the people in hell, it would be very sad if they were never to be given a chance to change and learn. I think that belief in heaven and hell creates a real ‘death’, because there is nowhere else to go, and in my view that would be real suffering. In heaven you are sweetly cradled to sleep, while in hell you are consumed forever by those horrible flames.

 

Heaven and Hell are really states of consciousness created by our own actions. Here on earth our life is determined by our deeds, by the person that we have been and that we now are and that we will become in the future.

 

Reincarnation and Ethics: Another viewpoint is that when we die, that is the end of it all. People who believe this are known as Atheists. They often live that one life for all it is worth. This sometimes means they are very egocentric and believe that some people are simply lucky while others suffer misfortune. They also believe in Darwin’s theory that humans descended from the apes. They believe in the law of the jungle, that those who are strong, smart and healthy will prevail. This can lead to a very competitive attitude in their personal and social lives.

 

If reincarnation is a fact, and if we realize that we ourselves cause many things pleasant and unpleasant, that we encounter, we would be able to create a different world together. As the old saying puts it, ‘to improve the world, we must begin with ourselves.’

 

Perhaps it is a good idea to consult the ‘child in ourselves’, for that pure and receptive being is still present within us. We are in essence one with the universal primordial principle, droplets that together form the great ocean of life, and all of its splendid possibilities are therefore contained within each one of us. – Rita Houthuijzen, Holland – published with permission of the author from Impuls newsletter June 2014.

 

If you wish to make a comment on this lecture or contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

ALCHEMY: TRANSFORMATION TOWARDS OUR INNER SELF – Rita Houthuijzen.

 

In her Esoteric Instructions H.P. Blavatsky writes:

 

“True knowledge is of Spirit and in Spirit alone, and cannot be acquired in any other way except through the reign of the higher mind, the only plane from which we can penetrate the depths of the all-pervading Absoluteness. … If man by suppressing, if not destroying, his selfishness and personality, only succeeds in knowing himself as he is behind the veil of physical Māyā, he will soon stand beyond all pain, all misery, and beyond all the wear and tear of change, which is the chief originator of pain. … All this may be achieved by the development of unselfish universal love of Humanity, and the suppression of personality, or selfishness, which is the cause of all sin, and consequently of all human sorrow.” (Collected Writings 12:537-8)

 

What is Alchemy? Alchemy in its deepest sense means inner transformation. The commonly accepted definition of Alchemy understands only that it is the knowledge of how to turn lead into gold. But let’s not forget that lead symbolizes the material, physical principle, and gold, the spiritual, divine principle in man respectively. Alchemy has both an esoteric and an exoteric side; as parts of one whole, they are in essence inseparable. Separating and combining are key concepts in chemistry; separating and combining were and are also very important in alchemy. But was it really possible to turn lead into gold? What were the alchemists really searching for? Why were they such a mysterious group of people, whose activities aroused so much curiosity?

Let me begin by giving a simple example. Nowadays, many people have themselves treated by an acupuncturist for all sorts of ailments and diseases. However, orthodox medical science firmly rejects this traditional Chinese healing method. This is because the existence of energy pathways in an energy body invisible to the naked eye is in their view sheer fictional nonsense!

 

A doctor once challenged an acupuncturist to demonstrate that these energy pathways really exist, saying that if you cut open a human or animal body, you can see nothing but flesh, blood, muscles, organs and bones. The acupuncturist’s reply was very to the point. He said: “Suppose we were to cut open your own body, here and now. We would indeed find flesh, blood, muscles, organs and bones. But where are you then? Don’t you exist either?”

 

As HP Blavatsky wrote: “Life, and everything pertaining to it, belongs to the lawful domain of the metaphysician and psychologist, and physical science has no claim upon it. … Scalpels and microscopes may solve the mystery of the material parts of the shell of man: they can never cut a window into his soul to open the smallest vista on any of the wider horizons of being.

It is those thinkers alone, who, following the Delphic injunction, have cognized life in their inner selves, those who have studied it thoroughly in themselves, before attempting to trace and analyze its reflection in their outer shells, who are the only ones rewarded with some measure of success.” (Collected Writings 8:241)

 

17th century German mystic, Jakob Böhme, wrote in his Theosophische Wercke:

 

“Since Vulcan kindled the mercurial wheel of fear, in which the soul imagines itself to be, the heads of these souls are turned only towards the multiplicity of natural things. The soul is entirely subjected to the vagaries of the passions. The enlightened soul, however, advises the poor soul to kill the monstrous serpent larva [that is, human desire] in itself, by entering the loving spirit of Christ, who, by becoming flesh, broke down the gates of hell and reopened the road to paradise.”

 

Vulcan symbolizes the awakening of the ‘fiery wheel of essence’, that is, all the properties of nature in the soul, in the sense of lust and desire. Lust and desire are represented by the astral radiance of the moon.

 

The Lord of the Rings: In Tolkien’s famous novel The Lord of the Rings, the ring stands for the power that matter can have over humans, especially in the form of jewels, money and gold. This is because humans are still under the delusion that lots of money means lots of power. But this is merely a temporary illusion, and applies only in that same material existence. It is a very narrow idea and betrays great ignorance concerning the true nature of life in the Universe.

 

So Vulcan symbolizes the awakening of the fiery wheel of essence in that existence. In Tolkien’s novel, the hobbit Frodo eventually has to throw the ring into the volcano of Mount Doom in order to banish greed. The ring was originally forged in this mountain by evil forces.

 

The novel gives a wonderful description of how greed can turn people into the ugly and tortured character of ‘Gollum’ and of the inner struggle between humanity’s positive and negative tendencies. Humans change into a version of Gollum as soon as their greed gains the upper hand, and they are even capable of killing other humans. Greed makes humans very ugly, especially inwardly.

 

In the novel, the good white wizard, Gandalf, is on the side of the Hobbits Sam and Frodo. Gollum, who accompanies the two hobbits on their journey, acts as the great tempter, constantly fuelling their greed and conflict. But we continually see Gollum’s own struggle with his better inner nature he calls his former self, ‘Smeagol’’, which really makes the story so gripping and relevant to the inner battle we all face every moment.

 

The story also includes Elves, portrayed as very loving and wise beings. It is interesting that in the middle of the story, the female chief fairy gets her hands on the ring. She, too, threatens to fall under its spell, and in the film her struggle is clearly portrayed in her facial expression. But as a result of her very pure inner nature, she is able to conquer this greed and ugliness, and free herself from the influence of the ring and from material urges and desires.

 

The Black and Golden Sophias: Alchemistic writings speak of the Golden Sophia, who signifies the end of the night of ignorance and the destructive materials of dissolution. She is the solitary, heavenly Sophia. But there is also a Black, lunar Sophia, who descended into matter and became imprisoned in it, and calls for help from the depths of matter. This exactly reflects what we humans are always doing, consciously or unconsciously. ‘Sophia’ is the Greek word for knowledge or wisdom, as in the term ‘Theosophia’, meaning wisdom and knowledge of the ultimate, inner Universe.

 

According to Hermetic symbolism, the Black Madonna represents the same idea I’ve just mentioned. When the sun and moon merge, there will be unity. This also applies, for example, to the concepts of yin and yang, male and female, matter and spirit, and so on. Once all duality in humans has been dissolved, knowledge and understanding will appear. That is why knowledge of esoteric alchemy is actually a transformation towards our inner self.

 

The Sun: The sun played a major role in many ancient religions, and the same is true in alchemy. The sun also symbolizes the gold of the alchemists. The inner sun releases humans from their self-made material prison of suffering and misery, and the black sun is the outermost layer of the solar monad, which dissolves everything with its dark, all-consuming fire. In Arabian alchemy the black sun also represents the impurities in ordinary gold that has to be washed away.

 

But the sun is a mysterious globe, the central point and the life-giving essence of our solar system. The sun not only played, and still plays a major role in many traditions. It was also honoured as a genuine god. The ancient esoteric Gnostic writings speak of the sun as the equivalent of what call in Theosophy a, ‘Dhyāni-Buddha’; however, this is a reference to the solar monad itself or the higher triad of the solar god, because the sun, like planets and humans, has a sevenfold constitution. There are even references to the twelvefold constitution of living essences.

 

The Root Races: What we observe is where we are at in our long road of spiritual development. For us humans, Theosophy tells us that is the fourth ‘round’ on the fourth globe of the earth in the fifth ‘root-race’. The fifth root-race goes back about 4.5 million years. It is called the ‘Aryan race’, but let me stress that this has absolutely nothing to do with the ideology of the Third Reich at the time of the Second World War!

 

Before the present fifth root-race, there was a fourth root-race, the Atlanteans, and a third root-race, the Lemurians, and so on.

 

With the consciousness that we now have, we therefore observe the fourth globe of the sun, the reflected essence of the true sun. And that same sun is merely an atom in the body of an even greater cosmic being, just as our atoms are monadic particles with their own development on the microcosmic level.

 

The teachings about the rounds and races are very extensive and require a certain insight. But it is above all the deep inner desire to search for the origin of life and ourselves as humans that enables us to achieve deep insights into the origin of that same life, wherever in the Universe it may be. It is very important to realize that the earth is a living essence. A life that makes its body available to us so that we can learn our cosmic life lessons. This includes both major and minor lessons, as both are equally important to our inner transformation. Dead matter is therefore a misconception, for dead matter does not exist. Everything is energy and life!

 

The Sevenfold Nature of Man: To return briefly to the sevenfold constitution of man: it is not only humans that have a sevenfold constitution, but everything that lives, including planets, suns, and the entire universe and even Universes! According to Theosophy, the seven principles are divided into an upper triad and a lower quaternary as follows from the lowest to the highest:

 

1. The physical body Rupa
2. Vitality Prana-jiva
3. Astral body Linga sarira
4. Animal soul Kama rupa
5. Human soul Manas
6. Spiritual soul Buddhi
7. Spiritual Monad Atman

 

 

As the book, The Seven Principles of Man, states:

 

“At the root of our being dwells our Âtman, the I AM, ourself – our sense of existence, of being alive. This sense of I AM is universal. It is the same in all creatures. And it is universal and the same in all because the inmost spiritual consciousness of every organism is an integral part of the universal self or Âtman, as a drop is an integral part of the encompassing ocean. And each single drop is like in composition and nature to every other drop and to the whole ocean itself.”

 

In, The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien gives a very clear portrayal of the desire principle in humans and our inner struggle against it. In Sanskrit, it is called ‘Kāma’ or ‘Desire’. Kāma, which belongs to the lower quaternary of our inner constitution, is also called the driving or impelling force. It is neither good nor bad, this being determined by how it is used by the brain-mind and the soul. It is this struggle that makes Tolkien’s book so compelling. Tolkien was one of those special people with a deep insight into esoteric knowledge.

 

As I’ve already said, alchemy really means a transformation towards our Inner Self. It means looking inwards and investigating, understanding that everything is present in everything else. This is a task that every living being should discover or uncover within themselves. And this involves removing the veils of matter concealing the inner soul and perceiving the being that is its true essence.

Medieval German mystic, Meister Eckhart, in his Deutsche Predigten und Traktate puts it this way:

 

‘The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love,’

 

This means the same as the expression: ‘The perception, the perceived and the perceiver are one.’

 

Gottfried de Purucker wrote: “The heart of any sun is a most marvellous alchemical laboratory in which occur molecular, atomic, and electronic changes which it would be utterly impossible to reproduce in any of our chemical workshops.” (Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 298)

 

In the Bible Paul is told from within: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells within you?”

 

If our body is a temple through which our own higher self operates here on planet earth, it follows logically that our body is not just any old thing, but a living essence that we can use to transform ourselves. This means that we need to be very careful how we treat our body. Through ignorance, people inflict in a great deal of misery on themselves. Sickness and suffering are the result, and above all temporary stagnation in our inner development. But we learn through suffering and eventually it will enable us to continue to grow and transform ourselves. There is no real standstill, but the pilgrim will have to travel a longer path back to its origin. That is the freedom of choice and direction that we have.

 

Seeing the Higher Self: The divine self is observed by the lower self. Ātman, our higher self or the seventh principle, once freed of its Māyā or enchantment by matter, is able to see what it really is. The alchemists see as the apex of two polar or opposing forces the conjunction – that is, the connection and union of the male and female principles in the marriage between heaven and earth. Once that union has taken place, humans awaken from the shadowy realm of matter.

 

This reminds me of the story of Plato’s cave in his Timaeus, in which prisoners who are chained to face one of the rock walls thought that the shadows cast onto it by the dim light behind them constituted reality. But it is only their reality, just as what we currently observe seems to be our reality.

One of the prisoners, after being freed from his chains (symbolizing the chains of matter), left the cave and saw the sun’s radiant light. If he had gone back inside, full of enthusiasm, and told the others about this globe of light and the world outside, they would have called him a liar. Plato’s ideas are often cited and used as illustrations in alchemistic writings.

 

The teachings of the alchemists were also very popular in ancient Alexandria. When the old Alexandrian library was burned down, many books and writings on alchemy were unfortunately lost. I once visited Alexandria and saw the new library there. It contains a special, well-guarded department where very ancient writings that have survived the ravages of time are kept. The library of Ephesus also contained many famous works. Fortunately, quite a few have been preserved.

 

In ancient times there was a lively exchange between these two important libraries. This was made possible by shipping and marine trade routes.

But most of the writings have unfortunately disappeared.

 

Paracelsus once said: “Man is what he thinks. If he thinks fire, he is fire. If he thinks war, he is war.”

 

According to the Gnostics, our thoughts are not free from the law of action and reaction. Due to our material thought habits, we think that our thoughts are independent of our observations. But every thought takes on a form and has an effect on the psychic-astral plane, also known as the Ākāśa. The ancient Stoics called this plane the “ether” and the Hebrew Old Testament speaks of the “cosmic waters”.

According to the alchemists, the Christos that the man Jesus manifested to some of his followers, represents the divine body in every human, the only universal form in which all things are preserved in their eternal forms. It is also called in Theosophy, the Buddhic principle in man.

 

In alchemy the cross is used as a symbol for the crucible. The crucible is the place where the “prima materia” experiences the passion. It dies there in order to be reawakened to life, cleansed, spiritualized and transformed. The cross symbolizes the physical body.

 

Becoming the Higher Self: By crucifying the body, by letting go of everything that is matter, we are resurrected as ‘Christos’, united with our true being or higher self. ”Ātman is Brahman”, say the Hindus. And Jesus said: “I am the door, through me you will find the Father.”

 

All suffering leads to insight; that is also what the “four noble truths” of Buddhism teach. That is why we need to examine why we suffer and how we can be released from suffering. Alchemy tries in its own special way to explain what life is and why it is as it is.

 

I think that “Many roads lead to Rome”. Many ancient peoples, different faiths, philosophers, races, traditions and civilizations have tried to shed light on this wonderful mystery we call “life”. But bear in mind that all these groups of people were we ourselves, as is implied by the teachings of karma and reincarnation. For we pass from race to race, from round to round and from planetary chain to planetary chain.

 

“Man ought to learn how he came into the world”, said H.P. Blavatsky (Secret Doctrine 2:34). And I would add: “why he came into the world? ”

 

We have an obligation to try and find out who and what we are and what our true nature is, not least out of respect for all the earlier efforts by ourselves and those of the many, many souls in and beyond this universe, which is immeasurable and yet so near.

 

That is our responsibility towards all of life and in the name of the supreme love that the Absolute or Unknown cherishes for its offspring. Understanding this love, or rather, becoming this love, is our most noble task, our goal and our dharma, the highest calling and duty of a human being.

 

And then, once the inner heart of our being has been opened, the mystery has been solved and the alchemist has understood how he can turn ‘lead’ of the lower nature, into the ‘gold’ of the higher self, the transformation that has taken place will benefit all life throughout the entire Cosmos! – based on a lecture to the Royal Academy of Art, the Hague, Holland, delivered by Rita Houthuijzen in October 2014.

 

If you wish to make a comment on this lecture or contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

This is the second talk in a series on Western esotericism through the ages. In my first talk, I went as far back as possible in history, to Ancient Egypt, Central America, Atlantis and Greece. In today’s talk I will continue from classical Greece through to the Middle Ages in Europe. In the first talk we saw that the esoteric or hidden doctrine has always existed in its totality.

 

Since the early stages of human development the esoteric doctrine has come down to us from the unbroken oral teachings that were revealed by living divine men to the elect of humanity.

 

The teachings have reached us unaltered.

 

And there still exists a great brotherhood of humans, called the masters of wisdom and compassion. These masters are thoroughly versed in the sciences based on the uninterrupted teachings.

 

Through the ages, the teachings have taken on various forms depending on human development. Before the Christian era, there was in Greece, the Empire of Alexander the Great. This empire stretched across Egypt, Western Asia and into some provinces of India. It was easy then for a multi-cultural exchange of knowledge. The Greeks absorbed ideas from Egypt, Babylon, Assyria and Persia. In their turn they gave us the Hermetic tradition and the philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato. Greek philosophy was their noblest achievement. In the West they were unsurpassed in their quest for wisdom and their love of truth. 

 

Hermetism was taught to the Greeks by the Egyptians. It is secret and esoteric teachings that went back to ancient times. Later it gave birth to the traditions of Cabbalism, Alchemy, Gnosticism and Rosicrucianism. It teaches us, that what above is, so is it below. This is the knowledge that mankind is not a special creation in the universe. From the smallest atom to the immense galaxies, everything has the same divine essence and comes from the same source.

Hermetism is identical to theosophy. It teaches the unity of everything in the universe. Life is governed by laws or ‘the Law’. These laws are eternal and not created. Deity is Law and Law is Deity.

 

Firstly there is the law of constant change and movement.

 

Secondly the law of cause and effect, or Karma. The strictest and most impartial justice rules the worlds. Infinite love and compassion is the heart of universal Nature. This is Infinite harmony. Therefore we would do well to give each other mutual help in the carrying of our burdens. We should refrain from evil doing in any manner whatsoever.

 

At the beginning of the Christian era, the Roman Empire which had taken over authority and power from the Greeks, was already in decline. In the second century the early Christian church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria and Augustine, had the highest respect for Hermetism. In the beginning of its development, Christianity was seen as a threat to the Roman tradition and the Christians were persecuted. Later Christianity changed and became more popular with the people. With the decline of the Roman Empire, Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity because it was popular. By the third and fourth century Christianity became an autocratic religion. The hermetic teachings of the Divine Laws of karma and reincarnation were condemned by the ignorant church fathers.

Because of these ignorant church fathers, a lot of information from the past was seen as heresy and this information was destroyed. The esoteric knowledge had to be hidden.

What is the difference between esoteric and exoteric? Esoteric knowledge teaches that everything happens through a cause. Exoteric knowledge in the west teaches that through chance, or fortuity the life of human beings and other entities are lead. An example: God a big man in heaven made the trees with his own hands.

Esoteric knowledge teaches that a seed from which a tree grows, this growing force comes from the seed itself. No external God or divinity made the tree.

 

The stubbornness of the church fathers could not discourage the development of esoteric learning in the west. In Egypt in Alexandria, there was a theosophical school lead by Ammonius Saccas. He kept alive the ancient theosophical teachings.

What is theosophy then? “It is the accumulated Wisdom of the ages. It is man’s heritage of cosmic knowledge and spiritual wisdom. This reservoir of spiritual force has been slowly filled through enormous periods of time. It is guarded by those who through their own efforts have achieved the right and power to do so. From time to time, as men have need for it, a Master of Wisdom comes into the world to teach some aspect of it to some group or race of men. Thus the great and lesser religions are born.

 

Our era has seen the rise of Christianity. With the ascendance of Christianity to the Roman Empire, Europe came under the rule of Catholicism and clericalism. As a consequence of this, Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages. This is a period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the high Middle Ages, 500 – 1100 A.D. There was a rise in the population of Europe. Germanic tribes swept through Europe and North Africa, often attacking and destroying towns and villages. This was a period of un-enlightenment and ignorance. Example: the belief was that the Earth was a flat surface and not round. Or that the Earth was the centre of the universe.

Around 323 – 343 A.D., at the same time that Christianity ascended to the throne of Rome, there was a radical transformation in classical Greek philosophy. From being essentially classical Greek, it developed into a cosmopolitan culture movement. Greek, Egyptian, Phoenician and other near eastern religions and ethical elements merged. Alexandria became the centre of diverse currents of thinking. A new philosophy developed.  

In 750 AD, it moved to the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. This became the heir of Athens and Alexandria: the centre of learning. Most of the Greek philosophical and scientific works were translated into Arabic.

 

Two centuries later, Cordoba, the capital of Muslim Spain, began to vie with Baghdad as the centre of Ancient Learning. From Cordoba, Greek and Arabic philosophy and science were transmitted across the Pyrenees to Paris, Bologna and Oxford. About 950 AD, Spain began to yield up her scientific treasures to Latin Christendom which had deteriorated into backwardness and degeneration. Arabic versions of Greek originals in Science, mathematics, astronomy and medicine were translated into Latin, Hebrew and other vernacular languages.

 

For nearly eight centuries, under her Mohammedan rulers, Spain set a shining example to all Europe as a civilized and enlightened State. Art, literature and science prospered as they then prospered nowhere else in Europe. Students from France, Germany and England flocked to drink from the fountains of learning which flowed only in the cities of the Moors. The surgeons and doctors of Andalusia were at the forefront of science. Women were encouraged to devote their lives to study. A lady doctor was not uncommon among the people of Cordoba. Mathematics, astronomy, botany, history, philosophy and jurisprudence, were mastered by the Moors in Spain and in Spain alone, under the Muslims.

 

Dark clouds formed once again over Europe. The Inquisition arose. An institution, within the Roman Catholic Church, formed to forcefully combat heresy.

In Spain a war broke out and Catholicism won. Muslims and Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain and Portugal. The esoteric tradition had to go underground, for fear of death and persecution.

 

To understand the esoteric tradition it is essential to study Hermetism. It is the prehistoric wisdom about nature. It has come down to us through the Chaldeans and Egyptians, in the Greek and Arabic languages.

Thanks to the efforts of the Medici family in Florence, Hermetism was rediscovered in Europe. There was a revival of Astrology, Alchemy and Magic. At the Council of Ferrara in Florence in 1431 an attempt was made to reunite the Eastern Orthodox Church with Rome. Sadly it failed, but it did bring about the revival of Hermetism into Europe, from the Near East. The Medici family were the rulers of Florence. Cosimo de Medici acquired the Corpus Hermeticum one of the few extant works of Hermes. The Medici paid for the translation from the old Greek and Arabic writings of Hermes and Plato into Latin.

  

Who was Hermes? Let us take a closer look at him and see what has come down to us from ancient times. Hermes is a Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth. He is said to have lived long before Moses, and was one with Adam. Unlike Adam who was not allowed to eat from the tree of knowledge. Hermes on the contrary invented the art of passing on knowledge to the world, by writing and engraving. He is the inventor of the sciences of medicine, astronomy and art. He left us many works on subjects like astrology and occultism. He emphasized cosmic unity and the interdependence of all things.

Thanks to the efforts of the Medici and the translators, Europe saw a rebirth of the arts and sciences. This rebirth of knowledge was called Renaissance. Plato was rediscovered and there was a revival of the ancient systems. Printing was invented and the publication of knowledge in the vernacular languages gave more people access to the various sciences. This also brought about the reformation. Reading the Bible in the vernacular and the spread of literacy changed Christianity. People learnt to think for themselves. Protestantism came about.

Plato left us a systematic philosophical doctrine about the immortality of the Soul. The nature of human happiness through the perfection of mind and character by acquiring virtues such as wisdom, justice, temperance and courage. Through reading Plato’s dialogues we can explore the nature of love in its purest form. Not by putting Plato on a pedestal, but personally examining with an open mind, we can obtain and deepen the understanding of ourselves.  

The Middle Ages were a cruel, uncivilized and primitive period in European history. Despite all that, there was a rise in the esoteric knowledge. Kabbalah is a good example of this. It is the Jewish mystical writings exploring the esoteric side of Judaism. There are two main forms of Kabbalah; One concentrates on gaining knowledge of God through the study of his name. The other is a theosophical tradition: this approaches God through his impact on creation. Trying to understand how a being that is entirely ineffable can produce so much variety that we see in nature. God gives man the possibility of knowing him, but only through difficult and strenuous spiritual exercise.  

Sufism is the esoteric school of Islam. Essentially it was born out of Islam in the East, from the rules and teachings of the Qur’an. Pious individuals can follow the inner path through meditation and spiritual purification. The essential heart of Sufism is the doctrine of the Inner Heart. Through cultivating the knowledge of self we can end up uniting with Divinity. Sufis believe in the unique human right and privilege to understand the reality of the Divine. Knowledge of the heart is the quest to realize.

Rosicrucianism began in the Middle Ages. It is an organization devoted to the study and spreading of esoteric mystical gnosis. Gnosis meaning to know Divine wisdom. It was more than likely founded by Christian Rosenkreutz. During his travels to Spain, Egypt and the Near East, he gathered information about secret wisdom. He founded a brotherhood dedicated to the improvement of mankind and the discovery of the one true way of life. Their emblem is the Rose on a Cross. The cross is the symbol for the human body and the rose for the heart. Like the Sufis, by following the inner path, the heart doctrine, we can gain divine knowledge.

Freemasonry came later. It comes from a much older tradition that goes back to ancient Egypt.  Masonry is concealed in myth and symbols. Masonic myth has three aspects. The building of King Solomon’s Temple, the death and resurrection of the principle builder of that Temple and the search for the secret that was lost because of the builder’s death. The building of King Solomon’s Temple is symbolic for the gradual acquirement of secret knowledge. The erection in the physical world of a spiritual construction of wisdom and light. Built without the sound of a hammer, the voice of a workman or any tools. This construction shines in the darkness of the physical world.

The development of religion in the west at the beginning of this era, took the form of placing God outside and above man. On the contrary, in the esoteric traditions, knowledge of God is attained when we discover our true selves. The doctrine of the heart. “Man know thyself”. The ancients taught this through Hermetism.

This is confirmed by the finding of the Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi. The Nag Hammadi library was found at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt in 1945. The manuscripts were written in the Coptic language. A mixed language of ancient Egyptian and Greek. They were hidden away to avoid persecution and destruction by Athanasius of Alexandria in the fourth century. In those days, it was not only the Christian church that drove esoteric knowledge into hiding. The brute force of kingly power deterred progress. Kings felt that they had a divine right to rule the people, this obstructed the formation of democracy. In a following talk we will discuss this subject.

The importance of the esoteric knowledge in our democratic world is demonstrated by the growing interest for it. It is making a re-entry into human affairs. We came speak of a comeback. There are three dedicated university chairs on the subject in Europe. In Amsterdam, Paris, and Exeter.

There has always been a Secret Doctrine that was handed down to mankind. History tells us that it has come down to us from the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and the Arabs.

I will close with some practical suggestions on how to develop our thinking. Try to shut the door of your mind to all distracting thoughts. Try to visualize the unreality of the sense life and the truth of peace in the inner world. The rising up of evil thoughts is less injurious than those of indifferent ones. With evil thoughts you can always be on your guard. Indifferent thoughts distract the attention and waste energy.

The first basic delusion to get over is the identification of yourself with the physical body. Begin to think of this body as nothing better than a house that you live in for a given time. Then you will find it easier not to yield to its temptations. What you experience as sufferings and obstacles are natures efforts to help you in your development. The past cannot be changed. The experiences which belong to the present should not be avoided. In the future, we should try to avoid impulses that might bring pain to ourselves and others.

 

 

Source references:

  • The Divine Pymander                                                           Dr. Everard
  • ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY                     G. de Purucker
  • The Esoteric Tradition                                                                     “
  • Dictionary of Gnosis and Western  Esotericism               W. J. Hanegraaff
  • The western Esoteric Tradition                                          N. G. Clarke
  • Plato complete works                                                           J. M. Cooper
  • Oxford dictionary
  • Routledge Philosophy Encyclopedia
  • Blavatsky quotation book                                                   H. P. Blavatsky
  • The Secret Doctrine                                                             H. P. Blavatsky
  • Practical Occultism                                                              H. P. Blavatsky
  • The Secret teachings of all Ages                                        M.P. Hall.
  • Lectures on ancient philosophy                                                   “
  • Science in the Middle Ages.                                                 David C. Lindberg
  • The field of theosophy                                                         T. C. Humphreys

 

If you wish to make a comment on this lecture or contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

Every man has two lines of ancestry. The first is through his parents and has to do with his mental and physical nature. The second line of descent belongs to the inner man, the psychical line. It is hidden and more fundamental than the physical ancestry. To discover this line, we have to free our minds of our mental habits.

The hidden side of life is applicable to all things. Take for example a tree. We know it as a ‘tree’ because we named it a tree ourselves. Through the means of a cross section of its trunk we can discover its inner constitution. With a microscope, we can discover the ends of the roots, or the cells that compose the stem and leaves. Yet about the essence of the life of the tree itself, which expands from a tiny seed and surrounds itself with bark, we discover nothing. The study of the esoteric philosophic tradition is a discovery of our hidden history. To find truth we will have to look for it in the whole circle of the compass, and not only one quarter. 

Actually esoteric knowledge can be found in virtually all cultures and religious traditions of the world. It is as old as humanity. This is the first in a series of articles on the development of Western esotericism. I will go as far back as possible in time. From ancient Egypt, Central America and Atlantis, Greece and through into modern-day Western thinking. In this article I will discuss the ancient Western traditions that have come down to us from the distant past. In further articles I will work our way into the present time.

The importance of the esoteric knowledge is demonstrated by the growing interest in it and its re-entry into human affairs. Currently, there are three dedicated university chairs on the subject in Europe. In Amsterdam in the Netherlands; in Paris, France; and in Exeter, England.

I did a formal term in the University of Amsterdam during the autumn of 2011. It is called, ‘Hermetica I: an introduction to Western Esotericism’. This course is very educational and dealing with the historical development of the European humanities. I will discuss this history too and add some esoteric principles. Our goal is to discover some of the secrets of life.

Present-day history that we are taught in schools goes quite far back in time. Yet there is a higher and infinitely older history of the distant past, largely forgotten to the memory of man. Proof of this are the various legends, such as the flood legend common to the epic of Gilgamesh from the ancient Sumerian culture, the Old Testament of Jewish tradition, and in the Middle Eastern civilizations. The winds of change erode the original structures and we are left with are ruins, myths and legends. There was also a deliberate destruction of ancient libraries, such as the great Alexandrian library in Egypt, by religious fanatics and other rather short-sighted people.

Geological epochs follow one another in time. Continents rise in different parts of the globe above the waters of the sea. They are inhabited for long periods of time by various racial groups that have immigrated from elsewhere. In their turn these continents sink beneath the waters of the oceans. As a result the history of these periods is lost to us, we are left only with the myths and legends known to man.

There still exists to this very day a great brotherhood who work for the long term betterment and spiritual evolution of mankind, they are called the Mahatmas of Compassion. We are told in theosophical books that they trace an unbroken and uninterrupted ancestry back at least 12 million of years, back to the original focus of light! The Esoteric Doctrine has always existed in its totality. It is in the keeping of the Mahatmas and the Adepts of the Secret Sciences. It is a complete system of thought which does not evolve or change, although our understanding of it deepens throughout the ages. It is ever-enduring sometimes openly expressed when the times are kind, sometimes hidden for long periods of time.

The western esoteric tradition as we know it today, has its roots in the religious traditions of Gnosticism, Hermeticism and Neo-Platonism of the Greek and Roman civilizations before the Christian era. Working back into history we find that the early Greek civilization was educated and influenced by the Egyptians. Just like the Jews. In the Bible we find that Moses was taught by Egyptian priests. Moses did not originate a new religion for Israel. He simply adapted the mysteries of Egypt to the needs of Israel.

Who were the ancient Egyptians? Where did such a high science and culture come from in the first place? Besides myths and legends to unravel this mystery, we also have languages as a guide to the origin of the wonderful ancient Egyptian civilization. Languages have not yet received the due attention that they deserve. Greek was the dominant language of the Mediterranean world before Christ. Some authorities say that ancient Greek derives from the Mayan language of Central America. This can be easily checked by consulting the dictionaries of both languages. It is feasible that ancient Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphs have the same origin. This brings us to the legend of Atlantis. According to Plato and the ancient Egyptians, Atlantis was a continent that was situated in what is now the Atlantic ocean. According to theosophy and other authorities such as the famous American psychic, Edgar Cayce, this sunken continent was originally the home of the Mayans and Egyptians.

The esoteric tradition states that the racial group of humanity that lived on Atlantis was called the Atlanteans. They lived and evolved for millions of years on that continent. They were seafaring people and travelled the globe, settling in various regions. China, Central America, Europe, Egypt and Babylon to name a few. Egypt is prominent as a migratory land largely during and after the flooding of major islands that composed Atlantis. Theosophy tells us that the Atlantean civilization was very materialistic.

Skeptics of the existence of Atlantis say that only fools and charlatans believe in Atlantis. But were the towering intellects of Greece such as Solon and Plato fools or charlatans?  The indigenous Americans also have an oral tradition of Aztlan, a sunken civilization, paralleled with that of Plato. Was it not for the writings of some of the Greek philosophers, who went to study in Egypt under the tuition of learned instructors, nothing would be known about Atlantis today.

The Egyptians did not entrust their mysteries to everyone. These were reserved for those who excelled in virtue and wisdom. Moses, Pythagoras, Solon and Plato to name a few.

Esoteric schools have been in existence for centuries. In India, Egypt, China, Greece, Scandinavia, Mexico and other countries to the north and south of the equator. Historical records exist of their functioning, flowering and dying out. Their students had to undergo training in discipline. They were taught the truths that were hidden to the majority. They were pledged to secrecy, because knowledge is power. Power can be misused consciously or unconsciously.

In Western Europe one of these esoteric cultures of knowledge was that known to us as the Druids. The Druids were the holy men of the Celts of ancient Gaul and the British Isles. Theosophy tells us that their priests were descendants of the last Atlanteans. They believed in the rebirth of man through a series of reincarnations in this world. Women had a high status in Celtic civilization, for example, women that were proven worthy were admitted into their sacred order and were initiated into the mysteries of their religion and science. Their sacred rules had to be committed to memory for writing it down was not permitted. They did not have images or statues of their deities. Although the Celts did have these images.

Julius Caesar wrote of the Druids; “They renounce war and do not pay war taxes. They are excused from military service.” Their knowledge of Karma is reflected in their way of life. Druidic physicians were skilled in the treatment of illnesses. Their recipe for good health was cheerfulness, temperance and physical exercise. Very little of their life and customs have come down to us.

The Greek word drus, meaning oak, is very similar to the Celtic word Druid. The Druids were called ‘oak-men’, symbolizing wisdom and strength. The Celts made the oak tree an emblem of hospitality. Due to its strong trunk, knotty branches and thick foliage, it was the equivalent of a temple. Truth is found behind the veil of matter. Symbolism played a major part in the ancient world. Symbolism is a divine language that is enduring and helps us find truth. The ancients left us great symbolic monuments. The Druids left us the various stone ‘Menhiers’, or ‘standing stones’, all over  Europe. Stonehenge in England and those at Carnac in France are evidence their capabilities.

Our prehistoric teachers left us a profound symbol in the form of a column, pillar or obelisk. This pillar symbol is the link between the heavenly or invisible world of consciousness and the earthly world of matter. As the ancient Hermeticists would say: “As above, so below”. Two pillars symbolize a gateway from one world to another. Remains of ancient pillars and obelisks can be found, among others, in Egypt. The laws were carved or cut into these pillars in hieroglyphs and symbols.

In the esoteric society of Freemasonry, whose roots lie in ancient Egypt and Atlantis, we find the symbol of the apron.  This suggests servitude in work. To do our duty to humanity in its quest for unification with the divine world of consciousness.

These ancient traditions had their various deities to whom they paid reverence. One of the most mysterious and least understood was Thoth the Egyptian god of wisdom. He had authority over all the other Gods. Symbolized with his Ibis-head, pen and tablet, he is the recorder and judge. He records, thoughts, words and deeds of men. Here we see the evident ancient symbol for Karma, which is inevitable: cause and effect.

The ancient Greeks took over this deity and renamed it Hermes Trismegistus. He was the god of learning, patron of physical sciences and the very soul of esoteric knowledge. Hermes is an active worker and teacher of humanity. He shows us our divine roots, and justice in divinity. As I said earlier, ‘Hermetica’ is coming back into human affairs, shown by the dedicated universities chairs of Europe. I will discuss Hermes a little more when we get to the Middle Ages.

The great Brotherhood of Compassion, the Mahatmas are but one link in a cosmic chain of beings. This immense chain of cosmic beings was called, the golden chain of Hermes, by the ancient Greeks. The Mahatmas of Compassion who helped to form the Theosophical Society, are workers and guides in this natural cosmic structure. They relay this everlasting philosophy to humanity by carrying the torch of knowledge and wisdom throughout the ages.

The ancients had other symbols and rituals. The Hawk and Globe were symbols of the Sun in Egypt. It was important for the ancients to pay reverence to the Sun at the sacred seasons of the equinoxes and solstices.

Mithras, was an ancient deity that made his way into Europe from Iran and India. Mithras was the god of light who was similar to Thoth and Hermes, bringing abundance of growth and health. As a religion, Mithraism, spread like wildfire into the Roman empire of Europe even as far north as Britain. It had similarities of beliefs with that of the so-called ‘pagan’ beliefs of the ancient Europeans. For example its reverence to the Sun was central in its belief.

The ancients were closer to natural phenomenon than we are. Their priests saw beyond the veil of matter. The Sun has its higher form invisible to us. This form is pure consciousness. Its returning to the northern hemisphere in the spring was celebrated at the equinox, the first day of the spring. New growth and abundance was returning to the people.

During the Roman Empire, there was a determined scramble for dominance of human thinking. Mithraism and Christianity ran a neck on neck race. Mithraism lost the contest to the new Christian belief. Early Christianity had a relation to the ancient beliefs. Its rituals and holy days were derived from the ancients. Christmas and Easter are good examples that were taken over by Christianity from the ancient Roman festival of ‘Saturnalia’ in December, and the spring festival of the German goddess ‘Estera’. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine the Great, even the Emperor himself became a Christian. Christianity then gave features of becoming autocratic and dogmatic in relation to the ancient religions of Europe which they derisively labelled as ‘pagan’. The ancient belief systems of Mithraism, Hermeticism, Platonism and  Gnosticism gradually faded. The esoteric traditions became hidden or went underground under the sway of the autocratic rule of the Christian Church protected by the secular authorities

The ancient belief of reincarnation was removed from the scriptures. The new doctrine became, – ‘you only live once’. As a result we lost a lot of knowledge. The deeper understanding of our Souls and what happens to these, when we die, was lost. The ancients had a trustworthy understanding of the Soul. For example, the Egyptian God Thoth was not only a recorder and judge. He was also a pyschopomp, a Greek word meaning; ‘Conductor of Souls’, or ‘Good Shepherd’. The Egyptians firmly believed in the truth of the soul having a living existence after death. This is symbolized in the ceremony of Thoth weighing the heart of the disembodied soul against the ‘feather’ of Truth.    

With the triumph of Christianity over Mithraism, the latter became classified as a mystery religion. Many other ancient philosophies later evolved into mystery organizations. I will discuss them in another article in this series.

Another symbol known to us is the slaying of the Bull. Bull fighting became a tradition in lands around the Mediterranean. The original belief of slaying the bull, goes back to the high priests of Atlantis. The bull symbolises our material desires. The slaying of the bull became a symbol of triumph over earthly materiality.

Is it strange to want to know where we come from and what happens to us after death? We are made up out of both physical matter and spirit. Why do we invest so much time in matter and so little in the spirit?

In general, it may be said that people who are selfish and live with their minds turned inwards, will never pay attention to higher intelligences that speak to them. They are centred on themselves, their physical wellbeing. They have a fear that external forces are going to injure them. This fear might be because it stops their concentration on themselves, which is their only idea of happiness. Things of matter are worshipped rather than things of spirit. They are, so to speak, in the wood and only see the trees surrounding their own field of thought. They have no general view of the whole.

There is a systematic formulation of spiritual and natural laws that still exists in the world. Proof of this lies within man himself. Only he can judge and perceive the truth by using his powers of understanding, discrimination and judgement. To discern truth we have to cultivate the power of looking outwards in order to observe the facts of nature. As well as cultivate a power of understanding, discrimination and judgement by looking inwards. It works both ways.

Truth brings to the wise man exactly what the wise man brings to truth.  Everyone finds truth according to his own knowledge and understanding. Egocentric people dream of becoming enlightened. They are always trying to find truth within themselves and to bind it there. They have not yet advanced into the mystery of finding themselves within Truth. Man is part of all the laws and principles of life.

I will end with a short story about the Law;

 

            “An eastern sage once told his disciple that if he could become still enough, gentle enough and wise enough, he could hear the chanting of the Law everywhere. The disciple did not understand, so the master held up his hand and in a few seconds a little bird flew out of the forest and on his finger. As it sat and sang, the master asked: ‘Do you hear the song?’

 

            The disciple answered: ‘Yes, I am aware of an exquisite melody.’

 

            ‘Be more silent and listen more intently,’ commented the master.

 

            The disciple became still and sought to unite his consciousness with the consciousness of the bird. After a while the master asked: ‘What do you hear now?’

 

            The disciple replied: ‘I hear a little fluttering noise.’

 

            The master nodded approval. ‘You have reached that degree of silence in which you are hearing the beating of the little bird’s heart. Now listen even more closely.’

 

            The disciple remained silent again until the master asked: ‘What do you hear now?’

 

            The disciple turned a radiant face to his teacher. ‘Master, I have heard a miracle.’

 

            The master replied: ‘Explain it to me.’

 

            ‘I cannot explain it,’ answered the disciple. ‘All I know is that as my realization became one with the heart of the bird the sound of the beats changed into a song so subtle, so gentle that even the ears of realization could scarcely hear it. But as I listened with my heart and soul, the sound became more and more clear, until at last the words were distinct.’

 

            ‘What were the words?’ asked the master.

 

            The disciple replied,

 

‘The heart of the little bird was singing. I take refuge in the Law.’ ”   

 

Source references:

·        A book of quotations                                                              W. Q. Judge

  • Chaldean Magic                                                                       F. Lenormant

·        Dictionary of symbols                                                              Chevalier and Gheerbrant

  • Echoes from the Gnosis                                                           G.R.S. Mead

·        Encyclopaedia of Eastern philosophy and religion              Schuhmacher and Woerner

·        Encyclopaedia of Mythology                                                   R. Graves.

·        ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY                          G. de Purucker

·        Forbidden history                                                                       Douglas  Kenyon

·        Lectures in ancient philosophy                                                 M.P. Hall

·        Sacred mysteries among the Mayas and the Quiches         A. le Plongeon

·        Secret Teachings of all ages                                                     M. P. Hall

·        Self-unfoldment by disciplines of realization                         M. P. Hall

·        The Crest jewel of wisdom                                                        Shankara-acharya

·        The esoteric tradition                                                                G. de Purucker

·        The origin of the Egyptians                                                      A. le Plongeon

·        The temple in man                                                                     Schwaller de Lubicz

·        Theosophical Glossary                                                               H. P. Blavatsky

·        Theosophy, Imagination and tradition                                   A. Faivre

·        Theosophical Encyclopaedia                                                     P. S Harris

·        The western esoteric traditions                                                N. Goodrick-Clarke

·        To light a thousand lamps                                                          G. F. Knoche

·        Westerse esoterie en oosterse wijsheid                                  J. Slavenburg en J v Schaik

 

If you wish to make a comment on this lecture or contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

 


In ancient times, people lived holistic lives. They didn’t overemphasize the intellect, but integrated the mind, body, and spirit in all things. This allowed them to become masters of knowledge rather than victims of ideas. If a new invention appeared, they looked for the troubles it might cause as well as the shortcuts it offered. They valued old ways that had been proven effective, and they valued new ways if they could be proven effective.

 

Indian philosophy is one of the oldest philosophies that have come down to us. Hinduism is the name used in the West to designate the traditional structure of the Indian people. Those Indians who are not followers of the distinct teachings of Islam, Jainism or Sikhism are generally referred to as “Hindus.” In India this religious complex is called Sanatana-dharma, “the eternal religion”. For centuries it has incorporated all aspects of truth, found in nature. Hinduism, as a religion, is based on mythology, and not on a founder such as, Buddhism, Islam or Christianity.

 

I repeat, Sanatana-dharma or “the eternal religion”, of Hinduism is not derived from a human founder. It is truth that was revealed to the seers, saints and poets of ancient times, by highly evolved beings. This truth is of divine origin. The ancient seers compiled these revelations into Holy Scriptures. The holy texts are extensive. Some of it is known to us are the Vedas. These consist of the Samhitas which are ritual in the sense of becoming one with the higher Self, the Brahmanas are sacrificial, to be of service to the Higher Self and then there are the Upanishads which are dynamic, active, in the pursuit of knowledge. The Vedas and the Upanishads were followed by other sacred texts, the Ramayana and Mahabharata containing the famous, Bhagavad-Gita. These texts were later followed by the Puranas which are made up out of the abstract teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads. Through the passing of time they have become more accessible to the people. The Upanishads are for the Vedas what the New Testament is for the Bible. A lot of these sacred texts have been irretrievably lost to us.

 

Orthodox Hinduism is divided into six schools or darshanas.

 

1) the Nyaya (Logical School) or common sense school;

2) the Vaiseshika a metaphysical school (Atomistic School the cosmic Spirit manifests in innumerable atoms and molecules);

3) the Sankhya, one of the oldest, associated with Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita;

4) the Yoga school, the union of the lower self with the Higher self;

5) the Purva-Mima-nsa is critical explanation or interpretation (First Vedantic School); and

6) the Uttara-Mima-nsa another critical explanation or interpretation (Latter or Superior Vedantic School).

 

They are all connected together by intimate links of philosophical principles and postulates. These six schools were founded by the great Indian thinkers. They help us understand accurately the full nature of the universe and of the entire human constitution as an entity.

 

Through the centuries, high philosophies, sciences and religions have been degraded. This is due to the misunderstanding and wrong interpretation of information that has been passed down to us. For example, recent survey has found that there are at present over 41,000 Christian dominations, and still more to come!! In a following article, I will try to explain the development of the Western esoteric traditions in Europe.

 

Indian development has also had its degradation through the centuries. For example, the caste system, which originally was a profound observation about the four major groupings of humanity as seekers for Truth, has been sorrowfully abused since the time of the writing of the Bhagavad Gita. But unlike the West with its various languages, the Hindu texts were written down in Sanskrit, an ancient language that has remained pure. Vedanta literally means “end of the Vedas”. Practically speaking, Vedanta is taken from these Holy Scriptures, mainly the Upanishads. Vedanta is a mystical branch of Indian philosophy. In its pure form, it has the strongest support for morality. It is the greatest comfort for the sufferings of life and death. Vedanta are the reflections about the essential nature of things. The spiritual heritage of India is both vast and rich.

 

There are three main interpretations of Vedanta, the Dvaita or dualistic, the Vishishtadvaita or qualified-non-dualistic and the Advaita the non-dualistic. The largest number of people in India follow the dualistic interpretation, and the followers of the non-dualistic school are comparatively few in number. The dualistic interpretation is more general and is due to the slow development of human understanding. The non-dualistic is a little more difficult and esoteric. It gives a better understanding of the sacred scriptures. In Buddhism there is something similar with the ‘Eye Doctrine’ followed by the majority of ritual and devotion, and the ‘Heart Doctrine’ of deep esoteric philosophy necessary to be lived, but followed by relatively few devotees.

 

To explain this difference, there is a story in Mundaka Upanishad that runs like this:

 

Once upon a time there were two birds in a tree, one at the upper branch, serene, majestic and divine, and the other at a lower branch, restlessly pecking fruits, sometimes sweet sometimes bitter. Every time, when the restless bird ate a bitter fruit, it looked at the upper bird and climbed a branch up. This occurred a number of times and eventually the lower bird reached the topmost branch. There it was not able to differentiate itself from the divine bird, and then it learned that there was only one bird in the tree, the upper bird, which is described as divine, the real form of the other restless bird. This is the thought of Vedanta. The fruits in the story are Karma, the restless bird denotes a human soul, and the majestic bird denotes the Absolute.   – From Wikipedi.

 

All the Vedantists agree on three points. They believe in God, in the Vedas as sacred revelation, and in cycles. The cyclic belief is as follows: All matter throughout the universe is the outcome of one primordial matter called ākāsa; and all force or energy is the outcome of one primordial force called prāna. Prāna acting on ākāsa creates or projects the universe. At the beginning of a cycle of activity, ākāsa is motionless, unmanifested. Then prāna begins to act, gradually creating grosser and grosser forms of ākāsa. The plants, animals, people, the stars and so on are formed. After an incalculable time this evolution ceases and involution begins. Everything becomes finer and finer going back into the original ākāsa and prāna. Both can be resolved into a third thing called mahat, the cosmic mind. This is beyond them. Cosmic mind does not create ākāsa and prāna, but changes itself into them.  

 

In the cosmology of Vedanta, there is a distinction between transcendental reality Parabrahman and Brahman, the creator of the phenomenal world, called Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Parabrahman is a vast cosmic ocean from which all arises. It is not an individual in the sense of a creator, or a being. Evolution is a finite process or karma. The Advaita Vedanta, which resemble closely the teachings of Theosophy, teaches that in the heart of our hearts we are Parabrahman. Each atom has an illusory garment that they wear, but its fundamental essence is Parabrahman. Vedanta is a tolerant system of belief. It says that everything is God. All is one so don’t condemn others.

 

Vedanta has a theory of error and a theory of knowledge. The theory of error is perceptual illusions. In our mistaken perception of seeing a rope for a snake. This is phenomenal, the rope really exists, but our mind thinks it is a snake. Advaita frequently uses this analogy. The theory of knowledge falls into two categories. 1. Empirical knowledge derived from perception, inference and verbal testimony. This is conventional relating to the phenomenal world. 2. Transcendental knowledge, the goal of the spiritual seeker. This is ultimate truth, attaining to enlightenment. In a higher state of consciousness, we break through our individuality and see our divine essence. Brahma is real, ‘Unborn, unchanging, eternal and primeval.’ One without a second.

 

So how does Cosmic Mind which is unchangeable, manifest into something that is changeable and perishable? This is called Vivartavada or apparent manifestation. The universe is only an apparent evolution of God. Here again is the famous illustration of this that recurs constantly in Vedanta. The idea that when we see a rope at dusk, lying in the grass, our mind mistakes this rope for a snake. The result is we become afraid, this is due to our misconception. This is how we perceive a world of diversity. It is because we are ignorant of our true nature of reality.

 

There are a couple of mystical examples from the Vedanta teachings, found in the Upanishads that I would like to quote. In the Kaustaki Upanishad, the teacher Ajatasatru and his pupil Balaki, while walking they stumbled upon a sleeping man. Ajatasatru said to the sleeping man:

 

“O great one! O bright-robed one! O King Soma!” But the man remained sleeping, until Ajatasatru pricked him with his stick. Only then did the sleeping man stand up. Ajatasatru asks his pupil Balaki; “Where was this man just now while he was sleeping?” But Balaki did not know, so Ajatasatru told him. “In man there are arteries which are called Hita (salutarily active, beneficent). These arise out of the heart and surround the heart pouch or pericardium. These arteries are so fine, like a hair split a thousand times. They are filled with fluids of various colours, red, brown, yellow, white and dark. In these finely filled arteries one stays when one is asleep.”

 

Long before the days of the electron microscope, the ancients already knew about the tiniest arteries in the physical body.

 

Another quote from the Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.14, when describing the God in us:

 

“The sun does not shine there, nor the moon or the stars,

Nor does lightening, let alone the earthly fire.

He, alone, shines and all others shine after Him,

The whole world shines by his shining splendour.”

 

The religion of ancient India had a scientific basis, similar in many ways to concepts of modern Western Quantum Physics. The ancients were aware of the subtle principle underlying all things.

 

One more example of the subtlety of the scripture is found in the Bhagavad Gita, 9, 4-5:

 

“All this universe is pervaded by me in my invisible form;

All beings exist in me, but I do not exist in them.

Nor are all things in me; behold this, my divine mystery:

Myself causing things to exist and supporting them all

But dwelling not in them.

Understand that all things are in me

Even as the mighty air which passes everywhere is in space.

 

O son of Kunti, at the end of a Kalpa

All things return unto my nature, and then, again

 At the beginning of another Kalpa, I cause them to evolve again.

Taking control of my own nature

I emanate again and again

This whole assemblage of beings, without their will,

By the power of the material essence.”

 

 

There is but one Spirit and not several. We cannot live for ourselves alone, because there is no such thing as separateness. Take us humans for example. We are beings that are born, and after a while we die, as a result we are imperfect. Throughout beginningless and endless time we will be running the eternal cyclic rounds of the developing and unfolding of what is in us, constantly more, and more. But the Spirit is beginningless and without an end. Another important thought is that there is no escaping the collective karma of the human race.

 

There were several great teachers of Vedanta. Two of them are its most famous for the West. Firstly there was Shankara-acarya who was born about 510 B.C. He only lived to be 32 years old. In a mystical way he was esoterically the successor of the Buddha. Owing to his extraordinary capacities he accomplished many great spiritual works for humanity. Like the Buddha he saw and knew the universe face to face. Recent discoveries have found that Shankara did not found Advaita Vedanta, but he was one of its most famous teachers.

 

He argued that knowing is not an act, and that actions cannot remove ignorance. For example to milk a cow, someone has to have the right instruments and make an effort; but knowing a cow, no effort is required. All that is needed is the presence of the cow and the appropriate organs of cognition. False knowledge is mistaking a rope for a snake. We can correct this error by being aware the thing is a rope and not a snake. No amount of activity will correct this error unless it produces the correct awareness. Actions cannot remove ignorance, that’s why wisdom is higher than actions. By meditating we gain more wisdom than by reading or study. Although combining the two, meditation and study, is better.

 

The other great teacher of Advaita Vedanta of modern times was Swami Vivekanada. He was born in 1863, he too died at an early age of 39 years. He made the teachings more accessible to the West. By his understanding of the difficulties of modern English words, he was able to convey the difficult ancient Hindu meanings into accessible and readable English. He argued that there are three things necessary for knowledge.  Instinct, reason and inspiration. Instinct belongs to animals, Reason to man and Inspiration to God-Men. The lower develop into the higher. In humans, instinct has developed into reason, and reason into inspiration.

 

He addressed the question on how the Infinite and Absolute, can become the Finite? The Absolute (a) becomes the Universe (b), meaning everything that exists, visible and invisible.  It does this by coming through space, time and causation (c). Time, space and causation are the glass through which the Absolute is seen from the lower side, the universe.  In the Absolute there is neither, time, space nor causation. The idea of time cannot be there because there is no mind or thought. The idea of space cannot be there, seeing that here is no external change. What we call motion and causation cannot exist where there is only One. What we call causation begins after the degeneration of the Absolute into the phenomenal world and not before. Our will, desire and all these other things always come after that.

 

 

Time, space and causation are described as Maya or illusion. In other words here we mistake the rope for a snake. We see the phenomenal world as the real world, not realizing that all life is momentary. Truth is in the unchanging ever present All as beautifully illustrated in the following quote found in the Svetasvatara Upanishad, 4. 1.

 

“The One who, himself without colour,

By manifold application of his power

Distributes many colours in his hidden purpose,

And into whom, its end and its beginning,

The whole world dissolves ― He is God!

May he endow us with clear intellect!”

 

               

Does all this matter for daily life here and now?

 

Hinduism is really a way of life rather than a religion, as pointed out at the beginning of this article. Discussion of the Vedanta can get pretty complicated at times, so what does all this philosophy mean for us here and now and living in the Western world.

               

          The same qualities of the ‘Higher Self’ encouraged by the different schools of Vedanta should be manifest in everyday life: humility, patience, tolerance, understanding, compassion, love – all of what is generally recognized the world over as being the finest human qualities.

 

          Essentially this means living outside of our own lower-ego fulfilment and becoming less personal as spiritual awareness grows.

 

          We should turn our energies ‘upwards’ towards compassion, rather than ‘downwards’ towards desire for personal benefit.

 

          We should generally become ‘other-centred’ rather than ‘selfish’ in our daily behaviour.

 

          This doesn’t mean abandoning looking after ourselves or our immediate family – this quality in Hinduism being called, ‘Artha’, or material welfare; and we should also develop spiritual discrimination of what is right or wrong for us in any situation, termed, ‘Viveka’ in Hinduism.

 

          The attempt to lift our state of consciousness also helps with uplifting Humanity as we are all connected at an inner level of our composite nature. As theosophical teacher HP Blavatsky reminds us:

 

          ‘It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin alone. In reality there is no such thing as ‘Separateness’. ” The Key to Theosophy: page 203.

 

We have the opportunity everyday in our interactions with other people to express the qualities of the ‘Higher Self’ encouraged by the great wise-men or Mahatmans of India, as in every corner of the globe. If we develop these qualities amidst the tests of daily life experience that will make sure we keep to the ‘Path of Compassion’ which different Vedanta schools in their own ways encourage us to follow.

 

Source references:

 

  • Encyclopaedia of Eastern philosophy and religion           Schuhmacher and Woerner
  • ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY                       G. de Purucker
  • Studies in occult philosophy                                                            ”
  • Sixty Upanishads of the Veda                                               Paul Deussen
  • The unknown teachings of Lao Tzu                                     Hua Hu Chin
  • Nature’s finer forces                                                                Rama Prasad
  • The Yogas and other works.                                                   Vivekananda
  • The Unknown teachings of Lao Tzu                                       Hua Hu Ching
  • Het mysterie van het Zelf Upanishad                                    W.H. Vledder
  • Vedanta                                                                                      Wikipedia, free encyclopaedia

 

 

If you wish to make a comment on this lecture or contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

[The wisdom traditions of many lands speak of ancient civilizations stretching back into the past beyond the scope of currently accepted archaeological time-scales. In addition, it seems that ancient peoples travelled more widely than has been suspected until recently as is described as a possibility by Robert Dick-Read’s original research on the ancient seafaring people’s of our northern neighbours from Indonesia. – Editor]

 

There is a tendency to underestimate the prowess of ancient voyagers, with the result that important historical events sometimes lie hidden simply because we have not believed them possible. Indonesian activity in Africa over a thousand years ago is a striking case in point.

  The problem stems from the fact that Southeast Asian historians have rarely looked beyond their boundaries, while Africanists have confined themselves rigidly to their continent, thus leading to serious historical distortions in both regions.

 Misconceptions might well have remained thus but for one anomaly … the island of Madagascar, whose Austronesian language-base is more similar to that of Easter Island 14,000 miles to the east than to that of African languages a mere 200 miles to the west.  Madagascar’s Indonesian connections leave no doubt that Southeast Asians once crossed the Indian Ocean and came to Africa.

In the centuries before Islam, and the subsequent Muslim settlement of the East African coast – and before Bantu-speaking people migrated in large numbers from their homelands in Western Africa, the indigenous people of Eastern Africa were mainly San hunter-gatherers, relatives of Southern Africa’s Bushmen of today who lived a simple, primitive, life.   But on the coast, for many years living alongside the San, were also people who became known as the ‘Zanj’ whose precise origins have remained enigmatic.  Careful observation, however, leaves little doubt that the Zanj must have been a polyglot mix of autochthonous Africans, and Indonesians whose mariners enabled them to occupy Africa’s offshore islands, as well as maintaining contact with their homelands in Southeast Asia.

Although, apart from a few later Arab records, there is no documentary evidence to help us – and though, as we shall see, there must have been contacts centuries earlier – the most prolific period of contacts between Southeast Asia and Africa probably came after the middle of the first millennium AD when the powerful Mahayana Buddhist state of Srivijaya (Sumatra and Java), with its well organised fleets of Bugis, Bajau, and Makassar sailors, began to extend its overseas interests.   This was doubtless spurred on by the discovery of gold and other minerals in the African hinterland.

Though Madagascar may have been known to the Zanj for many years, it was only in about the sixth or seventh century AD that there was a major migration from the African mainland to ‘The Great Isle’, as it was known.   As today’s Malagasy demonstrates, these early migrants must have spoken an Austronesian language substantially mixed, by then, with a Bantu vocabulary.

Both Indonesia and Madagascar left indelible legacies in East Africa. The convergence of Malagasy and African cultures, for instance, are to be found in Zimbabwe’s famous ancient stone ruins: also the thousands of miles of terraced mountainsides in the east of the country around Nyanga.   Indonesian culture was noticeable in such fields as music – for example the pan-pipes; and xylophones played from southern Africa to Uganda and beyond; and the designs of outrigger canoes which still share some Bugis, Bajau and Makassar nomenclature.  Contacts with Southeast Asia continued until about the 13th century when pressure from migrating Bantu tribes, and the ever-increasing strength of Muslim city-states on the coast, shut off the life-lines across the Indian Ocean; and eventually contacts between Madagascar and the mainland.

 

Round about 1,000 BCE, when sailors from Southeast Asia were discovering virtually every spec of land in the Pacific Ocean, it seems probable that they also began to explore west into the Indian Ocean.  Borneo-style blowguns in southern India, and outrigger boat designs in India and Srilanka, suggest that Indonesians might have crossed the Bay of Bengal even before today’s Dravidian people migrated into southern India.

  

Furthermore it is also probable they might have reached Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and sailed up the west African coast, exploring many of the great rivers as early as the 5th C. BCE.   Fossilized seeds of bananas (plants that came to Africa from Southeast Asia along with yams and other edible crops) have been found in the Cameroons and dated to about 450 BCE; and equally ancient sculptures found buried at Nok on Nigeria’s Jos plateau depict elephantiasis, a disease thought to have originated in the coastal swamps of Southeast Asia.

 

 

By coincidence (or is it?) the Nok sculptures were found close to the village of Taruga, famous for some of the earliest (c.450 BCE) iron smelting sites in sub-Saharan Africa.    Experts will doubtless continue arguing about the origins of iron-smelting in Africa; but because many of the early sites in western Africa have been found near the coast and major rivers, a strong argument can be made that this technology was brought not from the Nile or across the Sahara from the North, but by mariners from the Far East.

 

As for artworks in bronze, of the 65 Arab chroniclers who wrote about sub-Saharan West Africa between the 9th and 17th centuries, none came within 1000 miles of Igbo Ukwu, near the Niger delta, where the most significant (9th c.) Nigerian bronze castings have been found.   It is virtually inconceivable that the mining and supreme cire perdue technology displayed in some of the incredible works found at Igbo Ukwu were developed locally.   So from where did the technology come?    Was it overland from the North?  … or across the oceans from the Far East?

 

It should not be overlooked that Igbo Ukwu’s dates are contemporaneous with those of the great Buddhist monument of Borobudur in Java, where the magnificent outrigger ships of the Buddhist merchant and craftsman Maitrakanyaka are depicted on the temple walls.  As the lower Niger River would have been far more accessible from the sea than over deserts and forests from the north, the possibility that large Indonesian outriggers rounded the tip of southern Africa must be given serious consideration.

 

The technology displayed at Igbo Ukwu was the same as that used later at Ife (Yorubaland) and Benin.  Though the hand of African artists in Nigeria’s cire perdue works cannot be questioned, the subject matter of many is of considerable interest. Compare, for instance, statuettes of some Yoruba grandees which bear a striking resemblance to many small Buddhist figurines that have been found in Southeast Asia.   Perhaps of greater significance are the number of important features that crop up in Nigerian art and ceremony that mirror the eight ‘auspicious’ Buddhist symbols – the Umbrella; the Conch shell; the Dharma wheel; the Knot of Eternity; the Treasure Vase: the Lotus flower and bud; and the pairs – always pairs – of fishes.

 

The last link with Buddhism may be the hugely important Yoruba ‘religion’ – the divination system known as ‘IFA’, wrongly thought to have been introduced by Arabs, but more likely to trace its origins to the I-Ching based system used by the Mahayana Buddhists of India and Southeast Asia, (and closely similar to the system of divination used as far away as the Caroline Islands in the Pacific).   As the Mahayana Buddhist state of Srivijaya was dedicated to spreading its religion far and wide it would indeed be strange if no part of it reached the shores of Africa.

 

If you are interested to follow these ideas further, please read: The Phantom Voyagers – Evidence of Indonesian Settlement in Africa in Ancient Times available from the author at: robert.dread@ntlworld.com 

 

Editor’s note: A different view of the origins of civilisation in West Africa has been expressed by Nigerian members, Igwe Amakulo and E.A. Awa. This view gives the evidence that West African arts and religion developed locally without the influence of foreign cultures. This detailed analysis is available by writing to the editor.

 


The greatness and spiritual profundity of our reverent Norse forefathers expressed in their Norse and Germanic myths and great epic poems, The Eddas, has always been realized by some perceptive people.  I recall in the 1947 issue of our Icelandic Theosophical Society´s magazine, Gangleri, an article on Heathenry (Paganry) as being pure Theosophy.

 

Please note that the name Gangleri is one of the Norse main-god Óðin‘s numerous meaningful names. The meanings of names of gods and goddesses correlate with, and emphasize, what the relevant myth or poem is conveying.  What few know, is, that Gangleri is derived from Sanskrit गङ्गलहरि gangalahari, which means: a wave of wisdom from the sacred river गङ्ग (Ganga).

 

Symbolic: a flow

 

In mythsrivers“ are symbols for deeper concepts and phenomena:  A flow.  We have lots of flowing rivers in Norse mythology and their names have true meaning. Do not take the symbol ´a river´ to be more than an indication, a cue, a metaphor, to lead us to the inherent and profound meaning, an unseen flow. Theosophical author, the late Elsa-Brita Titchenell, was so right when she wrote in one of her books: The Masks of Odin, warning us of how easy it is to be led astray in our understanding by symbolic personifications of nature’s powers and processes such as are often represented in the ancient Norse myths. She symbolically re-enforces her warning of this trap by avoiding all pictures of the Norse god Óðinn in her book. Her message is clear: symbolic representations of Gods and Goddesses are not real people, as pictured even in the myths themselves. Ancient symbolic language might make them appear in this way: humans in funny old stories. We do not see the Chinese concepts of yin yang as people. Not either the Vedic concepts of Purusha and Prakriti. So why should we see Óðinn and Freyja as people?

Answer: This has been imprinted. But we have to learn to know what they mean in the symbolic language of myths.

 

We have a valid excuse for these anthropomorphized pictures. In an esoteric understanding of Norse and Germanic myths, every manifest thing is in the image of Ginnungagap (which is the Norse term for the Great Void). In Vedic wisdom and knowledge similarly, only the great Oneness, Brahman, is. Nothing else is there. So, the whole cosmos, the whole of Nature, including the human body, is in the image of Ginnungagap (colloquially called The Gap“).  All that exists which we call manifestation“ is It, Brahman, Gap. But, take heed: this fact does not make the Gap and the Gods to be humans, or persons. It does not work that way. The Gap is not taking part in Its Cosmic Play. We as pure consciousness are not either taking part! We (our souls) are the Gap. So: we are the Gap, and Gods and Goddesses are in us. They are our flawless administrators of our universe.

 

How did these Living but Unseen Powers become like ‘Marble Statues’?

 

To begin with, powers in nature were felt and some of them eventually called Gods and Goddesses. Felt and known they may be, but they are unseen by human eyes. Later they became concrete anthropomorphized personifications, with attributes that artists and authors put on them. We admire the Greek perfect statues of marble and stone in human form, but Gods and Goddesses are not made of such concrete a substance at all. Gradually these concrete expressions of Gods and Goddesses overshadowed what they originally should have represented: unseen powers and Laws of Nature in the universe.

 

The polytheistic, or pantheistic, world-view is that of all being a Whole, as only Ginnungagap is. The Norse Gap is, as said before, equivalent of Brahman.

A Whole implies, that we, also, are this Wholeness, Oneness, not just parts. We shall not violate the Laws of Nature, i.e. we should live in harmony with our Gods and Goddesses, as they are flawless worldly powers in us. They are Deva, or administrators of Natural Law. Gods and Goddesses, thus, are parts of a Whole. Each one can be understood, truly, but no one God or Goddess should be cut out of the context of the Whole. That would defy The Whole. Such an isolated mono-god tends to become a tool – used by unscrupulous worldly political and religious powers to dominate ordinary people. In history we have over and over again seen that smart device used as a strategy to maintain power.

 

Heathenry:

 

Heiðni“ is the Icelandic word for Heathery, or, forni siður“ (´ancient tradition´, from Sanskrit words: puran siddhi). The term Ásatrú is the invention of a later time. The word itself, ása-trú, sounds like belief in Æsir“ (Asa), and is thereby misleading. Used (and perhaps invented) to compare our ancient tradition, heiðni, with the theocratic dogma of later religious systems. It is really not at all possible to compare Theosophy and Theocracy in more than one-way: One is a wolf in sheepskin, the other a lamb in the garb of a wolf. The garb on the wolf is flowery words about Heaven and Peace. Tends to be very expensive. The garb around the lamb is that of symbolic language, hidden meaning, and, unfortunately, a bunch of deliberate or ignorant misinterpretations.  The sheepskin on the wolf contains lots of beautiful ancient sayings, recycled, and adopted into monotheistic systems. Looks great. We can easily be taken in, intellectually and emotionally. We should simply stick to that part, and find the real Theosophy and Truth contained in the flowery words. But when money, killing, and the gaining of territory and dominance come into view, we should recoil, and let the tricky wolf sleep. He might bite. Do not ever ever abuse Jesus’ original message for that of the dominance part of theocratic systems.

 

So, what is what?

 

So what is what in this mystical sea of promises for peace on earth, funny or sweet stories, threat of hell, etc.? It is not so unfathomable at all. We can easily understand intellectually, if we care to understand. I can only tell you here what our forni siður (our ancient Norse tradition) is, and what it is not.

 

Heathenry is not a belief-system at all. We do not believe in Gods and Goddesses. They are our innermost powers emerging in Ginnungagap some 13.7 billion years ago, and will be ours till the end of this our universe. This end-of-the-world is known in Norse and Germanic tradition as Ragnarök, which means: ‘origin of rögn’ (origin of Gods, or Æsir, or Tívar).  Logically, as at ,he broken symmetry re-unites, merges in its origin The Unified Field of Total Natural Law (Ginnungagap).  Ragnarök will be, according to modern astronomy either the Big Rip“ or the Big Crunch“. We should realize that from the Big Bang untill Ragnarök our universe, this beautiful Schauspiel“, is only Ginnungagap (the Wholeness, Brahman).

 

Not a man-made system – but Science of Consciousness

 

We do not see forni siður as a man-made system, but as an ancient science of consciousness. Heathenry is pure Theosophy, and can therefore, not be rationally  paralleled to theocratic systems, even if, at a glance, these two seem to be about the same topic of concern. Heathens cannot dispute on anything, there is nothing to kill for, and we have as many opinions as there are men. We claim Heiðni (Heathenry) to be that of peaceful men as Heiðni is completely useless as a tool to dominate or to claim obedience of anyone. It is all about self-evolution and purpose of our lifespans on earth. And we are aware of our Urður Verðandi Skuld, i.e. our karma (actions) and their consequences, the Natural Law of an action having an equal reaction. Our fate, örlög, is our own responsibility. As we sow so we shall reap.

 

So, heathen mothers cannot use any kind of an imaginary bogeyman“ as a method of punishment, or Santa Claus as an enticement to good behaviour:  that cruel and degrading tool, the raw potato in the shoe in the window-sill in December. In Heiðni there is not that Heaven-or-Hell concept, no stick nor a carrot. Every child learns to be all-responsible for himself or herself, and for the whole of Nature. The keys are to live in tune with Natural Law, never violate Laws of Nature, be heedful, and, most important:  to Transcend. We learn about transcending and the benefits thereof (skill in action) in one of our ancient Norse Edda-poems Hávamál (verses 138-163).

 

Nýsa Niður – Transcending.

 

To transcend is in Icelandic/OldNorse: nýsa niður. Nýsa, an intransive verb in Icelandic language, means to spy, or curiously peep, investigate sneakingly, and níður means, ‘down’, same word as English neath“ (poetic for beneath). Actually we have the verb nýsa in past tense in the poem Hávamál: past tense nýsta, nýsta ek niður. Why would that be? I shall explain:

 

In the state of transcendence we are fully awake, fully perceptive to the wisdom, but not thinking in the sense of:  I am performing the act of transcending my thoughts. Because that would be a thought.  We have peeped down under all such thoughts into the fourth stage of consciousness. We can only tell afterwards as we come out into thoughts anew, when we naturally ´fall from there again“ (in Hávamál: fell ek aftur þaðan) into realm of waking stage of thoughts. In the waking state we can speak about it. Tell others. And we should do that. Now we have imbibed ourselves with the ´know-how´, karmasu kaushalam, skill in action. In Icelandic: fimbulrúnir (mighty sacred secret runes). The only way to perform perfectly right actions spontaneously in the world, in full accord to the Laws of Nature, is to transcend regularly, contact the All Nourishing and Evolutionary Field, The All Possibilities Field, the Infinite Organizing Power, Ginnungagap.  An easy task!  We are It. Mind is going home, where mind is imbibed with all Bliss, Love and Pure Knowledge.

 

Dr. Harald S. Harung, a Norwegian researcher, wrote an article in the scientific, Journal of Human Values, in 1996, about pure spirituality contained in Heathenry such as the act of transcending in the Hávamál (vísa (verse) 138 and following). Harald´s research is derived from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi´s wish to find this profound understanding of life in the ancient spiritual traditions in our world. Maharishi asked for this research being done to find the abyss in ancient traditions of the world. Harald is glad that I carry on with it and do it thoroughly.

 

The Supreme Goal of Human Birth

 

Our reverent Norse forefathers knew the vital importance of transcending. How practical that actually is in daily life. Gain fimbulrúnir for powerful, divine, and positive force and skill in man´s worldly actions. To live man‘s full, inherent potential, gain the true motivation for our powerful actions in the world. No waste on petty actions. This fundamental knowledge is intellectually understood only by a few, and sorry to say, it is practiced, and lived by even fewer. Our goal and purpose is reaching Valhöll (known in English as Vahalla). Mind you:  we might have come across misleading explanations about Valhöll. Valhöll is our heightened stage of consciousness, enlightenment, fully alive, in one of our lifespans. Reaching Valhöll, i.e. gaining enlightenment, is the very purpose of lifespans. This is the supreme goal of human birth.

 

[Note: We sometimes come across some confusion with after-death ideas alien to Heathenry. These are inventions of a later time that have nothing whatsoever to do with Valhöll in its true and original understanding as the purified stage of spiritual growth of living people. Our beloved Hel, Helia, is, on the other hand, a delightful coffee-break“ between lifespans, She, Hel, is a rest. We love her. Hel has nothing to do with Hell, which is used as a threat as some place of eternal suffering after death, as commonly understood in some popular belief-systems.]

 

In the polytheistic, or pantheistic, world-view  – being that of all being, a Whole – the right way is to live in accord and harmony with The Whole. Never violate the perfect Laws of Nature. Live in accord with our flawless Gods and Goddesses. Living Truth is the vital part. To do so, we shall transcend, nýsa niður. The message is clear.

Heathenry implies: Include the worldly powers, but yet live the Oneness of all as The Supreme: Ginnungagap, the Gap Ginnunga – what we are!  It is our very Self. Consciousness. We are consciousness.

 

[Note: The Gap – being The Great Void or Universal Consciousness is, in Icelandic, pronounced ‘gaap’ or ‘gaab’, not as English ‘gapp’. Yet it is the same Old-Norse and Old-English word. It is neither masculine nor feminine but a concept neuter in gender.]

 

Dark Ages

 

During the philosophic Dark Ages“ of Europe when the Roman Empire’s brutality ruled from Palestine to England, the monotheistic God was imposed as a device to control and rule the peoples of Europe. Theocracy was used as a strategy to rule the subjected peoples. During these Dark Ages, Heathenry was disdained and ridiculed by all possible means by the authorities of the day in order to get Heathenry erased over time. Much harm was done to true spiritual understanding at this time. People were brainwashed to the extent of making them believe our forni siður (our ancient cult and wisdom) to be all-brutality and ignorance. Those who did not agree were mercilessly persecuted. Now, in a more free-thinking age, we are re-discovering the true core and essence of our Norse and Germanic forefathers´ great tradition. We are awakening it from its ages as The Sleeping Beauty. We give it a kiss, and we wake up!

 

Theocracies look outwardly pious by repeating ancient scriptures and myths, recycled from spiritual texts and adapted to their uses of today. I recall six virgin births from ancient texts, sons of Gods and human virgin mothers. Also an ancient version of the story of Moses as a baby in the basket on the river. And, in the Bhagavad-Gita we have: The course of actions is unfathomable, गहना कर्मनो गतिः, gahanaa karmano gatih, which was used in a Theocracy as if a God were ruling actions. And some more ancient symbolic terms, if you wish, about Gods loving mankind: In Europe we have Zeus the Greek God approaching human women, like Leda and Europa. We have a theocratic mono-God approaching Miriam in Nazaret. Also:  our Norse God Lord Freyr sends his Divine Ray, Skírnir, when he wants the human girl Gerður to realize that she should not be living for her worldly stuff only. This is the Edda-poem Skírnismál, about God Freyr and human Gerður in Gymisgarðar. Gymisgarðar symbolizes material abundance only, without Gerður‘s understanding of the importance of the divine part of her life. She is all absorbed in material considerations.

 

Myths and godspells“ (gospels) and sacred poems, kvæði, are often conveyed in esoteric symbolic language. Often funny, but they contain profound hidden allegory. The pure ones“ understand the spirituality contained in them, but the crude ones“ laugh and ridicule because of the poems‘ apparent stupidity. They say: “Did people of ancient times really believe this rubbish!”

 

So why do Some Understand and Others Not?

 

There is even a theory which suggests that this apparent absurdity found in our Norse myths, seemingly so amusing and stupid, is what actually saved our spiritual heritage from being burned at the stake as devilish and dangerous stuff. Some might have assumed:  these funny and naive poems could not do any harm but would make a good tool to ridicule these simple-minded, olden, pagan guys. That would come in handy to destroy that primitive stuff and replace it with the theocratic device as intended by religious authorities.

 

Funnily enough some people take some myths seriously and then, stubbornly, term other similar or identical myths as stupidity, even if these really are conveying the same phenomenon. These fixed ideas connect to ´labels´ to which people bind themselves: My label X“ has everything correct and divine, that label Y“ has everything fake, pseudo, and devilish! The problem is that we can find the same core thread of ideas running through countless versions of the Truth expressed in mythology around the globe. All depends upon the purity of the speaker. If we take off our black goggles of brainwashing, we will see.

 

All these labels are all-worldly tags“, causing endless arguments, and, even worse, their use as a struggle for money and power. It is the nature of worldly things to be all differences and contradictions, like hot cold, good bad, right wrong. Whatever contains contrasts and divisions is all-worldly stuff or ideas. Note also that some one word, one term, can have apparently opposed meanings, like Lucifer (literally: the light-bearer) and Lucifer (a devil). And think about the term Truth, of how it can be manipulated. Pseudo-truth can be sold as Truth. Even for profit. The reason: All-worldly stuff or ideas always contain diversity. Diversity is in the nature of created things – and ideas.

 

Then – What is this Truth?

 

It is the Fundamental Field of All Existence. The Field, That which only Is. – There is nothing outside It, as It is the One And Only that is. We might hear of Its many names, but, too commonly without understanding. It is spoken of by names such as: The Unified Field of Total Natural Law, Tao, Brahman, Ginnungagap, Pure Consciousness, etc.  As the Rig Ved has it: “Truth is one, the wise call it by many names”, or in Sanskrit language: Ekam sad vipra bahudhaa vadanti,

 

In one of our Norse Edda-poems, Skírnismál, we have the term lognfara lundur Barri, (the windless grove of ever-greens). To meet the divine there is Nirvana. Human Gerður, at last, meets divine Lord Freyr for Yog. (Edda-poem Skírnismál.)

 

What we are now starting to realize is that Consciousness is Brahman“ (as it says in the Aitareya Upanishad). And what is more:  We are given an easy technique, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) to live Pure Consciousness, which is Pure Knowledge, our very Self. An easy, effortless, and natural technique. Mind in least agitation naturally finds Bliss within. Mind´s very inherent nature is to seek the greatest happiness. Using the TM-technique to transcend, naturally and effortlessly gives mind the chance to settle down and expand to the Unboundedness within.

 

We explain the term nýsa niður as to transcend our mind and thougths, be Unbounded Bliss, and so imbibe Total Potential of Natural Law.  In Norse myths called gaining fimbulrúnir and good galdur for perfection in all actions, “karmasu kaushalam”. This is how Jesus walks on water.

 

Gradually, by practice of transcending, we spontaneously live in accord with our Gods and Goddesses, i.e. never violate the Laws of Nature. Spontaneously means we do not need commandments or codes or rules. We naturally love our neighbour and do no harm, as we see all as Our Self, in Our Self.

 

Each person‘s Stage of Consciousness.

 

There is another reason beyond blinding labels that dominate our reason: that is each person´s stage of consciousness.

 

For sure, we often do see that each person interprets the myths according to his or her stage of understanding. We can even come across a child who clearly understands the abyss. We can also meet an adult (even some so-called scholars and experts) who does not fathom any spirituality in life. IQ has nothing to do with this kind of understanding or seeing. It is the purity of the person that counts in this context. I.e. the stage of consciousness in which he or she lives.

 

We really say: The world is as you are“. And it is true. Do we know that each man/woman actually ´makes´ his/her world? Therefore his/her world is as he/she sees it.

 

World, in Icelandic, is veröld (ver-öld), and can be simply translated as the lifespan of a human being.  Modern physics confirms that what we see as matter, or the material universe, is actually energy/vibrations (waves). These vibrations are, in esoteric Norse mythology, called Gungnir (literally vibrations, or quantum physic´s superstrings). Out of these Gungnir we interpret in our brain our world“ of sensory understanding, i.e. that something we claim to hear, touch, see, taste, and smell – this ‘out-there’. We might not know that our lovely five senses present our mind with Gungnir alone. We might not either be aware of that we are Ginnungagap, Consciousness, overshadowed by that our mind-creation. So led astray from who we are in core and essence. The world of Gungnir becomes so real to our mind, that Reality Itself is overshadowed. Our very Self is no longer perceived. Only the makebelieve real stuff ‘out there’. We are like human Gerður in Gymisgarðar in the kvæði (poem) Skírnismál, who hardly wants anything to do with the God Freyr and his divine gifts or whatever that stuff Skírnir offers her. She is materially oriented and has no conception of her divine inner nature. Could such be the condition of some humans today??

 

A God as a Device

 

The Edda-poems and Norse ancient myths contain and convey pure spirituality. Unfortunately, man-made theocracies exist whose intention was to use theology and concepts from the ancient wisdom – grasped out of context – to dominate the common people.  The pantheon of Gods and Goddesses was banned, even though admitted to exist, and simply called other Gods“. History tells us about several such devious strategies by theocratic authorities.

 

The man-made theological systems look impressively complete, mystical, and believable. In my view, they should be more inclined to pure theosophy than strict ‘outer’ words. They should explain hidden meaning such as:  being lead from servitude to enlightenment, after some roaming in the desert of ignorance, to find the land“, which is, symbolically, man´s enlightenment. They should include in their teachings the purpose of life and how to reach the supreme goal in one of our lifespans. Religious systems change with people, so why not change people to the better by teaching Truth and then their belief-system will follow.

 

Wisdom of the Norse Goddess Syn

 

One of our Norse Goddesses is named Syn. She knows the purpose of human beings being born here on the Earth!

 

Her blessed name is akin to words like English sin, Sanskrit sattva, satya (Truth), Icelandic satt (true), and synjun (which means refusal or denial). What would Syn refuse? She is a motherly Goddess and would never prohibit us from entering Glasir, the golden-leaved forest. No. Every soul is most welcome. She only refuses filth and ignorance, i.e. Sin. We should purify ourselves of all sin. Syn is a sieve“ to rid us of all impurities, a filter, if you like. Nothing but Sin-less Perfection is her wish and goal for every human being on earth. This means enlightenment. We reach Valhöll (Valhalla) fully alive in one of our lifespans. Valhöll is a heightened stage of consciousness for a living person.

 

Syn calls us to consecrate ourselves to Purity through transcending thoughts.

We purify our human nervous system, a supreme vehicle“.  Our human nervous system is in Norse mythology represented by the eight-legged horse –Sleipnir). We purify our whole physiology by transcending regularly, so imbibing the Perfect Order into our life. So simple, yet so fundamentally useful and practical in our every-day life.  Why are we not taught these truths? What has the modern world forgotten?  Our reverent Norse forefathers knew these things, but we do not!

 

What is the Purpose of Man‘s Lifespan?

 

We have an answer in one of Óðin‘s many meaningful names. It is Síðhöttur, derived from Sanskrit  सिद्धर्थ (siddh-artha), which means: perfection as a goal.

[This etymological knowledge comes from Keshava Deva Shastri (Indian) and Christian Andreas Holmboe (Danish)]

 

The purpose of each lifespan is to gain enlightenment. Reach Valhöll whilst fully alive in this world. This profound teaching has been drastically missing in our education. We are not taught that the most important goal – actually man´s only true purpose -enlightenment – is within our grasp. I would call this a major flaw in modern education. Lack of purpose itself.

 

Are our educational institutions failing us? Our prevailing educational and religious systems are not only meagre and scant when it comes to the fundamental Truth and basis of all, but are too often leading us astray with their sole emphasis on created matter and worldly phenomena. Only, at the best, giving us some flowery words about ultimate questions that something is supposed to be somewhere for us to believe in and pray to. Even modern Philosophy is not touching ultimate questions, but rather degenerates into some petty discussions and brain-acrobatics, which is only the tiny tip of the iceberg of perceiving Truth. The great philosophers knew better. 90% of the iceberg is unseen in the depths. There lies the profundity of Philosophy: What are we? As the ancient Greeks would say: Gnoþi seauton, ‘know thyself’, gnoθi seauton.

 

We should take a 180° U-turn, from an ‘out-there’ approach to an ‘in-here’ understanding. Heaven is within, Nirvana is reached by diving within, Allah is within. This implies transcending in order to truly live The Divine within. Transcend our mind and thoughts and so imbibe the Total Potential of Natural Law. Our forefathers knew about divine and powerful skill and perfection in all actions in the Edda-poem Hávamál this practical know-how is termed as fimbulrúnir and good galdur. Our forefathers knew that we can easily live perfectly in accord with our Gods and Goddesses, i.e. spontaneously and automatically never to violate the Laws of Nature.

 

Talking about Spirituality versus  Living as a Spiritual Being

 

To my mind it is so fortunate that nowadays the world-wide spiritual movement, the world-state or, Global Country, offers Consciousness-based Education (CBE) to all schools and universities in the world from Kindergarten to PhD, and offers TM®, Transcendental Meditation for every person who is busy in worldly matters.

 

Now, we know the purpose of every man´s many life-spans: Enlightenment. But who, apart from us, knows?  How many teach us what is the purpose of our being here? Parents have failed to tell us, schools have failed us, expensive religious institutions seem not to know, or do not care. Or do not want us to know, as we do not need any intermediaries to transcend, and that very information would expose the institutions as being of no value to us. It seems religious systems generally and drastically fail us. Perhaps they do not even contain – or have forgotten – such wisdom?  None of the expensive systems is teaching us how to live The Truth.  Words about It are not the same as living It. Intellectual understanding – good as it is as a beginning – is not the same as being and living Truth. But this flaw is about to change to the best in our world right now.

 

When we learn the easy technique to transcend, we will understand the purpose of our being here on earth. We will see for what purpose we have chosen to been born into each our human lifespan. Edda-poems contain knowledge and wisdom, but I fear we do not understand the abyss. It is not enough to put a label on such expressions, such as: “I am a Heathen”, or, “I am a Christian”, etc, or as the Asian term goes: “I am Buddha”. These tags are of no real concern. When intellectual discussion was overwhelming the Buddha answered with silence alone. An enlightened man´s silence means:  Stop talking, just transcend and become pure and enlightened. Then Truth will reveal itself to you. When enlightened Jesus says ‘Heaven is Within’, he means: Stop talking about Heaven as some difficult-to-find place, thought of by some as a Utopia. Simply transcend to find Heaven Within.

 

If people now think they become wise by imitating the behavior of Buddha by not talking at all or answering nothing when asked about sacred teachings, they are simply giving the appearance of being men of knowledge. That learned and artificial attitude is a shallow surface. It is make-believe, like children´s game, and only a fake. A garb. As I see it, we should act and talk but gain the purity of our thoughts by transcending the world of thoughts. We gain nourishment in the Infinite Silence and Infinite Dynamism    ‘in-here’ not ‘out-there’. Not by only talking about it, nor in the sphere of thoughts alone. When we become enlightened we can truly explain.

 

If people think they reach Heaven Within by only talking about it and praying for it, something really important is missing in their lives. Talking is a worldly act. Even understanding intellectually is a worldly thought. But if we want our words not to be hollow and empty, if we want them to be powered by Pure Knowledge, we should transcend the world of thoughts, unite with Eternity, The Unboundedness, That, which we are in essence.

 

Even if someone sits in a cave for a lifetime he or she might not evolve at all. Just sitting and contemplating is not getting us all the way to our own real Self. Beware of numbness. Life is all vitality. We need to do a little bit.  The Brahmins, knowers of the Vedas, have always known this. They possess a delicate technique. According to Norse mythology, we need to find worm-holes through our space-time foam (terms speculated upon by modern quantum physics). Our reverent forefathers knew this. All the great teachers of the past and present tell us that the Truth lies within us. There are no barriers whatsoever. In the Bhagavad-Gita, II 40, we have: pratyavaayo na vidyate प्रत्यवायो विद्यते no obstacles exist. Nothing is more natural to us than transcending our own thoughts.  We might have in myths that we shall find what we seek in a hidden place – could be mythical cliffs or caves, but nothing is more natural to us than to reach our inner fountainhead of Wisdom. We simply seek in the right place:  ‘in here’. This is our real going home“.  Our Norse forefathers claim Óðinn (i.e. us) to take on the guise of a worm to slide into the cliff Hnitbjörg within us to find the Supreme Wisdom. The wisdom is the cauldron Kvasir, being guarded by our generous Gunnlöð, daughter of the olden grumpy thurs Suttungur. Please see the allegory and not the apparent characters on stage in the theatre of myths.

 

Why did this Knowledge get Lost?

 

Answer: We did not understand the symbolic language. But how did these kvæði (poems) and myths survive the dark ages of ignorance? Because they convey the eternal Truth and cannot die. As they are shrouded in the garb of symbolic language and metaphor, the persecutors of the ancient wisdom-traditions did not realize their hidden depths of heathen wisdom. They sneaked through the persecution of the ages and survived – at least some of them – till today!

 

We got lost in the thicket of indications and funny tales. We did not know how to transcend our thoughts to the Unboundedness beyond to reveal the inner understanding. We saw the unattractive peel of the fruit only not knowing its interior sweetness:  the delicious nourishing nectar. We saw Nature and we thought there was only Nature – that which our senses register. We knew not from whence Nature derives, and even less what Nature hides from our sight.

 

We might not realize that the bedtime stories, Snow-White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and her big bad wolf are really conveying the goal of reaching Valhöll, or enlightenment of a living person. They are myths in disguise. Beautiful bedtime stories when a child´s mind is on the verge of leaving the state of wakefulness after a whole day filled with innocent fun and play.

 

Our Goddess Syn assures us: Simply become pure. We innocently need to learn to transcend our mind and thoughts to truly understand. First then, we understand the blessed words of Jesus and other enlightened teachers. They speak to us from Unity. We need no distracting theological comments from outside. Whom do we trust in these vital matters anyway? Who is really worth listening to? Who is enlightened enough to be our Guru? And who is not? We cannot trust what might be mere flowery words about such an important matter as is our whole purpose of existence. The safest way to know is to purify ourselves and to become enlightened. Then we know. Then we see ourselves.

 

So what is the Sphere of Thoughts?

 

There is actually nothing out there. Many of us know this by now. We, each one of us, interpret vibrations of the Gap, the Gungnir (the term in Norse mythology for the vibrating super-strings of modern quantum physics) into a world. Our five senses gallantly convey to the mind whatever Gungnir (vibrations) they register. Our brain, then, interprets that intangible stuff into a world“. The world is as you are, we say. True indeed. The worlds are as many as there are living men, and each person‘s world is as he/she is: be it that of purity or of ignorance, of joy or hate. Remember: the word world, is in Icelandic veröld (ver-öld), and simply means: a lifespan of a living being.

 

We should innocently heighten our stage of consciousness. That we do by regularly transcending, nýsa niður, to the fourth stage of consciousness. Leaving for a while the three we know:  waking state, REM-sleep, and deep sleep.

 

I have seen that the TM-technique is the easiest, most natural, and most rewarding technique for every man. TM has, by scientific research, be found to score far above other methods of easing the mind. Millions have learned TM.  Thousands now practice TM-Sidhi (Sutra) and Yogic Flying . The effect is scientifically validated. (See: Global Country on the internet.) We are heightening the world consciousness by group-transcending.

 

The Maharishi Effect and the benefits of TM, Transcendental Meditation

 

Scientific research (by the hundreds) have proven the natural technique of Transcendental Meditation (TM®) to give balance of mind and consequently a healthy body – even when one practices alone. It is a gateway to perfect health and inner happiness. Real and lasting Bliss. When TM and TM-sidhi is practiced in groups, the transcendence influences our surroundings. It produces the Field-Effect when we so enliven The Field. Quantum physicist John Hagelin PhD, scientifically explains the analogy to the effects of group-transcending:  A comparable phenomenon of physics is when two loudspeakers are in synch, they produce four times the volume of one of them, amplify the waves; when three are in synch nine times the volume, etc.  When the advanced technique TM-Sidhi and Yogic Flying is practiced in groups this more effectively influences the whole nation and the whole world producing infinite correlation and orderliness. Scientifically proven by research for over 50 years now. A group of 100 yogic flyers practicing regularly together affects a total population of one million!

 

Research on some methods shows no transcendence

 

On the other hand, contemplation and concentration, when practiced by people busy in the world demonstrates by scientific experiments not to lead to transcendence, but might overtire the brain and the mind. Contemplation and concentration are in the sphere of thoughts. They keep the mind stuck and fixed there. These practices tend to even inhibit the natural tendency of the human mind to transcend thoughts. The feeling of relief when contemplation or concentration is stopped can be even as extreme as deafness and exhaustion. Transcending on the other hand, when learned and practiced as Maharishi teaches it, is a delightful and automatic process of naturally leaving even subtlest thoughts for a while and uniting individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness, as they are one, not two. In my opinion, all of us who are living in the stressful world of everyday life, should learn and practice this easy technique, TM, tailored for us by the enlightened Guru and physicist, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

 

Jesus tells us to find Heaven within. This is pure Theosophy. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi teaches us the Science of Consciousness. Consciousness is Brahman“ says  the Aitareya Upanishad. This science is all about pure theosophy. We find all within. Only Brahman, consciousness, is. Even this, as we tend to see it, emphatic universe, is Brahman.  Therefore: We need no mediators. They can even lead us astray –  even some 180° off course. Intermediaries should be dismissed altogether. We simply need a simple effective method, a technique, for reaching transcendence, to go within, naturally transcend the sphere of thoughts.

 

So easy. No Obstacles Exist (Bhagavad-Gita II40)

 

Scientific research on the Field Effect of group-transcendence and by EEG on our correlated brain waves is proving transcendence to be what all enlightened men and great philosophers are talking about through the ages. Transcendental Meditation, TM®, is the easiest and most effective technique to find the Perfect Orderliness within us. Remember, emphasized: Heaven is within. So is peace. Actually the only way to find lasting peace is to nýsa niður (transcend the world of thoughts) and be the Infinite Correlation, the Harmonizing, the Unmanifest.

 

The TM-technique is natural, easy, delightful, enlightening. All you need is a human nervous system. That vehicle is our mythical Sleipnir. By practising TM, all accumulated stress and impurities are released from our precious shrine of the soul“.  Our Goddess Syn is all about this consecration from sin to purity, from stress to sattva. The wise so purify the whole world. The ignorant ones will no longer want wars.

 

Our Supreme Purpose

 

The supreme quest of this highly evolved creature Mankind“, possessing the marvellous human nervous system, is to enliven the link between the Absolute and the Relative. Know it to be our High and Noble purpose to stir up The Field and so enliven Life on Earth. If we do not use this unique human ability, we might lose it. So we transcend.

 

 

see also:

on YouTube, search: Goiagodi

to get: Iceland Heathenry Chatter

see also:

Óðsmál web-site, since 1996:  www.mmedia.is/odsmal

for amusing and profound knowledge about Heathenry

for books in Icelandic:

on www.amazon.co.uk (or .com, or .de)  search: odsmal

 

In Norse tradition, we have many Goddesses, each one of whom has a profound meaning and a sphere of functioning:

 

Goddesses contain layers of meaning according to each man‘s understanding. Man‘s understanding depends upon his state of consciousness. Men, who are refined and almost enlightened, have the ability to perceive the layers, from the most obvious ones to the most subtle ones, into the Oneness of all, where no differences abide.

 

The coarse man, not yet possessing a refined nervous system — i.e. in Icelandic terms, his Sleipnir, being not yet apt, pure, and cultured enough — may perceive only the surface values.

 

Note: In Norse mythology, Sleipnir, is the eight-legged horse of Óðinn (Odin, the main-god of the ancient Norse tradition). Sleipnir is the finest of all steeds, representing man’s refined nervous system, a vehicle to attain pure consciousness, thus being our means to discover enlightened understanding.

 

 

Myths contain layers and allegory, so that every man can enjoy them on his term:

 

Note: ‘Man’ refers generically to Mankind. The plural word ‘Men’ refers to both men and women, and all human children. Please take into account my Icelandic use of these words.

 

In order to understand our beloved and much revered goddess Freyja, we have to see through personifications of her powers, and find the core and essence of them. Personifications are therefore OK — if we are not led astray by seeing such as ‘people’.

 

When we enjoy the perfection of ancient Greek statues, we tend to forget that these are originally the administrative and creative powers in the universe.

 

We should not let mythological personifications of worldly phenomena blind us to the fact that they are symbolic of something subtle and powerful.

 

Personifications are a good thing, actually, as everything in the created world is in the same pattern and in the image of Ginnungagap, the “Great Void” or “One-ness”, That which alone is, unmanifest eternity. Also the human body is in this image.

The personification equivalent of ‘Freyja’ amongst the Greek dieties are as Afrodita, and Hera or Nerþus “coming out of her bath” as some tended to see it. Greek Afrodita correlates to Roman Venus, to our Norse Freyja, in Sanskrit Shukra. Their week-day is Friday, correlating in all our languages. ‘Afros’ means ‘foam’.

 

What should be known is that Freyja‘s name is also derived from “froða“, foam, froth:

 

The Abyss of Waters, Ægir, is the very “place” from where the great goddess of creation emerges. The space-time ‘quantum’ foam perculates universes. (Please refer to the lectures of quantum-physicist Dr. John Hagelin on this point). Physics tell us that the space-time ‘quantum’ foam emerges from The Unified Field, bubbling in all shapes and forms until some break loose — to become universes.

 

So, if anything is symbolizing creation, it is Freyja. It is no small thing that she creates, as it is our universe — along with all that follows. No small thing that little Big Bang, carried out in a wee fraction of a second, by the grace of a female diety, a Goddess.

 

 

 

We should also know that in the foam there are little worm-holes.

 

We human beings can do, as does Óðinn, when he penetrates – in the shape, or guise, of a worm – penetrates the “barrier“ (as some may see that creation-thing to be) into the cliff Hnitbjörg to Gunnlöð, in order to imbibe the mead of wisdom in abundance, enjoying her hospitality.

 

Óðinn (in this myth) can not take his body along, as bodies are of the created world. Neither can we. We have to creep through Freyja without the body, leave our beloved body for a while in its place (in the world where it belongs), and come back to it after imbibing the mead of wisdom. Then we can fly in the world like an eagle.

 

In the ‘Hávamál’, vísa 138 and on:

 

Note: The ‘Hávamál’ in English means literally ‘Sayings of the High One’. It is a single poem in one of the ancient sacred books of the Norse people, ‘The Poetic Edda’.

By ‘layers of understanding’ it contains advice for righteous living, proper conduct, then seeking of the knowledge, and, the last part of Hávamál conveys the supreme wisdom, transcending, and the benefits thereof in human life.

 

In the last part of Hávamál, part of pure supreme wisdom, Hávi (Óðinn) tells us about transcending. He (and we, as ‘everyman’) peeps, or spies, underneath the creation to gain fimbulrúnir, the skill in action, and nine good galdrar, which is the power to “think our world”, i.e. create our world, as perfect as we wish it to be. A world is a man-thought phenomenon.

 

Use it or loose it:

 

Humans are the earth-species endowed with this superb nervous system, Sleipnir, that allows transcendence. We might lose this most precious ability if we do not use it. I recommend the easy, natural technique of Transcendental Meditation, or TM®.

(Please Google TM on the internet for more information and comprehensive scientific research).

 

It is interesting to know that the English word, “world” is the Icelandic word “veröld”:

 

Ver-öld, means a man‘s lifespan in Icelandic. So, each one of us creates his own veröld out of Gungnir. Gungnir in Norse mythology is the spear of Óðinn, but Gungnir really means ‘vibrations’.  Gungnir is the “super-strings” of Physics.

 

Each person, by placing their attention in an aspect of life that attracts him, creates his own conceptual world from ‘vibrations’. Thus, there are as many ‘worlds’ as there are living men. We can, by this knowledge, see that no two men might perceive “a world” in the same way. Worlds are individually designed by us. This is “the world is as you are“.

 

Men of exalted consciousness create a beautiful and loving world. They can easily penetrate the Freyja-creation, and thereby nurture themselves with pure wisdom. These men exalt their fellow-men, enlighten and uplift the whole of mankind. Freyja loves them, and they love her.

 

Freyja, the graceful Goddess, with great joy lends us her feather-guise whenever we need it, so that we can take a gandreið, to wherever we want.

 

Note: a gander is a goose, and gand-reið, a ‘goose-ride’. This is every pure man‘s ability to fly in the world.

 

During the Dark Ages in Europe some men disdained Goddesses:

 

Following the spread of Roman Christianity (theocracy) throughout Europe, Goddess-worship was banned, as was the reverence of the other Gods. But an annoying Goddess-deficiency syndrome seems to have accumulated in the consciousness of the people of Europe! In the end, a Goddess was promoted by the, by then, dominant Christian church throughout Europe. She was a woman obedient to the patriarchy. We know her as Holy Mary.

To her, great churches were dedicated, such as Notre Dame in Paris, and Vor Fruekirke in Denmark.

 

Note: Vor Frue = Our Lady; the title Fru (German Frau) being derived from the name Freyja

 

There is a lovely story of a huge Icelandic seaman visiting southern Europe some few years ago:

 

He was in south of Europe travelling with other Icelanders, visiting a Catholic church. There he watched old ladies in hooded cloaks light candles and put them at the feet of a Holy Mary icon. So he decided to do the same. His friends pointed out to him that the statue was that of Virgin Mary, the mother to Jesus. He replied: “Whatever they call her I do not mind. She is Freyja.”

 

Even if we love Freyja the most of all Gods and Goddesses, we should take heed:

 

It is unwise to take one god or one goddess out of the pantheon.

 

Note: The term God, Gods or Goð, is orginally neuter, i.e. neither masculine nor feminine. Therefore encompasses both Gods and Goddesses. The Roman Empire turned the term God into masculine singular for their theocratic purposes.

 

Our Gods are contained within the complete ‘Wholeness’, Ginnungagap, The Great Void, The Unified Field of Total Natural Law. Ginnungagap, Brahman, is not defined by qualities, only IS. Brahaman is eterniy, is unboundedness, is the unmanifest self-sufficient pure knowledge.

 

Gods and Goddesses are flawless organizing and creative powers in the created universe. All this “existence”, though, is only Ginnungagap, as nothing else is.  The functioning of Gods, or Laws of Nature, comes to an end in the end, when all “broken symmetry” re-unites in Ginnungagap. In the ancient Norse spiritual heritage this is termed as Ragnarök.

Rögn means the gods, æsir, tívar.

 

But Ginnungagap never ceases to be. Freyja is creation at the beginning of a universe, and she will leave as she came, only to start anew – as Ginnungagap perpetually perculates future universes.

 

So why all this playful creation-fun?  Does it have a purpose?

 

We should simply use our live-spans to evolve. That is what we are here for. Thanks to Freyja‘s creative power there is a universe for us for this highest purpose of man‘s many life-spans. So use them well. Set enlightenment as your highest goal in this your present life-span. That we do best by transcending every day, using our worm-holes in the space-time foam, imbibe the mead of wisdom. Great Goddess Freyja is our friend, now that we know the very purpose of life on earth, and strive for the highest goal: enlightenment

 

 – by Guðrún Kristín Magnúsdóttir, Iceland.

 

If you are interested in the symbolic language and allegory of the ancient Norse Edda-poems and myths, please go to YouTube and search under ‘Goiagodi’ to find ‘Iceland Heathenry Chatter’. 

Guðrún’s website is: www.mmedia.is/odsmal

 

Also illustrated books (for now in Icelandic language only) are available via Amazon. Search for: ‘Odsmal’ (or Óðsmál); for more books, search ‘freyjukettir’.

 

Many a man has, through the ages, seen the pure theosophy and spirituality of Heathenry (Paganry) found in the surviving Norse Edda – which is available from our library in Melbourne.

This present research has been inspired by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who has given us profound understanding of the supreme wisdom.

 

 

 

There is a lot of talk these days about spiritual initiation, enlightenment, Ascended Masters, Masters of Wisdom, Mahatmas, etc… but what does it all really mean? Is immediate enlightenment possible as advertised by several religious groups, or, is there a long slow road stretching ahead to spiritual achievement as many ancient traditions tell us?

A ‘new birth’: In Theosophy, initiation is generally used in reference to entering into this long and winding road to the sacred wisdom under the direction of initiates in schools specially dedicated to this type of learning – the Mystery Schools. By the process of a series of tests, a student or candidate for initiation quickens the natural journey of spiritual evolution. The candidate thus anticipates the growth that will be achieved by ordinary humanity at a much later time, but at the price of discipline and strength of character beyond the reach of the majority of people at this stage of spiritual development. He or she unfolds from within their latent spiritual and intellectual powers, thus raising individual self-consciousness, and helping raise world consciousness thereby, to a higher level. The induction of such a candidate into the various and increasing grades or degrees was aptly spoken of as a ‘new birth’.

When were initiations held? The times of the major initiations were/are determined by the earth’s orbit around the Sun, its orientation with the Sun, the other planets, and the Moon. The reason for this is essentially to facilitate the flight of the ‘inner man’ to various ‘worlds’ where initiatory experiences are available. The four major initiations were held at the Solstices (December and June) and the Equinoxes (March and September) being the ‘stations’ along the elliptical orbit of the Earth around the Sun. No doubt other astronomical influences from outside the solar system, such as our position in relation to the different constellations of the Zodiac, also played a part in the timing of initiation ceremonies. Major Christian festivals, principally Christmas and Easter, coincide with the ancient times of spiritual initiation. Theosophical teacher, Dr G de Purucker, summarizes these four sacred seasons:

“…You will remember that the mystic year contains four seasonal points, and that these four seasons in their cycle are symbolic of the four chief events of progress of initiation: first, that of the Winter Solstice, which event is also called the Great Birth, when the aspirant brings to birth the god within him and, for a time at least, becomes temporarily at one therewith in consciousness and in feeling; a birth which indeed is the birth of the inner Buddha born of the spiritual solar splendour, or the birth of the mystic Christos.

Then, second, comes the period or event of esoteric adolescence at the Spring Equinox, when in the full flush of the victory gained at the Winter Solstice, and with the marvellous inner strength and power that come to one who has thus achieved, the aspirant enters upon the greatest temptation, except one, known to human beings, and prevails; and this event may be called the Great Temptation. With this initiation at the time of the Spring Equinox the Avataras are particularly concerned, forming as they do one of the lines of activity — a god-line, in fact — of the Hierarchy of Compassion and Splendour, although the Avataras are outside the circle of temptation except insofar as concerns the human portion of them.

 Then, third, comes the event of the Summer Solstice, at which time the neophyte or aspirant must undergo, and successfully prevail over, the greatest temptation known to man just referred to; and if he so prevail, which means the renouncing of all chance of individual progress for the sake of becoming one of the Saviours of the world, he then takes his position as one of the stones in the Guardian Wall. Thereafter he dedicates his life to the service of the world, without thought of guerdon or of individual progress — it may be for aeons — sacrificing himself spiritually in the service of all that lives. For this reason the initiation at this season of the year has been called the Great Renunciation.

Then, finally, comes the fourth and last period of the cycling mystical year, the event of the Autumnal Equinox, which perhaps is the most sublime … because in the initiation of the Autumnal Equinox the neophyte or aspirant passes beyond the portals of irrevocable death, and returns among men no more. One line of this activity, lofty and spiritual but yet not the line of the Hierarchy of Splendour and Compassion, is that followed by the Pratyeka Buddhas. Aeons will pass before these Pratyeka Buddhas reawaken to take up anew the evolutionary journey, the evolutionary pilgrimage. The Autumnal Equinox is likewise straitly and closely related to the investigation, during the rites and trials of the neophyte, of the many and varied and intricate mysteries connected with death. For these and for other reasons it has been called the Great Passing….” – G de Purucker: The Four Sacred Seasons, pages 42-45.

What about the timing of initiations in the Southern Hemisphere? It is my understanding in the above quote, that Dr de Purucker is referring to both the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the Earth at the time they experience their seasons, ie. at the opposite times of the year to each other. This is because initiation has to do with how the Sun is affecting any part of the earth and all the life forms inhabiting that part of the earth.  So the spiritual “currents” from the Sun depend on how the Sun is affecting the earth and nature at the time these currents are felt on any particular part of the Earth.  So, for the Southern Hemisphere, we could interpolate the first passage from The Four Sacred Seasons: “Birth at the Winter Solstice (June 21st), the beginning of the year; adolescence — trials and their conquest — at the Spring Equinox (September 21st); adulthood, full-blown strength and power, at the Summer Solstice (December 21st), representing a period of initiation when the Great Renunciation is made; and then closing with the Autumnal Equinox (March 21st), the period of the Great Passing.” – page 3.

Where were these initiations held? the places of initiation were often situated on mountains which, because of this, were regarded locally as holy mountains. Often rocky caves or recesses in mountains were chosen for their inaccessibility, and used as initiation crypts or chambers. Examples would be the Himalayan Mountains and the Nilgiri Hills in India, parts of the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia, and man-made structures such as the Elephanta Caves in India, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and theosophy tells us that the Great Pyramid at Gizeh in Egypt (pictured above) was used in ancient times for this purpose.

Seven Degrees of Initiation: various countries and traditions have different numbers and names for each degree. Essentially it is the same process – an accelerated evolutionary journey to overcome the power of the Ego/Lower Self, and by degrees grow closer to the Higher Self/Inner God within us all. The ancient Egyptians had three degrees/stages with several sub-stages, personified under the ‘Three Guardians of Fire’ in their mystery tradition. In Theosophy, the process of spiritual initiation is usually configured as Seven Degrees as follows:

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degrees: these were preparatory, consisting of discipline of the whole nature: moral, mental and physical. Particular stress was placed on balancing the emotions, overcoming fear, and seeing the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experiences of life equally without extremes in either direction. Instruction in the basics of esoteric philosophy, in addition to ordinary academic knowledge, was offered by teachers. At each stage the neophyte had to pass through a carefully graded series of tests in order that he/she might prove his inner strength and capability to proceed. At least in the early stages, the student might be completely unaware of his status as a student of the mysteries, and might largely bring himself through these initial stages by his own unguided efforts doing what he felt was innately right according to his own situation and circumstances of life.

4th Degree: at this stage the candidate advances beyond simply learning from others and must now journey into the realms of his own inner being. The powers of his Inner God having by now become at least partially active in his daily life and consciousness, he was enabled to begin the experience of passing into the other planes and realms of life and of being, and thus to know by becoming them. In this way he acquired first-hand knowledge of the truths of nature and of the universe about which he had previously been taught by others.

5th Degree: called in ancient Greece, Theophany – the appearance of a God, the candidate meets, for at least a fleeting moment, his own spiritual Ego face to face, and, in the most successful of these cases, for a time actually becomes at one with it. The experience of Epiphany, such as Saint Paul is said to have had on the road to Damascus, might be considered a minor form of Theophany.

6th Degree: Theopneusty – the ‘inbreathing’ or ‘through-breathing of a God or divine inspiration. With this initiation, the candidate becomes the vehicle of his own Inner God, for a time depending on the neophytes own powers of retention and observation, so that he is then inspired with the spiritual and intellectual powers and faculties of his Higher Self.

7th Degree: Theopathy – the ‘suffering’ of a God or ‘suffering’ oneself to be one’s own inner God. The candidate’s personal self has become permanently at-one with his Inner Divinity. The successful passing of the seventh trial resulted in the initiate’s becoming a glorified ‘Son of the Sun’ as the ancient Egyptians would say, to be followed by the last or ultimate stage of this Degree known in Buddhism as achieving ‘Buddhahood’ or ‘Nirvana’. Since limits cannot be set to attainment, however, still loftier stages of spiritual and intellectual unfolding or initiation await those who have already attained the Degree of Buddhahood. – edited from G de Purucker: Encyclopedic Theosophic Glossary: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/etg-hp.htm

A return to the ‘world of men’: Essentially the initiation process represents the conquest of the last shape assumed by the Ego and identification with the Higher Self within in our daily lives. In ancient Egyptian terms, the initiate wins free to Wisdom, joining the company of the ‘Aakui – the ‘Creatures of Light and Mind’, a ‘Son of the Sun’. It is important to remember that such an exalted person does not sit in a spiritual ‘ivory tower’ remote from the lives of ordinary people. He chooses from his boundless compassion to return once again to the human world to help alleviate the suffering in the world caused by ignorance of spiritual truth. The initiate returns with his ‘Table of Offerings’, before him, being the special faculties and qualities he has perfected within himself for the sake of serving suffering humanity.

Does all of this matter for our daily lives? The initiations described above for very spiritually advanced people were/are for those following the rapid path to enlightenment. What about the rest of us ordinary folk following the path through the ‘underworld’ of daily life experience? The same qualities of the Higher Self manifest in everyday ‘householder’ life are required, viz: humility, patience, understanding, emotional control, physical and mental discipline, compassion and love – all these representing what is generally recognized the world over as being the finest of human qualities. Essentially this means for us to live outside the demands of our own Ego fulfilment and becoming less personal as spiritual awareness grows. We should turn our energies and desires ‘upwards’ towards compassion, rather than ‘downwards’ towards desires for personal benefit. We should generally become ‘other-centred’ rather than ‘selfish’ in our daily behaviour.

This effort does not mean abandoning our responsibility of looking after ourselves or our family. In Hinduism this responsibility was one of the four ‘Purusasthas’ or ‘aims’ in life, called ‘Artha’, or material welfare. It also does not mean that we abandon criticism of others when we perceive there to be wrong-doing, or others are being unjustly attacked – known as the power of spiritual discrimination, or ‘Viveka’.

Our efforts either aid or damage humanity:  the attempt to lift our state of consciousness also helps with uplifting Humanity generally as we are all connected at an inner level of our composite nature. As theosophical founder, HP Blavatsky reminds us:

“It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no- one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin alone. In reality there is no such thing as ‘Separateness’.” – The Key to Theosophy, page 203.

We have the opportunity everyday in our interactions with other people to express the qualities of the ‘Higher Self’ that will make sure we keep to the ‘Path of Compassion’. This spiritual path, trod by those Masters of Wisdom before us who are dedicated to helping humanity with their knowledge, rather than just using such knowledge and powers for their own personal salvation – the latter known by Buddhists of the Mahayana school as ‘Pratyeka Buddhas’. One day, if we run the race of spiritual development aright, we may perhaps stand ourselves at the entrance to the Temple of Initiation. ­- Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia, with thanks to Jim Belderis of the Theosophical University Library in Pasadena for some information included in this article.

More detailed information on spiritual initiation is available in Grace Knoche’s book: The Mystery Schools, available from our library or at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/mysterys/mystsch.htm and in G de Purucker’s book, The Four Sacred Seasons, at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/4sacsea/4sacsea.htm

“Compassion is the Law of Laws.” – HP Blavatsky: The Voice of the Silence.

 


What is Swabhava?

Swabhava is the Sanskrit word for “self-becoming.” Swa means “self” and bhava means “becoming.” Swabhava can also be defined as “the nature of a thing” or “self-nature.” Everything possesses a dominant characteristic, quality or attribute. The beauty of this definition is that it brings the idea of “self-becoming” full circle. In order for something to possess a particular “self-nature,” it must have evolved from within itself that dominant attribute over time. Likewise, this implies that “the nature of a thing” will be transformed from its current state once a new characteristic or quality rises to prominence. Thus, the doctrine of swabhava is  a doctrine of the One and the Many; the forces of life pour through a homogeneous starting point, or a laya center, and differentiate into an endless array of planes and beings all advancing through a series of bodies and states of awareness.

 

Can you explain swabhava using the sacred Hindu texts?

I will use the Satapatha Brahmanas, pre-sixth century Hindu texts, to develop the doctrine of swabhava. Prajapti, or the “Progenitor,” dismembers himself to give birth to everything in the universe from the gods in the celestial heavens to the birds in the air and the worm in the soil down to the most inert form of matter. As Prajapti dismembers himself, Agni, residing in each part and infusing the divine fire of Prajapti’s life into it, divides himself into the triple worlds of sky, ether, and earth. Hence, Agni is integrated into all beings of the triple worlds, his own lattice between higher and lower serving as the framework for Prajapti’s creation. Aditi, or cosmic space, emerges into being as well as her children, the Adityas or solar/planetary gods, who, filled with her substance, are the sublimation of herself in a more useful form for the well-being of the hosts of life—human, animal, plant, and mineral—unfolding from her children. Thus, the swabhava of each of these hosts of lives is both their current state of unfoldment  and, more importantly, it is the entire ladder of swabhavas stretching up from the solar/planetary gods to Aditi, Agni in his most primeval form, and, ultimately, Prajapti or the divine swabhava, the inmost self for every being in existence.

Since Prajapti dismembered himself as a sacrifice for all layers of life to come into existence, it is the natural order for the beings in these layers to reflect that sacrifice, struggling to raise their current “self-nature” by destroying it through a process of “self-becoming” to reunite the dispersed portions of Prajapti. Mineral struggles to raise itself to plant, plant to animal, animal to human and human to non-human. At each step a new swabhava comes into play. For the human, Indra is representative of this achievement for the crossing over of swabhavas. The individual who becomes identified with Indra puts away his humanity, rules over the animals, and becomes “he who I really am” or the fulfillment of the human mind, or manas, with the divine, or atma.  His “self-nature” is now the solar god, or the outer sun, life-giver to the highest as well as the lowest because, without him, the inner sun would have nowhere to pour its rays and the planets, dependent on him for their vitality, would cease to exist, snuffing out the lives sustained by them. This is a reflection of Indra on a cosmic scale where he is spoken of as being “all the gods” because the gods, in their highest level as the primeval Agni, have to work through cosmic Mahat, or cosmic mind, to step down their energies into the lowest of the triple worlds. On whatever level, soma, the sacred drink, is the means by which Indra links himself to the gods just as the wine is the means by which Christians link themselves with their Jesus; soma is Prajapti just as the wine is Christ.

The doctrine of swabhava is built into this entire Hindu philosophy. At our center-most, our swabhava is Prajapti. At each level outwards from Prajapti a new swabhava, fueled by the fires of Agni as he divides himself through the triple worlds, comes into play: Aditi, the Adityas, the human, the animal and so forth. Indra is the connecting link between these swabhavas, the driving force of “self-becoming” that allows the shift in consciousness from one swabhava to the next.

 

Is the concept of Swabhava found in other polytheistic religions?

Certainly. The Avesta, the main religious text of the Zoroastrians composed orally in the pre-Christian centuries and transcribed into written form in the early post-Christian era, is an example. Embedded in the Avesta is a rigorous dualism between two swabhavas, the Good Mind and the Evil Mind. The ultimate Lord, Ahura-Mazda, implants the Good Mind within the human soul, but the fiendish deva, Angra-Mainyu, subverts its influence by stirring evil desires, the Evil Mind, within the human heart. The individual has the choice to work through one swabhava or the other. If he chooses the swabhava of the Good Mind, his own soul becomes identified with the minor swabhavas of the six-fold Amesha-Spentas, the Persian form of the Indian Adityas or solar/planetary gods. The star god Tistrya rules high among them. Further still he becomes identified with Ahura-Mazda, the seventh central point of the seven-fold “swift-horsed” Sun. The aspirant engages in “self-becoming” to assume the “self-nature” of these exalted beings, following in the footsteps of Mithra and Zarathustra to become the Incarnate Word, a reflection of the highest swabhavas mirrored in the human soul. Each soul can evolve forth these godlike qualities because it is they, these solar and planetary gods, who poured us into existence. The stars have in them the seeds of the earth and, even lower still, the seeds of the plants. Once poured forth, the human wave of life, beginning with Yima the first man, marches  through a series of races corresponding to the minor swabhavas of the respective Amesha-Spentas until Zarathrustra’s son, Sraosha, assumes the mantle of the Incarnate Word in a future race, freeing mankind from bondage to the swabhava of Angra-Mainyu, or evil desire. Thus, there are cosmic swabhavas, racial swabhavas, and individual swabhavas all functioning within the broader dualism of the Good Mind and the Evil Mind.

 

Is the concept of Swabhava found in monotheistic religions?

Yes. In answer to this question, I will explain how the concept of swabhava is deeply engrained in the Quran and Islamic philosophy. The Quran is a work of poetry that points to the mystery of becoming the Perfect Man. The whole of human evolution is delivered in six sections of Surah 71 (13-18):

“What is the matter with you that you hope not for greatness from Allah? And indeed He has created you by various stages. See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens alike. And made the moon therein a light and made the sun a lamp? And Allah has caused you to grow out of the earth as a growth, Then He returns you to it, then will He bring you forth a new bringing forth.”

These various stages can be enumerated according to different systems of expression. For example, the stages can be divided into a three-fold categorization: the ammarah or the animal stage, the lawwamah or the human stage, and the mutma‘innah or the heavenly stage of the Perfect Man. Each stage possesses a swabhava; it has a “self-nature” and a “self-becoming” into something greater. The average human being has already unfolded the ammarah and lawwamah states of himself; he has yet to unwrap from within himself the mutma‘innah state of the Perfect Man.

Writing of these states, the great thirteenth-century Islamic mystic Jalaladdin Rumi declared, “You are not a single you.” Indeed. Man’s multiple swabhavas, stretching from his interior to his exterior, are reflections of the divine. The tenth-century martyr Mansur al-Hallaj drew a distinction between haqq as the exterior aspect of God and haqiqa as the interior life of God. Just as the divine interior nourishes the divine exterior, Allah, as “Lord of the Worlds” in the famous opening of Surah 1 or the al-Fatihah, nourishes and fosters the objects of his creation so that they can reach their goal of completion. The Arabic word Rabb, or “Lord,” implies an evolutionary process of completing or accomplishing. This process was so well-accomplished in al-Hallaj’s case that he could exclaim, “Ana al-Haqq” or “I am God, the divine truth!” Haqiqa and haqq, through the evolutionary process of rabb, poured through the human swabhava, pulling the man Al-Hallaj out of the exterior lawwamah state into his own interior mutma‘innah state.

Another system of expression for the concept of swabhava was laid down by Nasr al-Farabi in the tenth century. The First Cause issues life into the cosmos through a series of descending stages until prime matter is reached. Advancing upwards from the state of prime matter, the elements emerge, then the minerals, then the plants, then the animals without speech, and then the animals with speech, or mankind. Each class in this ascending series possesses its own swabhava; the beings within each class ascend through minor swabhavas until they reach the ultimate perfection for that class. Seventeenth-century philosopher Mulla Sadra developed this theme, delineating the advancement of the elemental into the mineral, the vegetal, the human and, finally, Fully Active Intellect, a state clearly corresponding to the Hindu cosmic Mahat or cosmic mind linked with buddhi, the Tistrya of the Persians. These were the Angels described by Ibn al-Arabi, a contemporary of Rumi, whose powers were hidden in the faculties and organs of man. Rumi captured this series of swabhavas the most simply and beautifully, “The spirit sees astounding beings, turtles turned to men, men turned to angels.”

 

Can you provide an example of Swabhava in theosophical literature?

While I won’t point to a specific page and reference in theosophical literature, I will provide a general outline of the process of swabhava drawn from theosophical literature as I understand it. Imagine an upright cylinder filled with a spiritual substance. Underneath the surface invisible to viewing is a rotating blade, perpendicular to the circular base and top, which stirs the spiritual substance. The cylinder is representative of the self-contained universe, the blade is representative of the force of life, and the spiritual substance is atma. At closer look, the spiritual substance is seven-fold. While blended throughout, the sediment of particular matter, or sthula (not necessarily dense but matter nevertheless), can be discerned floating in its lowest layer, creating a distinct seventh layer. Thus, at the starting point, there are two main swabhavas: the overarching swabhava of atma and the class swabhava of sthula composed of lives swimming in that spiritual fluid.

The rotating blade stirs, sweeping the spiritual substance from underneath, transforming the atmic fluid into buddhi. The sthula lives now subsist in a slightly different substance, but they themselves have also been transformed. Sthula has now resolved into linga, a more ethereal model-form of sthula. The overarching buddhi swabhava and the class linga swabhava now dominate the self-contained universe.

The stirring continues, reconstituting buddhi into manas and resolving linga into prana (still ethereal life-atoms). The blade whirls on, thickening the overarching manasic fluid into kama and compressing the prana in its upward rise into kama. The cylindrical soup has a completely different consistency now. It is dense, compressed, and heavy with its overlapping kamic swabhavas. The life forms in that soup, both ascending and descending, struggle to make their way through the compacted material.

The blade pauses, reverses direction, and both kamic swabhavas are spun into an ascent out of the thick soupy substance. The overarching swabhava etherealizes into prana and the class swabhava etherealizes into manas. The climb continues. Prana resolves itself into linga and manas resolves into buddhi. Finally, the overarching swabhava emerges as sthula and the class swabhava emerges as atma. The blade stops whirling . . . the overarching and the class swabhavas have switched places.

 This dual process of swabhavic evolution explains why religious myths can depict the same gods at different levels of evolution and yet not bat an eye at the apparent contradiction. It is why Aditi can both be the earth goddess, or Gaia, and cosmic space. It is why the Greek Zeus can be both atma and manas in the same story—both above and below the Titan Prometheus, or buddhi.

The human being is caught up in these whirlings of descent and ascent, his internal and external swabhavas coming into play guided by the role of the blade.

 

Would you provide some closing words on Swabhava?

I would be happy to do so. First, you must accept that each swabhava within you has its appropriate place. The animal swabhava cannot yet be human; it cannot yet meet human standards. Don’t get frustrated because of this; don’t expect it to be human. The animal swabhava has its place. Its ability to react to life’s outer situations is immediate and instinctive. We need this ability. Without it, you don’t get across the railroad tracks in time and the train hits you. For basketball fans, you need that animal monad to perform that magical slam dunk with such instinctive grace. Without it, you miss the instinctive grace behind the beauty of the moment of pairing with another human being. Don’t hate it; it is doing what comes naturally to it. Inside, it wants to grow up too. It wants to contribute to the Good Mind. Gently guide it so that its own “self-nature” falls into harmony with your human swabhava.

 As for the human swabhava, you can develop it and produce beautiful, inspired creations whether in mathematics, literature or art. But don’t hold too tightly to your creations. You have to be able to let go. If the human swabhava becomes too mechanical and grasping of its creations, it begins to limit rather than expand the soul’s horizons. The human swabhava, with all its accoutrements and all its creations, must dissolve into the real, which is the god swabhava. When the human does touch the transcendent, it can bring no understanding with it, no clever explanations, no mathematical figures, no Sanskrit terms, no religious texts, no Quran, no Bible, no Vedas, no images, no icons, no symbols, no combination of thoughts, no hearing, no seeing, no feeling, no sensing, no smelling. There is nothing heard—no Sarasvati, no Vach, no Kwan-Yin, no Logos, no sacred Verbum, no Word—none of these sons and daughters of speech have yet spoken. There is not even a voice in the silence. This is your inner god; this is your god swabhava. Go to a quiet place or go somewhere noisy. It matters not. Your inner self will sing out its “majestic majesty” regardless of its “instruments of materiality.”

  

 

  

 Further Readings:

 

Al-Farabi, Abu Nasr. On the Perfect State. Trans. Richard Walzer. Chicago: Great Books of the

     Islamic World, Inc., 1985.

 

Muller, F.Max, ed. The Satapatha Brahmana in The Sacred Books of the East. Delhi: Motilal

     Banarsidass Publishers, 1993-1994.

       

Muller, F. Max, ed. The Zend-Avesta in The Sacred Books of the East. Delhi: Motilal 

     Banarsidass Publishers, 2005-2007.

 

Purucker, Gottfried de. Fountain-Source of Occultism. Pasadena: Theosophical University Press,  

     1974.

 

Sadra, Mulla. The Elixir of the Gnostics. Trans. William C Chittick. Provo: Bringham Young

     University Press, 2003.

WHAT IS THEOSOPHY?

 

The word theosophy comes from a Greek compound meaning ‘god wisdom’ or ‘wisdom of divine things’. It was first used in ancient times, notably in the 3rd century AD by the disciples of Ammonius Saccus in connection with his ‘eclectic theosophical school’ in Alexandria, Egypt. There he attempted to show the common truth behind many of the systems of thought of his day and how to reach essential unity. Later the word was used by medieval European Alchemists, Cabbalists, Rosicrucians, Hermeticists, Freemasons, and by 18th century ‘Theosophers’. Essentially, however, theosophy transcends these particular movements: it is the reality of the universe, things as they actually are, as far as human consciousness can encompass them. In this broadest sense, theosophy has been expressed countless times throughout the ages by individuals and the many religious, scientific, and philosophic systems of mankind. All of us must discover this aspect of theosophy ourselves – in our life and thought.

 

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN IDEAS OF THEOSOPHY?

 

Among the basic ideas are: the oneness and universality of life, consciousness, and substance;  brotherhood as a fact in nature; reincarnation; karma; the many facets of our being – material, psychological, and spiritual – and what happens to them after death; evolution as an unfolding from within of divine potential; spiritual development as opposed to psychism and the occult arts; and the path of altruism and compassion. These ideas can be found in all the world’s major religions and form the spiritual heritage of mankind. The key of the modern theosophical movement is the oneness of all life. The cosmos, the solar system, planets, and all earth’s inhabitants are essentially spiritual beings. They have the same divine source, and are in the process of evolving forth their inner potentials. All human beings are inwardly one, forming together an integral part of the Earth’s being.

 

WHAT ARE THE THREE FUNDAMENTAL PROPOSITIONS OF THEOSOPHY?

 

In her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine, HP Blavatsky sets forth three ‘fundamental propositions’ of theosophy as follows:

 

1/ There is an ‘Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception…” This Infinity – referred to as Space, the great Void or Fullness – contains, and indeed is, everything which exists, past, present, and future. It cannot be described or limited in any way or it would no longer be infinite.

 

 

2/ This boundless space is the field for the cyclic appearance and disappearance of numberless worlds, “like the regular tidal ebb, flux, and reflux,” pointing to duality and periodicity as fundamental in nature.

 

 

3/ All beings originate from the same divine source and are in essence identical with it. Further, each of these sparks of divinity evolves by embodying, according to cyclic and karmic law, in every “form of the phenomenal world”, developing its individuality at first instinctively and later by its own efforts till it has “passed through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest” – through sub-mineral, mineral, plant, human and beyond. This last axiom indicates that the universe is an organism composed of countless lesser organisms, all evolving towards divinity.

 

 

 

WHERE DID THEOSOPHICAL IDEAS COME FROM?

 

Rooted in nature itself, they were experienced and formulated long ago by human beings advanced far beyond the average – the Masters of Wisdom, and shared by these sages  with their fellows and disciples. Some of these great people are remembered as mythic figures or as founders of schools of thought; most, however, remain unknown. These more evolved human beings not only existed in the past, but exist today and exert an influence on the rest of mankind through their lives, thoughts, and teachings. It is to several of these modern sages or advanced human beings that HP Blavatsky, principle founder of the modern theosophical movement, traced the main outline of the teachings she transmitted to the world.

 

 

IS THEOSOPHY JUST FOR THOSE PEOPLE INTERESTED IN DEVELOPING PSYCHIC POWERS AND THE OCCULT ARTS?

 

Many people view theosophy as a school for the occult arts. Many of our discussions mention the invisible worlds or aspects of the inner constitution of man and how these worlds impinge and relate to the outer world that we know. This can be disturbing and even frightening to many people, and so the impression can be that Theosophy is a body of knowledge for those interested in ‘freaky’ subjects such as ghosts, clairaudience, clairvoyance, reading people’s thoughts, etc. Certainly, one of the aims of the Theosophical Society is to study the powers innate in man, but, is Theosophy just another school for the study of the more spectacular aspects of occultism? No, Theosophy recognizes the reality of the invisible worlds and their inter-relation with ours, but it is principally interested in developing our true human potentials for understanding, patience, tolerance, and love as we come to understand our place in the oness of the living universe through the spiritual knowledge and practice Theosophy teaches.

 

 

IS THEOSOPHY JUST COMPARATIVE RELIGION?

 

Many of the ideas and certainly the language of much of theosophy seem to be based on concepts from ancient religions and philosophies, especially Hinduism and Buddhism from ancient India. Many of the basic ideas of Theosophy seem to come right out a textbook on Buddhism with concepts like Karma and Reincarnation that we usually associate with Indian religion being major topics of conversation in theosophical meetings. This impression is reinforced by the widespread use of complex technical terms in Theosophy which come from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. Terms such as ‘Swabhava’, ‘Linga Sarira’, ‘Nirvana’, all have a strong Indian flavour to them and many technical theosophical discussions sound like they are half in a foreign language! This has lead many people to think of theosophy as an amalgam of Eastern, especially Indian, religions made palatable for a Western audience rather than a vibrant and living philosophy in its own right with truths relevant to a Western audience of the here and now. Many theosophical discussions often degenerate into discussion of where ideas appear in the different cultures and religions of the world rather than recognizing that Theosophy is really an attempt at revealing the core spiritual knowledge whence these religions arose.

 

 

IS THEOSOPHY JUST ANOTHER SET OF BELIEFS THAT I MUST ACCEPT?

 

No! The theosophical philosophy is not just another set of beliefs that must be accepted or adhered to blindly; rather, it is a group of ideas from which a person may take what seems correct and useful to him. As with all ideas, the meanings received depend largely on the background and attitudes we each have when looking at these ideas. As we feel out what we each believe, we can test our findings by putting them into practice in our lives. Thus we begin to work more closely with the patterns of nature, gradually harmonizing with the whole to which we belong and in doing so we are better able to serve our fellow human beings.

 

Theosophy will be meaningless to us if we have not proved the validity of the ideas to ourselves individually and this process is going to be different and take longer or shorter depending on each one of us. It is like a student at high-school trying to learn maths – it is no use just looking up the answers to maths problems in the back of the textbook – if we do that, we’ll never be able to work out the next maths problem for ourselves! We need to prove to ourselves whether theosophical ideas have any meaning to us so that we may become more self-aware and spiritually self-reliant – like the Masters of Wisdom who searched for these same truths ages before us. We then may be able to help others with these powerful ideas which have the capacity to change people’s behaviour for the better. Thus we can do our bit to relieve suffering in this troubled world.

 

IS THEOSOPHY JUST FOR INTELLECTUAL DISCUSSION, OR CAN YOU APPLY IT TO DAILY LIFE?

 

One of the many popular misconceptions of Theosophy and the work of the Theosophical Society, is that Theosophy is just a form of ‘ivory tower’ intellectual discussion remote from actual application to daily life.  On the contrary, Theosophy is rather a form of character-building. That is that we should take seriously the teachings of Theosophy and simply put them into action in our lives and this will automatically strengthen and build our characters and have a beneficial affect on those who come into contact with us. Instead of looking at Theosophical teachings just as fascinating theories and concepts, try for a few hours every day to see them as realities and change your behaviour to conform to these realities. For example, think of Karma and Reincarnation as realities. There are many things we would do, and more we would not do, if we seriously thought of these teachings as actual realities. This is putting Inner Theosophy into Outer Action, or simply practicing what we preach, or as the Buddhist saying goes: “It is necessary to live the life to understand the doctrine.” Theosophy, along with all the major religions of the world, encourages us to treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves – to sincerely try to live the ‘Golden Rule’ in our daily lives.

 

In this way we begin to self-direct our spiritual evolution. By this I mean we seriously take hold of the possibilities that await us in this and future lives. Instead of being blindly blown around by the winds of fate, we understand the basic laws of the universe from what we are told in Theosophy and put them into action. By so doing we can contribute toward a more spiritually enlightened future for ourselves and others. Other people will observe our actions and how we behave in certain, especially stressful and demanding situations, be impressed by what they see, and be attracted to what we have to offer them philosophically, and as warm and helpful human beings. As the Buddhists would say: “The flowers come into bloom when the sage walks through the garden’ or, as they say in India: “The bees come of their own accord in search of honey when the flower is in full bloom.”

 

 FURTHER READING

 

         WHAT IS THEOSOPHY? Charles Ryan – from the series of manuals on basic theosophical teachings.

 

         THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY: William Quan Judge: a succinct overview from one of the principle Founders of the Theosophical Society

 

         EXPANDING HORIZONS: James A. Long: questions we all ask about the Ancient Wisdom simply explained.

 

         TO LIGHT A THOUSAND LAMPS: Grace F. Knoche: a modern introduction to Theosophy.

 

         Also available: EXPLORING THEOSOPHY– a collection of articles on basic theosophy offered free of charge to seriously interested enquirers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS REINCARNATION?

 

         REINCARNATION is derived from the Latin, meaning ‘re-infleshment’, the coming again into a human body of an excarnate human soul. The repetitive re-imbodiment of the reincarnating Human Ego in vehicles of human flesh – this being a special case of the general doctrine of Re-imbodiment. This general doctrine of Re-imbodiment applies not solely to man, but to all centres of consciousness whatsoever, or to all monads whatsoever; wheresoever they may be on the evolutionary ladder of life, and whatsoever may be their particular developmental grade thereon. The meaning of this general doctrine is very simple indeed. It is as follows: every life-consciousness-centre, in other words, every ‘Monad’ or Monadic Essence’, reincorporates itself repeatedly in various vehicles or ‘bodies’. These bodies may be spiritual, or they may be physical, or they may be of a nature intermediate between these two, ie. ethereal. This rule of nature, which applies to all monads without exception, takes place in all the different realms of the visible and invisible universe, and on all its different planes, and in all its different worlds.” – from G. de Purucker Occult Glossary.

 

         IS REINCARNATION TRUE?

 

         According to theosophy, yes. We are repeatedly reborn on Earth taking up another life, using another body of either sex, and with a different  ‘personality’.

 

 

         HOW LONG DO WE HAVE BETWEEN LIVES?

 

         This period varies according to the circumstances of a person’s death, and how attached or otherwise they are to the material world. Typically for the mass of humanity, theosophy tells us that the time of rest between lives is 1,000 to 1,500 years. It may be much shorter for children who die young, those who die from accidents or in wars, those who are strongly attached to the material world, and those committed to service and the cause of spiritual truth may return earlier to speed the spiritual development of humanity. Those not attached to the worldly life may stay away a lot longer.

 

 

         ARE WE EVER REBORN AS AN ANIMAL?

 

         No, that is a common misconception of many religions probably based on the esoteric truth that animals use various ‘life atoms’ of dead human beings. Once an individual has reached the level of complexity of a human being, he or she must reincarnate as a human being to continue to work out the relationships of the past and to develop and grow in an environment of suitable complexity. There are of, course rare exceptions to this general rule. In the case of irretrievably evil human beings, especially ‘black magicians’, they can sink to the level of incarnating in animal bodies.

 

         WHY DON’T I REMEMBER PREVIOUS LIVES?

         It was a different physical brain that recorded details for each of your previous lives, so details are not normally remembered by the ‘new’ brain of this life in detail. It is also the compassion of nature that we don’t remember, as we were presumably at a lower state of spiritual evolution in our former lives, so our deeds then, if remembered in detail, might have a traumatic and damaging effect on our progress in this life. The influences, abilities developed, character, and spiritual lessons learnt of the previous lives remain and in fact are the ‘you’ of this life. However, at the moment of our physical death, and later in the after-death states, we will see past life details and as we progress along on our individual path of spiritual evolution, we come to be able to remember the past lives that we have now forgotten.

 

         WHAT EXACTLY IS IT THAT IS REBORN?

 

         A “higher” spiritual part of us is reborn. Theosophy says that, besides the physical body, the ‘personality’ was left behind at a previous death. Certain of that personalities tendencies, lessons learned, character and pure spirit are assimilated from the previous life and remain with the ‘individual’ to be reborn again. The important distinction is between the ‘personality’ and the ‘individual’. Over the course of many lives, the individuality increases and the personality becomes of less importance. Theosophical books have much more detailed information on this subject. Strictly speaking, we should not say we ‘have’ a soul. Rather, we are a soul and the soul has a body it has acquired and is working through. Part of our task is to become aware of this truth.

 

         DOES REINCARNATION EVER STOP?

 

         Yes and no! From our relative point of view, we are aiming for perfection as human beings. This will take many more incarnations. At a very advanced stage of human spiritual evolution, we may choose to take a well-earned rest, or to return to Earth as a, ‘Bodhisattva’, in order to help suffering humanity trailing along in our evolutionary ‘wake’. But then the cycle simply continues at a higher level. In the largest sense, there is no end to the cycle and no end to increasing perfection.

 

         WHAT IS THE POINT OF REINCARNATION?

 

         Our souls are all part of one soul. At root we are one. Brotherhood is an actual fact in nature when we look at underlying reality. Each of these seemingly separate individualities gains experiences, learns lesson, and ultimately, the consciousness of the Universe gains increasing experience, increases in relative perfection, and increases in self-consciousness.

 

         HOW DO YOU KNOW ALL THIS IS TRUE?

 

         We can observe the cycle of ebb and flow, activity and rest everywhere in nature. Do you think human beings are any exception? Several researchers have conducted ‘past life regression’ through hypnosis and found people speaking of former lives, and there are many famous cases of where the details of such alleged former lives have been found to be accurate. Much of theosophical teaching is based on the learning of the Masters of Wisdom who have ventured self-consciously into the after-death states and taught us ordinary people what they have observed to be true there.

 

 

BOOKS ON REINCARNATION

 

         Some books in our library and bookshop on reincarnation:

 

         Leoline L.Wright Reincarnation: a lost chord in modern thought. This is a really good introduction to the whole subject from a theosophical perspective.

 

         Any of the series of books by Sylvia Cranston on the subject of reincarnation give more detailed information from many different perspectives:

 

         Reincarnation: the phoenix fire mystery; Reincarnation: a new horizon in science, religion and society; Reincarnation: an east-west anthology.

 

         William Quan Judge The scope of reincarnation.

 

         G de Purucker The Esoteric Tradition Vol. 2, pages 593 to 704.

 

         Reincarnation is explored by several authors in a special issue of our magazine Sunrise: Sleep, Death and Rebirth: Gateways of Life. November 1980.

 

         The author wishes to acknowledge the ideas and content of the following website in the production of this FAQ:

 

         http://www.blavatsky.net/topics/reincarnation/reincarnation.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Karma?

         From the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit, the word, ‘kri’ meaning ‘to do’  or ‘to make’. Philosophically meaning ‘consequences’. When and entity acts, he acts from within; he acts through an expenditure in greater or less degree of his own native energy. This expenditure or out flowing of energy, as it acts upon the surrounding environment, brings forth a reaction from universal nature, either instantaneous or delayed. Nature in other words, reacts against the impact; and the combination of these two – of energy acting upon Nature and Nature reacting against the impact of that energy – is what is called Karma. Karma is essentially a chain of causation, stretching back into infinity of the past and therefore necessarily into the infinity of the future. It is inescapable, because it is in universal nature, which is infinite and therefore everywhere and timeless. Sooner or later a reaction will inevitably be felt by the entity which aroused it.

         Karma is the universal law of harmony and balance, which ensures that every cause set in motion will, some time in the future, bring about its corresponding effect. It is intimately enmeshed with its companion doctrine of Reincarnation as our environment and choices from previous lives have an impact on our current and future choices and circumstances.

         It is a very old doctrine known to all religions and philosophies. Common observation tells us that if you throw a stone into a pool, it causes ripples which spread outwards to the very edges of the pool. Also, modern science tells us that vibrations, such as TV, radio, or light waves, are carried outward into infinity. Every religion has stressed the doctrine of moral responsibility. In Christianity we read in the New Testament: ‘whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. Islam speaks of Kismet as representing one’s individual portion or lot in life. The ancient Greeks had, Nemesis, or the goddess of retributive justice, and they personified the past, present and future as the three Moirai or Spinners of Destiny. In Judaism there is the injunction from Moses: “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. In Hindu and Buddhist philosophy the term is used to signify action followed by reaction.

         There are many aspects to karma, such as world, national and racial karma, family as well as the better known individual karma. We can even say there is business karma, community karma, and so forth. In other words, every avenue of experience, from the individual to the international, men are thinking and acting and hence setting certain causes in motion which are bound to have their effects. So there is no end to the ramifications of actions and reactions – from G de Purucker: Occult Glossary.

 Is Karma always punishment?

When we think of karma we tend to think of punishment inflicted on us from the outside for evil deeds in this, or previous lifetimes. However, there are different ways of looking at karma as awakener, even ‘friend’, or certainly an opportunity to restore balance. In reality, karma is an out flowing of our very self, and can provide us with the opportunity to learn new life skills, or settle old debts with others, but it is up to us how we react to these opportunities. We therefore can view outwardly difficult life situations as ‘punishment’, but more accurately as opportunities to restore balance and learn valuable ‘soul’ lessons at the same time; eg. serious illness can be a time when we learn forbearance, patience, and concentrate our attention on spiritual realties rather than our everyday concerns.

 If Karma is true, then why do good people suffer?

Picture a good person in their late adulthood stricken down with diseases caused by the dissolute lifestyle of their youth. Equally, we may be paying the price for the ‘sins’ incurred many lifetimes ago. The balancing karma appearing much later when we have learned in the meantime to be a better person. Karma has to find the right combination of environment and people to be able to balance disharmonies, and this may not occur for many lifetimes after an ‘evil’ deed. What about children suffering and dying in wars and natural disasters – were they all evil in the past? It may be that they have chosen to work out difficult karma in one short life with others of similar karmic background. Equally, they may well be very advanced souls who sacrifice themselves to elicit compassion in others. Outwardly difficult circumstances may be impulsed by the Higher Self to bring about an ‘initiation’ of individuals or groups into the finer qualities of human nature that we might normally take many lifetimes to achieve.

 What good is suffering if we don’t remember what we did in previous lives?

If we suffer now, we feel it would be a lot fairer if we knew why we were suffering so we could make the necessary changes in our lives. However, according to Theosophy we are our own karma, ie our past actions have determined who we are and our situation of today. The physical brain is newly formed in each life, and therefore cannot remember all details of previous lifetimes. However, there is an aspect of ourselves that endures from one life to another – our Higher Self – which does remember, and which directs the circumstances for soul learning and setting the balance aright. According to Theosophy, there will come a day in the future when we have developed spiritually enough to withstand the shock of remembering the details of all our former lives. Until then, in quiet moments we can intuit some of the major lessons we have come into incarnation to learn.

Is Karma Fatalism?

People often ask does karma mean that everything in our lives is predetermined? Don’t we have some measure at least of free will to direct our lives? Theosophy teaches that we retain the power of free will at all times as this is a necessary precondition for spiritual growth and for us to grow to join the spiritually self-ware forces that administer nature’s operations. However, we exist as part of the whole of the Universe, and we are subject to the results of actions we have done in the past which must eventually be balanced. Just as a single cell is subject to the general health of the body, we are part of larger communities we determine our lives to a greater or lesser degree. Similarly, most people are weighted down with the heavy karma of past lives when they lived unaware of real action of the law of karma in their lives. Once such awareness is attained, it can make a big difference to how we choose to live our lives from thereon.

 If Karma is true, then why should we bother helping those doomed to die of disease, poverty and starvation. Isn’t it their karma? Better luck next life?

Such an attitude is reprehensible from the viewpoint of Theosophy. Obviously, it is their karma; but if indeed we are one human family, and we certainly helped create the difficult present circumstances in past lifetimes, how can we isolate our karma from theirs? Surely it is part of our karma being in incarnation in the more fortunate parts of the world, to help those millions in less fortunate circumstances elsewhere. As HP Blavatsky said: “Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes action in a deadly sin.” Many people all over the globe are increasingly hearkening to this call and dedicating their energies to practical humanitarian aid to those less fortunate.

 How do you reconcile heredity with Karma?

The law of Karma will attract us into the family, culture and nation where we can best fulfil our individual needs for soul learning. This may be into either outwardly comfortable, or difficult circumstances, so that we individually have the opportunity to develop patience, tolerance, and other finer human qualities. The power of both love and hate can bind us into a particular group of people for as long as is needed to work out our Karma together, and then go our separate ways. According to Theosophy it is we who determine heredity by our behaviour in each life impressing our ‘life atoms’ with individual patterns of attributes. We merely pick up these bundles of attributes or ‘skandhas’ as they are called in Sanskrit, at each rebirth, and go on from where we left off last life.

 What about the fact that all of us are subjected to the will of our families, nations and the global environment. How does individual karma fit with such group karma?

There are many aspects of karma, such as world, national, and racial karma, family as well as individual karma. In every avenue of experience, from the individual to the international, we are thinking and acting and hence setting certain causes in motion which are bound to have their effects. According to Theosophy, we are all part of a single, living, universe and hence connected in a web-work of life over vast periods of time. We have developed strong karmic relationships at family, national, and global levels during this long process of learning, and so we are bound to have to work out our group, as well as our individual karma. The current crisis of global warming could be said to be an ultimate example of group karma for the whole human race.

Do the Gods step in to save us from our Karma?

Just as we are more progressed in self-consciousness than the animals, there are beings, call them ‘Gods and ‘Goddesses’, ‘God’, Angels, or whatever, which are more advanced than us humans on the ladder of spiritual evolution. People pray to their vision of them all the time, but it is said in Theosophy that they never interfere with our Karma, though the may ‘dam’ it back to stop it overwhelming the human race. Humans, as learning beings, must be free to work out our own destiny, which means that our mistakes will eventually recoil upon ourselves, for it is thus that we learn and may one day grow in self-consciousness to join ‘the Gods’. Men themselves decide their fate by their choice of the various alternatives life presents. The ‘Gods’ however, do guide, protect, and help forward the evolution of their ‘younger brothers’ wherever they can without interfering with our right to learn and grow through our own choices.

Is life fair

Most people think that it is ‘bad karma’ when we undergo life’s trials such as illness, loss, handicap, and grief. But surely it is a common experience that such events give us the opportunity to learn soul lessons of patience, tolerance, and spiritual understanding in the most meaningful and enduring way – ‘blessings in disguise’ we often call such experiences. ‘Bad Karma’ may actually be ‘Good Karma’ from the viewpoint of soul learning. Theosophy teaches that ‘we are our own karma’ – meaning everything that comes to us is an out flowing of ourselves – our past. Perhaps our souls rejoice at such opportunities to reconcile past imbalances, learn valued lessons, nurture compassion, and possibly be of help to those around us a result of what we’ve learned in the ‘school of hard-knock

 

Can events suffered by one generation really affect future generations? Is there no Karmic relief? Are we as humans to be forever haunted by the specter of a karmic revenger?

Human genetic biology may hold the answer to this question in the form of potentiated memories, the consequential remainder of our former unremembered responsibilities. “Occultism teaches that the life-atoms [DNA] of our (Prana) life-principle are never entirely lost when a [person] dies.” And Blavatsky explains how this occurs in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2, p.656:

The atoms [in the genes?] impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) — are partially transmitted from father to son by heredity …

“They are partially drawn once more together,” she says, “and become the animating principle of the new body in every new incarnation…” “We are on the brink of uncovering a hidden world, a world that connects past and future generations in ways we never imagined possible. . . An environmental exposure that your grandmother had, could cause a disease in you, even though you’ve never been exposed to the toxin. And you are going to pass it on to your great-grandkids.”

 

How does Karma explain the obvious injustice done to thousands who lost their jobs and billions in pensions because of the actions of a few selfish executives?

It is in The Key to Theosophy, Section 11, that explains the apparent conundrum where H. P. Blavatsky uses the phrase unmerited suffering— a puzzle to many students because it seems to contradict the fundamental karmic axiom that:

…the particular conditions of life in which each person finds himself, are nothing more than the retributive Karma which the individual generated in a previous life.

This axiom of karma is explained in detail by W. Q. Judge in his Echoes from the Orient, Ch. 15

“when a being dies, he emits, as it were, a mass of force or energy, which goes to make up the new personality when he shall be reincarnated.” “We say that man suffers so much unmerited misery during his life, through the fault of others with whom he is associated, or because of his environment,”

Blavatsky explains,

…that he is surely entitled to perfect rest and quiet, if not bliss, before taking up again the burden of life.

Surely every one of us is entitled and compensated for their self-perceived mistaken beliefs, which remains as the ‘unmerited suffering’ during the period of between-life sleep known by the Tibetan word “Devachan” (place of the Gods), says Theosophy.

 And she goes on to describe this compensation between lives on Earth — which we would compare to a long, sound sleep between hard days at work:

As a man exhausted by one state of the life fluid seeks another — as, for example, when exhausted by the hot air he refreshes himself with cool water — so sleep is the shady nook in the sunlit valley of life. (The Secret Doctrine Commentary, Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, by H. P. Blavatsky, APPENDIX on DREAMS.)

“The life current must be broken,” she explained, “by changing the waking for the sleeping state. Ask a good clairvoyant to describe the aura of a person just refreshed by sleep… [He] will be seen bathed in rhythmical vibrations of life currents — golden, blue, and rosy — these are the electrical waves of Life.

Anyone caught up in the outer circumstances of his life, may feel resentful of what he sees as a personal injustice. But personal suffering in any one life is almost invariably due to lack of information stored in our own personal mind field. When we are unaware of our stored karmic information, we lack insight into the entangled workings of karmic law — and cannot know ‘how things really are’ in this invisible matrix field bonded to us by our own actions.

 

 All of this sounds good, but how do I know that any of it is true?

 We can observe the cycle of ebb and flow, action and reaction everywhere in nature. If you toss a stone into a pool, it causes ripples in the water; and these ripples spread and finally impact on the banks. Modern science tells us that we live in a universe of waves and vibrations extending infinitely outwards into the universe impacting and reacting with atomic particles everywhere. Do you think human beings are any exception? Much of theosophical teaching is based on the learning of the Masters of Wisdom who have ventured self-consciously into the invisible realms which support the physical. Such Masters during their initiatory journeys, see the universe ‘as it is in itself’. They have returned from their initiations to teach us ordinary people what they have observed to be true there, and confirmed by comparison with the experiences of other Initiates.

  Further Reading:

         Grace F Knoche: To Light a Thousand Lamps. Chapter 7 on Karma.

 

         James Long: Expanding Horizons. Chapter on ‘Karma: law of cause and effect.’

 

         Gertrude van Pelt: The Doctrine of Karma: Chance or Justice?

 

         G. de Purucker: Fountain-Source of Occultism pages 410-420 particularly the chapters ‘Man is his own Karma’ and comments on the question, ‘Is Karma ever unmerited?’.

 

         Alternative perspectives on the common view of karma as punishment are offered by William Q. Judge in Karma the Compensator [ULT Pamphlet no.20] comprising ‘Is Karma only punishment?’ and ‘Good and Bad karma’.

 

         Why not check out the articles on Karma listed at the Theosophy Downunder website at: www.theosophydownunder.org

  •  See the videos on Karma at Theosophy Watch https://theosophywatch.com/

 

If you wish to email the author please write to: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

Ever before the white men came with the Christian religion and Western civilization, our great grandfathers in Igboland (in Nigeria, West Africa) knew about reincarnation, which they called in local language, “Ịlọ ụwa” (a return to the world). They knew and also believed in life beyond, which they call “Ala-mụọ”. By “Ala-mụọ”, they mean the inner realms not just the fairyland of folkstories. It is at ‘Ala-mụọ’ that they imagine their noble ancestors to be living and interceding for them before “Chi-na-eke” (the God that creates) and “Ofo-na ọgụ” (Gods operating force) that balances things in nature including the yearly climatic conditions vital for their agriculture. It is at the same “Ala-muo” they believe their dead relations to be residing after physical death and from there would reincarnate probably to those that were their kin in their past life.

 

In Igboland, our forefathers’ knowledge of life beyond the present one on earth is well understood to be transmigration of human souls through the seven worlds of being. In Igboland, when a good child or wife does quite a good turn to an old father or mother; in many occasions, the elderly ones are heard making such comments as “Ezi Nwam/nwunyem, ịgakwa abụ nwam /nwụnyem, ụwam ụwa asaa” – meaning “my good child/ wife, you will continue to be my child/wife in my seven worlds of being”. This is an indication that our great Igbo ancestors knew and believed in the doctrine of seven rounds and seven races in the evolutionary cycles of mankind, which theosophical teacher, Dr G de Purucker, gave a deep account of in his Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy page 252.

 

The Igbos conviction on the actual process by which man reincarnates varies. Some hold that man reincarnates with his former body and all its characteristics, of height, strength and complexion, while many are convinced that at death our bodies lies there food for worms; only the deathless spirit of God in the man would reincarnate. The same group holds further that merits and demerits in one’s former life would determine one’s parentage on reincarnation in a new infant body capable of growing and unfolding to adult body. This latter opinion is the one held by the majority of Igbo people.

 

There are many apparent factors that convince the Igbos in their belief in reincarnation. The reappearance of bodily marks of deceased persons on the body of new born baby is one basis for the Igbos belief in reincarnation. In the circumstance of mentally ill people who were violent in a past life and were constrained wearing handcuffs or ankle restraints for a long time before they died; it is believed that the scar of the wound caused by the handcuffs does appear on the wrists or ankles of some of them upon their reincarnation. It is same with those unfortunate people who perished by fire in a traumatic accident; the scars of burns appear on the body of some such cases upon reincarnation. When marks such as I have pointed out appear on the body of an infant in whose family somebody in the past had such a handcuff or died in a fiery accident; no further proof will be needed to accept that the deceased has come back.

 

Unexpected fears and phobias do exist in people, especially irrational fears related to fire, water, and sometimes, noise. There are men who dread to associate closely with women and vice-versa. The Igbos believe that such unexpected fears are caused by the pains felt by men who died in a fire, falling from heights, or who died in the hands of a very wicked woman, or an unscrupulous man in their former incarnation. They hold that noise which may recall disaster in previous lives caused by drowning, falls, crashes, or death on the battlefield, can cause such unexplained fears.

 

The occurrence of a child prodigy is called, “Ebibi-ụwa”, in Igbo language, meaning Nature’s imprint. Those born with their pre-incarnation intellectual and physical abilities are seen as yet another proof for the Igbos belief in reincarnation. In my home town, Umuahia, South Local Government in Abia State, Nigeria, there lived a renowned traditional medicine man called Nna-na-Mgbọrọggụ. Nna-na Mgbọrọgwụ  was very famous in the early 1950s. My own father who was his senior in age, told me then that Nna-na-Mgbọrọgwụ was an exceptional human being. At the age of seven, he went to the bush behind their house and collected herbs which he compounded with other things and used the resultant medicine to cure his father’s uncle from the dreaded disease, tuberculosis.

 

Tuberculosis at that time was considered such a terrible threat to others in the village, that the poor suffers were ostracized from their own homes to a hut in the bush where such an unfortunate sufferer would be left to die. This young medicine man’s cure of his own uncle was like an advertisement for what was to be his mission in his present lifetime. People started approaching his parents with different health problems which this little boy efficiently managed. He did not go to school because he started the work of traditional medicine man at a very early age. Nna-na-Mgbọrọgwụ is an example of a man who points one’s mind to the possibility of his being a reincarnation of a forefather of his family. “Nna-nna” (fore father) “mgbọrọgwụ” (medicinal roots), when put together it gives the understanding, “our forefather who was medicinal root himself”, or knows all about roots for healing.


 

Names such as those mentioned below are very common in Igboland. They are a true indication of the Igbos belief in reincarnation. Nna-nna (the father of his father); Nne-nna (the mother of his father); Nne-ji (my brother or sister); Nna-ji (my half brother/half sister); and Nwa-nne Daa (the brother or sister of my mother). None of these names is repeated in the family because they specify the ancestors. Relations in this life pay the child the same high respect they were accustomed to pay to the deceased grandparent or relation of their father. Some people in Igboland are bearing their pre-incarnation names and enjoying the high level of respect due to a grandfather /mother.

 

Despite the strong influence of Christianity in Igbo cultures and traditions, reincarnation has remained a heart belief of the Igbos which the orthodox religion has found hard to abolish. Before the conveyors of Christian faith, the Igbos already had their own well established and complex religion which was indirectly Theocentric, a sequel to the order of worship. Reincarnation itself is not a virtually conspicuous tradition that attracts outright condemnation or attack from the preachers of Christian faith in Nigeria. Nor does such a belief pose any threat or danger to it, like some barbaric customs of ancient times, e.g. twin killing, human sacrifice, etc. which attracted much concern in Nigeria and thankfully were stopped by the authorities.

 

The doctrine of reincarnation has been firmly impressed into the psyche of the Igbos despite the acceptance of Christianity by many people because of the persistence of traditional religion amongst the Igbo. Even when there is a measure of adherence to Christian doctrine, certain evidence of reincarnation forces many contemporary Nigerian Christians to think twice about what the Church tells them, and may lead them back to the traditions of their forefathers. . Igwe Amakulo, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria, West Africa.

 

If you would like to read more about reincarnation in African belief please read: ‘Reincarnation in traditional African religion’ published in Sunrise magazine, November 1980 or at: http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/africa/af-rook2.htm

 

CONTENTS

The Riddle of the Sphinx

The Great Pyramid: Humility and the Horizon of Heaven

The Roads of Osiris and Horus

Mystical Ancient Egypt

THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX

For untold centuries, the Great Sphinx at Giza outside of Cairo in Egypt, has stared Eastwards with stony gaze greeting the rising sun. Known in ancient days as ‘Horemakhet – Horus of the Horizon’, the Sphinx stands guard before a complex of pyramids and temples including the mysterious Great Pyramid, itself known in ancient Egypt as the ‘Horizon of Heaven’. To the weary traveller of ancient times through to jostling busloads of tourists today, she seems to ask a riddle of all those who pass by…who am I, why am I here, what mysteries do I represent? In Greek mythology the Sphinx of Thebes was said to demand of such travellers the answer to a riddle: ‘What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon and on three legs in the evening?” What would be your answer to this riddle?

Sculpted from soft sandstone, many believe that it would have disappeared ages ago if it had not been buried in the desert sands for so many long periods of its lifetime. The body of a lion is 60 metres (200 feet) long and 20 metres (65 feet) tall. Its human face is 4 metres (13 feet) wide with eyes measuring 2 metres (6 feet) high. There is much debate amongst historians and scientists about the age of the Great Sphinx. Conventional science tells us that the Sphinx was built by the Pharoah Khafra, the builder of the second pyramid at Giza, around 2,500 BC. A thousand years later, the Pharoah Thutmose 4th (1401-1388 BC) installed a carved stone between its front paws, describing how when he was a young prince, he had gone hunting and fallen asleep in the shade of the Sphinx’s head. Thutmose had a dream where Ra Hor-Akhty the Sun God, talking through the Sphinx, spoke to him, telling the young prince to clear away the sand because the Sphinx was choking on it. The Sphinx promised him he would become Pharoah if he did this. Thutmose cleared away the sand covering the Sphinx and after two years he became king of Egypt.

There is practically no archaeological evidence at all to show that Pharoah Khafra, and certainly king Thutmose, did anything but restore what was already an ancient monument buried for long ages in the hot desert sands when they found it. Recent research on the Sphinx’s body and surrounding enclosure tends to bear out this contention. Geological research in the 1990s onwards indicates that the Sphinx has been eroded extensively by rain water for thousands of years. Yet it hasn’t rained much in that area of Egypt for perhaps 10,000 years! Some, including theosophical writers and the American visionary Edgar Cayce, believed that the Great Sphinx was built by colonists fleeing the destruction of Atlantis and it is therefore even much more ancient. Edgar Cayce said that there is a secret chamber under the front feet of the Sphinx which contains the historical records of Atlantis. Indeed, scientific surveys of the area beneath the Sphinx using a variety of instruments from the 1970s onwards indicate that there are as yet undiscovered chambers, and perhaps even a passageway linking the Sphinx with the Great Pyramid.

But what about that riddle? In Greek mythology the solution was – Man: who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age.  Of course morning, noon, and night in the riddle, are metaphors for times in a persons life. If the answer is Man, then perhaps one reason the Sphinx was put was to tell future generations that the secret of true Humanhood is symbolized in the Sphinx. The man’s head on the lion’s body indicating the transcendence of the animal aspects of the human condition by the thinking and spiritual qualities of man symbolized in the human head. The secret of overcoming much of the suffering in the world and advancing our spiritual condition is for people individually to attempt to overcome the power of the human Ego (Lower Self) which acts endlessly to retard our spiritual progress and ensure its own animal survival. Consequently we see the general trend in our world today of using human intelligence and ingenuity in the service of the Ego. Thus we see our modern society generally dedicated to earning money and worldly power, rather than using the same divine human potentialities in the service of our spiritual self (Higher Self) for compassionately and selflessly helping others. The differences between these two paths is paper thin, and simply one of attitude. Do we remain tempted by the illusions of the Ego for the bigger house, car, etc.? Or do we take what we need, and use a little time each day thinking and working for others in whatever way is suitable to our situation?

The Sphinx was known as the ‘Guardian of Knowledge’, ‘The Sentinel of the Opening of the Door to Higher Knowledge’, which according to theosophy, occurred in ancient days in the initiation chambers of the Great Pyramid. Simply put, this initiation process was the overcoming of the illusions of the Ego and living in the realities of the Higher Self. In a minor way we can all respond to the riddle of the Sphinx in our own lives by outgrowing our individual illusions so that they are no attraction to us at all, and moving on spiritually. This is not at all an easy process as these illusions change ‘Proteus-like’ with our progress on the spiritual path.

The nearest analogy to this process that I can imagine is of a person walking through a crowded hotel or casino where hundreds of people are enslaved to gambling machines pursuing the illusive dream of quick riches. But this dream is no attraction to the person who has a spiritual focus whatsoever…and he/she walks on. By changing our attitude to what are commonly taken to be major temptations, we spiritually grow, and gradually transform/incorporate the Lower Self into the Higher Self, turning the energies of selfishness to the service of the Higher Self – as theosophy expresses it – Kama Manas (Desire Mind) to Buddhi Manas (Buddhi Manas).

 Theosophical writer, Dr G de Purucker puts it this way:

 “…Some people imagine that the path of spiritual attainment is far away over the mountains of the future, almost unreachable, when in reality there is a relatively narrow frontier between ordinary life and that followed by the neophyte or chela [ie.a serious student of the ancient wisdom]. Essentially the difference is one of outlook, and not of metaphysical distance. It is the same distance that exists between the one who falls under the sway of temptation and thereafter becomes its bondslave, and the other who successfully resists the temptation and thereafter becomes its master. Anyone can enter upon the path, if his will, his devotion and yearnings are directed towards being of greater service to others. The only thing that prevents him from taking that most beautiful step is his convictions, his psychological and mental prejudices which distort his perspective…..” – Fountain-Source of Occultism, p.14.

 For most of us, the initiation of daily life is the progressive overcoming of such worldly illusions and finding the Inner Sun. The Great Sphinx of Egypt, as the voice of the Sun God Ra Hor-Akhty, stands witness to the centuries calling us on to this ultimate challenge of true Humanhood.

 With every effort of will toward purification and unity with that `Self-god,’ one of the lower rays breaks and the spiritual entity of man is drawn higher and ever higher to the ray that supercedes the first, until, from ray to ray, the inner man is drawn into the one and highest beam of the Parent-Sun. – HP Blavatsky.

THE GREAT PYRAMID: HUMILITY AND THE HORIZON OF HEAVEN

Looming triumphantly above the smog and traffic din of modern Cairo, the Great Pyramid of Gizeh stands majestically, a silent witness to the thousands of year’s history it has seen in Egypt. The mysterious Great Sphinx at its feet, the Pyramid, with its near perfect engineering and enigmatic orientations to the stars, has puzzled scientists and mystics alike as to its purpose. Modern archaeology tells us that it was the burial place of the Pharaoh Khufu approximately 4,500 years ago, yet there is much evidence to show that this Pharaoh merely renovated an existing structure buried in the sands, and that the Great Pyramid was already ancient when he found it. (see: Manuel Oderberg: Gateway to the ‘Horizon of Heaven’ at: http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/med/my-imo6.htm) The clue lies in the ancient Egyptian writing above the entrance to the Great Pyramid which says simply: ‘Horizon of Heaven’.

What can this mean? Many people don’t realize that the Great Pyramid encloses a maze of tunnels and rooms fanning away from the main entrance and serviced by airshafts to the surface which were obviously meant for living men. We know of many such passages deep within the Great Pyramid, but there may be many more awaiting discovery. According to the Theosophy, the purpose of the Great Pyramid was to provide an environment where suitable candidates could undergo spiritual initiation into higher states of consciousness. Therefore, from a mystical point of view, it was aptly called ‘The Horizon of Heaven’, ie. a place where one could literally enter the other dimensions of reality we call ‘heavens’ and ‘hells’. To achieve this spiritual awakening, candidates for initiation had to undergo a variety of tests of character, encounter some of the other dimensions or ‘worlds’, and to face aspects of themselves before achieving ‘enlightenment’ for a few in what we now call the ‘Kings Chamber’ at the very centre of the Pyramid. These tests offered a vastly accelerated Path to enlightenment for those strong souls suitable for such an ennobling experience. This accelerated opportunity for a higher state of consciousness was called by the ancient Egyptians in their Book of the Two Ways, ‘The Path of Horus’. This quick path contrasts with the slow journey for the majority of people to the same state of enlightenment but through the experiences of everyday life called by them, ‘The Path of Osiris’. Osiris was the King of the Afterlife amongst the Gods of ancient Egypt, and the Great Pyramid was also known as the ‘Temple of Osiris’.

Imagine yourself now as one of those candidates for initiation, standing in the ‘Grand Gallery’. You have overcome the dread tests of the downward passage into the ‘underworld’ of dimensions ‘below’ our everyday world and ascended through many challenges and terrors to the point where you stand now. Further tests of character and instructions in cosmology follow from the assembly of initiates gathered to greet you in the magnificent Grand Gallery. Later, in the ‘Queen’s Chamber’, the ‘choice’ is made as to the level of enlightenment we are capable of withstanding. To return once again to the Grand Gallery, we now stand at the entrance to the ‘Kings Camber’ where, if we enter, we lie in the stone sarcophagus at the centre of this small room. Body entranced, our soul wanders the spaces of consciousness, both within ourselves, and outside into the cosmos at large. If victorious, we overcome the last shape assumed by the ego, and win free to wisdom, joining the company of the ‘Aakhui’ – the initiates or ‘Masters of Wisdom’, literally “The Creatures of Light”, or sometimes known as ‘Sons of the Sun’. During these trials we have given willingly of ourselves to the denizens of each place we visited. The now ‘Osirified’ initiate is not content to remain exultant as a ‘Son of the Sun’; but sets about his return to the commonality of men, the new initiate’s ‘table of offerings’ for humanity before him being the faculties and qualities he has perfected within himself and now offered to help uplift Humanity’s consciousness level.

If you stand at the entrance to the Kings Chamber where these final initiations took place, you will notice that you have a very difficult entry indeed that requires you to bow down low to enter the Kings Chamber. The granite floor-stones and walls of this entrance are worn down with the footsteps of generations of initiatory candidates and, in more recent times, tourists visiting the Great Pyramid. This entrance forces you to proceed in a crouched position symbolizing to me that only those who are humble in body, soul, and spirit, have the right to enter the inner camber of spiritual enlightenment. Surely, if the quality of Humility was an absolute requirement of the ancient mysteries, then there must be a lesson here for us all following the path of daily-life initiations in the everyday world – the ‘Path of Osiris’ as the ancient Egyptians would say.

Most of us would instinctively recognize that a spiritually advanced person is not absorbed in their own ego fulfilment, and such a person becomes increasingly less personal as spiritual awareness grows. A kind, gentle individual is most likely the one that people will turn to in a personal crisis. Such a person is directing the energies of their mind ‘upwards’ towards compassion, rather than ‘downwards’ towards desire for personal benefit. The desire mind is very personal and even as the mind grows more keenly aware with intellectual learning, it becomes highly critical of how others think and act. In fact, much of our education system and entertainment these days is directed to developing such a keen critical faculty which at a deeper level fortifies the ego-centre and its sense of superiority.

We of course, need to be critical in our Path of spiritual development, in the sense of determining what is right from what is wrong free of the personal element. In Hinduism this is known as the quality of rightful discrimination or ‘Viveka’. This is the quality of discrimination allied to humility in that the non-personal attitude gives birth to kindly feelings and understanding of the struggles others go through. We have the opportunity everyday in our interactions with other people to develop such a kindly attitude of humility free of egotism that will make sure we keep to the ‘Path of Compassion’ in our spiritual journey into the future.

More information on the qualities Theosophy encourages us to develop on the path of compassion can be found in G de Purucker’s ‘The Path of Compassion’ available at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/fso/ptcom-hp.htm .

 “Who humbles himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?” (Psalms 113:6)  

 “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled; and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5).

 

THE ROADS OF OSIRIS AND HORUS

In ancient Egypt, the process of spiritual growth was often pictured as the adventures of the soul in the after-life. One of these stories tells of a soul travelling down a road and reaching a fork offering two paths called “The Two Paths of Liberation”. Whilst each path leads to the abode of the ‘Gods’, each involves different experiences. One path, passing over land and water, is that of the Egyptian God Osiris who represents cyclic nature and this path involves many incarnations. The other way leads through fire in a direct and shortened passage along the road of the God Horus, who in many texts symbolizes the divine spark in the heart.

Many other cultures speak of a pathway to a blessed, or heightened state of spiritual understanding, though such a pathway is usually for ‘warriors’, or the brave at heart, eg. The American Indians speak of the ‘Red Path’ in similar terms. In Egypt, such a brave soul if successful in his journey along the Road of Horus became an initiate of the mysteries and was called an Akhu (the ‘Blessed’) – a name for the Gods, and also for successful initiates. For the rest of mankind travelling the Road of Osiris, the way is slower, progressing certainly, but more gradually, through the challenges of daily life through many incarnations. The ultimate achievement is the same, to radiate the highest qualities of the spiritual element locked within the aspiring soul. So how, and why, should people aspiring to spiritual understanding make the considerable effort even to set foot on the Road of Horus?

Why? Because the world desperately needs all the assistance it can get from people who are working in every way to uplift human consciousness. In particular, people who are prepared to attack the root causes of suffering in our world are few and far between, and recruits to their ranks are needed in all fields of endeavour. How do we take the first tentative steps towards the Road of Horus?

By taking charge of your life and trying to self-direct our evolution instead of being driven along by external circumstances. I recently heard two superb pieces of practical advice on taking control of your life from the writings of Dr Edward Bach, the discoverer of the famous Bach Flower Remedies, available in most chemist shops. Dr Bach called upon his own soul adventures to offer these signposts for us to the Road of Horus.

 Firstly he said it is necessary to ‘Know Yourself’:

“…Have courage to think for yourself. Trust your own convictions, take only from teaching courses and other people’s opinions what you feel within is true. For what is true for others may not be so for you, or what is true for you may not be so for others. Know yourself. That is the way you learn, that is the way you exercise your gift of free will. Choose between what is right and wrong for you. To choose through this gift of free will determine how you will face all the external conditions, experiences, and stresses that come your way. Whether you take them with cheerfulness, with interest, learning from them how to deal with another such experience. Or whether you let them get you down, cause you fear, worry, depression, strain. Yours is the choice.”

And secondly, on his basis of his experiences as a medical doctor, he advised ‘Looking Forward’:

“…many sick people find it very difficult to allow themselves to become free from past mistakes. Self condemnation is as much a stumbling block to recovery as self pity, pessimism, and other such negative forms of outlook. It does not matter how serious or trivial the error. The fact that you recognize a mistake, and then work to avoid making the same mistake again is forgiveness itself. It is recognition, the lesson learnt, that is the all important aspect to consider. Once you can accept that all mistakes occur for our own benefit. That all experiences whether good or bad are equally important in our development, then we are in true perspective. Life’s problems and setbacks are not periods of bad luck. They are purposeful tests offering exciting challenges. If we can then recognize the true value of these lessons we will emerge so much the wiser and prepared for whatever life has in store for us unshackled from the past.”

Further information on the ancient Egyptian teaching on the two paths is available in The Ancient Egyptian Book of Two Ways translated by Leonard H. Lesko, 1972. See also I.M.Oderberg’s article ‘Light from Ancient Egypt’ on the internet at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/34-84-5/re-imo2.htm from Sunrise Magazine for April/May 1985, pages 124-128 for more information on the Road of Horus.

“We come back to earth because on it and with the beings upon it our deeds were performed…because here is the only natural spot in which to continue the struggle towards perfection.” – W.Q.Judge: The Ocean of Theosophy, p.84

May I be with you, you gods; May you be with me . . . your Onite (character) is in me, O God . . . See me, O Ra, recognize me O Ra, I belong to those that know you, so know me.
Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, 2,500 BC

 

MYSTICAL ANCIENT EGYPT

 

The Influence of Ancient Egypt

 

Ancient Egypt has had an immense influence on Western society throughout the ages. It was always seen in the ancient world as the very apogee of education in every field – like America today. But unlike its modern equivalent, ancient Egypt was respected throughout the ancient Western world as the pinnacle of the spiritual sciences, a little bit like we respect India or Tibet for their spiritual knowledge today.

 

The Hermetic philosophies of Greece and Rome which inspired Neo-Platonic thought and then later Christianity in the early Christian era, were based on spiritual knowledge from ancient Egypt. Later, following the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or rebirth of classical knowledge in Europe, was really an attempt to rediscover the ancient knowledge of Greece, Rome, and of their predecessor, ancient Egypt.

 

Ultimately the very structures of the modern Western world which flowed from the French Revolution in 1789 and the formation of the USA in 1776 were both greatly influenced by Freemasonry which in turn is grounded in the spiritual traditions of ancient Egypt. The Emperor Napoleon in post-revolutionary France, President George Washington, and many of the principle founders of modern America, were Freemasons with a tremendous respect for the esoteric knowledge of ancient Egypt.

 

Ancient Egypt has had an immense influence on the arts in every field especially since Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 and the French scholar Jean Francois Champollion cracked the code of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822. Today the tremendous popularity of The Mummy and The Scorpion King series of films (1999-2012) and the Tutankhamen Exhibition shown world-wide, testify to the continuing fascination we have with ancient Egypt.

 

The Mystery Tradition in Ancient Egypt

 

An examination of the writings and monuments of ancient Egypt tells us that, in its prime, the civilization of the Nile possessed many of the keys to the doors of the Esoteric Wisdom. Certainly the ancients themselves were well aware of this fact. For example, the Church Father Origen tells us that the philosophers of ancient Egypt had a… “most noble and secret wisdom concerning the nature of the Divine which was disclosed to the people only under the garment of fables and allegories…” (Contra Celsum, Bk I, ch. xxii).

 

Theosophist HP Blavatsky understood this was true when she wrote: ‘Verily there was some truth in the old saying, “The Wisdom of the Egyptians.”…”The Mighty Ones perform their great works, and leave behind them everlasting monuments to commemorate their visit, every time they penetrate within our mayavic veil (atmosphere)…” The Secret Doctrine 1:434.

 

 

 

Some of these keys to the high wisdom of ancient Egypt were rediscovered in the mid-twentieth century by the great French archaeologist Rene A. Schwaller de Lubicz and his wife Isha who spent 15 years studying the esoteric significance of the design of the Temples at Luxor. Theosophists, Manuel Oderberg, and Lionel Whellams, of our own Australian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) wrote on these matters in the 1940s. Theosophical writers and Rene Schwaller de Lubicz were followed by 21st Century mystical and symbolist interpreters of ancient Egyptian civilization notably – American writer and traveller, John Anthony West, and Oxford philosopher Dr Jeremy Naydler whose books and videos provide most of the information that follows in these articles.

 

Summarizing the mystical view of ancient Egyptian civilization and how this differs so greatly from that of mainstream Egyptologists, Robert Lawlor says:

 

“In the Symbolist (mystic) model of ancient Egypt, at least two concurrent, simultaneous levels are at work in any given instance. One is the study of Egypt as a civilization that existed in a factual geographic place and time, its people, mythology, social forms, its chronological unfolding, its monuments and artifacts. But this is only a backdrop, or support for another Egypt, which might be called a quality of intelligence. This Egypt is outside of chronological considerations; it is rather, both an ever present and recurring possibility of consciousness.”

 

Was there a Civilisation in Egypt even Older than the Oldest we currently know?

 

Contemporary Egyptology teaches that Egyptian civilization appeared around 3,000BC and that the people were believers in animal-headed gods and had a primitive view of the universe and man’s relation to it.

 

In fact the Egyptians themselves in their temple records of their history date their origins to their Gods and the Servants of the Gods who ruled what is now Egypt at least 36,000 years ago. Their science, mathematics, and astronomy seem to have been in place from the beginning (3000BC) and reached a flowering in the Old Kingdom (2686 to 2181BC) with magnificent buildings such as King Djoser’s step pyramid constructed only 500 years (2650BC) after the first comparatively primitive structures of Egypt’s earliest dynastic period (3000BC).

 

It is as if a core of Egyptian initiates had the background knowledge to build such structures before the beginning of the historical period we know. But these highly educated people needed simply to refine the skills of enough architects and craftsmen to build such huge monuments, and to await the right astrological time for such activities – perhaps the start of Kali Yuga?

 

How is this possible? Perhaps there was a still older kingdom than the Old Kingdom recognized by modern Egyptology?

 

Ancient Stone Vases in Primitive Villages

 

In predynastic archaeological sites in Egypt exquisite stone vases made from some of the hardest stone known, such as Diorite, Porphery, and Granite have been found surrounded by primitive artefacts.

 

These have complex designs and are hollowed out in the centre. They have a hardness greater than steel but the Egyptians are supposed to have had only copper tools with which to manufacture them.

 

The stone is so difficult to work with that it would be difficult for us to make these stone vases today with our technology, much less 5,000 years ago. Could it be these items were remnants of an earlier civilization kept as treasured artefacts by the people of later times who were living in a post-apoplectic era after the destruction of the civilization that originally had the technology to make them?

 

The Great Sphinx – a lot older than we think?

 

There is no more iconic image of ancient Egypt than The Great Sphinx near the Great Pyramid at Giza near modern day Cairo. It was supposed to have been built during the reign of the Pharoah Khafra about 2,600 BC. But was it really?

 

The statue itself and the man-made temple walls surrounding it show evidence of water erosion, ie. that the statue was exposed to rain for a long period. But it hasn’t rained consistently in this area for 10,000 years at least and the Sphinx shows extensive signs of water weathering, therefore, it must have been exposed to water erosion for hundreds or thousands of years! Boston University Geologist Robert Schoch confirmed these findings in the mid-1990s.

 

In 1991 New York forensic artist Detective Frank Domingo, proved conclusively that head of the Sphinx was not the same individual as the Pharoah Khafra (Chefren) as identified by other statues depicting him.

 

Both pieces of evidence would suggest that the Sphinx is of immense antiquity, perhaps constructed at the end of the last Ice Age when the area was subject to flooding and rains.

 

The discovery in 1994 of a sophisticated temple complex at Gobekli Tepe in south-western Turkey dated to 12,000 years ago, indicates that there were civilizations in the region in the remote past capable of building huge monuments with stone slabs weighing up to 20 tons each. Archeologists working at the site tell us that the whole site at Gobekli Tepe seems to have been deliberately buried about 10,000 years ago!

 

When you consider these facts we might well agree with symbolist Egyptologist John Anthony West when he says:

 

“… The much vaunted flowering of ancient Greece 2,000 years later pales into insignificance in the face of a civilization which, supposedly starting from a crude Neolithic (Stone Age) base, produced in a few centuries a complete system of hieroglyphs, the most sophisticated calendrical system ever developed, an effective mathematics, a refined medicine, a total mastery of the gamut of the arts and crafts and the capacity to construct the largest and most accomplished stone buildings ever built by man. The cautiously expressed astonishment of modern Egyptologists hardly matches the real magnitude of the mystery.

 

A realistic approach to the mystery suggests alternatives that are unacceptable to the orthodox mind. The first is that Egyptian civilization did not develop in situ but this was brought to Egypt by hypothetical conquerors. This alternative simply translates the mystery of a period of development to the as-yet-undiscovered homeland of these conquerors.

 

The second alternative is that Egypt did not ‘develop’ her civilization, but inherited it…that the coherent complete and interrelated system of science, religion, art and philosophy of Egypt …came from a prior civilization possessing a high order of knowledge. In other words, this alternative brings up the old question of ‘Atlantis’…” – John Anthony West: Serpent in the Sky: the High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, pages 184-195.

 

Refugees from Atlantis

 

Theosophy teaches that what became the ancient Egyptian civilization was founded by refugees fleeing from a highly advanced, but very materialistic society – the 4th Root-Race of Humanity (we are the 5th) – Atlantis. This civilization was destroyed by a series of massive floods and subsidence of some continental areas and raising of others. This point of view is advocated also by 20th century French archaeologist Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, the American psychic Edgar Cayce, and 21st century symbolist Egyptologist, John Anthony West.

 

The Great Pyramid: One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

 

The Great Pyramid is a marvel in stone. Located on the West bank of the Nile opposite Cairo; it is the largest of a group of three pyramids and surrounding temple structures including the Great Sphinx. Although dated by conventional archeologists to 4,500 years ago, it represents architectural perfection and engineering genius that would be difficult for us to duplicate today.

 

For 3,800 years it was the world’s tallest building. It is constructed of 8 million cubic feet of stone; 2.3 million stone blocks weighing 2.5 tons each; and originally entirely covered in white limestone which shone brightly in the desert sunlight for miles around. It is equidistant from the pole and the centre of the earth showing an exact knowledge of latitude and longitude. The French emperor Napoleon’s surveyors found that the Great Pyramid was at the apex of an exact triangle fanning out from the Pyramid over the Nile Delta like the Greek capital letter ‘Delta’.

 

Further amazing facts about the Great Pyramid and other pyramids in Egypt is available in an article by Coen Vonk: ‘Pyramids and Temples in Egypt’ at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/52-02-3/eg-vonk.htm

 

 

Was the Great Pyramid a Tomb?

 

Archaeologists say that the Great Pyramid was just a tomb for the Pharoah Khufu (2589-2566BC) – but was it really just that? No body; no coffin; no funerary appurtenances; and no after-life pictures on the walls were ever found in the Great Pyramid. Khufu’s name appears only on a few stones in the upper courses of the pyramid. The so-called ‘burial chambers’ are 150 feet above the ground not below as would be expected for a burial. Air channels run 200 feet from the surface of the Pyramid to certain chambers. These were obviously meant for living men.

 

Funerary scripts from the tomb of Queen Henutsen, one of Khufu’s four wives, refer to her husband’s restoration work at the Great Pyramid – he cleared away the sand, restored, and possibly added to, an ancient existing structure. In ancient Egypt, the Great Pyramid was known as: the ‘Temple of Osiris’ – Osiris was the king of the Underworld and patron of the ‘Mysteries’: a system of learning about the nature and processes of the cosmos and man, and, ‘Akhet’ – the ‘The Horizon of Heaven’.

 

Theosophy says that the Great Pyramid was really a Temple of Spiritual Initiation

 

Inside the Great Pyramid there is a maze of tunnels and rooms fanning away from the main entrance and serviced by air-shafts to the surface meant for living people. Theosophy says the purpose of the Great Pyramid, as with most other of the larger pyramids, was not as a tomb, but an environment where suitable candidates could undergo spiritual initiation into higher states of consciousness – hence its ancient name ‘Horizon of Heaven’ – a place where one could literally enter other dimensions of reality which we call ‘Heavens and Hells’.

 

HP Blavatsky hints in her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine (2:432), that it was built originally three processional cycles, or 78,000 years ago, by refugees from the doomed Atlantis based on the design of their own temples. To achieve spiritual awakening candidates had to undergo a variety of tests of character, encounter first-hand some of the other dimensions, and to face various aspects of themselves before achieving ‘enlightenment’ for a few in the very centre of the Pyramid – the ‘Kings Chamber’.

 

These initiation tests offered a vastly accelerated path to enlightenment for strong souls called by the ancient Egyptians in their Book of the Two Ways, ‘The Path of Horus’. The Egyptians had three degrees/stages of spiritual initiation with several sub-stages, personified under the ‘three guardians of the fire’ in the Mysteries. This quick Path contrasts with the slow journey for the majority of humanity to the same state of enlightenment but through the everyday initiations of daily life experience called by them – ‘The Path of Osiris’.

 

Osiris was the King of the Underworld, patron of the Mysteries, father of Horus, and the Great Pyramid was also known in ancient Egypt as the ‘Temple of Osiris’. A wealth of information on the Great Pyramid as a temple of initiation is available in an article by I.M.Oderberg: ‘Gateway to the Horizon of Heaven’ at: http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/med/my-imo6.htm

 

Secret Rites of the ‘Sed Festival’ and the Pyramids

 

Recent academic research by Dr Jeremy Naydler published in his book, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts – the chapter of his PhD thesis – ‘The Pyramids as the Locus of Secret Rites’ – 2005) shows that many of Egypt’s pyramids, including the Great Pyramid, feature inscriptions and pictures of the king involved in the mysterious ‘Sed Festival’. This festival ostensibly celebrated the continuing power of the king after thirty years in power, but history shows that it was often held more frequently and that there was an outer festival for the people, and an inner festival of ‘secret rites’.

 

The very kernel of the Sed festival are the mystical experiences of the king (candidate for initiation?) during these ‘secret rites’ associated with this festival which seem to have been conducted in the pyramid and surrounding buildings during the life of the king. The central experience of these secret rites was that the king was brought to the very threshold of death in order to travel into the spirit world.

 

These secret rites bear comparison with ‘shamanic’ initiation rites described by peoples all over the world including our own Australian Aboriginal peoples. They belong essentially to the same mystical tradition that we find in the Eleusian and later Greek mysteries – see Grace Knoche’s book: The Mystery Schools, available at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/mysterys/MysterySchoolsGFK.pdf – the dialogues of Plato, and some of the later Hermetic dialogues.

 

Three main elements of the universal mystic experience can be identified within the Pyramid Texts related to secret initiation ceremonies of living people:

 

  1. Cosmic Ascent: the ecstatic flight away from the earth and away from the physical realm. The description of such as ascent is often by means of a ladder. In this connection, it is interesting to note that many of Egypt’s pyramids are in the form of steps.

 

  1. Vision of the Gods: in this heavenly region amongst the stars, the mystic has a direct vision of the Gods.
  2. Spiritual Rebirth: The mystic knows that he or she is a spiritual being as well as a merely physical being. This direct experience of one’s spiritual and immortal core is often described as a ‘rebirth’.

 

“…All these themes … are present in the pyramid texts of Unas. Their presence suggests that the Pyramid Texts, far from being funerary texts, were primarily concerned with mystical experiences of a similar type to those that the living king had during the ‘secret rites’ of the Sed festival, for they can clearly be seen to belong to a genre of archetypal human experiences at the crossing point between this world and the spirit world…” – Jeremy Nayder: Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: the mystical tradition of ancient Egypt (2005), page 121.

 

Sacred Architecture: The Great Temple of Amun in Luxor

The great Temple at Karnak (Luxor) dedicated principally to the God Amun, representing the principle/animator (or Neter) of growth in the Universe, was founded in 3,200BC and built continuously over a period of 2,000 years. It covers 1.5km by 0.8km. The area dedicated to Amun alone would hold 10 large European cathedrals. The Hyperstyle Hall is still the largest religious room in the world with 134 huge columns. In addition to the main temple complex there are many minor temples and a vast sacred lake.

 

The Temple as a Spiritual Teacher

 

The French symbolist Egyptologist, Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, and his wife Isha, spent 15 years studying the Temple of Amun at Karnak and produced his masterful study: The Temple of Man. This study shows that esoteric philosophy is embodied in the design and structure of the Temple complex which represents Man as a reflection of the Universe – ‘As Above So Below’.

 

The design and measurements of the building reflect sacred geometry, the mathematics of the Fibonacci Scale upon which nature builds its forms, esoteric anatomy of the human body, and geomancy in the alignments of the buildings – from the beginning to end of construction. Isha Scwaller de Lubicz was inspired by the temple to write her series of novels on ancient Egypt – the Her Bak series – which dramatizes the esoteric life of an ancient Egyptian priest as inspired by what she learnt from her experiences in the Temple of Amun.

 

21st century popularizer of the Schwaller de Lubicz’s ideas, John Anthony West says of the great Temple of Amun:

 

“… The Temple at Luxor is designed to evoke understanding of the creative power of the Absolute through a strict imitation of its creative processes.

 

The Temple is ‘alive’. Though obviously it has no power of self-replication, nor physical autonomy, as far as our sensory apparatus is concerned it is in constant motion; its intricate alignments, its multiple asymmetries, make it oscillate about its axes. (This secret was either handed down or rediscovered by the builders of the Gothic cathedrals, which incorporate similar asymmetries.) The Temple ‘grew’ in discrete stages; symbolically it grew from a ‘seed’. Schwaller de Lubicz claims that Egyptian temples were constructed and demolished according to astrological plan, and never according to the whim of a pharaoh …” – John A. West: Serpent in the Sky: the high wisdom of ancient Egypt. 1993. Pages 162-163.

 

Magic in Ancient Egypt:

 

Magic has received a bad reputation from Christianity where it is equated with dark forces. In Egypt religion, magic/spirit world and daily life in the material world were all One not separated as they are now in modern Western society.

 

Heka – ‘Master of the Sky’

 

Heka was the god of magic representing the all-pervasive power underlying everything and the power enabling manifestation closely associated with the maintenance of order in the Universe represented by the Goddess Maat.

 

Heka literally means activating the Ka, the aspect of the soul which embodied personality. Theosophically, the Ka would be the equivalent of the ‘astral body’. The art of practical magic includes control of astral forces. Egyptians thought activating the power of the soul was how magic worked. “Heka” also implied great power and influence, particularly in the case of drawing upon the Ka of the gods. Heka acted together with Hu, the principle of divine utterance, and Sia, the concept of divine omniscience, to create the basis of creative power both in the mortal world and the world of the gods.

 

Magic touched every aspect of life and those trained in the ‘Houses of Life’ became, ‘Masters of The Secrets’, and were the high officials and professionals. The spiritual and physical realm was considered as One, similar to Australian Aboriginal peoples, so statues were ‘alive’, words have great power, written language gives power over what is described, hieroglyphs symbolised and gave keys to the powers they represented, and human gestures in art carried great power.

 

In the modern world we seem to have largely forgotten our direct connection with the spiritual world and its powers to such an extent that we are in danger of losing sight of our ‘soul’ altogether to our great peril – global environmental damage for example.

 

Heka’s Name

 

The hieroglyph for Heka’s name featured a twist of flax within a pair of raised arms; however, it also vaguely resembles a pair of entwined snakes within someone’s arms. It may represent the ‘Kundalini’ or ‘Serpent’ power which is said to be one of the fundamental energies utilized by magicians of all ages.

 

In ancient times, Heka was said to have battled and conquered two serpents, and was usually depicted as a man choking two giant entwined serpents. Medicine and doctors were thought to be a form of magic, and so Heka’s priesthood performed these activities.

 

Methods in the Practice of Magic

 

There were five basic steps in the practice of magic in ancient Egypt:

 

Invocation of the First Time: like the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, a time before time began in which archetypal events were enacted by the gods. Like the universal sea of energy which modern physics tells us forms the material universe. The Egyptian magician would invoke this First-Time of ‘Nun’, the ocean of primal energy – and identify with it.

 

Identifying with the Gods: the magician would identify with the appropriate ‘Neter’ or universal principle/God and assume that name to get his work done.

 

Confronting Demons: anything physical is a reflection of the inner spiritual world so the possibility of possession by inner world beings always exists. Medical doctors would principally try to identify what demon /natural imbalance was at work, and invoke the name of an appropriate God to confront that demon.

 

Threatening the Gods: Heka, the God of Magic, existed in the First-Time before the Gods and therefore he can control the Gods. The magician could literally threaten the very Gods to achieve his work. Man has to conform to natural and cosmic cycles and if he doesn’t this can have catastrophic results, ie human actions have cosmic implications.

 

Reordering Nature: nature is a living unity. Nothing is ‘dead’ in the way we think of it in the modern world. Therefore inanimate objects can become animate, eg. The story of the rods turning into snakes from the Bible, statues that could talk and move about commonly referred to in ancient Egypt. The rivers, wind, and sun are alive in their own way, ‘real and ‘not-real’, I and not-I, were not thought of in the same way as we do. The structures of reality are inseparable from the consciousness perceiving them.

 

So, what can we learn today from mystical ancient Egypt?

 

  • Human civilization could be a lot older than we imagine under current scientific understanding.

 

  • Spiritual initiatory systems to accelerate the development of human consciousness – the Path of Horus – have been around for a long time. Ancient Egyptian society at its height was dedicated to the preservation of the knowledge that produced such enlightened people. It was dedicated to the production of such people and extension of their influence in the world even down to today from the radiant influence of their art and buildings that remain to us.

 

  • The spiritual and physical worlds are aspects of an organic living universe which is a Oneness.

 

  • Related to this, we are not separate from Nature or other species and nothing in Nature is ‘Dead’. Somehow today we are being given the opportunity to relearn this lesson with global environmental crises and species depletion.

 

  • We should not make the mistake of many New Age groups to try and recreate ancient Egypt today. Since then, in modern Western society we have developed a sense of our individual self and right to find our own way, psychic autonomy, and moral responsibility. We have to combine the spiritual with the intellectual in a way suited to the modern world where individuals can find their own way spiritually – this is the same goal but very different from ancient Egyptian society which was very ordered and had a different sense of the individual in relation to society.

 

The Riddle of the Great Sphinx

 

The riddle of the Sphinx – symbol of spiritual and material elements – applies not only to the culture of early Egypt, but to the enigma of our own lives here in the modern world. Perhaps the head stands for the inner man of intuition and the Higher Mind (or, on a cosmic level, the Christos-Horus aspect), whilst the body betokens the animal side of man and nature generally, ie. The future of mankind lies in the control of the animal side of human nature by the intuitional Higher Self.

Will we find our own way from the Desire Mind to the Compassion Mind as the ancient Egyptians encourage us to do even now with the testament of their mighty monuments calling to us from a long gone era?

 

Further Reading:

 

Rene A. Schwaller de Lubicz:

  • The Temple of Man.
  • Sacred Science.

 

Isha Scwaller de Lubicz:

  • Her Bak: The Living Face of Ancient Egypt.
  • Her Bak: Egyptian Initiate.

 

Jeremy Naydler:

  • Temple of the Cosmos: the Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred.
  • Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt.

 

John Anthony West:

 

I.M. Oderberg: any of his articles on ancient Egypt published in Theosophical Forum and Sunrise from the 1940s through to 2000. Available at Theosophical University Press online: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ts/tup-onl.htm

 

 

. . . the doctrine of the Egyptians concerning principles, proceeding from on high as far as to the last of things, begins from one principle, and descends to a multitude which is governed by this One . . . Iamblichus, Syrian Neo-Platonic philosopher, 3rd century AD.

 

 

HINDUISM – Some Major Concepts.

Major Concepts:

Karma: the law of action and reaction;

Reincarnation: we have several lives in order to learn the lessons of life in their completeness;

Caste and Gender Roles: determined by birth: Four principle Castes but literally hundreds of minor divisions: Brahmins: philosophers and teachers, Ksatriyas: warriors/administrators; Vaishyas: shopkeepers, traders, those concerned with economics and money-making; Sudras: the lowest cast doing basic jobs and Dalits: the lowest of the low doing the jobs no-one else will do; Gender Roles: Hinduism prescribes strict rules for gender roles and for arranged marriage so that caste remains intact.

Dharma: duty both personal cosmic in the sense of the ‘laws of life’;

Samsara: the wheel of life and suffering in which we are caught until we break with the cycle of ignorance of Spirit and how it operates in the world;

Moksa: escape from the wheel of life to Nirvana or a higher state of existence beyond the human stage;

Maya: the ‘illusion’ in which most people live of life’s purpose and our understanding of Reality;

Rita: the divine harmonious law keeping the universe intact;

Avataras: great teachers of humanity who come at cyclic times;

Stages of Life (Asramas): Bramacharya: student; Grihasti: householder/family life; Varna Prastha: retired person; Sanyassi: ,

Sacred Cows.

Gods and Goddesses:

330 million of them! Major ones: Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Ganesha, Durga, Pavrati, Laxsmi.

Ista Devati: personal favourite God/Goddess.

Paths to Understanding/ Union with the Godhead (Trimarga):

Karma Marga – Action/Good Works.

Jnana Marga – Wisdom/Study.

Bhakti Marga – Devotion to a Deity.

Four Goods of Life:

Dharma: Duty.

Artha: Wealth.

Kama: Pleasure.

Moksa: Escape from the wheel of life/suffering (Samsara).

To achieve Moksa you must give up the other three Goods, otherwise you remain wedded to the Wheel of Life (Samsara) and put off Moksa or escape from the wheel of suffering, for a future life.

Timeline:

3000BC: Indus Valley Civilization–1600BC: Migration of the Aryans; Vedas–800BC: Upanishads—561BC —Buddha. Jainism—400BC: Mahabharata—327BC: Alexander the Great—200BC: Bhagavad Gita; Laws of Manu; Ramayana; Dharma Sastras; Puranas—500AD: Tantras— 700AD: Muslims invade India—1469AD: Sikhism— 1757: British invade India—1947: Independence from Britain; Partition of India—2001: Kumbh Mela Festival becomes the largest religious gathering in history.

 

ARE THE HINDU GODS REAL?

India has literally thousands of Gods, and all Hindus, from professors in universities to beggars outside on the streets, avidly believe in them. But are they real? Let’s take the case of the most famous Hindu God, Ganesha, the elephant God, beloved of all Hindus. Most Hindus would daily say the prayer to the elephant-headed god: ‘OM Sri Ganeshaya namah’, “Hail Lord Ganesha!” This is the mantra to Ganesha repeated by devotees at the commencement of any important undertaking or spiritual gathering, for the removal of obstacles and the attainment of success. With his ungainly form, comically riding a mouse or rat as his steed, Ganesha is the most popular deity among Hindus. Millions of devotees celebrate his Chathurti Festival in August/September each year, when decorated statues of Ganesha are carried through the streets of every town and village and cast into rivers and oceans in a spectacular closing of the Festival. Most Hindu homes and businesses have a statue of Ganesha at their doorway, and a picture of his humorous but compassionate form in their family shrine.

Does Ganesha, or any of the Hindu gods, symbolize a real being or class of entities rather than simply a flight of artistic fantasy? A hint lies in Ganesha’s name, Ganapati or Vinayaka, indicating his function as the leader of the celestial hordes (Ganas), an honour bestowed on him by his father, Siva. The Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary gives us a clue to Ganesha’s role in the hierarchy of more advanced spiritual entities who play an active and self-conscious role in the management of the cosmos. In some respects he is “the chief or head of multitudes of subordinate spiritual entities — a necessity if as the god of wisdom he accomplishes his cosmic labours through subordinate hierarchies of intelligent and semi-intelligent beings, acting as their director or guide in forming and guiding nature.”

Perhaps the real Ganesha, and the thousands of other Hindu Gods, are more like forces of nature, like the sunlight that nourishes life, the air we breathe, or lofty thoughts that inspire us. He is part of the great chain of being stretching from the spiritual sun down to humanity and beyond. This hierarchy of compassion sustains life for us lesser beings, though we remain unaware of the constant efforts or call them, as modern science often does, unconscious forces of nature. Ganesha and his celestial hordes work consciously and untiringly so that we may learn and grow spiritually to one day join them in their cosmic labours.

 More information on the Hindu gods is available at:

http://www.hinduwebsite.com/

 

THE GAYATRI MANTRA

The Gayatri mantra or hymn is a verse from the ancient Hindu book, the Rig Veda (III, 62,10). Millions of Hindus say this prayer at least three times every day as it inspires righteous wisdom and its chanting creates specific energies which lead us to greater awareness of our Inner Divinity. Specifically the hymn is to the ‘hidden’ Sun representing the compassionate life-giving forces sustaining our solar system. In the ancient Indian Sanskrit language the Gayatri is chanted like this:

Om bhurbhuvah swah tatsaviturvarenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat

 

Have a listen to it chanted in Sanskrit at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDnamSM3Z3s

 

Translated into English the Gayatri is paraphrased as:    

 

“Unveil, O Thou who givest sustenance to the Universe, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return,
That face of the true sun now hidden by a vase of golden light,
That we may see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat.”

But, why have a prayer to the sun, and why to the ‘hidden’ sun?

Ancient peoples around the world revered the sun as the living heart and benign ruler of its family of planets and their myriad lives including humanity. Modern scientific discoveries and theorems speak of forces and wonders befitting the glorious raiments of a solar divinity. In the 21st century most scientists believe the sun to be a self-sustaining nuclear furnace powered by the fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium exactly balanced by the compression of the sun’s mass due to gravity. Changes in the sun’s magnetic field over 11 and 22-year cycles are believed to create sunspots: gigantic rents or openings through which solar flares arc thousands of miles into space. Many stars, including our sun, pulsate like huge bells, each ringing its own keynote in the “music of the spheres.”

In Hinduism and Theosophy the Sun is understood to be a self-sustaining energy source for the visible and invisible kingdoms that teem within its domain. It is at once the living heart and brain of its kingdom, beating in an 11-year cycle, issuing streams of life force through the sunspots via its circulatory system. Confirming ancient myths, theosophy restates that the visible sun is but the reflection of a bright celestial entity or god. This solar divinity pours forth its life forces from the inner planes of its being, sustaining and providing an arena of experience for myriads of evolving entities over vast periods of time. This sacred truth was beautifully epitomized by the bards of ancient India in their Invocation to the Sun, the Gayatri.

Our Higher Self is of the same essence as the Inner Sun, so by saying the Gayatri we remember both the compassionate essence of the Sun and its reflection in ourselves. In this way it can help elevate our thoughts and act as a kind of protection amidst the stresses and ‘downward’ attractions of daily life. The Gayatri is also a potent form of ‘psychic’ self-defence when we feel under attack from others of ill-intent as it can place our thoughts on a higher plane and at a higher vibration than low thoughts of desire, harm, and revenge. Similarly any great and beautiful prayer, such as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ from the Christian Bible, can have the same beneficial effect. Try remembering the spirit of the words each day as it really helps to put your consciousness at a higher level, even though we may be distracted by the hectic pace of modern life.

Another theosophical translation of the Gayatri which is a bit easier to remember:

“Oh thou golden sun of most excellent splendour, illumine our hearts and fill our minds, so that we, recognising our oneness with the Divinity which is the heart of the universe, may see the pathway before our feet, and tread it to those distant goals of perfection, stimulated by thine own radiant light.”      

THE VALUE OF READING THE BHAGAVAD GITA

It is really very confusing! A world full of books on ‘spirituality’ with a bewildering variety of different opinions on all sides – and now the internet! Thousands of years ago, perhaps the most eloquent statement on the human condition was written which endlessly repays the reader with new spiritual insights. The Bhagavad-Gita, or the ‘Lord’s Song’, is a tiny section of the great epic of ancient India, The Mahabharata. You might say that it was written so long ago and is based on a war between two rival clans at that distant time – how can it be relevant to me today? The writers of this epic used the situation of a war between two related clans to depict the war raging within each one of us – our tendency to evil and good. The main players are Arjuna, representing Humanity, and Krishna, his charioteer, representing Divinity.

Arjuna and Krishna sit in a most uncomfortable position between two opposing armies about to engage in battle, and argue the case for Arjuna to enter into the battle. He is reluctant to enter the fray, as he can see all his relatives on the other side and the last thing he wants to do is to inflict death and destruction upon them. He throws down his weapons and refuses to fight. Krishna then spends the rest of the Bhagavad-Gita explaining why it is necessary to enter this battle. All of us who are on the spiritual Path, are right there in the chariot with Arjuna, reluctant to attack our old habits of identity with the ‘Ego’ evolved over lifetimes. These negative habits of the ‘lower self’ keep us individually, and Humanity generally, from progressing on the spiritual Path and locked into an endless cycle of suffering which we see as the general condition of Humanity today. The great value of the Bhagavad-Gita is that Krishna explains the various ways in which we as spiritual seekers can progress in various ways along the spiritual Path. We must valiantly attack various aspects of our lower behaviour so that individually and collectively we can progress towards our inner potential as compassionate godlike beings, and not remain as cunningly intelligent animals as seems to be mostly depicted as the desirable aim of human life these days!

The beauty of the Bhagavad-Gita is that it addresses a variety of practical ways we can begin to attack and then transcend our lower self. These various ways include the intellectual path favoured by many theosophists, the way of faith and devotion which is more characteristic of Christianity, the way of good works pursued by many good people who work for charities, the contemplative path of those who meditate and live the austere monastic life, the discrimination between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people, and many others. These Paths are compared, with their strengths and weaknesses stated so that we can learn about our own particular path.

In the end Krishna says that identity with the ‘All’ is the most important thing, or from our perspective as ordinary human beings, living a good life in conformity with our highest ideals. For the highest in each and every person is commensurate with the ‘Godhead’ of the Universe. We gradually come to realize this and have many other spontaneous spiritual insights as we attempt to make our ethical and moral beliefs a reality in our everyday behaviour. The Buddhists put this beautifully when they say: “It is necessary to ‘Live the Life, to Understand the Doctrine’.

Reading the Bhagavad-Gita is endlessly rewarding. Like all great books, you will see something new each time you read it. The version translated by William Quan Judge with commentary by him, and another commentary by the Hindu teacher T. Subba Row are available from our Melbourne library and bookshop, or free online from the Theosophical University Press at:

Bhagavad-Gita: Recension by William Quan Judge combined with his Essays on the Gita: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gita/bg-eg-hp.htm

T.Subba Row: Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gita-sr/nbg-hp.htm

‘AHAM ASMI PARABRAHM’

Amongst the wonderful prayers of ancient India still repeated in many Hindu homes today, is the Sanskrit mantram: ‘Aham asmi Parabrahm’, which in English means, ‘I, in my inmost, am Universal Divinity’.

 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’.

 

‘PUJA’ : SPIRITUAL ‘TIMEOUT’

 In this hectic world, we all need a little ‘timeout’. Lifestyle pressures, conflict situations at work and in the family, and even modern day films and TV often tend to drag our consciousness down into the dregs of human experience. How can we function as sensitive people when life often seems to be pushing us in the opposite direction?

 There are quite a few simple ways in which we can remember the presence of divinity in our lives even when we are rushing around on our daily business. Certainly regular meditation is one way to achieve some spiritual timeout each day, but many people will say that they are too busy to meditate! Theosophical teachers tell us that we can always have the opportunity to ‘meditate’ upon higher spiritual consciousness by simply tossing around the wonderful ideas of theosophy in our minds as a sort of mental background to our busy day. Following the habit of taking a few moments before we go to sleep to meditate on the spiritual lessons or otherwise we have learnt during the day, is also a very constructive habit for our future ‘self-guided’ spiritual growth. How about taking a little timeout to go for a walk in the local park, or down by the seaside to be surrounded by the sounds and atmosphere of nature to rejuvenate a tired spirit and give us the opportunity to think over spiritual matters. At a more formal level, little rituals such as saying ‘Grace’ before we eat, or expressing thankfulness in some way for the experience of every day helps us to remember the presence of divinity in our lives. Attending church or temple services is certainly a time-honoured way of providing time for us to consider deeper aspects of life amid the many distractions that are a normal part of our daily routine. Such simple habits provide needed ‘shelter’ for the spirit in a hectic world and lead us away from falling into depression and low thinking. They also galvanize spiritual influences in our lives that can act as needed protection from the often low level ‘vibrations’ of worldly life, and from negative influences in the ‘astral’ world’.

In Hinduism, it is well-known that everyone needs a little timeout each day to lift the level of their thoughts and realize our relationship with divinity. In India every Hindu has the opportunity each day at home, in the local temple or even outdoors to have such a time of remembrance of the ‘gods’. This spiritual ‘timeout’ is called ‘Puja’.

 What is Puja?  Puja is the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. An essential part of Puja for the Hindu devotee is making a spiritual connection with the divine.  Most often that contact is facilitated through an object: an element of nature, a sculpture, a vessel, a painting, or a print. During Puja an image or other symbol of the god serves as a means of gaining access to the divine.  This icon is not the deity itself; rather, it is believed to be filled with the deity’s cosmic energy.  It is a focal point for honouring and communicating with the god.  For the devout Hindu, the icon’s artistic merit is important, but is secondary to its spiritual content.  The objects are created as receptacles for spiritual energy that allow the devotee to experience direct communication with his or her gods.

We don’t have to be quite so sophisticated to have formal ‘puja’ everyday as devout Hindus would do. But we all have the opportunity for our own form of ‘spiritual timeout’ to recognize and remember the reality of divinity in every moment of our lives, to open the door a little wider for the spiritual light within to shine in our everyday world.

 

THE FOUR AIMS OF LIFE: THE ‘PURUSARTHAS’

 

We all ask ourselves, and other people, ‘Why am I here, What’s it all about? How can I best live my life?’ These are eternal questions, and all the great religions and philosophies of the world have addressed themselves to them at some stage throughout history. The answers they have given have often determined the way millions of people have lived out their lives.

These questions are especially important for people on the spiritual quest as we seek to reorientate our lives to more consciously to live sincerely in harmony with our chosen religion or philosophy.

 

Sometimes at the beginning of our commitment to the spiritual quest, we become exaggerated in our promises to ourselves and others about what we can do. We make great promises about saving the world, giving away all our possessions to the poor, being kind and loving to everyone we meet. But it often happens that other lesser well-intentioned people see all these promises as signs of our weakness, and they proceed to walk all over us and our fine intentions! So how are we to handle these very real problems of human life and challenges for sincere pilgrims on the spiritual path?

 

Let’s have a quick look at what Hinduism says about the aims of existence? The ancient religion of Hinduism has had vast ages to refine its understanding of all possible shades of human experience in relation to the spiritual quest. It always advocates a common-sense and balanced approach to life based on a realistic view of the different stages of life. Hinduism recognizes four stages of life: the Student Stage (Brahmacharya), the Householder Stage (Grihasta), Retirement (Vanaprastha), and Renunciation of material life in old age (Sannyasa). Most people are in the ‘Householder’ stage throughout the whole of their adult lives. Most of us are rushing around trying to make a living, raise a family, trying to find then sustain relationships, and paying off mortgages, so many of the ideals of the spiritual life seem to be difficult/impossible for ordinary people to uphold.

 

Hinduism recognizes this and says that there are four aims of human existence it calls the ‘Purusarthas’ and at various times in our lives one or other of them is more important to us, but we should strive for a balance whilst living our stressful lives in the world as it is.

The four aims of life in Hinduism are:

 

  • Dharma: religious, social and/or moral righteousness, both spiritual and ritual.
  • Artha: material and/or financial prosperity as well as the pursuit of meaning.
  • Kama: material pleasure and desire.
  • Moksha: spiritual liberation or renunciation as well as detachment.

 

It is our duty to try and establish a proper and sensible balance between these four principle aims of life as we busy about the daily business of making our way in the world.

 

This can be complicated when we reach the stage of consciously searching on the spiritual path. For example, many people allow others to exploit them thinking that they must give up on the demands of material life and self-preservation because of their understanding of their religion. Hinduism says ‘no’, it is your duty not to forget about ‘artha’ or material welfare. If we give up on looking after ourselves and our families then we become someone else’s problem. We should maintain a constant eye to the ideal of human spiritual evolution, do what we can within our life situation, but be sensible and balanced about how we seek to deal with the evils afflicting humanity. In this way we can more realistically and sustainably contribute to positive efforts to alleviate the causes of suffering in the world. The time will come, perhaps far off in the future for most of us, to experience ‘Moksha’ or spiritual liberation, but not until we have helped others deal with the many problems that now face most of us living in this hectic world.

 

Consideration of the Hindu approach to the aims of life puts me in mind of what the great theosophist HP Blavatsky once said about the three most important requirements of a theosophist on the spiritual path. She said: First, Common-Sense, second, a Sense of Humour, and thirdly, more Common-Sense!”

GANESHA: OVERCOMER OF OBSTACLES

OM Sri Ganeshaya namah, “Hail Lord Ganesha!” is the mantra to the elephant-headed Hindu god repeated by devotees at the commencement of any important undertaking or spiritual gathering, for the removal of obstacles and the attainment of success. With his ungainly form, comically riding a mouse or rat as his steed, Ganesha is the most popular deity among Hindus. Millions of devotees celebrate his Chathurti Festival in August/September each year, when decorated statues of Ganesha are carried through the streets of every town and village and cast into rivers and oceans in a spectacular closing of the Festival. Most Hindu homes and businesses have a statue of Ganesha at their doorway, and a picture of his humorous but compassionate form in their family shrine. Who then is Ganesha, and what can he teach us?

I first encountered Ganesha thirty years ago in the steaming darkness of his cave temple on the island of Bali in Indonesia. He seemed a strange representation of Divinity, with his portly shape and four arms waving different symbols of his authority. Clearly, though, the people loved him, as his temple was piled high with offerings, and pungent smoke filled the air from incense-sticks left by devotees beseeching his help to overcome the obstacles that we all face in life. Ganesha was created as a mind-born son by the god Siva and his wife Parvati. They thus formed the original family, becoming more accessible as spiritual symbols to the life experience of ordinary people. In the course of carrying out his mother’s instructions, Ganesha came in conflict with the gods and lost his human head. Siva, repenting, replaced it with that of a baby elephant.

As a symbol of Divinity in daily life and the god of wisdom, Ganesha

teaches that the path to success and achievement is through the use of the intellect, and that through wisdom alone can one reach salvation. . . .

The calm and majestic Ganesha with the strength and power of an elephant is the Lord of all obstacles which keep Man under control, and yet he is also the remover of obstacles which befuddle Man in his endeavours. Like the elephant he has a prodigious memory, and never forgets the qualities of loyalty and devotion of those around him.

He spreads the message of peace and tranquillity and his large size evokes great love, never fear. In fact his unusual form gets imbedded in the mind of the worshipper. . . . He is the playful god of the young and the great guru of the old. He is the god of auspiciousness, the beginning of all beginnings, the saviour of all that is good. — www.samachar.com/religion/ganesh.html

While Ganesha appeals to the general public’s need for a godly friend and savior amidst the travails of everyday life, yet he also has depths of knowledge and learning for those who approach Divinity through striving after spiritual knowledge. Many stories are told of Ganesha’s wit and intelligence. Legend has it that the poet Vyasa was advised to ask Ganesha to be the scribe to whom he could dictate the Mahabharata in verse form. With typical combination of wit and playfulness, Ganesha agreed to this great responsibility on condition that Vyasa should dictate continuously without pause. Vyasa agreed to this challenge, on condition that Ganesha understand every word and concept before writing it down. The writing of the Mahabharata became an intricate game between author and scribe. Whenever Vyasa found that Ganesha had completed writing a verse, using his broken tusk as his pen, the poet would dictate a verse with profound meaning so that Ganesha had to stop and ponder these slokas for a while. This gave Vyasa time to compose a few more verses mentally before dictating. Beyond being a colorful story, this gives us a clue to what is required for studying and understanding the Mahabharata and Bhagavad-Gita: these great works should not be read or heard hurriedly, but slowly, and incorporated into one’s life. For long ages, as still today, the Mahabharata was performed by travelling actors over periods of months or years. Audiences in villages, cities, and temples listened to, rather than read, its wisdom, one small part at a time. Woe betide any actor who forgot his lines, as even the most humble villager knew the epic by heart!

But why the jolly, overweight body with an elephant head and broken tusk? The answers are as varied as the legends and tales of his 108 names told by mothers to their children. The elephant form relates to Ganesha’s function as the overcomer of obstacles. An elephant has the bulk and strength to push his way through the jungle of everyday problems that beset common people everywhere. His trunk and tusks symbolize qualities required to push aside obstacles. His large ears hear the cries and woes of the people who pray for assistance and winnow information, retaining only the essentials. Like an elephant trail through the otherwise impenetrable forest, we can follow his large footprints safely through the jungle of daily life in the ways of righteous living. Ganesha’s comical, corpulent body symbolizes happiness, benevolence, and his role as the bestower of success. In his role as the god of wisdom, his large body indicates the wealth of knowledge he has within. More important, it signifies that outer appearance has no connection with inner beauty and spiritual status.

His single tusk indicates the need to shed the ego and make sacrifices on the spiritual path. It also indicates the need for a strong spiritual will to decide on a righteous, singular course of action and not waver from it. His four arms indicate his power to assist people and equally to destroy evil. His hands hold many different symbols according to which role he is assuming. The ax and mace indicate ability to destroy evil demons, the noose his ability to draw close those he loves most dearly and to reach out to encircle and save those who stray. The lotus flowers, books, and swastika painted on his hand are symbols of spiritual knowledge, as is his trunk when held in the shape of the Sanskrit sacred mantra Om. At the other extreme, he is surrounded by symbols of his love of the good things of material life, like the bowl of modak sweets which Ganesha loves to eat, almost always featured in statues and pictures of him.

Strangest of all perhaps is the rat or mouse always pictured with him. As is known in households all over the world, this rodent has his own way of overcoming obstacles by finding his way through the tiniest cracks and under the mightiest doors into our kitchens and larders. Being a universal nuisance, Ganesha’s riding the rodent indicates the need to keep baser aspects of our character under control lest they cause havoc in our quest for spiritual knowledge. Sitting beneath the huge elephant body, it also indicates that size or outward appearance matter little where the study of supreme matters is concerned.

Does Ganesha symbolize a real being or class of entities rather than simply a flight of artistic fantasy? A hint lies in Ganesha’s name, Ganapati or Vinayaka, indicating his function as the leader of the celestial hordes (Ganas), an honor bestowed on him by his father, Siva. The Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary gives us a clue to Ganesha’s role in the hierarchy of more advanced spiritual entities who play an active and self-conscious role in the management of the cosmos. In some respects he is “the chief or head of multitudes of subordinate spiritual entities — a necessity if as the god of wisdom he accomplishes his cosmic labors through subordinate hierarchies of intelligent and semi-intelligent beings, acting as their director or guide in forming and guiding nature.” Perhaps the real Ganesha is more like a force of nature, like the sunlight that nourishes life, the air we breath, or lofty thoughts that inspire us. He is part of the great chain of being stretching from the spiritual sun down to humanity and beyond. This hierarchy of compassion sustains life for us lesser beings, though we remain unaware of the constant efforts or call them, as modern science often does, unconscious forces of nature. Ganesha and his celestial hordes work consciously and untiringly so that we may learn and grow spiritually to one day join them in their cosmic labors.

——–

References:

Chaturvedi, B. K., Gods and Goddesses of India: 1 Ganesh, Books for All, Delhi, 1996.

Krishan, Yuvaraj, Ganesha: Unravelling an Enigma, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1999.

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Loving Ganesha: Hinduism’s Endearing Elephant-Faced God, Himalayan Academy and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1996.

 

If you wish to write to the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

What is the major priority in the work of our Theosophical Society today? Our Leader, Randell C. Grubb, has indicated that it is putting theosophical teachings into action in our daily lives or practicing ‘Inner rather than Outer Theosophy’. What does this mean? Why do this?

No matter how long you study Theosophy, the hardest question to answer is seemingly the easiest question about it – What is Theosophy? For as many theosophists you ask, there will be a different answer! Broadly the answers can be grouped into four responses:

Theosophy is an intellectual pastime: Theosophy is brim-full of complex and fascinating ideas that can absorb you for lifetimes. Many people view theosophists as a group of middle-class intellectuals just sitting around and endlessly discussing these ideas in an academic ‘ivory tower’ remote from the realities of everyday life. Indeed, many theosophical meetings may appear to be this way – but – is this what Theosophy really is all about?

Theosophy is comparative religion: many of the ideas and certainly the language of much of theosophy seem to be based on concepts from ancient religions and philosophies, especially Hinduism and Buddhism from ancient India. Many of the basic ideas of Theosophy seem to come right out a textbook on Buddhism with concepts like Karma and Reincarnation that we usually associate with Indian religion being major topics of conversation in theosophical meetings. This impression is reinforced by the widespread use of complex technical terms in Theosophy which come from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. Terms such as ‘Swabhava’, ‘Linga Sarira’, ‘Nirvana’, all have a strong Indian flavour to them and many technical theosophical discussions sound like they are half in a foreign language! This has lead many people to think of theosophy as an amalgam of Eastern, especially Indian religions made palatable for a Western audience rather than a vibrant and living philosophy in its own right with truths relevant to a Western audience of the here and now. Again, many theosophical discussions often degenerate into discussion of where ideas appear in the different cultures and religions of the world rather than recognizing that theosophy is an attempt at revealing the core spiritual knowledge whence these religions arose. Is Theosophy therefore a ‘magpie eclectic montage’ of ideas from a host of others religions of interest to those curious about comparative religion?

Theosophy is for those interested in the occult arts: not surprising because of the subject matter of many of our discussion, people can view theosophy as an ‘entrez’ into the occult arts. Many of our discussion mention the invisible worlds or aspects of the inner constitution of man and how these worlds impinge and relate to the outer world that we know. This can be disturbing and even frightening to many people, and so the impression can be that Theosophy is a body of knowledge for those interested in ‘freaky’ subjects such as ghosts, clairaudience, clairvoyance, reading people’s thoughts, etc. Certainly, one of the aims of the Theosophical Society is to study the powers innate in man, but is Theosophy just another school for the study of the more spectacular aspects of occultism?

Theosophy as character-building: rather than these popular misconceptions of Theosophy and the work of the Theosophical Society, Randell C Grubb, reminds us “to be one’s own lamp” as did James A. Long (Leader from 1951 to 1971), who said that Theosophy is, rather, a form of character-building. That is, we should take seriously the teachings of Theosophy and put them into action in our lives and this will automatically strengthen and build our characters and have a beneficial affect on those who come into contact with us. Instead of looking at Theosophical teachings just as fascinating theories and concepts, try every day to see them as realities and change your behaviour to conform with these realities. For example, think of Karma and Reincarnation as realities. There are many things we would do, and more we would not do, if we seriously thought of these teachings as actual realities. This is putting Inner Theosophy into Outer Action, or simply practicing what we preach, or as the Buddhist saying goes: “It is necessary to live the Life to understand the Doctrine.”

By living Inner Theosophy and not just talking Outer Theosophy, we begin to self-direct our spiritual evolution. By this I mean we seriously take hold of the possibilities that await us in this and future lives. Instead of being blindly blown around by the winds of fate, we understand the basic laws of the universe from what we are told in Theosophy and put them into action. By so doing we can contribute toward a more spiritually enlightened future for ourselves and others. Other people will observe our actions and how we behave in certain, especially stressful and demanding situations, be attracted to what we have to offer them philosophically, and as warm and helpful human beings. As the Buddhists would say: “The flowers come into bloom when the sage walks through the garden’ or, as they say in India: “The bees come of their own accord in search of honey when the flower is in full bloom.”

Randell C. Grubb emphasises that this inner exploration of theosophy is a needed process accompanying all our activities in the Theosophical Society. James A. Long was in many ways setting the stage for our endeavours today and he defined theosophy as:

“…What is theosophy anyway? It is a system of character-building. And to get back to the Christian sacred scriptures, it is living the Golden Rule: doing unto others as we would have them do unto our selves. There isn’t anyone in this world who can convince me that if we as individual members of this Theosophical Society tried to really live the Golden Rule with the background of theosophy that we have, we would not set the world on fire pretty quickly. Now it is hard to live the Golden Rule. It is hard to be real theosophists. Not one of us is anywhere near perfect. We have a long way to go. But what we do know and what we do have, let us put to work. I don’t mean in sanctimonious conversation with this or that person. Let us be real men and real women, and think of the other fellow before we think of ourselves. If any one of us could really try that for 24 hours or for one waking day, we would be astonished at the results. None of us does it – I am not saying that criticizingly; we have a long way to go, but many of you do it for a good many hours a day, and maybe all of them, I don’t know. But if we consider theosophy, what it really is, a system of character building that will one day make us a counterpart of Masters and even beyond…Thus our job as theosophists, individually and as a Society, is to attend to our work and, being good citizens in our respective nations, work for theosophy as we see fit, to the best of our ability, doing our daily duty, whether it is one thing or another. So long as we do it one-pointedly and honestly, we will begin thereby to form such a solid nucleus of spiritual force that it will have an incalculable influence in the world around us and we will win the battle of true spiritual freedom…” James A. Long European Tour 1951 – record of a meeting at Bossum, Holland.

 

THE PATH OF COMPASSION AND THE WORK OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

Theosophy and the work of our Theosophical Society especially has as its goal the development of individuals in the Path of Compassion or what the Mahayana Buddhists would call the Boddhisattva Ideal. This means essentially that we recognize from the outset in our studies of the fascinating teachings of theosophy that we are involved in this type of work for the good it can do for others unconcerned about our own spiritual development.

There are many schools of the ‘Pratyeka’ Path that teach various techniques whereby good and compassionate people can escape from the human condition and move on into the comparative bliss of the ‘Nirvana’ or the next stage of human spiritual development albeit ignoring the cries of the billions following on behind. The journey of the Path of Compassion starts with the first steps we make on the Path of learning spiritual knowledge and it is both a ’thousand steps’ and ‘one step’ long in that we have a long way to go on the path, but every step is important in the here and now. We need to constantly remind ourselves why we are undertaking these studies and what our inner motivations may be.

One of our theosophical teachers described the Theosophical Society as the ‘kindergarten of the mystery schools’. This was not meant to denigrate what we are all doing in theosophy, because nothing can be more important than a good kindergarten education which establishes the basis for all our further studies! In short, we need to get our theosophical attitude straightened out at the beginning, and ingrain the habit of living for others as a natural process of being at one with a greater human life-wave. Our responsibility as members and friends of the Theosophical Society currently is to take theosophy home with us and begin to work seriously and self-consciously on building and strengthening ourselves by putting into practice the Inner or Heart Doctrine rather than the Outer, or merely intellectual/ritualistic approach.

In other words – self-conscious, self-directed evolution. If we have this attitude, then we can move on into our theosophical work and the mysteries that await us with the firm knowledge that we will use our abilities in the service of humanity as it struggles forward and not just to benefit ourselves or any power-based ambitions we may have hidden away in the recesses of our Souls. The Masters of Wisdom are interested in developing their servants over a period of lifetimes. If we have a firm grounding in the Path of Compassion, they and we can move on to develop our potentials that will carry from one lifetime to another and enable us to continue our efforts in this type of work in the spirit of helping humanity into future lifetimes of more and more self-conscious effort.

Theosophy speaks of a glorious future for humanity though the road there will be muddy and long as we see everywhere in the state of the world today. We see in the eyes of our children, both the potential to be greater than us, and the responsibility we bear to them to leave them with a pure and stimulating physical and mental environment – and for ourselves too as reincarnating beings. We are custodians of these wonderful teachings as others on whose shoulders we now stand have been before us over the millennia. It is our responsibility to keep these teachings as pure and inspirational as they were on the day when they were handed on by HPB Blavatsky’s teachers 134 years ago, so we in turn can inspire generations yet unborn. There will be times such as this cycle of theosophical activity right now, where we will be challenged to ‘give’ rather than ‘receive’ theosophy so that theosophical knowledge can continue to be transmitted in the spirit of the Path of Compassion, or ‘Inner’ rather than ‘Outer’ theosophy.

The words of G. de Purucker indicate the essence of the purpose of the Theosophical Society:

[It] was intended to be the spiritual-intellectual nursery from which will be born the great philosophical and religious and scientific systems of future ages – indeed, the heart of the civilizations of the coming cycles.” – from The Fountain Source of Occultism. P.5.

A RESERVOIR OF SPIRITUAL FORCE

How can I possibly make a difference to this suffering world? Shouldn’t I rush out and volunteer for service in the developing countries, or shout religion and theosophy from the roof-tops! Most of us are not in the position to do anything dramatic about many of the world’s problems. We have families to feed and ever increasing mortgages to pay, and the world is already full of people promoting their religious ideas all over the place! Theosophy tells us there is one enormously effective thing anyone can do to quietly assist the positive forces trying to relieve suffering in the world.

It is simply this – doing the duty before you no matter what your station in life, and thinking right thoughts can make a big difference. Making a sincere effort to live the ‘Golden Rule’ – doing unto others as we would have them do unto us – is within the reach of everyone and is a most powerful way of helping. How can this be you say? Surely we must be doing something more spectacular than this?

The Masters of Wisdom and their helpers are constantly trying to alleviate the burden of suffering in the world, and guide us forward on the path of spiritual evolution. However, they can only work with the ‘reservoir’ of karma that has been put there for this ‘manvantara’ [cycle of activity] and that is all there will be – unless we add to it. So you see how vitally important it is that we as students of theosophy should all recognize that we have a responsibility self-consciously not only to direct our own spiritual evolution, but self-consciously to contribute to that ‘spiritual reservoir’ of energy that is available for the Masters to use.

The power of simple spiritual energy coming forth from the heart of a sincere and compassionate person when it adds to that reservoir of spiritual force which the Masters of Wisdom only can use, and nothing more than we send there, is so great when it finally breaks through on the outer plane of ordinary life that we have not the slightest possible conception of the results that are given and received by the average ‘man in the street’. The results of our quiet efforts of good will and living the Golden Rule will be felt by our fellowmen as a spiritual strength and a guidance, however unconscious it will be to them, that will lead our civilisation a real step on the pathway towards the Masters of Wisdom. To the extent that we reach up through the quality of our thoughts and aspirations to these representatives of the ‘Hierarchy of Light’, is the extent to which they in turn can reach ‘down’ and assist our faltering footsteps along the path of spiritual evolution.

As our former Leader Jim Long said during a lecture tour of Europe:

Thus our job as theosophists, individually and as a Society, is to attend to our work and, being good citizens in our respective nations, work for theosophy as we see fit, to the best of our ability, doing our daily duty, whether it is one thing or another. So long as we do it one-pointedly and honestly, we will begin thereby to form such a solid nucleus of spiritual force that it will have an incalculable influence in the world around us and we will win the battle of true spiritual freedom.”

 

EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST COMMENTARY

 Universal Brotherhood is the major teaching of all the worlds’ great religions. In fact, one of them, Judaism, says it is the most important religious doctrine and all the other complex teachings of any religion are just ‘commentary’ on the principle of Brotherhood! The way the Jewish sacred book, the Talmud, puts it is: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” (Talmud: Shabbat 31a)

Perhaps more familiar to us is the ‘Golden Rule’ of Christianity which says: “All things whatsoever ye would that men would do to you, do ye even so to them” – Matthew 7:12.

But how about other less familiar faiths which have exactly the same teaching stated in many different ways? For example:

Buddhism – India: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” – Udana-Varga, 5:18.

Hinduism – India: “This is the sum of duty: do nought unto others which would cause you pain if done to you” – Mahabharata 5:1517.

Islam –
Saudi Arabia: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself” – Sunnab.

Jainism – India: “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” – Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara.

American Indians – North America: “Respect for all life is the foundation” – The great Law of Peace.

 

Baha’I – Iran: “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself” – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’ullah. 71.

Sikhism – India: “Don’t create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone.” – Guru Arjan Devji 259. Guru Granth Sahib.

 

Confucianism – China: “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” – Analects 15:23.

 

Zoroastrianism – Iran: “That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self.” – Dadistan-i-Dinik, 94:5.

 

 Why is it that all the world’s great religions agree that Brotherhood is the basis of their beliefs? Because the principle of Brotherhood recognizes the reality that we all have our basis in the one Source, and from this Source comes our identity with all other people and all Life. As the Hindu Upanishads says, ‘Tat Vam Asi’, meaning ‘That Art Thou’ – we are part of everything else and vice versa.

 ‘But this goes against ‘common-sense’ and besides, I feel different from everyone else’ you say, so how can we literally be our brothers? All great mystics throughout the world agree that at a higher level of self-realization than is available to the ordinary man, it becomes apparent that we are merely aspects of one life energy, ‘dew drops in a shining sea’ of life energy. Therefore the great spiritual teachers who founded the world’s religions say what they know from their own direct experience – we are One. For example, the Buddha was once asked why we should love all people equally. Referring to people as reincarnating entities he said: “Because, in the very numerous and varied life-spans of each man (and woman), every other being has at one time or another been dear to him.” Thus, the founders of the world’s great religions encourage us in their sacred books to treat each other as we would treat ourselves because ‘others’ are aspects of ‘ourselves’ literally.

 From a scientific point of view, we know that this is true as all matter in the universe is a form of energy (as Einstein famously expressed it, E=mc2) which expresses itself in a myriad of forms, including each one of us! If we were to examine the smallest structures making up the atoms that compose our bodies, we would see that they are made up of universal energy expressed in different combinations which look strikingly like what we would see if we went far enough out into space to see the planets, stars and galaxies as an amalgam of energies in the blackness of space.  Look at the film ‘Powers of 10’ on the internet at http://www.powersof10.com/ and you’ll see what I mean! As this film graphically shows, eventually everything connects. So brotherhood is literally built into the fabric of Nature and not just a nice religious ideal.

 ‘But if other people are giving me a hard time how can I feel brotherly towards them?’ – you might object. The secret lies in simply thinking of our own family life. We don’t always see ‘eye to eye’, or admire every aspect of the behaviour of our own brothers at home, but we still accept them, love them, and work with them where we can knowing one day they might be better than they are now! In the greater human family we can do the same in still realistically recognizing the existing shortcomings of our brothers and ourselves, and working with their potential for the finer aspects of human behaviour. The practical way forward towards this ideal is to simply treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves. This is a kind of enlightened ‘self interest’ if you will, presenting us with a simple ‘rule of thumb’ for everyday life situation which recognizes the reality of Universal Brotherhood. If we sincerely try to live the Brotherhood ideal in our daily lives, eventually we will naturally connect consciously with our universal source and see Universal Brotherhood as a fact in Nature for ourselves, and all the other complicated stuff of religious teaching and philosophy will be just – commentary.

 As another Jewish Rabbi once said:

 “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  Why?  Because every human being has a root in the Unity, and to reject the minutest particle of the Unity is to reject it all.” – Rabbi Israel Baal Shem-Tov.

 

Man needs inwardly, in order to live his daily life, to be, as if he had settled or eliminated the great question that concerns his state.

            Everyone, whether they are aware of it or not, lives by a personal system of metaphysics they believe to be true.

            Hubert Benoit (The Supreme Doctrine)

            …and whether we ‘know’ it or not., (author).

            20th century physics has demonstrated that the ‘things’ and the ‘substances of the universe’ are without known exception, composed of atomic and subatomic ‘particles’ or ‘waves’.

            The nature of these ‘particles’, in so far as they can be observed and measured, is Movement, that is –Energy.

            Because of the word ‘particle’, it is very easy to form an idea of some ‘thing’ incredibly small, which is energised. But there is no ‘thing’ which ‘has’ the energy. The so called ‘particle’ or ‘wave’ Is the energy-movement.

            Some of the movements occur in millionths of a second.

            It is a peculiarity of these movements that if their position is measured their simultaneous speed cannot be known and if the speed is measured, the simultaneous position cannot be known. This situation is not because of the lack of sophistication in the measuring devices, but is inherent in ‘the nature of things’ at this basic level.

            It might be likened to a camera in which the light aperture is connected to the shutter speed in such a way, that setting the speed blurs the light focus and setting the light focus blurs the speed.

            The significance of this is the realisation that there can be no such thing as ultimate determinism, because if the left hand of science knows what it is doing, it can’t say what the right hand is doing, and vice versa. The particles (on the other hand) seem to have solved this difficulty.

            There is an experiment in which a photon (the atomic unit of light) is split to produce two units which fly off in opposite directions at the speed of light.

            According to relativity, it is impossible for either photon to contact the other by any means whatsoever. Yet, when one of them is influenced by an electric field the other photon registers the interference.

            The relatively recent ‘Chaos Theory’ highlights many examples of inter-action between apparently discrete event in space and time, which clearly demonstrate the inseparable relationships between ‘parts’ of the Whole.

            In poetic language: “There’s not the plucking of a flower without troubling of a Star.”

             The photon experiment and many others open doors to the possibility that the energy movements called ‘particles’ or ‘waves’ could in fact be the energy movements of a world mind.

            Let us imagine the surface of an ocean with billions of tiny ripples.

            The ripples might be thought of as ‘separate’ but they are, of course, simply the ocean movement and are of one substance. The sea water.

            It could be said, that the ripples are ‘all of one mind’.

            The term ‘Mind” is an apt one. It signifies presence without visibility or tangibility. It is measureless in dimensions and can not be said to ‘occupy’ space.

            How much space is needed to contain a concept?

            Is it more correct to say that mind is in space or that space is in mind?

            It might be said that space is the ‘form’, which mind takes.

            Michael Talbot in his book “Mysticism and the New Physics”, writes: “But we now must suspect that every point in the human brain is connected (via the ‘quantum foam’) to every other point in the universe.”

            Note that the brain as a ‘physical’ object could not possibly be physically connected to every other point in the universe.

            The brain, as well as everything else, emerges out of ‘Mind’.

            Mind is not a product of a brain and Mind could well be universally ‘present

 to the endless diversity of its own expressions, which we collectively call Nature.

            One of the philosophies greatest conundrums, has been to decide whether everything is Mind or Matter or a mixture of both.

            Like many problems, which seem to defy resolution, the fault is in the posing of the question, which in this case has assumed, that Mind and Matter are opposites.

            Whoever made the comment: “Well, Never Mind, No Matter”, was close to attitudes of today’s scientists who see Mind and Matter as two aspects of One phenomenon and which can be called “Consciousness” – – an aspect of mind.

            At the beginning of the chapter, the reader was reminded that ‘things’ and chemical ‘substances’ are complexes of energy.

            Energy functions as vibrations, which can be very slow or unimaginably fast. The vibrations are designated as ‘frequency rates’ and constitute the characteristics of all manifestations.

            Almost everyone has seen Einstein’s famous equation: E = MC2 (Energy = mass times the speed of light squared.)

            There is another famous equation which non technical people would perhaps never come upon.

            It establishes the profound nature of frequency.

            Called Planck’s Constant, it is a universal.

            The symbol is ‘h’ and the equation is E = hv.

            (Energy = the frequency of radiation (v) times Planck’s constant (h). The value of ‘h’ is: 6..625 * 10-27 erg seconds.

            10-27 is (a minus one – followed by twenty seven noughts) this is multiplied by 6.625. It represents an Energy – Time – event so unthinkably small and yet so precise. It can provide an insight into the astonishing reliability operating in the warp and weft of the universe.

            The lower frequencies manifest the Matter spectrum and the higher frequencies are experienced as the activity of the Mind.

            Lower and higher are technical terms – not indicating superior, inferior.

            Though Mind and Matter are two aspects of one phenomenon.

            The principle must be called Mind, because matter is mind in its most condense mode.

            The Mind of Man reflects the Universe which reflects the Mind of Man. More and more statements of a like nature are finding their way into science books and journals.

            The ancient Yin-Yang symbol the Tao, is an excellent representation of a wholeness, which expresses itself as an apparent duality, but the Yang factor always has an element of Yin and the Yin factor always has the element of Yang.

            If this is the case, which seems obvious, there is no such thing as non sentient matter, but only a position on the Mind spectrum indicating the potential to interact with the ever-changing environment – the ever unfolding World Mind.

            Not the intelligence of someone, but the quality itself:- Intelligence.

            Wise scientists have said, that they don’t pretend to know where the material or energy for the Big Bang came from, that their work is concerned only from the instant of the Big Bang occurrence.

            Some will say, that the question is as pointless as asking “Where did God come from, assuming that there is a God?”

            Here we are at the beginning and end of Metaphysics.

            The question is: “Why is it, or How is it, that there is Not absolutely nothing… no space – no time – no light – no darkness – no sound – no movement – no energy for ever and ever?

            And of course there would be no “Ever and ever”.

            This is a consideration of the highest value because out of meditation on this question of questions can arise the tremendous impact of the fact that nothingness can not be.

            The origin of Beingness, a Presence which is for ever a mystery without solution.

            Buddhists call it Suchness, Hindus call it Thatness: when Moses asked for a Name of the Authority sending him on his mission, the reply was “I AM WHAT I AM”.

            A statement of pure Beingness without further definition.

            Beingness as the ultimate mystery, the ultimate Source, must in a very real sense be the all in all, but its expression can be seen at different ‘levels’ and in different ways.

            Beingness would necessarily radiate all over “aliveness”, which would be simultaneously everywhere, like the heat and light of the Sun on planet Earth, this fundamental radiation is most likely to constitute a play of the fundamental ‘particles’ already discussed, which might be likened to the permanently active expressions of intelligence.

            Intelligence, which is the In-form-ation of the particles.

            They in turn perform their incredible ‘Dance of Shiva’, producing atomic structures of every kind, subject only to the nature of Intelligence itself.

            Metaphysics often requires expanded definitions of certain words.

            Intelligence for example, in the Cosmic context, barely resembles our day to day use, which is usually directed to particulars and personal behaviour.

            Cosmic intelligence is more like an influence, which might be likened to the overseeing of order.

            But the events or things to which the overseeing applies are not dictated.

            It is free creation Order or Laws which can be seen throughout the whole spectrum of Creation.     

            The Source (Being), radiates an all encompassing Energy, which scientists might be partially reading, when observing the nature and behaviour of subatomic particles.

            The Particles are not “Things” which ‘have ‘energy – they Are Energy.

            As the ripples on the surface of the ocean.

            Visually they might seem separate, but they are only the ocean.

            The ripples are of One substance which can be likened to Cosmic Intelligence. Just as water can be experienced as a liquid, ice, a solid or steam, so Cosmic Intelligence can be experienced as a solid Matter (ice-Water), or as Mind (steam, liquid, super heated gas).

            Matter is Mind in its most condensed state.         

            So in Metaphysics, there is no dualism of Mind and Matter, but Mind only, which is the imaginative creative movement of intelligence.

            The Energy events carry the quality potential of the Beingness.

            But as pointed out also from the beginning, this metaphysical understanding requires an ‘awareness’ at every level of manifestation.

            Risking the limitation of analogy again, (although analogies should come very readily in a universe of a metaphysical wholeness), Being can be likened to a Sun of unconditional energy, which unconditionally radiates itself throughout space and time.

            Its radiation carries the quality of intelligence which serves to prevent Chaos without meaning.

            The power of illumination can be likened to the quality of consciousness which ranges from the slightest degree of warmth or movement to the blinding white hot perception of the ultimate Mystery.

            In the unfolding creation consciousness would be first a state of experiencing without memory or anticipation.

            From a human point of view this barely seems to warrant the term “Consciousness”, but like the spectrum of Mind, consciousness can range through every degree of its presence, to the apparent opposite of Unconsciousness. But again like non sentient matter, there can not be unconsciousness.

            The question of Consciousness and Unconsciousness are dealt with fully in the teaching of the Indian Vedanta.

            Just a by the way thought: How can consciousness say: “I have been completely unconscious”, when if it had been completely unconscious, there would have not been present any consciousness or memory to make it aware of that fact?

            This situation implies the Presence that transcends unconsciousness.

            Using the word ‘Awareness’, for a state which can transcend conscious/unconscious, makes it prior-in-principle in the sense that Awareness is not dependent on any particular parcel of consciousness, whereas there can not be particularised consciousness without the presence awareness.

            Empty, silent mind is pure consciousness.

            The only manifestation of full self consciousness we know of on this planet is Man.

            It seems a waste of time to disagree that Mind is not brain.

            But until very recently Science staunchly maintained that non sentient matter was the origin of the universe and all ‘things’ on this planet including man.      

            And so extraordinary explanations have been devised in attempts to make non sentient Matter the source of creation.

            It has been proposed that the astonishing cavalcade of Galaxies, Quasars, Suns, Planets, and all life varieties from earth worms to Avatars, the incarnation of a Deity, have come about by the same production principles as would be the case if 20 million monkeys working 20 million typewriters for twenty million years produced the works of Shakespeare.

            It is never explained whether this is achieved by taking useable word from each monkey and then allowing more monkeys to collate the words in correct sequence. Would they have then proceeded to produce the authors in correct time space sequence by swapping their typewriters for chemistry sets?

            Or who would do the punctuations?

            But if everything rides on probability, the monkeys would have exactly the same chance of coming up with the works of Goethe, Tolstoy, Dickens and Dostoyevsky, or any and every other known bit of writing and language ever conceived.

            The situation gets sillier at each question but at least one more must be put.

            “From where, oh where came the 20 million monkeys and their typewriters?

            Or was it two hundred million? (See the big bang theory.)

            The difficult step on the mind matter spectrum is to know whether anything at all can be said to ‘exist’ if there is no awareness, objective or subjective.

            That is, if sub atomic events are not events of ‘experiencing’ and are not being registered in any other consciousness, how can they be said to exist?

            The traditional answer is that non sentient matter can exist in its own right without necessity for any kind of observation.

            But this statement involves putting one’s own mind back into the picture and imagining the object or event as still there.

            In the 19th century, Bishop Berkeley was maintaining that objects did not exist as such until perceived by a Mind.

            A contemporary wrote a verse to the effect, paraphrase:

            It seems exceedingly odd

            that the old Yew tree simply ceases to be

            if there’s no one about in the quad

 

This in turn provokes the comment;

 

            That the old Yew tree continues to be

            is not so exceedingly odd

            Because I am always about in the Quad, Yours truly God.

 

            If the term World Mind is used instead of ‘God’, the actual situation might be easier to appreciate. Remember that the World Mind is not “Out There”.

            We are not in the World Mind, we are OF it.

            The eye with which we seek to see the World Mind, is the same eye which the World Mind seeks to see us.

            Full consciousness simply means the state of being able to say… “I know that I exist.”

            Rene Descartes’ famous deduction: “I think, therefore I am”, seems to have confused the true order of things. He first had to be, before he could think.

            Thinking did not produce Being.

            He might as well have said: “I eat therefore I am.”

            There is no particular function, which can precede being.

            Thoughts are phases of consciousness, which is a phase of Mind, which is the activity of Intelligence – the manifestation of the supreme Mystery.

            It has to be constantly remembered, that all this is a result of attempting to verbally understand the unfoldment of a seamless Unity.

            And verbal understanding is not an understanding at all in the sense that the map is not the territory, the sign post is not the journey.

The above is the text of a lecture presented at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in Melbourne, Australia. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena).

 SUMMARY:

As more and more clients present with issues, it is becoming increasingly important that counsellors take into account the Spiritual and/or Religious needs of the client.  This can be achieved by undertaking to do a ‘Spiritual Needs Assessment’ Profile, listening to what a client may be saying though maybe in a veiled fashion, or by exploring with the client about their needs and their future hopes.  The use of open-ended questions is a good way to begin this exploration.

To assist counsellors with this, the following paper looks at some definitions concerning the term, ‘Spirituality,’ and seeks to address the issue of Spirituality in as far as it pertains to the counseling process.  In researching this issue, the author has drawn on a number of texts, both professional texts accepted by the Profession itself, and allied texts akin to same.  Other texts consulted, though not standard texts, help to highlight the relevant arguments made herein.

This paper addresses the need for counsellor awareness of a client’s spiritual outlook, the need for counsellors to respect the right of clients to follow a spiritual path, and to increase our skills as counsellors to incorporate the three core skills of genuineness, acceptance and empathy when dealing with clients – as found in the Person-Centred approach.  A number of questions are put forward merely to assist in facilitating our own awareness as counsellors.

The author trusts that after a counsellor has read the paper that they will have a deeper appreciation for the need to include an assessment of client spirituality.  Apart from looking at some possible real-life situations and a true client case, and suggestions for appropriate use of interventions,  there is attached a lengthy reference list for those desiring to research the issue more comprehensively.

Two examples of Spiritual Needs Assessment Profiles can be found in be found in Topper (2003). There you will find both a Spiritual Well-Being Scale and another, Developing Your Own Survey Questions.   These have not been reproduced in the following Paper due to copyright.

SPIRITUALITY AND ITS PLACE IN COUNSELLING 

To begin this paper, given its broad scope, it may prove beneficial if we attempt to define what we mean when we use the term “Spirituality.”   There are a number of definitions that all have their place and yet, collectively, when read together,  add to each other  and disclose a far deeper layer than if simply taken in isolation.  A literature review reveals the following: “Spirituality…is not simply the opposite of materialism. Far from it. Spirituality is an active process that is inherently purposeful. Its objectives are growth, development, and transcendence. Through our spirituality, we seek to achieve the highest and noblest in ourselves and to create a united and ever-advancing civilization…It follows that a spiritual lifestyle calls for a major review of our thinking about our life experiences and perspectives”  (Danesh, 1994) Thus we can see that an individual’s concept of spirituality in relation to oneself is a matter of deeply going within and “finding” their place in the world. It is an active process of discovery, not a passive or neutral act of simply “accepting” that which is put on us by outside influences. Often we listen to what others are telling us and thus we can incur problems as we bury our own authenticity so as to be accepted by these others.   See the CASE HISTORY on pages 11-12.  Another definition is that put forward by the White House Conference on Aging as developed in 1971:“We shall consider ‘the spiritual’ as pertaining to man’s [woman’s] inner resources, especially his [her] ultimate concern, the basic values around which all other values are focused, the central philosophy of life…which guides a person’s conduct, the supernatural and non-material dimensions of human nature. We shall assume, therefore, that all men [women] are ‘spiritual’ even if they…practice no personal pieties.” (Moberg 1971 cited in Topper, 2003) Here again we have a broader definition that assumes a reality of being called ‘spiritual’ yet not necessarily limited to any one particular faith, -osophy or –ism. Rather, it tries to be broad in its perspective and embraces the concept of values as a guiding principle of how we each conduct ourselves. One publication puts it like this: “We all want our life to have some meaning, some direction, some self-evolved authority for guidance. Values give us all this, so it would be foolish to close our eyes to them.” (Vedanta Kesari, 1996).   Corey (2001) points out for us as counsellors that whilst some clients embrace a spirituality in the context of a formal religion, others may embrace same yet without recourse to formal religion. It shows the importance that we need to be alert, as counsellors, to the difference between Spirituality and Religion, and the nuances contained within each.  It has been advocated (Hepworth, Rooney and Larsen 2002)  that people fall into one of four categories: 1.                  Spiritual and nonreligious

2.                  Religious and dispirited

3.                  Dispirited and nonreligious

4.                  Spiritual and religious 

Finally, an even more broader definition can be seen in the following as addressed by the Summit on Spirituality:  “Spirituality may be defined as a capacity and tendency that is innate and unique to all persons. This spiritual tendency moves the individual toward knowledge, love, meaning, hope, transcendence, connectedness, and compassion.  Spirituality includes one’s capacity for creativity, growth, and the development of a values system.  Spirituality encompasses the religious, spiritual, and transpersonal” (as quoted in Corey, Corey and Callanan, 1998)  From the foregoing, we have a fairly wide scope in which to work by.  Within the fields of counseling it is becoming increasingly acknowledged that by addressing our clients’ spiritual and religious needs, we will assist them to be able to move towards growth and healing. By exploring such issues with our clients in relation to their presenting problems, clients may be helped to find solutions to their struggles (Corey, Corey and Callanan, 1998). Evidence for the interest that spirituality and religion plays in our clients lives can be found in the increased number of articles in this area in professional journals and in presentations at professional conferences. (Corey, 2001). The American Psychiatric Association added the term religious or spiritual problem to its diagnostic manual (4th Ed. Code V62.89) in 1994 to describe: “examples include[ing] distressing experiences that involve loss or questioning of faith, problems associated with conversion to a new faith, or questioning of spiritual values that may not be related to an organized church or religious institution.” (cited in Topper, 2003) Why is it important to understand the role of religion and spirituality in a clients life? One author, Ratliff (1996) in discussing health care settings, informs us that: “Religious beliefs may dictate food choices, clothing styles, customs of birthing and dying, etiquette in the sick room, use of modern conveniences, invasive procedures, organ donation, reception, use of blood products, certain diagnostic tests, gynecological procedures, spiritual influences on or control of sickness and healing, the wearing of protective devices or tattoos, and the need for prayers and rituals performed by various religious specialists” (cited in Hepworth, Rooney and Larsen, 2002) As counsellors we need to develop awareness of, and respect for, our client’s view of their spirituality (or lack thereof) and their adherence to religion and what this means to them.  It is important that we never assume what a client believes simply based on our own understanding of what spiritual or religious path they may identify with.   For example, if a Christian man is struggling with issues surrounding his sexuality (for example, homosexuality), he may present with feelings of confusion, guilt and/or shame.  These may be due to how he perceives the teachings of his Church, the Bible, and his own concept of spirituality.   He may say that if he acted on his feelings of attraction to other man, that he will be barred from the Kingdom of God or, even more frightening, shall burn for an eternity in hell (yes, there are groups who still push this line). Indeed, I feel some of the so-called “Christian” attitudes regarding “healing” gay people to do more harm than good (for example, Dalbey 2003) whereas others are at least addressing it in a more positive way yet remaining true as to how they see the word of God (Attridge, 2000). Again, as a counsellor, it is important that I be present and listen – and hear – what the client is exposing to me in a spirit of “trust,” and not to be “condemned.”   An awareness of body language is useful here, though the counsellor still needs to check with the client before jumping to conclusions. Given that counsellors have an ethical responsibility to become aware of their own beliefs and how these affect their work with their clients (Corey, 2001, Geldard, 2003), this Christian man’s story should be heard without any judgment. By being able to go with the client’s “frame of reference,” and empathically listening to what is behind his words, he will be placed in a better position to be  therapeutically helped.  As a counselor, I believe a Person-centered approach is required here. To downplay his beliefs and associated fears as somehow being “too out there” or “too abstract” in no way validates his worldview – with the possibility that he may abandon therapy, thus remaining “stuck” in his conflict. I would imagine that this would create further turmoil for him or even worse.  Often people who identify as being Spiritual or Religious are told, “Have Faith.”  But what is faith?  For the Christian man, its explanation is found in Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Which begs the question: What if this man sees NO HOPE?  We need to then listen to him as he explains how his lack of hope is at variance with his faith.  One book  (Faiver, Ingersoll, O’Brien and McNally (2001) explains that “hope is expressed by the client as faith that there is some reality to life that allows her to endure experiences of suffering.  This reality may be a god who intervenes in history to end suffering, a faith in counseling or the counselor, a faith in science, a faith in the goodness of human nature, or any combination of theses.”  In the same book is cited Sasonkin (1995) who has suggested that for the spiritual or religious person, a loss of hope is actually a loss of faith in God.   So we need to hear where the client is in terms of his (or her) relationship to hope or a lack thereof. As we take on the task of counseling and recognize the place of spirituality in our clients lives, our own beliefs and values will be challenged as we listen to them and the stories that they share with us – we need to guard against being too directive with our clients (Corey, 2001) To overcome such hurdles, we as counsellors are consistently taught to adhere to the three Rogerian core concepts of genuineness, acceptance and empathy (Sharf, 2000) as taught in Person-Centred Therapy.  Again, we are taught that: “The key is for counselors to be sensitive to the needs of their clients, to listen to them and let them lead the way, and to talk about areas they indicate they want or need to explore.” (Corey, Corey, and Callanan, 2001).    In the case of our Christian man above, we should simply let him talk and tell us about what it means for him to be kept from the Kingdom of God,  to allow him to talk as he sees his problems not as we may see them (that is, how we may perceive homosexuality in a Christian or spiritual context). We may be liberal in our own beliefs yet the client’s more orthodox views are what need to be dealt with here.   The counsellor may believe that it is perfectly acceptable to be a gay Christian. However, if the client does not see this as appropriate to their belief system, they may walk away thinking that no one really appreciates where they are at.  As we explore with a client about how they view life in a Spiritual and/or Religious context, such will assist the counseling process tremendously.  We should keep in mind that: “Religious beliefs strongly influence when, how and why persons seek help for emotional dysfunction, and how others [ie. Counsellors] perceive their [clients] symptoms of emotional distress’ (Wilson and Kneisl, 1983) By way of another example, a young Jewish man may be perceived as paranoid if he frequently were to open a female counsellor’s door yet, upon investigation we learn that his religion admonishes against his being alone behind closed doors with a woman who is not a family member (Hankoff, Blumenthal and Borowick, 1977).  This could work the opposite way where a similar though less orthodox client may feel too exposed to disclose certain issues to the counsellor if she were to leave her door ajar on the assumption that this same Jewish admonition is applicable to all Jewish male clients; that all Jewish male clients would accept it. Again we need to be on guard against making any assumptions as to a client’s relation to their faith.  On way to obtain a lucid understanding of our clients spiritual needs is to perform a “Spiritual Assessment of Needs” profile when initially meeting with our clients.  Such will assist the counsellor to gain a deeper awareness of the client’s needs, and the client may feel at ease in talking about their respective spiritual beliefs.  Two such profiles are to found in Topper (2003)     My preference is for the ‘Developing Your Own Survey Questions,” as it allows for greater scope and includes those whose ‘faith’ may otherwise be overlooked.   Another factor to consider is that counsellors do not see a client’s needs only arising from out of a psychological basis – such as low self-esteem, anger, loss or frustration.  As people, we have the four aspects of Physical, Psychological, Emotional and Spiritual – each with its own independent, yet interdependent needs. Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ fits in well here (Diamond, 1994).

Maslow (1954)  presents this set of needs as a hierarchy, consisting of:

1) PHYSIOLOGICAL: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, warmth

2) SAFETY/SECURITY: out of danger, order, law, stability

3) BELONGINESS AND LOVE: affiliate with others, be accepted; and

4) ESTEEM: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition

5. SELF-ACTUALISATION  – realising personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.   

If a client feels that their needs are not being met, then they could become ‘stuck’ on a given rung. For example, if a client is not eating well – due to anxiety – then they most likely will not feel ‘Safe’.   If they can talk through their problems, this may help to lesson their anxiety and allow them to regain an appetite.  Then we can move up to safety needs etc.  Maslow’s model shows that we need to have the first four needs met before we can be self-actualized.  We must learn that clients also have spiritual needs such as for meaning, for hope, and for deeper connections in life and beyond.  Indeed, one’s spiritual needs are a deeper perspective of and/or completion of psychological needs.  (Topper, 2003).  Likewise, the spiritual contains a psychological need and neither should exclude the other. One author describes such a limited view leading to what he calls Counterfeit Recovery (Means, 2002) where a person is treated only as a spiritual being, not one who possesses other aspects such as physical, psychological and emotional needs.  He explains that “one dimensional recovery only drives the pain underground where it will later break out in some other form.”   Telling a client who may present with a problem such as guilt, to simply remember, and rely upon, a set of Scriptural injunctions, will not magically solve their problem.  It may certainly offer some form of comfort or respite but other interventions need to be concurrently in place, as too an exploration of the clients cognition and affect surrounding the issue of guilt. He further adds that: “Many secular psychologists have their own version of one-dimensional recovery, because they leave God entirely out of the healing equation.” Let us imagine that a client has a need for connecting to a group of like-minded individuals. The psychological need might consist of the fulfillment of issues pertaining to self-esteem or a feeling of ‘belonging.’  The spiritual need: To find purpose in one’s life via connecting with others who share the same outlook, the same hopes and dreams.  I follow an eclectic spiritual path, taking from a blend of Paganism, Hinduism, Christianity and Theosophy – such a path assists me – as an individual – to make sense of the world; it adds meaning to my life and to the life around me.  Without this ‘meaning,’ I would question the purpose of life and yet to no avail – without finding a ‘meaning;’ a purpose, I feel life would lack that something for which I get up for each day. Finding the Spiritual meaning supplies my psychological and emotional needs for peace, inner strength and understanding of the ‘purpose’ of life per se. If a counsellor seeks to specialize in a given ‘Spiritual’ or ‘Religious’ path, such as Christian Counselling, then they need to be aware of how they deal with their clients.  One example would be the appropriate use and timing when employing scripture to assist in healing (Cloud and Townsend, 2003). If a client were to present with distress concerning a pending divorce from an estranged partner – so as to remarry – yet concurrently feels “condemned” by the Bible, it would be remiss of the Christian Counsellor to say to her: “Well the Bible clearly teaches that divorce is wrong – let us turn to the book of Romans 7:2-3…”   To do so validates her feelings and simply add to her original distress.  Here inappropriate use of scripture could lead to her experiencing deeper guilt, grief and loss issues, and anger at God for creating this scenario in her life. She might turn from her faith yet hanker for this loss of her faith, of her ‘meaning’ in life. A more appropriate and timely response to her might be, “It sounds like it’s really difficult for you to reconcile your wanting to remarry with what the Bible is saying to you.  Remember the words of Jesus from Matthew 11: 28 when he says to you: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”    Such a response would certainly allow a different view for our client and offer her an avenue of hope as opposed to predetermined despair.  It allows the client to be able to open another “window of opportunity” that might otherwise have remained shut (if not hidden).  Here the appropriate use of scripture can be validating and, given that it is uplifting – for we have passed no judgment on our client – it should add to the healing process or grant the client permission to vent her concerns without hesitation or embarrassment.  For men, in particular, it is important for the Christian counsellor to allow him the opportunity to explore his wounds, and not simply to seek for more strength via exhortation and admonition. (Koepcke and James Wilder, 1994)     By an appropriate and timely  employment  of scripture the counsellor may bring to awareness that which was previously hidden. This is a bit akin to the Johari Awareness Model/Johari Window which, though used to represent the total person in relation to other people (Wilson and Kneisl, 1983), can be made to include an individual’s awareness of hidden thoughts – Quadrant 4: The Unknown.     As seen above, using alternative Scriptures to instill hope can instill hope in people and thus, healing.  Allowing men to speak up is very validating and can generate a whole new emotional awareness which, often hidden, will free men from their pain. (Means, 2002;  Diamond, 1994) For others of different spiritual persuasions, a more eclectic ‘Spiritual and/or Religious’ outlook needs to be employed.  For instance, often men who are starting out on the Pagan path tend to have difficulties relating to the God of Paganism and WICCA (Conway; 1997, Drew, 1998) for they may equate the word ‘God’ with the concept of a ‘Patriarchal Judgmental God’ as often taught in various religions.  These men may feel alone as they have lost the ‘God’ of their family-of-origin, yet find it difficult to get over the hurdle – they find it hard to embrace such a God as a Creator of Life – yet the Pagan God is many things: a creator, a protector of animals, a joker, a god of judgment (Drew, 1998).  And without the embrace, these men can feel lonely, dejected, and that there is no Male Deity with which they can turn to and model Him in love.  As such, male pagans often turn to the Goddess as a Mother figure – but we men need a Father figure too.  As Conway succinctly puts it, “In spiritual terms, we create a spiritual path through the combination of our personal masculine and feminine energies.”  ( Conway, 1997). Often the ‘Pagan’ God is lost (and the attendant masculinities) and the Goddess turned to in embrace.     Conversely, the Pagan God may be denied by women who find it difficult to relate to Male Deity.Personally, it was difficult for me to embrace the God of the Pagan ways (and to study other faiths) as I have been brought up in a predominantly ‘Christian’ society and family – with all the attendant teachings about what I would incur if I were to deny the God of the Bible.   Yet for me, as I have journeyed through the Pagan path, I have definitely become far more accepting of myself as a ‘Male’ – by learning more about the myths surrounding the Pagan God (Conway, 1997, Drew, 1998,  Farrar, 1984)    I have been able to slowly identify with His ways. His tales have taught me about issues relating to strength, courage, compassion, healing, acceptance, discernment, to walk in peace, to respect All Life as gifts from the gods.    If a professional counsellor could respect my right as a client to both choose and then follow my own Path – not view it as “out there” or “that’s far too abstract” – then naturally this quality would  lead me to disclose deeper than what may have been my original intent.  When the professional counsellor truly listens, then can deep healing begin to occur. To listen, the counsellor must needs practice to be silent.   Being Silent if a really useful method to help a client open up. Counsellors need to be as respectful to a Pagan’s (and others) concerns as too when dealing with any client’s concerns. Sadly, there is often confusion here.  I was told personally by a psychologist that “People who follow your path always end up suffering problems, I know, I see them everyday!”   I felt sad for this man’s limited worldview. But that was what he said – and believe me, if I were not as strong in my own beliefs as I am I would have faltered.  As a counsellor I hope to be able to simply be there with my clients and “not to make decisions for clients but to let clients choose how their own values will guide their behaviors.” (Corey, 2001)  One way that I propose to do this is by reading more about different spiritualities and religions, yet taking on board the notion of not compartmenting these into small boxes. It is crucial that we recognize that the spiritual domain offers solace, comfort, hope and that it can likewise often generate great sustaining power to a client in crisis.  The guilt, anger and sadness that clients may experience often results from a misinterpretation of the spiritual and religious realm, which can lead to depression and a sense of worthlessness. (Corey, 2001).  A fair example here is the issue of sexuality – If you are gay, not many religions will “truly” accept you; rather, they might tolerate you but rarely truly embrace you. Even some people who follow WICCA tend to “shun”  gay people under the guise of it being a “fertility cult” whereby male-female is the rule.  No wonder there is guilt, anger and sadness. Invariably, these views will lead some to feelings of low self-esteem, loneliness and, if not healthily resolved, depression – possibly suicide.   This is a result from ‘a misrepresentation of the spiritual and religious realm’ as being heaped on the client by another’s understanding, be it from an individual, a cultural injunction or simply society. For a lot of clients who have experienced disaster or trauma, exploring issues with them surrounding grief and loss, anger, guilt, the concepts of good and evil, and forgiveness, can be a central part of the healing process (Hepworth, Rooney and Larsen, 2002).  Exploring such issues, though possibly anathema to some clients (i.e. a committing of blasphemy), may assist the client in coming to terms with whatever issue is affecting their life.     But to do so, I believe that counsellors need to have undertaken some deep soul-searching themselves on these various issues.   How can we deal with issues relating to a client’s anger at God if the client were to voice that “I hate and detest God with all my heart and wish him no longer in my life,” all the while tears streaming down their face.   What if I felt their anger to be most blasphemous – surely my body language (if nothing else) would convey my discomfit at my client’s need to express their anger. Yet by dealing with these issues beforehand, I feel counsellors are in a far better position to remain person-centred and to allow such expression as a natural outpouring of my client’s grief.  Simply being there with a client and exploring with them how they perceive the Wrath of God (or other Deity) may assist them to recognize that God is forgiving.  If a person experiencing pain, anger, grief etc., is not allowed to express (and thus experience) these emotions, how can they move on.   

CASE HISTORY:  A client that I saw for a while had been sexually abused as a child, then as a teenager, and later as a young adult.  Her path was that of the New Age.  Unfortunately, she was told several things that she could not really prove.  For example, that she was a man in a past life and the sexual abuse was a natural outpouring of karma – to balance her past wrongs.  This led to her allowing people to treat her as they wanted – “I deserved it,” was how she put it.   At the same time, she was taught that to express anger was wrong – “Just accept things for how they are.” As we explored her numerous issues, together, a number of beliefs were at variance with others.  Together, we worked at challenging these beliefs so as to bring them into clearer unity.   How does she know that her abuse was linked to a past life event?   She was accepting what was told her on faith.  If true, then are all who are abused as children, teens etc., simply reaping karma?  She responded that, “Yes, they too are being abused due to negative karma.”  And if this is so, then why was she sitting here in front of me trying to gain healing from her past abuse?   What right did she have to expect any less than karma was now presenting to her as recompense?   We looked at the life of people who were poor, those who were martyrs for their faith. I lent her a book, ‘Whom Shall I Fear?’ (by Burkholder), the story of a woman who died for her Faith in the Reformation, not because of some belief that it was so due to karma.  This book seemed to help her a lot. We look at various scriptures together (taken from the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita) to try to gain a spiritual understanding.  But the thing that helped her move on the most was in being able to – and allowed to – express her emotions for possibly the first time.  She cried, she felt pain but then, having worked through these, she reached ANGER.  Together we worked through the anger that had so been cruelly denied expression all the