Theosophical Articles


Many of you will already have an established meditation practice.  Yet life does test us sometimes and we lose this temporarily.  It happens to all of us. So, here’s a reminder of that which you already know, and for those of you who are new to meditation, this will help set you up. As they say, ‘Practice makes Perfect’!

Step 1: The key is of course keeping up the momentum and committing to a regular pattern of meditation practice, of twice a day, morning and evening, same time preferably, same place. Set the scene: light a candle or have other very soft lighting, light some incense or ceremonial resins, or burn some essential oil, or do a brief but purposeful ‘smoking’ of your space half an hour before with aromatic herbs, like rosemary, sage, or lemon myrtle if in Australia.You will notice that in this way you will build a conducive ‘settling’ energy which will draw you into that space naturally over time. You will notice also that your morning meditation may be of a different quality to your evening one!  Take note. Mark each ‘sitting’ off on a calendar to track your resolve.  Perhaps keep a diary of what you noticed but don’t dwell on it afterwards. This regularity of practice is step number one. 

How you sit is of prime importance also.   Whether you sit in a crossed legged posture (full or half Lotus) or you are seated on a chair, your spine must be erect and self-supporting, with your neck an extension of your spine upon which your head is delicately balanced, chin parallel to the floor, not tilted back or slumped forward.  This allows for a free flow of energy.  Your arms should rest on your knees or if you prefer folded loosely in your lap, whichever is most comfortable for your body type. Make sure your arms don’t round your shoulders when you have your arms folded in your lap.  If this happens, best to let your hands rest on your thinghs. If seated on a chair (preferable to a sofa! a bed is a ‘no-no’!!!) your thighs should be parallel to the floor, legs and feet comfortably apart.  If your thighs are not parallel to the floor, make necessary adjustments so they are.  In fact, if you were to look at yourself sideways your neck-spine and hips-thighs would form a perfect right angle and your legs, another right angle from your knees. Although this all sounds rather prescriptive you will find all this helpful for longer mediation practice. It will avoid drowsiness, agitation, and your need to shift position. 

Step 2: Slowly over time you will have trained your mind to still itself, staying fully ‘present’ to the now, your breath your guide, counting helps, ‘inhale’ breath, count 1, and ‘exhale’ breath, count 2 and so on.  You will notice your focus will still drift away, and when you notice, don’t beat yourself up, be kind and just bring your attention back to the present, to the count, or the ‘in’ and ‘out’ breath or your two-syllable mantra. Remember anything else happening in your mind is either past or future mind babbling or ‘dreaming’. Attaining that ‘full’ presence is step two, that is taming the ‘ox’ as per the Zen Buddhist ‘ox herding’ pictures, or the ‘monkey mind’ analogy of Indian mystics. 

Be aware that a body slump in posture is also a sign of having lost ‘presence’.  That’s the purpose of the ‘gong’ rung every two minutes during meditation sessions, to bring us back to straighten up again.  It’s a gentler equivalent of a Zen Master whacking his meditators on the shoulders when he/she notices loss of posture, a clear indication someone has drifted off into slumber or dream land. 

Importance of the first two steps: These two steps are preparatory to ‘meditation’ proper. Be patient with yourselves. Once the ‘stillness’ gap during and between the count grows bigger, fully alert, this is when meditation proper is starting.  But this does not happen overnight, nor even in a year, or many years. But you must persevere, being patient with yourself, like a mother loves its child unconditionally, not chastising, not judging but guiding it gently back to the task at hand.

Of course, this preliminary practice also makes us aware of how busy our minds are, what our thought patterns are, our ‘Kama’ (desire nature) and emotional patterns.  The most obvious desire pattern is wondering what time it is as we meditate, ‘Is it time yet to stop?’ or wanting that discomfort as we sit to go away, or being annoyed with the gong, that disturbs our ‘dreamy’ state, judging it, etc, or beating ourselves up for all these thoughts.  The list goes on, take note of it; this insight is your personal teacher.

Becoming aware of our impatience, anger perhaps, annoyance, wanting to control, or judging ourselves and the world around, is a useful insight as we go about our daily lives. So, this practice does not end when we get up from our cushions or seats. It is the most powerful training ground, that helps us become a witness to ourselves and our reactive natures as we engage in life during the day. 

Afterall, the biggest impact we can have in the world around us is to become awake to ourselves, our own selves, the microcosm, insignificant and yet significant all at the same time.  As they say about ‘Karma’ (the Law of Action and Reaction): ‘what others do to us is their karma, how we react is our karma’.  Or that other slogan, ‘Be the change we want to see in the world’.  By the way, I’ve changed the ‘you’ in these sayings to ‘we’ purposefully.

Evening Meditation: They also say, evening meditation is ‘dying’ each day, making peace with the day’s events and our performance on that stage. It is a preparation for what awaits us all, rich or poor. It is a training for our own physical dying process, maintaining equanimity, reviewing without attachment or aversion, or judgement, gaining insight instead, as we journey through the end-of-life recall, staying connected to Buddhi mind consciousness.  These preliminary steps to Meditation proper are essential and powerful beyond measure.  They enable all of that and eventually the path into more, as so poetically and deeply meaningfully shared in the books, Light on the Path, by Mable Collins and the, Voice of the Silence, by HP Blavatsky.

“There were giants [nephilim] in the earth in those days; and also, after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (Gen. 6:4)

“All those skeletons found in the Departments of the Gard, in Austria, Liege, etc., etc… have all belonged to men of very high stature”… – Frederic de Rougemont, (Histoire de la Terre, p. 154).

Legends and myths about giants can be found in all cultures throughout human history. From the Titans and Cyclops of Greek mythology to the Jotnar of the Norse and the Kapres of Philippine folklore, references to these larger-than-life beings are scattered throughout the folktales, scriptures, and traditional stories across the world.

Theosophical evolution, as revealed to the world by Madame H. P. Blavatsky through her seminal two-volume publication, The Secret Doctrine in 1888, outlines the cycles of cosmic evolution, or Rounds and Root Races, in which every lifeform, from the minutest atom to the grandest nebula, undergoes a process of physical, mental, and spiritual development and growth. In line with the Hermetic principle: As Above, So Below, As Within, So Without, Theosophy postulates that the evolution of the universe is intrinsically linked to the evolution of the individual, and vice versa.

In certain writings, as found in the collected Mahatma Letters, the Master K. H. and the Master M. both stated that The Secret Doctrine, far from being the sole effort of Blavatsky herself, was in fact the “triple production” of their combined efforts. Blavatsky, as opposed to being the sole author of this momentous work, was rather the “Direct Agent” of the Masters who guided her hand towards the timely promulgation of these timeless truths. The Secret Doctrine is described, in one such letter written by the Master K. H., as being the “epitome of occult truths that will make it a source of information and instruction for the earnest student for long years to come.”

The work is published in two lengthy volumes, the first of these being “Cosmogenesis”, which is concerned with the origins, birth, and evolution of the Cosmos, the Solar System, and our planet. This it describes in terms derived from the Hindu conception of cyclical development through the alternating periods of activity, or manvantaras, and periods of passivity, or pralayas. The second volume, titled “Anthropogenesis”, deals more specifically with the origins and evolution of humanity, through the sequence of Root Races and the lost continents of Hyperborea, Lemuria, and Atlantis. It is this latter work that is relevant to our examination of giants in Theosophical literature.

Anthropogenesis deals in particular with the evolutionary development of humankind. According to the system of Root Races put forward in this volume, the third Root Race consisted of ape-like giants that lived on the (now) lost continent of Lemuria some 18,000,000 years ago. Of this continent, located in the Pacific Ocean, HPB writes:

“The third Continent, we propose to call “Lemuria” . . . extended from Madagascar to Ceylon and Sumatra. It included some portions of what is now Africa; but otherwise this gigantic Continent, which stretched from the Indian ocean to Australia, has now wholly disappeared beneath the waters of the Pacific, leaving here and there only some of its highland tops which are now islands.” (SD II, p. 7).

In was during this third Root Race that life took on a more condensed, physical shape and that the development of organs, tissues, and bones, took place. They were described as being egg-headed, with a single eye at the crown of their heads, and as possessing prognathous jaws. Reproductive changes also resulted in the separation of the sexes, there being developed first “beings in which the one sex predominated over the other, and finally distinct men and women.” (SD II, p. 132). HPB emphasizes that while the beings of the Third Root Race may seem rather distinct from the human of today, that they should still be considered as human, as should the essentially non-physical First and Second Root Races. An analogy could be made to the development of the fetus, which while very different from the fully-developed form, would still be considered human in the early stages.

The separation of the sexes marked a fundamental point in the evolution of humanity: the human has become “opposite polar forces, an equilibrized compound of Spirit and Matter, of the positive and the negative, of the male and the female.” (SD II, p. 84). Now, at this crucial point, the he has developed into human form, even if this form be yet “gigantic and ape-like’: he has evolved “the vehicle of desire, or Kâma Rupa,” (SD II, p. 116). It is in this stage of development that the human being evolved such attributes as animal passions, physical organs, and the rudimentary ability to gain knowledge and question one’s own existence. It was thus in the Third Root Race that the Lower Quaternary of the physical principles was complete; the tangible, physical body took on its shape as the Linga Sharira; Prana vivified this matter into life, and Kâma imbued it with the gift of passion, or instinct, whereby it may continue to evolve into higher states.

“After (the separation [of sexes]) . . . the eternal spring became constant change and seasons succeeded. Cold forced men to build shelters and devise clothing. Then man appealed to the superior Fathers (the higher gods or angels) . . . Divine Kings descended and taught men sciences and arts, for man could live no longer in the first land (Adi-Varsha, the Eden of the first Races), which had turned into a white frozen corpse” (SD II, p. 201).

It was also during this Third Root Race that another highly significant event in the evolution of humanity occurred. The Lords of the Flame, the Solar Pitris, the Children of the Fire-Mist, descended to Earth to incarnate in human form, choosing from among the race the most developed and prepared for this sacred purpose.

The succeeding race – the Fourth Root Race – was also gigantic in form. These were the inhabitants of the continent of Atlantis, being particularly enormous and materially dense in stature and appearance. We find this race referenced in Genesis as the “Gibborim”, those mighty giants of old. It was this race that was also referred to as the “Titans” of Greek mythology. As stated by HPB:

“The Titans and Cyclopes of old really belonged to the Fourth (Atlantean) Race, and . . . all the subsequent legends and allegories found in the Hindu Purânas and the Greek Hesiod and Homer, were based on the hazy reminiscences of real Titans—men of a superhuman tremendous physical power, which enabled them to defend themselves, and hold at bay the gigantic monsters of the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic times—and of actual Cyclopes—three-eyed mortals.” (SD II, p. 293)

Throughout the period in which this Root Race thrived, further significant evolutionary developments took place, including the intellect and, along with it, speech. The Atlanteans were psychic, having great mastery over the subtle forces of nature. This was both their greatest strength and their weakness, as they were eventually destroyed by the misuse of those powers.

In tracing the evolutionary development of humankind through various stages, H. P Blavatsky points to evidence of our gargantuan forebears, by referring to reports of fossil bones by such authorities as Tertullian, Philostratus, Pliny, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Homer, Plutarch, etc., some of whom saw the bones themselves. Modern evidence, likewise, confirms the existence of such fossils.

We may take, for instance, the “Giant of Castelnau”; three bone fragments discovered by Georges Vacher de Lapouge in 1890 in the sediment used to cover a Bronze Age burial tumulus, and dating possibly back to the Neolithic. Writing in the journal La Nature, de Lapouge describes the bones in detail:

“I think it unnecessary to note that these bones are undeniably human, despite their enormous size…. The first is the middle part of the shaft of a femur, 14 cm length, almost cylindrical in shape, and the circumference of the bone is 16 cm…. The second piece is the middle and upper part of the shaft of a tibia…. The circumference is 13 cm at the nutrient foramen…. the length of fragment is 26 cm…. The third, very singular, was regarded by good anatomists as the lower part of a humerus…. The volumes of the bones were more than double the normal pieces to which they correspond. Judging by the usual intervals of anatomical points, they also involve lengths almost double…. The subject would have been a likely size of 3m, 50.”

And to further examine some statements of HPB:

“If we turn to the New World, we have traditions of a race of giants at Tarija on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in Ecuador, who combated gods and men. …It would be poor anthropology indeed that would restrict the traditions of giants to Greek and Bible mythologies. Slavonian countries, Russia especially, teem with legends about the Bogaterey (mighty giants) of old; and their folklore, most of which has served for the foundation of national histories, their oldest songs, and their most archaic traditions, speak of the giants of old. Thus, we may safely reject the modern theory that would make of the Titans mere symbols standing for cosmic forces. They were real living men, whether twenty or only twelve feet high. Even the Homeric heroes, who, of course, belonged to a far more recent period in the history of the races, appear to have wielded weapons of a size and weight beyond the strength of the strongest men of modern times.” (SD II, pp. 754-55)

“As for the evidence furnished by ancient writers, we need not stop at that of Tertullian, who assures us that in his day a number of giants were found at Carthage… But we may turn to the scientific journals of 1858, which spoke of a sarcophagus of giants found that year on the site of that same city. As to the ancient pagan writers — we have the evidence of Philostratus, who speaks of a giant skeleton twenty-two cubits long, as well as of another of twelve cubits, seen by himself at Sigeus…. Is it possible that prejudice would carry Science so far as to class all these men as either fools or liars?

Pliny speaks of a giant in whom he thought he recognised Orion, the son of Ephialtes (Nat. Hist., vol. VII, ch. xvi.). Plutarch declares that Sertorius saw the tomb of Antæus, the giant; and Pausanias vouches for the actual existence of the tombs of Asterius and of Geryon, or Hillus, son of Hercules — all giants, Titans and mighty men. Finally, the Abbé Pègues (cited in de Mirville’s Pneumatologie) affirms in his curious work on “The Volcanoes of Greece” that “in the neighbourhood of the volcanoes of the isle of Thera, giants with enormous skulls were found laid out under colossal stones, the erection of which must have necessitated everywhere the use of titanic powers, and which tradition associates in all countries with the ideas about giants, volcanoes and magic.” (SD II, pp. 278-279) The overwhelming evidence pointing to the existence of giants in the ancient past provides proof for much of what was put forward in The Secret Doctrine. It provides an alternative account of human evolution, in which the development of the race takes place over a much longer length of time than previously imagined, and in which evolution takes place not only on the physical level, but further on the mental and spiritual levels. Theosophy reveals that we are still evolving – onwards and upwards – to ever higher states of consciousness and spiritual development. We are on the path to Godhood, one evolutionary step at a time.

PRACTICAL SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Some Perspectives from Theosophy.

What are some of the practical means to make spirituality a force right here and now for the majority of us caught up in the hurly-burly of modern life? How can we ever find Practical Spiritual Practice? Let’s look at a few time-honoured methods taught throughout history:

Purification

The journey to the inner self usually commences with efforts at self-purification, which may include physical techniques, such as various forms of yoga, abstinence from recreational drugs, and eating foods which will do the least harm to ourselves and our fellow creatures. If we don’t take care, however, these efforts may become yet another type of self-indulgence. Over time, our interest may progress from the physical arena through emotional and psychic realms to spiritual development. At some stage the soul will begin to be aware of a vague glow of the inner spiritual light. In some sensitive people this experience may shake them to the core, and there is often real suffering of heart and mind. We make great vows to ourselves: “Now that I have glimpsed this light I will do my very best to change my ways and lead a more spiritual life.” But everything in and around us seems to conspire against our best intentions as nature immediately presents us with tests to prove our resolve. Karma normally spread over many lifetimes may come to us over a very short time. We should remember, however, that along with opposition, our vow invokes forces which help us. As William Q. Judge remarks:

“The appeal to the Higher Self, honestly and earnestly made, opens up a channel by which flow in all the gracious influences from higher planes. New strength rewards each new effort; new courage comes with each step forward…

So, take courage… and hold on your way through the discouragements that beset your earliest steps on the path… Do not stop to mourn over your faults; recognize them and seek to learn from each its lesson. Do not become vain of your success. So shall you gradually attain self-knowledge, and self-knowledge shall develop self-mastery.” — Echoes of the Orient 3:288-9

Exercising the Spiritual Will

Looking for and working with the inner god of every person we encounter, and not becoming weighed down with a limited self-centred viewpoint, allows the inner god to guide us in daily living. Former Leader of the Theosophical Society Pasadena, Katherine Tingley, felt we should induce our will to flow with,

“that nobler part of our nature that rises to every situation and meets it with patience and courage . . . The knowledge of it comes not in any world-startling or magical way — and is not to be purchased save by surrender of a man’s passionate and lustful nature to the god within.”

This represents the core message of all world religions — “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” To realize how difficult this is, try not harming any person or being in thought or deed for even one hour today!

Following the Daily Karmic Script

We are composite beings, a vortex of forces from the greater sea of life in which we are immersed. This fact explains many of the moral dilemmas and strange quirks of human behaviour we all encounter. The inner god, the enduring part of us, animates the lower forms and energies and sends us forth periodically on a voyage of understanding which we call a lifetime. As we experience life’s challenges, the higher self never provides a greater load of karmic lessons than we have the capacity to bear. The joys and hardships we encounter in everyday life are orchestrated by the higher self to lead us toward perception of reality. Life is our teacher, and our experience provides the exact set of circumstances which we need to grow.

We can picture life unrolling day by day as a “karmic script,” for those with the eyes to see it. How can we learn to follow the signals our higher self is constantly sending us?

There are many ways. Various forms of concentration and meditation accustom us to hearken to the voice of our inner god. Particularly beneficial are greeting the opportunities the day has to offer in the morning and reviewing the spiritual lessons one has learned in the evening. There is also need for silence, a precious commodity in today’s hectic world, in which to hear the whisperings of the Voice of the Silence. Even if we are busy with the tasks at hand, we always have the opportunity to devote part of our mental energies to finding spiritual directions from the many choices which face us.

Further, in the words of James A. Long, we need to “make the esoteric exoteric and the exoteric esoteric”; that is, take seriously philosophical and religious teachings and apply them directly to living. The ability to read the daily karmic script will enable us to better appreciate the inner purpose of our lives that our higher self is trying to communicate to us each second as it urges our footsteps along the path to greater understanding of the oneness of Being. Nothing is stopping us here and now from trying to live a life closer to the internal example of perfection within us.

I know of no better outline of the principal practical and philosophic paths to the inner god than the Bhagavad-Gita. Arjuna or everyman stands between the opposing armies of the higher and lower-self reluctant to engage in the inevitable struggle for control of our consciousness. Krishna, his charioteer, advises him on the various paths by which identity with the higher self can be achieved, including good works, spiritual knowledge, asceticism, self-restraint, spiritual discernment, discrimination between godlike and demoniacal natures, the three kinds of faiths, and others. Krishna stresses that all such paths are valid ways to the higher self, and to the extent that people sincerely apply themselves to the search, they shall be repaid spiritually. The important thing is to follow our duty without thought of results. The result will follow in the fullness of time if we do the best we can. As Krishna says:

 “Seek this wisdom by doing service, by strong search, by questions, and by humility . . .”

Battle or Transformation?

But do we need to enter into a battle with the lower self in order to identify with the inner god? The Bhagavad-Gita and many mystical writers seem to answer yes, stressing the need for absolute conquest of the lower self if we are to approach the temple of the god within. Yet this “battle” might be more along the lines of the transmutation process pictured by the alchemists of medieval Europe. They spoke of finding the Philosopher’s Stone which would allow us to transmute the lead of the lower self into the gold of the higher self. According to theosophical teacher, G de Purucker,

“the best way to overcome the lower nature is not by “battling” it and “fighting” it, thus exercising it and making it strong and vigorous, but by understanding it to be a part of yourself and by resolutely putting it in its proper place with inflexible and impersonal kindness and gentleness. Sometimes and very often indeed the best way to begin to do this is by completely ignoring it, turning the back upon it… ally yourself with the higher parts of your nature, and in consequence you identify yourself thereby with the higher parts of the Universe.” – G de Purucker: Dialogues 3:19, 21.

Why are We on the Spiritual Journey Anyway?

See the source imageMost importantly, on our journey of self-discovery we should pause to ask why we commenced this pilgrimage in the first place. Is this a cosmic vacation designed for our own gratification, or do we mean to offer the fruits of our discoveries to other travellers?

In her Voice of the Silence H. P. Blavatsky enjoins us to be ever mindful to avoid the ranks of the spiritually selfish who seek the power and blissful peace of communion with the inner god for themselves alone. Although many schools teach spiritual development for one’s own sake, ignoring the suffering of others, the path of compassion was blazed by Great Ones who, though far ahead of us, stopped to offer assistance to all those in their wake. It is also our responsibility to travel the still small path to the higher self-mindful of our responsibilities to others. We can offer the lessons we learn, when appropriate, to our fellows and help uplift the crushing weight of suffering bearing down on humanity, largely caused by humanity’s ignorance of the laws of life. If we consistently make this effort, our spiritual light will gradually glimmer, then shine in the world for the benefit of others, and we will begin to understand the essence of Theosophy.

Most people imagine that the path of spiritual development is far away across the unreachable mountains of the future, requiring impossible feats of spiritual practice.  But, as stated by G de Purucker:

“… There can be no mistake greater than this. The difference between the Chela (spiritual student) and the man living the ordinary life, essentially is just a difference of spiritual, intellectual, and psychical outlook. That is about all. Of course, this difference, because the factors involved are so important, is really great; but it is a difference of outlook and not a difference of metaphysical distance. It is the same difference more or less which exists in average men, as between one who succumbs to temptation, and one who successfully resists the temptation. … Chelaship (ie. the condition of being a serious spiritual student – Ed.) is a vision (based on selfless action for the good of others – Ed.), out of which arise conviction and definite action…” G de Purucker: Esoteric Teachings, Vol.1: page 7.

LOWER MIND TO HIGHER MIND: What Buzz the Boss-Bird Taught Me – Amanda F. Rooke.

Living in Covid lockdown can become bound up in physical need – warmth, food, household duties, etc… Government mandated lockdowns meant that everyone had to minimize face-to-face contact with others when shopping, walking, even gardening in your own backyard! With all this turmoil going on, my brain felt like it had gone to mush, but then there was my tax to be dealt with! Still, there was always the possibility of contact with other human beings via high-technology (Zoom, Skype, etc..), providing an electronic pathway to bringing out the God within through acts of support and loving-kindness for others similarly suffering.

During this time, Mother Nature took hold of my garden. Her Emissary seemed to me to be an obsessively parental Alpha-Male Butcher-Bird. He would sit on my backyard clothes-line and give voice with a hysterical, yodelling-warbling, using a whole-body expulsion of air through his wide throat and large beak stating his prowess to the whole garden that he was the real BOSS. Being the human “custodian” of the garden, I felt I had to let the bird (I called him ‘Buzz’), use the clothesline for an “aerodrome” for his developing offspring, cheeping and chirping and jumping from a nearby ‘lilly-pilly tree’ near my birdbath onto my clothes-line.

What a quandary! Both ‘Buzz’, the bird, and myself were living in survival-mode. He, because it was in his nature to do so as a member of the animal kingdom. I, because of the Covid pandemic in circumstances new to people born since the 1919 Spanish-Flu epidemic. Being human, I had the advantage of conscious access to my Higher-Mind (Buddhi Manas). But it seemed my Buddhic consciousness was temporarily slumbering!

Meanwhile a family of black ducks announced themselves on my back veranda. I was ironing in the laundry and when I looked around there was the drake, his wife, and five fluffy balls of feathers, their children. They made their way to the birdbath in my backyard, in the process scaring off any other birdlife smaller than themselves, though ducks are gentle, herbivorous creatures. I went to peg out the wet laundry on my clothes-line and wondered what the ducks would make of me in such close proximity. The drake hissed rather gently at me; the chicks hid under their mother’s wings; the mother then brooded them under her body as she had done when they were yet unhatched. The gorgeous little things peeped their heads from amongst her feathers. The mother duck suddenly went very still and held her head to one side. Turning bodily, she assumed the appearance of a tree-stump, her head held out to one side like a branch or root, with her head like the end of this branch. But from this bump on the branch a yellow eye stared back at me and behind the eye, a definite consciousness, an animate being, tentative, brave, “there” and aware. She and her mate clearly demonstrating loving-kindness to their offspring and to each other.

So, in both cases I understood our ‘dharmic responsibility’ (ie life purpose) as human beings and therefore custodians of Nature and the animals who are our Younger Brothers. In my own evolutionary journey over countless lifetimes, I understand that I must have once been an animal and I will become one day more than human if I run the evolutionary race aright! I recalled the quote from the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic poet, Rumi Jalal ad’Din:

“I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was human,
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die human,
To soar with angels blessed above.
And when I sacrifice my angel soul
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.
As a human, I will die once more,
Reborn, I will with the angels soar.
And when I let my angel body go,
I shall be more than mortal mind can know.”

In my duty to the animal kingdom, I could not let Buzz be evermore subject to the law of the jungle – “red in tooth and claw”. I had also to remind myself not to fear Buzz for raining down ‘aerial warfare’ on me! His instinctive concern for his mate and chicks made him an ‘aggressive aerobat extraordinaire’ with the aerodynamics of a jet-fighter able to zoom right across the backyard straight at the clothesline propelled by one initial wingbeat!

Rather, I felt compelled to treat him as an equal in the business of survival. But, for both Buzz and me the survival instinct was mixed with a compassionate respect for life. Thus, I understood him to be a spiritually developing being just like me! Both myself, with the animal part of my human nature, and Buzz, as a current member the animal kingdom, will pass one day through the lower-mind phase into full human-hood and beyond to God consciousness. Both human and animal, having experienced some inkling of loving-kindness towards other sentient beings, equal, lesser, and higher, we are united in following a pathway to a higher consciousness each in our own way. Perhaps we will meet up again in some distant future lifetime, once again acknowledging one another’s “equality”, ever-latent, yet ever-developing.

In order to gain a true understanding of this teaching, study must be supplemented by devoted practice, faith by works. The reading of the words will not avail. There must be a real effort to stand as the Soul, a real ceasing from self-indulgence. With this awakening of the spiritual will, and purification, will come at once the growth of the spiritual man and our awakening consciousness as the spiritual man; and this, attained in even a small degree, will help us notably in our contest. To him that hath, shall be given. – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Book 1, 16.

SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE and COMPASSION: The Greatest Treasures – Andrew Rooke.

One of the most famous Chinese spiritual teachers, the founder of Taoism, Lao Tze, (571-531BC) said it is in the simple things that we can find spiritual principles worth following. In his ‘Tao Te Ching’ (The Book of the Way) he says that he came to teach only three simple truths:

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

  • Tao Te Ching. Book 67.

Simplicity: Simplicity seems to be an essential quality of the spiritual life advocated by all the great spiritual teachers.  Not a simplistic life but ‘simple’ in the sense of one unencumbered by material considerations as the primary focus of life leaving the student clear-headed and humble so that he/she can devote themselves to others without being diverted by a lot of material possessions.

Jesus was a simple carpenter, his followers came from common professions of the time, like fishermen, living a simple village life. He always demanded of his followers that they give up their material possessions before they followed him.  The founders of Christian orders, such as St Francis of Assisi, followed his example by demanding their monks live a simple and holy life ‘clearing the decks’ so that they could focus on the needs of others rather than building their own ego through the accumulation of personal material possessions.

Let’s have a look at some other spiritual teachers who advocated a simple life.

Taoism: In China, Taoism says that when virtue traditions are strong, people, and the example that they set to others, become even more important than principles as sources of moral guidance.

In the Tao Te Ching (meaning: ‘The Book of the Way and its Virtues’) by Taoist Master, Lao Tzu:

Sages embrace the One and serve as models for the whole world but they do not parade themselves as models, as that would be self-defeating. ‘They do not make a display of themselves and so are illustrious.’

“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.”

Confucianism: ’Junzi’: The Exemplary Person: Let us stay in China where the moral exemplar is captured in the ideal of what they call the, JUNZI, meaning an ‘exemplary person’, ‘superior person’ or ‘person of excellence’.

Confucius (Kongzi), the Chinese sage (551BC – 479BC) explained that such a person displays the highest virtue, jen, translated variously as ‘righteousness’, ‘benevolence’, and ‘perfect virtue.’ It is related to, yi, meaning, justice.

Modern Confucian scholar, Professor Yao Xinzhong, explains: “yi is how you treat other people appropriately. When you treat people well and in a proper way you also demonstrate virtue. Jen can be understood as a moral force which keeps us in balance such as we might say of someone who has good character.’

The junzi, or exemplary person, is a beacon for others to follow, or as is commonly understood in China, ‘sageliness within and kingliness without’.

Aristotle: ‘Greatness of Soul’: Travelling across the world to ancient Greece, Aristotle describes the crown of virtues as: ‘Greatness of Soul’,saying of such a rare person:

 â€˜there are few things he values highly’ and ‘nothing is great in his eyes’. He does not care for personal conversation nor to be complimented for himself or to compliment others. He is the last to complain about unavoidable or minor troubles ‘because such an attitude would imply that he took them seriously’.

He said such a person should focus on what is rightly honoured rather than pursue honour for its own sake. Honour can be a sign that you are doing the right thing but it is not the purpose of right action.

Simple and balanced living is certainly a feature of a moral exemplar. Even in the materialist modern world, moral exemplars favour simple living from Nelson Mandela (South Africa) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi and Mother Teresa (India).

Though, whilst advocating simple living, Aristotle also said that virtue did not mean you live an ascetic life. Aristotle believed that: ‘it is difficult if not impossible to do fine deeds without any resources.’

Ultimate Truths are Simple – But Complicated! Beyond the character of a spiritual teacher or student, ultimate truths are frequently described as being in essence, ‘Simple’, even though the philosophy and theology associated with such an understanding can get enormously complicated. 

As Lao Tzu says:

Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.

Jesus said that we had to be ‘as little children’ to understand the Kingdom of Heaven:

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew: 18:3.

Meaning that we have to have a child-like purity and innocence to reflect our Source or Higher Self which is clouded by our obsession with Personality and considerations of our Lower Nature.

This truth is reflected in the stages of learning for students of the Mysteries which is basically a self-motivated effort guided by our teachers to bring the personality side of our nature under control so the Inner Source can shine in the world unimpeded by selfishness – a bit like the sun always shining above us but the clouds get in the way so we don’t realize it is there much of the time – especially so with Melbourne weather!!

Getting Back to the Source: Purification of the Physical and Emotional Bodies: The initial stages of such training require purification of our Personality Vehicles being the Physical Body; the Emotional Body and the Mental Body. The purification of our personality vehicles: Elimination of selfish/impure mental, emotional and physical activity amounting to simple living:

Purification of the Physical Body:

  • Cleanliness of surroundings.
  • Cleanliness in all physical aspects: pure foods, timely sleep, adequate exposure to sunlight, fresh air and water.

Impediments to developing these qualities include Comfort, Money, immoderate behaviours of all kinds.

Purification of the Emotional Body:

  • Watch and eliminate negative forces at play in our lives and thoughts manifesting as desires, selfish motives, selfish wishes, aversions, anger, hatred, possessiveness and fear. These emotions can be overcome by persistently pursuing a life of noble aspirations and service to others.
  • Establishing an ideal of service to others and working at that ideal consistently.

Impediments preventing the illumination of the soul on the emotional plane would mainly be the enemies of the simple life: Ambition, Hatred and Fear.

Getting Back to the Source: Purification of the Mental Body:

  • Observation of our thoughts and distinguishing between the Thinker, the Thought and the Thought Process.
  • Clear thinking through constant introspection which leads to visualisation.
  • Build thoughts of goodwill and strengthen such thought-forms so they gradually extend outward to the benefit of all beings.
  • Self-analysis, self-introspection, self-searching, and self-review of daily life are all important tools in this context.
  • Most important of all, see beyond the personalities of all whom we come in contact perceiving the Higher Self, or the capacity for the Inner God in everyone we meet and in all situations of life.

The major impediments to this stage of the Work: Prejudice (a sense of separateness), Pride and Cruelty.

The purpose of these purifications of the physical, emotional and lower mind is to clear the way to the Higher Self so that it might manifest more clearly in our daily lives. This ‘exoteric’ work usually must precede all ‘esoteric’ or ‘occult’ work.

A Simplified View of Esoteric Philosophy: Eckhart Tolle: Some modern spiritual teachers offer similar advice in terms of finding our way back to the Source. Popular spiritual teachers of the 20th century such as Jiddu Krishnamurti and contemporary English meditational teacher, John Butler, and, especially, German spiritual teacher (now resident in Canada) Eckhart Tolle, all simplify esoteric philosophy back to the very basics of what we ordinary folk can do to escape the power of the Lower Ego. Let’s look at Eckhart Tolle’s popular simplified view of the spiritual journey:

He says that to attain our own salvation, we simply have to let go of the power of the Mind which determines our sense of past and future.  Instead, we need to simply choose to live in our Source which is manifest in the ‘Present Moment’, what he calls the ‘Power of the Now’. Practical guidelines are given to this process including various forms of meditation, attitudinal changes, realization of impermanence, forgiveness, and above all, a sincere surrender of our ego to our inner nature by abandoning the dominance of ‘the Mind’.

From a theosophical perspective, when Tolle refers to ‘The Mind’, he most probably means the Lower Mind or ‘Kama Manas’. He therefore is urging us to avoid imprisonment in the Personality with all the suffering attending surrender to lower egoic consciousness as we see everywhere in the world in the 21st century.

In this advice, Eckhart Tolle is in agreement with many past spiritual teachers and with the spirit of esoteric philosophy. His advice is highly reminiscent of his mentor, 13th century German monk Meister Eckhart, after whom Eckhart Tolle renamed himself (his original name was Ulrich), and the 14th century Christian mystical classics, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A’ Kempis, and especially the anonymous, Cloud of Unknowing.

A simple life guided by common sense into actions of charity and guided by humility. It all makes sense as the basis of enlightened living.  But looking around the world now, we don’t often meet with these qualities in people. Do we have the Patience to await the wider acceptance of such a life?

Where does Patience fit into this picture?

Patience: The Taoist master, Lao Tzu, said that the second of the three ‘treasures’ he had come to teach was to develop Patience.  As he put it :

Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.

How strange of him to say that ‘you accord with the way things are’ because Patience is so rare to find in this modern Covid-ridden world. Perhaps he was referring to the natural order of the universe which seeks to establish harmony and the ‘flow of grace’ from the higher aspects of ourselves and the spiritual hierarchy of light into our personalities and the chaos of a world dominated by the Lower Self.

 As the Gods reach down to help us, we must reach up to them with the best of ourselves to establish a state of higher vibration here in the world of everyday life.  In order for this to be achieved we must have loads of Patience as that day is far off and we will be sorely tested in all sorts of ways in the days between.

How can we learn patience of this high order?

Learning Patience: For most people, we learn Patience in the world of ‘hard knocks’ in the community, at work, and especially in family life. There is nothing like the stresses and strains of family life to teach Patience if you accept that challenge.  Every parent knows what it is like to be woken up continually at night by restless kids and rebellious teenagers who are likely to test every inch of Patience you have when you are most vulnerable!

If this is hard for most of us ordinary folk, imagine the Patience required of the Masters of Wisdom and the Gods as they watch the follies and rebellious nature of humanity! Yet, they continue to help us in a spirit of love through the centuries and millennia waiting for the day when we will awaken to a more enlightened way of living. Patience indeed!

Progressing on beyond the tests of family life, spiritual students are required to live what the Mahayana Buddhists call the ‘Paramitas’ or the qualities required that we may reach the ‘other shore’ of enlightened living.

What are these Paramitas of which Patience is a major part?

The ‘Paramitas’ or ‘Perfections’: Spiritual growth is essentially converting our life experience into opportunities for letting the Inner God at the core of us shine in this world. All systems of spiritual initiation to attain this goal are basically putting what the Buddhist’s call ‘The Paramitas’ or ‘Perfections’ into action in the reality of daily life.

These spiritual qualities are enumerated and called by different names in the world’s mystery traditions but they can be boiled down to six qualities:

Generosity; Ethical Discipline; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; Wisdom. 

What are these Paramitas? Of the seven listed in the Voice of the Silence by HP Blavatsky:

1/ Dana, “giving,” concern for others, being altruistic in thought, speech, and act.

2/ Sila, “ethics,” the high morality expected of the earnest disciple;

3/ Kshanti, “Patience,” forbearance, endurance, is the kindly perception that others’ failings are no worse and perhaps less severe than one’s own.

4/ Viraga, “dispassion,” non-attachment to the effects upon us of the ups and downs of life: how difficult we find this and yet, if in our deepest self we cherish the bodhisattva ideal (ie. The ideal of helping others before considering ourselves), the cultivation of viraga by no means condones indifference to the plight of others. Rather, it demands a wise exercise of compassion. It is interesting that to our knowledge this paramita is not given in the usual Sanskrit or Pali lists. That the Voice includes viraga has significance in that the fourth position is pivotal, midway in the series of seven.

We are reminded here of the seven stages of the initiatory cycle, of which the first three are preparatory, consisting chiefly of instruction and interior discipline.  In the fourth initiation the neophyte must become that which he has learned about, that is, he must identify with the inner realms of himself and of nature. If successful, he may attempt the three higher degrees, leading to suffering the god within to take possession of his humanity.

5/ Virya: “vigor,” courage, resolution; the will and energy to stand staunch for what is true, and as strenuously oppose what is false. One proficient in virya is indefatigable in thought and deed.

6/ Dhyana: “meditation,” profound contemplation, emptying oneself of all that is less than the highest, comes a natural awakening of latent powers, to culminate eventually in oneness with the essence of Being.

7/ Prajna: “enlightenment, wisdom” — “the key to which makes of man a god, creating him a bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis.” We will have become “god from mortal,” as the Orphic candidate describes this sacred moment of the seventh initiation when transcendence and immanence become one. – From Grace Knoche: To Light a Thousand Lamps.

Explaining these necessary qualities of enlightened living and how patience fits into the picture, the great Buddhist teacher Tsong Khapa said:

“To achieve the aims of others for spiritual understanding you must first help them with material goods as they won’t appreciate spirituality if they have an empty stomach! Since no benefit will come from Generosity accompanied by harmfulness towards living beings, you need Ethical Discipline, which has great purpose for others; this is the state of desisting from harm to others and the causes of harm. To bring this to its full development, you need Patience that disregards the harm done to you. You need to develop the ability to fix your mind on your ideals so you need to develop Meditative Stabilization. Calmness and single-mindedness in the service of others lead to Wisdom. None of this is attainable by laziness, so you need Joyous Perseverance in pursuit of wisdom through service to others and so this quality is the basis of the other Perfections.”

[These comments are based on Tibetan spiritual teacher Tsong-Kha-Pa, from his Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment]

Does Being Patient Mean You Are a ‘Pushover’? It is clear that Patience is central to all the other qualities in that it demonstrates your sincere understanding of the law of karma, desisting from the causes of harm to yourself and others. 

The related qualities of acceptance, forbearance and resilience are all necessary if we are to cope in a balanced way with stressful situations and demonstrating a deep and abiding love which is characteristic of spiritually advanced people.

Because you are a patient person doesn’t mean that you are a pushover or lack character.  It doesn’t mean that you lack a point of view if you have a patient, open mind. As the old saying goes: ‘An open mind doesn’t mean a hole in the head’!  It does mean that you are willing to listen to others and give them the latitude to put their perspective before making up your mind

Sometimes patience has its limits with ill-intentioned or unenlightened behaviour and a little tough love is needed within the family or in the outside world to reinstate harmony, or at least our understanding of what that may mean.

Simplicity and Patience, two ‘treasures’ which form a background to the exercise of ‘Compassion’.

Compassion: Lao Tze says:

Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

But what is Compassion?

‘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.”

There seem to be two aspects to compassion as stated by Lao Tzu:

  • Compassion towards yourself and your own failings encourages empathy, sympathy and understanding of the situation of others and a natural desire to help.
  • We could say compassion is feeling sympathy and empathy with the form we all share that makes us all human and also an understanding that we are all united in the higher level of our Being. The joy of Being beyond form.

Empathy and Compassion: Key to Our Future: 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.

Theosophical, Sufi, and Buddhist traditions teach that the foundation of the universe is loving kindness.

The Sufis say that ‘Everything is the Beloved’ and Christians teach that ‘God is Love’. Theosophists say that what we call our Inner or Divine Nature is the expression of Compassion.

Theosophical teacher, H.P. Blavatsky, put it this way:

‘Compassion is no attribute. It is the LAW of LAWS – eternal Harmony … a shoreless universal essence, … the law of love eternal’ (The Voice of the Silence, pp. 69-70).

Compassion as a universal essence must then be part of us, part of our essence.

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 people in living in comfortable ‘first-world’ situations such as 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’. As we have seen amongst many frontline staff during the Covid pandemic.

The Value 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/womanly 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 understandthe 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.

The Boddhisattva: Where does the consistent exercise of Simplicity, Patience, and Compassion lead after many lifetimes of service?

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. This leads to the development of a Boddhisattva, meaning, ‘one whose essence is compassion.’

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 and sisters can cross over with him/her.

The most famous Boddhisattva is a woman – for once! Kwan Yin is the Goddess of Compassion revered in China, Japan and throughout the Far East. There is even a large statue of her right here in the Western suburbs of Melbourne!

Bodhisattva Kwan Yin: In Japan, Korea, Tibet, and China, 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.

According to tradition Kuan 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 to follow her example?

Her pledge was:

“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.”

The First Steps: Coming the full circle from the heady heights of Boddhisattva consciousness back to the Three Treasures of Lao Tzu: Simplicity, Patience and Compassion – three little words but hard to put into action in this tough world. How can us ordinary mortals possibly do this? It all seems so overwhelming!

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 like implementing the Boddhisattva ideal – one should establish a series of small steps that would guide one safely to the destination.  This is essentially the principal of ‘Kaizen’, or, ‘Good Change’: progress through small increments.

 Anybody can do this in any situation when faced with putting our aspirations for Simplicity, Patience, and Compassion into action in our daily lives

As Lao Tzu says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first steps.”

Are we ready to take those first steps?

How often have you heard people say: “I’ll only believe it if I can see it with my own two eyes!”  Yet, the ancient wisdom talks about the actual existence of invisible worlds. More than this, it says that the visible world is actually based on these invisible worlds and what happens in these subtle and fiery realms has the controlling influence on the physical world of our eyes – a little bit like all action in the physical world being  preceded by thoughts.

So, who is right? Is this physical world the only reality? Are things not what they seem? How reliable are our eyes and senses to tell us what’s out there? Was Shakespeare right when he said:

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  – Hamlet.

Our Senses: 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 it, eg. we can only see about 0.0035% of the total electromagnetic spectrum!

As you can see, from the diagram, the visible portion makes up an incredibly small fraction of the total electromagnetic spectrum. Less than 1% of all light that reaches us is in the visible spectrum. By most estimates it comes out to about 0.0035% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

Also, the average human brain can only process 30-60 frames  of vision per second. What if some realities are operating at much faster or slower vibration?

So because the human eye is incredibly limited in its range, we see only that one tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum. We see amazingly well within that tiny band, but beyond that – nothing. If we could see in all wavelengths, the night sky would be almost as bright as the daytime sky!

So, there may well be whole worlds and beings just as functional and conscious as us living in other wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can’t see, passing their whole lives in the same space as us but in a different reality!  Our world would be empty space to them, as theirs is to us!

The ancient wisdom affirms that this is the case and that there are people who have 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.

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.”

Dark Matter and Dark Energy: Further, modern physics affirms that we live in, and are aware of, maybe 5% of the mass of the Universe: The rest is composed of ‘Dark Matter’ 27% and ‘Dark Energy’ – 68%.

Dark Matter barely interacts with ordinary baryonic, ie. normal matter with which we are familiar which contains ‘Baryons’, ie Protons and Neutrons. This is the stuff you think of as ‘real’ matter’. So Dark Matter hardly interacts with normal matter and radiation except through Gravity.  Dark Matter, unseen and unknown until relatively recently, is enormously important for our reality of baryonic matter as dark matter is the mass that keeps our galaxy of 100-400 billion stars (including our own) from flying apart!

Most dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic; it may be composed of some as-yet-undiscovered subatomic particles. The primary candidate for dark matter is some new kind off elementary particle hat has not yet been discovered, particularly, ‘Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.’(WIMPs).

Dark Energy is an unknown form of energy that affects the universe on the largest scales. The universe is actually accelerating apart instead of cooling and falling back on itself as one would imagine to be the case billions of years after the ‘Big Bang’ which brought our reality into being 14 billion years ago. 

Without introducing a new form of energy, there was no way to explain how scientists could measure an accelerating universe. Since the 1990s, Dark Energy has been the most accepted premise to account for the accelerated expansion.

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

The Many Worlds Theory: Quantum physics has found that electrons can exist in different states at the same time, so there may be many different versions of the same world existing at the same time the ‘Many Worlds Theory.’

In the mid-1990s Joseph Polchinski discovered that String Theory (string theory uses a model of one-dimensional strings in place of the particles of quantum physics as the basic building blocks of matter) 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!

Science Says: Things Are Not Quite What They Seem: All of this takes quite a leap of imagination to understand what Einstein and  Quantum Physics tell us about the nature of reality and our limited capacity to see and experience what’s  really ‘out there’. Let’s try and summarize the last 150 years of physics research on this subject:

  • Everything is in motion and therefore time is relative to movement;
  • The material universe floats on a sea or ‘fabric’ of space/time;
  • Dense objects can actually bend space-time and suspend time if you can get near enough to them;
  • Our common understanding of the world and therefore Newtonian and Einsteinian physics seem to be 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’:
  • Here particles can become waves and then revert to particles,
  • Matter seems to behave like it is conscious,
  • 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 so let’s take a closer look at what it has to teach us!

Comparison To Ancient Wisdom: Our experience of reality reflects our individual 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.

Ralph Waldo Trine, a writer on esoteric philosophy puts it this way:

“Each (person) is building his own world.  We both build from within and we attract from without. Thought is the force with which we build, for thoughts are forces. Like builds like, and like attracts like.  In the degree that thought is spiritualized does it become more subtle and powerful in its workings. This spiritualizing is in accordance with law and is within the power of all.

Everything is first worked out in the unseen before it is manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized in the real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material.  The realm of the seen is the realm of effect. The nature of effect is always determined and conditioned by the nature of its cause.”

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 Secret Doctrine teaches that “whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities.”

“Only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from delusions.”

“As we rise in the scale of development, we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities.

… and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached ‘reality’—”

There is No Such Thing as Empty Space: The Ancient Wisdom traditions of many cultures say that there is no such thing as ‘empty space’. Instead, it speaks of space as a complete ‘fullness’ with every mathematical point a vibrant living ‘god-spark’ at various stages of spiritual evolution – including us humans!

Where the evolutionary development approximates our own, then we have the faculties to see them and their worlds and our instruments can probe the mystery of their being to some extent.

Spaces of Space: However, space is literally filled with world’s invisible to our senses because they are higher (ie more ‘spiritual’) or lower (ie more material) in the grand march of evolution than our own present station in Nature’s grand plan.

Teachers of the ancient wisdom speak of space as the totality of all things, a complete ‘fullness’ in manifestation with an infinitude of spiritual worlds on the inner planes.

Paradoxically a ‘void’ and a ‘fullness’ at the same time – depending upon your ability to perceive! Rather than space as a container for all the fascinating suns and planets catalogued by science, the ancient wisdom’s perspective is that there are literally ‘spaces of space’ in an endless hierarchy of being.

Space is All That Is: One teacher refers to this fact as follows:

“Space, as understood in true occultism, means all that is, is a fullness, perfect and continuous absolutely, endless and beginningless; not a mere receptacle, not a mere container, nothing finite, but the boundless All. Further, Space IS; it is not merely on and in seven planes, the seven kosmic planes of our universe, besides penetrating inwards infinitely, endlessly, and also outward endlessly.”

– The Fundamentals of the Esoteric Tradition, 2nd ed. Pp: 382-3  ; G de Purucker.

Invisible Worlds in Many Traditions: The reality of invisible worlds was and is taught in different ways in the Mystery Schools of the world. Of those traditions we know, the ancient Greeks spoke of space as an infinite ‘Pleroma’ meaning, ‘Fullness’.

The Buddhist teachings of ‘Sunyata’ , meaning the ‘Void’, being at the same time a ‘Fullness’ express the same concept.

In traditional societies such as in  Australia and Africa, the Universe is understood to be composed of two aspects or realms – the physical and spiritual realms which are in constant interchange with one another and what happens in one realm can have an impact in the other. The invisible is a constant and real presence. All things are connected and have an impact on each other. Negative experiences are here to teach us that something is out of balance and we have to set it right through ritual , consultation with religious practitioners, and changes of our behaviour.

Heavens and Hells in World Traditions: Invisible worlds in world traditions are often described as various Heavens or Hells depending on whether they are more or less spiritual than our own visible world.

They all have their own symbology in those various traditions, but they set out to describe broadly similar themes in the language and metaphor of their own peoples.

This is because of the difficulty we always face in describing in human terms matters relating to the invisible worlds beyond the everyday experience of most of us.

Imagine, if you will, that you are in heaven in a pre-birth state with a good friend who is about to take birth on Earth.

Your friend asks you: “What will life on Earth in a physical body be like?” How would you answer? No one answer is likely to cover all possibilities. The same is true in discussing the invisible worlds which are so intimately related to the question of heavens and hells. – the invisible worlds.

What Makes a Man/Woman is What Is Invisible: If you have ever been to a ‘viewing’ before a funeral then you will know that the essence of the human being you once knew as a living and vital person lies in their invisible qualities –  spirit, thoughts, emotions – and not just the physical remains we can see in the coffin!  The essence of your departed loved one have gone into the invisible worlds. Many traditions around the world celebrate the fact that what makes a man/woman is mostly what’s invisible.

The ancient Egyptians held man to be a composite of nine parts ranging from the physical body khat to the habitation of the spiritual nature, the sahu.

The ancient Jewish teachings of the Qabbalah speak of man as a tenfold entity, and the esoteric traditions of India, which provide much of the terminology of modern theosophy, teach variously of four, five, or seven aspects or parts.

All of these traditions agree that it is only the deathless essence of man’s nature which continues eternally, while the more material “bodies” fall apart at death, when the life force is withdrawn.

Lokas and Talas: Perhaps the clearest concept of the invisible worlds, comes from Hinduism which taught that every state has a spiritual aspect which they call ‘Loka’, and a material manifestation, ‘Tala’. On the lowest, or most material ‘Loka-Tala’ of our Earth’s being in its present incarnation is the visible Earth with all its kingdoms of life with which we are familiar.

The other Lokas and Talas are filled with, to us at least, invisible beings of various classes, ‘Rakshasas’ (Demons), ‘Gandharas’ (Divine ‘musicians’), ‘Vairajas’ (A class of intellectual Gods), etc… who inhabit worlds as real to them as the mountains, seas, and green fields of mother Earth are to us humans.

As expressed in the Hindu sacred book the Vishnu Purana:

“This universe, composed of seven zones, with its seven sub-terrestrial regions, and seven spheres…is everywhere swarming with living creatures, large and small, with smaller and smallest, and larger and largest; so that there is not an eighth part of an inch in which they do not abound.” – Vishnu Purana: Book III, Chapter VII)

Invisible Worlds in Popular Culture: Modern popular culture has adopted this idea of parallel universes in science fiction movies and television series such as  ‘Thor’ and other Marvel  series films, Pacific Rim, Star Trek, Star Wars, and even in popular music by modern mystically inclined musicians such as the British rock band the Moody Blues, who say in one of their songs:

“This garden universe vibrates complete.  Some make of it a sound so sweet. Vibrations reach up to become light, then through gamma and out of sight. Between the eyes and ears there lie, the sound of colour and the light of a sigh. To hear the sun what a thing to believe, but it’s all around if we could but perceive. To know ultra-violet, intra-red and x-rays, beauty to find in so many ways….” – from Aum by Graeme Edge.

Pioneering Scientists: As we have seen, some modern scientists are beginning to appreciate the inadequacy of understanding nature’s laws based purely on observation of the visible universe. Pioneering scientists in the 1990s such as Arthur Zajonc argued that our basic understanding of what constitutes ‘light’ and therefore the visible universe needs questioning. Theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku in 1994 spoke of the possible 10 dimensions of space instead of the three we ordinary mortals can see.

Other mystically inclined scientists are beginning to appreciate what initiates and clairvoyants have known for ages, that consciousness is fundamental to the operations of  nature, eg. Pioneering Australian scientist, Daryl Reaney in his book, The Death of Tomorrow (1993).

The Only Proof of Invisible Worlds is Your Own Experience of Them: The ancient wisdom speaks of cosmic and divine intelligences inhabiting the invisible worlds whose ‘habits’ are behind the laws of nature scientists observe in the manifest universe.

In the final analysis, we shall only know the reality of invisible worlds by personal experience. Let us always spare a thought and a little vitality for those ‘Great Ones’ who undertake the journey of initiation through the invisible worlds, which shall be our fate too one day if we run the evolutionary journey successfully.

As on writer on the ancient wisdom said:

“Prepare yourselves continually, for every day is a new chance, is a new doorway, a new opportunity.

Lose not the days of your lives, for the time will come, fatally come, when it will be your turn to undertake this sublimest of adventures…

Turn your backs on the Pit, and turn your faces to the Sun!”

– G de Purucker: The Four Seasons: page 19.

Special thanks to Stefan Carey for some of the information in this article.

In referring to various kinds of magical practices, secret brotherhoods, devil-worshipping cults and the like, when the words ‘The Dark Side’ are spoken, people often give themselves over to a little tremor or thrill – imagining that there exists some very potent force, challenging in its power the ‘Path of Light’, and what is regarded as the Judaic-Christian spiritual path. There is some feeling, or suspicion, that these dark forces may even have equal power to those of the Light. You come across statements that where there is light there has to be darkness or shadow. It’s even said that if one is interested in magical practices why should one limit oneself to one side only, or, in terms of knowledge anyway, that one should know about the whole spectrum of supernatural activities. There is some evidence that Dark Lodges do exist. So, what are we to make of this ‘Dark Side’?

Superior and Inferior Paths: In this article, the case will be made that what it really amounts to, when you look at what can be gained and what effect it has on a person, in following the Path of Light and the Path of Darkness, is that there is a Superior Path and an Inferior Path. The insights we will mainly draw on are those presented in a book which has become well-known in recent times, The Meditations on the Tarot. (*1) The author is given as anonymous, but it is known who it is. The author is Valentin Tomberg (1900 – 1973), who was born in St Petersburg, of a Russian mother and Estonian father of Baltic German origins. During his life, spent in Russia, Estonia, The Netherlands, Germany and England, he was involved with various mystical and religious groups. He was a member of Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophical Society for some time, but, due to his controversial views, he separated from them, and he went on to convert to Roman Catholicism. We will look at, in particular, his writings on six cards which have a bearing on the distinction between the two paths, which he often refers to as the Right-Hand Path and the Left-Hand Path. Much of what he says – perhaps not all – gives a very clear picture of what is the superior path for a mystic.

The subtitle of Tomberg’s book is A Journey into Christian Hermeticism. Overall, it can be seen as having the theme of reconciling many of the key tenants of Christianity with traditional esoteric – particularly Hermetic – ideas. It has to be said, too, that although he has studied and appreciated aspects of much of the Eastern and Western esoteric and religious traditions, he can still be rather critical of them. Sometimes, for this writer at least, he can be a little annoying in the way that he is very particular about pointing out the deficiencies of these other mystical paths which lie outside his own, Catholic, Christianity. All one can do, really, is just put up with that, and take in the truly profound insights he often has of the spiritual world, and the means of approaching it. He’s got a good deal to say about the highest spiritual path.

Also, in writing about the dark side, in particular about The Devil card, Tomberg bears in mind that to really study a subject one risks identifying with it – that to immerse oneself in some field of knowledge is to commune with it. Thus, he just restricts himself to observing it at a distance, as a phenomenon only. Following this principle, we won’t be concerned with any actual practices of the so-called dark side. We’ll let the reader, if they wish, assess, where, in the light of the study of these cards, these practices might fit in.

In introducing each card, the Hebrew letter sometimes associated with it will be given, along with the meaning as it may relate to the card – according to Paul Foster Case, the well-known teacher on the Tarot and other parts of the Western Mystical Tradition. This is not provided by Tomberg, but is given here for the sake of presenting in one symbol, from another source, some overall sense of the card.

The tarot cards used in this study are those of the Marseille Deck.

The Force Card: The first card to be looked at is Force, the 11th Arcanum. The Hebrew letter which has been associated with Force is Teth, meaning snake, serpent power, or in theosophy, Fohat.

In this card we see a woman holding open, without effort, the jaws of a lion. It illustrates the ascendency of one kind of force, or strength, over another. The woman, in Tomberg’s work, is the Virgin – also known as Virgin Nature, Virgin-Mother or Virgin-Sophia – as she was conceived of in ancient mystical schools and religions. In the Proverbs it is the Virgin who is speaking through Solomon:

Before his works of old

I was set up from the everlasting,

From the beginning,

Or ever the earth was.

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

then I was at work beside him.

Proverbs v111,22-30.

She represents a force which has a purity and a serenity which comes from inner concordance, or unity, and is a source of vital life energy. The lion, as a beast of nature, but also of ‘Holy Animality’, has a natural feeling for the source of life energy. The lion represents what Tomberg calls electrical energy, which is created by tension and struggle between opposites. The Virgin is the force of divine energy which comes from harmony and co-operation of its parts. He gives the example of the rabbis studying the Zohar. When they find agreement on any point on a deeper and loftier comprehension of the Torah, the rabbis weep and embrace one another. Also, in the first manifesto of the Rosicrucians, the Fama Fraternitatis, it says: ‘… the truth is peaceable, brief, and always like herself in all things…’

Electrical energy is made use of in technical fields, and also in the areas of the mind at work – in hypnosis, demagogic propaganda, political polemics. Arguments create a kind of energy, however only a fusion of opinions can bring about Truth.

The Emerald Tablet of the Hermeticists speaks of this force represented by the Virgin. ‘It overcometh every subtle thing.’ Spiritual bliss, or beatitude, actually has a higher intensity, or vibration than mental, psychic or electrical force. It overcomes opposition by changing those opposing forces into friendly and allied parties. Although it may appear powerless, it has an inner power. The sword of the Archangel Michael exerts a particular force, which repulses or puts to flight anyone who is opposed to life, or who cannot support its intensity – and it attracts and vivifies anyone who aspires to life and can accommodate its power. We can think here, also, of Mother Kali of India, who holds a sword and severed head in two hands, and gives a welcome and blessing with the other two.

The Emerald Tablet also says that ‘the Force’: ‘doth penetrate every solid substance.’ It does so as an emollient – that is, as a softening and conciliating action. In the human body this subtle force brings the breath of life, and releases the body from its solidity. We can think of this penetrating force also as the action of the soul leaving the body at death, or even aspects of the soul rising above the body in Samadhi. This example, of Samadhi, perhaps brings us closest to the Hebrew letter Teth – the snake – when we think of the Kundalini energy rising. We can think, also, of the way the Greeks, with their figure of the snake-haired Medusa, carried this over into very negative territory and left it there – ie, the Kundalini aroused in the wrong way.

The Hanged Man Card: The next card is The Hanged Man. It has the Hebrew letter Mem, with the meaning of seas, or water, associated with it. This Arcanum deals with the situation of being subject to two kinds of gravity: earthly gravity and spiritual gravitation towards Heaven. or the Higher Self.

The Hanged Man is in the condition of having replaced the force of attraction from below with that from above. This was recognised by the early Christian hermits, and anchorites in other lands, who needed the right spiritual pressure, that’s gained in solitude, to feel ‘Heaven’ at work in their lives.

Fear is due to the menace of being engulfed by the elemental forces of a lower order, by being carried away by the blind forces of the ‘sea’ of the electrical field of death. On the other hand, the ‘I am’ statements of Christ – ‘I am the true vine’, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life,’ and others like this – express the gravitation to the Divine World, or the Ocean of the Cosmic Mind, as Paul Foster Case puts it. They allow a soul to rise above terrestrial gravitation.

In this point, Tomberg deals with different kinds of physical levitation which have been observed as a real phenomenon. One kind is the psycho-somatic rapture of saints, due to celestial gravitation. Another kind is levitation due to a current of electricity exerting a force downwards, as it is emanated from the Muladhara (base) Chakra, where the serpent power resides. This is a different aspect of the serpent power to that used as an example in The Force card above. An example of this is the case of witches on broom-sticks, or of sorcerers on ‘a beam of fire’ as reported in the rural regions of Estonia.

The essential nature of celestial gravitation is radiation: the extension of mental, psychic and physical energy rising up to an absolute centre. The essential nature of terrestrial gravitation is enfoldment. This is the coagulation of mental, psychic and physical energy around centres of gravitation on earth – in nature and the individual. In Alice Bailey’s book Esoteric Healing (*2), in explaining the energy that can be directed into a sick person there is a similar distinction in the types of energy – that of magnetic, which works with prana or vital planetary fluid, and radiation, which works with soul energy drawn down from higher regions. There will be more on this later.

The man in the card being hung upside down expresses the predicament of a soul, at least some of the time in its spiritual quest, of being suspended, in solitude, and receiving no help from heaven or earth. As King David says, (in Psalm 107): ‘I Iie awake. I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.’ This is the abode of the soul at those times. It may rise up to the celestial, or descend to the terrestrial. It is at the zero point.

For the true aspirant, though, the ‘solid ground’ is found above. Heaven guides his movements – his feet, as the card displays. That the legs are crossed is interpreted by others as a conflict, or cross, at even a high level of the soul, of the horizontal polarity of selfhood, and the vertical polarity of the spirit. The ground below is only the concern of his head. He is responsible to spiritual designs for the future, not memories of the past. An example would be that of Abraham making his journey into Canaan, his will guided by what would take place in the future. It is submission of the personal consciousness to the direction of the Universal Mind, as Paul Foster Case puts it.

The twelve cut branches represent the idea that the Hanged Man has embraced and taken into his nature all of the twelve archetypes of the zodiac, and is able to act from complete unity under the sign of celestial gravitation.

The Hanged Man is the link between Darkness and Light. He lives by Faith, ‘The gift of black perfection’. This is not the darkness of ignorance but that of knowledge beyond human powers, that of the ultra-luminous. At times the soul itself perceives nothing – revelation takes place above it. Saint Theresa, for example, at times could clearly feel that Jesus Christ was there beside her; she could not see him with the eyes of the soul or body but she felt his presence. And at other times she could see with the eyes of the soul. Tomberg says that the ‘eyes of the soul’ are the ‘lotus flowers’, or chakras. The heart chakra actually participates in both kinds of vision – those with and those without images. It perceives presences and spiritual warmth. An example of an experience related to this is that of the two disciples going to Emmaus after the Crucifixion (Luke xxiv,32) ‘Someone’ joined them and their hearts burnt within them while he talked to them and taught them. Then, after a while, he appeared to them as Himself. The heart gives certainty of authentic faith, and this bears witness to the spiritual reality of visions.

The Hanged Man, then, is like Job, having been tried and tested as to his spiritual loyalties.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

then from my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see on my side,

and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

My heart faints within me in expectation!

Job xix 26-27 b

The Death Card: We move on to the delicate subject of Death. The card of Death has associated with it the Hebrew letter Nun, which means fish, and also carries a meaning of generative power, to sprout or grow. The Arcanum of Death expresses the process of the subtraction of the Self from the astral and etheric bodies – so that it may rise to the higher spiritual levels, before returning to the earth plane with an enhanced understanding of life. This is like waking up from a good sleep. There are sayings from olden times, such as ‘Dawn is the friend of the Muses’, or ‘the morning hour has gold in its mouth.’

To begin with, Memory is examined. There is mechanical memory, which is just a host of images, appearing according to the laws of association. Also, there is intellectual memory, in which you think things through to recover what you once knew. As well, there is moral memory, in which events and people you have strong feelings about remain with you. And finally, there is ‘vertical memory’, which links ordinary consciousness to the Higher Self.

Senile lapse of memory is due to the person having failed, in time, to replace the functions of intellectual, let alone mechanical, memory with those of moral memory. People who see everything to have a moral worth will not forget anything, to a very advanced age. Many saints and mystics were known to have had very good memories.

We must seek to understand memory where it most reveals itself in the light of consciousness – in the domain of moral and vertical memory. The magical or miraculous force at work, which brings back to life some experience, is, Tomberg tells us, is strong feelings, that of love. He analyses the story of Jesus approaching the tomb and bringing Lazarus back to life, in the light of the love Jesus had for him. You can think of it as Jesus, with his ardent feelings, recalling him: “Lazarus, come out!”

Next, we look at the process of Forgetting.

In meditation, prayer or real contemplation, to experience union with God there must be a conscious forgetting of all extraneous material, that is, the phenomenal world, in order to spend time in a higher state. It is the same in normal life when we go to sleep – we forget the daytime world. But this allows us to awaken with a rejuvenated feeling for worldly life.

St John of the Cross expresses what happens in this state of higher consciousness. He says that the ‘draught of God’s most deep wisdom makes the soul forget all the things of the world.’ But that memory comes back, and ‘(the soul) performs in much greater perfection all necessary and befitting actions… through knowledge…supplied in a special manner by God.’ (*3) So one comes back with an enhanced understanding of the nature of life.

Tomberg then goes on to give, in the light of the understanding of death, a critical view of some philosophical and mystical paths. He says that they are not of the ‘Dark Path’, rather they are simply a wrong path. He regards some, for example that of Gurdjeiff* and Ouspensky [*George Ivanovich Gurdjieffwas one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. In his early years, he participated in expeditions that went in search of ancient teachings, partly documented in his book Meetings with Remarkable Men. P.D. Ouspensky was one of his students], as aimed at the human resisting death, becoming ‘death-proof’, refusing to surrender consciousness. These systems involve a crystallisation of the lower bodies – the astral and the etheric bodies. This crystallisation if effected through friction, that is by electrical energy produced by ‘the struggle between yes and no in man.’ These are the terms in which Gurdjieff expresses the process taking place in his path. Gurdjieff’s house of four rooms, four levels of consciousness, is seen to be constructed from the physical body upwards, and Tomberg considers that this is like building the Tower of Babel. Tomberg claims that many in the early Christian Church knew about the fact of repeated incarnations, but they were opposed to those schools which taught this path of ‘Crystallisation’, which involved avoiding the path of purification, illumination and celestial union – that is, a preparation to confront Eternity. So, they were hostile to the doctrines of reincarnation taking root in human consciousness.

He compares this path of ‘Crystallisation’ to the schools of ‘Radiation’, which includes Christian Hermeticism. They work at the de-crystallisation of the human being, and his transformation into a ‘sun’ of radiation. Systems like Gurdjieff’s, he says, work from the body up to the spiritual world, and are essentially materialistic. They are not of the dark side, but just basically wrong.

What Tomberg has seemed not to have allowed for, however, is that Gurdjieff was a very practical man, and a teacher, using a practical system of attaining higher consciousness. Being so, he always put his concepts into basic concrete forms, the better to communicate them to his students. At the heart of his teaching was a higher consciousness being nurtured and brought into being, and in the process the lower selves would be brought under control. Ouspensky, in his own work around Gurdjieff’s ideas, presented stupendous efforts at recovering memories and knowledge from a higher consciousness. It was somewhat disappointing that Tomberg didn’t appreciate Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s work at its true value. One would have thought that it’s one of the principles of being on the mystic path to always give out a fair and generous assessment of fellow seekers in the field. That being so – and no-one is perfect – Tomberg does, in other parts of this work, give some very valuable insights into the quest for spiritual understanding.

In his elucidation of this card, the point he makes about there being two kinds of death – death of the physical body and death of the spiritual consciousness, which is a crystallisation of consciousness around worldly matters, even just those in the intellectual or psychic field – this point still stands. Death, with his scythe, properly understood, cuts off every member of the body below a certain level, like a surgeon, allowing he soul to move onto higher worlds.

The Temperance Card: In the card of Temperance we see a woman pouring fluid between jugs at an angle of 45 degrees. The Hebrew letter Samekh, meaning tent-peg or prop, may be associated with this card. It deals with the communication between the divine world, of eternal images and energy, and the human world, of compromised images and energy.

In assessing man’s predicament, Tomberg asks if there is anything in man which counterbalances his tendency to fall away from divine images and influence. There is, he says – it is the Guardian Angel. And the angel in this card can be thought of as the Guardian Angel. He/She guards a human being, and cherishes, protects, visits and defends him. We’ll use the male gender, although this angel is thought of with aspects of both sexes. He guards his memory of the past, and his future, and his divine mission. He gives a human a special awareness – clairvoyance – when danger is near, and is his advocate before Divine Justice. In some respects, the Guardian Angel is like the spirit guides of other traditions and fields of knowledge – even similar, in some ways, to the guides of the soul in the work begun by Michael Newton in hypnotic regression, though these guides are not thought of as angels. As well they could be thought of as just one’s Higher Self.

The wings of the Guardian Angel are used to elevate it through the currents of etheric and astral worlds into the higher spiritual world, drawn by celestial gravitation. Demons, as illustrated in the card to follow, ‘The Devil’, can only develop the wings of a bat, by which they can plunge into the darkness. Humans, too, can acquire wings in their subtle bodies. However, this is usually beyond their conscious self. They can do it by ‘unceasing prayer’, as urged by St Paul, in which the currents of energy from above can meet that from below. An example of this is in the book which has become well-known around the world, The Way of a Pilgrim. In this book we travel with a humble, though literate, man of peasant origins, wandering around the outlying regions of Russia in the nineteenth Century. As a pilgrim he walks along the roads and through the forests, and the villages, sometimes alone, sometimes staying with people who take him in for a while. He listens to their stories, and discusses with them the practice of unceasing prayer. A seeker after mystical grace he continually recites to himself what is known as the Jesus Prayer; ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.’ Sometimes ‘a sinner’ is added. After a while the prayer develops a constancy of its own – when he awakens, the prayer is going through his mind, or he can hear it in the beat of his heart. Tomberg observes that this shows that, while on a conscious level it is difficult to pray constantly, prayer can be carried over into the subconscious where it can operate unceasingly.

The Guardian Angel, then, watches over the system of spiritual/psychic/physical circulation. This includes the highest centre – the Monad – united with the spiritual world. And the flow of energy must be in the right measure in this fluidic relationship. Temperance maintains the equilibrium between eternity and the moment, between the image in the divine world, and its likeness in the human. The contact between these two, Tomberg says, can be considered as inner weeping – the Gift of Tears. The tears can flow outwardly or inwardly.

In Tomberg’s view, in the spirituality practised in the ancient world, one wept only ritually, with verbal lamentations, but with Israel real weeping began. This led to the nature of Christ, who wept, for example when approaching Lazarus. In the Jewish sacred book, the Zohar, every revelation is proceeded, or accompanied, by the weeping of the one who had it, and who comes to share it with the others. As well there is the Weeping Wall in Jerusalem.

Tears, inwardly or outwardly, are the element proper to inspiration – of the flow between the higher and lower self. Inspiration, also, is a combination of the active and passive states of a person, represented by the two vases in the card. While necessary, it is not enough to be purely humble, purely passive – that is, the thought that I am not worthy to receive knowledge of the divine world. One must also have a hunger and thirst for the higher truths: to know how to ask, and dare to ask.

Great religions are due to experiences of real inspiration in mankind. Tomberg suggests, however, that unfortunate results have occurred in the spiritual biography of mankind, due to a lack of understanding of inspiration. When faced with setbacks in their endeavours to experience inspiration, some individuals and religious movements (which he names) have fallen back on either a purely active, or purely passive, way of approaching it – such as faith alone, without human initiative in seeking for truth. He then gives the example of Saint John of the Cross, whose writings on ‘the dark night of the soul’ are well known. This mystic ‘showed that one can pass by darkness and aridity of the senses and mind without drawing back and without despair.’ That is, he was able to understand that, even in his ‘dark nights’, beneath his conscious mind some current from the spiritual world was still flowing into him because of the efforts he was making.

Others – and he mentions Saint Ignatius of Loyola, or Luis Claude de Saint-Martin, or Papus – had this two-fold faith, ‘in God and man’, and they found an inspiration which guided them and impelled onwards in their quest for Truth.

The Devil Card: Next is The Devil card. This card has associated with it the Hebrew letter Ayin, with a meaning of eye, or appearances. This letter is, incidentally, also associated with mirth. Paul Foster Case tells us that in a hymn to the Sun-God Ra, from Ancient Egypt, we read: ‘Thy priests go forth at dawn, they wash their hearts with laughter.’

Whilst the Arcanum of Temperance is about inspiration, the Arcanum of the Devil is about Counter-Inspiration – that of electrical fire and intoxication.

Again, it can be said that meditation of the card must not lead to an identification with the subject of it – identification is communion. And the world of evil is like a jungle in which one can easily get lost. It is to be noted that there are no luminous descriptions of the hierarchies of evil as there are of the celestial realm.

Here, in this card, is not the angel (a cherubim) who fell from heaven, or the ancient dragon who wages war against Michael and his celestial army – that is, a metaphysical evil entity. The being here is one whose origin is the errant behaviour of human beings, who create something to which they surrender their freedom. They become slaves to this monstrous being, and degenerate by rendering themselves similar to it.

So, there are fallen angels, the ‘Hierarchies of the Left’, which originate in the spirit world, and have their part in the cosmic drama, and there are entities artificially created by people. This entity in the card represents, at various times and places, a special passion, and whose body is the totality of electro-magnetic vibrations produced by that passion, such as, Tomberg suggests, Moloch of the Canaanites, or Quetzelcoatl of the Mexicans. Rudolf Steiner had his own insights into the real nature of the Mexican gods Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca – how the black magicians had inverted the true nature of these gods into their opposites, to serve their purposes in their cult of heart sacrifice. It is too involved to go into here. (See Christ and the Maya Calendar by Robert Powell and Kevin Dann. (*4))

In Tibet there are schools which teach the aspirant to create demons and then to destroy them in order to come to the realization that they are merely created. Swiss psychiatrist, Dr Carl Jung spoke of entities consisting of bundles of conscious energy within the psychic life of an individual which have not arrived at any objective existence but behave as if they had a mental life of their own.

How are demons engendered? The demon in this card is created by the co-operation of the male and female principles – of will and imagination – as illustrated by the man and woman chained to him.

Tomberg then goes on to speak of collective demons, and he uses the term ‘Egregore’ to describe them. He puts, for example, Marxism in this category, when it became, in time, a belief that not only the bourgeoise, the banks, and capitalism, but the Gospels, mendicant orders and much of the past generally, were the riff-raff of human history, and with a fever aimed at changing everything at a single stroke. Nazism can be seen as a monstrous demon taking hold of the population. He also extends the concept of an Egregore as a demon or negative entity to what exists in some philosophical groups and religious orders, his reasoning being that these Egregores do not have spiritual beings as their directors. Here it could be said that Tomberg may be a little too aligned with his own particular religious view in this part of the work. Some mystical schools and societies are just as connected as the church of his allegiance with high spiritual worlds, and have Egregores which, in the view of this writer, can be of benefit to individuals and humanity as a whole. The point, though, where sincere altruistic and compassionate feelings end and intoxication begins is admitted. Thus, there is a need at times to be silent, to respect the Holy, as is the teaching of Temperance, so that inspiration does not become the intoxication of The Devil.

Tomberg then draws on Christian writings to point out that for spiritual seekers, the beginners have to struggle against demons caused by excesses of the physical desires, while those more advanced have to deal with demons and ‘Hierarchies of the Left’ (Principalities and Powers), whose temptations are more subtle. He observes, too, that Christian writers have explained that, once fully on the path, we cannot always rely on angels, in particular our Guardian Angel, to help us, except at the beginning. As Saint John of the Cross says: as they progress, those who seek God have to renounce every created being, terrestrial and celestial. They must ‘grow accustomed to walking by themselves.’

How does one distinguish inspiration from counter-inspiration? Various writers have given us some answers to this. Visions of holy ones are not turbulent, and joy and gladness arise in the soul, whereas the visits of the devil bring disturbance, loud, rough voices, and leave the soul confused and disturbed. As well, the words originating from the higher spiritual worlds are re-assuring, and do not pass from memory.

The tradition which Tomberg holds dearly, that of mystical (Hermetic) Christianity, has as its essence ‘to see heaven open, and to see the angels of God ascending and descending.’ Pure goodness and love is radiant energy. It cannot coagulate into individualized astral or psychic entities. It exists, and has its being, in the service of celestial hierarchies, saints and God.

He goes on to discuss holy places and explains that they are not magnetised by the will and imagination of believers. The energy they radiate, which allows believers to receive healing energy, comes from being in a place where heavens open, and angels ascend and descend. Relics were ‘magnetised’ long ago by someone who has made the door open to the heavens. They are not magnetised by being accumulators of psychic fluid emanated by believers. In healing, someone who uses magnetic energy knows that it can be exhausted. The saint on the other hand does not use magnetic energy, but rather heals by taking the other person’s sickness upon himself, and by raising it within himself as an offering (‘host’) to heaven.

In Alice Bailey’s Esoteric Healing (pages 642-644) there is that similar distinction between the use of magnetic energy, in which the hands are used, and radiant energy – which can only really be used by the adept. The nature of the use of this radiant energy, in Esoteric Healing, is explained in somewhat different terms: the healer draws down energy from higher levels and sends – radiates – it into the needed centre. At the base level of commitment to the purpose of healing it probably amounts to the same thing, though – Tomberg’s conceptions emphasizing a religious understanding, and that of the Tibetan master in Esoteric Healing being more pragmatic.

Tomberg then looks at how demons, those created by humans, may be combated and destroyed. In Depth Psychology, the therapy involves bringing complexes into the light of day. Similarly, in the spiritual planes, there is a process of bringing evil to the light of day. Light drives out darkness – a demon perceived is a demon rendered impotent. The early Christian fathers and saints, such as Saint Anthony, acted to heal the world by bringing to light the demons which haunted the subconscious of mankind.

Of the demons of the ‘Hierarchies of the Left’ it is a different situation. Demons there cannot be destroyed, but they can be held off while one gains clarity and composure, or they can be sent away to another place. These beings are not actually enemies of God, and do not need to be dissipated. They have a role in the administration of Justice. They are actually agents of the prosecution – they accuse man and try to prove that his is at base a weak and unworthy creature. They test man. God himself cannot do it, as he is totally a force of kindness to his children. Job had no means of driving Satan away – he had to endure the trial, and convince Satan of the futility of his design to get him to curse God. Man can combat these accusations of Satan by drawing on his moral conscience. What is good is then established, since one is righteous and holy only if good and evil fall into agreement that it is so.

The Tower Card: Finally, we will look at The Tower. This card has the Hebrew letter Pe associated with it. Pe has the meaning of the mouth, as an organ of speech, so it can mean the power of utterance.

This Arcanum obviously looks at the problem of destructive forces. It needs to be said at first that it isn’t the physical body that is causing the problem. Positive asceticism, which seeks to combat destructive tendencies, does not struggle against the body but the bad tendencies of the soul.

In examining wrong-doing, or evil, Tomberg makes a distinction between the approach of the East and the West. In the East evil is seen to be brought about by the identification of the ego-driven self with the Self – due to ignorance, or Maya (Illusion). In the West, that is in the Judaic-Christian tradition, there is the concept of Original Sin – which is the seeking of knowledge at one’s own instigation, instead of that of God. This separation of human will from that of God’s will took place in heaven, before the fall, on earth. It was caused by the desire for another type of knowledge than revelation, and for another subject of knowledge than God, and His revelation through the world. This is one view of a deep subject. Another view could be that if you move around concepts of God, the Monad, the Self, the ego, illusion, ignorance, the difference between the East and West might be a matter of temperament – at their basis their beliefs amount to the same thing.

Interestingly, in Isis Unveiled (*5) and The Secret Doctrine (*6), Madame Blavatsky speaks of a tradition in which in the Asian lands, back in the ancient world, there were two groups of hierophants, or schools, for those following a path of knowledge and magic. There were the Sons of God, in which instruction and initiation was given into the divine doctrine of pure revelation; and there were others, of Atlantean origin, who were born with a sight which embraced all things, that is, psychic and clairvoyant powers, and who had, under the influence of a demon sorcerer named Thevatat, became wicked sorcerers.

Tomberg goes through the creation stories in the Hermetic Kore Kosmu, and finds it, if not identical, then very much like the Biblical account of Genesis. There is an account of souls who existed before the earth was created and was inhabited by those souls who became humans. And it has a similar idea of some souls becoming audacious, and who began seeking knowledge on their own initiative – and being penalised for it. So, Tomberg observes, in Genesis, man’s lot was to cultivate the garden of Eden. He identifies the trees of the garden as the mysteries of union – mystical, gnostic, magical, Hermetic – of that which is below with that above, the spiritual world. And in this occupation, it is necessary to work, and to allow growth, to think, and wait. It may be noted Gurdjieff had a somewhat similar outlook. He didn’t have much time for professional psychics in his groups. He felt that often they had been born with some ability, and, as far as continual development goes, they did not have the urge to keep working. Jesus, too, as noted by Rudolf Steiner, did not chose born psychics for his disciples. There’s nothing wrong with being born with psychic powers, of course, it’s just that the need to keep on working on one’s basic nature, that is the key. Tomberg takes this to the point of defining all evil as knowledge due to revelation being replaced by knowledge due to experimentation. One should not become too specialized, and build a tower; it is a matter of growth, and human evolution. This doesn’t cater all that much, perhaps, to a sense of human freedom.

He continues on with the aim of getting the high ground for the Western traditions vis-à-vis the Eastern traditions. He argues that in the Eastern thinking there is a divorce between the True Self and the empirical self, whereas, in the Western traditions – the marriage is indissoluble, that in the end the Higher and Lower selves work together. In this writer’s opinion this is not a completely fair assessment. Most of the great Eastern masters he’s acquainted with address themselves to the whole man and woman, with the Higher Self in charge.

The Tower, Tomberg says, is a summary of the relationship between will and destiny. He mentions the Tower of Babel, in which the descent of the Lord confused those who built it, and scattered them abroad. All autonomous activity from the lower self must meet divine reality from above. ‘He who unites himself with an entity of the fallen hierarchies, instead of with his ‘Higher Self’, to the point of being possessed, will be drowned, i.e. he will fall prey to madness. This happened to Nietzsche, the inspired author of works lauding the ‘superman’ and the antichrist.’ (*7) It may, of course, not be an outright collapse. It might be due to a reliance on an ‘intellectual instrument’ to seek answers to questions. Hermeticism regards all questions as crises, and the answers that it seeks are states of consciousness resulting from these crises.

He gives an example. There was a man he came to know, and initially look up to. He was an esotericist, and considered a master. After studying H P Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine over a number of years, this man devised a system – an intellectual instrument – of circles within circles within circles, to organise this work, and which allowed him to answer any question in any field, be it in science, history or religion. Some years later, however, all this must have worn a bit thin. His students had had enough and left him, and he finished by publishing a book about a ‘white lady’ who haunted an old house in his town.

Purgatory, as understood in Christianity, can be seen in the light of these different levels of Consciousness. It is a meeting of subjectivity with Divine Reality. The soul is plunged into the absolute light of Consciousness. Divine Wisdom dazzles and blinds the soul beyond the capacity of the soul to absorb it – though the soul does react by being humbled by it.

Tomberg also gives the example of the eighteenth-century occultist Cornelius Agrippa, who, during most of his life, was occupied in building up a world of magical knowledge. Then, in his later years, he became a disenchanted sceptic. The Higher Reality, the Lightning Bolt, made all the sciences of the supernatural appear vain. The Lightning Bolt liberates the magician, who, after some disenchantment at the end, returns to a more basic quest for a peaceful, loving Presence, and a commitment to human fellowship. ‘nothing should be lost… all should have eternal life.’ (John vi, 39-40)

The case of P D Ouspensky is interesting. It could be tempting to see that something like this happened to him at the end. As his life was drawing to a close, he informed his students that he had abandoned the system. “You must start again,” he told them. “You must reconstruct everything for yourselves – from the very beginning.” Some were dismayed, others saw it in a more positive light. Something perhaps outwardly close to what Tomberg was talking about, in relation to The Tower, happened, but it wasn’t quite the same. Ouspensky was communicating the idea that what he was trying to teach, with the aid of a system, was beyond ordinary rational thinking – and that they would develop more by creating some new pathway themselves rather than falling back on the system as he taught it. His work was, and continued to be, aimed at developing an extremely refined awareness, which could allow a person to see and understand more of the nature of Reality. Again and again the lightning strikes, but one does not resile from the path to a higher consciousness.

So, I hope that in this article, drawing mainly on what is really valuable in Valentin Tomberg’s great work, we have covered something of what it is necessary to say, and what it is good to say, about the Dark side and Black magic, and the idealistic Path of Light and White Magic. The actual practices of the Dark Path don’t get much of a look in. It is a fundamentally inferior use of our powers, and is nowhere near as interesting – and challenging – as the path to Higher Mystical Consciousness.

                                                  Notes

  1. Meditations on the Tarot, A Journey into Christian Hermeticism.

Anonymous. Translated by Robert Powell.

  • Esoteric Healing. Alice Bailey. Pages 642-644
  • The Ascent of Mount Carmel. St John of the Cross. Book 3, chapter 2.
  • Christ and the Mayan Calendar. Robert Powell and Kevin Dann.      Chapter 3: Mexican Mysteries
  •  Isis Unveiled. Helena P Blavatsky. A New Abridgement for Today by Michael Gomes. Pages 126-128.
  • The Secret Doctrine. Helena P Blavatsky.  Volume 11, pages 220-222.
  • Meditations on the Tarot. Page 443.

Ancestral veneration reflects or reinforces other essential elements within the African spiritual worldview: notions about the continuation and endless cycle of life, reincarnation and our obligation to others in ensuring their welfare – the basis for communal living. It should be immediately clear then the value of Ancestors in African Spirituality, not as objects of worship as many try to stigmatise it with, but as role models for emulation. – Dalian Y. Adofo.

Traditional societies such as the Australian aborigines and African communities across both continents have a strong sense of the importance of ancestors in their lives. This is because an ancestor is seen to be important not just because they lived a long time ago, are part of our family or community and then they died, but rather they are revered for their level of attainment as good human beings and subsequent example of behaviour they have left to their communities.

To be an ancestor and be remembered for it, is to be someone who lived a good life and who exhibited personality traits that warrant emulation. People would look at such a person and say that they lived an inspiring life, that they helped their communities and were caring people in every way that we should copy today.

Europe: We find a similar attitude in ancient European societies where ancestors were revered in Roman society and most households had a shrine to their favourite god/goddess and their ancestors. In the Norse tradition from ancient Scandinavia, their ancient sacred text The Edda says that there can be no greater honour that future generations should remember us for our meritorious character and deeds of this life. The canonisation of saints in the Catholic Church and the celebration of the past glories of European Kings and Queens, are similar to the veneration of ancestors in African and Aboriginal traditions. We still perpetuate this ancient veneration of ancestors in the Western countries on such occasions as ANZAC (Australia), Veterans’ (US) or Armistice (UK) Day and their equivalents across European countries where we remember honoured ancestral war heroes and celebrate their example of self-sacrifice for the good of future generations.

India and the Middle East: In India the various festivals for Avatars, or great spiritual teachers of the past, looks very much like ancestor veneration. In China we have ‘filial piety’ to esteemed ancestors in Confucianism and Taoism which both look to emulating the example of ancestors. The Prophet Mohammed and Jesus the Messiah in the Middle East and Europe are worshipped as ideals of what we should try to become.

Polynesia: Ancient Hawaii: In the traditional societies of our Polynesian neighbours, chiefs were trained from childhood to an ideal of the perfect chief as one who led and inspired his people by wise and courageous example. Chiefs in ancient Hawaii were expected to lead their commoners in heavy labour, planting, building fish-ponds, constructing rock platforms for temples, as well as in battle. The paramount chiefs of Hawaii served as the interface between men and the high God, Ku, from whom flowed ‘mana’ (life force) for governance, diplomacy, warfare, fishing, agriculture, public works, canoe building, and all the crafts that guaranteed the survival of traditional society. This is all very similar to the European ideal of Christian Knighthood and their obligation of setting a courageous example to the common people. However, just as in the European ideals of knighthood, or many of our politicians today, the ideals of chieftenhood were often honoured in the breach than by observance. Those who behaved most outrageously may well be the ones who are most remembered in the history books, though probably the great majority of chiefs were those who quietly and diligently strove to be examples of the virtuous life. Many kings ruled with diplomacy and benevolence – Lailekukahi of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Liloa of Hawaii, the big island of the Hawaiian group, and Liloa’s son, Umi, were especially famous for their wisdom and goodness a bit like King Solomon of Israel in the Bible.

Modern Science: Traditional beliefs in the importance of ancestors are borne out by the latest science of Epigenetics which indicates that the experiences and traumas suffered by ancestors seem to be built into our DNA and may be directly handed down to future generations. Advances in modern science now confirm that various genetic markers in our chromosomes transmit traits, phobias and behavioural patterns between family members over generations. Ancestral communication thus reflects the attempt to activate their essence within us to draw and learn from the experience and wisdom garnered over their lifetimes by tapping into the ‘chromosome memory’.

So, what were these meritorious ancestral characteristics that should be followed even now centuries later? Australian Aboriginal and African culture alike stress that we should live life in the best manner we can. We should attempt to master and develop ourselves till we get to the point where we could be emulated by others as an example to be lived by.

Some examples from African traditional societies:

  • Ancient Egypt: the concept, and the Goddess, Maat, representing truth, balance, law, and morality as standards to live by. That we should try and develop and attain a purity within ourselves emulating the law of balance in the greater Universe.
  • Nigeria: amongst the Yoruba people the concept of Iwa-pale, meaning a balance of good character in alignment with one’s own, Ori, or Divine Self. Be a better person and consider the best interests of others.
  • Ghana: the Akan people speak of Obra Pa, meaning, living a life of beneficence and developing a good character.
  • South Africa: the concept ofUbuntu,or ‘I am because we are’, that we are all part of humanity and we have a universal bond of sharing because of our shared consciousness. An authentic individual human being is part of a larger and more significant relational, communal, societal, environmental and spiritual world This puts the burden of responsibility on us to live up to the best of ourselves and to overlook differences between people to achieve the common goal of peaceful co-existence. This concept is found in most African societies called by different names.

So, ancestors become a living presence in our lives for many traditional peoples not because our ancestors just lived long ago and are our direct relations, but because they represent ideal examples of high character that we can emulate to make our world of today a better place.

More information on traditional African reverence of Ancestors is available on Ancestral Voices website at www.ancestralvoices.co.uk and in the book by Dalian Y. Odofo: Ancestral Voices: Spirit is Eternal (2016). More information on Ancient Hawaii is available in the book by Herb Kawainui Kane: Ancient Hawaii (1997).

The constant reminder of good deeds of the ancestors acts as a spur to good conduct on the part of the living; and the belief that the dead can punish those who violate traditionally sanctioned mores as a deterrent. Ancestral beliefs, therefore, represent a powerful source of moral sanction for they affirm the values upon which society is based. – K. Opuku Asare.

Salvation – or freedom from suffering in this tough world and entry into a blissful state of being – is the attraction held out by most of the world’s religions.

Call it what you will, The Kingdom of Heaven, Samadhi, Mukhti, Paradise, or Nirvana – millions of devotees the world over hunger for a taste of Salvation. Each religion and philosophy has a different definition of Salvation and the means to get there – so what to do?

Exactly what does Salvation mean and how do we set foot on the Path to this blessed condition?

Definitions of Salvation

Salvation [from Latin salvatio from salvare to save] In Christianity, the saving of individual souls from supposed damnation, and admission to eternal bliss brought about by faith in the Atonement – which means in Christian theology: reconciliation of God with Mankind through Jesus Christ.

But all religions are religions of salvation because they all give a promise of some form of deliverance by natural or supernatural means experienced as the highest Good.

Usually, a Saviour or enlightened teacher helps to start the process of salvation which is hidden from the general awareness of most people. Faith in sacred teachings, moral obedience, ritual acts, and personal trust in a saviour are the means by which salvation is reached according to most religions.

Limited Salvation

There are basically two types of salvation referred to in the world’s religions:

Limited and Absolute Salvation.

Limited Salvation: offers an experience of deliverance from illness, danger, or want, often in the temporary experience of a trance-like state of identification and mystical awareness of God.

Taoism and Confucianism stress the limited salvation offered by obedience to moral and society’s laws.

In traditional societies, Shamanism and Animism indicate that salvation can be found in the ability of the Shaman to control divine or demonic forces affecting our lives.

Absolute Salvation

Absolute Salvation: is passing beyond all the limitations of the human condition. 

Christianity: it is final entrance into the Kingdom of God in which there is victory over sin and death as pictured in the return of Jesus after the End-Days and the re-establishment of His Kingdom of the Saved on Earth as pictured in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

Hinduism: it is liberation (Moksha) from the cycle of reincarnations passing from all attachments into a blessed state (Nirvana).

Islam: it is entering Paradise after the last judgement by Allah into a life of bliss.

It can be pictured as a drop of water falling into and merging with a shining sea, or the light of a candle merging with the Sun.

The traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, as well as Neoplatonism and Christian Mysticism represent this understanding of Absolute Salvation.

Salvation by Divine Intervention

There are basically two paths to salvation according to the world’s religions:

Help from the Divine: In some traditions, humans can’t possibly reach salvation on their own. They depend wholly on the intercession of Divinity or a saviour sent by God enabling the power and Grace to reach salvation.

Christianity: the theologies of St Paul, St Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin stress that humans can’t turn away from sin on their own. Instead, they must depend on the power of Divine Grace to turn away from sin and be saved.

Shinran, or Jodo Shinsu (Pure Land) Buddhism: of Japan teaches that salvation is by pure grace from the compassionate redeemer.  This sect advocates that faith, recitation of the name of the Buddha Amida (Amitabha), leads to birth in the paradise of the Pure Land.

Hinduism: Some forms of Bhakti Yoga of stress that it is only by the Grace of the Guru or God that you can find salvation. You don’t earn Grace. Grace is the natural state of the Universe. But we have to surrender our belief in our separate self to enable God to allow us to live in the flow of Grace. As Hindu spiritual teacher, Siddhi Ma, says about finding Salvation: “It’s all Grace; but you have to act like it isn’t!’.

Salvation by Self-Help

Other traditions stress that it is up to us individually to use our will, reason, devotion, meditation, or moral action to find salvation for ourselves.

Catholic Scholasticism and Protestant Pietism: stress acts of personal decision, good works, and asceticism to attain salvation.

Zen Buddhism: stresses a disciplined life to find higher consciousness through your own efforts.

Hinduism: in most forms of Hinduism you can only reach a state of bliss/nirvana by dedicated work to overcome the lower aspects of human nature over many reincarnations.

Mystical Experience

We can’t really understand the experience of Absolute Salvation as it transcends human understanding by definition. However, we have several accounts of Limited Salvation through the Mystical Experiences of Mystics around the world. These share common features such as:

  • A sense of Oneness with the Divine: the Cosmos, with God or an ultimate Reality attained by an altered state of consciousness, trance or visionary experience. A consciousness of God’s presence outside of any intellectual speculation.
  • A Joyful and Blissful Expansion of Consciousness: being ardently embraced by Divine Love usually encompassed by Light which is supernatural.
  • Intuitive Insight and Enlightenment: understanding the meaning of life, hidden/ultimate truths, Seeing a true essence beyond the world of appearances. Such a Knower Knows from Being There and not just talking about such an exulted state of Being. It is outside of explanation by the purely rational/intellectual mind and in fact rationality acts as a barrier to such an experience. A Knower Knows and a Thinker only THINKS he or she knows.
  • Spiritual Transformation: into a more refined state of humanhood. Descriptions of God in action as creative energy or light energy, or God conveying a message.
  • Knowing Some Major Truth: which happens mystically outside normal rational process as through a dream, eg Einstein and Newton.
  • A Humbly Requested Answer/Result: maybe after many years of personal effort; or perhaps an unexpected happening, but it is God who decides.

Let’s have a look at some examples from history:

St Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1273) the famous theologian who hugely influenced the development of Catholicism had such a mystical experience of ‘limited salvation’ just before his death in 1274. In Butler’s Lives of the Saints the event is described this way:

“On the feast of St. Nicholas [in 1273], St. Thomas Aquinas was celebrating Mass when he received a revelation that so affected him that he wrote and dictated no more, leaving his great work the ‘Summa Theologiae’ unfinished.

To Brother Reginald’s (his secretary and friend) expostulations he replied, ‘The end of my labours has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.’

When later asked by Reginald to return to writing, Aquinas said, ‘I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings like straw.’ … Aquinas died three months later while on his way to the ecumenical council of Lyons.”

Plato

Perhaps St Aquinas after a lifetime of intellectual endeavour realized, as the great Chinese Taoist teacher Lao Tzu put it, “The Tao (the Way) that can be told is not the true Tao.”

Or, as Plato explained in his Seventh letter, “There neither is nor ever will be a treatise of mine on the subject (true mystical/salvation experience). For it does not admit of exposition like other branches of knowledge; but after much converse about the matter itself and a life lived together, suddenly a light, as it were, is kindled in one soul by a flame that leaps to it from another, and thereafter sustains itself.”

St Augustine

St Augustine (354-430): another hugely influential Catholic theologian said of his own experience:

“… Such things I said, weeping in the most bitter sorrow of my heart. And suddenly, I heard a voice from some nearby house, a boy’s voice or a girl’s voice, I do not know: but it was a sort of sing-song repeated again and again, “Take and read, take and read.” I ceased weeping and immediately began to search my mind most carefully as to whether children were accustomed to chant these words in any kind of game, and I could not remember that I had ever heard any such thing. Damming back the flood of my tears I arose, interpreting the incident as quite certainly a divine command to open my book of Scripture and read the passage at which I should open. … I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the passage upon which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its concupiscences” (Rom 13:13). I had no wish to read further, and no need. For in that instant, with the very ending of the sentence, it was as though a light of utter confidence shone in my heart, and all the darkness of uncertainty vanished away…” (Confessions, 8.11-12).

St Augustine taught that salvation cannot be gained merely by the soul receiving proper moral and doctrinal instruction and by following the example of Jesus and the saints. Rather, salvation involves the entire inner renewal of the soul by divine grace, received as a free gift from God through prayer and the Sacraments of the Church. The teachings of this period of St. Augustine’s life, such as his treatise “On Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants,” became standard fare for theology in the West, both Catholic and Protestant, and were largely endorsed by the Western Council of Orange in 529.

Yoga: Patanjali

Patanjali is the founder of the yoga system. He was the first master who created a clear, scientific, logical system to reproduce the experience of Samadhi-Bliss or enlightenment- Patanjali’s 8th limb of yoga.

Many of us know the word samadhi as meaning ‘bliss’ or ‘enlightenment’, and this is the final step of the journey of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  After we’ve reorganized our relationships with the outside world and our own inner world, we come to the finale of bliss.

There are different levels of Samadhi, or different stages of connection with the Divine.  When the word Samadhi is used alone, it usually refers to the state of enlightenment, which is the highest form of Samadhi.

Samadhi is not a permanent state, and like the stages before it (Dharana and Dhyana), Samadhi does not come upon anyone by accident.  It takes dedication and effort, and a person must be willing to train the mind and go deep inside.

Samadhi is attaining bliss and oneness, and the stage in which one “stops the turning wheel of thoughts.” The first line in the yoga sutras is â€œChitta vritti nirodha,” which means “the stopping, or aggregation of, the turning wheel of thoughts,” This is the goal of the yogic path.

“Samadhi is described as a state of non-duality, where the self and the world around it are (finally) perceived as one and the same. Effectively transcending the limits of the body, mind, and identity, the aspiring yogi becomes one with everything.”

The Buddha Gautama

At Bodh Gaya, in the modern Indian state of Bihar, Siddhartha Gautama sat beneath a sacred fig tree and began to meditate. According to some traditions, he realized enlightenment in one night. Others say three days and three nights; while others say 45 days. When his mind was purified by concentration, it is said he acquired the Three Knowledges:

The First Knowledge: was that of his past lives and the past lives of all beings.

The Second Knowledge: was of the laws of Karma.

The Third Knowledge: was that he was free of all obstacles and released from Attachments.  When he realized release from Samsara (the wheel of rebirth) the awakened Buddha exclaimed, “House-builder, you’re seen! You will not build a house again. All your rafters broken, the ridge pole destroyed, gone to the Unformed, the mind has come to the end of craving.”  [The Dhammapada: verse 154]

The demon Mara is portrayed in many different ways in early Buddhist texts. Sometimes he is the lord of death; sometimes he is the personification of sensual temptation; sometimes he is a kind of trickster god. His exact origins are uncertain. Buddhist legends say that Mara wished to stop Siddhartha’s quest for enlightenment, so he brought his most beautiful daughters to Bodh Gaya to seduce him. But Siddhartha did not move.

Then Mara sent armies of demons to attack him. Siddhartha sat still, and untouched.  Then, Mara claimed that the seat of enlightenment rightfully belonged to him and not to a mortal. Mara’s demon soldiers cried out together, “I am his witness!” Mara challenged Siddhartha—These soldiers speak for me. Who will speak for you? Then Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth, and the earth itself spoke: “I bear you witness!” Mara disappeared. To this day, the Buddha often is portrayed in this ‘Earth Witness’ posture, with his left hand, palm upright, in his lap, and his right hand touching the earth.

And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha.

Salvation According to Theosophy

Theosophy follows the Buddhist and Hindu teaching as concerns the individual. Salvation is achieved by victory of his divine self over the illusions created by the contact of the intermediate nature with the lower planes. In this sense the serpent of Eden, Satan even, is man’s saviour, as are Prometheus, Lucifer, etc.

Mankind as a whole is saved by those Manasaputras  (‘Sons of Mind’) who descended into intellectually senseless mankind of the Third Root-Race (18 million years ago) and who, by thus enlightening the minds of early humanity, became the elect custodians of the mysteries revealed to mankind by its divine teachers. Again, the Silent Watchers (Planetary Spirits) in their various grades, who refuse to pass on into a greater light and maintain their post for the protection and guidance of humanity, are saviours also.

Yet no one can be saved by the vicarious merit of another; his salvation is achieved by means of that very free will and enlightened intelligence of his own through which he at first risks falling. But the great ones maintain the ideal which the multitude elect to follow, and thus light the path mankind will ultimately tread. – from the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary.

Pathways to the Experience of Salvation: Purification

The journey to the inner self, the pathway to ‘Salvation’, usually commences with efforts at self-purification, which may include physical techniques, such as various forms of yoga, abstinence from recreational drugs, and eating foods which will do the least harm to our fellow creatures. If we don’t take care, however, these efforts may become yet another type of self-indulgence.

Over time, interest may progress from the physical arena through emotional and psychic realms to spiritual development. At some stage the soul will begin to be aware of a vague glow of the inner spiritual light. In some sensitive people this experience may shake them to the core, and there is often real suffering of heart and mind.

We make great vows to ourselves: “Now that I have glimpsed this light I will do my very best to change my ways and lead a more spiritual life.” But everything in and around us seems to conspire against our best intentions as nature immediately presents us with tests to prove our resolve.

Accelerated Karma

Karma normally spread over many lifetimes may come to us over a very short time. We should remember, however, that along with opposition, our vow invokes forces which help us. As William Q. Judge remarks:

“The appeal to the Higher Self, honestly and earnestly made, opens up a channel by which flow in all the gracious influences from higher planes. New strength rewards each new effort; new courage comes with each step forward. . . . So take courage . . . and hold on your way through the discouragements that beset your earliest steps on the path . . . Do not stop to mourn over your faults; recognize them and seek to learn from each its lesson. Do not become vain of your success. So shall you gradually attain self-knowledge, and self-knowledge shall develop self-mastery.” — Echoes of the Orient 3:288-9

Looking for and working with the inner god of every person we encounter, and not becoming weighed down with a limited self-centred viewpoint, allows the inner god to guide us in daily living.

Katherine Tingley felt we should induce our will to flow with “that nobler part of our nature that rises to every situation and meets it with patience and courage.

“. . The knowledge of it comes not in any world-startling or magical way — and is not to be purchased save by surrender of a man’s passionate and lustful nature to the god within.” This represents the core message of all world religions — “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”

To realize how difficult this is, try not harming any person or being in thought or deed for even one hour today!

Following the Daily Karmic Script

We are composite beings, a vortex of forces from the greater sea of life in which we are immersed.

This fact explains many of the moral dilemmas and strange quirks of human behaviour we all encounter. The inner god, the enduring part of us, animates the lower forms and energies and sends us forth periodically on a voyage of understanding which we call a lifetime. As we experience life’s challenges, the higher self never provides a greater load of karmic lessons than we have the capacity to bear.

The joys and hardships we encounter in the world of daily life (the Road of Osiris as the ancient Egyptian termed this quality of soul learning) are orchestrated by the Higher Self to lead us toward perception of a Higher Reality. Life is our teacher, and our experience provides the exact set of circumstances which we need to grow.

Nightly Meditation

We can picture life unrolling day by day as a “karmic script,” for those with the eyes to see it. How can we learn to follow the signals our Higher Self is constantly sending us?

There are many ways. Various forms of concentration and meditation accustom us to hearken to the voice of our inner god. Particularly beneficial are greeting the opportunities the day has to offer in the morning and reviewing the spiritual lessons one has learned in the evening. There is also need for silence, a precious commodity in today’s hectic world, in which to hear the whisperings of the Voice of the Silence.

Even if we are busy with the tasks at hand, we always have the opportunity to devote part of our mental energies to finding spiritual directions from the many choices which face us.

Shifting Our Focus to the Inner God

Further, in the words of James A. Long, we need to “make the esoteric exoteric and the exoteric esoteric”; that is, take seriously philosophical and religious teachings and apply them directly to living.

The ability to read the daily karmic script will enable us to better appreciate the inner purpose of our lives that our higher self is trying to communicate to us each second as it urges our footsteps along the path to greater understanding of the oneness of Being.

Nothing is stopping us here and now from trying to live a life closer to the internal example of perfection within us. And attaining a limited form of ‘Salvation’.

The Bhagavad Gita

I know of no better outline of the principal practical and philosophic paths to the inner god than the Bhagavad-Gita.

Arjuna or everyman stands between the opposing armies of the Higher and Lower Self reluctant to engage in the inevitable struggle for control of our consciousness.

Krishna, his charioteer, advises him on the various paths by which identity with the Higher Self can be achieved, including good works, spiritual knowledge, asceticism, self-restraint, spiritual discernment, discrimination between godlike and demoniacal natures, the three kinds of faiths, and others. Krishna stresses that all such paths are valid ways to the higher self, and to the extent that people sincerely apply themselves to the search, they shall be repaid spiritually.

The important thing is to follow our duty without thought of results. The result will follow in the fullness of time if we do the best we can.

As Krishna says: “Seek this wisdom by doing service, by strong search, by questions, and by humility . . .”

Conquest or Transmutation of the Lower Self

But do we need to enter into a battle with the lower self in order to identify with the inner god? The Bhagavad-Gita and many mystical writers seem to answer yes, stressing the need for absolute conquest of the lower self if we are to approach the temple of the god within. Yet this “battle” might be more along the lines of the transmutation process pictured by the alchemists of medieval Europe. They spoke of finding the Philosopher’s Stone which would allow us to transmute the lead of the lower self into the gold of the higher self.

According to G de Purucker, the best way to overcome the lower nature is not by “battling” it and “fighting” it, thus exercising it and making it strong and vigorous, but by understanding it to be a part of yourself and by resolutely putting it in its proper place with inflexible and impersonal kindness and gentleness. Sometimes and very often indeed the best way to begin to do this is by completely ignoring it, turning the back upon it.

“. . . ally yourself with the higher parts of your nature, and in consequence you identify yourself thereby with the higher parts of the Universe.”— Dialogues 3:19, 21

Salvation: Return to the Source

Essentially ‘Salvation’ comes back to identification with the Inner God at the core of us which is a reflection of the One Consciousness, God, The Source, or whatever you want to call it.  We are told in Theosophy that this will occur for those who run the evolutionary race successfully at the end of the lifetime of our Solar System (Solar Manvantara) when individual humans will have advanced to become full-blown Gods. 

We will then achieve what is referred to in many religions as ‘Absolute Salvation’. The limited human consciousness will become once again the untrammelled and cosmic consciousness of Universal Divinity. ‘The Many’ will once again become ‘The One.’

‘The Dewdrop will return to the Shining Sea.’

References

Butler’s Lives of the Saints: Complete Standard Edition. 4vols. 1956.

G de Purucker: Studies in Occultism. 1973. pp503-507: “The Many and the One in Man.”

HP Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine. Vol.2: Anthropogenesis. 1974.

Andrew Rooke: ‘Journey to the Inner God’ Sunrise Magazine, April-May,2002: https://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/path/oc-rooke.htm

Keith Crim (Ed.) The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions. pp.643-646: ‘Salvation’. 1989.

Africa is a huge continent with a population of 1.28 billion people (estimated in 2018). It is enormously varied, culturally, racially, and in its kaleidoscope of religions both indigenous and introduced. 

There are various estimates of how many people follow the various religions. A survey of sub-Saharan Africa in 2010 found that 63% identified as Christians, 30% as Muslims and 3% as followers of traditional religions. The rest followed Eastern religions or did not identify with any at all.

However, the more likely truth is that most African people have beliefs grounded in traditional religions, or, at least, have some element of their lives which are touched by traditional religious beliefs.

Although it is difficult to generalize there are certain features of traditional belief in common all over Africa.

Spirit and Matter

Religion is a Way of Life: Religion is really the wrong word! African traditional religious beliefs are really more a way of life. The spiritual world is not segregated from the physical world the way it is in Western society. There is no emphasis on dogma or scripture or prescribed days for worship. Religion is a lifestyle in a similar fashion to the beliefs of the Australian Aboriginal peoples. Self-realization in the African belief arises through a web-work of relationships laid down by the divine and realized through everyday life to keep a harmony and normality. Rituals, music, and prayers are not really much to do with theology but more to do with sustaining balance and normality in everyday life and between the spirit and physical worlds.  There is always a dualism of opposing forces threatening this harmony which must be kept in balance.

Spirit and Matter: The Universe is composed of two aspects or realms – the physical and spiritual realms which are in constant interchange with one another and what happens in one realm can have an impact in the other. The invisible is a constant and real presence. All things are connected and have an impact on each other. Negative experiences are here to teach us that something is out of balance and we have to set it right through ritual, consultation with religious practitioners, and changes in our behaviour.

Supreme and Lesser Gods

There is a universal belief in a Supreme Being and a pyramid of forces emanating from this God. There are hierarchies of lesser Gods to whom the Supreme God delegates powers over various aspects of nature, sky, water etc.

The Supreme always remains in heaven and the lesser gods are the ones who interact with humanity and to these African traditionalists pray and sacrifice. If the High God comes too close to humanity it can cause a lot of problems for people.

This hierarchy of Gods is reflected in the human hierarchy of government. Each divinity has their own priest or priestess with their own rituals and practices. The deities are honoured through libation or sacrifice. The will of God is sought through consultation with oracular deities.

Cyclical Existence: Reincarnation

Everything created is never lost, it just changes its form. Living people stand between their ancestors of the past and unborn future generations.

This means that there is widespread belief in reincarnation in African religions. Belief in rebirth has been reported amongst peoples scattered the length and breadth of the mighty continent: Akamba (Kenya), Akan (Ghana), Lango (Uganda), Luo (Zambia), Ndebele (Zimbabwe), Sebei (Uganda), Yoruba (Nigeria), Shona (Zimbabwe), Nupe (Nigeria), Illa (Zambia), and many others.

There is, of course, a wide variation in understanding of the processes of rebirth: beliefs range from that in a “partial” reincarnation of an ancestor in one or several individuals strictly within the same family, to that in an endless cycle of rebirths linked to a notion of cleansing and refinement of the inner nature.

As there are endless shades of understanding, reincarnation is known by many names:

Amongst the Yorubas of Nigeria rebirth is referred to in various ways, including Yiya omo, translated as the “shooting forth of a branch” or “turning to be child,” and A-tun-wa, “another coming.”

The Aboh-speaking peoples of the Ibo family of nations in Nigeria speak of Inua u’we or “returning to life,” as they believe death is an end to one life only and a gateway to another; man must be reborn, for reincarnation is a spiritual necessity.

Reverence for Nature

In African tradition the entire universe is alive, every part is interconnected and this includes Humanity who must also help in maintaining the harmony of the universe and so as their ceremonies follow the seasons the Africans pray for the renewal and well-being of all life forms.

It is thus not surprising that Nature is considered to be divine and worthy of veneration across the continent and African communities spread across many parts of the world. 

The Earth itself is a prominent Deity and imaged as female corresponding to the function of creating life (children) and providing for their needs (breastfeeding). Amongst the Akans (Ghana), she is revered as Asaase Yaa (Mother Earth), Ani for the Igbos (Nigeria) and Maa-ndoo (Wife of God) amongst the Mende of Sierra Leone.

Male and Female in Nature

Like the ancient European pre-Christian religion of Wicca (Witchcraft) Nature is configured as Male and Female in cooperation – ‘the ‘Lord and Lady’.

Amongst the Akans it is Nyankopon (Male) and Asaase Yaa (Female). For the Fon (Benin and Nigeria) Mawu-Lisa embodies the dual nature of the Supreme Being and is still retained in Haitian Voodoo in the Caribbean as the two serpents; Damballah-Wedo and his ‘wife’ Aida-Wedo.

The idea the dual nature of the creator recognizes that it is necessary to have the male and female for reproduction to occur. The masculine principle is usually held to be the unseen aspect of creation whereas the female is the visible aspect. This is why the spirit of the child is assigned to the father whilst the body is to the mother.

Veneration for Ancestors

Traditional societies such as the Australian aborigines and African communities across both continents have a strong sense of the importance of ancestors in their lives. This is because an ancestor is seen to be important not just because they lived a long time ago, are part of our family or community and then they died, but rather they are revered for their level of attainment as good human beings and subsequent example of behaviour they have left to their communities.

To be an ancestor and be remembered for it, is to be someone who lived a good life and who exhibited personality traits that warrant emulation. People would look at such a person and say that they lived an inspiring life, that they helped their communities and were caring people in every way that we should copy today.

So, what were the meritorious ancestral characteristics that should be followed even now centuries later? Australian Aboriginal and African culture alike stress that we should live life in the best manner we can. We should attempt to master and develop ourselves till we get to the point where we could be emulated by others as an example to be lived by.  In African traditional religion, ancestors are venerated as such exemplars rather than objects of prayer in themselves. This is often misunderstood by Westerners. Some examples from African traditional societies:

  • Nigeria: amongst the Yoruba people the concept of Iwa-pale, meaning a balance of good character in alignment with one’s own, Ori, or Divine Self. Be a better person and consider the best interests of others.
  • Ghana: the Akan people speak of Obra Pa, meaning, living a life of beneficence and developing a good character.
  • South Africa: the concept ofUbuntu,or ‘I am because we are’, that we are all part of humanity and we have a universal bond of sharing because of our shared consciousness. An authentic individual human being is part of a larger and more significant relational, communal, societal, environmental and spiritual world This puts the burden of responsibility on us to live up to the best of ourselves and to overlook differences between people to achieve the common goal of peaceful co-existence. This concept is found in most African societies called by different names.

Composite Nature of Man

Many African peoples have beliefs in the composite nature of man remarkably similar to the more familiar religious teachings of the East and Near East:

The ancient Egyptians held man to be a composite of nine parts ranging from the physical body khat to the habitation of the spiritual nature, the sahu.

The ancient Jewish teachings of the Qabbalah speak of man as a tenfold entity, and the esoteric traditions of India, which provide much of the terminology of modern theosophy, teach variously of four, five, or seven aspects or parts.

All of these traditions agree that it is only the deathless essence of man’s nature which continues eternally, while the more material “bodies” fall apart at death, when the life force is withdrawn.

The chart below compares the traditions of five African peoples with theosophical doctrines concerning the composite nature of man, remarkable parallels are immediately apparent.

All envisage a spiritual body (a life essence or “vital breath”) at one extreme, with gradations through heart-soul, mental body, or will, and life principle, to the “shadow” and physical body as the lower vehicles.

In all five examples the reincarnating entity is held to be the spiritual essence which abides in its own spheres of existence after death, and animates the more material “bodies” during earth life.

Divination

There are many forms of Divination across African communities world-wide but all with the same objectives: uncovering important information that has happened or is likely to happen and what supernatural forces are involved. Many people seek out diviners on a regular basis. Counsellors/diviners charge money for their services and for their knowledge of herbal medicines.

The range of divinatory methods varies:

Zulus (South Africa): use bones and stones thrown down and interpreted.

Dogon (Mali, West Africa): use markings in sand said to be in alignment with cosmic bodies.

Akans (Ghana): use a process of staring into water or mirrors.

Yoruba Ifa system (Nigeria): there is a wooden board (Opon Ifa) on which is placed wood shavings from a termites mound on which markings are made after each throw of a necklace that forms an ‘Odu’ or story of what has happened.

A trained shaman has to undergo years of training. Amongst the Ifa people, Diviners (Babalawos) a minimum of 30-40 years to be considered adept at this craft!

Forms of Veneration: Shrines and Altars

Shrines: are everywhere in African villages serving the needs of the local community. It is officiated by a shaman and can include many objects with invoked forces that serve as guardians of the community. It is also a place, like a church where communities gather for rituals on behalf of the community.

Altars: are usually found in private homes with pictures of ancestors, cups for libations, and offerings to the spirits. It is the gateway to the spiritual world within the home where prayers are offered and messages received from the spirit world.

Sacrifices

Animal sacrifice: is a feature of African traditional belief. Sacrifices are used to resolve spiritual issues and it is the Life Force in these animals that is utilized in the appeasement and resolution of these matters. It is harnessed to activate the required outcome and must be done by the most highly trained shaman or certainly under their guidance.

Human sacrifice: has occurred in the past, eg amongst the Asantes (Ghana) to accompany the spirit of a deceased king. This practice has been stopped by all African governments. Some such sacrifices still occur amongst practitioners of black magic and are mentioned from time to time in the African press in many countries. The latest instances I know of being in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi where politicians and rich businessmen seek advantage through magical practices involving human sacrifice of children.

Libation, Offerings, Singing and Dancing

Libation: a form of payer that involves pouring liquid, usually water or an alcoholic drink, on the ground accompanied by a speech. It is a symbolic action quenching the thirst of Spirit Beings’ to whom the drink is offered before asking a question of them.

Offerings: are symbolic gestures to provide nourishment to the Forces from whom we ask a favour or information. Offerings are left at crossroads, in nature, on an altar or shrine, even in coffins of the dead.

Singing: sound is used to open portals with the spirit world and call the spirit beings. Singing is accompanied by drumming, shakers, maracas or cow-bells.

Dancing: used for communication with the spirit world and is tailored to the requirements of contacting specific beings and forces. The dancer becomes the channel for the spirit to communicate to the community. Often there are specialists who stand by to translate what the dance movements mean as the dancer is in a trance. It is a feature of all African traditions including those overseas.

Drumming and Meditation

Drumming:  holds a sacred place in African tradition. Drums are viewed as animated beings endowed with vital force conveying the voice of God through the drummer. Used in healing and to communicate with the invisible worlds using the power of vibration. In every African village you will hear drumming in the evening. In some African societies drummers were trained for decades, eg Akan (Ghana) where they were trained for 40 years before being allowed to play publicly as playing the wrong rhythms was punishable with death in some ceremonies!

Meditation: is practised in many African traditional societies eg. Sitting for long periods in silence staring at a calabash full of water or at a flame. In South Africa the Zulu speak of the Umbilini energy which is like the Kundalini developed after long periods sitting in silence.

Rituals, Possession and Trance

Rituals: The means by which people communicate with the spiritual world when awake is through rituals so ritual is an essential feature of African life. Communal and family rituals celebrate important events like the harvest, weddings, etc. Individual rituals are geared towards acquiring what you want in life, love, money, job, etc… or to dispel negative forces, illness, etc.

Possession and Trance: a high value is placed on them compared to Europe where they are looked upon to be demonic, illness or mental illness.  Trance and Possession are very common and they reflect the view that transcendental forces are in a delicate balance more powerful than the average human forces to control and therefore we need to propitiate such forces. There are three types of possession: 1/ wild behaviour indicating possession by an unknown spirit 2/ stereotyped possession after training and possession by a known spirit usually an ancestor who is supportive of the community 3/ arbitrary selection of a medium for communications with spirits controlling the universe. The possession/trance is used for divination to find out who has caused illness or misfortune. Usually there are diviners who interpret the signs to understand events in peoples’ lives. Possession is a common and highly desirable condition in Voodoo, Candomble and other religions where African slaves founded new religions in Brazil, Cuba and Haiti. Devotees are regularly possessed by their favourite deity when in trance induced by music, dancing, and ritual ceremonies.

Sorcery and Witchcraft

By far the most common manifestation of religious belief and activity in African communities is belief and activity in sorcery and the negative aspects of witchcraft. Terms such as ‘Juju’ and ‘Obeah’ describe the use of spiritual practice for negative purposes in every sphere of life, politics, economics and personal/family relations. People will commonly consult with religious specialists to initiate or protect themselves from psychic attack and there are many ceremonies for this purpose.

African Religions Outside Africa

Wherever African people have been enslaved or settled around the world they have carried their religious traditions with them. This is especially so in the Caribbean, North and South America where Africans were forced into slavery by Europeans and Arab slave traders from the 16th century onwards. Most slaves came from West Africa and were subject to Catholic missionary activity so the resultant belief systems of these regions are a mixture of Christianity and Yoruba traditional religion from West Africa where most slaves came from. These syncretic religions include:

  • Brazil: Camdomble, Umbanda, Quimbanda.
  • Cuba: Santeria.
  • Caribbean countries: Lucumi.
  • Haiti and New Orleans: Voodoo.

Haitian Voodoo (Vodou)

Let’s take the example of Voodoo which is the best known of the syncretistic religions of African people forced to conform to European life and religious beliefs in the Caribbean slave plantations. The religion developed largely from West African religion mixed with Catholicism. The major centres of Voodoo practice are in Haiti where the religion played a significant role in the war of independence (1791-1804), before spreading via immigration to Cuba and New Orleans. Voodoo was banned by the Haitian government in 1934 when it was categorized as sorcery in the penal code. It was legalized in 1987 when a new constitution came into force and in 2003 it was given equal status with Roman Catholicism which 80% of the people profess but in private probably 50% of the population follows Voodoo to a greater or lesser degree.

The central activity involves possession by a number of African deities called ‘Loas’ in Haiti. In ceremonies led by Houngan or Mambo (male and female priests). Each possessed individual (called a ‘mounted horse’) enacts highly specific ritual performance involving dance, song, and speech appropriate to the specific deity. The purpose of such ceremonies include healing, warding off evil, bringing good or evil fortune. Marriage to a deity provided devotees with an ongoing protective relationship as well as ritual responsibilities.

The Voodoo calendar of ceremonies is associated with various Christian saints. However, the Voodoo gods retain their African identities and have not taken on the characteristics of Christian saints. Christianity seems to have been largely used to mask the beliefs and activities of the African religion as it was dangerous to do otherwise in colonial times. Voodoo provides a powerful religious experience, its practice of animal sacrifice enables believers to relate to the powers of the cosmos as they see them and it has allowed an African identity to continue for formerly enslaved peoples carried against their will far from their original home in West Africa.

African Traditional Religion in the Modern World

In the past few centuries African traditional beliefs have been retreating before Christian and Islamic missionizing although there is plenty of evidence of a renewed interest in traditional belief systems in the 21st century, eg the activities of the Ancestral Voices website which promotes African traditional religious beliefs and pride in African heritage around the world. Their website is at: https://ancestralvoices.co.uk/

Also, an estimated 6,000 new religious movements have arisen in Africa in response to Western colonialism and cultural domination.  Many of these movements reflect the traditional African interest in proverbs and in the rhetorical arts, combining Western and African symbols together. Possession trance is often a feature of these movements.

In sum, traditional practices continue to thrive in African cities. Witchcraft beliefs often flourish in the threatening new world of urban change. Traditional methods of healing are maintained along with Western medicine. Spirit shrines, ancestor veneration, and mediums enhance business ventures, health, love, and personal persuasiveness. 

Most Africans will maintain that there is a mysterious dimension in life that is missed by Western people but is truly understood by traditional wisdom. As an old Zambian lady once told me when we were discussing African traditional religion: “You Wazungu (white people) think you know everything – but you really know nothing!’

References

The Doctrine of Swabhava, Sanskrit language for, Self-Becoming, is one of the fundamental teachings of the Seven Jewels of Wisdom, the basic subjects studied in the Ancient Wisdom.

Swabhava,means the essential nature of each being, in Sanskrit “to become,” “to grow into something,” or “self-becoming.”

It implies that each being expresses its essential nature through bodies suitable for each stage of its spiritual evolution. The fundamental, immortal self sends rays into the material worlds and uses appropriate vehicles or bodies to express its inner nature, much as the sun sends out rays into the surrounding darkness of the solar system and nourishes the different planets of its kingdom.

The Seven Jewels of Wisdom

The Seven Jewels are:

Reincarnation-Re-embodiment – changing forms/the indestructibility of the human spirit.

Karma – the law of cause and effect.

The Doctrine of Hierarchies – Reality has many levels through which we progress.

The Doctrine of Swabhava – the essential nature of each organism.

The Doctrine of Evolution – perhaps more accurately described as the Doctrine of Emanation.

The Doctrine of the Two Paths – the path of immortality and the path of each one for himself.

Knowledge of the Self – also known as how the One becomes the Many.

The Seven Jewels all involve, and in fact build on each other. For example, Self-Becoming is the key to understanding the preceding three jewels, that is, Reincarnation, Karma, and Hierarchies.

The succeeding three jewels after Self-Becoming: Evolution, the Two Paths, and Knowledge of the Self, give the reason for all the struggles in Nature outlined in the first four jewels.

The Importance of Swabhava

In addition to explaining the other Jewels of Wisdom an understanding of Self-Becoming is the key to:

  • Self-Directed spiritual evolution. When we know that we are not just being blown about meaninglessly by the winds of fate we realize that Self-Becoming is possible. When we know about Karma and Reincarnation we can self-direct our evolution by avoiding getting ourselves and others involved in potentially harmful situations – of course, conditioned by our karma from the past.
  • Self-Becoming encourages us to centre our consciousness in the highest aspect of our inner nature as it exists at any particular time.
  • Holds the key to understanding teachings regarding the Seven Rays and our relationship to them.
  • The key to understanding what constitutes Enlightenment.
  • At an everyday level, the key to understanding why we feel an immediate attraction or repulsion to individuals or groups of people. This includes an understanding of what constitutes Soul Mates.

Swabhava: Just an Eastern Concept: Zoroastrianism

It is understandable to think that Swabhava is just an Eastern, especially Indian, concept, but it is reflected in many other religions.

Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Persia and possible foundation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, three of the major religions of the modern world, is an example.

The Avesta, the main religious text of the Zoroastrians demonstrates 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/she chooses the swabhava of the Good Mind, his/her own soul becomes identified with the minor swabhavas of the six-fold Amesha-Spentas, the Persian form of the  solar/planetary gods.

Swabhava in Zoroastrianism: The Possible Source of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

The aspirant engages in “self-becoming” to assume the “self-nature” of these exalted beings, a reflection of the highest swabhavas mirrored in the human soul – symbolized by fire which burns continually in Zoroastrian fire temples (see picture opposite).

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 (the solar/planetary gods) 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.

Two Meanings of Swabhava

Swabhava has two general meanings:

1/ Self-Begetting, Self-Generation, Self-Becoming: the general idea being that there is no merely mechanical or soulless activity in Nature in bringing us into being, for we brought ourselves forth, in, and through, and by nature, of which we are a part of the conscious forces, and therefore our own children.

2/ Each and every entity that exists is the result of what he/she actually is spiritually in his own higher nature: he/she brings for that which he/she actually is in himself/herself interiorly, nothing else.

Swabhava, in short, may be called the essential individuality of any individual spiritual unit or Monad, expressing its own characteristics, qualities, and type, by self-urged evolution.

Three Elements of Swabhava: Swabhavat: Source

Three Elements of Swabhava:

1/ Svabhavat: The Source of our individual nature where spirit and matter are fundamentally One, not Dual as they are during manifestation. It is the equivalent of the Bible’s ‘Cosmic Waters’.

Svabhavat never descends from its own state or condition, but is the cosmic reservoir of being and beings, therefore of consciousness, of intellectual light, of life.

It sends Rays from itself into manifestation which become our highest individuality or:

2/ Swabhava: the process of Self-Becoming or self-knowing in the manifest world. Each entity is the result of what it is in its own higher nature. Its Swabhava can only bring forth that which itself is, its essential characteristic, its own inner nature by self-urged evolution built up over many ages even in former universes.

By these efforts though, our individuality is constantly changing and evolving thus Swabhava is never static and we gradually find our way to the highest expression of ourselves at any point in time and grow through that to new possibilities.

3/Svarupas: In order to grow the Higher Self uses appropriate bodies or vehicles of consciousness for the particular stage of unfoldment it is at, eg. plant, animal, human, angelic, and beyond…These are its Svarupas, or literally: Self Forms or Bodies. These vary infinitely over the journey of spiritual evolution in any universe of experience.

The Seven Rays

Swabhava offers the key to understanding the Seven Rays often spoken of by esoteric writers, especially the influential esotericist, Alice A. Bailey (1880-1949) who first coined the term ‘New Age’.

The Seven Rays are equal to the seven primordial forces in nature. They combine to bring everything into existence. The Rays are present in everything in the Universe, but in different proportions. A balance of all of the Rays is necessary for personal well-being. Peace in the World is achieved when there is balance in all of the Rays among the Nations on Earth. Too much or too little of one Ray in anything cause disharmony as each Ray is the carrier of certain characteristics. 

As the white light of the Sun divides itself into seven primary colours, so too does the Light of God express itself in seven qualities. In Alice Bailey’s version of the Ancient Wisdom, these divisions of divine light are referred to as “The Seven Rays”, and, according to her esoteric literature, every human soul is founded upon one of them.

Through the millennia, the characteristics of the Seven Rays in the Temples of the Ancients have been found (through trial, study and error) generally to be:

 RED   – Ray 1 – The Ray of Freedom- (Divine Will and Purpose) , Atma (Self), (Hero & Ruler);


BLUE   – Ray 2 – The Ray of Compassion- (Love and Wisdom), Buddhi ((Intuition), (Sage & Teacher);


YELLOW
 – Ray 3 – The Ray of Wisdom- (Intelligence and Activity); Manas (Deep Mind), (Philosopher & Philanthropist);

GREEN   – Ray 4 – The Ray of Harmony- (to Conflict), Kama Rupa (Animal Spirit), (Artist, Statesman & Jurist);


ORANGE Ray 5 – The Ray of Knowledge- (and Science);  Prana (Life Force), (Scientist & Engineers);

 VIOLET   – Ray 6 – The Ray of Passion- (Idealism and Devotion) ; Linga Saria (Astral Body), (Devotee & Prophet);


INDIGO  – Ray 7 – The Ray of Order- (and Magic); Sthula Sharia (Physical Body),  Architect, Builder & Ritualist.

However, there are many more items that can be attributed to the Seven Rays. The Seven Rays effect all levels of human and material existence, including the various aspects of one’s personality (lower-self) as well as one’s soul (higher-self).

More information on The Seven Rays is available at:

http://www.awarenessofnothing.com/mystery-of-the-seven-rays.html

Every spiritual unit or ‘Monad’, including human beings, has its own essential characteristic, or, Swabhava, which is constantly evolving due to its experiences in the manifest world.

This is a slow evolution and, to us at least, proceeds seemingly without change for ages as our individuality at the highest level (ie. our Swabhava) is derived from the planetary, solar, and even the galactic Swabhava (individuality) as its Source.

As these entities (Planets, Stars, and the Galaxy) last a lot longer than we humans do, changes take place over a much longer time and thus our Swabhava rooted in them seemingly stays the same – when, in fact, it is changing by micro-degrees every second.

Every spiritual monad during the time of manifestation expresses itself on the lower (material) planes by Rays of itself. Every monad thus irradiates Rays of energy from  itself in a continuous  stream of various types – Divine, Spiritual, Intellectual, Psychic, etc..

These Rays penetrate the matter below them,  and in this way produce the various phenomena in the beings in which they work. If these beings are highly evolved, and ready, they can manifest the more spiritual qualities at once, hence the higher Rays manifest in some people as sages, spiritual teachers, etc…

If the ‘vehicles’ (including human beings)are low in the evolutionary scale they can express only some of these monadic powers from the solar, planetary, or galactic forces, – then there is only a slight manifestation of what we recognize as the finest qualities of human beings.

Parent Stars

Of the multitude of rays that the  spiritual monad is continuously sending out (like sunlight from the Sun) there is always one which is the highest, as noted in Alice Bailey’s scheme of the Seven Rays. In humans there is always such a ray which is his/her core around which are built the various vehicles of his/her inner constitution – Spiritual, Mental, Astral, and Physical – and so on for all the life-atoms forming the various bodies of humans which have their Swabhava derived from us.

Every human is ‘born under’ one of the Rays emanating from the hierarch (the most progressed spiritual being associated with the planet – the ‘Silent Watcher’) of a planet, solar system, or galaxy. Every human is the child of his own such spiritual Ray or Parent Star which can be related to any one of the billions of stars in our galaxy, or our own Sun.

The Spiritual Ray is his highest and first spiritual originant and not necessarily the astrological sun or star from our birthchart.

It is something to think about that the destiny of that Parent Star or Stars (because each star can have many such rays related to different aspects of our constitution – (spiritual, compassionate, psychic, astral, etc)) are intimately related by Swabhavic  and Fohatic (the ‘electrical’life-energy of the manifest universe) magnetism, and, that this will last as long as the galaxy endures.

Soul Mates

The similarity that we feel with other people is related to whether we belong to the same planetary Ray. We feel an instant identity with such a person and repulsion sometimes  to others on different planetary or solar rays.

All human beings are the sons of Father-Sun, but, just as the human race is divided into families, so certain portions of mankind belong to respective spiritual energies or forces – Rays – which, in their aggregate make the Spiritual-Sun. There are  7, 10 or 12 principal such Rays , depending upon how you configure them, and we can therefore divide mankind into 7, 10 , or 12 principle families.

Between two individual human beings who belong to the same Ray of the Sun, the same particular Solar Force, there is a quick and instant sympathy, a feeling as if they have always known each other.

Genuine, real love between two people is based on this fact of Nature.

Spiritual Voyagers: What Lies in the Future?

If we are all spiritual voyagers on a Cosmic Pilgrimage to greater understanding and Individuation – how can we all end up working together and become as One?

The kingdoms of life higher than the normal human (ie. Masters, Angels, Devas, Gods, etc) are more faithful to the sweeping essential nature or ‘Swabhava’ of their respective Spiritual Hierarchs (Silent Watchers) than we are in the general run of the human kingdom.

These advanced humans and higher kingdoms (ie. Masters, Angels, Devas, Gods, etc) are becoming more fully self-conscious divine or spiritual egos – Co-Creators with Nature – and thus their subservience to their Spiritual Hierarch is a glad and willing one.

Compare this with beings below the human which are blindly and unconsciously submissive to their respective kingdom Hierarchs/Gods because they have not sufficient ‘Egoity’ to become intellectual rebels against Nature as men so often are.

Thus the Spiritual Unit or Monad evolves – starting with unselfconsciousness – then assertive self-consciousness as a Man – then transformation of rebellious self-consciousness so evident amongst humans now, into divine and Buddha-like self-forgetful subservience to, and co-operative endeavour with, the divine will of the ‘Silent Watcher’ of our human Hierarchy.

How can we measure up to this challenge in our daily lives here and now? There is an old Christian saying: “Not My Will But Thine be Done” – not the will of the ordinary, selfish mentality that we mostly live within, but rather, the will of the Inner Divinity, which guides and leads, urges and impels us to live better constantly – that is the way forward!

The Application of Swabhava to Daily Life: Centring Our Consciousness

How to apply all this complexity of the doctrine of Swabhava to everyday life here and now?

Where we chose to centre our consciousness determines how high we stand on the ladder of life. Thus  a person who is basically of a Desire or Kama nature, can chose to live in the Atman or spiritual part of the Desire nature. This would place him higher than a person of Manas/Intellectual nature, but who choses to live in the Desire or Kama part of his/her mental apparatus (Manas).

The thing to do is to strive to live in the highest plane of our nature where all is colourless glory. As soon as we descend into prismatic colours of the manifest world we are subject to the illusions (Maya) and consequent ignorance of the Dualistic world where we see Spirit and Matter as separate and behave as such, ie. where most people are today living in the Kama Manas – the Desire Mind, or, ‘I, me,me,mine’.

No matter what Ray he may belong what places a man on the spiritual ladder of life is where his consciousness is focussed.

If it is focused upwards, rising to the Atman, into the colourless sphere where all colours are merged, then he contains Divinity. Therefore, no matter what our station in life or Ray we belong to, focus our attention upwards to the highest Swabhava possible.

We see here the tremendous importance of the doctrine of Swabhava. A man can live in any portion of the entire range of his seven-fold being if he so wills.

Swabhava and Enlightenment

Man is an intricate web of many swabhavas related to the various planes of reality or cosmic ‘tattwas’ [The tattvas represent the consciousness-, force-, or spirit-side of being, in contrast to the dhatus or bhutas which as elements represent the vehicular or matter-side of being. Hence the tattvas are called theprinciples of nature, and the dhatus or bhutas the elements of nature.] of the solar universe through which we progress over the life of the planet, solar system, and galaxy. Some of these swabhavas of the different parts of our inner constitution may be at different levels of advancement at the same time!

Our future destiny is to become self-conscious on all the planes of our constitution which are in us, because we are microcosms of the encompassing macrocosm. When we reach such a condition of complete awakening we shall be fully self-conscious gods and, in fact, Silent Watchers, or cosmic hierarchs – on a higher or lower plane of the environing universe – according to our destiny.

This is a really wondrous teaching for it shows us the manner in which our whole constitution is enwebbed with the fabric of the universe.

To express this thought in a more poetic way:

A human being is somewhat like a sounding board, strung with seven chords like Apollo’s lyre, across which sweep the winds of eternity, the combined notes of these chords produce within him a cosmic symphony – each one of us being a living mystic lyre in sympathy with the Music of the Spheres.

References

Don Shepherd: ‘Swabhava’: Questions and Answershttp://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-articles/swabhava-self-becoming-questions-and-answers-by-don-shepherd/

Don Shepherd: The Doctrine of Swabhavahttp://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-articles/swabhava-self-becoming-questions-and-answers-by-don-shepherd/

Stefan Carey and Andrew Rooke: The Seven Jewels of Wisdom. Sunrise magazine. August/September 2004 – https://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/53-03-4/th-carey.htm

G de Purucker (ed): ‘Swabhava’: Encyclopedic Theosophic Glossary – https://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/sun-sz.htm

Alice A. Bailey: The Seven Rays of Life: A Compilation. Lucis Publish Co. 2003.

THE FIRST PEOPLE: THEIR EARLY BELIEFS AND HOW THESE MARRY UP WITH WITCHCRAFT. 

What I write in this First section is based upon my mind’s imagination of a distant time but I hope that it may ever-so slightly offer a peep through an otherwise dusty window into the world of Our ancestors and their ways of relating to the world around them as they witnessed it anew.   Today we have books on history, DVDS and computer simulations – but they had naught but their wits and the still small voice of their hearts.     So this first part is written from how I envisage the early people may have listened to the Whisper on the Wind and discovered the Lord and His Lady.

Further bear in mind that I am not attempting here an academic interpretation of the evolution of ideology but rather an attempt is made to explain how I believe we humans first became aware of the God and Goddess which I believe have always existed.  I also believe that the God and Goddess were only merely ‘uncovered’ by early man; not ‘invented’ by early man as many would have us taught.  It is my belief that the Gods of old held a close relationship with the first people that was experienced in their relationship with the things of Nature around them.  Thus the trees could commune with them, as too the rocks, the birds and animals, other tribes (of course). Early man understood the language of the Elements, the sky, the water.

Many things can be deduced regarding the life of early man:

They made tools and weapons, and used them; they clothed themselves in the skins of the animals they hunted; they decorated themselves with colouring matter, shells, with pieces of bone, even with beads. Later on, they began to domesticate animals – mainly the dog and reindeer. Early man began to make pottery, and to cultivate cereals.   They had stone needles by which they sewed together animal skins to wear. (The Religion of Paleolithic Man by The Rev. J. A. MacCulloch, The Expository Times, Vol. 17, No. 11, Aug 01, 1906]

Given all of these accomplishments, was Paleolithic Man religious?

I will begin this talk by looking at the beginnings of religion though not ‘religion’ as a system of belief, but as a ‘stirring’ of something presiding within Early man.   The oldest known evidence of prehistoric religious life dates from about 60,000 B.C. Part of this evidence includes graves where early man buried his dead, thus indicating that he felt ‘something’ to exist beyond the merely mundane world.

R.R. Maritt in his 1909 Paper on Pre-animistic religion relates to one’s understanding of the Gods and of Spirits by employing that good old English term, Awe and writes how he feels this one word to express the fundamental Religious Feeling most nearly. Awe was no doubt experienced as the thunder roared through the skies, eclipses were witnessed, earthy eruptions occurred (maybe with volcanoes or earthquakes) to move Early man to look without himself.

Following this, I think Early man would have perceived a Spirit pervading all life – a concept known as Animism (and Animism is considered to be the first religion). Sir Edward B Tylor took the belief in spiritual existence as the minimum definition of religion (Primitive Culture, 1913). The way that he phrased it was that the essence of religion was “the belief in Spiritual Beings,” that is “spirits” in the wide sense that includes “souls.” (see Pre-animistic Religion in R R Marett, The Threshold of Religion, 1909) Tylor also argued that given that tribes all over the world held a similar belief, there could be inferred the universality of Religion.

If religion is an outgrowth of some evolutionary way of Early Man attempting to understand the things around him, then does this make of religion nothing more than a “Belief,” instead of a Truth?    For myself, I believe that Religion (using Tylor’s definition of “the belief in Spiritual Beings“) arose from the fact that the Lord and Lady indeed “walked” upon the earth at one stage; they had a living relationship with the people as too all the other life forms.   Those who possessed a more developed, dare I say, ˈPsychical awareness,ˈ these were to become the Priest, the Shaman.

And to make sense of this, along manifested a more centralized concept – from within Early man -seeking to make sense of it all, and ego, a deeper wisdom showed forth.   Not wisdom in the traditional sense, but wisdom in the inner sense as arising from deep within the human to an outward manifestation. And so to make sense of these inner stirrings, the early peoples began to formulate these into a system by which religion was becoming more formalized – and this I call Witchcraft, the ‘Craft of the Wise.’

Now the late anthropologist, Dr. Margaret Murray, traced back Witchcraft’s origins to Paleolithic times – some 25,000 years ago when people to begin to awaken to a concept of Deity. At this point in time, maybe the Lord and Lady were pulling away as Early man became more sedentary or no longer lived in the harshness of the Ice Age.    The earliest representation of a deity can be found in the Caverne des Trois Frères in Ariège, France, usually known as “The Magician.”  It depicts a man in a mask and an animal skin, with horns on his head.

Dr. Murray writes of this in her book, The God of the Witches (1931):

The period when the figure was painted is so remote that it is not possible to make any conjectures as to its meaning except by the analogy of historical and modern instances. Such incidences are, however, sufficiently numerous to render it fairly certain that the man represents the incarnate god, who, by performing the sacred dance, causes the increase of the kind of animal in the disguise of which he appears.

Here we can see that man perceived of a God who presided over the everyday needs of the tribe – for the Stag would no doubt had provided food, clothing, warmth, its bones no doubt burnt; sometimes carved with images and kept. And to a lesser degree, the Stag (in its painted form) would have provided a connection between that of the human and the animal.  Thus the Stag here symbolized a gift of the God and this later developed into the God Himself – something later exploited as there arose those who sought to kill The God. Maybe this is why the Devil is often depicted as having horns, and therefore the Horned God Pan was seen as evil.

Another aspect is that the Stag was believed to represent death for it too would one day be killed after the performance of a magical dance.

In the Paleolithic period of which we speak, the world was believed to be a warm climate, on grassy lands, close to trees and near to water. The cave would still have been used later as a means of protection and warmth, if only for a time, as it was in the Ice Age. And it was within these caves that man recorded his relationship to animals by using painting as a means of working out (or at least assisting) his Magic.

Thomas Gale Moore of Hoover Institution, Stanford University informs us that:    “As the world warmed with the ending of the Ice Age, people began to shift from a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence to a more settled life style.” (Do Climate Changes Mean Anything?).   It were this settling down that would have had early man conducting his daily life outside the caves for longer periods and thus connecting deeply with his outside world, as he became more invested in agricultural pursuits, and building homes. There arose those individuals who, for whatever reason, did not perform this work.  They would have kept a deep connection with Spirit and thus became the Shaman or the Witch – responsible for the Spiritual needs of the tribe.

At this time, religion and magic would have been closely related. And, as Gerald Gardner, the “Father of Modern Witchcraft” writes: “The purpose of contacting the gods was to keep contact with the forces of life, and these were identical with the forces of magic and fertility.” (The Meaning of Witchcraft (1954) Chapter 3: The Stone Age Origins of Witchcraft). Notice how he says, ‘To keep contact with the forces of life.’    Ritual creates the setting, and Magic should be the end result.

Even now the Priest is often seen as the representative of God on earth, acting as the mediator between the believer and God.  Early man was thus developing a relationship with the Local Spirits of the Land and the Gods through that of the Witch.

Fire was a necessary ‘Magical Gift’ from the God as it would have been scarce as having not fallen easily upon the land itself (wood was believed to have been hard to come by in those far-distant times given that the world was coming out of the Ice Age) and yet the trees that were available magically gave wood which then produced fire. Thus when the God appeared, the Sun would shine; creating warmth – and the fire would arise from within the wood without, also giving off its warmth.  Thus Fire became a symbol of the God as too the wood. It has been worshipped throughout the world as shown in many of the rich mythologies which prevail. For example, in the Hindu Vedas, (written ca. 1500 BC) we have the god Agni, who is found within the fire, the sun and the lightning.  Wood gave warmth, protection and the material to make tools.  Even now the wand represents the God and is represented as the Element of Air (belonging to the east) whilst in Ceremonial Magic it is associated with the Element of Fire (belonging to the south). Both Air and Fire are symbols of the God.

An article from the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, states that “The early Neanderthals from the late Middle Pleistocene site of Poggetti Vecchi (central Italy) were able to choose the appropriate timber and to process it with fire to produce tools.” [Source: Wooden tools and fire technology in the early Neanderthal site of Poggetti Vecchi (Italy, Aranguren et al., Proc. National Academy of Sciences of the USA,  February 27, 2018, vol. 115, no. 9 pp. 2054–2059] and maybe this is another indicator of why certain trees are considered sacred as they too are a gift from the Gods.  Traditionally the wand is located by the Witch as she looks for it on a tree and either used as first found or whittled into that of the shape resembling a wand. Indeed, I came across a branch that certainly makes for a good wond.

Of course, the God and Goddess that I refer to would not have been viewed by these people as the God of the Witches but as that ‘Something’ intangible but of which did indeed protect them and give to them those items which they required.

Paleolithic man worshipped a God who thus ruled the outside world via the weather, the landscape, and the light.  His Goddess was She who protected the man and his kinfolk from the harsh elements – She gave of the earth and She reached out Her arms to embrace him in the form of the cave, which in turn protected the tribe from the harshness of Winter, the danger of the animals, and gave to the tribe, its warmth.  Because Fire could be halted by water, water in turn became a symbol of the Lady; of the Goddess. For water could quench the fire and protect the tribe from its unnecessary heat and from more widespread fires that may have arisen. Again, the Goddess is a symbol of the Tides (Water element) as She represents the ebb and flow of life.

So the God gave to Earth its rays from a Solar Orb. And the Earth bore new life as the women of the tribe bore forth new life. When the Sun appeared to warm the earth, it came to the early people to behold the Father in the penetrating rays of the Sun and the Mother in the Earth, who bore new life in the form of the plants, the trees and the manifestation of the animals. During the cold spells, when the Father Sun was scarce and the rains would fall, Mother Earth would become barren; the plants and animals disappearing under a white expanse of snow.  Thus, without the Father (the Lord), the Mother (the Goddess) could not bring forth new birth.  As such, the God and Goddess became equally important to one another.

It is believed that when the Sun disappeared during the winter months, that Early man came up with the concept of sacrifice as a way of keeping this God pleased — for this God would leave for a time but He always returned.  What must Early man have made of the first eclipse – maybe fear that he or someone in the tribe had done something not to the God’s liking and thus the God became angry and His face was covered.  Would Early man believe that it was the Goddess covering the God’s face – was the Goddess Herself angered with the God somehow?  Maybe Early man leant to prostrate during this time for the eclipse would be fairly short and as man leant down; his eyes shut, his heart speaking a prayer, the Goddess moved on and the God showed His face once more. Was this the beginning of our Prayers to the Gods? Possibly yes.

And what of the eclipse of the moon? Some believe it was the Goddess Luna in the pains of labour; to others, She was suffering from the art of wicked magicians.

How wonderful in some ways it would have been to have lived as Early man – and yet fearful at the same time.   Today, we no longer tend to fear the God or Goddess for we have sadly lost our sense of Awe. The thunder, though it still can make us feel alive, it is nonetheless explained for us, and the Science of the Eclipse makes us look upon it with interest, but the reverence is no longer really there.

The tribe, too, would have observed that as the Sun rose and settled each day and the Moon waxed and waned each dark-time, so did the men and women of the tribe, to coincide with same. The Sun brought about movement and oft-times heat, the Moon a time of rest, ergo the Goddess became associated with this moon and hence the Lunar Goddess; Lady of the Silver Moon.  The concept of the Seasons was beginning to be appreciated; an agricultural calendar of sorts developed.

When it were dark, man would become seemingly dead yet when he awoke during the day, he told of many a hunting tale though he had previously lay there still-like throughout the dark.  And the woman, maybe it was that she told of new-born babes and the gathering of the things of the green.  So Paleolithic man began to appreciate that whilst all seems sometimes dead – from the landscape to the animals, from the seasons to that of man, yet such have a part of them which continued elsewhere. This was the awakening of man’s appreciation of the Spirit or the Soul or of that which lived just beyond the earthly man, and of which continued beyond the grave.

And here we are starting to see that man began the practice of honouring those who shut their eyes for more than just a day or two.  Death was not something to be a-feared for all life would continue to awaken though the times were for some a longer time than for that of others.   The tree which lost its foliage would again become green when the Sun Father came a-visiting as the weather began to warm.  When the Sun took back His warmth, the things surrounding Early man would sleep a longer sleep. Thus the birth of Early man’s appreciation of what we may call Reincarnation.

Early man tried to keep the Spirit residing in the things around him alive as too his kinfolk by consuming parts of the fruits of the trees and plants and the flesh of his tribesmen prior to their burial; and he honoured his tribesmen by decorating their bones. He loved his Kin as we love our own and both ourselves and our Early ancestors thus buried their dead to honour them. Some of these people even buried cave-bears, which some believe could be related to a magical or religious practice.

Thus the Paleolithic Man — our Ancestor — had his high gods, he represented his gods in artistic form, he prayed to them, he worshipped his dead and possibly believed in a future life.   He was an animist and perceived all around him a Spirit of the Divine.  He had his own ways of venerating His Lord and His Lady.

Paleolithic Man thus gave us the roots of Witchcraft for many a Witch belief emulates that of early man. We pray, we invite the God and Goddess into Sacred Space (The Circle). We perform Ritual and carry out Magic to bring about Change. We honour our Ancestors (as do most Pagan faiths) and We hold dear the ‘AWE’ within our hearts.  Let us not downplay the Gifts bestowed upon us by Early man for if we study his religious worldview, we may just learn much that is lost and of which is desperately required today.

And yet sadly, as time has passed by, many people no longer honour these, our Paleolithic Ancestors for we call their ways “Superstitious.” In our modern world, we see them as not having the capacity to understand. As Tom Graves puts it:

It’s a characteristic of pagan cultures that they people the world around them with angels, demons, spirits, fairies and the like, and it’s a characteristic of civilized cultures that they sneer at this pagan “ignorance.”…Civilized anthropologists seem to have assumed that pagans see spirits because they’re trained to see them; but in reality it’s more likely that we in civilized cultures don’t see them because we’re trained not to see them. (Needles of Stone Revisited, 1986 p. 1530

I personally cannot escape the feeling that the Early peoples would have had a far more profound connection with the Lord and His Lady; the God and Goddess, than we can ever hope for now.  We may, in our modern times, turn to these two deities as a means of understanding our place in the world. Though we turn away from trying to understand how the God and Goddess relate their place in this modern-day world. Yet if we try to look at it from the perspective of the Lord and Lady, lessons can be learnt as to how best to live with all life that resides around each of us.  If the God loves His wild creatures, then it is incumbent upon us undertake all we can to protect them. And if the Goddess tries to impart Truth to us such as was told by the Goddess Arachne as she weaved her web concerning the exploits of the Gods, then we too should speak out in Truth.

We have lost our once-lived deep connection – the rocks are nothing but lumps of coal, the plants and trees things with are there for our food, shelter or pleasure, with the animals often seen as being ours to hunt and kill or use for our own entertainment. We too abuse our fellow Brothers and Sisters to serve our own ends.   We no longer have that same profound connection that made of us ONE with ALL the things of Nature, of the landscape and the weather.

Part of this is due, I think, to our propensity to make patterns.   As time marched forward, people would invariably had begun to make associations between the Gifts of Nature and then assigned them to either the God or the Goddess, hence the development of the ‘System of Correspondences’ contained in the teachings of MAGIC and WITCHCRAFT. This evolved over time to become now employed as a quick guide to what is associated with what:

A simplified ˈChart of Correspondencesˈ is that existing between the Planets, Metals and Colours.

PLANETS                    METALS                 COLOURS

Sun                                Gold                           Yellow

Moon                              Silver                         White

Mercury                          Quicksilver                Grey

Venus                             Copper                       Green

Mars                               Iron                            Red

Jupiter                           Tin                             Blue

Saturn                            Lead                           Black

These have developed over time into more complex forms and can be helpful when performing magic and ritual. For example, when casting the Circle to create a Sacred Space, the following Correspondences would usually apply (Traditions can differ)

The Circle is divided into Four Quarters (East, South, West and North) and each Quarter is known as the Four Watchtowers, the Four Winds or the Four Corners and each Quarter is associated with an Element.

QUARTER   ELEMENT       GENDER         COLOUR

East               Air                     Male                  Yellow

South            Fire                   Male                  Red

West              Water                Female              Blue

North             Earth                 Female              Green

These Correspondences or ‘Patterns’  would have come to Early man as he made observations and noted the stability of these correspondences; a stability that would have appeared as ‘magical’ in itself.

But sadly too, this recognition would have eventually lost its ‘Magic’ over time for ˈfamiliarity breeds contemptˈ as there was no variation to move us – The Sun arose daily with only an Eclipse to offer something new.  And this would have contributed a step further towards the demise of Magic, Witchcraft and a loss of respect for the Spirits of the Land, of the Gods and Goddesses of the tribes or collectives.  

May I interject here that I feel that there is One Creative Principle (beyond our means of understanding) which manifests through a Lord and Lady (which are more accessible to us) who, in turn, have given birth to the numerous Gods and goddesses which abound throughout many cultures, and of which we learn many of the worthy attributes and values as how best to live.  This is achieved, for example, by reading the tales that are told of them.     Even modern day fantasy novels can deeply connect us back to the worlds of the Gods and Goddesses, the Elementals, the Selkies and the Spirits.

RELIGIO PAGANORUM – WHAT IS THIS?

As the First Peoples moved away from seeing the Rocks and Mountains, Trees and Rivers, Sky-Air-Fire-Water and the Flowers and Animals imbued with their own independent Spirits, they began to ascribe Local Deities to each of these kingdoms or collectives.  They began to move towards a Polytheistic worldview where a Deity held sway over the many. Of course, I sometimes think that maybe each Kingdom may have held its own relationship to a Deity beyond that placed upon it by humans. I feel it possible that this ‘Moving away’ was the beginning of our disconnect from Nature, whereby these Beings were either inert or they shared a Group Consciousness – to the detriment of their own Individual Consciousness.

From here, it was only matter of time before these Local Deities were either denied their own existence, or were made into Evil Gods to be killed as they competed with the One God.  As such, people began to worship more a Monotheistic God who certainly did (and still does) LORD it overall and of Who desired that the Old Gods be gone.   Once this Monotheistic God appeared on the scene, people moved away from seeing Nature as containing local spirits and deities and this, and I do sincerely believe this, brought about the Genesis of our disconnect with Nature. A negative consequence of having One God is the belief that HE DOES EVERYTHING FOR THE GOOD so, it was therefore deemed appropriate by His followers that their God could be challenged by another BUT LESSER SUPERNATURAL BEING SEEKING TO USURP HIS SUPREME RULE– and this Lesser God they called Satan, The Devil, Lucifer.

Here is the beginning of the idea that the Witch, especially as an individual, was to be feared. The Witch was now deemed as one who lived outside of Society, giving allegiance unto the Devil. Sadly, many were simple village folk who no doubt worship the Monotheistic God.

In our modern world, this has caused us to become too materialistic to the detriment of the Spiritual World that lies beyond our own; the God and Goddess are concepts only that help some of us relate to Nature.   The long-time war between the city folk and the simple-minded country folk had narrowed as the country folk of old became more mechanical in their thinking and began to leave behind the religio paganorum – the Religion of the Villagers.  

In the early days, the pagan farmers gave back to the earth to reap a greater, healthier harvest. Now they were beginning to shy away from such concepts. They no longer worked with Nature or respected her ways, but rather they sought to ‘Tame’ her; to control her to their own narrow-minded whims.

The result – A parting of the ways from the Lord and Lady and therefore an up rise in environmental degradation; a parting not seen so wide as in the past.  But make no mistake – the Earth is alive and will not tolerate either the cruelty dished out to her nor the indifference by those who do not care. Her children – the rocks, trees etc, fish, birds, animals, as too the people.  She will not simply stand aside and allow these to be continually abused at the hands of ‘civilized’ man.  She shall retaliate to protect Her own. Could this be the cause of the environmental and ecological disasters experienced today?

How can we alter this inevitable outcome? I feel that once again the author Tom Graves offers one such solution when he writes that:

The whole pagan worldview is different from our civilized one.  It has a totally different definition of reality, one that makes little or no sense in terms of our religion of ˈscientism,ˈ… If we are to make use of the pagan-world to help us understand nature, and thus understand ourselves, we have to find some key point around which the pagan world-view and our civilized one can be made to make sense.   (Needles of Stone Revisited p.5)

By a return to the Ways of Witchcraft with its rituals, spells, invocations, herbal lore, tales of the Gods and Goddesses, the celebration of the Sabbats and Esbats – and the attention to detail and focus on the tasks at hand, I believe these can bring our world back into harmony with the World of Nature and thereby decrease Her retaliation at our currently disinterested ways.

THE RISE OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY (THE ROMAN EMPEROR, CONSTANTINE)

With Christianity spreading, those people followed the old Gods were cast aside for not embracing the new religion.   There is much dissention at this time against this ‘Sect’ of the Christians everywhere spoken against (Acts 28:22) for they challenged the old ways, but more so Judaism.  Their ‘One God’ was the greatest and thus to worship Nature was now considered to be erroneous; a form of Idology. (Rom.1:23 – “They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things” and Colossians 3:12 -” Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth“). 

With these Scripture, the Witch was no longer easily tolerated for her friendship with Nature, her garden of healing herbs are green-plot laid by the Devil. Her ability to heal with Herbs further proof of her devotion to Old Nick; her black cat one fit to seal her fate.

With the birth of Constantine the Great (ca. 275 AD) there was opened the way for a future establishment of the Church and Christianity was established as the State Religion of Rome in around 324 AD.   At this time, Constantine adopted many of the Pagan beliefs in an attempt to convert the masses.    Thus many of the Church observances are merely Pagan beliefs wrapped in Christian garb, such as Easter.  However, it was the Magic of these people was condemned.

There is an interesting passage about this in the book, Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (Intro. By Hans Holzer, 1974 p. 70)

In the first years of Christianity all private magical rites were forbidden and only public augury permitted…In 500 AD all sorcerers were driven from Rome.  When in the following century the Lombards reached Italy they sold magicians as slaves outside their province, irrespective of whether the magic was successful

THE EVIL OF WITCHCRAFT IMPOSED BY THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH

As time marched on, the Church began to place more emphasis on the divisions between good and evil.    Follow the Church, worship her One God and you were fine.  But woe betide if you didn’t – you were now deemed to be a follower of The Devil (complete with Horns, I may add).

Eric Maple had this to say in his entry on Evil in the 1970 Encyclopedic Man, Myth and Magic:

In an age when the whole of society seemed beset by the forces of hell it was inevitable that the Devil’s agents upon the earth, the witches, should have come under heavy attack; almost every type of natural calamity was laid at their door, particularly the onset of disease, the sinking of ships at sea, storms and bad harvests.   It was accepted theology that a witch attained her powers by a compact with Satan, and as a penalty for forswearing her immortal soul and imperiling the human race there existed no logical alternative but to kill her.

The Magic Rituals were going; the Witch invariably disappearing.

We have now come to the phase where an estimated 9 million innocent man, woman and children were put to a trial and death.  Apart from the people, we have many records that relate to animals also being tortured and put to death – the Witch’s Black Cat being one such animal. Other familiars included ferrets, rabbits, hedgehogs, mice or any small animal.  Blackbirds and crows were fairly frequent as these birds were traditionally used in divination.  Amongst the reptiles appeared frogs and toads but interestingly fish never appear in these records.   This latter anomaly is most likely due to the fact that the Fish is an ancient symbol of the Christian Faith and its association with the loaves and fishes. (Matt.15:30-38) In Guide to Grand Jurymen (1627), it was insisted that the primary evidence of witchcraft was the possession of an animal familiar. As such, to have a frog living in a pond near your cottage was enough to have you tortured and killed.  But let’s be honest, of the estimated 9 million killed, no doubt only a very small handful could be classified as Witches who consciously and deliberately performed Ritual and Magic.

The burning of Witches originates with St. Augustine (354-430 AD) who said that pagans, Jews and heretics would burn forever in eternal fire with the Devil unless saved by the Catholic Church. This is recorded in his De Divinatione Dæmonum (On the divination of demons) written between 406 and 410. He likewise ascribed any form of magic to evil angels.

A part of this persecution was carried out by the Inquisition which was most likely established on the grounds that the Church could restrain those spreading ‘false teaching,’ – this is based on Acts 13:8-11 where Paul causes a sorcerer, Bar-jesus, to become blind for seeking to turn away the deputy of the faith.   In 1484 appeared the book, Malleus Malificarum (Hammer of the Witches) by Dominicans, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger in response to the Papal Bull issued by Pope Innocent VIII, the Summis Desiderantes.

In a novel about Witchcraft, a character is heard to say, “The fear of God is the root of some evils. It’s the way fear has.” (Mist over Pendle by Robert Neill,1951).   Could this “Fear of God” be a possible explanation for the root of the Witchcraft persecutions of those Dark times?  If the Christian God is the only True God worthy of Worship — and that only He is able to save one from Satan — then it was thus likely a “Fear of God” which keep us from the Hellish flames. Who wouldn’t feel the fear of the Witches given the lies told against them?

I cannot help but feel a profound sadness when I read the numerous stories of these innocent women, men and animals who were put to death under the guise of Witchcraft.  Even the Witch had a life that mattered; a life that should have reached its natural lifespan. But yet Satan did truly have his way though it were the Church which fed his insatiable appetite – a Church that was established to bring folk back to God, and not assign them to the Flames of an Earthly Hell.  Of course, ultimately the Church thought that by burning these people, they were freeing them from the Eternal Fires whilst to drown them was to know truly who were the Friends of Satan.    The logic being that if a person accused of witchcraft floated, it was because they were rejected by the baptismal waters. It was also believed at this time that Witches did not weigh much and therefore would float.

Let us hear what the 16th century French Demonologist, Jean Bodin, has to say concerning the Witch:

Even if the Witch has never killed nor done evil to man, or beats, or fruits, and even if he has always cured bewitched people, or driven away tempests, it is because he has renounced God and treated with the Satan that he deserves to be burned alive…Even if there is no more than the obligation to the Devil, having denied God, this deserves the most cruel death that can be imagined’

(The Demonomania of Witches, 1580 and written in Latin)

He further declared that anyone denying the existence  of Witchcraft were but Witches themselves and that, with rare exception, such as these should not be allowed to go unpunished.

As the French writer, Michel de Montainge observes in his 1588 essay, ‘Of Cripples,’  “…it is setting a high value on our conjectures to roast a man alive on account of the.”

But what can we expect when people, in this instance, appeal to Universal Law, the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church!

Talks such as this are by way of keeping alive the memories of these poor souls who were captured, tortured and ultimately put to death.  Long live the memory of our Witchy Brothers and Sisters, as too their kindly Familiars.

My friend, Andrew Rooke, sent me the following quote that can be equally applied to that of Witchcraft as viewed by many Churches and by many a Christian today.

“There is an attempt to paint African spiritual traditions in a negative way and Europeans have produced a whole vocabulary to do it. So, when they (ie the Europeans) have a belief system, they are religious, when we (ie Africans) have a belief system they are cults. When they have people ministering to their belief systems, they’re priests, when we have ours, they are shamans, medicine men or witch doctors. When they believe in the subtle forces, its spirituality, when we do it is demonology. They use religious symbols, but when we use our own symbols, they are fetishes. When we have images representing the spiritual forces, they become idols; theirs become icons and we can go on and on with such double standards.” – R. Walker interview for Ancestral Voices website 2014

I once wrote an article, Spirituality and Respect (The Phoenix, No.5, October-December 2018) wherein I explain:

As a Pagan, I have encountered a lot of religious intolerance, be this seen, read and/or experienced firsthand. Often when I go to speak about the things of Paganism or allied Faiths, my views have been seemingly dismissed as irrelevant or not worthy of the same respect as some other “Faiths” seem to attract. Often I am responded to with an insincere “That’s nice” or “But that’s not a real faith, only a pastime,” all the while my listener not hearing what I am attempting to convey to them or misunderstanding me.

I have heard much misinformation concerning Witchcraft such as: Witches worship the Devil because they follow an evil path.  Witches believe in fictitious spells, Witches cast spells to control people, Witches sacrifice animals in wild gatherings, Witches will curse you as soon as look at you, Witches are immoral, Witches are Satanists. Or they are gullible people used by Satan Himself to snare others to His Infernal Kingdom.

Such has been the True manifestation of Evil towards an otherwise highly misunderstood and maligned Religion.   The things that I have heard are truly a very, very sad injustice to those of us who love the Lord and Lady.     All we are trying to do is to live a life of balance in an otherwise unbalanced world.  To learn tolerance of our neighbours, to live in harmony with the animals and the environment.

If this be evil, then I gladly choose this evil for evil is not to be found in the teachings of Witchcraft. Maybe it is found within some individuals claiming to be Witches, but that claim is negated if one violates the Rede – Eight Words the Witches Rede: An It Harm None, Do As Thou Wilt.    No person bringing shame on the Craft brings shame to the whole Craft anymore than a Priest who does wrong brings shame on the whole of the Church.   Some may argue otherwise but I do not believe a few rotten apples spoil the lot.

THE REINTERPRETATION OF WITCHCRAFT IN MORE RECENT TIMES

Why is it that Witchcraft has survived down the ages – from the dawn of time, throughout the Burning Times; the Dark Ages, to now?   If it is due to some misguided loyalty to a Devil, then surely the treatment meted out to its followers is enough to sway them and would-be followers from the path.   And how have we managed to keep it alive as a Path many still follow today?

I think the answer lies in the ability of Witchcraft to draw us back to a deep relationship with the Natural World – the world of the Five Elements; that of Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit.    Witchcraft is based on many things but mainly on Ritual and its outpouring of Magic.

By Ritual, I mean the Casting of the Sacred Circle as a means of opening the portal between our world and the world of Spirit and thereby utilizing the power raised for the benefit of both these worlds. A part of that Ritual requires intense concentration and meditation, attention to details such as shown by the ˈSystem of Correspondences,’ the reading of the tales linking us to the Gods and Goddesses and emulating these tales in our daily lives. And the learning and imbuing deep within the words contained within the Invocations (whereby the deity is invited to enter the person, usually a High Priestess or High Priest)— for example, we have the:

Invocation to the God (WICCA: Guide for the Solitary Practitioner)

Blazing God,

You Who are the King of the Gods

Lord of the Sun,

Master of all that is wild and free;

Father of woman and man,

Lover of the Moon Goddess and protector of all the Wicca:

Descend, I pray,

With Your Solar ray of power

Upon my circle here

And so the Call is put forth for the Descent of Pan.

But what of Magic?  Is this the conjuring tricks of the stage magician? Nay, it is the power that we work to bring about change.   In 1929, Alastair Crowley defined magic as “the science and art of causing change in conformity to the Will.” (Magick in Theory and Practice, 1929).

And how can we achieve this state? —”Dedication, self-discipline, patience and reflection on what has been learned all form a changed self within the aspiring Shaman” so wrote D J Conway — or that of the aspiring Witch, Wiccan, Druid.    “However,” she continues, you will accomplish little if you are not dedicated, disciplined, and sincere in your motives.”     So the bring about “Change in conformity with the Will,” the practitioner must be sincere and honest.  Above all, I believe his intent in performing magic must be pure and that which creates the Balance of which I have previously alluded to.

A similar insight into how to work Magic is found within the pages of Gerald Gardner’s (Scire)  1949 novel, High Magic’s Aid

Throughout the practice of high magic, or art magic as it is often called, the emphasis is upon Purity and Strength, and through Purity, Strength of Will and Self-Control.   Without these no man can become a Magus. (Chapter XV

I truly believe that what lies deep within our Heart is what defines our Witchyness, not the outward trappings of elaborate Chalices, Wands and Robes.—It is Purity, Strength of Will and Self-Control.

Our ancestral Brothers and Sisters who followed the Old Ways during the Dark Ages were more than likely either extremely poor and therefore concentrated their efforts on getting through the day or they were occupied with agricultural pursuits. This was a time when folk would have woken before dawn, dressed and then gone out to perform their farming chores – milk the cows, feed the chickens, till the land, plant crops, mend the fences etc, and come back home when the sun was waning. Add to this the inside chores – cleaning the home, mending and making cloths, preparing meals. Many would have been schooled in the University of Hard Knocks; not some educational institute whereby to learn the elaborate rites and words that attend many a Pagan rite or gathering.

We need to take into account that:

The wide-spread social misery of the 11th and 12th centuries, the alarming spread of Catharist and Waldensian heresies, the terror of the Black Death which devastated the whole of western Europe in the 14th century, and its startling concomitants, the Flagellant and Dancing manias, had all contributed naturally to prepare men’s minds for a conviction of the reality of Satanic agencies operating with fresh virulence in the world, and terror-induced persecution while in its turn persecution propagated terror – Chambers Encyclopedia of 1922 in its Witchcraft Entry.

Being a time of great and terrible persecution, the elaborate tools that many books would tell us to deck our altars with – as a way of connecting with the God and Goddess; these simply didn’t exist. The athamé (the Witches working tool) – if it were decorated in sigils, would most likely have been inscribed in wood-ash – this being so that the handle could be wiped clean if the Inquisitorial authorities were afoot.

One author writes of how: ̎…the Witch would have kept her athamé separate and not used it for anything but magic. She would have written the magical signs on it in ink at the time of its consecration and then washed them off again, perhaps putting some small private make on the knife only she would recognize,” thus making of it a simple kitchen knife.  (Witchcraft for Tomorrow byDoreen Valiente, 1978

We would not have worn elaborate jewelry or donned robes decked with symbols and magical sigils, our altars would have consisted of a fallen log, most likely left where it fell – a gift from the Lord and Lady. Our athamé may have been (again most likely) the knife we cut our bread with and the chalice a simple mug, sitting amongst the many – most likely it were crafted with love in our hearts for the God and Goddess. Could a witch afford an athamé set aside exclusively for magic rites! Maybe yes though most likely not. To cut Bread – a gift from the earth to sustain one’s life – surely such were not anathema to our Lord and Lady.

I also do not feel that a Book of Shadows – where astrological dates are entered and rituals are written down in “One’s own hand“– would have existed but maybe it were a simple book where the witch recorded his or her observations with herbs or the time of the seasons. To record any further would surely have invited death. Maybe they compiled a Herbal where they could record their witchy ways in a fashion that cast a veil over what they truly meant – I simply do not know. Let us remember that the Witch was of the common folk; the Ceremonial Magician was one who had to be educated in the languages of Latin, Hebrew and Greek., deriving his work from the Hebrew Cabala.

And if we hearken back to the days of our early ancestors, they would have had none of these ritual paraphernalia. Yet I feel they had the heart, the strength and the tenacity to follow the Old Gods and Goddesses from a place deep within their hearts. They may have feared the Lord and Lady in some respects, but they were not a-feared to listen to the Call of the Lord and His Lady Love and to respond to that Call, as they truly lived from that place deep within their hearts.

HOW MODERN WITCHCRAFT CONTAINS BELIEFS OF THE FIRST PEOPLE (ANIMISM/PANTHEISM/PANPSYCHISM)

I have reached a point in my own life where I no longer feel the need to explain intellectually why I believe that rocks, plants and animals are special and just as important as humans (if not, in some ways, more so).  Nor do I feel the need to explain how I just know in my INNER Self that ALL LIFE has SPIRIT permeating through it and which goes on living in the Afterlife or Otherworld. In some ways I do not think I can even employ words to convey how I just know this in my INNER SELF but nevertheless within my SELF, I know it to be true.

By learning about Herbal Lore, and Spell-casting, we reconnect back to our ancestors. We learn too how best to respect and honour the Old Ones of the far distant past—Who are these One Ones?  “Traditionally, these are the primal Spirits of the earth which existed long before that of humans. They are the “Teachers” that dwell within the trees, hills, lakes and oceans. Our ancient ancestors learned from these spirits before there were any farmers or agriculturists.    The teachings of the Old Ones are those of a forgotten age. The Standing Stones represent this ancestral memory and the Tree symbolizes the living teachers of the memory.” (The Well-Worn Path Card Deck Book by Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor)

Thus, Witchcraft has in it the elements of Awe, of the First Religion, Animism and its cousin, Panpsychism. It is likewise Pantheistic for it views the spark of the Divine residing in each of the things found within the world of nature.   Witchcraft too is polytheistic is that it worships the God and Goddess and their children. Lastly, it is monotheistic for it recognizes that there is One Principle guiding all Life, even in that of the Lord and His Lady-Love.

THE BENEFITS OF RETURNING TO WITCHCRAFT

Witchcraft is all about balance, about the harmony of all life, loving community; not thinking that my way is the only way. It is about respect but equally about speaking about the injustices that may prevail in one’s environment.   It is about performing ritual in honour and devotion to the Lord and His Lady – it is not about performance for performance sake with elaborate altars and embroidered robes (those these are not wrong in themselves). Better it is to perform ritual with an honest and sincere heart.  Witchcraft for me connects me back to a time long ago when the Lord and His Lady roamed the land, protected the things of nature, could be heard within a storm or felt in the down-pouring of the rains.

As I said at the beginning, there was once a time when Early Man walked intuitively with the Gods — maybe not possessing the words to express their feelings.  However, they would have no doubt experienced a deep stirring within the Hidden Places of the Heart that may have helped them to understand these feelings; the forming of images in their minds that made these stirrings deeper and yet lucid.

That is the Essence of Witchcraft.

May the Lord and Lady Walk with alongside each of us as we Journey through this wondrous Earth

Prayer of praise for Hanuman:

‘OM HUM HANUMATE NAMAHAH’


“Om, I bow to Hanuman who cuts the ego. Let the energy of Lord Hanuman, the manifestation of devotion, service, humility and power resonate within my being. Let the son of the Wind God, the life force, the destroyer of ignorance, The bestower of Grace, open the doorway into infinity, SITA RAM SITA RAM. May the Golden Monkey, Hanuman, take me into his heart, along with Sita and Ram.”  ~ Jai Uttal

What is Hinduism?

Hinduism may well be the world’s oldest religion, according to many scholars, with roots and customs dating back more than 4,000 years. Today, with about 950 million followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam. Roughly 95 percent of the world’s Hindus live in India. Because the religion has no specific founder, it’s difficult to trace its origins and history. Hinduism is unique in that it’s not a single religion but a compilation of many traditions and philosophies.

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.

Some basic Hindu concepts include:

  • Hinduism embraces many religious ideas. For this reason, it’s sometimes referred to as a “way of life” or a “family of religions,” as opposed to a single, organized religion.
  • Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic, which means they worship a single deity, known as “Brahman,” but still recognize other gods and goddesses. Followers believe there are multiple paths to reaching their god.
  • Hindus believe in the doctrines of samsara (the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation) and karma (the universal law of cause and effect).
  • One of the key thoughts of Hinduism is “atman,” or the belief in soul. This philosophy holds that living creatures have a soul, and they’re all part of the supreme soul. The goal is to achieve “moksha,” or salvation, which ends the cycle of rebirths to become part of the absolute soul.
  • One fundamental principle of the religion is the idea that people’s actions and thoughts directly determine their current life and future lives.
  • Hindus strive to achieve dharma, which is a code of living that emphasizes good conduct and morality.
  • Hindus revere all living creatures and consider the cow a sacred animal.
  • Food is an important part of life for Hindus. Most don’t eat beef or pork, and many are vegetarians.
  • Hinduism is closely related to other Indian religions, including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Who is Hanuman?

Lord Hanuman is a Hindu god and divine ‘Vanara’ (ie forest dweller) companion of the god Rama.  Rama is one of the major deities of Hinduism. Rama is the seventh ‘Avatara’ (divine teacher) of the Hindu God, Vishnu, the Preserver, of the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer. Rama is one of Vishnu’s most popular incarnations along with Krishna, Parshurama (the 6th avatara of Vishnu, destroyer of military leaders abusing their power), and Gautama Buddha.

Hanuman and the Great Hindu Epics

Lord Hanuman is one of the central characters of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. He is an ardent devotee of Rama and one of the Chiranjeevis (one of seven immortals who remain alive on Earth till the end of the present Kali Yuga, or Black Age, of a further 427,000 years!). He is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the epic Mahabharata and the various Puranas (books considered amongst the oldest of Hindu texts).

Lord Hanuman is also son of the wind-god Vayu, who in several stories played a direct role in Lord Hanuman’s birth, though his biological father was Keshari (a forest-dweller) and his mother, Anjana.

Hanuman: The Symbol of Many Human Excellences

He is sometimes portrayed as the patron god of martial arts such as wrestling and acrobatics, as well as activities such as meditation and diligent scholarship.  He is immortal as he has been given powers by the Gods making him immune to any weapons, rapid movement anywhere he wishes, and a special weapon, Gada (a Mace).

He symbolizes the human excellences of inner self-control, faith, and service to a cause, hidden behind the first impressions of a being who looks like an Ape-Man or a Vanara (ie Hindu forest-dweller, helper, and follower of the God Rama).

Hanuman in the Modern World

In the modern era,  he is very popular with the general public and his temples are everywhere in India.

He is viewed as the ideal combination of “strength, heroic initiative and assertive excellence” and “loving, emotional devotion to his personal god Rama”, as Shakti (Universal energy of the Cosmos)and Bhakti (The Path of Devotion to a personal God or representative god and a teacher).

Hinduism in a Nutshell

Let’s take another moment to look at some of the major concepts of Hinduism in more detail:

  • The world’s third largest religion: after Christianity and Islam with 950 million followers or 14% of the world’s population mostly in India.
  • Polytheistic: 330 million Gods and Goddesses! Major ones: Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Ganesha,  Hanuman, Durga, Pavrati, Laxsmi.
  • Karma: the law of action and reaction;
  • Reincarnation (Punajanman): we have several lives in order to learn the lessons of life in their completeness;
  • Caste: determined by birth: Four principal 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;  Hanuman was an avatara of Vishnu.
  • Stages of Life (Asramas): Bramacharya: student; Grihasti: householder/family life; Varna Prastha: retired person; Sanyassi:  contemplative sages.
  • Cows: are sacred and allowed to wander freely. Millions of Hindus revere and worship cows. Hinduism is a religion that raises the status of Mother to the level of Goddess. Therefore, the cow is considered a sacred animal, as it provides us life sustaining milk. The cow is seen as a maternal figure, a care taker of her people. The cow is a symbol of the divine bounty of earth.
  • 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.

Hanuman in the Hindu Epic: The Ramayana

Hanuman is a central character of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, and is mentioned briefly in the other great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata (which includes the famous Bhagavadgita).

In the Ramayana, The demon Ravanna from Sri Lanka, kidnaps Rama’s wife, Sita, and Rama calls upon the Monkey King, Sugriva, to help him find Sita.

Sugriva sends Hanuman south searching for Sita. In the process of searching, Hanuman leaps across the ocean to Sri Lanka and turns himself into an ant, thus finding Sita a prisoner in Ravanna’s castle.  He offers to save Sita but Sita says her husband Rama must save her.

Hanuman is captured by Ravanna the demon king and tortured by burning his tail but Hanuman has magic powers and thus escapes in the process burning down most of the demon king’s city and returning to Rama to tell him of Sita’s capture and location.

Rama makes Hanuman general of his army and Hanuman returns to Sri Lanka. The legendary battle of Lanka ensues which Hanuman finally wins, killing Ravanna and all the demons.

Rama can thus rescue Sita. Rama offers gifts to all those who helped him including Hanuman who refuses the gift to show he doesn’t need gifts to endure his devotion to Rama and Sita.

Hanuman spectacularly rips open his own chest to reveal that Rama and Sita are indelibly pictured on his heart.

Hanuman in the Bhagavadgita

Hanuman once again returns to the forest and anonymity.

Hundreds of years later he meets Bhima, a great warrior who was later to fight on the side of Arjuna, the hero of the Great War of the Mahabharata

Hanuman prophesies the War and Bhima’s involvement and then he disappears never to be seen again. He is said to have protected Arjuna’s chariot during the war. Also, since that ancient time, various devotees have said that they have seen Hanuman. Principal amongst these is the great Hindu poet of the 16th century, Tulsi Das, who saw Hanuman in the sacred city of Varanasi. At this spot, Tulsi das built a temple to Hanuman which is still there today.

Qualities of Hanuman

  • Immortal (Chiranjivi): staying alive throughout the Kali Yuga (432,000 years).
  • Self-Controlled (Brahmchari): Chaste.
  • Ugly but yet Beautiful (KurÅ«p and Sundar): he is described in Hindu texts as kurÅ«p (ugly) on the outside, but divinely sundar (beautiful inside).
  • Shape-Shifter (Kama-rupin).
  • Strength: Hanuman is extraordinarily strong, one capable of lifting and carrying any burden for a cause.
  • Innovative: Hanuman is described as someone who constantly faces very difficult odds, where the adversary or circumstances threaten his mission with certain defeat and his very existence. Yet he finds an innovative way to turn the odds.
  • Devoted (Bhakti): Hanuman is presented as the exemplary devotee (bhakta) of Rama and Sita. The Hindu texts such as the Bhagavata Purana, the Bhakta Mala, the Ananda Ramayana and the Ramacharitmanas present him as someone who is talented, strong, brave and spiritually devoted to Rama.
  • Learned Yogi:  He is learned in Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, the Vedas, a poet, a polymath, a grammarian, a singer and musician par excellence.
  • Remover of obstacles: similar to the Hindu elephant-God Ganesha.
  • Bestower of eight Siddhis and nine Nidhis to his devotees: the eight Siddhis (supernatural powers) are: material, paranormal, supernatural, or otherwise magical powers, and attainments that are the products of spiritual advancement. The nine treasures are those of Kubera the God of Wealth and include various precious stones, flowers and animals, probably signifying various  psychic powers.
  • Healer of diseases, pains and sorrows.
  • Slayer of demons, evil and negative energies: Keeps away ghosts, evil spirits, demons, Brahmarakshasa, devils, Sakini, Dakini, and prevents effects of the planets in the sky, evil created by talismans and chants.
  • Protector and saviour of devotees of Shri Ram and himself: The doorkeeper and protector of the door to Rama’s court, and protector and saviour of devotees.
  • Five-faced or Panchmukha: when he assumes his fierce form: East facing Hanuman face (Anjaneya) that grants purity of mind and success. South facing man-lion face (Karala Ugraveera Narasimha) that grants victory and fearlessness. West facing Garuda face (Mahaveera Garuda) that grants protection from black magic and poisons. North facing Boar face (Lakshmi Varaha) that grants prosperity and wealth. Horse face (Hayagriva) facing towards the sky (upwards) that grants knowledge and good children.

Hanuman: Temples and Shrines

Hanuman is often worshipped along with Rama and Sita of Vaishnavism, and sometimes independently of them.There are numerous statues to celebrate or temples to worship Hanuman all over India. In some regions, he is considered as an avatar of Shiva by Shivites. Some scholars state that the earliest Hanuman statues (murtis) appeared in the 8th century, but verifiable evidence of Hanuman images and inscriptions appear in the 10th century in Indian monasteries in central and north India.

Tuesday and Saturday of every week are particularly popular days at Hanuman temples. Some people keep a partial or full fast on either of those two days and remember Hanuman and the theology he represents to them.

Major temples and shrines of Hanuman include:

  • The oldest known independent Hanuman temple and statue is at Khajuraho, dated to about 922 CE from the Khajuraho Hanuman inscription.
  • Mahavir Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman, located in Patna, Bihar, India.

Hanuman: A Theosophical Insight

The deep reverence that the Hindus for ages have held for this monkey-being is based on an intuitive, but nevertheless traditional, remembrance of the connection, more intimate than at present, that existed during Atlantean and even Lemurian times between human beings and the apes and even monkeys.

The monkeys, although now static stocks, were originally derivative from Lemurian humanity, just as the anthropoids were later derivatives from miscegenations between undeveloped Atlantean savages and the monkeys of those distant times.

Therefore, there is a strain of Manas (ie.mind), however as yet undeveloped, in the anthropoid and the simian stocks.

Hanuman: A Major Influence on Other Religions

Hanuman has had a vast influence on other religions in Asia. He appears Tibetan and Khotanese Buddhist versions of the Ramayana. The hit TV series ‘Monkey’ where the hero is a Buddhist nun, Tripitaka, accompanied by her disciples Pigsy and Monkey is highly reminiscent of Hanuman’s qualities as protector and warrior. It was enormously popular for decades in Australia. Hanuman appears also in Jainism and Sikhism The Sikh texts such as Hanuman Natak composed by Hirda Ram Bhalla, and Das Gur Katha by Kavi Kankan describe the heroic deeds of Hanuman.

In Cambodia Hanuman is a revered heroic figure in Khmer history in southeast Asia. He features predominantly in the Reamker, a Cambodian epic poem, based on the Ramayana. Hanuman is the central character in many of the historic dance and drama art works such as Wayang Wong found in Javanese culture, Indonesia.  In Thailand Hanuman plays a significantly more prominent role in their epic the, Ramakien. In contrast to the strict devoted lifestyle to Lord Rama of his Indian counterpart, Hanuman is known in Thailand as a promiscuous and flirtatious character, but at the same time a brave warrior and protector of the good.

What Does Hanuman Mean to a Devotee?

Asking a devotee ‘What does Lord Hanuman mean to you?’ he replied:

  • Hanuman is the flow of Grace that gives access to our own heart’s, deepest heart which is God.
  • A Being fully turned towards God/Universal Love.
  • A vast presence like the ‘Sky’ of the heart.
  • He removes obstacles in your life in accessing God.
  • Even though He is celibate Himself, he satisfies desires that we all have on the way to becoming free of attachment. So His is not a renunciate path, but a Path of surrender into that Greater Presence/Love that opens our hearts.
  • He creates confidence and points us in the direction we are moving towards immersing ourselves in the Love/presence the more we overcome our lower Egoism especially, the constant programmed thoughts that assail us.
  • Hanuman has no personal agenda. He immerses himself in the God Presence of Rama.

Is Hanuman Real?

Does Hanuman symbolize a real being or class of entities rather than simply a flight of artistic fantasy?

Perhaps the real Hanuman 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. Hanuman and his celestial hordes work consciously and untiringly so that we may learn and grow spiritually to one day join them in their cosmic labour’s.

Let me ask you a question. Do you know if you are real? Perhaps we need to answer this question first. Perhaps we should make an attempt to get rid of all the lesser aspects of ourselves and then we’ll start to see The Gods as part of ourselves and ourselves as part of them. We are on the spiritual Path not to see if Hanuman is real, but to find Hanuman as an aspect of the God-Self inside of you. Hanuman is not outside of our true nature. Find out who you are and then you’ll find out if Hanuman is true or not…or at least start looking and see what happens.

The Hanuman Chaleesa

The 16th-century Indian poet Tulsidas wrote Hanuman Chalisa, a devotional song dedicated to Hanuman. He claimed to have visions where he met face to face with Hanuman. Based on these meetings, he wrote Ramcharitmanas, an Awadhi language version of Ramayana.

The beginning of the Hanuman Chalisa…

Taking the dust of my Guru’s lotus feet to polish the mirror of my heart,

I sing the pure fame of the best of Raghus, which bestows the four fruits of life.

I don’t know anything, so I remember you, Son of the Wind.

Grant me strength, intelligence and wisdom and remove my impurities and sorrows.

Refuge at the feet of Sita’s lord, Ram.

Hail Hanuman, ocean of wisdom/Hail Monkey Lord!  You light up the three worlds.

You are Ram’s messenger, the abode of matchless power/ Anjani’s son, “Son of the Wind.”

Great hero, you are a mighty thunderbolt/Remover of evil thoughts and companion of the good

….. On for another 32 verses. Let’s listen to Kishna Das singing the  Hanuman Chalisa…. Available at:

OM HUM HANUMATE NAMAHA

Modern Theosophy says that the aim of every theosophist should be the betterment of other beings based on compassion for others. In this aim, Theosophy follows the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism by teaching our ideal is to eventually become a Bodhisattva (Sanskrit for compassionate spiritual being) after many lifetimes of self-directed effort.

The Buddhist tradition teaches there are basically three types of spiritual students and we have to make up our mind early in our search who we want to be!!

These three stages as given by Mahayana Buddhism are:

  • Sravaka (Sanskrit: ‘hearers’), the vast majority of people who are involved in
    religion/spiritual searching with the thought of what they can get out of it for themselves as individuals.
  • Pratyeka (Sanskrit: ‘everyone for himself’), meaning those who follow the
    spiritual path with the idea of liberation from this world of suffering rather than alleviating the suffering of others as their primary concern.
  • Bodhisattva (Sanskrit: Compassionate, truth-embodying being), being the
    ideal of Theosophy to join the ‘Brotherhood of Compassion’ of those people/beings who seek spiritual knowledge in the service of others.

The essential difference between these three approaches is “Sravaka’ and ‘Pratkeya’ would look at this world of suffering and say: ‘If only those people/beings could have happiness and be free of suffering’, but they are not yet prepared to do much about it personally as their major motivation in life. They are typically disillusioned with this world, and direct their considerable spiritual energies to trying to escape from the physical world. The Bodhisattva approach would be: ‘I will take on the responsibility to remove the suffering and to provide for the happiness of all living beings’.

Bear in mind that we may move through all these three stages in our spiritual search and are not guaranteed of staying at one particular level or other. Remember that “sravaka” and ‘pratyeka’ spiritual searchers, are good and high-minded people who help many people in their way; and that it is possible at any stage prior to ‘Buddhahood’ of making the transition ‘forward’ or ‘back, from any one of these three conditions. An interesting question for us all to consider is, how well qualified are we at a comparatively low level of spiritual training such as most of us are at now, to make value judgements about the paths, or the stages of spiritual development, reached by others!?

Theosophy encourages us to develop the ‘Bodhisattva Attitude’ of a wholehearted resolve that assumes the responsibility of liberating all beings based on compassion. Theosophical teachers have told us that developing this attitude, i.e. ‘to live to benefit mankind [and all beings], is the first step’ along the path to Bodhisattvahood. It is the responsibility of the Theosophical Society as the ‘kindergarten’ of the ‘Mystery Schools’ to encourage this attitude at the very beginning of our ‘training’. To follow the six noble perfections or ‘paramitas’, is the second step along this noble path according to Theosophy. In the next and subsequent issues of our newsletter we will examine the ‘Six Perfections’ and practical ways to apply them in our lives in detail.

According to Biblical tradition, angels are invisible, created as angels, from nothing, before humankind began, pure spirit without bodies, but which take temporary form to do the work of their spiritual hierarch1. Seeking to visualise invisible beings, Angels were given white garments of light, haloes, the attribute of all holy persons such as Buddha and Christ, and are beautiful, young, androgenous, of immortal appearance.2 “Angel means “bringer of tidings” in Greek, and after the time of Constantine, first Christian Roman emperor, angels were given wings to depict messengers speedily bridging the gap between heaven and earth, according to pre-Christian predecessors, most probably the Goddess Nike/Victoria. In Egypt the goddess Nepthys, in Etruria (Tuscany), griffins – winged lions with human heads3, in Greece and Rome, Hermes/Mercury, the messenger of the gods with either a winged helmet or winged sandals, and Iris, his feminine counterpart has wings on her back – she took women’s souls to the afterlife. Other predecessors are Assyrian winged lions and bulls with human heads, and Viking winged valkyries.4

By the middle ages a multiplicity of angels became recognised, from the Seraphim, Cherubim, various archangels, and the vast heavenly host, each gaining a specific task, mission, a personality, and a focus to complete their task. Mystics extended this to the idea that everyone has an angelic counterpart, usually a “Guardian Angel” or an angel corresponding to all beings; their cult became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries AD.5

Much of pop culture’s obsession with angels revolves around “Guardian Angels’. Some modern students of the Ancient Wisdom believe some angels develop from the results of human actions, so the angel made by a good deed lives on and can return to affect people in a positive way. Angels intervened to save Daniel from the lion’s den, and St. Peter from prison, and King David wrote: “He will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all ways, bearing you up lest you dash your foot against a stone”.6 First World War allied veterans told of heavenly hosts appearing above the battlefield after the slaughter at Mons, France. The first guardian angels are said to be the four archangels, Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael who were the four ruling princes, spoken of in The Book of Enoch. St. Basil of Caesarea, one of the Church Doctors, said there were seventy national angels, but only those of the four nations are mentioned in Rabbinical writings, Dobiel for Persia, Samuel for Rome, (Edom), Rahab for Uzza, and Duma and or Semyaza, for Egypt, and Michael for Israel.7 The medieval mystic, Athanasius Kircher, even names guardian angels for each of the planets. According to the Talmud, every Jew is attended throughout life by 11,000 guardian angels, and every blade of grass has over it an angel saying “grow”; Jesus bade his disciples not to despise children and “speaks of angels in heaven”, suggesting that every child has its protecting spirit.8

Charles Lindbergh, the first aviator to cross the Atlantic from New York to Paris, met angels in their own realm, more or less. Sea fog crept across his field of vision, skimming the clouds in the moonless night. Needing to remain alert, he thought he saw translucent, weightless human forms with human voices, in the clouds, vanishing and appearing at will through the walls of the fuselage, advising him on the flight, his navigation, offering reassurance, and “messages of importance unattainable in ordinary life”.9 Joan of Arc also contacted angels “in their own realm”, when as a very pious child of thirteen she began to hear supernatural voices of Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine, so close at times they seemed to speak in her ear. The voices predicted to her a disastrous defeat of the French by the English, the whereabouts of an ancient sword, and many other predictions. These voices were accompanied by ringing bells, a pleasant smell, and a bright light always coming from the church to her right. Some people think that her hearing voices is indicative of suffering from schizophrenia, but Joan of Arc’s thoughts and personality were not disordered in the manner usually associated with mental illness.10

Do Guardian Angels exist? Many people around the world believe so, and myth confirms the experience of most young children who know instinctively they have an invisible companion caring for them. Ask any parent and they will tell you that their young kids can spend hours playing and talking with this unseen friend and nothing can convince them that there is nothing there! Maybe Guardian angels and Angels generally, are the spiritual hierarchy’s way of transmitting messages beyond our normal perception boundaries – in the Greater Light of the spiritual realms. Maybe young children are more keenly aware than are adults of the presence of their own invisible ‘Higher Self’ which constantly seeks to advise and guide us constructively along the pathways of life. Young children, being newly exiled from the spiritual worlds, are more keenly aware of spiritual realities than adults who have to contend with the veils of material considerations that accumulate over time. Angels are messengers, so are thoughts, both moving instantaneously from a place of inspiration, home of the greater intelligence running the universe. Maybe angels are the agents for seeing through the veil between our level of reality and their home in the spiritual worlds of Greater Light.

Endnotes

  1. Hebrews, 1:!4, The Editors of Beliefnet, The Big Book of Angels, Dingley, Hinkler Books, 2003., p.41, and Colossians 1:16.
  2. C. Erskine Clement, Legendary and Mythological Art, London, Bracken Books, 1994., p.13, and J. Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, New York, Harper & Row, 1974., p.17, Beliefnet, op cit, p.7.
  3. Beliefnet, op cit, p.7.
  4. Ibid, p.7.
  5. Beliefnet, op.cit, pp. 24-26, Davidson, Gustav, The Dictionary of Angels, New York, The Free Press, and London, Collier-McMillan Limited, 1967, pp. 1,7, and 240.
  6. Psalm 91:11
  7. Davidson, G., op cit., p.128.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Beliefnet, op cit, pp. 324-328.
  10. JH Leavesley, The Common Touch, A Doctor’s Diverting Look at Fourteen Famous Patients, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney, 2001, pp. 8-13.

One hardly hears anyone saying ‘Grace’ and giving thanks before eating their dinner these days! As we enter the Christmas and holiday season, I wonder sometimes just how many folks still say “Thank you, My Lord” before each meal – whatever they consider God to be.

Did you know that the concept of saying Grace at mealtimes goes back a very long way? In the ancient Indian spiritual classic, the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Lord Krishna says to Arjuna : “The Devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (3:13) This statement, which at the outset may seem rather alarming in view of our restaurant culture here in Australia, intimates the importance of remembering where our food came from before we tuck into a hearty meal. Other living beings have had to sacrifice their lives so that we can continue ours.

In the Christian scriptures we learn that St. Paul himself said Grace : “….he gave thanks in the presence of them all” for the food they had before them. [Acts 27:35] In the Catholic Encyclopedia we read that : “This custom is frequently emphasized as an important family ritual to carry over the spirit of the day’s liturgical prayer, especially at morning and evening, as well as to acknowledge God in a prayer of blessing for His providence in offering sustenance for His creatures. This derives largely from the important Jewish domestic ritual custom of offering special prayers at mealtimes, especially the weekly sabbath meal and the annual seder.” – this being the first night of the Jewish Passover.

It is interesting to note that the word is a relic of the old phrase ‘to do graces’, meaning to render thanks from the French ‘rendre graces’ or the Latin ‘gratias agere’and therefore it can be infererred as not relating necessarily to a shallow religious observance only.

For myself, I strongly believe saying Grace is another opportunity we have for reflecting on Life’s questions. By giving thanks outwardly for our food, we thereby pay homage and connect in a limited way with the One Divine Creative Principle and therefore All Life. Saying Grace can assist in leading us to better dietary habits by making us more thoughtful of what we eat and seeing how our sustenance is connected with this, All Life. In particular it should lead us to be less destructive of other life forms in what we routinely consume and realize the sacrifice of other lives to sustain us. By saying Grace, it gives us the opportunity to reflect deeper on the types of food we eat and to develop heightened spiritual sensitivity. We have occasion to remember and empathize with those who are not so fortunate as ourselves to have a wholesome meal to eat and resolve to help them when we can. Saying Grace is just another little way in which we can connect regularly with spiritual realities and realize that we are all One in Spirit and therfore be more sensitive to our opportunities each day to help other sentient beings. I thoroughly recommend everyone to say Grace not just over the Christmas meal, but everyday and ponder on some of these ideas.

The old saying ‘Food for Thought’ takes on a whole new meaning when we look at our daily meal this way!

A friend recently sent me this beautiful quote from the great Russian writer, Count Leo (Lev) Tolstoy:

“You say you can’t see the kingdom of the good and the true on earth. I didn’t see it either; and it can’t be seen if you look at our life as the end of everything. On earth, I mean this earth…there is no truth–everything is falsehood and evil; but in the universe, in the whole universe, there is a kingdom of the true, and we are now children of the earth, but eternally–children of the whole universe. Don’t I feel in my soul that I make up a part of that huge, harmonious whole?

Don’t I feel that among the countless number of beings in which the divinity–the higher power–whatever you like–is manifest, I make up one link, one step from lower beings to higher?    If I see, see clearly, this ladder that leads from plant to man, then why should I suppose that this ladder, the lower end of which I do not see, is lost in the plants? Why should I suppose that this ladder stops with me and does not lead further and further to higher beings? I feel not only that I cannot disappear, as nothing disappears in the world, but that I will always be and have always been. I feel that, besides me, above me, spirits live, and that in this world there is truth.”

To this I responded:

Marvellous! Tolstoy sounds like a Theosophist, he so beautifully put into writing the doctrine of spiritual evolution, of the consciousness underlying the many kingdoms of nature. Our imperfect understanding in the World, the higher power’s infilling of the Outer, by the Inner.

I dreamed a mental picture of the plants twining their stems around the sides and rungs of my friend’s garden-ladder, climbing their way along the upward path! Of course, they’d change into the next-highest life-form as they went. Sometimes I think one has glimpses of universal consciousness at work in the plants and animals.

My friend lives in an idyllic semi-rural area beside a creek – you sit on the back veranda and hear the creek’s soothing burbling as it drifts towards its far-distant destination. One afternoon I sat there listening to the noisy minor-birds dipping and dashing over the surface of the water above a hollow between the river-stones on its shallow bed. It was a very hot day, the sunlight glittered on water, leaves, and stones. Walkers and cyclists drifted by on the opposite bank.

But the concrete paving of the backyard had a big crack in it, like a huge chunk of earth was about to drop into the cavity of the flood-line of the creek bed. The scoria-rocks of the retaining wall on the other side of the yard bulged outward toward the creek. We feared the house would slip into the creek – a not unfounded fear.

However, the REAL/ Inner Vision came when we wondered, why the birds kept skimming that part of the river-bed. We saw an “inanimate” vine using the breath of the wind to move it towards a nearby branch of another tree as if unconsciously searching for another branch to move itself onto. It seemed that it used the Earth’s very breath of life to move itself. If that was so, it was extraordinary to observe.

The OUTER/Worldly Vision then came in the realisation that the car needed filling with the minimum of fuel and there were jobs to go to the next day. The concerns of this world flooded back, which was the way it should be.

That’s my take on what Tolstoy wrote so beautifully. How strange, it was more than words, the words became warm, glowing, calm, breezes and surroundings! Thanks to the great author, Leo Tolstoy, for this beautiful piece of writing that acted like a window to somewhere else, or the wax covering on a cell full of honey in a bees’ honeycomb: Thus, both the Inner and Outer visions combined both the beauty of the inner “kingdom” of the ideal, and the relative imperfection, of our outer reality. The reflection, as we’ve perceived it, in our outer, imperfect, reality, the perfect infilling the imperfect, according to our enlightened perception of its inner, silent, “Thereness”.

The congregation, a kind of family, was invited to a sacred family ritual – the Sunday Slide-Show. Pam’s Mum’s life flittered across the screen, like Shakespeare’s, “poor player, who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard of no more.”

The large white screen had previously been a blank canvas, a ‘tabula rasa’ (a clean slate). On this canvas was painted, flickering across the screen, in colour and light, a portrayal of a person’s life, from babyhood, youth, parenthood, to great grandparenthood, a sound and light show, willing commentary from grieving, yet grateful and loving, survivors of her death.

All things done, we filed out for food and drink, lavishly provided, refreshment for the physical frame of us on earth. But, glancing back over one’s shoulder, as we filled out, one saw the screen blank again, the original ‘tabala rasa’, yet improved by the events of a life well lived. And the light which allowed this to become visible, was obvious no more, the colour and light had gone, and the person’s life had been absorbed into the great LIGHT, and the LIFE of ALL LIFE, the Great ‘I AM’.

The University bus-stop is a waiting-ground, a resting-place between the following of new paths. As such, one is more keenly aware than usual of observations pertinent to Life and its Way. Crooning pigeons nurse their young among the precipitous eaves of the university buildings, where one false step necessitates an early introduction to the skills of flight. Swallows sweep and skit about the cavernous ceilings and sparrows strafe the window spaces, snapping at passing midges.

Spiders have colonized the window frames, out of reach of feathered marauders. Like a human colony, the parents have colonized in heavy concentrations in a favoured architectural site. Parent spiders can be posed strategically above their white orb-shaped egg-sack, like an eight-fingered, half-closed hand guarding a precious pearl. At a distance, exceeding the pouncing-distance of an adult spider, was another, and yet another, and yet more, such orbs, each with its attendant parent, along the full height of the frame. Each nest was a perfect replica of its neighbour, so the colony resembled a long tenement house or a multi-storied block of apartments.

It struck the viewer how similar are the needs and pressures upon members of the human and animal kingdoms and how similar are their solutions. However, each spider had created the same dwelling according to some inner pattern, followed step by step to completion, trusting his own inner light to lead him through the tunnel. The human viewer, though unaware of this pattern, had the ability to observe its beauty objectively from the outside. And similarly, God silently observing the man, holds in his hand the key to both the inner and outer awareness of His two ‘younger brothers’ and he knows that they, too, will eventually possess this self-born ecliptic knowledge.

“Lord, give us eyes that we might see”, the Vicar intoned in the Chapel.

“But how can I change into what I’m not?”, came the doubtful response of my heart.

I thought of the sunset eve, with the Light at its most glorious at the very point of its departure, all Creation raising a chorus in its praise, and how with its return at the dawning, the little birds would overflow with joy, when warm rays touch the chord in their hearts.

Then my eyes met those of a little girl seated nearby, gazing at the stained-glass windows. Not at the first of the three windows, which depicted a man gathering a golden harvest of wheat; nor at the picture of the gardener surrounded by rosy blossoms and flocks of doves. But she was looking intently through a plain empty window, the last of the three windows, with its border checkered in red and blue stained glass, like rubies and sapphires, interspersed with pure white roses, a Cross, each with a shining centre, barely visible, yet warm as the Sun. But the window pane itself was cross-hatched with plain lead supports for the plain glass window panes.

“Why do you like that one?”, I asked. “I can see the outside!” said the little girl, “A bird might come and say ‘hello’, or an angel, or maybe even God!”. We thought together how the Divine might come upon us unawares whilst we were busy with other things. With child-like vision, pure and uncluttered, we could be such a window, allowing our inner Christos Self to shine through when the right moment arrived for It to do so. We have the potential to perceive the Divine, having the light of our spiritual Sun within, a clear window free from the dust of illusion, and an eye receptive to its light.

On Friday, when I was covering books with sticky clear plastic contact covering material – I experienced a sort of ‘librarian’s revelation’! The transparent, yet highly materialised sticky plastic book-covering material got snarled up slightly when I was struggling with it to put a protective covering over some new library books.

I thought: “The more I struggle with it, the more snarled it’ll become”. As I meditated upon this seemingly mundane problem, I became aware that the sticky transparent plastic could be an analogy for our human Astral Body which Theosophy tells us bears the imprint of all our actions and their reactions when we leave this life. These actions and reactions remain there when our ‘life-atoms’ come back on “re-entry” (Reincarnation) to the world after our “Pralaya’ (after-death state) in “Heaven” (Devachan).

I began to think that this very same process also applied to the creation of the Universe, after Its Pralaya (rest time), with the imprint of all the world’s karma, and all of sentient life’s actions and their reactions – like the folds in the sticky plastic covering paper needing to be straightened out during the next period of manifestation (Manvantara). So, my mistake with the book-covering plastic, when corrected, taught me a great deal about the inner meaning of Life. I realised it was in my hands to change my ways and outlook providing I was prepared to accept the backwash of what I had done and accept the consequences. I ceased my meditations, straightened out the tangled covering plastic and realised that I still had to finish covering the new books! But I had learnt a valuable lesson, that even simple, some might say ‘boring’, everyday tasks can lead to a wider spiritual understanding depending on the way we look at them. I resolved to go on my ‘long, long journey’ of Life in the spirit of Peace and Love.

On a recent visit home to see family and friends after many years away, I sat bewildered at the dinner table on many evenings listening to the dinner-time conversation, vainly trying to work out who was related to whom. “Don’t you remember Uncle Joe? He was always a bit ‘funny’”, and, “What about Aunty Olive who could talk the hind-leg off a donkey”. In bewildered desperation I asked myself: “Who were these people anyway!”

After an extensive bombardment of such discussions one night, my uncle by marriage could see my efforts to understand family history were all in vain. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ve got it all written down in the Family Tree – see, you’re even here too!” I looked carefully to see that I was indeed listed down the bottom of the third page as ‘married to niece’ (!) What I also noticed was that from two people who were married in 1806, there were some 300 or more people, including myself, who were caught up in their web of destiny some 200 years later.

Amongst their descendants were a bewildering array of soldiers, engineers, aviators, housewives, teachers, shopkeepers, and others who had made their mark, mostly in modest ways, upon several far-flung corners of the earth. These two people who married in 1806 had not been particularly notable in any way, yet their decision to marry and pursue quiet but honest lives had a vast influence on their hundreds of descendants. Not only had many of the children followed careers closely akin to their father’s (in this case an agricultural engineer), but most, with the occasional exception, were god-fearing, solid citizens in the mould of their ancestor.

Gazing upon the family tree proved to me how the small decisions of life, both good and bad, can have far-reaching and unforeseen effects through the generations. I’m sure it would be the same if you could look at your own family tree. On our family tree two people had lived ordinary, verging on dull lives 216 years ago, yet the quality of their existence has affected hundreds of then unborn people. A few of these descendants did spectacular things in wars, commerce, and academia – their lives moulded, in part, by the qualities of their ancestors and the everyday decisions they made.

How important then are our decisions and the quality of our family life here and now for future generations who follow. Such ponderings bring to mind the theosophical teachings concerning the intimate intertwining of individual, family, national, and even global karma. Theosophical teachers, primarily Katherine Tingley, have always stressed the sacred trust of family life, and the karmic responsibilities of parenthood, no matter how seemingly modest and unspectacular our circumstances. Any family tree clearly shows how decisions in the here and now can ripple outwards throughout our descendants to affect the lives of our family and even of the nation, for ages hence.

When we set out on a journey we are mostly concerned about our destination and not so much about the steps along the way to getting there. We type our destination into the car’s GPS (Global Positioning System), and away we go – sometimes with disastrous results, ending up driving the wrong way up one-way streets or getting directed up mountain tracks where only the brave or foolhardy would venture! How much more so then when we type our destination into the ‘GPS of Life’ aiming for the mountains of spiritual achievement often without due consideration of the ‘little things’ that make up the steps along the way.

Yet it is those small steps, and the qualities associated with them, that make up the larger journey and determine how we finish up at our destination. Spiritual teachers tell us that it is best for us to take small steps rather than being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the spiritual challenges confronting us. For example, 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 the great Taoist teacher, Lao Tzu, says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

We all know this from family life where the seemingly small things tell us a lot about the quality and sincerity of our relationships. Does your partner remember your birthday, special family moments, or dare I say, Valentine’s day or the wedding anniversary after a few years of married life! We all know that such ‘little things’ mean an awful lot in bringing a relaxed harmony into married life and all the hugely important consequences of this for family peace.

Isn’t it true that we tend to judge people in business and working relationships generally by the little things they do, or forget to do, which tell us so much about their real character and priorities? We all tend to judge people more on these small things rather than the grandiose plans they may ‘shout from the roof-tops’. This too was recognized in many religious traditions, for example, in Christianity where Jesus is reported to have said: ‘By the fruits of their actions you will know them’ (Matthew 7: 15-20). In Hinduism, from the Bhagavad Gita (2:47): “Your right is to work only, but never to claim its fruits.  Do not become an instrument for making your actions yield fruit, nor let your attachment be to inaction.” In other words, just get on with doing our seemingly small duties in life without a selfish concern for the outcome of our actions and you will be safely guided to your spiritual goals selflessly. Indian political and spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi, gave us some practical advice about the importance of doing the ‘little things’ in the right spirit of non-attachment and how they can become the ‘big things’ in life, when he said:

Your Beliefs become your Thoughts; Your Thoughts become your Words; Your Words become your Actions; Your Actions become your Habits; Your Habits become your Values; Your Values become your Destiny.

Some quotes on the importance of ‘The Little Things’:

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

“Never underestimate the power of a simple smile, a kind word or the acknowledgement of another. Little gestures can move mountains.” – David Cuschieri.

“It’s always the little things that make the big things happen.” – Jeffrey Fry.

“Never overlook the littlest things that can mean pure happiness to someone else.” – Mischa Temaul.

“Do you suppose, that part of the constant delight of Heaven, will be the ability to be truly thankful for everything, no matter how minuscule? Even in this life there are an enormous number of very pleasant things that happen to us throughout the day, that we accept as being nothing out of the common way, and thus do not regard; not realizing that the very fact of their being so ‘common’ is in itself a blessing of the very highest magnitude!” – Meredith Allady, Letters to Julia.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh.

Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the everyday things nearest us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.” – Booker T. Washington.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault.

“The true and sincere one always remembers how to make you happy by doing little things.” – Ghazala Muhammad Ali.

“From little things, big things grow.” – Paul Kelly and the Messengers.

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but impossible to find it anywhere else.” – Schopenhauer.

Have you ever wondered who we really are? What’s the purpose of our lives? Where do we come from? What shall we do and where are we going? What happens to us when we die? Have you ever looked at yourself and wondered what would it be like to look through the eyes of the ‘Ultimate Observer’? Have you ever seen yourself through the eyes of the someone you are hoping to become? Have you ever imagined what thoughts are made of? What effect positive thinking may have on us? What is true reality? Is reality only what we see with our eyes? Are there any real choices available in life?

Both Theosophy and Quantum Physics address all these eternal questions, the only difference is that quantum physics is still trying to find solutions, whist, in my view, Theosophy has already solved them! Let’s have a look at the major features of Quantum Physics in comparison with Theosophy:

Quantum physics is the science of possibilities: If we accept this definition, then the question immediately arises, who, or what is making the choices amongst these many possibilities? Immediately we see that Consciousness must be involved as an Observer affects the results of basic experiments about the nature of reality in Quantum Physics. From a Theosophical point of view, the Observer is the Spirit animating our bodies which are like ‘space suits’ enabling the Spirit to exist in the material world. Our bodies have all kinds of sensory systems enabling us to function in our environment according to the present limits of our consciousness development.

Theosophical teacher, HP Blavatsky in her, Collected Writings, Vol 14, page 387 says:

“Consciousness is a part of the whole, or rather a Ray on the graduated scale of its manifested activity, of the one all-pervading, limitless Flame, the reflections of which alone can differentiate; and, as such, consciousness is ubiquitous, and can be neither localized nor centred on or in any particular subject, nor can it be limited. Its effects alone pertain to the region of matter, for thought is an energy that affects matter in various ways, but consciousness per se, as understood and explained by occult philosophy, is the highest quality of the sentient spiritual principle in us, the Divine Soul (or Buddhi) and our Higher Ego, and does not belong to the plane of materiality.”

Quantum physics implies that everything around us is already existing without our influence, our choice: Even the material world around us, chairs, tables, rooms are possible movements of sub-consciousness and we are choosing moment to moment out of these movements to be our actual experience into manifestation. Werner Heisenberg said that atoms are not things, there are only tendencies, so instead thinking of things we have to think of possibilities. These are the possibilities of Consciousness.

In HP Blavatsky’s, Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, Page 49 we read:

“Esoteric philosophy teaches that everything lives and is conscious, but not that all life and consciousness are similar to those of human or even animal beings. Life we look upon as “the one form of existence,” manifesting in what is called matter; or, as in man, what, incorrectly separating them, we name Spirit, Soul and Matter. Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all.”

Quantum physics suggests different realities created by our differing thoughts: If reality is my possibility, a possibility of Consciousness itself, then comes the question of how can we change it? How can I make it better? How can I make it happier? Every single one of us can affect our world by the way we are thinking, even if sometimes we try to hide our thoughts. So, we have to change from the inside out. If we change our minds, we will change our choices, if we change our choices, our lives are going to change! Then we realize that there are different levels of truth and understanding about the nature of reality – Truth and Relative Truth.

HP Blavatsky in her, Collected Writings, Vol. 12, page 691 says:

“Let the student clearly realize that he cannot see things spiritual with the eyes of the flesh, and that in studying even the Body he must use the eyes of the Spiritual Intelligence, else will he fail and his study will be fruitless. For growth is from within outwards, and always the inner remains the more perfect. Even the development of a physical sense is always preceded by a mental feeling, which proceeds to evolve a physical sense. As said (p. 672) all senses are but differentiations of the one sense-consciousness, and become so differentiated on the Astral plane, where perceptive life proper begins (p. 660); from that the differentiation is continued on to the lowest sub-plane of the Prâkritic plane, to which the physical molecules of our Bodies belong.”

Quantum Physics and Theosophy agree on the fundamental truth of UNITY: At the deepest level of our reality YOU AND I ARE LITERALLY ONE! We have to think that each of us personally can influence other people, our environment, space itself, and the future. Each of us is responsible for all these things. Each of us has to think that “I and all Nature are not separated. We all are part of ONE, we are connected within the ALL like a drop in the ocean or a flame in a fire”.

HP Blavatsky in the, Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, Page 49 says:

“The idea of Universal Life is one of those ancient conceptions which are returning to the human mind in this century, as a consequence of its liberation from anthropomorphic theology.”

Bearing in mind this truth of Unity in Nature, that Universal Brotherhood is a fact of nature, Dr. Masuru Emoto and his team of scientists experimented with water exposed to music, spoken language, and typed words, taped to glass containers, photographs, and long-distance messages. Here are some of the pictures that show the response of water to these various sounds and words. (Emoto’s photographs are available at: http://www.adhikara.com/water.html

Water before and after a prayer:

Water, after saying the word THANK YOU, and, also water, with words written on the bottle: “You make me sick, I will kill you.”

Water after being exposed to Bach’s “Air for G String” and water after being exposed to heavy metal music:

Seeing these amazing pictures, we have to ask ourselves this question:

If thoughts could do that to water and thinking that 90% of our bodies are made up of water, can you imagine what our thoughts could be doing to us? So, if quantum physics is right, and since we have unlimited options of thought and unlimited choices – it’s up to us to decide – “How far investigating the spectrum of reality and possibilities suggested by quantum physics do we really want to go?”

HP Blavatsky in her, Collected Writings, Vol. 14, page 249 encourages us onwards: “There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the very heart of the Universe: I can tell you how to find those who will show you the secret gateway that opens inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte for evermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onwards there is reward past all telling –the power to bless and save humanity; for those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come”.

Hurrying home in the rain from the local playground with my complaining two-year-old granddaughter, all I could think of was a warm haven from the storm. Cursing Melbourne’s notoriously changeable weather, I was oblivious to the patch of sunlight that broke momentarily through the dark clouds creating a beautiful rainbow across a wintry sky. My granddaughter stopped, electrified by the experience of nature’s beauty, the first rainbow she had seen in this life. As we stood there soaking wet watching as the rainbow dissolve from view in the next rain shower, I realized how rarely it is that we are aware of the beauty and wonder such as a child can see in the little things of everyday life.

Most of us hurry head-down through the responsibilities of adulthood losing touch with the beauty of the hour and the minute each precious day provides. The loneliness and boredom which plague modern Western society tell of a community in which many people disregard the opportunities each day provides to learn and grow. As each new day dawns, we can resolve to see a ‘rainbow’ in all our tasks and duties, no matter how outwardly humble. Not only will this exercise immeasurably enrich our daily lives, but it is needed practice in building strength of character for future tests and responsibilities awaiting those who genuinely pledge themselves to the betterment of Humanity.

The great English poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850), put this thought beautifully in a little poem, My Heart Leaps Up:

“My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky;

So it was when my life began,

So it is now I am a man;

So it shall be when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The Child is the Father of the man;

And I could wish my days to be,

Bound each by natural piety.”

Sacred places of Initiation are mentioned in Isis Unveiled and many other passages in theosophical writings.  While the altruistic function of these Initiation temples is made clear, what span of wisdom, power and virtue was fixed in their minds is known only to Initiates.  The function is described as a mastery of life and wisdom:

“A mastery gained through the unfolding in the individual of the spiritual and intellectual powers and faculties which are innate and native to all men, but which require ‘evolving’ or bringing forth or unfolding, partly by self-induced efforts in training, and partly by teaching given in the initiation chambers.” [i]

“The ‘Towers,’ which are found throughout the East in Asia, were connected with the Mystery-Initiations… The candidates for Initiation were placed in them for three days and three nights, wherever there was no temple with a subterranean crypt close at hand. These round towers were built for no other purposes… The pureia of the Greeks, the nuraghes of Sardinia, the teocalli of Mexico, etc., were all, in the beginning, of the same character as the ‘Round Towers’ of Ireland. They were sacred places of Initiation.” [ii]

“For countless generations hath the adept builded a fane of imperishable rocks, a giant’s Tower of Infinite Thought, wherein the Titan dwelt, and will yet, if need be, dwell alone, emerging from it but at the end of every cycle, to invite the elect of mankind to cooperate with him and help in his turn enlighten superstitious man.” [iii]

This quotation gives one general hint, that an Adept’s thoughts are boundless, both in number and in depth.  Their motive and function is to enlighten humanity, like that of the Bodhisattva Titan Prometheus.  Here is testimony that KH and other Brothers in Tibet still used one specific tower when they were ready for their Initiation:

“At a stone’s throw from the old Lamasery stands the old tower, within whose bosom have gestated generations of Bodhisattvas.” [iv]

In addition to mental and physical Initiation towers or temples, there are also astral Initiation places.  Here is an astral temple Damodar Mavalankar wrote about in a letter to William Q Judge:

“After walking a considerable distance through this subterraneous passage we came into an open plain in Ladakh. There is a large massive building thousands of years old. In front of it is a huge Egyptian Tau. The building rests on 7 big pillars in the form of pyramids. The entrance gate has a large triangular arch…  This is the Chief Central Place where all those of our Section who are found deserving of Initiation into Mysteries have to go for their final ceremony and stay there the requisite period. I went up with my Guru to the Great Hall. The grandeur and serenity of the place is enough to strike any one with awe. The beauty of the Altar which is in the centre and at which every candidate has to take his vows at the time of his Initiation is sure to dazzle the most brilliant eyes. The splendour of the CHIEF’S Throne is uncomparable. Everything is on a geometrical principle & containing various symbols which are explained only to the Initiate.” [v]

WQ Judge recalls a past life story.  An Adept speaks:

“This is an old tower used by the immediate descendants of the white Magicians who settled on Ireland when England’s Isle had not arisen from the sea. When the great Masters had to go away, strict injunctions were left that no fires on these towers were to go out, and the warning was also given that, if the duties of life were neglected, if charity, duty, and virtue were forgotten, the power to keep these fires alive would gradually disappear. The decadence of the virtues would coincide with the failure of the fires, and this, the last tower, guarded by an old and a young man, would be the last to fail, and that even it could save the rest, if its watchers were faithful.” [vi]

In the Mahayana tradition there is a much revered section of the Avatamsaka Sutra [vii] that gives details, some symbolic, some occult, about the Infinite Thought Tower that a Bodhisattva would experience.  In this case, inspired by bodhicitta motivation, the aspirant is the youth Sudhana. [viii]  He seeks a bodhisattva guru to guide him further on his path.  Each of his many gurus teach Sudhana what liberation state they knew and then suggest another place and guru to serve.  One thing he learned, as the reader of this sutra will also understand, is how and with what elements, a Tower of profound and noble ideas is built by an aspirant to Initiation.

“Then the youth and maiden [ix] told Sudhana of their own liberation and said to him, ‘Go south, to a place called Seashore. There is a garden called Great Adornment, wherein there is a great Tower called Vairocana’s [x] Treasury of Adornments.

That Jeweled Tower is born from the bodhisattva’s matured roots of goodness. It is born from the bodhisattva’s power of mindfulness, his power of vows, his power of self-mastery and his power of mystic knowledge. It is born from the bodhisattva’s good skillful means. It is born from the blessings, virtue and wisdom of the bodhisattva.

The bodhisattva who abides in this inconceivable liberation, out of a mind of great compassion, makes appear such an adorned state of power and liberation for all living beings.  Maitreya[xi] Bodhisattva Mahasattva dwells securely within it.’ ”

Master Hsuan Hua[xii] explains a little :

“The country where Maitreya Bodhisattva dwells is called Seashore.  The ‘sea’ is the wisdom sea of the Bodhisattva undergoing one more birth [before buddhahood].  The Garden is called ‘Great Adornment’ because with the causes perfected, the ten thousand practices adorn the fruition.  The Great Jeweled Tower is named Vairocana’s Treasury of Adornment.  It is a symbol of the Dharma Realm, and therefore it is vast, infinite and adorned.  Vairocana is the Dharmakaya Buddha.  The Great Jeweled Tower is the Adorned Treasury of the Dharmakaya Buddha.” [xiii]

Long before anyone aspires toward such a Jeweled Tower, much less reaches it, a path of many virtues must be trod in daily life.  There is one virtue that is not usually among those most valued. Gratitude has a subtle power of goodness that blesses one who knows it.  Ingratitude is common and a curse to many.  Master KH mentions several times that “ingratitude is not among our vices.” HP Blavatsky points out that “ingratitude is a crime in Occultism.” [xiv] 

“Duty is that which is due to Humanity,… especially that which we owe to all those who are poorer and more helpless than we are ourselves. This is a debt which, if left unpaid during life, leaves us spiritually insolvent and moral bankrupts in our next incarnation. Theosophy is the quintessence of duty.” [xv]

Our sacred duty is to repay the help and support we have received, over many lives, from the Buddhas, Masters, Gods, parents and the rest of humanity. This divine duty will move us to tap our own bubbling spring of virtues. These will flow forth from our “fountainhead of utter wisdom,” as G. de Purucker called it.  A grateful person is rare, as Buddha taught:

“These two kinds of persons are rare in the world. What two? One who takes the initiative in helping others and one who is grateful and thankful. These two kinds of persons are rare in the world.

“What is the plane of the bad person?” A bad person is ungrateful and unthankful. For ingratitude and unthankfulness are extolled by the bad. Ingratitude and unthankfulness belong entirely to the plane of the bad person.

“And what is the plane of the good person?” A good person is grateful and thankful. For gratitude and thankfulness are extolled by the good. Gratitude and thankfulness belong entirely to the plane of the good person.” [xvi]

Gratitude to the Guru is obligatory among aspirants and disciples.  As the Book of Discipline says:

“To the earnest Disciple his Teacher takes the place of Father and Mother. For, whereas they give him his body and its faculties, its life and casual form, the Teacher shows him how to develop the inner faculties to the acquisition of the Eternal Wisdom.” [xvii]

There is a long section in this part of the sutra in praise of the essential spiritual friend or guru.  Here is one verse:

“The good and wise advisor is like a kindly mother that gives birth to the lineage of the Buddha. He is like a kindly father that bestows vast benefit.  He is like a nursemaid that guards one and does not allow one to engage in what is evil.”

Of the many verses giving the proper attitude of the disciple toward the guru, here are a couple.

“You should think of yourself as afflicted by a disease and think of the good and wise advisor as the king of physicians. You should think of the Dharma that he proclaims as fine medicine, and think of the practice one cultivates as ridding one of disease.

You should also think of yourself as one who is traveling far, and conceive of the good guru as a guiding Master. Also think of the Dharma that he proclaims as the right path.  Also think of the practice one cultivates as that which will reach the distant goal.”

Sudhana, his heart overflowing with gratitude and reverence for all the bodhisattvas have taught him before, bows low before the Jeweled Tower, the realm where Maitreya and his bodhisattva disciples dwell.  Powerful blessings of goodness sweep over him, and he arises refreshed and inspired.  Then, keeping his mind focused on the Jeweled Tower, he begins to circle it clockwise many times.  As he walks around the Jeweled Tower, he concentrates on all the beneficent qualities and powers of the Great Ones who live there.  He finally stops at the entrance and prays that Maitreya would arrive and open the doorway for him.

Off in the distance he sees Maitreya approaching with a vast retinue of human and non-human beings.  When Maitreya Mahasattva came closer, joyful Sudhana prostrates himself fully.  Maitreya then praises Sudhana to all the assembly as an ideal bodhisattva.  The Bodhisattva Mahasattva also teaches all gathered there on the heart of the Mahayana path – Bodhicitta.[xviii]

Sudhana asks Maitreya to open the Jeweled Tower for him, Maitreya snaps his fingers three times and the door opens.  Sudhana enters the Jeweled Tower samādhi and the door closes behind him.  Sudhana first notices that the Jeweled Tower is vast like boundless space.  He sees countless towers, each of which reveals a past life of Maitreya Bodhisattva teaching all sorts of beings on all aspects of Buddha’s Dharma.  Other towers display his many powers, wisdom and great compassion.  This part of the Avatamsaka Sutra uses jeweled pillars or towers of light to correspond with what sÅ«trātman means:

“Sūtrātman, the luminous thread of immortal impersonal Monadship, on which our earthly lives or evanescent Egos are strung as so many beads.” [xix]

Many more Jeweled Towers reveal similar aspects and teachings regarding other great bodhisattvas.  In samādhi Sudhana sees each object and hears each teaching within the Jeweled Towers.  He also sees many fantastic images of magnificent vistas radiating from each of the Jeweled Towers. With the power of firm mindfulness, and purity of vision, Sudhana sees, hears and knows these endless marvelous panoramas.

At this point Maitreya snaps his fingers, brings Sudhana out of his samādhi state and tells him:

“Good man, you have been dwelling in bodhisattvas’ inconceivable self-mastery. You enjoyed the bliss of all bodhisattvas’ samādhis. You have become able to see what is sustained by the spiritual power of the bodhisattvas and what flows forth from their aids accumulated on the path.  Such are the marvelous temples and towers which their vows and wisdom caused to appear. Thus it is that you observed the practices of the bodhisattvas, and heard the Dharma of the bodhisattvas. You know the virtues of the bodhisattvas, and now fully understand the vows of the Tathāgata.”

Sudhana agrees and says:

“This is all due to the awesome spiritual power of the Guru who supports and remembers me.”

The Secret Doctrine mentions the Unity of infinite gradations of thought.[xx]  So it would seem the Occult Brotherhood’s Towers are built of infinite gradations of selfless thoughts.  As Master KH said in Mahatma Letter 15 (8): 

“The only true and holy [feeling,] the only unselfish and Eternal one — [is] Love, an Immense Love for humanity — as a Whole! For it is ‘Humanity’ which is the great Orphan, the only disinherited one upon this earth, my friend. And it is the duty of every man who is capable of an unselfish impulse to do something, however little, for its welfare. Poor, poor humanity!”

Thus, those theosophists who aspire to become co-workers with the Brothers and Amitabha Buddha [xxi] must never stop building their own towers of boundless good thoughts, words and deeds.


i G de Purucker’s Esoteric Tradition I:45.

ii Blavatsky Collected Writings XIV:281-2.

iii Mahatma Letters, 18 chronological.

iv Mahatma Letters, 29.

v Damodar and the Pioneers of the Theosophical Movement, p. 61.

vi Echoes of the Orient I:543

vii Near the end of Master Shikshananda’s translation of chapter 39, which is also known as GandavyÅ«ha SÅ«tra.

viii Good Wealth.

ix Maiden, Possessing Virtue; youth, Born of Virtue.

x All Pervading.

xi Kindly One, a tenth stage bodhisattva who will be the next Buddha.

xii Died in 1995; more biography at – http://www.cttbusa.org/founder.asp

xiii Flower Adornment Sutra, ch. 39, part VIII, pp 1-2.

xiv Collected Writings XII:593.

xv Key to Theosophy 229

xvi Anguttara Nikaya, translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi, pp. 153, 177.

xvii Collected Writings XII:590.

xviii  â€œThought of enlightenment;” the intention to reach Buddha’s perfect Bodhi in order to free all beings from suffering.

xix Secret Doctrine II:513.

xx Secret Doctrine I:627-29.

xxi Voice of the Silence, Fragment three.

One of our theosophical teachers described the Theosophical Society as the ‘Kindergarten of the Mystery Schools’. As pointed out by Robert Fulghum in his wonderful book: , All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, nothing can be more important than a good kindergarten education which establishes the basis for all our future studies! In the Theosophical Society we attempt to make a start, at least, on the long process of learning about the laws of life summarized as the seven jewels of wisdom: Karma, Reincarnation, Hierarchies, Self-Becoming (Swabhava); Evolution/Involution; Choices on the Spiritual Path (The Two Paths); and Knowledge of the Self. Especially we attempt to learn and teach about Universal Brotherhood, Karma, and Reincarnation, all basic teachings of the Ancient Wisdom which have the potential to change individual and world destiny if we take these teachings seriously as facts of nature.

In short, we are attempting to get our ‘theosophical attitude’ straightened out at the beginning of our long journey of self-conscious spiritual unfoldment, and to ingrain the habit of being ‘other-centered’ instead of thinking selfishly. Our responsibility as members and friends of the Theosophical Society 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, ‘Eye Doctrine’, being the merely intellectual/ritualistic approach to the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom.

In other words – self-conscious, self-directed spiritual evolution. If we have this attitude, then we can move on into our theosophical work and the mysteries that await us in the future, should we run the course of our spiritual development successfully, 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. Through the eyes of our children we see their potential to be greater than us and the responsibility we bear to leave them with a pure and stimulating physical and mental environment – and for ourselves too as reincarnating beings.

We are custodians of the wonderful teachings of the Ancient Wisdom 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 150 years ago when the Theosophical Society was founded, 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.  (Please see ‘What is Theosophy really all about?’ page 1-2 of April 2009 issue of, Theosophy Downunder, for a discussion of ‘Inner’ and ‘Outer’, ‘Giving’, and ‘Receiving’ Theosophy at http://theosophydownunder.org/australiantsnewsletterapril2009.html )

The words of theosophical teacher, 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.

 â€œWithout realizing it, we fill important places in each other’s lives. It’s that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, coworkers. Good people who are always “there,” who can be relied upon in small, important ways. People who teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the dailiness of life. We never tell them. I don’t know why, but we don’t.
And, of course, we fill that role ourselves. There are those who depend in us, watch us, learn from us, take from us. And we never know.
You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think. There are always those who couldn’t do without you. The rub is that you don’t always know who.”
― Robert Fulghum,
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

In our technology-driven society where such a great premium is placed upon formal education, it is easy to overlook the wisdom of common people. When we talk of philosophy, we tend to think of complex academic debates held in universities rather than practical rules for living. Yet, in the sense that philosophy is about guidelines for life, look around and you’ll find true philosophers everywhere.

Mothers quietly sacrificing their personal wants and desires for the sake of the children. Fathers working every day in often unrewarding jobs for the sake of their families. Nobody much thinks of them as representing the qualities of the future Humanity. But the developing Humanity is the sum of these minor sacrifices just as much as it is the learned writings of philosophers and religious leaders who have the education to articulate the yearnings for peace and a better life that people naturally feel all over the world. In times of dramatic change in values and attitudes such as we are experiencing these days, it is the enduring common sense of ordinary people getting on with life that gives our society some measure of stability. In more ancient cultures, the common experience of being human was crystallized in myths, folk stories, proverbs and folk music which forms the basis of the sophisticated art forms of our civilization.

Theosophical teachers tell us that all our thoughts and actions are recorded in a tenuous thought-atmosphere surrounding the earth much like the wispy clouds floating in the atmosphere we breathe. Just as the air sustains our bodies, these thoughts dramatically affect our lives in that their quality reflects back on humanity that shaped them originally. Harmonious thoughts can lead to a more peaceful world. Disharmonious thoughts precipitate out of the thought atmosphere upon us in the form of wars and natural disasters by which Mother Earth attempts to find her equanimity once again. Therefore, it behoves us to carefully guard the quality of our thoughts and subsequent actions as these can have manifold affects over time. We are told that the appearance of great religious leaders is even governed by the quality of the mass thought-life of Humanity calling forth a new restatement of ancient truths in the philosophies and religions we see in the world’s cultures.

What better example could I offer of the reservoir of good intentions that common people share than to cite the example of an unsophisticated neighbor as we discussed the future for our children. As I enquired about his hopes for his 15-year-old son, he replied that he didn’t care if he should be a doctor, a lawyer, wealthy businessman, or anything great in the eyes of the world.

He simply replied: “I just hope that he will grow up to be a good person.” Could all the philosophy books in the world better express our hopes for the future of Humanity?

Theosophical teachers on the Wisdom of the Common Man:

Frequently in the Mahatma Letters to AP Sinnett it says that the Masters of Wisdom are looking for the light of compassion in the hearts of aspirants shining in the hearts of aspirants whoever they are regardless of worldly status, wherever they are around the world. When they find this ‘Buddhic Light’, they watch and guide those who demonstrate a genuine purity of heart and motive in relation to helping Humanity. At the right time their direct training can commence, perhaps after life-times of testing in the ‘fires’ of daily life as their ‘Probation’. In one of her writings HP Blavatsky she had met high students of the mysteries at monasteries in Tibet who were not enormous intellects or necessarily of high social or educational status – but who in goodness and purity of heart outshone all others. Purity of heart, whatever our social, economic, or educational background, aligns us with the Inner God and from there knowledge and wisdom can flow at the appropriate time – and not just via intellectual training. The harmonization of the Inner and Outer man/woman leads to a profound joy and happiness because we are working closer and closer with Nature’s purpose.

In medieval times spiritual students had a clear choice – eitherjoin a monastery and follow the spiritual life full-time as a monk/nun, – or – become a family person and follow an ordinary life in the world. It seems today that we don’t really have a clear-cut choice anymore. Most aspiring spiritual students can’t be either/or in today’s world where we have to combine both ways of life right here in the cut and thrust of daily life. How is it possible to live a spiritual life outside the monastery walls amidst all the distractions of modern life? How can we bring the warring elements of our lives together to make for a more balanced and fulfilling life? How can we combine – either and or – in today’s world?

I guess the first thing is to not see the spiritual life as separate from our daily life. In the Western world we tend to separate ‘religion’ from our regular lives. Worship is relegated to church on Sundays. Whereas in traditional Aboriginal society or Hindu/Buddhist tradition, for example, religion is seen as a way of life rather than a ritual segregated away from our regular existence in the world. How can this be done in practical terms? The ancient societies which have faced these issues for millennia show us the way, they tell us:

Life is the Teacher: instead of looking at our families and jobs as a distraction from the spiritual life, look at them as opportunities for learning the most powerful spiritual lessons possible – generosity, patience, resilience, tolerance, understanding. What better ways of learning these enduring soul lessons than dealing with family responsibilities and with the daily grind of duties for others instead of concentrating on our own wants and desires all the time.

Learn from Life: most of us go cruising through life without reflecting on what spiritual lessons life is trying to teach us each day. As ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, said once: ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’. So why not take the advice of great sages like Socrates, Plato, and Pythagoras and take a little time out at the end of the day to reflect what our lives are trying to teach us in terms of enduring soul lessons. Remember what Theosophy teaches us that our lives are a classroom provided by our Higher Selves for learning to be better human beings, so why not take this seriously and reflect upon what lessons the Higher Self has mapped out for us each day.

Meditation: meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting in a painful position for hours staring at our proverbial navel. There is nothing stopping us from meditating on spiritual issues as part of our everyday activities whilst our hands are busy with other jobs or certainly reflecting upon such lessons at the end of the day before going to bed at night for a few minutes.

Joyous Perseverance: persevere at living up to the best of ourselves and looking for the best in others as a regular habit – and express a little joy and happiness in the process! It is easy to get disillusioned with the state of our world, but a heck of a lot harder to do anything about it or to work on our own problems instead of blaming others all the time. Remember what Theosophy tells us about reincarnation that we have been here many times before and that we must therefore be responsible for many of the problems in the world as it is now. So, now we should do what we can in our own small ways to put them right.

Common-Sense Things We Can Do Right Here, Right Now: Buddhism tells us there is a way forward for humanity and anybody in any life situation can follow this Path: Right View; Right Intention; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Livelihood; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; and Right Concentration. This effort can encourage us to emanate the qualities required of all students of the Mysteries: Generosity; Ethical Disciple; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; and Wisdom. But don’t expect that everyone, even members of your own family, will understand and respect what you are trying to do. You are likely to have to endure a fair amount of loneliness in being ‘different’ because you are no longer able to behave in a way that others expect but are out of step with what you have come to know is Right.

Diet and Exercise: we all have the opportunity to eat and drink foods which are least harmful to ourselves, other entities, and to the environment (please see below under ‘Better Health: the Nordic Diet’ for example). Healthy exercise and especially spending time in natural surroundings where possible, or parklands if we are living in cities, is a healing experience available to everyone.

Spiritual Time-Out: Hinduism tells us that we all need a little spiritual ‘timeout’ to refocus our efforts to be better human beings. They call it ‘Puja’ or taking a few moments, especially at the beginning and end of each day, to be thankful to God(s) for our lives and to reflect on the lessons we have learnt each day.

Chanting and Prayer: Hindu teachers tell us that in this time of Kali-Yuga (meaning the Black Age) that it is extremely difficult to do all the spiritual reading and exclusive meditation away from the stresses of the world that was available in former times when people led simpler, less stressful lives. They recommend a path of devotion (Bhakti Marga) and especially chanting or singing the name of God(s) as part of your everyday life according to whatever tradition you follow.

Certainly, chanting and prayer familiarizes us with the quiet inside even whilst the craziness of the world surrounds us. We don’t have to close down the spiritual side of our lives because of lack of time or energy to deal with everyday life. The names of God(s) are like seeds of kindness and love planted in our mind-stream and they will bare fruit eventually in our behaviour in the world one day.

A more detailed article on: Theosophy in Practice: practical methods for putting spiritual theory into practice in everyday life, is availableat:http://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-articles/theosophy-in-practice-practical-methods-for-putting-spiritual-theory-into-practice-in-everyday-life-by-andrew-rooke/

 â€œâ€¦. Let us never forget, we students of the Wisdom of the Gods, that we ourselves in our Inmost are offsprings of the Boundless, and thus through frontierless Time, and urged by the impelling energy of our Spirit, are advancing through inner struggles and trials, aspirations and disappointments, sorrow and pain, yet nevertheless always advancing to that ultimate consummation of our Spiritual Self with that limitless WONDER which is our inmost. Yet remember that, most marvellous of paradoxes, the WONDER towards which we are marching is throughout eternity unattainable, for it is limitless Space and frontierless Duration. Hence such ‘consummation’ is really an endless series of consummations growing steadily nobler and grander, and still nobler and grander, beyond all powers of human imagination…” – G de Purucker: Esoteric Teachings, Vol. 3: pages:10-11.

Far away in the forests of Finland, the word Sisu means: resilience; the ability to develop a courageous mindset that embraces challenges big and small; the willingness to act in adversity; to try new things and go beyond our limits; the ability to look creatively for practical solutions and ways to move forward; and generally building up strength of character that anyone can develop whatever our individual circumstances.

In theosophical terms Sisu would probably be the equivalent of two of what HP Blavatsky numbered amongst the seven qualities or Paramitas required of theosophical students: namely, Viraga, meaning indifference to pain and pleasure, and Virya, meaning dauntless energy. Kshong Khapa, the 13th century Buddhist teacher who founded the order of monks to which our Dalai Lama belongs, would probably find the equivalent of Sisu in what he called Joyous Perseverance which he said was the foundation of the six qualities required of spiritual students, namely: Generosity; Ethical Discipline; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; and Wisdom. But what practical ways are available today to find a way to our own version of Sisu?

We are fortunate to have a new book, Finding Sisu, by Finnish writer, Katja Pantzar, which provides some suggestions on finding our ‘Sisu’. She makes a range of very practical suggestions for establishing and maintaining good health and an attitude of ‘Sisu’ (Resilience) such as:

  • Eat simple healthful food;
  • Immerse ourselves in nature, eg. taking long walks in forests (‘forest-bathing’);
  • Common sense exercise routines based on daily activities that she calls, Incidental Exercise, such as doing gardening and housework;
  • Changing our attitudes where appropriate away from taking pills to viewing Movement as Medicine, by getting exercise whenever we can incorporate it into our lives. For the brave she suggests trying cold-water bathing and saunas as effective treatments for insomnia and depression;
  • Reconsider our priorities for what we buy, eg: buying second-hand, and asking ourselves whether we really need all items we dream about;
  • Take small steps to building a functional and balanced lifestyle;
  • Don’t always make a habit of taking the easy way out, eg. ride a bike to work, don’t get other people to do our domestic work;
  • Maintain a connection with nature in our daily lives in ways which are suited to our individual situation.

This all sounds like good advice for modern Western society where we are often beset by a general lack of patience and self-reliance in the community. Examples that spring to mind are, ‘road rage’ on our highways; the widespread sense of entitlement in modern Western communities, eg. abuse of our social welfare system, and the common practice blaming the government, society in general, God, or anyone else for our own problems; and a tendency to desire instant gratification encouraged by our obsession with technology and social media.

As the author of Finding Sisu says:

‘…In an unstable world where there are so many issues to be concerned about, from climate change to political and financial instability, tapping into a ‘Sisu’ mindset can offer a way forward, finding and building your inner strength and resilience to help you deal with life’s challenges…’ It all sounds like good Common Sense to me in facing our own daily challenges in the modern world and for our duties as theosophical students. As theosophical founder HP Blavatsky said when asked what are the three main requirements for a spiritual student, she said: ‘Common Sense, a Sense of Humour, and more Common Sense!’

Of all the divisive forces rampant throughout history, religion has been amongst the most potent. Dogmatic belief in what men believe to be right has caused them to unleash terrible suffering on the fellow humans in the name of their God(s).

From the persecution of the Christians in Rome, through to the Spanish Inquisition to a world now threatened by dogmatism and terrorism; it seems that the greatest evils in the world have been wrought by men with an outraged sense of virtue.

Amid the clash of contending ideas, how often do we pause to consider what religion really represents?

The word ‘Religion’ itself gives the key to its true meaning for the salvation – not the ruination – of Humanity. The great Roman orator, statesman, and scholar, Cicero, tells us that  the word is derived from the Latin word, ‘Relegere’, which means, ‘To gather together that which once was one’ (from his De Natura Deorum II xxviii, 72). Far from being a cause of strife, the Ancient Wisdom perceived religion as an ultimately unifying force.

Theosophy teaches us that in the distant past a direct knowledge of the Unity of all things was the common property of mankind.  The Men (ie Humanity = Men and Women) of those early eras were in unconscious harmony with the kingdoms of Nature both above (angels, gods, etc) and below (animals, plants, minerals, elementals) them in a similar fashion as we see amongst the animals, plants, and the natural environment of our world today.

Just as each of us emerges from the playgrounds of childhood to adult responsibilities, Man of the distant past fell necessarily into greater materiality as he grew in experience which clouded his vision of the Oneness of Universal Nature.

Foreseeing this event and its potential disasters for fledgling humanity, high intelligences descended to Earth to instruct man in the arts of civilization and the mysteries of the Oneness which later found outward expressions as religions.

These events have been celebrated in the world’s mythology and religions which tell of Golden Ages of the distant past when God, or the Gods, moved freely amongst men, guiding, instructing and ruling them.

Just as parents must relinquish their direct responsibility for their children if they are to grow successfully to adults, the Gods have long since left direct and open communication with Humanity. Nevertheless, their emissaries/students/servants and those great man and women who have been worthy of direct knowledge or visions of the Universe-As-It-Is-In-Itself, have been active amongst the world’s peoples throughout the ages bringing the message of brotherhood which forms the basis of all the world’s great religions.

They have repeatedly encouraged man to self-consciously rediscover the Unity which is his natural heritage and the fulfilment of what it means to be truly Human. Through the power of their example, they point to the royal road of such understanding which lies within; to Unity with the Inner-God which is at the core of us and which is an inseparable part of the infinite Universe.

Let us celebrate the opportunities life offers us for learning in the true and original sense of ‘religion’, adding our effort ‘To gather together that which once was One’ for the sake of our brothers and sisters, and the future of our world.

…sooner or later mankind as a whole will once again become keenly conscious of the fact that there exists in the world a wisdom which once was the common property of the human race over the earth, and which…is what (students of Theosophy) call by various names, such as the Esoteric Tradition or the Esoteric Philosophy, or the Wisdom of the Gods, and in modern times by the term Theosophy.  It is only this Wisdom, which is knowledge of ‘things-in-themselves’, which can adequately feed the hunger of the human intellect and supply the spiritual and ethical needs of the human heart. – G de Purucker: from The Esoteric Tradition Vol.1 page 366.

Beneath the façade of nature’s calm serenity a mighty battle rages on. In the verdant fields of bucolic bliss where sunlight shimmers softly on the treetops, in the ocean’s deeps where water sings harmoniously its thalassic Neptunian hymns, in the cloudless skies of azure blue where the heavens open wide in a cosmic coruscating embrace; here exists a world of war.

Struggle permeates life. It encapsulates it, ensnarls it, defines it. Nothing that exists can be understood except as the product of a ceaseless conflict of opposites. Strength and weakness, war and peace, truth and falsehood, love and hate, courage and fear. Life is a dualistic clash of dichotomic extremes: the high and low; the determiner and the determined; the seeker and the sought.

This conflict, though, upon a deeper analysis, reveals itself to be, in truth, not so clearly a conflict at all – but rather, the omnipresent and enduring interplay of polarising forces by the interaction of which manifestation on the various planes becomes possible. And thus, the ugly mask is ripped from the face of the necessity of struggle to unveil the magnificence and beauty of this amaranthine kosmic process whereby the simultaneity of creation and destruction is maintained in perfect and unending equilibrium.

This, then, is the eternal kosmic dance of Shiva and Shakti – the infinite play of Power and Will – of Positive and Negative forces – as manifested in the multiplicities of life. The pendulum swing of our phenomenal existence is determined by the roaring waves of karmic undulation upon the sea of ceaseless motion that is our kosmic existence. In our surrender to the rolling waves is to be found an underlying centre; a firm foundation amidst the rising and falling of diversified forms. The task of the seeker is to discover the balance that permeates the passage of life and thus to venture forth amid the waves, bold and sincere in the fulfilment of his duty – his dharma in the kosmic play – whilst remaining yet ever present and ever still in that sacred region that exists beyond the bounds of Time, Space, and Duration; that eternity which is the Everlasting Now. Such a one is a karma yogi – a force of action in inaction, and of inaction in action; a dancer in the Kosmic dance in which he lives, and moves, and has his being.  Tat Tvam Asi  

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.”1 The boundless plane is the immaculate white disk or the “Eye of Self-Existence.”2 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.3 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.”4 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.5 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.6 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.7

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.8 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.9

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.”10 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.11 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.12 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.13** 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.14 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.15 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.16 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.17 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.18 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.19 The journey begins with the Universal Oversoul and its root “point” of light in the center of the “perfect Circle.”20 This root point of light is the “re-awakening” of the universe in its seven lower objective planes.21 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.22 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.”23 Alternately, they are the same Seven Paths that take us to the bliss of “Non-Existence.”24 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:

**The first four-fold Tetragrammaton is the “Heavenly Man” or the Kabbalistic  “Adam Kadmon.”25 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.26 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.27 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.28 This fourth cosmic plane, as a “ray” from the “Unit” of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Logos, corresponds to Atman.29

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.30 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.”31 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.”32 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.”33 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.34 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.”35 As Alaya, Mahat is spiritual Buddhi. As Akasa, Mahat is the crown of Manas. Thus, Mahat is “Buddhi-Manas.”36 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.”37 Please remember that Mahabuddhi is simply the shortened term for Mahat-Buddhi.38 In a seven-fold system, Mahat is interchangeably the 5th or the 6th cosmic principle.

1(SD1-16) 2(SD1-17) 3(SD1-16) 4(ML404) 5(SD1-16) 6(SD1-16) 7(SD1-17) 8(SD1-17) 9(SD1-17) 10(CW12-525) 11(SD1-130,573) 12(CW12-525) 13(CW12-525) 14(SD1-18) 15(SD1-20,80) 16(SD1-356) 17(SD1-62,356) 18(SD1-550) 19(SD1-17) 20(SD1-19) 21(SD1-19) 22(SD1-17) 23(SD1-38) 24(SD1-38) 25(SD1-99,2-25) 26(SD2-582) 27(SD2-625) 28(SD10-398) 29(CW12-520) 30(CW10-355) 31(CW10-356) 32(CW10-356) 33(CW10-357) 34(CW10-304,12-630) 35(CW12-371) 36(CW10-314) 37(SD1-420) 38(CW10-324) 

CW = Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings: Volume 10,12

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

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

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.

How can we reach the general community effectively with the healing perspectives of Theosophy? Obviously the Internet springs to mind, but most of us don’t have the means or the time to write articles and place them on the internet.

A friend had a very simple but effective method of starting conversations on theosophical subjects. He made a simple wooden box painted black with the words ‘Theosophy Rocks’ painted in green on it. He then put it on a coffee table in the centre of his lounge room. There was nothing in the box, but when visitors came to his house, people would invariably go up and look inside the box. They’d ask: ‘What does the word ‘Theosophy’ mean?’, and, ‘Why isn’t there anything in the box?’ Right away a meaningful discussion started on Theosophy and led onto theosophical perspectives on subjects of interest to his visitors.

What a great idea I thought! So I tried my own version of it. I simply placed two copies of our magazine, ‘Sunrise: Theosophical Perspectives’, on the passenger’s seat of my car. It is amazing how many theosophical conversations these two magazines started! I also started to take, Sunrise, with me when I visited the doctor, the dentist, and at other regular appointments. This lead to amazing some discussions on theosophical subjects in the doctor’s waiting room, and with my dentist – but, such meaningful discussions were rather difficult when he was using the drill!

What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be a complicated or grandiose gesture to start theosophical discussions. One doesn’t have to give lengthy theosophical lectures or write complicated philosophical articles to encourage people to open their souls to discussions of subjects dear to their hearts.

Often the simplest methods are the most effective at the grassroots level to commence the process of exploring the great laws of life – like Karma and Reincarnation. Once started people can go on from there to explore the endless perspectives of the Ancient Wisdom on any aspect of life.

It’s amazing what the ‘Right Word’ at the ‘Right Moment’ can do!

11 The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl.

12 A wise warning to someone who will listen is as valuable as gold earrings or fine gold jewellery.

13 Trustworthy messengers refresh those who send them, like the coolness of snow in the summertime. – Proverbs 25: 11-13.

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.

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.”33 The active Soul as the central point of light is treated as the “first differentiation of the ever-unknowable PRINCIPLE.”34 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.35 Mulaprakriti, as the Mother Goddess, is “both differentiated and undifferentiated.”36 In her commentary on The Secret Doctrine, she established the existence of “subdivisions” of “unknown quantities” of the 2nd Logos.37 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.”38

***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.  

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(CW6-143) 34(CW10-242) 35(CW10-359) 36(CW10-304) 37(SDD296) 38(KY85)

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

               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.

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

                Press, 1995.

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.


Let’s have a look at the definition of the word Attitude. This definition is from a psychology textbook:

“An attitude can be defined a learned predisposition to believe in a consistent evaluation manner towards a person, group of people, or group of objects.”

That is, we all understand that an attitude implies a favourable or unfavourable evaluation which is likely to affect one’s response to the person or object concerned.

Examples spring to mind: This person is friendly and has a good attitude towards the other people in the group. We can also describe an attitude as the way you think and feel about someone or something. This feeling, or way of thinking, affects a person’s behaviour towards others and may even be regarded as rude or unfriendly.

Has anyone seen the film, Darkest Hour (2017: Perfect World Pictures/Working Title Films)? This film is an excellent portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill’s impact on convincing the politicians and military leaders of Britain at the time of the Second World War in changing their defeatist view of ending the conflict by negotiation and risking a ruthless enemy takeover of Britain, or fighting on to eventual victory in 1945. Churchill’s attitude was totally convincing, which was just as well under those terrible circumstances.

Let’s look at another example of group attitudes, closer to home for most of us, and their impact on subsequent behaviour. Many years ago, I was giving a series of talks to a group of people who had been unemployed for a very long time. These talks were arranged to take place once a week over several weeks commencing at 9am on any given Monday. On the very first day, a young woman wheeled in a pram with her baby. She was very upset. She really wanted to get a job but her parents lived in the country, her boyfriend and father of the child, had up and left her, and there was no one else to look after the baby until a friend was willing but only in the afternoons.

These facts were put to the group who at first were quite hostile towards the girl. One thing was common to all members of this group – they had all been compulsorily directed to attend this class by Centrelink (the Australian federal government social welfare service). After the rest of the group came to know the problems that the girl was facing in attending morning classes, all agreed that they would happily change the start-time to the afternoon. This was a great success and everyone completed the course.

But back to the psychology textbook!

Where do our attitudes come from? From many areas, of course. Parental influences come in as the child gets older. During the period from 10 to 20 years old, most of a person’s basic attitudes take shape – that is after those attitudes influenced by our experiences at work, peer pressures, and information from our education and, particularly these days, from the media.

An attitude is not a gift in concrete. It can be changed quite often and used to align yourself with whatever problems present themselves. Often, we may see things from a different point of view. Different from both the individual and the listener. However, be careful of your attitudes, and use them as a means of growth, not only for yourselves but in your relationship towards others.

I would like to end with a quote from an American clergyman, educator, and famous Christian author, Charles Swindall:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can is to play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

 
Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed, or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let these little things upset you. – Joel Osteen.

Theosophical teachers speak of a connecting bridge or pathway between the divine and human egos of each person which they called by the ancient Sanskrit name: Antahkarana (sometimes known as Antaskarana) meaning ‘interior sense organ.’

When we aspire to spiritual thoughts, a dynamic current of energy is emitted from our familiar lower consciousness towards the higher aspects of our being – like engineers building a span of a bridge. Our upward aspirations stimulate an influx of spiritual energy from our Higher Self downwards, completing the span of the bridge for whatever time we can hold the inspiration. In her book, Voice of the Silence, theosophical teacher, HP Blavatsky, speaks of this bridge of consciousness as a ‘highway of sensations’ between the personal and impersonal selves. She refers to it as the arena of the battle for mastery over the Lower Self.

Paradoxically, we build the bridge only that it may dissolve away. The ‘battlefield’ is engulfed, and the bridge withdrawn into the Higher Self at the times of spiritual initiation for the worthy few, such as at the time of the Solstice we celebrate as Christmas. For most of us the bridge is completely dissolved at our death, parting in the middle, the efflux retreating into the Personal Mind (the Lower Manas) and the influx withdrawing into its source in the Higher Mind (Higher Manas) – and the Manas becomes One, its dregs sloughing off as the ‘Desire Body’ (Kama Rupa).

During our lives, it is clearly our duty to initiate the building and pave the spans of our bridge with high aspiration so our Higher Self can respond with the help our efforts warrant. Great teachers have provided ethical injunctions and teachings throughout the ages to encourage our spiritual aspirations which form our individual Antahkarana or Path.

Like the Sun compassionately providing the means of life and warmth for its myriad family of lesser beings in our solar system, the Higher Self patiently watches and encourages us to walk our own rainbow bridge to the stars.

“There is a light within a man of light, and it lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is in darkness” – from the Gospel of Thomas 38.4 – 10 in the Nag Hammadi Library-121


Everyone remembers Abraham Lincoln, the famous President of the USA during the American Civil War, who freed the slaves and played such a large part in creating modern America as we know it today. But tell me, who remembers the lowly cabinet-maker who made his kitchen table? His family and friends certainly did. But, as the years passed, they all died, his house was eventually pulled down and the cabinets, tables, and chairs with his name on them crumbled to dust, and his name eroded away. It is as if he had never existed. What have we forgotten? What man, or Self, are we talking about when we speak about any one of us ordinary folk? Who remembers the cabinet-maker?

If we take the example of Abraham Lincoln, perhaps it is only the popular or notorious people of history are remembered for what they have done. But we know from the history books that there were ‘famous’ people who were not ‘great’ and every day we meet ‘great’ people who are not ‘famous’. So maybe it is the qualities of a person that are remembered rather than personalities and achievements.

Taking up this thought, we know from theosophical teachings that the real essence of a person goes on from life to life in a seemingly endless round of reincarnations. The forms may change from life to life, like an actor changing his clothes during a play, but the actor, or real Self, remains and continues on to the next act in life’s play. If we accept reincarnation as a reality, then everyone living today is the embodied memory of himself/herself. The very fact of our being alive proves our past over countless lives to bring us to the point where we are now. It is the values and qualities that we embody that live on regardless of whether people remember the names of our individual personalities over time. Greatness is an inner thing, thoughts and values that we cannot see make us who we are and radiate out to affect others regardless of whether they are anchored to a particular personality.

Who remembers the good cabinet-maker who laboured quietly and honestly throughout his life? The ancient wisdom says that each life, whether high or low in the estimation of the world, is an expression of the Supreme Self. Therefore, each life, President or Cabinet-Maker, is precious and is remembered in its effect on the quality of our world today.  

Our inner essence is Cosmic Consciousness. Cosmic Consciousness cannot be produced, nor can anything be added to it, or taken away from it. It ever was, is, and will be. We merely need to become and remain aware of it. Transcendent Compassion and Wisdom are the only conditions for achieving this. – Jelle Bosma.


There is an old saying which says: ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. But if we want a better world in the future we are definitely going to have to learn a whole new ‘barrel of tricks’ at every level of human behaviour and endeavour.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from another member of the animal/insect kingdom and learn a few lessons from the mysterious behaviour of honeybees. Scientists have observed that honeybees have latent genes which are only unlocked when bees perform certain actions, like a ritual dance with other honeybees. Suddenly the bee has unlocked new latent capacities locked up somehow in their genetic makeup. – see Chris Kavelin. Nudges from grandfather (2016) page 200.

Is it then too much of a stretch of imagination that we humans can also escape the prison of our negative habits and thoughts if we activate actions which bring higher capacities alive within us? These are the latent but truly human qualities which will lead to a brighter future for us all, like Love, Tolerance, Understanding, Generosity, and Mindfulness which are locked up in the spiritual ‘genetic heritage’ of all human beings.

Like the honeybees, all we need to do is to ‘dance’ to the right tune, in our case, the melody played by our Higher Self. Then we will naturally unlock those inner capacities. But this dance requires discipline and determination to change old selfish habits by repeating actions involving service to others where we must necessarily go outside our ‘comfort zone’ of what is both comfortable and familiar. Most frequently we put such grand ambitions into the ‘too hard basket’. It is frequently the ‘Three Awakening Sights’ that Buddha spoke of which set our reluctant feet on the spiritual path in earnest – Old Age, Disease and Death – either observed in ourselves, or in others close to us.

Theosophical teacher, HP Blavatsky, spoke of the necessity of breaking the ‘moulds of mind’ if we are to progress on the spiritual path both individually and globally. These ‘Moulds’ are our negative habits arising from our concentrating on the energies of our Lower Self, such as selfishness, ambition, exploitation, competitiveness, and all this leads to, like family disharmony, warfare, and global environmental crisis. She said that it is necessary to forge ‘new brain paths’ to release the inner capacities which will save us and the world:


“The brain is the instrument of the waking consciousness, and every conscious mental picture formed means change and destruction of the atoms of the brain. Ordinary intellectual activity moves on well-beaten paths in the brain, and does not compel sudden adjustments and destructions in its substance. But this new kind of effort calls for something very different – the carving out of new ‘brain paths’, the ranking in different order of the little brain lives.” – An Invitation to the Secret Doctrine, Theosophical University Press, 1988: page 5.

Clearly, we too, like the dancing honeybees, have the capacity to unlock inner capacities if we orientate our thought and effort in the right direction consistently and sensibly over sufficient time. The nectar of spiritual understanding is right there simply awaiting us to commence and sustain ‘Right Effort’ and ‘Right Action’ through the application of ‘Joyous perseverance’, as the Buddhists would say.

Life is an opportunity, Benefit from it. Life is beauty, Admire it. Life is bliss, Taste it. Life is a dream, Realise it. Life is a challenge, Meet it. Life is a duty, Complete it. Life is a game, Play it. Life is a promise, Fulfil it. Life is sorrow, Overcome it. Life is a song, Sing it… – Mother Teresa.


When the American Indians rode forth to hunt bison on the Great Plains 150 years ago, they first said a prayer of apology to their ‘Younger Brothers’, the animals, whom they were to hunt only to feed their families. Such an attitude of humility and identity with the kingdoms of life below us humans has, in the past, been little in evidence in our ‘civilized’ society. Christmas/Summer Solstice is rapidly approaching and it is a time when we celebrate Peace and Universal Brotherhood. But, how often do we stop and think that Universal Brotherhood includes all of Nature’s kingdoms and not just our fellow humans?

Our spiritual teachers from all parts of the world have made it clear that man is indeed intimately interlinked with the animal kingdom. The essential difference between man and the animals is that man has developed more of his inner potential and therefore his capacity for self-consciousness than have the animals. Unlike the animals, man has begun to unfold his divine capacity for Mind which enables him to choose right from wrong and thus realize to some degree his responsibilities and obligations to all life. One author put this thought beautifully:


“In each animal, as in each man, there shines a visible but feeble radiance of a divinity at its heart. In the animals, this glory shows only the faintest glimmerings of its power. They are on the way towards humanhood, even as we are on the pathways to becoming gods.” – G de Purucker: ‘Is karma ever unmerited?’: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/fso/fso8b.htm

A hidden truth of this ethical obligation is that the animal kingdom is deeply rooted in the thought life of humanity. The Ancient Wisdom tells us that, strange as it may seem, the animals are the offspring of mankind, not the other way around as is taught by Darwinian evolutionary theory. This occurred in the far past when inter-breeding between the human and animal kingdoms was still possible and man’s own reproductive processes were quite different from the two sexes as we have them today. Even today, esoteric science teaches that the animals’ inner/invisible constitutions are mainly built of the ‘life atoms’ thrown off by men. This means that disharmony in the human kingdom is eventually reflected in kingdoms below man as anybody knows who has pets who seem to sense what we are thinking before we seem to know it ourselves! Consequently, man is, in the main, spiritually and morally responsible for suffering in the animal kingdom in addition to the physical deprivations we inflict on the lower kingdoms of life. The Ancient Wisdom makes it clear that this is a karmic debt man will have to repay, not the animals.

In the 21st century there is plenty of evidence of an awareness of our responsibilities to our ‘Younger Brothers’ the animals with the activities of such organizations as Greenpeace, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Society for Animal Rights, Animal Spirit, and many others. A sense of compassion and empathy with the animals and our environment has spawned these wonderful organizations advocating a variety of causes to alleviate animal suffering from vegetarianism through to conservation of endangered species and anti-vivisection. More than at any time in known human history, there is now a global awareness of our duties and responsibilities to the lesser kingdoms of life and the planet itself.

With Christmas coming in the next few weeks, we celebrate the oneness of all life. It is therefore a suitable time right now to consider the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom that the Universe is a living being composed of consciousness on many levels all interlinked and interdependent. In our hearts, let us take the opportunity of the approaching sacred season of the Christmas/Summer Solstice to ponder the true meaning of Universal Brotherhood across all of nature’s kingdoms.


Approaching the end of the year with Christmas, New Year, and holidays looming, it is easy to give thanks for all the good things
we have in life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could retain that spirit of gratitude and thanks everyday throughout the year?

How can we possibly do that with what we see on the news every night shaking our very confidence in the future? Yet our spiritual teachers tell us we have much to be thankful for. The Dalai Lama often says that we should be thankful for our opportunity of being incarnated in this world and make the most use of the opportunities this presents to us each day. Theosophical teachers tell us that we owe the spiritual hierarchy grateful thanks for their sacrifices every moment just to keep this world a suitable place for us to create and work off our karma, thus learning spiritual lessons in that process. Great Masters of Wisdom, like Pythagoras, urge us to meditate daily on the good things we have achieved each day and to try and discard the ‘garbage’ of our daily experience as we face each new day.

Perhaps we could call this view of life an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ for all that we have in life, both good and bad, that is helping us to spiritually grow and learn. But how on earth can we practically achieve such a positive attitude to life? Here are a few suggestions from best-selling author Lewis Howes who says:

“Life is better if you develop an attitude of gratitude. If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

His practical suggestions to achieve an attitude of gratitude include:
· Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for,
· Tell whoever you are with at the end of the day the 3 things you are most grateful for,
· Tell whoever you are with right now (significant other, friend, family member, etc.) the three things that you are most grateful for in this moment,
· Start a gratitude journal – Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about,
· Acknowledge yourself for what you have done and accomplished in the last day/week/month/year. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give yourself credit for the big and small things you have been doing!
· Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you – oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged (and yet it happens far too infrequently)!

Long ago, an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ was well recognized as an essential component of training in the spiritual life. In ancient Egypt there were beautiful prayers greeting the rising Sun and the opportunities offered by each day. In India there is a prayer by the great 5th century poet, Kalidassa, offered by thousands of people each morning before setting out on the day’s duties:


The Salutation of the Dawn

Listen to the exhortation of the Dawn!

Look to this Day! For it is Life, the very Life of Life;

In its brief course lie all the Verities

And Realities of your Existence.

The Glory of Action,

The Bliss of Growth,

The Splendour of Beauty.

For Yesterday is but a Dream

And Tomorrow is only a Vision

But Today well lived makes every Yesterday

 A Dream of Happiness,

And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.

 Look well therefore to this Day

Such is the Salutation of the Dawn.

Perhaps we can try to utter the positive message of this beautiful prayer in our own way as we face each day, no matter what the challenges that await.


“… along with humility, gratitude seems to be one of the most essential spiritual qualities to develop and express in every step. Gratitude is the opposite of resentment or entitlement. We can start small and even if we don’t feel it at first, we can find things to say ‘thank you’ for. The act itself will eventually change the inner thoughts and the feeling will follow. That inner energy of gratitude begins to permeate our thoughts and we then begin to see that the ‘broken glass’ we were avoiding on our path with fear, is actually diamonds given to us to fulfil our purpose…”- Chris Kavelin, American/Australian indigenous rights advocate and traditional medicine researcher based in Melbourne, Australia, from his 2016 book Nudges from grandfather, page 15, available from our Melbourne library.

At some stage along life’s journey, we are all bound to ask ourselves, “Why am I here?”; “Why do I have to go through all these difficult experiences?”… and anyway, “What is the meaning of life?” Maybe the best answer I ever heard to that question was when the Dalai Lama came to Melbourne a few years back and he said that the meaning of life was to be: “Constructively Happy”. Two little words with a power of meaning!

Everyone wants to be ‘Happy’, but very few people are prepared to be ‘Constructive’ in finding their way towards their definition of happiness! Usually we define happiness in terms of personal well-being, material possessions, and our own health. We are very reluctant to accept the inevitability of set-backs in life. We certainly don’t see suffering as part of our idea of happiness! Yet in Buddhist understanding, suffering is inevitable as it is nature’s way of teaching us important lessons in life. The Dalai Lama stresses that it is the way we react to such suffering that is the measure of our spiritual learning and progress.

So how do other cultures answer this ultimate question? I recently had the great good fortune to read a new book exactly on this subject: Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it: Wisdom of the great philosophers on how to live – by Daniel Klein (Published by One World, October 2015, ISBN: 9781780747859) – this book is now available from our Melbourne library.

Daniel Klein looks back from the vantage-point of his 80 years to revisit the wisdom he relished in his youth with a collection of philosophical gems from the Western World. He briefly sums up the writings of Epicurus (200BC) to Jean Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, and Viktor Frankl of the 20th century.

Over 20 of these writings are recognized by introducing such concepts as Hedonism, Logic, Humanism, Nihilism, etc… Short and humorous, each concept is summed up in a just few lines – an invaluable reference!

Here are a few answers to this timeless question from great thinkers of the Western World showing a huge variety of approaches to life, from the outright hedonistic, to the deeply,
and spiritually responsible:


· “The art of life lies in taking pleasures as they pass and the keenest pleasures are not intellectual nor are they always moral!” – Aristippus, 400BC.

· “I don’t think that there is much point in bemoaning the state of the world unless there’s some way you can think of to improve it. Otherwise, don’t bother writing a book – go and find a tropical island and live in the sun!” Peter Singer, 1980.
· “Do every act in your life as though it were the very last act of your life.” – Marcus Aurelius, 150BC.
· “I saw a Divine Being today! I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise all my various opinions and books.” – A.J. Ayer, 1970.
· “Live as you were living a second time and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.” – Viktor Frankl, 1955.                      

Ideas on the meaning of life are, of course, not restricted to philosophers. There are as many such ideas as there are people walking this earth. This book gives a general view of ideas that will hopefully lead the reader by using courage, patience, humour, and above all, common sense, to find out and act on discovering positive benefits for All.


A wise man once said that you can’t possibly judge a person’s spiritual progress from outward appearances alone. This was certainly the case for a friend of mine who was like any elderly lady catching the local bus to the Supermarket for the weekly shop. Yet I knew she had spent a lifetime of quiet study of theosophical books, raised a family, was a responsible member of her local community, and was ever conscious to put spiritual book-learning into daily-life practice.

She told me that during one of her regular shopping expeditions, a complete stranger, a young lady, had confronted her at the bus stop and said – “I had to come over and see you. I must talk with you.” Without questioning her motives, my friend sat down and several buses went drifting by whilst they talked together for a couple of hours. It turned out that this young lady was on her way to commit suicide when she felt irresistibly drawn to the old lady in the bus stop.

Her extreme situation seems to have somehow forced open the doors of inner perception for the distressed young lady. She said that, as she walked by the bus-stop she could see a kind of bright light surrounding the old lady and above her head the vision of an open door amidst the light. This amazing sight prompted her to speak to a complete stranger about her most private thoughts and fears. After a couple of hours earnest talking together, she changed her mind about suicide. She resolved to face her problems, and go on living with her new-found friend there to provide timely advice, as by now they were firm friends. As far as I know, she has since gone on to live a full and happy life.

The thought struck me, just how many lifetimes of earnest application to both the study and living of her philosophy this friend of mine must have completed to reach this stage of spiritual development to where she shone with the inner ‘buddhic’ light of pure compassion. How amazing to be just right there at that bus-stop when she was most needed, and for this to be recognized by someone in great need of guidance at that particular moment. Surely this was not by chance, but the compassionate workings of the Law of Karma. Certainly, none of our efforts in our spiritual endeavours are wasted even if it seems that we may sit studying alone for hours seemingly unnoticed, or work in unspectacular careers. What we are inwardly from moment to moment must be vastly important. We show our ‘true colours’ when we are placed under the acid tests of life experience – and that may happen even when we are waiting for the local bus!

Kent Nerburn, from his book, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, put these thoughts beautifully when he wrote:

 “We are not saints, we are not heroes. Our lives are lived in the quiet corners of the ordinary. We build tiny hearth fires, sometimes barely strong enough to give off warmth. But to the person lost in the darkness, our tiny flame may be the road to safety, the path to salvation. It is not given us to know who is lost in the darkness that surrounds us or even if our light is seen. We can only know that against even the smallest of lights, darkness cannot stand. A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle. A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame. It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity. It is simply an issue of the presence of light.”
It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness – Chinese

Psychologists tell us that most people are motivated by wanting to gain or avoid certain situations – we want to gain the ‘goodies’ and avoid the ‘nasties’. The very fact of motivation is the gaining of something, whether it be food, shelter, security, love, affection, self-respect, etc. But does it really happen that we just gain all these needs and move up the ‘ladder’ in a nice even flow? I feel that life is rather like a game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ – the dice seem loaded against us and we often fall on a ‘Snake’ rather than a ‘Ladder’. Why is this? What do we say to ourselves more often than we think –“What’s in it for me?”, or, “How am I going to get out of this one?”

What about avoiding some of the situations we encounter in our lives – are not some of them a brake on what we want to gain? Now straight away when we begin talking about avoiding situations as opposed to gaining something we are in conflict. What do we have? We have a pair of opposites. I guess you could say in theosophical terms this represents a duality. Light/Dark, Laugh/Cry, Gain/Avoid, Right/Wrong – can anyone please tell me where one starts and the other finishes?

Now, here are a few feelings that I want you in your heart of hearts to ask yourself – should I always try to take these feelings on board and gain something, or should I try to avoid them?

Embarrassment

Insecurity

Comfort

You have probably thought these through and said to yourself – I certainly don’t want to feel embarrassed, so I guess I should try and avoid this at all times. I don’t want to feel insecure either, so I won’t involve myself in anything that gives me a feeling of insecurity. Comfort – well who doesn’t want to feel comfortable – certainly something to be gained at all times. Let’s have a closer look at these feelings.

 Embarrassment: is the opposite of Confidence. Many of us have said: “If only I could make myself heard, I really have something worthwhile to say but could never say it in front of all those people. I would be so embarrassed!” Well, all those people will never know if you don’t have a go and who knows what benefits other people could experience if they did know? You can only overcome embarrassment by taking lessons in confidence and to think of these lessons as something to be gained and not avoided.

Insecurity: you want to avoid these feelings. First of all, how do you know that you are insecure? Does anyone else think you are, or only you? Odds are that only you think that you are, so what can you do about it? Certainly, nothing at all by avoiding the issue. You must face the issues, analyse them, give yourself a pathway to overcome these feelings and thus gain in confidence.

Comfort: I’m comfortable now, at ease. Certainly not something to be avoided under any circumstances I hear you say. Some of you may have heard of Dr Ainslie Meares, a Melbourne psychiatrist, who made a life-long study of meditation and relaxation and how it can help us in overcoming illnesses and the stresses of modern-day living. This is a quote from his book, The Wealth Within:

“I have overwhelming evidence for the importance of discomfort in meditation which rests on my experience of many hundreds of patients. There is no doubt whatsoever that those patients who have combined the judicious use of discomfort with their meditative practice, have in fact gained much more from the experience.

I particularly recall one doctor, a surgeon. I remember well his opening words: “I have read all about your relaxing and it does not work.” When I asked more about it, he disclosed that he had been practising lying on his bed. His explanation was: “Because you are more relaxed that way.” As soon as I got him doing it properly, his symptoms disappeared and he became a much less aggressive person and a lot easier to get along with.

As we relax, our mind transcends the discomfort of our posture and then there is no discomfort. This is the most important aspect of the whole process of relaxation and meditation. It is the getting beyond the discomfort which allows us to experience the essential stillness of mind. In this way it is not the transcendence of discomfort itself which we seek, but rather the state of mind which goes with it.”

Karma: Now when we stop and have another look at these feelings, and they will not be the same for everyone, are we not talking about a learning process? When we talk about a learning process, are we not talking about Karma? Perhaps we can do a quick summary for illustration purposes. James A. Long in his book, Expanding Horizons, summed up Karma by saying:

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. That is just what karma means. It means that we being novices in the use of our free will made many blunders in our previous lives. We all learn soon enough on the physical plane, but it takes much longer to learn on the moral and spiritual levels. It boils down to the simple fact that through the ages we have accumulated a lot of effects of former actions so that we are faced now with a collection of karmic responsibilities dating from the past which the immortal element in us has chosen a certain portion for this lifetime. This portion is neither too heavy nor too light as perfect justice rules throughout the entire cosmos.

Karma as opportunity gives everybody the same possibility of growth. If we believe there cannot be a cause without an effect or an effect without a cause, we must believe that nothing happens by chance. Every situation we are confronted with then, is the result of something we thought or did or participated in in the past that has attracted us to the effects represented by the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. Therefore, when anyone begins to think about the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation he is compelled sooner or later to recognize that he has a definite responsibility to meet intelligently the karma that is his. He will have to learn how to meet it. When, in our struggles towards a fuller understanding we begin to realize we can develop the ability to read the unfolding karmic script of our lives we find ourselves better able to feel out the situations as they arise and to deal with them more intelligently.”

Choices: So, when we look at gaining and avoiding issues, what we are talking about is that the easiest choice is not necessarily the best choice for you. It is different for each one of us depending upon individual karma. Situations are maps along the path of life for each one of us. Gaining and avoiding are matters of choice for us. The choice you make will have a direct bearing upon your future karma. Do not be afraid to ‘bite the bullet’ and take the opposite course of action when the challenge comes up. Gaining and avoiding are challenges or tests for you alone. Remember the key point of winning and losing in life – A Loser Accepts, A Winner Thinks.

When confronted with a decision, remember the words of a Master of Wisdom: “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” The choice to gain or avoid will be with you until your mission in this life on earth is finished … and perhaps even beyond!

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you are alive, it isn’t!” – Richard Bach from Illusions.


One word has dominated my life and that word has been – WHY? I must have been a very irritating child! However, when I went to school, I quickly learnt to bottle up most ‘whys’ not only for the sake of my fellow students but for the teachers who were quite convinced for a time that by staying after school and doing extra work, all my ‘whys’ would be answered! They were not of course: in fact, more ‘whys’ came, and less were answered.

Picture the battle-front in France during World-War I, Christmas Day, in 1914. British, French, Australian, and New Zealand troops in their trenches here, and German troops in their trenches there. For days, weeks, and months before, they had been shelling, shooting, and bayonetting each other to death in their thousands. Midday Christmas day a bugle sounds. Both sets of soldiers come out of their trenches, exchange cigarettes, drinks and food, and even play football with one another. A bugle sounds again after a couple of hours – back to the trenches and on with the battle – WHY?

Let’s look at it from another angle. Are there injustices in life? There certainly seem to be plenty. The Bible tells us that man has but three score and ten years on this Earth. Life expectancy these days in Australia is around 85years for women and 80 for men, so this is our allotted space to get it all together, do good works, and get into Heaven. Is it tough luck if you find yourself born in an African country where a life expectancy of 35 years or lower is normal? WHY?

Tidal waves in Japan, earthquakes in New Zealand, tornadoes in North America, floods in India – how can we reconcile the terrible injustices in life with an ‘All-Loving God’? We cannot if we limit the experience of the soul to one short span of 80 or so years, or much less for most people in the world today. Let me share with you some of the basic ideas of Theosophy which have had a profound impact on the answers I have been searching for over many years.

The most fundamental theosophical idea is that Universal Brotherhood is a fact in nature. Our thoughts and feelings have a great impact on others and living in harmony as best we can benefits not only those around us but Mankind as a whole.

Reincarnation and Karma are perhaps the most widely known ideas that have been popularized by modern Theosophy. Reincarnation and Karma are the keys to help explain each person’s character and circumstances by tracing them to thoughts and actions in this and past lives. The events and circumstances we meet are a response to our earlier choices and way of life, and in this way we evolve by our own efforts over a long series of lives.

All of us have evolved to this point in our lives by our own thoughts and actions – though some have not, sadly, evolved as far as others. Looking at the current wars and unrest around the world, at drug lords and those who consume their products, we may feel sobered. Yet we are never in a position to judge the inner worth or progress of another. One day, however long it takes, and whatever generation may then be on the Earth, all of us will be winners – people who ‘think’, and in whom good thinking leads to a change in themselves towards a spiritual direction.

Every person is in charge of his destiny if he chooses to exercise his divine capacity for thought and morally-directed action. As Jean-Paul Satre said some seventy years ago:

“My thought is ME – that is why I cannot stop. I exist by what I think – and I can’t prevent myself from thinking.”

There comes a point when we all come up against what HPB refers to in The Secret Doctrine as the First Proposition (of the Secret Doctrine):

“And in our thought, we are confronted by the Boundless, Infinite space, ceaseless motion, unending time. The Boundless – that Unknown and Unknowable principle from within the bosom of which over the passage of infinite time, universes, galaxies, suns appear and disappear like twinkling lights against the background of infinite time.”

However, I can think about this and still ask myself – WHY? That is what makes me a human being and I will always be asking – WHY? – for the rest of my life. As Goethe wrote:

“Everything worth thinking has already been thought, our concern must only be to try to think it through again.”

Happy thinking!


Many years ago at school during a class on the Bible, I was told by the Headmaster: “Downey, you haven’t the sense you were born with”. I can still remember my reply: “So everybody is born with sense Sir”! I think the lesson was linked to the story in the Old Testament Bible of the parting of the Red Sea. This story always lacked an adequate explanation to me. The Headmaster said to me that sometimes we just have to believe in things that are too difficult to understand if they come from a good source. The Headmaster was really a nice old fellow steeped in the Anglican tradition, but a definite example from my point of view as a then 13 year old school-boy, of someone lacking in Common Sense! How I wished at that time I had come across the saying of the Buddha: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own Common Sense!”


What is ‘Common Sense’? I have many quotes regarding common sense at the end of this article, but firstly let us look at a dictionary definition: “Common Sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand and judge things which are shared by (i.e. common to) nearly all people and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.” The senses that most of us have are sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. If we lack one of these senses there is an ability to use a combination of the others to cover an absence of one. For example, if sight is absent, a blind person can use all the others. In the absence of hearing a deaf person can use sight and lip-read.

Philosophers on Common Sense: The term ‘Common Sense’ has been developed and much discussed by philosophers throughout the ages and in many lands. The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle (540 BC), was perhaps the first person we can trace in the Western world who discussed the term Common Sense. He was describing the ability with which animals and humans process sense perceptions, memories, and imagination in order to reach many types of basic judgements. But he said only humans have real reasoned thinking.

Plato and Aristotle: said that the normal five individual senses do sense the common perceptible reality, but it is not something that they necessarily interpret correctly on their own. Aristotle proposes that the reasons for having several senses is in fact that it increases the chances that we can distinguish and recognise things correctly and not just occasionally, or by accident. Each sense is used to identify distinctions, such as sight identifying the difference between black and white. But, says Aristotle, all animals/humans with perception must have “some one thing” which can distinguish say black from white. Their Common Sense is where this comparison happens and this must occur by comprising impressions (or symbols) of what the specialist senses have perceived. This is therefore also where a type of consciousness originates – for it makes us aware of having sensations at all, and receives physical picture imprints from the imagination faculty which are then memories which can be recollected. Aristotle’s understanding of the ‘Soul’ has an extra level of complexity in the form of the “Nous “or intellect which is something only humans have and which enables humans to perceive things in a different way to other animals. It works with images coming from the Common Sense and imagination using reasoning as well as the active intellect. It is the ‘Nous’ which identifies the true form of things while the Common Sense identifies shared aspect of things.

Rene Descartes: As can be expected, many other philosophers have expanded and offered other arguments concerning Common Sense, and it is easy to become somewhat confused with all these theories. It should be mentioned however, that one of the last notable philosophers to accept something like the Aristotelian Common Sense, was the French philosopher Rene Descartes, in the 17th century, who thought that sensations from the senses travel to a Common Sense centre in the brain seated in the pineal gland, and from there to the immaterial spirit. I will leave you to research this finding – using your Common Sense of course!


Modern Philosophers: To bring us more up to date on Common Sense theory, there is an essay written by the twentieth century philosopher G.E. Moore in 1925 – “A defence of Common Sense”. This essay argues that there are many kinds of statements which individuals can make about what they judge to be true and which the individual and everyone else know to be true.

Another 20th century philosopher and political theorist, Hannah Arendt, argued that there was often a banality to evil in the real world which consisted of the lack of Common Sense and thoughtfulness generally – ‘Sense’ being used in cases of the acceptability or otherwise of the moral good in society. To stretch the point – most despots in history would be capable of this lack of Common Sense. At the Nuremberg war-crimes trials following World War II, this point was actually used in the trial of Adolf Eichmann. The argument was put forward that the accused were devoid of Common Sense as a moral issue as they were – “just following orders”.

Hinduism and Theosophy: A paper which was presented at the Parliament of World Religions held in Melbourne, Australia, in 2009 emphasized the three laws of cause and effect that is the cornerstone of the Hindu tradition. These are:
· Every effect has a cause.
· The effect is nothing but the cause appearing in a certain shape.
· From the effect, if you remove the cause, nothing remains.

We have now reduced by Common Sense to the very foundation of the ALL: the “I AM”. Perhaps we should at this point finish with the first fundamental proposition of HP Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine which establishes three fundamental propositions, the first of which is like this – ‘I AM”:

“An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought – in the words of Mandukya,” unthinkable and unspeakable.”

A few quotes from various sources on Common Sense:

· Common Sense is in spite of, not as the result of, education. – Victor Hugo.
· Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by the other senses. – Leonardo da Vinci.
· Common Sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
· It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favour of Common Sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for Public Office. – unknown.
· Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the Common Sense. – Helen Rowland.
· Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes. – Oscar Wilde.


A young theosophist once asked HP Blavatsky, the principal founder of the Theosophical Society: “What is the most important thing necessary in the study of Theosophy? Madam Blavatsky replied: “Common Sense, a sense of humour, and more Common Sense.”

There is a battle raging inside us all every minute of the day! It is the common experience of being human that the finer and baser aspects of us are always battling for supremacy. This is an old story, as old as self-conscious humanity itself. More than 5,000 years ago Krishna in the Indian religious classic, The Bhagavad-Gita, perfectly summarized the human condition when he said to his companion Arjuna: “The Self is the friend of self, and in like manner, Self is its own enemy”.

Arjuna represents ‘everyman/woman’ standing between the opposing armies of the Higher and Lower Self, reluctant to engage in the inevitable struggle for control of our consciousness. Krishna, his charioteer, advises him on the various paths by which identity with the Higher Self can be achieved, including good works, spiritual knowledge, asceticism, self-restraint, spiritual discernment, discrimination between godlike and demoniacal natures, the three kinds of faiths, and others. Krishna stresses that all such paths are valid ways to the Higher Self, and to the extent that people sincerely apply themselves to the search, they shall be repaid spiritually. The important thing is to follow our duty without thought of results. The result will follow in the fullness of time if we do the best we can. As Krishna says: “Seek this wisdom by doing service, by strong search, by questions, and by humility . . .”

But do we need to enter into a battle with the Lower Self in order to identify with the Inner God? The Bhagavad-Gita and many mystical writers seem to answer yes, stressing the need for absolute conquest of the Lower Self if we are to approach the temple of the god within. Yet this “battle” might be more along the lines of the transmutation process pictured by the alchemists of medieval Europe. They spoke of finding the Philosopher’s Stone which would allow us to transmute the lead of the Lower Self into the gold of the Higher Self. According to G de Purucker:


“… the best way to overcome the lower nature is not by “battling” it and “fighting” it, thus exercising it and making it strong and vigorous, but by understanding it to be a part of yourself and by resolutely putting it in its proper place with inflexible and impersonal kindness and gentleness. Sometimes and very often indeed the best way to begin to do this is by completely ignoring it, turning the back upon it. . . . ally yourself with the higher parts of your nature, and, in consequence you identify yourself thereby with the higher parts of the Universe… — Dialogues 3:19, 21

Most importantly, on our journey of self-discovery/conquest we should pause to ask why we commenced this pilgrimage in the first place. Is this a cosmic vacation designed for our own gratification, or do we mean to offer the fruits of our discoveries to other travellers? In her, Voice of the Silence, H. P. Blavatsky enjoins us to be ever mindful to avoid the ranks of the spiritually selfish who seek the power and blissful peace of communion with the inner god for themselves alone. Although many schools teach spiritual development for one’s own sake, ignoring the suffering of others, the path of compassion was blazed by Great Ones who, though far ahead of us, stopped to offer assistance to all those in their wake.

It is also our responsibility to travel the still small path to the Higher Self mindful of our responsibilities to others. We can offer the lessons we learn, when appropriate, to our fellows and help uplift the crushing weight of suffering bearing down on humanity, largely caused by humanity’s ignorance of the great Laws of Life. If we consistently make this effort, our spiritual light will gradually glimmer, then shine in the world for the benefit of others, and we will begin to understand the essence of Theosophy.

The Bhagavad-Gita and Essays on the Bhagavad-Gita by William Q Judge are available in full text on line from our Society at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gita/bg-eg-hp.htm

 “The mind is dual in its potentiality, it is physical and metaphysical. The higher part of the mind is connected with the spiritual soul or Buddhi, the lower with the animal soul, the Kama (desire) principle….The plastic power of imagination is much stronger in some persons than in others. …That is why it is so very difficult for a materialist – the metaphysical portion of whose brain is almost atrophied – to raise himself – or, for one who is naturally-spiritually minded to descend to the level of the matter-of-fact vulgar thought. But the habit of thinking in the higher mind can be developed, otherwise would there be hope for the persons who wish to alter their lives and raise themselves?…” –
HP Blavatsky.

Let’s start with a definition of the key term, ‘Pilgrim’, and later we will consider why a pilgrimage may be undertaken, and an overview of some of the great pilgrimages conducted by adherents of Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. Furthermore, the five stages of a Pilgrimage will be explored. At the conclusion of this article there will be an examination of some of the deeper elements associated with the pilgrim. There will be a consideration of how the experience of pilgrimage will inevitably change the pilgrim from within and without, and that the five stages of a pilgrimage, assists in such a transformation.

According to Wikipedia, “a pilgrim, from the Latin peregrinus, is a traveller (literally one who has come from afar) who is on a journey to a holy place. As we will see during the course of this article, there are various reasons why people would embark on one.

 Secular pilgrimages: In modern times, pilgrimages are more secular than religious, the following are but some of the cultural/historical pilgrimages which are made: Graceland, home of Elvis Presley; Auschwitz Concentration Camp; Gettysburg Battlefield; Pyramids in Egypt; Jim Morrison’s (lead singer of 1960s music group ‘The Doors’) grave in Paris; Ground Zero in New York; and the Gallipoli Battlefield in Turkey. Motivations may be some of the following: Understanding of an event; seeking closure of a traumatic event; being physically present at the grave/house location/memorial of a person/event; the attraction of the Power of Place, and perhaps, a desire for life-changing experience.

Religious pilgrimages: Religious motivations may be for some of the following: A period of exile to seek closer communion with God/Divine; A break from the mundane world; Penitence; Petition for a miracle/cure for an aliment; Spiritual rejuvenation /purification/transformation; Lured by apparitions/miracles (Power of Place), and again, the desire for life-changing experience There are many religious traditions which feature a pilgrimage to a place of special, spiritual significance. Usually, the devotee of a particular religious persuasion makes it his goal in life to make the great journey to the site he views as most reverential and sacred.

Islam: Those of the Islamic faith would make travelling to Mecca as a major life goal. ‘Hajj’ is Arabic for pilgrimage, which is considered to be a religious duty to be conducted at least once during a Muslim’s lifetime. The Hajj is made to the birth place of Muhammad. At Mecca in Saudia Arabia is Masjid al- Haram, or the Sacred Mosque. This is the birthplace of Muhammand. The Mosque can accommodate up to 820,000 worshippers during the Hajj period. A number of rituals are performed over a week at the site to symbolise the lives of Ibrahim (Abraham and his wife). One of the rituals involves the Ka’ba. This is as cubical structure which is representational of where Abraham offered his son Ishmael as a sacrifice to God. The Royal Embassy of Saudia Arabia has kept records listing the numbers of pilgrims since 1920. In that year the number of pilgrims totalled 58,584,by 2010 it had grown to over 3 million people per year.

Hinduism: for Hindus, a once in a life time pilgrimage to the Ganges (Ganga) is the objective. The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus. The religious significance of the river takes place in late May or early June when Hindus celebrate the, ‘Avatara’, or the descent of Ganga from heaven to earth. The 10th day of the waxing moon of the Hindu calendar is considered to be the most auspicious day to be in the river. It is believed that for those who bathe in the waters of the Ganges River on this day, that there will be the remission of all sins and the action will bring about the liberation from the cycle of life and death, or plainly, the cessation of reincarnation. The largest pilgrimage in the world is the Hindu pilgrimage held every three years in different cities in India. It is estimated that over 100 million people visited Kumbh Mela in 2013 – the largest peaceful gathering in the world!

Christianity: along with the pilgrimages undertaken by the Christian monks in the third century to the East, by the fourth century in the West under Constantine, Christians began to visit in the footsteps of Jesus Christ:

“…as a form of devotion that engaged the entire being – the body as well as the spirit – the pilgrim was removed from his familiar environment. The person who had decided to endure the difficulties and suffering of the road, wished to be sanctified. Exiled, a stranger to those he met, the pilgrim’s long march was a form of asceticism and penitence, aiming for purification and salvation of the soul, perfected by the contact with the holy places….During the high Middle Ages, the holy places of Jerusalem and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul in Rome were the most popular pilgrimage sites of the West. The custom of bringing palm branches back from Jerusalem gave the pilgrims to the Holy Land the name, ‘Palmers’, while those returning from Rome were known by the term, ‘Romieux’, in France…”

After the ‘invention’ from the Latin, meaning ‘to find’, the relics of the apostle James the Greater in Galicia in the 9th century, Santiago de Compostella became one of the three principal Christian pilgrimage sites of the West….to go on a pilgrimage was, above all, to reach a sacred place, sanctified by the passage of Christ, the memory of a saint, or the presence of relics, where divine grace was likely to be manifested more than in any other place, particularly through miracles”. The Roads to Santiago de Compostela. MSM, 1999, France: pp. 52-53 and pp. 52- 53.

For Christians, travelling to various holy sites in Europe, particularly the Vatican in Italy, Lourdes and Notre Dame in France, and in the Holy Land with the various sites such as Via Dolorosa, Sea of Galilee, and the site o f Jesus’ first ministry was the ultimate goal, yet for others it may have been a journey to Santiago de Compostella. With reference to Santiago de Compostella, Compostella means “Field of Stars” and the route retraces a path along the constellation of the Milky Way from the centre of the galaxy to the star Sirius. It is believed that this is the path of transcendence. The road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, one of the great pilgrimages of Europe. In England up until the Middle Ages, the ‘Pilgrims Way’- was the path to the shrine of Thomas A’Becket in Canterbury in Kent. Thomas A’Becket was also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury. There is the famous Canterbury Tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer at the close of the 14th century, about the personalities and experiences of the pilgrims; of which we have all come to recognise some fairly striking characters! This pilgrimage started from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of Thomas A ‘Becket at Canterbury in Kent. Thomas A’ Becket was canonised in 1173. Until 1538, his shrine was the most important in England outside of Rome. Thomas A’Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170 and was considered a
saint and martyr by both Catholics and Anglicans. The historian William Coles Finch has stated that up to 100,000 pilgrims travelled to visit the shrine each year. However, other historians dispute such an estimate as accurate records were not kept to validate this number.

The experience of pilgrimage: Increasingly, much is being researched into the experience of a pilgrimage for both the individual and groups of pilgrims. Researchers have analysed that generally there are five stages of a pilgrimage. Additionally, a transformation occurs for the pilgrim, and in fact, most pilgrims largely undertake a pilgrimage because of the very fact that they wish to be transformed and altered via the experience of it. The five stages of pilgrimage
are:

1. Pilgrim commits to making the journey;

2. Pilgrim is involved with preparatory rites, ritual bathing, altering physical appearance – shaving head, fasting, abstaining from sexual relations;

3. Collecting evidence of the pilgrimage, ie. gaining a part of a religious relic, or verification of journey such as the ‘passport’ which is stamped on the Camino;

4. Arrival at destination, making appropriate preparations to enter site, or sacred
location;

5. Conduct at the sacred site such as praying, chanting, singing, bell-ringing, etc. The transformational nature of the pilgrimage experience ultimately brings about a change for the pilgrim. The pilgrim has a new identify both in relation to society and the cosmos. The ritual of undertaking the journey, undergoing each of the five stages of the pilgrimage, empowers the pilgrim. Such empowerment is incredibly healing. The empowerment alters the pilgrim’s consciousness.

The pilgrimage is a metaphor of life. The pilgrim endures the physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, individual and political trials and tribulations of life. The pilgrim has had the unique experience of being removed from familiar surroundings, the distractions of the mundane world and is transformed on every level. This is an unconscious process. It is no different for any of us today, when after returning from an amazing travel experience, views life and home, work and family with a much altered perspective.

It is this alchemical process, where the pilgrim, through the accumulative experiences on the path is changed. It is a mystical and mysterious exercise. It is a deeply moving, life-changing encounter with self, society and the pilgrim’s sense of the divine, his God.

Today with the advent of affordable air travel, more and more people are making their way to the pilgrimage of their choice, whether it be a religious pilgrimage, or a secular pilgrimage, each pilgrim is on a quest for transformation.

How important is it to be happy? Everybody has their own ideas of what it is to be happy and most people direct their life-long efforts towards that end. In Australia, our social, economic, cultural, and political institutions are based on the visions of generations of immigrants seeking greater happiness in a new land. Inspired by the tiny kingdom of Bhutan and their measurement of the country’s worth as, ‘gross national happiness’, the importance of happiness in human life was recognized by the United Nations on March 20, 2013 with the declaration of the very first International Day of Happiness.

Happiness and Health: Over the past 40 years, medical science has done some serious research into the healing power of joy. Author, Norman Cousins, in his famous book, The Anatomy of an Illness, gives his own experience of how his severe bone and joint pain was driven from his body by regularly having a belly laugh from watching old Marx brothers comedy movies. Cousins described his theory of the chemistry of laughter in one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, The New England Journal of Medicine, His article received more positive letters from readers than any other up until that time in the journal’s long history. The famous ‘clown doctor’ Patch Adams started a whole movement in the medical profession encouraging the use of humour in hospital wards in the 1990s after a film on his life starring comedian Robyn Williams was such a huge hit.

One of the best pieces of scientific evidence to support the notion that the body has a chemistry of joy and sorrow, is the chemical analysis of tears which reveals a very different molecular make-up for tears of joy and tears of sorrow. As one researcher comments:

“…Another interesting discovery about the content of tears was made by Dr. William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in Minnesota. He and his team analyzed two types of tears: the emotional ones (crying when emotionally upset and stressed) and the ones arising from irritants (such as crying from onions). They found that emotional tears contained more of the protein-based hormones, prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and leucine enkephalin (natural painkiller), all of which are produced by our body when under stress. It seems as if the body is getting rid of these chemicals through tears. That explains why we usually feel better after a good cry. So, there you go. Cry as much as you want – it is probably good for you. But no cheating by inducing crying with onions. Your tear glands know the difference!” – Skorucak A. “The Science of Tears.” ScienceIQ.com [see also Chip Walter’s article ‘Why do we cry?’ in the Scientific American: Mind 17 (6) page 144 of December 2006].

Happiness and the Soul: If the physical body responds so positively to the healing influence of good humour, how much more important is a feeling for the joy of life to the Inner Man? Our former Leader, Katherine Tingley, tells the story of her meeting with a Master of Wisdom (HP Blavatsky’s teacher) in Darjeeling, India, which has a lot to teach us about coping with the stresses of life through mental balance and good humour. As they spoke together on a hillside overlooking a farmer’s field, one of the Master’s students (in India referred to as a ‘Chela’) was ploughing the field with a team of oxen. The Master used the example of his student to illustrate his ideas about coping with the stresses of life on the Path of understanding – especially for aspirants to spiritual achievement. The Master said that the student/ploughman’s team of unruly oxen were always calm for him because they were immersed in the atmosphere of the student’s concentration and contemplations.

Further, he said one should not live in dread of life’s experiences, but go cheerfully on our way coping with the tasks at hand rather than being overwhelmed by distant goals. He said that a joy in the spiritual life could actually make the very atoms of our body lighter! We should fight the tendency to let the worries and anxieties of our everyday consciousness weigh us down. The Master said that hopelessness and anxiety can bring our body’s atoms…”half way to death; but they can be quickened to a kind of immortality by the fire of the divine life, and attuned to universal harmony. Men everywhere could get rid of all that burden of un-necessities, and carry themselves like that young chela does, if they had the mental balance.” [The story of the Master and his ploughman/chela is recounted in Katherine Tingley’s, The Gods Await.]

Happiness: some perspectives from Theosophy: A sense of humour indicates an understanding of human nature and an ability to draw forth the positive aspects from the difficulties of life.  The world’s great comedians have always played the role of placing ourselves and sometimes our most cherished institutions into humorous and more balanced perspective. Religious teachers throughout history have emphasized the joy awaiting man on his path of inner discovery through the outer sufferings and travails of daily life. They have often demonstrated the practical value of humour and joy with their work in the world. Think of the infectious laughter of the Dalai Lama when he is interviewed on even the most serious subject. Likewise the writings of our theosophical Masters in the, Mahatma Letters, often exhibit a keen sense of humour for the frailties of human nature on its path of learning.

In particular, our former Leader, Katherine Tingley, often spoke of the need to hold sacred a real sense of the joy of living even when besieged by the sorrows which come to everyone in the course of daily life. In her book, The Travail of the Soul, she writes:

“Let us open up our minds to the fact that life is joy: that is, the real spiritual life, and that the disarrangements, the failures, the discouragements, and the heavy, tearing, heart-shadows we must face in life are our own to adjust. We have the opportunity, even in the ordinary lines of daily activity, to think a little more, to let our souls break through to something better, and to find ourselves out under the great blue sky in our aspirations, in touch with nature’s wonderful lessons and its silent and marvellous beauty.” – Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia.

“The pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavours. People around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want, and in harmony with nature….On this first International Day of Happiness, let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others. When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help to build the future we want.” – Ban K. Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the occasion of the first International Day of Happiness, March 20th, 2013.

The concept of a single God is called monotheism. Monotheism originates from the Greek – Monos = single, and Theos=God. Monotheism is a predominant feature of the Abrahamic religions – these being: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Monotheism is also a key feature of Baha’i, Zoroastrianism and Sikhism. While many may consider monotheism as a modern Western concept, it is in fact, a practice which emerged in the ancient East. The scope of this paper will not allow an overview of those religions listed above, but rather to consider a particular moment in ancient Egyptian history when Monotheism existed, albeit for a very brief period during the New Kingdom era (1550–1070 BC : considered by many as the most glorious period of ancient Egyptian history).

This unique time when monotheism was a dominant feature of Ancient Egyptian religion, art and societal custom and tradition is today known as Atenism. This form of monotheism was so named after the Sun. When uttering the name Amunhotep IV, unless one has a sound knowledge of the lineage of Ancient Egyptian pharaohs, it is likely that this name will not raise much interest. However, mention the name Akhenaton and commentary abounds! The much maligned Pharaoh has been described as a deformed heretic, a megalomaniac, and revolutionary. It is also noteworthy that he was the father of the boy King Tutankhamen whose intact tomb found in the early twentieth century is one of the most celebrated finds in archaeology. Regardless of one’s view of him, Akhenaton’s legacy, like his reputation, has endured over the millennia and today we are able to consider his contribution to Ancient Egyptian religion, worship and art.

Statue of the Pharaoh Akhenaton showing his unusual elongated features.

The theological experiment, to which it is sometimes referred, was a revolutionary belief system. It focussed on the notion of a single deity. In this case, the Aten, or Sun-Disk. Indeed, the Pharaoh believed himself to be the Son of the Sun. Within the first few years of his reign, Amenhotep 1V had changed his name to Akhenaton meaning “Radiant Spirit of the Aten”. This radical approach to worship, that is, monotheism, predated the Hebrew’s religion and that of Christianity. Whether this relatively short-lived theological experiment directly influenced later religions such as that of the Israelites is a matter of great, academic speculation. I will present some commentators’ opinions at the conclusion of this presentation, of which you may evaluate for yourselves.

Akhenaton: Pharoah of Egypt: Akhenaton was born Amunhotep 1Vth and reigned a mere 14 years (1352-1338 BCE). It is likely he died in middle age. The cause of his death is unknown but I have found some amusing speculations as to the nature of his demise! Some scholars have offered the possibility that he may have died of skin cancer, or sun stoke on account of his unending “sun worship” at every opportunity. We also have accounts of the many structures built in the capital and especially at the Royal Court which were constructed without a roof. Historical accounts detail petitions made by international emissaries complaining about standing in the sun for long hours wearing heavy regalia without the benefit of being under shade, whilst attending Royal ceremonies for many hours.

The Pharaoh was obsessed with the sun. He decreed that his new city be situated on the eastern shore of the Nile which was essentially, the desert. Fittingly, he named his capital city Akhenaton meaning “Horizon of the Sun-disk”.  The location is now modern El Armarna. Today is it no more than ruins. It appears that Akhenaton was dissatisfied with the worship of Amun at the time. The usual religious rituals involved the deity Amun being revered in a dark, inner part of the sanctum, of a temple and this was only for the select few. Additionally, it is likely that the attendant priesthood was another aspect of the religious practice with which he was not impressed, and so, over a period of time, he began closing down many of the temples across Egypt.

While Akhenaton’s revolutionary approach to everyday worship and devotion of the divine may have been at odds against the previous prevailing orthodoxy, other aspects of the period were indeed fresh and inspiring. Religious representation changed from a stylised, iconographic manner to a more realistic depiction of the Royal Family. However, many have viewed the representation of the Royal Family as odd. Mostly the royal portraiture of Akhenaton displays the pharaoh in unflattering light. Many historians have hinted that the Royal portraiture was ‘realistic’ in that, the family was afflicted with a genetic disorder (Marfan’s Syndrome) brought about by procreating amongst an interrelated gene pool, as close family members often married each other and spawn offspring.

The famous statue of the beautiful Queen Nefertiti, chief consort of Pharaoh Akhetaten.

A revisionist view is that the Royal family were depicted in a less stylised manner to demonstrate the notion that the family was different to mere mortals, and that they were unworldly and extraterrestrial. Depictions of the Royal Family abound and also testify to this idea. The family, though imbued with familial tenderness and devotion, in the many royal scenes, also denote ‘other worldliness’.  For me, there is something, somewhat fascinating but strange about the oddly-shaped face and body of the Pharaoh, with his beautiful Queen Nefertiti and their children with their extraordinary, elongated, shaped heads.

The Aten: So far as the new religion was concerned, the Aten (Sun) was not portrayed with the usual human or animal attributes as had the pantheon of Egyptian deities. The Aten was always depicted as a geometric solar circle – but such representation was beautifully rendered with little hands attached to the sun-rays. There are many depictions of Akhenaton and his family having the loving, gentle rays of the Aten, figuratively toughing via the ‘hand and fingers’ of the Aten’s rays.

What is remarkable about Akhenaton’s Atenism, I feel, is that this religion was accessible for every Egyptian. One did not have to have come from the ruling class, nor of the  elite Priesthood to have contact with this God. The Aten, the Sun, touched everything and everyone without distinction or favour. The beauty of this religion was the brightness of it, for nothing was in the shadows so to speak, as was the worship of Amun. Every worshiper could have immediate, direct, illuminated commune with the Aten. The worshipper could always have his/her “time in the Sun”.

Akhenaton’s Influence: Not only did Pharaoh’s influence extend into the Affairs of state but also how they were conducted. The reign of Akhenaton was a relatively peaceful one as was the social the  structure. Cyril Aldred has said of Akhenaton;

…”there was one aspect in which he was wholly original, and that was his insistence upon a true monotheism, the worship of one god only, whose incarnation he was, to the exclusion of all else. Where this idea came from in the world of the fourteenth century BC, which widely recognised so many different manifestations of godhead , is not known; but his own identification with the Aten probably provides the key’’.p.260. Aldred, C. Akhenaton Pharaoh of Egypt a new study, p. 260.

 Another author, Redford, has made the following comments of which I will not evaluate. Instead you may arrive at your own assessment of Akhenaton’s legacy concerning his contribution to the notion of monotheism. Several revisionist historians believe Atenism did not begin as monotheism but as a preference and superiority of one god over others.

As stated by Donald B. Redford:

…“There is little or no evidence to support the notion that Akhenaton was a progenitor of the full-blown monotheism that we find in the bible…(it) had its own separate development.” Redford, Donald B. The Monotheism of Akhenaton  Princeton University Press. p. 26.

At this juncture it may be timely to consider that Redford here is referring to Henotheism. Wikipedia, defines Henotheism as “…the belief and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities that may also be worshipped.” 

Finally, an analysis of Akhenaton’s legacy which appealed for me is that of Aldred, when he says:

“In the development of religion and thought, Akhenaton stands out as against the momentum of traditional religion as the instigator of ideas which were in advance of his time. As such, he seems the world’s first individual and the world’s first idealist”. Aldred: Page 257.

…the same question stands open from the days of Socrates and Pilate down to our own age of wholesale negation: is there such a thing as absolute truth in the hands of any one party or man? Reason answers, “there cannot be.” There is no room for absolute truth upon any subject whatsoever, in a world as finite and conditioned as man is himself. But there are relative truths, and we have to make the best we can of them.  H.P. Blavatsky, Lucifer, February, 1888. See for full article: What is Truth? H.P. Blavatsky

We all start off our spiritual journey asking some eternal questions: What is the meaning of Life?; Does God exist?; What happens after Death?; Why is there Suffering in the world?; Why is there Evil?; What is the nature of the Soul?; How can we make a better world?; How can there be differences between religions if the Truth is One?

Our problems can start when inevitably we reach a point where we may begin to challenge the answers to these questions provided by the religious traditions of our own society. We may wish to move from commitment to a particular religion to expressing our own innate spirituality. We hope to move from faith alone to Understanding. We wish to progress from the hope of salvation from an outside God or Gods to the long, lonely walk down the spiritual path to enlightenment or transcendence through our own self-guided efforts. Depending on the capacity for tolerance of our own religious tradition, open-mindedness and questioning may meet with strong opposition!

The Great Religious Dilemma: Most religions have a fundamental dilemma arising from people wanting to ask our eternal questions. On the one hand, we have a monumental religious organization – church, mosque, and temple – call it what you will – built on religious dogma with a priesthood and rituals. Such a church is based on faith in a dispensation of revealed spiritual knowledge which has to be followed by devotees of that religion. The followers of such traditions are usually the majority of people in any society around the world. Examples would be – fundamentalist versions of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Their advice in answering our eternal questions would be: “The way to God is through our religion – join us!”

On the other hand, in every religious tradition around the world there are always people who are asking awkward questions of their vicars and priests. Such people want to ‘know’. They want to have knowledge and experience of spiritual realities for themselves. They look inwardly for their spiritual inspiration rather than outward to a monumental church or religious professionals. Such people often end up being persecuted by the orthodox majority. Examples would be: Gnostic Christians; Sufi Muslims; Baha’i devotees; and Theosophists. Their advice in answering those eternal questions would be: “Religions are a testament to how far mankind is away from God – go find the answers for yourself!”

In the Hall of Learning: If our brave decision is to set foot on the spiritual path alone and self-directed as to what we feel are the right answers to our questions; we enter into what the ancient Egyptians called ‘The Hall of Learning’. Here, we, in the company of other like-minded seekers, search for instruction from spiritual teachers about the nature of spiritual realities. Here questioning and discussion are necessary to learn and develop faster.

It is worth bearing in mind that at any point in our long spiritual quest we should remember a time-honoured principle of instruction in the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. We should always develop the habit of trying to answer our own questions first before questioning our teachers. This habit builds spiritual self-reliance and strengthens our connection with the only true spiritual master for every seeker – our own ‘Higher Self’. If, once we have sincerely searched for an answer, but still need further information, we should carefully frame our questions for our teacher as he/she can only address those specific issues we pose in our questions.

I guess the whole process can be summed up by saying that: “You can’t learn anything meaningful by getting into the habit of looking up the answers in the back of your school textbook!” You need to build up inner strength by working on problems yourself so you may qualify as a teacher yourself someday.

In the hallowed ‘Hall of Learning’ we should not become egotistical about what we think we know because spirituality is a never-ending quest. We should always be prepared to change our view of spiritual realities as we grow in understanding over time. We should be aware that the Hierarchy of Spiritual Teachers will always offer further insights into spiritual truths as Humanity develops its capacity to understand them on into the future.

In the Hall of Wisdom: Advancing beyond the ‘Hall of Learning’ to the ‘Hall of Wisdom’ we move beyond reliance on others for spiritual knowledge to increasing reliance on our own spiritual resources. Questioning without the habit of self-examination first is completely discouraged as self-reliance is vitally necessary to build inner strength as we advance. Ego-bound self-justification in intellectual argument, such as forms the basic stuff of university education, is discouraged as we should have accepted the reality of the law of karma (Action and Reaction) by this stage.

All answers to ultimate questions come from within – so where does this leave our teachers as we advance on the spiritual path? The teacher (Guru) and Student (Chela) relationship is paramount and we must have complete trust in our spiritual teacher once we accept him/her as knowing the ‘Truth’. It is said that the relationship between the spiritual teacher and student is even closer than that of a parent and child. A parent provides a body but the ‘Guru’ provides a means to a ‘Second Birth’ into spiritual realities. Trust and Faith in the teacher’s knowledge is implicit in this relationship.

Plato called true education ‘Unforgetting’ our way back to the source of Wisdom within. Essentially this means overcoming the power of the Lower Ego with its limited and selfish perspectives, and reaching out to the fiery source of our being – the Higher Self. As our intuitive capacity develops through a greater identification with the ‘Higher-Self’ within, we can begin to spontaneously appreciate the answers to many of the eternal questions which so vexed us at the beginning of our search.

An interesting film – What the bleep to we know? – giving perspectives from modern science on some of these ancient questions is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioONhpIJ-NY and also the second part of the film ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usMsTPg-hHk

“There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the very heart of the Universe: I can tell you how to find those who will show you the secret gateway that opens inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte evermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onwards there is reward past all telling – the power to bless and save humanity; for those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come.” – HP Blavatsky- Co-Founder of the Theosophical Society -September 1891.

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.

The annual cycle of the Solstices and Equinoxes

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.

                                                                                         Angkor Wat in Siam Reap, Cambodia.

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

elephanta cavesA 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 Elephanta Caves, near Mumbai, India.

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.

Cramped, shoulder to shoulder, back to back, each one of us smelling the sweat and scent of the other, the train lurched forward—and I saw the razor’s edge between Theosophy and religion. Only an hour ago I had been winding my way through empty streets towards the train station having attended, enjoyed, and left a New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s home in northern Melbourne. With each block and passing of the minutes the empty streets became half-empty and then, when I could no longer weave in and out of the crowds of people, I realized they were half-full. Now, with each step, the crowds grew and my pace slowed until I was at a crawl, making my way through throngs of people moving in all four directions across the same central square. Having left the party just after midnight, ringing in the New Year with some non-alcoholic wine and the best of intentions but now with second thoughts among the rowdy sea of people, it was 12:45am and I was barely inching towards my goal, the train platform for Pakenham.

Wading through the sea of people heading in the direction of the platform, I could hear the trains come and go in the distance. With each coming and going there was a massive surge from behind sending a shockwave of force rolling through the crowd, almost knocking some of us to the floor as the movement of the masses powered its way nearer the platform. Finally, I found myself at the edge of the platform, standing at the border of the yellow-striped line, helpless to prevent myself from being thrown on to the tracks if the collective unconscious of the masses had caused the body of people behind me to surge forwards out of rhythm. But there was no surge until the train arrived.

 And then I saw something very ugly pour out of the collective unconscious near the open doors of the train, a swelling of the lowest in human nature as the crowd crested towards the entrance, each individual manifesting a sheer selfishness that contorted their bodies and disfigured their faces as they struggled to force their way on to the carriage pushing and shoving—and clawing if they could have—driven by the misshapen habit and misbegotten belief that there was some special place reserved and designated specifically for them on the train. With the inhumanity of devils each one drove forwards to that special place only to find it occupied by another, nudging up against him or her sharing both tepid and toxic smells—a modern representation of a Michelangelo painting where the Mammons and Molechs herded the weaknesses of the personalities under their control into a jubilee of chaos and confusion—and settled into a secondary spot, ousted by someone more clever or quicker or perhaps with horns just a bit sharper than their own, ready for the train ride southwards.

The problem with this scene was that the train had not come for any one of us; it had come for all of us. Yet when that train arrived one could see the swarm of individuals acting out the belief that the train had somehow come for them as distinct units. And so it has been with the religions of the world. In Christianity, Christ came to save you or me as individuals; he may have come to save the world but human beings as individuals never seemed to be able to remove themselves from the centre of that thought, thereby continuing the geocentric view for my salvation—a primitive Galilean view that should have died out with the emergence of the scientific heliocentrism of Galileo—and forcing divinity to circle around “me” instead of “me” circling around divinity. In Buddhism, Nirvana was often seen as personal enlightenment, a hoping for an escape through the cessation of the “me” yet driven by the desires of the “me” for power and knowledge in its own dissolution. In Judaism, the Jews, to the exclusion of others, were the ‘Chosen People’, a people at the centre of a world with God, wreaking vengeance on others and sometimes even on themselves, revolving around them. In Islam, a follower of Muhammed had certain rights over a non-Muslim, an idea that permeated the social structure of the dhimmi system that discriminated against those who didn’t assume an accepted place in the caravan of life. With the small self at the centre of these systems, it was only natural that a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe—or religion—had to spring up, the belief system compensating for the inadequacy of the “me” to perceive and experience reality as it actually is.

Using metaphor for what actually is, Theosophy is a train and it doesn’t come for any one of us but all of us. It makes its rounds regardless of whether you or I am on the platform. If no one is on the platform, it will still come because there might be people on the next platform. Obviously, if there are many people on a particular platform and there is a great demand for it at a particular time, the conductor may increase the frequency of its running or he may add a carriage or two. But to think that the train is coming specifically for me or you is completely wrong.

When I do find a place on the train, it is not such a special place and I won’t hold it for long. What is important is how I balance getting on the train and how I behave with my fellow passengers during the journey. And when I have found my place on the train I don’t get to see what is going on three or four carriages ahead of me—I get to see what is going on in my carriage and that is enough.

I can stay on the train as long as I like though certain stops may distract my attention and I may disembark for a while. Or I may stay on till the end of the line. Either way, when it is time for me to depart, the conductor wishes me well and toots the horn before closing the doors. If I cause a problem on the train, he has an alarm for that too.

Each time I ride the train it takes me where I want to go but not because I want to go there. It goes there because it is scheduled to go there on its time, not mine. In seeing this—seeing that the small self is not the centre of the system but, rather, the train is the centre and its operations are the key—there is no need to set up a system of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe because the “me” is no longer hindering the perception of reality—which is the nature of how the train functions. We, as human beings, begin to forget our own timetable and our false conceptions of a special place and instead are content with catching the next express, or the one after that, and gliding down the rails on its path which, in proper perspective, becomes our own.

“Ekam sad, vipra bahudha vadanti” – “Truth is one. The wise use many names for It”

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 the Great Sphinx 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 Khafre, 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 Khafre, 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 from 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 the Sphinx was intended by its builders to tell future generations that the secret of true Humanhood is symbolized in the great statue itself. 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 difference 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 in ancient times as the Guardian of Knowledge, and 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 wandering 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 our hypothetical wanderer whatsoever, and he simply 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 ‘chela’ is the Sanskrit term for 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 bond-slave 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 earnestly searching for the Inner Sun of our Higher Self. The Great Sphinx of Egypt, as the voice of the Sun God, Ra Hor-Akhty, stands silent 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.

While you are sitting here reading this you are actually – moving at 0.5 km per second with the Earth’s rotation; moving forward with the Earth around the Sun at 30kms per second; moving with the solar system around the galaxy at 250kms per second; and moving with the whole Milky Way galaxy within the Local Group of galaxies at 300 kms per second! You are actually many hundreds of kilometres away from where you were in space when you first started reading this article!

Wheels within wheels – in constant and rapid motion. Yet to us tiny beings all appears largely unchanged from one day to the next, just as we were once beguiled by appearances into thinking that the earth was flat. Brave explorers in their sailing ships proved this to be a fallacy and gave us a global consciousness; now questing souls are reaching billions of light-years into the depths of space with radio telescopes and offering us something approaching a galactic awareness. We are starting to appreciate the reality of the ancient teachings that the universe is one of an infinite number of vast living organisms extending from the infinitely divisible atom to the super-galactic structures we are now seeing, and beyond, to macrocosmic entities.

As Saint Paul expressed our being part of Universal Divinity in the Bible, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Theosophical teachings compare our Earth to an electron and our solar system to an atom in the body of a being so vast that we cannot see it. We see only other atoms, galactic molecules, and now larger molecular swarms surrounding us.

“The Milky Way, a complete and self-contained universe, is, aggregatively, but one cosmic cell in the body of some super-cosmic entity, which in turn is but one of an infinitude of others like itself. The great contains the small; the greater contains the great. Everything lives for and unto everything else. This is the reason why separateness has been called the “great heresy.” It is the great illusion, for separateness is nonexistent. Nothing can live unto itself alone. Every entity lives for all, and the all is incomplete without the one entity, and therefore lives for it.” – G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 113

Let us now turn the telescope round the other way and look at the micro-cosmos of billions of cells that compose our bodies. In turn these cells are built of molecules and atoms, electrons and subatomic particles. Letting our minds take flight with the consciousness-expanding images of the ancient wisdom, is it not possible that many of these electrons could be inhabited by beings, who like us are pondering these wonderful thoughts?

“Their universe is a single organ of our body, and their galaxy is a single molecule of a cell of that organ. This is consciousness, atman, not ‘name and form’ nama-rupa . . . Consciousness has no magnitude. It will fill space, it will fill an atom, and things incomparably smaller than one of our chemical atoms. It is dimensionless, because it has no shape, no form, no rupa.” – G. de Purucker, The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, “Atomic and Galactic Consciousness,” 3:165-7

Consciousness unbounded by physical size lends wings to the imagination beyond the dreams of science fiction. One might fantasize that the larger being of which we are a part could be no further progressed in evolution than ourselves; conversely, that hierarchies of divinely conscious beings could inhabit the atoms of our bodies whose “worlds and galaxies” live out their life cycles and reimbody in one of our split seconds! A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions befalling the galactic being of which we form a minute part, we infinitesimals might know nothing or little about it, just as its atoms and molecules, our worlds, might peregrinate as do the life-atoms which enter and leave us at every instant.

In a world beset with wars and economic recession, where the great majority of people struggle to meet the demands of daily existence, what possible significance could these scientific metaphysical speculations have for the man in the street? The fact that modern science is beginning to have some understanding of the ancient truth that we are part of a larger organism has ethical implications for us all. We are encouraged to lift our heads from transitory worries and seek the broader horizons of the night sky, alive with evidence of our brotherhood with the stars.

From infinitesimal beings to galactic super-clusters, we see intricate connections and realize that we each have our own role to play. We start to respect our bodies, our environment, and the universe as temples of life, and to treat ourselves and others with reverence. We realize that our actions today will affect the destiny of planets and suns of the distant future, when we, as evolving beings, shall inhabit celestial forms — stars and galaxies — to provide the environment for humanities of tomorrow, the evolved life-atoms of our own constitution.

The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically the “playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing,” called “the manifesting stars,” and the “sparks of Eternity.” “The Eternity of the Pilgrim” is like a wink in the Eye of the Self-Existence (Book of Dzyan). “The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux.” — The Secret Doctrine, Second Proposition, 1:16-17.

How many times have you said to yourself when struggling with life’s problems: “Why can’t we just change?”…“Why does the world have to continue on this way” Thousands of years of human history and we still seem to be making the same old mistakes of warfare, exploitation, and now global climate change brought on by our inability to live more harmoniously with Nature. At an individual level we may on occasion ask ourselves this question as we inevitably stumble and fall along the spiritual Path. Then the more immediate question comes, “Why can’t we change?”

Both individually, and collectively as the human family, we are deeply conditioned psychologically by our past habits and have built ‘mental prisons’ from which we are reluctant to escape! We are comfortable in our ‘misery’ and don’t really want to take the necessary steps towards breaking the ‘moulds of mind’ to find a more harmonious life. As spiritual seekers we can spend a lot of time talking about spiritual awareness, but are we prepared to make the necessary changes in our lives to make it a reality for us?

This dilemma is a bit like a man standing outside a restaurant reading the menu and saying how nice it would be to eat the food. The only way to find out what the food is like is to go in and eat it!

Place yourself in the ‘spiritual shoes’ of the man standing outside the restaurant window.  Are we ready to enter the restaurant and order? Do we really want to make the changes that are necessary for the ‘spiritual life’? We are told by theosophical teachers that human beings have free will and the power of conscious choice. Further, they tell us that there is an open doorway at anytime we decide to start the long journey to the next level of higher spiritual awareness. In theosophical terms this doorway is the gateway to the ‘Dhyan-Chohanic kingdom for those who can make the grade, or as Katherine Tingley titled one of her books, ‘The Gods Await’. We are told by our theosophical Leaders that any man or woman who would undertake to ‘Live the Life’ can eventually pass through that door, which is the ‘Ring-Pass-Not’ for most people because we simply chose not to do it!                            

Being aware that the door to the ‘restaurant’ is always open, how do we make a start towards qualifying ourselves to enter and eat? Our former Leader James A. Long made the following illuminating comments on taking this momentous decision based on his own life experience which perhaps we theosophical students should consider each in our own way:

“…What is theosophy anyway? We have heard various attempts at definition, and it actually cannot be defined. But I like to consider theosophy as a system of character building. I have thought of it as that for a number of years. And the first time I thought of it as such was immediately after I had struggled and struggled with what I had filed in my mind to solve the problems of my life, and suddenly realized that I had to face myself and use something other than those facts that I had filed away…I faced myself and assumed the full responsibility of my circumstances and made that determination — and then the gods did stoop down to help, at unexpected times, through unexpected persons, and in unexpected ways. It is a beautiful experience. It was then that I realized what theosophy was to me. It was a system of character building, with a purpose — not that I might be a better man so that I could say, I am better than this fellow or that or some other fellow, but a better man and thus better qualified to serve my fellowmen….” – James A. Long – European Tour – 1951 – Munich.

 â€œIt is the duty of every [person] who is capable of an unselfish impulse to do something, however little, for humanity’s welfare.” – Mahatma Letter no. 15


I feel that we owe it to ourselves as city dwellers, to know and have our own special places of power, because city life robs us of that special connection with place, our at-oneness with nature.

In this article I’ll look at:

  • what some others have said about their feeling of oneness with nature.
  • how modern city life and our new culture of distraction takes away our feeling of oneness.
  • some of my personal places of power.
  • what others have said when they found their place of power.

Sometimes our places of power are far away, high in the mountains, the ocean or the desert. Sometimes they are closer than that, a local park perhaps, or even in the backyard. Sometimes all it takes is for us to be alone for a while in our gardens or some other private place. But why, have most of us in daily life, lost our connection with nature, the special feeling we are at one, that we are a part of your surroundings?

It’s not surprising. We live so much of life in a hurry, our behaviour patterns are under pressure to speed up. Technology is just contributor to what has been called the “hurry disease”. Computers and mobile phones work so quickly we end up thinking faster and faster. We are so used to being able to multitask, we have not noticed how our concentration has been fractured, probably the cause of so much recently diagnosed adult attention deficit syndrome, and why I can no longer easily read a book.

What this distracted state of awareness has done is to put a large barrier between us and our capacity to be in the here and now. And as another consequence, all the communication tools, the social networking sites such as ‘Facebook’, for example, have not strengthened our relationships in an enduring way, they just multiply them manyfold, and they seem to weaken them in some way at the same time. It’s as though we have watered-down something important for the price of being instantly and everlastingly connected.

A personal anecdote might help us answer the question of why we so easily lose the connection with nature and inner selves. The phone company rang me the other day to say how wonderful it was we’re still their customer (actually it’s because I am already on information overload!), but they also wanted to know what communication devices we have in our home. I told them. We have a fax, an answering machine, three computers, three telephone handsets, and two mobile phones.

Thinking about what’s on the list, I’m surprised we don’t have a direct line to an inner or outer god, but sadly the phone company can’t offer this as their latest product! Thankfully, they’ll never be able to. But my real point is, when I answered I saw we’d gathered lots of machines to make communication with each other easy, but at the same time I’ve forgotten to look after another more important kind of communication, the one I have with nature. One for which the phone company can’t supply a special account or gadget.

In recent years I’ve had little time to visit my places of power to commune with nature, and get in touch somehow with what I think is my inner self and nature. You could also call it universal mind, or God, or the soul, eternal essence, energy or spirit – or whatever. I’ve lost the connection to nature via my places of power, the places where I feel empowered, where I feel deeply connected to something, right at home. But so much for having lost the connection, what is the connection? What am I talking about when I use this word.

Let’s hear about the oneness with nature from others, Henrietta Mann is a PhD, a Southern Cheyenne Elder American Indian. Her comments are published in the book, Native Wisdom for White Minds with comments by Anne Wilson Schaff:

“Nature is God’s greatest teacher. Man must learn to attune his higher spiritual consciousness to the harmonious flow of nature and the throbbing heartbeat of the man [in heaven] who created it for lasting duration in order to realise his oneness with nature and with God.”

And the author’s observation on the Southern Cheyenne Elder Henrietta’s comment is:

“Nature is my greatest teacher. When I take the time to go into nature it takes me a while to adjust to the rhythm of my surroundings. Initially what I hear is the rushing of my own heart and the pounding of my brain. It takes me a while to leave my culture behind me and begin to attune to a harmonious flow of nature. God’s messages in nature do not just enter the brain; they enter the whole being and move into a flow of consciousness that assures us of the oneness of all things with the creator. Only when the mind and the body slow down enough do I have the possibility to know oneness.”

Just listen to those words: It takes time to get to feel the rhythm of nature. Another way to say this is that it takes time to feel the rhythm of universal mind, or that which is nameless without form but with form. A quick jaunt to the country is helpful, but one cannot really appreciate nature without taking the time. My experience is it takes about three days to wind down and relax from normal city-paced living.

It also seems to take nature time to adjust to us. A city dweller writing for Time Life books describes a first night out in the dunes of the Sahara:

“The air was sharp and cold, and life was starting in the dunes after the dead heat of the day. I went for a short walk and surprised a fennec, a small desert fox with large ears, sitting patiently in ambush at a Jerboa’s hole. He was dazzled for a moment by the light, and his eyes glowed brightly. Then he bounded away up the side of the dune, a pale shape with its own moon shadow. I saw nothing else this first night; the dunes were not going to deliver up their secrets easily to a day visitor from the civilized world”. (p.17).

And here’s a good question. Why would not the Sahara not deliver her secrets to a day- visitor from the civilised world? Why can’t you as a day-visitor, read nature’s secrets? My theory is that as we no longer live in the cathedral of nature, the trivial thoughts and exasperations of daily life smother our awareness of our oneness with nature. To always be in a hurry. Multi-tasking madness!

The city dwellers divine occupation and privilege is to fight the peak hour traffic, like David against Goliath, but with bad aim caused by an overdose of morning news and rising interest rates. Add to this the disruptive energies of other people, sent just a little bit crazier than us, by their over-sensitivity to modern city living. For example, I have a workmate, James, a devout Buddhist, who seems to be nearing nervous collapse, trying to please too many other people in his struggle for perfection. Sadly, his stressed out condition gets on our nerves. All these influences we do not control, but have to adjust to, can be at the expense of realising and knowing our inner life, our connection with nature and other people. Ask anyone who lives in the country and they will usually say city people are quite mad. They might be right!

But what drives these influences that propel us in the direction of haste? I think it is important to understand this. For many of us, it’s the daily struggle to accumulate more possessions, comforts and experiences than somebody else. The author of the excellent book, Clutter Busting, Brooks Palmer, says we are already complete in ourselves, but marketers and advertisers have seduced us to think we are somehow incomplete, that’s why we buy more and more stuff to fill a void – and one does not even exist! Collecting ‘stuff’ also harnesses the natural human urge of competition. Car-makers, for example, know our egos are weak. We’re also hooked on creature comforts; as is the appliance maker who now supplies remote controls for microwave ovens. Some city dwellers like to collect experiences in the same way as possessions. I’ve often heard people say they will ‘do’ Europe or they will ‘do’ Asia as though they were on some kind of a trophy hunt.

The frenzy of modern life has turned the city to a place of spiritual emptiness and powerlessness for many individuals with little connection to others. It’s a rootless existence, lived in a borderless and endless urban tract. More so, when they keep moving from suburb to suburb in search of more impressive houses and supposedly better lifestyles. What this creates is a large group of people sensing they belong to nothing, no personal history of place, and cut off from nature and even themselves and each other. Sometimes they turn on each other in frustration.

Road rage is an extreme example of pent up frustrations and anger, fuelled of the feeling of powerlessness and discontentedness; it’s a strange permission to let-fly provided by the seeming anonymity of the car. To continue in my harsh insight into modern living and the city as a place of spiritual powerlessness, modern life also offers so little inner satisfaction and communication with the inner life, and so much frustration, that addictions of all kinds are common. They are symptomatic of a life spent in a state of denial of our authentic selves. Do I exaggerate? Look at the statistics for mental illness and prescriptions for anti-depressants, the rate of heroin abuse and teenage suicide – they are increasing. All these are symptoms of unhappiness and inner discomfort on the increase, when outer comfort increases.

Yet supposedly we are living in paradise, “relaxed and comfortable” as a past Australian Prime Minister said some time ago. So what is my solution to all this angst? When possible I go to my places of power.

Here is the story of how I discovered the first when I was seven or eight years old. On a heavily overcast humid, warm spring morning, I stood alone in the schoolyard. A warm wind swept the long grass. For some minutes I was the breeze, and the grass and the grey clouds above, floating across the schoolyard, waving the tassels of the ripe grasses. Sometimes I can still feel this moment of awakening to Mother Nature or Universal Mind.

For many years I lost this feeling of being connected to the elements, of oneness, until I rediscovered it through renewed contact with nature outside the city. I guess that early schoolyard experience was a sign for me for the need for a close future relationship with nature. The outdoors would be important. There would always be the quest for the special feeling of being alive in a different way. To get away from the city entombed in concrete, to find the subtle shift of the breeze, the scent of the bush after rain away from the city, and the pure, cold air carrying the scent of snow in the mountains.

Today my places of power are the river and mountain and forest. I get to them when I can, or when I am driven to them by some inner urge. The first and most important is the river. The river gives me the strongest sense of connectedness most quickly. Why? Because I find the quickest way to get in touch with natural forces and rhythms is by being on and in the river, paddling a kayak. A kayak allows me to float with the current, ride the rapids and basically feel alive again. In a kayak one is with the movements and energies of the river, there is really no other choice. One cannot think about work or anything else but being there. If you do think about other things, you lose focus and capsize. It can be very cold and sometimes dangerous. If there’s a strong current or lots of rapids, the need to focus on the natural forces outside you is even stronger.

In the space of an hour I become the river, my body is an extension of the river, no longer fighting, but working with it. Mentally you must concentrate and read the rocks and the current. This then is a sacred place, a sacred connection between human and natural energy, a place of moving power, because you’ve forgotten yourself and the trifles and troubles that occupy the anxious and worried, uptight, tense, nervous, stressed, annoyed, angry irritated mind – and the emotions we’re not supposed to have.

But if there is one place where I am awakening to an even stronger special energy it is the mountains. It takes me by surprise every time. Before my eyes is a feeling of place where I somehow feel I have always been – a place of feeling “infinite and unforseen” as the singer KD Lang says. This is my connection point with the heavens.

The first time I realised the power of altitude, was on a New Zealand mountain, in the Mt. Cook range, 7,000 feet high, overlooking a glacial valley (see the picture opposite). A strange feeling washed over me. (Hit me is probably a better description!) I was in my element. I felt all powerful, confident, expansive, and at home. Perhaps it was the magnetic forces of earth or as the followers of Feng Shui might say, ‘Tiger energy’, concentrated at the peaks and summits that caught me unawares. Perhaps it was the concentration of negative ions. Whatever the explanation no other place had offered this unique feeling. Even so it was a slightly dangerous place to stay – the mountaineers’ hut I stayed in that night had once been blown off the mountain by a freak gust of wind, with several people in it.

Years later the feeling returned. Atop a higher peak, Mount Santis, in the Swiss Alps, with the sound of three fine female yodellers at the cafeteria, I looked across an endless armada of grey peaks all the way to Italy. Small circles of colour drifted in the far distance – hot air balloons in the far distance enjoying the clear weather. Once again I got the feeling of being in a place of intense energy, a place, stirring intense emotions, a place of power. It seemed as familiar as home, as familiar as your suburban backyard does to you. I felt in tune, as though it were my special playground, my private kingdom. I don’t get to the high altitudes often enough.

Others have been strongly affected by their connection with nature too. On the ocean, the first man to sail solo around the world, in 1898, Joshua Slocum in his book Sailing alone around the World said this:

“During these days a feeling of awe swept over me. My memory worked with startling power. The ominous, the insignificant, the great, the small, the wonderful, the commonplace – all appeared before my mental vision in magical succession. Pages of my history were recalled which had been so long forgotten that they seemed to belong to a previous existence. I heard all the voices of the past laughing, crying, telling what I had heard them tell in many corners of the earth.” (p.51)

If we have no place for peace and contemplation, we have no place, we have no sacred site where we can see and feel the true nature of our lives; places where we may contemplate, and where the soul and the body might sing quietly or loudly in unison. Do you know your place of power? Perhaps you have a vague recollection you like the sea or the mountains. Perhaps your place of power is near a waterfall where the earth’s energies are more conducive to your own special thoughts and feelings seldom felt at other times. Perhaps your place is in the desert, perhaps in a She-Oak forest, with its magical quality of soft foliage and bark on rocky slopes, with the breeze whispering all about you in the desert air.

Thankfully in Australia we have vast empty spaces, much envied by overseas visitors, and not so difficult to journey to.

I’d like to end this short paper with a true-life account of a world-famous person’s first encounter with his place of power, the ocean. The ocean frightens me, Jacques Cousteau, co-inventor of the modern aqualung, found the ocean was his place of power. Quite by surprise, in fact. Jacques Cousteau suddenly realised, on his first dive with swimming goggles, that the quiet enchanted world with its “incommunicable beauty”, so close to a busy street in the Mediterranean, yet so far removed from everyday life, was his place of power:

“One Sunday morning in 1936 at Le Mourillon, near Toulon, France, I waded into the Mediterranean and looked into it through (Fernez) goggles. I was a regular navy gunner, a good swimmer interested only in perfecting my crawl style. The sea was merely a salty obstacle that burned my eyes. I was astounded by what I saw in the shallow shingle at Le Mourillon – rocks covered with green, brown and silver algae and fishes unknown to me, swimming in crystal clear water. Standing up to breath I saw a trolley bus, people, electric streetlights. I put my eyes under again and civilisation vanished with one last bow. I was in a jungle never seen by those who floated on the opaque roof. Sometimes we are lucky enough to know our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me on that summer’s day at Le Mourillon, when my eyes were opened on the sea.”

As they say the rest is history!

Since our civilization has moved on to an intensive industrial level, our psychology of living has been subjected to a variety of pressures unknown to our ancestors. As a result, we need a basic statement of principles suitable to present day conditions. May we take this opportunity, therefore, to recommend Ten Basic Rules for Better Living. If you will inscribe these suggestions deeply and firmly upon the tablets of your memory, life will be easier and more purposeful:

  1. Stop Worrying. The popular idea that a worrier is a thoughtful and

conscientious citizen is false. The Egyptians realized this when they included worry among the cardinal sins. Do not confuse thoughtfulness and worry. The thoughtful person plans solutions, but the worrier merely dissolves in his own doubt. If you think straight, you will have less cause for worrying. The worrier not only suffers the same disaster many times, but undermines his health and annoys all others with whom he comes into contact. There are many things in this world that require thoughtful consideration, but there is really nothing to fear but fear.

  1. Stop trying to dominate and possess your friends and relatives. Each

of us likes to feel that he is running his own life. The moment we recognize the rights of others to seek life, liberty, and happiness according to their own dreams, hopes, and aspirations, we begin to conserve our own resources. If we save advice for ourselves and those who seek it from us, and who are therefore grateful, all concerned will be the better.

3. Moderate ambition. There is a tendency to overlook natural and simple blessings while we plunge on toward distant goals. Each individual has certain capacities. If he can recognize his own abilities and work with them, he can attain personal security. If however, he is constantly seeking that which is not reasonably attainable, he can never know happiness or contentment. The wise man observes the disastrous results of uncontrollable ambitions, and chooses moderation. It is not necessary to be famous in order to be happy, nor must one be the leading citizen in the community in order to gratify one’s social instinct. The ambitious usually pay too much for what they get, and are the more miserable after they get it.

4. Do not accumulate more than you need. There is no real distinction in being the richest man in the graveyard. Many earnest citizens act as though there were pockets in shrouds. We are supposed to have outgrown the primitive belief that we should bury a man’s goods with him so that his spirit might enjoy them in the afterworld. Here, again, the middle course is the wisest. Let us reserve some of our energy for enjoyment, and not give all of ourselves to the task of accumulation. Many a man who has made a million has not lived to spend it. A rich life can be more practical than a monumental bank account.

5. Learn to relax. Great tension is an abomination. The more tense we become, the more stupidly we are likely to act, and according to the old Buddhists, stupidity is a cardinal sin. Today many so-called efficient people are perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This is not so likely to be due to overwork as to unreasonable driving impulses from within themselves. Some say that they are overtaking their resources to keep their jobs or to maintain extravagant families. Whether you believe it or not, you are a better producer and a better provider if you do not collapse from psychic exhaustion at some critical moment when you are most in need of good health. If your associates do not realize this, they may be in need of practical counsel.

6. Cultivate a sense of humour. As never before, we must brighten and lighten the corners where we are. The more seriously we take ourselves and our responsibilities, the duller we become. It is a saving grace to realize that, although living is a serious matter, we cannot take it too seriously. Also bear in mind that genuine humour is not bitter, cynical, or critical. It is the ability to laugh with the world and not at the world. If we must laugh at someone, keep it to ourselves. Humour is a spice to living. It adds flavour to work, zest to play, charm to self-improvement, and proves to others that we have a security within ourselves. A sincere, happy laugh, like the joyous rippling of children’s laughter, relieves tension and restores good nature. Incidentally, it makes friends and inspires confidence.

7. Find a reason for your own existence. Unless you believe in something bigger than yourself, have some purpose more vital than accumulating or advancement in business or society, you are only existing, not living. A simple pattern is to realize that the laws of Nature that put you here seem to be primarily concerned with growth. You are a success to the degree that you grow, and you grow to the degree that you become a wiser, more useful, and more secure person. In other words, we live to learn, and by this very process, we learn to live. Broaden your horizon, develop an interest in all that is fine, beautiful and purposeful. Great internal good comes from the love for music, art, great literature, broad philosophy, and simple faith. Strengthen the inside of your nature, and the outside will be better.

8. Never intentionally harm any other person. Never by word or deed return evil for good, or evil for evil. Weed negative and destructive thoughts and emotions out of your personality, or they will ultimately contribute to your misery. Even the selfish man realizes that he cannot afford to keep a grudge, and the unselfish simply will not permit grudges, to accumulate because they know better and they believe better.

9. Beware of anger. When ill-temper controls us, we are no longer able to control ourselves. In a moment of anger, we may create a situation which will require years to remedy. Why should we spend our time trying to recover from our mistakes? If we disapprove, let us state our case simply quietly, and remember that we should never try to correct another when we have already committed faults as great as his.

A quick temper is a serious handicap in business or in the home. It is useless to say that we cannot control anger. This is as much as to admit that we have lost the power to control ourselves. If we resent the unkindness of others and the collective irritability of this generation, let us make sure that we are not one of the irritating factors.

10. And last – in fact, and most important: Never blame others for our own mistakes. It is hardly necessary. Each of us seems to have an incredible capacity to do things badly and select unwisely. Actually, we are in trouble because we have not made constructive use of the power and abilities which we received as a birthright. Others can hurt us only while our own inner life is too weak to sustain using the presence of trial or test. Instead of resenting misfortunes, and seeking to excuse our own limitations, we must face the facts. Either we are stronger than the problem and can solve it intelligently, or the problem is stronger than we are, and the only solution is to increase our own strength. Others are not to blame for our unhappiness. Each man must seek his own peace of mind, and, as the Arabian Nights so well expressed it, happiness must be earned – Printed with kind permission of Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles (http://www.uprs.edu)

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.

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.

I feel the following objectives of the T.S. can give adherents a practical road map for living, if you like. What exactly do each of these aims mean and how does one attempt to aspire to such noble objectives? I would like to walk you through each of them with my interpretation and application of them in daily life or “the karmic script”.

The Theosophical Society’s objectives:

  1. To give people an awareness of the laws of the Universe.
  2. To spread the knowledge that there is unity to be found amongst all things, because unity is the basis of Nature.
  3. To promote an active brotherhood amongst people regardless of race, creed, or colour.
  4. To learn knowledge about ancient and modern religions, science and philosophies.
  5. To study the inner powers of people.

1. To give people an awareness of the laws of the universe: The essence of the laws of nature is that all is Unity. Everything originates from Spirit and returns to Spirit. Moreover, that the knowledge of “ancient truths” are timeless and universal.

2. To spread the knowledge that there is unity to be found amongst all things, because unity is the basis of nature.

I like to think of this objective as meaning that everything is connected, that there is no such thing as “chance”. I believe that all civilizations over the eons have believed this, and grasping this principle may lead the seeker of truth to a sense of reconnection with the “divine”.

3. To promote an active brotherhood amongst people regardless of race, creed or colour:

I understand this to mean that a Theosophist are encouraged to consider every person that they meet as having a “divine spark”, that they have come from Spirit and that every one is at some stage of evolving along their path of “becoming”, of reaching their potential. While some people that we meet may seem “unevolved”, they hone our power of discrimination.

Yet, we must not let race, creed, colour, age or gender initially prohibit us from demonstrating one’s innate “divinity”. One should be able to help those among us by illuminating a path, by way of illustration; by acting with right intention, and mindful of one’s thoughts, words and deeds which daily create one’s karma.

I feel that this is the road that leads to “divine ethics”.

4. To learn knowledge about ancient and modern religions, science and philosophies:

Even a cursory glance of past civilizations and their human endeavours in the fields of science, art, religion and philosophy points to timeless lessons of truth, for while man has evolved over millennia, his search has not altered. That is, the perennial questions remain, which, can lead the individual to search for meaningful truth. Such a quest, once the adherent encounters it, sets him on a journey of great discovery. The fruits of such a journey lead the seeker to a greater understanding of self, of those around him and that of nature and the environment in which he finds himself in his current incarnation.

5. To study the inner powers of people:

This is the magical, alchemical process which occurs when a Theosophist earnestly searches for meaningful truth via the study over a life time, of “ancient wisdom” and universal laws.

When the Theosophist applies some of the universal, ancient laws in the practical areas of his life, such as the aims espoused by this Society, then one’s sense of divine origins and strength become further refined.

Ultimately, one is aware of creating his own Karma and so may become a beacon of light, hope and inspiration to others.

In the midst of the trials and tribulations of life, it is clear that rest and a measure of seclusion are necessary elements to the training and balancing of the mind. Meditation is a well-known powerful practice that can achieve this to an acute degree if done correctly. However, it is said that ones’ day is the practice and preparation for meditation. Thus, if your day is packed with high intensity, over-thinking, and stress, then it may take a long time just to wind down in meditation before you can even get into a relaxed state.

In order to tackle such issues in my own life, I took some time out from my own busy schedule to visit Ajahn Brahm’s Buddhist monastery in the magical Serpentine Forest near Perth, Western Australia. Many readers will know of the famous meditation teacher, Ajahn Brahm, from his many books which are always filled with his unique combination of good humour and deep philosophy. His books always feature the practical problems of life and how to deal with them in a more enlightened fashion using common sense and good humour, such as, Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung?: Inspiring Stories for Welcoming Life’s Difficulties, and,  Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: a Meditator’s Handbook.

I struggled with mediation for many years, even reading in depth about fifteen different meditation techniques, yet I still remained confused as to which technique was right for me. Confusion reigned until I delved into the pages of Ajahn Brahm’s wonderful book, Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: a Meditator’s Handbook, which is basically a step by step manual of the meditation technique taught by the Buddha himself. After some successful meditations, I hit my personal ‘plateau’ and wondered what to do to progress further with my meditation practice. What better way to further enhance my practice than to go straight to Ajahn Brahm’s headquarters. Brahm himself followed the same strategy at a similar stage of life when he spent years as the student of a great meditation teacher in the forests of Thailand.

When the Buddha was asked about the benefits of seclusion from the common routine of life, he mentioned such advantages as:

  • Guarding the sense faculties.
  • Mindfulness and clear comprehension.
  • Simple contentment.

This is due to the simplicity, meritorious lifestyle and practice that the monks and guests live by whilst at the monastery. The routine I engaged in daily was filled with selfless service, walking and sitting meditation, and attending talks given by the monks. The most profound constituent of my stay was the deep and elongated silence, living in a small ‘kuti’ with no distractions.

When one abstains from food (fasting), the body detoxes. This is similar to when one abstains from mental stimulus or sensual pleasures, the mind begins to detox and thus bringing deeply embedded toxins stuck in the crevices of the mind out to the surface. This is not always such a pleasant process, but boy, am I happy they came up to the surface rather than festering away in there!

Immersing myself in meditation practice, I studied the Suttas, the discourses of the Buddha in the Pali language, along with my meditation routine, which certainly helped guide me through personal obstacles to the ‘cessation of suffering’ which I understand to be the goal of Buddhism.

Whilst in the monastery, every day of your life revolves around meditation and meritorious living, so you soon begin to realise that meditation is a mirror to your daily life. But how is this so?

 
The obstacles or hindrances which you face in meditation that prevent you from going deeper are, in fact, the very same obstacles/hindrances which you encounter in your daily life.

The Buddha named the five such hindrances in many of his, Suttas, as follows;


1) Sensual pleasures.

2) Ill will.

3) Sloth and Torpor.

4) Restlessness and Remorse.

5) Doubt. “But if a monk [or anyone for that matter], has overcome these five hindrances, these overgrowths of the mind that dull insight, then it is possible that, with strong insight, they can know their own true good, the good of others, and the good of both; and they will be capable of realizing the superhuman state of distinctive achievement, the knowledge and vision enabling the attainment of purity” – from the Anguttara Nikaya 5:51.

Human beings are thinkers. We feel, aspire to our goals and have intuition. We are able to express noble ideals through self-sacrifice. On the other hand, we can hate with a strong and malicious force. We have intellectual powers that we cannot fully manifest in one life here on earth. Throughout our earth lives we are changing every minute. From birth to death, through many and various external influences, we are changing constantly.

Firstly we grow into young and vital people. Later on in life, we become older and become infirm. Despite these external influences that change us during our lives, there is something that withstands all changes. There is only one ‘Self’ that goes through a variety of experiences.

The Soul: Thinking about it, the question then arises; what is this one Self in us that withstands external influences? In Indian philosophy, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we find the proposition; Nature exists for the sake of the Soul. The real experiencer is the Soul and not the Mind. To explain this we have to look at religion. Man is described as being composed of body, soul, and spirit. In old age the body is no longer a worthy vehicle to live in. The one Self in us that has a variety of experiences, ie. The Soul, leaves the body. We call this process of departure from the physical body, Death, meaning an ‘end’. Although it is not really an end, as the Soul lives on.

Now the Soul is the experiencer and not the mind. The Mind is forgetful, it cannot remember. For example; can you remember what you did when you were 13 years old on the first Saturday of April? No way. The mind has difficulty remembering this enormous store of information that is continually being filled with new experiences. Based on this, the something that survives changes is the Soul. It survives death. It is above the thinking mind and the bodily needs. As Patanjali  proposes, Nature exists for the sake of the soul. The continual changes in Nature that bring new experiences are there for the Soul to go through.

What is the Spirit? The Spirit is the source of the Soul. It is hard to express the term Spirit in words. How do we explain something that has never had a beginning and will never have an end? The best description would be the word, ‘Space’. Space has always been and will always continue to be. It is infinite. It has no parts, colour, taste, smell, tangibility, or duration. Everything in the universe comes into manifestation in Space. From galaxies, stars, planets, and their inhabitants, come into being, appearing to be different. They live their apparently different existences. After enormous periods of time they die for a while, only to reappear in Space again. Space is the playground of the Soul and the Spirit is like Space. It has no beginning and will have no end.

The basis of Space is Love and Compassion. Love is the cement of Space. It keeps all things together in harmony. There is nothing outside of it, it has no borders and is unending. Compassion is the property of Space that gives everything the chance to manifest, time and again, throughout eternity. Like the Sun shining for all beings impartially. The only punishment or suffering that man will experience is within himself. Suffering after death, or rather during life, belongs to man’s own behaviour, by his own thoughts and deeds. Nowhere else is there punishment or reward. 

To explain this a little more clearly:

  1. The physical body is the personality. It lasts only one life time.
  2. The soul is the individuality. It last the duration of the Cosmos.
  3. The Spirit is changeless. Unconditioned and having no attributes.

Our minds have an intelligent and moral quality. It is the dominant principle in our present stage of development. We are more than animals, but less than Gods. Our minds are dual. The higher mind works with our spiritual nature. The lower mind is used by our selfish material nature. Thus we can create the greatest good or carry out the worst evil on earth.

The individual human being is an inseparable part of the Whole Universe, the continuing cosmic chain of sequences whether it is divine, spiritual, intellectual, psychical, astral or physical. Humans are not an exception to Nature’s ways of working. We are not different from the Universe. Death and birth are deep-rooted habits of Nature and apply to the human reincarnating soul as well. Why should we be an exception to Nature’s workings?

All things in the universe follow One Law. The small cycles repeat on a small scale what the larger cycles pass through on a larger scale. All things contribute to the vast systems of cycles. Wheels within wheels, throughout universal nature, as the prophet Enoch symbolized.

The question that is repeatedly asked is: Why don’t we remember our past lives? The brain is the instrument of memory. It is the vehicle of mental activity. We cannot even remember what happened yesterday due to the continual change of experiences that we go through. The disintegration of the brain at death closes the memory functions. In this way Nature is compassionate to all its creatures. Few of us will be able to look at our past lives and maintain our sanity. In each new life we are given a new brain. It does not have the experiences of the past incarnation.

However the soul does have a memory. This mentor is the still, small voice of the past ages-the voice of conscience. Karma, or habit, is the cause of rebirth. Every event in nature is the effect of an endless succession of events and the cause of other endless succession of events.

Humans are transient: If we propose this, the universe is an orderly place. Creation is a series of reasonable circumstances. Nature is a process of reasonable orders of life. The universe is made up of normal and reasonable accumulations of worlds and patterns, laws and principles. The stars and planets keep their harmonious orbits throughout manifestation. So whatever is going on in that part of the universe that we cannot see, for example, death, we can then assume that death too is essentially reasonable. There is no reason to assume that it is an evil place, full of destruction or terrifying conditions.

Life and death are inseparable. Each depends on the other. One is the inbreathing and the other the out-breathing. At birth we are breathed out into time and at death we are breathed into eternity. In reality, at birth we come into the world and take up coats of skin. We pick up a cross and start to walk up a rocky hill. We climb onward until at last we are weary and weak. We sink down beneath the weight of our heavy load. We come in through the one door marked entrance and leave through a door marked exit.

While alive we become so involved with our problems, that we forget the fact that we are here to study problems. We cannot successfully study when we personally draw conclusions that we think are correct. The wise man says; “Everything objective has vanished, but I AM: therefore all that is important remains.” Each incarnation involves gestation, birth, infancy, maturity, death, and finally decay. The body changes, yet its identity is preserved. States of consciousness are temporary.

What takes on form? Form is equivalent to a vehicle or body – an embodiment. In general, it refers to a level of manifestation as compared to a formless state. For example, mind and thoughts are divided into that which have form and that which have not. Our minds are divided into good and evil. Good belongs to the eternal man. Evil belongs to the physical vehicle of passion, greed, weakness and vices. These die with the death of the body. The divine soul goes to its father.

Our divine self is not to be found on the shelves of libraries, or schools or by paying a fortune for it or, as some of us do, by spending half our lives trying to appease the wrath of God. We live in ignorance of the infinite laws. To find the maker of form, we have to challenge ourselves and look within. Start by quietly observing yourself.

Do you entertain dangerous foes, of selfish desires and weaknesses? Nature’s law is that an entity cannot continue to stay the same forever. By being selfish we try to remain as we are. This dims our vision of the larger and better life. We become less useful to mankind. Growth is possible only because the old fades away and the new blossoms forth. Everything changes from cradle to grave.

The important thing to realize is that we are not living on a planet in the solar system. We live in a condition of our own consciousness. We make for ourselves friends and enemies who surround us. We are creators of our own destiny. It is here where we learn, labour and grow. Here is where we earn and here is where we are paid.  

Character the sum total of the soul: Character is more than the thoughts and emotions that we ever had. It is not just the type of individuality that we manifest as compared to others. Character is our essential being. It is the flow of our spiritual life. A stream of flowing consciousness from which come the original motives and moral impulses that make us react to our surroundings.

Psychologically, it is found in the experiences that the soul has had as a result of the karmic consequences of past lives.

Everything from a leaf, to a plant, an animal, an atom or even a molecule has its own character. In man, character is made up of our capacities, talents, geniuses, aptitudes, tendencies, likes, dislikes, loves, hatreds, instincts, attractions and aversions. The working chain of causes, which is karma, brings about the building of character. This applies to all other entities in the universe.

The memory of the soul which we spoke of earlier, forms our character. The biases, tendencies and attributes of our character don’t just happen. We live in a world of order. Everything is the consequence of a previous originating cause.

It is the working of this chain of causes that brings about the building of character. This is the evolving of the soul, looking for new outlets and experiences in the fields of life. Character is a growing thing, which manifests itself through our talents and capacities. It is the clothing so to speak, that the Self weaves around itself.

Therefore, gender is the consequence of tendencies. The cause is the strong attraction to the opposite sex. Nevertheless, gender is a transitory phase that humans have to go through in their long evolution of the soul through the fields of life.

What is life? Life is everywhere. Life is the conscious spiritual force, manifesting as the various forms of energy, whether macrocosmic or microscopic. Energy and matter are the essential aspects of life. As a process, it is the basis of all that is. It is beginning-less and endless. Electricity is the essence of life. Consciousness or perpetual motion is the origin which, through its own power, is continually producing energy out of itself-continuously, forever. Birth and death are opposites. Life is a never ending ongoing process, which has the different phases of birth and death. The study of death is the study of man’s consciousness. We are more consciously alive without our physical bodies.

Destiny of every ego: From life to life and from strength to strength. From beauty and perfection on one plane, to greater beauty and perfection on another. With the acquirement of fresh knowledge and power in every cycle of seasons, the ego becomes its own saviour in each world and incarnation. Love is eternal. It lives in the trees and everywhere. The divine soul lives on and on. So does true love. When the body is tired, we lay it aside neatly. Spiritual life ceases in the body Death follows. Only the mortal body dies. The eternal force, the soul, lives on and goes to different schools of experience. That all things die is not the end; otherwise Nature itself would end. There would be nothing. We have no evidence that this is nature’s plan.

A small point to add is that of suicides. We cannot make an end to our lives without interfering with the harmonious working of the other parts. We may destroy the body, but we cannot destroy the mind. Nature’s laws are very strict. There is neither favour, nor partiality. There is neither anger, nor injustice, however difficult this may be to trace. Nature’s laws work with unfailing accuracy and the strictest justice. They bring about the best consequences for man himself. Nature allots the just consequences to the individual that commits self-murder, whether good or bad.

The end of all processes is relative Perfection. The end of all growth is Enlightenment. The end of all moral and ethical attainment is serenity of spirit and the gentle life wherever that might be. Rebirth is the doctrine of “another chance” for all. Man gets precisely what he himself desires. It is the direction in which man’s thoughts and desires are set that determine his destiny, the path that he will follow. Man’s free will comes from the spiritual essence of the Universe itself. Free will is only limited to the evolutionary status that man himself has attained. 

Nearly every group of civilized human beings has accepted the immortality of the human soul. Something survives death. When man leaves the physical vehicle, he transfers his consciousness to his finer vehicles, which he continues to use in the invisible worlds.

Theosophy takes out the limitations of life. Man has new hope. He should seek for the great spiritual truths. Man is essentially immortal. Within him is a great inspirational force which comes from the supreme, central source of life. The breathing source of life.

Each of us has a golden thread of continuous life. This is periodically broken by active and passive cycles of sensuous existence on earth, and super-sensuous existence in death. This golden thread is from the beginning of our appearance on earth. In Sanskrit it is called the Sutratman. It is the luminous thread of our immortal monad. Our earthly lives and transitory egos are strung as many beads on this golden thread.

I will close with a citation from the Parinirvana Sutra: When outward appearances are gone:

“It is only when all outward appearances are gone that there is left that one principle of life which exists independently of all external phenomena. It is the fire that burns in the eternal light, when the fuel is expended and the flame is extinguished; for that fire is neither in the flame nor in the fuel, nor yet inside either or the two, but above, beneath and everywhere.”

Parinirvana Sutra, in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. P. 455.

Source references:

  • Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies, Volume II               Karl H. Potter
  • In search of the miraculous                                                 P. D. Ouspensky
  • Death the twin sister of life                                                K. Tingley
  • ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY                     G. de Purucker
  • The Esoteric tradition                                                                        “
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali                                                     W. Q. Judge
  • Death to rebirth                                                                   M.P. Hall.
  • Occult Glossary                                                                    G. de Purucker
  • Oxford dictionary
  • Raja Yoga                                                                              R. Iyer
  • Routledge Philosophy Encyclopedia
  • The Secret Doctrine                                                             H. P. Blavatsky
  •  
  • Theosophical Encyclopaedia                                                P. S. Harris.
  • To light a thousand lamps                                                   G. F. Knoche
  • Wikipedia, Internet.
  • Wind of the spirit                                                                 G. de Purucker
  • Cycles of Earth history                                                         A. Stover.

2020 seems to be quite a year for natural disasters – what with the bushfires during the Australian summer, followed closely by the global Corona Virus Pandemic. It leads us to ask what are the causes of natural disasters from a Theosophical perspective – how ‘natural’ are natural disasters?

According to Theosophy, the Universe, the Sun and our Earth are all living beings. Along with humans and the other kingdoms of life, we are all part of one immense living organism. Just like the human body is made up of organs, cells, atoms, etc. all the kingdoms and forms of life are related and interweaved in a web-work of life. Further, Theosophy teaches us that the Universe is guided from within outwards. Everywhere there are intelligences of different levels guiding, building, destroying and renewing the Universe and its operations.

Factors causing disasters: A release of energy: Disharmonies in human life build up on the inner planes causing tensions in the Earth because we are part of the Earth’s constitution. These disharmonies can be anything from individual moral and ethical behaviour, through to wars and strife on a local or global scale. These energies accumulate in the astral light causing extreme tension reflected in the Earth’s crust. These tensions require periodic release manifesting to us as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, auroras, etc.

These events, though terrible for the people suffering or dying because of them, help to avoid greater disasters because if such energies/tensions were allowed to build up any further in the Earth’s crust, we would eventually experience catastrophic disasters. It is a bit the same for a human getting minor illnesses and relieving the tensions that could cause a more serious illness.

People are like living ‘dynamos’ (electrical generators). So, when enough people get together, individual people can affect the energy balance of a whole region of the Earth. The emotional atmosphere of cities, for example, is stored in the astral light surrounding it, and from time to time fed back into the material world in the form of natural disasters.

 Factors causing natural disasters: Astronomical and Cyclical: The movement of the Earth through the signs of the Zodiac brings the Earth under different influences from the stars and also affects/reflects the alignment of the Earth’s axis. It is these movements which bring about the cataclysms at the endings and beginning of the cyclic ages of the Earth we call Root Races in Theosophy.  This is especially so at the end of the Kali Yuga when there is a build-up of karma to an exploding point. Other cyclic factors affecting natural disasters include the movement of the magnetic poles, and various alignments of planets and the sun within our solar system.

The quality of Humanity’s thoughts and actions can have power over the movements of lesser celestial bodies like asteroids. How is this possible? Celestial bodies are the instruments of karma at a global level, just as other human beings are the focus of karmic workings for humans. The Earth is a type of ‘hell’, ie. a place for the generation, and working out of karma and consequent suffering for most people.

Factors causing natural disasters: Energy currents: Natural energy currents flow like rivers of magnetic force over and through the Earth. This was well known in ancient times (the magical science of Geomancy) and called by different names in different parts of the world, eg. ‘Ley Lines’ in England. We should really locate our cities and buildings in harmony with these currents as was done by ancients in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, we don’t know how to do that anymore, or we don’t think that it is important, with consequent results in blocking the energy currents, perhaps resulting in natural disasters.

Factors causing natural disasters: The spiritual hierarchy: We know from Theosophy and most of the world’s religions, that there is a Spiritual Hierarchy associated with the development of life on the Earth including humanity. This Adept Hierarchy finds it necessary to initiate occasional social crises that force people to stop and think about their priorities in life. Otherwise human beings ‘en-masse’ will stay within their ‘safe’ but limited outlook of material comfort, the cultural status quo, and distrust of other people who may wish to take away what they have. On cyclical occasions, the Spiritual Hierarchy sends forth messengers, such as HP Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement, to stimulate humanity into new orientations of thought.

If humanity ‘en masse’ does not change sufficiently with the forward spiritual progress of the Earth as a living being, then large numbers of people who are unable to change and move forward must be withdrawn from incarnation. This happens through the agency of natural disasters such as pandemics, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity, eg. the fate of the lost continent of Atlantis and its billions of inhabitants. These temporary ‘failures’ will then not be allowed to incarnate in the present cycle as they would otherwise slow its development to an unacceptable degree. Such a process is alluded to in the Biblical story of Noah.

As regards the remainder of humanity who are sufficiently advanced spiritually to proceed to the next ‘classroom’ of life experience that the Earth can offer, the high Adepts, once they have telepathically projected their suggestions to lesser initiates for the future of human culture and civilization – can only watch and hope that progressive evolutionary ‘common sense’ will prevail before they give any further assistance. The rest, as they say, is up to us!

Hence the importance of us reaching up to the Gods by living up to the best of ourselves, as well as expecting the Gods to reach down and help us out. As Katherine Tingley, former leader of our Theosophical Society said: ‘The Gods Await’.

What about people caught up in natural disasters? So, what about the fate of innocent people seemingly caught up at random as victims of natural disasters. People with similar karma are drawn together so that an ‘accident’ or ‘natural disaster’ can balance similar types of karma experienced by large groups of people in former lives. Sometimes even death is not the worst thing that can happen to people if old negative karma needs to be resolved, if old karmic patterns need to be broken so new ones can be introduced, or if people are suffering (even unconsciously) and a new start needs to be made by ‘wiping the slate clean’. Nature is impartial in this way, and natural law will affect everyone in the region of the disaster if we are born there by karma, or choose to be there of our own free will. In Hindu philosophy this is the work of ‘Lord Narada’, the balancer of karma for an ultimately compassionate purpose. For those interested, further information on Narada is available in: ‘Narada’, the Hindu god/ agent of destiny or vengeance of the divine Law’, at: https://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/fso/fso-ap.htm#narada

Who will save us? Essentially it is up to us! We need to change our values and behaviour to become more harmonious – to become co-workers or co-creators with Nature and then we will have the mighty force of evolving Nature behind us instead of against us in various ways including the generation of many of our ‘natural disasters’.

Astronomical influences and dangers are the realm of the Gods, to safely guide and protect the Sun and the Solar System so we lesser beings [humans, animals, plants, minerals and their equivalents on other planets] have the time and opportunity to grow spiritually over countless lifetimes to one day join the Gods in their work of self-consciously ‘managing’ the operations of the Universe.

 â€˜The Guardian Wall’ of advanced human beings, Mahatmas, Ascended Masters, Avataras, Christs, Buddhas, etc. as members of the Hierarchy of Compassion whose job it is to guide and protect humanity from itself and its unconscious transgressions of karma and other natural laws. They do this in many and unusual ways including by ‘singing’ [ie. by the use of sounds/vibrations] to protect us against asteroids and other dangerous influences in space, and ‘damming back’ our karma and letting it out over longer periods of time than might otherwise destroy us.

We owe the members of the Hierarchy of Compassion our grateful thanks, rather than reverence, for this quiet and largely unrecognized work of the ages as we go about our daily lives.

What of the Future? Naturally during times of crisis, we ask ourselves: How long is this going on? Can life ever be like it was before? What of the future? Theosophical writer, John Van Mater Snr., comments:

“…Earth has seen many flowerings of human greatness and has had to suffer many depredations. But Mother Nature is still in command and in time will strike her balance. If we abuse the earth, then parts of it will become unliveable. Think of the titanic forces humankind is sending forth: not only the diverse energies of our technological civilization, but our hates, antagonisms, jealousies, greed; also their opposites, such as the forces of love, forgiveness, brotherhood, generosity, and understanding. Nature absorbs it all and will eventually react. No wonder there are times when earth seems to shake mankind as a dog shakes off fleas, until at the end of a cycle a new time emerges. Or perhaps a glaciation will occur covering an entire hemisphere under thousands of feet of ice, to lie fallow so that it can be revivified; or portions of continents may slip under the oceans and others rise.

What is the future of mankind? Just as it has taken the reincarnating souls of humanity a long, long time to reach where we are now, so it will take many, many more incarnations for mankind collectively to realize its destiny. The human race will begin gradually to achieve its potentials; to become truly human and then bring into human life the wise influence of its innate divinity. In some era in the far future a true brotherhood will surely be realized. The examples of the Christs and Buddhas illustrate what we too may one day become.”  

The idea that Soul Mates actually exist is a very popular today. Several New Age groups and modern research into what happens after death based on hypnotic regression accept that soul groups and soul mates exist. Many books and films are based on the idea that soul mates exist, eg, The Lake House (2006), and Cloud Atlas (2012). But do they actually exist? What does Theosophy say on this question?

Modern After-Death Research: most research on the After-Death states, Life-Before-Life, or the Inter-Life since the 1960s is based on the hypnotic regression of thousands of people around the world. Such studies by contemporary researchers like Dr Michael Newton (USA) and Ian Lawton (UK), as well as visionaries, such as Edgar Cayce (USA), tells us that we all belong to groups of karmically-linked souls and that we do indeed have soul mates who play an enormously important role in our lives and future life planning.

Relationships extend over many lifetimes and we always take up in a new life where we left off in our last lifetime. Lessons come to us in the form of people and we must learn to heal relationships with problems being repeated until the ‘lesson’ is learnt.

We should therefore understand that we have strong reactions to people based on past lives but concentrate on the present in dealing with our problems, and remember that we always retain free-will.

It is important to note that Theosophy warns against being hypnotised: for any reason as hypnotism means surrendering your will to that of another and this is potentially damaging to your spiritual progress as you need a strong spiritual will to cope with the trials and temptations along the path of spiritual development.

Secondly, knowledge of past lives through hypnotism may not relate to your past life, but rather be derived from the ‘sea’ of memories in the astral light. It takes a morally pure and skilled therapist to find their way through the morass of images in the astral light.

Thirdly, even if memories of past lives gained through hypnotism are correctly yours, then knowledge of them at an early stage on the spiritual path may be subtly damaging as they are from the past and therefore from a time when we were less spiritually developed than we are now. Therefore it may be painful for us to know what we have experienced and less than edifying for us in looking to future possibilities. There will come a time far in the future for most people, when our past lives will be like an open book to us, but then we will have the spiritual maturity to place such information in proper context.

Soul Groups: What Does Modern After-Death Research Say? All of us have a group of soul mates that we work with in varied relationships over many lives. Our time with this group is characterized by discussion about what we have shared, our reactions to each other, what we handled well, what we could have done better – we often replay and role play in this process of soul learning.

We sporadically move to a different soul group to work on new lessons. ‘Learning’ in the spiritual context means, in the first place, seeing both sides of ‘emotional lessons’, feeling joyous and, especially, painful experiences ourselves, but also to feel what it is like having them directed against us by others. This learning can become repetitive as we literally ‘bash our heads against a brick wall’ learning emotional lessons over and over until we start to move into more progressive patterns of behaviour characterized by ‘altruistic’  attitudes.

Eventually, we start to learn ‘altruistic skills’ such as healing, teaching, guiding and so on – which can be used in the world and the interlife as part of a soul group which shares the same skill set. Such altruistic souls as they progress increasingly choose to take lives which are more for the benefit and learning of others rather than themselves.

The most obvious example of this is when souls volunteer for short lives ending in infancy and childhood. These short lives may be traumatic for the infant/child souls but are far more aimed at challenging the parents and other close relatives to learn to cope with the myriad of emotions that surround such a tragic loss. [Summarized from Ian Lawton’s: Big Book of the Soul]

Soul Mates and Twin Souls – some perspectives from the internet: A search of the internet on Soul Mates soon reveals a widespread and romantic commitment to the idea of Soul Mates and Twin Souls. Amongst the many such ideas:

  • Twin Souls are the other half of your soul and a path to finding God though the union of the male and female halves of the Twin Soul.
  • We evolve and reincarnate with these souls through many lifetimes learning lessons good and bad along the way.
  • Our greatest joys and pains can be found with a soul mate – sometimes they come at what seems like the ‘wrong’ time – one might be significantly older than the other, one might be married to someone else, one might not be on the earth at the same time as the other and acts as a ‘guardian angel’.
  • We don’t meet them until we have learnt many lessons of love and loss with others.
  • There is a frightening intensity when dealing with your soul mate – time to deal with unresolved issues of many lifetimes, psychic and spiritual connections are profound and instantly recognized.
  • Synchronicity plays an important part in soul mate meetings – we may share pains, similar life experiences, perhaps we have lived as neighbours at some time in the past.
  • Meeting your other half is such a life-changing experience – there is no game-playing and transparent honesty is needed from the beginning. If there is karma from past lives to be worked out, it will be apparent and the opportunity will be there to work it out.
  • Meeting your twin soul challenges you to grow spiritually, physically, and to see beyond time, ego, and physical limitations. You will be driven with the desire to be the best manifestation of your soul on earth.
  • This is not a relationship of ‘hearts and flowers’, but one that will be tested in fire and will endure beyond time and space.

Soul Mates – What does Theosophy say? All human beings are the sons of Father-Sun, but, just as the human race is divided into families, so certain portions of mankind belong to respective spiritual energies or forces – Rays – which, in their aggregate make the Spiritual-Sun. There are 10 principal such Rays and we can therefore divide mankind into 10 principle families.

Between two individual human beings who belong to the same Ray of the Sun, the same particular Solar Force, there is a quick and instant sympathy, a feeling as if they have always known each other. Genuine, real love between two people is based on this fact of Nature.[from G de Purucker]

Spiritual Voyagers – What lies in the future? If we are all spiritual voyagers on a Cosmic Pilgrimage to greater understanding and Individuation – how can we all end up working together and become as One?

 The kingdoms of life higher than the human are more faithful to the sweeping essential nature or ‘swabhava’ of their respective Spiritual Hierarchs (Silent Watchers) than we are in the human kingdom.

These higher kingdoms are becoming more fully self-conscious divine or spiritual egos – Co-Creators with Nature – and thus their subservience to their Spiritual Hierarch is a glad and willing one – compare with beings below the human which are blindly and unconsciously submissive to their respective kingdom Hierarchs/Gods because they have not sufficient egoity to become intellectual rebels against Nature as men so often are.

Thus the Monad evolves – starting with unselfconsciousness – then assertive self-consciousness as a Man – then transformation of rebellious self-consciousness so evident amongst humans now, into divine and Buddha-like self-forgetful subservience to, and co-operative endeavour with, the divine will of the ‘Silent Watcher’ of our human Hierarchy.

How can we measure up to this challenge in our daily lives here and now? There is an old Christian saying: “Not My Will But Thine be Done” – not the will of the ordinary, selfish mentality that we mostly live within, but rather, the will of the Inner Divinity, which guides and leads, urges and impels us to live better constantly – that is the way forward! – Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia, based on the writings of G de Purucker. 

Organ donation: Nowadays great efforts are being made to recruit people willing to donate organs to other people who would otherwise die. In some countries governments are even campaigning in schools to persuade children to become donors. The situation has come to resemble a cattle market. Many organs are needed as people sometimes reject an organ and need another one. Government pressure to become a donor is steadily increasing, and there are plans to make everyone a donor unless they officially declare otherwise. This is a worrying development as many people will become donors without realizing it. Humans are their own creators and are able to determine their destiny – consciously, but usually fairly unconsciously due to ignorance of their purpose in life and their true origin. Our physical body is only one component of our sevenfold nature. People also know little about the true meaning of their organs and other parts of their bodies. The liver, for example, retains memories of unprocessed feelings and events. Every part of our body is conscious.

This means that if an organ is transferred to another body, cell consciousness is transferred as well. It is well known that people who receive a new organ may suddenly start displaying different behaviour patterns or eating habits. A vegetarian may suddenly love meat, and a person who never drank alcohol may ask for an alcoholic drink. There are even examples of people dreaming about the donor, their way of life and how they died. A donor can be declared ‘brain dead’ before they have truly died. The body is kept alive because if the blood stops circulating, the physical body dies and the organs become unusable. But if the physical body has not died a natural death, that person is not fully dead and may still be present and aware.

An important issue in organ donation is the process a person goes through during and after their actual death. According to the ancient mystical knowledge, a deceased person leaves their physical body and spends a period in their astral body on the psycho-astral plane. This plane is very important for completely processing and reviewing the life that has just ended. What happens if part of a person’s body and consciousness remains behind in another body, as in the case of transplantation? Is the deceased still able to fully review and assess their past life without hindrance? Is the process delayed, or can the deceased go no further?

A patient who receives a new organ often rejects it and has to take a great deal of medicine to keep the organ. Everybody has their own rate of vibration, related to their level of consciousness. This also applies to organs and other bodily tissues in the donor and recipient. If the rates of vibration are very different, organ rejection will be more likely. People may choose to become organ donors out of compassion, but should ask themselves how compassionate this really is and whether it is really what nature intended. The most important thing is to think about these matters for yourself and make your own decision.

Euthanasia: Euthanasia is a big topic of political debate. Recently Dutch politicians were even talking about allowing euthanasia for older people who feel that their life is ‘complete’, but Christian parties raised many objections. At present, people can sign legal declarations stating that they want to be euthanised if they ever find themselves in a situation where they experience unbearable suffering. Minors may request euthanasia from the age of 12, though parental consent is required. Doctors who fail to fulfil the due care criteria laid down by law can be prosecuted.

It may seem that euthanasia is a wise and compassionate act. The key question, however, is whether it is really the intention for people to end their suffering in this way. This question may seem harsh if there is no prospect of any improvement in a person’s suffering. But what really happens if people end their lives sooner? For every life there is a fixed end, a right time to die. It might be said that it’s also karma if someone ends their life earlier, but this is not entirely logical, because that person is interfering with the natural karmic consequences arising from past deeds and incarnations. It could also be said that inventing medicines etc. also affects the time we die – by postponing it. The ultimate consequence of both euthanasia and suicide is rather similar. After death we leave our physical body and find ourselves on the astral-psychic plane, or kama-loka, in our astral body. It is there that we review and judge our entire past life. Pain and injustice that we have inflicted on others will be intensely felt during the review of our past life. In the case of euthanasia, we will realize that suffering was a necessity and that we were not supposed

to interrupt this learning experience. This is not intended as a judgement. On the contrary, this knowledge comes from the masters of wisdom, who have taught it for millions of years to those ready to receive it. They have also stated that if we end our lives sooner than the karmically determined time, we will experience repeatedly the pain and psychological suffering that preceded the moment we killed ourselves. This is a psychological hell, and it is of course far milder and shorter in the case of euthanasia than in the case of suicide. The causes of all the suffering in the world lies in people’s thoughts and deeds. The consequences are felt by individuals, families, villages, cities, countries and the entire world. This means that we need to change ourselves in order to bring about different consequences. By observing our own actions and the responses of others clearly and consciously, we set in motion an inner learning process – the mystical path inwards.

Suicide: Suicide is usually a desperate act by a person who is sick of life and still has a healthy body, but not a healthy mind. Some consider suicide an act of courage, while others consider it to be very selfish. We should not pass judgement, because nobody can truly know what drove the person concerned to take their own life. According to the ageless wisdom, we live to learn and deepen our understanding of life, its purpose and our role in it. If we end our life prematurely, we are forgetting how precious human life is, for the body is the temple of the spirit and enables us to learn our lessons in the material world.

Everyone is able to add something to the overall karmic pattern of life. Suicide interrupts this process. It is true that our next life will provide a new opportunity, but if we’re unable to overcome certain problems in our present life, we will encounter them again in a future life – perhaps in a different place, in different situations and with different people. That’s why in each life we should try to overcome difficulties instead of giving up. Those who commit suicide will suffer all their psychological pain again on the astral plane until the time comes when they would have died a natural death.

Abortion: In the case of abortion, instead of the unborn individual deciding on their own death, the decision is made by someone else. It is very difficult to obtain a clear insight into this matter, because we don’t know exactly what this means for the unborn soul.

Humans are sevenfold beings and a long process precedes the birth of the physical body. It is a spiritual process, in which a new body is prepared for an old soul, who will again get the chance to refine their inner being and expand their consciousness. The formation of our other bodies begins long before the moment of fertilization. If the process is interrupted by abortion or a miscarriage, the soul will have to wait for another opportunity to incarnate. Many faiths reject abortion altogether. On the other hand, women throughout the world have struggled hard to be ‘the boss of their own belly’ (as the Dutch put it). There is a great deal of emotion on both sides. If a woman is raped, abortion is understandable, but the situation is different if a woman has been very careless. Abortion involves the deliberate killing of a fetus, though it is not motivated by aggression but by despair or perhaps indifference.

However we think about organ donation, euthanasia, suicide or abortion, life is a precious gift. Respect for life should always be given precedence, and life always has purpose, whatever happens. We should bear in mind that we are more than our bodies alone, and that all our actions have karmic consequences for ourselves and others. We should make our own decisions and not judge others, for ultimately everyone has their own free will and their own responsibility. –

The seven manifested planes come from the Unknown. At its root, this Unknown is the absolute consciousness of the Universe.

Within this absolute consciousness is the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Logos in potentia. The Great Breath in motion blows through the 3rd Logos and so from the 3rd Logos comes the sphere of the Mundane Egg of the seven manifested planes. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Logos, as the triune Divine Monad or Galactic Brahman, hovers over and operates through the Atman of the Mundane Egg.

Within the Mundane Egg there are categories of embodiments such as a universal solar system Brahma, a solar chain Brahma, and a planetary Brahma. The galactic Brahman has a lifespan of thousands of trillions of years. The universal solar system Brahma, or a Raja Sun, has less than that.

The solar chain Brahma of our solar system has a lifespan of about 311 trillion years, of which we are about 155 trillion years through. The lifespan of a planetary Brahma is the Day and Night of Brahma, or 8,640,000,000 years. If we multiply 8,640,000,000 x 360 x 100, we get approximately 311 trillion years. The ‘Day’ part of 7 Rounds of our earth’s planetary chain is 4,320,000,000 years; the ‘Night’ part of those 7 Rounds is 4,320,000,000 years. So 7 earth Rounds is one day in the life of the hierarch of our solar chain Brahma.

Since the 1st Round of our earth, it has been about 1,955,000,000 years. We are currently in the 4th Round, but forerunners have already entered the 5th Round. The 1st Root-race in the 4th Round was about 320 million years ago. About 18 million years ago in the 3rd Root-Race was the enlightenment of mankind by the Manasaputras — higher reimbodying egos whose influence is over planetary chains in the solar system and who, in a certain way, can be said to reside in the sun.

The 4th Root-Race in its early development started about 12 million years ago, which was near the bottom point or about 308 million years into the 4th Round. The ascent up through the 4th Round will take another 308 million years. That makes a total of about 616 million years for the 4th Round. The number is actually greater than this; G. de Purucker describes the Round cycle in different ways to offer varying perspectives while at the same time veiling it. The solution for understanding his varying perspectives is to divide the Round cycle into a sphere with four quadrants and then figure out which combination of the four quadrants that G. de Purucker is including in his enumeration.

So the outline above covers the cycles that William Judge introduces in the second chapter of The Ocean of Theosophy. If one relates these vast cycles to the number of cyclical messengers that appear during the life of the solar chain Brahma, there are a) two main messengers in each Tribal Race of 3,700 years b) two main messengers in each National Race of 25,920 years c) two main messengers in each Family Race of 181,500 years d) two main messengers in each Sub-Race of 1,270,000 years e) two main messengers in each Root-Race of 8 million + years f) two main messengers in each Round of 600 million + years.

Needless to say, the length of each of these cycles is merely a general guideline. Now divide each one of these minor cycles into the 155 trillion years of our solar chain Brahma and you will get thousands and thousands of thousands. This idea of constant help from the messengers—of a Universe infilled with Bodhisattvas helping mankind—is at the heart of Buddhist cosmology. Help is always near. That is why Avalokitesvara, as the 3rd Logos, is sometimes depicted with 1,000 hands; these 1,000 hands correspond to what William Judge calls the thousand years of the Day of Brahma.

The famous British comedian, Peter Cook, (of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore fame) used to own a restaurant in London in the closing days of his career on the stage. Everyone who was ‘anybody’ would vie with each other to be seen at his ‘Establishment Club’. So, it happened one evening that a well-known celebrity turned up at Peter Cook’s restaurant for dinner without a booking. This did not stop this rather pompous individual from arguing with the head waiter that he should be given a table even without a booking.

“Don’t you know who I am?” the frustrated celebrity shouted at the waiter demanding entrance. Peter Cook calmly walked up to the man and said: “Anyone who does not even know who he is cannot come in here!”

How many of us could answer that question – Who do you think you are? What is ‘The Self’?

Psychology: modern psychology sees The Self as an amalgam of many different qualities and emotions

Psychoanalysis: Famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung’s (1875-1961) ideas on The Self saw an important role for what he called the ‘Collective Unconscious’ which influences all humans. On the other hand, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud’s (1856-1939) theories of personality development encompassed several levels of consciousness operating simultaneously with the Unconscious:

SUPER-EGO: The censor, or judge. Incorporates the value judgments of parents.

EGO: Seeks to control the environment and mediate between the Id and Super-Ego.

ID: Primary energy seeking gratification of basic drives and avoidance of anxiety.

The Self in Religions:

Ancient Egypt: The ancient Egyptians had a very complex understanding of the various ‘selves’ within us all: The AKH: Divine Spirit; The SEKHEM: the emanating power of the Akh; The SAH: the spiritual or causal soul-body; The BA: the astral soul body; The KHAIBIT: the shadow; The KHA: the vital principle within the human being; The KA and THESU: the double and its system of chakras (energy centres); The KHAT: the physical body;The AB: the heart;The REN: the name.

Judaism (Qabbalah): NESHAMAH: The highest and most spiritual principle; RUAHH: Spiritual soul; NEPHESH: The astral or vital soul; GUPH: Physical body — the ‘house’ in which all these others dwell.

Ancient Greek: PNEUMA: Spirit — literally “breath”; NOUS: Intuition, higher mind, or “the Knower within”; PSYCHE: Soul; SOMA: Physical body.

Christianliy: views of the Self as BODY: equivalent to the Physical, Astral, and Energetic bodies of the Ancient Egyptian configuration, SOUL: embraces the fields of desire, emotion, and mind; and SPIRIT: the Divine essence within each human being;

The Self as Viewed in Traditional Societies:

Several traditional societies also have a detailed understanding of the complex ‘selves’ within us all.

Africa: Yoruba people of Nigeria (West Africa): EMIN: Spirit; OKAN: Heart soul; IYE: Mind principle; OJIJI: Shadow (astral double); ARA: Physical body.

Australian Aboriginal Peoples: GREAT CREATIVE or ANCESTRAL SPIRIT: with which a person is merged after death; SPIRIT: indestructible, it remains part of the eternal Dreaming Time; BODY: physical, astral, and energetic bodies.

The Self in Western Philosophy:

Plato (428-348BC): the Greek philosopher Plato saw the ideal self should be like a philosopher, rational and wise, seeking knowledge. Basically. He says that the Self contains the mind, the spirit and the appetite. The appetite is likened to desires, booth good and bad. The mind is the sense of self and it desires an understanding of the Forms. The soul is the driving force behind body and mind. Plato argues that the soul is eternal and, in his later works, he outlined his view of the afterlife. He also explains the soul as having three functions – reason, emotion, and desire.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): After Plato, one of the most significant philosophers in Western countries. According to him, we all have an inner and an outer self which together form our consciousness. The inner self is comprised of our psychological state and our rational intellect. The outer self includes our sense and the physical world.

David Hume (1711-1776): David Hume was the founder of ‘utilitarianism’ or the idea of the ‘greatest good of the greatest number’ upon which many of the social, economic, and political institutions of modern Western democracies are founded. At the opposite extreme from Plato and Kant, Hume suggested that the Self is just a bundle of perceptions, like links in a chain. Hume argues that our concept of the Self is a result of our natural habit of attributing unified existence to any collection of associated parts. He said that this belief is natural, but there is no logical support for it.

The Self in Theosophy: principle founder of the Theosophical Society, HP Blavatsky (1831-1891), envisaged The Self as a composite entity which, when manifest, composed of seven aspects of the one entity as follows:

The essence of all these formulations is that spirit uses vehicles to express itself on the different planes of the universe, and these vehicles are the different principles — separate but still One. Rather than three, seven, or even ten or twelve, as in some configurations, we may think of the human principles as being like a pillar of light. Up and down this pillar of light or consciousness are foci or “egoic centers” — some higher and some lower on the scale of evolutionary unfoldment — manifesting different aspects of the principles at different times. We are not talking about a ‘layer cake’ of principles, but a fluid whirlpool of forces combining different energies from high to low throughout one’s being.

Let’s look at all the aspects of The Self as described by HP Blavatsky and G de Purucker, starting with the Lower Four, or Quaternary, which together form the familiar Personality that we all recognize.

Physical Body, the Sthula-Sarira: means “gross body,” the word sarira also meaning “foamlike” or “easily dissolved.” This is the much-maligned physical body, which is like a spacesuit for the higher consciousness, enabling it to act in the lower material worlds. Through it we can function as a complete entity across the entire seven planes of the manifest universe.  We have the opportunity during earth-life to learn and progress in a way that is not possible when living solely in our spiritual nature. For this reason, highly spiritual beings like Buddha and Christ had to find enlightenment while in their physical bodies before teaching and guiding others. The physical body is composed of myriads of lesser lives – cells and atoms – whose evolution is greatly accelerated by being associated with us, for we are like gods to them.  Finally, because the physical body is the offspring of the universe, it gives us the key to the workings of the cosmos. “As above, so below,” the old Hermetic sages said. The use of this law of analogy – in the action of the nervous system, the circulation of the blood, the structure of the cells, and many other facets – provides a wonderful tool for understanding deeper teachings regarding the structure and operation of invisible causal worlds.

To many the body is a gross drag upon spiritual experience, but in fact, when controlled and intelligently used, the body has its own part to play in the drama of evolution.

The Astral Double: Linga-Sarira: the “model-body” upon which the physical body is formed. This astral body, which we hear so much about, is a mould of near-physical matter into which the atoms of the physical body are built and energized throughout life by Prana. Though most people have not developed the capacity to see the astral body, some clairvoyants can perceive its luminous, ever-shifting coils. Like all the cosmic planes, the astral light is sevenfold in nature. Therefore, because someone can see auras or hear astral music doesn’t necessarily mean they are highly evolved spiritually. In fact, it is a blessing for most of us that the physical body generally shields us from consciousness of the astral world. This condition will continue until we have developed, through lifetimes of testing, our ethical strength and clear inner sight to the point that an awareness of the astral world and its wonders can be properly and safely appreciated. Imagine, for example, what it would be like to read in their auras others’ secret thoughts or state of mental and physical health if we did not have sufficient self-control to make compassionate use – or no use – of this knowledge.

Vitality: Prana: meaning “life principle” or vitality, is the ocean of universal energy in which we exist, keeping our astral and physical bodies alive during life on earth. We all have a certain grant or portion of this life force given us at the beginning of each lifetime to sustain us and, strangely enough, death is caused principally by the prolonged wearing down of the physical organism by the streams of Pranic energy flowing through it.

Desire: Kama: means “desire,” the driving force in the human constitution, neither good nor bad. It is the seat of living electric impulses, desires, and aspirations considered in their energetic aspect. We are all painfully familiar with the lower aspects of Kama that adorn our newspapers and entertainment. Most of humanity centers its consciousness in the lower manas and uses the powers of Kama for selfish motives. By turning Kama in this direction, we inevitably create disharmonies based on separateness and incur the suffering we see everywhere. Compare what we know of desire with the desires of Christ and Buddha in their compassionate self-dedication to a better world.

Mind: Manas: Mind is Dual forming the Lower and Higher Manas (meaning Mind). Let’s start with the more familiar, Kama Manas: the Lower Mind or Everyday Self:

The Lower Manas: is the faculty of mind attracted to the principle of desire or Kama, forming the Personality or Everyday Self. It is our duty and destiny to raise the lower mind to union with the Higher. All our highest thoughts and actions – compassion, self-forgetfulness, and aspiration – are those which more rapidly aid us in achieving this spiritual goal.

The Lower Quaternary comprising: Kama (including Kama Manas), Prana, Linga-Sarira, and Sthula-Sarira is familiar territory to us as these qualities form the components of our Personality. But, much of the next grouping forming the Upper Triad or the Enduring Self may seem remote from our daily lives and from modern psychology.

Higher Manas: A supremely important fact for us to remember is that at this point in our spiritual evolution, Manas (Mind) is dual. Its higher, more spiritual, compassionate, and intuitive aspect is linked with Buddhi (Compassion) the vehicle of Spirit (Atman) thus forming the Higher Immortal Triad – our enduring Self from one lifetime to another. Ordinary people, at the present stage of spiritual evolution at least, live almost entirely in their Kama Manas (desire mind/personality), whereas a Master of Wisdom, lives temporarily or entirely in the Buddhi Manas (the Compassionate Mind).

The Compassionate Spiritual Nature: Buddhi: from the Sanskrit root buddh, “to awaken”; hence the word Buddha, “the awakened one.” It is the first vehicle by which pure spirit “steps down” its energies to the physical plane. It acts to awaken us to our true nature and our responsibilities to a suffering world, manifesting as understanding, judgment, and discrimination. From our human standpoint it is a universal principle, the organ of impersonal love for all creatures, which is divine. This love is expressed by the “awakened ones” who have attained Buddhic consciousness and come back to help mankind reach its full potential: Buddha, Christ, Zoroaster, Quetzalcoatl, and the highest teachers of other world religions.

The Divine Essence: Atman: means “Self” in Sanskrit. Every being, no matter how small, is a Self, derived from the universal self as a flame is derived from a fire or a droplet from the ocean. It is our sense of existence, the “I Am” at the heart of us, which is universal. Unlike the ego or mind from which we derive the sense of “I am I,” which is different in every person. the Atmic sense of pure selfhood, of being alive and active, is the same in all beings, human or otherwise. Understanding this basic universal selfhood leads to the realization of true spiritual brotherhood and develops all our highest (because spiritual) powers.

Know Thyself: Considering our composite nature, we can appreciate what the ancient Greeks meant when they carved on their temples “Man, Know Thyself.” As a child of the universe, made up of all its planes of being, we each are a key to the universe itself. We begin to understand that Universal Brotherhood is not just a platitude, but a fact in nature. We can realize the importance of centering our consciousness in the higher aspects of our composite nature in helping ourselves and others develop spiritually, for “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” We can see the problems that focusing our awareness in the lowest aspects of Kama-Manas (Desire-Mind) has brought to the world.

The wrongful centering of thoughts may also cause disjunctions between the various aspects of our composite nature, leading to some types of mental illnesses. We can begin to appreciate the true mission of religion – from the Latin word religio, meaning, ‘to bring back together that which once was one’ – as a real mission in life and not just empty platitude.

We can do our bit, each in our own separate ways, to attack the causes of suffering by shifting the centre of our consciousness to the far-seeing and compassionate side of human nature, which is the only way to bring enduring peace and harmony to a troubled world.

All esoteric schools have taught as the very foundation of their being: “Man, Know Thyself!” It has ever been thus, and the key to this lies in many things. It lies in the study of the suffering that the knot of personality experiences before its intricate labyrinth of selfishness is overpassed; it lies also, on a more exoteric plane, in the perusal of the majestic literatures of past ages; the brain work, the heart work, the work of the soul, of the seers and sages of every era. Greatest of all, it lies in the study of love for others and utter forgetfulness of self. Therein lies the mystery of Buddhahood, of Christhood: forgetfulness of self, absorption in love all-encompassing, unbounded, frontierless, of all that is. – G de Purucker.

RAGUEL and NARADA: ANGELS OF VENGEANCE and ANGELS OF JUSTICE – based on the writings of G de Purucker.

Looking back at 2020 it was quite a year. Bushfires in January, the Covid-19 Pandemic since March, riots in the USA, world-wide Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and controversies over the pandemic control measures.  There is no doubting that 2020 was a real watershed year for the world. What is going on here?

We know from world traditions and theosophical teachings that there is a spiritual hierarchy above the human condition that has a vital role in administering the life of humanity and the world. Called Gods, Angels, Devas, etc these entities interact with Humanity to assist and guide us along the path to greater spiritual awareness. Sometimes this is a painful and difficult experience breaking old patterns of behaviour resulting in the spiritual hierarchy delivering ‘shocks’ to humanity to break patterns of behaviour which are detrimental to our further progress.

Looking at the world as it is now in the middle of a global health crisis you can believe in the ancient tales of an Angel of Destiny, Vengeance, and Balance, called by many names in the traditions of the world. In Christian Europe he is called Raguel, Angel of Vengeance and Justice, in India they know him as Narada, he of the ‘Monkey Face’, the ‘Strife –Maker’.

The Archangel Raguel: Angel of Justice and ‘Friend of God’:

Let’s start closer to home with the Jewish and later Christian Angel of Justice, Raguel.  Interestingly, as we shall see later in reference to the Hindu Angel of Vengeance, Narada, Raguel’s name means, ‘Friend of God’ indicating that there is a compassionate purpose in the apparent acts of Vengeance by this Angel.

Raguel is almost always referred to as the archangel of justice, fairness, harmony, vengeance and redemption. He is also sometimes known as the archangel of speech. In the Book of Enoch cap. XXIII, Raguel is one of the seven angels whose role is to watch over humanity. His number is 6, and his function is to take vengeance on the world of the luminaries who have transgressed God’s laws.

Raguel’s duties have remained the same across Jewish and Christian traditions. Much like a sheriff or constable, Raguel’s purpose has always been to keep fallen angels and demons in check, delivering heinous judgment upon any that over-step their boundaries. He has been known to destroy wicked spirits, and cast fallen angels into Hell  – called Gehenna in the Hebrew Old Testament and called Tartarus in the Greek New Testament.

Raguel is not mentioned in the canonical writings of the Bible. However, in  2 Enoch, which is generally considered a non-canonical book, the patriarch Enoch was carried as a mortal to and from Heaven by the angels Raguel and Sariel.

Possible historical references to a similar figure from other cultures can be found in Babylonian culture as “Rag” (some translations say Ragumu), and in Sumerian as “Rig” which means, ‘to talk’, or ‘speech’. Thus, these similar characters represented balance in those cultures as well.

So Raguel in Western tradition represents the Angel of Vengeance but, ‘vengeance’ with the purpose of setting the record right and improving the life of humanity through a kind of ‘Cosmic Tough-Love’.

What of Narada, and his role in the life of humanity?

Narada, in Indian Tradition or ‘Pesh-Hun’ in Tibet:

Of all the incomprehensible characters in the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, and the The Puranas (ancient Hindu texts that tell stories of the creation of the world, legends of the gods, and explanations of how to perform religious rituals), Narada, son of Brahmâ in the Matsya Purana, the progeny of Kasyapa (a revered sage of Hinduism) and the daughter of Daksha (Hindu Lord of Creation and Population) in the Vishnu Purana, is the most mysterious.

He is referred to by the honourable title of Deva Rishi (Divine Rishi,  being more advanced than a demi-god) by Parasara (the author of the Vishnu Purana), and yet he is cursed by Daksha and even by Brahmâ (Creator and first God of the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva).

There are contradictory statements about Narada in the ancient books of the Hindus. Thus he is shown as refusing positively to create (have progeny), and even as calling his father Brahmâ “a false teacher” for advising him to get married; nevertheless, he is referred to as one of the Prajapati,  or, “progenitors”!

Narada is closely connected with the secret cycles or Kalpas. He plays an important part in the evolution of the different ages from beginning to end. According to Indian tradition, he is the ruler of events during the various karmic cycles.

He is considered to be a demi-god, or a, Dhyani Chohan (‘Lord of Meditation’, meaning, the kingdom of the entities immediately above the human kingdom) in theosophical terms following Tibetan tradition where he is called Pesh-Hun, the Messenger, or the Greek word Angelos, the sole confidant and executor of the universal decrees of Karma throughout a cycle of human development. “Pesh-Hun” is the mysterious guiding intelligent power, which gives the impulse to, and regulates the impetus of cycles, kalpas, and universal events.

It is Narada who has charge of our progress and national weal or woe. It is he who brings on wars and puts an end to them. Pesh-Hun is credited with having calculated and recorded all the astronomical and cosmical cycles to come, and with having taught the Science of Astrology/Astronomy to the first astrologers and astronomers.

Narada is Karma’s visible adjuster on a general scale; the inspirer and the leader of the greatest heroes of this Manvantara. In the ancient Indian sacred writings, he is referred to by some very uncomplimentary names; such as “Kali-Karaka,” strife-maker, “Kapi-vaktra,” monkey-faced, and even “Pisuna,” the spy, though elsewhere he is called Deva-Brahma.

He could be compared in the Western tradition to Hermes and Mercury, as a messenger of the gods.“ He is amongst the very first “Adversary” that one meets with in old Puranic literature is one of the greatest Rishis and Yogis — Narada, surnamed the “Strife-maker” could be thought of an archetype of ‘Satan’ in Western understanding.

Narada is the leader of the Gandharvas, the celestial singers and musicians; esoterically, the reason for it is explained by the fact that the latter (the Gandharvas) are “the instructors of men in the secret sciences.”

If we remember what is said of this class of Angels in Enoch and in the Bible, then the allegory is plain: their leader, Narada, while refusing to procreate, leads men to become gods.

Who or What is Narada?

So, what does all this traditional information mean about the identity of Narada and his work in the world?

Narada as the Hindus call him, Pesh-Hun as the Tibetans call him, is an agent of karma in the world. He is an active agent of destiny from the spiritual hierarchy whose job is as the disturber of man’s ways in order that the mandates of divine justice shall be carried out, he is also the bringer of peace, and the restorer of harmony.

He is a Dhyan Chohan of the highest, or next to the highest class, or what the Christians would call an archangel.

He is Prajapati, or the parent of offspring – maybe of mind-born children.

He is a Manu or an exalted being which appears at the beginning and end of human root races;

He is a Rishi or great spiritual teacher because of his duties in communicating secret teachings to the human spiritual instructors of mankind.

Narada: Agent of Karma:

So, what are the functions of Narada?

Agent of Karma: Typically, those of carrying out Karmic Destiny. What the ‘Lipikas’ , or recorders of every thought and action, have written down, Narada as an individual agent or as an individuality, as an Archangel, sees are carried out. He is the agent of karmic destiny. The consequence is that, just because destiny to us humans is often so unpleasant due to our own faults and failings in the past, Narada has been given very uncomplimentary titles by those who have seen his work in the world and in the world of men and who do not like it.

When Times are Good: When they do like it, when it is something that humans like, he is given very complimentary titles: the Benefactor, the Kindly Helper, the Warrior for Mankind, the bringer about of all the good things in destiny.

When Times are Bad: But when as an impartial, impersonal agent of karmic destiny he brings about trouble on the human race, then he is given very uncomplimentary names, as for instance he is called Kali-Kara, the Strife-Producer, because in the course of human destiny it is his work to bring about war and peace.

Narada: Preventing the Karmic Dam Bursting:

Being a Dhyani-Chohan, (the evolutionary stage above humans just as humans are an evolutionary stage above animals) he cannot come amongst us and work as a human being does, because he belongs to a much higher kingdom, among the very highest of the three Dhyan-Chohanic kingdoms.

 He is an impersonal, impartial agent of destiny. His duty is to see that the world is protected, that karmic law, destiny, be carried out irrespective of consequences; for it is the only way to re-establish law, order, equilibrium, justice, and ultimate wisdom and peace.

Otherwise there would be Nature piling up a vast accumulation of unexpended karma which in time might flood the human race and utterly destroy it!

How Does Narada Work in the World?

Sometimes he overshadows men of the proper psychological, spiritual, intellectual, and even physical temperament and works through them.

Men of Destiny:

These men and women then are called Men of Destiny. They may not in themselves be even good men, which is another reason why Narada is often spoken of in uncomplimentary terms; but they may  also be good men.

But they are used as instruments and tools to carry out, to bring to pass, certain things that are lying in the womb of time and must come out, and there must be a guiding spiritual power to see that the performing of these events shall take place without the complete wrecking of mankind. This is Narada’s work: a protector of mankind and also an avenger.

Examples of the instruments of Narada’s work in the world, the Men of Destiny, are scattered through the pages of history.

Sometimes they are manifestly Evil Men:  Napoleon for instance, or Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great — three men who, if you judge them in the balance of ordinary human justice, are three evildoers because they were all upsetters, all destroyers of convention and of established things. But the world lived through them, and yet who were they? Average men, each one with a peculiar cast, psychological and other, which Narada could work through to bring about the karmic changes. In other words Narada is a kind of Siva, destroyer and regenerator, but his destructions are always beneficial, he is always on the side of liberty, absolute justice to all irrespective of anything, and on the side of progress. They are notable historical instances of men of destiny, who were used almost as pawns precisely because of their weaknesses and distorted strength to bring about noble things despite these men themselves.

Sometimes they are workers for the Good: such as Winston Churchill who once told his bodyguard after narrowly missing being killed in an air-raid that he had been told (presumably by some supernatural means) that he would not die until his work in the world was done. Winston Churchill clearly had many weaknesses as a military commander (the Gallipolli campaign for example) and he suffered from clinical depression (what he called his ‘Black Dog’) – but look at what he achieved  for the world during WW II!

The Work of the Spiritual Hierarchy in the World:

According to the Ancient Wisdom, the world is ruled and governed by spiritual and highly intellectual powers. For instance  on our  Earth (globe D of our planetary chain) not a thing takes place by chance.

Everything that takes place on this Earth, in the solar system, in the sun, or in the galaxy, takes place according to law; and it takes place according to law because the agents of law, the agents of karma, are there to hold it firm. Destiny is held firmly in the hands of the gods; or as the early Christians phrased it, the world is ruled by God Almighty through the hierarchy of angels.

These Angels carry out the decrees of destiny, and we have remnants in Christian teaching today for instance when they speak of the Angel of Death or the Angel of Destiny or the Angel of Disease — or turning to the New Testament, the Four Angels of the Apocalypse – War, Disease, Famine, and Death.

Narada: The Strife-Producer:

Now it is Narada who is in charge of these karmic productions of destiny. No wonder he is called Kali-Kara, the ‘Strife-Producer.’ He does not produce it out of nothing, out of a diabolic wish to injure mankind. He is simply the agent of karmic destiny bringing about, for instance, the breaking up of old crystallized moulds of mind or conditions of thought which are becoming a spiritual opiate for mankind.

Narada is not only the agent of karmic destiny but is mankind’s savior, the bringer about of man’s evolutionary progress, the bringer about of change tending upwards to nobler things, and likewise paradoxically enough the bringer about or restorer of spiritual and intellectual stability. Because there can be no stability when an accumulated reservoir of karma is waiting and threatening to burst the  karmic ‘dam’ and cause devastation, destruction indiscriminately.

Narada: Breaking the Shells of Crystallized Belief:

For example, suppose a religion had lost the inspiration of its Founder and become a jumble of theological dogmas administered by self-interested religious professionals? What does Narada do? Narada breaks that shell, releases the imprisoned spirit once again. Of course there is lots of trouble. Narada in such instance works to release and restore to its pristine power and influence the imprisoned and perhaps forgotten spirit of the Founder.

It may be done quickly in a crash, in a disaster. Or it may be done through years and years and years of slow expansion and breaking of the old shell.

Narada works in various ways always according to destiny and always in the kindest way that he can work, because he is a regenerator and a builder. Instead of the dogmas and spiritual formulae, people begin to think and to question. They want the spirit. They burst the shell; overthrow the forms. And we have a great religious revival or regeneration in a case like that.

But of course it is a painful process. Millions of their followers don’t like it. It is only after Time, the magic agent, has softened the woes of adversity, of the bursting shell, and has brought even those who are hurt to see and to say: “Why, it is the very best thing to happen. Now we understand the Master’s teaching. Now religion has become a vital moving thing in my heart. It guides life. It is something to believe in and to live by.”

This was the work of Narada. But during that time, what did Narada do? He was a Kali-Kara, Strife-Producer, he had to break the shell.

Narada’s Work During the Covid Pandemic:

Similarly, there are many positives in the physical world resulting from the current Covid pandemic in addition to the obvious hardships.

  • These would include the reduction in pollution of all kinds with the reduction in travel and economic activity;
  • The subsequent rebounding of life in the oceans and animal life in the wilds where human activity has been reduced;
  • a new appreciation for the helping professions such as teaching and the health professions in our cities.

But our focus in these lectures is with the causes of suffering in the world from the viewpoint of esoteric philosophy. So, from this perspective, further positives to be taken from the current state of the world may include:

Developing a sense of Empathy and Compassion through Suffering: Suffering is a necessary background to the development of empathy and compassion. When there are dramatic conditions in the world, by so much greater are our opportunities to show compassion and develop understanding.

Modifying our extreme sense of Individual Entitlement in the Western world: The current state of Pandemic encourages us to overcome the extreme individualism and sense of entitlement that has become rampant in the Western world, especially in the USA and Australia.  As the ancient wisdom tells us, at the higher levels of our being we are all in a state of Unity and eventually we must learn to forgo our individualism for the greater good of the One, or in our case, of the collective community. In our current situation, we have to work together to overcome the spread and control of the Covid virus. If we don’t, we’ll soon be forced to cooperate through lock-downs or risk increasing numbers of infected people. We have to learn about the practical aspects of Unity to truly respect others and cooperate with them for the sake of a better future for all of us.

The Spiritual Hierarchy has not abandoned us: Don’t think that we have ever been abandoned by the spiritual hierarchy of light. They are constantly at work guiding and assisting our efforts to make a better world – but it is up to us to reach up to them as they reach down to us to help.

Being Better People – Everyone of Us: We all have the opportunity to be better people no matter how outwardly humble may be our status in this world. We can add to the ‘reservoir of good karma’ which is all that the Masters of Wisdom can use to help us. What we are from day to day is therefore terrifically important. Perhaps lock-down gives us more time in our normally hectic modern lifestyle to consider some of the great questions of life and death and where we fit into the big picture of life’s meaning.

Spirituality is not just an Intellectual Exercise: This doesn’t have to be an intellectual exercise – attending lectures, seminars, ZOOM online meetings, etc. but living a sincere and good life is equally, if not much more, important. It is as though we are living in a fog of negative thought with the Sun of spiritual reality shining above the fog. Intellectual effort and living a good life can equally poke holes in this fog. As Plato said: ‘Living the Good Life is a Work of Art’.

Narada’s Work in the World:

Narada’s functions therefore are spiritual, intellectual as well as psychic.

The main point to grasp first is that our universe is governed by law and by order emanating from intelligent and spiritual sources and consequently that everything that happens in that universe is within that sway of law and under the sway of that order, and in consequence there is no chance, and therefore that whatever happens has been caused — karma.

The first thing this teaches us is to stop sitting in the judgment seat upon other men it teaches us to stop arrogating to ourselves the all-capacity to condemn others. Judge not that ye be not judged.

But keep it in mind that Narada works, call him an Angel of Destiny, an Archangel of Destiny, or a Dhyan-Chohan whose work in the world is just that, guiding mankind and the other kingdoms too, guiding mankind’s steps through tribulation and suffering from their own folly, towards freedom and wisdom and love, with his immensely strong hand of the friend…upwards and onwards through suffering and pain, through joy and peace, through war and disturbance, through attainment and progress, upwards and onwards forever. – based on G de Purucker’s book, The Fountain Source of Occultism, pages: 689-695 with additional material and comments by Andrew Rooke.

Further Reading:

  • Raguel (Angel): Wikipedia.
  • Narada:  Theosophy, Vol.61 no.3, January 1973: pages: 75-78.
  • Narada by G. De Purucker  an address given in 1942 and published in 1974 as an appendix to the Fountain Source of Occultism.
  • Why is Life so Tough for so Many people? Part 2: Human Dimensions by Andrew Rooke. Theosophy Downunder, No. 137, September 2020.

THOUGHTS ON THE CHRISTMAS SEASON – Nhilde Davidson

When we come to the Christmas season the first thing most of us think about is gifts and remembering family and old friends. What about writing that Christmas card or email to someone we haven’t thought of all year? We rush around buying gifts and putting up decorations and hopefully put that little thought of someone else into our hearts as well. This is what Christmas is all about for most people as we bustle along with all the many activities and distractions at this time of year. For those who have times of difficulty and where there’s loneliness and where they sometimes feel that maybe they are not partaking in this general sweep of goodwill that goes right around the world – perhaps that awareness makes one strive for better things.

So, what is Christmas all about and why do we celebrate it? It is really the juxtaposition of the material and the spiritual. I found it a real blessing that even throughout the year, a little bit of Christmas lingers on to make us aware of that beneficent, brotherly influence kept in a corner of our heart to sustain us through the bustle and the turmoil of the year.

Let’s look at the Winter Solstice (Christmas time in the northern hemisphere, Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere) and recall that this sacred time has been reverenced for millennia. We can think of the way we celebrate this time, in whatever fashion is dictated by our own religion or tradition. I think every corner of the earth has in some way has reverenced the Solstice. Why, and what does it represent? It represents that battle between light and darkness and the eventual conquest of darkness by the inner light of spiritual knowledge and growth. Ancient cultures in Egypt, England, the Americas, India, Scandinavia, and Europe, to name but a few. Some long-forgotten, some remembered. The Pyramids, Stonehenge, early-man’s spiral drawings on rocks that show when the sun shines at the Solstice all indicate that people long ago made monuments to remember this perennial battle between light and darkness.

The Scandinavians have the Lucia festival of light, bonfire rituals in Scotland, Hanukah in the Jewish tradition when candles are lit, and in many European countries people burn Yule logs. From India, the sacred book of the Hindus, The Bhagavad Gita, chapter 8, says: “These two, light and darkness, are the world’s eternal ways, “. As we celebrate the Solstice, we celebrate not so much the battle as the victory of light over darkness.

A Christmas Carol, written by the great English author, Charles Dickens, and first published in December 1843, is really a profound philosophical book written with a delicate touch of humour. One of the main characters is Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased business partner, now a chained and tormented ghost, doomed to wander the earth forever as punishment for his greed and selfishness when he was alive. In the book he leads his best friend and partner, Ebenezer Scrooge, on the path of redemption by witnessing the effects of his selfish actions upon others in the past, present, and future. Dickens starts the book where he says: “If we didn’t know that Marley was dead, and really understood it, the wonder of the story would not be there”. I think in a similar way we have to understand that we are all rooted in the Divine. Without that knowledge, the Solstice loses its meaning. Being rooted in the Divine we are on a wonderful journey of unfolding, ever-growing, with all the myriad atoms, forms, and lives that shape the Universe, to become ever-more sublime. Without that knowledge I think everything loses its meaning.

It’s a very beautiful thought that there’s is eternity ahead of us – an ever-unfolding inner light that can grow ever brighter and brighter. Each human is unique yet comfortably linked through the divine parentage to all Life. We have a Cosmos within, we have an Inner God, that Higher Self, the parent and source of all our inspirations and illumination. We also have this Human Soul, which is really an undeveloped god. Then we have our Animal Soul which is an undeveloped human. This shows the continuity that our human soul can become that god, and, at the Solstice, there are those sublime individuals who do make that graduation. That’s not to underestimate our own way on the Path with each action we are walking towards that point.

So this human soul, the child of the Divine, is growing to full bloom, growing towards that Divinity within. Perhaps when we set up our Christmas tree and put all those wonderful luminescent, translucent bulbs of glass on it, it should remind us a little that it really is rooted in the long-distant past of the Tree of Life, the symbol of the material universe rooted in this Divine and that the manifested world as we know it is taking its nourishment from the eternal and parentless Unknowable. That when we see those lighted candles, we can see the lights within ourselves as well and the crystal as parts of the universe that we don’t even see.

Now, to return to this wonderful time of year, the Sacred Season; I’m just going to touch on the Virgin Birth. We celebrate firstly the birth of Jesus, but we also celebrate all those luminous souls, who through the eons have overcome the limitations of themselves and have given birth to the Divine in themselves. They thus become more perfectly able to allow the altruistic elements of their divinity to shine forth and to show in their daily acts.

There is a second aspect to this Virgin Birth which is a great mystery. The Hindus refer to it as the ‘Twice-Born’, or the ‘Dwijâ’. When we think of “born” we naturally think of the wonderful birth of a human being. Equally wonderful is the second birth of the higher potential in ourselves taking root and showing itself. We all have it there and we all show glimmerings of it on occasions but this birth of the full luminescence in an individual is a profound mystery.

There’s still a deeper meaning too and that the world periodically experiences as an ‘Avatar’ who comes as an unique teacher to be a saviour to mankind and to help us in times of difficulty. One such Avatar, Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita in chapter 4 says: “I produce myself among creatures, oh Bhaharata, whenever there is a decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world, and thus I incarnate from age to age, for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of righteousness”. For those individual teachers of mankind, Avatars, Tulkus, Mahatmans, all spiritual teachers of many grades who appear like a luminous light that shines for centuries upon Mankind, we can all give profound thanks because the world would not be as good a place even as it is today without these gifts of themselves and of the radiance they shed upon mankind. At such times it is as if there is a god who walks amongst us for a short time, then disappears, leaving a blessing upon mankind and a rekindling of the knowledge of Truth, of Man’s Inner Divinity.

Every year at the time of the Solstice we are assured somewhere that there is someone who through many incarnations and the practice of inner discipline and virtuous living has gained for himself/herself the right to undergo those initiations which take place at this time. For two weeks such exalted individuals will undergo their trials and at the end of them, if successful, they will be one of these Dwijâ, or, twice-born. They will return from their initiatory experience bathed in the influence of their Inner Divinity shining forth. They will be for a time with us as virtual gods such as is illustrated in the halos surrounding pictures of holy people depicted in the religious art of many traditions.

The time two weeks after the Solstice, is celebrated by the Epiphany in the Christian church, or 12th night, when we take down our Christmas ornaments. That actually is the beginning of the esoteric year. We say it’s the 6th of January because we’ve placed the birth of Jesus at the 25th of December. But the Solstice actually takes place earlier than that, so the Epiphany or the ‘reawakening’, would in reality be around the 4th of January. At this time of the year these exalted individuals, unseen and unsung, are adding a little of the blessings of their actions and their great endeavours into the thought atmosphere of the world. We are blessed by their endeavours and unconsciously draw on the energy of their aspirations.

There’s a profound thought that what we think and do profoundly affects everyone and helps these exalted souls also. As they reach down to help us, we help them by our reaching upwards towards the best of ourselves.  We give them that impetus – but we can also impede them with our negative thoughts and actions. I understand that when we plan a new building we naturally draw blueprints before we commence the actual building. So to build the edifice of ourselves we need to input into those blueprints our high ideals, our high expectations and then to start brick by brick to build this edifice of ourselves

We feel those thoughts when we kneel humbly in old cathedrals and temples where many people have given praise, the places where people have aspired to the best of themselves and resolved to do noble deeds when they leave these hallowed halls. When you walk there you feel this nourishing ‘thought atmosphere’ and we feel the blessing of it. So, in our lives we can also put this blessing into the atmosphere so that others can draw from it. Again, to return to the Gita: “The man whose desires enter his heart, as waters run into the swelling ocean, which, though ever-full, yet does not quit its bed. He obtains happiness”. So if we put our ‘drops’ into this boundless sea we will eventually join it. Again the Gita says: “The man, who having abandoned all desires, acts without covetousness, selfishness or pride, deeming himself neither actor nor possessor, attains rest “.

To finish these few thoughts on the Christmas season I have two little quotes about life and where we stand. There’s one from Australian, poet, writer, and politician, Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870), who said: “Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone, kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own”. From famed English poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850), who said: “The best portion of a good man’s life is little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love”.

So let’s raise our glasses of Christmas cheer and repeat along with Ebenezer Scrooge in, A Christmas Carol:

“Let it be said of each of us that we know how to keep Christmas well, and that we will honour Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year, that we will live in the past, the present, and the future, then the spirit of all three will strive within us, we will not shut out the lessons that they teach”.

Or, as ‘Tiny Tim’, another character from the same great book, observed simply: “God bless us, every One”.

THE THREE FUNDAMENTAL PROPOSITIONS OF THE SECRET DOCTRINE – Luke Michael Ironside.

“The study of The Secret Doctrine proves unprofitable unless the student sees at his own stage of evolution, in his own life, in the activity of his own complex nature, the unity which is basic from which differentiation springs and on which diversity manifests.

“Thus, unless a serious attempt is made by the student to see the activity of the Three Fundamentals in the function and the process of his own individual life, they must remain mysterious and confusing and fail to inspire him to better life or nobler labours.”

  • B. P. Wadia, Studies in The Secret Doctrine, p.104-105

Madame H. P. Blavatsky commences her momentous work, The Secret Doctrine, with three elementary propositions. These are, essentially, a synopsis of the entire work, in that they contain the core principles which the remainder of the work could be considered a detailed commentary upon. As such, these propositions are the epitome of Esoteric Philosophy – being necessarily abstract and oftentimes only partially understood, and at others, entirely misconstrued. As students of Theosophy, it is necessary to form a clear conception of these fundamental tenets in order to set a firm foundation for further Theosophical study. 

The First Proposition: The first is that of an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable Principle – Parabrahm – on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception. Being necessarily beyond the reach of thought, this Principle can only be spoken of by negation, such as by the Vedic method of Neti Neti (“not this, not that”), in which is the Absolute is seen to transcend the dualities and differentiations of existence, whilst yet being the root and cause of all. It is from this that we originally emerged into being, and to this that, through the cosmic process of seemingly infinite eons, we will ultimately return.

From this Boundless Principle – Parabrahm – we derive our thoughts and consciousness, our ability to influence and create our reality. It is important for us because it is us, at the most fundamental level, being the root of everything we are.

The Second Proposition: The second proposition declares the Universe to be a playground of eternal and incessant periodicity, in which countless universes come into and fade from existence. These innumerable worlds HPB calls the “sparks of eternity”; these existing, in the cosmic scheme, for a mere moment in the duration of the Days and Nights of Brahm.

This law is universal in its application. It applies equally to the microcosmic and the macrocosm planes. It is through this principle of periodicity that the One Life functions in the world of manifested form, and from which the rhythms of day and night, life and death, sleeping and waking – the universal ebbs and flows of life – pass through their recurrent cycles. This is the most apparent of the fundamental propositions in that it is easily observable and can be recognised from a consideration of any aspect of life, from our daily routines to the wheel of the seasons. In its fundamental essence, the Universe is, then, the cyclic manifestation of the Boundless Principle – Parabrahm.

This principle of periodicity therefore extends to all levels of our existence – and beyond. It is an essential aspect of the maya or “illusion” of things in the manifested world, constituting the temporality of Manvantaric life. It is intrinsically related to the concept of Duration – this being the root of time and action. In itself, duration is changeless, but is the cause of all change, both observed and unobserved. Because this proposition operates along orderly lines in accordance with the universality of its application, it governs all occurrences of change – from the natural cycles of our individual lives to the rise and fall of empires and religions.

Reincarnation is one result of this periodical law. We know from the study of Theosophy that there is no true death in the fundamental sense of the word. Every such occurrence of “death” is merely the door to a new existence, a fresh beginning in which the garments of a former life and cast away in favour of some newer and better suited to the step along the journey of our pilgrimage. Life is itself such an unending process of new beginnings.

The Third Proposition: Thirdly, the postulation that the Universe is, in fact, an immense and total WHOLE – a single Organism in which the many varied parts are but as atoms of a greater body. This third fundamental proposition informs us of the unity of Man and Cosmos; of the non-difference between the Universe and all that resides within it.

It is this last proposition that brings us to an awareness of the grand scope of Theosophical philosophy through the cosmic hierarchies that emerged during the Ideation of the Universe from potential to actualised form. The Universe, then, while being fundamentally ONE and singular, consists of gradations or stages of evolutionary beings, of a vast variety of form, through which the One Life manifests for the purpose of aiding the development of the whole. Each of these myriad forms is therefore intrinsically interrelated, coexisting and coworking towards the same object and end.

Like the second, the third proposition provides a foundation for the process of reincarnation, through reference to the “obligatory pilgrimage of every soul through the cycle of incarnation or necessity”. This relates also to the concept of Karma, in that progress throughout this pilgrimage is dependent upon our own “self-induced and self-devised effort”, rather than on the whims of fate or chance.

We discover, in a reflection of this third principle, that we are journeying together along this toilsome path of evolution. We may, along the way, encounter experiences or lessons that are personal, individual, and unique, and yet the journey itself is one shared by all, regardless of whether they be further along or further behind our own position on the path. 

By recognizing the truth of this third proposition on a personal level, we free ourselves from the mistaken notion of our lonely, separated, and temporal existence. We become, rather than the meek and helpless objects of cosmic change, instead the very architects and forces of such motion; participants in the evolutionary process who work together in unity to build a better world. We are each of us sparks of the Central Sun – eternal in our essence, and infinite in our potential.

As B. P. Wadia writes in his Studies in The Secret Doctrine: “Within our own bodies, in our own being, work the laws which The Secret Doctrine teaches in the Three Fundamental Propositions.” Thus, they apply not only on the grand cosmic scale of the Universe and the hierarchies above, but equally on the level of our personal lives. This is one of the greatest beauties of Theosophy, that is it applicable to every aspect of life. It is up to us to make that Wisdom practical.

Good and Evil, Perfection and Imperfection, Life and Death, Day and Night,  Male and Female,  opposites seems to be everywhere. Two sides of  life’s every story and every ‘coin’ are the general rule – but why is this Duality to be found everywhere?

The problem of Duality has been one of the great philosophical and religious dilemmas throughout the ages. From the Zoroastrians of Persia who first made Duality a major religious issue 5,000 years ago, through to the world’s largest religions today, Christianity and Islam, the existence of Evil and how to account for it in a universe created by a compassionate God, has been a perennial debate amongst philosophers and priests.

Is Duality a fundamental feature of the Universe, or is everything a Oneness as the prophets and mystics tell us? Is there  a supreme Evil Being in rebellion against a loving God, or is this all just a myth as many Athiests/Agnostics tell us today?

A Definition of Duality: From the Perennial Dictionary of World Religions:

“DUALISM: A conception of the Universe which postulates two irreducible ultimate principles, in mutual opposition and nearly evenly matched. In Western philosophy the term refers to a distinction between Spirit (or Mind) and Matter  (or the World);. Describing Indian speculation, the term has been used of the distinction between the individual self or soul and the world-Soul. These dualities can be called  timeless, but Dualism in Near-Eastern religious history refers to mythological narratives. A Zoroastrian account…pits God (Ahura Mazda) against the Devil (Angra Mainyu) in an ethical struggle, in which the physical world is the scene  but is morally neutral; earlier Zoroastrian texts and modern Zoroastrian piety do not, however, give the evil spirit equal status with the good.”

The ancient Zoroastrian religious concept of Duality: Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest known monotheistic religion (ie, they believe in One God) in the world being founded by the prophet, Zarathustra (Zoroaster) 3,500 years ago in what is now Iran (formerly, Persia). Even though it has only 200,000 followers in the world today, it has been the inspiration, and perhaps the source, of many of the concepts of the major monotheistic religions of the world – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Zoroaster was a prophet living in northern Iran, but very little is known of his life. He wrote their sacred book the Avesta which contains the Gathas or sacred hymns. Zoroastrianism believes in a single God, Ahura Mazda (‘Wise Lord’), also known as Ohrmazd. He controls the force of Goodness and Balance in the Universe known as, Asha. There are a number of other subordinate Gods such as Mithra, a group of seven divine attributes known as the Amesha Spentas, (‘Holy Immortals’): Good Mind, Order, Dominion, Devotion, Wholeness, Immortality, and the Holy Spirit.

They combat the opposite force the Druj, and the evil spirit who controls it, Angira Mainyu or Ahriman. Asha is symbolized by Fire and Light and Druj by Darkness.

Therefore, Zoroastrianism is a Dualistic religion. From creation through the present age to the final judgement and reordering of the universe, the events of this world are seen as a contest between the powers of Good and Evil.

It is incumbent upon the faithful to choose the Right, not only that they may individually achieve the reward of the righteous after death, but so that Good may eventually triumph in the world. They believe in free will, good deeds and good thoughts which bring you closer to God.

Zoroastrianism: Influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Zoroastrianism has had a profound influence on the three most important monotheistic religions of the modern world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam – but the evidence remains fragmentary and circumstantial rather than proved conclusively. They all believe in a Single God; a Dualistic Universe; and a Final Judgement Day.

The notion of Satan as God’s rival, the notion of life after death, and the sequence of world ages and a final judgement and redemption are teachings that seem to have been elaborated in Judaism only after the Archaeminid Persian Empire, where Zoroastianism was the state religion, conquered Israel.

Prayer in the fire temple 5 times per day looks very much like the prayer pattern of Islam, called the Salat. The Kusti, or sacred thread, is reminiscent of the thread worn by upper-caste Hindus. The Hebrews were held captive in Babylon around 600 B.C., the time when Zoroaster’s influence began to spread.

We know that this exile marked a point of rupture in Israel’s political life, but this rupture was paralleled by a complete religious reformation. New concepts were emerging in the Hebrew tradition. The idea of a Messiah whose arrival would announce the end of time had entered Jewish thought, which until that time remained quite vague about any hypothetical savior.

The figure of the Hebrew Shatam [Satan], very confused in its formulation, began to become more explicit and borrowed the features of the Mazdean Ahriman.

Angelogy and demonology made their first appearance in sacred texts, and in what had been an extremely complicated and formal religious ritual a simplification took place, with the ritual taking on more logical meanings.

In short, the Jews’ captivity in Babylon, thanks to the contacts they had with other traditions, especially that of the Zoroastrians (Mazdeans), allowed the refinement of Hebrew thought and the development of a mysticism that appears to have been completely lacking earlier. 

Dualism began to pervade  what has become the most widely held religious beliefs of the modern world.

Duality in Ancient Egypt: The Two Lands: Duality pervaded ancient Egyptian religion and life. Egypt itself was known as the Two Lands: The fertile Black Land of Osiris and the Red Land or desert of Seth. Heaven and Earth were unified oppositions: ‘As above, so below; as within so without’.

They knew that all things exist in pairs. There is no doorway through which to pass unless pillars stand in opposition on either side to create the doorway through which we can pass. Duality combines male and female, negative and positive, light and dark. All life, according to the mystical equations of Thoth, evolves from a divine coupling of opposites.

Life is impossible without a notion of Duality. Two strands of the twisted chain of DNA combine in the same way that there are two sides to the ladder of heaven held up by Horus and Seth in the Pyramid Text. These pair of opposites combine to create a deeper expanded consciousness. – from Normandi Ellis: Hieroglyphic Words of Power page, 30.

Perspectives from Ancient Egypt: ‘One’ the ‘All’: The Ancient Egyptians had their own wonderful way of expressing how Duality arose from the ‘One’ called the Great Ennead (Nine). Stripped of the mythology and complicated terminology of Gods and Goddesses, their understanding of the origin of Duality in the Universe as I understand it is as follows:

The number One is the Absolute and the Unity of all things. This absolute principle can be seen as the omnipotence of God, or, in a scientific way, as the pure energy from which the entire physical universe manifests. It is the ‘All.’

But, this ‘All’ could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as ‘I am I,’ a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity.

For example, a physical candle would never be confused for the light, nor for the flame which energizes it â€” but clearly, without the physical candle no light would happen!

Two: Duality: When the Absolute becomes conscious of Itself, Duality, or Polarity, is created, and as a result, the number Two exists.

This expresses the opposition that is fundamental to all natural phenomena. Two is not the sum of one and one, but a state of primordial tension. A world of two and nothing else is static, so nothing would ever happen. By nature it is divisive and if unchecked, it is Chaos. Then comes the Trinity or relationship of the Two – but that’s a story for another day!

Unity is eternal, undifferentiated consciousness. When it becomes conscious and creates differentiation, then there exists polarity. Polarity, or duality, therefore, is a dual expression of Unity.

The Two Ways: Good and Evil: This leads us to the ultimate question of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom about the Two Ways, The Eternal Ways of the Universe – Good and Evil.

If we consider the Universe as boundless space, then there must be times when parts of the Universe are appearing and manifesting as material worlds, and other times when parts of it are resting out of manifestation; ie parts of it are ‘alive’ and others ‘dead’ as far as the material worlds are concerned.

As long as there is manifestation, ie. The spirit expressing itself through a vehicle of matter like a human being  with a sense of ‘I am I’,  there will be relative perfection and imperfection which is what we humans call ‘Evil’.

Oneness and Duality: From the viewpoint of the Ancient Wisdom then, the entire manifested universe is pervaded by Duality. Wherever we look we see that we are copies of universal paradigms.  “As above, so below,” is the old Hermetic axiom. As H. P. Blavatsky wrote:

“Everything in the Universe follows analogy. ‘As above, so below’; Man is the microcosm of the Universe. That which takes place on the spiritual plane repeats itself on the Cosmic plane. Concretion follows the lines of abstraction; corresponding to the highest must be the lowest; the material to the spiritual.” (The Secret Doctrine I:177)

“Parabrahm (the One Reality, the Absolute) is the field of Absolute Consciousness,” but when manifested as a material universe “duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object.”(The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 15)

“Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute (Parabrahm), which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective.”

Not being separate from the universe, we experience the manifested physical (to us) universe as ruled by the contrasts of day and night, sleeping and waking, hot and cold, evil and good.

This Duality construct, says The Secret Doctrine 1:15, is “necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity.”

“Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as ‘I am I,’ a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity.

“Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of consciousness could ensue â€” and “the manifested universe is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its existence as ‘manifestation.’”

The Battle of the Higher and Lower Selves: We humans experience this duality every moment as the intense struggle of our split dual consciousness. The mind’s higher spiritual aspect  (Buddhi Manas – the Compassionate Mind)) gravitates toward altruism, says the Ancient Wisdom, while the tides of its companion personal side (Kama Manas – the Desire Mind) is attached to outer forms, desires, survival and other material concerns.

The result is that all human minds are often blown by the winds of sense into the low lying eddies and currents of material thought. Like a balloon losing helium, we drift down from the god within us, and away from our kinship with the soul of things. Broadly considered, what is called higher mind is really a feature of our god-soul, our intuitional base: the manifestation all-knowingness in human beings.

Our all-seeing self and personal self are caught in a struggle, we are alternately pitted by the gut and brain consciousness, against the knowing heart consciousness. This sets up an confusing conflict between the true god and the demigod in us.

The Two Hemispheres of the Brain: This struggle of  or two ‘selves’ is dramatized by neuroanatomist Bolte-Taylor in her New York Times bestseller  My Stroke of Insight where she speaks of her personal experience, due to stroke, of isolating the  functions of the left  (logical, analytical, everyday consciousness) and right  (intuitional, artistic, higher mind consciousness) hemispheres of the brain.

In the book she explains the two physical hemispheres of the brain, and how each is a unique vehicle to express the Yin-Yang of ‘self’ and their relationship. Both “selves” represented by the two brain hemispheres are necessary — but they are also in urgent need of very rigorous cleansing, balancing and prioritizing by us humans.

The gateway to a wider spiritual understanding lies in our attitude to what we are doing and experiencing in our everyday life. Perhaps an analogy would be that some people see a tree as just an obstacle in the way of development whereas others see it as a beautiful creation of nature, as a ‘poem’ rather than  just a ‘thing’.

Eckhart Tolle on Oneness: Another modern spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, gives us the clue as to how we can find our way to reconcile this duality in daily experience:

“What grace to see that the very thing that looked so heavy in the world of form, the very thing that seemed to be limiting me on all sides, that very thing is the doorway into the formless and into who I am beyond form. What grace to see that ultimately they are one. Form is emptiness â€” emptiness is form. They are one.”  —Eckhart Tolle

At Our Deepest Level We Are One with the Boundless: Changing our attitudes to what comes to us in daily life to see the better side of every experience is the gateway to approaching the Unity behind all manifestation that the Vedic sages simply called THAT (Tat).  We can’t say much about THAT except that it is not Dual as we have no point of comparison.

“… Being necessarily beyond the reach of thought, this Principle can only be spoken of by negation, such as by the Vedic method of Neti Neti (“not this, not that”), in which is the Absolute is seen to transcend the dualities and differentiations of existence, whilst yet being the root and cause of all. It is from this that we originally emerged into being, and to this that, through the cosmic process of seemingly infinite eons, we will ultimately return.

From this Boundless Principle – Parabrahm – we derive our thoughts and consciousness, our ability to influence and create our reality. It is important for us because it is us, at the most fundamental level, being the root of everything we are.” Luke Ironside.  The Three  Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine. Theosophy Downunder. March 2021.

An Endless Journey: As human beings all of us are on an endless journey throughout beginningless and endless time experiencing many different hierarchies of life besides the human unfolding ever more of our inner essence.

But that Rootless Root within each of us is the utterly Boundless. The great Hindu spiritual teacher, the Avatara Sankaracharya, based his teaching of the Vedanta (meaning: ‘the real meaning of the Vedas’ or the ‘books of wisdom’) on this fact.

He called it ‘Advaita’ or, ‘non-dualistic’, because his thought dwelt on this endlessly Divine, the Rootless Root which is the core of the core of every unit in boundless space – including each one of us!

Part 1: Psychic Attack

Psychic attack and the consequent need for self-defence is a challenge for all students of the Ancient Wisdom…indeed for everyone in this age of mass manipulation by politicians, advertising, and social media. Of all the enquiries we receive at our Theosophical Library Centre in Melbourne, psychic self-defence seems to be the no.1 issue with people who phone in.

What are the symptoms of psychic attack? These may vary from outright violent physical attack by non-physical means, through to bombardment with unwanted negative or tempting thoughts, to demon possession and other spectacular forms of psychic attack which we see in films such as ‘The Exorcist’.

Respected Melbourne psychic, Ishbel, describes the symptoms of psychic attack as follows:

… The most common symptoms are:

  • Inability to sleep at night – instead, the sleep is disturbed at around 3 a.m. and …
  • A feeling of claustrophobia in the darkness, accompanied by pinpoints of light moving towards one. Sometimes even hallucinatory demonic faces appear, coming within inches of one’s own, but this, fortunately, only eventuates in the most severe of attacks. Mostly it is just the claustrophobia and lack of sleep that causes the remaining symptoms:
  • Constant feelings of mild distress and panic;
  •  A lack of energy;
  • Deep moods of depression, which are completely unexplained and which last longer than the normal bio-rhythm trough; and
  • A complete inability to communicate in a satisfactory way

This, in turn, causes an almost irresistible urge to escape from everything. It is not necessary, in any way, to be involved in “occult matters” to either deliver or receive a psychic attack—all thought is energy, whether positive or negative”…  – Ishbel:  Zirius, October 1979., reprinted in The Phoenix, No.11, Dec.2020-Jan.2021.

Sources of Psychic Attack: Inner Sources: Pledge Fever:

What then are the sources of psychic attack?  As I see it, besides the efforts of social media, and political manipulators, such attacks can come from both Inner and Outer sources.

As the occultist Dion Fortune says, the two are inter-related:

“We have to be sure that the person who complains of psychic assault is not hearing the reverberation of his own dissociated complexes”… “Frequently a case is not clear-cut, more than one element being present; a severe attack causing mental breakdown, and a mental breakdown laying its victim open to invasion from the Unseen…” Dion Fortune: Psychic Self-Defence. Page 19.

Inner Sources:

Pledge Fever: all beginning students of the Ancient Wisdom reach a point in their search where they become more serious and self-conscious in their strivings to help others, to learn esoteric philosophy, and put it into action in their daily lives. Such a commitment might be made by taking great vows and promises to ourselves such as, “From now on I am going to change my evil ways. I will dedicate myself to lifting the burden of suffering from Mankind and do my utmost to live in accordance with the demands of the best aspects of myself.” This promise to your own Higher Self sets up an automatic, immediate, and strong response from your Higher Self – ‘Prove It!’.

This is a well-known phenomenon in occult circles with novices where it is characterized as a sort of fever afflicting the mind and body. They call it ‘Pledge Fever’. There follows any number of tests arising from weaknesses in our own nature which are specifically designed to bring out the worst in us so we can deal with it and move on to more self-conscious service to the spiritual Hierarchy if we make it. Hence, our personal demons are aroused to haunt us and we must find ways to deal with them in a comparatively short time compared to ordinary folk who would have the same tests spread over many life-times.

Inner Sources: Karma from the Past:

Past Karma: We all have a massive load of past Karma to resolve from this and former lives on our voyage of understanding which is each lifetime. Let’s not forget that all of it is not necessarily negative karma, but unfortunately, due to the current state of human consciousness, which is centred in the personality side of our being, we all have a lot of disharmonious karma to reconcile and this may haunt our composite nature from the physical, through the astral right through to our everyday or ‘lower’ mind. This can result in all sorts of suffering designed to balance our past misdeeds and to provide opportunities to learn to identify with our Higher Nature.

Part of our collective past karma of the human race is the karma associated with the misuse of psychic powers on a global scale during the Atlantean, or fourth root-race period of human development on the earth (approx. 4 million years ago). At that time everyone was involved to a greater or lesser extent with black magical practices, or such practices applied as a community norm by what we would see now as corrupt leadership. This karma has to be balanced on a global scale and no doubt is responsible for a lot of the wars, social disruption, and mental illness we see in the world today. Additionally, many of us may have been involved in some form of occult training and initiation in more recent former lives which can affect us in this lifetime.

A special case of the effect of ancient karma, especially upon spiritual students, is:

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.

Theosophical teacher, 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’ [ie. ‘Desire Bodies’ meaning Bodies or Forms built of low-level emotional energies] 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 try 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 with low-level emotional energies. 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. This is an example of the importance of strengthening the Spiritual Will as a potent defence against Psychic Attack.

The Dweller on the Threshold has been the subject of many famous works of literature and film including:

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde and the 1945 and 2009 films of the book; 

Zanoni: a Rosicrucian Tale by Edward Bulwer Lytton;

The Dweller on the Threshold by Robert Smythe Hitchens; 

The Strange Story of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Loius Stevenson. – the subject of numerous films.

Spiritual Initiation:

As we have already discussed, part of the spiritual initiatory process is to confront the candidate with their own ‘demons’ from the past and for the candidate to demonstrate sufficient moral and ethical strength to leave them behind. This was particularly the function of the fourth of seven initiations in the Greco/Roman system followed by Theosophy but it is an essential feature of all initiatory systems the world over no matter how they are configured.

1st, 2nd and 3rd degrees: were/are preparatory, consisting of discipline of the whole nature: moral, mental, and physical. At each stage, the neophyte had to pass through a carefully graded series of tests or trials in order that he might prove his inner strength and capabilities to proceed.

4th degree: the powers of his/her inner god having by now become at least partially active in his daily life and consciousness, he/she was 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 acquired first-hand knowledge of the truths of nature and of the universe about which he previously had been taught. It is particularly at this point in the spiritual journey that candidates will be faced with intense psychic attack from their own ‘demons’.

In the ancient Egyptian initiations conducted in the Great Pyramid, for example, theosophical writer, IM Oderberg suggests that:

The candidate passes down a passageway leading from the main entrance down to a chamber below the Great Pyramid – ‘The Place of Ordeal’.  The candidate passes preliminary tests of his/her courage and self-control until he reaches the rough-hewn ‘place of ordeal’ or ‘the Pit’.

In the Pit, the hidden recesses of his character are exposed by projecting them as though they were entities. They may appear as hideous monsters or demons to frighten and tempt the candidate.

He has to wrestle with the great serpent of Ego (Apep) which can instantaneously change its form just when he thinks he has conquered it.

Sources of Psychic Attack: Outer Sources:

Besides the ever-present possibility of mental-manipulation by the media, we should take on board that there are many sources of psychic attack outside ourselves which may do us harm.

  • People of Ill-Intent: The principle outside source of psychic attack would be ill-intentioned people. These may be trained in the occult arts in techniques of psychic attack at a distance by non-physical means, through to ordinary people who are ill-intentioned towards us and bombard us with negative thoughts at every opportunity.
  • Inimical Astral Entities: A possible source of psychic attack may include many of the inhabitants of what theosophists call the lower astral light, or, the realm of reality which is close to the physical world and overlaps with it sometimes. When such an overlap occurs, the possibility exists for interdimensional beings to find a way into our world accounting for many instances of demon possession and all sorts of effects of negative thoughts running rampant in the world. For we know that thought is a type of energy which can be directed for good or evil purposes.
  • The Thought Atmosphere: The Ancient Wisdom 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 evil 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 offspring 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
  • 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 especially 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 affect their behaviour in everyday life. What one IS, is therefore is vastly important.

Psychic Epidemics:

Teachers of the Brotherhood of Compassion of all traditions have warned us of the dangers of ‘Psychic Epidemics’ when the barriers between the physical and astral world have thinned and negative thought-forms from the lower astral have access to vulnerable individuals in the physical world.

Now is such a time at the conjunction of several cycles, principally the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the sunset of the Piscean Age.

These energies can affect the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual states of people by breaking through their protective auric nets.

At the very least, this can cause distress for the affected person, perhaps physically in the form of headache, nausea, or tiredness, or emotionally, as in feeling temporarily depressed or anxious.

At worst, such thought forms can propel a person into harbouring thoughts, speaking words, or committing actions – sometimes quite alarming ones – that they might not even have considered normally.

Theosophical teachers have warned us of these epidemics, eg: HP Blavatsky:

“Psychism, with all its allurements and all its dangers, is necessarily developing among you, and you must beware lest the psychic outruns the [mental] and spiritual development.

Psychic capacities held perfectly under control, checked and directed by the [mind] principle, are valuable aids in development. But these capacities running riot, controlling instead of being controlled, using instead of being used, lead the student into the most dangerous delusions and the certainty of moral destruction.” – HPB to the American Conventions 1888-1891, p34.

Agni Yoga similarly says: “…the danger of psychic epidemics is increasing. In the Puranas it was predicted that toward the end of the Kali Yuga, humanity would be driven to acts of madness.”

Activities of the Brotherhood of the Shadow:

Just as there is a Hierarchy of Light trying to help humanity in their spiritual growth, there is also a Hierarchy of those beings who have deliberately chosen the Dark Side where Evil seems a flowery path and the fruits of selfish victory are considered as of larger worth than to walk with the Gods.

Such is the Left-Hand Path of the Brothers of the Shadow.

This hierarchy is dedicated to directing Humanity into materialistic life – because that is what it knows and from whence it derives its tremendous power. During the present Kali Yuga period where materialism holds an enormous attraction for everyday people, they have great power.

Their activities involve seeding the ‘thought-atmosphere’ with thoughts and aspirations related to the material and sensuous life. They can only work by tempting people and leading them to fulfil their inner urgings toward evil. We can see the effects of their thought-forms in every field from popular entertainment through to our education system, recreational and prescribed drug addiction, even the ‘dumbing-down’ effects of popular technologies such as smart phones.

Elementaries:

In theosophical terminology one type of entity living in the astral light is especially dangerous to the living – The 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 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. Their fate, if they are not strong enough, is to be swept into the dread vortex of the Eight Sphere or Planet of Death, there to be ground over in the ‘Mill of the Gods’ and thence to recommence their journey as humans from the very beginning once again.

Part 2: Self-Defence

In our last article we looked at the inner and outer sources of psychic attack. So much for the problem, how about methods of Self-Defence from Psychic Attack?

Seek Advice: from a knowledgeable, pure-minded group or person who is a true occultist. Such a person can diagnose the problem as to whether it is internal or external (or a mixture of both) and then move on to effectively treat the issue.  Such a group or person is not easy to find!

Ignorance: mostly we are protected by our very incapacity to perceive the invisible forces and worlds of nature.  Most people are sceptical, or don’t  have the time or inclination to think about the reality of interdimensional worlds. This, together with the presence of the physical body and our centring of attention in the physical world,  effectively protects us from most of the dangers lurking in the lower astral worlds.

Seek, and Stay in Touch with your Own Higher Self:  your best defence lies in putting yourself in closer touch with your own Higher Self, ie. Living up to the best of yourself and putting yourself out of reach of negative influences as much as possible. To quote an authority on psychic attack (Robert Bruce):

“It is not necessary to work with spirits for psychic and spiritual development. It’s far preferable to get in touch with your own Higher Self than it is to seek association with unknown spirits. One should not look outside oneself for spiritual knowledge, advice and abilities. Everything is within. Psychic abilities are side effects of spiritual development and best not sought for their own sake.” (page: 46).

Positive Thought: As we know that thoughts are ‘things’ and have  ‘force’ related to their  positive (good, loving,  gentle, forgiving, harmonious, selfless) energy, or negative (evil, hatred, jealous, vengeful, disharmonious, self-centred) energy, then it makes sense to immerse oneself in positive thoughts.

Psychic researcher Robert Bruce suggests our best defence is strengthening our self-confidence in our ability to take charge of our lives and the influences impinging on us.  When threatened by any for of psychic attack, he recommends we repeat to ourselves what he calls the Core Affirmation: “I am loved and I am worthy. I am safe and I am free. I am powerfully protected. I am master of my body and ruler of my mind.” Another affirmation taught to him by his mother: “God and Goodness alone governs and guides me. No other Presence. No other Power.”

Any person of a spiritual character repels inimical 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.

One way of picturing this technique is that we call upon our Guardian Angel (the Higher Self) over our right shoulder, and try to ignore the voice of the  Dark Angel (the unguided Lower Self) over our left shoulder –  when we are ‘pushed to the wall’.

Distinguished Melbourne psychic, Ishbel, comments again:

“… all thought is energy, whether positive or negative. Hatred is an extremely powerful and dangerous mental force and any hostile force such as jealousy or the desire for revenge can inflict psychic attack. The Occultist, dedicated to improving his mind and his powers, will do his utmost to avoid his emotions on this level.

Love and Forgiveness: the basis of all spiritual progress and certainly spiritual initiation can be summed up in one simple phrase: ‘Learn to Love and Learn to Forgive.’ Both these qualities engender life habits which align us with the finer aspects of our character and condition us not to judge others and be accepting of the law of karma, periodicity and unity as being realities and not just empty religious platitudes. 

If we remember the three stages of spiritual initiation we can see how powerful are these simple tools in stripping away the obstacles to our Higher Nature and letting it shine in the everyday world of our daily lives. – and act as the most powerful defence against psychic attack.

1/ Philosophy: knowing something about the philosophy of life in the universe.

2/ Discipline: taking this philosophy as reality and discipling ourselves accordingly to allow an easy inspiration from the Higher Self though such habits as selfless behaviour, ‘other-centredness’, physical and mental disciplines, desisting from habits of thought likely to hurt others.

3/The Mysteries:  once we have developed knowledge and self-discipline to enable us to thwart psychic attack amongst many other benefits to ourselves and the world, then we qualify for actual experience of – The Mysteries.

Chanting: According to teachers of Bhakti  [meaning ‘Devotional’]Yoga, the repetition of the Name of Divinity strikes a deep resonance with the godlike source of strength within oneself so we should practice this constantly no matter how we feel. To grow closer to our Higher Self, and protect us from Psychic Attack amongst many other advantages.

The power of the Name of Divinity is not exclusively in us, but is the vibrationary form of the Divine which connects us all. We are effectively calling out to the Higher Self by calling the Name of Divinity, which may vary according to the society to which we belong.  Chanting the Name can extricate ourselves from the trivialities of life, emotions, false beliefs, and so the ‘mirror of our hearts’ is polished.

In this way, even though we may be depressed and anxious, we see what is reflected in that mirror differently and we start to see changes in ourselves. We start to act differently. The constant nagging self-critical inner voice starts to fade in the harmony of repeating the Name.  We build the habit of connection to our Inner Divinity which can automatically shield us from Psychic Attack.

Prayer: Prayer is the common method that has been performed throughout the ages by all religions. Every religion has their own method of praying and all are effective for believers in galvanizing the spiritual will and strengthening the connection with the Higher Self.

Spiritual Will:  exercise of the Spiritual Will to dismiss harmful entities impinging on your personal spiritual space. Don’t invite negative influences into your life through a failure of Spiritual Will to devote our energies to live a better life closer to the Higher Self. All evil must first be invited and given permission to enter our lives. Revoke such permission with a vocal command.

Exorcism: by the spiritually aware may work in some instances. It may be necessary to call upon high-level members of the spiritual hierarchy in some cases to achieve exorcism as in the real case upon which the film, The Exorcist, was based where the Archangel Michael was finally called upon to drive the demon out.

Sacred Symbols: such as the Pentagram and the Cross are said to be effective in certain situations. This would include the casting of magic circles to protect from psychic attack; the return and final banishment of negative influences.

Maintain the Integrity of the Astral Body: from being pierced from the inside by keeping a strong Will and not be tempted by negative thoughts leading us to be involved in activities which are out of character. Some authorities say that sunlight strengthens the astral body.

Keep Physically Fit: to preserve energy, encourage sleep, and keep the psychic centres closed.  Eat regularly and don’t go more than two hours without food if you feel you are subject to psychic attack. Keep the bowels empty.  Avoid solitude and walking by the ocean and in the mountains alone.

Burning candles and incense: these are recommended by many occultists to ward off psychic attack and inimical astral entities. This is well recognized by most religions around the world in the use of bells, chanting, and other sounds, and the burning of incense such as sandalwood, cedarwood, jasmine, white sage, dragons’ blood, lavender, and frankincense. Chili Peppers and Sulphur are very effective but don’t breathe-in the fumes directly as this can be dangerous to your health. Garlic has organic sulphur and it should be sliced to release the fumes into the air. Eating garlic is good and rubbing it on your feet. Similarly with a range of medicinal herbs: cloves, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lavender, mint, ginger, tobacco, sage and white sage. Walking through the house with a burning censer is recommended to clear the psychic atmosphere as is done in many churches and temples of different religions.

Discontinue All Practice of the Occult Arts : get your consciousness back to the physical plane and anchored there resolutely by concentrating on mundane things such as daily duties, movies, sport, etc…

Avoid Places of Low Vibration: Keep away from the places and habits where low vibrationary influences are present. Move away from the place where you have experienced psychic attack and if possible cross a place with running water.

Flowing Water: Australianpsychic researcher Robert Bruce advises that most negative energies cannot travel across flowing water. Therefore, showering before we go to bed is effective, as is flowing water around our houses in plumbing, storm water drains, etc. Sometimes he says that these may also trap negative influences in particular places. Immersion in salted water very effective.

Fire: Demolition and cleansing by fire of haunted buildings is said to be effective. Step over fire where it is safe to do so.

Meditation and Invocation:  get to the ‘pure air’ of consciousness where no evil can exist by:

1/ Meditation: upon abstract qualities such as peace, harmony, protection and love of God(s).  When negative thought-forms intrude on our personal space we should get into the habit of thinking the opposite though so as to counter-balance them. The Catholic Saint, Hildegard of Bingen, recommended 35 different qualities of ‘virtues’ or positive forces which were the opposite of ‘vices’ negative thought-forms. They are listed in our magazine Theosophy Downunder December 2020 issue page: 30, at:  http://theosophydownunder.org/australiantsnewsletterdecember2020.pdf

2/ Invocation: of external potencies and the employment of formal methods to concentrate their force by experienced and pure-minded practitioners.

Sleep: get plenty of sleep preferably in an electrically grounded bed with your head to the north. Many people experience ‘sleep paralysis’ when under psychic attack. To break sleep paralysis immediately roll out of bed if possible, to stop it taking hold. If it has taken hold breathe deeply, and try and move your big toe to reanimate your body. Fill your mind with protective prayers and positive thoughts until you can move again.

White Light: White light method is the most common and popular method used by many especially people who meditate. A light shield is something that you can use at any time you need and it is perfectly a safe process.  Some authorities recommend the use of electric violet light to ‘burn’ away negative images and create a protective wall around you as being more effective.

Cleanliness:  it is of paramount importance to keep personal and environmental cleanliness.

Light: leave the light on when sleeping, or have a night-light. This is especially important in a child’s room. Flood the house with light during the day. Sunlight is especially effective against negative forces lurking in the darkness.

Oils, Gemstones and Crystals: oils recommended for their strong smell such as camphor, cloves, menthol, mint, tiger-balm, tea-tree oil especially applied to the feet where negative energies might seek entrance. Gemstones and crystals such as amethyst, amber, black onyx, turquoise, etc. Imagine them as a barrier to negative influences. Experiment and seek advice as to which is the best for you.

Colours:  surround yourself with bright, beautiful, balanced and happy colours. Re-decorating the house in this way is a good idea if possible.

Salt: Salt has always been used as protection against psychic attacks, and to disable unwanted psychic phenomena. Ordinary salt may be sprinkled across thresholds and around the perimeter of dwellings, inside and out; Salt mixed with sand is used for forming magic circles.

Salt is the most common method used for absorbing negative energy. Here, the salt used must be a pure form, such as Sea Salt. You can use it in many ways. One way is to take a bath with sea salt. When taking a bath, add some sea salt in the water. It helps in removing all the negative energy you might have acquired during the day. Another way is to keep a glass of water mixed with sea salt on your work desk. This acts as a psychic defense and will protect you from receiving negative energies from the people at your work place. You can also use salt crystals or salt lamp that are available in the marketplace.

Elements: Another method of psychic self-defense is to use the elements like Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Aether. You can imagine a wall of either of these elements as your psychic protection shield.

Mirror Effect: If you know that you are going to meet a negative minded person, just imagine a number of mirrors surrounding you from head to toe. Imagine that all mirrors are facing away from you and towards the person you are interacting. This way, all the negative energy released by that person will be reflected back to him.

In Summary:

Strengthen your will power and connection with your Higher Self through repeating affirmations and exercising your will power when under attack by telling the negative influence to go away. A suggested affirmation: “I am loved and I am worthy. I am safe and I am free. I am powerfully protected. I am master of my body and ruler of my mind.”

Get plenty of sleep preferably in an electrically-grounded bed.

Cross flowing water bare-foot and walk bare-foot on wet grass, sand, paddle in water. Take showers each day, salt baths if you can. Use the garden hose to create a spiral of flowing water and walk into the middle of the spiral and out through the flowing water.

Burn incense, put tiger-balm on your feet especially, carry magnets.

Carry talismans with powerful symbols such as the pentagram, the cross, or the Ankh symbol.

Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs of all kinds.

Live in a clean fresh, bright and colourful environment. Listen to calming harmonious music and have it playing in your house.

Above all do everything to live in a higher consciousness where negative influences from the lower astral world cannot reach you.

Further Reading:

  • G de Purucker: Esoteric Teachings: Volume 1: The Esoteric Path: Its Nature and Its Tests. Point Loma Publications, 1987.
  • G de Purucker: The Fountain-Source of Occultism. Theosophical University Press, 1974.
  • Ishbel: Psychic Attack: The Power of Positive Thought.  The Phoenix, no 11, December 2020 to January 2021. originally published in Zirius, October 1979. – Australian author.
  • Dion Fortune: Psychic Self-Defence. 1930.
  • Robert Bruce: The Practical Psychic Self-Defence Handbook: A Survival Guide. 2011. – Australian author.
  • Psychokenesis Powers: All About Psychic Powers: Psychic Self-Defence: Techniques to Protect from Negative Energy: https://www.psychokinesispowers.com/psychic-self-defense

THE POWER OF EXAMPLE by Andrew Rooke

The Buddha once said:

‘It is necessary to live the life to understand the doctrine’.

This points to an eternal truth in all cultures that we expect people to ‘practice what they preach’ and provide an example of their moral beliefs that the rest of us can respect and follow.

This is especially the case in egalitarian and anti-authoritarian Australia where we have little time for empty platitudes from priests or politicians who don’t live up to their high and mighty pronouncements in the privacy of their homes.

Examples: Very Necessary for Teaching

In short, if we are really committed to a moral path, we expect that we should put theory into practice towards others and within ourselves to ‘measure up’ to our professed beliefs.

If someone is sincerely doing this you can’t beat – the Power of Example – for impressing and teaching others in every field of endeavour. First-hand experience is of far more value than any amount of illustration from the pages of history, however well authenticated.

Every teacher knows about the importance of providing examples so that students can understand the principals involved in any lesson – be it maths and physics right through to history and languages. This is part of preparing students to receive and accept further information by providing examples of what they know and then moving on to new information.

Moral Exemplars

It is the same on the spiritual path, if we are sincere moral exemplars in our personal behaviour, this speaks volumes to people who would normally have no time for esoteric philosophy. If we go from what they know, and perhaps cite examples from our own personal experience, this means a lot more to people than launching immediately into complex philosophical discussions.

The power of example and the need for heroes that we can follow is universal.  The likes of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jnr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are not merely admired but they are taken as people worthy to be copied.

Let’s take a look at the power of moral example in different traditions the world over.

China: The Junzi

In China, the moral exemplar is captured in the ideal of what they call the, JUNZI, meaning an ‘exemplary person’, ‘superior person’ or ‘person of excellence’.

Confucius (Kongzi), the Chinese sage (551BC – 479BC) explained that such a person displays the highest virtue, Jen, translated variously as ‘righteousness’, ‘benevolence’, and ‘perfect virtue.’ It is related to, Yi,meaning, justice.

Modern Confucian scholar, Professor Yao Xinzhong, explains: “Yiis how you treat other people appropriately. When you treat people well and in a proper way you also demonstrate virtue. Jen can be understood as a moral force which keeps us in balance such as we might say of someone who has good character.’

The Junzi, or exemplary person, is a beacon for others to follow, or as is commonly understood in China, ‘Sageliness within, and Kingliness without’.

This same idea has recurred all over the world throughout history. Let’s look at a few more examples:

India: The Righteous King

In Hindu India, the sacred text the Bhagavad Gita says:

‘Whatsoever a great man does, the same is done by others as well. Whatever standard he sets, the world follows.’

The  great Indian epic, The Mahabharata, says:

‘If the king regards it, righteousness becomes regarded everywhere.’

The Buddha is not so much seen by Buddhists as a saviour, as you would find in Christianity, but rather as an example to be followed.

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

The author of India’s independence, Mahatma Gandhi wrote:

‘When one choses for oneself, one sets an example for everyone.’

China: Taoism: The Sage

In China, Taoism says that when virtue traditions are strong, people, and the example that they set to others, become even more important than principles as sources of moral guidance.

In the Tao Te Ching (meaning: ‘The Book of the Way and its Virtues’) by Taoist Master, Lao Tzu:

‘Sages embrace the One and serve as models for the whole world’ but they do not parade themselves as models, as that would be self-defeating. ‘They do not make a display of themselves and so are illustrious.’

“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.”

China: Confucianism: The Scholar in Public Life

Confucius advised good people to enter into public life and so elevate the people by the power of their example:

‘Go before the people with your example and be laborious in their affairs’.

In China through long ages the scholar is expected to be active in public life to serve as an example and anyone in public life should be a scholar to demonstrate their worthiness to be an exemplar. Such a good ruler has no need to be coercive, since their virtuous rule will naturally lead to content subjects willing to obey them. Confucius said:

‘The flowing progress of virtue is more rapid than the transmission of royal orders by stages and couriers.’

Confucius said that such a Junzi (a good person) in government is like the wind and the people are like grass.

‘When the wind blows over the grass, the grass will bend’.

Confucius further expressed this idea:

‘One who rules through the power of virtue is like the Pole Star: it simply remains in place and receives the homage of the myriad lesser stars.

India: Taste the Soup!

Mahatma Gandhi took a similar view: ‘If we do our duty, others will do theirs someday. We have a saying to the effect: If we ourselves are good, the whole world will be good.’

Buddhism takes the view that there is a need for an inner self-transformation – even before we can become receptive to good examples – much less ourselves provide a worthy example to follow.

The Dhammapada puts it beautifully:

‘If a fool is associated with a wise man even for all his life, he will not perceive the truth even as the spoon does not perceive the taste of the most delicious soup. But if a thoughtful man is associated with a wise man, even for a minute, he will soon perceive the truth even as the tongue perceives the taste of soup’.

Choose Your Friends Carefully!

Like Confucius in China, ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, pointed to the need for well-educated and morally upright leaders as the best form of government and his Academy was established, in part at least, to encourage the development of such people.

Another Greek philosopher, Aristotle, emphasized the need for good people to choose their friends very carefully. He said:

 â€˜The friendship of the good is good, and increases in goodness because of their association. They seem even to become better men by exercising their friendship and improving each other; the traits that they admire in each other get transferred to themselves.’ ‘Perfect friendship is the friendship of men/women who are good, and alike in virtue.’

What Makes a Great Soul?

Aristotle describes the crown of virtues as: ‘greatness of soul’, or, Megalopsuchia, saying of such a rare person:

 â€˜There are few things he values highly’ and ‘nothing is great in his eyes’. He does not care for personal conversation nor to be complimented for himself or to compliment others. He is the last to complain about unavoidable or minor troubles ‘because such an attitude would imply that he took them seriously’.

He said such a person should focus on what is rightly honoured rather than pursue honour for its own sake. Honour can be a sign that you are doing the right thing but it is not the purpose of right action.

Simple and balanced living is certainly a feature of a moral exemplar. Even in the materialist modern world, moral exemplars favour simple living from Mandela to Modi, Gandhi to Mother Teresa.

Whilst advocating simple living, Aristotle also said that virtue did not mean you live an ascetic life. Aristotle believed that: ‘it is difficult if not impossible to do fine deeds without any resources.’

Simplicity, Patience and Compassion

Taoist philosopher, Lao Tze in China, said it is in the simple things that we can find spiritual principles worth following. In his ‘Tao Te Ching’ (The Book of the Way: Book 67) he says that he came to teach only three simple truths:

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

Simplicity, Patience, and Compassion – three qualitieswhich everyone can follow no matter what your situation.

The Middle East and Russia

In the Middle East: The Prophet Muhammad is identified as the epitome of human behaviour in the Quran to be emulated by all Muslims.

In Iran: the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian/Mazdian religion similarly described the duties of its followers to become the best they can be. The duties of the Mazdian believer were threefold:

Think good thoughts, speak good words, and perform good deeds.

It will be noted that this formulation takes into account three fundamental planes:

  • Thought: which belongs to the domain of the mind,
  • Word: which belongs to the domain of the soul, 
  • Action: which belongs to the domain of matter and the body.

In Russia: there is similarly an emphasis on following the example of good people, for example, the great writer Dostoyevsky wrote:

“Advice to all: Be master of yourselves; know how to conquer yourselves before you take the first step along the new path; set an example before you would convert others.  Then only will you be able to go forward. “

Traditional Societies: Africa

Some examples from African traditional societies:

  • Ancient Egypt: the concept, and the Goddess, Maat, representing truth, balance, law, and morality as standards to live by. That we should try and develop and attain a purity within ourselves emulating the law of balance in the greater Universe.
  • Nigeria: amongst the Yoruba people the concept of Iwa-pale, meaning a balance of good character in alignment with one’s own, Ori, or Divine Self. Be a better person and consider the best interests of others.
  • Ghana: the Akan people speak of Obra Pa, meaning, living a life of beneficence and developing a good character.
  • South Africa: the concept of Ubuntu, or ‘I am because we are’, that we are all part of humanity and we have a universal bond of sharing because of our shared consciousness. An authentic individual human being is part of a larger and more significant relational, communal, societal, environmental and spiritual world. This puts the burden of responsibility on us to live up to the best of ourselves and to overlook differences between people to achieve common goals of peaceful co-existence. This concept is found in most African societies called by different names.

Traditional Societies: Polynesia

Ancient Hawaii: In the traditional societies of our Polynesian neighbours, chiefs were trained from childhood to an ideal of the perfect chief as one who led and inspired his people by wise and courageous example. Chiefs in ancient Hawaii were expected to lead their commoners in heavy labour, planting, building fish-ponds, constructing rock platforms for temples, as well as in battle. The paramount chiefs of Hawaii served as the interface between men and the high God, Ku, from whom flowed ‘Mana’ (life force) for governance, diplomacy fishing, agriculture and all the crafts that guaranteed the survival of traditional societies. This is all very similar to the European ideal of Christian Knighthood and their obligation of protecting and setting a courageous example to the common people.

Modern Science: Epigenetics

Traditional beliefs in the importance of ancestors and how our behaviour affects future generations are borne out by the latest science of Epigenetics which indicates that the experiences and traumas suffered by ancestors seem to be built into our DNA and may be directly handed down to future generations.  Advances in modern science now confirm that various genetic markers in our chromosomes transmit traits, phobias and behavioural patterns between family members over generations. Ancestral communication thus reflects the attempt to activate their essence within us to draw and learn from the experience and wisdom garnered over their lifetimes by tapping into the ‘chromosome memory’.

Modern Science: Psychology: The Bystander Effect

Contemporary social psychology supports these ancient ideas about the way our behaviour is influenced by those around us setting a good example. This is called, the Bystander Effect, that even a single person can have a dramatic effect on group behaviour especially in crisis situations.

If someone appears to be in need of help, and there is only one person close by, that person is most likely to render assistance. But if there are several people, often none will. No one makes the first move being unsure of whether this is appropriate, which in turn indicates to others that helping out is not socially mandated. But, if just one person breaks ranks and goes out to help – sets the example – others will most often join them.

So, you can see that the call to be a better person, to set an example, is pretty much universal throughout history.

OK, but how can we possibly do this? How can we take ‘the first step along this ‘new path’?

‘To Live to Benefit Mankind Is the First Step’

Theosophist HP Blavatsky said that:

‘To live to benefit Mankind is the first step. To practice the six glorious virtues is the second’. – The Voice of the Silence. Page 33.

We can expect that life will always have its ups and downs and that we cannot be ‘happy’ all the time. Indeed, people who strive for ‘happiness’ in the common definition of material well-being, often have trouble empathizing with the majority of humanity where suffering is frequently the norm.

So, having common sense about what we expect from life and helping out where we can and when appropriate is the first step, but what about those ‘Perfections’ or ‘Paramitas’?

Practical Ways to A Better World: The Buddhist Paramitas (Perfections)

Spiritual growth is essentially converting our life experience into opportunities for letting the Inner God at the core of us shine in this world. All systems of spiritual initiation to attain this goal are basically putting what the Buddhist’s call ‘The Paramitas’ or ‘Perfections’ into action in the reality of daily life.

These spiritual qualities are enumerated and called by different names in the world’s mystery traditions but they can be boiled down to six qualities:

Generosity; Ethical Discipline; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; Wisdom. 

What are these Paramitas? Of the seven listed in the Voice of the Silence:

1/ Dana, “giving,” concern for others, being altruistic in thought, speech, and act.

2/ Sila, “ethics,” the high morality expected of the earnest disciple;

3/ Kshanti, “patience,” forbearance, endurance, is the kindly perception that others’ failings are no worse and perhaps less severe than one’s own.

4/ Viraga, “dispassion,” non-attachment to the effects upon us of the ups and downs of life: how difficult we find this and yet, if in our deepest self we cherish the bodhisattva ideal, the cultivation of Viraga by no means condones indifference to the plight of others. Rather, it demands a wise exercise of compassion. It is interesting that to our knowledge this paramita is not given in the usual Sanskrit or Pali lists. That the Voice includes Viraga has significance in that the fourth position is pivotal, midway in the series of seven. We are reminded here, of the seven stages of the initiatory cycle, of which the first three are preparatory, consisting chiefly of instruction and interior discipline. (Cf. The Mystery Schools, pp. 41-58) In the fourth initiation the neophyte must become that which he has learned about, that is, he must identify with the inner realms of himself and of nature. If successful, he may attempt the three higher degrees, leading to suffering the god within to take possession of his humanity.

5/ Virya: “vigor,” courage, resolution; the will and energy to stand staunch for what is true, and as strenuously oppose what is false. One proficient in Virya is indefatigable in thought and deed.

6/ Dhyana: “meditation,” profound contemplation, emptying oneself of all that is less than the highest, comes a natural awakening of latent powers, to culminate eventually in oneness with the essence of Being.

7/ Prajna: “enlightenment, wisdom” — “the key to which makes of man a god, creating him a bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis.” We will have become “god from mortal,” as the Orphic candidate describes this sacred moment of the seventh initiation when transcendence and immanence become one. – From Grace Knoche: To Light a Thousand Lamps.

Why should we develop these particular qualities along the Path of spiritual learning?

“To achieve the aims of others for spiritual understanding you must first help them with material goods as they won’t appreciate spirituality if they have an empty stomach! Since no benefit will come from Generosity accompanied by harmfulness towards living beings, you need Ethical Discipline, which has great purpose for others; this is the state of desisting from harm to others and the causes of harm. To bring this to its full development, you need Patience that disregards the harm done to you. You need to develop the ability to fix your mind on your ideals so you need to develop Meditative Stabilization. Calmness and single-mindedness in the service of others lead to Wisdom. None of this is attainable by laziness, so you need Joyous Perseverance in pursuit of wisdom through service to others and so this quality is the basis of the other Perfections.”

[These comments are based on Tibetan spiritual teacher Tsong-Kha-Pa, from his Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment]

Common Sense

In these days of the Covid pandemic, a lot of people are suffering and are consequently depressed and not inclined to listen to high and mighty philosophy when confronting their problems!

Again, to quote HP Blavatsky when she was asked what are the three most important things we should remember when studying and applying esoteric philosophy she said:

 â€˜Common Sense, a Sense of Humour, and more Common Sense’. 

Common sense tells us that when trying to help someone, place yourself in their situation, provide advice, or set an example to them of what to do to improve that situation, or accept the situation if it cannot be changed. 

It is no use talking high-brow philosophy about karma and reincarnation when someone is suffering loss or pain when a gentle, kindly word when appropriate, or even just a smile can change their day for the better.

As with the classroom situation we gave earlier, start with the example of what people know and are familiar with and work towards a better practical solution from there. 

It is possible always to use our background of philosophical study but put it into terms that are meaningful to people in their current situation.

For example, for someone has lost their home or job because of Covid, it is no use talking about karma and that we must set the balance right again due to past sins, rather that we could say, ‘Stuff happens’ in life and let’s get on to see what opportunities are available in different industries, government assistance etc…

Bravely Facing the ‘Wintry Blasts’

As theosophical writer G de Purucker puts it:

“…The force of example is more powerful and more telling than a hundred thousand words.

 When we see a man or woman bearing a misfortune with manly/womanly fortitude, standing with unflinching face to the wintry blasts that beat upon him/her, and yet advancing to it, it stirs every spark of heroism n those who watch, and we say, ‘Ah! A Man/Woman!’ It is thus we give courage, we stimulate courage in others.

We are like the Manasaputras (ie: ‘Sons of Mind’, the exalted Beings who brought the quality of mind to humanity). We bring the flame of something holy and beautiful into others lives. Just the same when others are in pain , or sorrow, are suffering: set them an example of all that we know would help us if we were like them…”

The Voiceless Example

It is important not to preach or moralize to people in such situations but to provide simple clear information that makes sense.

Again from G de Purucker: “…Often without words I think is the best. I think it is fatal to preach at a person. It makes people so tired when you preach at them!

Sometimes the voiceless example is a thousand times more powerful; than anything else. 

Occasionally a gentle word, a kindly expression, will work wonders. Sometimes human hearts in pain are just longing for a kindly touch, a friendly word – just that, no more than that; then set the example of cheerfulness; but not overdone.

Do anything that occurs to you, according to the person who needs help, setting the example, showing what your feeling is. I think that is the best way. The circumstances are practically infinite… it is so simple: set the example of what you would do if you were in the person’s place, what you would do to go away from the condition”- G de Purucker: Studies in Occult Philosophy. Page 511.

The Power of Example

So let’s not ignore a most powerful weapon in our armoury of resources to build a better world – the Power of Example.

Let’s  not get overwhelmed by the negatives of this Covid world, let’s strengthen the spiritual will through the practice of overcoming the demands of the ‘Small Self’ within us.

As  spiritual students we have the opportunity, and indeed the obligation, to help check the negative forces in the world:

“……Check them with your own example; check them with your forgiveness; check them with your love; check them by refusing to be a participant.

Set an example!”

– G de Purucker:  from Questions We All Ask no.36, June 3rd, 1930.

Further Reading

Julian Baggini: How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy. 2018. Chapter: ‘Moral Exemplars’ – pages: 268-280.

G de Purucker: Studies in Occult Philosophy. 1973. Page 511:  ‘How to Meet Despair and Depression’.

G de Purucker: Esoteric Teachings Vol.1: The Esoteric Path: Its Nature and Its Tests.1987.

G de Purucker: Questions We All Ask. No.36. 1930.

Bas Rijken van Olst: ‘Thoughts on Religion in the Future’ [Lecture given at the National Meeting of the British Section of The Theosophical Society, Manchester, June 11, 2005.] Sunrise Magazine, August/September 2005.

Vaclav Havel: ‘The World in Our Hands’ Sunrise Magazine, November/December 1995.

Grace F. Knoche: To Light a Thousand Lamps. 2001.

Is there any difference between Religions and Cults? Some commentators say that the only difference is that Religions may have started out as Cults, but they have simply been around long enough to be institutionalized and accepted by the general community as ‘Religions’!

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic the world has been bombarded with conspiracy theories, ‘fake’ and distorted news reports, and promises of false cures from a variety of manipulative individuals and organizations. In this issue we examine the disturbing phenomenon of Cults that affect so many people and their families today.

So, what are ‘Cults’ as compared to established ‘Religions’? Let’s have a look at some definitions:

A Religion:

  • The service and worship of God or the supernatural, or a commitment to religious faith or observance: By this definition religion is typically about God or the Gods and a passionate commitment to these principles. It can also mean ‘Supernatural’, in that religion deals with some things that might be considered supernatural by many people including aliens, ghosts, angels, or gods that may be foreign to our everyday activities.
  • A cause, principle, or system of belief held with ardour (passion) and faith: By this definition religion could be about a cause or principle with or without a godlike figure instead focus on the belief system and principles instead.

A Cult:

  • Is really a religion which currently is regarded as unorthodox: This definition is problematic in that it is entirely subjective. What I view as unorthodox might be completely normal for someone else. By calling something a Cult, you are already showing your internal bias. It’s unconventional and untraditional to you.
  • A great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement or work: Cults usually venerate a person, a figurehead at the head of the church instead of the values that they claim to practice.

What makes something a Cult versus a ‘legitimate’ Religion?

TIME: 

Religions and practices have usually been around for a long time and therefore have more social capital. New religions might seem outlandish to some but that’s very often because they are new.

Imagine if the story of Christ and the Crucifixion was claimed to have happened now. If someone claimed they had comeback from the dead and that belief in him was the only way to salvation! The ‘Jesus Movement’ of Judaism during Jesus lifetime and soon thereafter, would likely have been perceived the same way that some newer religions have been treated.

Older faiths have the benefit of thousands of years of history to legitimize them.  They may even have religious texts which prophesize the coming of their leader centuries before they are born (as some see in Christianity).

Therefore, newer religions are likely to be labelled as ‘Cults’ as opposed to Religions that have been called ‘Religions’ for thousands of years.

SECRECY:

The more secret an organisation is, the more likely that people will view it as dangerous. What is there to hide?

  • Often there may be ideas or books which are not available to the public.
  • There may be places that only members can go.
  • There may be secrets that only long-time members have access to.

If a group is open and transparent it is much harder for people to feel threatened. A common thread with cults is that people feel that they may be dangerous. Why?

MONEY

If a group is taking your money they will be perceived as possibly dangerous.

Cults often:

  • Costs money to join.
  • Demand regular payments.
  • Give up all money/possessions.

Most Religions, on the other hand, rely on Donations or Tithing.

Cults often ‘Demand’ money. If you have to pay for knowledge or privileges it appears to be more of a money-making scam as opposed to a legitimate religion.

The cost to society:

  • Groups that practice undue influence as a means of controlling people often have tax-exempt or even charitable status, which means citizens pay the taxes for any properties they own and the services required to maintain those properties.
  • While a group may receive billions of dollars from its members, they often do not put that money back into society to help people other than the cult leadership.
  • To meet the demands placed upon them by a high-control group, many members of Cults are subsidized by the social welfare system, including the medical system, costing society even more money.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY:

Cults often ask you to give up friends and family if they are not members of the Cult. In most groups commonly known as cults, members must leave their friends and family:

  • Relocate to a confined living space with other believers.
  • Disassociate with non-believing friends and family even if they are not actually moving away. They do this because family and friends have the most sway over our opinions and so by removing them from family and friends they will have the greatest control over them. So, if you notice a family member or friend who is involved with a sect or cult and they start distancing themselves from you, this is a warning sign of cult membership.
  • Compare with what most of the great Religions say which is to surround yourself with family and friends and not leave them behind.

CHARISMATIC LEADER:

Most cults are distinctive in having a strong and charismatic leader. They idolize a person.  He/she may have a couple of psychic powers (siddhis) which doesn’t mean he is especially a ‘spiritually advanced’ person. This charisma is usually the first thing to draw a new member into the sect. Criticising this figure is an offense that could remove you from the organization. Cults ask you to give up your own moral sense to the Cult Leader by convincing followers that he knows better than we know. In this we betray own inner voice of what is right and wrong and so we can be led into serious moral dilemmas through to even committing crimes at the behest of the Cult leader, for example the Manson Cult responsible for the Sharon Tate murders in 1969 celebrated in the recent film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

When undue influence is initially imposed on the minds of unsuspecting recruits by extremist cults or pseudo-religious groups, it often starts with “love bombing” and a promise of life in an idealistic fantasy world where they might “never have to die” and could “live forever,” achieve some elite status in a better society to come, etc.

Once recruits have bought into all the initial promises and hype, they are incrementally introduced into a systematic method of control, one small step at a time.

This methodical system of control—undue influence—disrupts the person’s authentic identity and reconstructs a new identity in the image of the group or leader. In the process, an individual’s ability to think rationally and act independently is undermined, enslaving even the brightest, educated and most functional people.

UNORTHODOX BELIEFS:

Cults normally have beliefs that are not traditional to most people and they vary greatly even from other religious groups:

  • Groups may focus on Aliens and Space, such as Heaven’s Gate that encouraged members to commit suicide as a comet passed overhead.
  • Might be sects of Christianity that vary radically from what is normally understood to be Christian belief., or exaggerate some aspects of accepted Christianity, eg. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists.
  • Some groups are very violent in what they want and demand and violently opposed to the mainstream. A premier example, is Jonestown, a utopian community of the 1970s in Guyana, South America, where over 900 Americans moved and then committed mass suicide or were murdered by drinking Kool-Aid laced with Cyanide in 1979. The term ‘Drinking the Kool-Aid’ comes from this event. This group combined many of the elements we have just talked about: unorthodox way to live in an exotic location away from other people under a strong and charismatic leader.

The BITE Model:

Steven Hassan’s BITE Model in his books–Combating Cult Mind Control, Releasing the Bonds, Freedom of Mind–explains the four overlapping components of control necessary to define Undue Influence. Based on research and theory by researchers who studied brainwashing in Maoist China as well as cognitive dissonance theory developed the BITE Model to describe the specific methods that cults use to recruit and maintain control over people.  

“BITE” stands for Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional Control that offers a list of variables that can be easily identified and which quickly show if a group or individual is exercising unethical influence.

Destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause; it is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. In fact, there only needs to be a few major behaviours under each of the four components:

Features of BITE Analysis of Cults

Dealing with Family who might be caught up in a Cult:

So, what happens if we have to deal with friends or family who are in a cult. Most people attracted to cults do not see  these organizations as ‘cults’ and all that that implies. So instead of saying to say to them, ‘Watch out this Cult could be dangerous for you’, You could try:

“I don’t like that you have distanced yourself from friends and family”

“It doesn’t seem right to me that you have to pay so much money for this.”

This can be more effective than saying ‘You’re in a Cult.’ – which will draw a defensive posture and, in most cases, no one agrees that they’re in a dangerous situation until it’s too late.

Counselling Cult members wishing to leave:

Victims of Cults are systematically influenced by the beliefs and practices of the group in order for them to adopt the identity and personality befitting the religious cult. This identity and personality that is believed to be God-pleasing, views the outside world as evil and a threat.

In order to maintain cult members in a state which is pure and free from the contamination from the evil world, they are taught to cultivate an antagonistic and resistant attitude towards any person or group contradicting the cults views. Any attempt by an ‘outsider’ to communicate with cult members is usually prohibited.

Any attempt to counsel cult members must be preceded by the establishment of a trust relationship that will overcome the resistance and open up communication. The counselling sessions that follow must address the emotional conditions of anger, false guilt, and fear in order to restore the person’s sense of self-worth and their ability to adapt and eventually function in the outside world.

Deprogramming: a radical approach to leaving Cult-membership:

Deprogramming refers to measures that claim to assist a person who holds a controversial belief system in changing those beliefs and abandoning allegiance to the religious, political, economic, or social group associated with the belief system.

The dictionary definition of deprogramming is “to free” or “to retrain” someone from specific beliefs. Some controversial methods and practices of self-identified “deprogrammers” have involved kidnapping, false imprisonment, and coercion which have sometimes resulted in criminal convictions of the deprogrammers.

Some deprogramming regimens are designed for individuals taken against their will, which has led to controversies over freedom of religion, kidnapping, and civil rights, as well as the violence which is sometimes involved.

The Strategic Interaction Approach (SIA):

Counselling members of destructive cults has come a long way since the old days of “Deprogramming,” There are now, new and compassionate methods such as Steven Hassan’s, Strategic Interaction Approach. His method involves not only the cult member, but his family, friends, and sometimes ex-members. It takes the form of family counselling; an important, even vital way to help the cult member relate to his “pre-cult” self. This method is careful to distinguish between destructive and non-destructive cults, as it has no quarrel with beliefs, only actions.

In the words of Steven Hassan who devised this approach to helping the victims of Cults:

“The Strategic Interaction Approach liberates and then integrates the parts of the pre-cult identity that were co-opted by the cult identity. In addition, we draw out the individual’s “authentic,” or Higher, Self and enlist its help to make new associations with the cult self. For example, we recognize that idealism is an integral part of our loved one’s authentic identity. By pointing out discrepancies between cult doctrine and hypocritical cult policies, the idealistic component of the cult identity can be encouraged to begin the questioning process. Eventually, the cult member becomes disillusioned with the group and feels motivated to walk out or ask for help. The Strategic Interaction Approach provides in-depth counseling that promotes healing. By honoring the authentic self, the pre-cult self, and the core of the cult self, we help your loved one to integrate valuable parts of his identity into a healthy post-cult self.”

The focus now is on freeing the mind, a precious freedom that destructive mind control is intent on taking away.

Further Information:

Steven Hassan: Combating Cult Mind Control, Releasing the Bonds, Freedom of Mind. Freedom of Mind Press, 2000.

Steven Hassan: The Strategic Interaction Approach (SIA): https://www.apologeticsindex.org/490-strategic-interaction-approach

Book Review: Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan:

Claire Ashman: Lessons from a Cult Survivor. Claire McAuliffe, 2018. Australian author.

Claire Ashman: Lessons from a cult-survivor – video on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8zo29Kw7zg

Why do people join cults? – video on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb-dJaCXAxA

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

The Great Initiates, by Edouard Schure, first published in Paris in 1889, has been read by many people throughout the years since then. Whether they have agreed or not with everything they find in it, the book has almost certainly made a very strong impression on them. In his descriptions of the experiences of these individuals he calls the initiates is a deep exploration of the place of humanity in the cosmos.

The Initiates are individuals such as Krishna, Hermes, Moses, Pythagoras, Jesus. Their initiations range from visions of spiritual beings imparting knowledge, alone in a forest or mountain, to structured initiations in a temple. The basic story of the book, then, is the development, or evolution, in mainly Western civilization, of the knowledge of the human soul and its destiny, told through the lives of these initiates.

Much of the inspiration for the book came from Schure’s meeting with a woman, Margherita Mignaty, who was a kind of seeress, and who had some extraordinary inner vision of the spiritual history of mankind, but the writing, he says, required ten years of strenuous work. After he’d written it he met Rudolf Steiner, and the two shared much in the way of spiritual ideas. Schure considered Steiner an example of the initiates he wrote about in the book.

There is a great deal of knowledge in the book about ancient cults and religions, and readers have enjoyed the many poetic touches, and descriptions of the visions and ritual dramas which were part of the initiatory experience he focuses on, and which became in time the underlying impulses of great art.

Rama: The story begins with Rama, at a time when, as Schure sees it, the spiritual insights and values first came into being which lead to modern religions. This is thousands of years ago, after the last great flood. Previous continents and civilizations had been swept away, and a number of races were on the earth, some being the remnants of those previous races. (Some of the nuances in the descriptions of the races in this early part could make the reader perhaps somewhat uncomfortable. One can only, as this writer does, read through these bits with the inner conviction of the brotherhood of man, and read on.) Various cults, involving contacts with ancestors and other-worldly beings, had come into existence around Africa, Asia, Europe and Iran. There was, in the forests of Scythia, a young Druid priest named Rama. Using legendary material, the story unfolds of this man Rama.

Among these tribes in the forests there were at that time some cruel and self-seeking practices, such as human sacrifice. Rama sought to cure his people of this brutality which ran through their lives, and he introduced new practices, doing away with human sacrifice, replacing it with the cult of the sacred fire, and inner purity, and elevating the position of women in their society. After the vision of a figure representing Divine Intelligence, he lead his people east into Asia. There he founded what Schure calls the true Aryan religion. It spread through Central Asia, Iran and Europe, but the clearest picture of it is to be found in the Vedas of India. In the practices of this ancient religion is a presentation of esoteric science, and also there is to be discerned the figure of the rishi, the wise man, the initiate, the Holy Man.

Krishna: The life of Krishna is introduced with a description of the background scene of India of that time – according to Schure’s understanding about 3000BCE, around the beginning of a Kali Yuga. The status of the various races is implicit in the social organisation, and there are two opposing forces in the political powers: that of the ‘solar dynasty’ and that of the ‘lunar dynasty’. This, according to Schure, was the underlying theme of the Mahabharata. Eventually the powers of Light were to prevail through the aid of a group of men who personified the spirit of India – the anchorites – who often lived in retreats in the forests and mountains. They were the real masters of India.

The story of Krishna, which is quite a saga, involves palace intrigues, a black magician with a giant reptile, a wicked king and princess with smouldering ambitions, Krishna’s mother’s experience of the conception – on  a spiritual level – of the great soul, the assassination of an anchorite master, Krishna’s visions of those who loved and guided him, the attachment of the Gopis for him, the giving of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, and Krishna’s death at the hands of those who feared him.

In his teaching to his disciples, and in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives an explanation of the constituent parts of the human being, of the immortal soul and its rebirths, and of the possibility of a mystic union with God. The soul which has found God, he taught, is freed form rebirth and death. Schure points out, too, that his students regarded him as their master more so for his charm and kindness than for his awesome power. Finally, Krishna gave his life as an act of willing sacrifice to win over the souls of those who opposed him.

Schure acknowledges that all the details in his story are drawn from traditions and epics; however, a great man is always involved in the origin of a great institution. Nietzsche thought along similar lines. His researches lead him to the conclusion that the ‘poeticizing soul of the people’ is rather overly-regarded – behind all great ideas and movements was an individual of genius.

After Krishna the solar god – Mithras, Horus, Apollo, and others – became prominent in other parts of the world, and also the Messianic idea which will reach its culmination with Jesus.

The light of Rama passed into Egypt and became the Law of Amon-Ra. From the Vedic times (in Theosophical understanding, the first subrace of the fifth, Aryan, rootrace) to the Persian conquest and Alexandrian age, Egypt was the stronghold of pure and exalted teachings. According to Schure, these teachings provided the essential knowledge of Moses and then Christianity.

A considerable number of books of esoteric science are attributed to Hermes. The figure of Hermes represented the priesthood, and even in some respects a god, and also the celestial initiation, or the initiator. In the temples the priests taught a vast body of esoteric doctrines and science. Initiation awakened the soul and lead to spiritual perception. A man could then become a seer.

Moses***: Schure gives us a picture of initiation in the age of the Rameses (twentieth dynasty). It was during that time that Moses and Orpheus were alive, and knowledge of the temples of Egypt could be accessed by seekers from surrounding lands. This initiation takes place in a temple of Osiris, such as at Thebes or Memphis. We are taken through the various trials and ordeals which the seeker passes through, and the visions which he might have had, the knowledge imparted by the hierophant and by a guiding spirit whose name is Osiris – who reveals the Divine Word and the understanding of the cosmos – and the path of the soul into incarnation. As an initiate he becomes aware of a mysterious counterpart of himself, the ‘celestial self’.

The esoteric teachings of Egypt, however, at this time had never passed out of the sanctuaries.

It was through Moses that the Mysteries of Egypt came out of the depths of the Temple and entered the course of history. As Schure sees it, the establishment of the universal religion is the true mission of Israel.

The Hebrews before Moses were a nomadic tribe, by nature opposed to stone idols, and pre-disposed to the monotheistic cult presented by their leaders who derived their religious ideas from visions and dreams. Moses himself was a member of the Egyptian royal establishment, and a priest of Osiris, who early on had a private sympathy for the proud Hebrew workers who did not easily suffer themselves to be ordered about.

After murdering an Egyptian guard Moses fled to a temple in Madian, beyond the Red Sea, where he went through trials involving deep sleep for days, even weeks, in which he took a journey to the afterlife for souls, in order to expatiate his crime of murder. As well, in the home of the High Priest, Jethro, he found books on cosmogony, dealing with the ancient cycles of humanity, and he wrote what became the early chapters of the Bible. ‘All the images of Genesis are like doors which open with the keys of initiation.’ During this time Moses had other transcendental experiences, in the crypt of Jethro’s temple and on Mount Sinai, where he came into contact with angels and Elohim, and his mission was communicated to him.

Later, during the Exodus, there are the scenes to do with the receiving of the Ten Commandments which are vividly described, and there is a description of the Ark of the Tabernacle and its special role and power.

On his deathbed Moses claims that another prophet will arise from Israel in the future and the Lord will put his word in this prophet’s mouth.

Orpheus: Orpheus, as an initiator of Greece, was the teacher of music and poetry as the revealer of Truth.     In Greece at the time of his birth, in the main population centres, people preferred the feminine goddesses, such as Demeter who represented nature, rather than the austere universal male gods such as the Delphic Apollo. Orpheus was the creative genius who reconciled these elemental forces, whose masculine soul vibrates with love for the Eternal Feminine who responds to him.

At a time when the lunar cults were gaining popularity – the temples in the valleys and forests were about nature and voluptuous practices – Orpheus was born in Thrace, the son of a priestess of Apollo. The cult of Hecate, with its wild, frenzied activities, had gained supremacy. As a young man he fled to Memphis and spent twenty years passing through the Mysteries.

Orpheus returned to Thrace and assumed leadership of a Temple of Zeus. He created a religion for the initiates and the people with a blending of the religion of Zeus with that of Dionysius, which gave out a sublime truth under the veil of poetry and enchanting festivals. Schure gives us a description of an initiation ceremony for a young neophyte, with Orpheus as the High Priest. Orpheus reveals to the neophyte the secret of the worlds, the essence of God, the mysteries of the human soul coming into incarnation, and the path of the soul to the Divine World. Then there is a ritual drama in which the god Dionysius is revealed to a disciple of Delphi. Also, in these chapters on Orpheus, there is a picture of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice as an experience of initiation.

Finally, Orpheus, as we know, was attacked by the Bachantes – as those of the cult of Hecate came to call themselves – and killed. The ‘Orphic word’, however, filtered mysteriously into the veins of Hellas by way of the hidden sanctuaries of initiation.

The Greece of Orpheus, however, that pure spirit and doctrine guarded in the temple, began to be threatened in the Seventh Century BCE. Morality had declined, the commands of Delphi were not longer respected, and tyranny had established control over the population. So, it was necessary that esoteric teachings and wisdom should be presented in some way to the people to lift the quality and purpose of life.

Pythagoras: Schure presents Pythagoras, in responding to this need, making an enormous contribution to human knowledge. The school he founded produced an organized body of teaching, a coherent system which could be communicated beyond the temple sanctuaries.

Pythagoras grew up on the island of Samos in the Sixth Century BCE. He was a gifted child who soon turned his mind to the search for some unifying conception of nature, the human soul, and the divine, celestial world. First he went to Egypt, and his initiation at Memphis lasted twenty two years. After that he spent time in Babylon, where he found himself among a mixture of people, languages, cults and religions. These groups included the ancient Chaldean priesthood, the survivors of the Persian Magi, and the elite of the Jewish captivity. All these religions, he came to see, were rays of the one truth.

Returning to Greece he lived at Delphi for some time. Then, after instructing the priests there in all the secrets of his teaching, he departed, and established his school at Croton in Southern Italy.

The Pythagorean school taught to students the harmony of the soul, mind and universe. Any person could study and be initiated there even if they weren’t part of the priesthood. There is a detailed description in the book of a novice undergoing initiation. There novices were given an understanding of the value of morality, of magic, numbers, musical notes, the order of the cosmos, astronomy, reincarnation.

Eventually a mob, incited by those who held a grudge against Pythagoras and his school, attacked the school. The buildings were set on fire and Pythagoras and many of his chief disciples perished. The ideas and traitions of Pythagoras and his school, though – the uniting of morality, science and religion into one vast system – still live on to this day.

Plato: Plato is next. He was born in Athens, lived during the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BCE, and as a young man was noted as having an inner strength and character, and a sense of an awareness of eternity. As he grew up he was attracted to the arts, and poetry in particular. By the age of 27 he had composed several tragedies. Then he met Socrates, and thereafter he renounced the beauties of poetry and the theatre to devote himself to the path of Truth and Justice.

Plato was initiated into the Mysteries of Eleusis. As well, after Socrates’ death, he travelled in search of knowledge, to Asia Minor, to Egypt and the initiation of Isis, and to the Pythagorean school in Italy. Returning to Greece, he established his school, the Academy.

Due to the vows of secrecy of the Mysteries, he couldn’t reveal publicly what he knew of esoteric knowledge. However, the Dialogues have this in disguise. The writing has indeed a singular charm: ‘in addition to the ecstasy of Delphi and Eleusis, here one enjoys marvelous clarity, Attic wit, the malice of the good-natured Socrates, the fine, winged irony of the sage.’ As well, in the teachings he presented, he created the concept of the Ideal, which replaced the ‘organic’ initiation for centuries. In Idealism the soul finds divine truths by its own inner senses and voices. This opened the path to salvation for millions of souls who couldn’t attain direct initiation.

As for those actual initiations, Schure does nevertheless give us, in the chapters on Plato, a very detailed description of the Mysteries of Eleusis, which were regarded with special veneration at that time. The ritual drama is presented, with all their characters and their dialogue.

Jesus: Finally, we come to Jesus. He appeared during a time when the Mysteries had deteriorated. Society was full of egotism, materialism, tyranny and brutality. However, in Palestine, even after three hundred years of occupation and oppression by Rome, the Israelites had preserved their faith. The vision of Moses, of a single God, held firm. This was due, Schure says, to the prophets, the institution of the prophets, which had become an organised brotherhood in the time of Samuel. The brotherhoods preserved the science of Moses, with its sacred music, occult therapy and the art of divination. The prophets also had a faith in a Savior or Messiah.

Jesus, according to Schure, was dedicated to a prophetic mission by his mother – such children were called Nazarenes. When he had grown up he was initiated by the Essenes. The Order of the Essenes constituted the last remnants of those brotherhoods which preserved the traditions of the prophets, together with their way of living. Jesus joined the Essene centre at Engaddi, by the Dead Sea. There he learned the vast cosmogony in the Book of Genisis, and knowledge of the Divine Word passed down through Krishna, Osiris, Orpheus and Pythagoras, and the science of esoteric healing. Also he learned about the Messiah, the Chosen One. Schure describes how during one of the higher initiations Jesus was given knowledge of his prophetic mission, and the ordeals he would suffer in undertaking to save the souls of his fellow humans and bring them peace and love.

We follow the story of the gathering of the disciples, and his teaching to them and to his other followers, leading to his persecution. We read how, near the end, he withdrew to a mountainside in Northern Israel to pray, and he beheld the Divine World, and received from the highest levels confirmation of the role which lay before him. The Last Supper which was to follow, was a form of initiation communion as practised in Egypt and Chaldea.

Coming to the end of the chapter on Jesus Schure explains how the Messianic drama came to a climax with the Crucifixion, but esoterically the Resurrection was the crowning of his work. It involved ‘the purification and regeneration of the sidereal (astral?), ethereal and fluidic body, which is the very organ of the soul’. Summing up, Schure says that Jesus was able to reveal a unity of ethics and metaphysics – a guarantee of eternal life, and the need to begin it on earth in your work and love.

The Great Initiates: a classic study: The quality of the Great Initiates lies in its quite detailed descriptions of the spiritual processes of initiation, as Schure conceived them, with its attendant visionary experience, and the place of poetry, art and beauty in the development of higher consciousness. It could be said that there were various other movements and bodies around the world at the time covered in the book that are not looked at in the work. We now know much more about some ancient societies, such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, the Sumerian civilization, or the Mayans, which could have played into the story if the knowledge had been available at the time. There is the on-going influence of Eastern mystical movements – some readers might think that Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) deserved a place in the book (Schure explains his decision not to include him). As well, hidden or secret societies such as The Great White Brotherhood, or the Sarmoung Society mentioned by Gurdjieff, are held by some to be important players in the game. However, what is there in the book covers enormous ground, and is very well written. The reader is free to incorporate these other areas of knowledge, which they see to be left out, along with the Great Initiates, into their total picture of the evolution of higher consciousness in humanity. One can be quite confident that all seekers after knowledge and wisdom will find themselves at home in this book.

*** Note on the section dealing with Moses: It’s to be born in mind that the events as set forth in the book are those imagined to have taken place by the author, Edouard Schure. Some of these might be controversial. Where they depart from what is in the Scriptures, and the usual interpretation of those Scriptures, Schure gives no real proof or hard evidence. What he says has to be considered as in the category of conjecture.’

BE-NESS, BEING and NON-BEING by Andrew Rooke.

‘Be-Ness’, What Does That Mean? What do we mean by ‘Be-Ness’? Why is it supremely important in any discussion of spiritual development? True knowledge is ‘Being’ a thing or state, rather than just talking about what it might be like.  â€˜Be-ness’ – Artists, Poets and Mystics speak of it as the highest experience of knowing. Philosophers and religious teachers try to give it names like ‘Samadhi’, ‘Moksha’, ‘Enlightenment’, ‘The Kingdom of the Father’, etc… but they are only vague indicators of what they have experienced or what it must be like in Reality.

Intellectual discussion is always restricted to talking about something and therefore can never provide true knowledge of it. You will never own it if you just talk about it without trying to ‘Be’ it.

For example: you can talk about what it must be like to be in love, but you never really know unless you are, or have been, in love. The same if you talk about being a parent, selfless, kind, generous, tolerant, spiritual, enlightened, etc unless you ‘Be’ it, you cannot know what it is truly like.

‘Be-ness’ is the source of our own true knowledge. If we remove the barriers to Be-ness within ourselves then we grow closer to it. Such true knowledge is like the sun ever-shining in the sky, but down here on the ground there are a lot of clouds in the way and we have to remove them if we want to glimpse and bathe in the warmth of the sun of true knowing.

‘Gnosis’, The True Knowing: This is, true ‘Gnosis’:  meaning ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Knowers’. All traditions from around the world are united in having such a body of knowledge of higher truths surpassing faith and even reason which can have a transformative effect 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. The ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, said this knowledge is something within each individual that he or she must find by their own efforts. He said that he was not a teacher but a midwife to men’s souls. Each man or woman must give birth to his/her own spiritual children. This is not something easily described in words, or successfully written down in books.

Plato: On True Knowing: As Plato, Socrates famous student, says in his Seventh Letter:

“…There is so much at least I can affirm with confidence about any who have written or propose to write on these questions; that is the questions of highest philosophy and of the highest concern. Pretending to knowledge of the problems with which I am concerned whether they claim to have learned from me or from others or to have made their own discoveries for themselves it is impossible in my opinion that they can have learned anything at all about the subject. There is no writing of mine about these matters nor will there ever be one.

For this knowledge, is not something that can put into words like other sciences but after long continued intercourse between teacher and pupil and joint pursuit of the subject, suddenly, like light flashing forth when a fire is kindled, it is born in the soul and straight away nourishes itself…”

Be-Ness: The Cosmic Dimension: Let’s look at the broader picture of Be-Ness. At the cosmic dimension we are told in many traditions that there is an underlying Reality which is behind, and supports, what we see of the manifest universe. This universal ‘Be-Ness’ is indescribable in words as it is beyond manifestation and therefore, we have no analogy to be able to describe it. It forms the animating force of all that we see, but remains apart from its creation.

Perhaps a feeble analogy could be the human body formed of trillions of cells animated by our consciousness which remains indescribable and incomprehensible to each cell, yet is the vital force animating the human body and intimately enmeshed in its destiny.

Be-Ness: Ultimate Reality Supporting Our Reality: Another way of looking at it is that it is a little bit like when you go swimming at the beach that there is the reality above the water which is readily seen, the ocean that supports you as you swim along, and another reality below the waves for those brave enough to duck-dive under the water.

The ‘water’ in our analogy is the:

‘Ain Soph’ or ‘Without Bounds’ or‘Ancient of Days’ of Judaism,

‘God’ of Christianity,

‘All’ or ‘Absolute’ of Western philosophy,

‘Sat’ (Truth), ‘Tat’ (That), or ‘Parabrahman’ (Beyond Brahman, the Universal Self or Spirit) of Indian Vedantic philosophy.

Being, Non-Being and Be-Ness: Let’s look at a technical definition of universal ‘Be-Ness’:

Being and Nonbeing; Be-ness:

Equivalent to the Sanskrit Sat, Asat, and Tat. Asat is “a philosophical term meaning ‘non-being,’ or rather non-be-ness. The ‘incomprehensible nothingness.’

Sat, the immutable, eternal, ever-present, and the one real ‘Be-ness’ (not Being) is spoken of as being born of Asat, and Asat begotten by ‘Sat.’ The unreal, or Prakriti, objective nature regarded as an illusion. Nature, or the illusive shadow of its one true essence”.

So, Asat, or nonbeing is used both to denote that which precedes Being, and out of which Being is born — or vice versa; and to denote the illusory world in contrast with the essential or fundamental cosmic self.

Sat, (or Asat) corresponds very largely with the Absolute of ordinary European philosophy,

Whereas, Be-ness, or nonbeing corresponds with the extremely metaphysical Vedic and Vedantic Tat and Parabrahman.

Understanding Be-Ness in Human Terms: Art, Poetry, Music, Mystical Experience: But how can we understand such profound concepts in human terms? Perhaps it is best to look to poets, artists, musicians, and mystics to describe their experience of Be-Ness animating their art or mystical experience. They often say that this is not an intellectual endeavour but rather we need to relax and flow with our inner connection to Be-Ness to have some experience ourselves of its power. If this is the case then a beautiful scene, artwork, music, or silent meditation is going to teach us more about the power behind our being than any intellectual means of understanding. However, for most of us this is a difficult/impossible endeavour in its fullness amidst the stresses and demands of modern life. So, let’s make an attempt to understand Be-Ness in terms of what we know from esoteric philosophy of the Inner Constitution of Man, our connection to the Absolute, and pathways to a personal experience of Be-ness.

The Inner Constitution of Humanity: The Necessity of Strengthening the Bridge to the Higher Self:

ATMAN: is not really a principle but stands apart from the Man whose seven principles are represented as follows:

7th: AURIC EGG: Blue.

6th: BUDDHI (Compassion): Yellow.

5th: MANAS (Mind): THE UPPER MIND (The Compassionate Mind): represented as a triangle with its apex pointing upwards, coloured Indigo-Blue.

                                   – THE LOWER MIND (The Desire Mine): represented by a triangle with its apex pointing downwards, coloured Green.

4th: KAMA (Desire): represented as a five-pointed star with its ‘horns’ pointed upwards, embracing the LOWER MANAS, coloured in Red.

3rd: LINGA SARIRA (Astral Body): coloured Violet as the vehicle of PRANA (Vitality – Life Force) (Orange), and partaking of KAMA (Red) and occasionally of the AURIC ENVELOPE (Blue).

2nd: PRANA (Vitality): Life, coloured orange, the hue of the ascetic’s robe.

1st: STUHULA SARIRA (Physical Body): the Physical Body of Man, represented by the mayavic contour of the large five-pointed star within the AURIC EGG.

The ATAHKARANA (Bridge of Consciousness) is the narrow Green line connecting the Lower and Higher Minds.

All the principles or elements of the human constitution interblend and interact as one composite entity –a Human Being.

Antahkarana: Bridge of Consciousness: Theosophical teachers speak of a connecting bridge or pathway between the divine and human egos of each person which they called by the ancient Sanskrit name: Antahkarana (sometimes known as Antaskarana) meaning ‘interior sense organ.’When we aspire to spiritual thoughts, a dynamic current of energy is emitted from our familiar lower consciousness towards the higher aspects of our being – like engineers building a span of a bridge.

Our upward aspirations stimulate an influx of spiritual energy from our Higher Self downwards, completing the span of the bridge for whatever time we can hold the inspiration.

In her book, Voice of the Silence, theosophical teacher, HP Blavatsky, speaks of this bridge of consciousness as a ‘highway of sensations’ between the personal and impersonal selves. She refers to it as the arena of the battle for mastery over the Lower Self.

Paradoxically, we build the bridge only that it may dissolve away. The ‘battlefield’ is engulfed, and the bridge withdrawn into the Higher Self at the times of spiritual initiation for the worthy few, such as at the time of the Solstice we celebrate as Christmas.

For most of us the bridge is completely dissolved at our death, parting in the middle, the efflux retreating into the Personal Mind (the Lower Manas) and the influx withdrawing into its source in the Higher Mind (Higher Manas) – and the Manas becomes One, its dregs sloughing off as the ‘Desire Body’ (Kama Rupa).

During our lives, it is clearly our duty to initiate the building and pave the spans of our bridge with high aspiration so our Higher Self can respond with the help our efforts warrant.

Great teachers have provided ethical injunctions and teachings throughout the ages to encourage our spiritual aspirations which form our individual Antahkarana or Path.

Like the Sun compassionately providing the means of life and warmth for its myriad family of lesser beings in our solar system, the Higher Self patiently watches and encourages us to walk our own rainbow bridge to the stars.

 â€œThere is a light within a man of light, and it lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is in darkness” – from the Gospel of Thomas 38.4 – 10 in the Nag Hammadi Library-121.

But how can we find a pathway to strengthening the Antahkara, bridge of the mind to a higher consciousness of ‘Be-Ness”?

Pathways to Be-Ness:

  • This is not an intellectual endeavour but rather we need to relax and flow with our inner connection to be-ness to have some experience ourselves of its power. If this is the case then a beautiful scene, artwork, music, or silent meditation is going to teach us more about the power behind our being than any intellectual means of understanding.
  • At the opposite extreme, Science, Religion, and Philosophy can be pathways to Be-Ness and Truth. They have elements of the Truth within but each can’t express it without unless we combine them in our understanding.
  • Be-ness is found through spiritual growth, suffering, etc. a gradual awakening to knowledge, of an intuitive, inward connection to Truth. In this process there is an important role for conscience as our guide to what we feel is right.
  • Plato instructs us that Duty, Righteousness, Justice and Goodness are pathways to the Absolute. Especially the combination of Duty and Goodness. To examine in our lives what is important to us and how to act in the future.
  • Learning by ‘super-rational’ means other than the intellect. Truth perceived directly usually in the Silence. Awareness of being alive, awareness of Being, what is happening right Now, in the moment without reliance on the mind.
  • Surrender, allow yourself ‘to be’. Rational thought is not the only way to learn but ‘living’ is just as important. For example, we can get more out of a book through the experiences we have in between picking the same book up and look at it differently and with more depth of understanding because we combine what we read with what we understand from our own life.

The Importance of Repeating the Name of Divinity: According to Bhakti Yoga practitioner and teacher, Krishna Das, the repetition of the Name of Divinity strikes a deep resonance with the godlike source of strength within oneself so we should practice this constantly no matter how we feel.

The power of the name is not exclusively in us, but is the vibrationary form of the Divine which connects us all. We are effectively calling out to the Higher Self by calling the Name, extricating ourselves from the trivialities of life, emotions, false beliefs, and so the mirror of our hearts is polished.

In this way, even though we may be depressed and anxious, we see what is reflected in that mirror differently and we start to see changes in ourselves. We start to act differently. The constant nagging self-critical inner voice starts to fade in the harmony of repeating the name.

Bhakti Yoga, based on chanting or repeating the Name of Divinity is said to be the most suitable form of spiritual practice for the majority of people during the present Kali Yuga age with its many stresses and diversions from the pursuit of spiritual knowledge which requires much study, time, and inner effort not freely available to most people. Chanting the divine names is a simple path suitable for the present-day context. It has no ‘binding’ rules and regulations. Nama Kirtan (chanting the Divine names) can be done by anybody, anytime and anywhere.

The Paramitas of Buddhism: Our present task, is to make ourselves fit vehicles for the Masters of Wisdom’s work in the world and to do this without attachment to the results of our efforts. This forms the basis of all spiritual initiation, which is really self-initiation, or, preparing ourselves for the 6th race consciousness.

This can be summarized simply as living the 6 Perfections or ‘Paramitas’ (trans. ‘Other Shore’ – and the methods of reaching this other shore) of Buddhism, ie: Spiritual growth is essentially converting our life experience into opportunities for letting the Inner God at the core of us shine in this world. All systems of spiritual initiation to attain this goal are basically putting what the Buddhist’s call ‘The Paramitas’ or ‘Perfections’ into action in the reality of daily life.

These spiritual qualities are the enumerated and called by different names in the world’s mystery traditions but they can be boiled down to six qualities:

Generosity; Ethical Discipline; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; Wisdom. 

Why should we develop these particular qualities along the Path of spiritual learning?

“To achieve the aims of others for spiritual understanding you must first help them with material goods as they won’t appreciate spirituality if they have an empty stomach! Since no benefit will come from Generosity accompanied by harmfulness towards living beings, you need Ethical Discipline, which has great purpose for others; this is the state of desisting from harm to others and the causes of harm. To bring this to its full development, you need Patience that disregards the harm done to you. You need to develop the ability to fix your mind on your ideals so you need to develop Meditative Stabilization. Calmness and single-mindedness in the service of others lead to Wisdom. None of this is attainable by laziness, so you need Joyous Perseverance in pursuit of wisdom through service to others and so this quality is the basis of the other Perfections.”

[These comments are based on Tibetan spiritual teacher Tsong-Kha-Pa, from his Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment]

The Coming Sixth Root-Race: A Closer Relationship to Be-Ness: Indeed the 6th Root-Race will be as compared with our own 5th far in advance, spiritually, intellectually, psychically, and even physically; and the attainment by mankind of Adeptship or Mahatmaship will be notably easier than is the case at present.

With the advent of each Root-Race a new cosmic element comes into proportionate manifestation, and a new physical sense apparatus appears: thus, humanity in the 6th Root-Race will develop what is meant by a sixth sense; ie. Intuition – the pathway to a sense of Be-Ness.

Be-Ness as A Daily Routine: On the absolute importance of strengthening the bridge to Higher Consciousness, or a sense of ‘Be-Ness’, as a daily routine, theosophical teacher, G de Purucker, gives the following timely advice:

“I cannot weigh too heavily, therefore, the utmost and most urgent need of cultivating the Spiritual Nature by aspiring upwards towards it and by yearning towards it, and by living the life in accordance with the mandates received from within, and by letting no single day pass without some inner spiritual exercise of the personal man yearning upwards to ‘fix’, as it were, the attention of the Spiritual Nature upon and in the personal man or personality. This is sublimely beautiful, comforting, and strengthening exercise: the daily aspiration, the daily yearning, to live from day to day an even better and increasingly higher life; for the result of such true and genuine Yoga will finally result, and perhaps far more quickly than the student will realize, in making such a man/woman more or less fully ensouled, thus completely saving him/her from the possibility of ‘soul loss’.

Indeed, chelaship (chela = a serious spiritual student) is just this and nothing more, when all is said. A chela (spiritual student) is greater exactly in proportion as he/she is more ensouled; so that chelas are more ensouled than the average man/woman, the Mahatman (Master of Wisdom) is more ensouled than are their chelas, and the Buddhas more ensouled than even the Mahatmas are.

It may be said finally, that when a man/woman is completely and fully ensouled, he/she is then an incarnate god, a human god, a god-man, or man-god, and enjoys to the full the vast powers, attributes, functions, insight, love, vision, and wisdom, of the god within him/her” – from G de Purucker: Esoteric Teaching, Vol.9, page 51-52.

HP Blavatsky on Be-Ness: In, The Secret Doctrine, universal life is called “the rootless root”, and “the causeless cause” — it is “‘BE-NESS’, rather than Being” Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

It is this one radical cause that awakens at the dawn of manifestation — not in a haphazard way, but following universal Laws patterned on preceding worlds.

In this eternal, imperishable background, periodically appear and disappear numberless universes, say the ancient sages, called the “sparks of eternity.”

It is this One Universal Life Force which is the omnipresent Reality throughout the cosmos.

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

BAHAI: Some Basic Concepts

Bahai faith is one of the newest religions in the world. It was founded in the mid-nineteenth century by Mirza Husayn Ali, known as Baha’ Ullah , meaning ‘The Glory of God’ in Iran (1817-1892). It spread to Europe, America, and elsewhere under the successors of Baha’Ullah. Currently there are estimated to be about 10 million Bahais  with the majority living in Asia, Africa, USA and Latin America.  The Bahai faith has been represented in Australia since 1920. There is a Bahai Temple at Ingleside in Sydney, NSW.

The main tenets are the unity of all religions and the unity of all humanity. Its principle centre is in Haifa, Israel, near the graves of Baha Ullah and his predecessor, The Bab.

The Founder of Bahai, Baha’Ullah: The founder of the Bahai faith, Baha’ Ullah (1817-1892) was amongst the earliest converts to the movement known as Babism, and in 1863 he proclaimed himself ‘He Whom God Shall Manifest’ as foretold by the Bab. The Bab or ‘Gateway’ (1819-1850) was the founder of a new religion in the Shia Muslim country, Iran. His teaching had a strong focus on a future messiah and it also rejected many of the teachings of the Islamic Sharia (Islamic Canonical Laws) and developed a metaphysics of its own. The Bab and his followers were severely persecuted by the Persian authorities and he himself was imprisoned and then executed in 1850. He is seen as the predecessor of the Bahai Messiah and bit like John the Baptist in Christianity.

Baha Ullah’s declaration of himself as the Messiahproduced a schism in the Babism community and led to violence. Baha Ullah was the victim of persecution and banishment by the Ottoman Turkish Empire authorities several times in his life and he ended his days as a prisoner in Acre in Palestine. He spent most of his time as a prisoner writing the Bahai scriptures. Baha Ullah claimed to be the founder of a new religion superseding all before him. He claimed to be a mirror reflecting the true nature of the unknowable God. His numerous writings are considered to be revelations. His most important book the Kitab i Aqdas (The Most Holy Book) contains detailed instructions for the Bahai life.

Bahai Beliefs: Bahai faith is very practical giving almost complete attention to ethical and social teachings. However, it does address some major theological issues:

  • Monotheistic: there is One all loving and creative force. God in himself is a completely unknowable essence who, however, manifests himself in a number of ways most especially in the creation of the world as a continuous process.
  • One Religion: there is really only one religion which is a gradual and developing process of knowing the essence of God expressed in different ways during history according to peoples’ capacity to understand throughout the ages.
  • Progressive Revelation: This knowledge has been gradually revealed by certain divine teachers beginning with Adam the first prophet, then through Abraham, Zoroaster, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, The Bab, and Baha Ullah basically updating information already available. To Bahai’s, Baba Ullah is the latest prophet and whose message supersedes all the previous prophets and is adapted to modern conditions and will endure into the future for at least 1,000 years. Each prophet in the series foretold the coming of the next one but usually most followers of the predecessor scorned the next prophet. There is no end to this process, no final revelation, no final prophet.
  • Changeless Faith: There is a changeless faith of God revealed by Baha Ullah, eternal in the past, present and in the Future, but a progressive revelation of this ultimate knowledge. Universal Truths taught by the Divine teachers: 
  • The unity of the human race, therefore Bahai rejects all racial, religious, political or other prejudice and insists upon equality of the sexes.
  • World peace is an important goal and therefore Bahai’s are pacifists and will not do military service.
  • Bahais believe that both poverty and wealth should be eliminated and therefore there is a 19% tithe on wealth for charity.
  • The ultimate goal is a type of world government in which the principles of equality and justice will prevail. To this end Bahais advocate an international language and the establishment of an international tribunal. They therefore strong supporters of the United Nations and its agencies.
  • Bahais should practice the Golden Rule to love one another as yourself.
  • Bahais believe in spiritual immortality. There is a deeper reality behind the physical though they give little attention to the hereafter and consider heaven and hell to be only symbols of man’s progress or lack of it in spiritual development.
  • Man has a dual nature: an animal nature that will not make us happy and spiritual nature that we can develop through prayer, meditation, good deeds, and spiritual striving which can lead to true bliss.
  • There is a big emphasis on ethics and the right and wrong of each situation we encounter in life.
  • Divine Physicians: Baha’Ullah taught that the prophets are what he called, ‘Divine Physicians’, and that different ages have different problems which require different ‘remedies. We should therefore be concerned with the problems the age that we live in and the remedies required: ‘Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age you live in”.
  • The differences that divide us must be healed. Therefore, Bahais should work to eliminate racism, economic injustice, gender equality and justice, science and religion in harmony are like ‘two wings of a bird and we need both wings to fly’: “Religion without science is superstition, Science without religion is materialism.”
  • Baha Ullah is the Divine Physician for this age. He encouraged all Bahais to bring love and harmony to an ailing planet, fight for social justice from a spiritual perspective. Live true lives of service.

Bahai Scriptures: The Bahai look at all the writings of Baha Ullah and his successors as scriptures. Most writings are in Persian, some in Arabic and a few in English.

The most important is the Kitab al-Aqdas meaning ‘The Most Holy Book’ which gives the fullest account of the laws and ordinances instituted by Baha Ullah, the Kitab-I Iqan: ‘The Book of Certitude’, Haft Wadi: ‘The Seven Valleys’. The writings of his predecessor, The Bab, ‘The Statement of Explanation’ (the Bayan) is considered to have been superseded by the revelations of Baha Ullah, as have the previous scriptures.

Bahai Faith in Practice: Bahais should read the sacred scriptures in the morning and evening:

  • They should say ‘God is most Glorious’, 95 times a day – “Allah-Abha”.
  • They should say a short prayer between noon and sunset: “I bear witness, O my God, Thou has created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify at this moment to my powerlessness to Thy might to my poverty and to Thy wealth that there is none other God but Thee: the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.”
  • Bahai does not encourage you to abandon your religion but rather to ‘Declare’ your adherence to Bahai teachings.
  • April 21st a message to all Bahais from their central administration, the Ridian Message, which gives advise to all Bahais for the year to come.
  • Fast each March.
  • 19% tithe on wealth for charity.
  • The world will grow more spiritual through the education of children, therefore there is a great emphasis on the importance of education.
  • Bahais are discourage from gossiping, don’t drink alcohol, no sex outside marriage, anti-gay, avoid politics, banned from begging, ban on monks and an ascetic lifestyle, encourage work ethic.

Summary of Bahai Beliefs: Shoghi Effendi, the head of the religion from 1921 to 1957, wrote the following summary of what he considered to be the distinguishing principles of Baháʼu’lláh’s teachings, which, he said, together with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas constitute the bedrock of the Baháʼí Faith:

“… The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements [which Baháʼu’lláh proclaimed].” – Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, 1944.

Organization: There are no priests, though the community builds temples in various places, one of the most important being in Wilmette, Illinois, besides Lake Michigan in the USA.

  • Local spiritual councils with national spiritual assemblies, chosen by election, and culminating in a universal spiritual assembly known as the Universal House of Justice.
  • The Universal House of Justice has administrative, judicial, and legislative functions, and has the right to frame new rules for situations not provided for in the teachings of Baha Ullah.
  • Instruction and interpretation of doctrine for the Bahai community is provided by the ‘Guardian of the Cause of God’. The Guardian is assisted by a group called ‘Hands of the Cause of God’ whom he appoints.

A History of Persecution: Baháʼís continue to be persecuted in some majority-Islamic countries, whose leaders do not recognize the Baháʼí Faith as an independent religion, but rather as a group of heretics from Islam. The most severe persecutions have occurred in Iran, where more than 200 Baháʼís were executed between 1978 and 1998. The rights of Baháʼís have been restricted to greater or lesser extents in numerous other countries, including Egypt, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, and several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The severe persecution of Bahais in Muslim countries, especially Iran, has led to them migrating all over the world and spreading the Bahai faith to every corner of the world including Australia. The size and diverse composition of the Bahai community was boosted in the 1980s when Australia opened its doors to Baha’is fleeing the resurgence of persecution of their faith in Iran. Their subsequent settlement, integration and contribution to Australian life has been a major success story. In the 1990s, Baha’i centres were opened in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and in some regional centres.

What Does the Bahai Faith mean To You? Asking a group of Bahai’s ‘What does being a Bahai mean to you?’ the following responses came back:

  • World peace is inevitable it will happen one day and do what we can to bring it about.
  • To be of service to humanity.
  • Everything reflects God. As humans we look after the world and we we look after animals.
  • Bahai provides solace and hope. It shines light on the Path and what I need to do to get there.
  • International cooperation.
  • Gender equality.
  • Climate change.
  • Equality of wealth.
  • Build our systems in mutual cooperation and love.

Jainism from the word ‘Jaina’ which means literally a follower of a ‘Jina’ or ‘Conqueror’ is an ancient religion of India founded at least 600BC and may be 5,000 years old. It now has approx. 10 million followers world-wide of whom most are located in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat in Western India.

Jina is an honorific title given to the 24 great teachers of the movement also known as ‘Tirtankharas’, which means ‘maker of a ford (ie to cross a river). These 24 teachers are held to have freed their souls from their bodies thus possessing all knowledge of the universe and then come back to teach us.

Jainism doctrines and history are permeated by religious convictions related to the notion of conquest, and its goal is absolute triumph over all material existence.

Simularities to Hinduism: Although a separate religion, Jainism is like an extremely ascetic version of Hinduism with which it shares many of its basic beliefs like Karma, Reincarnation, Samsara (the circle of lives) and the possibility of escape from Samsara or ‘Moksha’, the ultimate goal of Jainism.

Jains generally observe the caste system, and follow a set of life-cycle rites that are modified versions of the Hindu perfections (samskaras), rituals for birth, death, marriage and the like. The Jainas have temple rituals which resemble Hindu Pujas consisting of offerings of flowers and fruits before the images of the Tirtankaras. At the same time Jainas maintain veneration of the Tirtankaras does not elevate them to the status of divinities and they maintain atheistic.

Jiva and Zjiva: Jains believe that there is no God or Creator as conceived in many other religions. The Universe is divided into two substances:

Jiva: Soul or life-force. Every living being is eternal. The Jiva;s natural state is one of perfect knowledge and self-contained bliss; but it has become clouded by involvement in:

Ajiva: matter, time and space.

Just as there are laws here in the material world, there are laws for souls. No God is going to save you from these natural laws or save you from your own karma. There is only your soul and the karma that attaches to your soul. So the ultimate purpose in Jainism is to cleanse your soul so clean that you can escape this world of suffering, escape the cycle of reincarnation, to achieve Moksha (Escape) and reach Nirvana (meaning literally ‘blown out’, ie the personality is extinguished like blowing out a candle) – a supremely blissful state above the human condition.

The only way to free the Jiva is to reduce inner and outer activity to a bare minimum and eventually stop it altogether. Inactivity will stop the accumulation of Karma, but the karma already accumulated must decay before freedom is attained.

A Life of Severe Asceticism: Therefore, you have to live a life that will renounce all activity that is likely to accumulate karma on the Jiva. This is the life of severe asceticism.

You must aim to become a monk or a nun giving up home, household and property; to beg all sustenance; to vigorously avoid doing harm to any living thing; to wander all your life alone or in small groups.

The Jaina ascetic is obliged to take extraordinary pains to avoid harming any living being so they carry a small broom to sweep away any tiny insects in their way, wear a face-mask, be vegan vegetarian, avoid recreational drugs, abstain from sex (if a monk) or keep it to a minimum for reproduction only (if a lay member). 

The Three Jewels of Jainism: The Three Jewels taken by Monks and Nuns in their fullness:

1/ Right Faith: Accept the Seven Truths of Jainism:

  • Jiva: all living things have a Soul.
  • Ajiva: non-living things have no soul.
  • Asrava: doing actions drags karma to your soul.
  • Bandtha: karma can stick to your soul.
  • Samvara: you can stop the influx of karma.
  • Nirjara: you can separate karma from your soul.
  • Moksha: separating karma from your soul frees it from the cycle of death and rebirth.

2/ Right Knowledge; Samyag-Jnana: a proper understanding of the seven truths. Listen to monks/nuns and the Jain scriptures.

3/ Right Behaviour: Samyak-Caritra: using your knowledge and life to live a good life and not harm others.

The Five Great Vows: The Five Mahavratas or Great Vows of a Sadhu to be taken in their fullness by Monks and Nuns:

1/ Ahimsa: Non-Violence: non-injury to other creatures including the intention of harm. Barefoot, broom, masks. Vegan vegetarianism: no milk, no eggs, no root vegetables.

2/ Satya: Be Truthful.

3/ Ateya: Don’t Steal.

4/ Brahmacharya: Be faithful to your partner or be Celibate.

5/ Apigraha: Don’t get weighed down by possessions.

In addition there is the principle of Anekantavada: no single viewpoint can be the only truth. Full truth can only be built out of a number of viewpoints.  Tolerance of other religions.

Following these Jewels and Vows can lead to conquest of desire, ego, greed, anger so the soul can free itself from negative karmas and therefore eventually find Moksha, or escape from the worldly human condition.

The Small Vows: The ideal for Jains is to become a monk or a nun (there are many more nuns than monks!) and live out the requirements listed in their completeness.

What about regular Jains living in the world?

They must follow the Anuvarata or ‘Small Vows’:

  • Try to avoid violence.
  • Don’t Lie;
  • Don’t Steal or Cheat;
  • Remain sexually loyal to your partner in life;
  • Give to Charities.

The emphasis on non-violence and dedicated study means that many lay Jains choose the Law or Business as their professions and, strangely  for a religion that stresses asceticism, many are amongst the wealthiest people in India.

Jain Prateek Chihna: The Symbol of Jainism The symbol encompasses all Jain teachings:

The Universe is in Three Levels: Heaven;  Human and Animals; Hell.

The Swastika (means in Sanskrit: ‘Good Fortune’): each point a different point for entry into the Universe for our souls.: heavenly; human or animal; hellish creature; subhuman.  Four points also represent features of the soul – infinite knowledge; infinite perceptions; infinite happiness; infinite energy.

Three Dots: Path to achieve Moksha (Escape) – Belief; Knowledge; Conduct.

The Hand:  Ahimsa or Non-Violence.

The Wheel: Samsara: the Wheel of Birth, Death and Rebirth. The spokes on the wheel represent the 24 great teachers of Jainism (Tirthankaras).

Motto in Sanskrit language:  All life is bound together by mutual support and dependence.

Mahavira: Founder of Modern Jainism: Jains hold that their tradition has existed eternally but in the present cycle, they say a group of 24 teacher, the Tirttankharas, have shown us the way to freedom from material bondage.

The first Tirtankara, Rsaba or Adinatha, and 21 of his successors existed in prehistoric times. The most recent teacher, Mahavira, (the Great Hero), was a contemporary of the Buddha Gautama in the 6th century BC, who built his teachings on one of his predecessors, Parsva 850BC.

Born in 599BC in NE India near the city of Patna, Mahavira followed a career similar to the Buddha, ie born into a rich family, left at the age of 30 to join ascetics for 12 years and gained complete knowledge at the age of 42 and gathered 11 disciples. By the time he died in 527BC his followers numbered 14,000 monks, 36,000 nuns, and 377,000 lay people.

Under the guidance of his followers the movement grew rapidly during the religiously tolerant period of the Mauryan Dynasty. Disputes arose over the practice of ascetic nudity. Some followers said that it was necessary to give up all attachments to the material world, even clothes!  Another group said that Mahavira was not clear on this point and that monks and especially nuns could wear clothes – a single white garment.

Two Jain Sects: Digambaras and Svetambaras: The attitude of these groups towards clothing led to the formation of two sects of Jainism which exist down to the present day. Since the 1st century AD the vast majority of Jains have identified themselves with either group. Both agree on the fundamental beliefs of Jainism but disagree over clothing which led onto disagreements about the details of monastic rules:

The Digambaras (meaning ‘clad in the four-directions, ie naked).  They do not accept women in their order. The teach that the karma-bondage which holds a Jiva in a woman’s body cannot be undone until the Jiva is born into a man’s body.

The Svetambaras (meaning ‘clad in white’).  They accept orders of nuns and hold that there is absolutely no difference between the sexes in terms of their capacity for attaining release, ‘Moksha’.

The Literature of Jainism: The Jainas maintain a reverence for learning. In addition to doctrinal and philosophical texts, Jaina authors have produced important commentaries on Hindu works, eg. Mallinath’s commentary on the poetry of Kalidasa.

Both Jain sects have their own literature. The Svatambaras have scriptures of 45 texts in 6 groups, the oldest and most important of these is a record of Mahavira’s sermons, 11 texts called the ‘angas’ (limbs).

The Digambaras maintain that Mahavira’s original works have been lost but that their own texts recall the original purpose of Mahavira’s message most accurately.

Both sects have produced a considerable series of works on religious philosophy, principally in Sanskrit, discussing analysing, and expanding the original teachings of Jainism.  This tradition of rigorous scholarship and preservation of Jain and non-Jain texts in libraries is one of the main factors preserving their ascetic tradition within the wider Hindu world in India.

The Daily Practice of Jainism: Jainism is not at all attractive to Westerners because of its extreme asceticism. So, how is it possible to practice Jainism in Western society today?

Prayer: saying prayers and mantras each day. Most important is the Navkar Mantra  said several times each day or continuously in your mind. In this mantra  Jains say the names of Panch Parmesthi (five supreme spiritual people). They worship their virtues rather than worshipping any one particular person and remind Jains of what is required to achieve Siddha or and advanced state of spiritual development.

Home Shrine: every home has a small shrine with various  ‘Bhagvans’ or gods that they pray to. In the form of ‘murtis’ or statues.

Temples: Jains pray regularly in their temples. A directory of them at jianatemples.org

Pure Vegetarian Diet.

Pathshala: religious classes for children (and adults). Many of Jain values are taught through allegorical stories such as the elephant and the blind men.

Paryushan:  a holiday of penance and asking for forg