Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne,
Victoria 3162 AUSTRALIA
No: 93 December 2007
WWW homepage : www.theosophydownunder.org
Heavens and Hells
What do you hear?
Theosophy in Practice: The Paramitas – from HPB and G. de P.
Letters to the Editor:
What do angels look like?
When will the Buddha return? – Pam Donnelly
What is the Black Age – Kali Yuga? – Fred Pruyn
Poetry Corner - Amanda Rooke
Cigars of the Earth
In Search of the Lost Chord: Hidden Aspects of Music
HEAVENS AND HELLS
We commence a new series on theosophical teachings about what happens after death.
There are many fascinating stories in the world’s mystery traditions regarding the nature of heavens and hells. We all know the extent to which these concepts have dominated Christian thinking, though the archetypal preacher raining down “fire and brimstone” from the pulpit on Sundays is thankfully less common these days. More detailed and enlightened statements of the reality of different levels of consciousness we have come to call heaven and hell are stated particularly well in the mystery tradition of the ancient Egyptians in the Book of the Dead (more correctly translated as the Book of Coming Forth Into Light), and Tibetan Buddhist teachings of the six realms which so heavily influenced H.P. Blavatsky and the theosophical tradition – the six realms being hell, the “prêtas” or hungry ghosts, humans, animals, asuras or titans, and the gods or devas (from the Tibetan Book of the Dead). One also finds complex and detailed teachings on this subject in the mystery traditions, such as we have come to know them, of native peoples in Africa, Mexico, North American Indians, and our own Aboriginals. They all have their own symbology, 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 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 after death states which are so intimately related to the question of heavens and hells. Instead of talking at length about what the various religious and philosophical teachers of the world have said on the subject, I will concentrate on an outline, as I understand it, of what theosophical teachings in the Blavatsky tradition have to say on the subject.
The ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, and others have told us that the after death journey can be pictured as a pathway leading through various realms along the way. Let’s follow this ancient tradition with a modern exploration of this sublime journey that awaits us all one day.
(1) Physical life: a short period of time, maybe only 1% of our ‘universal life’, compared to our other life in the after-death states, said by Theosophy to be on average 1,500 – 2,000 years during which time aspects of our constitution could experience various heavens, hells, limbo, purgatory, etc., according to our level of spiritual evolution and consequent actions in our material life. Alas, for many, life on the physical earth is a hell most of the time; in fact, some Buddhists refer to our earth as a hell (Sanskrit: Myalba), in that it is the arena for working out the effects of past karma and generating future karma.
(2) Physical Death: After the initial disengagement from the physical body so well described these days in the many accounts of “Near Death Experiences”, we have from people revived in intensive care units in hospitals, there is for most people a period of blessed unconsciousness before moving on the so called heavens or grades of ascending bliss and purity, and hells of increasing purgation or suffering. The Esoteric Doctrine teaches that one is not a “punishment” nor is the other strictly speaking a “reward”. The teaching is simply that each entity after physical death is drawn to the appropriate sphere to which the karmic destiny of the entity and the entity’s own character and impulses magnetically attract it. That is, over a long period of time we choose heaven or hell by our own actions! As the Bible puts it, as a man lives of ‘sows’, in his material life, that and that only shall he ‘reap’ after death. Good seed produces good fruit, bad seed tares – or perhaps, even nothing much of spiritual/enduring value follows a negative or colourless lifetime.
Next Issue: Heavens and Hells Part 2: Kama Loka and the Second Death.
New telephone number: our telephone number for the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in Australia is now a mobile number: 0400942613. Please note that we no longer have a land-line or fax machine, so all correspondence should be directed to our street or email addresses.
New name for our Newsletter: as you can see from the cover of this issue, our newsletter has a new name – Theosophy Downunder. We thought this was a suitable title as it describes our situation here in Australia, compared to most of the world at least [!], and it links in with the name of our new theosophy downunder website. Thanks to the many members and friends who emailed and phoned with their excellent suggestions, principally of Aboriginal names.
2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions (WPR)
The 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions will be an international inter-religious gathering spanning seven nights and six days – from December 3rd to 9th - bringing together an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 persons.
The city of Melbourne, Australia has been awarded the bid to host the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions. We are currently investigating possible contributions to the Parliament by members of our TS. If any members and friends of our TS plan to come to Australia and visit Melbourne for the WPR, could they please contact Andrew Rooke at email@example.com and perhaps we can work out some joint contributions to the Parliament.
DVD’s available from the library: The Melbourne library has recently acquired a range of DVD’s on spiritual subjects which are available for loan to members of our T.S. These include:
Manly P. Hall Love of Truth,
Manly P. Hall Concrete and abstract factors of the human mind,
Al Gore: An Inconvenient Truth : on global warming,
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring – a Korean film about life-long spiritual learning.
Randall Meyers: Universe: the Cosmology Quest: the big bang cosmologies examined.
Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides: working with time: on the relationship of art and nature.
Staya Etrusa: Find the Book of Knowledge: insights into unconsciousness, after-death states, etc.
What the Bleep do we know!?: about quantum mechanics.
What the Bleep: Down the Rabbit hole: coming trends in science.
Our thanks to our kind friend from the Dutch Section, who sent us these DVDs for our library.
Donations needed please: if anyone is able to help us with cash donations to help us keeping our bookshop operating, it would be of great assistance to our work. We need $2,000 per annum to buy book stock for the bookshop in Melbourne. Any contributions towards this worthy cause would be most welcome at any time.
Website news: have you visited our new website yet at:
www.theosophydownunder.org You’ll find that we have added many new features to the site such as a whole section of beautiful paintings and other artworks inspired by theosophy if you click at ‘Theosophical Arts’. Many new lectures have been added if you click on ‘Theosophy Downunder Library’ and make your selection. There is also a section for those serious students who may wish to undertake Correspondence Courses in Theosophy from beginners up to advanced courses.
Course in basic Theosophy in Melbourne: don’t forget that we now offer a 20 week course on Wednesday mornings in Asian Religions and Philosophies [10 weeks] followed by Basic Concepts of the Ancient Wisdom/Theosophy [10 weeks]. The next course starts in February 2008 and is co-ordinated by Tony Downey assisted by Andrew, Paul and Stefan. There are plenty of opportunities for discussion, and a unique one-day tour of temples and churches around Melbourne. Why not contact Tony on 0400942613 if you are interested in this course.
Visitors from overseas: in July we were privileged to welcome two members of the Dutch Section of our Centre in Melbourne, Nivard Vas and his partner Marlies, who attended a meeting in Melbourne. In November, we welcomed George Bates and Diana Cavagnaro from the San Diego, USA Lodge of our Society, who visited us during a tour of New Zealand and Australia.
Theosophy and New Frontiers Conference:
“A wonderful experience, a generosity of topics presented and a warm friendliness among the students of theosophy” is what I came home with after a three day adventure in “Theosophy and New Frontiers” held at The Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma CA, organized by the ULT in August. It was truly an international event although I don’t know if it was because the presenters were from different parts of the world or because the people attending were from different places and theosophical groups.
21st Century Theosophical Messengers, Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, The New Science of Shifting Consciousness, Theosophical Revelations on Health, God Science and The Secret Doctrine, Messages in Water, were the topics and there was a live radio presentation! Zero-Point Live Radio Show on “Disputes of Fundamentalism: God vs. Science” with Christopher Holmes as moderator and featured guest Judy Saltzman,…this is not all, an event at which I did not attend but enjoyed as I could hear the beautiful songs, a “World Vision Walk”, hosted by the Wellness Foundation.
This conference “Honouring the birth and genius of H.P. Blavatsky” was very much felt when a portrait of H.P.B was presented and underneath was a sentence written in Russian. I was about to ask Laura, sitting beside me who has translated some of William Q. Judge’s books to Russian to tell me what it meant…when her friend Lisa who was already standing on the other side of the room read the sentence to all of us, although there were more words expressed the main idea was “HAPPY BIRTHDAY H.P.B.!!!” Yes, a wonderful theosophical conference with the hope of getting together again in the future.”
With best wishes to all in Australia, from Marion MacFarland, a friend of the TS (Pasadena) in Mexico,.
Newsletters from the USA: hardworking members in the USA currently produce an array of wonderful newsletters which we keep in our Melbourne library. These include 21st Century Path, Theosophy North-West View, and the Kali Yuga Rag from the Great Lakes Branch which often features letters written by prisoners in US jails who are doing our Correspondence Courses. In these letters you will find some of the very finest theosophical writing anywhere, as shown in the following examples from the September 2007 issue:
“…Who am I? I am part of God who reaches out to those who need a helping hand, who wants to make someone laugh or smile in the midst of imprisonment, and I’m also one that has found the small voice speaking from his heart of true love and the opportunity to draw closer to what I am supposed to be.”
And from another prison inmate in a Florida jail: “…Even though I have no family on the street to contact, I now know that this was part of my lot in life. If I had not been put in this situation of being alone, I might not have applied myself to finding out who I am, and that I have the power within me to help myself and others.”
We are all prisoners from our other life in the world of the spirit, and the earthly prisoners of the Kali Yuga Rag, experience and speak in the large, what we ordinary people feel in the microcosm.
Discussion groups: our friends in South Africa are busy with a discussion group at the Western Cape meeting once a month, and another being organised in the greater Durban area. There is an excellent article by Alice Yetman, National Secretary, on ‘Brotherhood’. From this article a brief excerpt of the full article available from our Melbourne library:
“…By turning our energies and focus on the needs of others by the resolute practice of self-forgetfulness, not only would our own sorrows and anxieties diminish into the background of our consciousness, but they would very likely seem surprisingly insignificant by comparison to the troubles of our brothers. By pushing our problems into the recesses of our mind and by so doing, giving ourselves ‘a breather’ as it were, a solution may even have readily presented itself when we next bring them into the fore. Additionally, “we have the assurance that the wise practice of daily self-forgetfulness will being to us a sacred companionship with the Inner God and set our feet upon the pathway to divine adventure.” (L. James, Sunrise, Jan. ’53) Most importantly, is that by every altruistic act we do, we are making a difference, however small and insignificant, by lightening the burden of our fellow brethren.”
WHAT DO YOU HEAR?
A Native American Indian and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, the Native American said: “I hear a cricket.”
His friend said: “What? You must be crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!”
“No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said, “I heard a cricket.”
“That’s crazy,” said the friend.
The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.
“That’s incredible,” said his friend. “You must have super-human ears!”
“No,” said the Native American. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.”
“But that can’t be!” said the friend. “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.”
“Yes, it’s true,” came the reply. “It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you.”
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.
“See what I mean?” asked the Native American. “It all depends on what’s important to you.”
THEOSOPHY IN PRACTICE
Excerpts from HP Blavatsky and G de Purucker
We continue our series on putting theosophical concepts into practice in daily life with more information on the qualities required of those on the Path of Compassion-
THE PARAMITAS: [paraphrased and merged from H. P. Blavatsky’s Voice of the Silence and G. de Purucker’s Fountain-Source of Occultism.]
TO LIVE TO BENEFIT MANKIND IS THE FIRST STEP.
TO PRACTICE THE SIX GLORIOUS VIRTUES IS THE SECOND.
1. DANA: the key of charity and love immortal. If someone comes and asks for anything, as far as we are able, we should grant the request ungrudgingly and in a way to benefit them. If we see anyone in danger, we should try every means we have to rescue and impart to them a feeling of safety. If anyone comes to us desiring instructions in the Dharma, we should, as far as they are able and according to our best judgement, try to enlighten them. And when we are doing these acts of charity, we should not cherish any desire for recompense, gratitude, merit, advantage, nor any worldly reward.
2. SHILA: the key of harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for karmic action. Harmonious action. We should abstain from killing, stealing, adultery, lying, deception, gossip, greediness, malice (hatred or cruelty), persuading for personal benefit, and misleading. We should endeavour by our conduct to avoid all disapproval and blame, and by our example incite others to forsake evil and practice the good.
3. KSHANTI: patience sweet that naught can ruffle. Patient forbearance. As we meet the ills of life we should not shun them nor feel upset. Patiently bearing evils inflicted by others, we should have no resentment. Neither should we be elated because of prosperity, praise, or agreeable circumstances; nor depressed because of poverty, insult, or hardship. Keeping our mind concentrated on the deep significance of the Dharma, we should under all circumstances maintain a quiet and equitable mind.
4. VIRAG: indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived. Non-attachment. A doing only of our duty without desire for results, for if we become attached we deter not only forward progress but fill the Path, not leaving it void for our passing. Attachment would necessarily draw to itself scenes of passion which would cloud the view. Attachment to the Supreme Goal, however, draws us toward it, to ever-increasing splendour.
4. VIRYA: the dauntless energy or fortitude that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial. Courageous vigour. In the practice of good deeds we should never become complacent. We should look upon any mental or physical suffering as the natural consequence of unworthy deeds done in previous incarnations, and should firmly resolve that henceforth we would do only those things which are in keeping with a spiritual life. We should always make deliberate effort in the direction of the Path, never tarry or assume we have reached an “end,” for there are no ends, just subtle and gradual transformations.
5. DHYANA: whose golden gate once opened leads the adept toward the realm of Pure Being, eternal, and its ceaseless contemplation. Intellectual insight is gained by truthfully understanding that all things follow the law of causation, but in themselves are transitory and empty of any self-substance. These are two aspects of dhyana: the first is an effort to suppress idle thinking, the second, mental concentration in an effort to realize the emptiness (shunyata) of Mind-essence. We should contemplate the fact that although all things are transitory and empty yet, nevertheless, on the physical plane they have a relative value to those who are cherishing false imagination; to these unaware ones, suffering is very real – immeasurable and innumerable sufferings. Because of this, there is awakened in the mind of every earnest person a deep compassion for the suffering of all beings.
7. PRAJNA: the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a bodhisattva. Direct perception or intuitive wisdom. When we by the faithful practice of dhyana attain to Samadhi, we have passed beyond discrimination and knowledge, we have realized the perfect oneness of mind-essence. With this realization comes an intuitive understanding of the nature of the universe. We now realize the perfect oneness of essence, potentiality, and activity. This principle makes of wisdom a separate thing from knowledge. Knowledge is learning from the physical apparatus, while wisdom is an innate understanding or intuitive glimpse. It affords us wider perception to the view of the universals and their patterns.
SUCH TO THE PORTALS ARE THE GOLDEN KEYS.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
After reading Amanda Rooke’s article on ‘Angels – do they exist?’, in the April 2007 Newsletter, a reader was moved to send us the following poem:
What do Angels look like?
Like the little old lady who returned your wallet yesterday.
Like the taxi driver who told you that your eyes light up the world, when you smile.
Like the small child who showed you the wonder in simple things.
Like the poor man who offered to share his lunch with you.
Like the rich man who showed you that it really is all possible, if only you believe.
Like the stranger who just happened to come along, when you had lost your way
Like the friend who touched your heart, when you didn’t think you had one.
Angels come in all sizes and shapes, all ages and skin types.
Some with freckles, some with dimples, some with wrinkles, with without.
They come disguised as friends, enemies, teachers, students, lovers and fools.
They don’t take life too seriously, they travel light.
They leave no forwarding address, they ask nothing in return.
They are hard to find when your eyes are closed, but when you choose to see, they are everywhere you look.
So, open your eyes and count all the Angels – for you are truly blessed!
When will the Buddha return? : Pam Donnelly from Queensland wrote in response to the article on when we can expect the Buddha to return:
“I did feel moved to make a comment, with respect, on your article in the Newsletter, “When will the Buddha Return”, in which you say that Gautama Buddha was a Sixth Rounder. I am concerned about your unqualified use of the term “Sixth Rounder”, as HPB in the SD (1; pp.161-2), comments on the “misconception” that there were Fifth-, and even Sixth-Rounders here during this Fourth Round, as “…a round was preceded and followed by a long pralaya, a pause of rest which created an impassable gulf between two Rounds until the time came for a renewed cycle of life,…” and further, “…those persons who, like Confucius and Plato, belonged psychically, mentally and spiritually to the higher planes of evolution, were in our Fourth Round, as the average man will be in the Fifth Round,… Similarly, Gautama Buddha – Wisdom Incarnate – was still higher and greater than all the men we have mentioned, who are called Fifth Rounders, while Buddha and Sankaracharya are termed Sixth Rounders, allegorically.”
The Editor comments: Buddha Gautama (the historical Buddha) is often referred to as a “Sixth Rounder’ in theosophical literature to indicate his high spiritual status, i.e. he attained through his own massive self-directed efforts, the level of consciousness awaiting normal humans in the Sixth Round, millions of years hence for normal humanity – rather than being an actual Sixth Rounder who has returned to our Fourth Round. Further than this, the historical Buddha has never actually ‘gone away’. According to Theosophy, he remains on the Earth as a ‘Nirmanakaya’ [i.e. with all his inner ‘constitution’ still intact minus the physical body! – read The Occult Glossary, for a more complete explanation] guiding and assisting humanity’s spiritual development through his messengers and ‘helpers’ – the Mahatmans and others. Most important, we can place ourselves in direct synchrony with the Buddha as a living force any time if we sincerely attempt to follow the Path of Compassion. Remember, it doesn’t matter if we fail to live up to the best of ourselves early in this journey, as we have been enjoined by the Buddha’s ‘helpers’ to at least TRY!
WHAT IS THE BLACK AGE – KALI YUGA?
Fred Pruyn, Holland:
Many ‘New Age’ groups talk about our current era as the ‘Black Age’ or use the Indian Sanskrit term – ‘Kali Yuga’. When you look at the TV news headlines one can be tempted to agree that there is much that is seriously wrong with our way of living at the moment. Though this may seem to be a rather gloomy picture of our world, there is a saying in India that: ‘the chela’s heart longs for the Kali Yuga’ (chela = student of the Mysteries). Seems strange doesn’t it, but the time at which there is the most opposition to spiritual and ethical values is the time when we have the most opportunity for spiritual growth! So now is the time for maximum effort by all of us in the cause of Universal Brotherhood and Compassion, each in our own unique way, backed up by the spiritual knowledge Theosophy offers us! This is an excerpt from a full lecture by Fred Pruyn. Why not read the full version on our website – www.theosophydownunder.org under ‘Theosophy Downunder Library’.
Literally the “Black Age” or Kali Yuga is translated as the iron age or black age; the fourth and last of the four great yugas constituting a mahayuga (a great age) of the Hindu cycle, the other three being the krita or satya yuga, treta yuga, and dvapara yuga. Kali yuga is the most material phase of a being’s or group’s evolutionary cycle, and is stated to have commenced at the moment of Krishna’s death, usually given as 3102 BC. In essence all yuga’s or ages have to do with harmony, rhythm and proportions. We know harmony is in essence divine, and we feel that a harmonious musical composition can bring us great joy. In the arts we can see that the right proportions, a fine balance, can give us goose bumps and bring us in touch with the divine!
The ancient chronological charts of the Brahmans refer to four great evolutionary cycles or yugas that decrease with time [see the diagram above]. The total length of the four yugas in earth years is 4,320,000 years. 1,728,000 for the satya-yuga, 1,296,000 for the treta-yuga, 864,000 for the dvapara-yuga, and last but not least, 432,000 for kali yuga. We may notice that the lengths of these four yugas are related in the ratio 4 : 3 : 2 : 1, in other words, they are all multiples of 432,000.
So an odd 4 millions years ago, a former Kali Yuga ended and a brand new mahayuga commenced. Man knew again the inner meaning of Nature, knew himself to be one with Nature, and lived in harmony with the Great Mother. It was a marvellous time. So superb, that spiritual growth was just not possible. All was there, nothing was wanting, there was no suffering, hence no aspiration, no striving, and so no spiritual growth. The Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary on the Internet describes it in these words –
“it is the age of purity, reality, and truth, sometimes called the krita yuga. The Krita is the age in which righteousness was eternal, when duties did not languish nor people decline. No efforts were made by men, the fruit of the earth was obtained by their mere wish. There was no malice, weeping, pride, or deceit; no contention, no hatred, cruelty, fear, affliction, jealousy, or envy. The castes alike in their function fulfilled their duties, were unceasingly devoted to one deity, and used one formula, one rule, and one rite. Though they had separate duties, they had but one Veda and practised one duty.”
In the next yuga, treta yuga, virtue is diminished by a quarter and so measures three times Kali Yuga, and lasts 1,296,000 years-
“In the treta yuga sacrifice commenced, righteousness decreased by one-fourth; men adhered to truth, and were devoted to a righteousness dependent on ceremonies. Sacrifices prevailed with holy acts and a variety of rites. Men acted with an object in view, seeking after reward for their rites and their gifts, and were no longer disposed to austerities and to liberality from a simple feeling of duty.”
In dwapara yuga, virtue is lost for a half and as a result lasts even less, 864,000 years. It is said that –
“the Veda became fourfold. Some men studied four Vedas, others three, others two, others one, and some none at all Ceremonies were celebrated in a great variety of ways. From the decline of goodness only few men adhered to truth. When men had fallen away from goodness, many diseases, desires, and calamities, caused by destiny, assailed them, by which they were severely afflicted and driven to practise austerities. Others desiring heavenly bliss offered sacrifices. Thus men declined through unrighteousness.”
So far, so good. But now let’s see how the nature of the age of Kali was described by the prophetic authors of the Vishnu Purana, some thousands of years ago. We find in the Secret Doctrine of H. P. Blavatsky that-
“There will be contemporary monarchs, reigning over the earth – kings of churlish spirit, violent temper, and ever addicted to falsehood and wickedness. They will inflict death on women, children, and cows; they will seize upon the property of their subjects, and be intent upon the wives of others; they will be of unlimited power, their lives will be short, their desires insatiable. . . People of various countries intermingling with them, will follow their example; and the barbarians being powerful (in India) in the patronage of the princes, while purer tribes are neglected, the people will perish… Wealth and piety will decrease until the world will be wholly depraved. Property alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; passion will be the sole bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation; and women will be objects merely of sensual gratification…External types will be the only distinction of the several orders of life…a man if rich will be reputed pure; dishonesty (anyaya) will be the universal means of subsistence, weakness the cause of dependence, menace and presumption will be substituted for learning; liberality will be devotion; mutual assent, marriage; fine clothes, dignity. He who is the strongest will reign; the people, unable to bear the heavy burthen, Khara bhara (the load of taxes) will take refuge among the valleys….Thus, in the kali age decay will constantly proceed, until the human race approaches its annihilation…”
Not such a happy story at all, is it? But mind you, although this is handed over to us from the dim past, it still has something of a broadcast news bulletin of today, hasn’t it?...following the Kali Yuga the wise-men of India tell us that another “Krita” or ‘Golden Age’ commences for the remnants of humanity left from the Kali Yuga. So the wheel of the cycles turns, and harmony is re-established on the earth…for a while. Along the way humanity is learning and growing spiritually, so the following Kali Yuga, will not reach the terrible spiritual depths as the previous one.
Two poems by Amanda Rooke, Melbourne:
Cigars of the Earth
The sky is dark, dark grey,
the earth below spread stories thick with city,
Where tall dark pillars, cigars the earth
has learned to smoke,
Reach upward only to kill the sky.
The church-spires now lost in the fog of
Sprinkled over the leaves,
As warm and yellow
as drops of juice
from a giant lemon
in the blue sky.
It shone through
the tree’s green leaves
that were transparent
in their life,
and onto the dead
where the man stood,
and the last
of the snow gilded,
lying about his feet.
We wish to extend our thanks and appreciation friends around the world who send us their newsletters. We encourage you all to read them as they are kept in our library in Melbourne, or photocopies can be sent. They include: Impuls (Netherlands), Contact (South Africa), The 21st Century Path (USA), Theosophy North-West View (USA), Kali Yuga Rag (USA), San Diego TS Newsletter (USA), Compass (England), The Tub Thumper (Australia), Peace and Love Circular (Ghana-West Africa). Also, Dutch and German language translations of Sunrise magazine are sent to us regularly.
is issued three times per year in April, August, and November and is
edited by Andrew Rooke. We can be contacted at the Theosophical
Society (Pasadena), Australasian Section, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South
Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162, AUSTRALIA.
Tel : 0400942613 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org World Wide Web homepage at: http://theosophydownunder.org/
‘There is geometry in the humming of the strings. There is music in the spacing of the spheres.’ -- Pythagoras (6th cent. BC)
Everyone has had some experience of the power of music to affect mood. How often have we all sought solace in the symphonies of nature from the cacophony generated by our urban environment! Waves lapping on the seashore, the wind whispering through tall trees, the rush of a mountain stream, have been the consolation of the weary and the inspiration of poets through the ages. Every mother knows the soothing effect rhythmic rocking, humming, and singing have on an infant. Music has a far greater dimension than just entertainment. Indeed, it may hold potent keys to understanding nature's secrets and provide an avenue for humanity to re-establish harmony within the larger symphony of life.
There is considerable evidence that the hidden knowledge of music and sound was once widespread among the world's peoples, and efforts are currently being made to uncover these long-forgotten treasures of our heritage. The concept that the universe is built of varying levels of vibration was well known in the Mystery schools of the ancient world. Each entity, from atom to sun, follows its path of destiny, singing its own keynote of life inaudible to our ears. Since Pythagoras, this cosmic symphony has become known in the West as the music of the spheres.
We are constantly surrounded by a sea of cosmic music, which is none other than the harmoniously vibrating atomic entities that form the vehicles of spiritual forces underlying manifestation. Perhaps the beautiful colours in nature are manifestations of the symphonic harmonies singing about us. From the bubbling of a brook to the complex rhythms of a classical symphony, the many forms of music we hear are translations to our plane of the music which fills the universe.
This concept provides the key to the use of music for healing in antiquity. Just as in an orchestra each musician plays his or her part, so each of us, inaudibly singing our own keynote, is enwebbed in the larger harmonies of our environment. G. de Purucker describes a human being as "somewhat like a sounding board, strung with seven chords like Apollo's lyre, across which sweep the winds of eternity, and the combined notes of these chords produce within him a cosmic symphony -- each one of us being a living mystic lyre vibrating in sympathy with the Music of the Spheres."
A violinist or flutist who plays out of tune or out of time will cause disharmonies in the performance of a symphony; similarly, our disharmonious thoughts and actions will result in some form of ill-health, physical or mental.
Knowledge of the music of the spheres is part of our human heritage and thus in evidence around the world. From the monotonous rhythm of the Mongolian shaman's drum to the intricate patterns of the Indian raga, the music of Asia is vibrant with purpose. Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar virtuoso, expressed this feeling in almost Platonic terms in his book My Music, My Life: "The highest aim of our music is to reveal the essence of the universe it reflects, and the ragas are among the means by which this essence can be apprehended. Thus, through music, one can reach God."
The power of rhythm, which is such a motivating influence in popular music today, is an integral factor in the religious life of traditional communities in Africa and the Americas. Percussive music with its hypnotic effects was used in a variety of ceremonies within the context of a wider view of reality. The awakening and stimulation of various centres of the nature by rhythm is evidenced in the religious music of peoples the world over and, in more enlightened ages philosophers have warned of the negative influence of discordant rhythms, particularly on the young.
The entire human family is engaged in the search for the lost chord of harmony with nature. In this sacred quest there is much we can learn from the wisdom of our forebears so that our own keynotes may harmonize with the celestial symphony.
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