THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- February, 2006
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Prepare to Answer Dharma," by B.P. Wadia
"Fundamentalism: What Can We Do About It," by Andrew Rooke
"On Talbot Mundy," by M.R. Jaqua
"Reembodiment, A Habit of Nature," by Leoline L. Wright
"Some Basic Teachings of Theosophy," by G. de Purucker
"The 'Square' in the Hand," by Anna Kingsford
"Do Masters Exist," by C.J. Lopez
"Geniuses, Seers, and Sages," by Anonymous
"Emerson and Occultism," by Charles Johnston
> THE SECRET DOCTRINE is a challenge to more effort and never an
> imposition of authority. Every page is a call to a voyage of
> discovery, and only he who sets out upon his travels can hope to
> begin to understand the book. It is a book which demands action,
> freedom from domination by conventional thinking, freedom from
> prejudices of all kinds, freedom from the limitations imposed by
> the forms in which science, religion, philosophy are for the
> time being expressed, freedom from the restrictions of the
> present stage of evolutionary advancement. It demands an
> adventurous spirit, the pioneer spirit, a spirit of indifference
> to persecution by the small-minded. It demands the spirit of one
> who has left behind him all attachments to numbers, to crowds,
> to orthodoxies, and seeks beyond all these the companionship of
> the few and the compelling Call of the unknown.
> -- George S. Arundale, FREEDOM AND FRIENDSHIP, pages 147-48.
PREPARE TO ANSWER DHARMA
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 84-89.]
Many passages in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE are so many direct
messages to anyone who belongs to "the sacred tribe of heroes,"
such are "the few" to whom the Golden Precepts are dedicated. On
pages 55-57 is a compact passage that begins:
> Thou hast to be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law, whose
> voice will ask thee at thy first, at thy initial step:
> "Hast thou complied with all the rules, 0 thou of lofty hopes?"
The implication of the statement that one has to "be prepared,"
and not only prepare himself, is significant. The Teachings of
the Esoteric Philosophy and the Great Teachers who are the
custodians of those Teachings aid in preparing the earnest
aspirant who has resolved to serve the Cause and determined to
live the Life.
This passage emphasizes not the discharging of our debt -- a huge
one -- to Karma, but rather the need for preparing ourselves to
answer Dharma. It suggests a shortcut -- what to do with and how
to handle Karma.
Karma knows neither wrath nor pardon and seems blind in its
justice; but what is Dharma? It is called "the stern law." It is
different from Karma; it reveals the right way of overcoming
Karma. Whatever our karma, it can be overcome by Dharma. Karma
is related to the fate aspect; Dharma, to the freewill aspect.
Karma teaches us to say, " Endure, suffer, pay your debt," but
Dharma says, "This is the way to learn, to pay your debt, and
ascend to heavenly heights."
Action that is duty is one aspect; action according to the Code
of Law and laws is another. In any state worthy of its name, a
citizen is free to live his own life as he pleases, but his
country's codes of law prevent his liberty from degenerating into
license. Similarly, every soul is free to act as he chooses, but
the Voice of Dharma warns him if he chooses wrongly, and if it is
not heeded, the soul loses his caste. The Code of Law of Nature
is there to help, not to hinder. It can be and should be used by
the person who has the perception that the universe is governed
by moral principles and is always maintained in order.
Our appreciation of the fact that we, no one or nothing else, are
responsible for our present state prompts us to seek the right
way to determine our duty as well as to discharge it. Ordinary
men and women, even those who are well educated, are more
concerned with Karma, with what they call duties, and see
numerous conflicts of duties. The student of the Esoteric
Philosophy and the Science of Occultism learns not to regret his
present Karma, but rather to seek the right way of action,
whatever his Karma. He soon finds that Dharma, the stern law,
forms the inner religion of his heart.
The practice of this "stern law" implies discipline -- the
discipline of raising the self by the Self. Many rules of life
ramify from this basic requirement. The aspirant has "lofty
hopes," and these hopes converge into the one grand hope to gain
the Great Wisdom of the Great Sacrifice necessary for the Great
Service. The principles and rules of the Esoteric Philosophy
demand that we sincerely attempt to live by the power of
Theosophy; the strength of the knowledge of the Wisdom Religion
should be built into our very Prana, Life, or Vitality.
This knowledge cannot be acquired unless the aspiring
practitioner honors the principle of silence and secrecy. Nature
is silent; she observes profound secrecy and yet she opens her
SECRET chambers, lays bare her treasures before the gaze of one
who works on with her, and even makes obeisance to him. He who
thinks too much of himself soon boasts of himself before others,
which almost immediately tarnishes his brain, mind, and will.
Man is a creator; by thought, he creates words, and the rules of
the Inner Life demand that he be non-violent in thought and
speech; more, that he be loving in the recesses of the mind and
polite, pleasant, and truthful in the use of words. To live the
Life, therefore, requires a calm reflection of and persistent
attention to the practice of Universal Brotherhood. Therefore
the second question that follows the one about complying with all
the rules is "Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great
mind and heart of all mankind?"
The metaphysical aspect underlying the teachings implicit in the
doctrine of Universal Brotherhood should be grasped. HPB states:
> Occultly and Kabbalistically, the whole of mankind is symbolized,
> by Manu in India; by Vajrasattva or DORJESEMPA, the head of the
> Seven Dhyani, in Northern Buddhism; and by Adam Kadmon in the
> Kabbala: All these represent the totality of mankind whose
> beginning is in this androgynic protoplast, and whose end is in
> the Absolute, beyond all these symbols and myths of human origin.
> -- THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, "Humanity"
> The spiritual Monad is One, Universal, Boundless and Impartite,
> whose rays, nevertheless, form what we, in our ignorance, call
> the "Individual Monads" of men.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 177.
It is not difficult to comprehend, even with the lower mind, the
fact that Humanity is of the same substance, spiritually and
morally. At the other end, our bodies are composed of the same
substances and essences -- that also is not difficult for the
lower mind to accept. But the nature of the lower mind is
combative, and it is most difficult for it to perceive that
Humanity is a Brotherhood also intellectually. The aspirant to
Divine Wisdom in living his life must learn this teaching of the
> Each human being has his MANODHATU or plane of thought
> proportionate with the degree of his intellect and his mental
> faculties, beyond which he can go only by studying and developing
> his higher spiritual faculties in one of the higher spheres of
> -- THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY, "Manodhatu"
The very essence of the discipline of the earnest practitioner is
to fight those aspects of the lower mind that create selfishness
and egotism, to consider the good of "all that lives and
breathes." The lower mind raises objections and barriers to
transmuting the selfish mind of desires into the mind that moves
by altruism, philanthropy, and brotherhood.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE (I, 58) carries these beautiful and very
> If thou wouldst believe in the Power that acts within the root of
> a plant, or imagine the root concealed under the soil, thou hast
> to think of its stalk or trunk and of its leaves and flowers.
> Thou canst not imagine that Power independently of these objects.
> Life can be known only by the Tree of Life. ( Precepts for Yoga)
These philosophical propositions are necessary subjects for
reflection; they brush away the dust of illusions and bring about
the blending of Mind and Soul.
But who does not know that love for the whole, vast Humanity is
an abstraction? To love Humanity in the mass is as difficult as
it is to feel the omnipresence of Deity in the vastness of space.
Deity is to be sought in the cave of the Heart, and
correspondentially our text pointedly refers to the "collective
minds of Lanoo-Shravakas." For those who aspire to tread the Path
of Chelaship, this verse is not only important, it is
> Disciples may be likened to the strings of the soul-echoing Vina;
> mankind, unto its sounding board; the hand that sweeps it to the
> tuneful breath of the GREAT WORLD-SOUL. The string that fails to
> answer 'neath the Master's touch in dulcet harmony with all the
> others, breaks -- and is cast away. So the collective minds of
> Lanoo-Shravakas. They have to be attuned to the Upadhyaya's mind
> -- one with the Over-Soul -- or, break away.
Each disciple is a string of the Vina, capable of echoing the
tunes of the Soul. If a single string fails to answer
appropriately to the touch of the Guru, it "breaks -- and is cast
away." The mind of the learner and the listener must be attuned
to the Teacher's Mind; this implies assimilation of the minds of
co-disciples. The conductor of an orchestra demands harmony
between the players and himself. But this implies that each
player, with his own instrument, must play in due harmony with
all other players. The unity and harmony between co-disciples
and coworkers may be called the horizontal unity, and the unity
controlled and used by the Master may be named vertical unity.
This latter does not end with the Master; from Him the ray of
unity extends onwards and upwards to His Peers and Superiors.
It is necessary to get away from diffusive and vague
abstractions; otherwise, we shall not be attuned in our
consciousness to "Humanity's great pain." To facilitate our task,
a Great Compassionate One has given these highly practical
> A band of students of the Esoteric Doctrines, who would reap any
> profits spiritually, must be in perfect harmony and unity of
> thought. Each one individually and collectively has to be
> UTTERLY UNSELFISH, kind, and full of goodwill towards each other
> at least -- leaving humanity out of the question.
At first sight, this sounds strange. But Masters of Perfection
are most practical and fully aware of the nature, character, and
limitations of the mind of the disciple. They try to bring the
minds of the aspiring learners to a concrete picture. And so it
> There must be no party spirit among the band, no backbiting, no
> ill-will, or envy or jealousy, contempt or anger. What hurts one
> ought to hurt the other -- that which rejoices A must fill with
> pleasure B.
Masters have but a single Will; all of Them have a single
feeling: Compassion. A single Teaching, ancient and constant, is
spread by each of Them, cycle after cycle. One Lodge or
Fraternity, One School of Wisdom, exists, and Its Mighty
Custodians are ever trying to reproduce a miniature copy of it in
the mundane world. This is the true inwardness of the
institution of the "Path of Chelaship."
FUNDAMENTALISM: WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
By Andrew Rooke
One of the greatest challenges to world peace and progress today
is the rise of religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is the
declaration that one’s own point of view in religious matters is
supreme, and those of others are not of much value compared to
the revelation, including the sacred books, of the spiritual
teacher one follows. It is essentially a uni-dimensional view in
an increasingly multidimensional world. The term first arose to
describe the American Protestant churches in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries when many such churches in the US violently
reacted to the impact of modernism on their worldview.
Particularly, such churches were aggrieved by the Darwinian
theory of evolution, and new discoveries about the history of the
Bible which lead to doubts about its status as purely divine
This led these churches to cling to literalism in the Bible and
see modernism as a threat to the religious way of life. Such a
point of view became widely known as what we now call
Modernism, with its emphasis in the supremacy of science, logic,
and materialism, has been perceived also as a threat to a
religious way of life by many societies in the developing world.
Initially, modernism was quietly accepted by many traditional
societies which were either overwhelmed by the apparent success
of Western culture in comparison with their own, or they thought
that somehow the modernized world would ‘go away’ after political
independence was achieved. However, gradually Western culture
began to be seen in some quarters in these countries, as directly
opposed to their religious life and a tremendous threat to the
future of traditional ways.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, the backlash against rapid
social and economic changes introduced by Western society took
the form of an aggressive fundamentalism in Islam that now
threatens world peace.
Certainly, looking back at history all over the globe, we see
endless damaging conflicts in the name of religion. From our
theosophical perspective of reincarnation, we accept that we have
all been on this earth many times before. We have walked in many
lands and worshipped many different gods before incarnating in
the here and now. How much sense does it make then to criticize
others, as religious fundamentalists do, when we may have shared
their beliefs in another life, or, indeed, may grow towards their
viewpoint in a future one? Theosophy teaches that all great
religions throughout history emanate from one source of being
where truth is one.
There, various perspectives on reality coexist happily as facets
of the single diamond of truth. Through the ages, great
spiritual teachers have brought facets of this gem to various
cultures, and people have clasped tightly to their little facet
of the truth diamond and said, "See, here I have the whole
diamond of Truth!" If truth shines like the sun from a single
source, how much sense does it make in condemning other brothers
and sisters on the Path?
The images of the destruction of the twin-towers in New York, and
the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are burned into our
Theosophists, by the very nature of our endeavor, stand for
universal brotherhood, a non-dogmatic approach to religious
truth, and a respect for the many Paths to the One. In short,
Theosophy has a multidimensional but holistic approach to life,
whereas fundamentalism is uni-dimensional and separatist. So
what can Theosophists actually do about fundamentalism and its
We can try to exemplify the spirit of universal brotherhood in
what we do in daily life and communicate as and when we can, the
great laws of life which we all share in common. In practice
this means having tolerance and understanding in a multi-cultural
environment, and attempt to increase the level of understanding
between various communities and religious traditions.
In all of our communities, there are a multitude of opportunities
to express such inner attitudes from formal volunteering in
community organizations promoting multi-cultural understanding,
to simply bringing peace and harmony within our families so our
children can develop with more enlightened attitudes to others.
At a national level, Western countries could offer increased
opportunities to study other religions at school and university
and cultural exchanges for young people to better get to know
conditions in troubled parts of the world and vice versa. From a
greater level of empathy and understanding between religions and
an understanding of the cornerstones of the Ancient Wisdom --
universal brotherhood, karma and reincarnation -- perhaps a
better world based on multidimensional understanding will grow
for our kids.
When asked what is our work as theosophists now and in the
future, theosophical co-founder, William Quan Judge, said: "It is
to start up a new force, a new current in the world," so that
wise ones from long ago will "incarnate among men here and there,
and thus bring back the true life and the true practices…." "We
have each one of us, to make ourselves a centre of light; a
picture gallery from which shall be projected on the astral light
such scenes, such influences, such thoughts, as may influence
many for good, shall thus arouse a new current, and then finally
result in drawing back the great and good from the other spheres
beyond earth…" Letters that have helped me II, 8,9.
Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, speaks on fundamentalism:
> Great suffering is caused by attachment to views of dogmatism and
> fundamentalism. And that is why, among the 14 mindfulness
> trainings of the Order of Interbeing, the training on freedom
> from views is in the first position. We have to free ourselves
> from these views -- even the views of non-self, the view of
> impermanence, of inter-being -- we have to let go of all of
> these. These are instruments to work with, but they are not to
> be venerated in themselves. It is like using a raft to cross the
> river. After you cross the river, you abandon the raft. You
> don’t carry the raft on your head and walk around like that.
> That is very popular, carrying a raft around on your head.
> People are doing that all the time.
> -- Parabola Magazine, Winter 2005, page 21
ON TALBOT MUNDY
By M.R. Jaqua
[Based upon the preface to THE LAMA'S LAW -- TALBOT MUNDY IN THE
THEOSOPHICAL PATH. For more on Talbot Mundy, read the biography
by Brian Taves, newly published in 2006: TALBOT MUNDY,
PHILOSOPHER OF ADVENTURE -- A CRITICAL BIOGRAPHY.]
Talbot Mundy (1879-1940) was the author of some 40 adventure and
occult novels, from RUNG HO! in 1914 to his OLD UGLY FACE in
1940, and as well of innumerable magazine articles, a bulk of
these being in the popular ADVENTURE magazine. He is regarded by
many to be the best western novelist on Eastern subjects,
superior to Kipling in his familiarity and empathy with native
His OM, THE SECRET OF AHBOR VALLEY is generally regarded as his
masterpiece. He wrote OM while a guest of Katherine Tingley at
Point Loma Theosophical Community on the outskirts of San Diego,
California, and was a resident of the Community for several years
in the late 1920's, serving as a cabinet member. (See CALIFORNIA
UTOPIA: POINT LOMA: 1897-1942, Emmett A. Greenwalt, University
of California, 1955, revised Pt. Loma Publications, 1978.) Mundy
had over 30 pieces in Point Loma's THEOSOPHICAL PATH magazine
from 1923 through 1929. (As well as the new Taves biography, see
for a nearly complete listing see the Mundy biographies: TALBOT
MUNDY: MESSENGER OF DESTINY, compiled by Donald M. Grant; and
THE LAST ADVENTURER -- THE LIFE OF TALBOT MUNDY by Peter
Berresford Ellis, both published by Donald M. Grant --
Publisher, P.O. Box 187, Hampton Falls, NH 03844.)
Nearly all Mundy's novels have an occult and philosophic twist to
them and emphasize wisdom over mere sensationalism. Mundy
researcher Brian Taves writes also that, "What some folk don't
seem to get is that Mundy did not write just for money. They
can't understand a literary author, and one trying to disseminate
theosophical beliefs, who could have made far more money by
turning into a hack. But Mundy did not, and thereby lies his
distinction from so many others." (ECLECTIC THEOSOPHIST, Nov/Dec,
Mundy's novels are so unique that one is tempted to ascribe to
him some supernal ability. Mundy was I believe what in
Theosophical terminology is called a "mediator." This is someone
of unusual intellect, sensitivity, aggressiveness, lack of
ego-mania and with sufficient spiritual aspiration to fall under
the influence of his own "Higher Self" or even perhaps outside
adept agency, to be swamped with ideas and temporarily enter
another and superior realm of perception. This is an actively
conscious process and has to have been earned, theosophically
speaking, from previous efforts and resultant tendency. In one
form, one might say it is the case in nearly all the better type
of literature. It is not a "gift" but an earned ability. It
should not be thought the same as "mediumship" or "channeling,"
as it is a completely different and superior phenomenon.
Mediumship and channeling, as it is now called, is a
psychologically diseased and passive condition subject to lower
and psychic and unconscious conditions, while mediatorship is a
condition of heightened activity of the mind, soul, and spirit.
Mundy wrote of doing the proof checks on OM, THE SECRET OF AHBOR
VALLEY that such checking was usually a tedious job but that in
checking OM, "I felt a solid feeling in me that I had been
reading a real book. It did not seem in the least as if I had
written it." He wrote elsewhere that at one point he was even
"visited" by the old Lama of that story -- whatever this may
mean. In his KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES, although he had never
been to the Khyber Pass, his description of the area was so true
to life that a British Colonel stationed there later said in
correspondence that he could not believe that Mundy had never
actually traveled there. His TROS OF SAMOTHRACE set during Druid
and Roman times is equally compelling and realistic. One feels
he is right in that time period with no sense of the artificial
As it seems in some sensitives of his type (H.P. Blavatsky was
another of similar type but different venue), Mundy in his
younger life was eccentric and adventurous to the extreme. One
of his first memories was sticking a pin into someone to see what
they would do. He claimed he tried some foolishly daring stunts
just to overcome the fear of so doing. Mundy's birth name was
William Lancaster Gribbon and he was born in a suburb of London
among a very Victorian and church-oriented family, which may have
been a partial cause to his later rebelliousness. After his
father's death his public school performance dropped drastically
and he ran away from home at age 16 by randomly sticking a pin in
a map and going to Germany with his dog. He quit his first job
after his boss got drunk and killed his dog. It was then back to
England, then India, Africa, Australia, Tasmania, and back to
In Africa, he was wounded by a spear while cattle rustling and
assured that he was going to die by the local European doctor who
even had his grave dug. During this time, he also employed
himself in elephant hunting, and was wanted by the law for
supposed confidence trickstering. He used several aliases and
often claimed royal descent. He was supposedly also well-known
for numerous affairs with native women, although he was probably
just less secretive than most European men in a land where there
were no European women. He was somewhat loose with facts, at
least in earlier accounts, about his life history and when he was
arrested and had to serve 6 months on a road gang, it later
became "being contracted by the gov't to build roads." He walked
the length of Africa at least once and served as crew member on
one ship in which conditions were so bad that the whole crew
mutinied. His real life adventures and daring served as a
fertile resource for his later prolific writing. Strangely, he
had done little if any writing before 1909 in New York City when
he was attacked and had his skull cracked after a card game at a
bar. During his recuperation, he began writing and met with
immediate success. His later encounter with the Point Loma
Community and Theosophy had a profound affect on his life, and
his later writings show an influence or inspiration lacking in
his early writing.
Mundy was acute in being able to use common-usage language in
explaining theosophic concepts more often accompanied with many
Sanskrit and foreign terms. Perhaps his ideas shouldn't be
labeled strictly "Theosophy" but that of the wisdom-tradition
that is always with man in one form or another and waiting for
anyone with intuition to reach up and perceive it. The technical
terms are important, but Mundy's ability was to grasp the ideas
with intuition and express them plainly, as can be seen in his
Theosophical articles and also in his aphorisms and
between-the-lines permeating all his 40 novels.
REEMBODIMENT, A HABIT OF NATURE
By Leoline L. Wright
[From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages 3-9.]
A characteristic viewpoint of Theosophy is that man is a
deathless, spiritual Ego using mind and body as garment or
vehicle of expression and experience in the external world. The
present general tendency to regard ourselves as the product
simply of physical evolution has been one of the greatest
handicaps in modern life. For it has had the effect of
discounting the reality of man's spiritual nature and has
intensified the horror of death.
How can anyone be truly happy or willingly unselfish if he
believes that death ends all? So long as the majority is
convinced that the life of the senses is the only reality, we
shall be unable to establish scientifically the fact of
POST-MORTEM existence. Can a man who has passed all his life in
a blind dungeon prove that there is a sun? And he certainly will
not be able to go further and explain how and why his very
existence in the dungeon is dependent in a thousand ways upon the
sun's invisible but all sustaining life.
We must come out of the imprisoning dungeons of materialistic
religion and science into the sunlight of spiritual Truth. Then
we shall see that the real, inner man -- the essential core of
each of us -- has always existed, is immortal at the present
moment, and can no more be destroyed than can the boundless
Universe of which it is an inseparable part.
Then, too, some satisfactory explanation must exist as to the
prevailing injustices of life. Nearly anyone feels that life has
more or less cheated him. Are not most of us born with desires
and capacities that we shall never in this life have the
opportunity to develop? And there are many indeed who are born
with innate tendencies to evil that they are given no chance to
outgrow. The glaring inequalities of modern life are in
themselves enough to embitter the human heart and wither its
What is needed first is to demonstrate to man his significance in
the evolutionary plan. We need a larger view of the purpose and
destiny of the human race. Theosophy relates man to the Universe
and shows that his individual consciousness is a ray of the
Universal Cosmic Consciousness. It starts out by emphasizing
that man is essentially a CENTER OF CONSCIOUSNESS -- not just a
body to which a so-called soul is suddenly added at birth or
death. Nor are we accidental products of blind, mechanical
forces. Each individual is part of a living, organic Universe.
That Universe itself is a product of evolution and carries
forward within its own unfolding plan all that is -- atoms, men,
nebulae, worlds, solar systems, galaxies -- in a grand sweep of
development in which the humblest earthworm as certainly as the
most godlike genius has a definite part.
The history of generations of oak-trees lies in the tiny acorn.
From the heart of the acorn there slowly unfolds in response to
Nature's influences a mighty tree that is an expression of an
immense past of evolutionary oak-tree experience. So with the
human being, the 'Manplant of the Ages.' In that divine unit of
consciousness that is the inner source of our individual life is
stored the essence of an immense past stretching backward across
immemorial ages. And our appearance as man on this earth is but
one act in the magnificent drama of our evolution.
Nor is the human race itself a recent development of Nature. Man
came from former cycles of evolution and resumed a body here on
Earth, which is his present training-school. Further, there has
not been constant 'creation' of new souls all down the ages. The
number of evolving human beings on this Earth, though immense, is
yet fixed and constant. This means that, in line with the
economy of Nature, men as evolving Egos have been reborn on Earth
repeatedly. All of us who make up our present civilization have
been here many times before. We were the men and women who
formed the great civilizations of the past, and we have been
embodied in the many magnificent prehistoric races that Theosophy
tells us something about.
Theosophy, therefore, begins with pre-existence as a necessary
part of eternity. For a thing that has a beginning must
necessarily end. Nature makes that plain enough. What we call
eternity or 'immortality' must stretch endlessly back into the
past as well as endlessly forward into the future. The innermost
Self of man is a deathless Being, a god, which reclothes itself
from age to age in new bodies, or vehicles, that it may undergo
all possible experiences in the Universe to which it belongs, and
so reach its own most complete growth and self-expression.
Rebirth is the pathway of evolution. It is the method by which
Nature progressively draws into growth or unfoldment the
limitless capacities latent in all creatures from atoms to gods.
Everything that has life reembodies itself -- universes, solar
systems, suns, worlds; men, animals, and plants; cells,
molecules, atoms. Each of these forms is ensouled by a spiritual
consciousness-center that is evolving in its own degree, passing
upward, and unfolding like a seed from within itself its latent
In the human race, we call this process of rebirth or
reembodiment by the word REINCARNATION, which means 'refleshing,'
or taking on again a garment or body of flesh. There are various
names for the different forms of reembodiment that pertain to all
beings from the highest to the lowest, but here we are concerned
only with that form of reembodiment that pertains to man, and
that is called reincarnation.
Human life is thus seen as a necessary and highly important part
of the Cosmic Evolutionary Scheme. And we naturally inquire what
its purpose is, for there seems to be no clear indication in the
present confusion of beliefs and theories as to why we are here
and what it is all for.
Briefly, the purpose of life is to raise the mortal into
immortality. Or, to expand the idea somewhat, it is to give time
and opportunity for the deathless spiritual potency at the core
of man's being to develop, grow, unfold, into perfection. For
Theosophy tells us that the personal man -- the everyday self --
is not immortal. John Smith and Mary Brown are not deathless
beings. They are mere personalities, and as such do not
reincarnate. It is the units of consciousness behind John Smith
and Mary Brown, of which these perhaps quite ordinary persons are
but the imperfect aspects -- this root of consciousness in each,
this Ego it is that reincarnates.
What man or woman has not often felt how short life is -- how
inadequate to express all that one feels of inspiration and
capacity within his nature? How often we hear it said, "I am only
just learning to live -- now when I am old and just about to
die." The Universe, however, is not run in that cruelly wasteful
fashion. The very fact that we intuitively KNOW that there are
large reserves of power and possibility within us seeking
expression -- the fact that nearly everyone yearns to develop, TO
BE, that Greater Self that he senses within -- this very urge to
a larger and fuller life, is our daily witness to Nature's true
purpose for man. It is only because we are so preoccupied with
our limited, everyday consciousness as John Smith or Mary Brown,
and live only at rare moments in that deep, divine urge of the
greater being within, that we are for the most part unconscious
of the larger possibilities of life for us.
Let a man, then, first try to realize that he is in his inmost
nature a divine consciousness or Ego; that this Ego that is
himself has always existed, and shall never cease to live and
grow, and develop toward perfection. Let him set his desire and
will to realize his oneness with this divine Ego and to bring it
out in his daily life as a larger, deeper individuality than that
of his personal consciousness. He will then enter upon a new
life. He will become a creator, a self-generator of his own
illimitable divine destiny. He will begin at last to work
self-consciously with the real purpose of evolution.
It is through reincarnation alone that man can bring out, and
use, and perfect, the fullness of that hidden wealth of power and
capacity of which we are all conscious in some measure. For
through reincarnation the Ego undergoes every kind of human
experience that this earth affords. In each life, some new facet
of character is shaped by environment. New powers and capacities
are unfolded from within. Weaknesses, selfishness, and the
faults of passion are corrected by suffering, that wise teacher
that enables us to recognize and overcome our egoism and
Every new life gives us another chance. The criminal thus has
time and opportunity to reform HIMSELF, and through restitution
and self-mastery can advance to better things. One whose need to
support and work for others all his life has made cultivation of
his musical or other gifts impossible will, by the very strength
of that dammed back energy and the moral power generated by
devotion to duty, find increased capacity with freedom in another
life for its development. So if we use well our opportunities we
shall grow steadily from life to life until in some future
reincarnation on this Earth character will flower into divine
genius and we shall live and work in the fullness of our true
SOME BASIC TEACHINGS OF THEOSOPHY
By G. de Purucker
[From a radio broadcast at Hilversum, Holland, on June 11, 1933,
reprinted in WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 318-23.]
Friends and Brothers of Holland and of Neighboring Lands:
It was on the afternoon of September 20, 1931 that I had the
first opportunity to speak over this great radio broadcasting
station of Hilversum; and today, due to the great courtesy of the
Directors of this Station, I am again addressing you on a few at
least of the most important doctrines of Theosophy.
It is a genuine pleasure to talk to open-minded people in this
our present era of rapid progress, albeit also an era of
transition and very rapid change. The so-called truths of our
fathers are in many instances now seen to be but half-truths, or,
indeed, no truths at all; and the modern man and woman,
dissatisfied with the limited ideals of our ancestors, are
seeking new things, yearning for a greater light than was had
before. The modern man and woman are no longer content, at least
the great majority of them, with the principles of thought and
conduct that the religions and philosophies of the last few
hundred years once laid down as needful for a noble living and a
Everywhere the cry goes up from hungry hearts and anxious minds:
What is Truth? Where may it be found? Is there anything in the
world that is stable and that can withstand the searching inquiry
of scientific researchers and discoverers? And on the other hand,
the more subtle and even more urgent questioning of the human
We Theosophists, from our own individual experience, are
convinced through every fiber of our being that the ancient
spiritual and intellectual wisdom of mankind today called
Theosophy, is the only systematic body of teaching known to the
world today that has naught to fear from any discovery of the
inquisitive science of the Occident, nor, again, from the still
more searching and still more present questioning of the greatest
minds of the human race.
In an age when old standards are crumbling, new standards of life
and conduct are absolutely needed; and if these cannot be found
and followed, there is every danger that our Occidental
civilization will crash to earth. The saying of the old Hebrew
writer in PROVERBS, xxix, 18, "Where there is no vision, the
people perish," is true indeed. It is precisely this new vision
that Theosophy gives to men, a new vision of the Universe, a new
vision of the nature and character of man, showing how the
Universe and man stand somewhat in the relation of parent and
offspring; and hence, when we know the nature of the Universe and
its structure and operations and laws, we have an infallible key
by which we may understand the nature and origin and character
and destiny of man, and, indeed of all other beings and things
One of the most interesting studies of the wonderful Theosophical
philosophy deals precisely with these great questions. I urge
that all those who are interested in knowing what our
Theosophical doctrines have to say about these matters study our
books; and they will find a field of thought, which although new
to the Occident, is so old that its origin runs back into the
mists of immemorial antiquity. Theosophy has no quarrel with any
one of the great religions. It simply points out to the
adherents of any religion the origin and real meaning of their
beliefs, Christianity included among them; for we Theosophists
say that the core or heart of every great world-religion or
world-philosophy is precisely that system of doctrine that today
is called Theosophy.
Now, what are some few at least of the main doctrines of
Theosophy that will bring great help to modern men and women,
which will tend to solve their intellectual questions, and that
will bring hope and comfort to their hearts and a new and sublime
vision to their minds? I will briefly describe a few that those
who are interested can study in detail in our books. Let me take
up very briefly, first, our teaching concerning the existence of
a great Brotherhood of highly evolved men. They are not gods nor
excarnate spirits, but just what I have said: highly evolved men,
men who through many ages have brought into relatively full
activity the tremendous spiritual, intellectual, and psychical
powers that lie latent and therefore unused in the average man.
This Brotherhood of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and
Peace, as exemplified by the great Sages and Seers of the past,
some of whose names are known to every civilized fireside, such
as Gautama the Buddha and Krishna, in India; Lao-Tze and
Confucius in China; Jesus called the Christ of Palestine, who is,
as of course you know, the Christian Master; Apollonius of Tyana,
Empedocles, and Plato. There are many more whose names would
probably be unknown. These men are not all of equal spiritual
rank, of course, but all of them have belonged and still do
belong to this great Brotherhood, because they reincarnate, at
least most of them, from age to age in order to bring wisdom and
love and peace into the world again with their teachings.
This Brotherhood from time to time send forth one of their
Messengers or Envoys into the world, to strike once more the
keynotes of spiritual and intellectual truth, and to show men who
have lost the great vision how once more to regain it and to set
their feet on the pathway leading to wisdom and peace and
progress. It was from this Brotherhood that H.P. Blavatsky came
forth and founded the Theosophical Society in the city of New
York in 1875, a Society that now is an organization with branches
in all parts of the world, and that invites to membership all who
genuinely love their fellowmen and who desire to study truth and
to improve not only their own characters, but also the spiritual
and social condition of their fellowmen.
Another one of our great doctrines that is closely linked with
that of the existence of this great Brotherhood, is the teaching
that all human beings reincarnate or reembodied themselves on
earth in life after life after life, gaining experience, gaining
wisdom, gaining spiritual and intellectual and moral strength in
each life, and thus progressing or evolving throughout the ages
of time. Each new life on earth, each new reincarnation, is, as
it were, a new chance to correct the mistakes of the past lives,
to live the present life nobler than the last one was lived, to
grow stronger and better and wiser in every sense. It offers to
us men the chance to meet once again those whom we loved in other
lives; yes, and to meet those whom, alas, we may have hated, and
to undo the wrongs, perchance, that once we did to them.
Just as the seasons come and go, each autumn being a season of
death to the vegetation, to be followed by the next spring
bringing forth a new reembodiment, as it were, of the vegetable
life of the earth, just so do human beings return repeatedly.
Just as the planets revolve around the sun in cyclical order,
just so do men return in cyclical order to the fields of earth
where once they lived, and where because of that fact they MUST
return again, because they are drawn hither by attractions that
are exceedingly strong and cannot be gainsaid.
Reincarnation or reembodiment is but one exemplification of
Nature's law of periodicity, that is to say of recurring cycles,
which means in other words that what has happened once must
happen again, and because it happens again it will happen a third
time, and so on indefinitely. Human life, therefore, is not
measured by a single short period of human existence, nor are
human hopes measured by the period between birth and the grave;
for this would be impossible, and is seen to be unnatural, when
once we understand Nature's universal and unfailing law of
periodicity or cyclical recurrences.
Pause and think a moment, and consider the birth of a little
child. Here we see a helpless infant showing in no wise when
born the amazing faculties and powers, emotions and feelings,
that it will manifest when it becomes adult. It is just so when
we sow a seed in the earth, the seed shows in no wise the
wonderful plant that it will bring forth, with its trunk and
branches and twigs and leaves, beautiful flowers and fruit. All
the tree is locked up in the seed, just as all the faculties and
powers of a man are locked up or lying latent in the child. And
yet, as the child grows, they all spring forth into activity, and
we pause before that marvel of the world, a self-conscious,
thinking, feeling, planning, creative man, Nature's noblest work
All man's faculties and powers come from the discipline undergone
in previous lives, come from the lessons learned in previous
lives, come from exercising in previous lives the imperfect
faculties that make man's constitution. Just so are we in this
life, we men of earth, shaping and framing what our next life on
earth will be. Let us look to it that we make our characters
shapely and majestic, instead of distorted and evil; because in
the next life, we shall be what in this life we are now making
ourselves to be.
The doctrine of Reincarnation is a noble doctrine because it is
very, very just; and as one pauses in thought over it, one sees
how true it is. And this leads me naturally, after this brief
outline of the doctrine of Reembodiment, to a third noble
doctrine of the Theosophical philosophy. We Theosophists call it
Karma, that is to say the doctrine of consequences or results,
meaning that what a man sows in the field of his character, that
exactly will the man reap as his destiny, either in this life or
in his next life, or in future lives to come. It is the doctrine
of cause and effect, the doctrine that we make ourselves by our
own thoughts and feelings and wills, and therefore actions, to be
what we are, indeed to be WHAT WE SHALL BECOME in the future.
Briefly, as I have said, it is the doctrine that what we sow we
shall reap, and what we have sown in other lives we are reaping
now in this present life.
When men understand this noble doctrine, then hope takes the
place of despair, because we realize that we can make our lives
what we will them to be, and that there is no fundamental
injustice in the world. We realize that we can raise ourselves
by our own efforts and self-discipline to be almost human gods;
or, conversely, that we can sink almost to beastly depths, if we
willfully degrade our manhood by evil thinking, evil feeling, and
therefore evil acting.
There are many other doctrines of Theosophy that are equally
beautiful and wonderful with these; but today I have no more time
to speak to you about them. But with these three doctrines
placed before you, you must see at once how closely they hang
together: first, the existence of a Brotherhood of sublimely
noble men who are the protectors and guardians of the human race,
and who from time to time appear on earth as the guides and
helpers of mankind. Second, the doctrine of Reincarnation that
shows how not only these noble men whom we call the Masters have
grown to be such, but it shows how all men can become nobler and
greater by means of the law of Nature that the third doctrine,
that of Karma or of consequences, sets forth.
Theosophy above everything else is a doctrine of hope, a doctrine
that teaches the brotherhood of mankind, and that justice rules
in the world. Its teachings alleviate disharmony, destroy the
seeds of human disintegration, whether individual or
international. Every Theosophist in his heart looks forward to
the day when the Council-Chambers of the peoples of the earth
will be filled with men whose minds are permeated by these noble
doctrines, explaining the facts of the Universe and the laws that
Friends and Brothers of Holland, and Friends and Brothers of
neighboring countries, from our International Headquarters at
Point Loma, California, I have come many thousands of miles to do
what I can to carry this Message of hope and peace and wisdom and
brotherhood to those who are willing to hear. Our Society is
very active in your own beautiful country, my Brothers of
Holland, and those who are interested in Theosophy can learn more
of Theosophy by coming into touch with our Dutch representatives.
Before I leave you, I would like to answer the question: What is
the Pathway to the Masters, to the Great Ones? The way to come
unto them is to be like them. They are listening always,
watching always, casting their gaze over the face of the earth,
searching out men, looking for signs of spiritual and
intellectual awakening, which they, owing to their deep knowledge
of Nature's laws, can see and read, and in seeing and reading,
they interpret, and know just where this man or that man stands.
Be like unto them, therefore. That is the Path. Be more like
unto them, and you will have advanced along that Pathway. Be
still more like unto them, and you have advanced still farther
along the Path; until suddenly one day you will realize that
instead of being very far away, the Masters are your Brothers,
and that they are with you.
It is simply a matter of becoming like unto your OWN spiritual
being. Be peaceful, be kindly, be gentle, and be forgiving.
Strive to know more of Nature and her wonderful laws. Cultivate
your intellect as well as your spiritual intuitions. Love all
things both great and small, without distinction in your mind or
without difference of emotion in your heart. Be just unto all
beings. Strive to polish and enlarge your intellectual
sympathies, realizing, however, that a man's first duty is to
love his own country, and strictly to obey its laws. Above
everything else, strive to become more at one with the Divinity
within you, which makes your feeling of oneness with the Universe
to be an actuality in your life. Feel your spiritual unity with
all things, which is a way of becoming one with all things.
Brothers of Holland, Brothers of other countries, may the vision
that I have spoken of come to all of you whose minds yearn for a
greater light, and whose hearts yearn for a greater love. I
THE "SQUARE" IN THE HAND
By Anna Kingsford
[From LUCIFER, November 15, 1887, pages 181-85.]
I am unable to say where or when the events related in the
following pages took place. Neither can I give any details
concerning the personal circumstances of the narrator. All I
know is that she was a young woman of French nationality, and
that the "uncle" of whom she speaks -- her senior by some thirty
years -- was more distinguished as a philosopher than as an
enthusiast. Whether the conspiracy against the reigning
authorities in which our heroine and her friends were implicated,
happened to be of any historical importance or not, is also more
than I can say.
As my object in reproducing the narrative is merely to illustrate
the curious operation through natural channels of laws, which are
usually regarded as "occult," and the activity of which on the
material plane has given rise to the common notion of "miracle,"
I do not propose to trouble the reader or myself with any
preamble of merely local interest. So, without more
introduction, I leave the diary of the writer to recount the
adventure set down therein by her own hand.
I was concerned in a very prominent way in a political struggle
for liberty and the people's rights. My part in this struggle
was, indeed, the leading one, but my uncle had been drawn into it
at my instance, and was implicated in a secondary manner only.
The government sought our arrest, and, for a time, we evaded all
attempts to take us, but at last, we were surprised and driven
under escort in a private carriage to a military station, where
we were to be detained for examination. With us was arrested a
man popularly known as Fou, a poor weakling whom I much pitied.
When we arrived at the station that was our destination, Fou gave
some trouble to the officials. I think he fainted, but at all
events, his conveyance from the carriage to the military barracks
needed the conjoined efforts of our escort, and some commotion
was caused by his appearance among the crowd assembled to see us.
Clearly, the crowd was sympathetic with us and hostile to the
military. I particularly noticed one woman who pressed forward
as Fou was being carried into the station, and who loudly called
on all present to note his feeble condition and the barbarity of
arresting a witless creature such as he.
At that moment, my uncle laid his hand on my arm and whispered,
"Now is our time. The guards are all occupied with Fou. We are
left alone for a minute. Let us jump out of the carriage and
As he said this, he opened the carriage door on the side opposite
to the barracks and alighted in the street. I instantly
followed, and the people favoring us, we pressed through them and
fled at the top of our speed down the road.
As we ran, I spied a pathway winding up a hillside away from the
town, and cried, "Let us go up there. Let us get away from the
My uncle answered, "No, no. They would see us there immediately
at that height, the path is too conspicuous. Our best safety is
to lose ourselves in the town. We may throw them off our track
by winding in and out of the streets."
Just then, a little child, playing in the road, got in our way,
and nearly threw us down as we ran. We had to pause a moment to
"That child may have cost us our lives," whispered my uncle
A second afterwards, we reached the bottom of the street that
branched off right and left. I hesitated a moment, and then we
both turned to the right. As we did so -- in the twinkling of an
eye -- we found ourselves in the midst of a group of soldiers
coming round the corner. I ran straight into the arms of one of
them, who the same instant knew me and seized me by throat and
waist with a grip of iron. This was a horrible moment! The iron
grasp was sudden and solid as the grip of a vice. The man's arm
held my waist like a bar of steel.
"I arrest you!" he cried, and the soldiers immediately closed
At once, I realized the hopelessness of the situation, the utter
futility of resistance. "You do not need to hold me thus," I
said to the officer, "I will go quietly."
He loosened his hold and we were then marched off to another
military station, in a different part of the town from that
whence we had escaped. The man who had arrested me was a
sergeant or some officer in petty command.
He took me alone with him into the guardroom, and placed before
me on a wooden table some papers that he told me to fill in and
sign. Then he sat down opposite to me and I looked through the
papers. They were forms, with blanks left for descriptions
specifying the name, occupation, age, address, and so forth of
arrested persons. I signed them, and pushing them across the
table to the man, asked him what was to be done with us.
"You will be shot," he replied, quickly and decisively.
"Both of us?" I asked.
"Both," he replied.
"But," said I, "my companion has done nothing to deserve death.
He was drawn into this struggle entirely by me. Consider, too,
his advanced age. His hair is white, he stoops, and had it not
been for the difficulty with which he moves his limbs, both of us
would probably be at this moment in a place of safety. What can
you gain by shooting an old man such as he is?"
The officer was silent. He neither favored nor discouraged me by
his manner. While I sat awaiting his reply, I glanced at the
hand with which I had just signed the papers, and a sudden idea
flashed into my mind.
"At least," I said, "grant me one request. If my uncle must die,
let me die first."
Now I made this request for the following reason. In my right
hand, the line of life broke abruptly halfway in its length,
indicating a sudden and violent death. But the point at which it
broke was terminated by a perfectly marked square,
extraordinarily clear-cut and distinct. Such a square, occurring
at the end of a broken line, means rescue, salvation.
I had long been aware of this strange figuration in my hand, and
had often wondered what it presaged. But now, as once more I
looked at it, it came upon me with sudden conviction that in some
way I was destined to be delivered from death at the last moment,
and I thought that if this be so, it would be horrible should my
uncle have been killed first. If I were to be saved, I should
certainly save him also, for my pardon would involve the pardon
of both, or my rescue the rescue of both. Therefore, it was
important to provide for his safety until after my fate was
The officer seemed to take this last request into more serious
consideration than the first. He said shortly, "I may be able to
manage that for you," and then at once rose and took up the
papers I had signed.
"When are we to be shot," I asked him.
"Tomorrow morning," he replied, as promptly as before. Then he
went out, turning the key of the guardroom upon me.
The dawn of the next day broke darkly. It was a terribly stormy
day; great black lurid thunderclouds lay piled along the horizon,
and came up slowly and awfully against the wind. I looked upon
them with terror; they seemed so near the earth, and so like
living, watching things. They hung out of the sky, extending
long ghostly arms downwards, and their gloom and density seemed
The soldiers took us out, our hands bound behind us, into a
quadrangle at the back of their barracks. The scene is sharply
impressed on my mind. A palisade of two sides of a square, made
of wooden planks, ran round the quadrangle. Behind this
palisade, and pressed up close against it was a mob of men and
women -- the people of the town -- come to see the execution.
Their faces were sympathetic; they had an unmistakable look of
mingled grief and rage, not unmixed with desperation -- for they
were a downtrodden folk -- shone in the hundreds of eyes turned
I was the only woman among the condemned. My uncle was there,
poor Fou as well, looking bewildered, and one or two other
On the third and fourth sides of the quadrangle was a high wall,
and in a certain place was a niche partly enclosing the trunk of
a tree, cut off at the top. An iron ring was driven into the
trunk midway, evidently for securing condemned persons for
execution. I guessed it would be used for that now. In the
center of the square piece of ground stood a file of soldiers,
armed with carbines, and an officer with a drawn saber. The
palisade was guarded by a row of soldiers somewhat sparsely
distributed, certainly not more than a dozen in all.
A Catholic priest in black cassock walked beside me, and as we
were conducted into the enclosure, he turned to me and offered
religious consolation. I declined his ministrations, but asked
him anxiously if he knew which of us was to die first. "You," he
replied. "The officer in charge of you said you wished it, and
he has been able to accede to your request."
Even then, I felt a singular joy at hearing this, though I had no
longer any expectation of release. Death was, I thought, far too
near at hand for that.
Just then, a soldier approached us, and led me, bareheaded, to
the tree trunk, where he placed me with my back against it and
made fast my hands behind me with a rope to the iron ring. No
bandage was put over my eyes. I stood thus, facing the file of
soldiers in the middle of the quadrangle, and noticed that the
officer with the drawn saber placed himself at the extremity of
the line, composed of six men.
In that supreme moment, I also noticed that their uniform was
bright with steel accoutrements. Their helmets were of steel and
their carbines, as they raised them and pointed them at me, ready
cocked, glittered in a fitful gleam of sunlight with the same
There was an instant's stillness and hush while the men took aim;
then I saw the officer raise his bared saber as the signal to
fire. It flashed in the air; then with a suddenness impossible
to convey, the whole quadrangle blazed with an awful light -- a
light so vivid, so intense, so blinding, so indescribable that
everything was blotted out and devoured by it.
It crossed my brain with instantaneous conviction that this
amazing glare was the physical effect of being shot, and that the
bullets had pierced my brain or heart, and caused this frightful
sense of all-pervading flame. Vaguely I remembered having read
or having been told that such was the result produced on the
nervous system of a victim to death from firearms.
"It is over," I said, "that was the bullets." But presently there
forced itself on my dazed senses a sound -- a confusion of sounds
-- darkness succeeding the white flash -- then steadying itself
into gloomy daylight; a tumult; a heap of stricken, tumbled men
lying stone-still before me; a fearful horror upon every living
Then it all burst on me with distinct conviction. The storm that
had been gathering all the morning had culminated in its blackest
and most electric point immediately overhead. The file of
soldiers appointed to shoot me stood exactly under it. Sparkling
with bright steel on head and breast and carbines, they stood
shoulder to shoulder, a complete lightning conductor, and at the
end of the chain they formed, their officer, at the critical
moment, raised his shining, naked blade towards the sky.
Instantaneously heaven opened, and the lightning fell, attracted
by the burnished steel. From blade to carbine, from helmet to
breastplate, it ran, smiting every man dead as he stood. They
fell like a row of ninepins, blackened in face and hand in an
instant -- in the twinkling of an eye -- dead. The electric
flame licked the life out of seven men in that second; not one
moved a muscle or a finger again.
Then followed a wild scene. The crowd, stupefied for a minute by
the thunderbolt and the horror of the devastation it had wrought,
recovered sense, and with a mighty shout hurled itself against
the palisade, burst it, leapt over it and swarmed into the
quadrangle, easily overpowering the unnerved guards.
I was surrounded, eager hands unbound mine, arms were thrown
about me; the people roared, and wept, and triumphed, and fell
about me on their knees praising Heaven. I think rain fell, my
face was wet with drops, and my hair -- but I knew no more, for I
swooned and lay unconscious in the arms of the crowd. My rescue
had indeed come, and from the very Heavens!
DO MASTERS EXIST?
By C.J. Lopez
[An address before the Vyasa Theosophical Society, New Orleans,
published in THE PATH, May 1894, pages 52-56.]
As far as my personal interest in the Theosophical studies is
concerned, it matters little if these beings do exist or not.
For, if the teaching satisfies my sense of truth, if the scrutiny
fails to discover in it anything that revolts my reason, what
does it matter from whence it comes? Is truth less worthy of our
assimilation because we are not personally acquainted with its
But the very plan, constitution, or POLICY of the Theosophical
Society demands imperatively as its foundation rock the existence
of those advanced beings in order to explain, without
superstitious beliefs in supernatural revelations, this new
outpouring of old forgotten truths that forms the bulk of its
If the men of our race and age are ever going to make of
Theosophy a practical guide in their daily life and not a mere
speculation, an intellectual fad, or a sort of system of mental
gymnastics, they must first conceive the Masters as ideals to
imitate. They must picture them as men more advanced on the path
of evolution than the best of us, nearer to perfection and freer
from the many obstacles that our ignorance of the ultimate forces
of nature opposes to the exercise of our will. This conception
of what a Master must be should be devoid of superstition and
It must not be supposed that they are super-human beings, whom,
being entrusted with special missions and endowed with
supernatural powers, are capable of violating the eternal laws of
Nature to suit their own caprice. They must not be considered as
exceptions, but as natural products of normal evolution, carried
to a point of which we did not dream before. They must he looked
upon as men who through a long series of incarnations, by willful
and conscious efforts, whose motive has always been the good of
others, and whose characteristic has always been self-sacrifice,
have arrived at that state of perfection that would be the
condition of a human being possessing at the same time mental
qualities far superior to those of our greater savants, and heart
qualities far beyond those of the greatest self-sacrificing
heroes who honor the history of mankind.
Who shall slander humanity by saying that such attainments are
impossible in a long series of incarnations? Who shall deny that
there are today many obscure men and women sacrificing themselves
for the good of others, doing their full duty and even more than
their strict duty without discrimination, fear, nor hope; and
that there are many ignored students, consuming their life in the
thankless task of pushing a little further the barriers of
ignorance that limit today every modern science?
Why not believe that these men and women are progressing towards
Adeptship, some treading now the path of Knowledge and others the
path of Compassion? When a student, after having Mastered all the
secrets of Nature, not only on its material aspect but in what is
called its occult side, shall become also a philanthropist
capable of sacrificing himself, not for a particular set of
people but for the whole of humanity, then a new Master will have
Let us see now if there are any proofs of the existence of such
Masters at the present time. I will divide these proofs in three
classes: logical deductions, actual sensible experiences of
reliable witnesses, and direct psychical recognitions.
The most commonly used logical proof is that derived from
evolution. If we admit that a stone becomes in the course of
ages a plant, that this plant becomes an animal, and this animal
a man, why shall we be conceited enough to think that men, such
as we, are the ne-plus-ultra of terrestrial evolution? To all
those who have studied and not merely read about the sciences of
chemistry, physics, astronomy, and physiology, it is plain that
our civilization has wrested from Nature many a valuable secret.
It is equally plain that we only know one aspen of Nature, the
physical or grossly material, and that very imperfectly yet,
since the ultimate laws upon which those sciences are based are
far from being understood.
We find in each one of those realms of human knowledge some of
the greatest authorities, not the lesser lights, frankly
admitting that when they reach the very bottom of academic
orthodoxy in their favorite science, they get glimpses of a rich
realm far beyond, with new laws more universal and complete in
their play than those of physical matter, with new forces far
superior and more refined than those hitherto known, and new
possibilities far surpassing the wildest conceptions of the most
Some men, removed from the hurried struggle for
self-gratification of the occidental world, have more time and
more energy to devote to the purest investigations of science,
communing with nature in its unspoiled grandeur and concentrating
their efforts not on self-aggrandizement but rather on
self-improvement. Is it not logical to admit that under such
conditions, they must certainly have mastered these occult
sciences of which even we are beginning to stammer it's A-B-C's,
and that using those sciences practically, as we do those that we
know, they are capable of producing effects that we do not
understand any more than the Eskimo at the Fair understand the
modus operandi of the electric plant?
Another logical proof is that derived from the nature of the
Theosophical teachings themselves. They provide doctrines that
embrace the Divine Principle, Nature, and man, condensing in one
harmonious whole the fragmentary knowledge of the Orient and the
Occident, of the ancient sages and prophets, the medieval
philosophers and seers, and the modern scientists and
metaphysicians. They explain satisfactorily the physical,
psychical, and spiritual phenomena. They cover the triple ground
of science, philosophy, and religion, not only without omissions
and without shortcomings but, on the contrary, filling the gaps
that we had found in that triple realm of human knowledge and
uniting the three in one. Such doctrines cannot be the invention
of ordinary men, much less the offspring of unscientific minds
like those of A.P. Sinnett, Madame Blavatsky, and Col. Olcott.
What else can it be? The revelation of a personal God, the
inspiration of dead personalities, or the instruction of
perfected living human beings, such as the Masters are.
The first supposition is untenable because a personal God is an
absurdity. The second is untenable also because death is no
initiation and the fact of dying cannot by itself confer superior
knowledge; therefore by the simple logical process of reductio ad
absurdum, the existence of the Masters is proven by the very
nature of their teachings, just as a tree is recognized by its
But there are still more material proofs in the testimony of
trustworthy witnesses. Without counting hundreds of Hindus to
whom their existence is a simple matter of fact, we have the
volunteer affirmations of A.P. Sinnett, Madame Blavatsky, Col.
Olcott, Countess Wachtmeister, Annie Besant, William Q. Judge,
and many others. Some have seen the Masters several times even
in their physical bodies, and one of whom (Olcott) has still a
material tangible object given to him by a Master as a proof that
he was not dreaming.
Note that all these people are well known and trustworthy, that
they have repeated their experiences and asserted the same thing
for eighteen years, that they cannot possibly mistake, and that
they are either lying or telling the truth. Why should they lie?
There is no material interest involved; they have nothing to gain
by their assertions except the unenviable position of targets for
every scoffer's ridicule.
In fact, their social standing would be rather ameliorated by a
contrary assertion, for then they would appear as mighty
reformers and not as mere instruments.
Is it possible that they lie for the sake of disowning the
authorship of books that are in the hands of thousands of
admiring readers? If such were the case, it would be more
wonderful than the existence of the Masters, and certainly there
is no court of justice that would not render a favorable decision
upon such testimony.
Unfortunately, we have to deal not with frank deniers, but with
reserved doubters, whose favorite argument is that the experience
of others cannot be proof for them.
To these I will dedicate my last series of proofs, and I will say
that the Masters have never refused to manifest their existence
to those who place themselves in the proper conditions.
They do not show themselves promiscuously to curiosity seekers;
they do not mix with the ordinary daily life of men, because they
would have no object in doing so and no good would ever come out
of it; but they do not hide themselves or try to monopolize the
state of Adeptship by preventing others from reaching them. On
the contrary, there are no obstacles outside of us on the path
leading to the Masters. There are no barred doors, no whimsical
initiations. They have affirmed several times that they are
ready to help those who seek to approach them with purity of
motive by raising themselves up to them, that is to say, by
following the same route that they formerly traversed.
There is such a thing as direct apprehension of a fact or a truth
without any intervening process of reasoning and without any
extraneous intervention. The occidental world is beginning to
make its first blundering experiments in psychometry, mesmerism,
clairvoyance, etc., and already there are sufficient scientific
facts to formulate the opinion of a possible psychical
intercourse between kindred souls without any physical or even
astral manipulations. This faculty is not the property of any
man or set of men. It is common to all. It is latent in all
human beings. The only obstacles to its developments are our own
wrong habits and accumulated impulses in a more material
As we are free agents, all that we have to do, if we want to
remove the mist of our own manufacture that beclouds our higher
perception, is to cultivate more our better and more elevated
faculties and live less within the narrow limits of our
Of course, the process is a long one, not always achieved in one
earthly life. Of course, there are dangers to be encountered,
but even in physical training, there are dangers. How many
would-be athletes have broken their necks? How many chemical
experimenters have been diseased for life by poisonous fumes or
maimed by unexpected explosions? How many electricians have been
killed by the subtle current? These dangers arise mainly from
precipitateness, lack of accuracy, and imperfect knowledge.
Let us learn thoroughly, let us be accurate in every act and
thought. Let us progress with patient coolness. Let us be
unselfish in the sense of being always actively at work for the
benefit of others, purifying our own lower planes to give no hold
to those astral influences that have converted so many weak
mediums and unprepared wonder-seekers into moral wrecks or silly
maniacs. Then I think that we shall naturally evolve, step by
step, until our highest perceptions (call them intuitions if you
will) shall be sufficiently open to permit to us a direct
cognizance of the Masters' existence.
Bear in mind that they have reached their present high state of
evolution mainly by active altruism and self-denial, that their
only aim is to help humanity as a whole; therefore, if we imitate
them as best we can, we will become in our humble way kindred
with them, and then, and only then, shall we know their
Let us wipe out the vapors of selfishness that dim the mirror of
our higher consciousness. Let us become willing and efficient
cooperators in the Masters' altruistic work for the sake of
humanity as a whole. Let us do the work assigned to us by our
Karma well and thoroughly, without hope of personal reward. Then
the Masters will reveal themselves to us, not by wonderful
physical phenomena, but rather by simple, direct communion
through the highest planes of our being, those planes that are
the true field of their activity.
GENIUSES, SEERS, AND SAGES
[From THE ARYAN PATH, January 1938, pages 1-4. Note that
references to other articles "in this issue" refer to that
magazine and not to the current issue of THEOSOPHY WORLD.]
> The only God man comes in contact with is his own God, called
> Spirit, Soul and Mind, or Consciousness, and these three are one.
> -- H.P. BLAVATSKY
The invisible has ever haunted the human instinct and lured the
human mind. As a scientific reaction to religious superstition,
however, the very existence of the invisible was denied in the
last century. The phenomena of Spiritism or Spiritualism divided
the ranks of the scientists, some of whom began to investigate
The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882, but its
investigations have not taken the public far. It has collected
many data but has been unable to give any definite knowledge.
Compared to half a century of achievements by physicists or
physiologists, astronomers or chemists, those of the psychical
researcher are worse than negligible. What is wrong with their
The founders and early workers of the Society for Psychical
Research committed numerous errors, two of which appear to us
serious blunders. First, brought up to regard their method of
research by the aid of the five senses as the only reliable one,
these investigators applied it to their study of the invisible
and the psychic aspects of man and the universe. Even today, the
Psychical Researcher suffers from the limitations of that method.
Secondly, not accustomed to looking for information and knowledge
gathered by those outside their own scientific school, they
failed to take advantage of the available instruction. For
example, H.P. Blavatsky's ISIS UNVEILED was published in 1877
and the two volumes contained not only a very complete record of
abnormal phenomena, workings of psychic faculties, etc., but more
-- they offered logical, convincing, and reasoned explanations of
all of them.
These teachings were rejected offhand because they were obtained
by a method and in a manner unfamiliar to science then, and even
now, though to a slightly less extent. The Psychical Researcher
did not even take the trouble to verify Madame Blavatsky's
repeated statement that the ancient Eastern world knew very fully
about psychic faculties and forces; he never thought of using
data available in the East. Proceeding along their own line,
they soon made a groove for the Society for Psychical Research,
and in that narrow groove, most of their successors have been
going round and round.
Spiritists and Spiritualists have put forward the evidence of
thousands of phenomena, but they fail to give a rational
explanation of how they occur, what they signify, and more --
they do not either inspire or instruct people to a more
enlightened living. They too did not and do not like the views
of Madame Blavatsky, but for a different reason. They traced all
abnormal phenomena to the "spirits of the dead, the dear
departed." But in their ranks, the reiterated single-word
explanation -- "Spirits" -- is being abandoned.
Outside the fold of Spiritists and of Psychical Researchers, a
large body of people shows a more than detachedly academic or
fashionably social interest in the invisible and the abnormal.
No educated person doubts today that phenomena do occur and that
psychic forces and abnormal powers exist. It is admitted on all
hands that there are no miracles in Nature and that everything
that happens is the result of law -- eternal, immutable, ever
active. Apparent miracle is but the operation of forces unknown
to the modern world. Only those who exploit the ignorance of the
unlettered masses uphold miracles, and then only in their own
church and by their own members, decrying "miracle-workers" of
The range of these supernormal, not supernatural, phenomena
almost defies classification by the ordinary investigator, and
the simplest of them -- a table-rap, for example -- remains an
unexplained mystery. The raps are heard, the tables move, the
spooks are seen, and a score of other manifestations are
perceived. In spite of fraudulent mediums, there is enough
evidence that there are genuine ones, through whose agency these
phenomena do take place. But HOW do they occur? It is not known.
Two thin lines of thought, however, indicate the "progress" made
by the student of the occult, who is not also a student of the
Esoteric Philosophy recorded by H.P. Blavatsky. First, it is
now accepted that "Spirits" of many different kinds exist.
Second, that every man and every woman is a psychic to some
extent, and that there is as much of psychic contact among the
living themselves as between the living and the dead. Further,
each man is an embodied spirit, who whispers his message to the
brain-mind, speaks as the voice of conscience, and so on. This
is once more brought out in a recent volume, HORIZONS OF
IMMORTALITY by Baron Erik Palmstierna, the Swedish Ambassador at
the Court of St. James, reviewed in this number by John
Middleton Murry. It is brought out that "not all the spirits who
have communicated with them have had mortal existence."
That all "spirits" are not surviving invisible relics of mortals
is one of the teachings reiterated and emphasized by H.P.
Blavatsky in the last century, only to be ridiculed and rejected.
Writing in May 1890, she repeated the view she had expressed and
explained in 1877:
> Years have been devoted by the writer to the study of those
> invisible Beings -- conscious, semi-conscious, and entirely
> senseless -- called by a number of names in every country under
> the sun, and known under the generic name of "Spirits."
> -- "Raja-Yoga or Occultism," page 75.
She has fully explained their natures and functions and in doing
so repeatedly said to the Spiritists or Spiritualists -- "Do not
insist that at all seances all that takes place is the work of
the spirits of the dead." Baron Palmstierna and his friends
accept that view, but unless he and they study with care the
teachings of the Eastern Wisdom-Religion, they will not be able
to determine what or whom they contact, or to distinguish between
"spirit of health" and "goblin damned," between mischief-loving
sprite and soulless spook.
Judging the book, as it should be judged, on the merit of its
actual contents, we cannot but agree with our esteemed reviewer:
> I am inclined to doubt whether his [Baron Palmstierna's]
> systematic inquiries have yielded him any knowledge which he did
> not, in some sense, already possess, and which he might not have
> been better advised to produce out of his own depths.
But that raises the important question: can a living man, i.e.,
embodied spirit, develop his own psychic mechanism and thus
receive knowledge from within himself? The quick answer is -- "Of
course." Mr. John Middleton Murry describes his own psychic
experimentation according to "the only technique of the kind of
which I have personal experience." He was "amazed and disturbed
by the relevance and apparent profundity of many of the answers I
received." Mr. Murry offers two likely explanations about one
communication he obtained; it may have been "a higher power" who
communicated, or "some unknown organ in my friends." But why
cannot it be the function of his OWN "unknown organ?" Why cannot
he have produced it "out of his own depths?"
There is a sort of conscious telegraphic communication going on
incessantly, day and night, between the physical brain and the
inner man. The brain is such a complex thing, both physically
and metaphysically, that it is like a tree whose bark you can
remove, layer by layer, each layer being different from all the
others, and each having its own special work, function, and
The mood in which Mr. Murry was when he experimented and the
procedure he adopted in asking his questions and receiving his
answers can well be described as -- Mr. Murry speaking to Mr.
Murry. Grant that within the normal consciousness of Mr. Murry
is an Immortal Ego who functions super-normally, however
intermittently, causing certain mystical experiences, and it
becomes clear why the receiving of the message told "me, indeed,
nothing that I did not know, in some sense, already."
Turn to a psychic like Emanuel Swedenborg, the seer of Stockholm.
By some, he is looked upon as a Prophet; others respect
Swedenborg for his scientific and philosophical knowledge while
rejecting his "visions" as childish foolishness. In his article
in this issue, Mr. George Godwin favors the description of H.P.
Blavatsky who said that Swedenborg was a natural-born seer, which
does not make him an infallible Prophet on the one hand or a
deluded mind on the other, but explains why he displayed such
phenomenal powers. Swedenborg was a genius of a particular type.
He was one whose psychic senses, latent in most men, began
functioning on their own, so to speak, and without the deliberate
training which makes a man an Adept.
The phenomenon of Genius is very intimately related to the
psycho-spiritual structure of man. There are geniuses and
geniuses -- not only are there different instruments through
which genius expresses itself, but also there are differences in
the degree in which it expresses itself. Baron Palmstierna is a
genius and so is Mr. Murry, and also Swedenborg -- each in his
own line and each in his own degree. There are greater and
lesser diplomats than the Swedish Baron, as there are greater and
lesser psychics than the Swedish seer, and again greater and
lesser writers than Middleton Murry or George Godwin, but there
is "genius" at work in them as in every creative artist and every
The quality of consciousness dwelling in the brain determines
whether a person is, shall we say, spiritually speaking,
one-dimensional or two or three or four, or -- seven. Occultism
teaches that physical man is one, but the thinking man septenary,
thinking, willing, feeling, and living on seven different states
of being or planes of consciousness, and that for all these
states and planes, the permanent Ego (not the false personality)
has a distinct set of senses.
The article elsewhere, which surveys George Duhamel's views about
genius, indicates that genius is capable of development, and that
not by psychic exercises and subnormal habits bordering on vice,
but by virtuous habits, moral discipline, and mental devotion
perseveringly observed from day to day. The enthusiast for the
higher life has enough work to do with himself, if abandoning the
dangerous way of mediumship he takes the path of Discipleship
leading to Adeptship. Everyone within himself is a budding
genius and can develop into a seer; but unless he instructs
himself, theoretically and practically, in the Wisdom of the
Sages of old, his seership will be not only faulty and mislead
him and others, but will also prove highly dangerous.
Every seer, every genius, every psychic, therefore almost every
man, has two roads before him -- that of the medium who becomes
the passive instrument of foreign influences, mostly of a
degenerating kind, and that of the Adept who actively controls
himself and all inferior potencies, but who never interferes with
the free will of any human being.
EMERSON AND OCCULTISM
By Charles Johnston
[From LUCIFER, December 15, 1887, pages 252-57.]
> 'Tis thus at the roaring Loom of Time I ply,
> And weave for God the garment thou seest Him by.
> -- Faust, ERD. GEIST
The sunset, to the boor a mere mass of evening vapors, presaging
rain for his fields or heat for his harvest, expands for the
poet, standing beside him and beholding the self-same firmament,
into a splendid picture, rich in crimson and purple, in golden
light and gleaming color, mingled in harmonious purity.
Whence so great a difference?
The poet has finer eyes; and within the mere material forms
perceives a subtle essence, which flows everywhere through
nature, adding to all it touches a new wealth of joy and power.
The poet's eyes have opened to a new reality; he no longer values
things for themselves; but in proportion as they contain this
quality, they become dear to him.
But beyond the poet, there is yet a third rank. The poet, it is
true, rejoices in nature, and perceives its beauty and symbolic
character. But he rests in the beauty of the symbol, and does
not pass to the reality symbolized. Rapt in adoration of the
beauty of the garment, he does not pierce through to Him who
wears the garment. This remains for the philosopher -- the sage.
Yet the boor has his place in Nature. He has tilled and subdued
the soil, has brought its latent powers into action; in command
of nature, he is far in advance of the mere nomad savage, for
whom nature is a maze of uncertain and unconquered forces.
The savage, the boor, the poet; these types have their parallels
in mental life.
When the crude conceptions of nature, which mark dawning
civilization give place to those fair and truer, because more
harmonious view that bear the name of Science; when the principle
of Continuity, the reign of Universal Law, have displaced the
first notions of Chance and Discord, the work of the physical
scientist is done. He must stand aside, and make way for the
philosopher, the transcendentalist. Modern Science has replaced
the crudities of medieval theology by the idea of an orderly
universe permeated by Law, binding alike the galaxy and the atom,
as the tillage of the farmer has replaced the nomadism of the
But within the world of the boor nestles the poet's world, and
within the world of the physical scientist lies an ethereal,
spiritual universe, with its own powers, its own prophets. The
great trilogy of friends at the beginning of this century, who
rose like three mountain peaks above their contemporaries,
Goethe, Carlyle, and Emerson were chosen by Destiny as prophets
of this nature within nature.
Their gleanings have been rich enough to tempt many to enter the
same field, though they have no more exhausted its wealth than
Homer and Shakespeare have exhausted poetry.
The new world they have explored is the land of hope of the
future, for which we must leave the impoverished soil of
theology, and the arid deserts of materialism.
What these three masters taught, Occultism teaches; and we
propose to show them as great natural masters in the mystic
To do this with any completeness in the space at our disposal is
necessarily impossible; for the present, we must content
ourselves with showing from the writings of one of the masters --
Emerson -- that he recognized some of the chief laws announced by
The first truth to be insisted on, concerning this nature within
nature, the spiritual universe, is that it exists for its own
ends, and not as an adjunct to the material world; in other
words, the end of morals is to make archangels rather than good
Spirit is the reality; matter, the secondary; or, as Goethe says,
the GARMENT of God.
No occultist could insist on the subordinate character of matter
more vehemently than Emerson could. He writes:
> Nature is a mutable cloud, which is always and never the same.
> Through the bruteness and toughness of matter, a subtle spirit
> bends all things to its own will. The world proceeds from the
> same spirit as the body of man. IT IS A REMOTER AND INFERIOR
> INCARNATION OF GOD, a projection of God into the unconscious.
The Occultist sees in this world of spirit the home of that true
joy of which all earthly happiness is the shadow, and whispered
intimation. There all ideals find their realization, all highest
hopes their fulfillment; there flow abundant fountains of
celestial bliss, whose least presence makes earthly things
Of spirit, Emerson writes:
> But when following the invisible steps of thought, we come to
> enquire, whence is matter, and where to? Many truths arise to us
> out of the recesses of consciousness. We learn that the highest
> is present to the soul of man, that the dread universal essence
> that is not wisdom, or love, or beauty, or power; but all in one
> and each entirely, is that for which all things exist, and that
> by which they are; that spirit creates; that behind nature,
> throughout nature spirit is present. As a plant upon the earth,
> so a man rests upon the bosom of God. He is nourished by
> unfailing fountains, and draws, at his need, inexhaustible power.
But to obtain a footing in this world of essential being, is to
be emancipated from the domination of Time and Space, to enter a
universe where they do not exist; for Space and Time are no
realities, but, as Carlyle says, the "deepest of all ILLUSORY
APPEARANCES." Emancipation from Space and Time; how much more
this implies than is at first sight apparent. The first fruit of
this freedom is a feeling of eternalness, the real basis of the
doctrine of immortality. It is an attainable reality, this sense
of eternalness; let the skeptic and materialist say what they
Of this truth, also, we may bring Emerson as witness. He writes:
> To truth, justice, love, the attributes of the soul, the idea of
> IMMUTABLENESS is essentially associated. In the flowing of love,
> in the adoration of humility, there is no question of
Once recognize the truth that we can gain a footing in a world
free from the tyranny of time, that the soul exists in such a
world, and a new philosophy is at once required. Freedom from
Time implies the eternity of the soul, and the facts of life and
death take a new position and significance. If the soul were
eternal, death must be an illusion, a garment in which Nature
wraps some hidden law.
In the following words of Emerson, on this subject:
> It is the secret of the world that ALL THINGS SUBSIST AND DO NOT
> DIE, but only retire a little from sight, and afterwards return.
> Whatever does not concern us, is concealed from us. As soon as a
> person is no longer related to our present well-being, he is
> concealed or DIES, as we say. When the man has exhausted for the
> time the nourishment to be drawn from any one person or thing,
> that object is withdrawn from his observation, and though still
> in his immediate neighborhood, he does not suspect its presence.
> Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock
> funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking
> out of the window, sound and well, in some new disguise. Jesus
> is not dead; he is very well alive; nor John, nor Paul, nor
> Mahomet, nor Aristotle.
We have an accurate exposition of the occult doctrine of
Reincarnation -- the progressive discipline of the soul through
many lives -- that has been parodied in the popular fable of
The true occult doctrine does not picture a series of bodies in
each of which the soul makes a temporary sojourn. In this, as in
all else, it begins with spirit and then descends to matter. It
depicts that vital energy that we call a soul, alternately
exuding from itself and reabsorbing into its own nature an
environment or physical encasement, whose character varies with
the increasing stature of the soul. According to the teaching of
occultism, the successive formations of this objective shell --
whose purpose is to provide for the development of the animal
nature -- alternate with periods of subjective life, which give
expansion to the powers of the soul.
As corollary to this doctrine, occultism postulates a second.
The incidents of each objective environment or physical life are
not fortuitous and isolated, but rather are bound to all that
precede and follow them. Moreover, "the future is not
arbitrarily formed by any separate acts of the present, but that
the whole future is in unbroken continuity with the present, as
the present is with the past."
To the various developments of this law, eastern philosophy has
given the name of Karma; the west has yet no name for it. But
though unnamed, its leading ideas have not been unperceived by
those western minds that have penetrated into the world of
Thus, we find Emerson writing:
> Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue
> rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. Crime
> and punishment grow on one stem; punishment is a fruit that
> unsuspected ripens within the flower of pleasure that concealed
> it. You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. The thief
> steals from himself; the swindler swindles himself. Everything
> in nature, even motes and feathers, goes by law and not by luck.
> WHAT A MAN SOWS, HE REAPS.
The picture of an orderly universe, where matter is the garment
of spirit -- spirit visualized -- where souls march onward in
orderly procession to boundless perfection; where the life of
each permeates and flows through the life of all; where the wrong
of each is turned to the benefit of all by the firm hand of an
invisible and ever active law, incessantly disciplining and
correcting, till the last dross of self and sin is purged away,
and instead of man there remains God only, working through the
powers that were man's; such is the conception Occultism holds.
> I know not whether there be, as is alleged, in the upper region
> of our atmosphere a permanent westerly current, which carries
> with it all atoms that rise to that height, but I see that when
> souls reach a certain clearness of perfection, they accept a
> knowledge and motive above selfishness. A breath of Will blows
> eternally through the universe of souls in the direction of the
> Right and Necessary. It is the air that all intellects inhale
> and exhale, and it is the wind that blows the world into order
> and orbit.
> Let us build altars to the Beautiful Necessity that rudely or
> softly educates men to the perception that there are no
> contingencies, that Law rules through existence, a Law that is
> not intelligent but intelligence, not personal nor impersonal --
> it disdains words, and passes understanding; it dissolves
> persons; it vivifies nature, yet solicits the pure in heart to
> draw on its all, its omnipotence.
Discipline always and everywhere throughout the universe; to
discipline, development, all other facts arc subordinate; for
their sake, all laws are enunciated, all spiritual facts are
insisted on; all truths that tend not to the melioration of human
life -- if any such there be -- are worthless. Discipline,
development. What development does Occultism predict for man?
Man's future destiny, in the view of Occultism, is so stupendous,
that we prefer merely to erect a fingerpost pointing out the
direction of the path, using the words of Emerson:
> The youth puts off the illusions of the child; the man puts off
> the ignorance and tumultuous passions of the youth; proceeding
> thence, puts off the egotism of manhood, and becomes at last a
> public and universal soul. He is rising to greater height, but
> also to realities; the outer relations and circumstances dying
> out, he is entering deeper into God, God into him, until the last
> garment of egotism falls, and he is with God, shares the will and
> the immensity of the First Cause.
From first to last, Occultism has preached no doctrine more
emphatically than the necessity of dependence on the intuitions,
and the reality of interior illumination. "Seek out the way by
making the profound obeisance of the soul to the dim star that
burns within; within you is the light of the world," writes the
And this doctrine is repeated again and again in the writings of
the philosopher we have been quoting from. He writes:
> A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light that
> flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the
> firmament of bards and sages. From within or from behind, a
> light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we
> are nothing, but that the light is all. The consciousness in
> each man is a sliding scale, which identifies him now with the
> First Cause, and now with the flesh of his body; life above life,
> in infinite degrees. There is for each a Best Counsel, which
> enjoins the fit word and the fit act for every moment. There is
> no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and
> God, the cause, begins. The walls are taken away; we lie open on
> one side to the deeps of spiritual nature, to the attributes of
> God. The simplest person, in his integrity, worships God,
> becomes God; yet for ever and ever the influx of this better and
> universal self is new and unsearchable.
The life of one is the life of all. The good of one reacts on
all. The walls by which selfishness conceives itself enclosed
and isolated, are unreal, have no existence. Spirit is fluid and
all pervading; its beneficent power flows unchecked from soul to
soul, energizing, harmonizing, purifying. To resist all
discordant tendencies that check this salutary flow, this
all-permeating love, is to come under the reign of Universal
Brotherhood; and to the honor of Occultism be it said that
Universal Brotherhood is blazoned highest on its standard.
> Thus, [writes Emerson] are we put in training for a love that
> knows not sex nor person, nor partiality, but which seeks virtue
> and wisdom everywhere. One day all men will be lovers, and every
> calamity will be dissolved in universal sunshine. An acceptance
> of the sentiment of love throughout Christendom for a season
> would bring the felon and the outcast to our side in tears, with
> the devotion of his faculties to our service.
But to the axiom "Kill out the sense of separateness," Occultism
adds another, "Yet stand alone." Before the lesson of life can be
learnt, the soul must in some sort detach itself from its
environment, and view all things impersonally, in solitude and
stillness. There is an oracle in the lonely recess of the soul
to which all things must be brought for trial. Here all laws are
tested, all appearances weighed.
About this truth always hangs a certain solemnity, and Emerson
has given it a fitting expression in the following words:
> The soul gives itself alone, original, and pure, to the Lonely,
> Original, and Pure, who, on that condition, gladly inhabits,
> leads, and speaks through it. Then it is glad, young, and
> nimble. Behold, it saith, I am born into the great, the
> universal mind. I, the imperfect, adore my own Perfect. I am
> somehow receptive of the great soul, and thereby I do overlook
> the sun and the stars, and feel them to be the fair accidents and
> effects that change and pass. More and more the surges of
> everlasting nature enter into me, and I become public and human
> in my regards and actions. So I come to live in thoughts, and
> act with energies, which are immortal.
The last words of this sentence lead us to the occult idea of
Mahatma-hood, which conceives a perfected soul as "living in
thoughts, and acting with energies that are immortal."
The Mahatma is a soul of higher rank in the realms of life,
conceived to drink in the wealth of spiritual power closer to the
fountainhead, and to distil its essence into the interior of
In harmony with this idea, Emerson writes:
> Truth is the summit of being; justice is the application of it to
> affairs. All individual natures stand in a scale, according to
> the purity of this element in them. The will of the pure runs
> down from them into other natures, as water runs down from a
> higher into a lower vessel. This natural force is no more to be
> withstood than any other natural force. A healthy soul stands
> united with the Just and the True, as the magnet arranges itself
> with the pole, so that he stands to all beholders like a
> transparent object betwixt them and the sun, and whoso journeys
> towards the sun, journeys towards that person.
Occultism conceives the outer world and all its accidents to be
so many veils, shrouding the splendor of essential nature, and
tempering the fiery purity of spirit to the imperfect powers of
the understanding soul. The illusory power Occultism considers
to be the "active will of God," a means to the ends of eternal
In the view of Occultism, life is a drama of thinly veiled souls.
As Shakespeare writes:
> We are such stuff
> As dreams are made of, and our little life
> Is rounded with a sleep!
We shall conclude with two passages from Emerson's essays, on the
subject of illusions:
Do you see that kitten chasing so prettily her own tail? If you
> could look with her eyes, you might see her surrounded with
> hundreds of figures performing complex dramas, with tragic and
> comic issues, long conversations, many characters, many ups and
> downs of fate; and meantime it is only puss and her tail. How
> long before our masquerade will end its noise of tambourines,
> laughter, and shouting, and we shall find it was a solitary
We must supplement this rather playful passage with one in a
> There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe. All is
> system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere.
> The young mortal enters the hall of the firmament; there is he
> alone with them alone, they pouring on him benedictions and
> gifts, and beckoning him up to their thrones. On an instant, and
> incessantly, fall snowstorms and illusions. He fancies himself
> in a vast crowd that sways this way and that, and whose movement
> and doings he must obey: he fancies himself poor, orphaned,
> insignificant. The mad crowd drives hither and thither, now
> furiously commanding this thing to be done, now that. What is he
> that he should resist their will, and think or act for himself?
> Every moment new changes and new showers of deceptions baffle and
> distract him. And when, by-and-bye, for an instant, the air
> clears, and the cloud lifts a little, there are the gods still
> sitting around him on their thrones -- they alone with him alone.
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